Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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September 24, 2016

Smarty Mom: Stephanie Rickenbaker

I am so excited to introduce you to this ultra Smarty Mom, Stephanie Rickenbaker. She and I go waaaaaay back – I mean, like back to elementary school board games, high school nights spent working at GapKids SouthPark, and post-college, pre-marriage apartment living. She’s someone I’ve known so long and so well that I first had this post headlined with her maiden name and realized my mistake just in the nick of time ;-). I am SO proud of where she is now and what’s she’s doing – she deserves every bit of success.img_4680

Stephanie is the mom to two beautiful kiddos and an amazing momprenuer. If you’re on MIC, you’ve probably heard of the business that is TAKING OFF – Sweet’s Syrup. It’s an elderberry syrup immune booster that you’re gonna want to know about right in time for flu season.

I’ll let her talk more about what got her started and how this elderberry syrup and Sweet’s has changed her life. Enjoy getting to know one of my lifetime friends, Stephanie Rickenbaker!

Smarty Mom: Stephanie Rickenbaker

Married to: Ed for 5 years
Children: Olivia, 4 and Teddy 1.5
Hometown: Matthews (moved from Minnesota at age 6, nearly native)
Years in Charlotte: 34
Neighborhood: Myers Park
Alma Mater: Appalachian State and MBA from University of Colorado
Occupation: Stay at Home Mom and Sweet’s Owner/ Syrup Maker

Tell us about your new elderberry syrup business, Sweet’s Syrup.

Elderberry syrup is a super immune booster and effective natural remedy for coughs, colds, allergies and the flu. The raw local honey I use is extremely beneficial for fighting seasonal allergies and is fine tuned to build immunity against what is currently blooming in Charlotte. Organic ingredients of elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves make a delicious, kid approved flavor packed with antioxidants. It is safe for children over age one (not under because of the raw honey) and nursing mamas. I named it after my daughter Olivia, who we nickname “Sweet” – she’s my sweetest fan. Read More →

September 23, 2016

Fitness Friday: Fall is in the Air and September FLYgear is here!

Fall is in the air and fresh FLYgear has landed in the Charlotte studio! Check out our Charlotte models in the coolest workout duds in town:

Flywheel Charlotte Sep Gear

Get lost in deep sea blue shades, slip on super soft sports bras, crush classes in new performance tanks and RIDE leggings, and stock up on new FLY slogan tanks. Whether you choose to “Live for the Ride” or “Push Yourself”, one thing’s for sure: the new collection is a perfect fit for your back-to-September shopping list.

We are SUPER proud of our FLY Charlotte crew – these ladies are unbelievably strong, beautiful and motivating! Read More →

September 22, 2016

Smarty Giveaway: Melody Ellison – the NEW 2016 American Girl Beforever Doll!

American Girl Melody Record Shop

Smarties, we are proud to host an amazing giveaway for all of you who have American Girl doll lovers in your life! Meet Melody Ellison, the newest in American Girl’s BeForever collection and such an important piece of American history.

In typical Smarty fashion, we are giving away one Melody™ BeForever American Girl doll to a very lucky reader, read on!

The history behind Melody Ellison

Melody Ellison is a 9-year old growing up in Detroit, Michigan during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Melody lifts her voice for equality and helps bring this significant time in America’s history to life for girls today. She loves to sing and blend her voice with others in harmony. After seeing her family members face racial discrimination and experiencing it for herself, Melody decides to add her voice to those speaking up about inequality. Read More →

From the Smarty Education Corner and Charlotte Christian School – Creating Lifelong Learners: Teaching the Growth Mindset

By Samantha Hale, 5th grade teacher, Charlotte Christian School

Each year my head spins with ideas about how to empower my students and help them to become successful writers. I know this similar ideal is true for my colleagues here at Charlotte Christian. I’m not a parent yet, but I imagine a parent brims with ideas of their child’s possibilities. We all are working together for the common goal of helping students reach their potential, helping them achieve success. The lower school has been discussing and learning about a mindset that leads to that end.

Recently, in our lower school professional development, Fourth Grade Teacher Lisa Smitherman gave a wonderful presentation on the growth mindset. In summary, there are two types of mindsets: growth and fixed. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, defines a growth mindset as, “People believing that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” On the other hand a fixed mindset is characterized by believing your intelligence or abilities are static, unchangeable. Parents and teachers should encourage students to possess the growth mindset in all areas of their life. Modeling the growth mindset will also set an example for children to follow.  We should all ask ourselves “What mindset do I usually possess? What do I model for my student?” Read More →

September 21, 2016

Smarty Scoop on Weekend Events: September 23-25

Discovery Place

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


The 9th annual Isabella Santos Foundation 5K/10K Race For Kids Cancer and 1-Mile Fun Run will take place in Ballantyne Corporate Park, Saturday, September 24, 2016 and will start at 8 am.

