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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Smarty Sponsor: Spooneez

By Rachel H

So I know what you are asking, “What is Spooneez?” Spooneez is a mom’s answer to clean and organized baby utensils! Spooneez is a great gift item (as I have now purchased four!) and a must-have for any mom. The best part is that they are so easy – just place your spoons and/or other items in the pockets, fold the top over, roll up, Velcro or tie, and you’re done! No more yucky spoons stuck to the bottom of your diaper bag. No more having to lick baby food off your little one’s spoon before packing it up. Simple, practical, and stylish! Don’t stop reading if your kids are past the baby food stage! Spooneez is great for toothbrushes and toothpaste while traveling as well. I am guilty of using a new Zip-loc bag each time we go on vacation and throwing my children’s toothbrushes in there. I was so excited to purchase a Spooneez for each of my kids to use as a travel bag. I even let them choose their own fabrics online.

One of our loyal readers, Rae B, has purchased Spooneez and said the following, “Spooneez has made eating on the go with a little one much easier. After feeding my nine-month old, I just place the spoon into the Spooneez and go. The material is easy to clean and sanitary for the next trip out. They make great gifts with the stylish prints and fun themes. Well worth it."

Spooneez was born years ago after a Triad mom, Maythi, was tired of dealing with an issue most Moms face. Many late-night feedings led to late-night thinking. Late-night thinking led to Spooneez. After a few design flaws and some much-needed sewing help from her Mom, she finally had a concept that had "come to life." But, something was missing. The product was still in its raw state and needed more. She let it sit a couple of years before mentioning the idea to her friend Robin. Little did she know Robin would love it, believe in it as much as she did, and was on board instantly. Luckily for Maythi, Robin is also awesome with a sewing machine.

Robin & Maythi are stay-at-home moms and they both wanted to be able to help contribute to their single-income households, especially during this tough economy. It took MANY prototypes, lots of advice & suggestions, and a lot of love, but they developed a wonderful, practical product that will help many Moms keep things just a little tidier. We can all certainly agree that when it comes to messes, less is definitely more!

Maythi Calvert & Robin Speas, co-owners of Spooneez, each have two daughters, and Robin is expecting her third child this Fall. They are so grateful to their families and friends for their unending support throughout their journey. Spooneez is patent pending, meets all standard fabric safety requirements, and is proudly made in the USA (in Robin’s dining room to be exact!).

You can follow their blog at and visit the website for online purchasing at Also make sure you watch the video on their website that shows you how easy it is to use Spooneez.

We are so excited to share this awesome new product made by Mompreneurs right here in the Triad. Order some for yourself or for gifts online! You can click on the Spooneez logo on the left-hand side of the Triad Smarty Pants web site, as well, to place an order!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Bye-Bye Pacifier!

By Rachel H

When is the right time to put your child through pacifier detox? And how do you do it? As we all know, every child is different. Some children never take a pacifier. It could be because they were never offered one by Mom & Dad or because they just didn’t want it. Some kids and babies prefer to suck on their thumbs or fingers, and some don’t need anything at all. I had one of each – my son took a pacifier before we even left the hospital. My daughter wanted nothing to do with it, but never sucked her thumb either.

Some parents are against pacifiers while others have them on their baby registry before their little one even arrives! Some parents think they are OK for just a while, and others are saying, “Why can’t they just have their binky as long as they want?” The American Academy of Pediatrics does say pacifiers are OK throughout baby's first year. They may soothe fussy babies, help them go to sleep, and research has shown that they may help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The cons of using a pacifier are that early pacifier use may interfere with breast-feeding. They are also found to be responsible for 25% of ear infections in children under age 3, and your child may become dependent on the pacifier.

I did a little research online and found that one of the main reasons children should stop pacifier use after their first few years is to prevent dental problems. It has not yet been proven, but I also read that there are studies being done to find out if pacifiers can affect speech and language delays. According to the Mayo Clinic, most children stop using the pacifier between ages 2 and 4.

I did do one thing that I think was a huge plus in my son’s situation. He had a pacifier in his mouth quite a bit when he was a baby, but I made sure to take it out as often as possible when he was happy without it. As he grew, it made it very easy for us to keep the rule of pacifiers in the crib only. He had them for naps and nighttime, and that was it. The benefit of this is that #1 – you are not constantly hunting down a pacifier when you are around the house or out in public. #2 – pacifiers don’t get left in random places, which leaves you stuck with nothing when your baby wants it. #3 – the pacifiers are not being thrown around and dropped in nasty places such as public floors and outdoor areas. #4 – It is much easier to wean them from it later on.

When we thought it was a good time to do so, my husband and I decided to go “cold turkey” and took the pacifiers away completely. (It seems so mean, I know!) We told our son about the new babies being born in the hospital and how they needed the pacifiers now. He was getting too big and needed to pass them on. Of course he did not agree with this concept entirely, but was somewhat open to it. We prepared him a few days before the big pacifier drop off, and kept reminding him that soon we’d be taking the pacifiers to the new babies. When the day arrived, we drove to the hospital with a Ziploc bag of all his pacifiers in hand. We went up to the floor with the baby nursery and showed our son all the new babies crying in their little beds. When a nurse walked by, our son gave her the Ziploc bag and we explained to her that he was leaving the pacifiers for all the new babies since he was now a big boy. (I am sure that the nurse thought we were crazy and wondered if we seriously thought that she was going to give our nasty used pacifiers to the new babies, but that was beside the point!) We walked out of the hospital hand-in-hand, and our little boy was so proud of himself. We then went to the toy store and found a stuffed animal that would replace the need for his pacifier comfort that night.

According to Dr. Ann Corwin, parents should teach the time and place for your kids to comfort themselves instead of taking comfort away entirely. The objects that kids cling to have nothing to do with the object itself. For this reason, it is important to have something for children to soothe themselves with once the pacifier is gone. And don't worry - they will give that up eventually, too!

Now I know what you are thinking – what happened that night? I will not lie, ladies and gentleman. It was absolute torture. Our poor little poor had a really tough time trying to put himself to sleep. But, the next night got a little better, and by the third night, he went right to sleep without any trouble, and went back to being a great sleeper in no time. I know what else you are thinking – didn’t we keep at least one pacifier in case of an emergency? Nope. If we gave in, it would defeat the purpose of everything we were trying to accomplish.

In the end, I was really happy with the method we used. I think it taught our son a little bit about giving to others, it also helped him to feel very grown up, and he honestly forgot all about the pacifiers within a week.

Another idea is to use a Pacifier Fairy who comes along and collects all the pacifiers and leaves the child with something else in return. Or you can always do the little-by-little method and give the pacifier to your child less and less frequently. This could possibly take forever though. And if you are lucky enough, you may even have one of those children who throws it away himself when he's two years old!

What worked for you? Share your tips and methods below. We’d love to hear from you!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

What’s Up with Molluscum?

By Daniel Krowchuk, M.D., Pediatrician and Co-Director of Pediatric Dermatology, Brenner Children’s Hospital

One of the more vexing skin problems affecting children is molluscum contagiosum. What is it and what can be done about it?

Molluscum contagiosum (“molluscum”) is a viral infection of the skin. For reasons that are not known, molluscum is becoming more common. It is spread by close physical contact (skin-to-skin) or by contaminated objects, like a towel or wash cloth. Although very controversial, there is some evidence that molluscum may be spread via swimming pools. Any child may get molluscum but those who have eczema seem to be particularly prone.

The bumps of molluscum contagiosum are small, skin-colored, and have a “pearly” appearance (see photo). There may be a dimple on the surface of some bumps, a helpful sign in identifying the condition. Some children develop a few bumps while others get many. Almost any area of the body can be affected.

At times, an area of red, irritated skin appears around molluscum bumps. Often this a form of dermatitis caused by the virus. If the bumps themselves become red and swollen it’s usually a sign that the body’s immune system is fighting the virus. However, consult with your medical provider if you observe these changes.

While a child has molluscum contagiosum, it’s common for some bumps to go away only to be replaced by new ones. The infection can last months to a few years before immunity develops and the bumps disappear for good. Once gone, molluscum generally doesn’t return.

So, what can be done if you think your child has molluscum? It’s helpful to consult with your medical provider to discuss the options. If your child has only a few bumps that are not bothersome, many parents choose to “wait and see.” If treatment is desired, it’s important to be aware that available therapies can cause bumps to disappear but cannot rid the body of the virus. For this reason, new bumps may continue to form until immunity develops.

There are a number of treatments for molluscum but none works perfectly. For young children, options that don’t cause pain usually are advised. These may include a blistering solution applied in the provider’s office, forms of mild acids (like those used to treat warts), or a medication that boosts the immune system in the skin where it is applied. For older children or adolescents, freezing the bumps with liquid nitrogen often is used.

