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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Smarty Mom: Julie G

By Rachel H

Happy Saturday! Our Smarty Mom this Saturday is Julie G. I met Julie a few years ago when a friend told me about a wonderful children’s camp called Camp We Wonder. Julie started this camp in 2007 as a spin-off of her friend’s Camp Cotton Candy. She does a wonderful job leading and organizing this camp! Both of my kids have attended in the past few summers and they absolutely love it. Julie is such a wonderful role model for the kids and an inspiration for moms!

Julie has lived in the Triad her whole life, and even married the little boy who grew up one block away from her. She and her husband Steve actually did not meet until college at Appalachian, but the rest is history! They have two boys, Owen 7 ½ and Drew 3 ½. She works full time as a ninth grade English teacher at Summit School in Winston-Salem. She is also in charge of service/community outreach, social activities, and spirit there. They couldn’t choose a better person to lead those activities! Both of Julie’s sisters have MS, and she is a big supporter of finding a cure. When Julie finally finds time to herself, she loves the Metabolic Effect classes and monthly massages.

So, let’s chat with Julie.

I know I am going to regret telling everyone about the best camp in the Triad because your spots fill up so quickly. BUT, please fill us in on Camp We Wonder!
Summer of 2009 will begin officially July 6th and run for four weeks until July 31st. I am in the process of getting my web page updated and it will be up and running by Valentine's Day. I like to think of myself as a creative person and this camp gives me just the outlet for that energy. I love creating the activities we do together with campers. I also have such fun reconnecting with former students who work as my counselors. Here's what you can expect:

JULY 6-10
Explorers wanted! We’ll spend the week examining everything nature—from bugs to flowers. Spend the week learning about the birds, bees, and bugs—all while having fun with your friends. WE will also pay particular attention to our role in saving the environment.

July 13-17
Bring your tastebuds! We’ll rely on the Food Pyramid for help with healthy eating. We’ll create Taste Passports to track the foods we tried. We’ll also learn about our bodies and try a variety of exercises.

July 20-24
Surf’s up! We’ll get you ready for a trip to the beach this summer. Spend the week playing beach games, singing, learning about the ocean, and creating neat keepsakes.

July 27-31
Open your mind because we’ll spend every day on a new adventure! One day we might be pirates looking for buried treasure; the next day we’ll visit Africa on a safari. Every day promises to be memorable!

How did you decide to start Camp We Wonder?
When my son Owen was two, I realized that I needed something to help stay busy during the summers. I’m not good at sitting still. I contacted a family friend, Elizabeth Pollard, about re-starting her backyard camp from her adolescence, Camp Cotton Candy, at Burkhead Methodist Church. She showed me the ropes. A few summers later, I wanted to do my own camp and Camp We Wonder was born.

What is your favorite part about teaching ninth graders? Any advice for moms of teens?
I have lots of favorite parts – school spirit, community outreach, introducing them to great literature, the relationships, babysitters for life, etc. William Stafford said that most of the material of writers is experienced before the age of fifteen. I totally agree. I am always amazed at what kids write in their poetry responses. Students move me to tears regularly. Also ninth grade speeches give me such pride. Fourteen and fifteen year olds stand before an audience of 150 and deliver a researched topic for seven minutes! Not many people are comfortable doing that at my age, but they do it anyway – and are better for it. They are inspiring. The literature is another aspect of my job that I love; Romeo and Juliet, A Tale of Two Cities, and the Odyssey are so rich.

Advice for moms of teens?
My students are going to hate me . . .
• Computer and TV in the family room. Teens waste countless hours watching TV and playing on facebook. Block facebook and myspace when kids are working on homework.
• Cell phones should be on the kitchen counter at night charging; I can’t tell you the number of kids who are still talking on the phone at 2:00AM on a school night.
• Help organize your kids –we’re not all born knowing how to do that. Buy them a planner, organize their study space and regularly help them purge their backpacks.
• Don’t overschedule your teen. Force them to do the family thing!

Please tell us more about your sisters and how you have been involved in the fight to find a cure for MS.
My older sister Cristy was diagnosed when Owen was three; my younger sister Ansley was diagnosed when Drew was two. Both of them have mild cases and give themselves daily shots of Copaxone to keep the episodes at bay. Cristy deals with fatigue; Ansley has numbness in her hands and upper torso. They are both living with the disease and making it work. They tell me regularly to take Vitamin D and be vigilant about my own health. We’ve been living with the disease and raising money as a family for the past several years. Last year we raised over $9,000 through a series of different fundraisers, but it doesn’t seem like enough. I worry that I might get it some day and hold on to the hope that in my lifetime a cure will be found. The sooner the better.

Now for the easy questions …

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
From friends. I share my sons’ clothes with a few friends and they share theirs. Then you don’t feel bad splurging on a $35.00 pair of shoes for your son.

What is your favorite family activity?
I have two. I really enjoy eating dinner together. We try to do that at least four –five nights a week. My husband calls it dinner and a show. Second, we travel to the New River where my folks have a vacation home. We leave everything behind and just play. Swimming, canoeing, fishing, hiking, flying kites, Wii tourneys, poker – we love all of it. I always return feeling rested and closer to my kids and husband.

Favorite book you have read?
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtrey. When we were first married, we named our dog Captain Bailey’s Magic after Captain Call. The characters are some of the best I’ve ever read.

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
K&W Cafeteria or La Carreta

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
Drew is hilarious. He is very animated about everything in his life. His favorite expression is “HEY! I have an ideal!” Recently we were having dinner and reviewing spelling words for my older son. We were taking turns, but Drew kept interrupting. We’ve been trying to teach him to be polite and wait. My husband told him to wait his turn for a second. He promptly interrupted and then said, “It’s been ONE second.” That was funny. It continued. I would say Owen’s spelling word; Drew would say whatever word came in his head. Mustard, then ketchup, then cookie, then stupid – which he followed with a Beavis and Butthead-like chuckle. I was staring at him with a look of – you know you’re not supposed to say that – when he asked –"What are you looking at?" - much like Gary Coleman on Different Strokes. My husband had tears streaming down his face as he tried to keep it together.

Favorite park in the Triad?
I’ve always been partial to Hathaway Park in Winston because we used to live in that neighborhood and take our dog there. But I also love hanging out at Reynolda Gardens and Hanging Rock State Park. The hiking trails in both lead to numerous bugs, adventures, and fun.

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Having our families nearby. My parents regularly see our kids and as a result they are very close. Because of health problems, my boys don’t get to see Steve’s parents as much. Regardless, we live around the corner from both sets of grandparents and one aunt. I love that I can run a quick errand while my dad watches the boys. Or that Drew will call my parents and say he wants to come spend the night. Or that my mom calls while she’s baking cookies to see if they want to come lick the spoons. Or that Auntie Beth needs some Drew-time. I could go on and on. It’s the best.

Best kept secret in the Triad? – she makes the best cakes! You should profile her!

Best birthday party you have attended?
Owen’s seventh army bday party in my own backyard. We made Tshirts – Alpha and Bravo. Then the two teams went through basic training, had a tug of war, and then an all-out water war with balloons, water guns and 15 boys. It was a blowout!

I could not live without my...
Coffee, Ipod, trips to the River, cheesy Reality TV, my circle of friends through Circle, Bunko and book club, and dates with my husband – no matter how infrequent they are.

I wish someone had told me sooner about...
Lowe’s Foods to Go and Dewey’s red velvet cupcakes

Thanks, Julie for all your Smarty answers!