We had such an outstanding turnout last year with over 3,000 participants and we raised over $300,000, allowing us to hit the $1,000,000 mark over the life of the foundation. Check out our video from last year’s event…it truly was something to behold!

Festival in the Park
Freedom Park
1409 East Blvd., Charlotte, NC
September 23-25, See website for schedule, All ages, Free
Summary: Since 1964, Festival in the Park has been bringing good music, good art and good times to Charlotteans and visitors from around the world. The sounds of “big band music” drift across Freedom Park’s lake whose still surface reflects the lights strung from Camelot exhibit tents.

Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Bank of America Stadium
800 South Mint Street, Charlotte, NC
See website for schedule and ticket prices

14523 Carowinds Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28273
Summary: Not recommended for children under 13. Guests wearing costumes or face paint will not be permitted. Please note, SCarowinds is a special ticket event not covered by regular Carowinds admission.

UNC Charlotte’s 41st Annual International Festival
Barnhardt Student Activity Center
9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC
September 24, 10:00am – 6:00pm, All ages, Free
Summary: The International Festival is centered around booths arranged in colorful marketplace style representing the cultures of over 50 nations. The booths are staffed by UNC Charlotte international students and members of Charlotte’s international community and feature art, crafts and costumes from each participating country. Many booths offer international food for sale.

Amazing Maize Maze
Historic Rural Hill
4431 Neck Road, Huntersville, NC
September 10 – November 6, See website for schedule and prices
Summary: There’s more than enough fun and confusion for all! Get lost in our giant seven-acre corn maze featuring over two miles of interconnecting paths. One of the largest in the Southeast, our maze is sure to please! The whole of Rural Hill’s 265 acres is available to you and your group during maze hours – take a hayride around the farm, play a round of corn-hole, explore our historic site, play in our mini-mazes, have a picnic, hike our trails, pick a pumpkin (in October,) & much, much more!

Repticon Charlotte Reptile & Exotic Animal Expo
Cabarrus Arena & Events Center
4751 Highway 49 North, Concord, NC
September 24-25, See website for schedule and ticket prices

Fall AutoFair
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Parkway South, Concord, NC
September 22-25, See website for schedule and ticket prices
Summary: Car lovers rejoice! The world’s largest automotive extravaganza, the Charlotte AutoFair, returns September 22-25, bringing together thousands of hot rods, muscle cars, exotic sports cars and classic automobiles.

Britax Warehouse Sale
Britax Headquarters
4140 Pleasant Road, Ft. Mill, SC
September 24, 8:00am – 4:00pm, Free
Summary: Up to 70% off overstock items. Huge selection of Britax Convertible Seats, booster and infant car seats, baby carriers, strollers, and bike trailers and accessories. Credit only; all sales final. 

Food Truck Fridays at Plaza Midwood
Central Avenue (Behind the Light Factory)
1817 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC
Every Friday, 5:00pm, All ages, Free
Summary: We are thrilled to announce that Food Truck Friday’s new location will be behind The Light Factory, 1817 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205, in Plaza-Midwood. This is right across the street from the Harris Teeter, a perfect location for the many residents of the area who love to stroll through the neighborhood. Family friendly, this location is sure to become a favorite Friday night destination for Charlotteans.

River Jam Concert Series 
U.S. National Whitewater Center
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy, Charlotte, NC
See website for schedule, 7:00pm – 10:00pm, $5 parking
Summary: Join us on Thursday and Saturday nights from May through September for River Jam, the USNWC’s weekly concert series. A talented line-up of national musical acts provide the perfect back drop for a fun summer evening outdoors. Bring your friends, enjoy our large food and craft beer selection, and take in the sights and sounds of River Jam.

Charlotte Knights Baseball
BB&T Stadium
324 South Mint Street, Charlotte, NC
See website for season schedule and ticket prices

Discovery Place
301 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC (704) 372-6261
Summary: Step into a world where science is brought to life through interactive exhibits and explosive experiments during daily programs. Connect with the past and visit the future with groundbreaking exhibitions, larger-than-life IMAX Dome films and hands on activities that let you explore more. Plan your visit today. Click on the links below for detailed information on special events, featured exhibitions, featured shows and IMAX.

Featured Exhibitions: For information on all exhibitions click here.
Featured Shows: For information on all featured shows click here.
IMAX: For information on all featured movies and showtimes click here.

