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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty Readers! If you are not too tired from ringing in the New Year, there are some great family events happening in our area this weekend. As always, be sure to add any event scoop you may have in the comments below. Enjoy the first full weekend of 2009!

DADA First Friday Gallery Hop
Friday, Jan. 2 at 7 pm
Downtown Art District Sixth, Trade & Liberty Streets, W-S
Join DADA for the First Gallery Hop of 2009! From 7-10pm streets are closed and shops, studios and galleries are open with artwork, music and more in the downtown arts community. Gallery Hops are funded entirely by the Downtown Art District Association-DADA- a non-profit organization of artist studios, residences and businesses that is dedicated to the promotion of arts and culture through education, entertainment.

Monster Truck Winter Nationals and Thrill Show
Friday, Jan. 2 at 7:30 pm
Joel Coliseum, W-S
Beginning at 6:15p.m. Pit Party Open to everyone. $20 VIP adult lower reserved. $10 VIP 12 & under lower reserved. $15 Adult, Upper level General Admission. Free 12 & under with adult upper level GA ticket. Adult tickets increase $3 day of show. Cost: $20 & $10 VIP lower reserved. $15 & Free upper GA

Friday, Jan. 2
SciWorks, W-S
Roaring, moving dinosaurs will invade SciWorks in a new exhibit. Young Dino Hunters will be thrilled by these creations that don’t just look like dinosaurs, they behave like dinosaurs. Museum hours are M-F 10 am – 4 pm and Sat 11 am – 5 pm. Admission: Adults $10; ages 6-19 $8; ages 2-5 $6; age 2 and under free.

Preteen Friday Night Dance – New Year’s Dance
Friday, Jan. 2 from 6-9 pm.
Thataways Youth Center, 1334 Overbrook Rd, Burlington
Thataways will bring in the New Year with their own countdown and a dance contest! Bring your best moves for the annual New Year's Dance Off where they will crown Mr. and Miss Dance King and Queen for 2009. Concessions are open with pizza and cold drinks. Video games and billiards are always available for play. $4. For 3rd-5th grade only.

Winter Wonderland Maze
Friday, Jan. 2
Natural Science Center of Greensboro
Lose yourself in a nature-themed winter scape with twists and snowflakes at every turn. Enjoy special lights, music, a beautiful winter scene with preserved animals native to N.C., a hibernation station and a winter maze. Every Saturday in January will feature special photo-ops in the maze with the NSC mascot, Jolly the Wallaby, from 10 a.m.-noon. Free with admission, adults $8, children 3 and up, $7. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday, 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m.

Children's Museum of WS - Three Kings Day
Saturday, Jan. 3 at 11 am
Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem
End the winter holiday season by participating in a community celebration popular in many parts of Europe and Latin America (also known as the Epiphany and Twelfth Night). Experience the giving-to-others traditions of the Three Wise Kings in Mexico style with Rosca de Reyes bread, crafts, a “camel” race, and photo opportunities with the Three Wise Kings. Free with paid admission or Museum membership. Cost: Museum Admission $7, free children under 1

Festival of Sleep Day Pajama Palooza
Saturday, Jan. 3 6-8 pm
My Party Palace Triad, 209-G Century Blvd, Kernersville
Come in your PJ's and enjoy pizza, decorate your own cupcakes, crafts, karaoke and dancing all in celebration of the post-holiday tradition, Festival of Sleep Day. $30

Family First Workshop
Sunday, Jan. 4 from 2 – 4 pm
Reynolda House Museum of American Art, W-S
Elementary school-aged children, accompanied by an adult, are invited to discover sculpture in the museum and then construct their own three-dimensional masterpieces using different paper sculpture techniques. $7!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Smarty Tips for Getting Organized after the Holidays

By Tracy S, VP of Mommyhood and Expert Working Mom, CharlotteSmartyPants

Many of us start decorating the house for the holidays the minute the turkey is cleared from the table Thanksgiving Day. I absolutely love how my house looks all dolled up with lights, evergreen and sparkling ornaments … but all good things must come to an end. I think one of the most depressing days of the year is the day we decide to take down all the Christmas decorations and pack them up ‘til next year (although inevitably, there is always a stray decoration or 2 that get missed and seem to hang out with us all year!) And then there’s all the new stuff … it always seems to take us days to find a new home for everything!

Here are a few smarty tips on getting your house back in order after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

We always take this opportunity to go through all of our old toys (usually a few days before Christmas) to not only make room for the new stuff but also to get rid of toys that aren’t really played with any more, are broken or are no longer age appropriate. We make 3 piles - Toys that are still in good condition and can be donated go into one pile; toys that can be enjoyed with a younger sibling go in another pile; and toys that are broken, missing pieces or just plain worn out go in the trash pile. Don’t forget to get a receipt for any toys that are donated … these are tax deductible!

I also use this time to re-evaluate all my holiday decorations. I love to buy one new thing for my house each year, so combine that with our growing set of ornaments to remember each year by, and my little red and green storage bins are overflowing! So each year, before I put stuff away, I take a good hard look at the stuff that never made it out that year to begin with. Thus the little snowman coffee mugs that have traveled up and down from the attic for 3 years now without even a drop of hot chocolate filling them … well, maybe they might be better suited for someone else (think e-bay).

Save tissue paper from your gifts to wrap up precious ornaments. Or shred used wrapping paper to create a cushion for those fragile items. I like to use color coded bins for each of my holidays – i.e. red and green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, etc. This way, it’s easy to locate everything the following year. And label the outside of each bin so you know exactly what’s in there when you go to pull it out again.

Get the trash out of your house as soon as possible! But be sure to check toy boxes for non-trash items – especially those instruction manuals!

Remember to recycle! Gift boxes, tissue, wrapping paper and the like can go in your curbside bin. Keep out bows, ribbon and any other "shiny" paper or ribbon. For those of you living in apartments in Winston-Salem or outside the city limits, you have until January 31 to dispose of your tree at a number of drop-off locations, and for those in the same situation in Greensboro or Guilford County, you have until January 15. See details in a previous TriadSmartyPants blog entitled Recycle Your Christmas Tree.

I know all you smarties out there have many more great tips on how you get you house organized after the holidays – please share!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Things To Know In A Dental Emergency

By Katie M

Last spring, the tooth fairy came really, really early to our house, and unfortunately it wasn’t cause for celebration. My then-14-month-old son lost his two bottom front baby teeth when his high chair tipped over and he had to be rushed to the emergency room. When we arrived, his teeth – root and all – were dangling from his gums but they hadn’t completely fallen out. I was initially told there was a chance the doctor could save his teeth by splinting them. But after careful X-rays and further examination, they decided to remove the teeth while reassuring me that there was no further trauma to his permanent teeth.

It was a horrible experience (probably more so for me than my son), but as a result I was able to learn some quick tips in dental emergencies that I didn’t know otherwise. When I got home I researched the information the doctor provided and found additional procedures from the American Dental Association – and thought this information could be useful to other Smarty Moms!

The following tips for dental emergencies were taken from ADA’s web site
and mainly refer to permanent teeth (fyi):

• If a tooth is knocked out, hold the tooth by the crown and rinse the root in water if it's dirty. Do NOT scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If you can, gently place the tooth back in its socket or store it in a cup of milk and head for the dentist (with the tooth) immediately.

• If you break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean and apply cold compresses on your face to reduce swelling. Go to the dentist immediately.

• Treat a bitten tongue or lip by cleaning gently with a cloth and applying cold compresses to reduce swelling. If bleeding is heavy or doesn't stop after a short time, seek immediate treatment from your dentist or emergency room.

• If a toothache is getting you down, rinse your mouth with warm water, gently floss to remove food that may be trapped around it and see your dentist as soon as possible. Do NOT apply aspirin to the tooth or gum tissues.

• A jaw injury or possible fracture needs immediate attention at your dentist's office or the emergency room. Apply cold compresses on the way to reduce swelling.

• If a loose or broken wire from your braces is irritating your mouth, cover the wire I end with a small cotton ball, beeswax or a piece of gauze until you can get to the dentist. Seek immediate treatment if a wire gets stuck in the cheek, tongue or gum tissue, but don't try to pull it out yourself.

