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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Almost Time for Preschool!

By Guest Blogger Susan Stephens, Teacher at Knollwood Baptist Church Preschool

This past week, we have focused on Back-to-School posts for our Elementary and Middle School Children. Preschools in the Triad will be in full swing by next week, so if you have a little one who is gearing up for the big day, read our blog below from our loyal reader and Preschool teacher, Susan Stephens.'s that time of year again!! It doesn't matter if this is your first child to go to preschool or your third child, going to preschool can be both exciting and tearful all at the same time.

Read below to find some helpful tips for you and your preschooler as the start of the year gets closer:

1) Be sure to attend your child's Open House or Orientation with his or her teacher. Most of the time, this is scheduled as a one-on-one (or even a small group) time with the teacher and the assistant right in your child's classroom. The teachers typically want you to bring your child with you -- this gives both you and the child an opportunity to see their new classroom and get acquainted with all the new sights they will be seeing each day this year.

If your child's Open House or Orientation is a one-on-one opportunity, take this time to tell the teacher and assistant about your child. It is always best to be as honest as possible -- the teacher would rather you let her know ahead of time that Julie sometimes tends to bite other children now, so they can go ahead and be prepared. Believe me -- most teachers have seen most everything and nothing will come as much of a be honest and tell them all the great things about your child as well as any potential issues that might arise.

Finally, be mindful of your assigned time slot for your child's Open House or Orientation. The teachers have assigned these times so that they can spend equal time with all the parents and children, so please arrive on time and be aware of when your time slot is coming to a close.

2) Take your child over to the preschool and walk around before the first day of school. Go out on the playground and let them play. The more they are familiar with the preschool building and setting, the more comfortable they will be once preschool begins. Ask your child's teacher for a class list so you can make plans to invite some other classmates over to the preschool playground to play.

3) More than likely...there will be tears!! It doesn't matter if you are dropping off a 2-year-old or a 5-year-old, children will cry and parents will cry!! The teachers are ready and prepared for this and they are more than OK with you leaving your crying child with them. The longer you stay around, the harder it is to leave (for both you and your child!!) Make plans to say good-bye and leave them in the capable hands of their teacher. If it makes you feel better, most preschools will be glad for you to call back and have someone go check on your child to see if they are OK (and most often -- they are fine!!)

If your child's preschool offers a drop-off option, take advantage of it. Everyone understands walking your child in on the first day of school (I certainly plan to walk my 3rd grader and my kindergartner in on their first day!!), but after that, make plans to use the drop-off line. It may be hard at first and there may be a few tears and struggles, but like saying good-bye, it will quickly pass and you'll be so thankful that your child is gaining independence and growing up!!

4)Finally, if you do have any questions or concerns or just want to check in on your child with their teacher, be sure to e-mail them or give them a call. Generally speaking, drop-off and pick-up times are not always conducive for having a parent-teacher meeting. Every teacher would be love to speak to you about your child and address any concerns you might be having, but they can give you much more personal attention if they are not trying to load or unload children at the same time they are trying to talk to you. Just ask your child's teacher what method of communication they prefer and then drop them a message or give them a call.

Most of all, remember these wonderful days of preschool will be over before you know it!!! Have fun and your child will have fun as well!!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Transitioning into Kindergarten

By Guest Blogger Kelly Sipe, Greensboro Day School

Robert Fulghum wrote "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." Take a moment to read all of the life skills that are taught in kindergarten. And, on top of all that, children are expected to grow academically, master fine motor skills, navigate through social dynamics and make friends. These children will also have a variety of specialist teachers (art, music, P.E., etc), in addition to their classroom teachers.

Kindergarten is as big as any major life transition. Here are some things you should expect, and things you can do to make the transition succesful for both you and your child...

If your child comes home from school and expresses anxiety and/or fatigue please know that this is normal. It typically takes children a full 4-6 weeks to acclimate themselves to their new routine. Quality teachers (and programs) pace their kindergarten curriculum with this in mind.

Over the next few weeks expect that you will communicate frequently with your child's teacher to make this a smooth transition for everyone. If your child's school doesn't already offer beginning of the year conferences, you can request one. As a kindergarten teacher, these early conferences are incredibly valuable. They allow for the assistant teacher and myself to get to know the families and learn about the child. It allows parents the opportunity to begin building a relationship with the teacher and to learn first hand what the teacher's expectations are.

It will also be important to attend your school's Parents' Night. The kindergarten year is full of wonder, excitement, growth, independence and friendship. It is one of the most important and special stages of your child's life. In helping to make the start of kindergarten as smooth as possible, here are a few things you can do at home:

-Limit after school activities (even play dates should be limited or postponed for the first few weeks).

-Maintain a regular and early bedtime.

-Eat a good breakfast and send healthy choices for morning snack (protein foods are perfect!).

-Allow quiet time every day .. time for you and your child to talk about the day without the distractions of television, video games, etc.

-Help your child to articulate his/her feelings so that they can better understand what they are feeling/experiencing.

-Give lots of hugs and encouragement ... remain positive, even if you are anxious and overwhelmed yourself (I say this because I admit to being an anxious Mom myself!).

-Connect with a first grade parent, who has made this kindergarten transition with their own child in the not so distant past.

-Although anxiety and fatigue is completely normal and expected, these feelings are very real to your child. Allow your child to walk through these emotions, with adult support, so he/she will gain the confidence and the necessary tools they will need to make kindergarten the wonderful journey it is intended to be!

Thanks, Kelly, for these great tips and suggestions! I know a lot of parents are looking for advice right now. These tips were great for me, too, as a mother of a first grader - KM

What are some things you have you done to help transition your kindergartner - either this year or in the past?


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Smarty Sponsor: ICON Custom Builders

By Rachel H

Word of mouth and testimonials seem to be the best way to learn about a business. I am sure you have seen their sign placed in yards throughout the Triad, but I wanted to give you a closer look at ICON Custom Builders today and emphasize that you cannot beat the client relationships that are fostered through this local business.

The first thing I want to share is a testimony from Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Merkel:

“Normally when a person considers the word “remodel”, he/she cringes with dread. Yet when my husband and I bought an older home in Winston-Salem, I had no qualms about renovating because I had decided whom to employ merely by monitoring the process on a house in our neighborhood. I vowed that if I ever had to renovate my living space, Icon Builders would do the work.

How did such blind faith transform into experiential success? One contractor with high ethics and an eye for perfection. Chuck Hicks, owner of Icon Builders, has a knowledgeable, conscientious, hard-working project manager and Chuck uses only reputable subcontractors. Crews were working consistently, day and night, and the politeness of everyone amazed me. Tasks were outlined for me and then performed as scheduled. If I changed my mind, Chuck was agreeably flexible. None of the suppliers for cabinets, bath hardware, flooring, or windows pressured me into expensive products. Every selection was geared toward my happiness and comfort level.