Brenner Children’s Hospital has 120 specialists in 30 areas of pediatric medicine. For more information, visit our website at


Children and Divorce

By By Angela D. Tuttle MSW,LCSW, RPT-S, Brenner Children’s Hospital

As a child and adolescent therapist, I see a lot of children who struggle with the separation and divorce of their parents. I interact with the family from the perspective of the child and advocate for the child’s needs. I use a play therapy approach which allows children the opportunity to show me through their play the impact it is having on their day to day lives. Of course, every child reacts differently to this stressful event however there are several things which seem to be articulated over and over to me.

Kids say:
• Please don’t argue in front of me.
• Please don’t use me as the messenger.
• Please if you don’t have anything nice to say about my other parent don’t say anything thing at all.
• I still need to feel special because my whole world is different.
• I need both of you to be a part of my life.
• Don’t act jealous of the other parent and the time I spend with them because then I feel like I need to take sides.
• Let me know what is coming up next. Be patient with me as I am transitioning back to your house.
• I need to be able to share my true feelings.

Parents need to work together and remain focused on the needs of the child. It is important to make sure each parent is showing unconditional love and reassuring the child that he/she did nothing wrong to cause the break up. It is also helpful to have similar rules, schedules, and structure in both households. In an effort to reduce the confusion with young children you can have a calendar at each home in the same location (ex.on the refrigerator) Blue days are Dad days, Pink are Mom days.

Lastly, if you are a friend of a family in the mist of a divorce you can be of assistance by offering the following:
1) an empathic ear for the parents
2) a “break” (helping hand) being a single parent can be overwhelming
3) refrain from asking too many questions about the details/reasons for the divorce, this keeps you from getting to emotionally involved in the blaming game.
4) interject humor and carefree fun when ever possible and appropriate.

Brenner Children’s Hospital has 120 specialists in over 30 areas of pediatric medicine. For more information, visit


What Should I Do if I Suspect Child Abuse?

By By Meggan Goodpasture, M.D.
Pediatrician at Brenner Children’s Hospital and member of the Child Abuse Team

Unfortunately, child abuse and neglect is far more common than we would all like to imagine. In 2007 there were over 3.2 million reports made involving over 5.8 million children. It is estimated that a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in this country. Even though we frequently hear about child abuse on the news or read about it in the newspaper, we may falsely regard child abuse as a problem that exists in "other communities." However, it is important to remember that child abuse crosses ethnic and cultural lines, occurs at all socioeconomic levels and within all religions. It is critical that we are all able to recognize the signs of child abuse as well as know the appropriate steps to take if we suspect that a child is being mistreated.

What is child abuse?

There are four main types of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional or psychological abuse. Neglect is the most frequently reported form of child abuse and accounts for almost 60% of all reports made. It is defined as a state where the basic needs of a child, such as food, shelter, clothing, education, safety, medical attention, and emotional support, are not being met. Physical abuse is when a child's body is injured and can include hitting, burning, shaking, as well as other forms of physical force. Sexual abuse is defined as anytime a child is being used for sexual stimulation by an older child or adult, who is in a position of power or control over that child. This is commonly thought of as inappropriate touching, but has many other forms including exhibitionism or exposing a child to pornography. Lastly, emotional abuse occurs when a parent's actions interfere with a child's emotional, psychological or social development. Examples include ignoring, rejecting or isolating a child, as well as verbally assaulting or terrorizing a child.

How can I recognize if a child is being abused?

It can be very difficult to determine if a child is being abused. In fact some victims show absolutely no signs of abuse at all. However, it is helpful to be familiar with some common signs that may be exhibited by an abused child:
• Unexplained physical injuries or symptoms
• Changes in behavior
• Returning to earlier behaviors also known as "regression"
• Fear of going home
• Changes in eating and sleeping habits
• Changes in school performance and attendance
• Risk-taking behaviors
• Inappropriate sexual behaviors

It is important to remember that children who are being mistreated are often afraid to tell out of fear of their abuser or a fear that they will not be believed.

If I suspect a child is being abused, what should I do?

If you suspect that your child or someone else's child is being abused you must remember that the child's safety is the number one priority. It is important to first make a report to your local child protective service agency or the department of human services in your state, county or city. If their offices are closed or you are unable to get the assistance you need, you can also report directly to your local law enforcement agency, such as the police department or the sheriff's department.

If the child is your own, it is critical that you share your concerns immediately with your child's care provider. Your pediatrician can help evaluate your child for signs and symptoms of abuse, as well as treat any existing medical injuries. Additionally, your pediatrician can help refer your child to a qualified mental health provider and other community services to ensure that he or she gets the psychological support that is needed. If you are concerned that your child may have injuries and you are unable to see your pediatrician, it may be warranted to be evaluated in the emergency department. Your physician's nurse triage phone line can often help you to determine if this is necessary. Remember, ensuring that the child is in a protected environment, safe from further harm, is the primary concern.

A resource commonly utilized by community physicians and child protection agencies is Brenner Children's Hospital's Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team. The team consists of pediatricians, emergency medicine physicians, nurses and social workers who have all undergone additional training in the field of child abuse and neglect. Our team of professionals is dedicated to providing a medical assessment, diagnostic services and treatment for all forms of child maltreatment. We work very closely with community agencies such as the department of social services and mental health providers to ensure that needed services are in place for victimized children. It is our goal as care providers to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to live in a safe and nurturing environment where he or she can grow and thrive.


Kids For Kids Triathlon

By Allison T, Triad Smarty Pants

This is one family event you will not want to miss! The 7th Annual Kids For Kids Triathlon is a great way to spend a Saturday morning with your entire family. While my kids are too young to race, we go every year to cheer on hundreds of children swimming, biking and running their way to a healthy lifestyle. The energy and excitement the kids display while participating in the race is contagious.

The triathlon takes place Saturday, July 25, beginning at 8 am in Reynolds Gym at Wake Forest University. The distances for age groups are as follows:

Ages 7 – 10
Swim 100 yd pool
Bike 3.1 mile
Run 0.6 mile

Ages 11 – 14
Swim 200 yd pool
Bike 6.2 mile
Run 1.2 mile

Many of my close friends have children that have participated in the Kids For Kids Triathlon the past several years and can’t say enough wonderful things about the race. Kim and Jeff Ickes have two daughters, (two girls pictured above), Ashley (age 11) and Lindsey (age 9) who have taken part the past 3 years.

Here’s what Kim has to say about her past experience, “The kids' race is a blast for the whole family! In fact, my sister and brother-in-law travel with their three girls (three girls pictured above) from Florida every year to compete. There is something for everyone to enjoy from the fun run to the race itself. Let’s not forget all the extras like the bounce house, crafts, ice cream and more! What a great way to encourage the kids to get out and do something active! It builds their confidence and gets them moving. They love the idea that it was designed just for them, but has the same feel as a race that “we”, the adults, would do. Even better is that all the proceeds go to help kids, hence the “Kids 4 Kids” title!”

The best part is that the Kids For Kids Triathlon is run by parents just like you. Over $50,000 has been given to local Kids’ charities the past six years! The goal is to create a positive and fun experience for the entire family. There will be a “Kids’ Corner” set up adjacent to the finish line that has many kid friendly activities including: inflatable bounce slide, face painting, clown, free ice cream, and arts & crafts, and a table for Triad Smarty Pants! There will be two DJ’s keeping the atmosphere lively and fun, and sometimes you might see a spontaneous group dancing (think “Macarena”).

There is also a ¼ mile “Fun Run” around the track for the participants’ siblings. These runners get to finish under the same finish line as their older siblings, and get the same finisher’s medal as big brother or big sister!

Registration and more information can be found at

We hope to see you – and your kids - out there!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Smarty Mom: Jayna Patterson

By Rachel H

The Pattersons are one of my favorite families in the whole world! So needless to say, I am thrilled to introduce Jayna to you as this week’s Smarty Mom. Jayna and I both attended college together, but didn’t know each other back then. Luckily, our husbands were friends from college, and when we moved to the Triad, they brought us together. It was a two year stretch of parties for us young folks with no kids, and then the babies started being born! I am happy to say that our children are now BFF’s and get along so well!

Jayna and her husband, Brook, live in High Point with their two boys, Myles and Nolan. They have been in the Triad for about eight years. Jayna works full-time as an Elementary Resource Teacher at Hopewell Elementary in Trinity, NC. I am always amazed at her ability to manage her household in such an organized way while juggling her job and children. Brook and Jayna renovated their home when their oldest was just two years old, and they still stayed sane. Jayna’s favorite things to do are clean (crazy woman!), organize, and spend time with family and friends.