• If you have a dental emergency while you are traveling, check the yellow pages under "dentist" for the number of the state or local dental society; the society will be able to refer you to a nearby dentist. Or, visit the local emergency room and ask for a dentist referral. If you are abroad, contact the U.S. Embassy or hotel personnel for a dentist referral.

Not a fun topic to blog about, but one that is important. If you have other Smarty tips for dental emergencies, please share below!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ideas for New Mommies

By Guest Blogger Rachel H

Although it was over five years ago that I was a first-time Mommy, I do remember getting way more advice than I ever needed on parenting. Some was good, some was bad, and sometimes I just had to learn the hard way on my own. There are a few ideas and suggestions that have stuck with me over the years. I have tried to include the ones that are not based on how to raise your child, because everyone has their own style. Instead I have included just a few fun suggestions and tips that I hope that some of you first-time Moms will be able to use!

Buy a “Baby’s First Year” calendar.
Each day write one quick sentence on the calendar about your child. It is quick and easy. It is also beneficial to have in case you do not get started on a Baby Book or Scrapbook until much later. This is a great tool to help you look back and remember all the little things that we seem to forget too soon.

The cuter the burp cloth, the less absorbent it will be!
Now I know this does not apply to ALL cute burp cloths. Actually, I often buy monogrammed burpcloths as gifts because it is always fun to have a few nicer ones. BUT, I still think the best way to go is to buy a package of cloth diapers and use those. They can clean up even the biggest mess!

Take a picture every month of your baby.
If your baby was born on August 9, take a picture on September 9, October 9, etc for a whole year. Choose the same stuffed animal to sit next to your baby each month and you will be amazed to see how much they grow.

Buy a Memory Box.
My favorite place to get these is a Home Goods store or TJ Maxx. They come in all sizes, but I like the large memory box because it can hold a lot and you can just slide it under the bed. They are usually covered in a cute material. It is an easy way to keep track of anything you may want to save for the future. Inside my children’s boxes are cards we received hospital bracelets, baptismal certificates, candles, first lock of hair after a haircut, footprints, favorite blanket or stuffed animal, photos, etc.

Take pictures of your friends, too!
You will more than likely have many visitors in the hospital and when you arrive home. Make sure you take pictures of these family members and friends holding your baby. Once you have a child, it is easy to get wrapped up in always taking pictures of just the baby. You will love to be able to look back one day and see everyone who met your baby and was there to welcome them into the world! It also adds a little more excitement to the scrapbook one day since so many baby pictures all look the same!

Don’t register for bibs or blankets!
Tell me if you disagree, but most of my friends all received way more blankets and bibs than they could ever possibly use. Family and friends are going to purchase these for you whether they are on your registry or not. I suggest not registering for any and once the baby gets here, you can always buy some then.

Never take tags off baby products until the day you decide to use it!
I know you want to get the baby’s room all set up and looking great, but there are often gadgets and clothing that you think you will use, but never do. If you keep them in the package, you can always return them for a store credit.

Try many different diapers before you settle on one brand.
Different babies do well with different diapers, but make sure you give some of the less expensive ones a try! I have a boy and a girl, and they both used the Wal-Mart brand diapers during the day and at night. They used these up until they were potty trained, and I thought they worked great. They were very inexpensive. I did major price comparisons on diapers when we were using them, and this brand was cheaper per diaper than the bulk packs at warehouses. The money you save on diapers really adds up in the end.

Get a picture with Santa every year.
And please don’t pay the outrageous prices that some places charge! There are so many opportunities to get a photo with Santa that you can take with your own camera. Keep them even if your baby is screaming in them! Those are the best later on! I was at a friend’s house the other day, who now has two teenage girls. On her mantle, she had about 13 framed pictures of her girls with Santa over the years. The pictures were so fun to look at and to see how her girls have changed over the years. I thought this was the best idea.

Keep a “Thank You Note” list handy.
You never know when a package will arrive in the mail, or when a neighbor will drop by with dinner for your family. Keep a list handy to jot down all of the kind things others have done for you so that no one is forgotten when it is time to write your thank you notes. And no, you will never have a free day to write them all, so go ahead and knock out a few each day when baby is content.

Now it is time for all you Smarty Moms to add a comment to my blog and give us some ideas and tips of your own! There are so many more out there that I am sure I have forgotten!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Smarty Mom – Robin F

By Katie M

Greetings Smarty Readers, and welcome to another Smarty Mom Saturday. This week I am especially pleased to introduce Robin F of Winston-Salem.

Robin is the first mom I met when I moved here almost four years ago. She and I share a dear friend in Charlotte who introduced us right off the bat. A native of Winston-Salem, Robin seems to know everyone and everything about our area! She has been a great friend from day one and has been gracious enough to introduce me to many of her other Smarty friends in the area. Robin is married to Chris (they both went to high school together but did not start dating until after college) and they have a beautiful little girl, Annie who will turn four in February. For the past couple of years, Robin has been a “nanny” to many of her friend’s children in her home, and now Robin acts as a back-up nanny to two children (ages six and four) at least two afternoons a week, sometimes more. Plus this past year, Robin started teaching and working four days a week at St. Paul’s Episcopal Preschool (where her daughter attends). All this, and she supports the very busy schedule of her husband who is chef and owner of Christopher’s restaurant near downtown.

So, let’s get Smarty with Robin.

How do you manage to juggle a busy household while managing your two part-time positions – all while your husband works more hours than the normal dad?
I don’t get enough sleep! I make lots of lists…and thankfully Annie is very laid back and easy. It’s very hard, but I try to focus on the fact that I’m thankful to be home with Annie and not working full-time and taking her to day-care every day. And, I have just accepted that some things will not get done!

What Smarty tips do you have for moms who struggle with the same busy schedules?
TRY to take time for yourself when you can. I find that it helps keep me going.
Don’t get too caught up in “doing things,” but try to focus on having quality time with your child(ren). That is what will be remembered 20 years from now…not whether or not your house was spotless!

Tell us about Christophers (located on Broad Street in Winston-Salem), and some of the specials your husband is offering this holiday season, plus other times of the year.
Christopher’s is a really warm and inviting place that feels like home to people when they go. The food is out of this world, and you can get things there that you can’t get anywhere else…like lobster mac & cheese and chocolate/raspberry dumplings! There is not a children’s menu, but Chris is always happy to make something special for children who are there. It’s a great place for a date night, but you should also feel free to take your kids. Especially to Sunday Brunch!

What is the funniest things Annie has ever said?
I breastfed for a long time, so you can imagine that some funny comments came from that. One time, Annie said, “Annie wants milk.” I said “from a cup?” And she said, “No, from Mommy’s bra!”

What is your favorite family activity?
Going to the Triad Farmer’s Market

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Going to a movie with a friend…and enjoying my big Diet Coke, popcorn and Junior Mints!

Favorite date place in the Triad, or near by?
Noble’s in High Point (we got engaged there!)

Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
Las Estrellas

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
Buying things on Ebay and at clothing exchanges

Favorite park?
Miller Park

Favorite birthday party venue?
My house! (It’s free!)

Mini-van or SUV?

I could not live without…
My precious Annie! (And chocolate!)

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
It is the perfect size town…plenty to do, but traffic isn’t bad, etc. Winston-Salem, especially, is very family-oriented, and I love that.

Thanks, Robin for all your Smarty answers!

Do you know a mom who goes above and beyond the call of duty for others, someone who does incredible work for her family and a charitable organization, runs a company and a marathon, or is just simply living the daily grit of motherhood? Then email me here your “Smarty Momination!"


Friday, December 26, 2008

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

By Katie M

It's never a fun task, but when you are ready to take down that Christmas tree, you might want to consider recycling. All you have to do is haul it to your curb, and your city will do the rest. Recycled trees are used for things like mulch at your local park.

Here are some links for information and tips on recycling your Christmas tree in Winston-Salem and Greensboro:




Smarty Guide to Return Policies

By Tracy S, VP of Mommyhood and Expert Working Mom, CharlotteSmartyPants

If you’re like me, you shop high and low for just the perfect gift. I really pride myself on trying to come up with the best gift idea for each and every person on my Christmas list (sometimes it can get pretty stressful, though). And there is just no way anyone would ever want to exchange it for something else! But the reality is, holiday gift returns are almost inevitable! Especially if you’re inundated with Speed Racer cars because that is the ONLY thing your 4-year old has asked for this year!

