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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Smarty Mom: Klarisa Cizmek

By Guest Blogger Jessica Bell

Welcome to another Smarty Mom Saturday, and Happy Halloween! I emailed Triad Smarty Pants to “mominate” Klarisa Cizmek because I think she’s one of the smartiest moms around, and I can’t wait to introduce you to her.

I met Klarisa through a mutual friend a little over three years ago when we were all pregnant and due around the same time. I’ve always thought she had a fascinating background and lovely personality, and am honored to call her my friend. She is caring, compassionate and loves children. I’m about as Southern as they come, so I’ve very much enjoyed meeting other international families through her and having my daughter play with children of diverse backgrounds. I’ve watched Klarisa create her business from the very start, and whole-heartedly recommend it to everyone. I had so much fun interviewing her for TSP, and I hope you have fun getting to know her!

So here goes…

Klarisa and her husband, Tvrtko (Klarisa says, “Just pronounce all the letters and you’ll get it right unless you break your tongue first”) have two adorable children: Dora (5 ½) and Tommy (3). They have lived in the Triad for six years after moving from Tampa – and before that – Zagreb, Croatia. Klarisa works full-time as Director of Winston-Salem-based World Languages for Children, a Chinese and Spanish language program for children ages two to six. Klarisa also started the Triad International Playgroup, free for families interested in languages and multiculturalism, and they meet at O’ Baby Organics in Winston-Salem. (Note: they are currently on hiatus for a few weeks – be sure to check the World Languages for Children website for information on meeting times.)

What inspired you and your husband to open World Languages for Children?
Actually, it’s just me. Although my husband is incredibly supportive, World Languages for Children is my business. After not being able to work for 8 years, I’m very attached to what I am creating!

My parents had the foresight to start me on English when I was 4 ½. They thought it was one of the languages that would be important in the future and they were so right. This opened up numerous doors for me. Today, my husband and I feel the same way about Spanish and Chinese. I started my business because I wanted my children to learn Spanish while they were little, because that is when they learn most easily. I couldn’t find a program that offered classes for small children, so I created one myself. I bring in a lot of experience: I taught business English to adults for 6 years in Croatia and 1 year teaching freshman composition at the University of South Florida as a teaching assistant. I combined that with being a mommy: I know what children like, their attention span, and how to work with different learning types. I make sure I accommodate for all types of learners.

Also, I have a passion for children. While in Croatia I worked for SOS Children’s Villages, an international non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides family-based care for children that need long term care. They were a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in 2008 (for the 14th time) and a recipient of the Mother Teresa Gold Medal in 2006. I cannot say enough good things about this organization.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a mom working full or part-time while running this center? What are some of the rewards?
In the beginning, sometimes I was working on weekends and my children wanted mommy time and I felt really torn. But then I was able to come up with a schedule and organize my life so that we have weekends and evenings solely for the family. As far as the rewards, see the Smarty Tips below.

How do you balance your work and home life?
I really love both, so I just sleep very little and work very hard. I want to make sure I have enough time for my family, so I push myself very hard during working hours.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms in your position?
Just go for it. If you are starting your own business, if it is something you are passionate about, just go for it. It’s a lot of work, because sometimes you are running on passion and adrenaline alone. But it is so rewarding and brings such joy that I have no regrets. So go for it!

What brought you and your husband to the US, specifically the Triad?
His work. He loves to travel, we both do, and when we lived in Zagreb he found an ad for a position in Tampa, Florida. They flew him over for the interview, and before we knew it, we were living in Florida. I gave up my work to come with him and I have to commend him for setting up his monthly income so that I was always receiving a portion of it as “compensation” for giving up my career in Croatia. He is so respectful of me and equality between women and men.

You are multi-lingual. Tell us a little about that and your background.
I speak Croation, English (I have a Master’s degree in English literature, focusing on Shakespeare), Italian, and a little Spanish. My husband and I met while we were both learning German. We weren’t taking it for work but just for pleasure. Honestly, I wanted to be able to read what was on the shampoo bottle – in Europe they write the description in five or six languages, but not necessarily in one of the languages I spoke. So I decided to learn German so I could tell whether the shampoo was for normal hair, oily hair, etc. I also speak Bosnian. My father was Bosnian and spoke four or five languages. His mother was Czech and his father Austrian and he grew up speaking both languages plus Bosnian. Later he learned some Italian and English, so I had a wonderful example to learn from. My parents always believed in investing money into travel and education as a way of broadening our minds and horizons. I never had any pretty clothes, but I saw most of the countries in Europe by the time I was 15. I buy lots of pretty clothes now!

What kind of challenges does your family face with English as your second language?
None, really, since I learned it at such a young age and was teaching English to business executives before coming to the States. My husband was fluent in English before we came here, too. When you start so young, it is all games and fun. I was always the first child in line to go stand in line at the place where we took English classes, even a half hour before the class started. I just really loved it.

What is your advice to other moms on the importance of language development in young children, and what languages do you think are particularly important?
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of starting early, and the two languages I think are most important (besides English) are Spanish and Chinese. I want my children to learn these two languages in addition to English and Croatian.

What benefits does World Languages offer children apart from what children learn in school?
Our classes start programs for children beginning at age two. Look at my website and the FAQs…there is a lot of research saying that every brain is pre-wired for language acquisition. With age, the pathways in the brain associated with this process atrophy and almost expire if they are not used. Learning a language at 25 or 35 is really hard, but when you start at 2, 3 and 4 it is just a game and almost effortless. Children can learn up to 4 languages without mixing them up and be fluent in them by the time they start getting lessons in the regular schools. My children at the ages of 3 and 5 ½ are already bilingual, and they are learning Spanish and Chinese.

We are starting to offer classes for 7 and 8 year olds in January 2010, and we are now enrolling for Fall 2009, ages 2-6 at various preschools and also classes open to the public at the Clemmons YMCA.

Speaking of great things in the Triad, let’s switch gears and focus on some local stuff.

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Consignment sales, especially the Lewisville United Methodist Church. Their sale is huge!

What is your favorite family activity?
Going to the beach, going for a walk, going to swim lessons at the Y, traveling together…I just love everything about having a family. It is the most important thing in my life, and is to my husband too, so we always put our family first. Just having the four of us together at the dinner table is nice. We deliberately bought a house close to his work location so that he could come home for lunch most days. And now that my daughter is older, we love to play Uno and other card games.

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
I don’t get any mommy time lately, so going to the gym for an hour and a half is a special treat. But I also love to go swimming and let the cool water wash over me and completely relax. Getting my hair cut without my children! And getting a massage.

Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids?
We love Jimmy’s Seafood because it is close to our house, we like seafood and it has a very family friendly atmosphere.

Funniest thing your kids have ever said?
I keep a folder with all of their funny statements, but since we only speak Croatian at home, most of the humor seems to be lost in translation!

Favorite park in the Triad?
The 4th of July Park in Kernersville.

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

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
It’s very green and lush. We grew up in the city, and although I loved the city, I could not imagine having children in the city now. And the close proximity of everything is great. And God forbid you need it, but excellent hospitals are within minutes. Also, there are excellent programs for the children. We love the Children’s Museum and SciWorks. Even at the mall they have the little playground area. Everything is very accessible to families as opposed to living in the city. I also like that there is a vibrant international community in the Triad. We’ve loved meeting some of these families in the Triad International Playgroup.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
World Languages for Children!

Best birthday party you have attended?
One of the boys at our preschool has a summer birthday, and he had a backyard party with lots of water games. It was so relaxed because there were a lot of families from our preschool there, and since we’ve known them for such a long time, it felt like visiting family. The parents could sit and visit while the children had fun playing with water.

I could not live without my... Internet.

I wish someone had told me sooner about...Photoshop. I love “cleaning up” snapshots and turning them into posters. It’s usually photographs of my children. They are never relaxed in a studio, so the best pictures are the ones we take at home. Now I can touch up the photos so their faces stand out and you can enjoy that beautiful smile. And mineral makeup. I’ve recently discovered it and think it is so much better than liquid foundation.

