Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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August 18, 2017

Smarty Movie Review: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
Run Time: 2 hours 7 minutes
Rated: PG-13

When Jeannette Walls’ best selling memoir was released in 2005, I was completely absorbed by the unbelievable true story of the author’s bleak and disturbing childhood. The beautifully written account of Walls’ astonishing family history is riveting. So I was more than eager to see the story being told on the big screen by such a fantastic cast of actors.Unknown

Jeannette (Brie Larson) begins her story as a successful gossip columnist in New York City in the ‘80s. She is engaged to a successful financial advisor, lives on Park Avenue and wears designer clothes (shoulder pads and big hair being the rage). Yet as she drives home from a fancy dinner one night, she spots her homeless parents picking through a city dumpster. Jeannette realizes that she can no longer deny her painful family past that she has kept hidden since she first moved to the city. We then flash back to Jeannette’s childhood where a very young and hungry Jeannette asks her mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) to fix her some lunch. Rose Mary, an aspiring artist, is too busy painting to deal with something as insignificant as food so she instructs the young child to cook her own meal. This attempt goes horribly awry and the child gets seriously burned when her dress catches on fire. When Jeannette is visited by her family in the hospital, it becomes obvious very quickly that this family is not well. Her father Rex (Woody Harrelson) fights with the staff and eventually sneaks Jeannette out of the hospital to avoid paying the bill. The family then hits the road and they continue to move every time Rex loses a job or they need to skip out on paying their rent. The family of six finally ends up in Rex’s hometown of Walsh, West Virginia where they settle into a dilapidated house without electricity or running water. Rex insists that he will build his family an amazing home on the property with stunning glass walls—a glass castle. Read More →

August 9, 2017

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: your most valuable school supply

Back to school image
By our friends at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Is someone in your home heading back to school? Don’t forget the most valuable back-to-school tool – Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

First, let’s talk library cards.

Library cards are FREE for all students attending any school in Mecklenburg County, and they offer so much value! If you don’t have one, apply right now to access resources to help with school and so much more.

If you have a child in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, your child also has a ONE Access account – so one number (a CMS student ID number) is all your child needs! Find out more about how ONE Access is providing CMS students with the resources they need to succeed!

A library card unlocks a world of possibilities.

Get help with homework, when you need it. Math homework stressing you out? With your library card, you get free access to professional tutors that can help with homework, studying, projects, essay writing and test prep in every subject, including algebra, statistics, chemistry, physics, social studies and English. All sessions are online and one-to-one with a live tutor, and Spanish-speaking tutors are also available. Learn more about the Library’s tutoring resource,

Access tons of resources, wherever you are. Below are some of the most commonly used by students. Find many more here.

Elementary School
Lands and People: information on countries, cultures and current events
– PowerKnowledge: Earth & Space Science, Life Science and Physical Science
ProQuest Central: General reference database for more than 175 subjects

Middle School
US Newstream: content from national and international newspapers
Science in Context: reference content plus magazines, journals and more
SIRS Knowledge Source: articles, primary sources, websites and graphics
Teen Health & Wellness: written for middle and high school students
World Book Online: interactive online encyclopedia

High School and beyond
Learning Express Library: interactive practice tests and skill-building courses
Literature Resource Center: author bios, bibliographies and critical analyses
NoveList Plus: thousands of reading recommendations

Get a little help with learning a new language. Pronunciator covers 80 languages offering a range of language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. It’s easy for any age, from toddlers to adults. And you can access it from your computer or mobile device. Find out how to learn a new language with the Library.

Access resources in the classroom. Are you a teacher in Mecklenburg County? Did you know the Library offers Teacher Loan Cards by request? These card enable educators to borrow items for extended periods for classroom use. Find out how to apply at

And, if you are a teacher or staff member in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, you have access to a ONE Access account to help you stock your classroom with even more educational resources.

Build your at-home library. All Charlotte Mecklenburg Library locations have ongoing book sales in which gently-used books are sold at bargain prices to make room for newer materials. This is a great opportunity for teachers to find titles to add to classroom libraries, or families to stock their bookshelves at home. Visit your nearest branch and ask about the ongoing book sale.

