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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Smarty Mom: Kristie Touchstone

By Rachel H

It’s time for another Smarty Mom Saturday with today’s focus on Kristie Touchstone. I have known Kristie for about 5 years. We originally met through a mutual friend when our husbands played softball together. After numerous play dates, Bunco nights, lunches, dinners, birthday parties, girls’ trips, and even a night out dancing, our friendship has definitely grown. A bonus is that our children have also become great friends.

Kristie and her husband Ricky have lived in the Triad for 12 years. They have triplets who turned 6 this past September. Andrew, Abby, and Adam are all wonderful children who have their own unique personalities. Kristie is not only the most organized mom I know, but she is also extremely talented and crafty. On top of this, she has worked full-time at Alliance Display & Packaging for the past 9 years. She is also involved in many church activities, her Bunco group, and the Triad Mothers of Multiples group. Kristie loves reading and has also recently developed a passion for photography. She hopes to pursue this endeavor more as her children get older.

Kristie always has great Mom Tips for me, so I am hoping you’ll appreciate what she has to share with us today!

How do you manage to juggle a busy household while working full-time?
It seems like a straight-forward answer, but planning ahead is what keeps me on task. Of course, for me to do that, I have to have my calendar…and I have several of them. One at home, one at work and I also enter appointments on my Outlook calendar on my computer. Planning ahead also means thinking about what errands I need to run while I am on my lunch hour. Luckily, I work very close to Target and Sam’s…two places that I shop at frequently. Whenever I have several places to go in a short amount of time, I ‘map out’ my route and write it down. I do almost all of my grocery shopping online which saves me a ton of time and money (no impulse-buys!) Lowes-Foods-To-Go does a great job and normally the same person ‘shops’ my order every time. When I get home, I focus on the kids, feeding the family and getting ready for the next day. I’ve learned that sometimes have to ‘let go’ of things that normally bother me (a cluttered kitchen, messy bedrooms and piles of folded laundry) so that I can spend quality time with the kids. I am a night-owl so I stay up late doing things that most people do during the day.

How do you stay on top of school obligations with your triplets having three different teachers, homework assignments, and items to bring to school?
The whole summer before the triplets (a.k.a. “AAA”) started kindergarten, I wondered how I would do it! I bought a basic memo board (a big one!) which is half-corkboard and half-dry erase board and I painted/decorated it to coordinate with our kitchen. I hung it on the back of the door that goes out to our garage – this is so EVERY time I leave the house I see what is on the board. Each child has a calendar, a newsletter and various other things that I post on the board. If I need to remind myself of something REALLY important, I write it in big letters on the dry erase board. It has actually worked better than I thought!

Regarding the endless paperwork that they bring home from school…I just try to empty their backpacks as soon as we get home and I immediately throw away anything that I get duplicates of or don’t need to post on the board. They have very little homework right now, so that hasn’t been too much of an issue…ask me again next year about that!!!

Tell us about the Twin City Mothers of Multiples Group and how you have been involved with it.
I first got involved with the Mothers of Multiples club when I was about 5 months pregnant with our triplets and then I officially joined after I delivered. The club meets the 4th Monday of every month and also plans family-oriented activities outside of the meetings to get all of the kids together. As far as my own personal involvement goes, I was secretary of the Club for a year and then I became the ‘web goddess’ (as the club calls it) and maintained our website for 2-1/2 years. For those of you out there with multiples – the website is: The club also has a Clothing & Equipment sale twice a year – that has helped me stay organized because I am able to sell most of the things that our family does not need anymore.

What advice do you have for Moms of Multiples?
When people say to me (all the time) “ How do you handle having triplets?” I usually respond with: “I plan for the worst and hope for the best!” And usually, all of the planning pays off. I have numerous lists saved on the computer that I can just print out and check things off. In Excel, I have winter and summer trip packing lists, a list of everything I always buy at Sam’s, an on-going ‘to do’ list and I even have a ‘Christmas gift’ list for each child, my husband and me. I also keep a list of everyone we always buy gifts for each year and put all of my suggestions and/or purchases on it as I go. In short – organize, organize, organize! My other piece of advice sounds simple, but it is not: “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. If you have to let the house, dishes or laundry sit – try not to let it bother you so you can enjoy time with your kids. I am guilty of trying to ‘get it all done’ but there are times when I just decide that those things can wait.

I know that you have done a lot of research on child development because at an early age you were concerned about one of your sons and his development. What can you tell us about that?
Without going into too much detail, I want to stress that early intervention is KEY to getting help for your child. At age 3, one of our sons was not progressing like his siblings and we were concerned. Because they were preemies (born at 31 weeks), AAA were already being evaluated by Amos Cottage Child Development Center. Andrew was found to have significant delays in speech so we put him in a free preschool half-day program through WSFCS and it helped tremendously. He also has something called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) - which is not an official medical diagnosis - but something that I learned about after doing research on some of his ‘tendencies’ that were unlike his brother and sister. The research allowed us to understand WHY certain things (haircutting) bothered him and what things we could do to make certain situations more tolerable for him. A great resource is

One thing that many people may not know is that if you think your child is delayed, the school system can evaluate your child and if he/she qualifies, the school system will come up with an IEP (individualized education plan) to keep track of his/her progress.

Three-and-a-half years later, I continue to do research on my own and be Andrew’s advocate. We just recently learned that he has ADHD as well Aspergers Syndrome - both have similar characteristics of SPD. None of what we have learned about our son has been a surprise to us because we have been searching for answers on his behavior for so long now. We are not embarrassed or ashamed to speak out about any of what we have learned because it is “who he is” and we want Andrew to get all of the necessary tools and help he needs to succeed in school and in life. A great ADHD website is

By the way, Andrew loves kindergarten and he loves ‘playing school’ once he gets home. He is in a speech class several times a week and overall he is doing very well. The wonderful staff at his school has been so helpful with Andrew’s evaluations and now that we have some answers, his IEP can be modified to fit his needs. We are thankful that we went with our gut-feeling and started getting help for him so early.

Great advice! Now on to some less serious questions...

What is your favorite family activity?
One thing I do love doing is just walking around a state park, nature trail or just being outside with the family. There is so much to explore and AAA are inquisitive about ‘why things are the way they are’. Doing something like that really gives us quality family time because we are talking to each other with no other interruptions. We have a cabin up in West Jefferson and we enjoy going there as a family and seeing and learning about all of the wonderful things in nature.

Favorite date place in the Triad, or near by?
Hmmm…the two that come to my mind are Ryan’s Steakhouse (not to be confused with Ryan’s Family Steakhouse) and the Village Tavern. We like to venture out to different places though…this year we are finally going to try the Melting Pot!

Favorite place to eat out with the whole family?
My pick is Fuddruckers. It is nice and open and we can sit at a big table. Everybody likes the food and there is a wonderful employee named Alice there that always ‘takes care’ of us. Also…if it is somebody’s birthday…they will bring you a huge (free) sundae for everyone to share!

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I like to hit the sales at The Children’s Place or the Osh Kosh Outlet in Blowing Rock. Sometimes I wish I was more impractical with my clothes-buying but I just can’t bear to spend more for children’s clothing than I spend on myself! I am not afraid of hand-me-downs and I can find good quality, brand-name clothing for AAA at Once Upon a Child.

What’s the Smartiest way you save money?
As I mentioned above – grocery shopping online as well as doing other shopping online. I love internet shopping and I like to find as many coupons and deals that I can. I am also a coupon-queen when I shop in the stores. I hit all of the ‘end-of-season’ sales and then try to use coupons in addition to the sales. I buy in bulk at Sam’s and that has been a great money-saver as well…especially when the kids were drinking formula and were in diapers! I am also enrolled in where you can save money for college by registering your credit cards, debit cards and you savings cards (VIC card, CVS card). Each participating retailer ‘gives back’ a percentage of their choosing to your Upromise account.

Best piece of baby/kid gear?
Something that we couldn’t do without when the kids were babies was the Baby Bjorn bib. It is solid, yet flexible plastic with a nice ‘food catcher’ : ) When we’d go places and needed to feed the kids finger foods, we would just fill up the bib with pieces of food – no table needed!

Favorite park?
One park that I love is Horizon Park. It is not very close to where we live, but it is the best one around, in my opinion.

Favorite birthday party venue?
That is easy…anywhere but at our house! The kids like Bounce-U and we have done that for 2 years in a row and it has been great. I think we’re done with the ‘big’ parties - when they turn 7, we’ll just have each of them pick a friend or two to go do something special.

Mini-van or SUV?
Gotta love my mini-van!

I could not live without…my camera!

What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
The fact that there is a lot to do here but yet, it is so easy to get around. One other thing that I appreciate more about living here than I ever thought I would is that our family attends the church that my husband and I got married in (St. Leo’s Catholic Church) and that AAA were baptized in. We have met so many wonderful families there and our children are growing up with the children belonging to those families.