So, I’ve tried to put together a smarty guide on return policies at some of the more popular stores. The biggest thing is GIFT RECIEPTS! I know, I know … we all hate gift receipts! Especially when you’re super smarty and get a great deal on something – that should be your little secret, right? Unfortunately, so many retailers have migrated to the “lets make it impossible to return anything” theory and pretty much mandate one. So, if a gift receipt is enclosed, it makes returning something super easy. And in most cases, if it’s not … well, consider regifting at a white elephant party next year?!

Return Policies have gotten so detailed and vary widely by store so rather than bog down the blog, I’ve provided a link to each specific return policy.

While none of us like Target’s return policy, it’s really hard to boycott their store. I did however discover a couple of super smarty tips, though! Gift receipts actually are printed with a bar code that covers your entire purchase. You can request as many print outs of that one receipt – just ask for as many as you need when you check out. And if you forgot to get one … you can even bring your receipt back at any time and request one then. That’s one thing that annoys me with other stores is that if you forget to ask for one when they first start checking you out, you’re out of luck!

I don’t shop often at Wal-Mart, but I think they are actually one of the easiest places to return things. Unless they’ve tightened their policy, they pretty much take anything back.

Best Buy
For qualifying gift purchases made between November 1 and December 24, 2008, returns can be made through January 24, 2009.

Circuit City
Caution! Some of the Circuit City stores are closing. If you purchase a liquidation item, it cannot be returned. I called one of the stores not closing and they confirmed that they follow the standard return policy listed here. I would still be cautious though …
Items purchased between November 2, 2008, and December 24, 2008, can be returned in-store or by mail through January 31, 2009.

Toys R Us

Babies R Us
Babies R Us just recently changed their return policy – very frustrating because you used to be able to very easily return or exchange duplicate gifts but now you have to have a gift receipt or it has to be on your registry.
Items shipped between November 1 and December 31, 2008, may be returned until January 31, 2009 for a full refund.

Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic

Do you have any experiences with returning gifts or super smarty tips to share?


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

By Katie M

Merry Christmas Everyone! As you read this post, my family and I are on an airplane heading to NJ to see family and friends. As we've done in years past, we celebrate Christmas one day early because we travel north. I blogged about our crazy Holiday Traditions in a past blog in case you missed it.

We had a wonderful Christmas morning yesterday. Our new thing each year is to strive for the "Wow!" moment from each child with at least one unwrapped present under the tree. This year, Emily's "Wow!" came from a pop-up princess tent castle, and Henry got his "Wow" from an Imaginarium train table topped with Thomas-branded treasures. After the mayhem, we attended Christmas Eve mass at our church, enjoyed a dinner out, and then climbed into our beds extra early to rest up for a five more days of merry mayhem!

We hope you had a magical day as well and would love to hear any stories you want to share, especially if and how you achieved the "Wow!" factor for anyone in your family this year.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty Readers! If you are looking for something to do on Christmas Day (as if you don't have enough going on) or the few days afterwards, you might want to check out some these events happening this weekend. As always, don’t forget to check out the daily events at the Natural Science Center in Greensboro, and at the Children's Museums both in Winston-Salem and in Greensboro.

Also, this post usually lists only those events happening this weekend, but there is special not-to-miss event on Tuesday, December 30 at the Children’s Museum of Greensboro. Big Bang Boom band, a children’s music group from Greensboro, will be playing at the Museum’s New Years Rocking Eve “Eve Party” at 11 am. Normal museum admission rates apply.

As it’s the night before Christmas, TriadSmartyPants wishes a Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night (that is if your children actually go to sleep tonight!)

Christmas Day Ice Skating
Thursday, Dec. 25 from 4 – 9 pm
LJVM Coliseum Annex, W-S
$6 admission, $1 spectator, free skate rental and hot chocolate.

“Herr Kater’s Christmas” Puppet Show
Friday, Dec. 26 at 2 pm
Old Salem Children’s Museum, W-S
Join Herr Kater as he takes you on a tour of Old Salem to learn Moravian Christmas traditions. $6.

Open Bounce Extended Hours
Friday, Dec. 26 from 3:30 – 5 pm
Saturday, Dec. 27 from 8:30 am – 10 am; 10:30 am -12pm; 12:30 pm – 2 pm
Bounce U, W-S

Peter and the Wolf
Sunday, Dec. 28 at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm
Gray Auditorium – Old Salem Visitor Center
Come to join the special program from the Carolina Chamber Symphony Players. All-In-One Ticket or Special $5 Music Ticket is required.”

Share any other post-holiday events you know of!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tips for Flying with Children

By Katie M

After holiday shopping in short-sleeved shirts, we are now getting ready to fly north – and right into a snowstorm - for Christmas. As we prepare for a white Christmas, we are also trying to ready ourselves for the long flight ahead of us. Flying with children is never easy – especially toddlers and babies – and so I did a little research on some travel tips and found a great article from One Step Ahead’s web site. Below are suggestions straight from the article.

Before You Leave
Less crowds means less stress! If you have the option, book your flights for non-peak travel times: Mondays - Wednesdays, at midday, or in the evening.
Pack plenty of entertainment for the flight, including snacks, drinks, and activities. Bring far more than you think you'll need—you never know if you'll be delayed.

What to bring? Pack activities such as books, activity/coloring books, travel-sized board games, playing cards, and CD players. If your child has a portable video game system or LeapPad®, you will never appreciate it more. (Be sure to charge it the night before!)

Prepare your child for the trip. Tell him what to expect at the airport and on the plane, and give him tips for how to behave. (When checking or screening baggage, reassure your child he will get his belongings back — something many kids worry about.)

Remind your child that it's illegal to make any kind of jokes about bombs. According to the FAA, even a child's jest can result in fines and delays.

In the Airport
Allow extra time at the airport. As you know, everything takes l-o-n-g-e-r when traveling with kids.

Give your child safety rules, such as what to do if you become separated.
Should she stay where she is and wait for you?

One way to pass time in the airport is to give your child a little "airport allowance." Visiting the shops in search of the perfect snack or a magazine can keep kids happy and busy for extended periods.

Even if you don't ordinarily use a child tether, consider using one just in the airport. Remember, you will be distracted when checking in and claiming your luggage. There may be moments when you have to let go of your child's hand.

On the Plane
Take-offs and landings can be painful for little ears. Bring along ear filters, which buffer eardrums against rapidly changing air pressure. Encourage your child to swallow by offering beverages, gum, or hard candy. Or if your child still breastfeeds or takes a bottle, both are great ways to ease ear-popping for your children.

For maximum entertainment valve, bring toys out one at a time, and put one away before introducing the next.

Seat your child by the window. Most kids find the view fascinating. It's also safer than sitting on the aisle, where little arms and legs could get bumped.

Remember, not all passengers appreciate the joys of children...even a wonderful child like yours! Plan to keep your child entertained. (Some parents of noisy kids deliberately choose seats in the back of the plane, where engine noise can muffle piping voices.)

A Note about Safety
The Federal Aviation Administration strongly recommends that smaller children be seated in Child Restraint Systems ("CRS") — in other words, your child's car seat or booster.

Here are the FAA's weight guidelines regarding child safety seats:
•For babies less than 20 lbs., use a rear-facing car seat
•For children 20 - 40 lbs., use a forward-facing car seat or booster
•For kids weighing more than 40 lbs., use the airplane seat belt

For more information regarding child safety seats on planes, visit:

What other tips can you share about flying with children?


Monday, December 22, 2008

Green Christmas Gifts

By Dana D, Green Queen, CharlotteSmartyPants

For those of you still shopping, here are some last minute ideas. The following are gifts for those just starting to go green all the way to the green guru. I also wanted to remind you all to get creative on your gift wrapping. Tons and tons of gift wrap end up in land fills after the holidays. I remember last year I was cringing when we were at my in-laws and there were way too many bags of wrapping paper going in the trash. So look at buying recycled gift wrap, reusable bags, or even use the Sunday comics with some reusable bows. You will save money this way as well! If you are really good, you can carefully remove tape and save the gift wrap for next year. Of course this would mostly pertain to adult gifts since our kids tear through everything! Fish Lips and Green Girl offer some cool recycled gift wrap. So here are my green gift tips:

Stocking Stuffers
-Cargo Plant Love Botanical lipstick available at Sephora at Southpark Mall. $2 for every sale is donated to St. Jude’s - awesome! There are flower seeds embedded in the outer carton, so you can moisten, plant and flowers grow! Choose your favorite celebrity inspired color for the holiday party.
-Origins products at Southpark Mall
-Nourish soap from Savannah. 20% off now.
-Pacifica soaps, candles, etc. Available at Earth Fare.