We are always on the hunt for Smarty Moms. And while we've been featuring some moms who have done AMAZING things such as going above-and-beyond the call of duty for others, doing incredible work for her family, friends, or community, or has accomplished tremendous feats - we are also looking to feature moms in the Triad who just simply live the daily grit of motherhood! Please send us your "mominations" and don't be embarrassed to nominate yourself - no one will know! We look forward to hearing from you. Email us here with your “Smarty Momination”!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Birthday Party Etiquette

By Katie M

I have a love-hate relationship with my children's birthday parties. I absolutely love the idea of organizing a magical, awe-inspiring event that brings together family, friends and classmates for fun and fairytale endings. But I absolutely dread the costs of doing everything, the pressures to top the preceding year's party, and keeping on top of the etiquette that goes along with it all. I had no idea there would be so much confusion to consider after my daughter's first birthday. So, today I am calling on all you Smarty Moms for advice and tips for - not just me - but anyone out there trying to sort through the nuances of birthday party planning and etiquette.

As far as the actual party goes, we've set the bar pretty low in our family. That's worked out great for our budgets (maybe not so much for our kids - ha, ha - actually I have to boast they've all been great) but we realize the bar can only go up from here. For the most part, all of our birthday parties have been at home or at a park, except for one year at Chuck E Cheese. I know - gasp! But for a two-year-old birthday party, it was fantastic! The cost is extremely reasonable to rent a table and purchase pizza, drinks and birthday cake for a party of adults and children. There is live entertainment, your child gets recognized, and there are non-stop ride-on toys available for all ages. The best part is the low maintenance and the low stress - you just can't beat that. So, yes, I recommend Chuck E. Cheese!

However, now my daughter is an "official" preschooler and has lots of friends and gets invited to lots of parties. So this year we are ready to raise our bar (wahoo!). But then the question becomes how high? Who do you invite? Do you invite everyone in your child's class, or in my daughter's case, just the girls? Can you mix neighborhood pals in with classmates, or will someone feel left out? Do you extend invitation to siblings? Should you consider the time of the party so as to not interfere with younger siblings' nap times? Do you invite one or both parents? And what's the official "drop off" age for birthday parties?

I may be in my fifth year of party planning, but as you can see, the questions never seem to end.

Then there are the gifts. As a party attendee, what is the appropriate amount you should spend? I usually target between $10 and $15. Is that too high or too low? And what if you can't attend, should you still send a gift?

As the host, I am always torn on whether or not to say on the invitation "Please No Gifts." But then I think how birthday parties, in all honesty, are all about the gifts for children of these ages. Truth be told, I love shopping for children’s' toys way more than children’s' clothes - so I have never had a problem with bringing a gift. My children love receiving gifts (of course); however, I would never expect anyone to bring a gift to my child's birthday party. So do you make that statement on your invitation, or do you just leave it be?

I've also been invited to parties where gifts are donated to charities. I love that idea, but then I also question at what age does it work best? I think it's essential to teach our children the importance of charity and giving, but I can promise you that the concept of donating birthday presents would not go over well with my children. Not at this age anyway. I am still working on how to persuade them to help me collect toys - toys that haven't been touched in months - for Goodwill donations.

So there you go. I have lots of questions. Perhaps it's because I just want the day to be perfect for the birthday kid - whether it's mine or someone else's. What have been your experiences? Do you have any Smarty advice, etiquette rules, or opinions to share?


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Smarty Give-Away Winner Announced!

Kay Smith of Summerfield, NC, is the lucky Smarty subscriber who won the Free 3-Month membership to a Triad-area Rush Fitness Complex location. Congrats, Kay, and thanks for being a loyal Smarty newsletter subscriber!

And thanks to all who participated in both the 3-month membership give-away, and the 30-day free membership opportunity. Our friends at the Rush Fitness Complex have been very generous. Enjoy your workouts!

We plan on having many more give-aways for our newsletter subscribers, so continue to log on and watch for more information. And if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for the newsletter so you can participate in these fabulous give-aways!


Parent-Teacher Conferences

By Rachel H, Assistant VP of Mommyhood in the Triad

We are about halfway through the traditional school year! That means it is the season for conferences with your child’s teacher(s). You probably have a million topics you want to cover in the brief 15–20 minutes you are allotted. As a former Elementary School teacher, I highly suggest writing down your concerns and questions and bringing them along to the meeting. As a parent, you truly do not know how your child behaves when he/she is at school and you may not know if they are struggling in a specific area. It is easier to tell with older children, because an F on a test is a good indication that your child is struggling! With younger children, they do not have tests, and you may know not how they are doing. If the teacher has not already given you a head’s up, the only way to find out is to ask. Sometimes the truth is tough to swallow, but in the end, remember that the teachers are doing what is best for your child and are also doing everything they can to help your child be successful.

The best advice I can give is to always follow-up at home. If your student has been misbehaving, make sure talk to your child when they come home and find out what kind of day he/she had. It is important that the child knows there is communication between the parents and teachers. The same thing goes for academics. Ask how the test went or how they felt about today’s lesson.

I would also suggest that if you have many concerns, you may want to let the teacher know ahead of time so that he/she can schedule your conference for a longer time period, or save you for the end of the day so that you session will not run into others’ times.

One more tip is that if your child has a problem at school, the teachers may or may not know about it and it is worth letting them know. For example, I remember one year when I spoke to a parent toward the end of the school year. She made a comment along the lines of “Well, you know how Johnny has been treating Jack all year, and …”. I stopped right there and asked her what she meant. I had no idea there was a problem between Johnny and Jack. After we called Jack over and had a discussion, I came to find out that every time the kids were in line, Johnny would punch Jack in the stomach! Now these were 5th graders, so Johnny was plenty old enough to know better, and was plenty old enough to be “smart” about when he would punch Jack.

They had a specific alphabetical line order to make roll call easier for special area teachers. Well, Johnny and Jack were placed next to each other. Unfortunately, when the line would turn a corner, or I would be speaking to another student, that was the time that Johnny would hit Jack. As you can imagine, I felt TERRIBLE about the situation! It had gone on all year and I had no clue. Jack had never said a word to me and neither did his mom. She had probably sat home all year wondering why I let Johnny continue to treat her son that way! Not only was this interfering with social issues at school, but I am sure it had an affect on Jack’s schoolwork as well. Although teachers claim to have eyes in the backs of their heads, remember that they are humans, too. With anywhere from 23-30 kids in a class, it is honestly difficult to see it all. Moral of the story, communicate with your child’s teacher.

The principal at my son’s school sent home a list of questions to ask during a Parent-Teacher Conference. I thought it was a terrific list and wanted to share it with you all. I actually brought it along to my son’s conference this week! Most teachers will cover these topics during your session, but there are probably a few that will be great additional questions to help you determine how well your child is doing at school.

• What grade level is my child working on? Is he/she on grade level in reading and math? How about the other subjects? If he/she is below grade level, why and what can I do to help? Is tutoring an option?
• What kinds of tests/assessments do you give the students? How well does my child handle the tests?
• What are my child’s test scores in reading and math … what do those scores mean?
• Is my child in different ability groups for different subjects? Which ones? How are groups determined?
• Have you noticed changes in the way my child acts? For example, squinting, tiredness or moodiness?
• How is my child’s progress measured? Through tests? Portfolios? Class participation? Projects?
• What subject does my child like most? Least?
• Is my child working to the best of his/her ability?
• Does my child participate in class discussions and activities?
• How well does my student get along with others?

Good luck! Remember the most important rule of all … the success of the child should come first!

What Smarty advice do you have to share regarding Parent-Teacher conferences?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty friends! I don't know about you, but I've been so busy lately that I had no idea it's the end of January already! But it looks like a fun weekend ahead - and nothing finishes the week better than a Superbowl! No matter who you are rooting for, there are a bunch of fun Superbowl-themed events below, among other great fun family events.

Plus - TriadSmartyPants wants you to know that the Diaper Drive event takes place TODAY - not the 29th! That date was published incorrectly, and we'd hate for you to miss out on what looks like a an ingenious idea and event.

