Jen is the genius mom behind Charlotte Smarty Pants. She has created a community, a phenomenon really, that rallies behind motherhood and makes us mothers feel chic, inspired and powerful. I met Jen about 10 years ago through our husbands who worked together for 5 years and became friends. I admired her infectious spirit and viewed her as that “go-to” source of all things mom, even though it would be another 6 years before I had children. She is simply someone you want to be around. She is super savvy, which shouldn’t be a surprise, and very approachable, open and caring. Here’s what I admire most about Jen. She channels passion into action. When Jen cares about something, she acts. She embodies “now that you know what will you do?”
She laughs when I tell her that she is a Charlotte celeb (she thinks it’s nonsense) and that the whispering and stares is people saying “That’s Jen Plym. She started Charlotte Smarty Pants.” Since November 2007, Charlotte Smarty Pants has been our virtual gal pal who props us up when we need a lift, inflates us when we feel deflated, informs us when we feel lost and makes us laugh at that moment when we might just cry.
Jen is married to her high school sweetheart, Randy, and being around them is a guaranteed good time. She is in the super mom club as a mom of 4…Ansley (9), Isabel (7) and identical twins Owen (5) and Walker (5).
I am elated to feature Jen as this week’s Smarty Mom. She is the Pink and Green Queen who put the Smarty in Charlotte Smarty Pants!
Jen’s Smarty Mom Quick Facts
Married to: Randy, for 12 years
Mom of: Ansley (9 1/2), Isabel (7 1/2), Owen (5) and Walker (5)
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom, entrepreneur, Founder and Chief Mom In Charge of Charlotte Smarty Pants
Hood: South Charlotte
Years in Charlotte: 14
Home Town: Vero Beach, FL
Let’s get cozy with Charlotte’s favorite Pink and Green Mom!
Charlotte Smarty Pants is celebrating it’s 4th year this year. What are your biggest learnings? What are you most proud of?
First, I have to say, I was so excited when Susan picked ME to be Smarty Mom today! Pick me, pick me! I have never answered these questions – I figured I shared enough of my opinions on a daily basis that nobody would care to hear about this stuff! So thank you, Susan, for picking me! And for writing the nicest things anyone has ever written about me. Really:-)
OK, biggest learnings? It takes a small village to successfully run a place blog (that’s what we are, we blog about a place). It’s critical to surround yourself with people of integrity, especially in a business setting. Treat others how you want to be treated – many people forget this basic motto in life that is so simple, yet so hard for so many to live by. You have to be passionate about what you do – that will resonate in all aspects of your business and you will always come out on top.
Never be afraid of change. Change is good. Consider your business a never-ending work in progress. Just when think you have everything figured out, you need to go back to the drawing board and plan your next big strategic move. You always have to be three steps ahead of where you are.
And most importantly, believe in yourself. It’s easy to overlook that.
Most proud of? This site makes me so incredibly proud every time I log on. I still can’t believe it’s MINE!
What are the most important values you want to teach your children?
I want my children to be happy and comfy in their skin. I try to teach by example. My children are very much a part of this site, especially the philanthropic side. They participate in the walks for all causes and they are the first to buy a cookie (or 3 dozen!) for kids’ cancer. I want my children to respect others and treat everyone the way they want to be treated. That’s pretty much how I live. Everyone is a friend. You can always lift somebody up who needs a little hug. I’ll give you the shirt off my back if you need it, and I hope each and every one of my children would do the same.
What keeps you up at night?
I think I have adult onset ADD, brought on by birthing a small biz, so every so often, I’ll wake up and remember something that I read in an email but I forgot to address. So I’ll hop out of bed and do whatever that is. I am constantly amazed that I haven’t truly biffed on anything for CSP – like forget to run a sponsored blog or a sponsored giveaway. I think this setting is perfect for someone like me who is constantly pulled in so many directions on any given day. So I get a lot of stuff done simultaneously and it works for me. But I always worry that I forgot something or someone. I try my very best and that’s all I can give. I also worry that I’m doing lots of little things ok, but not anything 100% great. But then I take a step back and a deep breath, and go back to the site and I beam with pride.
You’ve shared every moment of Plym Life with us. Tell us something that people don’t know about you.
