We know that being a mom is much more than a job. It’s a full-time-never-get-a-break-don’t-put-that-in-your-mouth-no-means-no-lifestyle filled with ups and downs, laughs and tears and memories by the minute. Sure, it can be confusing and completely overwhelming at times, but hey, that’s why we’re here.
The two Jen’s originally created this site, and now a team of moms with different views will add to this daily blog. Our goal is to make this the ultimate resource for Charlotte moms and moms-to-be on a variety of activities, events and motherhood-related topics (best deals on hip new products, navigating the school systems, kids eat free, etc). This is a place for us to share as well as our readers, and we don’t pretend to know everything here. But, we’ll try our best to provide you with plenty of info we’ve learned through research, trial and, unfortunately, error.
What’s Courtenay’s story? I want to know more about Jen. I think I know Krista from somewhere, but where? Find out everything you ever wanted to know (and some things you didn’t) about our talented and insightful bloggers who know an awful lot about kids’ stuff and the latest goings on around town. We’re moms, wives, co-workers, friends, people in the know and, best of all, your guides on this crazy little thing we call Charlotte Smarty Pants.
Wahoo! Friday! We hope you enjoy our Top 5 Pins this week!
1. These Skinny Stuffed Shells look delish minus the guilt.
2. Groundhog Day is coming up and we just think it’s the cutest holiday. Leave it to Pinterest to show us how to be uber crafty on this non-holiday holiday. Could not resist Groundhog Push Up Pops. They make us smile!
3. OK, this might be too “Elf on the Shelf,” but we still thought it was super sweet – Valentine’s Day Love Buckets.
4. Here’s a novel idea: actually healthy Lunchables-type prepared meals for kids – Go Picnic – rumor has it you can find them at some Targets around town.
5. We’re already dreaming about warmer temps. Love this Farrah Jumpsuit from Lilly Pullitzer’s Resort line – now if we could just get the fab resort to go with it…
Happy Pinning, Smarties!
Happy Wednesday Smarties! This weekend take the family to a Checkers game and support several different causes. The games are fun and you get a lot of bang for your buck! Children’s plays, Queens Feast and Strange Matter arrives at Discovery Place. You also don’t have to go on Reality TV to learn how to survive, just head up to Latta Plantation Nature Center to learn survival basics and to build a Winter Den. I’m in – Are you? Get out and enjoy!
Charlotte Checkers – UMDF Night
Time Warner Cable Arena
Purchase tickets to the Checkers game against Abbotsford on Friday, Jan. 25, to support Savannah and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. Tickets are only $15, with $5 going to the UMDF (click here to purchase). The game is also the Checkers’ annual Race Night, which will feature appearances by several drivers including headliner Regan Smith. The team will wear special jerseys to be auctioned immediately following the game to benefit Saving Savannah, the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte and Hyundai Hope on Wheels. Other promotions for the game include pint glass giveaway courtesy of team dentist Dr. Larry Seitlin and Bojangles Mystery Gift Cards worth up to $100.
Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week®
Dine like royalty at more than 100 of the Charlotte area’s finest restaurants for one delicious price.
It’s everyone’s favorite mid-winter break! Join in the fun as over 100 upscale restaurants around the metro Charlotte area offer 3 courses (or more) at dinner for only $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Reservations are recommended. Take a tour through the participating restaurants’ special menus, and book your table today! Make your Queen’s Feast a romantic getaway or culinary road trip with these hotel discounts.
Jack and the Beanstalk
Davidson College: Davidson College’s Cunningham Fine Arts Building
January 25-27, Fri., 4:30pm, 7:30pm; Sat., 10:30am, 2:30pm, 4:30pm; Sun., 2:30pm, 4:30pm
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum! This production of the classic children’s tale features Jack, his milky white cow, and magic beans that grow into a gigantic beanstalk. Jack climbs the beanstalk and discovers a hen that lays golden eggs, a magical harp, and a hungry giant. This collaboration with the Davidson College Department of Theatre is perfect for all ages.