Thanks, Kristie 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 feel free to nominate yourself (especially if you are a mompreneur with a great service or product to promote)! We look forward to hearing from you. Email us here with your “Smarty Momination”!


Friday, February 27, 2009

“Mommy Brain” – It Really Does Exist!

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

Ok – so I think I have officially lost my mind! I mean, I consider myself to be a fairly bright and organized person, but lately I cannot seem to remember ANYTHING! I was first “diagnosed” with “mommy brain” over 5 years ago when I got pregnant with my son, and it’s certainly stuck with me through the years. But I think this past Monday was definitely the icing on the cake!!

I was getting ready to leave work and go pick up my kids. I made it as far as my office building lobby when I realized I could not find my keys in my purse. So I trek back up to my office to see if maybe I left them on my desk. Unfortunately, I could not get back on to my floor because I had forgotten my security badge that day at home (item number 1). So I had to wait until someone else was leaving before I could even get past Fort Knox security. I finally get to my desk and my keys are no where to be found. This is when I start to panic! Obviously I had them when I GOT to work, but now I have no way of getting home or more importantly, picking up my kids from daycare!!! So I mentally retraced my steps from the morning and deduce that I must have left them in the coffee shop that morning while I was busy chatting with a fellow co-worker (coffee shop is now closed!) So I call my husband (NOT a call I wanted to make), who I knew would already be on his way home so he could come get his family.

The conversation goes something like this:
“Yes, I’m almost home”
“What do you mean you lost your keys?”
“Have you checked to see if your car is even still there?” (No, I have not checked yet)
“Don’t you have one of those little mini check cards on your key ring?? You better check online-banking right away to make sure nobody’s been charging on it …”

That was when I had to tell him there were no worries there because coincidentally I had just cancelled my card for that account that morning because I somehow LOST my debit card the week prior after getting gas!!! (He was real happy about that one, too!) And to make matters even worse, I then informed him that if he needed to call me back, he wouldn’t be able to because my cell phone battery was completely dead!

About 5 minutes later I ended up finding my keys in some random side pocket of my briefcase but unfortunately by the time I called him back, he had already maneuvered his way through crazy traffic and was almost at the daycare.

All of this coming off the heels of me leaving my Ipod at the YMCA 2 weeks prior (thank goodness someone turned it in) and losing my glasses (still can’t find those)! As well as a trip to the store only to realize I forgot my purse (the mini check card sure came in handy then!) I will say though, I was slightly vindicated the next morning when my husband had to call me after dropping off the kids at daycare to let me know HE had forgotten all of the baby’s bottles for the day at home and could I please drop them off on my way to work! Would that be “Daddy Brain”??

Anyway, Monday for me was like that point when everything comes to a head and you realize you need help – serious help! So I did a quick search online on how to improve your memory. Lots of scientific stuff out there about brain neurons, etc … bottom line - exercise daily, reduce stress, get lots of sleep, and eat right. Problem is, as a mom, those first three can be a major challenge (ahhh … maybe that’s why we get mommy brain to begin with!) I’m looking for a quick fix, so I figured I’d try and incorporate some “brain healthy” foods into my diet. Apparently foods containing antioxidants, Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, especially B6, B12, and folic acid appear to promote healthy brain functioning. So eat up on broccoli, blueberries, spinach, asparagus, strawberries, melons, black beans and other legumes, citrus fruits, and soybeans and maybe we can kick this thing!! Oh – and apparently playing memory type games can help too, so get your kids involved!

Join my support group and share your funny “mommy brain” stories as well. (Or at least make me feel better that I’m not alone!)


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spring Clean and Donate All at Once!

By Guest Blogger Sarah K

Last week TriadSmartyPants ran a blog on Random Acts of Kindness. Continuing in the giving spirit, we have another way for you to give to others. I work with children at several daycares that are all under-staffed, under-maintained and under-stocked. The children at these centers are "at-risk" for so many reasons and one could easily argue that they need the best daycares, best teachers, and best materials only to come close to leveling the playing field. They have much to overcome in their little lives! I know times are tough and we all feel the strain but times like these make me so thankful for all I have and all I am able to provide for my children.

If you are like me and find yourself surrounded by more "stuff" than you need or could possibly use, please look at the list below and see if you have any of these items around that you may want to donate for a great, local, childrens’ cause. Ask your own children to go through their toys and supplies with you so that they can feel good about giving to other children.

This list was made by the teachers doing their best to help prepare these kids for school - so the items are mostly for kids ages 1-5. If you have other things not specifically mentioned but likely to help at a daycare setting or for education, I know they would be grateful for those, too. These items do not need to be new- anything in working condition or with the needed pieces would be great! Some things are easy Dollar Store purchases if you want to do that instead:

-Writing paper (for pre-writing or early writing with the big lines with dots between)
-Vehicle toys (cars, trucks, airplanes, etc.)
-Pretend food, dishes, pots/pans for housekeeping center
-Dolls and doll accessories (clothes, bibs, bottles, etc)
-Stuffed animals
-Puzzles (simple peg puzzles, larger floor puzzles, early interlocking - not too difficult)
-Educational games/activities (teaching opposites, things that go together, shapes, colors, numbers, letters, categories, sorting, rhyming, etc)
-Calendar x 2 (like teachers use at circle time to teach days, months, seasons)
-Any bulletin board items to teach letters, numbers, colors, shapes, seasons, weather (could even be flash cards)
-Large ziploc baggies - I want to compile baggies for each child to hold their supplies
-Crayons (small box for each child)
-Glue bottles/glue sticks
-Animals (figures they can play with, sort, learn names of)
-Writing workbooks (pre-writing, tracing, dot to dot, early letter writing)

We tried to choose a central, well-known location for you all to drop off any items you are able to donate. I will be in the lobby of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches on Hanes Mall Boulevard in Winston-Salem at either of these times:
Tuesday, March 3rd 9:30 – 10am
Friday, March 6th 9:30 – 10am

Jimmy John’s is located in the mall parking lot on the same side as McDonald’s. It is in the strip that includes The Vitamin Shop, Chipotle and Cold Stone Creamery.

We hope to see you there! Sarah, the Day Care Centers and TriadSmartyPants all thank you in advance for your generosity!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, loyal Smarty friends. They say March roars in like a lion, but let's hope they are wrong. The weather is supposed to warm up this weekend and it's a great time to get out and about. Lots to do around the Triad including more consignment sales. TriadSmartyPants is your consignment sales headquarters but there may be sales we don't know about. Feel free to add any additional sales or weekend events in the comments below.

And before the weekend hits, there is a great opportunity to do some spring cleaning that could benefit many at-risk children at some of our local daycares. More information to come in tomorrow's blog, but you will be able to donate toys and other items in the lobby at Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches on Hanes Mall Blvd in WS beginning Tuesday, March 3 from 9:30 - 10 am. Log onto TriadSmartyPants tomorrow for all the scoop.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

The Children's Boutique Resale
Friday, Feb. 27 from 9 am - 2pm, and Saturday, Feb 28 from 9 am to 4 pm.
Clothing will be designer/boutique brands and in excellent condition.
Located in the old Sweetie's building at 1228 Reynolda Road, WS
More information found by clicking the link above.

Book Fair
Friday, Feb. 27 from 9 am to Noon
King Moravian Church, 228 W. Dalton Road, King, NC
King Moravian Preschool will have an Usborne Books Fair featuring books for preschoolers to adults. Phone: 336-983-4003

Discount Friday Night
Friday, Feb. 27 from 4 to 8 pm
Children's Museum of Winston-Salem
All admission fees are $3 per person (or free for members) and families are invited to come to the Museum and experience everything it has to offer for a reduced rate.

Family Fun Friday Nights
Friday, Feb. 27 from 5 to 8 pm
Greensboro Children's Museum
Greensboro Children's Museum welcomes all families on Friday nights for a night of fun at a discounted admission of $3.

Greensboro Mothers of Multiples Spring/Summer Children's Consignment Sale
Thursday, Feb. 26 from 7 -9 pm
Friday, Feb. 27 from 8 am to 1 pm, and 5 to 9 pm
Saturday, Feb. 28 from 8 am to Noon (1/2 price)
Starmount Presbyterian Church, 3501 West Market St., GSO.
Come shop for gently used children's clothing, toys, baby equipment, and much more!

“Footloose” 10th Anniversary Tour
Saturday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 pm
The Stevens Center The Stevens Center of the U.N.C. School of the Arts, 405 W. Fourth St., W-S
One of the most explosive movie musicals in recent memory now bursts onto the live stage. To the rockin' rhythm of its Oscar-nominated Top 40 score, to which new, dynamic songs have been added, "Footloose" celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind. $44-$48.

Kid’s Club with Bright Star Children’s Theatre
Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10:30 am and 2 pm
Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Ave., GSO.
Heroes of the Underground Railroad featuring Harriet Tubman, Levi Coffin, Frederick Douglass, John Parker, and Henry “Box” Brown. For grades 3 and up. $5. Phone: 336-373-2043.