Enjoy the end of your week and the month!

Children's Museum of WS presents Rainbow Fish
Friday, Jan. 30 at 7 pm
Marcus Pfister’s award-winning book for young readers shimmers in this heartwarming musical about friendship, generosity, and compassion. Get your advance tickets now at the Welcome Desk or purchase tickets at the door. This performance will be at the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem (not at Hanes Auditorium as previous advertised). Cost: Tickets are $8 members; $10 non-members.

Twin City Cyclones vs Fayetteville Fireantz
Friday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 pm
LJVM Coliseum Annex, W-S
Pet Adoption Night. Team Photo Giveaway Night
Cost: $7.50, $10.50. $13.50 Need more information?

Book Signing with Michele Manderine
Friday, Jan. 30 from 10 am to 3 pm
Gazoodles Fine Children's Boutique, 133 Oakwood Drive, W-S
Children's book author, Michele Manderine, will be signing copies of her children's book, "Tristan, The Maine Coon Cat." Free. Phone: 336-725-0543.

Superbowl Tailgate Wow Cooking Class
Saturday, Jan. 31 at 12 PM
The Stocked Pot And Company Cooking School, 381 Jonestown Road, W-S
OK everyone who has ever tailgated has enjoyed a common variety of menu offerings, but really when was the last time a tailgate offering knocked your socks off? Chef Al Romano is renowned along the Eastern coast for his tailgate Throw Downs, and not for throwing some wurst or ribs on the grill. We are talking about real creative meals that will have standing at the table past halftime Our menu is, Crab and Shrimp Gumbo, Short Ribs Burgundy, Cod Fish cakes with remoulade, Italian Potato omelets, and Warm Chocolate Cheesecake Fantasy. Of course you do not have to enjoy these foods only at tailgate events, but what a look you will receive when your guests, say WOW!! 36 Seats Available. Cost: $44.00. Phone: 336.499.5844.

Zumbathon / Canned Food Drive
Saturday, Jan. 31 at 10 am
William G. White Jr. Family Ymca,775 West End Blvd, Winston Salem
Come out and celebrate a good cause and help feed families at the FiF Element Fitness-William G. White Jr. Family YMCA ZUMBATHON / Canned Food Drive. The event will be a 90-minute dance party that is great for all fitness levels!! Feel free to join in for all or part of the fun! Meet and sample various YMCA instructors, including the founder of FiF Element Fitness, Cortney Hill Wilson! William G. White Jr. Family YMCA members need bring 2 canned goods to get in; non-members need bring 3canned goods. All donated food will benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC. Space is limited, so come early!

Saturday Night Live
Saturday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 pm
West Forsyth Family YMCA, 1150 S. Peace Haven Road, Clemmons
Saturday Night Live is an event for kids in grades 6-8 to have a safe and fun environment to go to and enjoy time with their friends. There are themed nights, pizza, snacks for sale, a live DJ, open game room and open gym. January 31 is a Super Bowl Party! Come root for your favorite team! The doors open at 7:30 pm for VIP guests (members of any YMCA - Please bring card for varification) and 7:45 pm for everyone else. The night ends promptly at 10:30 pm. Costs: $3.00 for VIP guests, $10.00 for everyone else, Registration is required - available for download on the webpage.

Wildlife Jeopardy
Saturday, Jan. 31 from 6-8 pm
Frank Sharpe Jr. Wildlife Education Center, 5834 Bur-Mil Club Road, GSO.
Families are encouraged to attend and test their wits against each other and their neighbors in the community. Grand prize winner will receive one year of free programs at the Wildlife Center. Cost: $5.Phone: 336-373-3802.

Stampin' Up! Event
Sunday, Feb. 1 from 3-5 pm
Elizabeth Goliber, a Stampin' Up! demonstrator and an expert on rubber stamping, scrapbooking and home decor products, will teach you how to use all the products she sells as part of her Supper Stamping Bowl. Come try out Stampin' Up!'s products with a few stamping projects. Everyone will get one entry to win great prizes and you'll have the opportunity to earn other entries. One of the ways you can earn an additional prize entry is to bring a friend with you who I don't already know! This is event is free to attend. Just email your RSVP by Jan 30th to Phone: 336-924-3216. Blog:

Family First: Valentine Workshop
Sunday, Feb. 1 at 2 pm.
Reynolda House Museum, 2250 Reynolda Road, W-S
Look at love-inspired art in the Reynolda House collection, then make unique mixed-media valentines for someone special. For elementary school children. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is $7.00, and art supplies, as well as refreshments will be supplied. Reservations required.

Superbowl Party
Sunday, Feb. 1 at 6 pm
Confluence Coffee Shop, 12394 N. NC Hwy 150, W-S
Confluence will be open for Superbowl Sunday. Make plans to chill with us!

Teen Super Bowl Party
Sunday, Feb. 1 from 5:30 - 10 pm
Lindley Center, 2907 Springwood Drive, GSO.
Greensboro Parks & Recreation invites teens to come out and socialize with their peers, watch the BIG GAME, play basketball, board and video games, Nintendo Wii Madden ’08 and enjoy the refreshments. Registration is REQUIRED. Admission is $2 per student, or two canned food items to be donated to Eastside Park Community Center, a local non-profit organization. Phone: (336) 373-2934.

If we forgot an event, please add it in the comment section below!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Smarty Alert: Last Day to Register!

Don't forget to register for a FREE 3-month membership to The Rush Fitness Complex. This promotion ends at 5 AM tomorrow morning.

In addition to this 3-month FREE membership, EVERY newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership. All you have to do is email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.

Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The winner will be notified Thursday, January 29.

Good luck!


Great Place for Boys' Haircuts!

By Guest Blogger, Jane D

I’m not sure if other moms of boys have a hard time getting a good haircut for their son but I do. There is always some part that is either too long or too short and it takes a couple weeks just to start looking halfway decent. We’ve tried everything from the salon where I get my haircut to Sports Clips and just haven’t had good results. The other day, we walked in to The Boardroom and he was able to get his haircut right away.

The place is very nice and only for men (and boys). The lady, who happens to be the manager, did a fabulous job and was really good with him while he got his haircut. Although it is a little pricey at $15, he only goes every couple months so it is worth it for me. I highly recommend The Boardroom at 3346 Robinhood Road(between TJ Maxx & BIZI Kidz).

The Boardroom Salon for Men started in 2004 with locations throughout Texas, and just opened its first NC location here in Winston-Salem. The Boardroom is designed to feel like a sophisticated men's club, but it's atmosphere is more of a throw back to earlier times. In addition to haircuts, the Boardroom also offers men massages, facials, hot lather shaves, and hand and foot grooming services.

And, this post happens to be published the same day as the Boardroom's Grand Opening Celebration for its Winston-Salem salon. Located in the Sherwood Plaza (at the corner of Peacehaven and Robinhood Roads), the Grand Opening Event will take place from 4 to 8 pm, and men can expect to enjoy power head and neck massages, entertainment, refreshments and appetizers from Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro, and door prizes. For more information, visit the Boardroom Salon online.

And if you go to the Grand Opening Event, be sure to tell them TriadSmartyPants sent you!

The Boardroom is not just great for our husbands, but for our sons. If you've been, we'd love to hear about your experiences at the Boardroom. And TriadSmartyPants wants to know where else you go for great kid haircuts in the Triad. Add your comments below!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Smarty Alert: We're on Facebook!