Let’s find out more about Jayna …

Please share with us how you are able to run your household while working full-time and always stay so calm! My children both attend school where I work (which is great!) so sometimes it is hard to “get away” after school. I often try to run my errands (those that involve getting out of the car) after school and then go back and pick up the kids before I head home- or have my husband do it. It is so hard to go to a grocery store with two (growing) boys and actually think. I also TRY and plan my meals for the week ahead of time so that I know what’s for dinner each night. My boys are always STARVING (as my six year old says) by 5:30. If something is not in the works- I am in trouble. I use my crock pot quite a bit in order to have our dinner ready.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms/dads in your position? ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE! Sometimes it gets very monotonous, but everyone knows what to expect each day. Weekends are much more relaxed for us. Some Saturdays we stay in our PJs until lunch! I like that and so do they. I look forward to summer because I can be with my kids. My husband’s schedule is flexible in the summer- so we have fun traveling to the coast and visiting with friends and family.

Your son, Myles, had the opportunity to participate in a Spanish Immersion Program this year at Hopewell Elementary. Please tell us more about this.
Myles just finished up his Kindergarten year, where they offer a Spanish Immersion class. It is the only school in Randolph County that offers this program. The program is supported by Splash! out of Chapel Hill, NC. The program “immerses” the students with a foreign language. The students learn the North Carolina core curriculum while becoming proficient in reading, writing, speaking and understanding both Spanish and English. Spanish language immersion programs serve English speaking students. The students receive 90% of their instruction in Spanish so they can gain the fluency necessary to do core academic work in Spanish. You can get more information about the program from their website at:

I know you were a little skeptical going in to the program considering no one in your family speaks Spanish. How did you feel about his year?
Myles had a wonderful year. I was nervous at first, wondering if he would become overwhelmed and dislike being in the program. Myles loved the challenge and is now reading, speaking and writing in Spanish. It has truly amazed my husband and me. He is reading on a mid-first grade level in both Spanish and English. We read with him in English at home, because all of his instruction in school is in Spanish. Some have asked me, “How do you help him with his homework?” In kindergarten, the homework assignments were easy to understand (and they sent a translation sheet), but next year, he will be able to translate any assignments!

Would I say it is for every child? Of course not. It may not even be the right thing for our youngest when he gets to Kindergarten. I think you have to look at each child and determine if it is a challenge they would benefit from.

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes? On-line shopping. Sierra Trading Post has great deals for both kids and adults on outdoor gear. Target sale racks.

What is your favorite family activity? Dinners out, taking walks in our neighborhood and feeding the ducks, Dance parties with the family!

Favorite “mommy-time” activity? Netflix after the kids go to bed.

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

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids? Mexican!! Instant food! Pancho Villas off South Main in High Point. Also, Carter Brother’s BBQ. Kids eat for $1 on Wednesdays!

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said? Oh, there are so many. One quote my 5 year old said is “I am so “flusterated.”

Favorite park in the Triad? Triangle Park, High Point NC.

Mini-van or SUV? Mini-van- with automatic doors (a must!)

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad? Wonderful people and it is so close to both the mountains and beach!

Best kept secret in the Triad? Davidson County- great place to live, low taxes and good public schools. Also, Hartley Family YMCA. With their family membership you also get access to Oakview Pool in the summer! Great deal for $80/month.

Best birthday party you have attended? My son had a skating party at Carousel Skating Rink on S. Main in High Point when he turned 5. He was able to invite up to 30 kids for a great price. Both the adults and kids had a blast.

I could not live without my... husband or washer/dryer.

I wish someone had told me sooner about... All the energy I would lose after having kids- but well worth it.

Thanks, Jayna for all your Smarty wisdom!

Please email us at if you know a Smarty Mom or Dad who you would like to see featured on Triad Smarty Pants!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Blast from the Past

By Katie M, with help from Rachel H

Remember the days when our mom would just open the back door and say, “Go play outside and I don’t want to see you around for the next hour.” When I think of that, I crack up because I could not imagine saying those words today – at least not at our house because we don’t have a fenced-in yard. But back then, I gladly left the house (as young as five years old) and would walk as far as a quarter mile to my best friend’s house down the street. And back then no one had fenced-in yards, hardly anyone had play sets (maybe a tree fort if they were lucky), our parents rarely signed us up for organized sports until we were at least middle school age, we never played video games (that is until my older brother got Atari – but then again he never let me play it anyhow).. and all the while I managed to have a pretty incredible childhood! Imagine that!

Creative, imaginative play for children is so important, but our world is changing and it's not so easy anymore to let them run outside. See Dr. Satterwhite's eye-opening blog about this. Plus, it seems kids never just go and "play" without the use of toys and equipment.

So, I thought it would be fun to relive the games we used to play growing up – games now that are considered “classic,” or “old-fashioned” – yikes – and don’t involve electricity, activity fees, or hundreds of dollars at Toys R’ Us! But no matter how old these games are, they’re still fun – and you’d be surprised how much your own children will get a kick of them today. I even included links for directions on each game in case you’re either too young to remember these games, or you just never heard of them!

At the end of this post, if we left out any “oldies but goodies” from your childhood, please add your games below in the comments section.

Games We Used to Play
Monkey in the Middle
Hide N’ Seek
Musical Chairs
Duck, Duck, Goose
Freeze Tag
Ghost in the Graveyard
Potato Sack Race
Wheelbarrow Race
Flashlight Tag
Wiffle ball
Four Square
Kick Ball
Kick the Can
Red Light, Green Light
Red Rover
Oliver Twist - You bounce a ball up against a wall and catch it over and over as you say, "Oliver Twist, you can't do this, so what's the use of trying it? Touch my knee, touch my toe, clap my hands, and under-throw." You do each of those things while bouncing the ball, and under-throw means throw it under your leg, against, the wall, and then catch. Then you do it again, but this time you let it bounce once before catching. Then you do it again and let it bounce twice before catching. Keep going until you can't do it anymore!

Say, Say Old Playmate - You can do it to this as you clap your own hands and then clap a friend's hands - "Say Say Old Playmate (clap-clap), come out and play with me (clap-clap), and bring your dollies three (clap-clap), climb up my apple tree (clap-clap) slide down my rainbow (clap-clap), into my cellar door (clap-clap), , and we'll be jolly friends(clap-clap), , forever more(clap), more(clap), , many many more more!"

Miss Mary Mack - This can be a hand-clapping game or jump rope - "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dressed in Black, Black, Black, with silver buttons, buttons, buttons, all down her back, back, back, she asked her mother, mother, mother, for fifty cents, cents, cents, to see the elephants, elephants, elephants, jump the fence, fence, fence, they jumped so high, high, high, they never came back, back, back, til the fourth of July, July, July, big lie!"

What did we forget? Add your favorites below!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is It Just Me???? – Part II

By Rachel H

More random ramblings, thoughts and concerns from an everyday mom.
Is it just me who …

• Has a son and daughter who have figured out how to tinkle on the potty together at the same time?
• Was accused of stealing a $5 toothbrush attachment at the dentist’s office?
• Does not understand why so many people do not like coconut?
• Cannot read the word cupboard without saying cup-board?
• Has never seen “Jon and Kate Plus Eight”, but feels a little sorry for that mom with all the negative publicity, because if I had that many kids I think I’d be a little grouchy as well?
• Gets nauseous on the Merry-Go-Round?

