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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Smarty Mom: Melanie York

By Katie M

Smarties, it's my pleasure to introduce you to Melanie York. Melanie grew up in Winston-Salem, and moved back here four years ago with her family. She and her husband, Matt, have a beautiful six-year-old daughter, Mary Poyner. Melanie is a stay-at-home mom who works part-time at her husband's law firm. And when she can, Melanie stays active in a number of volunteer organizations, and also enjoys playing tennis, meeting with her book club, exercising, cooking and photography.

Melanie comes highly recommended as a smarty mom by another loyal reader who says "Melanie always knows where to go, what is going on, and always seems to have it all together."

So, let's see what this Smarty Mom has to say!

You are active in a lot of local organizations. Tell us about these groups and what you do for them.
I am a member of Charity Chicks where I volunteer at the Community Care Clinic in their pharmacy, and I also help out with some photography for their newsletter. At Centenary United Methodist Church, I teach Sunday school and am a co-leader of its women's Circle. I also volunteer my time with the Junior League of Winston-Salem and with the PTA at Sherwood Forest Elementary School. Additionally, I maintain a 15-year friendship/mentoring relationship with my "little sister" who I met through Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She is now in her mid-twenties and a college graduate!

That is so impressive that you're a "big sister"! Tell us more about that and how you got involved.
I volunteered for Big Brothers/Big Sisters when I was first married and out of college. I was matched with LaKara, who was 10 years-old at the time. She is the oldest of five and at the time, an extremely sweet, but painfully shy girl. She loved school and reading, and the first time we met at her house to play, she said she planned to go to college (she would be the first in her family to do so).

Her mother was young and single. It was hard at first to get her to come out of her shell, but over time she did. We would go to the library almost every time I visited, then out to lunch or ice cream. I would also take her to museums, the farmer’s market, and just do things at my house. She just wanted to hang-out and didn’t mind what we did. I worked at a college at the time, and would take her to events there as well. The hardest part was taking her home and seeing that she was sad our day had to end.

We saw each other every week for almost two years, and then we moved back to North Carolina. We stayed in touch by phone and letters. I went back to visit her every year until a few years ago when it became harder after we started our own family. A year after I left, her mother died unexpectedly at the age of 30 and left behind LaKara and her four younger siblings. Fortunately, her grandparents lived in town and could take three of them in. The two boys went to live with an aunt down the street from the grandparents. LaKara was a young teenager by then. She took on the role of mother to her siblings and went on to the University of Kentucky where she studied psychology and graduated in 4 ½ years! She navigated the whole college process mostly herself, and with help from me and school counselors.

She still helps care for her siblings, is working and considering graduate school. She is a caring, confident and remarkable 25 year-old woman. It continues to be a wonderful experience to be her friend and her mentor.

Wow, what an amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing!

I also hear you are a member of two USTA tennis teams. How cool. How does one become a member?

I played tennis since I was child and played through high school. I started playing again for fun after I graduated from college and joined a USTA league in the town where we were living. Anyone can join and we have a local coordinator that can help those interested finding a team. The teams play either during the day or at night. Winston-Salem is a great tennis town! There are so many public courts to play on and wonderful pros in the area. Melissa Robertson is our local coordinator:

So what are some things your book club is reading, and what are some of your favorite books?
My book club recently decided to reread a classic, The Great Gatsby. Normally, we are reading things that are currently popular in fiction or non-fiction. My favorite book this year has been Crazy for the Storm and The Help. I also love a book that makes me laugh— Funny in Farsi; A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas, We’re Just Like You, Only Prettier by Celia Rivenbark, and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.

Where is your favorite place to shop for children's clothes?
I like to shop Gazoodles sales, Target and Old Navy. If I am going to splurge on kids clothes, I love Gazoodles.

What about for you?
For women’s clothes and jeans, I love to go to Fashionista at Nitsa’s to buy pieces that make up the basics in my wardrobe that I want to stand the test of time. Then I fill in with Bannana Republic. I am not a big shopper so it doesn’t happen much!

What are some of your favorite gift shops?
I adore All Through the House in Reynolda Village. They have gifts in a wide range of price points and wrap everything beautifully.

What is something your family loves to do?
One of our favorite family activities is to take a picnic or just hang out in Reynolda Gardens. My daughter loves to play in the big magnolia trees or explore the garden. We also like to hang out at parks/playgrounds near by and bring our golden retriever with us.