My husband and I are delighted with the results in our now “new” home. Within the time frame allotted, we have gone from shabby to chic, and have asked Chuck to be the contractor when we renovate our local townhouse. ”

ICON Builders can help you with almost any type of remodling, designing, building or renovating. Chuck Hicks and his team at ICON, specialize in transforming ordinary spaces into ones of beauty and functionality. You can see their passion and attention to detail in the photographs throughout this blog. According to one client, Larry Harrell, "Chuck has managed to provide the high quality work at a price which produces a very high value for the money you spend. Chuck is very professional in handling all of the business details arising from your contract. I found that my personal business interactions with Chuck led to a continuing friendship with a genuinely nice guy. All of Chuck’s employees and associates, arrived when they said they would, always cleaned up after themselves, were highly qualified for the tasks they were performing, and did so while being courteous, helpful, and cooperative."

Another client, Kathleen Kirk, was so impressed with the team at ICON, that she ended up joining their crew as a design consultant! Kathleen now works with clients to assist with selection in paint colors, granite, tile, lighting, and cabinets. Click here to read more about the ICON crew and their areas of specialty.

To see even more examples of projects by ICON Custom Builders, visit the website here. To Contact Chuck, call 336-306-9055 or email If you have had the pleasure of working with ICON, please share your story below!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Smarty Mom: Parker White

By Rachel H

I am happy to introduce you to Greensboro native, Parker White, today! Parker was born and raised here in the Triad and then moved to Washington DC for seven years as she worked in the Senate. Parker is now back in the Triad and stays busy by wearing many different hats!

Parker is first and foremost, wife to Robert, and mom to Avery (age 3) and Perrin (2 months). Parker currently stays at home with her children but has been keeping very busy with a new idea she started called BackPack Beginnings.

You will love learning about Parker and her new charity...

Parker, please tell us more about BackPack Beginnings.
BackPack Beginnings directly affects childhood hunger in our county by sending school aged children home with backpacks full of nutritious and kid-friendly food on the weekends during the school year. It is based on The BackPack Program, a national model developed by Feeding America and Second Harvest Food Bank that has been implemented by Second Harvest in many counties in North Carolina – but not in Guilford County. BackPack Beginnings partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank and Guilford Child Development and launched a BackPack program at Wiley Elementary and Shiloh Head Start in January of 2010, feeding 50 and 15 children respectively. This fall we will be in three schools, feeding 100 children total, and hope to branch out to more schools and children soon.

North Carolina ranks number 2 in the nation for the highest rate of food insecure children under the age of 5 (only behind Louisiana) and number 10 in the nation for the highest rate of food insecure children under the age of 18. According to Guilford County School's Nutrition Office, 52.8% of children in our school system are on free or reduced lunches. That is approximately 37,000 children. Childhood hunger causes health problems, creates educational challenges and leads to workforce and job readiness issues. By feeding the hungry children in this program, BackPack Beginnings hopes to eliminate many of these problems and take care of our kids. To learn more, you can visit

What gave you the idea to start this program?
When I moved back to Greensboro, I knew I wanted to do something that made a difference in the community. After having my first child, I also knew that I wanted to do something that benefited children. I had heard of other backpack programs across the nation and called Guilford County School's nutrition office to see if one was in place. I was shocked to hear that there was not an organized program in place here, so I reached out to Second Harvest Food Bank to get one started.

What are some tips you have for other moms who are starting new businesses/charities while raising a family?
Make sure you have the full support of your family. I couldn't do this if my husband wasn't there to help me out when I need to get things done or be out of the house.

How did life in DC compare to the Triad?
While DC will always be my favorite city, it was a better city for my husband and me when it was just the two of us. Greensboro is a better place for us as a family. The cost of living, lack of traffic and other benefits of a smaller city all contribute to a higher quality of life for our family.

What do you think is the best kept secret in the Triad?
Although it is not a secret to locals, those who don't live in the area would be surprised by how many kid friendly options there are here. From the Children's Museum to the Natural Science Center to ArtQuest and the parks, there is something for every age here.

What is the smartiest way you save money?
I have saved a lot of money at the grocery store using I also save a lot of money on my children's clothes at consignment stores and sales.

What is your favorite family activity?
We love going to the UNC football games as a family. My daughter loves getting her face painted, watching the band and seeing the fireworks.

Favorite “me-time” activity?
Reading, girl's night out, quiet time on the couch with no distractions, catching up on sleep

Favorite place to eat dinner as a family?
Anything Mexican

Favorite date night spot?
When we want to splurge, 1618 is our favorite!

Favorite book you have read?
That is hard, because I am in a book club and have loved so many of the books I have read recently. If you are looking for good, easy reads, Emily Giffin's books are wonderful.

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

Favorite place to shop for children’s clothes?
Bubbles. I find so many boutique brands there for a fraction of the price.

What is the best birthday party you have attended?
I have loved planning my daughter's birthday parties. I really get into it and try to be as creative as possible. I have found the website to be extremely helpful when planning.

What is your favorite mom’s must have item for around the house?
I have a bag of $1 activities/crafts that I bought from the dollar store and Michaels, and my daughter can choose one to do each time I am nursing. They include flashcards, necklace kits, water color books, etc.

Mini-van or SUV?
SUV- We recently just purchased one off Ebay when we had our second child. It was a nerve-racking experience, but luckily everything worked out and we got a great price.

Favorite park in the Triad?
Johnson Park or Bog Garden

Favorite or most helpful blog you have read on Triad Smarty Pants thus far?
I love the day trip articles. We are always looking for different things to do on the weekends that aren't too far away.

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
Besides what I have mentioned in other answers, I love the proximity of the mountains, lakes, and beaches to the Triad.

I could not live without my...
list of things to do and calendar. I would be lost without them!

Parker, not only have you started a fabulous organization, but you are a wealth of information! I learned so many new things from your interview today and I hope our readers did, too!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Surviving the Transition to Middle School

By Charlotte Smarty Pants Guest Blogger Robin Dumas

To finish up our "Back to School" week, we wanted to share this blog from middle school teacher, Robin Dumas. We hope it provides some tips for our parents of middle schoolers as well as some insight into the crazy world of tweens!

Middle school is scary for both parents and students. It’s bigger, more crowded, more complicated and can be very overwhelming. Sending your baby to elementary school is emotional but yet it feels safe because it seems to be cute, cuddly and nurturing. Middle school on the other hand can bring to mind all the worrisome things like lockers, changing for PE, tons of homework and hormones. Ugh. How do you prepare as a mom and how do you prepare your baby? (No matter what age or how tall they are…they’ll always be our “baby”!)

Having taught middle school for a very long time, I’ve learned a lot from my students and their parents. Now that I am a mom of a school aged child who will be heading off to middle school in two years, I have already started thinking about what I’ll do to help us both endure and even enjoy these potentially challenging middle years.

I write this post wearing two hats and after having conferenced and talked with hundreds of parents over the years, this is what I believe will be helpful to know as your child transitions to middle school.

What the students worry about and how to help:

Their Lockers: Oh how they worry, struggle and obsess about their lockers. The ability to master the left, right, left sequence is almost impossible for some. I always look forward to November because by then almost my entire homebase (homeroom for old schoolers) can get in their lockers. If you have a rotary lock at home let them practice or pick one up at the dollar store. It’s the first thing they ask about and not being able to open their locker has brought tears to many. Practicing on one at home just to learn the technique is a HUGE help!