Thanks, Klarisa for all your Smarty answers! You are such an interesting person and I’m just in awe about all that you do and all that you speak! And thanks Jessica for this amazing interview! Well done ladies! What a treat for this Halloween day! - KM


Friday, October 30, 2009

Smarty Alert: Don't Forget to Turn Your Clocks Back!

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 1st. So don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed on Saturday night! And here's hoping the kids will sleep to the normal hour on Monday!


Starting A Recipe Exchange Club

By Guest Blogger Heather B.

It is inevitable that most families fall into a rut with the meals they eat. Lots of things contribute to this situation with the major reason being lack of time to plan out new menus, shop for the necessary ingredients and prepare the meal. As a result, whoever does the cooking for the family, often relies on his/her tried & true recipes that can be assembled with a minimal amount of time and effort. Yet many of us enjoy eating out because it provides the opportunity to try new and different dishes and/or eat meals that we do not enjoy making at home.

About 4 years ago, I decided that I was tired of making the same dishes and wanted some new recipes to prepare for my family. I created a recipe exchange club by inviting several friends that were tired of the lack of excitement in their menus as well and asked them to contribute one recipe to the group at least once every 2 months.

I ended up with close to 50 participants (several friends invited their friends who then invited some of their friends) so this worked out well in terms of there being usually 2-3 new recipes shared each week via email (some participants shared more than the minimum).

There were several parameters for the recipes shared which included:
1) the recipe could not consist of more than 6 ingredients & not be ingredients only available at a specialty store
2) the recipe had to be fairly easy (not requiring special cooking techniques or equipment)
3) the recipe needed to take 40 minutes or less for preparation (cooking time could be longer than 40 minutes)
4) you had to have made and eaten the recipe so you could accurately recommend it as one that was worth sharing.

An email list with everyone’s email address was created which was then used to share the recipes. Even though it was a large group, a small community was fostered among the participants. People would positively comment on a particularly good recipe while another person might share how he/she varied it to his/her family’s taste or reduce the prep time.

Several people thanked me for starting this club and everyone agreed that their families appreciated the variety in the meals. My family would vote on each one I “tried” (thumbs up – the recipe became a permanent part of our household or thumbs down – the recipe would be thrown away since there were better recipes out there).

There was fun in the novelty of recipes and I was tempted to try recipes that I might not have otherwise tried because a friend and/or acquaintance of a friend recommended it. We also were fortunate to have club members that shared recipes in all categories which was additional fun for upcoming get-togethers and parties where I was looking for new appetizer or drink or dessert ideas.

Other ways to get great recipes that I’ve been involved with:
1) Have everyone bring their favorite dish to a potluck meal & bring enough copies of the recipes for everyone that attends the event to take one home with them if he/she would like to
2) Participate in a cookie exchange or soup exchange. Everyone arrives at the house with a 1/2 dozen of cookies or a ½ gallon of soup in a container for each person involved and cookies or soup is also brought that is consumed at the event. This is a lot of fun and a great social as well.
3) Participate in an “Around the World” Event where each person is assigned a different region of the world to make a dish from. Each person brings a dish from that region along with enough copies of the recipe for all participants. This is a fun experience and you will be tempted to try new dishes that you may never have tasted before.

I hope I’ve shared some new ideas for adding to your recipe collection as well as adding to your family’s menus so don’t delay & get started today!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

How Old Is Too Old?

By Rachel H

My first child was a boy, so since he was born, I have always taken him into the Ladies’ Restroom with me when we are out in public. He just turned six, and I guess I got so used to doing this that it never really crossed my mind that there will come a point when he needs to go into the Men’s Room alone. My family went out for dinner a few months ago, and when I got up to use the restroom my son said he had to go as well, so we trotted off together to the ladies room. When we got back my husband immediately said, “You can’t do that anymore! He is way too old to be in there with you!” For the first time I had to stop and think, “How old is too old?”

When I told Katie I wanted to write about this, her first response was, “I have to tell you the truth … it creeps me out to see six-year-old boys in the women’s bathroom.” But then I told her my side and explained that my fear is sending him in to the Men’s bathroom alone and running into the psychopath who is just sitting there waiting for an innocent little boy to waltz in! She said she’d never thought about that since her son is still small enough to accompany her and no one really notices. Do I think Mr. Creepy Man is waiting in the restroom at a fine dining restaurant? Probably not … but, when we are at the park or the mall, I truly do have that fear. I have heard stories of men exposing themselves to young boys in the bathrooms and it scares me to death.

I am pretty far from being an over-protective mom, and sometimes I think I have raised my kids to almost be TOO independent, but this is one situation where I really need help. I am guessing I just need to start standing next to the bathroom door and sending my son in to use the restroom as quickly as possible. I don’t know what other option I have. So please share! When did you start letting your son use the Men’s Restroom without an adult?

Now this leads me to many other questions where I wonder “How old is too old?” I am going to preface this now by saying that some of these questions can get very touchy and I know some readers will get very opinionated about them. So please keep your comments nice and respect the views of others. After all, some of us really do have justifiable reasons behind why we do things! This also goes for children who have special needs. There are often times where they may need extra help and should not be judged.

How old is too old to …

Bathe with a sibling of the opposite sex?
See their parents nude?
Need help getting dressed?
Watch Barney?
Be rocked to sleep?
Wear longalls and shortalls?
Wear smocked clothes?
Use a pacifier?
Be walked into their classroom by mom or dad?
Ride in a stroller?
Have their parents cut up their food?
Trick or treat?
Still take a bath instead of a shower?
Still be wearing diapers?

Lots of thought provoking questions here, folks! So, weigh in with your answers and let us know !


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

With fall in the air (finally!), it seemed a fitting opportunity for Winston-Salem-based SciWorks to sponsor today’s blog and tell you all about its Annual HarvestFest happening this Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. What a wonderful way to welcome fall, and a fun idea for the kids before trick-or-treating takes place!

At HarvestFest, you’ll find hay rides (first ride covered with admission price; all other rides just $1), pony rides with Cash Lovell Stables (from 12 to 2 pm – 1 ride per child), fall-themed craft activities, games, planetarium shows, interviews with SciWorks’ resident animals, and obedience training exhibitions by the darling dogs of the Winston-Salem Dog Training Club. All these activities are free with paid museum admission (Adults $10, students aged 6 – 19 and seniors 62+ $8; children ages 2-5 $6; under 2 free). As always, members get in free.

Plus, SciWorks is offering 25% discount on memberships during this event (applies to new or renewed memberships), and you must be in person to redeem. Call (336) 767-6730 or visit the web site for more information and directions. See you there!

Keep reading to get the rest of this weekend's spooky scoop. Have a happy Halloween!

Halloween Workshops
Thurs, Oct 29 from 2 – 4 pm and Fri, Oct 30 from 2 – 4 pm
Young Chefs Academy, Peacehaven Road, W-S
School's Out this Thursday and Friday just in time for our Halloween Themed Workshops! We'll be making the best Halloween Treats including
Jack-O-Latern Cupcakes, Popcorn Balls, Oreo Caramel-Dipped Apples and Witch Fingers! Send your kids in their halloween outfit and best costume wins a prize! Advance Reservations are Required and Space is Limited, so call or email us NOW to reserve your spot!

Behind the Scenes of the Nutcracker
Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7 pm
de Mille Theatre on the UNC School of the Arts campus, 1533 South Main St, W-S
The Associates of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will present a behind the scenes first look at the School’s exciting new production of The Nutcracker. Enjoy a rare opportunity to see School of Dance Dean Ethan Stiefel stage and choreograph the opening of the second act of the new staging of The Nutcracker. Watch as Clara and her Prince are welcomed to the Land of Sweets by Angels, the Sugarplum Fairy, Spanish, Arabian, Chinese, Russian, Mirlitons and more. The evening will feature more than 50 dancers from the UNCSA School of Dance and the UNCSA Preparatory Dance Program. A reception will follow in the Flag Gallery outside of the de Mille lobby. Admission is free, but patrons are asked to RSVP to or to 336-631-1227. (Probably not suited for children, but moms are encouraged to attend!)