Triad Smarty Pants is now on Facebook! Come join our community and learn the names and faces of other Smarty moms who follow TSP like you. Plus, you can see if you have friends in common with other Smarty moms in the Triad. It's just another place for us to interact and swap tips, tricks, links, resources, reviews and other local stuff. How Smarty!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Natural Childbirth

By CharlotteSmartyPants' Guest Blogger, Anne W

I was hesitant to write this post because the manner in which you wish to bring your child into this world is such a personal decision. Sometimes when I share with people that we chose natural childbirth (meaning a drug-free delivery), I am concerned that I have put people on the defensive because that is not the route they chose to take. When in reality, I feel like ALL women who go through childbirth have accomplished something incredible…whether through a c-section, with the help of an epidural, naturally, or whatever. This is just our story…

I decided that I wanted to “go natural” for a lot of reasons. First, after some research, I found that natural childbirth resulted in lowering the chance of medical intervention. This was something that was important to us. I also wanted my body to be fully aware and my mind coherent during the whole process (I know, crazy, right?). I know that our bodies were created to do this feat, so I really wanted to feel it happening. I wanted to feel Kate (my little girl) work with me as the contractions helped her along the way.

Another reason was just the sheer challenge of it all. I grew up playing sports and am very competitive. I think in a way I looked at childbirth as an athletic challenge…one that I trained for for 10 months. Knowing that I had to be in good physical shape for the actual birth really motivated me to work out and go to yoga class regularly. My Ob/Gyn said once that preparing for childbirth is like training for a marathon. I really took that to heart.

We also chose to go natural because it really stressed teamwork and the husband’s involvement. We used the “Bradley Method,” which is a “husband-coached” childbirth method. Bruce, my husband, was truly my epidural. If he wasn’t there pressing on my back and helping me in and out of a warm bath and counting down my contractions and reminding me to breathe and sneaking me Gatorade and crackers, I NEVER would have made it through.

Bruce and I participated in 12-week training. We attended Bradley classes once a week. The key to succeeding in natural childbirth is knowledge and training and these classes provided just that. We learned about everything… the whole child birthing process, the stages of labor, techniques to working through contractions, watching videos of births, pregnancy nutrition, etc. The saying knowledge is power absolutely applies to this experience! For instance, I was better equipped to endure the contractions because I understood them.

After all of the training and learning, the day/night finally came. My contractions woke me up around 2 a.m. I labored at home until around 6 a.m. When we arrived at the hospital, I was already 6 cm dilated…yay! We were fortunate that my labor was very textbook, meaning that I progressed pretty steadily and there were no complications. I spent A LOT of time in the tub because the warm water helped my muscles relax and also did a lot of bending over the bed so my husband could press as hard as he could on my lower back. All of the breathing I had been doing in Yoga also REALLY applied here. Yes, the contractions were intense. But, up until about 7-8cm I was thinking, “this is really tough but I can handle it.”

Then I hit what they call “transition” and that is when…well, at the risk of scaring anyone off that might be considering natural childbirth, let’s just say it was very intense. During those contractions (which started to be one on top of the other), Bruce literally pressed as hard as he could on my back to create counter pressure and counted out loud the time that had past so I knew how much longer I had to endure. Most importantly, I had to remind myself that instead of fighting the contractions, I must let them happen and ride them out. I had to let my baby make her way.

The beauty of labor is that your contractions only last so long and then nature gives you a break. Yes in the end, my breaks were VERY short, but that was a small portion of my overall experience. All in all, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, my body and baby gave me a break. Then we went at it again.

My water didn’t break until I was basically fully dilated. We had learned in our classes that you want your “bag of waters” to stay intact as long as possible because it actually serves as a cushion for your baby, thus taking a bit of the edge off your contractions. So we were fortunate to have held onto it that long. Shortly after the water breaking I was ready to push. Again, because I was fully feeling everything that was going on, I was literally able to feel Kate moving forward in my birth canal. I know that sounds a little graphic but the point is, I was constantly getting feedback, literally…I was getting rewarded by feeling her advance, which in turn motivated me to keep going!

After just about an hour of pushing, Kate greeted us with a big healthy cry, one that was music to our ears! We didn’t know if Kate was going to be a girl or boy, so that made it all the more exciting! After the delivery, it was amazing how quickly I went back to feeling like myself. I didn’t have to wait a while for anything to leave my system and it was nice to be able to walk around with our new baby. To say that I felt like I just won an Olympic race and Kate was my gold medal would be an understatement!

I also have to thank Dr. Schneider from the Bradford Clinic and the nurses at Presby. Schneider was our ideal OB…he checked in periodically but really just let us do our thing. He and the staff were very supportive and appreciative of what we were trying to do from the beginning.

We will absolutely attempt natural childbirth again when the time comes for a second. I am so grateful for our experience. I am so grateful that I can remember it so vividly. I am so grateful for how it added to the strength of our marriage. Most importantly though, I am so grateful for that beautiful little baby that they laid on my chest.

Thanks, Anne, for sharing your journey. Any inpirational thoughts or stories you'd like to share below, we'd love to hear. Please add them in the comments below!

Don’t forget to register to win a FREE 3-month membership at Rush Fitness Complex near you. Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The lucky winner will be announced on January 29.

Additionally, EVERY TriadSmartyPants' newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership as well. All you have to do is
email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smarty Mom: Jessica Robb

By Guest Blogger, Rachel H

Welcome to another Smarty Pants Saturday where we are featuring a new Smarty Mom! Meet Jessica Simstein Robb. I met Jessica through a mutual friend shortly after we moved to Winston-Salem. Since we were both teaching elementary school at the time, we had much in common and many stories to share. Jessica also had much knowledge of the area due to the fact that she has lived in the Triad since age five. Jessica is married to Julian Robb, and they have a beautiful little girl Ellie, who is 17 months old. Their family will grow this Spring, as they are expecting a boy in April! Jessica is a former teacher, who now stays at home with her daughter. I am excited to share some of Jessica’s Smarty Wisdom with you all!

You and your husband love to travel. Tell us about your favorite vacation so far. My husband and I were both born overseas to parents who love to travel. So traveling is something that we both really enjoy. My favorite trip that we have taken together would be our honeymoon. We went to South Africa. It is such a beautiful country - there is so much to see and do. We visited the vineyards and historical sites and went on safaris. Of course, there are some very sad scenes and it is not a very safe country. It truly makes you appreciate everything we have here.

You have taken Ellie on many trips with you. What are some tips you would give other parents who will be traveling with small children?
Ellie is a fairly well traveled little girl. She has been to Florida, New York City, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, West Point, and of course the beach. I think the best thing that parents can do while traveling is to keep your baby on his/her schedule. Also, we try to be flexible with our plans. We no longer attempt to make good time when going from point A to point B - we stop as many times as needed. When traveling by air, know the new laws and the policies for the FAA and the airline you are flying - they change constantly. We learned the hard way. On one airline, they would not give us water, we had to buy it. Of course, you could only buy water during certain times on the flight. This is not practical when you have a hungry baby and need to make a bottle with formula. Five things I am always bring with me I when we travel are a small light stroller, recyclable yet reusable plastic sippy cups, a container full of Cheerios, wipes (both Lysol and baby wipes), and Tylenol. By the way, we just became a proud owner of a minivan - love it! They are great for traveling!

Your father was a deeply loved surgeon at Forsyth Medical Center. Your family has found a wonderful way to honor him. Please tell us about the Lee Simstein Memorial Fund.
The timing of your interview is perfect for sharing information about the Simstein Fund - Super Bowl Sunday is the when the majority of the money is raised for the fund. My dad, Lee Simstein, passed away almost eight years ago from renal cancer. He loved life. He was generous, fun loving, and he loved sports. My family and I wanted to do something that would perpetuate his generous spirit. So we came up with the idea of the Simstein Super Bowl Party. It has now turned into an annual event, but people give to the fund year round. The Simstein Fund is dedicated to helping cancer patients who cannot afford personal expenses related to treatments-medications, transportation to appointments, lodging during treatments and more. Since 2003, the Simstein Fund has raised more than $120,000 and has assisted annually about 100 cancer patients receiving treatment at Forsyth Medical Center. Every penny of the Fund helps patients. My family and I receive updates on how the Fund has helped people. It truly is a wonderful cause and it really makes a difference in the life of a cancer patient especially during a difficult time. If you would like to make a donation to the fund you can make a contribution to:
Forsyth Medical Center Foundation, 3333 Silas Creek Parkway, Winston-Salem, NC 27103. Be sure to indicate the gift is for The Simstein Fund. Or, to donate online click on this link and be sure to indicate the gift is for the Simstein Fund.