Their Schedule: A day classes, B day classes, semester courses, quarter classes, elective wheels and a crazy computer printout that is hard even for the adults to decipher! Sixth grade teachers know how incredibly confusing reading their schedule can be so we strive to do our best to explain it. Over the years we’ve designed different charts and systems to help them understand it. When they bring it home make a few copies of it. Put one in their agenda or even in each notebook. Hang the A day/B day calendar on your fridge and get in the habit of identifying which “day” it is each morning so they’ll be clear on what classes they’ll have.

Homework & Their Agenda: There is more homework in middle school and typically it is more rigorous. Establish a homework routine and space before the year begins. Insist your student shares their agenda with you nightly and have them highlight each completed task. Even if the school doesn’t’ require it, sign their agenda. It is a phenomenal communication tool between home and school and it keeps an essential component in the mix….the student. In a time when parents can easily email the teacher and ask about the student’s homework or an assignment, the student’s role is often removed. Middle school is not just about grades, it’s more importantly a training ground for life. Middle school students need and must learn responsibility and organization. This prepares them for high school and college. Make it their job to copy their assignments in their agenda and to share communication between you and their teacher. I am so appalled when frequently my parents will say,”(their child) wont show me his/her agenda!” Seriously??? Since when do pre-teens have a choice??

Inevitably there is going to be a time when the homework has not been written down or is illegible. To again put the responsibility on the student, at the onset of school have them get the number of a buddy in each of their classes (especially math and language arts which meet every day) that they can call in such situations. The more you put the responsibility on them in sixth grade, the better off they’ll be and the saner you’ll be down the road.

The A day/B day schedule for Science and Social Studies makes it tempting to put off their homework until the next night. This is a huge mistake because they’re more likely to forget the assignment entirely and the relevance to the day’s lesson is lost.

School Rules: When we go over the rights and responsibilities handbook the first days of school my students bombard me with a zillion “what if” questions. They worry about knowing the rules and not getting in trouble. Really go over this with your student and talk about it. I stress to my son now about laser pointers being a weapon at school, which will get you, suspended and ruin your chances of going to college. (I exaggerate a bit to make sure it sets in good.) Having a boy I worry about him making an innocent but severe mistake. (Same goes with how to deal with fighting.)

The cell phone and dress code policies are huge too. We’ve had many upset moms who found out their baby’s cell phone would not be returned for five days because it went off in class (and quite a few times it was the mom who had called or texted!). Sixth graders are also eager to make friends and loan their cell phones to friends who get them confiscated. Again, an important reason to go over school and parental expectations early on before such a situation arises.

The dress code is more of a challenge for the girls. As the young ladies grow sometimes their legs are longer making their shorts shorter. It’s devastating for a young lady to have to call home because her shorts are too short. Get in the habit of doing a subtle check before they walk out the door. Two other aspects of the middle schooler’s dress to consider is the ladies’ need for a brazier and the importance of deodorant for both the gals and guys. As puberty rages in the middle school being proactive on both fronts avoids teasing or hurtful comments.

Making Friends: The social aspect of middle school is huge. You can’t pick your kid’s friends although it would be really nice but you can influence their decision by talking about what qualities make a good friend. Get them involved with other kids who share their same interests. Middle school clubs allow kids to shine in their comfort zone whether it is chess, beta or student council.

Remember middle schoolers don’t like to be grilled but if they know you’ll listen without passing judgment or giving a ton of advice, you’ll find they let you in their world more. Kind of like husbands…we like to tell them things/vent but we’re not looking for a solution (which they always seem to have). We just want to vent and have someone say…you’re right that was crummy or I can see how that hurt your feelings. Such validation is huge with a middle schooler when it comes to friendship dilemmas.

What moms worry about and how to help:

Communication: No more special day of the week folders with all the communication goods! You have to be much more proactive in middle school. Visit the school website and get on the fore front by joining the PTA. Most teachers have webpages that allow you to sign up for bulletins. This is a great tool for both parents and students. Middles schoolers are big on privacy so they wont love you going through their book bags but “overseeing” nightly clean outs is a great way to keep up with what is going on at the school and with your students grades.

Email is a phenomenal tool but use it wisely! Touch base with your student’s teacher but don’t haunt them. That is very counter -productive.

So Many Teachers: In elementary school you have that one special go to teacher who knows your child so well. You get to know them and in most cases love them. Now you have four core teachers (language arts, math, science and social studies) and then as many four to six elective teachers! You and your student now have so many names, faces, expectations and of course…email address to learn! GO TO OPEN HOUSE or any other parent nights offered by your child's school! Teachers may not remember you or your child quite yet but you’ll know them. If you have special concerns, contact the guidance counselor and schedule an appointment with the team (core teachers) early on. In middle school most conferences are with the core team not just one teacher. Don’t feel out numbered but realize it’s an opportunity to hear from everyone and share information. The guidance counselor is a phenomenal liaison between you and the team and in helping your child transition. Get to know them and encourage your child to as well.

Middle school teachers may not need you in their classroom to stuff folders and help with stations but they do appreciate your support. If you have the time to volunteer let them know and they may take you up on it but don’t be offended if they don’t ask. Typically the biggest help parents can provide is sending things in. You can never have enough tissue or hand-sanitizer in middle school. We have ninety plus kids a day coming through our door so our supplies dwindle much faster than in the elementary classroom.

It is so important to foster a collaborative relationship with your middle school teachers. Don’t be reactionary or quick to email with lots of emotion and always go to the teacher first. As a parent I’ve fallen into the quick to react and then felt foolish later trap. Middle school teachers interact with lots of parents. Don’t stick out to them because you email every time a grade is posted or question every assignment. Not only do I appreciate the parents who respect my role as the educator, check in on their student’s progress without obsessing, and who put responsibility on their student but as a mom, I strive to follow their example.

Grades: We hear so often from parents how their students earned straight As through elementary school and the same parents are outraged by a B or worse yet a C on a quiz or test or even the report card. Remember middle school is more challenging. Be careful not to put too much pressure on your student. Keep things in perspective. It is one test in sixth grade or one quarter out of four. If your student doesn’t earn the A, except it and help them devise a plan to do better.

Organization will be imperative to academic success. Help your student by keeping a calendar on the fridge with up coming due dates and when progress reports are coming home. Utilize the sites that supplement your student’s textbooks and make use of the set of textbooks that are sent home for the year. So often when they’re returned in June they spine hasn’t been broken. They’re great for nights when your student has no homework.

Middle school doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. I am always amazed how much my students grow and develop into teenagers. Enjoy your middle schooler and except them for the hormonal, grown-up wannabe that they are!

Have you gone through this transition? If you can add any more Smarty tips, please do so below!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Smarty Alert: Great Xmas Deals from Ardmore Photography!

By Katie M

You might have the start of school on your brain, but it's never too early to start thinking about great Christmas deals too!! And Ardmore Photography can help with that. Now is the time to plan your session for holiday card pictures and gifts for family. Give Grandma what she really wants this year: pictures of your kids!

Sarah is offering these beautiful brag books for moms, grandmas, aunts and friends! These adorable accordion books are custom designed, come in sets of three, have several cover options, and the best part: They are FREE with the purchase of a combination package from Ardmore Photography!

There are only a few fall sessions still available, so contact Sarah at Ardmore Photography today at 336.408.4305 to secure your session in time for the holidays. You can also visit her blog here.


Lunchbox Face-off!