• Thinks there is a HUGE difference between Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs? The eggs win – hands down.
• Thinks that the things that get on your nerves the most about people are the same things we miss the most when they are gone?
• Likes how Goofy does the “Hot Dog Hot Dog Hot Diggety Dog dance on Playhouse Disney?
• Doesn’t understand why every kid’s toy does not come with a bag or box for all the million pieces?
• Wishes I could work at Dundler Mifflin for a day?
• Thinks nothing is more beautiful than a child’s face while he is sleeping?
• Knows that my daily attitude is directly related to the weather outside and the cleanliness of my house?
• Thinks that many movies on the Family Channel are not very family-friendly?
• Has no idea what to do with a Pokemon card?
• Wishes everyone knew that “definitely” is not spelled “definately”?
• Saw a squirrel in my daughter’s bedroom and ran out screaming while I left her standing there?
• Thinks I probably should not have admitted the above statement?
• Cannot believe my parents let me watch Three’s Company when I was young?
• Loves to listen to my kids when they talk to themselves while playing alone?
• Knows what SYTYCD stands for and is not ashamed to admit that I went to see the live show?
• Had a 3-month-old who always chose the quietest moment at church to make loud grunting noises while he pooped in his diaper? Every week, people, every week!
• Does not understand the purpose of all the attachments, ties, and rubber wrappy-things that securely hook a toy to the box?
• Secretly likes when my children are feeling sick because I know they will cuddle with me?
• Cannot say, “You’re the best” to anyone without singing this song from Karate Kid?
• Likes to watch The Suite Life of Zack and Cody?
• Spends more money on my kids’ clothes than on my own?
• Finally understands why my mom did not want me going to Myrtle Beach with my girlfriends in high school?
• Thinks that it is so much easier to pop in an old VCR tape than have to skip all the previews and get to the main menu when we want to watch a DVD?
• Must have watched Savannah Smiles a thousand times when I was a child … and cried every time?
• Knows there are many times when I am talking to my husband that I realize he is not listening to one word I am saying?
• Backed my mini-van into a mailbox 5 years ago and still has not fixed the dent?
• Thought this was the best Sonic commercial of them all?
• Wants to stand on the side of the road with a sign that says, “My family wants to go to Disney” and see who gives me money?
• Thinks the smell of honeysuckle takes me right back to my childhood?
• Thinks that every mosquito in NC decides to come to my backyard when we have a cookout?
• Can’t help but get all teary-eyed when I hear a group of children singing?
• Has finally accepted the fact that my daughter will never eat a vegetable unless it is hidden in V8 V-Fusion?
• Wishes the birds could wait just one more hour before chirping outside my window in the mornings?
• Never realized that “Twinkle Twinkle”, “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and the ABC song were all the exact same tune until I had kids?
• Loves people who laugh really loud?
• Thinks they should name One-A-Day vitamins “One-A-Week”, because that is how often I actually remember to take them?
• Cannot pull myself away from shows like Brett Michael’s Rock of Love, Bad Girls’ Club and The Real Housewives of anywhere?
• Wears my Greek Week t-shirts to the Y and has no problem with the fact that they say 1992?
• Really likes that Rock Star song by Miley Cyrus?
• Is mortified when another adult has to ride in my mini-van and witness the trash and mess that we ride around in?
• Thinks that Mama Mia, Mean Girls, Shag, and Mystic Pizza are essential movies for a girls’ trip?
• Would be more than willing to pay someone to come to my house each morning in the summer and put sunscreen on my children for me?

Add your own “Is it just me’s” below and check out Is It Just Me Part 1 if you missed it last time!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarties! We're happy to report that today's post is sponsored by Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, a fun, friendly neighborhood restaurant that serves the best brick-oven pizzas around!

Brixx is holding its Grand Opening at its new Winston-Salem location right off Hanes Mall Boulevard near Target. The address is 1295 Creekshire Way, in the Shoppes on Little Creek behind Ethan Allen. The Grand Opening takes place this Sunday, June 28 from 11 am to 11 pm. The event will also feature fun stuff for kids between 12 and 6 pm, such as balloon artists, face painters, bands, give-aways, prizes and pizza specials. And 10 percent of all proceeds will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House.

I have to say I'm pretty excited about this myself. Brixx was one of my favorite pizza restaurants when I lived in Charlotte, and I'm looking forward to having its new location just minutes from my house! So don't make any lunch or dinner plans for Sunday, and be sure to bring the kids to this fabulous event!

As for the rest of the events this weekend, read on!

"Seussical the Musical Jr."
Friday, June 26 at 10 am
Meadowlark Elementary School, 401 Meadowlark Road, W-S.
West Side Civic Theatre summer campers will present the musical based on Dr. Seuss' beloved books. Phone: 336-945-6209.

Children's Magic Show
Friday, June 26 at Noon
Unity Church of Winston-Salem, 108 Hewes St., W-S
Children from the Fun Magic Camp will perform the tricks they learned this week to amaze and amuse children of all ages. Watch cards float in mid-air, coins vanish and reappear, turn a blank piece of paper into a real dollar bill--or even try some candy that was confetti just seconds ago! Free. Phone: 336-765-7319.

Books Alive Lazy Day Charades
Saturday, June 27 at 10:39 am
Lewisville Library Auditorium, Winston Salem
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�s 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. Free. 336-703-2940.

Greensboro Parks & Recreation’s 75th Anniversary Festival
Saturday, June 27 from 10 am to 4 pm
Country Park, 3902 Nathanael Greene Dr, GSO
Featuring a parade, benefit bike ride, games, displays, great entertainment and prizes for all ages. Free. Phone: 336-373-3648.

Freedom Run
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Greensboro Marriott Downtown, 301 N. Greene St., GSO.
As part of the FunFourth Festival, run or walk in honor of our dedicated Military Personnel and Veterans. Deck yourself out in a patriotic costume and show off your American spirit. 10K Run starts at 8 a.m. Fees are $25 in advance; $30 day of registration. A two-mile Red, White and Blue Fun Run/Walk starts at 8:05 a.m. Fees are $12 in advance; $15 day of registration. There will also be a free Tot Trot and Kids' 1/2K beginning at 8:45 a.m. Phone: 336- 274-4595.

Summer on Trade
Saturday, June 27 from 7 to 10 pm
Corner 6th and Trade streets in The Arts District, W-S
The best street party in the Triad is back for its 10th year celebration. Each Saturday night this summer, plan to come to Downtown's Arts District for an eclectic mix of live music, delicious festival food and beverages and dancing in the streets. Fun for the entire family! Free. Phone: 336-354-1500.

Teddy Bear Fair
Saturday, June 27 from 9 am to 5 pm
NC Zoo, 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro
Bring your Teddy Bear for a check up with zoo veterinarians. Adults, $10; ages 2-12, $6; under 2, free. Phone: 800-488-0444.

Arts Splash Summer Concert Series
Sunday, June 28 from 6 to 7:30 pm
Oak Hollow Festival Park, 1841 Eastchester Drive, HP
Free concert featuring the swing/big band music of Swing On. Concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic dinners. No alcoholic beverages are permitted at any of the concert locations. Free. Phone: 336-887-2206.

Independence Celebration
Sunday, June 28, 2009 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm
Historic Bethabara Park, 2147 Bethabara Road, W-S.
The day features patriotic music from the Bethabara Concert Band, horse-drawn hay-wagon rides, 25-cent ice cream cones, craft demonstrations, decorating the Liberty Pole, mounted colonial militia and a magic show. Free. Phone: 336-924-8191.

Sundays in the Park
Sunday, June 28 at 2:00 pm
Center City Park 200 N Elm Street, GSO
Bring your family to Sundays in the Park on June 28th and enjoy live animals, storytelling and a potpourri of fossils, animal skins and more with the Natural Science Center. Musical performance by the High Lonesome Strings. For more information visit our website! Free.

Kool Kreme Socials in the Triad
Sunday, June 28 from 2 to 5 pm
Krispy Kreme locations: 5912 University Parkway in WS, 3704 High Point Road in GSO
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts is celebrating the introduction of Kool Kreme® - a new soft serve line—to all Triad stores, as well as the remodeling of the stores, by hosting Kool Kreme Socials. The first Socials will be held at the locations listed above. Krispy Kreme will donate 20 percent of all sales during the Social at the University Parkway store to SciWorks™ in Winston Salem, and 20 percent of the sales at the High Point Road store to the Natural Science Center in Greensboro.

What did we forget?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Smarty Day Trip Series: Burlington City Park

By Katie M

For those of us Smarties living anywhere between Winston-Salem and Kernersville, a trip to Burlington City Park makes a fantastic day trip for the kids. And for lots of you living in Greensboro, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a day trip, but would highly recommend this outing for a change of pace.

And so for my family and I in Winston-Salem, a change of pace was exactly what we needed last fall when we packed up the kids and drove out to Burlington City Park, located one mile from downtown Burlington on South Church Street. The drive was about one hour – and with our youngest still needing an afternoon nap – we timed our trip so that we would arrive in Burlington for an early lunch followed by a couple of hours at the park, and then back in the car close to the usual 1 pm snooze time. (And I apologize that I don’t have personal photos of us at this park, but last fall I didn’t realize I’d be blogging about this eight months later!)

Just so you know, City Park offers more than 75 acres of activities for the whole family! At the center of the park is an amusement park that features a fully restored carousel, built by the Dentzel Carousel Company, with 46 hand-carved animals, three to a row. There are only 14 Dentzel Menagerie Carousels remaining intact in the world. The Dentzel carvers were famous for their realism and attention to detail, which is evident by the facial expressions and muscle definition. The horses have real horse-hair tails and all the animals have shiny, round glass eyes. No two animals are alike.

