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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy “finally feels like fall” Wednesday! Before you scroll down to this weekend’s events, there are a few things to be reminded of – and one event to take note of.

First, don’t forget that the Children’s Boutique Resale opens to the public Friday and Saturday in Winston-Salem at 1214-C Reynolda Road (formerly If It’s Paper location). This is one consignment sale you don’t want to miss! Also, don’t forget Dixie Classic Fair starts this weekend, and that Thomas the Tank Engine is still in Spencer. I took my 2-year-old son to see Thomas and he was blown away (so was my five-year-old daughter although she would never admit it). You can find out times, prices, and directions by visiting

There is also a new event happening in Greensboro in two weeks, but the deadline to participate is this Thursday, October 8. The First Annual Racquets for the Cure Tennis Tournament is being held Oct. 16 through Oct. 18 at the following locations throughout GSO: Pinetop Tennis and Swim Club, Green Valley Swim and Tennis Club, Hamilton Lakes Swim and Tennis Club, Sherwood Swim and Racquet Club, Starmount Forest Country Club. Sign up and raise money for the fight against breast cancer. Over 200,000 women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer last year; one in seven women are afflicted. This tournament is dedicated to the memory of Tracy Pleva Hill and to all the women and men who have so gallantly fought, and continue to fight, against this disease. To register, visit

Now on to the weekend. Have a great one!

DADA First Friday Gallery Hop
Friday, October 2 from 7 – 10 pm.
Sixth, Trade and Liberty streets, W-S
First Friday Gallery Hop in downtown Winston-Salem. Come out to enjoy the arts, music, dance and much more. Call 734-1864 for more information. Free event.

First Friday in Downtown Greensboro
Friday, October 2 from 6 – 9 pm
Elm Street area in downtown GSO
Free to the public

Kersey Valley Spooky Woods
Sunday and Thursday 8-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 8 p.m.- midnight; open daily the week of Halloween.
Kersey Valley Spooky Woods, 1615 Kersey Valley Road, HP
Come see the largest haunted attraction in NC. Prices: $25 Friday and Saturday; $19 Sunday and Thursday. Call 431-1700 for more information.

Maize Adventure
Friday, October 2
Kersey Valley Maize Adventure, 1615 Kersey Valley Road, HP
Featuring a Gem Dig, Fossil Dig, the Rock Shop, Pumpkin Patch, tram train and giant jumping pillow. $10 per person. $7 for groups of 20 or more. Free corn maize for children under age 4. Call 431-1700 for more information.

The N.C. Shakespeare Festival’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
Friday, October 2
The High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave.,HP
A Midsummer Night’s Dream's energy is infectious. Its humor is earthy and recognizable, and its language is beautifully poetic. Its central theme of love is multi-faceted and familiar, confirming what we know all too well, that “the course of true love never did run smooth.” Cost is $10 - $31 and performance times vary daily. See web site for more information.

Weecycled Wardrobe Sale
October 1 – 3 from 10 am to 7 pm daily
Fredricksburg, VA
Over 50,000 items and 700 consignors.
For more information, directions and to sign up on the mailing list, visit the web site above.

Muirs Chapel UMC Consignment Sale
October 1 from 9 am to 7 pm; October 2 from 9 am to noon
Muirs Chapel United Methodist Church, 314 Muirs Chapel Rd., GSO
Call 299-1913 for more information.

Oktoberfest Celebration
Friday from 5 -7 pm and Saturday from 5-7 pm
Christopher’s restaurant, 712 Brookstown Ave, W-S
Oktoberfest & Autumn Style Beer & German Wine Tasting, including Spaten Oktoberfest, Sam Adam's Octoberfest, New Holland Ichabod Pumpkin Ale, Lagunita's "Hairy Eyeballs" Autumn Ale, Victory Festbier and more. Plus full dinner menu and Oktoberfest Food Specials. Live Music Both Nights, free raffle for $100 gift certificate, and door prizes. Rain or Shine, event will be held inside and outside on the Beer Garden. $5.00 per person for tasting. Call 724-1395 for more information.

The Amazing Feats of Aging!
Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
SciWorks, 400 W. Hanes Mill Road, W-S
Explore the mysteries of aging. Watch your face instantly age 25 years. Learn how a healthy human brain ages differently than one with Alzheimers. Adults, $10; ages 6-19, $8; ages 2-5, $6; under 2, free. Phone: 767-6730.

Blues Clues Live!
Friday 10 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. and Sunday 2 p.m.
Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Drive, W-S
Based on the popular Nick Jr. TV show.
The season opens with Steve, Blue and all their friends on a musical, clue-based adventure, through the Story Book Forest and Outer Space, to discover “The Most Spectacular Place!” Based on the popular NickJr. TV classic! Recommended for Pre-K-3rd grade. $8 general/$12 premium (evening and week-end shows only). Call 725-4531 for more information.

Fall Fest & Open House
Sat., Oct. 3 from 10 – 2 pm
Gateway YWCA, 1300 S. Main St., W-S
Free food, classes, demos, kids’ activities, vendors, contest, product samplings, prizes, music, and membership discounts. Call 354-1590, x300 for more info.

2nd Annual Fun Festival
Saturday, Oct 3 from 10 am to 3 pm
Our Lady of Mercy School, 1730 Link Rd, W-S
Great rides, games, and food. Very economic and family friendly event,
proceeds to benefit OLM school. Call 336-413-0780 for more info.

City Arts Creation Celebration
Saturday, October 3 from 11 am to 4 pm
Location: Greensboro Cultural Center, 200 N. Davie St., GSO
Live performances; Class demonstrations for dance, music, theatre,
and visual arts; Previews of upcoming shows; City Arts Community Canvas - leave your creative mark on this all inclusive art project; Rock 'n Roll with the Jerry Garcia Art Show; Craft activities for the kids, and much more! Free, but donations appreciated. Call 373-2974.

Fire Starting
Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m.
High Point Museum, 1859 East Lexington Ave., HP
Matches weren't invented until the mid-1800s. Find out how the early settlers started fires with flint and steel (matches weren’t invented until the mid-1800s). All ages welcome. Free. Call: 336-885-1859.

Spider Discovery Hike
Saturday, October 3 at 8 am
Piedmont Environmental Center, 1220 Penny Road, HP
Hike with the staff and learn about the amazing lives of spiders. Registration required. Free event. Call 883-8531.

October 2009 Arts on Sunday Series
Every Sunday in October from 1-5pm
6th and Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem

"Hansel and Gretel"
Friday 7 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m.; Tuesday 7:30 p.m.
Stevens Center, 405 W. Fourth St., W-S
Come enjoy this beloved family fairytale. All ages welcome. $15-$70. Call 724-3202 for tickets and more info.

Thank you to all our readers for submitting these great events! Be sure to include your all the information we usually run (title of event, days, times, location, short description, costs, phone number, web address) when submitting your event.

If you want to add any more events below, please do!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smarty Alert: Check Out Who Won Our Latest Giveaway!

By Katie M

A big congrats goes to Stephanie Piraino of High Point who won the latest Big Bang Boom give-away on Triad Smarty Pants! Stephanie was one of several readers who wrote to Noggin to promote our favorite children's band from Greensboro, and Big Bang Boom randomly selected her letter as the winner.

Stephanie and her husband, Anthony, have two children: Noah, a second-grader, and Becca who is in preschool. They are so excited to win this give-away because they love music. Says Stephanie, "While I personally don't have any musical talents, I love when my husband pulls out the guitars and the kids 'help' make music. There is so much terrific music for kids today and this is a great opportunity to bring professional live music right to our home and share it with friends and neighbors. We used to live outside of Philly and there is a great weeknight radio show for kids - that's how we started to learn that kids music is more than just lullabies and singing dinosaurs! We are so lucky to have Big Bang Boom right here in the Triad."

Stephanie became a TSP reader after she found us on Facebook, and now turns to the site often for consignment sales info! "Being transplants, there is still a lot we don't know about the area and Triad Smarty Pants is a great source of information - plus, it's fun," she adds.

Thanks for being Smarty, Stephanie! And have fun with Big Bang Boom!

