Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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July 28, 2014

Smarty Steal: Back-to-School Mini Photo Session with Kristen Montgomery Photography

The excitement of the Back-to-School season is right around the corner, and one of our fave Smarty photographers, Kristen Montgomery Photography, is offering a unique and super cute Smarty Steal to document it. Kristen’s Back to School Mini Photo Session is a chance to get professional snapshots with a little pizazz – check out more examples on her web site.

Kristen Montgomery

We LOVE Kristen’s style – her photos always capture the heart of a family and these Back to School photos are SO unique and ones you will definitely treasure. As a mother of two little girls, Kristen Montgomery knows how quickly time flies and how important it is to capture precious family moments in photographs. She truly believes one of the best investments you can make for your family is choosing the right photographer who is able to capture the love between your family members, the spirit of your children, the innocence of your baby or the tenderness of your newborn. Kristen specializes in newborn, baby, children, maternity and family photography. She has a home studio but loves lifestyle sessions where she can capture those “in between” moments.

Kristen Montgomery CSP Swag Read More →

July 27, 2014

SUNDAY SMARTY SHARE from SHARE Charlotte: Misty Meadows Mitey Riders

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

No one can teach riding as well as a horse. – CS Lewis

“You’ve got to watch this video,” I called up the stairs to my husband after watching a short documentary about Misty Meadows Mitey Riders. I hope you’ll watch it too, because it captures something I won’t be able to in this post – the spirit of the place.Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 2.56.13 PM

This is a place of hope, where children with special needs get equine-assisted therapy to help them develop cognitively, physically and socially. That means kids improve things like their range of motion, core strength and muscle tone. But they gain much more than that. Their time with the horses, staff and volunteers allow them to experience priceless things like friendship, achievement and compassion. Read More →

July 26, 2014

Smarty Dad: Brad Strouse

When my wife and I moved into our current house right before our first child was born in fall of 2003, there were a number of moms with children outside most days. Honestly, it was a bit intimidating and, at first, I was concerned about fitting in our new neighborhood. Brad StrouseI soon realized that the family next door had a dad that met his kids at the bus stop every day and spent countless hours outside supervising them as they played in the cul-de-sac almost daily. I was relieved and we soon became friends. Since his eldest child is eight years older than my eldest, he has been a valuable mentor as I have watched him deftly handle all the duties of raising three children, volunteering at their schools, managing extracurricular activities for all his kids, being president of the homeowners association (he talked me into being VP) and acting as the general contractor for a major addition to his home. He is also a skilled advocate for his and others’ children and is quick to help anyone he sees can use a hand.

I would like to introduce you to my neighbor, friend and fellow stay-at-home dad, Brad Strouse. Read More →

July 25, 2014

My Problems with Socks

One of the reasons I like summer is that it gives me a break from the ‘sock wars’ in my house. During summer and pool season, Crocs and flops rule the day and socks are an afterthought most of the time. I can breathe a sigh of relief.Socks

The Sock Police

One might think that after almost ten years of parenting, socks wouldn’t bother me anymore. Here’s the deal: I am scarred from my early years of being a stay-at-home dad and my many interactions with the ‘sock police.’ Whenever I went shopping, they came out in force. Always there to enforce the rule: “Kids need socks ALL THE TIME.” What better way to strike up a friendly conversation with a dad and baby in the checkout line than “Poor thing, I bet your toes are cold. Did DAD forget your socks?” All I could ever muster in response was a sigh and a shrug.

Of course I didn’t forget her socks. They are in the back seat of the van…along with the Robeez she peeled off and discarded on the way over here. Yes, the very same Robeez that are SUPPOSED to PREVENT her from taking off her socks. What can I say, the girl has skills! I think she’ll be fine, but I’ll try harder to keep socks on her feet tomorrow. Thanks.

Fast forward TEN years and believe it or not, I STILL get sock comments at the store. I can be out shopping with my four kids, the youngest will have taken off her socks and put her shoes back on in the van on the way to the store and BUSTED! After shooting a disapproving glance at me, some ‘kind’ person will look at my child with pity and say to her, “What happened to your socks? Did dad forget them?” Called out yet again, all I can muster in response is a sigh and a shrug. Read More →

July 24, 2014

The Pogginz Sports Helmet Accessory Winner is…

Congratulations to Ashley Dunham – our Pogginz winner! She won her choice of a Pogginz sports helmet accessory!
Ashley Dunham

Pogginz are designed to be taken on and off and switched up. They come with an interlocking system (like Velcro) that enables kids to snap ‘em on and off. They’re universal, so they’ll fit any kind of helmet – bike, ski, skateboarding, you name it. We think this would make a perfect birthday present for the older preschool and younger elementary school crowd!
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Smarty Alert: Preschool spots still open

Through-the-Week School at Myers Park Baptist Church is currently accepting fall registrations in their two-year-old and four/five-year-old programs.  Through-the-Week school year begins September 2, which is just around the corner. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for your child to attend one of the best preschools in the Charlotte area (my two girls are alumnae, so I might be a little biased, but we had a great experience there!).TTWS-Home-Page-Photo

For 60 years, Through-the-Week School has provided the highest standards of early childhood education to the Charlotte community. The program is committed to the school motto We Play to Learn and believe that children learn best when they are at play. The creative staff and bright classroom environment encourage developmentally appropriate exploration and curiosity with emphasis on kindergarten readiness. Read More →

July 23, 2014

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events: July 25-27

Discovery Place

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

Panthers FanFest

Bring the entire family and enjoy a great night of entertainment this Friday night July 25. This epic night kicks off the Carolina Panthers 20th season!

The stadium gates open at 5 p.m. with performances by the TopCats, PurrCussion and Black & Blue Crew. The Fan Fest Sponsor Village, located by the North Gate, will have tents with interactive games, giveaways, Twist the Balloon Man, music and inflatables.

Practice begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Panthers personnel, a live performance by the Voltage Brothers and finishes with fireworks at 9:00. Of course this event is open to the public and is FREE.

Also, it will be impossible to miss the two new 63′ tall x 212′ wide high definition scoreboards above each end zone, two new ribbon boards approximately five feet tall that encircle the entire bowl at the club level and upper level, a new distributed sound system and newly installed escalators. See ya’ there!

FRIDAY, July 25

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.

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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 experienced 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 →

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