Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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March 25, 2017

Smarty Mom: Emily Ratliff

Ratliff Front Porch Photo July 2016

When I first met Emily Ratliff, she looked familiar – we actually both commented on how familiar we looked to each other and laughed at the small-town-ness of our city. I’m sure somewhere along the line we’ve run into each other at the mall, a grocery store, a park, or at a stoplight (we Charlotte moms are never really strangers to each other, right? We rival Kevin Bacon and his six degrees any day of the week), but it wasn’t until a mutual friend and Kindermourn connected us that I had the honor to actually meet her.

Emily lost her precious daughter, Claire, to neuroblastoma when Claire was just over two years old. Since then, she and her husband, Kevin, have started an amazing organization called Claire’s Army. I’ll let Emily tell you a little more about what they’re doing and how you can get involved, but know this: Emily, her family, and Claire’s Army are one of the reasons Charlotte is the BEST city in all the land.

It’s women like Emily who make up the backbone of our city – the backbone of us – and who we should be supporting unconditionally because she. is. us. Emily’s family could be ours. She’s the woman behind you in the checkout line, she’s the driver of the SUV beside you at the stoplight, she’s the mom schlepping her kids in and out of Target on a Tuesday morning. And, Claire could be any one of our kids.

Emily is familiar to me because’s she a Charlotte mom. But, here’s the thing: she’s a Charlotte mom doing extraordinary things – all in honor of her extraordinary Claire.

Read on to learn more about Emily, Claire, and Claire’s Army. I hope you feel moved to join in on the army. And, I hope it also moves you to join in on The 13th Annual Kindermourn Hope Floats Duck Race coming up Saturday, April 30 from 2 pm – 5 pm at the U.S. National Whitewater Center. If you haven’t been touched by Kindermourn yet, I guarantee you someone you know has (remember that Charlotte small town thing?). Adopt a duck here or just come out and join in on the fun. It’s one of our favorite family events that benefits one of the best organizations in town.

Smarties, enjoy getting to know this week’s Smarty Mom, Emily Ratliff! And a HUGE thank you to Emily for sharing her sweet family with us.

IMG_5260Smarty Mom: Emily Ratliff

Married to: Kevin
Children: Claire (our angel in heaven who is now 7), Sydney (3) and Walker (8 months)
Hometown: Technically I was born in Minneapolis – but have lived here since I was 2
Years in Charlotte: I moved to Colorado after college, so technically, I’ve been back here for 14
Occupation: Executive Director of Claire’s Army
Alma Mater: UNC Chapel Hill Read More →

March 19, 2017

Smarty Save the Date: 2nd Annual Charlotte Checkers hosts Daddy Daughter Day

Smarty Dads, listen up. Our fave hockey team, the Charlotte Checkers, is hosting a Daddy Daughter Day NEXT Sunday, March 26. The Checkers play Chicago at 1 pm, and dads and daughters are invited to watch the action for a special price and some super fun extras – including the Checkmates dressed up as princesses.

A package of two tickets for $40 includes two Checkers hats, pregame activities with Disney Princesses, hair braiding, nail painting and face painting. Sounds like a fun time for EVERYONE!

Contact Alice Woods at agarmon@gocheckers.com or (704) 444-1887 to purchase. Go Checkers!

Photo credit: Charlotte Checkers

Photo credit: Charlotte Checkers

March 15, 2017

Smarty Alert: Enter to win a FREE Springfree Trampoline – valued at up to $2,299!

Springfree March-Lead-Gen-Contest_banner_610x272

We’re ignoring these freezing temps and betting on SPRING{free}, Smarties! What better way to usher in warmer temps than with a FREE Springfree Trampoline (and if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be jumping rain, sleet, sun, or snow so you might as well get one!). Our partners over at Springfree are giving one away. All you have to do is click here to enter – easy peezy! Enter now – contest runs March 15-31.

In case you haven’t heard, here’s Springfree Trampoline (from the source!):

The Safe Choice is Now the Smart Choice

Smart Innovation
We are committed to getting kids outside and active through safe, outdoor play. Our latest innovation, tgoma is the only digitally interactive trampoline game system that engages the entire family in backyard fun. Read More →

February 28, 2017

Invisible Fence® Brand: The fence that is saving our lives (and our pup’s!) – Smarty Steal included!

