Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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September 20, 2016

Advertising to kids

I work in the wild, wild world in advertising and I love it. I get to work with great brands that allow me to help develop creative campaigns that are seen on HGTV and in magazines around the world. I have to pinch myself almost daily that I get to do this for a living. I find it really interesting how brands develop their look, everything from the colors in their logo to the fonts chosen for a tagline.

It’s coming to light now that my kids are picking up on it in their everyday worlds. Here are a few examples of ways marketing and advertising have caught my kids’ attention.

– I can only imagine what the marketing executive at Target thinks when my 4-year-old says, let’s go to the “red store”. She knows Target by the logo, which is evident when she sees the Sunday ads (yes, I still get those) and whenever we pass a Target store, whether it be our normal one or one in another state.

– McDonalds, or as my kids call it, “Old McDonalds”. My kids love those golden arches and know how to order their own kids meals.

– Wendy’s, or as my kids call it, “the girl restaurant”. This one is funny as my daughter asks me about “the girl’s daddy” – who ironically was the face of the brand for years.

– My son knows a pizza delivery car from a mile away. He sees the lighted sign atop a car and yells, “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!”

– If I go to a grocery store that’s not the “green grocery store” (Publix) my kids’ world is turned upside down.

– It’s interesting when watching commercials on Sprout with the kids, the one that catches their attention isn’t the toy commercial but rather the Pampers commercial with a woman singing about hugs and moms snuggling their babies, called “Power of Hugs”. Stops them in their tracks every time.

As you can see in some of the examples of how my kids reference stores by the colors, a brand’s selection of colors is important and often relates to an emotion they are trying to convey. Here is a great image found from The Logo Company that explains the emotions that colors communicate.
5-17-emotion Read More →

September 10, 2016

Keep swimming momentum heading into the fall

As the long, hot days of summer come to an end, this not only signals the end of late nights and family outings, but it means that our pools are all being drained and our swim suits are hung up to dry until next May. Now is a perfect time to get signed up for swim lessons.

My daughter (4-year-old) and son (2-year-old) have been going to the Little Otter Swim School for more than a year. The weekly swim lessons helped boost their confidence heading into this summer and gave them the necessary training needed to head to the public pool down the street. It put them more at ease, and put my husband and I more at ease, too.

We want to make sure as the outside pools close that we stay consistent with our swim lessons. I want to build off the momentum they’ve earned and keep the motions of swimming top of mind. The last thing I want to happen is to keep them out of the pool until next May. I worry that they will regress and have to relearn fundamentals and regain their confidence at the pool.

My daughter just “graduated” from the Starfish class. This class, for 3 to 5-year-olds, helped her ace swimming underwater between two distances, pushing off the side of the pool to help her go further and nailed her back float. Her teacher was great at keeping her lessons fun through a series of challenges, games, themes and songs.
Addie_LittleOtter_8-30-16 Read More →

August 20, 2016

Smarty Mom: Marie Cain

Marie Cain 1

I am excited to introduce Smarty Mom Marie Cain. We met in the infant room at our kids’ daycare. Our first kids are just months apart and our second kids are only a year apart. It’s been nice to see Marie day in and day out at daycare and get to know her as the amazing working mama she is! This is one fun and dedicated Smarty Mom. She always keeps her cool – even after dropping off baby number two for the first time. Today she gives us a little insider info for any other working moms that are getting ready to head back into the workforce. Let’s get to know Marie!

Smarty Mom: Marie Cain

Married to: Patrick
Children: Evan (4 years) and Maxwell (9 months)
‪‪Years in Charlotte: It’s hard for me to believe but it will be 10 years this fall!
Originally from: Buffalo, NY
‪‪Occupation: Environmental Heal Plans Examiner – I review proposed plans of restaurants before they are constructed to ensure that they will be built to comply with NC food code regulations.

Tell us a little about your family.

My husband Patrick and I will be celebrating our 6 year anniversary this September. We originally met our freshman year of college in Erie, PA but didn’t actually start dating until 7 years after that. We got married in Buffalo in 2010 and Evan was born less than 2 years later. Now we have added Max to our family and life is crazy busy between the boys and work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. IMG_4098

‪‪What was it like going back to work after each baby?

Bittersweet for sure. It was hard to leave them both but at the same time it was exciting to get back out into the world and continue working.

What was the biggest challenge in going back to work?

When I went back to work after both of my kids, I was in a different position where I worked out in the field versus being in an office setting. Every day I was in different restaurants in a different part of town. Finding the time and a place to pump several times a day was a huge challenge. Read More →

April 25, 2016

Balance is Bullsh!t

Here are some facts about me:

I’m a wife. I’m a mommy to two. I work full time in a demanding industry. I’m up at 4am every day and usually go down around 10pm. In the hours between, it’s packed with daycare prep, breakfast prep, internal meetings, creative briefs, client meetings, communications planning, work fires, grocery shopping over lunch, setting doctor appointments, paying bills, fighting Charlotte traffic, towing kids to swim lessons, prepping dinner, doing baths, fighting kids’ bedtimes and working on meeting prep a little more. Go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. balance

It’s crazy. Most days the adrenaline carries me through.
Often I’m asked: How do you keep it all together?
The real answer is I don’t!

