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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Smarty Mom: Jenni Mowery

By Katie M

It ain't always easy being green, but today's Smarty Mom makes it look like a cinch - even for the busiest mom. Meet Jenni Mowery, one of the savviest green moms I've met. We actually featured Jenni as Triad Smarty Pants' "green mom" last August when Fox 8 News aired our smarty picks for "back-to-school must-haves." Jenni offered a great segment on waste free lunches, and since then, she blogged for us on how to inspire your children to care for the environment.

Jenni and her husband, Nathan, have two adorable sons: Wyatt, age four, and Grady, age two. They've lived in the Triad for the past 18 months after leaving Nashville. Jenni is a stay-at-home mom who is not only passionate about her family and the environment, but also for art. She studied costume design in graduate school and loves doing hand embroidery and collage art. Never one to waste things, she once made a costume out of a rope she found on a street and a garbage bag - and interestingly enough - it turned out to be the most beautiful thing she's ever made!

She's creative, fun, thoughtful and inspiring - and she gave Triad Smarty Pants a great interview. We invite you to get to know this smarty mom a little better today.

How did you become so knowledgeable about everything green? And what inspired you to be so green?
My family and I lived in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. It’s the kind of event that makes you sit up and pay attention to why something so catastrophic happened. As we sat helplessly and watched our sweet city wash away, there was a shift inside me and I became fiercely environmental. I started looking at all the ways in our life that we were being wasteful or apathetic to the impact we were making on the earth. That’s all it takes really, making a decision to care, once you do that, it’s so easy to choose to take drinks for the kids in reusable containers or choose the dishwashing soap without phosphates. So, I bought a few books, started reading everything I could get my hands on at the library, and soon enough, I was a full-fledged green mom!

Are you active with environmental issues beyond your home life?
I am a member of the Mayor’s Sustainability Committee to help reduce the overall greenhouse gas emissions for Winston-Salem. We have created an action plan for the community that will help educate and inspire our neighbors to lessen their impact on the environment. We want to show how easy it is to make a big impact on the health of our land and each other!

Do you live a complete “green” lifestyle?
I do the best I can. I think that’s all any of us can do because we don’t live in a controlled bubble. One of my dirty little secrets is that my husband drives a gas guzzling pickup truck. He’s 6’7”, he doesn’t fit in normal cars! What’s a green girl to do?! So, there are ways that I could improve our lifestyle, there are ALWAYS way to improve. I do my best to see those opportunities and make those changes when I can.

What are some of the most important “green” things you live by every day?
I am a huge fan of wasting less, take a reusable mug to the coffee shop, pack waste free lunches, take bags to the grocery, there are a thousand little ways to waste less each and every day.

What kinds of everyday and easy “green” tips can you share with other moms?
Kids love to be in charge of something! Put one of your children in charge of turning off lights as they leave a room, one in charge of recycling, etc.; then teach them why we care, why the choices they make matter! Passing on a respect for the environment to the next generation is the biggest impact we can have!

Also as moms, we do a good bit of waiting in lines in our cars - school pick up, food pick up, check deposits, etc. Whenever possible turn off your engine when you are going to sit still any longer than 30 seconds. Cutting down on idling is a great way to keep our air healthy to breathe as well as save on fuel costs!

Great green tips all moms can use! Ok, now on to some lighter topics...

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I dress my boys almost exclusively in GAP, the slim pants are perfect for Wyatt. I also love ETC. Consignment Shop and the various consignment sales in the area.

Favorite place to splurge on kids clothes?
I don’t do that very often! I generally buy off season so I don’t ever have to splurge. I did splurge on red sweaters for them at Crewcuts for the holidays.

What is your favorite family activity?
We live in the West End (neighborhood in Winston-Salem) and, when the weather is nice, love walking up to Skippy’s for supper then strolling back to Grace Court to let the boys run around as the sun sets.

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Oh, fun, I love to use my personal time to paint and read. If I can’t find a quiet place to paint, I end up browsing at the library or Border’s, recently with a peppermint hot chocolate in my hand…

Best place to eat lunch and/or dinner with the kids?
Skippy’s, Little Richard’s BBQ, Jason’s Deli, West End Cafe

Favorite date place?
A movie at Aperture Movie Theatre and a bite downtown

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
My husband was reading my son, Wyatt, Superman and he asked, “Daddy, why does Superman wear his underpants outside his pants?”

Favorite park in the Triad?
We live steps from Hanes Park and Grace Court and love them both!

Mini-van or SUV?

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
It has such a great pace, everyone respects the idea of “family” here it feels like. We recently went through a hard time when my 2 year old was in the hospital and the support for us and my other son was unbelievable. People here don’t hesitate to reach out and help each other! What a great thing to pass on to our children!!

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Parent’s Night Out at the YMCA

Best "mom secret" YOUR mom shared with you?
That she was constantly feeling like she was making mistakes. I felt growing up that my mom always had it figured out, she was on top of everything, so when I had my first son and I didn’t know what to do and felt overwhelmed I immediately felt like a failure. But no, she said, we all figure it out as we go, we all make many mistakes along the way, and our kids survive and even thrive in spite of it!! What a relief!! I didn’t have to be perfect after all!

Best birthday party you have attended?
A Diego party, the mom hid lifesize blowup animals in the woods behind their house and had the kids find clues and rescue them! It was really well done, she had little flashlights for everyone and a tent set up for the headquarters. The boys had a ball!

Best book you’ve ever read?
That’s tough… the best books I read this year are The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Oral History by Lee Smith.

What’s your favorite thing about Triad Smarty Pants?
The way I can go to the site and instantly feel connected to my neighbor moms.

I could not live without my...
My Levi’s Button Fly 501 Blues

Fabulous interview, Jenni! Thanks for taking the time to share with us all your smarty tips today. Your green ideas are inspiring, and I LOVE the Diego party idea. I just might have to steal it!


Kris said...

Enjoyed reading this today. I really need to work on becoming more eco-friendly. Thanks for the tips!

Rich said...

I am very proud of Jenni, not only because she is a really good mom to my grandsons, but also because she embraces my environmental and spiritual outlook. She lives as she believes and that is a most important attribute for a young person to have. I am envious of her willingness to impart her 'GREEN' leanings upon all those who will listen. She will inspire many to learn their life lessons. Keep on keeping on, Jenni !!!!
Lovin' you and your family !!!

maythi said...

great article! i knew jenni looked familiar! i absolutely remember her spot on fox. loved all her ideas for getting your children involved. ours love to take things to the recycle bin and turning off lights. we need to remember that it doesn't have to be overwhelming, every little bit helps. thanks jenni! congrats on being a smarty mom!

josie said...

Jenni, you are awesome and wonderful just as you've always been since I met you as a little girl! I'm SO proud of you! love ya, josie

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great information, Jenni!! I get to see first-hand everyday (as one of her son's teachers!!) what a great Mom she is...she's got two great kids and has brought them up well!!

Keep it up, Jenni!!

-- Susan

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