The Gadget Lover
-XTerra Solar Charger with LED- can recharge MP3, GPS or cell phone using solar energy. $50 at REI.
-Solar charging backpack- can power an iPod for 3 hours and cell phone for 1 ½ hours.$249.95 at the Discovery Store.

The Book Worm
-It’s Easy Being Green and The Eco Chick Guide to Life at Barnes & Noble.

For the Work Place
-Add this to his/her desk to add a little green. The Ecosphere Pod called Beachworld. It’s a miniature biosphere. Very cool. Available at Target for $59.99.

The Green Diva
-Le Sport sac made from 100% recycled polyester and designed by Stella McCarthy. $150 at
-Soy and organic cotton v-neck long sleeve shirt by HT Naturals.
- Still looking for that cute little black dress for the holiday or New Years? Look no further. Bamboo black wrap dress at $133.

- They used to be the enemy but now Wal-mart is turning very eco-conscious. They now even carry a line of jewelry called Love Earth made of either 10K gold or sterling silver. The gold and silver can be traced by you back to the mine of origin. Mining of precious metals is highly polluting and conditions for the workers are less than optimal. According to a recent article in Fortune magazine, Tiffany and Co. and Wal-mart are the only companies able to track the origin and thus monitor the conditions. Very similar to buying conflict-free diamonds. For more info check out

The Green Dude
- Check out the gadgets listed above but a last minute gift would be an iTunes gift card. No more of the nonrecyclable CD jewel cases.

Hostess gift
-Check out Mrs. Meyers Holiday Clean Up Kit at The smell of ginger and cinnamon keep the holiday cheer coming.

Here are a couple of toys I missed listing last week that are great ideas as well:
- The Kettler Go Green Trike on Amazon.
- The Wonderworld Doll House- an eco house with recycling, tree planting, solar energy and solar energy themes. $129.99 at Toys R Us.

If you are really short on time, here are a few suggestions that I am sure will be a big hit!
-Make your own gift basket with organic wines, chocolate and coffee from Earth Fare.
-Make a charitable donation in the person’s name to their favorite charity.
-Plant a tree at
- Homemade food gifts.

Let us know if you have green ideas you would like to share!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gift Ideas for 1-2 Year Olds

By Ashley H, VP of Mommyhood x2, CharlotteSmartyPants

I know there are only a few days left for shopping, but today's post and tomorrow's post will give you some great gift ideas for you last minute shoppers!

Let's be honest, you don't need much to make this age group happy. A few plastic bowls & wooden spoons straight from your kitchen cabinets and the little ones go on auto pilot for a while. But, it is Christmas and if you are looking for some last minute ideas or have family still looking to buy I've put some ideas together below that are tried & true loves of the toddler set! As a general rule, it's always a great idea to find what you want and then check Smart E-Place, Craigslist or hit up your mom friends that might be looking to sell outgrown toys...I buy tons used and it's a great cost saving option!

Most toddlers by now are really into books and my twins are no exception. This is a wonderful low-cost gift that just keeps giving! On the hot list in my household right now are touch-n-feel picture books (these have simple objects pictured that the twins are using to learn word association...i.e. rooster, tractor, orange, etc.), they LOVE these. Any small sized board books work great for this age group, not easy to destroy & good size for small hands. We've read so many of our books over & over that I think we'll all be happy to find a new supply of books under our tree this holiday!

Push or Ride Toys
Toddlers love to push and ride things. Pushing is especially entertaining for our tots...they push their ride toys more than ride them.

The Radio Flyer Classic Walker Wagon is very durable and fun for my two to fill up and push around the driveway. I bought mine used but this retails for about $60.

On my list of "must haves" for this age group is the Step 2 Push Buggy...I can't tell you how many miles I've logged doing laps in my neighborhood in these! They don't sell a double seater for twins, just buy two they are very lightweight and easy to push side-by-side. I seriously think I may run the wheels off these soon, my two LOVE these. I bought mine used and my one complaint is that you cannot hear a dang thing over the sound of the plastic wheels on the pavement...must've been a common complaint because they've come out with the Whisper Ride Buggy (the XL Silent Ride Tires have quieted the travel in this ride). This retails between $45-$60 depending on the model and can be found at most retailers (Target, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Babies-R-Us, etc.).

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, comes in lots of styles and will be under our tree this year. My two love playing in these at friend's houses that have them already. I am buying used from another mom, these retail between $50-$70 depending on the model.

For a great push/ride inside toy, we've really gotten our mileage out of the Fisher Price Little People School Bus Ride-On. The babes love the handle off the back and use it to push this bus around the house, or one twin uses it to push the other riding twin. They also love hiding things in the lift up seat. I've seen this at the major retailers (Target, Wal-Mart, Babies-R-Us, etc.) and retails for around $20.

An oldie goldie is the classic Corn Popper. Mine love it and something we all remember growing up with so we know it's a proven well loved classic! Great gift for $12!

Supermarket Shopping Cart is on our list this year. We grew up with one as kids and I think literally ran the wheels off of it. I've heard a lot of toddlers favor this (and they seem highly sought after on Craigslist). Retails around $28.
Hide-n-Seek Tents
I bought a used pop-up tent for Christmas a few months ago. The twins love hiding in things (big boxes, under blankets, etc.) and then popping out to "scare" us. This tent has been sitting in our bonus room and the twins discovered it a few weeks ago and have LOVED running in and out of it and letting us find them in there. So I'm adding this to my list this year as a fun gift to consider. They really range depending on style, average price around $20.

Foam Floor Chair
Wonderful gift for little ones that love to climb on and off for fun, to read, watch cartoons, etc. We prefer the monogrammed Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair (retails between $110-$130), but other less expensive versions are available such as the Jr Club Chair at Toys R Us ($70).

Enjoy finding those gifts that intrigue and entertain your little one while they continue to develop. Share your favorites for this age group in the comments below!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Smarty Mom: Valerie Lecoeur

By Katie M

Happy Smarty Mom Saturday! I am excited to introduce our first Smarty Mompreneur, Valerie Lecoeur, green mom and owner of Zoë b Organic. Zoë b Organic is a one-stop shop for hip, organic moms offering a range of eco-friendly products-from organic maternity t-shirts to diaper bags made from recycled water bottles.

Valerie and her husband John have three precious children, Zoë (6), Lucas (4) and Sophie (1). They moved to W-S five years ago from Chicago. Valerie started Zoë b Organic (named after her daughter, of course) with a line of maternity t-shirts. Then her business started to really take off when she introduced Natursutten, all natural rubber pacifiers, in the US. Valerie also pens a blog for Zoë b Organic where you can find the latest organic finds.

Ok, let’s find out more about this Smarty Mompreneur!

What was your original inspiration to start Zoë b Organic?
As a mom, you become more aware of your everyday choices and when I realized that conventional cotton is really bad for the environment, I decided to try organic maternity t-shirts. And from there it evolved into BPA-free baby bottles and pacifiers. I would rather buy one organic t-shirt than two conventional cotton.

You have an incredible success story. Tell us how your business took off.
It was the perfect storm - first with all the recalls from China (Natursutten is made in Germany)- and then BPA in the news. At first I was retailing the pacifiers myself (having sold over 6,000 retail), then I became the exclusive U.S. distributor last August and landed my first big client with Babies R Us (they ordered pacifiers for their 300 stores nationwide.) The pacifiers are now available at Wholefoods and many small boutique across the US, including O Baby Organic in Winston-Salem. I work from home, and at this time, by myself. I hope to be able to afford some help in the near future.

How do you manage to juggle a busy household while running your business?
I manage, but barely. I do a lot of work in the few hours I have available but it is not easy.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms hoping to launch their own ‘mompreneur’ endeavor?
Be passionate about what you want to do. Don’t get discouraged.

Why go organic?
Though you may be unaware of it, growing cotton uses more pesticides and synthetic fertilizers than any other crop (50 million pounds of pesticides annually in the U.S. alone.) The pesticides used on cotton harm people, wildlife, and the environment. They can poison farm workers (especially in developing countries), drift into neighboring communities, contaminate the ground and surface water, and kill beneficial insects.