Stay tuned because Triad Smarty Pants has another fantabulous give-away coming up in two days!!


Homemade Halloween Costume Ideas

By Rachel H and Tracy S of Charlotte Smarty Pants

As you all probably know by now, we are hosting a Homemade Halloween Costume Contest for our TSP readers. Pictures of your kids in their costumes need to be sent to by October 8th. If you haven’t already gotten started, we thought Tracy’s post last week on Charlotte Smarty Pants could give you some inspiration in your costume design! Good luck! - RH

As Halloween is quickly approaching, I find myself once again pondering what to deck my little goblins up in this year. And once again, I am compelled to craft a "one-of-a-kind" homemade getup more perfect than anything I can purchase at Morris Costumes or Target. Don't get me wrong - they have a terrific selection (and last year Jake's superman costume just HAD to be truly authentic with fake abs and all ... you just can't make that yourself!) I just have this crazy obsession to get all Martha Stewart sometimes ... I think it must be a craft gene handed down from my mom. Anyway, enough about that! With Halloween a full month away, there's plenty of time for us all to get a little "Martha". Here are a few ideas to get you started…

My first attempt at homemade was three years ago, when my son wanted to be Mickey Mouse for Halloween. I was amazed how hard it was to find an authentic looking Mickey costume. And the ones I did find were just BAD! So, the crafty side of me thought “how hard can it be to just make one”? We had certainly seen enough episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that I could picture him in my sleep! Turns out – it was not hard at all, and I must admit, I was pretty dag-gone proud of how it turned out (see picture)! All I needed was a black turtleneck (Wal-Mart, $3), some old khaki shorts that I died red (Rit die, $1.50), a hot glue gun and white felt “buttons”, a pair of black tights (Wal-Mart again), and a pair of oversized slippers that I got on sale at Old Navy and spray painted yellow. Then I found some white kid gloves (costume store, $5) and some Mickey ears (that was the tricky part – I actually had a friend that was going to Disney that week! Got lucky there!!) And there you have it – authentic Mickey Mouse!

The next year, Jake wanted to be a Pirate. Again, every store-bought pirate costume I came across was just cheap-looking, cheesy, or the Pirates of the Caribbean version where he would have looked like every other kid on the block. So, off to Wal-Mart I went again. This time I came home with some black pants, shiny black shoes, a big clunky woman’s belt that I trimmed down, a pirate bandana, and the best was the vest … I found a crinkly red sleeveless shirt on sale in the women’s department for next to nothing. So I bought an extra small and trimmed off the collar and glued down the top (like a hem around the neck), took off the buttons and cut off the bottom to fit him better. Add a pirate hat, hook and sword; pin a fake parrot to his shoulder – and Voila! Pirate Jacob!

And last year was my baby girl's first Halloween, so of course I had to think of something special. Her room was decorated in ladybugs, so I carried that theme over to her costume. This time I stepped it up a little and actually had to pull out the sewing machine and sewed 2 little red wings, stuffed with a thin piece of batting to keep them stiff. Then glued on some big red felt dots and attached to a black onesie. Add black tights, and there you have it - A little ladybug was born!

Now it’s your turn - share your super smarty ideas ... I know they're out there! And if you want, send in your pictures to enter our contest at Happy Halloweening!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Charity Chicks: Resolve to Join Today!

By Casey Bomar, Co-President of Charity Chicks

I finally did it! I actually kept my New Year’s resolution...yes, it was from 2007, but I kept it! Many of you are wondering what it was. Did I lose those last 5 lbs? Did I clean out that garage? Nooooooo still working on those, but I did recently fulfill another goal. With the help of my good friend Jamie Marlowe (pictured right with Casey, left), we have started a new non-profit for women in the Winston-Salem area called Charity Chicks.

We are excited because it allows women the flexibility to give back to the community in whatever way fits their lifestyle. We are both busy moms with school-age and pre-school children, and we realize how challenging it can be to find time for volunteering. We hope that Charity Chicks will make it easy for women to get more involved in their community. Giving back should be fun and rewarding; not just another stressful obligation.

Each year the members of Charity Chicks will dedicate their efforts toward fundraising and volunteering for a local non-profit making a difference in our area. For 2010 we have chosen the Community Care Center. The mission of the Community Care Center is to provide access to high-quality health care services to the uninsured in Forsyth, Stokes and Davie counties. This year, Charity Chicks will be supporting the CCC by providing volunteers and fundraising to promote this worthy cause.

We are pleased to say we have nearly 100 members prior to hosting our Kickoff Party which will take place October 15, at the Westwood Swim & Tennis Club from 7-9 pm. Grab a friend and come out for drinks and desserts, and find out what Charity Chicks is all about!

The creation of Charity Chicks has allowed me to reach one of my personal goals. Through the help of many friends, I have been able to have a dream come to reality. Charity Chicks may be just the type of organization to help you realize one of your goals of giving back. If we could all get together and do a little it would mean a lot. I hope that you will join me and the other chicks on the 15th. As for the 5 lbs and the garage, there is always next year, but don't hold your breath!

For more information, and to RSVP for our Kickoff Party, visit the Charity Chicks website at


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Take a Child Outdoors!

By Guest Blogger Kevin Redding

Our guest blogger, Kevin, grew up in Salisbury and spent many days exploring the forests, fields, and creeks. He and his wife, Lori, now live in Greensboro. They have a three-year-old son, who loves working in the garden with dad, and a 16-month-old daughter who will soon join in the fun. Kevin is the Executive Director of the Piedmont Land Conservancy.

The last week of September is one of the finest times of year to be outdoors. The nights are cool and days are crisp. Leaves are giving their first hint of the upcoming color show. Wildlife is active during daylight hours. This year there is another good reason to get outdoors this week, and not by yourself! The week of September 24-30 has been designated Take a Child Outdoors Week.

Here in the Triad we’re fortunate to have a multitude of great places to take children. Local parks abound and don’t cost a thing. All you have to do is get there...

However, in recognition of Take a Child Outdoors Week, challenge yourself to go beyond your neighborhood park. Find a place where you and your child can connect with nature. Price Park, at the intersection of Hobbs Road and New Garden Road in Greensboro, is the perfect spot. A relatively new park, these 90 acres remain a hidden jewel in our area. The park lends itself to taking children outdoors. In addition to the park, you can enjoy the environmentally-themed Kathleen Clay Edwards Family Branch Library.

Just below the library is a 2-3 acre wetland where kids can sit and watch geese and other waterfowl meander about. Adjacent to the wetland is the Bird & Butterfly meadow. This grassy area is filled with butterfly loving plants and great trails to traverse the grassland. It’s also not uncommon to spot a deer sneaking through the vegetation upon your presence.

Across the street is the Meadowlark Sanctuary. This area was recently burned by a prescribed fire conducted by Piedmont Land Conservancy. The burn was intended to rid the area of invasive plants. The Conservancy will replant the 14 acre area in October with a mix of native grasses and wildflowers. For children, this provides the perfect opportunity to see nature in action. Following the fire (a perfectly natural event) the grasses will regenerate. Next spring you can return with your children and show them how nature’s wounds are quickly healed in a few short months.

You don’t have to be a biologist to take your kids outdoors. Simple lessons will persist with them far longer than you can imagine. Worst case, simply let them play in the dirt and explore the natural world. It’s the least we can do for our kids who all too often spend their days indoors with little natural interactions. They’ll thank you for it!

Be sure to visit TSP blogs with our picks for great parks, and get your children outside this week! Share with us your family's favorite outdoor activities and parks in the Triad below.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Smarty Mom: Chanel James

By Rachel H

We hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! It is Saturday, which means it’s time for another Smarty Mom. Chanel was born and raised in Winston-Salem. She attended Appalachian State for her undergrad and graduate school. She now works full-time as a Speech Language Pathologist for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. She also sees clients privately and works some PRN at a long-term care facility.

