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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Get Ready for Summer Reading

By Katie M

Worried your child won't keep up his reading habits this summer? Well, worry no more because there are some great programs in our area to help! Below is information taken from our local library systems, as well as some cool programs with Scholastic, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Read on Lil' Smarties, read on!

The Greensboro Grasshoppers and the Greensboro Regional Realtors Foundation are pleased to announce the Greensboro Library's Summer Reading Program Kickoff, which will take place at First Horizon Park on Tuesday, June 12.

Fans attending the game that bring four new or gently used children's books for donation to the program will receive a Grasshoppers lawn ticket for the 7:00pm game, courtesy of the GRRF. Books will be accepted at the Greensboro Library's Bookmobile, which will be located on Bellemeade Street near the main gate entrance.

The High Point Public Library is also hosting a Summer Reading Program. Details can be found on this web site.

The Forsyth County Public Library will officially kick-off its summer reading program Saturday, June 13th, from 10 am to 3 pm behind Central Library in Winston-Salem on 4 ½ street. This year’s children’s theme is “Be Creative.” Performing again this year is the Library’s ultra-talented youth services staff who will keep the fun and frivolity rolling with hilarious skits, sing-along songs and fascinating stories. Captain Jim, the pirate magician, will also be on hand offering up several incredible magical illusions to young and old alike. Captain Jim’s show is sure to amaze, entertain and inspire. There will also be free popcorn and shaved ice for everyone.

In addition to reading programs for children, the Forsyth County Public Library also has programs for teens and adults. All this info can be found on the web link above. And to top it off, scheduled performances by the popular music group Big Bang Boom (we Smarties love this band!) from Greensboro will play at Forsyth area libraries.

Scheduled performances by Big Bang Boom:
Lewisville: Monday, June 15 at 10:00 am
Reynolda: Tuesday, June 16 at 3:00 pm
Walkertown: Thursday, July 9 at 3:00 pm
East Winston: Wednesday, July 15 at 2:00 pm
Rural Hall: Thursday, July 16 at 11:00 am
Clemmons: Thursday, July 16 at 2:00 pm
Central: Tuesday, July 21 at 1:30 pm
Kernersville: Wednesday, July 22 at 2:00 pm
Carver: Thursday, July 23 at 1:00 pm
Southside: Friday, July 24 at 11:00 am

Also, if you click on the Forsyth County Library link above and scroll to the end of the page, you can also get suggested reading lists for Pre-K and Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade, 3rd and 4th grade, and 5th and 6th grade. These are great lists, and they're also available as printed brochures at each library branch. My kids and I make a trip to the library every 10 days and stock up on books for bedtime reading, and most of the books we pick come straight from these lists!

Beyond our local libraries, you can also find cool reading programs and coupons from Scholastic, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Info and links are below.

Scholastic Summer Challenge - a great way to motivate kids by earning points for reading. There are tons of resources, a Save the Children charity drive, and sweepstakes that you can enter to win books and other prizes.

Barnes & Noble - for kids in Grades 1 thru 6, you can earn a free book after reading 8 and some locations also have a regularly scheduled story time (check find an event for your store).

Borders Reading Challenge - get discounted items for kids under 12 who complete the challenge. You'll get to choose a $4.99 Reading Challenge item (a savings of 50% off) when you've completed your 8 books.

So next time your child says he is bored or has nothing to read this summer, you'll be armed with ideas, info and lots of books!

Tell us if you've participated in any of these programs, and if you have any Smarty advice!


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Smarty Mom: Gina Pruette

By Katie M

Happy Smarty Mom Saturday! Today I am excited to introduce Gina Pruette. Gina moved to the Triad in 1997 after graduating from college (University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA) to be with her then-future husband Andrew. They were later married in the Triad in 2001, and then moved to Portland, ME for nine months for career reasons, and then returned to the Triad in 2002 where they’ve lived ever since. Together, they have a daughter, Stella, who just turned two.

Gina is a full-time mom who works part time as a visual artist. Besides having Stella, she says her greatest accomplishment has been building an art career while being a full-time parent. “Although I work out of my studio at home, it’s an incredible challenge to balance full-time parenting with painting, both physically and mentally. But I decided that if I could start a career while juggling a toddler, it could only get easier,” she said.

So let’s get to know Gina…

Gina began exhibiting and selling her work last spring. It was a huge step for her because she had been painting for decades but had not made the move to exhibit my art until then. Stella’s arrival was the inspiration she needed to launch her career. Last year Gina started painting “portraits” of Stella’s block constructions. When Stella was very little Gina would build towers to entice her to crawl or walk and knock them down. Then Gina started dreaming up other creations and painting them. “Objects tell so many stories about us and bind us together as a culture, establishing our rich legacy for future interpretation. Blocks, balls, and toys…these objects are as material to our collective human story as any of our more sophisticated creations,” Gina said.

Gina’s instruction in oil painting began with her late grandmother - a master landscape and still-life painter, in the early 1990s - as well as summer courses in life drawing and graphic design at the Austin Museum of Art. During college she completed courses in art history and film and was employed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia as a work-study student learning about art museum operations and exhibitions. In addition, she worked as a graphic and digital artist for MASCA, the research lab at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology. While living in Portland, Maine in 2001, she completed additional coursework in oil and acrylic painting at the Maine College of Art.

She has posted photos and notes about her Block Series paintings in her blog, Stacked Life, at

When away from Stella and her studio, Gina volunteers with local non-profit art organizations, including the Associated Artists of Winston-Salem (AAWS). She is a member of AAWS and enjoys participating in their exhibitions, events, and advocacy opportunities. This past spring she also joined the Community Exhibition committee where she supports exhibition opportunities for members while increasing art awareness in Winston-Salem. Gina also volunteers at her church, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and at the church’s preschool (where Stella attends). Other interests include tennis - she plays on a team in the USTA league in Winston-Salem, swimming, long walks, knitting (don’t laugh, she says!), and reading books any chance she can gets.

Gina’s art work is on display at Vincenzo’s Italian Restaurant on Robinhood Road (WS) during this June and July.

With all that you do, how do you balance your work and home life?
For me the distinction between work and home is as much mental as physical. I can physically remove myself from one, but I can’t commit myself to the other unless my mind is in the right place. Mostly I work when I have time off from being a mom: naps, preschool, evenings, weekly grandparent visits, and my favorite: Daddy’s Saturday Morning Adventures with Stella. Nearly every Saturday morning my husband, Andrew, organizes a Daddy-and-me adventure with Stella…bagels with friends, shopping, exploring, parks…he’s very creative! It’s a Pruette family tradition, since Andrew used to do the same thing with his father growing up. I know that Stella’s having fun, Andrew is getting some special one-on-one time with his daughter, and I can get some quality time for painting in my studio. All of these things have given me the time I need to become a working artist.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms in your position?
Don’t feel guilty if you have a career or avocation outside of being a parent. Celebrate the positive impact your professional life can have on your children.

Ok, on to some less serious questions…

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I’m not really impressive on the bargain-hunting front, since I don’t much like crowds and endless racks of clothes. My favorite deals? Gifts from grandparents! I also like shopping the outlets at Myrtle Beach and finding sales at the local children’s shops.

What is your favorite family activity?
The Pruette Family Group Hug. Every night after bath Stella runs buck-naked into her room and starts screaming, “HUG!!!” My husband and I know this is our cue to stand with open arms as Stella crashes into us - her reward for another incredible toddler day.

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Painting. And I love to veg out watching endless reruns of The Office.

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
La Carreta on Peace Haven Rd (WS). The atmosphere and food is very kid-friendly, and the staff seems to genuinely like children.

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
I’ve had several nice experiences at River Birch Lodge, lately. It has a grown-up atmosphere, but it’s also very kid-friendly.

Funniest thing your daughter has ever said?
Well, funniest and sweetest…one day after I sneezed my husband said, “Bless you, Mommy!” in front of Stella. Now whenever she hears anybody sneeze she says, “Bless you, Mommy!” It’s so cute, and I must admit I don’t mind the extra blessings!