By Guest Blogger Lisa Witherspoon

It’s about 8:30 pm on any given school night and I am, once again, in the kitchen having a face-off with three empty lunchboxes. Sound familiar?? Packing kids’ lunches is a very basic task that, during the school year, becomes a major source of frustration for me. You see, I have three very picky eaters – a vegetarian third grader, a picky kindergartner, and a SUPER picky preschooler who attends a completely nut-free preschool. Sheesh!! I get a headache just thinking about it!

As the school year gets started again, I thought I would share some of the lessons I have learned and some of my better ideas to, hopefully, help any other parents who get just as aggravated as me with the ever-daunting task of lunch box packing.

One of the most important things is planning. I pack lunches the night before school. (Except for thermoses or things that have to be heated.) This saves a lot of time amidst the chaos of the morning rush. Also, I sit down on Sunday afternoons to plan out my family’s dinner menu for the coming week and make out a grocery list. Last year, I added making a weekly lunchbox menu to that task. It helps in two ways: first, I don’t have to think too much at night when I am already pretty brain dead! I just read the menu I have already written out. Also, I add lunchbox items to the grocery list so I am certain (well, pretty certain) to have everything I need.

Another strategy that helps me is to break down the menu into important components. I usually try to include a protein (meat or dairy item), a fruit or veggie item, a grain (bread, crackers, etc.), sometimes a dessert, and, of course, a drink. This strategy has to be flexible – a peanut butter sandwich is both a protein and a grain, but not a complete lunch by itself – but, it is a good place to start.

I have also learned to think outside the “lunch” box (pun intended!). For example, how about giving kids breakfast for lunch? Why not give them a bagel with cream cheese instead of a sandwich or a thermos full of cold milk and a baggie of cereal to pour in? You can even give them a muffin or French Toast sticks. If it is healthy for breakfast, it is healthy for lunch, right?? It also makes it fun for the children.

Make it a wrap. Almost, anything that can be a regular sandwich, can also be wrapped up in a tortilla. Try flavored tortillas, too!

Try dips. Kids usually like to dip things, so find some recipes for yummy dips to pack in their lunchboxes. Even something as simple as salsa, marinara, or ranch dressing can give flare to a boring lunchbox menu.

Invest in good containers. You can get a good thermos for around $15.00. They can be used to keep soup or Spaghetti O’s hot as well as to keep pasta salad or milk cold. Some small, reusable plastic containers will also save money in the long run.

Go cruising! Cruise around the internet to find fun lunchbox recipes that YOUR children will like. I have found recipes for pizza muffins, tortilla spirals, and other things that I still use.

Share! Are you packing for more than one kid?? Bake a frozen pizza the night before and put a couple slices in each child’s lunchbox. You could do the same with a batch of muffins, chicken nuggets, or some fun pasta shapes with tomato sauce.

Give yourself a break! There is nothing wrong with giving kids “convenience” items once in a while. Lunchables, Uncrustables, and Lance Crackers are always good things to keep on hand for those days when you just don’t have the time or the energy. (We’ve all been there!)

Finally, don’t get so creative that you forget the old standbys. A peanut butter sandwich never goes out of style! (Or turkey, or bologna & cheese, - you get the picture.)

I hope you will find these suggestions helpful as you face-off with the lunchboxes in your kitchen this school year! I am sure there are lots of other creative parents out there who have some great ideas to add, so please share!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Preparing Children to Return to School

By Guest Blogger Latasha Denay Myers

When you think of summer break, you automatically think of swimming pools, family vacations, lot’s of sunshine, cook-outs, and NO SCHOOL. Many children take full advantage of the “school free” days that summer has to offer by spending little to no time on educational enrichment. Countless school teachers will tell you that the first few weeks of school are used to review skill sets that were learned the previous school year because children are not prepared to resume learning at the next level.

It is never too late to prepare children for a great school year. Just because summer is over doesn't mean you should stop preparing your child for school. Here are five "smarty" things you can continue to do:

1. Review the frequent word list from the previous grade level. If your child has mastered the words from the previous list, start on the list for this school year. Most school systems have these lists by grade level on their websites. Create games with the list to help challenge children. We keep the list posted on the refrigerator and whenever the kids ask for a snack they have to make a sentence using words from the list before they get the snack. They earn a little extra if they use multiple words in a single sentence.

2. Read, Read, Read – Reading over the summer is so important. It helps students stay in the habit of reading, helps increase vocabulary, and improves communication skills. Ask open ended questions about a book your child has read. If reading a book is not your child’s idea of summer fun then have them create their own book using free software such as storyboard. We use cooking as a way to brush up on math and reading skills. In order to create the recipe successfully children have to read and follow directions as well as use the correct measurements of the ingredients.

3. Journal – Keeping a journal is a fun way to remember summer activities and practice penmanship. Even young children can keep a journal by drawing pictures and dictating to parents what the picture represents. Parents can assist young children in writing the details for their pictures. If your child has not kept a summer journal now is still a good time to start. Children can reflect upon past events and write their expectations for the upcoming school year.

4. Be creative - Give your child an inexpensive digital camera or disposable camera and let them take pictures for a few days of the things they find interesting. Develop the pictures and/or up load them to a program like windows movie maker to make a movie with text about the pictures or put the pictures in a scrap book with details on each picture. Use the pictures to make a summer mobile or turn them into postcards for family and friends to tell them about the summer. (Grandparents love these!)

5. Virtual field trips – Many families are traveling less this year due to our economy and many other factors, but with the use of technology students can take virtual trips right from home. This site has a complete section of virtual fieldtrips to great places in our state. The trips are sorted by grade level and some trips also include activities and follow up questions.

Latasha has an extensive background in education and runs the summer camp Learning & Adventures in Winston-Salem, as well as Bright Light Enrichment, a special program for young boys with disabilities.

What are other ways you can help your child's school transition easier? What did you do over the summer?


Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Back to School Week!

By Rachel H

All of us at Triad Smarty Pants hope your family had a summer to remember! Whether you are ready or not, it is time for school to begin! This week we are focusing on "Back to School" articles. We have some new blogs to share with you as well as previous blogs that we think are valuable reminders to make this school year successful for you and your children.

Today we are running a post from which we received a lot of positive feedback last year. Our guest blogger, Michelle Bostian, focuses on how you can help your children handle bullying. Be sure to check out the websites and recommended books at the end of the article for more information on this topic.

"Bullying - It's Not What It Used to Be"

By Guest Blogger
Michelle Bostian, LCSW
Lower School Counselor for Greensboro Day School

Bullying today is just not what it used to be ... We are always hearing that these days. “Well, when I was a kid we had to walk to school in the snow!” The same applies to bullying. It is not the tyranny of the big mean boy who steals lunch money. It’s the otherwise sweet girl that shares her candy with all the girls she likes in front of that one girl that she doesn’t. It’s the special clubs and exclusionary occurrences on the playground day after day. Sure, there are still instances of name calling and deliberate tripping. But now there are obvious and malicious emails intended to haunt and dominate. Today, the bullying we need to target and prevent with our children is the subtle, the covert and the as yet, uncensored.

Bullying prevention could be called something friendlier like “friendship skills”. Or it could be called something really basic, like “empathy”. Bottom line, the emotional impact from any type of bullying is the same. The psychological scarring implicit with this behavior is well known to be a common underlying factor in a child’s history who later commits acts of violence or other socially unacceptable behavior.

