Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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July 22, 2014

The benefits of dance therapy and how Miller Street Dance Academy allows you to get involved

I remember the day like it was yesterday.  Monday, April 14th, 2008.  This was the day that my 3-year-old daughter would be starting a new experimental drug at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  The drug was called 3f8.  Our every hope was resting on this new drug that was developed to hopefully cure the Neuroblastoma growing inside her and we were there to receive it for the first time on that rainy April morning.  I did my research on this drug and it was showing promising results, the bad part however (because with cancer… there is always a bad part) was that the pain was intense for your child.  One Mother even told me that it would be like watching your child be set on fire, a pain they have never experiences or can possibly comprehend.  And to make matters worse, she would receive it every day for a week – with three weeks off and then back to receive a week of treatment again… possibly for years.MSDA Dreas Dream

Like most treatments, it is a waiting game.  Rush to the hospital and then sit and wait.  While we were waiting in agony of what we were about to put our child through, three women from the Dance Therapy Department came in to see us.  I know what you are all thinking… dance therapy?  Honestly, I was thinking it too.  But these women connected to Isabella immediately.   They put on relaxing music and played with blue scarves.  They moved these scarves back and forth to a slow rhythm as they taught her to breathe with the movement.  They taught us how to hold her and rock her in this ocean movement with breathing exercises that focused her.

And then it was our turn for treatment.

For 10 minutes we rocked and breathed together… and then the pain hit.  At the age of 3, children don’t know what to do with the amount of pain they are experiencing so they hold their breath.  We had to teach her to scream so that she wouldn’t pass out from the pain.  The children feel as if their chest is being crushed, their throat is swelling shut and the pain is surging through every limb in their body.  We knew that we had to do something to help her because the high dose pain medications that they were pushing straight through her IV to her heart were barely touching the pain.  So instead, we turned up the music and began to rock her gently and breathed to the rhythm of the movement that we were all doing simultaneously.  That’s when it all came together.  It was something for her to focus on and her mind was overtaken by the music, the movement, the breathing in her ear.  Our three-year-old daughter who could barely use the potty was doing something amazing in front of us.  She was meditating through pain. Read More →

July 21, 2014

Training to be a flower girl

The day has come.  She’s wearing a white dress, looking beautiful. Her mommy’s eyes well with tears and her daddy couldn’t be more proud. It may not be what you think, but our daughter was a first-time flower girl. The setting was breathtaking – a sunset wedding on the beaches of the Outer Banks. It couldn’t have been more gorgeous as the sun set with a few Bob Ross fluffy clouds lingered in the sky.flowergirl3

I was a proud mama seeing my “big girl” do her thing. Little did anyone know the practice we had leading up to her 30-seconds in the spotlight.

The dress. We wanted to make sure the dress was good for walking in the sand (not too long) and approved by the bride. Luckily the bride was carefree and it wasn’t too difficult. We scored our dress for less than $20 from Thank goodness because I don’t see her wearing a white dress to daycare…just sayin’. Read More →

July 20, 2014

Smarty Cooking School: Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Manicotti

I’m a firm believer that even if you’re not big on cooking, that you should have at least 3 to 5 recipes in your ‘arsenal’ that you can make at the drop of a hat.  You should know these recipes by heart and they should be forgiving when you don’t have everything on hand…and a crowd pleaser (this is not the time to start introducing things like quinoa, vegan cheese or hot curry powder).  These are recipes that can A) serve a small crowd that may or may not include children and B) can be made in advance, so you all you have to do when everyone arrives, is pop that bad boy in the oven and wait for the aroma of something home cooked to fill the air.  This is one of mine…

First let me tell you what this isn’t!  It’s not fussy, and it’s not fancy…but when you serve it, it feels a little of both.  It’s so tasty and comforting at the same time…this is most definitely one that you’ll reach for come fall!  <Do yourself a favor, open your planner to some date in late Oct, and write down, “Make Cyn’s Manicotti” – you’ll be happy you did!!>  I digress…back to the task at hand ;o)  So why am I giving you this recipe now…you know, in the dead of summer?  Because it really isn’t a “heavy” meal, it’s just a comforting one – I’ve tweaked it quite a bit since I started making it a few years ago, and this one really hits the spot.  It’s packed FULL of healthy, protein with chicken breasts, roasted red peppers, fresh basil….trust me on this, it will be love at first bite!  For some reason, the men in my family seem to LOVE this one!  I hope you love it too!  Xoxo

First things first – let’s get those ingredients ready!!!  I break this one into two steps…the sauce and the actual dish….