Discovery Place Kids – Huntersville
105 Gilead Road, Huntersville, NC (704) 372-6261
Summary: Explore the theme of I CAN at Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville. The children’s museum features developmentally-appropriate experiences that encourage imagination and offer the opportunity to build confidence while testing skills by trying new things. The exhibits, themed around a small town, allow children to learn through play.

Theme Areas: For a complete description of all nine theme areas click here.
Featured Shows: For a complete listing of all featured shows click here.
Current and Upcoming Events: For all current and upcoming events click here.

Charlotte Nature Museum
1658 Sterling Road, Charlotte, NC (704) 372-6261
Summary: Bring little ones for just an hour or the whole day and experience wildlife through live animal exhibits and interactive education programs. The Museum is easy to navigate with fun surprises around every corner. Kids can roam The Great Hall and visit Beginnings, an area filled with young animals and information on their lifecycles.

Featured Exhibitions: For complete details on exhibitions and exhibits click here.
Featured Shows: For a complete schedule of show times click here.

Carolina Raptor Center
6000 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC (704) 875-6521
Summary: Carolina Raptor Center is dedicated to environmental stewardship and the conservation of birds of prey through education, research, and the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned raptors. As a charitable 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, CRC relies on public financial support to fulfill our mission. Supporters can release a raptor, adopt a bird, make a charitable donation, purchase a membership or sponsor a capital improvement project. CRC’s environmental education programs reach approximately 40,000 students each year. Our Raptor Trail hosts more than 35,000 visitors a year. Visit our calendar page for event times or just come and enjoy our nicely maintained trails and see all the amazing birds of prey.

The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 East Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC (704) 866-6900
Summary: The natural wonders of North America and North Carolina coupled with the rich history of our region are all reflected in The Schiele’s exceptional exhibitions and diverse programming. Whether you’re indoors or out, with the kids or your colleagues, by bringing you a lot closer to nature, The Schiele will bring you a little closer to yourself.

Featured Exhibits: For a complete listing click here
Planetarium: For a complete schedule click here
Events Calendar: For all events click here

September 20, 2016

Advertising to kids

I work in the wild, wild world in advertising and I love it. I get to work with great brands that allow me to help develop creative campaigns that are seen on HGTV and in magazines around the world. I have to pinch myself almost daily that I get to do this for a living. I find it really interesting how brands develop their look, everything from the colors in their logo to the fonts chosen for a tagline.

It’s coming to light now that my kids are picking up on it in their everyday worlds. Here are a few examples of ways marketing and advertising have caught my kids’ attention.

– I can only imagine what the marketing executive at Target thinks when my 4-year-old says, let’s go to the “red store”. She knows Target by the logo, which is evident when she sees the Sunday ads (yes, I still get those) and whenever we pass a Target store, whether it be our normal one or one in another state.

– McDonalds, or as my kids call it, “Old McDonalds”. My kids love those golden arches and know how to order their own kids meals.

– Wendy’s, or as my kids call it, “the girl restaurant”. This one is funny as my daughter asks me about “the girl’s daddy” – who ironically was the face of the brand for years.

– My son knows a pizza delivery car from a mile away. He sees the lighted sign atop a car and yells, “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!”

– If I go to a grocery store that’s not the “green grocery store” (Publix) my kids’ world is turned upside down.

– It’s interesting when watching commercials on Sprout with the kids, the one that catches their attention isn’t the toy commercial but rather the Pampers commercial with a woman singing about hugs and moms snuggling their babies, called “Power of Hugs”. Stops them in their tracks every time.

As you can see in some of the examples of how my kids reference stores by the colors, a brand’s selection of colors is important and often relates to an emotion they are trying to convey. Here is a great image found from The Logo Company that explains the emotions that colors communicate.
5-17-emotion Read More →

September 19, 2016

The Quest for Happiness and Your Bucket List

We make to-do lists and mental notes everyday. Perhaps imagery pops into your mind of goals you seeing yourself accomplish. You see yourself eagerly getting through these lists, yet you never actually do. At least not yet because there is always tomorrow…

A moment. Think about that word and then think about all that can happen in one single moment. A lot can happen. Meaningful moments and opportunities are presented to us everyday, but they are often taken for granted or overlooked. They are presented in the form of each new day that we awaken to, but we let the word procrastination slip into action all too often.images

We skirt around them, leaving our reminders in our peripheral vision. I do it everyday. We don’t always attack our goals or desires head on. Valid excuses like kids, work, activities, and not enough time blur our quest. And what exactly is the quest? The quest has always been and will always be the same for everyone: happiness. We all desire to live a happy life.