So here’s the deal. All kids can be bullies, or “wear the bully hat” as author Trudy Ludwig puts it when she travels the US and talks with school age kids about bullying. When someone hurts someone else, dominates them in some way, and they know it is hurting the other person, that is bullying. Plain and simple. It’s the group of girls at lunch who scooch over and fill up the empty space when your daughter comes to sit down. Then they quickly adjust to allow the girl behind her space to sit at their table. Bullying is when your son tells you he and his friends did sit ups in a goofy way just like “that weird boy”, and everyone laughed.

You know it when you hear it. As a parent you likely get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you just ache for your child. You want to go grab that kid in the library and set a few things straight. You want to give that kid a piece of your mind, let her know that she can’t treat your kid that way and get away with it. But you can’t. When you intervene like this as a parent you render your child powerless and at greater risk of being victimized again.

The more powerful thing to do is to empower your kids. Equip them with the problem solving skills to assert themselves. Role play with your kids. They need to practice the skills to create those pathways in their brains. They need to practice until it is as automatic as “stop, drop and roll”. Please don’t tell them to ignore it. Every kid who has ever come to talk to me about this stuff has already tried that. Teach kids first to say, “Stop”. They also need skills like walking away, changing the subject and saying something ridiculously funny. Explain the difference between telling and tattling. Tattling is to get someone else in trouble: “He took two cookies instead of one”. Telling is to protect someone from getting hurt on the inside or on the outside: “She calls me Fatty Patty every day at recess and now two other girls call me that too.”

Books your children can read to help build the skills and social resilience they need to succeed are listed at the end of this article. There are lots of books you can read, too. Equally important, there are things you can do each and every day to reduce your child’s likelihood that they will be bullied or that they will bully. It boils down to empathy. Teach them to think about their feelings and the feelings of others. Teach them that their behavior has an impact on the feelings of others. Model this type of behavior at home through simple things like sharing your “lows and highs” each day. This gives kids a tool for talking about their feelings. And it gives adults a tool as well.

In our family, on the nights we sit down together for dinner, we share our lows and highs. One person starts with “My low is that Caitlyn broke my favorite pencil today. My high is that we had ice cream after school.” Each person has a turn, even parents. It’s important for parents to let kids know that not only do they have feelings, but that sometimes relationships have difficult elements. It might go something like this: “My low is that I had an argument with a friend today and I feel sad about that. My high is that we had a good talk at lunch and we worked it out.” You don’t need to share more about the disagreement. Just share that you have them and that they don’t feel good and that you DO work them out.

Last, be sure your school has an empathy building curriculum. (At Greensboro Day School we use a program called Second Step.) Ask your school how they build a child’s empathy, perspective taking and problem solving skills. These are the skills to success. Not just emotional success, but educational success as well. When kids are not preoccupied by their social world around them they are much more focused on their school work. And guess what? They are also more inclined to follow directions at home when they are not ruminating about social drama at school!

Books for adults:
*Faber, Adele and Mazlish, Elaine. Siblings Without Rivalry
*Rubin, Kenneth and Thompson, Andrea. The Friendship Factor: Helping Our Children Navigate Their Social World – And Why it Matters to their Success and Happiness
*Sheras, Peter. Your Child: Bully or Victim? Understanding and Ending School Yard Tyranny


Books for Kids:
Burnett, Karen Gedig. Simon’s Hook; A story About Teases and Putdowns
Cohen-Posey, Kate. How to Handle Bullies, Teaser and Other Meanies: A Book That Takes the Nuisance Out of Name Calling and Other Nonsense
Crosby, Bill. The Meanest Thing to Say
Lester, Helen. Hooway for Wodney
Ludwig, Trudy. My Secret Bully
Ludwig, Trudy. Just Kidding
Ludwig, Trudy. Sorry
Moss, Peggy. Say Something
Munson, Derek. Enemy Pie
Polacco, Patricia. Mr. Lincoln’s Way

Michelle is a counselor at Greensboro Day School and has a private practice. I want to thank her for this very informative article today. I have made the mistake of telling my children to “ignore it” many times, so I was relieved to read the alternatives she suggested above. I already Googled a few of her suggested reading materials and they can easily be found on Amazon, as well as our local book stores such as Borders and Barnes and Noble.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Going, Going, Gone...Check These Items off Your Smarty Summer "To-Do" List !

By Krista W, Charlotte Smarty Pants

What are you doing with the last scraps of summer? If you’re out of ideas, we’ve got a few! Here are great ways to capture your “Indian Summer” and create fabulous family memories before the school bell rings.

1. Throw a slip-n-slide play date! Don’t have one? Hit Target for some insane “end of the season” sales and snag one at a bargain.

2. Get crafty! Try some of these season inspired projects from our friends at Kaboose. The paper plate “port hole” was a huge hit at our house!

3. Invite the neighbors over for one last BBQ and celebrate summer with local goodies found at a Farmers Market. Nothing says summertime like fresh corn on the cob and brightly flavored strawberries.

4. Make a splash. Take advantage of pool season (which will only lasts a few more weeks). Most pools close Labor Day, so jump in!

5. Make these yummy homemade orange popsicles! Family time never tasted so good.

6. Encourage your child to write a summertime journal. If your child hasn’t mastered letters yet, help them pen one. Be sure to leave blank pages for picture drawing! Create a memorable timeline of all your seasonal fun AND a perfect “show and tell” piece for the start of school.

7. Celebrate the season by going on a “lightening bug chase”. Let the little ones stay up late and watch the fireflies come out and spark up the night. S’mores optional!

8. Host a Lemonade Stand. This classic summer activity is sure to drum-up some sweet memories. Even better, donate all proceeds to charity - teach our Smarties young to give back to the community!

9. Visit Wet & Wild or Carowinds. Wake them up one morning and don’t tell them where you are heading. Upon arrival, bask in the glory of being “super mom” for the day!

10. Host a “teddy bear” picnic! Take your little ones to a park and bring along their favorite stuffed friend (and real friends if you have the energy). Pack a picnic and nibble on goodies with the special guests. Pictures are a must!

11. Decorate the night with sparklers. It may be past The Fourth, but sparklers are always a blast. Listen to your children squeal as they create shapes in the night with these popular summer treats.

12. Find shapes in the clouds. Enjoy the laziness of summer and kick-back while finding creatures in the clouds. Make up a story using your new character friends and enjoy listening to your child’s imagination run wild.

13. Have a water balloon fight. Nuf said.

14. Plant some flowers in preparation for Fall. August is a hot month for planting but you can nurse along your bargain-basement annuals, getting them ready for fall planting. When temperatures cool later in the month or in September, transplant your annuals out of their containers and into the ground for an eye-catching display of fall flowers.

15. Still at the beach or near the sand? Create “Sand Dough” by following the below steps.

Sand Dough
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 Tbsp cream of tartar
2 cups sand
1 1/2 cups of water

Stir together is an old pan (avoid no-stick surfaces) over medium heat until thick (5-10 minutes). Cool and store in a sealed container until ready to use!

16. Take a last minute “day trip” by hitting up one or more of our recommended destinations - the majority of which were smarty-tested and approved by Triad moms! Find all the options here by perusing our “Smarty Day Trip Series."