Chanel and her husband, Aaron, have two boys, Dylan (8) and Bryce (3). They also sponsor a child through World Vision and donate regularly to The Children’s Home in Winston-Salem. Chanel loves to be outdoors and claims she wants to be a photographer “when she grows up!” Chanel has been through many rough waters, as both her boys are allergic to peanuts, eggs, dairy, beef, fish, and wheat! We know how difficult it is trying to feed kids who have no allergies, let alone what Dylan and Bryce are dealing with.

Chanel was “mominated” by her friend, Dayna Gury, who had this to say ... “Chanel is a coworker of mine, and this year we are lucky enough to work together at the same Headstart facility. In fact, we have named ourselves 'Team Chayna' (our names know like Bennifer or Brangelina...except we have much, much, much lower paychecks). The great thing about Chanel is that even if she was not my colleague, she would be my very good friend. She is funny, kind and intelligent. She has a great sense of style and a very hip haircut. She is raising two wickedly cute and smart boys (whom my daughter adores) and she has a supportive (and handsome) husband.”

We are excited for you to meet Chanel...

Tell us more about World Vision and your involvement with it.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian charity organization dedicated to working with people in their communities throughout the world (including the US) in an effort to reduce poverty and inequalities everywhere. Initially, we thought it would be a great opportunity for Dylan to learn about another country, culture, have a pen pal, and also learn valuable lessons about service. We even chose a little boy with the same birth date. The experience has been wonderful. We have learned so much more than we could have ever imagined, and the experience has reminded us what grace really is.

Obviously the boys’ allergies have a huge impact on your daily life. Tell us more about this and please share tips for other parents who may be in your situation.
It’s amazing how much it really does impact daily life. We feel it the most when we’re running a tight schedule and don’t have the luxury of grabbing a quick bite (fast food). Instead, a quick, cooked dinner at home has to be squeezed in. Events at school and birthday parties are always a bit challenging, as it’s not good for my waistline to bake a dozen allergen free cupcakes every time someone has a party—especially when we only need one! He can actually tolerate “wheat” much better now, and we’ve found a website that we order allergen-free (no nuts, egg, or dairy) cupcakes, chocolate bars, cookies, and more. It's As a parent, this website is a necessity!

What has been the most rewarding part of your job as a Speech Pathologist?
Developing a connection with the families is definitely the most rewarding part of my job. When I think of some of the amazing families I have worked with, the opportunity to serve them is truly wonderful.

What is the smartiest way you save money?
I must say that I am quite the coupon queen, often cutting my grocery bill in half! I buy the kids clothes during the ‘off’ season, and use coupons for just about EVERYTHING!

What is your favorite family activity?
I love just hangin’ at the park with the fam!

Favorite “me-time” activity?
Is this a trick question???

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?
We love Mexican food! Great place for kids with food allergies … hold the queso and we’re good to go!

Favorite date night spot?
The Couch (heard of it?)

Favorite book you have read?
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace (I know, I’m a nerd!)

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
I love packing a picnic lunch and heading to any park!

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothes?
GAP (online and off-season…can’t beat the deals!)

What is the best birthday party you have attended?
Any party with close friends and family is the BEST.

What is your favorite mom’s must have item for around the house?
Swiffer Wet Jet

Mini-van or SUV?

Favorite park in the Triad?
Probably Tanglewood, although we hit a different park every week during the summer!

Favorite or most helpful blog you have read on Triad Smarty Pants thus far?
I love the info on free activities in the triad! I must say that I also found a wonderful photographer through TSP(pbandjphotography) and we finally had our first family picture taken this month! (One of our many photos is the one shown above!)

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
AMAZING location… nestled in between the mountains and ocean.

I could not live without my...

Chanel, you truly do have a beautiful family and I just want to reach through that picture and squeeze Dylan and Bryce's cheeks!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your Smarty Wisdom with us today.

TSP readers, email us at if you know someone who would make a great Smarty Mom!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Smarty Alert: Crazy Running!

Smarties, you need to know about Crazy Running , a Winston-Salem-based 8-week program designed to increase the young athlete's endurance, speed, core strength, and flexibility. This is awesome conditioning for kids to prepare - and get ahead of the game - for any sport.

For 8 weeks, the Crazy Running group will be led in fast-paced, fun hour-long workouts designed by USA Track and Field certified coach, Robyn Holland. The focus of our time will be to keep the athletes MOVING! They will get stronger, faster, and have a great time! To conclude our season, the athletes will compete in either the 1-mile or 5k (3.1) Mistletoe Run, starting at the William G. White, Jr. Family YMCA (in Winston-Salem).

WHO: Athletes ages 7 - 14

WHERE: Hanes Park Track

WHEN: Mondays and Wednesdays, October 12 - December 2 - 3:30 - 4:30pm

WHY: To train for and compete in either the 1-mile or 5k Mistletoe Run on December 5th.

COST: $100

TO REGISTER OR FOR MORE INFORMATION, call or email Coach Holland at 336-287-1639 or


Tricks for a Smooth Bedtime Routine

By Rachel H

A few weeks ago, I wrote about making your morning routine easier. Hopefully we gave you a few helpful hints! Today we are going to focus on nighttime and how to avoid chaos before bed as well as avoiding the “Mooooom, I want a glass of water” routine!

My children go through spurts where sometimes they will get into bed without a problem, I’ll close the door, and we don’t see them again until the morning. Other times they will come up with every excuse in the book to get out of bed and prolong falling asleep. What works for us is simply making sure they have everything they need before I kiss them goodnight and shut the door. I ask, “Did you brush your teeth, use the bathroom, wash hands & face, have a sip of water, read a book, say your prayers, etc...?” We usually end up laughing about it because we’ll come up with a million other silly things in the list. We go over everything to make sure there is not a reason to get out of bed, and nine times out of ten it works.

Other kids may take a little more effort to control the nighttime routine. I have heard many parents struggle with the whole act of actually getting the child into bed. One idea that may work is a chart where you have pictures of each step a child must complete before bedtime. (Put on PJ’s, brush teeth, etc.) Many times, the simple act of getting a sticker next to the step on the chart when it is completed, is enough to keep your child on task.

Some parents have trouble with their children because their kids want them to rock them to sleep, sit with them, or even sleep next to them for while. If you enjoy doing these things, take advantage of it, cuddle with your kids and cherish it. If you are the type of parent who has had plenty of time with your kid throughout the rest of the day and is just ready to get them to sleep, my best advice is not to even start these habits. Believe me, I loved rocking my kids when they were babies, but as they got older, I always made the bedtime routine a quick process with a book, prayer, and kiss. I try to cuddle and sit with my kids at other times during the day instead. And every once in a while if I want to cuddle and sing with my kiddos before bed, it is a welcome event, but not a necessity.

As far as infants and babies go, this blog we ran a while back had some great advice from Dr. Albertini. Katie also wrote this blog on Co-Sleeping, which got some great responses.

My friend, Carolyn, has four kids, and has one who has always been the “problem bedtimer." She came up with a great strategy that I asked her to share with you today...

"Maegan is my problem bed timer. She never gets her stuff done and is constantly hopping out of bed or bothering her older sister, Hannah (they share a room). So we decided to make a pull tab chart, (like you see on bulletin boards when someone needs a roommate and you can pull off the phone number to call). Each pull tab had something different on it.
Some examples are:
15 minutes of mommy time (she could choose any activity and have my undivided attention for that time)
Get a hug from Daddy
Extra story at bed time
A piece of candy
Get out of time-out free
15 minutes computer time
Play a board game
Basically anything that seems exciting to a kid. We'd hang the pull tabs up every night, (a little labor intensive because you have to have a set of pull tabs for every night - but honest to God; it works like a charm).

The rules are as follows: I don't reprimand or say anything. She gets ready for bed, gets in, and that's that. If at any time while she's getting ready she gets off track or misbehaves, I calmly pull off one of the tabs without saying anything. If she gets out of bed after we say good night, same thing. You get the idea. Whatever tabs she's left with, whether it's one or all of them; she has the power to hand them out during the day and receive the privilege. If she keeps all the tabs, she gets all the privileges. She could even hand me the 'piece of candy' tab before breakfast and she got it. Her favorite was the 'mommy and me' time or the 'daddy and me time.' We had some fun Polly Pocket and Barbie adventures. Anyway, in all the time we did this, she only ever lost ONE tab. And this is a kid who was IMPOSSIBLE at bed time before we tried this. This is hands down the best method I've ever found for curing a bad bed time routine."