Belly Buster Fun Run
Thursday, Oct 29 at 6 pm
Fleet Feet Sports, Reynolda Road, W-S
Test your gut at this fun run. Participants will run a three-mile course and enjoy a big-beefy doughnut at the turnaround point. Runners and walkers of all abilities welcome. In honor of Matt Gfeller, who died after an accident on the Reynolds football field one year ago. His friends dreamed up a crazy, fun 5k event that will take place on November 14, and they'll be on-hand to sign you up. More info, and registration, found on Fleet Feet's web site link above.

Miller Park Fall Festival
Friday, Oct. 30 from 6 – 8 pm
Miller Park in Ardmore neighborhood, W-S
Games, candy and prizes. Costumes welcome. Ages 4 -12

Fall Festival Marshmellow Roast
Friday, Oct 30 from 6 -8 pm
Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 1046 Miller St, W-S
Wear your fun costumes and bring your treat bags for some candy and other great stuff! We will have face painting, a cake walk, a craft table, and many more fun booths. Our target age is preschool and young elementary ages children.

DADA Annual Spooktacular
Friday, October 30 from 6 - 9 pm
Downtown Arts District, W-S
Costume contests and games for all ages. Prizes for best costumes for children, adult and pets. For more info email DADA at! DADA- Where Art Lives Spooktacular 2009 is sponsored by DADA- the Downtown Art District Association with supporting funds from First Community Bank Free.

Halloween Safari
Friday, October 30 from 7 - 9 pm
Piedmont Environmental Center, 1220 Penny Road, HP
No spooks but plenty of surprises await kids and adults on PEC’s trails at night. Meet animals who tell amazing things about their lives up close and personal as you make your way through the darkened woods. Snacks, a campfire and live music complete this unusual Halloween education adventure. All participants should bring a flashlight. $4; children under 5, $1.

Skelly's Scareytales
Friday 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Paramount Theater, 128 E. Front St., Burlington
Presented by Teen to Teen Theatre, this not-so-scary production is about being safe at Halloween. Adults, $7; ages 12 and under, $5.

Reeves Theater Haunted House
Friday, October 30 at 7 pm
Downtown Elkin
Join us for a night at the theater for a Haunted Halloween Experience. All proceeds go to support the Reeves Theater Restroation and the Upper Yadkin Valley Habitat for Humanity. Tickets $5.00.

Dark In The Park Halloween Celebration
Saturday, October 31 from 5 - 9 pm
Burlington City Park, Burlington
Amusement rides, costume contests, carnival games and Halloween fireworks show.

Saturday, October 31 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
SciWorks, 400 W. Hanes Mill Road, W-S
Don't miss this annual event at SciWorks! We'll have hayrides, make-and-take craft activities, pony rides with Cash Lovell Stables and Riding Academy (Noon - 2pm), the Winston-Salem Dog Training Club, animal interviews, science demonstrations and more! Wear your Halloween costume! 25% DISCOUNT ON MEMBERSHIPS (renewals or new memberships) THIS DAY ONLY! Must be purchased at our front desk and not via phone or web site. No other coupons apply. Cost: $10 adults, $8 age 6-19 and srs, $6 age 2-5, under 2, free.

Trick-or-Treat at Burlington Outlet Village
Saturday, October 31 from 4 - 6 pm
Burlington Outlet Village, exit 145 on I85/40, Burlington
An annual family-friendly trick-or-treat party from store to store. Free.

Trunk-or-Treat at Friedberg Moravian Church
Saturday, October 31 from 5 - 7 pm
Friedberg Moravian Church, 2178 Friedberg Church Road, W-S
Fun games for kids (giant inflatables, face painting, cake walk, decorated cars, lots of candy!) plus door prizes (iPod Nano for grand prize!)

Wizard of Oz Trail
Saturday, October 31 from 10 am to 3 pm, and Sunday from Noon to 5 pm
Castle McCulloch, 3925 Kivett Drive, Jamestown
The Community Theatre of Greensboro and Castle McCulloch invite you to follow our fifth annual Family-Friendly Halloween Trail. Meet all of your favorite characters from The Wizard of Oz as you follow the Yellow Brick Road. Your munchkins may don their costumes and enjoy the beautiful historic grounds of Castle McCulloch as it is transformed into the mythical land of OZ. The 45 minute walking trail is a site to behold by young and old alike and will lend itself to the likes of the Cowardly Lion and the Witches Castle to name a few. You will not want to miss the opportunity to be a part of the Wizard of Oz Trail 2009 at spectacular Castle McCulloch. Visit the web site for ticket information. Adults, $9; ages 2-12, $6; children 2 and under, free.

Shopping for Friends
Sunday, Nov. 1 from 2 – 5 pm
Blandwood Carriage House, 447 West Washington St, GSO
Join us for a fun day of shopping to benefit Friends for an Earlier Breast Cancer Test ( Hang out with your friends, shop for yourself, do some holiday shopping and help out Friends for an Earlier Breast Cancer Test. Silpada, Southern Living at Home, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Be Creative, Avon, Votre Vu, Thirty One, Tupperware, Discovery Toys, Xango, Baglady Boutique & Accessories, Princess Custom Design and Feel Good Frames. If you have some unwanted gold jewelry, bring it with you. Ben David Jewelers is a participating vendor and will buy your unwanted jewelry and give you money on the spot.

Halloween Candy Buy-Back
Sunday, November 1 from 3 - 5 pm
Dr. Andrea Robinson Dental Studios, 2900 Lyndhurst Ave., W-S
Bring unopened candy and receive $1 per pound and a glowing toothbrush! Unopened candy will be shipped overseas through Operation Gratitude. Also, come see magicians, a puppeteer, and enjoy the raffles. Free.

Lincoln Financial ArtQuest Community Arts Sundays
Sunday, November 1 from 3 - 5 pm.
ArtQuest, Green Hill Center for N.C. Art, 200 N. Davie St., GSO
Experience this hands-on gallerty that ArtQuest presents. Featuring arts and craft activities of cultures from around the world and in the Triad. Occurs monthly. Members, free; non-members, $2.50.

Hollymont Camp Show
Monday, Nov 2 at 7 pm
Big Shotz Tavern, W-S
Hollymont is a privately owned, Christian camp for girls ages 6 - 15. They are accredited by the American camp Association and offer a variety of 6, 13, and 27 day session options. The camping season runs for 8 weeks and lasts from June to August. Hollymont’s camp motto is, Living & Learning with Love & Laughter, and states their priority to foster each camper's physical, social, and spiritual development in the context of a loving, Christian environment. Hollymont is located in Asheville, North Carolina on the 300-acre campus of the prestigious Asheville School -- one of the nation's leading boarding schools! Any questions please fill free to call/email Kay-Lynn at 765-7426 or

What did we forget? Add your events below!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What's the Deal with the 8/80 Rule?

By Katie M, with introduction previously written by Jen B. of Charlotte Smarty Pants

If you want to see the "art of the car seat" (as I call it), you need to see Jen P's car. Boy that thing is rigged up. When I was in her car it was funny to see all the stages represented of the "car seat life-cycle." Three car seats across the second row (the twins were rear-facing at that time and Isabel forward facing) and then Ansley is in the way back in a booster seat. She has to get in from the back tailgate door of the SUV since the car seats cannot be moved. That makes me laugh. So what are the North Carolina laws on car seats EXACTLY? It is different from state to state so it's worth talking about here. - JB

Becoming familar with NC's car seat rules is not an easy task! For instance, if you're like me and get all mixed up about the “8/80” rule (Is it “8 OR 80” or “8 AND “80”???), then this your blog. I pulled some key points from There is a TON of useful information on this site and you may want to go back to read it in its entirety - especially if you are a new mom or mom-to-be. But below are key points every mom should be familiar with.

What are the basic requirements of this law?
All children less than 16 years old must be buckled up in either the front or back seat.

A child who is younger than age 8 and who weighs less than 80 pounds must be properly secured in a child passenger restraint device (CRD) that meets Federal standards and is appropriate for the child's weight and height. Belt-positioning booster seats can be used for larger children between 40 and 80 pounds in lap and shoulder belt seating positions. Belt-positioning booster seats must NEVER be used with just a lap belt.

When a child reaches age 8 (regardless of weight) or 80 pounds (regardless of age), a properly fitted seat belt may be used instead of a booster.

