Continuing with our promise to feature a new Smarty Mom every week, I present super-savvy smarty mom #2, Kristen Dodson. Kristen is a stay-at-home mom primarily, but works at the YMCA part-time as well. She lives in South Charlotte and has two beautiful girls, Abby, 7 1/2, and Lucy, almost 5.
Super Smarty Questions for Kristen Dodson:
1. Favorite kids boutique/shop – I am not a huge boutique shopper. Alphabet Soup, Ladybug Bows, and local stay-at-home mom stationary etc. are where I might find “special” gifts. I do order from Chez Ami, Ragsland, and other trunk lines.
2. Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes – I am a true bargain hunter. Marshalls has the best deal on kid’s shoes, TJ Maxx has great kid’s bathing suits, toys, pjs, and other goodies. If you hit these places often – you will be sure to come out with a good deal (for you or your kids). Old Navy, Gap, and Children’s Place, all have great sales. Don’t neglect the coupons that come in the mail or online -you can save lots. You have to be willing to dig but a “good deal” can constitute a shopping trip.
3. Favorite weekday activity – My girls are in school during the day except Fridays (Lucy takes ballet). Our favorite afterschool activity is to load up the bikes, scooters, and soccer ball and head to the closest park or school. Both my girls learned how to ride two-wheelers on the McKee Elementary track. We also go to Colonel Beatties Park and the Providence Spring Elementary track. They are free, flat, and paved. Meet some friends there and you have an action-packed playdate.
4. Favorite weekend activity – Our latest favorite is ice skating at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trial. There are so many fun family things to do in Charlotte. We have been to several plays and musicals (The Lion King, Annie, Disney on Ice, etc.), attended Festivals (Festival in the Park, Matthews Alive, etc.) and my girls have participated in the fun runs of local races (check out runforyourlife.com). Abby loves to paint pottery at Dish it Out so we go make presents for Father’s Day or Gigi’s birthday. Many Fridays our neighbors get together in a cul-de-sac and watch the kids ride bikes. This has become a cheap and fun happy hour for all. There seems to be something going on every weekend and thanks to Charlotte Smarty Pants, we will know about them!
5. Best place to eat lunch with the kids – Do I even need to say Chick-Fil-A? McAllister’s and Jason’s Deli are other favorites.
6. Funniest thing your kids have ever said -“Jen Plym is the true dancing queen” 🙂
7. Favorite place to eat dinner out with the kids – My kids’ favorite place to go is Red Robin. They have adult beverages and decent food. We go to Zapata’s on Sundays (kids eat free) and there is a great climbing tree right out the back door. If the weather is nice you can finish your margarita on the patio while your kids play. Great Wall of China is another family favorite…especially the booth next to the fish tank. Carrabas will give your kids “dough” to play with while you wait.
8. Favorite parks in Charlotte – There are some terrific parks in Charlotte. I must say that my favorite is my neighborhood park located conveniently next to our tennis courts. My friends and I meet up there in the afternoons and weekends and play tennis and let our kids play. Really play. They create forts and use their imaginations and somehow never grow tired of it. My girls are at a terrific age for this.
9. Mini-van or SUV? I own a Toyota Highlander that I acquired from my parents. I did not pick it out but I am happy with it. I can only fit three kids in the back (I do not have a back row) which can sometimes be a blessing as more than that could affect my driving. I do not have a pull down movie screen and I refuse to listen to Barney and kids junk so my girls have been introduced to all music genres.
10. Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte – Besides the fact that Charlotte is such a family-friendly town (kids are everywhere – restaurants, movies, malls, etc.) the weather here is incredible for spending time outside with your family. We are also located so close to other family-friendly places (the mountains, the beach, etc).
11. Best kept secret in Charlotte – One of the best kept secrets in Charlotte is the public library. This free facility offers so many wonderful programs and activities. I guess the secret is out now that ya’ll are telling us about them. I also think that the free music series in the spring and summer is a special treat. On Fridays and Sat. starting in April (?) many places have live music. We love to pack dinner (which means picking up something close), wine, and chairs and watch our children dance and run around. They have these all over Charlotte…Stonecrest, Blakeney, Arboretum, Cotswold, etc. Hopefully we can get a list of dates and places when spring gets closer.
12. Best Birthday Party you have attended – The best birthday party we have been to was the princess party at the Harris YMCA. It was actually Isabel’s (Jen P’s daughter) and has already been discussed in detail. Lucy talked about it for years until she had her own. Lucy’s party was great but she did not feel 100% so Isabel’s still tops the list. We have also been to a party at Space Kidets that was organized and fun. I have had a few backyard parties that were a lot of work but still memory makers.
13. I could not live without my… YMCA membership. I must plug the Y because I work there but my kids were practically raised there. The hour I take to work out is enough time to rejuvenate and become a better mom. My kids are well cared for, entertained, and make friends. I go to Morrison Family Y in Ballentyne, Siskey, and Harris. They all offer something a little different but the mission (to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all) is the same. My girls grew up in the children’s programs and continue to take ballet, soccer, swimming, etc.
14. I wish someone had told me sooner about… Babysitter etiquette. My mom told me never to steal a babysitter from a friend (she lost a friend over it). A good babysitter is key to surviving as a parent. I wish someone had told me to find a young girl (13 or 14) who is interested in babysitting and seems to enjoy being with your kids. Begin to groom her into the ideal babysitter. Teach her to offer the kids choices, play games with them, make light easy meals, straighten up. She will become part of your family and your kids will look forward to seeing her every weekend. You will feel good about leaving, and she will make some money. It is important that you do not take this special babysitter from someone else. In turn, I offer our sitter’s name out only when we are not using her and on the condition that they realize this is only a one time loaner. It all sounds rather silly but there is nothing better than a good sitter.
I am a huge advocate of Charlotte. I love living here and I think it is an awesome place to raise children. This is such a great time in our lives. Enjoy life in Charlotte and all it has to offer!
Thanks, Kristen! You know I defer to you for a lot of my Charlotte scoop. So I am happy to share your wealth of knowledge with our Smarty readers! We would love to hear feedback from everyone…