Meet this week’s Smarty Mom – Kimmery Fleischli. This mom of two (daughter Emmy, almost 5, and son Alex, almost 3 — both were due on the 4th of July) has been in Charlotte since 1998. Originally from Kentucky, Kimmery moved here for an internship at CMC where she met her husband, James during her residency. She is now an ER doctor here in town (sounds a bit like Grey’s Anatomy!). While she has lived all over the South … Lexington, Louisville, Nashville, Chattanooga and Birmingham … this Super Smarty claims Charlotte is by far her favorite! Let’s get to know Kimmery.
Share with us a little bit about “A Child’s Place” and how you got involved.
ACP is a non-profit advocacy group for homeless children in Mecklenburg county. We try to provide the best possible chance for these lively, funny, sweet kids to succeed despite the many disadvantages they face. Our goals are for these children to obtain a valuable education, and have the resources they need to ensure long-term stability and self-sufficiency. There are a truly shocking number of homeless kids in our beautiful city; before I began volunteering with ACP, I never would have believed that almost 3000 (!!) children here suffer this kind of deprivation. In my day-to-day life as a Charlotte mom, I am surrounded by my own children and others with every possible advantage in life— to then compare them to a homeless child who sometimes struggles just to get enough food to survive makes my heart ache. What kind of support and care and love can we provide them to give them a chance? There are whole armies of people in Charlotte who make situations like this their mission in life, and I wanted to be a little part of it.
I began volunteering for ACP a few years ago, and now serve on the Board of Directors. There are a whole bunch of ways to be involved: you can be a mentor/friend to a child, you can tutor, you can be a birthday sponsor, you can help write grants or be an office volunteer (ACP is privately funded–we don’t take a dime of government money.) You can join a fundraising group, or you can be a donor. I have found that the whole experience with ACP is pretty humbling. The kids I meet want to thrive and learn and contribute to society, and they have grand aspirations, and they make me laugh, and I have yet to meet one who wanted any pity. They just want to be like any other kid, and the things my kids take for granted (and sometimes even disdain) would be like a dream come true for these little ones.
You have a big event coming up at the end of this month – tell us more about it and how it helps children in need?
Well, as you can imagine, Charlotte has suffered a nearly perfect storm in terms of charitable fundraising. The economy, the struggles of our leading industry here, the United Way situation, and the dramatic increase in need have combined to make things difficult. ACP is a sympathetic cause so we have it better than some charities, but it really hurts to contemplate laying off social workers– the most saintly people on the planet, in my view– or cutting back aid to the people who so desperately need it. We are hoping that our biggest annual fundraiser will provide some help. It’s called A Swine Evening, and it is an auction of piggy banks (and some other things) signed by celebrities. This year’s event takes place May 30th, and I think we have some really good ones to auction off. It’s a dinner/dance/bar/auction thing— it would make a great date night. Lots of movers and shakers in Charlotte attend. Check out our website: http://www.achildsplace.org for more information on the fundraiser and ACP in general.
As an Emergency Room doctor, I’m sure you face a lot of frightening moments for parents. What is one piece of advice you can share if any of us should be faced with a visit to the ER?
I think this depends on whether you are there for some unspeakable tragedy, or for some painful/annoying/distressing but non life-threatening thing. Especially for the people in the second category, who have to endure more waiting, ask your doctor to explain anything you don’t understand. It makes the whole ordeal easier if you know what to expect, why certain things are being done, how long it might take, and what your options are for diagnosis and treatment. This is helpful for people who are there for a dire emergency too, but I have found that they are often too anguished to process anything: writing down what the doctors and nurses tell you helps a lot. And please know that we care deeply about the well-being of your child. … Stay tuned for an entire post devoted to “Surviving the ER”
Best thing about raising a family in Charlotte?
I love Charlotte. The city is lovely and the people are kind. When I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone at all. On my first night here (after my parents left) I went to Harris Teeter to get some groceries, and must have looked forlorn, because the lady at the deli counter asked me all about myself. When she found out I was alone for the first time, she launched into a lecture about how my mama would want me to have more vegetables in my cart, and which ones, and how to cook them. She insisted on giving me a hot dinner, and told me how to get everywhere. Several people standing nearby chimed in too. I think my children are so lucky to grow up in a city with all our beautiful scenery and cultural resources and strong communities. Being so close to the mountains and the beaches is nice too!
What is the funniest thing your kids have ever said to you or ever done?