If traveling in a car that does not have a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure a belt-positioning booster, a child (who weighs at least 40 pounds) may be restrained by a properly fitted lap belt only.

WARNING: Belt-positioning booster seats must NEVER be used with just a lap belt. Belt-positioning booster seats can only be used with lap and shoulder seat belts.

Is it "8 OR 80" or "8 AND 80"???
The issue of who is required to be in a child restraint (CR) or booster seat, and who can legally use just the vehicle seat belt, can be confusing. The answer lies in which question is being asked:

Q: Is my child required to be in a booster seat or other child restraint?
A: Children who are both less than age 8 AND less than 80 pounds are required to be in some type of child restraint. "Some type of child restraint" includes booster seats.

Q: When can I switch my child to just a seat belt without a booster seat?
A: When a child reaches age 8 (regardless of weight) OR reaches 80 pounds (regardless of age), a properly fitted seat belt may be used instead of a child restraint/booster to restrain the child. Note, however, that placing the shoulder belt under a child’s arm or behind the back is both dangerous and illegal.

SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. has developed a simple "5-Step Test" to see if a child is big enough to ride in a lap and shoulder belt combination:
1. Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
2. Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
3. Does the belt cross the shoulder between the neck and arm?
4. Is the lap belt as low as possible, touching the thighs?
5. Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, your child needs a booster seat to ride safely in the car.

When can I turn my baby around to face to the front of the car?
NC Law does not say anything about when to turn a child around to face the front of the vehicle, so it is legal to turn a child around whenever allowed to do so according to the manufacturer's instructions.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines are that children should face the rear of the vehicle until they are at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 lb to decrease the risk of cervical spine injury in the event of a crash. Furthermore, the AAP recommends that children be kept rear-facing at least until age two for maximum protection. Children are five times safer riding rear-facing than forward-facing into the second year of life.

When can my child ride in the front seat?
It is legal in NC for a child to ride in the front seat:
• If the child is age 5 or older, OR
• If the child weighs at least 40 pounds, OR
• If the vehicle does not have an active passenger side air bag, OR
• If the vehicle does not have a rear seat where the child restraint can be installed.

However, it is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that:
• All children age 12 and under should ride buckled up in a rear seat.
• Infants in rear facing child safety seats should NEVER ride in the front seat of a vehicle with an active passenger side air bag.
• Small children should ride in a rear seat in full harness type child safety seats appropriate for their age and size.
• Larger children should ride in a rear seat in a belt positioning booster until large enough for the lap and shoulder belt to fit correctly.
• If a child over one year old MUST ride in the front seat with a passenger side air bag, put the child in a front facing full harness child restraint, a belt-positioning booster seat, or a correctly fitting lap and shoulder belt -- AND move the seat as far back as possible.
• If a child age 12 or younger MUST ride in the front seat with a passenger side air bag, have an air bag on/off switch installed and turn the air bag off when the child in the front seat.

If you're in the market for a first car seat or a new one, then keep checking in with Triad Smarty Pants. In the next week or so, I'll post some smarty tips on buying car seats - similar to my blog on stroller shopping.

Lots of info to digest! And like I mentioned above, there is plenty more to read about on This blog does not include all laws, safety tips and recommendations.

Do you have any comments on this post? Be sure to submit below!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Inspiring Your Children to Care for the Environment

By Guest Blogger Jenni Hopkins Mowery

Jenni appeared on Fox 8 News with us this summer and showed the viewers some fantastic waste-free products for lunches. She was so knowledgeable on ways to be eco-friendly, so we asked her to share some of her Smarty Wisdom with our readers. Take notes on all these fabulous ways to bring more green ideas into your home. - Rachel H.

1 — Play in the Dirt!
There is no better way to teach children about the earth than to let them get all down and dirty in it! Plant seeds in your house this winter and transfer those plants to the ground outside when the sun comes out in spring. Put the kids in charge of seeing that the soil is healthy and the plants are getting enough sun and water. Grow flowers, grow veggies, it doesn’t matter, just grow!! Challenge yourself and your kids by growing an entire rainbow (example: red poppies, orange carrots, yellow daffodils, green hostas, blueberries, purple hydrangea).

The point is to form a connection in their mind from themselves as people to their role in nurturing and protecting what grows in and on this beautiful earth; how special it is, how vital it is to their well-being.

2 — Walk & Bike More
Broaden your children’s definition of transportation. We love our cars, yes, but think of the ways that we can get around without them! Walk to school or the bus stop; drive downtown, then park and walk to the library, the ice-cream shop and the farmer’s market. Ride bikes as a family to the neighborhood eatery for supper. Getting from point A to point B can be carbon neutral and calorie burning when we think outside the box (or car). For your kids this can mean a better sense of safety on the streets and an earlier sense of independence and pride.

3 — Create Less Waste
This is a fun and easy way for kids to learn to love their earth! Start with a trip to the landfill so they can see just how ugly and permanent throwing something in the trash is. My mother never said, “throw that away” to instill in us that nothing truly gets thrown away, it all goes somewhere, and instead she asked “are you going to put that in the landfill?” Have your kids think about what that juice box means to the beauty of the earth and empower them with a non-disposable cup! Sounds silly, but it makes a BIG difference.

Count the bags of garbage your family makes this week and then set goals for reducing that number. Let the kids join in the fun (example: decorate cloth napkins to go in lunchboxes and be used at the dinner table). The less waste we create, the cleaner our air, our water and our soil. And the more space our grandchildren will have to run and play. Those are great reasons to loosen our grip on those plastic baggies!

4 — Recycle
This tip goes hand-in-hand with #3; the best way to reduce what goes to the landfill is to recycle whatever we possibly can. Under a new law that took effect Oct. 1, North Carolina will be banning plastic containers from landfills. This includes any bottles with a neck smaller than the container itself. Aluminum cans are already on the banned list.

Getting started and making recycling a habit for your family is much easier than you think! Get two containers (1)paper and cardboard items and 2)plastics 1-7, glass, recyclable metals), put them near your main wastebin and make it a game for your kids to sort the items that can be recycled, give out prizes to the kid who identifies the most recyclable items that day. Paste or paint the three arrows symbol on a cape and voila, a recycling superhero is born!

5 — Share
One of the top lessons we hope our kids learn, sharing. There is no greener concept than this one, the truest form of recycling is reusing. As our clothes get too small, we share them with the local mission or Goodwill, as our interests change, we share those toys and books with a children’s charity. Consignment shopping, visiting the local library, and having the neighbors over for supper are all ways of broadening the meaning of sharing to a child. When a child learns that people come first, before possessions, and that we all have more when we share, we have done our job as parents.

Thank you, Jenni, for this inspiration to encourage our children to take care of our earth. Readers, share below how you encourage your family to be a little more eco-friendly!


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Ghosts of Halloween Past

By Guest Blogger Kelly Gunzenhauser

Let me set the scene for you. It is 1978 — an era when kids were still allowed to run around by themselves for hours at a time with minimal parental supervision. Imagine a neighborhood made of just three long streets — two of them cul-de-sacs. It is fall. It is getting dark, at 5:00. There is a chill in the air. The seriously hokey “Spook-tacular Halloween TV Special” is playing in the background. The doorbell rings, and some toddlers come to the door to get some candy. It is time to go.

I realize Halloween isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely for me! I was never so excited as I was just before going out on Halloween. We had a fabulous Halloween neighborhood. Everyone just went crazy decorating their houses, and all the adults stayed INSIDE — no partying outside with the kids, so there was a little edgy feeling of roaming free during the night. That one night allowed us kids to explore the scarier side of life. Here are some of the best Halloween memories I have. Please share yours also!

•Halloween in the 70's was not the big industry it is today. My mom made my costumes. One of my favorite costumes was a princess outfit. She made a dress and train out of yellow, Swiss-dotted material. She made a crown and wand for me from cardboard covered in aluminum foil. I also had one of those cool, tall, pointed hats with a piece of the fabric hanging from it. A couple of years later, when I was about nine, I decided to be the Green Goddess. (I didn’t know that was really a salad dressing.) I don’t remember what I wore, but I put a crown of flowers in my hair and covered my face with green-tinted Crisco. I looked like a frosted cake. It was sticky, but I am sure my face was well moisturized.