Hopefully something you read here today will help make bedtime a calm, happy, time without arguments or punishments. If you have had problems in the past and found a great solution, please share below. OR if you are still struggling in this area, post your concern below. I’m sure there is a Smarty Mom out there who can give you an idea to help!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Smarty Sponsor: ERG Kids - Education Resource Group

By Katie M

Now that school is back in session, we can all relax with confidence that our children are moving forward with their academics as expected, right? Not always so. For those of us who know our children are struggling with certain skills or test scores, the start of school can be an extremely stressful time for parents and children, alike. We send our children to schools we believe in – to teachers we have faith in – but sometimes the challenges our children face are not a result of the schools or the teachers. Sometimes these challenges begin before they enter school; sometimes these challenges continue despite the school.

That’s where ERG Kids comes in. Since its founding in 2003, Education Resource Group has been committed to improving the lives of all learners – no matter their challenges. ERG Kids focuses on students and not the teachers. From one-on-one tutoring to qualitative assessments and to its superior preschool advantage program, ERG Kids integrates the latest teaching ideas so your child can be an individual and succeed.

If you have a child who is challenged in the classroom, you are not alone. Take, for instance, Triad locals Alan and Janette Frazier. They discovered their son’s confidence in math was at an all-time low, and with their busy schedules, it was difficult to find the time – and the patience – to tutor him at home. “ERG provided our son with the confidence and the competence to complete the standard course of study taught in the schools, and his end of grade Math test was excellent!”

ERG Kids’ tutors are professional, highly qualified and easy to work with. They are trained to tutor side-by-side with students in reading and/or math. Founders Hope Reagan and Alice Oakley pride themselves on being able to meet students where they are while supporting their progress and providing consistent feedback. Their biographies, along with the bio of Erica Frost, office manager, can be found by clicking here.

The team has not only earned outstanding educational credentials, but also rave reviews from its clients. “Our daughter was a rising second grader who was testing below grade level when we began working with ERG Kids. After only one month of working with Hope, we started noticing dramatic improvement in her reading and writing skills,” says Mindy Johnson. “We have now been working with Hope for eight months, and our daughter has almost completely closed the gap in these skill-sets. Hope's extensive knowledge of how children learn and her ability to develop learning strategies to meet each child where they are has been a Godsend to our daughter. Over the time we have worked with Hope, our daughter has grown in her confidence, self-esteem, and has developed a love for reading and writing.”

Sarah McCollum, another ERG Kids client echoes the same enthusiam. “Partnering with ERG Kids for my son Tommy exceeded my hopes and expectations. Thanks to Ann (Tommy’s tutor) and all the staff at ERG KIDS, Tommy’s self confidence and test scores dramatically improved during the school year. ERG Kids promoted Tommy’s strengths while focusing and encouraging him (and me). We’re continuing our journey with ERG Kids this year, and I’m excited to witness the progress Tommy will make with the help and support of this team,” she said.

Assessments at ERG Kids cost $150, and tutoring/support sessions are offered at $50/hour. Once your child has been assigned to an individual tutor you will be provided with their contact information.

If you think your child needs one-on-one tutoring, why wait? To get to ERG Kids, take Business I40 in downtown Winston-Salem and exit onto Broad Street. Go left on 4th Street, and ERG Kids is located at 942 West Fourth Street in Winston-Salem (two houses past West End Cafe).

ERG also works with parents to help them understand what students are expected to know and be able to do in today's classroom. More information on adult learning support can be found on the main web site at


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smarty Alert: Hurry Up Those Homemade Halloween Costumes!

Due to requests by many of our readers, we have moved the deadline for our Homemade Halloween Costume Contest back to October 8th. We know you all are busy, but keep pulling the needle & thread and get out the hot glue gun because you don't want to miss the opportunity to win a family 4-pack of tickets to Disney on Ice AND showcase your creative costumes on Fox 8 Morning News!

Send a photo of your costume (modeled by your cuties, of course) to by noon on October 8th. We will then post all of our contest entries on the website that Friday so TSP readers and your friends can vote for their favorite homemade Halloween costume. We will then select winners with the most votes, and announce them on TSP!

Get stitching!


Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarty readers! We are proud to announce this week’s event listing is sponsored by skirt! magazine of Greensboro. On Saturday, Sept. 26, skirt! will be hosting Pretty in Pink, the magazine’s first fund-raising event to benefit the Women’s Only Mammography Scholarship Fund. The premise behind this event is the more you give, the more you get. And it all happens from 10am to 4pm at Westover Gallery of Shops, 1410 Westover Terrace, Suite 102 between Chipotle and Shane’s Rib Shack in Greensboro. We hope to see you all there!

Delectable treats, a variety of wines and high-energy music from some of the area’s best groups will entice guests through the doors. Inside, visitors will have access to dozens of area businesses all devoted to making women feel good – body, mind and soul. To make guests feel even better, skirt! is providing free 10-minute massages thanks to Skin & Body Solutions with ‘N’ Harmony Massage & Body Works.

Guests will have the opportunity to donate to the Women’s Only Mammography Scholarship Fund, which provides mammograms to uninsured women in the community. In return for their generosity, visitors can take home a valuable coupon card with discounts to all of the businesses represented or one of many amazing door prizes. For more charitable donors, skirt! be giving away 100 handbags from Creative Containers filled with more goodies like nail polish, lip balm, hats and mirrors. skirt! will also have a scooter raffle and silent auction with a chance to win high-end items for a fraction of their retail value.

skirt! gives special thanks to Moses Cone Health System, Modern Infiniti and the News & Record as our premier sponsors, as well as Piedmont Triad Productions for their assistance in organizing this event.

For more information, visit

Now for the rest of this week’s scoop, read on!

Groundbreaking Ceremony of GCM’s New Edible Schoolyard!
Thursday, September 24 at 4pm
Greensboro Children's Museum
Join us on this day for the groundbreaking ceremony of the Museum’s new Edible Schoolyard! Alice Waters (food activist, chef, founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant) will be the special guest at the Museum's celebration to show her support for the project and talk about the significance of this exciting new initiative at the Greensboro Children’s Museum. Special event is open to the public. General Admissions fees apply/Members are free.

Spike Leukemia
Friday Sept. 25 at 6:00pm
Reagan High School, W-S
Katie Fitzgerald was a student of Rachel H's back in 2002. Katie had Leukemia and passed away in August of 2008. Her sister, Sarah, is a student at Reagan High School and her volleyball team is starting an annual "Spike Leukemia" event, a match between Reynolds and Reagan High School volleyball teams. The proceeds from the event will go to the "For Katie's Sake" fund. It is open to everyone! There is a $10.00 donation required for entrance to the match. They will be selling T-shirts and will have a bone marrow drive at the event as well! You can also visit Katie's caringbridge site at and read more about the fund that has been started in her name.

Child Watch Used Shoe Fundraiser
September 21-October 29
William G. White Jr. YMCA, W-S
Attention members of this YMCA branch: Please donate your gently used shoes to provide shoes for those in need to be shipped to the Caribbean Islands, Africa and Asia. Each pound of shoes will bring 20 cents per lb. Proceeds will go to Child Watch to purchase new equipment. Pairs of shoes should be tied together with strings or rubber bands and deposited into our collection box, located beside the Explorer Room. (No women’s boots, Steel toes or heels). Any questions? Contact: Yanira Pereda

Tailgate with Your School Team
Friday, Sept. 25 from 4 to 7 pm (Drop in anytime)
Young Chefs Academy, Peace Haven Rd (Behind Chic-fil-A), W-S
Young Chefs Academy of Winston-Salem is offering a FREE Open House with several kids stations setup so you and your children will see first-hand the cooking experiences that kids have while attending YCA classes, parties, and events!