You have lived in the Triad most of your life. What do you think is the best kept secret in the area?
Winston-Salem has a rich history which I think many people who live in here don't explore. Old Salem and the Reynolda House/ Reynolda Gardens are great places to take young children and parents can learn while they are there as well. Old Salem has fun shops, a children's museums, and a great bakery. The kids can pet the horses that pull the carriages or run in the square. The Reynolda House/Gardens has a museum, fun events year round, fields to run in, and a path along creek where you can spot various species of wildlife. When you are done playing, you can go to Mayberry’s and get some ice cream or go to the Village Tavern for a great meal.

What is your favorite family activity?
I love just hanging out at home together, playing and being silly, or going for walks together.

Favorite “mommy-time” (or daddy-time) activity?
I love reading to Ellie. As a former teacher, I know the importance of reading to your children. Watching her learn is so fascinating and a lot of fun. I'm always amazed at all the information she picks up when we snuggle together with a book.

Favorite book you have read?
For me anything by Nelson Demille or Ken Follet. Ellie enjoys almost anything. Eric Carle, Richard Scarry, and P.D. Eastman just to name a few authors.

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
Jason's Deli is a great place to take kids if you are in Greensboro or Winston Salem. They have a great (and cheap) menu for kids. You can get free muffins from the salad bar to hold them over until the food comes. They also have free ice cream cones for dessert. Their food is good and fresh and they have many healthy choices. They always have a lot of kids there, so if yours is fussing, you don't have to feel bad about disturbing the other customers. If you are in Greensboro, Mimi’s CafĂ© in Friendly Shopping Center is also a great place. With a purchase of a child’s meal (under $5), they give kids an appetizer of fruit and Cheerios. For dessert, they are served dirt and worms (chocolate pudding topped with crumbled Oreos and gummy worms). The food on the adult menu is very good – I’ve never had a bad meal there.

Favorite park in the Triad?
Tanglewood. They have a great playground. We always go visit the horses or feed the ducks afterwards. They have a children’s garden that is fun to walk through as well.

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
I feel like most people here still have old fashioned family values.

I could not live without My husband is an amazing father. He loves spending time with Ellie. He knows what she needs and when. I can leave her with him for a long weekend and not think twice about it. He also tries his best to keep me sane. Staying home with a toddler and being pregnant can make one go crazy at times. My mom and my sisters are another support system. I don’t know what I would do without them. We have done a lot of laughing and crying together. We are having a blast raising Ellie and her cousins together. Oh, and playdates!

I wish someone had told me sooner much it hurts to stop breastfeeding. Since I am pregnant again, that is in the back of my mind.

Thanks, Jessica 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 with your “Smarty Momination”!


Friday, January 23, 2009

What to Do When There’s Nothing to Do

By Guest Blogger, Rachel H

Wintertime can bring many days of cold, rainy weather. Often times we are stuck inside with kids who will constantly complain of being bored. The older ones will claim to have already played every game they own and they say they have read every book on their shelf. Now what? Aside from the obvious games, here are a few ideas that you may want to try with your kiddos!

Build a tent
And I don’t mean for you to pop up that Disney tent that is stored under the bed. Build a tent liked we used to! Pull out the sheets and blankets. Drape them over couches, chairs, and tables. Make different rooms and pathways. Little ones will love it, and as for the older ones, suddenly the games and books that kids did not want anything to do with before, are now much more interesting once they can take them into the tent and use them!

Go through toys
Get the kids involved with this if they are old enough. Go into their room or playroom and take at least three large bags. This is a great time to talk about those less fortunate and how some of the toys that sit in their rooms all year would bring a huge smile to another child’s face. Tell your kids that you will hold up a toy and they can say “Keep, Give away, or Trash." Put the toy in the appropriate bag and don’t look back! Surprisingly, my kids often want to give more away than I do! After you finish, take the “give away” items to a charity of your choice. The kids will feel great about giving to others, and your home will be a little less cluttered.

Pull out the boombox and your old CDs. Put it on full blast and go crazy! This activity is great for kids of ALL ages. My kids love my old disco music and 80’s music. And most important – mom has to dance, too!

Rubber stamping
Remember when you went to that Stamp Party and bought all those stamps, promising yourself that you would hand make all your birthday and holiday cards from now on? Well, dig the stamps out of the closet and put them to good use! It is difficult to ruin a rubber stamp, so even the good ones will be OK once your children have gotten into them. You and your kids can create masterpieces to keep or give away.

Watch home videos
Do you ever wonder why you are spending hours and hours videotaping your memories when no one ever watches them? You don’t have to save videos for a special occasion. Plug up that camcorder and let the memories roll! My kids absolutely love seeing themselves when they were babies. It is often that I tear up by something or someone from the past, but it reminds us of all that we have to be thankful for! It’s also a great time to reminisce about loved ones who are no longer with us and share stories with your children. This same idea works for baby albums and scrapbooks. Curl up on the couch and look at them together.

Make cards
If you are like me, going to the mailbox is always a joy. I love getting mail. But how many days do you find only bills and advertisements? Have your children make someone’s day by creating a card for them. It does not have to be for any special reason except to say hello, I love you, or I miss you.

Tell a story
This is a great chance to cuddle with your kids. Mom can tell a story first. Make it up as you go along. Then the kids can tell stories or even play the game where each person says a few sentences and then the next person continues the story by adding a few of their own, and so on.

My list could go on and on, but we want to hear ideas from you now! Please share your ideas of what to do when there’s nothing to do by commenting below!

Don’t forget to register to win a FREE 3-month membership at Rush Fitness Complex near you. Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The lucky winner will be announced on January 29.

Additionally, EVERY TriadSmartyPants' newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership as well. All you have to do is
email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Cloth Diapers Make Sense (and cents!)

By Guest Blogger, Andrea M

I could go on all day about why I chose cloth diapers, how I bought mine, why I use the ones I do and how I then figured out how to sell the ones I don’t need anymore. But since you are all busy moms I’ll keep this short and hope that you give it some thought and do some research yourself. And if you don’t want to read the whole story, jump to the end of this blog where I invite you to come see what other local moms have been using and will be selling on January 28.

Cloth diapers are generally made of cotton and a thin layer of waterproof material. Disposables are made of pulp, chemicals and plastics. Although I don’t have a degree in chemistry or biology, I am pretty sure that chemicals and plastics aren’t great for developing baby’s bodies or brains. (Think about the BPA issues that have gotten a lot of press lately – BPA is ingested through food, but we all know that we absorb stuff through our skin and the air we breathe, too.)

Cloth diapers can be washed in your home machine every 2-3 days, used for years and then re-sold to other moms. Disposables can be thrown away and then sit in a landfill for hundreds of years (landfills aren’t actual composting facilities – they are more like sealed storage that doesn’t circulate the water, sunlight or air necessary to actually break down the diaper).

Cloth diapers can be bought in cute colors and fabrics and can be worn “on the outside." Disposable diapers just aren’t that attractive!

Cloth diapers can be re-sold so you can recoup a lot of your original investment. Disposable diapers are like throwing money straight into the landfill 6-12 times a day for years on end.