17. Just relax. Enjoy the final days of less stressful mornings and fewer packed lunch boxes. Soak up the ease that comes along with summer. Play with your children and remember summer for them is a whimsical time they will recall with fondness for the rest of their lives.

Happy “Indian Summer” Smarties!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smarty Mom: Kelly Melang

By Katie M

Smarties, meet Kelly Melang. Not too long ago, Rachel and I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly at a meeting with our media partner, Forsyth Family magazine. Kelly is one of those people who engages you as soon as you meet her, and her background and experiences are just as captivating as her personality. She's an obvious choice for a Smarty Mom, and I'm excited for you all to meet her as well.

Kelly and her husband Jeff have two boys: Wolfgang, 9, and Max, 6. Before settling down in the Triad 10 years ago, Kelly worked in the airline industry which moved her around the country every two years - from Boston to DC to Baltimore, Atlanta, Alexandria and to Cleveland. Currently she runs her own social media company where she maintains Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter accounts for businesses and provides creative input to help their pages stand out from the rest! (How fun!) Additionally, Kelly blogs and writes on a regular basis for Forsyth Family magazine.

Let's chat more with Kelly!

If someone were to ask you to describe your greatest accomplishments in one short paragraph, what would you say?
I am an avid writer, I've written 4 romance novels (yes, bodice ripping style) and wrote a 50K word novel in one month for National Novel Writing Month. I co-chaired our Forsyth Woman/Forsyth Family Race For The Cure Team and grew it from 50 to 262 members. I've completed 6 marathons, 2 Half Ironman's, am currently Team Captain for Forsyth Woman magazine's triathlon team competing in the Ramblin' Rose this Sunday. But perhaps my biggest accomplishment this summer was renting an RV and driving from one end of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the other-the parkway turns 75 yrs and the RV turned 100 years. Amazing trip, here's the blog about it.

Wow, that's it? (Just kidding!!!) What are some challenges you face as a busy mom - both in and out of your home?
One of our challenges is is keeping our family time when too many things in life try to intrude (sports, church, friends). We have a place in the mountains and this is our oasis as it is forced family time every weekend. We also limit what the boys participate in letting them each choose one activity then one joint activity (cub scouts). As an athlete, it's hard to find time to train that doesn't take away from the family, so it's very early workouts that keep me going.

You are a regular blogger and contributor to Forsyth Family magazine. Tell us exactly what you do and your responsibilities.
I am a writer - I write the Rants and Raves column for Forsyth Family and The Last Page as well as Cycling for Forsyth Woman. I write other articles, stories as well as blog posts for both magazines. I write for other online eZines and blogs.

I'm so intrigued with your social media business, So-Me Social Media. What is involved in that, and what exactly do you do?
My business came from my addiction to Facebook (ha!) I started maintaining the magazine's Fanpage and it grew from there to over 20 businesses now. It is the perfect pairing, I love being creative and helping businesses grow-this business is the perfect fit. We hope to grow and create franchises with our Fan Page maintenance system.

What smarty tips can you share with other readers on how to balance work and home life?

I feel like I'm working all the time whether at home trying to keep up or at work. A home based business is challenging in that you're always at work, I have to end my day! (right, like that ever happens) I am learning to delegate - we've hired a cleaner (may not be as PERFECT as I do but it ACTUALLY gets done) - the clothes have made it back to the dry cleaner. Sometimes it is worth the extra money if it saves the arguments or stress.

Life is how you see it, if you are unhappy then pretend you're in a great mood and everything is working out and soon enough it becomes the truth. Always remember your gifts then work hard and give more than you receive in everything you do.

Kelly, thanks for all that great information! You certainly are an accomplished mom. Now, let's move on to some lighter topics...

Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Gap Outlets, Old Navy and shhhh, Rugged Warehouse for Boys clothes!

Favorite place to splurge on kids clothes?
If we had our way we'd spend too much money in Abercrombie. (But we're cheap :))

What is your favorite family activity?
Winter is skiing and snowboarding, we spent 42 days on the snow this past winter. Summer is family time hiking all the trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway - current favorite is Cascades Trail.

Favorite “mommy-time” activity?
If I had Mommy time, I take myself on creative dates - that's where I'll go and look through little boutiques, or small art galleries or book stores and let the creative energy flow! This helps me clear my mind and be more creative. My other me time is going out on long runs or long bike rides - PLENTY of time to THINK!

Best place to eat lunch and/or dinner with the kids?
Favorite lunch spot is The Loop, favorite dinner spot The Old Fourth Street Filling Station.

Favorite date place?
My honey and I enjoy hiding away from everyone in a corner at Sixth and Vine, we love eating at Finnegan's Wake for lunch.

Funniest thing your boys have ever said?
My son told me that I had a splinter on my chin, I had to politely inform him that it was actually a billy goat hair before I went and PULLED it!

Favorite park in the Triad?

Salem Lake - kids love the greenway!

Mini-van or SUV?
Crossover - Love my Pacifica it's made it to the top of the mountain in 16 inches of snow this winter!

Best thing about raising a family in the Triad?
That you can jump in the car and change your scenery - go to the mountains, go to the beach, go off the beaten track.

Best kept secret in the Triad?
That skiing is less than 2 hours away. If you don't ski then you can always snow tube. Everyone feels they should wait and only do the once-a-year trip to Utah, why not spend less and get your kids going early!

Best mom secret YOUR mom has shared with you?
Learn to laugh at yourself because being a Mom will teach you HUMILITY. From that time in the hospital when you leave your humility behind, your kids will always do something to embarass you, laugh at it!

Best book you’ve ever read?
The Bible. I always find something new that makes me think. I love to think of a question then open the bible and read the answer, and it's always there!

Who is your hero?
My Mom, she passed from Brain Cancer and her wit and determination in the middle of battle makes her my hero. I wish I had an ounce of her strength. Then my husband, I've never met anyone who works hard, plays hard, loves hard and doesn't let a day go by!

What is one thing about you people would be surprised to know?
That my first name is Kathryn and that my Dad used to call me Kate. Also that I'm a sci-fi fanatic

What’s your favorite thing about Triad Smarty Pants?
Love all the deals, the camp series this summer really helped me keep the indians at bay.

I could not live without my... pen and paper, it's my connection to my heart. From there my business flows, and I let everyone know how I feel.

I wish someone had told me sooner about...Body Glide for long runs....helps with chaffing, and if you've ever been chaffed in your you know what, you'll understand why I believe God created this.

Great answers, Kelly! I love how "outdoorsy" you and your family are, and all your tips and tricks. While I'm not nearly as athletic as you, I do have some Body Glide in my medicine cabinet - good stuff (ha!). Thanks so much for doing this interview!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Graduate. It Pays. Program

By Guest Blogger Carol Montague-Davis, Assistant Superintendent for Middle Schools for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

Just remembering in my own life how many people supported me when I might have needed a mentor was my motivation for wanting to get involved.

This was my first opportunity of being part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program through Graduate. It pays. After an interview process, I was matched with my little sister who was a repeat 9th grader at North Forsyth High School. She wanted guidance and help academically to help her succeed and be promoted. This was the time to intervene if she wanted to graduate on time from high school. That’s exactly what this program is intended to do.