There are other attractions too, such as a train ride, and rides with planes, cars, tractors and boats. We were so excited to get to the park and jump on the rides, but it being Sunday, we actually got there a little too early (the park doesn’t open until 1 pm on Sundays). At first we were like, “Uh oh, what do we do now,” but then saw a great playground area at the park which turned out to be a perfect diversion until the rides opened.

And the kids just LOVED the rides. Unfortunately the train ride was closed the day we were there due to maintenance, but that didn’t dampen their spirits. At the time of our visit our youngest was 1 ½ and was still to go on all the rides. I also remember the park having a yummy snack bar where we stocked up on candy, popcorn and old-fashioned cotton candy.

Other amenities of the park include five athletic fields, a walking track, 12 lighted tennis courts, a year-round aquatics facility, Thataways Youth Center (a state-of-the-art youth center), three enclosed shelters with grills, two open air shelters with grills, picnic tables, a peaceful stream which winds its way through the park, and a greenway. To reserve an open picnic shelter or enclosed building on the park, call (336) 222-5030.

During the summer, City Park is closed on Mondays, but is open from 10 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 8 pm Tuesday – Thursday; on Friday it is open from 10 am to 1 pm and then from 5 pm to 9 pm; on Saturday it is open from 11 am to 9 pm; and on Sunday it opens at 1 pm and stays open until 7 pm.

There is a cost for the amusement rides, but it’s minimal. For weekdays, weekends and holiday, it’s just $.75/ride, and just $.50/ride on Thursdays. You can purchase a 10-ride ticket pass for $6, but that pass is not available on Thursdays. They also sell season passes for all of its rides. Individual season passes are $60 and family passes are $90, but the season pass excludes special events such as the Haunted Train at Halloween.

This summer, City Park is hosting a bunch of great events and more information on these events can be found by clicking here.

Friday July 3-Friday July 3
Independence Day Celebration

Sunday July 19-Sunday July 19
Sunset Rhythms Concert featuring Chuck Champion & The Big Tippers

Sunday August 9-Sunday August 9
Sunset Rhythms Concert featuring Scoot Pittman Trio

Saturday September 19-Sunday September 20
22nd Annual Burlington Carousel Festival

According to the park’s web site, the Burlington Carousel Festival, held each September in the park, features live music, crafts and food, and boasts crowds of more then 50,000. Throughout the spring and summer the park comes alive with an Easter egg hunt, a concert series, and baseball and softball tournaments..

The park also hosts birthday parties at its Dutch Barn Gazebo or the Betsey Brown Chandler Memorial Gazebo. Party packages include two hours of amusement rides, a balloon centerpiece and a choice of popcorn or cotton candy per child. For party reservations, call 336-222-5030.

As you can see, this park packs a lot in! You will definitely be entertained whether you go during the week or for one of its events this summer. And if you’ve been, please tell us about your experience also!

(Photos and lots of information in this blog courtesy of, Burlington/Alamance County Convention & Visitors Bureau).


Monday, June 22, 2009

It’s Gonna Be a Long, Hot Summer . . .

By Guest Blogger Kelly G.

I love summer, I really do. But since we are in saving mode this year, (who isn’t?) I am facing nearly three solid months of entertaining my two young boys without spending a mint on new toys and excursions. I have been racking my brain to come up with ideas for keeping a toddler and a four-year-old happy and mentally stimulated. The ideas I am most hopeful about involve doing a few things differently with what I already have or can get for just a little bit of cash, and I thought I would share them here.

Think Outside the Swimming Pool
If you have a wading pool for your little ones, jazz it up with different accessories. Add a few Tub Tints tablets to change the color of the water. (Red or yellow tablets work best, since most pools are blue inside.) Add some plastic kitchen goodies like measuring cups, funnels, scoops, containers with lids, and pitchers. If your children are old enough for water guns or water balloons, add those too! (Remember that popped balloons are a huge choking hazard, so save these for the big kids.) Give the kids bubbles to blow in the water, and it doesn’t matter if they spill them. Or, forget the water and add a big bag of plastic balls to make your very own ball pit. (You can buy a bag of these at most big box stores for about $10. The balls float if you want to leave the water in the pool.)

Tub of Fun
Even if you don’t have a wading pool, you can do a lot with a plastic tub. I prefer a fairly shallow tub placed on a low, outdoor table for these activities. Try the old favorite of adding enough water to cornstarch to make a strange concoction that is firm when squeezed but oozes when no pressure is applied. Sprinkle the bottom of the tub with baking soda and let your kids add vinegar. Fill the tub with rice, small dried pasta shapes, or water and add the same kitchen items listed above for the pool. Fill it with soapy water and let cars, dolls, play dishes, or other toys take a nice bath. Let kids have a “snow” day by filling the tub with cotton balls or shaving cream. Or, let your kids help you research different bubble solution formulas and try out a few using funnels or leftover bubble wands for blowing. (There are tons of formulas online. Most call for dishwashing detergent—especially Dawn or Joy—glycerin or corn syrup, and water.)

Legos are one of the most versatile building toys because they are plastic and almost indestructible. Let kids build in the wading pool or water table (with or without water), in the sandbox, up in their play set, on the concrete outside, in the grass or mulch, or anywhere else that you can build “in nature.” Add a few little plastic people and you have the potential for hours of fun and imagination. You can also do this with wooden building toys, but they will be more susceptible to damage from dirt and moisture.

Matchbox Mania
Taking little cars outside creates many new possibilities for adventure. Let them reside in the outdoor Lego Village (see above). If you have a slide, create a soft landing for the cars and let them practice rolling down the ramp. If you have a kid who is stunt-minded, let him line up cars side-by-side at the bottom of the slide to see how many his favorite racer can jump. It’s even more fun to put the wading pool at the bottom for spectacular splashdowns. Be sure to rig up a bucket and rope at the top of the slide for easy car-carrying. To make another great car ramp, try leaning a piece of plywood against some stairs and holding it in place at the bottom with bricks.

There’s Always Room for Jell-O
You can do a lot with Jell-O, even if your kids aren’t really “into” baking. Make Jell-O in a jellyroll pan lined with waxed paper and sprayed with cooking spray. When it’s very firm, cut it into cubes or use cookies cutters, and lift out the shapes with a spatula. Make blue Jell-O in an unused, well-washed goldfish bowl and add candy Swedish fish or gummy worms (sea serpents), or fish-shaped crackers if you are going to be serving it right away. Make rainbow Jell-O by adding one colorful layer at a time into a deep, clear container, waiting until it is firm, then adding the next layer just as it is starting to cool. Let kids use big spoons to dig out the fish or eat the rainbow.

Totally Tubular!
Toilet tissue and paper towel tubes are old favorites for craft projects. (My favorite is to add candy, confetti, and streamers inside, and cover with red, white, and blue tissue to make 4th of July “crackers.”) But, add a little Velcro to the outsides, and the tubes become great building materials. Stack them up to make log cabins. Stick two tubes together to make play binoculars. Cover a bulletin board with felt, stick the tubes to it, and roll marbles down this a very inexpensive marble slide with infinite arrangement possibilities. (Marbles are another huge choking hazard, so this is another one for big kids only.) Thread a string through a tube to suspend it horizontally, then tie both ends of the string to a play set or under some patio chairs, and you have created a great hammock for a small doll or action figure.

Sheets Are A Treat
Old bed sheets are an easy way to change the environment because you can clothespin them, staple them, or tie them to other things. Line the sides of a play set to create a secret fort. If you have a rotating clothesline in the yard, hang one sheet from each outside line to create a secret space in the middle. If you have a light-colored sheet that has seen better days, hang it on the side of a garage or fence and let kids paint all over it with fingers or brushes. Spray bottles filled with colored water are really fun to paint with, too. (You can also do the painting activity with a few sheets of butcher paper taped together; there’s something really freeing about having unlimited painting space.) Or, cut the sheet into kid-sized rectangles, cut out a hole near one end of each rectangle, and let your kid drape it over her head to make her very own super heroine cape. It’s even more fun to do this after a painted sheet is dried.

Clean out Your Closet
Don’t underestimate the playtime power of dressing up. If you have old clothing that is a little stained or shabby or very dated, you can easily cut sleeves shorter, cut little tank dresses out of shirts, staple elastic straps to the tops of big-people shoes to make them stay on, and fill a plastic baggie or box with the cheesy clip-on earrings, long strands of beads, and big, tacky sunglasses. Boys especially love old men’s work shirts, while girls often like wearing mom’s old skirts as dresses. Add old Halloween costumes to this collection and you have the makings of dress-up for years to come.