Lately, I’ve been reading about other parents that are confessing how difficult it is to keep it together. (Insert huge sigh of relief here). These parents include a Charlotte dad that is also an entrepreneur and a Charlotte mom documenting her struggle working after having her first baby. I also recently attended a webinar by Mom Complex (a business dedicated to working moms) and it started with “Balance is Bullsh!t”. What an empowering statement. Just hearing another working mom say those words aloud halted me in my frantic rush and allowed me to feel good about what I do every day.

As mothers, we all need to give each other a break. Smile more, sympathize more, share your victories and your struggles more. The biggest takeaway for me in this process is that I’m not doing it alone. I have a huge support system (thanks hubby, family and friends!) and there are millions of others in this world going through it, too.

A few tips that have also gotten me through include the following:
– Take time for me. I like to take what I call “Jen days”. These are days that I take off work, drop the kids off and usually go back home and cross things off my to-do list. It’s not glamorous by any means, but boy does it feel good!

– Put time on your calendar for your personal needs. When I was pumping at work, I would block off three thirty-minute windows on my work schedule so nobody could book meetings during that time. It was also a helpful reminder to keep pumping!

– Put the phone down. This is one I often struggle with still. My goal is to put my phone down when I walk in the door so I can focus on my family, not the obnoxious red numeric alert over my email icon on my phone (I’m one of those people that has to have it cleared)!

– Sneak in errands when you can. I try to grocery shop over lunch or run other errands so that I can enjoy my time at home with my family doing FUN stuff.

– Don’t do it all. I quickly realized I need to say NO and that it’s ok to do that. I don’t need to be on every committee or spearhead every activity. There are plenty of other talented people that can take those reigns.

Those are just a few things I do. Smarties, how do you respond to “How do you do it all?” and what are some of your tips to staying sane?

April 2, 2016

Smarty Mom: Sue Udelson

Sue Udelson
{photo credit: Annette Goodman Photography}

I’m very excited to feature Sue Udelson this week. She came as a recommendation from a friend and as I got to learn more about her, I am amazed at what she has accomplished and excited to share her story with you all. We hope to see you at this year’s Sarcoma Stomp on April 30th!

Susan’s Smarty Mom Stats:

Married to: Steve Udelson (27 years)
Mom of: Dana (age 23), Rachel (age 19)
Years in Charlotte: 18 years of bliss!
Originally from: North Brunswick, New Jersey
Occupation: Executive Director, The Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research

Tell us about your story. What made you want to get involved with the Paula Takacs Foundation for Sarcoma Research?

After spending 10 years in securities brokerage and regulation, where I fed the number-crunching and ever-inquisitive side of my brain, I completely immersed myself in the privilege and wonderment of raising two incredible daughters. Towards the end of that blissful chapter, my life would forever change with a phone call from my brother Alan, telling me that he had a very rare and aggressive cancer called sarcoma. I spent a majority of the next 13 months as a caretaker and advocate for him, learning volumes about strength, perseverance, love, and perspective. At the end, I found that losing my sibling to a disease that had caused him much suffering was beyond earth-shattering, and it resonated loudly and painfully with our entire family.

Only months after Alan’s passing, I saw a yard sign advertising the Sarcoma Stomp 5K. I couldn’t believe there was a fundraiser for this rare disease in our community and I eagerly signed up. I walked with family and friends at that 2011 event to remember Alan. It was there that I met Paula Takacs, Paula Takacs Foundation Founder, who literally changed my life’s course. Read More →

March 14, 2016

Race to the Easter Egg 400 (Smarty Giveaway Included!)

Pack up the little ones and race down to the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the Easter Egg 400! This fun-filled morning is packed with activities for kids 12 and under from arts and crafts, egg hunts and even photos with the Easter Bunny!

EE400 Logo

Saturday, March 26: 8:30am-11:30am
NASCAR Hall of Fame

Here is the breakdown of events:
– 8:30-9:30am: Spring craft activities in the Great Hall with entertainment by Mr. Nigel and Friends
– 9:30-9:45am: Easter egg hunt in Race Week (note there is a separate egg hunt for the wee-ones)
– 10-11:30am: “Shaun the Sheep” movie shown in the High Octane Theater

HOFEE400 Read More →

February 15, 2016

Winter swimming lessons are a no-brainer

I sound like Olaf. I’m dreaming of summer. The recent ice and snowstorm was a friendly reminder why we moved away from the Midwest – we thought we escaped it! It was just enough snow to get our fill, slide down our backyard hill with our friends and let it melt into a slushy, mushy mess. I enjoyed it knowing that summer will be here before we know it. That means that the snow will be a long-lost memory and the swimming pools will be open ready to receive our cannonballs! That’s why I want to make sure my two little ones don’t forget what they’ve learned since last summer.