Cloth diapers are not simple. I’ll give that one to the disposables. It takes some time to learn the washing routine, figure out which ones will fit your baby best (and which ones your spouses and other caregivers will use without giving you a hard time). But you probably invest time in researching the best and safest high chairs, car seats, toys, foods, etc. for your child. So why not do the same for diapers, and then you can see the logic of thinking through the cloth vs. disposables options before just following the trend of disposables.

As for how to buy them locally…you have three options:

1. Visit O Baby Organics in Winston Salem or Peaceful Beginnings in Greensboro. They have a limited assortment of brands and sizes but are fabulous for getting started and are a priceless local resource. I really value their missions in and commitment to the baby community, so I definitely recomment checking them out for cloth diapers, sustainable toys, clothes, and other baby items. And they both have classes of all types (breastfeeding, food prep, massage, story time, nutrition, mothering advice).

2. Use the Internet. There are hundreds of corporate and mompreneur brands to try. You can pick your styles, colors, etc., but the drawback is that you can’t touch and feel them or compare sizes and materials side by side.

3. Swap diapers with other local moms. This is, of course, my favorite option. You can talk to other moms about what has worked for them, you get to touch and feel the diapers before committing to buy, you can save money vs. buying them retail, you can even keep cloth diapers out of the landfills for a little while longer, and you can meet some of the people who may buy your diapers when you are done with them.

If #3 above makes sense to you, then come join us for Winston-Salem's first Cloth Diaper Swap on Wednesday, January 29, at 10 am, at 721 Luxbury Road, Winston-Salem, 27104 (driveway is on the corner of Horns Way and Luxbury).

This swap is for those who are interested in - or who are new t0 - cloth diapers, as well as veteran CD users. Come see what other people have been using and pick up a few options! See if you can increase your stock, trade up in sizes, or sell some of the ones you don't use anymore! And for those done with diapers, come sell your stock and earn back some of your investment while helping others!

I am opening my home the morning of January 28th to anyone who wants to come sell, learn about or buy cloth diapers. Most diapers will be gently used, though some may be new. Can't say for sure what brands and sizes will be available since I don't know what anyone will bring - but you can expect to see a variety of cloth diapers, liners, boosters, trainers, wraps, covers, woolies, snappis, wipes, and diaper pail liners.

Please limit items to Cloth Diaper-related items only. No clothing (other than covers) or toys please - my house just "ain't" that big! We'll see how this goes and it may become a quarterly event!

If you're an interested seller: Use labels or safety pins and tags to put prices and your name on each of your individual items (don't use sticky notes - they aren't sticky enough). Bring cash/change. Arrive between 9:30 and 9:45 am so we can get your items onto the tables.

If you're an interested buyer: Bring cash (don't forget small bills) - again, this is at my home so I don't have a credit card machine or ATM or the ability to verify checks. Arrive at 10:00am - I plan to wrap things up by 11:15am.

Feel free to email me here with questions or suggestions about the event.

Thanks, Andrea, for sharing your insight and event with other Smarty Moms! Andrea has also asked for all Triad Smarty Moms to please pass the word along to other potential sellers and buyers throughout the Triad. You can easily copy and paste today's direct link (from your browser above) into an email, or just tell them to visit This blog will always be here!

Please share your thoughts below about cloth diapers. We at TriadSmartyPants would love to hear them!

Don’t forget to register to win a FREE 3-month membership at Rush Fitness Complex near you. Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The lucky winner will be announced on January 29.

Additionally, EVERY TriadSmartyPants' newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership as well. All you have to do is
email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Hump Day, Smarty Readers! With MLK Day and yesterday's snow day, it seems like the weekend just ended, and now we are already looking forward to next weekend. Wahoo! The High Point Museum has a bunch of great events to consider, including an informational sessions for parents of rising Kindergarteners on Monday, Jan. 26. Below are some other great family ideas. If you know of an event that we forgot to list, by all means add it below. Have a great rest of your short week!

Discount Friday Night
Friday, Jan. 23 from 4-8 p.m
Children's Museum of Winston-Salem
Bring the whole family for fun at the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem and enjoy discounted admission of $3 per person.

Family Friday Night Bingo
Friday, Jan. 23 from 6-7:30 p.m
Greensboro Children's Museum
Join the GCM for a fun night of family Bingo and a chance to win lots of fun prizes. Free with museum admission, $6.

"Peter and the Wolf Meet Alice in Wonderland"
Saturday, Jan. 24 from 2-4 p.m
K.R. Williams Auditorium/WSSU, 601 S. Martin Luther King Drive, W-S.
The Winston-Salem Symphony and dancers from the High Point Ballet join forces to bring the charming tale of "Peter and the Wolf" to life on stage. The concert includes another timeless children's story - "Alice in Wonderland." Adults $9; ages 13 and under, $5.

Children's Museum presents OH BABY! New Item Sale
Saturday, Jan. 24 at 5 pm
Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem
New and expecting parents can find great items at this event featuring vendors from across the region that deal with products specifically for newborns. Contact for details about being a Vendor. Advance tickets sold at the Welcome Desk starting January 5. Tickets will also be sold at the door.
Cost: Vendor Spots are $100; Tickets are $5. Need more information? 336-723-9111 ext. 211

Kickoff to Kindergarten: Parent Days
High Point Museum
Monday, Jan. 26 from 11 am to 1 pm, and 5 pm to 7 pm
Calling all parents of pre-schoolers! Representatives from Guilford County Schools and other community resources will be available to answer questions and give you all the information you need to register and prepare your child for pre-school or Kindergarten. This free, drop-in event is co-sponsored by United Way of Greater High Point Children’s Initiatives, Guilford Child Development, Guilford Partnership for Children, Guilford County Schools, Get Healthy Guilford, the Junior League of High Point, and the Greensboro Children’s Museum.

Don’t forget to register to win a FREE 3-month membership at Rush Fitness Complex near you. Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The lucky winner will be announced on January 29.

Additionally, EVERY TriadSmartyPants' newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership as well. All you have to do is
email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finding the Right Preschool

By Katie M

The deadlines to register at area preschools are looming. Most registration deadlines occur between the end of January and early February. So, if you are hoping to send your little one off to school next fall, you need to do a little homework of your own first.

I found some great information online that may help you decide what preschool is right for you (and your child!). Below is a checklist of things to keep top-of-mind when interviewing schools, and then descriptions of some of the philosophies followed in preschools. Philosophies are pretty important. It’s good to think about your child’s personality and learning styles – and how they might fit in - when reading about the different philosophies.

Regardless of philosophy, here’s a good checklist to keep in mind when visiting or interviewing any school:

Teachers Look for:
Low turnover rate
Low teacher/student ratio
Early education degree-are teachers required to have advanced training?
Some schools, such as Montessori, have specific teacher training. Do their preschool teachers have it?
Teachers who talk to kids and keep them informed about their actions

Classroom Look for:
Clean, child-safe (no sharp or jagged edges on furniture or toys) environment
Age-appropriate materials
Toys and materials for free play
Safe active play area
Children are actively engaged in work or play

Schedule Find out:
What are the hours? Is extended care available?
How much time do children have for free play? Physical activity? Rest and naps?
Is the school open year-round? What days is it closed for Christmas, spring vacations?

Accreditation Look for:
Is the preschool licensed by the state?
Is the preschool accredited by the NAEYC?
Some schools, such as Waldorf schools, require affiliation with the umbrella organization. Is the school affiliated?

And then there are the philosophies to consider. Below are quick descriptions of the philosophies I found online, and hopefully these will help simplify your decision-making.

The underlying idea of Montessori is that children are individual learners with teachers as guides. Children participate in a variety of hands-on activities. Play materials are designed for specific purposes, which guide the child's playtime. Montessori fosters personal responsibility by encouraging children to take care of their own personal needs and belongings, such as preparing their own snacks and cleaning up their toys. A wide range of ages may learn together in one classroom, and children are encouraged to help each other learn.