Scout Day: For Boy & Girl Scouts
Saturday, Feb. 28 at 9:30am
Old Salem Museums & Gardens 900 Old Salem Road, WS
Join us for an exciting day of exploring 18th Century Life Skills necessary to life in Salem long ago. Through demonstrations and hands-on activities scouts will experience history and learn what life was like in 18th and early 19th century Salem. Demonstrations and activities will be ongoing throughout the historic district. All participants will receive a schedule of activities for the day upon arrival. See the gunsmith, potter, pewterer and more at work; Rifle and musket firing demonstrations on the Tavern meadow; Try your hand at learning how levers, pulleys and simple machines work; Visit the Vierling House and learn about the doctor and early medicine; Learn how to make a blank book or brush up on your 18th century manners and deportment. *Please call Group Tours at 1-800-441-5305 to make reservations for your scouts. Cost: $8.00 per scout/adult. Need more information? 1.800.441.5305

Books Alive: Scientists on Stage
Saturday, Feb. 28 at 10:30 am
Lewisville Library Branch 6490 Shallowford Rd, Lewisville
Books come alive at the Lewisville Library the last Saturday of every month. Every session starts at 10:30 a.m. with a two minute actor warm-up, followed by reading the selected book of the month, and then kids get on their feet and learn by doing. K - 3rd graders will enjoy this interactive program.Cost: Free. Need more information? 336-703-2940

Playhouse Disney Live! On Tour
Sunday, March 1 at 1 pm and 4 pm
Greensboro Coliseum, 1921 W. Lee St., GSO.
See Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and all of your favorite Disney characters in an all-new live show. $14 and up. Phone: 336-852-1100.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quiet Boxes

By Rachel H

This is an idea that my mom uses in her preschool classroom. She helped me set this up in my son’s room and it has been wonderful. Thought I’d share!

Find a bookshelf or organizer similar to the one pictured. This one was from a school supply store. Kaplan Catalog Showroom in Lewisville may have something like this. Then use canvas boxes, baskets, Tupperware, shoe boxes, or any type of container that fits snug on your shelves. Get your child’s help in filling each box with a certain type of toy. My son’s quiet boxes are filled with the following: Lincoln Logs, bouncy balls, art supplies, Magnetix, cameras & view finders, army men, action figures, animal figures, dinosaurs, matchbox cars, rock collection, building blocks, miscellaneous, Bakugans, Pokemon figures, etc. You will be amazed at how many “little things” these kids keep in their rooms!

After we filled the boxes with toys, we labeled each box with a label maker and even added a sticker that showed something similar to what was in inside the box. My husband was making fun of how I was labeling everything and then laughed even harder when my son said, “Mom we really don’t have to put labels and stickers because I can see right through the box to know what is inside of it." (OK, one point for Dad.) But I still thought it was a good idea and made them look cute!

Once the shelf and boxes are all put together, you can go over the rules: You can only take out one box at a time when you are ready to play. When you have finished playing with that one, all the pieces must be back in the box and on the shelf before you can take out another box.

Of course now and then we have a few boxes out at the same time when my son has wanted to make a village with cars, people, and animals. But overall, the idea of only taking out one box at a time really helps them to keep their room (or playroom) picked up and looking neat. We have used this for about 2 years now. Toys have come and gone and we just refill the boxes with new things.

You are probably wondering why they are called Quiet Boxes. In my mom’s classroom, they use these when it is quiet time and each child needs to find something to do on their own. Here at home, we still call them quiet boxes because they are great for some down time when my son needs to go in his room and just play alone quietly. When he used to wake up really early in the mornings, we told him he could play in his room with his Quiet Boxes until the clock said 7:00am and then it would be time to come get mom. It worked great! Now we still use these for quiet times, but he also uses these toys when friends come over to play.

My next goal is to tackle my daughter’s room. Between the dolls, tea cups, erasers, dollhouse furniture, mini books, hair accessories, Dora figurines, chapsticks, and Barbie shoes I am sure we will fill up the Quiet Boxes in no time.

Please share any Smarty organizational tips you have for keeping your childrens’ rooms clean!


Monday, February 23, 2009

Tips for New Moms

By Rachel H and Guest Blogger Megan B

Rachel H:
I am happy to introduce my friend Megan as our guest blogger today. We met about 8 years ago when I started teaching with her mother. I liked Megan right from the start. She comes from such a good, friendly family with exceptional morals and values. I was so fortunate to be able to see her get married, and begin her job as the Associate Director of Clinical Operations at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Not only has she always been a Smarty Woman, but a few months ago she also became a Smarty Mom! Megan and her husband, Bob, welcomed sweet baby Julia into the world on November 14, 2008. Megan was on maternity leave for 9 weeks and has recently started back to work.

Even though my youngest child is only 3 years old, I cannot even remember what life was like when she was a baby. And I especially do not remember what it was like to be a first-time mom 5 and half years ago! So, I have asked Megan to share some thoughts with new moms and soon-to-be moms while it is fresh on her mind. Thanks, Megan!

Megan B:
Hello Smarty Moms and soon-to-be Smarty Moms! The past weeks have gone by so much quicker than that last trimester when Bob and I couldn’t wait to have Julia here with us. I really thought labor would be the hard part but looking back on it, labor was the quick thunderstorm with the rains coming for the next few weeks. Below are a few thoughts to share. Please don’t get intimidated by some of this advice, as these times have also been some of the most rewarding times of our lives. Feel free to take it or leave it, but a few reflections after moving past this beginning stage.

• Don’t feel that you have to be productive during this time. Your only job is to feed your baby, keep them clean and love on them. The time each day will fly by with just these items. I found the days that I expected to get a lot more done, I felt like a failure. So I got to where I would plan for one small thing to get done and base my success on Julia’s schedule. Learn to find small things each day to make you smile. Julia’s morning feeding was at sunrise so we got to watch the sunrise together, which was some of my most treasured times. Also, I would watch Grey’s Anatomy (from DVR) during feeding to take my mind off of it sometimes. If you have time, finish all of your thank you notes and anything that might hang over your head before the baby arrives so there is nothing to do during these 10 weeks but to enjoy baby. Visits were always something that I enjoyed but also really made me tired. I’m such an extrovert that this was tough for me to say no to people, but they can always come another day.

• Talk to friends when you need a pick-me-up but don’t feel that you have to call anyone. Sometimes contact with the outside world gives you adult interaction and reminds you how many people care and love you guys. Talk about the baby since that is what you’re going through, but also talk about other things. It’s okay to have things in your life beyond baby!

• If you decide to breast feed, hopefully it will come easy to you. Unfortunately it does not come easy for many people. When we had feeding issues, I was really down at first and thought I was the worst mom; however, so many friends and family shared that they have had similar issues. It turns out that a baby doesn’t have to have 100% breast milk to receive the benefits of breast feeding. Beyond anything, think about yourself in this case, too. You will take better care of your baby if you are not stressed out and exhausted (too much because you will naturally stress and be tired during this time). Call for help with your pediatrician if you feel something is wrong because your gut feeling is usually right. They don’t mind us first time moms calling with questions. They are used to it. If you want to talk to friends or just vent about frustrations, call them!

• Get lots of hugs and shoulder rubs from your husband! It’s really easy for you both to focus your attention on the baby and forget that you each have emotional needs, too. Many nights Bob and I would watch TV and relax with Julia on the couch next to us, which was a lot of fun as a family. However, there were times we would put Julia to bed and just have time together. Moving her to her room was also a good move for us as it gave us our bedroom for just us. We started naps in her room at 3-4 weeks and moved her at 4 or 5 weeks.

• Annabel (our 5-year-old black lab), as hard as this is for me to admit, did become 2nd priority to Julia even though she will always be our first child. Some things to try for your pet are to bring home a blanket from the hospital for him to snuggle with and have a new toy for him when you come home from the hospital. Bob carried Julia inside and I went in to see Annabel first. As we transitioned over several weeks, I tried to give Annabel some attention while Julia was sleeping so she knew I still loved her but don’t feel guilty if you can’t give him as much attention. Dogs are great in the fact they love you no matter what… a very good example of unconditional love.

• Get a calendar for the new baby. We have a calendar hanging in our kitchen that we received as a baby gift. It allows us to write notes on certain days as we think of it rather than having to do major scrap booking. Our calendar has stickers for the monumental items like first smile and other things. Then at the end of the year, you simply cut it apart and past in a scrapbook, add some pictures and you have easily documented the entire first year.

• All of the other things you will learn along the way. Taking care of a baby isn’t rocket science, but it feels like it at first. There’s such a steep learning curve and the good news is there are so many people that love you in your life that are there to help. There’s a book that goes through the first year week-by-week. We have enjoyed reading that together each week to look forward as to what to expect with Julia’s development.