Kids’ Books
Preschool teachers have been building curriculum from children’s books for years. You can do the same thing if you take your cues from books your kids ask for over and over. Right now, my kids are reading Time to Say Please by Mo Willems (Hyperion, 2005). In this book, the main character wants a cookie from a jar on a high shelf, and she has to say please to get it. So, one afternoon this summer I will bake some chocolate chip cookies (any excuse will do, right?), put them in a big glass jar on a high shelf, and we will practice saying please. My kids also love to act out The Napping House by Audrey Wood (Harcourt, 1984). All I have to do is pretend with them that we are all sleeping, then yell, “Wakeful flea!” and total mayhem ensues. If you decide to spin off activities from children’s books, take your cues from what your child is already interested in reading, and think about what would further stimulate that interest.

Character Toys
Sometimes you can recharge your kids’ interest in character toys by putting a new spin on them. For example, Santa brought our older son some Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tracks two years ago. He had been playing with them less and less, but I jump-started their appeal by downloading some of the music from the television show. Now he stages his own “Accidents Will Happen” scenes over and over as long as the music is on. Try a similar trick with other toys by downloading Transformers or other super hero music.

Managing All of this Stuff
Perhaps the most challenging part about trying all of these different activities is keeping things organized. I am planning to steal the preschool idea of theme boxes so that I can switch out things easily. Gather a few typing paper boxes or plastic bins and sort your play items into them. Put all of the old bed sheets in one box, store the rice and extra kitchen utensils in another, keep the outside Legos in another box, add the bubble-making stuff to still another box. Label the boxes and stack them in a closet or the garage, and you have them handy to switch out frequently. (You can also use Rachel’s Quiet Box idea!)

Introducing the Fun
How you introduce new themes is going to depend on your child. If you have a child who likes to organize and see how things are going to work, or if you have one who doesn’t like surprises, your best bet may be involving her in the selection and set-up of what comes next. If, like me, you have a child who freaks out when he anticipates change, the best strategy may be to set things up beforehand and let him “discover” them so that he doesn’t have time to worry about it before the change happens. For example, one morning my son will go outside and find a small group of Lego houses built in the sandbox, or a sheet hanging up and some paint nearby. Hopefully he will just dive right in. And hopefully, your kids will too, at least long enough to give you a few minutes to yourself this summer and some really good playtime with your kids, as well.

What other Smarty ideas do you have?


Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Everlasting Day

By Rachel H and Guest Blogger W.M. Satterwhite, III

Happy Fathers’ Day! We hope that all of our TSP readers are enjoying this day with the dads in their lives. Since today is all about dads, we thought it was a perfect time to run a guest blog from a dad whom I truly admire, Dr. William Satterwhite. He is our pediatrician at Twin City Peds, and always seems to have the best advice. I hope you enjoy his story below and enjoy an everlasting day of your own! - RH

Beginning in the mid-1990s, I began experiencing debilitating pain in both feet and my left knee, reducing my previously active, then thirty-something-year-old body to that of a pained spectator of life, sitting rather than running, (or even walking), observing rather than participating. The joyful physical expression of life God had given me had been leached away by the pain of simply standing. My heart has mourned the loss of that part of me for years, but that mourning has increased as my older son has grown. Now taller than my wife, this thin, thirteen-year-old towering mass of awkwardness knew a father he only partly knows. The grey matter in his head contains nothing more than photo-album-memories of an active Dad.

But today was a different day. Today, I played basketball with my son. Two other neighborhood fathers and six other neighborhood children with ages ranging from eight to fifteen joined in the game. For this brief moment in time, there was no pain in my feet. My left knee did not make its usual searing squeal when I moved or jumped. Today, I was free. I was free to play with my son as I had always dreamed I would be able to do. I was free from the hot irons of pain that had gripped my lower limbs like an imprisoned captive of the Crusades. When we were finished, the gleaming moon was climbing up over the trees into the darkened blue sky. A cool wind was blowing. I wanted to cry with joy to the Lord for re-living nights of my youth with my look-a-like son. I wanted to fall on my knees and say, “Thank you, Lord, for this day, this moment. To live again, free and young, and as a father.”

The glory did not end with the game, however. Hours later, following supper, I found myself face-to-face in opposing chairs with that same boy, resting before the fireplace. We talked of nothing and of everything, without agendas or deadlines or phone calls. I spoke of the neighbors, not these neighbors, nor our neighbors, but neighbors of mine when I was a boy in this very same house many years ago. Before long, we were in his room sitting on his bed listening to some of his new CDs, such great hits like “Pinch Me” by the Bare Naked Ladies. We laughed at the lyrics and said we could do better. In no time, that bare, naked sound brought others in to join us: an eleven-year-old boy who was learning of the way of the world too quickly as younger siblings often do; and a two-year-old girl wearing a sleeper suit and carrying a naked Barbie doll (maybe she instinctively knew which CD we were listening to!).

And the music blared (“…I could hide out under there; I just made you say ‘underwear’…”) and children sat and stood and jumped on the bed (“We’re just bouncing, Daddy, not jumping!”), and I sat on the opposite bed and I said to myself, “Lord, do not let another minute pass! Command that the sun stand still so that I may inhale deeply this magical moment, this moment that makes all the tears and daily struggles of life so worth their agony, this moment when we are bound together in one timeless melody of family love.”

“Lord, please make this an everlasting day.”

And He did.

All rights reserved. W.M. Satterwhite, III


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Smarty Dad: Joe Tappe

By Katie M

I’m so excited to introduce our very first Smarty Dad this Father’s Day weekend, Joe Tappe! Joe is a neighbor of mine and, in my humble opinion, is one of the most hands-on dads I know! I actually met Joe years ago at Hanes Park where we were pushing our daughters (then just ages one and two) on swings while he sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” - and he ultimately taught me that both those songs are based on the same tune – I never knew! Fast forward a few years later, we are now neighbors, and our daughters (now ages five and soon-to-be-six), often share play dates and walks in our neighborhood park. There is not a day that goes by – whether a snow day, a rainy day or a sunny day – that I don’t see Joe outside sharing experiences with his children. They are always the first on our street sleigh riding, looking for crayfish in the creeks, or riding bikes, scooters or wagons.

Joe and his wonderful wife Brandi have two adorable children; Sophia (almost 6) and Gabe, age 8. Joe has lived in the Triad 20 years and is a stay-at-home dad. On the side, Joe is a freelance musician who writes, records and plays music, and is part of the local band Suitcase, a song writing/performing/recording duo he started with a friend. Together, he and his friend have been writing songs since high school. Their recordings have been used for commercial and corporate promotional videos, as well as in lots of independent films across the country, on MTV reality shows, and for TV pilots.

On top of all that, Joe volunteers at The Downtown School by playing music and doing other various volunteer roles. Every summer he teaches at Eagle’s Nest camp, and he is always busy remodeling his historic home and other rental properties he owns around town.

So let’s get to know Joe!

How did you and your wife come to the decision that you would stay at home?
We felt it was very important to have a parent home with the kids. How can you miss such an incredible experience? I was the lucky one to get the nod! She had been running (and continues to do so) a business with her father since she finished college and was integral in the success of that enterprise. Her role as “boss” is not only a great role model with our family, but also allows for incredible amount of flexibility. She was able to work from home for the first six months with our first child, and then was able to bring our second child to work for the first couple months. This allowed for breast feeding, as well as every breakfast, lunch and dinner together as a family. And still, the flexibility her job allows gives both of us the opportunity to attend school functions, cover when unexpected conflicts come up, and have both of us around a lot. When we were about to have kids, my career was moving toward a touring band…in my mind that was not as compatible with giving the best home to our baby.

What is the most challenging part of being a stay-at-home dad?
Wow, the challenges that every stay-at-home parent probably faces. A CEO of a major company probably does not face the variety, intensity, importance and urgency of tasks that a “homemaker” does. Some might think that the stigma of being the man at home would be a problem, but I have had no problem with anything like that. In fact, I would tell all my friends that being a “housewife” is really the best kept secret….being able to get to know your kids so intensely, being able to experience a time that is so short, being able in many ways to be a kid again. Don’t miss it!!

I suppose for me the biggest challenge is making sure I do all I can for the kids. With such a wonderful and supportive wife, I know I have the opportunity to really do a good job, both with making a home and raising happy kids. When I fall short or when I don’t do it all, that can be discouraging…however unrealistic.

What Smarty tips do you have for dads in your position?
I think it’s important to maintain goals and drives for yourself. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the role you’ve taken on and lose touch with the rest of life, which can only inform your parenting and keep you sane!

What is your favorite family activity?
We love to jump on our trampoline, garden, have movie night…just goof around at the house, really. I think we all really look forward to going to shows all together, for example The Nutcracker, the UNCSA Spring Dance, the Symphony and other “fancy” events like that. We all have a great time and the kids are really enthused.