Do you always live the organic life, and if so, how?
I try but it's true that it's more expensive. You can find organic products at Harris Teeter and Costco, but in the end, I believe strongly it is better for my children and the planet.

Ok, now to less serious questions. What is your favorite family activity?
Going hiking in the summer.

Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Being silly and dancing.

Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
Mellow Mushroom

Favorite place to eat without the children?
Milner’s (Stratford Road, Winston-Salem)

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
The Internet.

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?

Best piece of baby/kid gear?
Sleepsack for my one-year-old

Favorite park?
Tanglewood (Winston-Salem)

Favorite birthday party venue?
My yard

Mini-van or SUV?

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
Everything is five minutes away.

Thanks, Valerie for your Smarty answers!

Do you know a mom who goes above and beyond the call of duty for others, someone who does incredible work for her family and a charitable organization, runs a company or a marathon, or is simply living the daily grit of motherhood? Then email me here to send along your “Smarty Momination”!


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Blessings of On-Demand Daycare

By Katie M and Guest Blogger Rachel H

As we count our blessings this holiday season, there’s one thing I am particularly thankful for and that’s on-demand daycare. What a genius idea! If you’re ever in a pinch (especially during the holiday hustle and bustle), there are two quality on-demand daycare centers in Winston-Salem. I’ll provide the information on KidSpot on Silas Creek Blvd, and Rachel will give you the skinny on BiziKids on Peacehaven.

For over three years, I have been using KidSpot. It offers convenience, a friendly staff (college educated and credentialed), and peace of mind – every time. Not to mention you never need to remember to call ahead to reserve a space and the prices are extremely reasonable – much lower than what I normally pay a babysitter (less than $6/hour per child). However, you are required to pay a two-hour minimum each visit, and your child is not allowed to stay for more than four hours because on-demand centers are not licensed daycare providers.

When you arrive at KidSpot you’ll notice you can’t just walk-in; you have to buzz the bell due to security (an added plus as it is located in the Silas Creek Crossing Shopping Center). At each visit, your contact information is added to their computer system (even if you are already a registered member they always check to be sure they have the current contact number), and the playroom is located behind a wall (yet another security measure to protect children from the store-front windows). The play area is huge and offers just about every toy imaginable, a wide screen TV for videos (yes, they usually have a video playing but who can blame them), a kid-size table for snacks and lunch (you need to provide the food), a protected play area for the younger kids, a computer room, and a quiet area in the back with cribs, changing tables and restrooms.

First time users of KidSpot are required to pay a one-time registration fee of $20 per family, then the cost is $5.75/hr per child, $9.50/hr for two children, and $12.60/hr for three kids. KidSpot also offers Moms’ Morning Out programs for three hours, one day a week for about $55/month/per child. Two days a week for one child is around $90. And you can always pay an additional $4 for a fourth hour of Moms’ Morning Out.

KidSpot is open M-Th from 9 am to 10 pm; Fri and Sat from 9 am to Midnight; and they are closed on Sundays. They are also recommended by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system on inclement weather days. For more information, you can call them at 336-760-2585, or visit KidSpot online.

Bizi Kids
Bizi Kids is a great resource as well, for many of the reasons Katie listed above. I feel comfortable leaving my children there and I definitely feel that they are safe and well taken care of. It has been a tremendous help to me personally, because I used to use babysitters when I tutored in the afternoons. It was always such a problem when a sitter would cancel and then I would have to call three different families to cancel my tutoring sessions as well. With Bizi Kids, you do not need to schedule a time to drop off your children, so if you have a last minute appointment, they are always there for you.

Bizi Kids is located on the corner Robinhood Road and Peace Haven. It is run by Charlotte and Audrey Eggers, who have been friends of my husband’s family for many years. The staff there is very energetic and creative. The children always seem to be well-behaved and under control, all while having fun. My children are three and five-years-old, and often beg to go to Bizi Kids! Jake says his favorite things to do there are go down the slide and play on the computer. Anna says her favorite things are riding around on the tricycle and doing art projects. They do give the children snacks, or you are welcome to send any specific food along with your child. Bizi Kids also has a security system in place.

Children must be between the ages of one and 11. Hourly rates are as follows: One Child: $8 per hour; Two Children: $13 per hour; Three Children: $18 per hour. The best deal is to buy a prepaid package. Rates drop dramatically when you purchase hours in a bundle pack. Rates for packages are as follows:

One Child
8 hours = $60 ($7.50 per hour)
12 hours = $87 ($7.25 per hour)
16 hours = $112 ($7.00 per hour)
20 hours = $130 ($6.50 per hour)

Two Children
8 hours = $100 ($12.50 per hour)
12 hours = $147 ($12.25 per hour)
16 hours = $192 ($12.00 per hour)
20 hours = $230 ($11.50 per hour)

Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday: 8:30am - 7:00pm; Friday: 8:30am - 11:00pm; Saturday: 1:00pm - 11:00pm; Sunday: Open for birthday parties only. *If you plan to use Bizi Kids after 7pm on a weekend, make sure you call in advance to make a reservation. You can visit Bizi Kids in Winston-Salem online or call 336-765-1136 to get more information.

There is also a Greensboro location. Check out Bizi Kids in Greensboro online, or call 336-288-2004 for more information.

The reviews above are just our opinions. If you have information to share about these businesses, please leave a comment below. Again, the comments are what make TriadSmartyPants a resource we can all use!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Smarty Alert: Evenflo High Chair Recalled

By Katie M

Attention Smarty Moms: News of this recall just broke today (as reported on WebMd).

Evenflo is recalling about 95,000 of its Majestic high chairs because of fall and choking hazards.

The problem is that plastic caps and metal screws on both sides of the high chair can loosen and fall out, posing both fall and choking hazards to children.

Evenflo has received 140 reports of seatbacks reclining, falling back, and/or detaching unexpectedly, which resulted in at least 47 reports of bumps and bruises to the head, two reports of broken bones, and at least 45 reports of other injuries, including abrasions and cuts.

The CPSC notes that Evenflo has received more than 1,000 reports of plastic caps and screws falling out of the high chairs, including seven incidents in which caps and screws were found in children’s hands or mouths but were removed before choking occurred.

The recall involves the following model numbers of Evenflo Majestic high chairs: 3001395A, 3001583, 3001633A, 3001669, 3001700A, 3001713, 3001713A, 3001730A, 3001732, 3001732A, 3001733, 3001742, 3001742A, and 3001756. The model number and production date can be found on a white label on the seatback. “Evenflo” is printed on the label and on the push button on the front of the tray.

The recalled high chairs were made before Jan. 23, 2007, and were sold nationwide from January 2006 through May 2007 at stores including Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Shopko, and online at

If you have one of the recalled Evenflo Majestic high chairs, stop using it immediately and contact Evenflo at 800-233-5921 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the Majestic high chair web site.!


Attention Mompreneurs!

By Katie M

Are you a mompreneur looking to promote your business? TriadSmartyPants wants to hear your success story and so do other Smarty Moms. Hundreds of Triad-area moms receive the weekly email to TriadSmartyPants and many more log on each day. Here's how you can spread your word for free.

We'd love to feature you as a Smarty Mom on a Saturday where you can feature your smart and savvy ways, plug your business, and showcase your family. Email us here if you are interested, and we'll send you a questionnaire to complete. Then, you just need to submit the questionnaire and a photo of you and your family (saved as a JPG file). Of course we want you to include any other pertinent information about your success and why moms would want to know about your business. Then when all is complete, we'll spread your news through TriadSmartyPants for free. We look forward to hearing from you!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Smarty Sweepstakes Winner Announced!

By Jen P

Our Smartiest congrats to our latest giveaway winner, Christine Ayers! She won the $925 Morrison Shopping Spree that includes gift certificates at Asana Activewear, BD Jeffries, Black and Blue, Chez Elle, E Martini, Experience Home Entertainment, Laughing Buddha, Hotham, Arooji's Ristorante & Wine Room and Morrison Dry Cleaners. Wow, you lucky duck!


Smarty Scoop on Weekend Activities

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday! If you are like me, you are already thinking ahead to the weekend and wondering what fun (and free!) events are scheduled – particularly those for kids. And if you’re really like me, you get frustrated searching a million different places for a decent event calendar. Well, my goal is to grow this Wednesday post as THE place to get the scoop on fun family events. But, as always, I need your help! Please offer any other event ideas below in the comment section.