Where is your favorite place to go eat with the family?
On the weekends is Dioli’s and get a fresh mozzarella sandwich on their homemade foccia. Even my six-year old loves it! We also like Simply Yummy for the menu and we can bring our dog with us on the patio. For dinner, we like Vincenzo’s. We love Italian and my daughter thinks it’s “very fancy!”

Favorite date place?
Our favorite date place(s) is first attending a Kicked Back Classics concert by the Winston-Salem Symphony then dinner at Mozelle’s. The Kicked Back series is an abbreviated and more casual version of the regular symphony with no intermission. Maestro Robert Moody is wonderful at making it fun. Then it ends by 9 and we go to dinner. We adore Mozelle’s ever-changing menu and exceptional service. If it’s a warm evening, sitting outside and people watching is the best.

What's your favorite "mommy-time" activity?
I have lots of favorite “mommy times” — a night out with girls, playing tennis, taking a long walk with a friend or going to my favorite gym class with a friend.

Favorite place for a mani/pedi?

Smartiest way you stay organized?
Keeping down on clutter. I keep a basket for toys/items that are ready to be given to charity. Then every six months or so I sort it and donate it. I am trying to teach my daughter to do the same with her toys, especially before her birthday or Christmas. Then we try to find a place for every toy, and my daughter makes a label with a post-it so it makes clean up in the evenings easier for her.

Funniest thing your daughter ever said?
I was getting her ready for bed the other night and she kept playing, talking and not focusing on the tasks at hand. When she finally got to bed, I told her what the consequence would be for the delay. She pleaded with me, “My brain doesn’t work like your brain! I can’t stop thinking about what I want to play or talk about!”

Mini van or SUV?

What's the best "mom secret" your mom ever shared with you?
That children are paying attention and remember and understand way more than you think!

Favorite park?

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
The best thing about raising a family in the Triad is how easy it is to do so many things—going to the Reynolda House Museum, fun events at the Children’s Museum, attending the Children’s Theater on Saturday mornings, free concerts downtown in the summer.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
Mooney’s CafĂ© on 4th street for their middle eastern food. It’s great for take-out as well, especially if you’re having people over. I am hoping they will bring back their Baklava ice cream this summer—over the top delicious! Also, the farmer’s market in Krankie’s parking lot on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Amazing local produce!

How did you hear about Triad Smarty Pants?
From other moms I knew who had been profiled as Smarty Moms.

I could not live little leather index card holder I keep in my purse to write lists. I have had it for 15 plus years!

I wish someone had told me sooner about...Krankies coffee downtown. Their coffee and baked goods are amazing! I love their cheddar and chive scone, and decaf coffee with chocolate.

Thanks for all your smarty answers today, Melanie! You were a fun interview!

Do you have someone in mind you'd like to see profiled as a Smarty Mom or Dad? Email us at and put us in touch!


Anonymous said...

Congrats, Melanie!

Anonymous said...

Fantastic...enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend,Melanie!

Lisa MacCorkle said...

A well derserving "Smarty Mom" for sure. Loved reading your profile Melanie, congrats!!!

Elizabeth said...

Melanie is a great friend and mom. Good Choice!!

Mandy said...

Mel - Thanks for sharing such great ideas. We look forward to trying some of your favorite places around town!

Heather said...

I can't think of a Smartier Mom. Melanie is a super friend and neighbor. Go Melanie!

Francesca said...

Melanie, this article is terrific and so YOU! You are an inspiration - as a friend, mom, athlete and did I mention a wonderful baker?

Martha Massey said...

Dear Melanie,
Glad to read about you and learn about new things about you and Winston-Salem. Thanks for sharing. See you on the tennis court.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading your answers! I too LOVE Mooney's...went there 2 weeks ago and they had the Baklava ice cream. Delicious!

Parker York said...

Congratulations Melanie!! I am so proud of my Smarty Mom friend!! You truly are such a fantastic Mom and friend, and you are always in the "know"!!
Parker York

Caroline said...

Wonderful article!! Melanie always has the best advice and tips. Thanks for featuring my Smarty Mom friend!!

Kate said...

You have some great ideas for being a mom! Have you ever tried making your own womens clothes? There are some really chic designs you can follow!

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