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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Smarty Mom: Melanie McLeod

By Rachel H

It's the weekend, which means it is time to present another Triad Smarty Mom to you, PLUS she has a special giveaway for you as well! Melanie McLeod is mom to four children, Corinne (5), Dyer (3.5), Sadie (2), and Bennett (6 months). She and her husband, Rafael, moved here from Dallas, TX a year and a half ago. Melanie was nominated by her husband, Rafael, who sent me the sweetest email about her.

Rafael says, "When we moved here, Melanie dove right in and not only managed to run our family while we lived in a rental as our newly purchased home here was being remodeled, but she managed to start her own business here in town and make it successful. She strings pearls and makes custom bows for little girls. Not only does she create pieces for private customers, but she has also become one of the re-stringers for Windsor Jewelers and Shiffmans! She is a woman who thinks with her head and makes sound decisions around our home. She home schools our children, bakes bread every day, makes our own granola, pasta sauce, yogurt and is getting ready to plant a garden in our home. She is involved in Bible Study Fellowship, started a bible study with women from various churches, and continues to grow in her faith, her maturity and basic awesomeness!! I know I am biased, but she truly has an impact with all she comes in contact with."

Are you tearing up yet after reading this sweet note? What a beautiful family! Sounds like Melanie and Rafael are both extremely lucky to have one another. Let's get to know more about their family ...

What inspired you to homeschool your children? Can you share some pros and cons with us?
We knew we would only have a one short chance to enjoy and teach our children. We have four little ones very close in age and wanted each of the bonds between them to be strong, not just relative to birth order. Since we pretty much have our own preschool group, 'socialization' isn't a problem for us. It's a character boot camp every day learning to share, be kind, and patient in our family, sorting out conflict as we go along. I can teach them about Jesus and study and train their hearts and minds and hands in a beautifully personal way. It is intimidating, overwhelming at times, and definitely a personal sacrifice, but very rewarding to watch their hearts grow together and know each child so well.

With one of your children having food allergies, how are you able to find meals that work for the whole family?
This allergy business- it is life changing! We took everything dangerous out and started from scratch. I've learned to make versions of our favorite foods without our allergens and like ours so much better- a blessing we did not expect from such scary information. We don't buy many packaged foods and have gotten the kids involved in cooking, even our 2 year old. It's not exactly easier to have the help now, but it's making food more interesting and personal for us. They eat happier if they see it all come together, and I know we're all safe. There are favorites they beg for!

Tell us more about your home business and how you got started!
I hand knot and string freshwater and saltwater pearls as a hobby which has become a happy little business of sorts. I wanted pearls for my girls and found I could make what I wanted for far less expense and better quality than anything I found shopping. I've always enjoyed working with my hands (tatting is my favorite of the gentle arts) but have juvenile arthritis. So, I decided to learn now in case I lost the chance. My etsy site (cloudfive) shows a few popular pieces for little girls while most of my larger pearls are shown at home by appointment. Eventually I'll get it all online, you know in my free time. But it is life giving for me, a quiet and peaceful time to pray and work quietly in the sight of my daughters. I love to make heirloom jewelry and work with brides and friends. I also make lots and lots of bows, again for my girls and then had some extra ribbon so started sharing, then selling... Now my bows are at BenPhil's Children's Clothiers and online.

I am offering a free pair of large white pearl drop earrings to anyone who makes a purchase from my etsy shop! Just visit online at and enter triadsmartypants in the notes to get your free gift!

What are your Smarty Tips on juggling family time, homeschooling, and your job?
Clean as you go, accept help: When something needs to be done, put away, cleaned, taught, I just do it. It's so much easier to keep up than catch up. I have help cleaning every other week which relieves a heavy burden. It was hard to accept help, a matter of pride. I am so glad to have a partner! When I get behind, it feels like my home is clogged like a pipe which keeps all of us from being our best. So I try to stay a few steps ahead of the momentum of the day.

Do what's right for your family: At this stage, we are home a lot- it's just too hard to get every one's shoes and socks on! I serve God in my home right now, loving my husband and children as well as I can and try not to worry about what's going on outside too much. It's too tempting to start longing for the world and its trappings. I'm terrible at returning calls, and that all comes after my family has been served. Pearls are always last and only at times that it is encouraging pursuit.

What is your favorite aspect of the Triad since having moved here two years ago?
Low cost of living and no traffic

What is your favorite family activity?
Dancing as a family in our home

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Stringing pearls in my office while listening to Lyle Lovett (I'm a Texan at heart) or driving our vintage Corvette

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothing?
BenPhil's Children's Clothiers. Rebecca has all my favorite things! I also love to shop at Old Navy.

Favorite place to eat out with kids.
Chick-fil-A (I'm biased, though) and Chipotle

Favorite park in the Triad?

Minivan or SUV?

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
We're largely unplugged from the pressures of materialism and over scheduling

Funniest thing one of your children has ever said to you?
We joke with them we'll put rocks on their heads to keep them little. My oldest replied to my husband, "it's ok, daddy, change can be good!"

Best birthday party you have attended?
For kids, a bounce house is always good fun. For me, my husband threw a huge surprise party for my 24th, flew my parents in and secretly asked them for their blessing to marry me... Not long after we were engaged. That was a GREAT birthday.

I could not live without my...
Pony tail holder and remote starter for my suburban

I wish someone had told me sooner about...
Cage free eggs,, tom's shoes, how good grace feels.

Melanie, thank you for letting us take a peek into your family life today. You truly are a remarkable mom!

Don't forget to register for our August Giveaway! You could be one of five lucky readers who will win a $20 gift card to Boutique of Couture in Winston-Salem. Think new fall clothes!!! Just click here to take a short survey. You must be a TSP newsletter subscriber to win. This giveaway promotion will run through Noon on Friday, August 13. Winners will be immediately notified and announced on TSP a few days later. Good luck, Smarties!


Victoria said...

What a fabulous mom to feature! Loved reading about you today!

STACY said...

Just scrolled through your Etsy page - you are very talented! Congrats to you and your family and what a sweet husband you have who nominated you!

Anonymous said...

Congrats melanie!!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing woman, great Etsy site too, I'll remember these pearls to order at Christmas!

Heather said...

Never knew there were "yellow" pearls! They are gorgeous! Love your Etsy page.

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