•My small neighborhood was out in the “country,” meaning Clemmons. Behind my house was a small forest, and beside it was a cornfield with some abandoned buildings. There was a small farmhouse and several outbuildings. One Halloween, we decided to go walk around the house and outbuildings after trick-or-treat was over, but of course we all chickened out and trotted home giggling (and screaming just a little bit).

•I invited a friend to come to my neighborhood one year. We walked up to one house with a scarecrow in the yard. We walked as far around it as we could, but it “talked” to us anyway. We jumped and ran for the house. Inside, the homeowners showed us the walkie-talkie (remember that term?) and let us make the scarecrow talk, too.

•When I was eleven, my friend and I decided to create a haunted trail in her backyard. Her sister helped. The best thing about the trail was that I had a creepy, life-sized boy doll that looked very real. We put him in a cauldron for a witch to “stir.” Nothing like a little pretend cannibalism to spice up your Halloween!

•After the haunted trail, my friend and I went to her room to eat the candy. I didn’t know it, but she had gotten out her recently pulled wisdom teeth to show me. They were in a little box. As she bit into a b-b-b-bat candy (hard taffy on a stick), it made a loud crack, and she lost her grip on the box. The four teeth, complete with giant, jagged roots, spilled out on the floor. I thought she had knocked out all of her teeth with the candy!

•One year, my friend’s much-older brother stood on the roof of their porch. He swung a ghost down in front of my face. When the rope that held the ghost broke and the ghost plopped on the ground, I thought he had thrown it at me since I knew he didn’t like me much. I stood my ground, though and went on up to the house and rang the bell. I wanted that candy!

•One of my best kid memories happened when I dragged my dad up to the Vogler’s house on the hill. It faced a busy street away from my neighborhood, and few people bothered going up there. It was going to be my last stop, since it was 9:00 and we were almost home. When I rang the doorbell, the Voglers said these magic words: “We own a convenience store, and we just brought home some boxes of candy from the store.” Since they thought I would be their last visitor, they proceeded to pour ALL of their remaining candy into my pillowcase: full packs of Bubble Yum, full-sized candy bars, and I think a whole bag of Twizzlers. My dad was horrified. I had hit the sugar jackpot! I went home, dumped the almost-full pillowcase onto the floor, and ate my way through the Halloween episode of “Real People.” (Anyone else remember that show?) I think after I finally settled down enough to go to bed, my parents ate well, too.

Now, Halloween is mostly about my kids, but not completely. I still get giddy when “The Great Pumpkin” comes on. I know most of the words to the songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas. And I make sure Halloween is fun for all of us. What are some of your favorite memories from Halloween?


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Smarty Mom: Jennifer Thomas

By Katie M

There’s seems to be no shortage of Smarty Moms in the Triad, and today’s mom is another great example. Meet Jennifer Thomas. Jennifer has three children, Ross (10), Lydia (7) and Russell (3). She and her husband, J.T., have lived in the Triad for 11 years. Jennifer considers herself a “hybrid” – a full-time mother and part-time clinical psychologist, author and speaker. Employed by Associates in Christian Counseling, she works with couples and individuals of all ages.

Besides her children, her greatest reward has been her book, which she researched with two pre-schoolers at home and published three months before her third child was born. Jennifer co-authored her book with Dr. Gary Chapman, an internationally respected marriage and family life expert, and pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. Their book, The Five Languages of Apology: How To Experience Healing in all Your Relationships, explores how the evidence of sincerity in an apology differs from one recipient to another.

Writing a book is certainly an inspiration to many moms, and I’m intrigued by the topic - something we all can relate to. Let’s find out more about this Smarty.

What inspired you to write a book about apologies?
The inspiration for her book came after an argument with her husband. She explained, “I thought I had apologized for a mistake when I said ‘I’m sorry,’ but he thought a sincere apology must include other things. I learned that for him to be ready to move on, it’s helpful when I can say ‘I was wrong.’ Gary Chapman and I decided to do some joint research on apologies and we found there are five categories of apologies; you can’t simply guess what words will be music to the ears of others.”

What was the biggest challenge in writing your book, besides being a full-time mom?
My biggest challenge has been keeping these priorities in order: God, husband, kids, family and friends, work, charity, and home management.

Did you always work as a mom? Or did you go back to work after kids?
After 6 years of graduate school, I didn't want to put my license away but I also didn't want to work full-time. I admire moms who manage to juggle it all. As for me, I'm grateful to my employer who has supported me in keeping my part-time work schedule quite manageable. I'm also grateful to my counseling clients who have entrusted me with their private thoughts over the past 10 years.

What Smarty tips do you have for moms in your position?
If your child's school has bus service, consider using it. We've had good luck so far with this time-saving and gas-saving freebie.

Also, at the risk of sounding like a marriage counselor, do not give up the habit of dating your spouse. It's good for you two and it doubles as a wonderful lesson for your kids. Try swapping date nights with a friend or have a standing appointment with your babysitter. While you're on the date, try to branch out beyond discussions of the kids. We try to talk about the kids first (if necessary at all) and then talk about what has filled each of our days, hopes and dreams, personal concerns, travel plans, and current events.

Speaking of travel, we've managed to get away alone together two or three times per year. I try to join my husband on his business trips and we've gone to visit friends as far away as Los Angeles and London. The last time we came home, the kids had no permanent scars from our absence, and they sure did appreciate our relaxed parenting style (compared to their babysitter!).

Let’s switch gears and chat about the lighter side of being a mom.

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Carolina Thrift on W. Wendover Ave. in Greensboro. They have special discounts on Mondays. They have clothing for all ages. I have particularly good luck in the ladies shoes area.

What is your favorite family activity?
Walking the loop around Country Park in Greensboro with several other families most Sunday afternoons

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
Rounding up a few ladies who will go with me to feed my addiction to PF Changs at Friendly Center in Greensboro. I always order the Shrimp with Candied Walnuts and Brown Rice. It has a lemon sauce on it that is making me drool as I am thinking about it. Really!

Best place to eat lunch and/or dinner with the kids?
Boston Market is a crowd pleaser. I just saw a sign in their window advertising "Two kids eat free." I plan to check that out. (And we need to add that to our Kids Eat Free blog on Triad Smarty Pants!)

Favorite date place?
The newest restaurant in Greensboro, Imperial Koi at 1941 New Garden Road, or River Birch Lodge at 3324 Robinhood Road in Winston-Salem.

Favorite park in the Triad?
Triad Park in Kernersville. Pack some helmets and let your kids scale their rock-climbing towers. Don't forget your camera!

Mini-van or SUV?
We haven't bought a Mini-van yet. I do still recall a neighbor who commented while I was pregnant with my 3rd child that I'd soon have to trade in my cute car for a Mini-van like hers. This is a raging debate, isn't it?!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Having moved here from the Baltimore-Washington corridor, I'd have to say that the lack of congestion here is something I never want to take for granted. When the traffic reporters say that there are "no tie-ups to report in the Triad", I chuckle at how fortunate we are!

Best kept secret in the Triad?
The center at which I work as a psychologist. A bit about us: Associates in Christian Counseling is a faith-based organization whose mission is to provide professional mental health services to all who seek them regardless of race, creed or financial status. Those who seek our help will find a credentialed, professional staff offering a unique approach that is tailored to the needs of the individual client. This can include psychological concepts, Biblical precepts and a variety of mental health techniques and services.

Our history: Nearly twenty years ago, several churches worked together to establish our free-standing center. Although located in Winston-Salem (with a satellite office in Mount Airy), we draw clients from throughout the Triad, surrounding counties, and Southwest Virginia. Our services: We have ten therapists who provide comprehensive assessment and counseling to children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families.

Best birthday party you have attended?
Roger Church's 40th birthday bash. They rented out the wood-paneled upstairs room at Natty Greene's Pub in Greensboro. Great atmosphere, friends, and food! (I love how you answered this from an adult perspective even though I meant best “child” birthday party. It shows that we ALL still like to have fun!)

What’s your favorite thing about Triad Smarty Pants?
Learning from other Smarty Moms. I can't get enough of your tips!