And don’t forget to log your reading and activities for Summer Break!

Summer is flying by, but there is still plenty of time left to read, learn and explore with Summer Break. Prizes are drawn weekly, so be sure to log your reading and activities!

August 6, 2017

Smarty Toddler Activity: Regional Farmers Market


Okay…we LOVE the Regional Farmers Market. You can substitute any farmers market for this one, but when we plan an activity to tire our toddlers out, we try to choose one that involves a lot of walking and a lot of exploration. The size of the Regional Farmer’s Market helps check off all the necessary requirements to deliver exhausted, full-bellied and happy toddlers that will nap for at least 2 hours giving you and hubs (or wifey) some peace and quiet.

I’ve included the hours for the Regional Farmers Market below, but we went on a Saturday when it opens at 8am. We were there by 8:15 with two overall-wearing, pig tailed toddlers, ready to explore the wonders of all things yummy. Getting an early start also allowed us to avoid the suffocating heat of the late-morning and afternoon.

I highly recommend leaving the stroller at home, especially if you have an 1:1 adult: toddler ratio. This will force them to walk…a lot. At first, they were a little overwhelmed by the crowd and amount of stuff, but as soon as they saw a bucket full of blueberries, it was game-on. Read More →

August 5, 2017

Smarty Mom: Ekta Shah

I am SO excited to introduce you to this week’s ultra-Smarty Mom, Ekta Shah! Ekta and I met lift-tone-burning at Pure Barre Ballantyne a few years ago. I didn’t even know she was an allergy doctor until CSP posted a couple of articles from our friends at Levine Children’s Hospital featuring Ekta (love it when my two worlds collide!). I immediately stopped her at Pure Barre after the second article posted and peppered her with questions about her life and upbringing. She was nice enough to meet me for coffee one morning so I could get more in-depth. :-)

She’s originally from India, but was raised in the US. She’s a busy mama to beautiful twin girls, has such great perspective, and embodies everything I love about our melting-pot city. A big thank you to Ekta for not only being a Smarty Mom, but for being willing to be interrogated at Starbucks by this Charlotte native (Ekta – next time let’s make our interview at one of your fave Indian restaurants in town! Yum!!) ;-).

Smarties, meet Etka Shah! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did!

Smarty Mom: Ekta Shah

Married to: Ameesh Shah; married 11 years
Children: Anya and Sahana; age 7 1/2
Hometown: Germantown, TN
Years in Charlotte: 7
Occupation: Allergist
‘Hood: Marvin/Waxhaw

You’re a mom of twins! What’s surprised you the most about having twins?

Finding out that we were having twins was a BIG surprise. We went out for dinner after but were in such a state of shock that we sat there in silence. I think we were in disbelief for several weeks after finding out the news.

Has it gotten easier or harder as they’ve gotten older?

Definitely has gotten easier as they have gotten older. The first 2 years were very exhausting, but now it’s easier as they have gotten older and become more independent. They share many of the same activities and always have someone to play with.

You are originally from India. Tell us what brought you to the US.

My dad came to the US in the 1970s to get his masters in engineering and ended up staying for a job opportunity. My mom and I immigrated a few years later when I was three years. Read More →

July 28, 2017

Smarty Book Review: ‘Everyone Brave Is Forgiven’

For more reviews by Smarty Kimmery, visit her awesome website, And a big thanks to her for always sharing her amazing reviews with us despite being a busy PUBLISHED author! :-)

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

The problem with reviewing a large amount of books is it’s possible to use up all the superlatives, particularly if you are excitable by nature and therefore prone to hyperbole. A list of words comes to mind after reading Chris Cleave’s latest work: poignant, witty, searing, beautiful. However, I am fairly certain I have already used those words in relation to other books, and they couldn’t possibly have meant the same thing in those cases. I’m going to have to invent new words to describe this book.Chris Cleave