Favorite “daddy-time” activity (without kids)?
Playing music or working around the yard.

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
Home. I guess if we ate out it would probably be Mellow Mushroom or Burke St. Pizza.

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
4th Street Filling Station or West End Café.

Best thing to do/place to go for a date night in the Triad?
Downtown Winston-Salem! Free music, great bars/clubs/ restaurants and great events.

Do you shop for the kids’ clothes, and if so, where’s your favorite place to get a good deal?
I do shop for our kids’ clothes, shoes etc. though we get wonderful help from Grandma and my wife grabs a bargain when she sees it. I am frugal to a fault with stuff like this and I find amazing deals at the W-S Rescue Mission on Trade St. You can’t beat kids shoes for $.50 (they grow out of them in three months!) and bags of clothes (again which they will grow out of) for $3! Goodwill is also great. Either place, you get the same stuff as the stores at a fraction of the cost. I think it has been one of the ways we have been able to have a parent at home.

Funniest thing your kid(s) has ever said?
Whoa, its everyday and all the time, these kids, without their filters and with such fresh views on the world, keep me laughing and thinking! But here’s a couple off the top of my head:

When Gabe was about 3, he asked us how he would ever find a wife. We said we would help him. Then he asked if we would help him get dressed, cut his hair and shave his beard.

Just the other week as we were leaving for school, Gabe and I had gone outside to walk to the car. Sophia turned to my wife and asked with a sincere and concerned look on her face “Why’d you pick him?”

Favorite park in the Triad?
There are so many great parks here in Winston– perfect for instant “thing to do.” Washington Park is #1 but Hanes Park and is good as is Miller Park. All wonderful places with their own unique strengths.

Mini-van or SUV?
Station wagon! Easy on the petrol!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
I think each city within the Triad, but Winston-Salem in particular has the best of both worlds: All the great amenities of a large city – arts, music, diverse population, economy, dining, education (including great universities), but also all the positives of a smaller town – lots of green space, interesting historical roots (Old Salem, Reynolda), little traffic (we always say it takes 10 minutes to get anywhere in Winston), familiar faces, low crime, relatively little sprawl. And to boot, we are ½ hour from the mountains - and three hours from the beach!

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Winston-Salem Children’s Museum and Horne Creek farm. It’s a restored turn of the century farm – animals, homestead, crops, stream, etc. Very minimal staff leaves you to really imagine our area of many years ago. There are really great events there every season – crafts, food and almost always with live bluegrass!

Best birthday party you have attended?
A great camp-out at our friend’s farm house. Lots of space, great stories and crazy fun!

I could not live without my...

I wish someone had told me sooner about...
The Downtown School preschool.

Happy Father's Day, Joe, and thanks for all your Smarty answers!

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


Friday, June 19, 2009

Keeping Brains Active This Summer

By Guest Blogger Ashleigh Pike

So, summer is here! Time to sleep in, relax by the pool, go on vacation and not do any homework………..wrong!! Ok, well maybe not “homework” technically, but no need to let those smart young minds atrophy during the summer months. Here are a few tips on what you can do with your children this summer to keep their minds sharp and maybe (gasp!) have some fun too!

1. READ! Ok, I know you may think, “Why is this woman telling me this? Of course we will read this summer!” But I am going to say it anyway: read to your child, have your child read to you, read together, just READ! We have D.E.A.R. time at our house. D.E.A.R. stands for “drop everything and read." My 7-year-old reads to herself (and sometimes to her brother) and I either read to my 4-year-old or just have him look at books. It is a wonderful quiet 15 minutes of the day. Go to the library and check out books, especially ones on subjects your child is interested in. Before you go on vacation, read about where you are going or about what will be there (ie: read about sea life before you go to the beach). You can also have them read signs to you while you are driving, recipes, game directions, whatever!(Check out TSP's post on summer reading programs for kids!)

2. Write! I just loved my son’s preschool teacher this year! She gave great advice at the end of the year. “Make sure your child picks up a crayon, marker, pencil, whatever, EVERY day!” Preschool children need to keep up with their fine-motor skills. They don’t need to necessarily write their name or the ABC’s everyday. They can just color a picture. Have older kids keep a summer journal, especially when you go on vacation. It is a great memory keeper! We took the kids to Disney when my oldest was in kindergarten and I had her write one sentence in her journal everyday and draw a picture. (See picture above). I love looking back at it now! You can also have older children write letters to friends and family or send postcards to friends when you are on vacation. Just keep them writing!

3. Play games! My kids love games and they can learn so much from them. For example: taking turns, being a “good sport," counting, colors, strategy, I could go on forever! A few that we really like are: Uno, Sorry, Toss Up, Guess Who? and Connect Four. If you have older and younger children like I do, you can be a “team” with your younger child and play against your older child.

4. Puzzles! I have to admit that I do not get puzzles out as often as I should because they are not my favorite activity, but they are wonderful for any age. They are great for working on spatial relations and critical thinking skills. Plus one feels a great sense of accomplishment after finishing one! Get out a large puzzle (100 plus pieces) and put it on a table you do not use much (for us it is the dining room table) and then you and your children can work on it a few minutes each day.

5. Maps! Most children do not know geography very well, so help out your children this summer! Look at a map before you go on vacation and talk about where you are going and how you are going to get there. Talk about where friends and family live. We have a giant U.S. map in our basement that we use (I bought it at Costco). Have family send you postcards and then look at the map and see where it came from. Draw maps on the different ways to get to the pool or the park. Anything you do will be great!

6. Math! There are SO many fun activities to do! Have your pre-schooler count ANYTHING. How many pretzels does he want with his lunch? Have many red Hot Wheels cars does he have? Cook with your children. Have them measure the flour, sugar etc……. Get out a ruler and have them measure different things in the house. My two kids love to try and measure parts of the dog, especially his ears and tail. Have your older child make a schedule for the day to have them work on telling time. Have a calendar out so you can talk with your pre-schooler about days of the week, what month it is, how many days until Grandma comes, etc……… Memorizing math facts is very important with school age children and the best part is that you can quiz them anywhere- the car, the kitchen table, the pool, wherever! ANYTHING to do with numbers and/or counting will be helpful!

7. Field Trips! Go out and do fun activities with your children! Yes, going to the zoo is fun, but it is also a great learning experience! Pick a few places (include your children in this process) to go this summer that your children have not been before. TSP has FANTASTIC “field trip” ideas. Talk about where you are going, what will be “cool” to see there, what you can learn about, etc. Have your child write or draw a picture about it when you get home. Even going to places that you have been to before, can be a learning experience. My kids have been to SciWorks countless times and they still discover something “new” every time we go!

8. Summer Bridge books! The Original Activities Summer Bridge book by Rainbow Bridge Publishing is a great resource to use in the summer. You can find these books at most bookstores and Amazon. They start with the summer before kindergarten and go to the summer before 8th grade. They cover reading, writing, math, and language arts skills. They also provide motivational charts that offer an incentive that you and you child decide on once they have finished a certain number of pages. I like these books because they work on a broad range of skills. My daughter is excited to get started on hers!

9. Mother/child book club! My daughter and I have joined a mother/daughter book club. It consists of the girls in her Adventure Guides group and their moms. Our first meeting will be this summer sometime. My friend thought this would be a great idea and we all agreed! We will meet every 4-6 weeks at a different child’s home. The mother/daughter team who is hosting gets to pick the book we will read. We will meet for about an hour and discuss the book. Our girls will be second graders in the fall. We realize that we will have to do a lot of the leading at first, but hope the girls will soon lead the group themselves. All of us love to read and want to foster that love with our daughters! I will have to get back to you all in a few months and let you know how it is going! I think the idea is fabulous and can’t wait to see all that my daughter will learn from this experience! You can check out TSP's Lil' Smarty Book Club Idea here!

Have a wonderful summer with your children! Remember that learning and having fun go hand-in-hand!

Share with us any other smarty ideas you may have!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Infants Who Sleep – It Is Possible!

By Laurie Albertini, M.D., Brenner Children’s Hospital

If you ask a new parent what they would wish for the most, they will often say “a full night of sleep,” followed by a day with no crying or dirty diapers. In the first two years of life, sleep problems are the most frequent complaints of parents during pediatric office visits, so you are not alone. About 30-50% of infants have enough of a sleep problem to cause parents to seek help, and they can persist into childhood if left untreated.

Sleep is a highly organized process that is influenced by the child’s environment. The parent’s role is to facilitate their child’s ability to develop the internal controls to stay asleep. We, as parents, are often the creators of our children’s sleep problems. Simple things such as light, noise, food, and rocking can turn our babies into trained night wakers.

