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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Smarty Mom: Tina Kneisel

By Rachel H

I get to show off one of my favorite families today, the Kneisels! I met Tina and her husband, Mike, through church and have gotten to know them and their children over the past seven years. Tina is an extraordinary mom and fantastic friend. Tina is always there to help me out in a time of need, and always remembers to ask about members of my family and how they are doing. And the best part about Tina is her sense of humor. She can always make me laugh and also laughs at my nerdy jokes.

Tina and Mike have four children, Katy (13), Kenny (12), Abby (8), and Ella (1). They have lived here for about sixteen years and are both proud WFU graduates. Tina works as a financial analyst and does a superior job of balancing her work and home life. She is currently mentoring a Wake business student and says, "It has made me realize how old I'm getting as she is about to celebrate her 21st and I realized that my oldest daughter is closer to 21 than I am! Ugh! How did that happen!?! Seems like I just graduated a few years ago!!"

Tina loves to travel with or without the kids. They go to NY a lot to visit Mike's family, so Tina claims that "the kids have a pretty good fake NY accent they can slip into - and are pretty street savvy when we go into the city." They have also taken the kids to Chicago, Atlanta, DC, Boston, and many Disney trips.

Let's learn more about today's Smarty Mom ...

What are some tips you have for moms who are trying to balance their career and home life?
Marry well! A husband who helps at home makes all the difference! Keep a good calendar – on paper or electronically – it doesn’t matter – just have it handy at all times. Don’t try to look too far ahead – it can be so overwhelming. Take life one day at a time for all of the crazy maneuverings – it’s much easier to tackle.

How did you go about choosing a child care provider when you returned to work after having each of your children?
It took me about four tries until I found the right one for my first child. Don’t be scared to move your baby/toddler if you’re not comfortable – or if their own needs change. I like a baby-sitter type of environment for my kids when they are babies, then something more like a pre-school as they get older. Ask around and get opinions from others rather than cold-calling. That will save some time & effort. Learn from your friends and co-workers!

Since I consider your hubby to be “Mr. Disney,” what are some of your top tips for others planning to take their first trip to Disney?
We prefer to stay off-site. Driving in is really not a problem, but if I don’t have my own space when I’m tired at night – it’s not pretty! In Orlando, there are so many options for condos and houses that are very close to Disney.
We eat breakfast “at home” to save our $. We try to limit our meals onsite to one a day and a snack – but we like to eat at the themed restaurants & character meals. They are pricey, but the food is good and we think you get more value for your money than at the “curb service” places.
Don’t go in the summer! We stay away from the hot & crowded. The fall is a great time to go – I love all the Halloween festivities!

What are some generic traveling tips you have for families?
We love to travel and aren’t afraid to take the kids anywhere – but usually drive because our family is big. When we go somewhere cultural or historic, we always team it with something kid-friendly. I like stop-overs on a long trip. For example, when we go to NY to visit family, we stop at Hershey Park to play or in DC to visit friends. A family should never go where there is no pool. It’s a great way to wear out the kids!

What are some of your best discipline strategies for a larger family?
It doesn’t matter your age, respect and attitude are important. Consistency is key – whether with teens or toddlers.

With a small toddler and a teen, we want to know …which one is more difficult to raise?!?!?
I had always thought that when people with older kids said, “you just wait”, they had forgotten how exhausting it is having small children. Now that I have both, I see that they are both challenging but in different ways. Right now, I think teens are harder because we are learning as we go, while we know what is coming and how to handle our little one. I think the teens are more emotionally draining, while the babies are more physically.

What is the smartiest way you save money?
Not good at that one!

What is your favorite family activity?
We love to play games. Our new favorite this summer is Bananagrams. I can’t get enough of it! We have a new screened-in porch and it is a favorite place to hang out & play! We also love to go to Wake Forest football games and tailgate!

Favorite “me-time” activity?
A Starbucks in my hand while someone is giving me a pedicure…aaah! Top it off with a People magazine and you’ve got a little slice of Tina Heaven!

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?
La Caretta or Coppola’s

Favorite date night spot?
Difference of opinion there – but I love Milner’s and Bonefish.

Favorite book you have read?
I don’t have a favorite because I read way too many to keep track of, but I recently read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and loved it!

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
I like Qdoba and they have a lot of specials that come via e-mail.

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothes?
Target!! If they need something and I can get it while running my other errands – that’s a winner!

What is the best birthday party you have attended?
So many good ones!! Oh you mean for my kids…loved a petting zoo brought to the Smith’s house several years ago.

What is your favorite mom’s must have item for around the house?
I love Dream Dinners! I’ve done it every month since my youngest was born. It’s the perfect answer to our dinner issues! I like the variety and the quick clean-up. My oldest daughter goes there with me and helps me make the meals. We typically make about 6-7/month.

Favorite or most helpful blog you have read on Triad Smarty Pants thus far?
Where to begin……certainly one of Rachel’s!! :)

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
The close-knit feeling of community. I love that we run into our friends, teachers, neighbors, etc. every time we go somewhere. (well…maybe “love” is a strong word if it’s early and I’m wearing no make-up!)

I could not live without my...
Husband (lame answer, but he does make it all worthwhile!)

Thank you for all of your answers today, Tina! They definitely made me smile and I hope our readers enjoyed reading them as much as I did! :)


Abby said...

We are currently planning a trip to Disney. Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

Yay Tina! Congrats on your Smarty Mom Nomination. You deserve it!

Erika said...

Tina is not only a fantastic friend but also the best supervisor I have ever had. How's this for an awesome Tina story-- I left my job with Tina to go part-time. She made homemade tortilla soup for me and froze it in lunch-sized containers when I left b/c I wouldn't get a lunch hour at my new job! Pretty amazing!

Julee N said...

I agree with Erika, Tina is amazing. I admire her as a coworker, mother, and friend. I'm very excited to see her as this week's Smarty Mom!

Jayna P. said...

Loved reading about you Tina! I do not know how you do it with 4! You gave some great tips. My husband is the second born with 3 sisters, just like yours! You do not see that much. He says as a child he always realted to Theo on the Cosby Show :-)

Anonymous said...

They don't make friends any better than Tina. She is without a doubt Platinum status in my list of friends. She is an amazing mother and wife to a fantastic family.

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