• Last and definitely not least… Between 6-7 weeks, babies start to develop personality and start to respond to you and communicate with you through smiles and “baby talking.” This is the fun time and each week from there is more fun. Of course you get to enjoy the cuddly hugs before week 6, but then know you’ll have a little person in your presence, an amazing creation that God has blessed you with. No matter what, at the end of the day, you will love this little baby more than anything you ever dreamed. For me, it’s not an explosive love like fireworks but rather the warmest, deepest satisfaction that I have ever felt. Feel free to give tons of hugs and kisses, cry a lot, smile a lot, and reflect on yourself as a person as well as what’s important in your life.

• On going back to work… This is an area that has to be right and work for you and your family. For us, it was for me to return to work after 9 weeks of being home with Julia. The transition has gone very well for me thanks to support from my family. We chose to place Julia in a loving home while Bob and I were at work during the day. However, the first week Bob stayed home with her. This made the transition much easier because I could focus on just getting myself out the door during the first week. It also gave Bob a chance to bond with Julia. The next week, my parents stayed home with Julia for a couple days and then Julia started going to Mary’s home towards the end of the week. This gave us all an ease into the new schedule. Also, my husband and I sat down and planned out all logistics. This was helpful to think through and write down everything that needed to be packed the night before, time to wake up, morning feeding, getting ready, and getting out the door. More than anything, the fact that Bob and I are a team in taking care of Julia has helped the most. Of course I will continue to give work more than 100%; however, my priorities have shifted a bit and it is so much fun to see Julia at the end of each day.

• One last thing on balancing working and being a mom… Goodness knows I am learning each day through trial and error how to make this work. The CEO of Pepsi was once quoted (I’ll paraphrase here) that the balance between work and home is more of a rhythm. You can never be the best at work and the best at home at the same moment in time. However, you can give your best to work when you are there and then your best to your family when at home. Her thoughts about this rhythm rather than a giant balancing act have really helped me strive to give my best at what I am doing in that moment. It helps to put things into a bite size reality rather than an impossible task.

At the end of the day, when Julia looks up and smiles or cuddles into me, it’s all worth it plus some. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for all your Smarty tips, Megan. If you have any other tips to share with new or soon-to-be moms, please comment below!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Working Moms: Daycare vs. Homecare

By Jenny D & Tracy S, CharlotteSmartyPants

Tracy and I have a lot in common; we both work, are moms of two, and live in the same neighborhood. One thing that we don't have in common is our children's daycare situation. Tracy has chosen daycare, and I have chosen to have in-home care. We thought it might be beneficial to lay out the pro's and con's of each to help those new mom's who might need to make this decision soon or if you're considering a change in your current set up.

Jenny says:

Having someone come to my house is wonderful. Your child gets to stay at his or her house everyday, take naps in the crib she is familiar with and play with her favorite toys. As a working mom, the mornings are much easier as I don't have to pack up Zoe and Annie's stuff and load them in the car. Since I am rarely on time, this is a huge plus for me. Plus with my husband traveling as much as he does, it would be really hard to have to do drop-off and pick-up every day. This way my daycare comes to me. My mother-in-law watches the girls and I also have a babysitter who fills in when I need back-up

Some of the potential downsides include the lack of interaction with other children. We are lucky because my babysitter has a child the same age as Zoe, so this has not been a problem. She also attends preschool three mornings a week which gives her plenty of structure and fun time with other children.

In-home care can be much more expensive than daycare if you choose a nanny. However, there are options that can allow you to have a nanny if you are trying to manage cost. When I was pregnant, a friend of mine and I decided that we would share a nanny. The plan was to have the nanny come to my house for a week and then my friend's house the next and share the cost. My friend ended up sharing a nanny with someone on her street and it worked out perfectly for them. This is a wise choice once you have more than one child, the cost of a nanny does not double like most daycares do, so it can become more affordable the more kids you have.

Another benefit of a nanny is the ability to offer a fixed pay or hourly. Hourly pay is a good option for mom's who work part-time or have some help from relatives and need "fill-in" care.

Tracy Says:

We never really considered a nanny because I always had it in my head that it was too expensive for just one child. Not that daycare is cheap by any means (especially now that we will be paying for two!), but the daycare route we went ... and have been very happy with our decision. Jake is 4 now so his day care is actually more of a preschool. The things they do day to day simply amaze me! He has access to so many more opportunities and resources than I would be able to provide for him if it was just me. The social interaction is another huge plus - he loves his friends and teachers and has wonderful stories to tell us about nightly. The other huge bonus for my husband and I is that he is close to us during the day when we are at work. This is gives us the opportunity to go have lunch with him, join in on some of the cool activities they do, enjoy parent socials, or be close by if he gets sick or hurt during the day. Another big advantage is if your teacher is out sick or wants to take a vacation, you are not left in a lurch.

One of the downsides of daycare is that kids are exposed to more germs and you have to find alternate arrangements if your child then gets sick. We talked about this in a previous post, Sick Days for Your Kids. Also, it is often hard to get in to the good ones - a lot of times there are extensive waiting lists - so get your name added as soon as you know you need daycare. Most places will not let you get on the list until you are officially pregnant, sometimes even requiring a doctor's note. And plan to pay an application fee - anywhere from $30 to $75 per daycare application.

One last thing to consider - and this can be a pro as well as a con. Daycares have lots of rules they have to follow. And the higher the daycare rating, the more strict the rules. This ranges anywhere from the amount of paperwork you have to fill out and the amount of time the children spend outside to policies on dispensing medication and the kind of sunscreen you can bring for reapplication throughout the day. These rules and regulations are primarily driven by the state and the daycare rating system (what makes a 5-star daycare 5 stars) and are mostly in place to help maintain the safety and well being of your child (pro) but can also be extremely frustrating at times (con).

Whichever route you decide to take, be sure that it works for you. Having someone else care for your child is hard enough - you want to make sure you're comfortable with your choice. As always, we've shared our own unique experiences with each option of child care, so please share your experiences with nannies or daycares or other means of child care all together.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Smarty Mom: Marybeth Barrett

By Katie M

Happy Smarty Mom Saturday! Today I am excited to introduce a super savvy – and very funny - mompreneur, Marybeth Barrett, or “Madame Craftsalot, whichever you prefer,” she says. Marybeth is a stay-at-home mom who works part time as an interior decorator by day and crafter by night. She owns an interior redesign, home-staging and color business called Addressing Spaces. She also makes and sells a variety of art, home décor and accessories on her web site. And if that's not enough to keep her busy, she also keeps a blog about do-it-yourself projects at

Marybeth and her husband, Dan, have two adorable children: McLendon (Mac) age 5, and McAlister (Cal) age 2 ½. The have lived in the Triad (Winston-Salem) for four years after living in Atlanta and Florida.

In her own words, Marybeth is “addicted to crafting. I love anything arts and crafts-related. My husband got me a table saw for Christmas!” Marybeth was also one of eight designers who volunteered her services and expertise to decorate a room to help raise money for the Habitat for Humanity Restore Spaces event, and won two awards! Additionally, she is a member/volunteer at the Junior League of Winston Salem, and will be working on Tour of Fine Kitchens. Marybeth recently got certified in Interior Redesign, Staging & Color and is currently working on her diploma in Interior Design. She also loves photography and is addicted to HGTV. “Much to my husband’s dismay, I love to dumpster-dive and I love the thrill of the hunt for a bargain at thrift stores, Habitat Restore, etc. And yes, I am also addicted to shopping,” she adds.

Ok, so let’s chat with some more with Marybeth.

How do you balance your work and home life?
One day at a time! I only work part time and I have a very hands-on and supportive husband, and friends. I work while the kids are in pre-school or sleeping. Yes, sometimes I get tired, but the fulfillment of what I do is so worth it.

What Smarty tips do you have for other moms in your position?
Find something you love and follow your passion. Do what feels right for you and your family and forget about what anyone else thinks. Make sure you take time for yourself whether personally or professionally. Moms often lose a sense of self, so don’t forget who you are, what you love and what keeps you going. And remember, “if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy!” A good glass of wine or some fine chocolate don’t hurt either!

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Pre-school consignment clothing sales, especially the New Philadelphia Pre-School's (Country Club Road in WS) Fall and Spring Sales. (Spring sale takes place March 13th and 14th. Watch TSP for more information!).

What is your favorite family activity?
Dance Party complete with disco ball. We like to “Shake what your Mama Gave You.”

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Listening to some tunes and crafting in my workroom…it is my escape. It is even better when my girlfriends join me!

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
I hate to say it but they love to eat and play at Chick-fil-A. (That sounds so awful!!)

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
La Carreta on Jonestown…Fast service and good food. Tip: Get there before 6 pm and order the Bean Dip & Pollo Sinoloa. (Margaritas aren’t too shabby either!)

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?