Thomas the Train Comes to Spencer, NC!
Friday Sept 25- Sunday, Sept 27; Friday Oct 2- Sunday, Oct 4 (see times below)
NC Transportation Museum, 411 S. Salisbury Ave, Spencer
Choo Choo…Thomas the Train is chugging back and this time he’s making a stop at the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC. Take your children on a 25-minute ride with full-size Thomas the Tank Engine. An appearance by Bob the Builder is also made 4x/day (10a, Noon, 2p, 4p). Times: 8:30a-6p each day. Price: $18 on weekends, $16 on Fridays for ages 2 & up. Call 704.636.2889 for more info.

Main Street UMC Consignment Sale
Main Street United Methodist Church, 306 South Main Street, Kernersville
Friday, Sept 25th from 9am - 2pm and from 5pm - 7pm; Sat, Sept 26 from 9am - Noon
Call 336.993.3411 for more information.

Summerfield UMC Consignment Sale
Saturday and Sunday
Summerfield United Methodist Church,2334 Scalesville Road,Summerfield
Call 643-8120 for more information.

Christ UMC Consignment Sale
Fri, Sept 25 from 9 am to 8 pm; Sat, Sept 26 from 8 - 11 am
Christ United Methodist Church, 410 N. Holden Road, GSO
Call 299-1571 for more info.

Mount Pisgah UMC Consignment Sale
Friday, Sept. 25 from 9 am to 7 pm; Sat, Sept. 26 from 8 am to 1 pm
Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, 2600 Pisgah Church Road, GSO
Call 288-3321 for more info.
. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept

Woods of Terror
Friday, Sept. 25
Thursdays 7:30-9:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 7:30-11:30 p.m.; Sundays 7:30-9:30 p.m. Open Halloween week Oct. 28-31, Wednesday-Thursday 7:30-9:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 7:30-11:30 p.m.
Woods of Terror, 5601 N. Church St, GSO.
Woods of Terror is back! Celebrating its 18th year, Woods of Terror continues to receive national recognition & has once again gained the stamp of approval from America’s Best Haunts. Woods of Terror is not only the largest haunt in a three state area, but it’s also the scariest. Don’t believe, bring your guts & see. Loyal fans can’t believe the changes from year to year and the newbies are blown away by the size of the show, the detail of the sets and the quality of the actors. For children 13 and up. No child under 5 admitted. $26. Call 336-286-9396 for more info.

Free Admission to Old Salem Museums & Garden
Saturday, Sept. 26
Old Salem, W-S
Old Salem Museums & Gardens has teamed up with Smithsonian Magazine to offer free admission to the historic museums on Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of the magazine’s nationwide Museum Day event. Visitors can fill out a form online at to receive their admission card, which is good for free general admission to Old Salem for two people. An All-in-One ticket to Old Salem Museums & Gardens is usually $21 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-16.

High Point Museums Offer Free Admission
Saturday, Sept. 26
See locations listed below; times vary by location
Seven area museums and galleries will participate in the fifth annual Museum Day, presented by Smithsonian magazine. These museums include Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library, Doll and Miniature Museum of High Point, High Point Museum, Mendenhall Plantation, Museum of Old Domestic Life, Rosetta C. Baldwin Museum and Theatre Art Galleries each will take part by hosting open houses and other activities. Visit to download your Museum Day Admission Card. Attendees must present the Museum Day Admission Card to gain free entry or other discounts to participating institutions. Each card provides museum access for two people, and one admission card is permitted per household. Listings and links to participating museums’ also can be found on the Web site. To learn more about High Point museums participation contact Teresa Loflin at 885-1859.

After Harvest Party at Cellar 4201
Saturday, Sept. 26 from 1 – 6 pm
Cellar 4201, Yadkin Valley, East Bend, NC
Cellar 4201, one of the Yadkin Valley’s newest wineries, will celebrate end of grape harvesting with an “After Harvest Party” and concert on September 26. The party and concert will take place on the grounds of Cellar 4201 in East Bend from 1 to 6 p.m. and will feature music by the popular Monkee Voodoo Band. The event will feature a Charleston Style Low Country Boil and a variety of games and activities. Wine (of course!) also will be available for purchase from Cellar 4201. The event is $10 per person (cash only at entrance). Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.For more information or to make reservations for the After Harvest Party, please call Cellar 4201 at 336.699.6030 or email

Messiah Moriavian Preschool Fall/Winter Clothing Exchange
Friday, September 25 9am-1pm and 6pm-8pm
Saturday, September 26 9am-12pm *(Red Tags Only-1/2 price)
Messiah Moravian Preschool, 1401 North Peace Haven Road, W-S
Call 336-765-5652 for more information.

Greensboro Museum Day
Saturday, September 26, all day
Join us on this Saturday as we celebrate the first ever “Greensboro Museum Day!” Nearly 20 different Museums, art galleries, science centers and non-profit organizations are participating in this special day to help promote and increase awareness of all the different cultural attractions available for families in Greensboro. For this celebration, GCM will offer $1 off admission fees and fun garden programs to celebrate the groundbreaking of our new Edible Schoolyard!

Cricket's Nest Fall Festival
Saturday, Sept. 26 at 9 am
South Fork Park, 4401 Country Club Rd, W-S
The Cricket's Nest is hosting their annual Fall Festival on September 26th, from 9am until 3pm. The outdoor festival will be held in South Fork Park on Country Club Road in Winston-Salem. Local artists will be selling their creations, which will be perfect for the upcoming holidays.

West End Arts Fest
Saturday, Sept. 26 from 10 am to 5 pm
Grace Park, W-S
Save the date for the 4th biennial ARTSfest 2009 in Grace Park in the Historic West End neighborhood of Winston-Salem; A one day festival of the finest visual arts, entertainment and food. Free.

Spoonez Open House
Sunday, Sept. 27 from 2 to 4 pm
Chi’s Boutique, 3443-O Robinhood Rd (next to Paul’s Fine Dining), W-S
Come see Spoonez’s new eco-friendly patterns! Don't miss out! Spooneez make great baby shower gifts, and birthday gifts for tweens and teens. Get an early start on Christmas! Call 336-253-3439 for more information.

Sundays in the Park
Sunday, Sept. 27 at 2 pm
Center City Park, 200 N Elm Street, GSO
In addition to bands, crafts, and children's activities, the 2009 Sundays in the Park at Center City Park will spotlight selected community resources - bringing a new dimension to the family-friendly events. Free.

Keep your events coming! We love to receive event scoop by email. Contact us here with your information and we'll continue to post it. Thanks for your support!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Smarty Guide to the Dixie Classic Fair

By Katie M

The Dixie Classic Fair kicks off on Friday, October 2nd (and will run through October 11) in Winston-Salem and I'm already counting down the days. I love that we have a fair like this in our area. My husband grew up in Minnesota where the Minnesota State Fair is always a huge deal, and I've lived in Ohio where the Ohio State Fair was a pretty big event, too. In my opinion, Dixie Classic Fair ranks right up there with these big state fairs.

Besides the rides (which are usually the same every year but are always a hit with our kids), our favorite things at the fair are visiting the animals and watching for the unexpected - either with a performance or through people watching (ha, ha, ha!). Last year our unexpected was a thrill for Emily: she was able to "pretend cheer" with a group of local high school cheerleaders who were performing for the crowds. Another hit with our family is the dog puppet who drives a truck through the animal section of the fair and talks with children. To this day I still don't get how it works! Here's the scoop on this year's fair...

This year, the fair celebrates its 127th anniversary and is now considered the 50th largest fair in North America, and the second largest in North Carolina! I'm sure many of you have been to this fair. But even if you've been - or if this will be your first time - there's sure to be something new you haven't seen or experienced. So, I scoured the Dixie Classic Fair web site to find, narrow down and simplify - all the information us moms will need to make our trip this year the most organized and entertaining yet! We hope you find these tips and tibits useful. If you still have questions, feel free to email us here and we'll do our best to get the answers you need before the fair begins.