Favorite park in the Triad?
Tanglewood. Stella and I love to watch the horses and run like maniacs across the open fields.

Mini-van or SUV?

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
There are lots of things to do as a family in the Triad without the headaches of a larger city. Also, I’m thrilled about our area’s growing commitment to the arts. It inspires me to work harder as an artist, and it’s a legacy that will nurture creativity in our children for years to come.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
The monthly First Friday Gallery Hops in Winston-Salem. In some cities you don’t see many children at this sort of event, but in Winston-Salem the Hops attract entire families. It’s lots of fun for kids as well as adults.

Best birthday party you have attended?
The small casual ones at home are my favorites.

I could not live without my...

I wish someone had told me sooner about...
The Yadkin Valley wineries. What a treasure only minutes away! My husband and I had a great time touring wineries on Valentine’s Day this year and look forward to taking Stella to some of the festivals this summer.

Thanks, Gina, 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, May 29, 2009

Mr. Mom Rocks the House in Charlotte

By Katie M

If you haven't been logging on to Charlotte Smarty Pants this week, you need to check it out today! Randy P, husband of CSP's Chief Founding Mommy Jen P, has bravely held fort for their four children (girls ages 7 and 5, and three-year-old twin boys) after graciously giving Jen P a week off for Mother's Day. So, while Jen P has been vacationing in Florida with her sister sans any motherly responsibilities, Randy has been blogging for CSP every day - and let's just say his entries are anything but typical. If you've ever dreamed of the ultimate gift from your loving husband, then check out (or maybe not!) the exciting week that took place in Charlotte...

In her absence, Randy has dealt with turkey vultures, escaping kids, late nights, way too early alarms (or lack of), erecting a tent city in the living room (after moving all furniture out) - and all the while he had to prepare for an important work presentation that took place yesterday.

Today is Randy's last blog entry, but you can catch up on all his adventures - in chronological order - by clicking the links below. So, here's a shout out to all you stay-at-home dads who do this job every day. We moms know it's not easy :)

Mr. Mom - Friday through Monday

Mr. Mom - Police and Vultures!

Tired Tuesday

Welcome to Wednesday

Have you ever switched roles with your hubby? If so, do tell!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Smarty Sponsor: Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates

By Rachel H

I am thrilled to write about a practice today that I am very passionate about. Upon moving to Winston-Salem, I did quite a bit of research when trying to find the best fit for me with an OB/Gyn clinic. After visiting a few different offices, I decided to go with Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates. This practice began in 1970 when two physicians, Eugene Linton and Donald Whitener, envisioned a private obstetrics and gynecology practice that would foster physician collaboration to provide superior OB/Gyn care. The practice has delivered over 40,000 babies in the past 39 years. They have locations in Winston-Salem, Kernersville, and Mount Airy.

I did not have any children when I first started going to Lyndhurst, but I felt very at home with the care they gave me during routine appointments. After a few years my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family and I spoke to my primary doctor, Dr. Harold Pollard, about our wish to get started. I liked the fact that he talked to me like I was the first person who had ever made the decision to start trying for a baby! He was so informative and answered all my questions thoroughly, although I am sure he had answered them thousands of times in the past.

When we did get pregnant, I was so excited each and every time I had an appointment. Lyndhurst is a fairly large practice, and the doctors there never made me feel like I was just one of many women coming through the clinic. I never felt rushed during a visit or felt that my questions or concerns did not matter. Again, I was made to feel like I was the first mom to ever puke daily while pregnant, and the first mom who ever had back pain or sleepless nights. The doctors worked with me to find solutions to all of the problems I experienced, no matter how many visits it took to do so. I trusted them completely and always took what they said to heart.

We also took our Lamaze classes right there at the clinic and were able to form friendships with many of the other couples in group. We were able to keep each other updated in our progress and chat as we saw each other during appointments. These friendships have lasted through today and our children are now friends as well.

Dr. Pollard delivered both of my children, and he did it with the best care and concern I could have asked for. I remember my mom coming into the delivery room and hugging him, telling him thank you for all he did. I don’t need to tell anyone reading this that childbirth is scary. We can do all the reading and research we want, but every delivery is different and there is no way to prepare for what might ensue. Having my first child was such an unknown world to me, but having doctors I trusted made a world of difference.

Many of the physicians at Lyndhurst have trained through the residency program at Wake Forest University, and it seems that for many, they enjoyed the feel of this area so much that they decided to stay! Lyndhurst physicians continue to serve as OB/Gyn clinical faculty for Wake Forest University-Baptist Medical Center. This is a bonus for many moms because we get the best of both worlds by having personalized private-setting care and up-to-date clinical knowledge as well.

Lyndhurst is able to provide care and information in different areas of OB/Gyn due to the fact that there are nine physicians, two physician assistants and two nurse practioners. Lyndhurst physicians provide infertility services, pelvic reconstruction, advanced laparoscopic techniques, and urogynecologic surgery as well as obstetrics and gynecology.

The physicians at Lyndhurst are also involved in the community, and you will often see them participating in the March for Babies, Race for the Cure, and the Heartstrings Walk to Remember.

Each person has different criteria when it comes to searching for health care, but what I can tell you is that at Lyndhurst I found a friendly and extremely knowledgeable staff who made me feel comfortable and welcome in their facility. If you are looking for an OB/Gyn, make sure you check out their website at or stop by one of their offices. I cannot say enough positive things about this practice and the doctors I have seen over the past eight years.

The incredible practice members at Lyndhurst include Dr. Bradley Jacobs, Dr. Jacqueline Mims, Dr, Harold Pollard, Dr. Melvin Seid, Dr. Scott A. Washburn, Dr. W. Michael Lindel, Dr. R. Lamar Parker, Dr. Stacee Reynolds, Dr. Lawrence Walker, Deborah Zimmerman PA-C, Stacey M. Smith PA-C, Lauri Cox FNP-C, and Jill Young FNP-C.

Pictured above: Dr. Jacqueline Mims

Main office
2927 Lyndhurst Avenue

445 Pineview Drive, Suite 110

Mt. Airy
933 Old Rockford Street

Maplewood Center
3015 Maplewood Avenue, Suite 205

WHAP Bone Density Center
3015 Maplewood Avenue,
Suite 202


Urogynecology Center
3001 Maplewood Avenue


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarties!

We're happy to report that today's post is sponsored by Creative Palooza All-Day Summer Camp. This camp is perfect for parents who will be working this summer, but also an excellent choice for any family who has children in grades K-6. The hours are 7:30am-6pm, and it is like a full day camp with half-day pricing! The hours are flexible, so you can choose to have your child stay for any amount of time in between. The cost is only $135 per week ($100 for members of First Christian Church), and the price remains the same no matter how many hours you choose to attend! Course offerings include music, arts, computer skills, Spanish, tutoring in academic subjects, and social skills. They offer weekly special events as well.

Creative Palooza will be hosting an Open House on Monday, June 1st from 6:30-7:30 pm at First Christian Church. Their location is very convenient, as it is located near 5-points intersection in Winston-Salem in the heart of Buena Vista. Address is 2320 Country Club Road, 27104. The first 15 to register and pay for camp will have the $25 registration fee waived! There will also be a drawing at the Open House to win a week of camp! Hope to see you there! You can get more information by calling Sue at 970-5102 or visit

For the rest of this weekend's event scoop, read on!

Strawberry Picking at Ingram Farm
Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Ingram Farms, 6121 Riverdale Drive, HP
Enjoy a fresh taste of spring and bring the kids to pick strawberries at Ingram Farm. There is also an animal feeding area with goats and other animals. You Pick:$1.05/lb.; Ingram's Picks for You - $1.65/lb. Phone: 336-431-2369

High Point Museum Community Heritage Day
Saturday, May 30 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., HP
Visit the new furniture heritage exhibit and join in the festivities celebrating 150 years of High Point history. The day will be filled with hands-on activities and crafts, special performances, refreshments, demonstrations and historical reenactments. Free. Phone: 336-885-1859.