Daisy: Waiting to make a run for it

Daisy: Waiting to make a run for it

It’s 5:30 pm. Dusk. The kids are doing their thing – waltzing in and out of the house with neighborhood friends, and I’m making dinner. Then, suddenly, SHE escapes. Our 10-month-old miniature dachshund, Daisy. She careens right out of the side door with the kids and BOLTS for the neighbor’s yard.

Hysteria ensues.

We run. She runs.

We run further. She runs even further.

We scream. She runs.

We leap for her. She leaps for a leaf blowing in the wind.

We slip on a muddy hill. She runs likes a gazelle.

She’s a squirrel. And she’s headed right for a MAJOR Charlotte thoroughfare at rush hour.

Finally, she STOPS to do her bizzzzness, and her life is saved. We grab her. She’s five houses away and dangerously close to death by car, but we bring her home safe and sound. My voice is gone. I’m sure someone has recorded the entire thing, and we’re already viral on the NextDoor Neighbors app. The neighbor kid probably needs therapy.

Wine is poured.

That was the scene at my house last month with my kids and new-ish puppy.

It was the scene that proved it all: our li’l hot dog puppy had TOTALLY rocked our world. We were completely thrown by a dog that’s a “runner.” Our first dog, Mollie, was like a cat. She hated to leave the house let alone let us chase her for miles. (She passed away last year, and after waiting a few months, our family decided that we are most definitely dog people, so…that’s where the puppy comes in.) Read More →

January 27, 2017

Smarty Giveaway: Two tickets for the Joined in Education’s ‘How to Raise An Adult’ keynote address and parent workshop

JIEfinallogo

****This giveaway has ended. We have a winner****

Joined in Education, a local group dedicated to advancing early childhood and elementary education in Charlotte, is hosting a two-day educational symposium for parents and childcare professionals on February 8 and 9, and we’ve got tickets to give away! This is a goodie, Smarties. We are SO lucky to have JIE in our city – they’re goHow to Raise an Adulting great things. Keep reading!

The event will include a keynote address on Wednesday night by Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Stanford University Dean of Freshman and author of New York Times best-seller How to Raise An Adult. (If you haven’t read this awesome book, stop what you’re doing. Head to the library, bookstore, or your computer and pick up/order a copy for yourself. It focuses on growing successful and independent children, which, in today’s sometimes over-scheduled and over-parented world, is a good reminder for us all.)

Erin Walsh will anchor Thursday’s parent workshops. She’ll examine the impact of stress on the brain and share practical strategies for raising resilient children. Topics will include: Executive function and success in school and life, finding the “resilience sweet spot,” how to handle perfectionism in children, the power of growth mindset, and setting appropriate limits Read More →

January 12, 2017

Local Charlotte mom’s newly released book shares message of diversity and acceptance

If you’re looking for a sweet gift or just an awesome book to add to your child’s library, check out What Kyle Can Do, a new book released by local Charlotte mom Conni Branscom based on her son, Kyle, who has Down syndrome. 9781943258277-ColorCase.indd

This BEAUTIFULLY illustrated book’s message of diversity and acceptance is important and one you’ll want to share with everyone, especially your kids: children with special needs CAN do things that other kids can do (I love how the word “can” is in red on the book’s cover!). All proceeds from the book will go to Kyle’s Korner Inc., a nonprofit also founded by Conni, which is dedicated to providing adaptive bikes to children with special needs (read more about Kyle’s Korner here).

The history of the book is also pretty cool. It was written eight years ago by Brooke Luckadoo-Hicks, Kyle’s then babysitter, as a senior exit project for Ardrey Kell High School. Years later, Conni developed it into an illustrated children’s book. It’s told from the perspective of Mya, Kyle’s older sister. When Kyle is diagnosed with Down syndrome, Mya wonders if he’ll ever be able to play with her. Over the course of the book, Mya learns of all the great things Kyle can do, like swimming, making faces, and playing baseball. Read More →

January 10, 2017

Five reasons the Apple Watch is #lifechanging

I never thought I’d actually say this, but I flippin’ LOVE my new Apple Watch. I’ll admit it – I was an Apple Watch naysayer for a long time. I thought they were kinda…well, silly. I didn’t want another device, another piece of technology to make me a slave to my phone and computer. But, when one of my friends and I ran recently, she tracked us with her new Nike Apple Watch…and got me intrigued. I’ve been thinking a lot about my safety when I’m running (I guess that’s what growing up means?), and I thought the watch would be perfect to keep me a little safer on my solo runs. I really didn’t think much further than that until my husband surprised me with the Nike Apple Watch for Christmas.img_5769

Now, I know there are a billion technical reasons why “smart” watches are awesome, and I know they’re great to different people for different reasons, but these five reasons are why I, the diametric opposite of a gadget geek, think the Apple Watch is #lifechanging for a busy mama (and as my friends know, I take the term #lifechanging VERY seriously ;-)).