Dates and Times
Friday October 2nd – Sunday, October 11th
Sunday Through Friday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturdays: 9:00 am – 11:00 pm
All gate ticket sales stop at 10:00 each evening
Click here to get a day-by-day listing of special events

Gate Admission
Adults (ages 12 & up) – $8
Children (ages 6 – 11) – $4
Children (5 & under) and Senior Adults (65 & over, with ID) – Free

Early Bird Special
(Any gate)
Weekdays only from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm – $3

Advance Purchase Discount
Save $1 per ticket by purchasing in advance! Tickets NOW ON SALE. All sales end on Thursday, October 1st.

Purchase Advance Tickets Online or at Advance Ticket Locations

*NEW* 3-Day Fun Pass
Three days of fun for a greater discount. The 3-day fun pass is just $18. These tickets will only be sold at the LJVM Box Office and online until October 1st.

Advance Ride Booklets
The discounted booklet includes 24 coupons for only $12 – a savings of roughly 33% for purchasing in advance! Rides generally take 3 to 5 coupons per ride. Plan on 5 rides per booklet on the midway; 6 rides in Kiddieland.

Buy your Booklet online or at these locations!

Coupon Days
Wendy’s / 107.5 KZL Day At The Fair!
Friday, Oct. 2nd, Monday, Oct. 5th, Tuesday, Oct. 6th and Thursday, Oct. 8th
Get Your Coupon at a participating Wendy’s and pay admission and $20.00
($25.00 without coupon) to ride all the rides!

Maps, Directions and Parking
Click here

The park offers two areas of rides: Major and Specatacular Rides for older kids and adults, and Kiddieland Rides for the little ones. For a complete description on every ride, including height requirements, click here.

Ok, leave behind your calorie counters because you'll find nothing healthy here - but everything delicious and fun to eat. From candy apples, to cotton candy, fried candy bars, turkey legs, funnel cakes, BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs, and much more, the fair has over 100 food concessionaires located throughout the Fair. For a complete list of what is offered, click here.

This Year's Entertainment
For dates, times and descriptions on this year's list of entertainers, click here. And for other popular attractions featured every year at the fair, click here.

Other Smarty Tips:
- The fair does not allow pets inside Fairgrounds, with the exception of service dogs.
- Manual wheelchairs, motorized scooters and strollers are available for rent at the Fairgrounds, but cannot be reserved in advance.
- The Winston-Salem Rescue Squad/First Aid will be on-site throughout the Fair schedule.
- Paging service is provided at the fee of $1 per page at the Clock Tower Information Booth.
- If you lose keys, wallets, IDs, etc. during the Fair, you may check at the Clock Tower Stage Information Booth to see if it has been turned in. If it has not been located before you leave, you may call the Dixie Classic office at 336.727.2236. Note: Some things still show up within two weeks after the Fair; you may still contact the office Monday – Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.
- A Baby Changing / Feeding tent will be set up between the Clock Tower Information Booth and the Grandstand.
- There will be a few ATMs located on the Fairgrounds.

If anyone out there is a true Dixie Classic Fair connoisseur and can add additional Smarty tips, please do so below! Hope to see you out there!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Inspiring Young Children to Learn and Love Music

By Beth Frack, Artist-in-Residence at Forsyth Country Day School

Several years ago, I taught music to a kindergarten student who was described by his classroom teachers and parents as unhappy, moody, contradictory and never excited about anything. That same year I gave him a solo in a school musical, and it was like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly. This child became confident and excited about everything. Suddenly, there was joy and happiness, and it spilled over into his classroom and home life in a very positive way. The teachers were amazed at thetransformation in this child, and they attributed the change to the joy that music brought into his life.

We have all experienced the transformative power of music — whether it’s a song that takes us back to a teenage romance or a symphony performance so beautiful it brings us to tears. As a writer and performer of children’s songs and an artist-in-residence at Forsyth Country Day School, I witness the power of music in young children on a daily basis. Not only does music create more positive interaction in the classroom, early musical training also helps the learning process by improving spatial and abstract reasoning. Over and over, research has demonstrated that music contributes immensely to the development of a child. As teachers and parents, it is our responsibility to help all children find (to quote one of my children’s songs) “...the beat of the song in their hearts so they can live life to the fullest!”

I believe that everyone has the potential for music and that a child’s musical education should begin at an early age. According to the Kodaly Method, an approach to music education developed by Hungarian composer and educator Zoltan Kodaly, children are most sensitive to music between the ages of 3 and 7. Therefore, preschool and elementary school are the key times to capture children’s interest and to inspire a love for music. During this time in their lives they are excited and eager to participate with a freedom of expression that seems to disappear as they get older. If their interest isn’t captured when they are young, they are much less likely to develop an interest in middle school, when music becomes more about academic theory, and other distractions come into play. Over the years, through much trial and error, I have found what works and doesn’t work to stimulate children’s interest in music.

Here are some ways to motivate and help a young child learn to love

-Take every opportunity to introduce music into the day.
-Sing with your child.
-Listen to music in the car.
-Let them listen to music when they are going to sleep.
-Teach your child the folk songs you grew up with. Remember “Home on the Range,” “Clementine” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” According to the Kodaly Method, since children naturally learn their mother tongue before learning foreign languages, they should learn their “musical mother tongue” or the folk music of their native language before learning foreign music.
-Be energetic — even when you are singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” for the 100th time. If you are engaged and energetic — whether you are having music time at home or taking a music class with your child — there will be fewer behavior and boredom problems.
-Don’t lose ‘em to sports! Children get very busy, and many play multiple sports. Try not to let music get pushed to the side because it is equally important in developing a well-rounded child.
-Broaden your children’s horizons. As a teacher, I bring in musical professionals to teach hand chimes, African drumming and clogging. As a parent, you can involve your child in church choirs and hand bells or take them to see an African drumming performance by The Healing Force, a Winston-Salem-based group that performs workshops in African drumming, dance and storytelling.
-Take your child to musicals, concerts and plays. When you expose children to many different opportunities,they can discover what their love is.
-Be flexible! Often I see children who don’t like to sing get very excited about learning to play the recorder. Flexibility is key in learning styles, too. I was teaching a little girl piano, and she was having trouble with the hand-eye coordination needed for reading and playing music. She was getting frustrated, and I could tell she was practicing less often. So I changed my teaching method to help her learn by ear. It was like she became a totally different child and was able to learn and play difficult pieces.
-Don’t underestimate your child. Six-month-old babies in my Musicare classes are able to pick out the shakers, enjoy shaking them and then put them back in the basket. Kindergarteners can learn complicated songs and lines for a musical. Parents often don’t think their children are capable of doing “more.” They can.

Every day, I encourage and expect my students to try and accomplish great things. And every day they continue to amaze me. Whenever I see the eyes of children light up, as they are singing from the depths of their hearts, it fuels the passion within me to pass on to them a love for music.

This article was also published in the August issue of Piedmont Parent.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Von Trapp Family Tips

Tidbits and helpful hints for large families - By Guest Blogger Wendy Piazza

You could say that having a large family is “in my blood.” I am one of five children with 9 grandchildren on my parent’s side (and another on the way), and my dad is the oldest of ten. I have about thirty first cousins on that side and my “mama” and “papa” have over 20 great-grandchildren. Growing up it always felt relatively normal to be in the middle of commotion and chaos, but having a big family can be very rewarding as well. It all depends on how you view it; the joys far outweigh the headaches!

My husband and I now have four children of our own, and we have found (with help) lots of tricks over the past seven years that have really helped us to manage a growing family. I hope that a few of these ideas can help you as well.

Generally helpful tips:

When things get very loud, use a non-verbal signal to quiet things down.
I use a signal like turning off the lights or clapping a rhythm so everyone else can join in. When the kids hear or see this, it is a ‘code’ for them to quiet down so you I have their attention without yelling over them. (This was great when I was teaching 30 kids, and it still works!)

Make a checklist of things for each child to get done in a day.
Practicing piano, individual reading time, puzzles, chores, math drills, game time, computer time, etc... I make a checklist of activities and the amount of time they should spend on each, and the kids check them off as they go. The last item will be a fun, reward-type activity like video games (which also has a time attached to it). This is very helpful for us during the weekends or summer months when there is less structure. The kids love checking things off a list and know they’ve accomplished something. At the end of the day I feel great seeing everyone’s lists, knowing that I didn’t forget certain things I wanted them to do.