All of my family lives out of state so I am constantly sending emails with Mac-isms and Cal-isms:

We were having lunch while our wonderful cleaning lady was here. Mac asked "Is she a girl?" I said "Yes" (knowing fullwell where this was going). He said, "Does she have issues?" This goes back to a conversation we had weeks prior where he kept saying he wanted to be a girl. I told him he didn't want to be a girl because we had too many issues. I guess he listens. He was four at the time.

This is kind of bittersweet but it was classic from my five-year old: “Mom, how did God get Bodie to heaven if he can’t drive his car up there?” I thought it was a very good question, so I told him to go ask his father! (Bodie was our beloved family dog)

Favorite park in the Triad?
Tie: Tanglewood and Joanie Moser

Mini-van or SUV?
Mini-Van Mom all the way!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Living in the City of the Arts and all the different events downtown & all the kids museums.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Marcos Car Wash on Country Club Road (WS).

Best birthday party you have attended?
Boys: Funigan’s Family Fun Center on Stratford. Girls: Cash Lovell Stables (loved painting the horse!

I could not live without my... Winston-Salem “Peeps,” my workshop, and an ice-cold can of Diet Mountain Dew.

I wish someone had told me sooner about... Liberty Salvage Downtown & Habitat Restore. Oh, and a new one…Trader Joes Sea Salt Chocolate. Holy Christmas they are good!

Thanks, Marybeth for all your fun, 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 feel free to nominate yourself (especially if you are a mompreneur with a great service or product to promote)! We look forward to hearing from you. Email us here with your “Smarty Momination”!


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Importance of Having a Play Group

By Katie M

I’ll never forget my first play group experience. Jen P, chief founding mommy of CharlotteSmartyPants, invited me to join her play group (when I lived in Charlotte). At the time, Jen P had just two kids ages one and three, and she was already an “expert mom” who knew the ropes, and had a huge group of friends she called “mom friends.”

Considering I had no “mom friends” except for Jen P, I happily obliged and toted Emily off in her infant car seat to Jen P’s house. I had no idea what to expect, but for some reason I think I was expecting Emily to miraculously make a bunch of friends at her ripe age of maybe one month. I envisioned her “playing” and having a grand ol’ time while I relaxed and chatted with other women who I was hoping to “mommy befriend.” Well, of course that didn’t happen (I did make new friends, but of course, Emily did not). Instead, I plopped Emily down in her car seat where she immediately started to wiggle and whine, and then I laid her on the rug - carefully out of the way of the other children who played and giggled in circles around her.

Even though my vision of play group was not realistic, I did enjoy myself – and now nearly five years later and living in Winston-Salem – I still seek out opportunities to get myself and children together with other “mom friends” and their children of similar ages. I can’t imagine not ever belonging to some type of “play group.” I think it’s essential to our sanity as mothers – and it’s a great opportunity to introduce our children to other children – either as their “first friends” or as “play friends” outside of their day-to-day school.

So, when I first moved to Winston-Salem – and did not know a soul – I immediately “Googled” Stay-at-Home Moms and Winston-Salem – and to my surprise found the group Stay-at-Home Moms of Winston-Salem (which is now called Stay-at-Home Moms & Dads of Winston-Salem). They had just organized and it was such a blessing to find them. The group had one organizer who would set up “play dates” once a week at various locations – someone’s home, a park, a road trip to a fire station or Baa Moo Farm, you name it – and it was exactly what I needed. That was nearly five years ago. Today, the group is still going strong with over 240 moms and dads and they’ve had over 900 play dates so far. I highly recommend other moms in Winston-Salem visit their web site and consider joining their group. They require a small fee of $3, but that is to cover the cost of their online presence.

My participation in the Stay-at-Home Moms & Dads of Winston-Salem started to dwindle only because it seemed many of their play dates occurred when my daughter happened to be in school. And then I met Summer R, another Smarty Mom, who happened to be starting a small play group of her own that met my schedule, and I got back into the swing of things, albeit with a much smaller, more intimate group. But I have to say, both groups have been my salvation as a mom. And while I don’t always attend every scheduled function or get-together, it’s great to know these moms are there – whether for a scheduled or a on-a-whim get-together, or as a group I know I can email at any time of day with a question or concern.

I know many of you probably have your own play group, but a lot of moms out there are still searching. Please let us know of other groups like the Stay-at-Home Moms of Winston-Salem – particularly in other areas of the Triad. Also relay any advice on starting your own playgroup and/or finding one among your many “mom friends.”


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homework – To Help or Not to Help

By Rachel H

For parents with children of all ages, this is a tough decision. Some parents feel that when they don’t help their child, they are not involved enough in their schoolwork. Others feel that if they help too much, they are not teaching their child how to be responsible. I have asked teachers from all different grade levels to please give us advice on how to handle homework with our children. These are just a few opinions from teachers that I highly respect. Most importantly, please remember that any decision such as this one should be based on the individual child. You know your children best and you also know what may hinder or help them. Read the advice below and use what you can! Thanks so much to all these wonderful teachers for taking time to give us their “two cents”!

Preschool & Readiness Classes
Jan Bullins – Homework is rarely sent home at this young of an age, but it is always beneficial to help children at home with skills like learning to using scissors and glue. In my own classroom, I have actually thought about including a suggested activity with the newsletter every week to further reinforce what we studied in class, but it is one more thing to do----for all of us!---and it hasn't happened yet. IF I did, it would be expected to be a "teachable moment," as you as a parent are your child's first and best teacher!

Jean Biscombe – At the preschool where I teach, we rarely send home assignments with the children, but every once in a while we do have a project that the children are asked to complete at home. For items such as this, we want the parents to get the child started and help them understand directions. After that, I encourage the parent to let the child complete some of the work on their own while the parent supervises. It is OK if something looks messy or isn’t done exactly right. It is all about learning, and the children are usually proud of themselves and the work they produce.

Kim Fansler - I definitely think that the parents need to help their children with homework in Kindergarten. Although, hands-on help may not necessarily be what each individual child needs. They may just need the parent to assist or watch them complete the homework activity. At the elementary school where I teach, the homework that the Kindergarten teachers assign is designed for the parents to do with the children. Homework time should be a time when the parents are reinforcing what the teacher has been teaching, or a time where they watch the child practice what they have been working on at school.

First Grade
Janet Fulp – At the first grade level, students will need a lot of guidance to make sure the homework actually gets completed. In the case of take-home reading, the child needs someone to hear him/her read. But the level of help in actually doing the homework should be low. If the book is too hard - it's not an appropriate take-home reader. If the student can not complete any other homework without a lot of parental instruction, it is an indication that either your child is struggling with a first grade concept or the homework is inappropriate. (This doesn't include enrichment activities - which I will send at times but is optional.)

Second Grade
Michelle Ruby – The single most important thing I could say about second graders and their homework is for parents to initially let their children do their homework by themselves. Second graders should be able to do their subject area homework and then have a parent check it. Parents can then, at that time, give their child any help with misunderstandings or incorrect answers. Second graders still need a parent to listen to them read. A misconception for parents is that they think since their child is a good reader, then they can go read independently. Second graders still need assistance with new, more complex vocabulary. Second graders need to work on making inferences (reading between the lines). They need an adult to read along with them and point out places in a story where the author is giving the reader a clue toward the important theme or message.

Third & Fourth Grades
Christina Aho - This age is very transitional for kids and parents. Parents still need to take an active role in their childrens’ homework, but students at this age need to learn a bit of independence, too, to prepare for Middle School. Parents can mostly act as supervisors. Parents must use their good judgment and learn to pull away when necessary as well as step in when necessary. Stay in contact with your child’s teacher if you are having trouble deciding what your student may or may not need. Once again, it is often an individual decision since every child is unique.

Fifth Grade
Victoria Johnson – I feel that fifth graders should be very independent. They should be able to come home from school and start their assignments alone. They should also be able to complete all of their homework without much help. Although, if a student is struggling with a particular assignment, by all means – help them out! Nothing saddens a child like an entire Math assignment being done incorrectly, when he/she thought it was correct. It would be wonderful for parents to take an extra few minutes to look over the assignment and just make sure your child was on the right track. (I do not think every math problem or science question needs to be checked individually unless the student has been struggling.) I also think parents should look at their child’s homework planner and double-check that all assignments were completed. Sometimes when a certain child struggles with organizational skills, I will even ask parents to initial their homework log each night after they have checked to see that an assignment was complete. Help them out with organizational skills as much as possible now, because when they enter Middle School they will have many different teachers asking them to complete many different assignments.

