Charlotte Smarty Pants

Charlotte Smarty Pants – Daily Scoop for Savvy Charlotte Moms

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March 31, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: how to avoid allergens

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

Dealing with allergies can be a non-stop battle. The weather gets warmer earlier every year and spring allergies – pollens, primarily – start sooner. But some people have to deal with winter allergies, like dust and molds, too. Medicines can do a lot to reduce your symptoms, but did you know there are things you can do around your house to minimize your exposure to allergens? Here are five ways to help avoid allergens before they trigger sneezing and runny noses.WomanClosingWindowWeb

Keep your humidity levels reasonable: Mold grows in areas with a lot of moisture, and winters in the Charlotte area, like the winter we just had, can be wet. If you keep the humidity level of your home around 35-40 percent, you can minimize mold exposure.

Get rid of dust mites: A clean home can do wonders to reduce your exposure to dust allergens, which are common when your home is shut up during the winter. Therefore, you should wash your sheets in hot water once a week. You should also dust and vacuum regularly. While performing these chores, we recommend wearing a mask to help reduce symptoms.

Keep the windows shut: In the springtime you want to keep as much pollen out of your house as possible. Keeping your windows shut keeps pollen outside. Read More →

March 30, 2017

Join us for the first ever Town Hall on Social Media Parenting



Do you feel like keeping up with your kids’ social media is a full time job? You’re not alone. Parents today have it hard. We’re all playing catch up with the social media world and often feel overwhelmed by how to parent through it. We’re excited to host the first ever Town Hall on Social Media Parenting where parents and experts in our community can come together to discuss kids and social media.

Charlotte Smarty Pants is partnering with Providence Day School on April 30th at Providence Day School for this event. All parents from any school are welcome to join in on the conversation. Our goal is to bring knowledge, relief, and empowerment to navigate the iGeneration. And guest what? It’s FREE.

Our panel discussion will start with experts from schools from all over the city to speak on what’s really trending in our schools. Because let’s face it: what happens in my kid’s school affects what happens in yours thanks to social media. Our healthcare experts will address the affects social media has on our children’s health.

We’ll end the afternoon with a social Q&A with sweet treats provided by the delicious Sunflour Baking Company.

Event Details:
Sunday, April 30 from 2-4pm

Providence Day School
Dickson-Hemby Technology Center
5800 Sardis Road, Charlotte, NC 28270

Register here now. Spots are limited. Hope to see you there! Read More →

March 28, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and Levine Children’s Hospital: Tips on Overnight Summer Camp

CSP Team Note: We recently chatted with Paul Smolen, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician at Providence Pediatrics, part of Carolinas HealthCare System, about his tips for sending your child to overnight summer camp. A big thank you to him for his insight – there’s some GREAT advice here for parents with kids of all ages.

At what age should you consider sending your child to sleep away camp?

Like so many things in life, it depends. When your child confidently sleeps at other children’s homes, shows an interest in sleep away camp, successfully masters day camp, and is at an age where the benefits of a new camp experience outweigh some homesickness, it might be time to seriously consider sleep away camp. IMG_9007

What are the benefits to your child of attending summer sleep away camp?

I am a big advocate of camp, especially the sleep away variety. In my mind, the most important aspect of the experience is the water safety skills that most camps provide. In a camp setting, your child will have no choice but to improve their water safety skills. Additionally, a child has an opportunity to try crafting, archery, riflery, and other camping activities. Learning to meet and live with new people who may come from different backgrounds is also a plus. Finally, learning to take care of oneself and become a little more self-sufficient in a new environment also provides great value. Sleep away camp can be an important tool to build a child’s confidence and encourage their independence.

What are some things to consider when choosing your child’s sleep away camp?

I go with the three Rs: reputation, reviews and recommendations. When deciding on the best camp for their child, I think parents should also keep in mind specialty activities that a particular camp may provide, such as horseback riding or nature programs. Read More →

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.

And, it’s women like Emily who make up the backbone of our awesome 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 or 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 24, 2017

Fitness Friday: Check out Carolina Barre & Core for your teen!

Carolina Barre Core Ansley

Carolina Barre & Core is the perfect supplement for your teen’s sports workouts. Whether she plays soccer, lax, field hockey, cheer or anything in between – a barre workout will enhance her performance. Research has shown that core conditioning will make you a better athlete, no matter what your sport. And our friends at Carolina Barre & Core (CBC) have special teen pricing just for you!