Before I moved to Charlotte in 1996, I almost packed up everything to work with the dolphins in Grassy Key, FL at the Dolphin Research Center (DRC). You see, my fine University of Florida education landed me the worst job on the planet as a store manager at Toys R Us. I can’t tell you how many times I was literally cussed out by an angry customer over toys – seriously? So I was planning to quit my lame job, move to the Florida Keys, get a job as a waitress, and volunteer at the DRC, my true passion at that time. But my boyfriend (now hubby) wanted no part of that low-key lifestyle and presented me the trip of a lifetime. We both quit our jobs and traveled the country for four months. His philosophy: do it while we’re young and able. I liked that. When we ran out of money, we moved to Charlotte. We fell in love with Charlotte the first day. The rest is pink & green history.
Biggest celebrity crush?
My hubby would say Brad Panovich since I’m OBSESSED with weather (am I an old goat or what?!) and I love watching it on the local news (this makes me seem geriatric, but it’s true. I cannot lie.). However, my true blue crush is tied between Bradley Cooper and Chris Martin (ColdPlay). Bradley is funny AND hot, two rare features combined. And Chris Martin could sing to me and play guitar. Nuf said.
What is your favorite family time activity?
We are a laid-back fam. We like nothing more than to veg on Friday nights after insanely busy week after week. So we make dinner, get in our jammies and either do dance party, roast marshmallows when it’s cold out, pop popcorn and watch a movie or play a game (my kids currently love Othello, pretty smarty, huh?!). We love hanging with our cool neighbors – shout out to the cool cats in our hood! Our favorite place to do activities changes based on Courtenay’s Smarty Scoop that is so conveniently delivered to me every Wednesday. One weekend we’ll hit a Children’s Theatre’s performance, or go to Discovery Place, or we’ll throw on bathing suits and hit the Harris Y indoor pool. My kids love a good swim year-round.
Favorite mommy-time activity?
There is no better mommy treat than a good massage. I haven’t treated myself in while. Recession, please be over. I’m over you.
Favorite place to score kids clothes and shoes?
I have clothes shopping down to a science. I hit every Nordstrom Anniversary and Half-Yearly sale. My personal shopper, Anne, is the best and believe it or not, you can really score some deals on high fashion duds at Nordstrom. I always hit Marshall’s for their Polo selection for my boys – the key is stalking the store at the very beginning of every season. This spring (January shopping), I found current Polo dresses featured in CWD Kids for half the price. And now with Nordstrom Rack, I’m just beside myself with all of the fab clothes at Target prices. For big girls, I like to pair MiniBoden with Target/Old Navy. Invest in the skirt or pants and you can skimp on the staples. Boden has huge sales too, sign up for their newsletter. For shoes, I always go to kixx – I love the Smarty Moms there, Jennifer & Ashley. It’s like shopping with old girlfriends. And, my kids love the cupcake treat on the way out at Polka Dots. I have a weakness for cupcakes.
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Harper’s. Best kids meals in town – my kids eat every bite of the chicken seasoned with some heavenly herb concoction. Dessert is included. My kids are angels throughout dinner to score their homemade brownie sundae dessert.
Best book you’ve read lately?
Water for Elephants – and now it’s a movie with some incredible eye candy, Robert Pattinson. He had me at scene one, Twilight.
The Cove, the documentary on the dolphin massacre in Japan, spearheaded by Flipper Trainer, Ric O’Barry. You’ll never go to Sea World again. Or eat tuna.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you?
On Hanky Pankies – “Mommy, your panties are broken.” On bras, “Mom, is that a boob sling you’re wearing?” On having two identical twins just learning how to say “truck”, they pronounced it with an “f” first instead of a “tr.” On one summer vacay, for the entire 9-hour drive to Florida, one twin would blurt out “big *uck”, the other would say “garbage *uck”, then “dump *uck” and on and on. Seriously. 9 hours. We have never laughed so hard in our lives. The joke just never got old!
Best birthday party you’ve attended/hosted?
Hosted? So far, the American Girl pajama party at my house. I liked it so much that I perfected it for my other daughter the next year. So cute, easy, flows perfectly and pretty inexpensive. I love it when my daughter’s friends say to me “Mrs. Plym, you have the BEST birthday parties!” Mission accomplished.
Attended? I love all parties and we are not biased. They are all good! The Plyms will make a party – best party goers on the planet, always a good time to be had!
Favorite date night spot?
Tied between Cabo Fish Taco and Lang Vanns, depending on what I’m craving. I’m a cheap date. I always love to finish the night with a good glass of wine at The Wine Shop or Dean & Deluca.