Middle School
Dack Stackhouse - The part about each child's having individual needs can't be overstated, especially at middle school level. My personal experience is that my mom was always right there while I did homework - she was available, but not getting into it. She would look over all my written work and tell me straight up if it was good or not. Rewrites occurred, and she made sure that what I turned in reflected MY best effort (i.e. she didn't fix things, but she made sure that I didn't just crank out some mediocre product). I'm biased, but I think I had a pretty good experience. Parents should definitely know what their students are doing, help with vocabulary/spelling (by calling out or having students do practice tests), and give the OK that something is done completely and to the best of the student's ability. The other rules apply too: Basic materials nearby, no distractions such as cell phones/computers, etc., so that the student can work in a focused manner without interruptions (either from others or for having to go find a pen, marker, ruler, etc.) I personally don't think sending kids to their rooms to do work is a good idea if they have a tv, phone, or computer there. Learn to focus and get the job done (and done well) before enjoying social and entertainment distractions.

High School
Lynn Peterson - Ideally, students should be able to handle homework independently by high school. If your child is struggling with a particular assignment, and you are able to help him or her, then you can work with your child on the assignment. Although, in some cases, you might not be able to offer much help. (For instance, I doubt I will be able to help my children with their high school math homework since I teach English!) Most teachers base homework grades on completion, so as long as your child finishes the assignment, he or she will get a good grade even if the answers are not all correct. All teachers in Forsyth County are required to have a web page, so if you ever want to see what the students are working on, you should be able to check the web page. If your child is not completing his or her assignments on a regular basis, you can check the webpage for the nightly assignments. You can always contact the teacher to set up a system to help motivate your child.

Thank you to all of these teachers for a wealth of information. I think that one commonality you will find in all of these answers is that the parents should always be involved with homework SOMEHOW all the way through their child’s education. Whether it be working with the child every step of the way when they are young, to checking homework when they are older, it is important that parents are aware of the work being done. Let's us know your thoughts!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Smarty Scoop for Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty Readers! 'Tis the season for children's consignment sales, and TriadSmartyPants has all the scoop for the next few weeks. And before you check out the great sales happening this weekend, start gathering and ironing your clothes for the Children's Boutique Resale scheduled for February 26 - 28.

The Children's Boutique Resale is currently looking for consignors to bring spring and summer offerings. Consignors pay no registration fees, they make 60% of their sale price, and are invited to a private preview sale. CBR's goal is to make this fine consignment resale an enjoyable experience for everyone! More information on this event can be found by clicking the link above.

Aside from consignment sales, there are other great not-to-miss events, including one tonight. Eagle's Nest Camp is hosting an information session about its "sleep-away" summer camp. Come join them for live music, snacks and information about the camp at the Milennium Center, 101 W. Fifth Street in WS, from 6 pm to 8 pm. You can also visit Eagle's Nest online at to download applications, register online, or learn more about available scholarships.

As for other events, here's the scoop:

As always, there is a ton of stuff to do at the Children's Museum in both Winston-Salem and in Greensboro, at SciWorks in WS, and at the Natural Science Center in Greensboro.

Messiah Moravian Spring Children's Clothing Exchange
Friday, Feb.20 from 9am to 1pm and 6 - 8pm
Saturday, Feb. 21 from 9 am to 12 noon (some items tagged 1/2 price)
Messiah Moravian Preschool, 1401 N. Peacehaven Rd, WS
Receiving sellers items Wed. Feb. 18 and Thurs. Feb. 19.
Call 765-5652 with questions.

KidShare Children's Consignment Fair
Fri., Feb. 20 from 10 am to 2 pm, and 4 pm to 8 pm
Sat, Feb. 21 from 9am - 6pm
Sun, Feb. 22 from 12pm - 5pm
LJVM Coliseum Home & Garden Building, WS
Gently worn children's clothing, toys and equipment for sale. Free admission and free parking.

Kids Consignment Sale
Friday, Feb. 20 from 9 am to 8 pm
Saturday, Feb. 21 from 8 am to 1 pm
St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, 2715 Horse Pen Creek Road, GSO.
Sponsored by St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church. Shop the sale for good quality spring/summer clothing (size infant – 20), toys, games, books, bikes, baby equipment, furniture, strollers, gently worn shoes, car seats, current style in season maternity wear. Phone: 336-294-4696 xt 250.

Pancake Breakfast and Student Art Show
Saturday, Feb. 21 at 8 am
Kernersville Wesleyan Family Life Center, 930 N. Main St., Kernersville
Pancake Breakfast to benefit Crisis Control Ministry. Also Wee Care Art Show of Kernersville preschool and elementary school students art.
Cost: $4 for pancakes, sausage & beverage. Phone: 724.7875 ext. 1040. Email:

Sweetheart Classic Cheerleading Championship
Sunday, Feb. 22 at 8:30 am
War Memorial Auditorium , Greensboro
Tickets on sale at door. For more information, call 336-852-1100, or click link above. Advance registration for teams at or call 800-286-4219.

You know the drill. If we left anything out worth mentioning, add it below!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Words of Wisdom on Speech and Language

By Rachel H and Guest Blogger Emily H

I would like to introduce you to our Guest Blogger today, Emily Halsey. Emily was a sorority sister of mine at Appalachian State. Six years later, we ended up as neighbors in Winston-Salem. Emily now lives in Greensboro with her husband, Scott, and two children, Emma Kate (5) and Henry (2). Emily graduated with a BS in Communication Disorders and a minor in Psychology from ASU, and then went on to receive her MS in Speech-Language Pathology at James Madison University. She has worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for the past 12 years in three different cities - Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Fayetteville, Arkansas - in school systems as well as with private speech and language centers - and with patients of all ages from children to seniors. She has also provided evaluation and remediation services for clients who had a wide variety of speech-language disorders, additionally patients whose diagnoses included autism, cerebral palsy, pervasive developmental delay, and legally blind.

I have asked Emily to share with us some of her Smarty wisdom on Speech and Language problems most commonly occurring in children.

Hi Moms! My name is Emily Halsey. I am currently a stay-at-home mom who does some part-time contract work, but long ago, in a land far, far away, I was a full-time speech-language pathologist! I was trying to think of the most common concerns that my mom friends express concerning speech and language, and I came up with three main concerns. I’ve addressed each one briefly, but as I always tell my girlfriends, go with your gut! You know your child better than anyone, and if you have that nagging feeling in your head, it certainly can’t hurt to consult a professional.

North Carolina provides free screenings, evaluations, and if children qualify, therapy services, to children who are 3 years old and over through the school systems. You would need to talk to someone who handles preschool referrals if your child. If you call your school system’s information/help desk, they can steer you in the right direction. Qualifying guidelines do differ between the school system vs. private practices. Therefore, if a problem is mild, your child doesn’t qualify by school system guidelines, and you still want to address the problem, you can contact a private practice/therapist to see if they can provide treatment for your child. There is also a great deal of information on the Internet, and I did check some of my facts with a few Google searches! I hope this information is helpful to all you Smarty Moms!

Concern One: Is my child talking as much as he/she should at this age?
By age 1, a child will typically exhibit a vocabulary of between 3-20 words for labeling familiar objects/people. They will still use lots of gesturing at this point, often combined with a word or a vocalization (ex. Uh, uh). Using sign language with or without spoken language is also an acceptable form of object labeling, although you should definitely encourage spoken language.

By age 2, children are usually using up to 50 different words, mostly nouns, and are beginning to combine 2-3 words in a single utterance. They should be able to say their own name, produce animal sounds, and use “no” appropriately. (I think they are all masters at that!) Also, a child may have a “word” for an object or person that only you understand, but if he/she uses it consistently and appropriately, it is still considered a word in their vocabulary arsenal. When kiddos are this small, they are not expected to pronounce everything perfectly.

By age 3, children can be using up to 800 words, answering and asking various Wh-questions, and can answer simple how and problem-solving questions.

One thing I often see, even in my own family, is that parents, grandparents, and older siblings often anticipate a child’s wants and needs or speak for them. It is important to require children to verbalize for themselves, even if you say the word and ask them to repeat it. Something I still do with my son (Henry, who just turned 2) is to require him to at least say and/or sign “please” before receiving the object of his desire! It won’t kill them to do without that cracker until they ask for it instead of just grunting or pointing! Another thing I wanted to mention is that I often hear parents say that their children seem to understand a lot more than they are saying, which is completely normal, especially at these young ages. Lastly, remember that all children develop at different rates, and just because you know another child who is “talking up a storm” doesn’t necessarily mean that your child is “behind” in their development.

Concern Two: My child is not pronouncing certain sound(s)correctly. Does he/she need therapy?
By age 2, you should be hearing the sounds p,b,m,h, n, and w in your child’s speech production. By age 3, those sounds are typically mastered (b may take up to age 4) and you should be hearing k,g,d, t, f, and y in your child’s speech. By 3 ½ to 4, children should have these sounds mastered as well (t can take longer).