EBIF employs my favorite kind of protagonists: they’re all impossibly clever smart-asses (even better, impossibly clever British smart-asses) able to engage in such elegant, highbrow, witty banter with one another it’s as if Monty Python somehow fused with Downton Abbey and produced three people: Mary North, a young, charismatic upper-class socialite; Tom Shaw, the manager of a London school district; and Tom’s close friend and roommate, Alistair Heath, who has just enlisted in the British military at the dawn of World War II. Tom and Mary meet and begin dating amid the looming threat of the Blitz; Alistair is deployed to the besieged island of Malta, after a stint on the shores of France:

In a group of poor positions dug into the beach at Dunkirk, shells had screamed down and exploded on the beach at unpredictable intervals. Smoke blinded everyone: a sharp amalgam of black soot from ships that were stricken, and white chemical smoke that the British destroyer were laying in a screen. It made a lachrymose fog that reddened the men’s eyes and left their throats raw. Read More →

July 18, 2017

From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: Get Set for Kindergarten

July Blog Post Image - Get Set 4 K

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

You are either reading this article thinking, how dare they bring up going back to school – we are having too much fun this summer to think about school! Or, you are now day dreaming about the not-so-distant future when your children will finally be back in the care of their amazing teachers.

Either way, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library can be your partner in enjoying the summer with your children while preparing them to enter kindergarten. Whether your child is starting school in the fall, or the following year or two, we’ve got you covered.

Break in that new back pack by checking out some books

Kindergarten is a time when your child will begin developing the skills they need to read on their own. Check out this suggested reading list for rising kindergarteners developed by early literacy experts at the Library. This list is sure to keep your child reading for the fun of it all summer long. And check out Tumblebooks, Story Place and the Autism Reference Collection for even more titles and interactive literacy tools.

Remember, reading doesn’t have to be a solo activity – shared reading experiences with a family member are a great bonding and learning activity. And, don’t forget to log your reading for Summer Break! Read More →

June 27, 2017

Smarty Review and Giveaway: The Good Kitchen

IML_1866 (1)

CSP Note: Smarties Cheryl and Jen V. tag-teamed on this one! 

If you want to eat healthy and feed your family healthy food, but have ZERO time to make it happen, today is your lucky day! We’ve got our Smarty review on the Good Kitchen, a fresh, fully-prepared meal delivery service that’s headquartered right here in Charlotte. We’ve also got a Smarty Steal and a YUMMY giveaway for you!IMG_7127 Read More →

June 19, 2017

Take the Library with you on vacation

CML June Blog Post Image

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Summertime is a time to get away, relax and have fun! Planning a road trip, or flying to a tropical locale this summer with your family? Be sure to take Charlotte Mecklenburg Library with you to add to the fun.

Here are just a few ways to enjoy the Library while you travel this summer.

Enjoy some beach reads.

Relax with a good book, whether you are at the beach literally or just in your mind. Check out a copy of one of this season’s notable beach reads, and don’t forget your sunscreen! Read More →

June 13, 2017

What I’m reading this summer

Summer is one of my fave times to plow through some books. And, I’m happy to say that I’ve FINALLY arrived – I’ve got four strong swimmers, which means I am parking my seat in a lounge chair at the pool and reading. (Don’t worry, Smarty moms of littles, your day will come! I’ve waited 13 years for this!!) Here’s what’s in my pool bag this summer (thanks to Amazon for the book descriptions!).


Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. Read More →

May 22, 2017

This is your brain on summer: 4 reasons for summer learning, no matter your age

CML CSP Image May 2017

By our Smarty friends at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

The countdown to the sunny season has begun, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is gearing up to offer you Summer Break: Read, Learn, Explore from June 1-August 13.

Here are four reasons to include learning in your summer plans, no matter your age:

1) Have a little one? Summer Break is a fun toolkit to help your tot develop pre-reading skills.

Long before your child enters school, their early literacy skills begin with the primary adults in their life. So let’s start with the youngest summer learners, those ages 0-3. The Library’s Summer Break program for this age is designed to develop pre-reading skills – the skills children need to have so they start Kindergarten ready to learn (if we want to get technical, these include skills like phonological awareness, print motivation, print awareness, vocabulary, narrative skill and letter knowledge). Read More →

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