My kids are, um, spirited, so there are a lot of these…. one of my favorites involves an attempt to get our 3-year-old to sit through a church service without anyone losing their mind. By “attempt to get through a service” I mean a bribe, of course. So I hissed politely at her that she could have a lollipop if she would be quiet. This was immediately accepted and she was still for a few minutes. Then she began squirming around and whimpering, “I lost my sucker! I lost my sucker!” My husband and I looked around our pew but couldn’t find it. We go to a Catholic church so there is lots of kneeling and standing, and it became unfortunately obvious what had happened the next time everyone stood: the lady in front of us had sat on it. It was stuck to her bottom, right in the center. Jim and I glanced at each other, horrified. I whispered at him to get it. He gingerly reached out to pull on it, but it was really attached. He pulled harder, and a panel on her dress started to lift up, at which point she turned around to find him with his hand on her butt. It was a tossup as to who looked more shocked, and I almost choked to death trying not to laugh. Luckily, she realized what was happening, and she smiled and mouthed the words, “It’s okay– I have kids.”
For Alex, my two-year-old, one of my recent favorites was when he was looking at his baby book and saw a picture of me in the hospital the day he was born. He pointed at my big tummy, and asked confusedly, “I’m in there?” When I said yes, he replied, “Where is the door?” (He has one of those Southern Toddler accents, so what I heard was, “When is da doh-wah?” I asked him what he meant, and he said, “But where is the door to get out?”
What is your favorite family activity?
For some reason, we like to go on “Family Dates”. This involves going to some unsuspecting restaurant with our two preschoolers, where we spend approximately 90% of the time trying to contain some social catastrophe like someone yelling “Pooey-head!” repeatedly at the top of their lungs, and the other 10% of the time eating as fast as possible.
What is your best money saving/budget friendly tip?
This is what my girlfriends and I have started doing: Once or twice a year, ruthlessly clean out your closet. Take all the clothes, shoes, bags, scarves, jewelry, etc that you dont actually wear, and get together at someone’s house. Then group everything by category, and take turns each selecting one thing that you want from each pile until everything is gone (or until you have a pile of leftover stuff to take to Goodwill.) You will be thrilled at how many fabulous wardrobe additions you will get! I have all these really gorgeous new things and it didn’t cost anything.
My friend Katy, who is one of those types who can grow amazing gardens, and sew and do crafts, and make everything beautiful, and is a brilliant attorney, had another idea, which we call the Cotswold Dinner Club. There are 4 of us who do this. One week a month, each of us will fix dinner for all 4 families. Then the other three weeks, we each get a meal delivered to our door one night, usually with enough food for two nights. This way, you spend one day cooking, but get a full meal or two the other three weeks of the month. I was a little hesitant when Katy brought it up, as my culinary style could best be described as “winging it”, but it has been sooo nice. While, I don’t exactly look forward to my day each month, I do sigh with relief each week when I realize that someone else is bringing a delicious meal to me.
Favorite “mommy time” activity?
Sleeping! I have been sleep-deprived since age 22 when I started med school! My first-born is possibly the world’s worst sleeper so that didn’t improve matters any. When my son was born, my sweet husband began taking Emmy out to breakfast at the pancake house every Saturday morning for Daddy-Emmy time, and as soon as Alex was big enough, he went too. I am sure that the people who work there think that Jim is a single father, as I have never been with them. The kids might look a little strange (Jim will leave them in their pajamas or dress them in some fashion that only a guy would think of, like denim overalls with no shirts, for example) but they looove it. And I get to stay in bed! And when I am ready to get up, I lurch out of bed and make coffee and drink it in total silence while I read the paper. It’s very blissful. I recommend this Saturday-breakfast thing to all the dads out there– you will have a mighty grateful wife.
Favorite weekend escape?
I grew up in the mountains in Kentucky, and my husband loves to hike and fish, so we go to the mountains every chance we get. We bought some land just outside Brevard, in Transylvania County, and it is so beautiful to see the kids running around in the woods, and playing by the river, and collecting bugs, and oohing and aahing over wildflowers and all that happy nature stuff. It is less beautiful to tote them around in backpacks when we want to do one of these awesome waterfall hikes—but it is true that walking with preschoolers is like trying to herd cats. It is better just to suck it up and carry them.
Favorite place to get a good deal on kids clothes?
Relatives! But when I buy something, I like Marshalls for good deals. Also, I am fond of Fancy Pants and those swanky trunk shows that people have if I am looking for beautiful smocked matching outfits. Sadly, my husband is insisting that I not dress our little boy in Peter Pan collars anymore…..
Best birthday you’ve attended?
For little girls, tea parties at La-Tea-Da’s are adorable.
I could not live without my…
Girlfriends! Our neighborhood is like one giant family sometimes; we walk together, watch each other’s children, cook meals for all the new babies, celebrate birthdays, grill out on weekends, take care of people who are sick, etc. When I had my first child, I could not have gotten through it without my dear friend Heather– our daughters were due the same day and it seems like we sort of figured out what to do with these crazy little babies together. We probably talked 10 times a day some days.
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Don’t forget to register for our latest giveaway – one week of summer dance camp from Jami Masters!
Click here to register. This giveaway is valued at $200 ($100 for 2-year-olds) and ends at 11pm on Monday, 5/18. You can find Jami Masters School of Dance at:
Park Road Shopping Center/Back Court