“End of Year” Middle School Dance
Saturday, May 30 from 7-11 p.m.
Glenwood Recreation Center, 2010 Coliseum Blvd., GSO
For all Guilford County Middle School students, join Folk Teen Center staff at Glenwood Recreation Center for the “End of Year” Middle School Dance, featuring the latest hip hop, rap, reggae and pop music. “Dress to Impress,” per the Youth First dress code. $1 per student, and one canned vegetable to be donated to the Greensboro Urban Ministry. Phone: 336-373-2934.

35th Anniversary Celebration of Rural Hall
Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Covington Memorial Park, Church Street, Rural Hall
This event features live music from the Taylor Vaden Band (finale as Elvis), the Adams Sisters, and the Rural Hall Elementary School Chorus. A classic car show is also featured, along with over 30 arts and craft vendors, 18 food vendors (including BBQ, chicken, sausages, hot dogs, corn dogs, corn on the cob, funnel cakes, ice cream, cotton candy, and many other "fair" items), and over 31 community organizations on expo. A children's area with three large inflatables will entertain your kids in a fenced in area. Antique tractors, balloons, face painting will make this a real attraction to all ages. Free.

Third Annual Bike Safety Day
Saturday, May 30 from 10 a.m.-noon.
Little Stars of Bethlehem Preschool, 1355 Jonestown Road, W-S
Bring your bike for a free bike helmet and fitting before you join in the bike rodeo presented by the Winston-Salem Police Department. Free. Phone: 336-391-7881.

Triad Academy Open House
Sunday, May 31 at 3 pm
Triad Academy, 905 Friedberg Church Rd., WS
Triad Academy, an independent day school for students with Dyslexia or a Specific Learning Disability for grades 1-12, is holding an Open House. Great opportunity to visit the school, learn about their programs, and talk with teachers and administrators. Triad Academy is rated among the 11 best schools for Learning Disabilities in the US and Canada on Phone: 336-775-4900.

Arts in the Park
Sunday, May 31
Center City Park, GSO
Join the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro and their partners for an afternoon of family-friendly face painting, hat making, Kindermusik demonstrations, garden art, dance demonstration, "Around the World" traveling art trunk and more. Musical performances by Andrea Reece and Polecat Creek. Free. 2-5 p.m.

Arts on Sunday: Beach Party
Sunday, May 31 from 1 - 5 pm
Trade Street between Sixth and Seventh St., W-S
AFAS (Arts for Arts Sake) holdS FREE family events every Sunday in May and October in the Arts District of Winston-Salem. The series is called Arts on Sunday and has a different theme each week. This Sunday will feature a clambake and live beach music in addition to a kids craft corner, balloons, face painting, and make-and-take crafts all for FREE. They also added a Hula Hoop contest with prizes. Their mission is to "Build, educate and celebrate our community through Art". Free. Phone: 336-413-6667.

Children’s Book Reading: "A New Home for Katie."
Sunday, May 31 from 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Grace Court Park in the Historic West End, W-S
Linda Riviello and Katie will read the book "A New Home for Katie." 10 % from her book sales this day have been pledged to the Creative Learning Center for the Very Young. Free.

Triad Idol Finale
Sunday, May 31 at 3 p.m.
Carolina Theatre, 310 S. Greene St., GSO
Phone: 336-333-7470.
Approximately 12 finalists from each age group from the semi-finals will compete for the TRIAD IDOL crown. $10.

If we left out any great events, please add below!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Smarty Day Trip Series: Carowinds

By Guest Blogger Elizabeth D

You don’t have to look far from home to find a day of excitement and exhilaration. Just head south to the NC - SC line and you will find yourself at Paramount’s Carowinds Theme Park. We decided to visit in early May when it wouldn’t be too crowded. It was just my boys, ages 6 and 9, and myself, and we wanted to get out of town for a day and expend some of our energy. We definitely went to the right place!

Admission prices are listed on their website at but I found tickets for $33 each at NC State Employees’ Credit Union. If you know a member of the credit union they can buy tickets for you. Tickets are sold by height and not age, so my six year old was just tall enough to need an adult’s ticket. After a couple of hours in the park, though, we decided to trade in our tickets and buy season passes. We were just having too much fun and didn’t want it to end in just one day. The season passes pay for themselves in just two visits and you don’t have to pay for parking which is $10 per car.

Before your visit I would like to offer a few helpful tips...

Carowinds’ website has a list of rides and height requirements for each ride. This will help you determine which rides your family will be able to ride ahead of time. Once you enter the park, directly to your left is a place where your children can be measured. They will be measured with shoes on and will receive a color wristband for their height group. This will eliminate having to be measured for each individual ride and will save you time during your visit.

I recommend bringing at least one change of clothes and an extra pair of shoes. If you ride WhiteWater Falls you WILL get wet. Soaked, actually. You will also get wet on Rip Roarin’ Rapids. In fact the sign says, “You WILL get wet, you MAY get soaked!” I just happened to get soaked two out of the three times we’ve been on that ride!

A great way to get an overview of the park is to ride the Carolina Skytower. It is one of the first rides you will see once you enter the park. It is a tall tower that has a cabin that rotates. You can see the entire theme park and downtown Charlotte as well.

Nickelodeon Central is an area within the park designated for smaller children. It is filled with great rides. They have a carousel, mini boats, two roller coasters, helicopters, cars, and lots of other great rides for your little tots. We fell in love with the Fairly Odd Coaster and the TV Road Trip cars. Rugrats Runaway Reptar is a fun coaster as well. We were bummed to find The Dora Train closed but it looks like they are building something new. We’ll have to wait and see.

One way to save a little money is to bring a picnic lunch. I have not found an area to picnic so we bring our soccer chairs and tailgate. The parking lot is very hot so we like to ride WhiteWater Falls before lunch to keep us cool during lunch. Then, if we don’t dry out before lunch is over we can change our clothes in the car, too. As far as bringing food into the park, it is not allowed. I have found, though, that they will allow crackers or dry cereal in plastic baggies. I also bring bottles of water for each person and refill them throughout the day.

The times we’ve visited Carowinds, the water park has been closed. It opens Memorial Day weekend. The water park is included in the price of each ticket; however, the theme park itself has more than enough to keep you entertained the entire day. The water park may be worth a day by itself.

You will be worn out by the end of your day but it will be an unforgettable experience for your entire family! So check out the website, show your children the park map and start planning the rides you want to go on! The excitement before and after the trip will last a long time!

Have you recently been to Carowinds? If so, share your Smarty tips as well!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Girls on the Run: Do it for your Daughter, Do it for Yourself!

By Guest Blogger Laura Burrows

A few weeks ago, our Girls on the Run team from Whitaker Elementary (Winston-Salem) joined more than 10,000 other dedicated walkers, runners and supporters in the Komen Race for the Cure held in Winston-Salem. The race was the culmination of twelve weeks of training that began with just a few laps around the soccer field on a frigid day in February. Our girls, who ranged in ages from 9 to 12, started at all different levels of fitness, and as coaches, we could not have been prouder to see each of them cross the finish line with her running buddy.

For girls who have participated in the program and those who have coached, we know that Girls on the Run is about so much more than finishing a 5K. It’s about building self-esteem and confidence during a critical period in these girls’ lives, it’s about camaraderie and support through a new group of friends, and it’s about creating a safe environment where girls can share their worries and concerns. During our twice-weekly training sessions, we talked as a group about important topics like bullying, gossip, drugs, learning to listen and being a good sport.

While I know our girls learned and grew from those sessions, I also know as coaches and as moms, we grew as well. If you are looking for an outlet to shape a girls’ life—your daughter’s or someone else’s—be sure to check out Girls on the Run. You don’t need to be an athlete—all you need to be is a good motivator and listener. I would also encourage you to get a few moms to join you as coaching—this worked great for our team at Whitaker where we had 5 trained coaches to help share coaching responsibilities and leadership. As with any activity, it is more fun for everyone, the more people you have involved!