I could not live without my... Cover Girl Outlast All Day Lipcolor. I look comatose without lipstick, but who has time to reapply it?

I wish someone had told me sooner about... Free Saturday crafts at Lowes Home Improvement, Home Depot, and Michael's. Thrifty tip: Some free craft events can be used for kids' birthday parties, and the craft projects do double duty as party favors!

Thanks, Jennifer, for all your Smarty answers – and tips, yourself! I know I picked up a few tips and I’m sure other moms did as well!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween TV for Little Ghouls

By Katie M

Get your ghosts and ghouls geared up because the specials start today! Below is a listing of not-to-be-missed Halloween specials by date and network. Clear your schedules or set your DVRs. Either way, have a spook-tacular time!

Friday, October 23
PBS Kids: Spooky episodes of favorites like Martha Speaks, Super Why, Wordworld, Cyberchase, Curious George, Sid the Science Kid and Maya & Miguel begin. Check local listings for show times. A new Halloween episode of Wordgirl -– “Tobey's Tricks and Treats / Escape Wham” -- will air today on PBS Kids Go!

Nickelodeon: Shriek Week kicks off at 8:00 p.m. with spooky premieres of SpongeBob SquarePants, The Penguins of Madagascar and The Troop.

Saturday, October 24
Disney: A new episode of Imagination Movers, "A Monster Problem," airs from 10:00–10:30 am.

Nickelodeon: Catch new episodes of Back at the Barnyard, The Mighty B! and True Jackson, VP. The episodes will encore throughout the week, and Nick will air a Halloween-themed marathon on Halloween day.

Sunday, October 25
Nick Jr (formerly Noggin): Preschoolers can tune in for “Fall into Autumn,” a 24-hour programming marathon of preschool favorites, filled with pumpkins, ghosts, and haunted houses beginning at 6:00 a.m. The marathon will repeat on Halloween.

Disney Channel: Halloweentown. A made-for-TV, family-friendly Halloween movie about a young wannabe witch that visits a wonderful and spooky place called Halloweentown. There's a good vs. evil plot and a parent vs. kid struggle, which is predictable for a made-for-TV movie aimed at kids, but it's still a fun, family film that kids have enjoyed seeing for many Halloweens now.

Monday, October 26
Nick Jr: “Haunted Halloween Playdate” for preschools airs this day, with brand-new premieres of The Backyardigans at 8:30 a.m. and The Wonder Pets! at 10:30 a.m. Nicktoons: “Ha Ha Halloween” presents Halloween-themed episodes of Back at the Barnyard at 9:00 p.m. (ET) and an hour of The Penguins of Madagascar at 10:00 p.m. (ET). from Monday, Oct. 26 through Friday, Oct. 30 and a spooky marathon of shows on Halloween day.

Tuesday, October 27
ABC: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will air at 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, October 28
NBC: A new half-hour holiday special based on Monsters vs. Aliens airs this night at 8 pm. The Halloween special is called “Monster vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space.”Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland and Rainn Wilson will be returning to voice their characters from the original film.

Let us know if we left any out!


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Smarty Sponsor: Paper Sassy

By Katie M

Smarties, I have a new passion and it’s called Paper Sassy. I could get in a lot of trouble in this store, and in fact, I’ve already dropped a pretty penny there and it was SO worth it! This trendsetter in fine stationary and gifts offers everything from personalized invitations, envelopes, and letterhead to planners, bags and signature items like dry-erasable magnetic bulletin boards known as Magulletins. If you have a design or color pattern in mind, Paper Sassy can match it, create it, or – chances are good – they already have it on-hand. The possibilities are endless and the prices are great. The best part: its owner, Devora Transou, is just as fun and cheerful as the designs she creates herself.

I’m betting my new passion will become yours as well. As luck would have it, Devora is offering 10% to all Triad Smarty Pants readers on your first visit. Just mention you read this blog today, and Paper Sassy will honor your discount.

The original Paper Sassy was based in Winston-Salem, and just last year, Devora moved her store and headquarters to the convenient Triad location of downtown Kernersville. You can’t miss it – just look for the polka dotted awning over the front door, striped flower pots filled with sassy pink flowers and Miss Paper Sassy herself, welcoming you on the front door. The store’s motto is “Come here with a smile, leave with a grin,” and it couldn’t be more fitting.

Artistic expression comes naturally to Devora, and oftentimes as therapy too. Several years ago when Devora was confined to bed because of illness, she began sketching Christmas cards for family and friends. People loved her work so much that it didn’t take long before her first business, Devora Designs, took off. Soon she was selling her designs to retailers nationwide. Then not too long after that, Devora moved her designs into the front door of 113 W. Mountain Street in Kernersville. Today, both Devora Designs and Paper Sassy are located at this address.

Devora and her team of “paper loving soldiers” have one mission: “To make your shopping experience a pure plum pleasure.” In a recent interview with Winston-Salem Monthly, Devora shared, “People connect with me, and they want to tell their friends that this is their store…My job is in sharing what I do.”

Devora and her products have also been featured in, and Giftware News Magazine, and Sensual Steps Shoe Salon in Chicago chose Devora to design their 2nd Year Anniversary Celebration featuring Carols Santana!

Now get this: Paper Sassy is holding its 2nd Annual Holiday Affair on Thursday, November 5 from 5 pm to 9 pm at its Kernersville store location. It will be an evening of shopping, prizes, desserts and joyful music. Devora is also offering $5 off – and for every friend you bring – you can get an additional $5 off. All you have to do is print off this blog with the coupon pictured below, and spend $25 or more to receive these discounts. (Note: The store will be closed on November 3 & 4 to prepare for this event, and will open on November 5 at 5 pm for the party). So simple! So sassy! See you there!

To learn more about Paper Sassy, you can call them at 336-497-4730 or visit their web site at or blog at

Triad Smarty Pants is thrilled to partner with this sassy team, and you can be assured there will be more news about my newest passion to come. Watch our site for special Paper Sassy sales and event information. Happy Shopping!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events

By Katie M

Happy Wednesday, Smarties! With all the focus on Halloween, I hope you all remember that October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. To mark this occasion, the NC Triad Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is celebrating its 10th year anniversary by honoring breast cancer survivors from its 10-county service area on Thursday, Oct. 22. The Open House and Survivor Celebration takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the N.C. Triad Affiliate office, 1106 Burke St. in Winston-Salem. Please visit for more information on the survivor celebration or call 336-721-0037. For those unable to attend the celebration there is still an opportunity to win a basketful of wonderful Komen prizes in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Residents can register for that special gift basket at each of public health departments in all 10 counties that Komen NC Triad serves.

Speaking of events that support great local causes, what do llamas, tools and epilepsy have in common? To find out about this event and others happening this weekend, keep reading!

Llamas, tools and epilepsy have this in common: A Tomboy Tool Fundraising Party hosted at a farm to benefit ICE Epilepsy Alliance & Walk On Animal Assisted Therapy Farm. This event takes place Thursday, Oct 22 at 6:30 pm (you can come at 6 pm to see the animals) at Patton Ridge Farms, 933 Ridings Rd, Lewisville, NC. RSVP to 782-0331 or email

Reeves Theater Haunted House
Friday, October 23 at 7 pm
Downtown Elkin
Come out for a spook-tacular time at this old never-been-restored theatre in Elkin. A perfect setting for a haunted house. $5.

Twilight Candy Hunt
Friday, October 23 at 6:45 pm
Kernersville Parks & Recreation, 1385-B South Park Drive, Kernersville
Bring your flashlight & Halloween bucket to Civitan Park to search for Free candy while supplies last. Ages 7 and under begin at 6:45pm; Ages 8-12 will start at 7:30pm. Goodies will go fast so don't be late.

Haunted Trail - Shiver By the River
Friday, October 23 at 7 pm
BB&T Soccer Park (directly across from Bermuda Run off Hwy 158), Advance, NC
Haunted Trail along the Yadkin River. Hay Rides, Hot Beverages, Scary Fun! $10/person

Pumpkin Carving
Gateway YWCA, Main Street, Winston-Salem
Saturday, October 24 from 8:00am - 5:00pm
Kids of all ages will enjoy this traditional craft. Showcase your skills. Prizes in several catergories! $5 members; $8 non-members.