The focus on individual learning allows students to work at their own pace, which promotes a healthy environment for special needs children.

Montessori instructors graduate from a special training program. Schools have the option to affiliate with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI or AMI-USA) or the American Montessori Society (AMS) but be aware that a school may use the Montessori name without being affiliated with a Montessori organization. Be careful to check the mission statement and curriculum of your Montessori school.

The underlying principle of the Waldorf program is dependable routine. The daily and weekly schedule follows a consistent rhythm, and teachers often remain with the same group of students for up to eight years, allowing them to form a trusting relationship. The atmosphere is home-like, with all-natural furnishings and playthings and a group-oriented curriculum. Waldorf emphasizes creative learning, such as play-acting, story readings, singing, and cooking. The goal of this system is to develop the child emotionally and physically as well as intellectually. A Waldorf school is good for students who thrive on predictable rhythms.

Various national and international associations regulate Waldorf programs, and a school must be affiliated with the local organization to use the Waldorf name. Teachers must receive special training through a Waldorf organization. In North America, this organization is the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America.

Reggio Emilia
Similar to Montessori, students take the lead in learning. The curriculum consists of projects that reflect the interests of the students. Teachers observe the spontaneous curiosity of their students, and then guide them to create projects that reflect their pursuits. Children are expected to learn through mistakes rather than correction, as they are considered equal learners. Their play and projects are documented in photographs and records of their own words, which allows teachers and parents to follow each student's progress and helps children see their actions as meaningful. Reggio Emilia schools emphasize creativity and artistic representation, so they may be a good choice for students who are learning English.

Schools with a project-based approach consider children to be individual learners and teachers to be guides. Students work together and with their teachers to negotiate, plan and work through projects. Their lessons are enhanced with real-world connections, field trips and projects. This approach encourages skill application and positive learning habits by attempting to make learning as pleasant and self-motivated as possible. This is a good program for children who work well in an unstructured environment.

The program deemphasizes social and emotional development in favor of academic skill development. Children and adults learn collaboratively, and students are encouraged to make independent decisions about materials and activities. High/Scope advocates learning experiences such as arranging things in order, counting and telling time as well as more creative and linguistic activities such as singing and dictating stories. Some programs involve computers in the learning process. High/Scope was originally developed for at-risk urban children and is appropriate for children who benefit from one-on-one attention, including special needs children.

Bank Street
Bank Street preschools are based on the early childhood program run by Bank Street College of Education in New York City. In Bank Street programs, children are regarded as active learners and the world around us is considered to be the best teaching tool. Lessons focus on the social sciences (such as history, geography and anthropology). Artistic and scientific lessons are included within cultural lessons resulting in an integrated curriculum. Classroom toys are basic, encouraging children to exercise imagination during play. Children may work alone or in groups, with specially trained teachers guiding. Bank Street programs are good for children who learn well in an unstructured environment.

Many churches and religious schools offer preschool programs. They may follow any preschool philosophy in determining curriculum, and they may incorporate varying degrees of religious content and/or training. If you are interested in a religious-based program, be sure to ask about their curriculum and philosophy, too.

Community centers and childcare centers often have preschool programs. You can find preschools through your local recreation department, YMCA or Jewish Community Center. Like religious schools, they may follow any one preschool philosophy or a combination, so it's a good idea to ask questions about their philosophy and curriculum when you are checking these schools out.

Parents who want a big role in their child's preschool education may want to consider a cooperative preschool, which can follow any preschool philosophy or a combination. Its distinguishing characteristic is that parents take on significant roles at the school. Participating parents take turns to fulfill various duties, such as school upkeep or preparing snacks. A professional teacher is usually hired, but may be assisted by parents in the classroom. This can be a less expensive alternative, as heavy parental involvement minimizes extra costs. Try looking for schools supported by a regional or state organization that regulates parent participation preschools in your area. Also consider finding a school that has not joined an organization or even starting a new one yourself or with a group of similar-minded parents!

Developmentally Appropriate/Play-Based
Developmentally appropriate (or play-based) preschools are fairly common. Their primary principle is to promote participation in age-appropriate activities, such as unstructured hands-on play, group story-time, and themed activities. Kids are encouraged to learn through play, though some have added more academic content in response to demand. Play-based philosophies may draw from multiple philosophies such as Montessori or Waldorf.

Language Immersion
In a language immersion preschool, all or most of the classes are conducted entirely in the new language. The teacher may demonstrate her meaning while she speaks, but rarely or never translates. This method is more appropriate for young children than translation learning (the more common teaching method for adults). The content may be guided by other preschool philosophies. The focus on a new language develops the child's language acquisition ability while providing fluency in the new language. Language immersion is best for children who are developing first language skills at a normal rate. It may temporarily slow development of the first language, and so it's inappropriate for children who are struggling in this area.

International School
An international school is usually a school instituted by a foreign country in another country. The language of the country of origin (often English) is typically used to conduct most or all of the classes. These schools were often set up for the benefit of the children of expatriates and local children who wish to learn the language. An international school may teach other languages in addition to the main language. These schools are best for children who are temporarily in a foreign country or for parents who want their children to learn the new language.

What have been your experiences with the different preschool philosophies, and what's your favorite? Add your comment below!

Don’t forget to register to win a FREE 3-month membership at Rush Fitness Complex near you. Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The lucky winner will be announced on January 29.

Additionally, EVERY TriadSmartyPants' newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership as well. All you have to do is
email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.


Monday, January 19, 2009

January Giveaway: Enter Now to Win a FREE 3-Month Membership

By Katie M

There’s no better way to kick off the New Year then a FREE 3-month membership to The Rush Fitness Complex. And with seven locations throughout the Triad, there really are no excuses now. Our friends at The Rush are giving one lucky Smarty newsletter subscriber this amazing offer, and all you have to do is fill out a short questionnaire by clicking the link below. This opportunity ends 5 AM on January 28, so after you enter, be sure to spread the word to all your other Smarty Moms throughout the Triad.

In case you haven’t noticed, The Rush has been popping up all over the Triad. In fact, the new location in downtown Winston-Salem is still celebrating its grand opening. Its spacious, high energy and sparkling clean clubs are designed to keep you ‘pumped up’ throughout your workout. Each location offers the finest hi-tech equipment including elliptical, bikes, treadmills and steppers.

The Rush also has expert fitness consultants on-hand to help you design a powerful, personalized workout – and offer nutritional advice – all to help you meet your New Years’ goals. The Rush will give you the personal attention you need to succeed, the confidence to challenge yourself, the focus to achieve noticeable results, and a workout plan to fit your life.

And while you’re enjoying your working out, you can rest assured that your kids are having fun too. The KidKare facilities not only offer day care and a play land, but also exercise equipment designed exclusively for kids with programs like Kid Fit, Kids Day and Kids Aerobics. KidKare is open seven days a week: M-F from 8 am to 1 pm, and 4 pm to 9 pm; Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm; and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.

You can find The Rush at the following locations throughout the Triad:

High Point
2620 N Main St. High Point, NC 27265

3711 Battleground Ave. Greensboro, NC 27410

4835 W. Wendover Ave., Suite 133 Jamestown, NC 27282

3120 Randleman Rd. Greensboro, NC 27406

Greensboro Sportsplex
2400 16th St. Greensboro, NC 27405

Downtown Winston-Salem
400 W. 4th St., Suites 100 & 200, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

2352, 2354 & 2356 South Church St., Burlington, NC 27215

Don’t forget that in addition to this 3-month FREE membership, EVERY newsletter subscriber is eligible to receive a FREE 30-day membership. All you have to do is email us here anytime between now and 5 AM January 28 to say you are interested. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem.

Just click on this link to be entered into this Smarty Give-Away designed exclusively for our loyal newsletter subscribers. The winner will be notified on January 29.