It is very easy to get trained as a coach—for Forsyth County, there is a coaches training session slated for May 30th at Summit School and you can get information by contacting Paula Evans at 718-5247 or checking out the web site at For Guilford County and the larger Triad area, the web site lists the contact as Kara Loggins at 869-0151. The main North Carolina Web site is

Have you and your daughter participated in this program? If so, tell us your success stories!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Call for Bloggers & Blog Ideas

By Katie M

Ok, all you Smarty Moms – we know you're out there – and we would love to hear from you! If you enjoy sharing your stories about parenting, or have tips and tricks you think we should all know, please contact us. Best of all, you'll get your name published!

As we've mentioned before, the key to success with this site is in the contributions we receive. The same goes with blog ideas. If you are hesitant to write a blog – or just don’t have the time – email us your blog ideas and we’ll research them and write them.

Triad Smarty Pants is looking for bloggers and blog ideas that will appeal to moms (and dads) and moms-to-be who live in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, or areas nearby like Kernersville and Clemmons, to name a few. We are particularly interested in blogs and blog ideas serving the Greensboro and High Point areas. Send us your blogs - or your thoughts, ideas and questions - to

Happy blogging!


Organic Baby Gift Ideas

By Dana D, Charlotte Smarty Pants

I love purchasing organic or green products for my friends who have new babies! I think this is a great way to use my buying power to increase awareness as well as eventually bring down the prices of organic products. I buy these baby gifts to introduce organic goods to some of my friends who are a lighter shade of green. I think everyone wants to do their part for the environment but some of us just aren’t aware of what is available. I wanted to give you all a few suggestions for green baby gifts if you have a new baby in your family or circle of friends. Of course, buy off their registry if that’s what they prefer but then stick one of these in there as well for a little surprise!

The Moby Wrap would be a wonderful gift if the new mom is considering a baby carrier. It is 100 % organic cotton and you can wear it 20 different ways! I have heard you can even put two babies in there if you had twins. Wow!

As far as clothing and blankets go, there are endless possibilities. I will mention a few but then lead you to a website that has more items for you to view. I would recommend the miYim organic infant gift set. It includes a burp cloth, rattle and plush toy. Very cute!

Next on my list is the Swaddle Design Organic Ultimate Receiving Blanket. This award winning blanket is made from 100% organic cotton and would be a great gift at $30!

Then check out Sckoon for their fabulous organic hooded towels, washcloths and the little rabbit dolls. Even the stuffing for the dolls is made from organic cotton. They also have precious baby caps and kimono type onesies!

For bath products, I would suggest Little Twig. You can go online and purchase one of their adorable gifts sets. The scents are divine! I personally like the tangerine but they also have lavender and unscented. Check out their washcloths and bath mits as well!

Last but not least I would go to Wild Dill for your one stop shopping. They have awesome cloth teethers, clothes, wooden toys and much more! There are some really cool items here so definitely check this out! I like the Speesees brand cloth teether and the Yellow Kids Vegetable Rattles. These are great for babies and then can be used for pretend play as they grow older.If I am buying new I try to always go for wood or organic cotton toys to limit the amount of plastic exposure in our household. These timeless wooden toys called Pastel Toys would be a great gift that could be passed down for generations. They are made with lead-free, water-based paint.

Obviously, I could go on and on! But don't forget the BPA free bottles or glass bottles that we did a post on it a few months ago. There are several brands now but Born Free is available online as well as at your local Babies R Us.

Let us know if you have other suggestions or recommendations!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Smarty Mom: Christie Dalton

By Rachel H

Welcome to another Smarty Mom Saturday! I am happy to introduce you to a fellow Appalachian Alumni friend of mine, Christie Dalton. Christie has lived in Reidsville, NC for the past 2 years. Before that, she lived in Eden, where she grew up. She and her husband, Jason, have two boys, Andrew, who is 8, and Jack who is 6. Christie works full-time as a first grade teacher. She serves as a preschool ministry volunteer at her church. She also volunteers at the Free Clinic of Rockingham County and Help for the Homeless. Christie is a Momtime Group Leader. Somehow she managed to squeeze in her National Board Certification after having kids. Any teacher can tell you that this is not an easy feat and takes much time and dedication. Christie plans to further her teaching career by beginning a Master’s degree program in the fall. As all good moms should, Christie is also able to take time for herself! She loves to travel, cook, read, and scrapbook. She loves photography and also spending time with her girlfriends.

Let’s chat more with Christie …

You give much of your time to volunteering. Please tell us more about your favorite organization in which you volunteer and what it means to you.
I love volunteering for the Free Clinic of Rockingham County, which provides medical and dental care for the working uninsured. This is a wonderful facility that operates purely on a volunteer basis – from the receptionist (me) to the nurses, doctors and pharmacists, everyone gives of their time to provide quality healthcare to those who have no other means of receiving it. The uninsured live sicker and die younger. That’s why the clinic exists — to try to be a stop gap for people who have nowhere else to go.

Tell us more about Momtime!
I love Momtime! Remember Blair from the show “Facts of Life?” Her real life name is Lisa Whelchel, and she started the first Momtime group more than ten years ago as a way to keep her sanity! The group consists of moms who get together in each other’s homes at least once a month and are committed to being there for one another. Lisa has written several books and even hosts “Momtime Getaways” all around the country. My girlfriends and I went to the one she hosted in Charlotte and loved it! There are now twelve moms in my Momtime group and we have met every month for almost five years now!

How do you manage to balance your work and home life?
Being a teacher at the school that both of my boys attend is both fabulous and challenging! I feel I have the best of both worlds; I get to take them to work with me everyday, and they are literally just steps away at any given moment. The downside is that they are always just steps away! I have found for me that the key to balancing work and home is to get everything done before I leave school so that when I go home, I am able to give my undivided attention to my family. It doesn’t always happen, but it is my goal everyday!

Give us your best tip for helping first graders be successful in school.
I find that in first grade as most children have already begun to read, parents stop reading aloud to their children. Keep reading! The most important thing any parent can do to create a good reader is to read to their child. Even when they have become very fluent readers, they still enjoy crawling up in your lap and listening to a wonderful story.

Where is your favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
I love the clearance rack…at any store! Belk, Target, Children’s Place, Wal-Mart…as soon as I go into the children’s section, I go straight to the clearance rack. I NEVER pay full price for anything! I also love the New Beginnings stores in Eden, Reidsville and Madison, which sell gently used clothes. All proceeds benefit HELP, Inc., which is the Rockingham County shelter for battered women.

What is your favorite family activity?
Game night is always a fun night at our house! We turn off the television, cell phones, laptops, etc., and just have a great time playing board games, card games or even Guitar Hero!

Favorite “my-time” activity?
I love pedicures, massages, facials…anything pampering!

Best book you have read recently?
I just love Karen Kingsbury…I was addicted to her Baxter family series! I just read her newest book, Above the Line: Take One and it is awesome!

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
Our church, Osborne Baptist in Eden, just built a new children’s wing and inside is a huge indoor clubhouse playground attached to a coffee and sandwich shop which is open daily for lunch. My boys love to go and play in the clubhouse while I sit and have coffee with other moms.

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
Honestly, we love to eat dinner at home. It’s our time of the day to really talk to our boys and share our day. Even if Jason has to work late, I’ll feed the boys a big afternoon snack so we can all eat together. But when we do go out, we love PF Chang’s!

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
From my son Jack, age 6, while reciting his memory verse from Awanas (John 3:16) “...who gave his only forgotten son....that whoever believes in him will have NOCTURNAL life."

Favorite park in the Triad?
We love Bur-Mill in Greensboro, and my boys also love to go to our school’s playground to play in the evenings or on the weekends.

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
The best thing about raising a family in the Triad is the kindness of the people who surround us. We live in the Bethany area which is a small rural community just north of Summerfield. Our school, Bethany Elementary, and this community have some of the nicest, friendliest people we’ve ever met! Our family has made terrific friends since moving here two years ago.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Triad Stage in downtown Greensboro. It’s our favorite date night spot, following a dinner at Liberty Oak. Such amazing talent and creativity!