My little sister and I met faithfully once a week throughout the school year. Most of the time we would do schoolwork, but sometimes we found that we could just talk with each other about whatever she wanted to discuss.

As a school administrator, I work with students every day so I knew there can be a lot beneath the surface. Besides academics, high school can present enormous pressures for students. It’s a very difficult and challenging time in their lives. These students may need some help academically but sometimes they just need a coach and a friend. Often just listening and being there can affect much more than school work alone…it helps build self-esteem and confidence…just encouraging her to understand her value and worth may have achieved much more than helping her with the academics.

Over the year, our friendship grew and we have expanded our activities so now we can see each other both in school and outside of school or what is known as a community-based relationship where we can go to dinner and do other activities in the community.

I had always considered being a mentor, however, I thought perhaps a younger student. Now, I realize the importance of helping a teenager. It was an exciting time to be part of a student’s life, having the opportunity to help her academically and personally. We celebrated her successes and how much she had improved in her classes. As much as I may have had an impact on her life, she impacted mine. She made all her credits and was promoted to her grade level joining her peers in the 11th grade.

Graduate. It pays. Needs YOUR help

Graduate. It pays. matches community volunteers with 9th graders or 12th graders through existing programs managed by Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce. This school year the organization plans to match 390 students and still needs 200 adults who are willing to make a one hour weekly commitment.

Teaching or tutoring is NOT a requirement for caring adults. Volunteers must open their hearts, listen with respect, inspire and support your student and be there every week.

For more information please contact Sheryll Strode at 728-9231 or or visit


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Consignment Sales

By Guest Blogger Chrissy F

Chrissy is the brains behind, a fabulous consignment directory and social media resource for every shopper no matter your zip code. Chrissy is a mom who lives in Greensboro, and while her site features a ton of great Triad sales, you can also search other sales happening around the country. Be sure to check her site often to find the latest sales (many of which are ranked), and sign up for her newsletter to get alerts in advance! - KM

Repeat after me: Consignment Sales are not Garage Sales, Consignment Sales are not Garage Sales..." There's a lot of "misunderstanding" about consignment sales. Until you've been to a really good one, its hard to appreciate the full value in these sales. If you are one of those trendy moms who is skeptical of the whole consignment thing, here are a few things you should know...

1. You Won’t Be Wearing What EVERYONE Else is Wearing!
When my little one was “little” he wore the same ol’ Carter’s & Target outfits as every other child. I can recall several instances where we showed up to play groups or the library with Jack wearing the EXACT same outfit as another child. While not as stressful as say, showing up to prom in the same dress, I was quickly OVER the whole look-like-everyone-else thing. At consignment sales, you can see TONS of brands across several seasons and definitely won’t be wearing the same ol’ same ol’!

2. Boutique Items at Prices You CAN Afford
Boutique items can get very expensive and most of the time, they get worn very little. At consignment sales, you can pick up incredible boutique clothes at 30-90% off retail pricing.

3. New with Tags
Most folks don’t realize this, but there are always tons of brand new items with tags at consignment sales!

4. Volunteer to Get the Good Stuff
This is definitely the number one secret of the pros! The good stuff gets gone early in the sale. If you volunteer, you can shop the volunteer pre-sale at most sales and can get your hands on the best items first! If you go on the final days AND you are a picky mom, you'll be totally disappointed in the selection. Go early to get the good stuff!

5. Seasonal clothing that’s barely worn
Easter outfits, Christmas sweaters, Halloween costumes… all at incredible prices! Seasonal clothing is a steal at consignment sales and it’s usually in great condition because it gets barely any wear!

6. Vendors!
Most sales have incredible vendors – from smocked clothing and monogrammed items to fabulous accessories.

7. Bigger Wardrobe for a Fraction of the Cost
If you are like me, I LOVE to have options in the closet (ok, and I don’t keep up with the laundry so well either). Shopping at consignment sales has meant a much bigger wardrobe at a fraction of the cost. And… I do laundry less often. HaHa!

8. Get Your Shopping Fix without Driving All Over Town
I love shopping… LOVE IT! But now that I’m a mommy, I have much less time for it. Consignment sales help me get my fix without driving all over town. Where else can you find clothes & toys from hundreds of sellers all in one place?

9. Or, Better Yet, Some Sales are Worth the Drive
If you love boutique items, there are tons of new “boutique” only and high-end consignment sales that are popping up. Search your zip code and add the word “boutique” in the keyword search to find sales in your area.

10. It’s Cool (and Green) to Shop Consignment
More and more savvy moms are jumping on the consignment bandwagon because it’s such a practical and green approach. Americans throw away 68 pounds of clothing each year (according to Doesn't that seem like a waste?

What are some of your favorite consignment sales around the Triad?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Decorating, Design, & Fashion Finds!

By Rachel H

We love to help moms put some style into their lives! If you have yet to check out our Stylin Smarty Button, today is a reminder of what you are missing! If you are ready to remodel any part of your house and add some style, we highly recommend ICON Builders and Walkabout Tile. If you are looking to add some style to your wardrobe, we recommend Poshh Boutique and Boutique of Couture. And of course we can't forget to style our little ones! We recommend Buttons Boutique for all the latest trends for your Little Smarty!

Check out all of these places below and click their name or logo to visit the website!

Boutique of Couture
Our store is filled with items for the Mom and teenage daughter. We have designer clothing at unexpected prices ... starting at $12 for tops, and $22 for sundresses. We carry Jessica Simpson, London Times and Maggie London for a special occasion, or fun and flirty styles from T-Party and S-Twelve from South Florida for a casual look. As the store owner, Hadley Reisig, I like to help you find a dress that fits and flatters your figure - whether you are a nursing mom, or a mature 60 year old woman. Visit us at 4964 Country Club Lane, at the corner of Peacehaven & Country Club in Winston-Salem. (Shopping center across the street from Calvary Baptist) Hours are 10-6pm M to Sat, and Sunday 12-5pm. (336) 774-9106

AUGUST Special: Mink dresses (see black dress picture below) are still just $30! Any TSP reader who tries on a mink dress will get a free pair of earrings! Plus, mention Triad Smarty Pants and get $5 off your purchase.

Poshh Boutique
At Poshh boutique we believe that every woman is fabulous and should look and feel that way. We are your premier source for today's hottest fashion. Whether your style is trendy, bohemian, city chic, super sexy or classic, Poshh boutique has the look for you. Our brands include: Seven for All Mankind, Tulle, Cluce, Lani, Lush and many many more. We invite you to check out our collection of apparel and accessories, that is sure to make you a Poshh Lady. And being Poshh doesn't mean you have to break the bank. You will just look like it! We are located just a few miles off I-40, which makes us only twenty minutes from Winston, and very close to Greensboro as well! Palladium Commons 5870-105 Samet Dr. High Point, NC 27265

TSP special: Mention Triad Smarty Pants and receive 20% off any one regular priced item!