Play games to keep peace at the dinner table.
We often use a conversation starter game to keep a discussion going while we eat. When the kids are all involved in answering questions and giving their opinions on certain topics they are more well behaved.

Try using puppets for teaching and discipline.
When the kids clam up about something, I often pull out a puppet, or even my own hand (named “Hand”) and strike up a conversation with them. It’s like a third, very uninvolved, party. This worked very well with the kids until about age four or five. My kids were very eager to share a feeling, talk about why they got into trouble, or discuss the importance of chores with this little friend.

Use countdowns for transition time.
I realized that it just didn’t seem fair for the kids not to know when we were going to end an activity and then expect them to drop what they are doing right away. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying, “five minutes until we leave!” I use this trick for everything: countdown to snack time, while at the park, before a nap, computer time, etc... I use it on anything that needs a time limit. It gives the children a way to know when to wrap it up, and I believe it makes them feel more respected.

Let them be bored; they learn to be creative.
If my kids tell me they are bored, then I will either put them to work, if they would like, or they go to time-out while they think of something to do. While sitting in time-out they will usually come up with something pretty fast. This tip really cuts back on the whining and forces them to use creativity in solving their boredom.

If there is too much to clean then it’s time to give things away.
When the kids complain that their rooms are too messy to clean, I tell them it is time for a run to Goodwill. Most of the time they decide that they can handle it, but on a couple of occasions they did decide to give things away. The simpler I can keep the house the less overwhelming it is for all of us. Similarly, I like to “spring clean” more than once a year. Keeping it as simple as I can keeps me sane.

Picking on each other leads to serving one another.
When the kids would just pick on each other, I had a hard time thinking of a good consequence that would be related. After having thought a lot about it, I devised a plan that has worked out well for us. Anytime someone is being unloving to a sibling (in word or deed) they will be warned, and if the behavior persists they will spend the next day or so serving that person. They are to bring that child’s meals to the table and clean their spot afterwards. They will get a drink when the child is thirsty and help that person with any chores for the day, etc... This way they are showing that sibling through their actions that they do, in fact, love them. Of course this punishment is also accompanied by a nice little chat with mommy.

If they won’t stay seated, tie them down at the dinner table!
Most of the time my kids are not trying to get up every 30 seconds, but they just keep “forgetting” to stay in their seats. I tie a cute little ribbon around them connecting them to the chair. The ribbon is a gentle reminder to stay seated during mealtimes.

Nobody is perfect... at cleaning.
When the kids help to clean, I thank them for their help and know that it is merely practice. Their efforts mean more than the actual cleanliness of the room. The idea is that it will pay off later.

See things through their eyes.
I try to think about things from my child’s perspective. Often, I take time to put my children’s emotions into words for them so they feel understood. Even if the answer is still “no,” they hopefully feel my compassion and can learn to respect the response, knowing that I heard their concerns. I try daily to take time to smell the roses with them; a caterpillar can be really cool up close!

Most important: be more patient than you expect your children to be.
I try to set the example. Actions do speak louder than words. I try really hard think about what I am going to say before I say it (especially in a heated chaotic moment.) Many times this will help to defuse frustration before it comes to life through my words. A favorite quote of mine by Frank Outlaw sits in my desk. It reads, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Money and time saving tips:

If you have boys, think about cutting their hair yourself.
Thankfully, I have three boys and a husband who don’t mind home-made haircuts. The clippers are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. I know I’m saving money and can spend a little more on a cut for myself. My daughter will go with me every other time to get hers done too... it makes for a great mommy-daughter date!

Lowes Foods To Go!
I only use this service when I have a big run and too little time or too many children to bring. It is $6.00 and no tipping is accepted! Order on-line and then you have a personal shopper get all the items on your list. You drive to the store and pick up curb-side! And the apples they picked are the ones I would have picked myself. I was definitely impressed with the service.

Simplify the schedule without giving anything up.
The kids used to have weekly extra-curricular activities, until it just became too busy. Now, if possible, I schedule activities like piano and riding lessons every other week for 1 hour at a time, instead of 30 minutes every week. They still get the same amount of lesson time, only less transitioning. Definitely a WIN - WIN!

My Favorite: Partial House Cleaning Service.
I don’t have as much trouble keeping up with the main floor, but the upstairs seems to get neglected. I pay a fraction for a cleaning service to come and clean only the bedrooms and upstairs bathrooms top to bottom every other week.

Thank you, Wendy, for all your Smarty Tips! Large Family, or not, I think you have some wonderful suggestions for all of us!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Smarty Moms: Robin Speas & Maythi Calvert

By Rachel H

We have a Smarty Mom surprise today, as we are featuring two moms, Robin & Maythi, founders of Spooneez! You have no doubt seen the Spooneez button ad on the left of our website, and in case you missed it, take a look at the blog write up here.

Robin Speas has lived in the Clemmons and WS areas since she was 10 years old. She is married to Mike, and stays at home with her children Maria(6) and Gabrielle(4). She is also due with her third daughter in October. She volunteers as a member of the LUMC Preschool board and the Meadowlark Elementary PTA. She is also a volunteer of the Clean and Green Committee. Robin has been doing Yoga for six years and has just begun doing Crossfit as well. She loves going biking with her family, doing crafts, cooking, and enjoying a good wine while listening to jazz!

Maythi Calvert has been in Winston for 16 years now. She and her husband, Owen, have two daughters, Reilly(4 ½) and Reese(1). She volunteers as a member of the LUMC Preschool board . Maythi lived in the Dominican Republic until she was 15 years old, so she is fluent in Spanish. She enjoys staying at home with her daughters and working on Spooneez! She also enjoys cooking and of course reading Triad Smarty Pants on a daily basis!

Let’s get to know our exceptional Mompreneurs …

Maythi, how did you come up with the idea for Spooneez?
Mainly out of a need to find a place to stash the spoons I used to mix my daughter’s formula while on the go. I constantly found myself wrapping them up in a paper napkin, or sticking them in a Ziploc bag – neither of which I thought was a very good option. As she got older and I also started packing baby food, things got stickier and messier. I knew there had to be a better way. Reilly was a colicky baby and I was up A LOT with her at night & would find myself thinking about what to do with the yucky spoons. I can’t stand messes and it was really irritating me. One night I came up with the idea and decided to sketch a drawing of my thought. It went from a little drawing, to my mom’s sewing machine and then, years later, once Robin came on board, things really started taking shape and we ended up with Spooneez.

Robin, what was the most difficult part of getting the Spooneez idea off the ground?
Finding the right fabric that reflects us.

Maythi, what advice do you have for other Mompreneurs looking to launch a new product or idea?
Do not give up – the most important part of this, as cliché as it might sound, is to believe in yourself and your product or idea. This is especially important when you hear negative feedback. Also, remember to be prepared for criticism and use it in a positive way. Be open-minded, especially if you have a business partner – you won’t always agree on everything, but at the end of the day, you both want the same result. And finally, surround yourself with good people. Robin & I have been blessed to have found great people to help us and encourage us along the way.

Robin, what has been the most rewarding part of your Spooneez adventure thus far?
The encouragement and enthusiasm my kids and husband have shown since we started making the spooneez in our dining room. The amount of headway Maythi and I have made since first talking about this great idea in a coffee shop last year at this time.

Maythi, how can our readers see these products in person and/or place an order?
Two local retail locations are O Baby Organics, in Winston-Salem (next to Whole Foods) and also at Accessorize This in Lewisville. We also will be having an Open House on Sunday, September 27th at Chi’s Boutique (3443-O Robinhood Road - Robinhood Center near Paul’s & Ego Hour) in Winston-Salem and will have a table at the Children’s Boutique Resale (1214-C Reynolda Rd. formerly If It's Paper) on October 3rd. Additionally, you can purchase Spooneez online at

Now some questions for both of you,

What is the smartiest way you save money?
Maythi - Shop for groceries at Wal-Mart. I hate it there, but my bill always reminds me why I’m there!
Robin - Grocery coupons, Costco, Target

What is your favorite family activity?
Maythi -We love to go on the greenway right by our house – my husband and oldest daughter ride their bikes, and I push our youngest in the stroller.
Robin - Friday night movie night and popcorn downstairs in the basement, Saturday morning family bike rides down the Muddy Creek Greenway.

