Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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October 18, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: Is Vaping Harmless?

By Smarty Guest Blogger, Darrell Klotz, MD, Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A. This was originally posted on their blog. We thank them for the opportunity to share with Smarty Charlotte!

You see it more and more these days: people inhaling vapor from a thin metal cylinder that emits a smoky mist. Shops with names like “Vapor Smoke Shop,” “Queens Crave Vapor,” and “Vaporium” seem to be springing up everywhere you turn. Vaping has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” are battery operated devices that heat a nicotine-laced liquid (in addition to a number of chemical additives – glycol, glycerin and usually some type of flavoring) into a vapor so that it may be inhaled like a cigarette, and “vaping” is the act of inhaling the flavored nicotine fog. Vaping has been marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking because it does not contain tobacco, but are e-cigarettes and vaping really harmless?CEENTA doctorwithecigaretteweb

Cigarettes vs. e-cigarettes

The danger in traditional cigarettes comes primarily from the tobacco as it burns, creating carcinogens (carbonyls) and particulates that cause well-established health issues such as head and neck cancer, lung cancer and chronic debilitating lung disease (e.g., COPD). Tobacco smoke is also an irritant to the breathing passages of the smoker and those around them (second-hand smoke), which can lead to a higher rate of respiratory illnesses, ear infections, asthma exacerbations, chronic sinus conditions and chronic hoarseness. However, vaping gives off less “second-hand” smoke and 1,000 times fewer toxic carbonyls than cigarettes, and in that way, may seem safer than normal cigarettes. Nonetheless, e-cigarette emissions still cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, atherosclerotic disease and insulin resistance. The chemical additives found in the e-liquid that is vaporized may have yet untold adverse effects on our breathing passages. In addition, the ratios of the glycol, glycerin and nicotine in these liquids vary widely, with the number of toxic byproducts also fluctuating. When combined with the ease of keeping one of these “smokeless” puffers in your hand most of the day, the amount of toxins to which one is exposed could be substantial. Read More →

October 17, 2017

From the Smarty Education Corner and CJDS: Why CJDS?

soccer kippah

By Smarty Guest Blogger, Mariashi Groner, Director, Charlotte Jewish Day School

What skills do students need to navigate the 21st century, and how can the elementary school years best prepare them for success? The dual secular and Judaic curriculum at Charlotte Jewish Day School is the perfect formula for success in this ever-changing world. Rote memorization of facts, neat handwriting and mastering the Dewy Decimal System will not be indicators of success for our kids, when they now have ready information at their fingertips!

So what are the skills every 21st century student should possess?
1. A strong moral compass. Doing the right thing. Being a mensch (an overall good person.)
2. Believing in themselves. Having a strong identity.
3. Critical thinking skills. The ability to apply reasoning and logic to unfamiliar ideas and situations.
4. Multilingual skills. Children who speak more than one language have better problem-solving skills and think more creatively. Read More →

October 14, 2017

Smarty Mom: Christina Cottingham


By Smarty Guest Blogger Lisa Farley

Last Thursday, on October 5th, 200+ women (and a few good men) gathered at Charlotte Country Club for a breakfast gala in support of one of Charlotte’s amazing charities: Arts for Life. This annual fundraiser, the Rise and Shine Breakfast raised money and awareness to help sick children have a spark of hope. I sat down with event Chair, Christina Cottingham, to learn more about how she got involved. Her story goes back almost 15 years and it’s neat to connect the dots looking back.

Smarty Mom: Christina Cottingham

Married to: Daniel Cottingham, 10 years
Mom to: Nora Jane, 6 years and Joseph, 4 years
Years in Charlotte: 12 years
Hometown: Asheville, NC
Part of Charlotte you call home: Myers Park
Alma Mater: UNC Chapel Hill, Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in Photography
Occupation: Artist and Volunteer

What is Arts for Life and how did you get involved?

Arts For Life supports pediatric patients and families through arts education and engagement. We provide art lessons to patients, siblings, parents and even grandparents. As you can imagine, creating art not only enriches patients’ lives, it also nurtures their minds and spirits. Arts For Life helps children in four communities across North Carolina including at Levine Children’s Hospital here in Charlotte.