ICON Custom Builders
ICON specializes in transforming ordinary spaces into ones of beauty and functionality. With a passion for excellence, attention to detail, and integrity throughout the process, ICON creates spaces that bring excitement and compliment today’s lifestyle. We take pride in our reputation of focusing on client relationships and exceeding expectations. Owner Chuck Hicks is honored to be the 2010President of the Remodelers Council of the Winston-Salem HBA. Chuck is a Certified Green Professional, Aging-in-Place Specialist, and Lead Paint Renovator.
336-306-9055 (office)

Walkabout Tile
Got a "makeover project" you have been dying to start? Does your kitchen or bath need a face lift? Come visit us at Walkabout Tile and let us help you get started. Stacy Lavery and Jill Sear provide you with free in house design consultation to make those mind boggling projects so much easier. We offer an assortment of custom tiles, handpainted sinks, recycled glass in mosaics and countertops, cork and bamboo flooring and many other jewels to enhance your home. Located at 1116 Hwy 801 North, Advance NC 27006. 336-998-2135

CONGRATS to Kathleen Kirk who won the FREE backsplash giveaway from Walkabout Tile!!!

Button's Boutique
Located in Winston-Salem, this children’s boutique is one not to miss. Buttons carries clothing for girls sizes newborn-12 and boys sizes newborn-7. A few favorite brands available at Buttons are Flap Happy, E.Land, Mollie & Millie, Mulberry St., and Robeez, just to name a few. If you are expecting, you are in luck because Buttons even offers a Baby Registry! There are plenty of accessories here as well such as bows, hats, frames, holiday items, etc. Custom monogramming and custom bows are available. Button's also offers white summer dresses and Christening gowns. Stop in at 5075 Country Club Road or call 774-9188.

AUGUST SPECIAL: Back To School - Giving Back to our Community, ending Aug. 31, 2010. For each school supply (appropriate for elementary-aged children) that you bring into Button's, you will earn $1 Button's Bucks. For example, if you bring in eight packs of crayons, you will earn 8 Button's Bucks to use in the store. Button's has partnered with Sunnyside Ministry. All school supply donations will be distributed in Forsyth County.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kids' Snacks: Don’t Ban - Plan!

By Guest Blogger Laura Buxenbaum

Before you know it, school will be back in full swing! Which means hungry kids will be running through the front door, frantically searching for an after school snack. In fact, they may also want to pack a snack for school and ask for another snack before bed. After all, statistics show that snacks between meals are the source of nearly 600 calories each day for children - that is 25 percent of kids' daily energy needs!

With rising childhood obesity rates, it is tempting to consider a ban on extra munching. But don’t put a lock on the pantry yet. Healthy snacking can help children fill the gap between meals with nutrients their growing bodies need, such as protein, calcium, and fiber. So before banning snacks, consider what your child is munching on between meals. Most of us don’t serve our children cookies, chips or toaster pastries for dinner, but this is what they are chomping on during snack time, which adds a lot of extra calories, fat and sodium to their diets, and little to no nutrition.

As a registered dietitian and mom of two hungry boys, I know how challenging it can be to get children to choose healthy snacks. Here are some tips that work (most of the time) in my home:

•First, think of snacks as mini-meals. These mini-meals should include nutrient rich foods such as 100% whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat and fat-free dairy foods. When snacking, children often reach for the closest food at hand. Therefore, we try to avoid bringing a lot of cookies, chips and other junk food into our house. Not only does this help with snack time arguments, but it makes it easy to make a healthy choice. The healthiest and simplest choices include vitamin packed fruits and raw vegetables, which require little if any preparation and calcium rich foods such as string cheese and portable yogurts.

•Make Snacking Fun. One of my son’s favorite ways to eat his veggies is by turning them into fishing poles. I cut up celery sticks, carrots and pepper strips, serve them with a low fat dip (try a yogurt based dip for extra protein and calcium), add wholegrain Goldfish on top of the dip and let my son “go fish” by hooking a fish cracker with his veggie fishing rod. Salad on a stick is also a big hit at my house during snack and mealtime. I layer green peppers, cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini and cheese cubes on a kabob stick and my son dips it in low fat dressing. If your child is old enough they can make the salad kabob themselves.

•Let kids in the kitchen. Encourage your children to help in choosing and preparing their snack. If they are involved in selection and preparation, children will be more likely to eat it. Some of my favorite snacks to make with my son include yogurt parfaits and fruit smoothies. Low-fat yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and protein, and children love it dressed up. Let your child choose and layer their favorite yogurt, fruit and cereal for a fun and healthy treat. Additionally, fruit smoothies are packed with nutrition and good taste. Kids go crazy over these delicious sippable treats. Let them create their own by choosing the fruit and adding milk or yogurt and other ingredients like pudding or peanut butter. My oldest son loves a peanut butter smoothie made with milk, frozen banana, banana flavored yogurt and peanut butter.

•And finally, set a good example. In order for kids to eat well, it is important for parents to make a commitment to good nutrition. Model healthy eating habits by enjoying healthy snacking with your kids. Both my children want to eat or drink whatever my husband is eating or drinking, whether its broccoli or brownies, Mountain Dew or milk. This has actually caused my husband to improve his eating habits in an attempt to be a better role model.

So moms, as you begin back to school preparations, don’t forget to stock up on healthy snacks. Remember, healthy eating will improve the way your child thinks, feels and moves. You’ll see that providing nutrient rich snacks such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat and fat-free dairy now will help your children learn to make healthy choices in the future.

Laura is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Public Health and Nutrition from UNC. Laura currently serves as the nutrition communications program manager for the Southeast Dairy Association. She develops and conducts nutrition education programs for health professionals in North Carolina and Virginia. She is also the regional media communicator and has appeared in a number of television, radio and print interviews throughout North Carolina. Laura is pictured above with her husband, Pete, and two boys, Harris(2 1/2) and Platt(1).


Monday, August 16, 2010

Smarty Party Idea: Children's Theatre of Winston-Salem

By Guest Blogger Theresa Willie with intro by Katie M

Let me quickly chime in to say that I recently took my six-year-old daughter, Emily, to a play at the Children's Theatre of Winston-Salem. It was our first time there and we watched Aladdin - a story my daughter knows and loves. Our experience was over-the-top. We thoroughly enjoyed the theatre and the performance by the children. Emily especially liked being able to mingle with the actors after the show. It was an event to remember, and we'll definitely be back for another show - and quite possibly some classes for my little drama queen! - KM

For my daughter’s 9th birthday, I struggled with finding the perfect party place. From the first conversation I had with Karen McHugh, general manager at The Children's Theatre of Winston-Salem, I knew we were in for an awesome experience. She was very helpful, thoughtful and especially accommodating.

The children began with playing a few games to help them get acquainted. Next we had a fabulous behind-the-scenes tour of the theatre. This was a special treat and the children really enjoyed themselves. Everyone was given a special role in a play, written by the theatre based on my daughter’s favorite theme. At the end of the party the play was performed on stage for all of the parents to see. My daughter loved every minute.

Every detail was attended to and I was ultimately able to relax and enjoy the party too. I even had a part in the grand finale! All of the children loved the experience they had for Tiara’s birthday. Not to mention my younger daughter was begging on the ride home to have her party there in January! We highly recommend having an unforgettable birthday experience with the Children’s Theatre of Winston Salem. I could not have chosen a better place to celebrate my daughter’s special day.

The Children's Theatre of Winston-Salem is located at 610 Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem. Phone: (336) 725-4531.

Have you been? Tell us about your experience, and what you liked best!