Smarty Mom Rachel H offered some scoop to TriadSmartyPants this week: Be sure to check out LJVM Coliseum’s public ice skating opportunities. Thanks, Rachel, I know we will! Have a great weekend!

Public Ice Skating at LJVM Coliseum
Fri, Dec. 19 from 12:30 pm to 4 pm
Sat, Dec. 20 from 1:30 pm to 4 pm
Sun, Dec. 21 from 1:30 pm to 4 pm
LJVM Coliseum, W-S
$6 admission, $3 skate rental, $1 spectator

Four Seasons Town Centre Holiday Concert Series
Fri., Dec. 19 from 6 - 8 pm
Four Seasons Town Centre (GSO) is offering a free concert series to mall visitors this holiday. Enjoy free entertainment, courtesy of Four Seasons Town Centre. The King of Diamonds will be the night’s entertainment.

Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity
Fri, Dec. 19 at 8 pm; Sat, Dec. 20 at 2 pm and 8 pm
Triad Stage, Pyrle Theater, GSO
Triad Stage's family-friendly hit returns again this year. Reverend Roy Ledbetter and the Open Heart Community Fellowship congregation are back to bring the Christmas story to life in an Appalachian setting with down home laughter, toe-tapping music and a tug at the heart. In the tradition of the medieval mystery plays of Old England, Beautiful Star weaves music, humor and awe together, re-telling great stories from the Bible in a festive gathering of family, friends and faith. $12-$42

Christmas at Körner’s Folly
Fri, Dec. 19 and Sat, Dec. 20 from 10 am to 8 pm; Sun, Dec. 21 from 1-6 pm.
Körner’s Folly, Main Street, Kernersville
Come see this amazing historic 22-room mansion beautifully decorated in the magical splendor of Christmas. Adults $10, ages 6-18 $6, ages 6 and under, free. Open Christmas Day 1-8 p.m.

Christmas Castle Trail and Holiday Craft Show
Fri, Dec. 19 and Sat, Dec. 20 from 6 – 8:30 pm;
Sun, Dec. 21 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Castle McCulloch, 3925 Kivett Drive, Jamestown
A magical Christmas walking trail of lights, 22' singing Christmas Tree complete with decorated Castle and photo opportunities with Santa Clause. $6-9.

Family Fun Friday Night at the Greensboro Children’s Museum
Fri, Dec. 19 from 5-8 pm
The Greensboro Children's Museum welcomes all families to the museum on Friday nights for a night of fun. $3/pp

Sealy / FOX8 Holiday Concerts for The Salvation Army 2008
Saturday, Dec. 20 from 7:30 pm to 9 pm
LJVM Coliseum, Winston-Salem
FREE Admission with donation of requested items, such as canned and boxed food, baby diapers and toothpaste. During this holiday season, Sealy, FOX8 and Old Dominion understand that times are hard and The Salvation Army Food Bank is low on food and non-perishable items. To help raise donations, Sealy and FOX8 are partnering to host the Sealy/Fox8 Holiday Concerts to help families in the Triad (Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point areas.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cough and Cold Medicines for Children

By CharlotteSmartyPants Guest Blogger, Dr. Sameena Evers, a pediatrician in Charlotte, NC

'Tis the season for pumpkin pie, family gatherings, and of course the dreaded cough and cold symptoms we all despise. So what's with all the recent advisories to stop using over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to help treat cold symptoms in our children? What is safe to use? Do we really need something else to worry about? I'll try to help answer these questions in this article.

The FDA first made a statement about OTC cough and cold medicines about a year ago warning that many of these products were unsafe to use in children under the age of 2. More recently, many pharmaceutical companies have voluntarily labeled their products unsafe for use under the age of 4. These changes have come about far too late, in my opinion, for several reasons. First, the use of cough and cold medicines in young children has never been validated by good scientific evidence. We do know, based on sound medical experiments, that many antihistamines and decongestants on the market are effective in reducing the annoying symptoms of the common cold IN ADULTS. These medicines help to alleviate symptoms in teenagers and may work a bit in kids age 6-12 but there is no evidence showing them to be helpful in kids younger than that. Of course, the pharmaceutical industry doesn't go around touting this data as they have been busy stocking the shelves of every drugstore and supermarket in the country with a huge variety of remedies to "help" your child's cold symptoms.

The second problem I have with common OTC cold medicines for kids is that the labeling is so confusing! Even with my medical degree, I find myself stuck in the first aid aisle forever trying to decipher what is actually in these boxes. Many products have 3 or 4 active ingredients in one formulation. This leads to the biggest problem with these medicines which is that it's fairly easy to get confused with the actual drug being given to your child and overdose. Although the medicine doesn't do much good or harm in the recommended dose, you certainly can give too much of it and cause serious damage. Several deaths in this country due to improper use of OTC cold medicines in children led to the FDA's decision to publish the recent public health advisories. By the way, before there is mass panic over the fact that you have used some of these medicines in your own child, let me also say that no serious harm has ever been related to the use of these products in the recommended doses. So basically, you have a product that has never been proven to be effective or harmful when used as directed in children.

In summary, don't rush out to the drugstore to buy medicine for your little one when they get the sniffles. Make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids as staying well-hydrated can help your child get rid of the cold a bit faster. Rest up - get the kids to bed early if possible. A cool mist humidifier may help at night. For fever, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used. A saline spray followed by nasal aspiration with a bulb can help infants and toddlers to temporarily relieve nasal congestion. Also, a teaspoon of honey has been shown to be effective in kids older than a year at relieving cough. For the most part, time and TLC are the only necessary treatments for the common cold. Of course, if your child has a fever that lasts more than three days, trouble breathing, or seems dehydrated, see your doctor.

One final reminder, it's time for you and your children to get the flu vaccine if you haven't already!!

Thank you to Dr. Sameena Evers! Do you have advice from your local Triad pediatrician that you can share in regards to treating coughs and colds this time of year?


Monday, December 15, 2008

Nutcracker in the Triad

By Katie M

Yesterday I took my four-year-old daughter to the Nutcracker in downtown Winston-Salem, and it truly was a magical event. We met up with her BFF, along with her BFF's mother and grandmother. And after a great lunch at Hutch & Harris, we headed over to the Stevens Center to catch the dazzling performance by the students of the University of North Carolina’s School of the Arts and the Winston-Salem Symphony.

While yesterday's 2 pm show was the last performance of the season in Winston-Salem, two other Triad cities are gearing up to keep the tradition alive.

The Greensboro Ballet will present the Nutcracker at the Greensboro Coliseum on the following dates: Thursday, Dec. 18 at 7 pm; Saturday, Dec. 20 at 1 pm and 7 pm; and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 3 pm. Ticket prices for opening night are $15 for all seats (except Gold Circle), and tickets for all other shows will range between $10 and $35. You can purchase tickets online by clicking here.

High Point Ballet will also be performing the Nutcracker next weekend – but its performance promises a twist. Known as the Interactive Nutcracker, this event is the only one of its kind in the area and invites audience members to participate. Shows will take place at the Hayworth Fine Arts Center at High Point University. Show dates are Thursday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 pm, Friday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 pm, Saturday, Dec. 20at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 2 pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and seniors, $22 for students and children.

On Saturday, Dec. 20, High Point Ballet will also present the Land of the Sweets. Performed on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 11 am and 2 pm, these shows are a must see for young children. It will feature a parade of characters giving everyone a chance to meet the Nutcracker cast in full costume, and will include photo and autograph opportunities. Make sure to come early for the festivities as doors open one hour prior to performance.

Also teachers take note: Educators are encouraged to contact High Point Ballet in regards to the Nutcracker Student Performance Series offering special during-the-school-day performances at drastically reduced ticket rates. Performance dates are December 16 and 18. Additional information can be obtained by calling 336-889-2480.

Additionally, Thursday, Dec. 18 is Education Night for the Nutcracker. Tickets are just $10 with a valid student/educator ID, and High Point University students/faculty receives complimentary tickets for this performance only with HPU Passport Card.