Also note I haven’t taken ANY classes on the watch, and my eleven-year-old son helped me set most of it up so I am sure I missing some amazing functionalities. That being said, these five make me happy every single day. When’s the last time you said THAT about a watch?!

1. I know the weather all. the. time.

This is a biggie for me. Most of the faces on the Apple Watch display the current temperature, and the high and low for the day, so that means with the flip of your wrist, you know the weather. It seems to insignificant, but I LOVE knowing the weather from the second I wake up to the minute I go to bed. I know how to dress for an early morning run and whether or not to make the kids wear pants to school within minutes of waking up – and without waking my other half. Read More →

January 8, 2017

Mark your calendars: Charlotte Checkers’ 11th Annual Pink in the Rink

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Mark your calendars now, Smarties. The Charlotte Checkers’ 11th annual Pink in the Rink event is Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. The goal of the game is to raise awareness and funds for the fight against women’s cancers.

All tickets are $16 (which is the Checkers’ group rate), and $5 from each ticket will go back to one of six nonprofits. But, there’s the cool thing: YOU choose which nonprofit receives the $5 from your ticket. At checkout, you’re able to choose from Carolina Breast Friends, Cindy’s Hope Chest, Shirley’s Angels, Go Jen Go, Novant Health Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center, or BCC Rally.

The players will wear specialty pink jerseys that will be up for auction after the game to benefit the above-mentioned charities.

Click here to purchase tickets. Read More →

December 17, 2016

Smarty Mom: Julie Barnett

Photo by Maureen Osbourne

Photo credit: Maureen Osbourne

The longer I am I mother, the more amazed I am at other mothers around me. I’ve been through countless carpool lines, classroom parties, school socials, and play date meet-ups where I’ve chatted with fellow moms – many of us clad in workout gear or coming in all cute and fresh from a lunch meeting for work. So often we make idle chitchat about hectic days, homework assignments, and weekend activities, but rarely do we touch on what WE can do. What WE are capable of (besides managing it all and {hopefully} not drowning). That’s what makes me love weekly Smarty Mom features – it gives us a chance to stop, exhale, and admire the awesomeness of a fellow mom.

And, I am so excited and honored that I get to do that very thing for Julie Barnett today.

Julie and I met years ago through our kids’ school, but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve gotten to know her better as our middles are friends (isn’t that one of the best parts of having a large brood? Getting the chance to become friends with someone you might’ve missed the first or second time around because the ages or genders of your first kids just didn’t line up?). She’s the mom to four handsome boys, but still manages to pull off this incredible sense of calm; and she’s one of those people that you really WANT to be around because she’s just so genuine and kind. Julie’s not only an incredible mama (her sweet boys are proof of that!), but she’s also a gifted artist. I am so in awe of artistic talent and am determined to have original works of art in my house (a slow process, but totally worth it). Julie’s paintings are breathtaking and prove you might not know the secret talents of that fellow carpool mom.

A huge thanks to Julie for letting me feature her so close to Christmas (a Smarty Mom interview on top of a never-ending holiday To Do list is a tall order!). Enjoy getting to know Julie and the awesome Barnett family!

Smarty Mom: Julie Barnett

Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: to Todd, 19 years
Children: Davis (15), Harry (12), Sam (9) and George (5)
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Years in Charlotte: 17 years
‘Hood: Montibello
Alma Mater: University of Cincinnati
Occupation: Artist, Marketing Manager Read More →

December 16, 2016

Smarty idea for giving back: how one Charlotte tween is spreading holiday cheer at Project 658

baskets-1

One of our favorite things to do in Smartyland – especially this time of year – is to highlight li’l Smarties making a big difference in our city AND to inspire others to do the same. Meet Mallory Morgan, a ten-year-old fourth grader at Charlotte Latin School. She recently coordinated and assembled a HUGE (in our opinions) holiday “Basket Brigade” to help some families who are friends of Project 658, a Christian organization that provides services for at-risk families in Charlotte with a key focus on the international and refugee communities. Project 658 provides various types of services to families including tutoring, clothing, English classes, and job assistance and helps them towards sustainability. Read More →


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