Best birthday party you have attended?
We just celebrated Jackson’s 6th birthday at a Greensboro Grasshoppers game and had an awesome time! They handled everything and all the boys loved it!

I could not live without my...
Family, my friends, and my faith. And Facebook of course!

I wish someone had told me sooner about...
The Minute Clinic at CVS! It is so convenient for things like strep throat, swimmer’s ear, etc. They are open on Saturdays and Sundays and you don’t need an appointment!

Thanks, Christie, 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, May 22, 2009

Smarty Sponsor: Triad Academy

By Guest Blogger Pat L. (her son attends Triad Academy)

During my son’s first grade year I found myself constantly frustrated. I was frustrated with my son because he was getting in trouble at school and just didn’t “get reading and writing.” I was frustrated with his teacher, who said “he would get it if he would just try hard enough and pay attention more,” and I was frustrated with my husband and myself because we just couldn’t figure out how to help him.

When we finally had my son tested, I remember a feeling of relief that we had a diagnosis of a learning disability (LD) and ADHD. I finally knew that my son’s difficulties with school were NOT because “he didn’t try hard enough.” His issues stemmed from the fact that his brain was wired in a way that he learned differently than most children.

With the LD diagnosis, we were able to work with his teachers in the public school to make an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). I assumed that once he had an IEP, he would thrive in the public school setting. However, even though he had one half hour a day in a small group setting with an LD teacher, he never seemed to catch up, especially in the areas of reading comprehension, automaticity, and math word problems.

In second grade, learning spelling words was a nightmare for our son. He just couldn’t remember how to spell them – it was like he couldn’t hear the sounds. At an LD conference I attended that year, Sue Stevens, an LD teacher, discussed the fact that children with learning disabilities are often very visual learners. After her lecture, I decided to try visual clues for my son’s spelling words. On Monday when he got his spelling list for the week, I would have him draw a picture that represented the word as well as write out the word. It was amazing the difference this made in his spelling – once he could visualize the word, he could spell it correctly. I also found that it helped his writing if he could draw pictures about what he was supposed to write.

Although he learned certain things and made some strides, my son never thrived in public school. In fact, the frustrations for all of us continued. At the end of fifth grade, my husband and I decided that our son needed a different educational setting. After checking out several options, we decided on Triad Academy, a private school for students with diagnosed learning disabilities. I will never forget the day our son visited there at the end of 5th grade. He came home and asked if he could go back the very next day. He said he loved the school, which was the first time he had EVER said anything like that.

This year, as a 6th grader at Triad Academy, our son has flourished. His math skills and automatic recall of math facts have gotten a lot better. His phonics and decoding ability have improved as well as his reading fluency. I even catch him picking up books and reading! More importantly, he will often share some new piece of information he has learned from reading, especially if it is science related. At Triad Academy, David also is recognized by his peers and teachers as an artist. The recognition and encouragement of his artistic ability, as well as teaching in a way that he learns, has done a lot to help our son become more self-confident and actually to enjoy school for the first time in his life.

I love what our son says about Triad Academy: “They teach without a lot of words in a way I can learn.” Thanks to all the wonderful and dedicated teachers at Triad Academy, I finally feel that my son will develop to his fullest potential. My only regret is that we did not find the school earlier!

Would you like to learn more about Triad Academy? Visit one of upcoming Open House sessions:

Wednesday, May 27
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 31
3:00 to 4:30 p.m.

For more information:
Triad Academy
905 Friedberg Church Road


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why I Love Swim Team

By Rachel H

Summer swim team season officially started for most swim clubs last week. I know it seems a little cold and I am sure many kids will have purple toes when they climb out of the water, but they will eventually have a wonderful time! If your child is participating in swim team this year – BRAVO! If you are still contemplating, I say do it! Here’s why…

When we first moved to Charlotte, our neighborhood did not have a pool, so we spent our first two summers running through the sprinkler and playing “Nestea Plunge” by pouring buckets of water on ourselves in the driveway. Ahhh, the memories! By the time I turned eight, our neighborhood pool opened, and my mom was one of the women who got an official swim team up and running. (Kind of ironic as I look back now, considering she never knew how to swim until I taught her a few years ago!) We only had about 60 kids on our team at good old Sardis Forest, and we looked pretty pitiful because we had no swim caps or goggles. Our diving blocks were hand-made by my dad, and no one had any clue what they were doing, but we were pumped up! We lost every single swim meet that year and I think the next year as well, but none of that mattered.

Over the first few years I learned all four strokes and soon decided breaststroke was my favorite. I was halfway decent at it, and made good enough times to swim in the first heat with the really good swimmers! After each meet we’d gather at practice the next morning as Coach Prince handed out ribbons. Every season I sat patiently as my sister, three years younger than me, received ribbon after ribbon. Blue, red, blue, red. She was awesome. I think she even swam in the older relay team because she was so good. No ribbons for me, but I didn’t give up.

I can’t remember when it finally happened, but there finally came a morning when I was handed a ribbon – a yellow fourth place ribbon in breaststroke! You would have thought I won an Olympic medal. I was thrilled. As you can imagine, my sister had an entire wall of her room filled with red and blue ribbons and I had my one yellow ribbon hanging proudly on my bedroom door. I worked so hard for that, and no one gave it to me because they felt sorry for me, or handed me a ribbon just for participating. I earned it, and it meant so much.

As the years went on, Sardis Forest swim team improved, and we finally won the league championship. I remember jumping up and down, crying, and hugging my teammates because we were so excited to have finally won. It was a team effort, and we were so proud. A few years later, guess who won the gold medal in the league championship for 13-14 girls’ breaststoke? You got it – me! I remember those final moments of swimming and getting closer and closer to the wall with the awesome Jill Dyer right on my tail. I touched that wall and could hardly believe I had done it. My teammates were cheering and Coach Prince pulled me out of the water with a huge hug. Even Jill Dyer, who I never in a thousand years thought I would beat, gave me a hug. What a moment!

I think the things that I most like about swim team are these: everyone has a personal goal to improve their strokes, cut their times, or beat a certain competitor, but we also have a team goal where we work together to gain points and swim relays. It is the best of both worlds. A swimmer can have a great night individually, but the team may lose, or vice versa. It teaches kids to not give up. Swimmers who are terrible at backstroke may be great at butterfly, so there is usually a strong point for everyone. I may have won a medal in breaststroke, but my other strokes were majorly lacking in skill, and that was OK! I also think it is wonderful that swim practice gives kids time to be alone with nothing but their own thoughts. Lap after lap, I would just swim and think. How often do kids really get the chance to just think, with no other distractions?

I also loved those cool summer nights as we sat on our towels in the team section and ate our jello powder right out of the box. We played Spiked Malice and Crazy Eights. We made friendship bracelets and spied on the boys. We played our boomboxes and listened to our walkmans. We cried to our teammates when we did poorly and they supported us until our next event when we would jump back in the water and try again.

I coached swim team myself for more years than I can imagine and I can honestly say that summer didn’t feel exactly like summer when my children were babies and there was no connection to swim team. Now that they are getting older, I am ready for them to jump in the water and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did. I hope I’ve inspired a few of you to give swim team a shot with your children this summer and I am sure it will give your family many of the same fond memories that it gives mine.

By the way, yes, that is me on the right in the photo, sometime in the early 80’s. I am sure I will receive much harassment from friends about it. Note the medal around my sister’s neck. I am positive that my trophy was for “Most Improved”!!!!

Let us know if you share similar memories from your childhood, and how you're helping create experiences for your children to cherish.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty readers! Can you believe school is almost out? The weather feels like fall, but pretty soon those kiddos will be home FULL TIME! Are you ready??? If you haven't made your summer camp plans, it's not too late. Be sure to check back to our Smarty Picks for Summer Camp blog for some great ideas. We've recently updated it, and many Smarty readers added in other fun camp ideas too.