My two kiddos have been taking swim lessons at the Little Otter Swim School now for almost one year and it’s amazing to see how far they’ve progressed. I want to ensure that when it comes time to dip their toes in the water at the pool Memorial Day weekend that they have confidence in their swimming abilities.

Over the past year, my two-year-old son has learned how to blow bubbles, kick, hold his breath under water for five counts and even knows how to pull himself out of the water should he fall in.

winter swimming_voorhees Read More →

February 13, 2016

Smarty Mom: Christen Kuhl

I am excited to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Mom. I’ve had the privilege of working with this Smarty Mom-to-be at a local ad agency. She is a multi-tasking multi-talented person and is expecting her first baby this March. No doubt she is going to be an amazing mother. Let’s get to know Christen.Christen_Kuhl

Smarty Mom: Christen Kuhl

Name: Christen Kuhl
Child(ren): One girl on the way, due March 10 – name is TBD
Years in Charlotte: 4 in May 2016
‪‪Originally from: Pittsburgh, PA
Occupation: Executive Assistant/Photographer

Tell us about your pregnancy! I have had a very easy and pleasant pregnancy. I was able to travel to Europe and buy and move into a house with ease. I have loved it!

‪‪What do you expect the first week of mommihood to be like? Like nothing I have ever experienced (in good ways and some tough ones).

What has been your “must have” pregnancy item? Tums! Ha!

Have you had any wild cravings? Ice and cold water

What maternity pieces have been your favorites? Leggings!

What baby item from your registry are you looking forward to using? The Paddington Bear travel books but also all of her sweet swaddle blankets and onesies. Read More →

December 21, 2015

Meeting invite: Pick up the kiddos

It’s a miracle that we have not left a child at daycare by now. My husband and I are employed full-time raising two under the age of four. Our mornings start at 4:30am and our days end around 11pm. My job requires I travel, whether just for a long business day full of meetings or at times, up to a week for a photo shoot, leaving my husband to wear his super hero cape solo. Between the both of us we have managed to find short cuts and ways to make life smoother a little bit each day.blue apron

– Although it hurts when the alarm goes off, we set it for 4:30 each morning. Our kids are naturally early risers so if we can get a head start in getting ready, it helps get us off to a good start. Note that when I travel, my dear hubby wakes up at 4:00am! Yikes!

– Shared calendars – we have two shared calendars. One is a physical dry erase board in our closet and the other is digital so we can quickly send meeting invites to each other as reminders. Our physical calendar is a dry-erase board with each person being color coded. It’s also a great way to keep up with upcoming birthdays and holidays (aka school closings!) Our shared calendar is great since it has reminders that will pop up on our phone. Whenever I’m going out of town, I’ll send my husband an invite with a reminder that says “Pick up kiddos”. It’s super convenient!

– I rarely have time to indulge in clothes shopping solo anymore. I even long for the days when my kids were babies and they would just sleep through the mall. Now they are unbuckling themselves and crawling out of the stroller, while grabbing anything and everything they can touch. Recently, I signed up for Stitch Fix. It’s a fun online shopping site where you select your styles, budget and sizes and a stylist will pick five items and send it to you to try. If you like it, you pay for it and keep it. If you don’t, just ship it back. You can give comments on your selections and give pointers for your next shipment. You can schedule them as frequently as you like. It’s a great way to try new clothes in the convenience of your own home. Get your friends to try it and refer you and you get a credit, too! Read More →

December 4, 2015

Smarty Giveaway: American Girl Doll of the Year, Grace™!

This holiday season, a must-have in our house, is a new American Girl doll. We have frequented the American Girl store in South Park and let’s face it, I wish we were young again to embrace how amazing these dolls and the entire American Girl experience is.grace

*****THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. OUR WINNER IS SARAH BROWNING****** Sarah, email us here to claim your prize!

We are excited to announce that one Smarty reader will win Grace™, the 2015 American Girl doll of the year. She is a baker who thinks like a business owner that will inspire your little ones to think big!

If you already own Grace then you know what a great baker she is. She could use some new baking accessories and this year, American Girl has partnered with Williams-Sonoma to offer amazing bake ware accessories. Now your little ones can bake just like Mommy!

American Girl has really expanded this year’s holiday offering. They have new dolls, including Maryellen Larkin, a sweet girl from the 1950s, who comes with a striped dress, black Mary Janes and her own book. Read More →


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