I actually caught wind of Arts For Life when I was studying at Chapel Hill in 2005. My mom introduced me to this great organization. When I moved to Charlotte years later, I joined the Junior League and got re-connected with Arts for Life. I volunteered in the hospital about once a week for about 2 hours at a time. I went room to room doing art projects like painting or crafts with patients. I also celebrated the holidays with Arts For Life patients in the rooms designated for kids to come for lessons and create beautiful art pieces. Read More →

October 12, 2017

From the Smarty Education Corner: Students Take Ownership of Learning at Charlotte Prep

By Smarty Guest Blogger Catherine Astin, the dean of students and Middle School math teacher at Charlotte Preparatory School

Throughout a student’s experience at Charlotte Prep, activities, lessons and programs are designed with vital components of the school’s Mission in mind. As part of this “exemplary educational experience,” students in the Middle School are invited to have a voice and a choice in their learning. Each semester, 5th-8th graders are empowered to select an elective course that meets weekly and broadens their experience. The options cover a vast scope, from ultimate frisbee to Bollywood dancing to Spanish film study. During this block, students can stretch their understanding of learning, see themselves, their peers and their teachers from another perspective and develop passions outside of the core academic program.AK5A1085

Students are prepared to make this choice as a result of purposeful decision-making throughout their time at Charlotte Prep. With a strong Montessori foundation, children as young as three years old have developed awareness of their preferences, ownership over their role in their learning and a sense of pride for demonstrating their skills and knowledge to others. In the Lower School, this foundation strengthens as students participate in the BUDEE program (Be Understanding, Dedicated, Empathetic and Engaged), where they engage monthly in activities created, led and organized by Middle School students. They see their future selves in leadership roles and are inspired and excited about having this chance for themselves in just a few years. Read More →

October 4, 2017

From the Smarty Education Corner and Palisades Episcopal School: Why PES

By Smarty Guest Blogger and Palisades Episcopal School parent Sashle Eslaquit

We enrolled our daughter as a kindergartner at Palisades Episcopal School because we believe in PES and its mission: a school honoring Christ and committed to providing a classical education challenging the mind, body and spirit. Halymah, who is now in second grade, is the happiest she could be and we are always captivated to hear about her day and what she learned (from classical composers to Mesopotamia to coniferous and deciduous trees). There is nothing more gratifying than watching your children love and enjoy learning.Halymah playground

In her two years at PES, Halymah has blossomed from a little caterpillar into a confident butterfly! PES has not just become her home away from home, but has become an extended family to our family. Halymah feels safe in her environment and is confident to ask questions, speak in front of others and share her opinions. This gives us peace of mind knowing that our child’s mind is being enriched with immense knowledge, but she is also being taken care of when away from home.

Happy children learn best and that was an important piece we wanted for our daughter. PES students are encouraged to find the joy in learning. Classroom lessons are active and interactive and PES’ unhurried and creative learning environment focuses on mastery of skills as the goal, rather than just memorization of facts. Students are provided time to think, discuss, process and apply their knowledge which in turn promotes intellectual curiosity and creates lifelong learners. Read More →

From the Smarty Health Corner and Levine Children’s Hospital: Meet Parker, a funny, resilient 8-year-old battling cancer at Kids Helping Kids Day

Meet Parker, a funny, resilient 8-year-old battling cancer, and find out why our Smarty Friends at Levine Children’s Hospital are the ‘Best.’

Consistently named a Best Children’s Hospital by U.S. News & World Report, Levine Children’s Hospital pays tribute to the incredible patients who helped us earn that title.

300x158 Parker

Parker Keeps Friends, Family Laughing While Battling Rare Brain Cancer

On the outside, eight-year-old Parker’s infectious smile, natural charisma and sense of humor instantly grab your attention. On the inside, however, his body is fighting a rare, cancerous tumor in his brain and spine.

It’s called a diffuse leptomeningeal glioneuronal tumor, and only a handful of cases have been documented worldwide, says Chad Jacobsen, MD, the neuro-oncologist at Levine Children’s Hospital leading Parker’s treatment.

“Because Parker’s tumor is so rare and can’t be removed surgically, there is no standard course of treatment,” says Dr. Jacobsen. “We had to spend a lot of time contemplating his disease and reviewing what little is known about it to come up with our own unique plan for him – and that’s what we did.”

A Devastating Discovery

When Parker turned 18 months old, his parents Jon and Allison Cowherd noticed he had trouble moving his left hand. Doctors initially diagnosed Parker with spastic cerebral palsy, but Parker’s conditioned progressed – something cerebral palsy isn’t known to do.

“So, in 2015 we went to see a neurologist, who performed another MRI and found a tumor on his spinal column that likely had been there since birth, causing his condition,” says Allison.

Parker was quickly admitted to Levine Children’s Hospital, where he met Dr. Jacobsen, who began to monitor the little boy and develop a game plan to treat his rare cancer.

“It was definitely a few scary days of waiting in the hospital,” says Allison. “He’d always dealt with his left-hand weakness so well, so we never thought it could be something more serious.”

But it was.

Uncommon Case Requires Expert Care

Dr. Jacobsen first tried to manage Parker’s tumor with a regimen of chemotherapy drugs. When those medicines no longer worked, he switched to another chemotherapy regimen.

Despite enduring two forms of chemotherapy over the course of 17 months, Parker kept his friends, family and his care team laughing with his witty personality. In May, he finished his last planned chemotherapy treatment and his tumor continues to show no signs of growth.