Sounds such as r,l,s,z,sh,ch, and v generally develop a bit later, and mastery may not be seen until age 6 or later. If there is a sound you think your child should be able to produce but doesn’t, one thing you can do is to see if he/she can repeat the sound after you show him/her how to produce it (just don’t drive it into the ground!). This is called being stimulable for a sound. If your child can do this, then it is a good sign that they will probably begin producing the sound on their own sooner than later. If they cannot, it is an age appropriate sound, and the problem persists, you may want to consider consulting a professional. Also, if there are multiple sounds your child cannot produce, if they are doing things such as leaving the ending sound off all words, or if their speech is completely unintelligible even to family members, an evaluation of their speech production would probably be in order. You should remember that when children are young and language is emerging you are going to hear sound errors and most of these are perfectly normal.

Concern Three: My child seems to stutter all the time, and I’ve just started noticing it.
Most of the time, this problem is completely normal as a child’s language is developing and is called pseudo stuttering. You may hear short repetitions of words or sounds, pauses between words, or substituted sounds. This problem often comes and goes, and may increase when your child is excited, stressed, or tired. A major change such as a move or a new sibling can also trigger stuttering. Be sure not to interrupt your child when he/she is speaking to you and give him/her time to finish what he/she is telling you. Most often, this problem will improve and/or correct itself within a 6 month period. If the problem persists longer than this, if you are seeing longer repetitions or hesitations in your child’s speech that occur most of the time, and/or if your child seems nervous or anxious about speaking, it is probably a good idea to consult a speech pathologist.

Thank you, Emily for all of the wonderful information you have shared with us today. If you have any additional questions or concerns, Emily has graciously shared her contact information with us. Email us here and we will send her information along to you. Emily is also available for consults and tutoring.

And if you have a question for Emily that you can share with other Smarty Moms, please post below!


Monday, February 16, 2009

10 New Uses for 10 Everyday Things

By Katie M

I just found a GREAT article on Real Simple magazine's web site that I just had to share with all you Smarty Moms. I love this magazine - every article is brilliant - and if you are not a subscriber or a regular checker of their web site, then chances are good you haven't already seen this article. But knowing how Smarty you all are, you probably know many of these ideas. If Real Simple left any uses out - or if you know of other ingenious ways to use other every day household products - be sure to share your tips in the comment section below!

10 New Uses for Lemon:
1. Sanitize a chopping block. Run a slice of lemon over the surface to disinfect.
2. Eliminate the browning that occurs when food sits out too long. Sprinkle apple or pear slices with lemon juice before serving, or squeeze a bit into guacamole and give it a stir.
3. Remove tough food stains from plastic and light-colored wooden cutting boards. Slice a lemon in half, squeeze the juice onto the soiled surface, rub, and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with water.
4. Fade tea stains on cloth. Dilute lemon juice with an equal amount of water. Use an eyedropper or a Q-tip to make sure the juice targets the stain. Thoroughly flush with cool water.
5. Decorate on the cheap. Fill a glass bowl with lemons for a sunny centerpiece. Or display a row of them along a windowsill.
6. Relieve a sore throat. Cut a lemon in half. Skewer one half over a medium flame on a gas stove or an electric burner set on high and roast until the peel turns golden brown. Let cool slightly, then mix the juice with 1 teaspoon of honey. Swallow the mixture.
7. Whiten fingernails. Rub a wedge on the surface of your nails.
8. Shine the interior of copper cookware. Sprinkle a lemon wedge with salt, then scrub.
9. Brighten laundry whites. Add 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash cycle of a normal-size load.
10. Remove soft cheese or other sticky foods from a grater. Rub both sides of the grater with the pulp side of a cut lemon.

10 New Uses for Newspaper:
1. Deodorize food containers. Stuff a balled-up piece of newspaper into a lunch box or thermos, seal it, and let sit overnight.
2. Ripen tomatoes. Wrap them individually and leave them out at room temperature.
3. Pack delicate items.Wrap frames and figurines with several pieces of newspaper, then crumple the remaining sections to fill extra space in the box.
4. Wipe away tough streaks on glass. Use newspaper with cleaning fluid to clean mirrors and windows.
5. Preserve antique glass. Some older frames have finishes on the glass that can be damaged by cleaning solutions. Remove smudges by rubbing with newspaper dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and one part warm water. Let air-dry.
6. Dry shoes. Place crumpled paper in them overnight.
7. Wrap gifts. Use the comics to wrap a child’s birthday gift, or try the wedding announcements for an engagement gift.
8. Create a home for slushy snow boots. During the winter, keep a pile of newspaper near the entryway. When your little snowmen and -women come home, they can toss their winter wear onto the newspaper instead of creating puddles on the floor.
9. Prepare a garden. In the fall, mow a patch of lawn to make room for a dedicated bed. Cover it with four layers of newspaper, then a four-inch layer of shredded leaves or bark mulch. Hose it down. Come spring, the compost blanket will have smothered the grass roots, and the bed will be primed for planting.
10. Keep the refrigerator vegetable drawer dry and free of smells. Line the bottom with newspaper.

10 New Uses for Coffee Filters:
1. Diffuse the flash on a camera. When you’re taking a close-up, soften the brightness by placing a coffee filter over the flash.
2. Strain wine from a bottle with a broken cork. Place the filter over a pitcher or a carafe and slowly pour the wine into it.
3. Serve popcorn or other snacks. The filters act as disposable bowls, so there’s no dishwashing.
4. Make yogurt dip. Use a rubber band to secure a paper coffee filter over the mouth of a deep cup or jar. Slowly pour 8 ounces of plain yogurt onto the filter. Let drain for one hour. In a bowl, mix the thickened yogurt with 1 small minced garlic clove, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers.
5. Heat up leftovers in the microwave. Use a filter as the protective covering over a bowl or a plate.
6. Prevent soil from draining out of flowerpots. When repotting, place a filter at the bottom, over the drainage hole, then add the soil.
7. Prevent scuffs and scratches on fine china. Use flattened coffee filters as spacers when you stack your dishes.
8. Protect hands from Popsicle drippage. Slide the wooden stick of an ice pop through a coffee filter so your hands stay mess-free.
9. Serve pita sandwiches. A circular filter is the perfect size for carrying a sandwich on the go.
10. Clean windows and glass when you’re out of paper towels. Coffee filters leave no lint or other residue.

10 New Uses for Olive Oil:
1. Shave. Olive oil can provide a closer shave when used in place of shaving cream.
2. Shine stainless steel. Many cleaning standbys, such as ammonia, can dull and even corrode chrome and stainless steel. Olive oil, however, is a safe and effective shining agent.
3. Remove eye makeup. Dab a little under the eyes and rinse off with a washcloth.
4. Prevent wax from sticking to a candle holder. Rub a thin coat on the base of the holder before inserting a candle. Dripped wax should peel away easily.
5. Care for your pet. Add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon to your cat’s food to help prevent hair balls.
6. Moisturize cuticles. Apply a small amount of olive oil to the nail beds.
7. Treat dry skin. Rub a thin layer over the skin after a shower or a waxing.
8. Unstick a zipper. Using a Q-tip, apply a drop to lubricate the teeth. (Avoid touching the fabric.) The zipper should move up and down freely.
9. Dust wooden furniture. Apply a bit of oil to a cloth and wipe.
10. Silence squeaky doors. Lubricate hinges by applying a small dab to a cloth, then wiping the top of the hinges so that the oil runs down the sides.

New Uses for Dryer Sheets:
1. Freshen smelly shoes. Insert a dryer sheet into the offending pair and let sit overnight.
2. Remove static from clothing, hair, TV screens, and computer monitors. Wipe the surface with a sheet.
3. Clean pet hair from the floor or furniture. Rub a dryer sheet over the spot where Fluffy left her fur.
4. Replace a sachet. Keep a dresser drawer smelling fresh and clean by placing a dryer sheet on the bottom of it.
5. Loosen caked-on food from a pan. Place a fresh sheet in the bottom of a dirty pan, fill with lukewarm tap water, and let sit in the sink overnight. The pan will be easier to clean in the morning.
6. Tackle suitcase and gym-bag odors. Place a dryer sheet in your suitcase or gym bag so your clean clothes won’t take on the odors of the dirty ones.
7. Prevent old books from smelling musty when in storage. Stick a dryer sheet between the pages of your beloved copy of Pride and Prejudice.
8. Wipe up sawdust after working in the garage. Rub a dryer sheet over the fine wood particles.
9. Prevent thread from tangling when sewing. Run a threaded needle through a dryer sheet right before you begin your handiwork.
10. Dust venetian blinds. Close the blinds, then wipe up and down with a dryer sheet.