Light Alfredo, reduced fat Italian blend shredded cheese, roasted red peppers (NOT packed in oil) and fresh basil

1Manicotti shells, reduced fat shredded cheese, Italian style bread crumbs, roasted chicken breasts, garlic powder and reduced fat onion and chive cream cheese Read More →


By Kimberly Paulk, Senior Connector at, a free, easy and local website that makes it easy to learn about and engage with our local nonprofits

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” ― Henry Adams

Without a strong foundation in math, success in higher levels of learning is difficult. Here in Charlotte, 70% of economically disadvantaged students scored below grade level in 3rd – 8th grade math in 2012/13. Wait – did you read that sentence too quickly? In case you missed it, that number is 70%.heart-tutor-student2

The good news is there are a lot of people working toward a solution. One group making real headway is HEART Tutoring. They take direct aim at the problem by targeting elementary students with one-on-one math tutoring twice a week. And it’s working. Read More →

July 19, 2014

Smarty Mom: Nicole Levine

I am very excited to introduce Nicole Levine to you all. This Smarty Mom has recently gone back to work full-time after having a second beautiful baby girl. She has some great insight on being a working mom surviving the day-to-day!Levine family

Let’s get to know Nicole!

Smarty Mom: Nicole Levine

‪‪Name: ‬‬ Nicole Levine
‪‪Married to: Justin Levine.  This year we will be married 5 years.
‪‪Children: Brooke 3 years old, Avery 6 months old
‪‪Years in Charlotte: I was born and raised in Charlotte. I went to Boston for graduate school then came back home.
‪‪Originally from:  Charlotte, NC
‪‪Occupation: Social Worker

This isn’t your first rodeo. Talk to us about what your second pregnancy was like.

My second pregnancy was great.  I had more energy and felt more prepared.  I didn’t freak out about every gas bubble, hiccup or ache and pain.  With a little one running around I didn’t have time to think about how I was feeling. I loved having Brooke around to experience this pregnancy with my husband and me.  She would talk to my belly all the time and took part in the countdown to Avery’s arrival.  Brooke knew the Avery’s name by week 12 and the best part was that she kept it a secret. Even when people would ask her she would smile and say “sister.”  Read More →

July 18, 2014

Fitness Friday: Meet our newest Smarty Fitness Partner – TITLE Boxing Club

We’re so excited to introduce you to our newest Smarty fitness partner, TITLE Boxing Club. We’ve done kickboxing in the past, but let us be the first to tell you: NOTHING comes close to the kind of boxing Title Boxing Club dishes out. If you’re looking for a full-body strength and cardio routine that will leave you dripping with sweat, TITLE’s boxing and kickboxing workout might just be your answer.Smarty Boxing Oh, and it burns up to 1,000 calories in an hour (yep, we thought that’d get your attention!).

TITLE Boxing Club recently hosted team Smarty and a few of our friends for a one hour private kickboxing sweat session. After a fifteen minute “warm up” (um, we were warm after the first set of jumping jacks, but he just kept GOING!), eight three-minute boxing sessions, an ab series (with really cool ab moves that had us tremblin’!), and a cool down, we left TITLE Boxing completely spent and SO happy – how could you not? All stress in your life is punched out in those three-minute boxing sessions. Promise. Every single Smarty there thought it was a fantastic work out led by an amazing instructor; and, rumor has it, Team Smarty was sore for a solid two days post-workout ;-) .

TITLE Boxing Club is led by a super friendly staff – we really can’t say enough positive things about its peeps. They made us feel so welcome and felt so strongly about what they were doing that their positive energy can’t help but rub off on you. Read More →

July 17, 2014

Smarty Summer Steal: Fun Facts About Fleas & a Smarty discount!

Henry with fleas

Recently, we had a flea emergency in our house and it was one hot mess! We got back from our Florida vacation and our sweet baby dog came home with fleas. YUCK!! Maybe the problem was that we were just a few days overdue on the monthly Frontline application. I could not believe how quickly the problem escalated. As usual, we quick texted our favorite mobile vet, Dr. Alexis Sage and she’s here to share some quick facts and tips about fleas:

They are here-in your yard, on your pets, and in your house. So you might as well educate yourself about these tiny, pesky creatures. It is possible to get rid of them but you must be diligent.

An adult flea can bite your dog or cat more than 300 times a day.

The female flea can lay up to 40 eggs per day.

If your animal is infested, the eggs will roll off of it wherever it goes-like your rugs, bed, furniture, and yard, thus spreading the infestation.

Adult fleas can live more than 100 days. The other stages of the flea life cycle include pupae, larvae, and eggs. Pupae can live up to 74 days; larvae 5-11 days; eggs hatch in 1-10 days.

Fleas survive on the blood of their hosts, which include humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, squirrels ,rats, guinea pigs, ferrets, mice and chickens.