Speaking of summer, I can't believe Memorial Day weekend is here! Looks like the weather will warm up this weekend too which is perfect because LOTS of pools open up around the Triad. If you don't belong to a private pool, below is a list of some public openings this weekend (sorry Greensboro Smarties - I couldn't find any openings this weekend in your come to WS or HP! - or let us know of pool openings in the comments below!).

• Bolton, Kimberley Park and Parkland Pool OPEN:
May 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 (Weekend Only). Full time schedule starts June 6.
• Happy Hill, Mineral Springs, Reynolds Park and Sprague pools open for the summer on June 12.
• Tanglewood Park Public Pool: Memorial Day Weekend Calendar - Saturday (11 am to 8 pm), Sunday (11 am to 6 pm) and Monday (11 am to 8 pm).

High Point
High Point City Lake Pool and Waterslide: Opens for the season beginning May 23 for weekends only. Weekday operation begins June 16.

As for the rest of the events, read on. Enjoy your long holiday weekend!

Sesame Street Live “Elmo Makes Music.”
Thursday and Friday 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m.
War Memorial Auditorium, Greensboro Coliseum Complex, 1921 W. Lee St., GSO.
Elmo, Zoe, Big Bird and all their Sesame Street friends are taking to the stage to share their love of music. Jenny, an enthusiastic new music teacher, arrives on Sesame Street only to discover that her instruments are missing. Jenny’s new Muppet friends quickly come to the rescue and discover 'instruments' they never knew existed - rubber duckies, trash can lids and even cookie jars. Elmo and friends teach children that everyone can make and enjoy beautiful music together. $14, $17, $20. Phone: 800-745-3000.

Strawberry Picking at Ingram Farm
Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
Ingram Farms, 6121 Riverdale Drive, HP.
Phone: 336-431-2369
Enjoy a fresh taste of spring and bring the kids to pick strawberries at Ingram Farm. There is also an animal feeding area with goats and other animals. You Pick:$1.05/lb.; Ingram's Picks for You - $1.65/lb.

Wee Gardners
Friday, May 22 from 10 - 11 am.
Location: Legacy Demonstration Garden, 3309 Burlington Road, GSO.
The Master Gardener Volunteers of Guilford County Cooperative Extension invite 4- and 5-year-old children, who are starting kindergarten in the fall, and an accompanying adult, to attend this two-day program featuring a nature discovery walk, treasure hunt, storytelling, crafts and gardening fun. $10.

Spring Festival: Busy Bees
Saturday, May 23 from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Old Salem, 900 Old Salem Road, W-S.
This year's festival will focus on bees, an important part of the historic and modern landscape. The fun-filled day includes puppet shows, making your own beeswax candle, medicinal uses for honey, bees and pollination in the garden. Adults, $21; ages 6-16, $10. Phone: 336-721-7350.

Saturday Night Live
Saturday, May 23 at 7:30 pm
West Forsyth Family YMCA, 1150 S. Peace Haven Road, Clemmons, NC
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. We're ending the school year with a Prom Night just for Middle Schoolers! Come and experience a great night!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. Phone: (336) 712-2000.

ArtQuest Monday Morning Storytimes
Monday, May 25 from 10:30-11 a.m.
ArtQuest, Green Hill Center for NC Art, 200 N. Davie St., GSO.
Join ArtQuest each Monday for storytime fun for the little ones followed by a related art project. Free to members; $5. Phone: 336-333-7460.

If we forgot to mention something, please add in the comment section below!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thanks for Watching!

By The Triad Smarty Pants Team

Thanks to all of you who watched our news segment on FOX 8 yesterday and sent us emails of congrats. Many of you asked where to find some of the items featured, and we will include that below. It will also be listed on under the Morning News page (look for "Summer Mom Tips".) We were so fortunate to be able to share some of our summer must-have items with all of you, and we have many thank-yous to send out…

First off, thanks to Shannon Smith Priddy for being a loyal TSP reader and for inviting us to be part of the Morning Show! Thanks to George at Nitsa’s & Fashionista for allowing us to film from your gorgeous store and allowing our kids to terrorize the shop in-between takes. We also thank Nitsa’s & Fashionista for dressing up the TSP Team in such stylish summer clothes to model. Thanks to Andy at Whistlestop Toy Station for allowing us to borrow those incredible toys to show on the air. Thanks to Emma Jane’s Baby & Children’s Specialty Shoppe for trusting us with the beautiful children’s clothes our kids modeled. And of course thank you to our children for waking up so early and participating! (And...a big thank you to Rachel and Allison's husbands who were brave enough to help corral the kids! - KM)

The morning was pretty comical if you watched close enough. Hopefully you didn’t see Rachel’s hands shaking too much or notice that we had to skip an entire table of toys because we ran out of time. And hopefully you didn’t see Allison put the baby in the Hotsling backwards or see little Henry almost pull the Fashionista sign off the wall. But if you did, it makes it all the more fun because it summarizes what our website is all about – the day in the life of a mom and how nothing ever goes as planned!

We shared some of our favorite Summer Must-Have Items for kid’s clothing, mom’s clothing, toys, and accessories. If you liked what you saw, here is where you can find it!

Insulated cooler bag – Goosiepie Monograms
-Diaper Bag – Emma Jane’s Baby & Children’s Specialty Shoppe
-After-Sun Replenishing Gel (contact to order)
-Women’s Visor – Fleet Feet of Winston-Salem
-Hotsling- Emma Jane’s Baby & Children’s Specialty Shoppe
-Highlighting, Bronzing and Body Make-up by Classified Cosmetics – can purchase at Nitsa’s. More info online at
-Lands End Kids’ Towels & Tote Bags
-Monogrammed Koozie & water bottle – area gift shops such as Kim Taylor& Co, Swoozies, Ivy Arch, or Stein Mart carry items similar to these.

All toys provided by The WhistleStop Toy Station
-Girl’s spa set & ribbon flip-flops - The WhistleStop Toy Station . Emma Jane's Baby & Kids' Specialty Shoppe will carry these in a few weeks.

Children’s Clothing, Shoes and Bathing Suits (with the exception of the older boy’s outfits)
-Provided by Emma Jane’s Baby & Kids’ Specialty Shoppe
-Boy’s Clothing – Gymboree, Tommy Hilfiger (can be found at Stein Mart and Costco.

Mom’s Clothing and Accessories
All clothing provided by Nitsa’s Apparel & Fashionista


Monday, May 18, 2009

My Big Green Idea

By Guest Blogger Kelly G.

When I was growing up, my parents had a vegetable garden. In my kid-sized memory I’d say it was about three car-lengths long and one wide, but it was probably much smaller than that. They asked a neighbor with a tractor to break the ground for them in early spring, and they turned the dirt by hand in the fall as they worked the burned leaf piles into it after harvest. (Remember that great smell? Mmmm.) I loved that garden. I got to pick lettuce, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs—dill was my favorite because that was where the butterflies landed. And except for the radishes, I feasted on all of it. I also learned to pickle and can from my mother, who taught herself to do it. The house used to reek of hot vinegar every summer. We saved tons of money and had pickles, canned beans, tomatoes, and vegetable soup to eat all winter.

I wanted to pass these memories and skills along to my kids, but I wasn’t sure how to do it since we live “in the city.” Where I got lucky was in having a neighbor (pictured above) who is an avid gardener already. Jane’s tiny yard is a festival of cottage-style flower gardening, complete with a pond she put in herself last weekend. My yard is heavily shaded, so vegetables are tough to work in, but between our driveways is a triangle-shaped strip of land that gets full sun most of the day. We bought and assembled two raised beds and some upside-down tomato hangers (and hung them with help from my husband, who built a structure for us). We laid paths around the beds with some abandoned brick. We planted every herb and veggie we could squeeze in, along with some blueberry and raspberry bushes. We studied the merits of French intensive gardening. And best of all, we truly involved the kids.