Favorite “me-time” activity?
Maythi - I don’t really have a “me-time” activity. Is that bad?
Robin - YOGA, reading and gardening

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?
Maythi - At home. We don’t eat out a lot.
Robin - Las Estrellas

Favorite date night spot?
Maythi - Firebirds (although I am dying to check out the new Latin restaurant downtown)
Robin - Nice dinner at Firebirds, or Nobles Grill.

Favorite book you have read?
Maythi - A Million Little Pieces by James Frey – regardless of what Oprah’s beef is with him, this book was wonderful.
Robin - Angels and Demons, Water for Elephants, Harry Potter

Best place to eat lunch with the kids?
Maythi - Again, we don’t eat out much, but when we do, we tend to end up at Chick Fil A, Whole Foods or Moe’s – kind of depends on the mood & amount of time we have.
Robin - My kids would say ‘Chick-Fil-A’!!!

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothes?
Maythi - Target, Gymboree sales, and Lands End Overstocks (they have some really great deals)
Robin - Target, Baby Gap, Children’s Place, LL Bean

What is the best birthday party you have attended?
Maythi -Actually, Robin had a party for one of her children and they had a petting zoo. The kids loved it!
Robin - A Science Party for a 6 year old.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Maythi -Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance – they are located on the corner of Northwest and Reynolda Road and have some really great productions and prices are reasonable.
Robin - Krankies Coffee, Local Farmer at Casanova every Saturday morning through summer months, Chi’s Boutique

What is your favorite mom’s must have item for around the house?
Maythi -I couldn’t live without my Sandra Boynton hanging family calendar. I get one at Borders each year. It has spaces for each family member’s name (up to 5 names) and hangs on our fridge.
Robin - hand held broom with dusting pan and Dutch Oven!!!

Mini-van or SUV?
Maythi - Neither. You can check out my comment on the TSP mini-van post from a few weeks/months back. We have a crossover (Ford Freestyle) & love it!
Robin - SUV

Favorite park in the Triad?
Maythi - Hathaway Park in W-S and Shallowford Square in Lewisville
Robin - Joanie Moser Park

Favorite or most helpful blog you have read on Triad Smarty Pants thus far?
Maythi -The recent swine flu post was very informative and I also love the Wednesday weekend event posts. They give you enough time to make plans for the weekend ahead.
Robin - Lyndhurst OBGYN, you can find ANYTHING on Triad Smarty Pants!!!!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Maythi - Having grown up in a city that had over 3 million people, Winston-Salem seems tiny to me. But that’s what I love about it – Winston isn’t exactly tiny, but it feels that way. We have a deep sense of community here. People are warm and friendly and seem to really care about making our city a better place.
Robin - The triad has so many wonderful things to offer for all ages throughout the year.

I could not live without my...
Maythi - family, computer, and hair dryer!
Robin- family and computer!!!

I love that you ladies had almost the exact same answers for some of these. It shows you have a great partnership. We wish you all the best with Spooneez!
TSP Readers, send us your Smarty Mom nominations by emailing us at We love to hear from you!


Friday, September 18, 2009

The Benefits of Sports for Children

By Guest Blogger Heather Bjork

September – school starting back and the start of soccer and football season. Fans of both sports are passionate in their love of these games. One does not have to look very far to spot people wearing football or soccer apparel around the Triad. Sports are an important part of most people’s lives, and they are commonly discussed at home, with friends, in the workplace, in cyber space and through any form of media that we come in contact with on a daily basis. As such, it seems we would be doing our children a disservice to not expose them to different sports and give them an opportunity to experience playing different sports. If you have not yet provided your child with the chance to get involved in a sport, think again. Even if you are not a “sports” person yourself, there are multiple benefits to allowing your child to play sports.

•Physical activity - With the rising rate of childhood obesity in today’s generation of children, this takes on additional significance. Research shows that children that consistently participate in sports are less likely to be overweight. Children that receive regular exercise are more likely to continue this practice in adulthood. Additionally physical activity improves mood and releases “endorphins” which make us feel good.

•Enhanced social skills -Your child will practice sharing, supporting, befriending, and helping others. All of these are important skills needed to establish and build healthy relationships with other people.

•Increased self confidence -Research also shows that children that play sports, especially girls, are more likely to have higher self-esteem and a better body image.

•Improved self-discipline skills -Children need to commit to attending practice, being a “good team player” which means sometimes having to put their needs and interests at a lower priority than their teammates and it requires hard work to achieve one’s goals.

•More effective time management skills -Children learn how to manage their schedules so that they can complete their homework, attend practices and games and still have discretionary time to spend as they would like.

•Better teamwork skills -Children begin to understand the part that each person plays in the team’s success/failure while learning how to effectively communicate with a wide variety of other children with styles different from their own.

•“Life skills” -It’s never too early to learn that sometimes things work out the way you want in life. How you play the game is even more important than winning or losing. Character and behavior count and matter, especially when it comes to relationships.

•Academic success -Research shows that children involved in sports tend to perform better in school than children not involved in sports, possibly because of self-discipline and time management skills.

•Refined problem solving skills -Sports frequently require strategy and there are obstacles to one’s goals given the nature of competition. Thus, children need to figure out how to deal with challenges that arise within the framework that exists.

•Better flexibility -The changing nature of most sports requires children to learn how to adapt and respond quickly to new situations. As a result, children become better able to anticipate change and quickly determine the best course of action.

•FUN -With the high importance placed on achievement, particularly academic accomplishments, it’s important for children to have the chance to just be in the moment and enjoy themselves. As long as there is not overriding pressure and an emphasis on winning, children will enjoy the experience they have playing sports and being part of a team.

Don’t miss out on the chance to get your child involved today. There are lots of great options out there – martial arts, basketball, lacrosse, baseball, swimming, tennis, and many, many more. Ask your child what he/she enjoys and help your child match his/her interest to a sport. If your child loves to be in the water, swimming or diving would be an excellent choice. Does your have good eye-hand coordination or even need to develop it more? Then baseball, tennis, golf, or tennis might be a great starting point. Does your child love to catch? Consider lacrosse. It is not too late to sign up for these activites. If you missed the blog on SoccerTots, this is a great option for young children and they you can enroll at any time. There may also be spots left in your school's Girls On the Run Program. The options are plentiful and the Internet is a great resource to identify different options available to your child.

By helping your child experience sports in a “safe and non-judgmental” environment, you will be providing many great benefits to your child. Who knows, your child could end up becoming the next Tiger Woods!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Smarty Find: "Screw Cancer, Eat Cake!"

By Rachel H

Former Smarty mom, Jennifer Fussell, has taken on a new adventure along with her sister, Leslie, launching back into business and starting their own company!! These women were extremely affected by their mother’s second diagnosis with Fallopian Tube Cancer earlier this year. They chose to honor their mom, and any other women fighting this horrible disease, by developing a T-shirt simply saying “Screw Cancer, Eat Cake!” One T-shirt turned into 5, then 10...

Unfortunately, this hits home all too well for me, as my own mom is currently undergoing her fourth round of chemo in 10 years for ovarian cancer. As soon as I found out that Jennifer had started this, I logged on to her blog and ordered the cutest T-shirt for my mom. There are also adorable totes and ballcaps that will let anyone fighting cancer know you are thinking of them.

Since launching SCEC, Jennifer and Leslie have realized that we are all touched by cancer in some way. As sad as it is to admit, almost all of us have a relative or friend who has battled this terrible disease. For this reason, I wanted to make all of you aware of Jennifer’s Mompreneurship! She and her sister will launch their official website in 2010, but until then you can visit their blog here or contact them at I hope you will check out their blog and show your Smarty Support!