Tickets for both the Nutcracker and the Land of the Sweets in High Point can be purchased by calling 336-889-9121 between 1 and 6 pm M-F. If you want a personal callback to purchase your tickets at a time convenient to your schedule, you can send an email to

If anyone has experienced the Nutcracker in Greensboro or High Point, or the Land of the Sweets, please add your comments and reviews below!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Smarty Gift Ideas for 3-5 year olds

By Jenny D, VP of Mommyhood and Ad Guru, CharlotteSmartyPants

Christmas can be overwhelming for parents and kids. I like to find gifts that allow the family to contribute to (additional pieces, rooms, etc), This seems to be less overwhelming for my daughter Zoe and it makes our list for her easier. Ironically, when Jen P. did this post last year, she said the same thing so it must be a good idea!

As with last year's list, dollhouses are still on the top. I loved the WestPort House from Potterybarn Kids. They didn't have it last Christmas, but they brought it back this year. They also have the Townhouse, School and others. Last year, I searched eBay and found one that was almost identical and 2/3 the price. I asked family members to buy rooms for the house so that she would have all of the pieces. You can sometimes find those on eBay for a little bit less, especially this year.

Jen mentioned the following houses last year: Ryan's Room, Home Again, Home Again-A-Frame for around $100. I also like the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Dollhouse for $80-ish or a smaller version (Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Fold & Go) for $50-ish. Melissa & Doug also sells cool rooms and dolls separately.

Dress-up clothes are always a hit for girls. Target usually has a hat box set that is filled with shoes, tutus and all kinds of clothes to build the perfect dress up outfit. Toys & Co has beautiful gowns and Disney princess versions.

Bitty Babies from American are great for girls 3-5. Other relatives can buy clothes or accessories. A great idea is matching nightgowns.

My girls love music and Zoe wants a Hello Kitty CD Player. I found one at Costco for $10 cheaper than Target. Now Santa can stuff her stocking with CD's. Jen's Santa makes a special cd mix customized just for her kids - huge hit!

Leapster is another gift that Jen mentioned last year, and everyone can pitch in to buy a game. Comes in pink for girls and there is green for boys.

Leap Frog Tag is a great new gift for kids learning to read. Children read aloud by dragging a pen over words. Additional books are sold separately which make nice gifts from others.

Zoe also loves to play games. We play Candy Land and Memory almost every night. So I am going to look into some other old school games like Perfection, Sorry, Jr. Boggle and Pre-school Uno. We also love puzzles, and Melissa and Doug have wonderful puzzles for kids this age.

Three-year-olds are also ready for their first 3-wheeler scooter. You can find a bunch of them on Amazon. For girls, there is a cheap princess one or you can order a Kettler version in primary colors. 4-or 5-year-olds can get their first Razor scooter with helmet and elbow/knee pads. And 3-year-olds may be ready for their first 10" bike and 4/5 year olds would need a 16" bike.

Another fun gift is a digital camera for little ones. Vtech makes a great one that hooks up to the computer so that kids can download their pictures and play games. I also saw in a Little Tikes catalog that they have video camera for kids this year.

A great year-round gift is a personalized lunch box. Alphabet Soup, Lands End, etc. have great flavors!

Thomas or Brio wooden trains are great. We would not recommend the plastic versions. Melissa and Doug also make wooden track that you can buy for $1-$3 a piece and build your own track. These are available at toy boutiques like Toys & Co.

I have been told by one of my friends with a 4-year-old, anything superhero is a hit. Look for Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Speedracer this season.

And finally activity gift certificates are a great idea, especially from Grandparents. YMCA dance/gymnastics/sports programs, My Gym, Little Gym, etc.

And please check out CharlotteSmartyPants’ Green Queen Dana's article on wooden toys. We all should consider putting more green into our gift-giving.

Happy shopping!


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Smarty Mom: Rachel H

By Katie M

It’s another great Smarty Mom Saturday with today’s focus on Rachel H. I can’t remember if I first met Rachel when our two oldest played on the same YMCA soccer team or if we originally met at church, but either way Rachel is the kind of person who makes you feel as though she’s known you forever.

Rachel and her husband Kevin have two adorable children, Jake (5) and Anna (3), and they live in the Triad after several years in Charlotte. For eight years, Rachel taught elementary school both in Charlotte and in Winston-Salem, and she also once managed a pool and coached a swim team for more years than she can count. But she gave all that up so she could stay at home with her children. Today, she is also a part-time math tutor for up to eight children a week, and continues her part-time Mary Kay business that she’s had for the past 10 years. Rachel is also busy volunteering for her children’s schools, her church, the KasieSmiles organization, Children’s Liturgy, as well as spending time with friends and family. All this, and she gives support when she can to her husband who recently became a business owner and now manages two restaurants.

So, let’s chat with Rachel.

How do you manage to juggle a busy household while managing your professional, social and charitable obligations?
I guess the biggest component is good time management skills. I have somehow figured out a way to always do two or three things at a time. But, I am also a person who likes to put 100% into whatever it is I am doing. I do not want to let any one area suffer, especially family, so when I decide that it is time to be with my kids, I try to really "be in the moment.” If we are playing a game, I won't answer the phone, check email, or make my little lists that I am always thinking about. I try to just play the game and that is it!

I think the other important factor is raising your children to be independent. It can be as simple as getting themselves dressed, picking up their rooms, getting out all supplies needed for a craft or activity, setting up the DVD player, getting their own snack, etc. My children are only three and five, so obviously the list of responsibilities can grow as they grow. The bottom line is that if your kids are helping themselves, they are also helping you.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms who struggle with the same busy schedules?
I think that if you can start your morning off smoothly, the rest of the day is a piece of cake! If your kids are young, one thing that has worked for me is the clothes organizer that hangs in the closet. It has five compartments with each day of the week on them. I put outfits in there for the entire week. When my kids get up, they can get dressed before they even come out of their rooms. We never have any arguments over what or what not to wear. (Don't quote me on that when my daughter is 13!) My husband leaves around 6 am, so we usually miss him in the mornings. The kids and I usually wake up at 7am, and are out the door by 7:30 am.

Another Smarty tip - the grocery express lane is great! Place your order online and pick it up without getting out of your car! Cost - $5

One more Smarty tip - I love the hourly child care drop off. Some family friends of ours run BiziKids in Winston-Salem, and it is a great service for me to use! I tutor some in the afternoons, too, so I can drop the kids off without ever having to worry about a babysitter cancelling, being late, or having to cancel my tutoring sessions due to one of these problems.

Rachel, unfortunately, you share a similar experience to those of us at SmartyPants, and that is losing a dear friend way too early in life. Tell us about your friend Kasie and how you devote your time to KasieSmiles.
Kasie was one of my BFF's since freshman year of college. We lived with each other after college for four years, we were in each other's weddings, and we were pregnant with our sons together.

She was about 12 weeks pregnant with her second child in August of 2005. I spoke to her one day on the phone and she had told me that she was having terrible headaches. Two days later, I got a call that she was in a coma in Intensive Care in Charlotte. Although I do not remember much of the drive down there, I drove to Charlotte in time to see her and tell her I loved her. After many different complications, she and the unborn baby passed away a few days later. Her son was only two. Needless to say, it was a complete shock for everyone. The result was a brain tumor that obviously no one knew about.

Kasie was in one word - awesome. Everyone knew Kasie and everyone loved Kasie. To be her friend was a privilege.

A few years before, Kasie helped start Charlotte Smiles, which was a group of lifelong friends who would help those less fortunate in the Charlotte area. After Kasie passed away, her husband, Phil, started a foundation in her name called KasieSmiles. In conjunction with both, we have started a few scholarships in her name and last year we put on a golf tournament, dinner and silent auction for over 200 people. It was a day to honor and remember Kasie, and we raised money for these scholarships at the same time. You can read more about Kasie on the website for KasieSmiles.

What is the funniest things one of your children has said?
We were in Dillard's and we had walked into a dressing room for me to start trying on bathing suits. All the rooms around us were occupied and it was dead silent except for Anna. "Hey mom, make sure no one sees your heiney." I responded with, "OK, Anna, shhh." Anna went on, "OR your wee-wee! Oh wait, I forgot, you don't have a wee-wee." I am starting to hear chuckles from all around. "But Daddy has a wee-wee and Jakey has a wee-wee. Right mom? Right? Mom, why do you keep saying Shhh?" You get the idea. I think I was crying by this time from laughing so hard. I don't think I ever found a bathing suit that day, but Anna sure made that miserable task a little more fun!