My boys, ages four and two, helped dig the dirt to put in the beds. They learned to cover up the worms and toss the grubs in the yard waste bin. They carried the bricks to help us build the path, and when the path between the beds was wide enough, they celebrated by riding their tricycles through it. They soaked bean seeds to plant. They helped plant lettuce, carrots, peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and flowers. (My two-year-old helped a little too much, and now we have lots of carrots to thin, but he was delighted with himself, so it was worth it.)

It’s already paying off in lots of expected ways. My kids ask every day if they can play in the garden. They are always checking to see what’s growing. They look for bees—and are happy instead of afraid when they find them. They got their own garden tools for Easter and are enthusiastic about digging and raking. They love to fill the watering can from the rain barrel and then drown our little seedlings. And they are eating. Both kids gleefully downed a handful of salad last night. If we did not have the garden, there would have been no salad at last night’s dinner because I didn’t have time to run to the grocery. There will be salad again tonight. The lettuce grows faster than we can eat it.

The garden is paying off in other, unexpected ways, too. Suddenly, I can get a little mommy time working in the garden (or just sitting there admiring it while drinking a cold beverage) while they play nearby in the back yard. They expect to spend time outside every day because they know there is usually work to be done (even if that work involves just sitting and watching the peas get taller). They get to see their mother build something with her hands: sweating, lifting, and working hard without even touching the computer.

But perhaps the best part is the relationship they are developing with our neighbor, whose grandchildren are several states away. My children presumptuously expect her to stop what she is doing and visit, feed them snacks, hold them when they are sick of me, play the “toll-booth game” as they ride around the garden, and generally participate in their lives. They insist on going into her yard and right into her house to play with the cats and the dog, and she is very patient with their intrusions. What a treat—for me—to see them bond as I take a break.

I am proud of my little garden. It’s like I have a new career. I am also thrilled that my family will be healthier from eating locally and organically. And maybe they will now get those five daily servings of fruits and veggies without me having to run to the store late in the afternoon because yet another bag of lettuce has gone gooey before I could use it.

Share with us other ways you help make your family greener and healthier.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smarty Infant Car Seat Tips

By Ashley H, Charlotte Smarty Pants

The key to an infant carrier is its safety, of course, and how lightweight it is. If you are a new mom-to-be reader, trust me you do NOT want to lug around a newborn plus tons of extra weight with the infant carrier itself!

Infant car seats are rear-facing seats designed for infants up to around 22 lbs and 26" in height. Infant car seats normally have a five-point harness to secure the baby in the carrier, which is then snapped into the base in your car. This way, you can snap the carrier in and out of your car without disturbing your newborn much. On average, infant seats last most parents about 6 months, depending on the weight/height of each child. Be sure to always check the sticker on the side of your infant carrier of choice. By law, the manufacturer has to list both height and weight limits. Once your child exceeds either, move him/her to a convertible car seat (see note below on height).

Another important safety note to new moms (thank goodness for child birth instructors that tell you these things), when you snap your carrier into the base of your car to run an errand make sure you push the infant carrier handle back down (towards the headrest as if you were moving it back to get your newborn out). This is the correct position for traveling in a car with infants, in the event of a collision if that handle were still locked upright (as if you were carrying the infant) it would prevent the seat from being able to absorb the shock of impact and cocoon your baby as designed to do for safety.

It is always best to try to buy a new infant car seat. But if you choose to go with a used seat (i.e. your girlfriend lets you borrow her's) then make sure:
* It is not more than 6 years old (look for a label on the seat to indicate the date it was made).
* It has never been in a crash, it's important to know the history of the seat.
* It has not been recalled. You can check at
* It has labels explaining proper installation and the weight/height limits.
* It has the instruction manual.

Other top tips for the infant car seats include:
* Read the owner's booklets for both the car seat and your car before installing the seat.
* Install the seat rear-facing.
* Check the strap adjustments for your baby's size (they did this in the hospital for us as we were being sent home with the twins so we made sure we had the appropriate fit).
* Get your car seat inspected!!!! We followed our booklets for correct installation, line by line, and it still wasn't quite right when we had our's inspected. An inspection can also serve to make sure your car seat is secured at the correct angle, though many come with level indicators those aren't trusty given the variety of backseat designs in cars (the seat may not be correctly installed even if the level indicator reads fine). Many places offer this as a free service, we got lucky one day and had our's done while shopping at Babies-R-Us, they were offering them free that day in the parking lot. You can also check for an inspection station near you.
* In terms of height limits, it is generally safe to use your infant carrier until your child's head is 1" below the top of their seat or their shoulders exceed the top harness slot (even if their height is slightly above the stated limit).

With twins, we got on board the Double Snap-N-Go fan bus early on. It was our lifesaver! That lightweight frame was SO easy to get in and out of the car and a breeze to push through stores. So we went about selecting our infant car seats a bit backward, by choosing our travel system first and then finding carriers to fit it. Most infant carriers are supposed to work with the Snap-N-Go, meaning most should fit the frame and be able to be strapped down. However, I often hear moms prefer the Graco SnugRide for this frame; we chose to go with Graco for our 6 months in infant car seats as well and were happy with the brand. This was also the top choice in my version of Baby Bargains based on its ease of use, lightweight carrier (7 lbs) and adjustable base.

Tell us about your infant car seat flavor of choice and why. We want our new moms-to-be out there to be Smartified!”


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Smarty Mom: Katina Rice

By Rachel H

I am so excited to introduce Katina J. Rice to you this week as our Smarty Mom. She has lived in the Triad almost her whole life, with the exception of her college years at UNC-Chapel Hill. Katina and her husband Lonnie presently live in Kernersville with their daughters Aryonna (7) and Anaiya (almost 5). Katina works full-time as a Pharmacist for a Medicaid case management and consulting company called Partnership for Health Management. She works for a local retail chain about once a month, and she parties every weekend at My Party Palace Triad! This is a wonderful company that Smarty Mom, Katina, started herself! She is owner and operator at this premier place to host a party for little girls in the Triad. My Party Palace Triad has been open for two years. They host diva, princess and spa parties for girls of all ages. In addition to partying every weekend, they participate in a community charity event quarterly, which we will hear more about below.

Somehow, Katina finds even more time to give to others on top of the charity events at My Party Palace. She volunteers at The Summit Church, Caitlin's Closet, and has recently started a non-profit called A Princess Wish.

I am exhausted just writing about all that Katina does! Now let’s find out just how she does it!

How did you come up with the idea for My Party Palace?
I have planned weddings and social events since 1999. I was looking to expand my wedding consulting business (Joyful Occasions). One afternoon, I was watching Nicolodeon with my girls and on one of the shows, the little girl took her doll to a princess party! My girls just flipped! I immediately got online looking for places in the Triad that I could take my daughters to have a princess party and could not find anything. My mind went into full swing and I began to envision how I could add princess parties on to the wedding consulting! I also began to imagine how life-changing a princess party could be for girls all over the Triad. After doing quite a bit of research, I found a company online called My Party Palace. My Party Palace is a business opportunity out of Round Rock, Texas. After speaking with the CEO, Robin Duncan, I was hooked. My Party Palace embodied my concept: empowering girls through fun! My Party Palace also offered a basic framework for conducting business. I soon learned however that partying in the Triad is VERY different from partying in Texas!

Tell us more about the charity events that you have organized through your business.
After praying really hard about starting this business, I promised God that whatever I achieved with My Party Palace Triad would be for his glory and not mine. One way for me to live up to my word is to serve others. During our first quarter in business, we hosted a “Diva Party” for the young ladies in Hand 2 Hand. Hand 2 Hand is a non-profit group that encourages pregnant and teenage mothers via advocating for education and abstinence. I was ecstatic to provide manicures, pedicures, and black dresses for 12 young women! The most touching part was that I had requested that they write about what they wanted to become. As we announced each girl onto the stage, I read what they wrote. Not a dry eye was in the house. One young lady said that she was going to be the first in her family to finish high school! Another one said that she aspired to finish college and own her own home. WOW!