“He’s doing great,” says Dr. Jacobsen. “But we have to keep him under close observation because there’s a chance the tumor could progress. Still, we couldn’t be more proud of how our neurosurgery, oncology and neuroradiology teams pooled their expertise to manage Parker’s rare tumor.”

The Cowherd family’s experience has inspired them to start Pounding for Parker Foundation, a nonprofit that helps fund research efforts to advance treatment options for rare pediatric cancers.

“We know there’s something out there that can help kids like Parker – we just have to find out what it is,” says Allison.

Funny, Resilient Kid

Parker says his visit to Camp Care was the highlight of his summer. This will be Parker’s second year attending the weeklong camp for Charlotte-area children and families affected by cancer.

“He’s had to grow up a lot faster than most kids, and he knows it’s not fair, but he just takes it all in stride,” says Allison. “It’s our hope that the tumor goes dormant, but no matter what happens, we feel so fortunate to have such a great team – right here in our backyard – that can adapt and do whatever needs to be done to give Parker the best care.”

Connect With Us and Support Patients, like Parker, at Levine Children’s Hospital

Join us for Kids Helping Kids Day, Saturday, October 14 from 9 a.m. to noon – a morning where families can make cards and blankets to encourage and support patients at Levine Children’s Hospital. There will food, games, giveaways and other family-friendly activities. Learn more and RSVP!

October 3, 2017

From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: For the Love of Libraries

EpicFest Top Image

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

TWELVE award-winning, nationally-recognized children’s and young adult authors and illustrators are coming to Charlotte this November – and you can meet them!

Bringing together kids, books and the people who write them is what the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation’s EpicFest is all about. Now in its third year, EpicFest is quickly becoming a family tradition.

Nationally-recognized children’s and young adult authors and illustrators will spend two days in Charlotte to share their latest books, their experiences and their passion for libraries with kids of all ages. On Friday, November 3 the authors will visit Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to speak with students, and Saturday, November 4 they’ll headline a daylong, FREE literary festival at ImaginOn. Thousands of families will gather for literacy-themed activities including early learning stations, family cooking, yoga, building, music, a free book for each child attending, author talks and book signings. At noon, Eric Litwin (of Pete the Cat fame!) will bring stories to life through an interactive musical performance. Books by the featured authors will be available for purchase onsite through Black Forest Books.

Think your kids are too old for EpicFest? On Saturday night, two young adult authors will host EpicFest Teen Night, just for high school students. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance.

So who’s coming? Read More →

September 29, 2017

My Child Has Head Lice…Now What?!

By Sheila Fassler, RN – Owner of Pediatric Hair Solutions

Lice Pediatric Hair Solutions Pic

School is in full swing and some of you have already received the dreaded ‘lice letter’ with news that a case of head lice has been discovered in your child’s classroom. If that’s followed by the discovery that your own child has head lice, make sure you know the facts before making your next move. There is A LOT misinformation on the internet that can lead to all-out panic, ineffective treatments and over the top cleaning that’s not necessary.

Here’s a helpful list of DO’s and DON’Ts that will help you get your child lice-free and keep your sanity in the process.

1. Don’t panic. Head lice are a nuisance but they are not harmful. Also remember that lice do not discriminate! They like all heads (of all ages) and often prefer clean hair.

2. Do get all household members checked by professionals. Head lice is very contagious. If one child in your family has lice there is a good chance someone else in the household is positive, so it’s important to have everyone checked. Read More →

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: Conversations on aging healthily

By our Smarty friends at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A.

We’re all getting older, and all of us, our parents included, want to age healthily and gracefully. There is a lot of information out there about healthy living, and at times it can be overwhelming. So, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a list of a few lifestyle changes you can talk with your parents about that could have significant impacts on their health.YoungwomanoldermantalkWeb

Eating right

Most people think that a healthy diet is just good for weight and blood pressure, but it can be good for your eyes, too. Macular degeneration and cataracts are two of the leading causes of vision loss in America, but a good diet may help prevent them. Studies show that vitamins like zinc, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and antioxidants can protect your eyes’ light receptors and potentially reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Vitamin A, C, E, and zinc can protect the cornea and may slow the development of cataracts. Also, Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin A have been shown to protect against dry eye. Talking to your parents about eating foods with these vitamins – like green leafy vegetables, oranges, berries, flax seeds, and walnuts – could help them find delicious ways to protect their eyes. Read More →

September 26, 2017

From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: 5 Ways to Enjoy Community Read in October

CR Blog Post Image

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Be part of a big, exciting, community-wide book club, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s annual Community Read. We’ve selected books for every age group, and there are plenty of fun ways to participate.

1. Join the biggest book club in town.

We’re more than a great community. We’re a book club. And with a book selection for every age group, everyone is invited to join in on the fun. This year, all of the selected titles take place in a 24-hour time period. So spend a day with us for a month, and check out these great titles:

Adults: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
Teens: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Preteens: 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
Children: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Children: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats Read More →

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