Saturday Morning Movies
Every Saturday through December 19, 11 am
The Grand 18, 55601 University Parkway, Winston-Salem
$3 movies. Price includes movie ticket, box of popcorn and a kid's size drink.
Movie Schedule:
Oct 24 Sinbad - Legend of the Seven Seas
Oct 31 Prince of Egypt
Nov 07 Madagascar 2
Nov 14 Bee Movie
Nov 21 Shrek 2 PG
Nov 28 No Movie - Thanksgiving Weekend
Dec 05 Chicken Run
Dec 12 Over the Hedge
Dec 19 Kung Fu Panda
For more information call 336-767-1310 or the Movie Line at 888-94FILMS.

26th Annual Barbeque Festival
Saturday, October 24 from 8:30 am to 6 pm
Main Street, Lexington
Don’t miss this all-day street festival featuring 400+ vendors and the infamous Lexington BBQ. Special area for kids with rides and games. Free event.

Ghost Stories in the Graveyard
Saturday, October 24 at 11 am
Greensboro Historical Museum, 130 Summit Ave., GSO
Ghost stories in the cemetery behind the Greensboro Historical Museum, a building that dates back to the early 1830s. Veteran storyteller Cynthia Brown shares her spooky tales. For ages 5 and up. Free event.

Saturday, October 24 from 5 – 9 pm
Cultural Arts District, Festival Park, 200 N. Davie St., GSO
An annual Halloween festival in downtown Cultural Arts district. Sponsored by Greensboro Youth Council. Activities for the whole family. Free.

Third Annual Black Walnut Festival
Saturday, October 24 from 10 am to 4 pm
Historic Bethania, 5480 Bethania Road, W-S
Area artists and craftsmen share their talents at this family festival in Historic Bethania. Food such as Brunswick stew, hot dogs and hamburgers. Music by The Fiddle and Bow Society. Children’s activities such as corn husking and doll making. Free.

Boo at the Zoo
Saturday, October 24 from 9 am – 5 pm
N.C. Zoo, 4401 Zoo Pkwy, Asheboro
Celebrate Halloween at the Zoo with games, music, face painting, treats, and costume contests. Adults, $10; ages 2-12, $6; under 2, free.

Arts On Sunday Rhythm of Art
Sunday, Oct. 17 at 1 pm
Trade St, between 6th and 7th streets in Winston-Salem
Come enjoy featured art and craft exhibits, live music, dance, artist's demonstrations, a Kid's Craft Corner and much, much more in the Downtown Winston-Salem Arts District. Beginning at 1 PM, the sidewalks of Trade Street between 6th & 7th Streets will be buzzing with excitement. This FREE event is fun for the whole family and a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. You will find surprise talent every week. Art, Fine Crafts, Global Dance & Poetry from all over the world. Free event. Call 336-413-6667 for more information.

Community Jewish Festival
Sunday, October 25 from 11 am to 5 pm
Temple Emanuel, 1129 Jefferson Road, GSO
Come out to learn more about the Jewish religion and culture while having fun. There is a Kids Zone, along with ethnic food, Jewish arts and crafts, entertainment, prize drawings, Jewish Book Sale. $1; ages 5 and under, free.

Paws in the Park
Sunday, October 25; Time TBA.
Country Park, 3902 Nathanael Green Drive, GSO
Bring your dog (on a leash) to enjoy this FREE event at Country Park’s Bark Park.

Sundays in the Park
Sunday, October 25 from 2 – 5 pm
Center City Park, between N. Elm and N. Davie streets, GSO
Big Bang Boom will be there! Along with a children’s Halloween parade. Free!

What did we forget? Please add your event below!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Smarty Craft: Toilet Paper Pumpkins

By Guest Blogger Emily Halsey

Hey Smarty Moms! Happy Fall!

Here is a great craft for adults and kids. It’s cheap, easy, and fun - my main requirements! You also get more bang for your buck with this, because it can be used for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Hope you and your little ones have fun creating this very versatile pumpkin!

The materials you will need are as follows:

1. 18” x 21” material square in fun fall colors and patterns (Wal-Mart and Joann’s have the great pre-cut squares of fabric in all sorts of prints. Wal-Mart’s are $1.00 and Joann’s are $1.49 regularly price, although they have been on sale for $1.00). Or you can always buy larger dimensions to save a little money and then cut the material yourself.

2. Black, green, and brown construction paper. (An old paper bag is a great substitute and a wonderful way to recycle!)

3. Scissors

4. Tape

5. Roll of toilet paper (Do not use the jumbo or double rolls. The material is big enough for a regular roll.)

Begin by placing your toilet paper roll in the center of your material. Help your child gather the ends of material and tuck them into the hole in the top of the toilet paper roll. You can fold and tuck edges to make sure none of the toilet paper shows through.

Next, cut a strip of brown or green paper and let your kiddo twist and crumple it to their heart’s desire! This will be your pumpkin stem, so it can be as long or short as you would like it. You will stick this into the hole of your toilet paper roll. If you are really into twisting and crumpling paper (my daughter always was) you can do some longer strips and tuck them into the hole to create a vine. If you have now had all the excitement you can stand, you can have a finished product, a beautiful fall pumpkin decoration.

However, if, like at our house, you live for all things Halloween, then keep going! Cut out your favorite shapes from the construction paper to use as eyes, nose, and mouth. With your tape, place them onto your pumpkin to create the perfect jack-o-lantern. I use tape, because when Halloween is over it is easy to simply remove the face and have a decoration for fall.

It is also fun to turn this into a Thanksgiving turkey. Simply remove the face and stem and you have a blank canvas again. Use construction paper to create feathers and a turkey neck and head. We generally make a candy cane shape out of red paper for the neck and head and stick it in the hole where the pumpkin stem goes. We then use orange or yellow paper to create a triangle beak and a teardrop gozzle. You can let your child draw eyes, cut them out of paper, or attach googly eyes. A glue stick works nicely to put the finishing touches on the turkey head, but I do tape my feathers to the back so I can reuse the fabric.

My kids are 6 and 2, a boy and a girl, and they and their friends love this. For the little ones it is great because they can do almost everything themselves (with some assistance, of course) but the older kids don’t think it is only something for “babies” (My 6 year old’s words!) When you’re done, you can throw the material into your craft box, recycle the paper, and use the toilet paper. Fun, easy, and environmentally friendly!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Finding Answers about ADHD

By Guest Blogger Elizabeth C. Allen, MD
Behavioral Pediatric Specialist

Does my child have ADHD? How is it treated? And what can I do to help my child do his/her best? These are questions parents often ask.

Children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) typically have more difficulty than other children their age in two areas: Inattention and/or Hyperactivity-Impulsivity. Their symptoms significantly impair their ability to function academically, emotionally, and/or socially.

Gather Information: It can be very helpful to ask your child’s teacher whether or not your child has any of the following symptoms, more than his/her peers:

Inattention: Does he/she have a short attention span? Difficulty listening or following directions? Rush through work? Make careless errors? Avoid or give up easily on difficult tasks? Need repeated reminders to complete work? Lose things? Seem disorganized, distractible, or forgetful?

Hyperactivity: Is my child fidgety? Often out of his/her seat? Loud? Often running or climbing? “On the go”? Very talkative? Much more active in large group situations than with 1:1 attention?

Impulsivity: Does my child blurt out the answers to questions? Talk out of turn? Interrupt others? Have trouble taking turns? Do and say things before thinking about the consequences?

Ask how your child does in the types of situations in which the symptoms are often worst – during non-favorite activities (morning or bedtime routines, chores, school work, or homework) and large group settings (lunch, recess, sports, and celebrations).

Look for relatives with symptoms of ADHD, since it often runs in families. In my experience, adults who would have difficulty doing a desk job and/or who drink a lot of caffeine are more likely to have ADHD than others.

Seek Help from a Professional: A parent-teacher conference is a great place to start. If you are still concerned, schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician. Report cards, test scores, and a note from the teacher can help the doctor, who may also ask you to complete a behavioral questionnaire.

Behavioral treatment really works! A child psychologist can serve as an experienced “coach” to help you find the best ways to provide structure, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Pick your battles. Give short, clear commands. Act, don’t yak! Small, frequent, immediate, consequences are much more effective than large, delayed consequences.