Fleas can jump 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally. Read More →

July 16, 2014

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events: July 18-20

Discovery Place

Smarty Scoop is proudly sponsored by Discovery Place, Discovery Place KIDS – Huntersville and The Charlotte Nature Museum.

FRIDAY, July 18

Aladdin Jr.
Fullwood Theatre
100 McDowell Street East, Matthews, NC (704) 846-8343
July 18 – 27, Click here for schedule, All ages, $10 – $12
Summary: Based on the Disney animated film, this musical will transport you to Agrabah, City of Enchantment, where we’re about to begin the fantastic tale of the street rat who became a prince! Join us for this musical adventure filled with magic, mayhem, and flying carpet rides. This toe-tapping musical features an Academy award-winning score, with songs by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, including “A Whole New World” and “Friend Like Me,” that will have you dancing in your seat!

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Present: Mary Poppins

Dale F. Halton Theater
1206 Elizabeth Ave., Charlotte, NC (704) 330-6840
July 18 – 26, Click here for schedule, All ages, $10 – $22
Summary: Delight your family with the musical that’s supercalifragicexpialidocious good! Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, MARY POPPINS includes a score filled with timeless classics such as “Feed the Birds”, “Jolly Holiday”, “Step in Time” and the Academy Award®-winning “Chim-Chim Cher-ee”. There’s trouble brewing on Cherry Tree Lane and only the indomitable Mary Poppins can put things “spit spot”. You won’t want to miss a moment as Mary with the aid of her friend Bert and his army of Chimney Sweeps turn London upside down bringing the Bank’s family back together.

Gemstone Mining
The Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, NC (704) 866-6900
June 9 – August 10, Click here for schedule, All ages, $10 – $14, includes museum admission
Summary: Visit our gemstone mine to find mineral treasures like garnets, topaz, rubies, emeralds, and rose quartz. Participants keep everything that is found! $4 with museum admission.

Shrek Forever After
Studio Movie Grill
210 E. Trade St., Charlotte, NC (704) 972-1062
July 18, 11:00am, All ages, $2
Summary: Rumpelstiltskin tricks a mid-life crisis burdened Shrek into allowing himself to be erased from existence and cast in a dark alternate timeline where Rumpel rules supreme.

Read More →

July 15, 2014

Smarty Giveaway: Pogginz Sports Helmet Accessories

We’ve got a super cute AND functional giveaway today, Smarties! Have you heard of Pogginz sports helmets accessories? They are a fun and affordable way to customize any sports helmet – kids ages four and up can choose from a variety of designs and mix-n-match to create the look THEY want. If you’ve ever heard complaints from the peanut gallery about wearing a helmet, this might be the perfect giveaway for you. I guarantee you no kid will complain after being able to jazz up a boring, basic helmet with some Pogginz.

Pogginz™ was created by Charlottean Claire O’Neal, a registered nurse turned homeschool mom and now, mompreneur. The idea came to her while she was on a bike ride training for a triathlon. With firm beliefs in fitness, health and keeping kids moving, Claire created Pogginz to encourage kids to be safe while expressing their own unique spirit. You know we love a Smarty mompreneur, and we’re so proud that Claire hails from the QC because we think Pogginz can be HUGE.

Pogginz sent some lil’ Smarties a couple of designs to play around with. Lil’ Smarty Claire is modeling the princess Pogginz here:

Claire Pogginz Read More →

July 14, 2014

Etsy Finds

Oh how I love Etsy, let me count the ways. 

If I was going to adopt a new pet, I would name it ‘Etsy’ in homage to my favorite place to shop on the interwebs.  I hate going to a real store and prefer online shopping over an ‘in person’ experience any day of the week.  I’m weird like that.

Etsy is simply divine.  The shopowners and artisans I have worked with have all been super helpful, very nice, and take pride in their work.  I’ve never had a bad shopping experience on Etsy.  

Etsy is my ‘go to’ for that person that is hard to buy for (my grandfather, my daddy, pretty much all men in my family…).    It’s also a great place for home decor, jewelry, and have I mentioned gifts, gifts, gifts, galore!

Here are the Etsy shops that I heart.  Check them out. 

Zourra Designs (pillows)
I needed pillows to coordinate with orange outdoor furniture. And, I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time riding around looking at fabric.  Have I mentioned that I don’t like the ‘in person’ version of shopping? Etsy to the rescue!   Of course, the pillow fabric (and rug) were chosen by my friend,  Smarty Margaret

couchNora Quinonez (pillows)
My couch was in desperate need of new pillow styling.  I got the navy pillows with white grosgain from Nora.  

Chic Decor Pillows (pillows)
I thought I was about to come to the end of Etsy searching for something that could tie it all together on my couch.  And then, boom, I found Chic Decor Pillows.  I got the Ikat-ish pillows on my couch from her. Read More →

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