In October of our first year, we hosted “Breakfast with Cinderella” to benefit Cancer Services in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. At this event, twenty little princesses had the pleasure of having story-time, photos and breakfast with Cinderella! All of the proceeds were donated to Cancer Services! In the spring of 2008, My Party Palace sponsored the kids’ area during the March for Babies event in Winston-Salem. In September of 2008, we hosted an event called “Food for Forsyth Fairy Party” in conjunction with Chick-Fil-A in Kernersville. At this event, girls were able to enjoy story time with Tinkerbelle. We even provided them with tiaras and wings to take home. The only fee for the event was at least one non-perishable food item for each little fairy in attendance. After so much success with the first “Breakfast with Cinderella” event, I decided to go even bigger last year! In October of 2008, we hosted “Breakfast with the Princesses” at the Courtyard Marriott in Winston-Salem. We had over 65 people in attendance and the little ones this year got to visit with Cinderella, Belle, Tinkerbell, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. In March of this year, we will host a prom dress giveaway for underprivileged girls of the Triad through an organization called Caitlin’s Closet.

You have recently started a non-profit organization called A Princess Wish. Tell us more about it and how you help others through this organization.
A Princess Wish is an organization that hosts celebrations for girls who are facing medical or financial hardships. We provide the magic that happens every weekend at My Party Palace Triad by partnering with other organizations to help them celebrate, by hosting “free events” and by providing “scholarship spaces” to some of the monthly My Party Palace Triad events.

Obviously with a full-time job on top of running your own business, you must be constantly on the go. How do you still fit in quality time with your family?
I have had to learn the hard way! Put the "Crackberry" (aka "Blackberry") down! When I was first getting things off the ground, I was away from my family a lot. My husband was/is great! He pulled his weight and mine with the girls for a while. Let’s not even talk about house work—EEEEEK! Balance is the key! I had to sit down and determine what my “governing values” are and plan my days and weeks around what is MOST important not around what is urgent but really not important (a key concept from Franklin Covey).

I have a “time cube” that I set to complete my tasks for the day. I can be all over the place so I do everything in 15 minute intervals. I get my hardest tasks done first! I have also had to learn that not everything is going to get done. That is why it is essential to know what is TRULY important. I have not arrived! I am still striving. However, I am learning to be in the moment and enjoy the journey!

What Smarty Tips do you have for other working moms in your same position?
Don’t be afraid to dream, plan, strategize and then change your mind!
Determine your governing values! Take care of yourself! You are not doing your children any favors by putting yourself last! If Mama ain’t happy, nobody is happy!

What is your favorite family activity?
Playing the Wii!

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Getting a pedicure!

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
Chick Fil-A

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
Cracker Barrel

Best place to get a good deal on kids’ clothes?

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
My girls are true Divas, they talk so much, it is hard to say!

Favorite park in the Triad?
Triad Park

Mini-van or SUV?

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Our wonderful climate and the friendly people!

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Are these trick questions---My Party Palace Triad (LOL)

Best birthday party you have attended.
My 30th birthday party! My hubby planned it all by himself (that was a big deal…I am the planner in the family)! All of my friends were there—good times!

I could not live without my... Blackberry

I wish someone had told me sooner about... Dave Ramsey—Financial Peace

As you can tell, Katina has brought so much goodness into the lives of others! You are truly an inspiration and we thank you for sharing so much about yourself with us today. To learn more about My Party Palace Triad, visit or call (336)992-0146. Their next event will be a St. Patrick’s Day Tea with Tinkerbelle!

Thanks, Katina 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, May 15, 2009

Smarty Press: Tune in to Fox 8 Monday Morning!

The Triad Smarty Pants team (and our children) will be featured live on Fox 8 on Monday morning. We are showcasing our Summer Must Haves for moms and kids. The segments will air at 6:15 am, 6:45 am, 7:15 am, 7:45 am, and 8:15 am. Smarty Mom Shannon Smith Priddy will be reporting. So, get the coffee brewing extra early and tune in while you check out the latest Smarty scoop online!


Co-Sleeping Pros and Cons

By Katie M

I have to admit I have no first-hand knowledge on this subject but it’s one that has always intrigued me. I never even knew the concept existed until after I had a baby and met other mothers – and fathers – who co-sleep with their child and swear by it. I’ve also met parents who co-sleep with more than one child (and I've often wondered how the second child ever happened!) Then I’ve met moms who wind up in this situation not by choice and either stress about it or accept it. And then there are the nightmare stories I’ve heard on the news about the potential dangerous outcomes of this kind of situation.

So that’s why I thought I’d tackle the pros and cons on this subject, and hope there are other moms who can chime in with your thoughts, opinions and experiences. Perhaps there is someone out there who is struggling with this situation but cannot find a successful way to break the habit. And maybe some of you have Smarty advice on how to transition a baby from your bed to the crib or bassinette.

First let me say that I am in no way an expert on getting babies to sleep on their own!!! Far from it! I had to literally rock my daughter to sleep every night for the first nine months and then carefully place her in the crib – hoping that NOTHING would wake her – and then carefully step backwards out of the room so as to not wake her up. And if she woke, then the whole process had to be repeated. Then, when I had my son three years later, I’m not sure if it was laziness on my part or knowing that he was my last baby or a habit that was forming between us both, but I could not get him to sleep at night for the first four months unless he slept on my chest. Most nights I let him sleep like this all night or I'd move him next to me in bed (when that happened my husband usually left the bed for fear he’s roll over him). I also let my son sleep on his belly (gasp!) almost from the day he came home because he refused any other position.

That said, I’m in no position to offer advice…I’m simply providing some research (and a little opinion at the end – I mean, who can resist?)! But for those of you looking for a co-sleeping situation, I did find some products online that can make the situation a little easier and safer.

And so here are some Pros and Cons I discovered – mostly from a great article on

- Some studies have shown that sleep-sharing babies tend to breastfeed more, yet disrupt their mother's sleep less, than babies who sleep alone. Mothers who share a bed with their baby tend to breastfeed their babies for longer periods of time, perhaps because they find it easier to breastfeed in bed rather than getting up during the night to feed their baby. (That makes sense to me because I did breastfeed both of my children and it’s a lot easier to just pull them into bed for feedings rather than get up and sit with a Boppy pillow!)

- If you and your partner both work during the day, co-sleeping can give you some extra time to spend with your baby. The nurturing and closeness that happen during the night can help create a stronger relationship between you and your child.

-Some people believe that babies who co-sleep with their parents are more independent, more outgoing, and more confident as children. As adults, they have higher self-esteem, better stress-management skills, and are more comfortable with intimacy than adults who slept alone as babies. However sleeping arrangements on their own cannot make your baby into a particular type of person.

- Some studies have also suggested that on average, babies who co-sleep wake less often, and go back to sleep sooner, than babies who sleep alone in another room. However, some babies simply are better able to soothe themselves back to sleep than others. For this reason, it's misleading to think that co-sleeping will influence when your baby starts sleeping through the night.

- Babies who sleep with their parents tend to stay awake for shorter periods of time during the night than solitary sleepers, and they may cry significantly less, too. Sleeping close to your baby allows you to quickly respond if she starts to cough or cry in the night.

- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) believe the risks of co-sleeping outweigh the benefits. Co-sleeping, they say, puts babies at risk of suffocation and strangulation, and hidden hazards with adult beds. Additionally, the AAP reports that, under certain conditions, co-sleeping may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), especially if one or both parents smoke. (

- Sharing your bed with a wriggling, kicking, squirming baby takes some getting used to, and you may not sleep as well as you do when your baby sleeps alone. If your baby gets used to falling asleep next to you, she may have trouble sleeping when you leave her with a relative or babysitter. Depending on how old your child is and how long she has been sleeping with you, making the eventual transition from family bed to her own bed can be a long and drawn-out process.

- Sleep sharing can affect your love life too. Spontaneous lovemaking when your baby's in the bed tends isn't really an option; many parents find another room to make love in to avoid disturbing their baby. At times, one or both of you may resent having to make this kind of compromise.

Call me crazy, but while there seem to be more pros than cons, the cons listed above are pretty much a deal breaker for me. What are your thoughts?