Begins January 26
What’s materials science? You might call it the study of stuff! Just about everything you use every day – the shoes you wear, the dishes you eat from, the bike or skateboard you ride – it’s all made of different kinds of stuff. Get ready for over a dozen hands-on experiences and exhibits that give you a close encounter with the amazing world of modern materials and materials science. Through May 5.
The Secret Garden
January 26-27, Sat., 1:00pm; Sun., 2:00pm
Celebrate magic on a Broadway scale with The Secret Garden, a modern musical classic. Orphaned 10-year-old Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in England with relatives she has never met. With the help of Martha, a chambermaid, and the gardener, Ben, Mary’s own personality blossoms as she brings life to a neglected garden, as well as her sickly cousin and uncle. Based on the beloved children’s novel and winner of three Tony Awards, The Secret Garden is a timeless tale of hope and inspiration. Best for ages 8+. Cost is $20.
Brother Rabbit Spinning Free
January 25-27, Fri., 7:30pm; Sat., 11:00am; Sun., 2:00pm
Don’t miss the world premiere of this multicultural production – inspired by the people who have made the Carolinas their home – written specifically for Children’s Theatre of Charlotte’s Tarradiddle Players. Brother Rabbit is the quickest, cleverest, wittiest rabbit there ever was, but Slippy Fox sees him as one thing and one thing only: dinner. Brother Rabbit’s only hope of escape is to distract Slippy Fox with irresistible stories, such as “Martín the Magnificent,” from Central America, “The Fisherman Prince,” from the Vietnamese, “The Very First Fire,” from the Cherokee, and “Lookout Mountain,” from the Gullah. Best for ages 5+. Cost is $16.
Author signing: Emily Smith Pearce – Slowpoke
Park Road Books
January 26, 11:00am
Fiona likes to take her time. She takes so much time that her toes wrinkle in the tub and her dog falls asleep waiting to be fed. When she misses the bus one time too many, her mom sends her to Speed School. One day, while eating doughnuts, listening to music, painting a picture, and dribbling a basketball all at the same time, Fiona’s head spins so fast it gets stuck. Backward! There’s only one way to get life back to Fiona’s favorite pace – she must show her family that “slow doesn’t stink.”
Latta Plantation Nature Center
January 26, 9:00am
Tired of watching reality TV about outdoor survival? Come out and learn some practical skills that could get you out of trouble in the backcountry. Topics covered will include: basic navigation (map and compass), primitive fires, shelter building, and more. Please bring water, a snack, and clothing appropriate to the weather (we will be outside!). Lunch will be provided. Registration is required. Cost is $15.
Build a Winter Den
Latta Plantation Nature Center
January 26, 1:00pm
Bring the family out and build your own winter den on our Audubon Trail. Learn some tips and tricks from one of our environmental educators before you head out into the woods in search of the best fallen sticks, logs, and leaves for your masterpiece. Registration is required. Cost is free.
Tosco Music Party
Dale F. Halton Theater, CPCC
January 26, 7:00pm-10:00pm
Now in its 24th year as the premier family musical event in the Charlotte area, the Tosco Music Party is held three times a year (in the winter, spring, and autumn). The format is a performance of one or two songs by each of a variety of approximately 20 scheduled acts (professional and amateur) who donate their time and talent. The evening offers an eclectic mix of all styles of music and includes Tosco’s trademark sing-alongs. Performers scheduled to appear include: Rebecca Loebe, Natalie Royal, Mark Kroos, Peter Mulvey, Sarah Morgan, Seth Glier, 10 String Symphony and more. Cost is $8-$15.
Get your tickets now for the circus! Jan. 30- Feb. 3
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® is proud to present DRAGONS!
For the first time in circus history, myth and majesty will share the arena during this must-see family event that can only be witnessed at The Greatest Show On Earth®! Experience circus spectacles so incredible that once again you will believe in the unbelievable! Dragon tribes from the far reaches of the earth are brought together in a single performance, displaying their breathtaking skills in a circus tournament of champions. Each tribe must prove that they have virtues of Courage, Strength, Wisdom and Heart to arouse dragons which appear right before your very eyes! Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime family event when The Greatest Show On Earth brings the world together… to bring your family together!