Happiness is attained differently by each one of us. We are all born with a different sense of purpose that requires us to travel down varying paths. No one is right or wrong. If you are listening to your true self, then you are right. If we all walked in one another’s footsteps, not a lot of change and impact would happen in the world or within ourselves.

So what do these lists have to do with happiness? You are probably thinking that they are arduous and time sucking. I am not talking about the grocery list, carpool reminders, or even work agendas. I am talking about your happiness goals or the life experiences you wish upon- also known as your bucket list. Have you even written them down? What comes to the top of that list when you open yourself up to the world, when you allow yourself to come into focus? Read More →

September 18, 2016

Smarty Alert: Britax Warehouse Sale on 9/24, up to 70% off!

Britax Warehouse Sale

Breaking news! Our Smarty friends at Britax are hosting a Warehouse Sale on Saturday, 9/24. This is in conjunction with all of their events for Child Passenger Safety Week September 18-24. Here are the details.

Warehouse Sale at Britax Headquarters

Shoppers will have access to a wide selection of Britax and BOB Gear products priced up to 70 percent off.

Britax encourages shoppers to bring household items to donate to two local non-profit organizations that help at-risk youth and babies in the greater Charlotte, N.C. area, The Florence Crittenton Services Agency and The Children’s Attention Home. To find the products that would be the most useful to these organizations, please visit here.

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Britax Child Safety
4140 Pleasant Road
Fort Mill, S.C. (4140 Pleasant Road)

Britax, alongside pregnant radio personality at WPEG Power 98 in Charlotte, Adrien “Vonyetta” Watson, will announce its donation of 25 B-Ready strollers and 25 B-Safe 35 infant car seats for the September 10 event, “Vonyetta’s Big Giveback Charity Shower,” for at-risk pregnant teens. Read More →

September 17, 2016

Smarty Mom: Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones Family

Photo creds: Jamie Vinson Photography

I’m so excited to introduce you all to my friend, Jenny Jones. While we’ve been neighbors for several years, I only recently learned that she was a passenger on flight 1549 when we started discussing the movie Sully. I guess being in a plane crash isn’t something that normally comes up in casual conversation! While this event is a small part of Jenny’s life, I had to get the full details after seeing the terrific film based on the Miracle on the Hudson.

Jenny’s Smarty Mom Stats:

Married to: Tray 7 years (We got married May 30th after the January 15th crash)
Children: Annie almost 5, Lucy 2.5 and Maggie 1
Years in Charlotte: Born and raised in Charlotte
Alma Mater: Appalachian State
Occupation: Previously a Risk Manager until Annie was born in 2011. Now I am the president of crumbs, diapers, boo boos and snuggles!

So I can’t believe you have lived in our neighborhood for so long without me knowing that you were on flight 1549! How did you and your loved ones feel about a movie being made? What was it like seeing the movie?

I was excited and anxious about the movie. When I heard they were going to do a movie on Sully, I was excited for him. He is a very humble person who did an amazing thing, he should be given praise! With so much negativity around us in the media, it’s always nice to see something positive (or at least a happy ending). I planned to see the movie with Tray first but ended up asking my mom, brother, sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law. They all came with me. Watching the movie was more intense than I anticipated; I shed quite a few tears. But overall I enjoyed watching the story unfold. Many of the images shown in the movie from video clips off of the piers to pictures taken of the plane floating were ones I’ve seen a million times yet never get old. The idea of a plane floating down the Hudson River is still one that baffles me. Read More →

September 16, 2016

News from the Smarty Education Corner: The 2016-17 School Open House Guide

Charlotte School Open House Season? WHAT? School just started! It’s hard to believe and hard to handle when we are just sliding into the new school year. In typical Smarty style, we took some of the pain out of the process as we unveil the 2016-17 Smarty School Open House Guide below!

We are very proud to announce our partners for the 2016-17 Smarty Education Corner, presented by Discovery Place, Discovery Place Kids and Charlotte Nature Museum: Charlotte Christian School, Charlotte Country Day School, Charlotte Lab School, Charlotte Latin School, Charlotte Preparatory School, Providence Day School, Palisades Episcopal School, The Fletcher School, Trinity Episcopal School, and Veritas Community School. Over the coming months, these educators will keep us informed on all things trending in education. We’re thrilled to align with this amazing group of organizations and we’ll deliver invaluable information all year long right to your Smarty devices!

Mark your calendars, Smarties, you’re going to want to hit all of the amazing schools that Charlotte has to offer! We will keep you updated all Open House season long, this is just the beginning! Read More →

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