Smarty sled – minivan or SUV?
I seriously LOVE this debate. I’m an SUV girl at heart – love my vintage Sequoia. I made it this far without those automatic doors that I so envied in minivans. But I’m in the home stretch now. We are in the market for a new sled (again, recession please be over), and I’m leaning towards a Suburban. My kids are getting so big, their friends are big, their gear is big – I think it’s time the Plyms upgraded to the biggest family bus available. However with this gas crisis, I’m going to take a serious look at that Honda swagger wagon. That thing is pretty groovy – my only problem, I think it will be overall too small for this big fam. But I could be wrong. And never say never (insert Justin Bieber tunes, jeez, am I such a dorky mom or what?!)
Favorite phone app?
Red Laser – where you can scan a upc code on any item you are buying and it will tell you the cheapest price around. I also dig Around Me – via the GPS on the phone, it will tell you all restaurants around you and hook you up, especially nice when traveling to a new place.
Pacman – I’m so 80’s it’s not even funny. My kids love Angry Bird.
Favorite Charlotte Smarty Pants article?
I’m going to pick a favorite from each of our bloggers:
Ash – Giving VDay a New Meaning. Ash writes how she talks and she’s a just a hoot! When I read her blogs, I feel like she is speaking to me literally through the screen. “On like Donkey Kong” is one of my favorite Ashley phrases.
Court – every Wednesday her Smarty Scoop series delivers. Court knows any and all goings-on all around the QC. She is a wealth of knowledge on pretty much anything. Politics. She’s on it. The latest breaking story in any school system, public or private, Court knows the entire backend of the story including ‘ole Charlotte roots and family history. She is such an asset to this site!
Susan – Bye, Bye Dora – I almost peed my pants when I first read this! Susan has the biggest inventory of hilarious one-liners that are spot on no matter what she is talking or writing about. Girlfriend should write a dang book. It’s the adjectives/descriptions that I love most, like “just sayin’”, “ain’t playin’”, “nap jail” and the “USS Bowman has sailed” – these are all perfectly inserted in her stories that no other blogger could pull off. But Susan is straight up. Love her for that!
Krista – The Power of Cream of Mushroom Soup. This was before Krista was officially part of our CSP family and I just ached for her. Krista’s heart and soul was poured into this blog. Krista has such a sweet voice and a fun sense of style on lighter topics. She is on the pulse of all current mommy trends and is eager to share with the world. With her Gator roots, we were destined to be together on CSP☺
Lisa – typically cracks me up in her first sentence because I just know “she’s going there.” She is balls to the wall, never holds back, tells you how it is – and I LOVE that about her. This is one of my faves: What’s Your Thing?
Me – The difference between 1 & 4. This WILL be played at my twins’ rehearsal dinner for sure. Walker now cries whenever we play it – still cracks us (me & hubby) up every time we read and watch it. Walker is going to hate me later in life, but this was SO worth it.
Best kept secret in Charlotte?
The Harvest Moon Grill orange cart at the Farmer’s Market (by airport) every Saturday morning and uptown on Tuesdays/Thursdays in the spring. The Harvest Moon Grill is run by local farmers, The Grateful Growers, who now run the Dunhill Hotel restaurant uptown. Stay tuned for a full blog on this Charlotte gem…
I could not live without my…
smartyPhone. It’s amazing how much I get done in and out of carpool lines, kids activities and such. If I didn’t have access to my emails immediately, I would never be able to dig out.
And my hubby. Not in this particular order. He has never questioned me on CSP. Not one single second. I have the craziest hours with this set-up and he never complains. I’ve gotten much better with my time management, thanks to iPhone, iPad and Google Calendar. But in the early days, he could have easily said end this thing. It’s too much. But he didn’t. He has supported my every move and I know he is so proud of me. This is my life. I live and breathe CSP every minute of every day, thanks to my great bud, Jen Bunich, God rest her soul. She taught me how to do that. In the early days, I would shoot her a funny email about my life and she would say “save that, it’s a perfect blog.” Or I’d call and say “OMG, you are not going to believe what I just found” and she’d say “blog on that.” So that’s how I live. If I can benefit from a tidbit of information, then all of Smarty Charlotte deserves the same chance.
Don’t forget to register TODAY for $2,240 worth of Mother’s Day Swag! Happy Mother’s Day, love CSP:-)