We now have many excellent, convenient medications to treat ADHD. Finding the best dose and medication is a process – a lot like trying on a dress. It requires frequent communication with the teacher and physician. You may need to try more than one medication, adjusting the dose of each one. To improve effectiveness, ask the doctor about increasing the dose. To decrease side effects, ask about a lower dose. Most ADHD medications are better tolerated on a full stomach. Stimulants are the first line treatment, followed by Strattera. In November, a new medication called Intuniv will be available, designed to help children with ADHD who are hyperactive or have trouble sleeping.

Follow Through: How can you help your child? Build on his/her strengths. Schedule an appointment with a child psychologist for behavior management counseling. Agree to a trial of medication, if recommended. That will help you make a more informed decision. Read books about ADHD (especially those by Drs. Russell Barkley and Ross Greene). Talk with other parents. Take advantage of helpful online resources, such as,, and You are your child’s best advocate!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bye-Bye Naps. I Already Miss You.

By Jen P, Charlotte Smarty Pants

It's official. My life is O-V-E-R. I, like many parents, was ready for school to start so we could get back into a routine and I could have a little time to myself. That all changed when we got booted out of the carpool I organized last year. That's an entirely different story worthy of its own blog. Anyway, now that I have carpool pick-up everyday, the twins have been forced out of their naps. Additionally, the boys were staying up until ten o'clock at night on the days they napped. So it was time to lose the nap anyway. But it's safe to say we've had a rough re-entry with back-to-school. We're all a mess! I would give anything to have that 2-hour window back.

My first child gave up her nap at age three when her baby sister was one year old. It completely disrupted the daily routine and I was a wreck. Initially, even the simplest of tasks, like taking a shower, were seemingly impossible to complete, but somehow I managed and eventually used this time as special alone time with mommy. That of course meant that mommy got zero alone time, but that's how life rolls when you're the mom. When my 2nd child gave up her nap, I was kind of ready for it. It was a great promotion to do things with just the girls while the twins were napping. But now, my babies have officially given up their nap and I have been in a downward spiral ever since. Entertaining twin 3 1/2-year-old boys from sun up to sun down is proving to be far more difficult than I expected. These crazy boys are constantly trying to one up each other and have endless amounts of energy. Missing that two hours of "free time" has left me feeling frazzled and irritable, borderline intolerant and the boys are feeling the same.

Phase I of our meltdowns always happens in carpool. Our carpool is the type that requires a masters degree to navigate correctly. It also requires the car to be parked, turned off and the children taken out, walked across the parking lot for a 5-minute carpool drill. Phase II of the meltdowns always happens when I need to whip out my Betty Crocker apron and figure out dinner. Phase III happens just before bed when they usually have a surge of energy and proceed to fight going to bed, even though they are dog-tired. After 8 years, I'm a firm believer in sleep beget sleep. So incredibly true.

So back to the naps, or lack thereof. I'm truly sad that we don't have an official nap time anymore. It means that my babies are growing up. I often joke that I just need to fast-forward one year so the twins will be 4. But I kind of wish you could freeze that last 6 months of naps. It is such an innocent state of bliss.

Have you given up your naps? Can you shed some light as to how I'm going to get my shower in again?!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Smarty Dad: Edward Reese

By Rachel H
I am thrilled to profile another Smarty Dad today. Edward Reese was born and raised in the Triad and left only for his college years. He lives here with his wife, Juli, and his two children Elle (14) and E.P. (11).

Edward works full-time as a Police Sergeant for the Winston-Salem Police Department and is currently assigned to the Patrol Division. He spends quite a bit of time with his family, including coaching about every youth sport you can imagine! He considers himself a “baseball dad” and spends a great deal of time driving all over the southeast as his son plays travel baseball for three different teams. He is also his daughter’s number one fan as he watches her play high school volleyball. Edward enjoys photography, reading, biking at Salem Lake, and even cooking.

Edward just melted my heart when he said one of the best parts of his day is having long talks with his best friend, his wife, Juli. They always enjoy preparing dinner together while sharing their day’s events, planning for the days ahead, and laughing together.

I am so amazed by this Smarty Dad and am happy to share his answers with you …

You have recently taken up photography. Tell us more about this endeavor and how you got started with it.
Our family recently moved into a new home. We travel a lot, see awesome sites and meet interesting people. We decided to decorate the walls of our new home with pictures and artwork that are personable and conversation pieces. Photographing these moments seem like a wonderful idea to capture these memories and sharing them with people who visit our home.

My family has yet to really enter the wacky world of kids’ sports. I am absolutely amazed that you are able to be so involved with your children’s extra-curricular activities. What tips can you share for those of us who will soon be in your shoes?
Winning is great but should not be the main focus when your child starts playing sports. Building character, improving self- esteem and leadership skills is what you want your child to accomplish when the soccer match, volleyball game or tennis match is over. Always cheer and clap for every child. Your family will meet and establish friendships that can last a life time through youth sports so enjoy the adventure.

Working for the police department is no doubt a job that can drain you emotionally and physically. How are you able to leave your “work at work” and just be in the moment when you come home to your family?
My two children have never looked at me as a policeman, only as “daddy”. When I come home from work they ask, what’s for dinner, what are we doing this weekend or do you want to play catch? It’s hard to hide anything from my wife Juli. She has seen me cry, laugh and ask aloud, god why did this have to happen? She helps me wind down on tough work days which makes coming home a pleasure!

You have lived in the Triad most of your life. What do you think is the best kept secret in the area?
Definitely downtown Winston-Salem is the Triad’s best kept secret! The nightlife, shopping and variety of restaurants make downtown the place to be even on week nights. The opening of the baseball park and upper end condominiums will also increase downtown’s popularity.

What is your favorite family activity?
Spending our weekends at the baseball field while enjoying each others company, mingling with friends, sharing lunch and of course watching our kids play. The out- of- state tournaments are even better because grandparents and other family members sometimes make the trip with us, especially if it’s a beach tournament.

Favorite “me-time” activity?
Hands down, doing yard work. No cell phones, no refereeing disagreements between my teenager and pre-teenager: it’s just me and my lawn mower!

Favorite date night spot?
Our family room watching a $1 movie from a REDBOX. We can always rewind if we miss some of the movie.

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?

Favorite thing to cook?
Always spaghetti. It’s simple, inexpensive and taste good as a leftover for your next day’s lunch….

What has been one of your favorite moments as a dad?
I have a tie. Seeing both my children excel in academics at such an early age. We never have to tell them to do homework or study. Also, my wife and I frequently get compliments from teachers and strangers about our children’s kindness, manners and overall good citizenship.

Funniest thing your children have ever said?
Daddy, can you and Mommy have us a little brother or sister so we can have someone else to play with!

Favorite park in the Triad?
Reynolds Park/Salem Lake area.
You have bicycling, swimming, golf, fishing and basketball all in the same area. You can even tour Old Salem or picnic in one of the many shelters.

The thing my wife does that I appreciate the most…
My wife let’s me think that I’m in charge.

Favorite activity on your day off?
Watching ESPN, Napping, Watching ESPN, Napping until the kids come home from school…

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
The kind people in the triad and having our immediate family nearby. People in the triad always waive and say, “Hello”! It’s always nice to feel welcomed.
We never worried about finding babysitters when the kids were younger and if Juli and I are busy, family members are easily accessible to pick-up our children.

I could not live without my...
Nightly telephone talks to my best friend Fred Evans each night about baseball and our families. His wife Yvette works for the WSFC School system as does my wife, Juli. His daughter Kristen and son Fredrick are the same ages as my two children and they are good friends. My wife says we gossip like teenage girls however, when I interrupt her from watching her favorite TV programs she quickly says, “don’t you need to call Fred or something”!

Edward, you truly are an extra-Smarty Dad and I think I speak for all of us when I say thank you for all you do to keep the people of Winston-Salem safe. We also offer our condolences for the loss of your fellow officer, Mickey Hutchens.

I have enjoyed sharing your answers with all of our readers today. Readers, if you know someone who would make a great Smarty Dad on TSP, email us at