Just when we start relaxing in this quiet lull between holidays, something jolts us back into the reality of mommyhood: it’s almost February, which means most preschools are accepting applications for new students! If this is your first time maneuvering the great big world of preschool, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. We asked Smarty Mom of the Year, Charlotte Shakleford, preschool director at Mouzon United Methodist Church, to share with you some of her tips about how to pick the right preschool for your child.
You can also take a look at the Smarty preschool tips from last year to supplement your research. We have so many amazing preschools in Charlotte – you are sure to find one perfect for your child and your family.
Now here’s Charlotte’s advice on preschool enrollment:
Every year it sneaks up on me. I get the last Christmas ornament back in the box, and suddenly it’s time to plan for the upcoming school year. As a teacher I enjoy the planning component; it’s what keeps me sane and organized. Yet, every year preschool enrollment takes me by surprise.
If you have a preschooler (or a preschooler in training), you are probably in the process of touring schools to find the right fit, or waiting for your current school to send home registration forms for the upcoming school year. Most preschools in our area begin registration in February.
If you haven’t found your preschool home, here are a few tips to help in your search:
1. Bring your preschooler!
First and foremost, always take your preschooler with you when touring new schools. Children are so intuitive and will always let you know how they are feeling in a new environment. If the school looks great, but your child seems distressed or uncomfortable, keep looking.
2. Follow your “parental gut”
If everything looks good, but you’ve got a gut feeling that something is off, it isn’t the school for you. While some people joke and say, “It’s just preschool,” we as parents know that any decision involving our children is of the upmost importance. We want our child’s first school experience to build their confidence and help them feel loved and secure.
3. Play based learning? Academics? Or both?
Local preschools have a lot in common, but one thing that can set them apart is their method of teaching. We all know that preschoolers learn through play. They learn how to interact socially with their peers, follow their teachers’ directions and a multitude of other life skills. While play is an integral part of all preschools, we as parents need to decide if we want an academic focus as well. This is where the divide among preschools occurs… Some preschools believe that kids should be kids, and academics should not be a focus. Period. Other preschools believe that a play-based environment is an ideal opportunity to teach colors, shapes, letters, and various other academic concepts. In these schools, academics are taught through play, everyday. Going a step further, there are some preschools that function more like elementary schools. Children are expected to complete work sheets, learn through methods that don’t always involve play, and have homework in the afternoons. Regardless of which you think is best, it’s important to decide what type of program will benefit your child the most before scheduling your tour.
4. Do you have a TK-er?
Now that CMS (and most private schools) have moved the birthday deadline to August 31st, there are number of children that are in need of Transitional Kindergarten. Generally speaking, children with a birthday between August and December may need a TK program before Kindergarten. In other words, they’ve completed the toddlers, 2’s, 3’s and 4’s, but they still miss the deadline and cannot begin kindergarten. There are several great preschools that offer TK programs, and it’s definitely something to consider if you have a child(ren) with a late birthday.
5. Location, Times and other Conveniences
As parents, preschool hours are incredibly sacred. It allows our children to develop and learn from others, while giving us a chance to breathe so we can be a better mom when it’s time to pick them up. When choosing a preschool, look for a school that not only meets your child’s needs, but also your family’s needs. Is the school convenient to your home or work? Are the hours conducive to your schedule? Do you have friends or neighbors that attend the same preschool and could help with carpooling? As parents, it’s ok to be a little selfish and still find the perfect school for your child.
It amazes me how quickly each school year passes. Our sweet children grow up so quickly, and attending preschool allows them to develop skills that will benefit for a lifetime.
Thank you, Charlotte, for all of your wisdom! We want to hear from you – do you and your child love your preschool? Where do you go and why is it THE BEST in town?