My 10-grade daughter, Ansley, plays field hockey as her primary sport. This is her off season and since December, she has been working out at Carolina Barre & Core and she absolutely LOVES it! When she first started, it was kind of fun for me to watch her shake at the barre during every exercise – afterall, I’ve been a barre addict for years and I know all too well the pain of the shake and burn:-) But she is now a barre pro and stronger than ever. She now seeks out the shake so she can get the best workout every time.

Here’s what Ansley says about barre:

Barre is more than a strengthening class, it’s a total body workout for me. It targets your core, gluts and thighs. During class, when you feel the burn, you know you’re doing it right and making changes. I can see such a difference in all of my workouts now – I’m an all around better athlete because of barre!

Whether your teen is in the middle of a sport season or not, Carolina Barre & Core is a great workout program for her. They have classes every day after school at 4:30p, 5:45p and 7:00p, so there is something that fits her schedule. The instructors are amazing – Anz comes home all the time talking about how much she loves them! I also love the fact that we can do barre together – as mom and daughter and we both get an incredible workout. On the weekends, we love to do barre and head over to One Life Raw Juice Bar next door and do some quality mother/daughter bonding. It’s the BEST! The Plym gals HIGHLY recommend CBC!! Read More →

March 20, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and Signature Pediatrics: Starting Solid Foods (or What in the World am I Supposed to Feed My Baby?!)

By our Smarty friends at Signature Pediatrics

Rice cereal, egg white vs yolks, gluten, dairy, peanut butter, “baby-led weaning”— controversies and changes in feeding recommendations over the past few years have caused some confusion over the best way to start solid foods in infants. Let’s start by saying we all agree that babies need to be fed! It’s the what and when that seems to be ever-changing.

Photo cred:

Photo cred:

A brief review of feeding practices in the past century reveals that in the early 1900’s many infants weren’t fed solid foods until almost a year of age, and green vegetables were sometimes not introduced until age 3! In the 1930’s 4-6 months of age was recommended for starting baby food, and by the mid 1960’s the age of solid food introduction had steadily decreased to the point that 80 % of infants had already started cereal by 1 month of age.

So, what are the most current recommendations?

They are relatively straightforward and simple, and unlike many things these days the “rules” have even relaxed a bit!

Timing: Solid foods should be introduced between 4 and 6 months of age.

Breast milk or formula alone provides sufficient nutrition for most infants until 4-6 months of age. It takes until about 4 months of age for the intestinal and kidney systems to mature enough to process other foods, and by this age most infants have developed the skills to accept and swallow a food. Read More →

March 11, 2017

Smarty Dad: Dr. Gaurav Bharti, MD, FACS


We are so excited to introduce you to this week’s Smarty DAD (we love Smarty Dads!!), Dr. Gaurav Bharti. Dr. Bharti is a board certified plastic surgeon and partner at Hunstad Kortesis Plastic Surgery + MedSpa. He’s new to Charlotte but already making a name for himself as one of the best plastic surgeons in town for the “Mommy Makeover” – we’ll let him explain a little more about it, but if you’re feeling not quite yourself after having the kiddos, he might be your knight in shining armor. 😉 (You can also read more on the “Mommy Makeover” in this Q&A we posted last year with Dr. Bharti.)

Dr. Bharti and his wife are raising three beautiful girls. We appreciate the time he took to interview with us amidst his crazy schedule. Smarties, enjoy getting to know Dr. Bharti – and keep reading because there’s an AWESOME Smarty Steal at the end (hint: it’s worth $200!).

Smarty Dad: Dr. Gaurav Bharti, MD, FACS

Married to: Sarah Edwards (9 years)
Children: Maya (7) Malina (5) Ariana (3)
Years in Charlotte: 1
Hometown: Johnson City, TN
Alma Mater: East Tennessee State University
Occupation: Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and Partner, Hunstad Kortesis Plastic Surgery + MedSpa

Tell us what got you interested in plastic surgery.

Plastic surgery offers me the ability to make people happy on a daily basis. I feel that it is a specialty focused on patient well being and overall happiness.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is that I am able to use my artistic vision and surgical skill to transform my patients and allow them to achieve their goals. Read More →

February 28, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: Know Your Doctors – Ophthalmologists

Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A. has nearly 100 healthcare providers with different jobs and titles. What do these titles mean and what care does everyone offer? This is the second in a series explaining who our providers are and what they do to keep you and your family healthy. Click here to read the first post in the series.