Happy Exercising!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

TV Ratings for Kids

Previously written by Jen B, Co-founding Mommy, CharlotteSmartyPants

I found a new website that I just LOVE. It is called Common Sense Media and it “rates” TV, Movies and websites for kids & parents. Such as, if a movie is rated “G”, how do you know if it is OK for a 3-year-old or a 7-year-old? Common Sense Media tells you what ages are appropriate and tells you WHY and gives you ideas about topics to discuss that happened in the movie or show. This site is chock full of amazing info, we’ll help you sift through it.

Before I had a child I am sure I probably made fun of parents who got hung up on stuff like this. But now, I see what they show in so-called cartoons and I worry about what sort of message they are sending. I had never realized how “violent” Looney Toons are! I am embarrassed that I gave that DVD as a gift to a 2-year-old before Claire was born! I am just way more tuned into this now and very happy this website is out there. Not that we want Claire (age 2 1/2) to watch much TV, but when we do we would like it be be appropriate and educational (she has not learned the word "stupid" yet and I want to keep it that way). I remember that when she was 1 1/2I was ready to consider letting her watch some shows but I had no idea which ones were good. This site has tons of info, so I have picked out a few pages that might be interesting. I have also listed a few popular kids shows and the ratings that Common Sense Media gives them. I will be doing this for movies and books in future posts. They also have some good lists of "Best Bets" for Kids Ages 2-4, Ages 5-7, and Tweens ages 8-10.

Here are a few ratings of popular shows. The web site details the ratings for each show and has much more info on the pros and cons of each show.

Dora The Explorer - Rated 3+
This is Claire's #1 all-time favorite right now. We read the books and on special days she gets to watch one episode. I like it because I feel that it has a pretty good message. She did get scared that Swiper was in her room one week and she does not like the one episode with the witch but she got past it and otherwise she loves it. She pretends she has a backpack just like Dora and tells me "Vamanos" all the time.

Little Bear - Rated 3+

Go Diego Go - Rated 3+

Blue's Clues - Rated 3+

The Wiggles - Rated 3+

Super Why - Rated 3+

Sesame Street - Rated 3+

Curious George - Rated 3+

Oswold - Rated 3+

Thomas The Tank Engine - Rated 3+

Danger Rangers - Rated 4+

Hannah Montana - Rated 8+

The Suite Life of Zach & Cody - Rated 8+

This is just a sampling of the reviews and ratings, to find any show go to the website.

What shows do you like for your kids? How much TV are your kids allowed to watch? And how old were they when they started?!

Don't forget about our Smarty Give-Away to The Rush Fitness Complex. Between now and 5 AM on January 28, all TriadSmartyPants' newsletter subscribers can email us here to say you are interested in the FREE 30-day membership. We will check to be sure you are a subscriber, and then we'll send you back an email confirming your eligibility for the FREE 30-day membership. You can then take that confirmation email from TriadSmartyPants into any of the seven Triad locations to redeem. Then tomorrow, newsletter subscribers have the additional opportunity to win a FREE 3-month membership to the RUSH. Don't forget to check tomorrow's post!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Smarty Mom – Jenna Guldberg

By Guest Blogger, Rachel H

I am thrilled to introduce Jenna Guldberg as this week’s Smarty Mom. I met Jenna about 5 years ago when I decided to bring my 6 month old son to a group called Power Hour at Star of Bethlehem church. This was a social group for moms and children that Jenna was running at the time. We sang, danced, did crafts, and got to know other moms and kids. Jenna was such a warm, welcoming person, and was great with the children. Jenna still helps with Power Hour at the church where her husband, Fred is a minister. She also helps him with his ministry. She has five absolutely beautiful children. Nate (9), Lauren (7), Luke (6) and twins Addy & Emmy (2) are full of life, well-mannered, and are a joy to be around.

The Guldbergs have lived in the Triad area for six years now, after moving here from Milwaukee, WI. Jenna is a stay-at-home mom and also home schools her children. On top of all her mommy obligations, she has also taken time for herself and decided to begin running. She is training for her first race this year.

So let’s get Smarty with Jenna.

Tell us more about Power Hour. Is it open to new members?
Power Hour is basically an hour long class for moms and kids to play together, sing songs, read stories, make crafts and hear a Bible story. It’s a ministry of our church to share God’s word with children and is free for anyone who would like to attend. While I don’t run the program anymore, my good friend Ronda has taken it over and is absolutely wonderful. It’s so fun to take my own girls and see how much they love playing with the other children, not to mention the enjoyment I get from visiting with other mommies! Classes are Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10:00 and you can call 794-0260 for more information.

You helped start a preschool at Star of Bethlehem. Tell us more about it.
Our preschool started out as a half-day program in the fall of 2007, but quickly changed to a licensed, full-day program as we got more and more calls looking for full-time childcare. The mornings are very structured with lots of learning activities, while the afternoons are a bit more laid back with naptime and play. I can’t rave enough about our wonderful teachers. Every once in awhile I have the privilege to substitute teach, and I love it!

How do you organize your day in order to home-school children of four different ages?
I truly could not do it without my husband’s help! We try to start our schooling at 9:00 am and usually the twins go downstairs and play while my husband works downstairs. We work hard to get the heavy learning out of the way by lunchtime and then have a little playtime. The twins take their nap at 1:30 and usually the older kids read, do their projects, etc. during that time. We sometimes joke that we miss being the typical relaxing couple at night. Once our children are in bed, we usually separate and get caught up on our own things…laundry, grocery shopping, school planning, and so on. It’s a sacrifice, but we know our family benefits from it in the long run.

What is your best Smarty Tip for moms with three or more kids?
Be flexible! When I think back to how I used to freak out when Nate was a toddler and would get dirty – YIKES!!! I think by the time you have your third child, too many of the everyday mishaps are out of your control and you can either fight against that and be miserable, or go with it and be happier in the long run.

What is your favorite family activity?
We love to have family game night. Even if it’s just a quick game of Go Fish, it ends our day on a positive note and sends the kids to bed with a smile.

What is your favorite mommy time activity?
I love to catch up with friends, especially when the kids are not around begging for snacks. Usually we meet at Panera and just sit and visit and enjoy the quiet atmosphere. Not exactly a wild night, but it rejuvenates me for getting back to the crazy family life!

What is the funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
The summer I was pregnant with the twins, we were visiting my family in Milwaukee. My dad had been outside mowing the grass and was quite hot when he came into the house. As he walked to the sink for a glass of water, he pulled his shirt over his head. Lauren’s eyes got wide as saucers and she asked in disbelief, “Is Papa going to have a baby too?!?!?”

Favorite date place in the Triad?
We love going to Cities and the Macaroni Grill.

Favorite place to eat out with the family?
Jason’s Deli – yummy, healthy food for everyone, and free ice cream for dessert!

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Honestly, I probably find my best deals at Kohl’s. However, I have many shopper savvy moms who tip me off to anyone having a good sale!

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
I don’t usually buy anything unless it’s on sale. Because I love to shop, I have a pretty good knowledge of what’s a good price for something. Even when I find something l love, I’ll watch it until it does go on sale before I buy it.

Favorite park?
Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury – well worth the drive for a cheap day of fun!

Favorite birthday party venue?
Well, between my five kids, we’ve pretty much done everything imaginable for birthday parties. My favorite is probably at home – even though it’s way more work for me, the kids seem to have the most fun in their own environment.

Mini-van or SUV?
Mini-van…between soccer, dance, violin, piano and everywhere else we drive, I need the good gas mileage!

I could not live without…sweet tea. It’s my one addiction!!!

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
We absolutely love that the Triad has a small town atmosphere, but any big city attraction you could want. When we first moved here I was convinced that I would never like living in the south, but now we love our home and can’t imagine living anywhere else!

Thanks, Jenna 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 with your “Smarty Momination”!