Let’s look at what is considered normal sleeping for our babies. Sleep patterns vary a lot in the first few months of life. A normal newborn can sleep from 11 to 23hours per day, with the average newborn sleeping 16.5 hours in a 24 hour period. Sleep patterns become more regular as the child approaches three months of age, and by 6 months most infants are sleeping through the night and taking regular naps. The average baby will sleep through the night at approximately 4 months of age and a weight of 14 pounds, unless they have learned to do otherwise.

Infants often have their days and nights mixed up. Caregivers need to assist their babies in differentiating the difference between day and night. Remember, not too long ago this baby’s life was all in darkness. Parents need to hold babies frequently during the day, make noise in the house, keep the lights on, and live life. In the evening, and especially in the middle of the night, all should be kept quiet, calm, and dark. For nighttime feeds, the encounter should be as brief and non-stimulating as possible, despite the fact that this is the time when your child is cutest and most interactive. If you do this, your baby will start to have their cute, interactive times during the day, when you are actually awake.

As babies head towards 3-4 months of age, when many start to sleep for a long period at night, we need to help them to learn to settle themselves. Babies have a memory of how they fell asleep, so if we allow a baby to settle him- or herself to sleep at the beginning of the night, i.e. put down sleepy but awake, they will know how to settle themselves back to sleep in the middle of the night, without waking you up. If we allow them to fall asleep while feeding, they will expect to be feeding when they wake up in the middle of the night. The same goes for being held or rocked. This is how we create trained night wakers and trained night feeders.

There are several ways that you can teach your babies how to self soothe. Every pediatrician has a slightly different approach, but all involve establishing a consistent routine as you approach bedtime, and making sure that you put your baby in the crib drowsy, but not asleep. There is usually some crying involved the first few nights, but this improves each night. One tip: All caregivers have to be ready to assist the baby in this process. If one person resumes rocking or feeding, it can set you back to the beginning. Once you establish a routine you will once again sleep for a full night.

For more information about children’s health, visit

Please share some of your experiences with getting your baby down to sleep - for the night!


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Smarty Alert: Don't Miss These Free Big Bang Boom Concerts!

We ran this schedule in an earlier post, but want to be sure EVERYONE has a chance to see this fantastic children's music group from Greensboro. Check out all these free performances at Triad-area public library branches! And if you go, be sure to tell 'em Triad Smarty Pants sent you! Enjoy!

Scheduled performances by Big Bang Boom...

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

About Big Bang Boom:

What happens when professional musicians become parents? They play and write children's music. This is the path taken by Big Bang Boom, a children's music group from Greensboro. After 20 years touring clubs and playing parties, Chuck Folds (younger brother of piano rocker Ben Folds) and Steve Williard decided to expand their horizons and play for kids. Together with drummer eddie walker they have become the parent friendly kid's rock band alternative.

Big Bang Boom is designed to give parents something else to listent to besides disney music and the wiggles. There is some good quality children's music being recorded these days. You can catch it on any kid-friendly TV stations, and now you can hear live too.

Big Bang Boom plays some children's favorites as well as their own original songs for kids. So check 'em out, bring your young rockers to a show- or have them perform at any event where kids are ready to sing and dance- have a Big Bang Boom Rock-n-Roll Birthday Party!


Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty readers! Well, we had our day last month so now it's Dad's turn! Father's Day is going to be a beautiful day here in the Triad - sunny and in the high 80s - so if you haven't already made plans, be sure to consider some of the events we have listed below! And tell Dad to log on to Triad Smarty Pants on Saturday to read about our first Smarty Dad! We're excited to honor Father's day with a great profile for you all to read...stay tuned.

But before you go perusing this weekend's events, we wanted to be sure you knew about the FREE parenting classes Brenner Children's Hospital, our newest Smarty sponsor, is currently offering! For a complete list with descriptions, visit To register for an event, please call Health On-Call at 716-2255. Below are a few of the classes offered tomorrow through Saturday...

June 17 at 6 pm
Breastfeeding Success: Returning to Work

June 18 at 11 am
Nutrition Trivia Bingo

June 18 at 6 pm
Of Course I Don't Want My Kids to Be Overweight…But How?

June 19 at 4 pm
From Circumcision to Bedwetting: Children’s Urologic Health

June 20 at 1 pm
Kids in the Kitchen

As for other events this weekend, keeping reading!

Book Signing with Michele Manderine
Friday, June 19 at House of Plants, 507 Harvey St., W-S (10:30 am to 3 pm), and Saturday, June 20 at Angelina's Teas, 125 S. Stratford Road, W-S. (10 am to 3 pm).
Childrens book author, Michele Manderine Crouch, will be signing copies of her book, "Tristan, The Maine Coon Cat." Meet a replica of Tristan, and see Harvey, the garden cat. Free. 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Girls’ Night Out at From Art to Zebras
Friday, June 19 from 6 to 9 pm
From Art to Zebras, 3700 N. Main St. Suite 111, HP
Bring the girls for a night of their own! We’ll watch an American Girl movie, have pizza, and do some girly crafts. Registration required. Call for price information. Phone: 336-454-2091

You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown
Friday, June 19 at 8pm
Kernersville Little Theatre 512 West Mountain St., Kernersville, NC
A lively musical based on the characters from the comic strip "Peanuts." Cost: $16 adults, $14 students and seniors, $8 children. Phone: 336.993.6556

Bee a Bear: Black Bears and Bees
Saturday, June 20 from 9 am to 5 pm.
NC Zoo, 4401 Zoo Parkway, Asheboro
Explore life as a bear and catch the latest buzz on bees at the NC Zoo. Adults, $10; ages 2-12, $6; under 2, free. Phone: 800-488-0444

Blacksmithing Demonstration
Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., and Sunday 1 - 4 p.m.
High Point Museum, 1859 E. Lexington Ave., HP
Come watch a costumed blacksmith in action as he crafts various iron pieces. Free. Phone: 336-885-1859.

Greensboro’s 14th Annual Juneteenth Festival
Saturday, June 20 from Noon to 6 pm.
Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St., GSO
Juneteenth is the oldest holiday observance of African American emancipation as a result of the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment of January 31, 1895 freeing all slaves. In celebration of "Freedom Day," activities for the family will include – A Juneteenth Pageant; Guest Speaker; Gospel, Musical and Spoken Word Performances; Storytelling;Family Entertainment; Health Screenings; Genealogical Research Information; Mentoring; Kiddie Korner; Bounce House; Games; Vendors selling Crafts, Artifacts and Food. Free admission. Phone: 336-697-9668.

Summer on Trade
Saturday, June 20 from 7 to 10 pm
Corner 6th and Trade streets in The Arts District, W-S
The best street party in the Triad is back for its 10th year celebration. Each Saturday night this summer, plan to come to Downtown's Arts District for an eclectic mix of live music, delicious festival food and beverages and dancing in the streets. Fun for the entire family! Free. Phone: 336-354-1500.

Free Admission for Dads at Old Salem Museums & Gardens
Sunday, June 21 from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Old Salem, WS
Old Salem Museums & Gardens celebrates Father’s Day this year by giving away complimentary tickets to all fathers who visit the museum on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21. The tickets are for fathers only, and are valid only on Father’s Day. For the rest of the family, ticket prices on Sunday are $14 for adults and $7 for children ages 6-16. However, during the summer months Old Salem has teamed up with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina for its summer canned food drive. Any child 13 and under who brings in two cans of food or more will be admitted to Old Salem for free.

Arts Splash Summer Concert Series
Sunday, June 21 from 6 to 7:30 pm
Mendenhall Station Transportation Terminal, 220 E. Commerce Ave., HP
Free concert featuring the beach music of Cruize Control. Concert goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic dinners. No alcoholic beverages are permitted at any of the concert locations. Free. Phone: 336-889-2787.

Music for a Sunday Evening in the Park
Sunday, June 21
Blandwood Mansion, 447 W. Washington St., GSO
Bring the family and a picnic dinner and enjoy music featuring Sophisticated Blues at 6 p.m. and and Rob Massengale Band at 7:15 p.m. Free. Phone: 336-373-2373.

Summer Solstice Celebration
Sunday, June 21 from 6 to 9 pm
Greensboro Arboretum, off West Market St., GSO
This is a family-friendly annual event that brings thousands of triad citizens together on the longest day of the year. Put on your fairy wings and glitter and meander through this mid-summer night’s dream. Face painting, butterfly release, hooping, drums and belly dancing will be showcased throughout the evening with a fire finale at 9 p.m. in the Butterfly Garden. Free. Phone: 336-339-1828. Rain date June 28.

What did we forget? Please add your event below!