What is an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a physician trained to check vision and prescribe corrective eyewear, diagnose and treat all eye diseases, and perform eye surgery. Some even perform functional and cosmetic facial plastic surgery. Because they are trained in all these areas, ophthalmologists can provide comprehensive and appropriate care to their patients without needing to refer them to other doctors.

Photo courtesy of CEENTA

Photo courtesy of CEENTA

An ophthalmologist is different from an optometrist or optician. Optometrists and opticians are not medical doctors. Optometrists are licensed to perform vision tests, prescribe glasses and contact lenses, detect some eye irregularities, and prescribe medication for some eye diseases. An optician, meanwhile, designs, tests, and fits eyeglasses and contact lenses. They don’t test vision or write prescriptions.

How does someone become an Ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist must complete college and medical school, and then complete a one-year internship followed by a residency at least three years long. Ophthalmologists also have the option of pursuing a sub-specialty fellowship. The most popular fellowships are for the retina, the cornea, glaucoma, pediatrics, oculoplastics, and neuro-ophthalmology. Read More →

February 23, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and CEENTA: what are laryngitis and hoarseness?

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

Vocal hoarseness is something that can affect people of all ages. But what is hoarseness and how do you treat it? Otolaryngologist Darrell Klotz, MD, of Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A. joins us this month to talk about it.

It’s a common occurrence: your child has been playing with sick children or has been running around yelling a lot, and before you know it they’ve lost their voice.

When people talk about losing their voice, many use “laryngitis” interchangeably with “hoarseness.” However, they’re not the same thing. Laryngitis is the inflammation or swelling of vocal folds, and is the most common cause of hoarseness. Laryngitis can be caused by a cold or the flu, acid reflux, overusing the voice and having bad vocal habits, and irritation. However, hoarseness can also be caused by benign lesions on the vocal folds, or possibly even cancer.TeengirllaryngitisWeb

While no single age group is prone to voice disorders, people who use their voices the most – parents, for example – can have more issues with hoarseness, Dr. Klotz said. They are unable to rest their voice when they have even a mild case of laryngitis because many people depend on them to keep up their responsibilities.

If you or your child does come down with a mild case of laryngitis – caused by a cold, flu, or upper respiratory tract infection, for example – the best thing to do is stay well hydrated and rest your voice, Dr. Klotz said. Laryngitis is the equivalent of injuring your ankle and having it swell. You wouldn’t run on a swollen ankle, so you shouldn’t speak when you have laryngitis. Read More →

February 22, 2017

From the Smarty Health Corner and Levine Children’s Hospital: Heart to Heart: Two Families Journey Together to Transplant

CSP Team Note: February is National Heart Month, and we’ve teamed up with our partners at Levine Children’s Hospital to bring you a patient story that will definitely leave a lasting impact on you. Meet Ayden and Travis, two little boys whose paths crossed while waiting for new hearts – read on to see how their journey has affected both families…for the better. Take a minute to watch the awesome videos – they will give you chills! Note – this post was originally published on the Carolinas Healthcare System’s blog.

By the time Aydan and Travis were admitted to the hospital – just weeks apart – the two little boys had what doctors determined to be days to live before their hearts gave out.

Aydan was 3, and Travis was a mere 3 months. Both had serious heart failure that put them in danger of losing their lives.

The pediatric cardiology and heart surgery team at Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Children’s Hospital suddenly had two young patients in need of heart transplants. Their job: to keep both boys alive until transplant, with no way of knowing how long it would take for a heart to become available for either of them.

Doctors recommended an interim solution called a mechanical heart, which would essentially pump their blood and keep all their organs functioning until a new heart was available.

“I’ll never forget when the doctor told me that the only way that Aydan would live is if we did a surgery to get him on a mechanical heart,” says Miriam, Aydan’s mom. “But he also told me that there was another mom, Allyson, just a few rooms down, whose little baby was just put on that same mechanical heart, and that I should meet her.”

A Bond Forms

Miriam and Allyson — Travis’ mother — met, and the two moms struck up a friendship that soon developed into what Allyson calls a sisterhood.

At first, they’d check in when they saw each other in the hallways. Then, they started sitting in each other’s rooms. As time went on, they’d look in on each other’s son even when the other wasn’t there. Read More →

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