Features writer Amy Bredeson writes about Lowcountry moms who have advice to share. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THIS WEEK'S MOM
Name: Corinne Kelly
Town: Hilton Head Island
Children: River, 4; Wyatt, 1
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
Go-to dinner: Barbecue tempeh over rice with sweet potato fries. "We try to eat vegan as much as we can. ... I have to chop up an onion and put the stuff in a pan and put the fries in the oven ... and a bag of 10-minute rice on the stove. It's really easy and tasty."
Biggest pet peeve: "I really can't stand whining. That's definitely my pet peeve. It's like nails on a chalkboard for me."
Hobbies: Gardening and teaching her children to read. She started using flash cards with River as soon as he could say a few words and identify objects. "Why not help your child be as smart as they can (be)? If I'm going to be a stay-at-home mom, I'm going to spend one-on-one time." River now reads small books by himself at age 4, and Corinne is using flash cards with 1-year-old Wyatt.
Favorite mommy moment: "The end of the day is always my most difficult time of day -- getting dinner ready -- because Wyatt is cranky and tired and hungry. And River is hungry but tries to be helpful as much as he can. And I'm tired at the end of the day, too. It's difficult to balance keeping Wyatt entertained and cooking a meal at the same time. The other day he's wandering around, crying, trying to find a toy to play with, and River was just playing quietly on the floor. And all of a sudden Wyatt stopped making noise. And I thought, 'Well, that's weird. He must've gotten into some sort of trouble because it's never good when he's quiet.' So I walked around the corner, and River was sitting next to him, reading him a book to try to calm him down and keep him occupied. And I thought, 'Oh, I didn't even ask him to do it.' He just picked up Wyatt's favorite book and sat down and started reading it to him. It made my heart melt."
Most challenging mommy moment: "It was difficult when Wyatt was first born to balance the two kids. Just a new thing I had to learn. You can't be taught how to balance having two kids. You can't be taught how to have one kid. But I felt really guilty that I wasn't spending all of my time with River because that's what I had been doing for the first three years of his life, focusing all of my attention on him. And I had a newborn, and I had to nurse him every 2 1/2 hours and constantly change his diapers and stuff like that. I think that was probably a challenging first couple of months, balancing a newborn and a 3-year-old at the same time."
Stress reliever: "During the day, if everyone gets crazy or whiny or anything like that, we definitely put music on and have a dance party because that's always fun, and everybody cheers up. And it gets the adrenaline pumping. So that's something we do with the kids. And at the end of every day I sit down and read a book and just completely zone out."
Tips for dealing with small children all day long: Follow a routine, prepare food ahead of time, and make sure the children have some rest time. "Even though River doesn't actually nap ... I give him a rest time in the middle of the day. Wyatt will take like an hour-and-f nap in the middle of the day, and while he's doing that River will sit in his room with the door closed and read books quietly. ... That can give me time so I can just fold the laundry or do some dishes ... A little rest time in the middle of the day is really important."