10 New Uses for Baking Soda:
1. Exfoliate skin. Wash your face, then apply a soft paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water. Massage gently with a circular motion, avoiding the eye area; rinse clean.
2. Erase crayon, pencil, ink, and furniture scuffs from painted surfaces. Sprinkle soda on a damp sponge, rub clean, and rinse.
3. Unclog a drain. Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar after it. Let sit for five minutes (covered, if possible). Follow with a gallon of boiling water.
4. Remove tough stains from enameled cast iron and stainless steel. Scrub enameled cast iron with a soft nylon brush and a thick paste of baking soda and water. Clean stainless steel with a soft cloth and 4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of water. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
5. Scrub pans. Sprinkle soda on crusted casseroles and roasting pans and let sit for five minutes. Lightly scrub and rinse.
6. Brush teeth. Use a paste of baking soda and water.
7. Fight class-B fires (flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and grease). Baking soda can be used to smother only a small flame.
8. Deodorize. Dust baking soda under your arms to absorb body odor.
9. Clean up minor oil and grease spills on a garage floor or driveway. Sprinkle baking soda on the spot and scrub with a wet brush.
10. Settle a stomach during occasional indigestion. Stir 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 1/2 cup of water and drink for a safe and effective antacid.

10 New Uses for Vinegar:
1. Pinch-hit for lemon in a savory recipe. Use 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar in place of 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
2. Remove coffee or tea stains from the bottom of a cup. Swish 2 tablespoons of vinegar around in the cup, then wash as usual.
3. Treat oily hair. Vinegar is a good degreaser for oily hair because it helps adjust pH levels. Shampoo your hair as usual, rinse, then pour 1/4 cup over it and rinse again.
4. Wipe salt stains off boots. Dip a cloth or an old T-shirt into vinegar, then wipe away the white residue.
5. Make wool sweaters fluffier. Drop in a couple of capfuls of vinegar during the rinse cycle for an extra-soft feel.
6. Deodorize a garbage disposal. Make vinegar ice cubes and feed them down the disposal. After grinding, run cold water through the drain.
7. Clean a teakettle or a coffeemaker. Boil a mixture of water and vinegar in a teakettle, then wipe away the grime. Fill the reservoir of a coffeemaker with a mixture of vinegar and water and run it through a brewing cycle. Follow this with several cycles of water to rinse thoroughly.
8. Clean a dishwasher. Once a month, with the machine empty, run a cup of vinegar through an entire cycle to reduce soap buildup on the inner mechanisms and glassware.
9. Remove stubborn price tags or stickers. Paint them with several coats of vinegar, let the liquid soak in for five minutes, then wipe away the residue.
10. Kill weeds between cracks in paving stones and sidewalks. Fill a spray bottle with straight vinegar and spray multiple times. (Be careful not to get any on the surrounding grass, as it will kill that too.)

10 New Uses for Ziploc Bags:
1. Knead dough. Place dough in a Ziploc bag so your fingers don’t get sticky. Or slip your hand into the bag and wear it like a glove. 2. Store panty hose. Nude, Tan, Nearly Naked — they look the same out of the package. Tear off the corner of the package listing the brand, size, and color, then slip it into a bag. Store each pair in its own bag to keep hose organized and prevent snags.
3. Remove chewing gum or candle wax from a tablecloth, a couch, or carpeting. Gently rub gum or wax with a Ziploc bag filled with ice cubes until the substance hardens. Shatter gum with a blunt object, then vacuum up the chips. Carefully peel off frozen wax with a plastic spatula.
4. Pipe frosting. Snip off a tiny corner to use a Ziploc as a pastry bag.
5. Store homemade soup. Fill up bags, then lay them flat in the freezer. When the bags of soup freeze flat, you’ll be able to pile them up like stacked books for easy, space-saving storage.
6. Protect precious cargo. No bubble wrap? Slip a straw into the top of a nearly closed Ziploc bag and inflate. Remove the straw and seal to make a cushion. (Heirlooms, however, should wait for that bubble wrap.)
7. Break up graham crackers or vanilla wafers to make a piecrust. Fill a bag with the cookies, then roll a rolling pin over it.
8. Prevent a handbag from turning into a snow globe. Store pressed powder and other compacts in Ziploc bags.
9. Gather herbs from the garden. Before winter frost sets in, wash, pat dry, and freeze the herbs in Ziploc bags.
10. Ice an injury. Fill a bag with ice cubes to create a cold compress.

10 New Uses for Velcro:
1. Hang pieces of art or photos on a wall. Stick several strips of Velcro to the wall and to the back of a lightweight frame.
2. Prevent a jacket or a blouse from gaping open. Sew small pieces of Velcro between the buttons to create a smooth surface.
3. Keep a rug in place. Stick pieces of Velcro to the floor and to the bottom of the rug.
4. Stop seat cushions from sliding off kitchen chairs. Place strips of Velcro on the chair and on the cushion.
5. Organize toys. Affix a Velcro strip to the wall and Velcro pieces to stuffed animals to make cleanup fun for toddlers.
6. Keep track of the remote. Use Velcro to attach the remote to the side of the TV when it’s not in use.
7. Remove pills from sweaters. Use the hook side of Velcro to pull off pesky balls.
8. Restrain wayward cords. Keep them in one place with a strip of Velcro.
9. Keep a pen or paper handy. Place a small piece of Velcro next to a desk calendar and on a pen so you can jot down to-dos ASAP. In the car, stick a notepad to the dashboard or the door of the glove compartment and you’ll always have paper for a brilliant thought or a last-minute errand.
10. Picnic in peace. Keep a tablecloth from flying away by applying Velcro to the underside of the cloth and to the picnic table.

10 New Uses for Salt:
1. Make eggs or cream whip up faster and higher. Add a pinch of salt before beating.
2. De-ice sidewalks. In a pinch, it can be used as a substitute for rock salt.
3. Keep chicken or turkey moist. Rub salt in the cavity of the bird before cooking.
4. Prevent sautés made with eggplant or zucchini from getting watery. Sprinkle salt on these vegetables before cooking.
5. Eliminate sticky residue from an iron. Run the hot iron (no steam) over plain paper sprinkled with salt.
6. Clean drains. Pour a hot, strong solution (1/2 cup salt for every quart of water) down the drain.
7. Remove dirt from leafy vegetables, such as spinach. Wash the vegetables in a bath of salt water.
8. Prevent frost from accumulating inside car windows. Rub the glass with a solution of 2 teaspoons of salt in 1 gallon of hot water. Wipe dry.
9. Remove sangria and red-wine stains from your washables. Stretch the fabric over a bowl, cover the stain with salt, and carefully pour boiling water over it.
10. Keep shells from cracking when boiling eggs. Add a few pinches of salt to the water.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Smarty Tips for Chores, Allowance & Savings

By Guest Blogger, Amy I,

Interested in ways to teach responsibility and money management skills to your kids?

A simple chore chart, designated allowance and piggy bank are the tools needed to get your kids involved in helping out around the home, while at the same time, teaching them basic skills of money management.

Chore Chart and Responsibilities:
Simple job and reward charts are an excellent way to jump start kids pitching in around the house. Of course, it is easy to make your own chart with a dry erase board or your computer, but you can also purchase one like the one I used this fall (see photo). I have found, the more your children are involved, the more success you will have. It is best to begin with one or two chores or responsibilities, depending on the age of your child. You could start with making the bed or putting dishes in the sink or dishwasher after meals. Eventually, you can add other chores (feeding the dog, putting clean clothes away, etc.). Praise will ensure that your child will continue to help out and hopefully do so without being asked. Then, you won’t need the charts anymore. That is what happened for us after a few weeks… although the kids still need lots of reminders!

With your children, devise a plan and decide how it is going to work. If using a chore chart, they must complete a certain amount or the entire chart in order to receive their allowance. Your child might be young enough that a gold star or sticker is enough to motivate them. Lucky you!

* Amount of allowance - This depends on your child’s age and your income. You need to come up with a realistic amount that will inspire your child.
* Payday - This will ensure you stay on schedule and you don’t get behind in payments. We have used Sunday as payday and that seems to work. The older your kids are, the more reminders you will get!

No matter what the amount, I am sure your child will be proud of their accomplishments!

Piggy Bank:
Once you have established chores and rewards, what happens to their allowance? I have just discovered this awesome bank and my kids got one for Christmas. (see photo). It is called “Learning Cents Trio Bank.”

Renny got a pink one and Patrick a blue one. As you can see, it has 3 separate banks: one for spending, one for saving and one for giving. The brochure lists ideas and tips for teaching kids the skills of financial responsibility.
1) Set up a weekly allowance giving the kids an opportunity to manage their money.
2) Divide allowance into 3 categories: spend, save and give. This is teaching the essential skill that you do not spend it all.
3) Practice making smart money choices by making it a habit to spend wisely, saving for the future and giving to others.
So far, the bank is a hit, especially with my 7 year old daughter.

One more idea…In our house, we have a “Disney Fund” located in a large jar in the laundry room. I have found this is a very handy place for collecting change and an occasional $10 bill. Over a year ago on a rainy Saturday, I suggested to my daughter that we collect all of the change in the house and pool it together for our trip to Disney (which is semi-planned for this spring). The jar is overflowing and I am sure that we have over $200 in there. The kids love to put change floating around the house or car in the “Disney Fund.”

We would love to hear your ideas and tips for chores and allowances.