What is your favorite family activity?
Although I classify myself as pretty much "an indoor gal,” we love to be outside together as a family. Sometimes that is throwing frisbees or flying kites at Reynolda Gardens. Other times we like to go to Hanging Rock State Park and hike to the waterfalls. We love driving to Boone and showing the kids all the places we hung out while we were in college. We also love when area vineyards or parks have outdoor concerts. For indoor activities, we love the classic games: CandyLand, Checkers, Chess, Memory, puzzles, crafts, etc. We also have a family dinner EVERY night unless I am tutoring! All four of us eat together. I realize that this will become more and more difficult as the kids get more involved in sports and other activities, but my husband's family and my family always made family dinner time a priority, even into our teens, so we want to try our best to do the same. I will admit that we eat really early since my husband and I often have meetings or other activities in the evenings, but 5:30pm dinner time is a good excuse for us to have popcorn or ice cream after the kids go to bed!

Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Anything with my girlfriends! I love meeting friends for lunch or dinner, playing Bunco, going to movies, shopping, catching up on Facebook, etc. And I love reality TV. The cheesier, the better.

Favorite date place in the Triad, or near by?
PF Changs at Friendly Center or The Melting Pot – both in Greensboro.

Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
For a low-key, quick meal, we like Qdoba or Mello Mushroom. When we want to have more of a relaxing dinner, we usually go to Chili's because they have so many options for the kids. Also, BLL Rotisserie, or Outback.

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Gazoodles in Winston - end of season clearance! Love it!!! Cute and unique clothes that will be discounted anywhere from 30-70% off. Plus, they have a playhouse that entertains the kids while you shop. Also love The Children's Place. They always run sales and honor coupons on sale items. Plus, they have a point system where you earn gift cards for each dollar spent. One more: Mini Boden End of Season Clearance. This is my favorite place to get clothes for my son.

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
I go to so many sales, that I don't think we can afford for us to save any more money! (ha, ha)

One idea for a FREE outing for young kids - the mall! I know some people despise the mall, but I love it. We can go alone, or meet friends there. You can window shop for free, kids can ride the elevator for free, they can play with the toys outside of KB Toy store for free, they can play on the play area outside of Sears for free, there are always pretzel people handing out free samples, and the best is when we pass Abercrombie & Fitch - the kids have a huge dance party on the big floor area at the front of the shop as the store blasts their music. All for free! I will admit that now that my son is five, he is getting slightly embarrassed by the dance party, but for four-and-unders, the mall is a great outing!

Best piece of baby/kid gear?
As I think back to the baby days, I would definitely have to say the Megasaucer. Both of my kids loved it because they could sit up in it and see everything going on around them.

Favorite park?
For a picnic - Reynolda Gardens or the park at Five Points intersection in Winston. (It's actually just a big green area, but has lots of trees and room to run and play.)For a playground - Triad Park in Kernersville, or Tanglewood in Winston

Favorite birthday party venue?
I love huge birthday blowouts! I love throwing parties, attending parties, & crashing parties! (Just kidding about the crashing part.) But I also tend to go for big birthdays due to my friend, Kasie. She went ALL OUT for her son's first birthday. We all gave her a hard time about it and asked how she was going to top it the next year. Little did we know, she would only celebrate one more birthday with him. I quickly learned how precious life can be. We never know how many birthdays we will share with our children. It is only once a year, so I figure why not make it as big as we want?!?! And we don't have to necessarily top it the next year. Just whatever we have time for or are in the mood for - we do it. Luckily, both of my kids have birthdays in June, so we have been able to do theirs together. Last year was my favorite - we hired a children's band called Big Bang Boom to play in our backyard. The kids loved it and I think the adults did, too! We split the cost with another friend of ours who has a June birthday. So, we entertained 60 plus kids for only $75. What a bargain! Although, I am sure Big Bang Boom has raised their rates since then, so I would not expect to get that rate now.

Mini-van or SUV?

I could not live without…
My girlfriends. ALWAYS there for me and always so much fun.

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
The beach is only a few hours away and the mountains are only one hour away. Best of both worlds! Oh yeah, and we can get to the lake in less than an hour, too!

Thanks, Rachel for your Smarty answers and Smarty tips!

Do you know a mom who goes above and beyond the call of duty for others, someone who does incredible work for her family and a charitable organization, runs a company and a marathon, or is just simply living the daily grit of motherhood?! Then email me here!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Kid-Friendly Restaurants in W-S

By Katie M

I got the idea to blog about this from my mom friends at CharlotteSmartyPants, and like Jen P who wrote the original post, I too am providing a short list and that is only because we don’t get the opportunity to eat out much. Below are my top choices, but I know there are many more restaurants out there that are probably on your short list. These are restaurants I picked because they are kid-friendly, and not because of extensive childrens’ menus or low prices. So, when you reach the end of this blog, be sure to post your favorites – and your reviews – in the comments section!

Las Estrellas
Currently they have one location on Silas Creek Boulevard – but TriadSmartyPants recently learned that they are opening a second location in the building that used to be South by Southwest Restaurant– and that makes us muy alegro! First of all, when you go into Las Estrellas you are immediately immersed in its authentic Mexican atmosphere. The wait staff is super friendly (although not always that quick) and the atmosphere is pretty hectic and busy which is just perfect for dining with little ones. The menu offers endless choices at extremely low choices, but the best part of your meal is the chips and salsa they serve when you are seated – they are to die for. My daughter loves their hard shell tacos (I swear she could eat tacos every day of the week) and my 21-month-old son who is extremely finicky with food finishes his entire plate of refried beans and a cheese quesadilla. It’s a must go!

Mellow Mushroom
It’s always a treat to eat downtown and it’s an ever bigger treat to have pizza from Mello Mushroom. While this place usually crowds up pretty quickly, it’s never been a problem for us – but then again we dine with the early birds before 6 pm. You can sit in or eat out and either way there are a million things to look at, including zany murals and shiny objects on the walls, which always help keep the attention of kids of any age. They serve pizzas in all variety and every dish is a sure palate-pleaser for not only my husband and I but also our children. Plus (and I can’t stress enough the importance of this for our family) the restaurant is loud – always a good thing in our book.

Midtown Café and Dessertery
Love this place! While the prices can be a bit high for your usual breakfast, brunch or lunch (and now they serve dinner!), Midtown always gives me a good feeling when I go there. Their food is great (my favorite is their homemade chicken salad), and the presentation is creative for the kids. My two love ordering the Catepillar (which is available any time of day) and that’s a plate full of eight miniature pancakes shaped liked a caterpillar with chocolate chips eyes and a slice of bacon. Need I say more?

West End Café
I’m sure this is a favorite among a lot of Winston-Salem’ers. Located in the heart of the West End district, this is another place that gives you a good feeling as soon as you walk in. And the wait staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Not only is my 21-month-old son finicky about his food, but he also doesn’t sit very well when we eat out. But West End has that covered. Once, when our table had just been served, I had to take my son outside to blow off some energy. But, while we were outside someone from the management staff brought me my meal so it wouldn’t get cold. Another time when we were short of table-top toys in my diaper bag, the waiter was quick to bring us a ready-to-use bucket of toys they keep in the back “just in case.” Brilliant. And just all ‘round good food!

Mayberry’s Ice Cream Restaurants
With three locations in Winston-Salem (Miller Ave near Five Points, on Country Club between PeaceHaven and Jonestown, and in Reynolda Village) it’s hard to avoid stopping in at a Mayberry’s. A great place (and super casual which is always my style) for a quick sandwich or burger, or hot dog and chicken nuggets for the kids. But the best by far is its ice cream bar and selection of sundaes.

And like Jen P, I can’t write about kid-friendly restaurants without mentioning Chick-fil-A. What’s great about the two locations in Winston-Salem is that if you have time to kill after your meal, you can let your kids run ragged in the indoor playground at the Hanes Mall Blvd location. Or, if you’re like me and have a million things to do –but can somehow squeeze in a trip to the Chick – the Knollwood location works great because the kids don’t have the playground option. I don’t need to tell you about the food – you know it’s all good.

I'd love to write the same blog - or run a guest blog - about kid-friendly restaurants in Greensboro, High Point, and other Triad locations. If you have suggestions - or want to contribute a blog - email me here!