Good morning, Smarties! Today we are thrilled to introduce another Smarty Mom-ination, Lauren Partridge. She was nominated by her good bud, Laura … I’ll let Laura tell you a little bit about Lauren:
It is my pleasure to introduce one of my dearest and Smartiest friends in Charlotte, Lauren Partridge. Lauren is married to Tim and mom to Ellie (3 ½) and Connor (1). Lauren and Tim spent several years in Boston and Chapel Hill before calling Charlotte home for the last four years. Lauren is a stay-at-home mom and a savvy entrepreneur, and I’m so glad to call her my friend.
I should start by saying that I don’t know how I would make it as a mom without Lauren. We first met at a Dairy Queen and later became friends when she invited me to join a playgroup that our firstborns (and now littlest ones) are still in. We quickly bonded over much needed wine and “mommy time” at our every-other-week play dates. Over the years, our children have done everything together from baby yoga to ballet to church dinners, and until I started working full-time, I saw Lauren and her kids multiple times a week. Lauren still sees my little ones throughout each week because she is that kind of friend and support system for me. They say it takes a village and Lauren is definitely part of my village. What makes her all the more amazing is that during the week, her husband Tim travels for work, and Lauren manages to balance it all on her own. For those of you that have hubbies that work late or travel, you know how hard this can be.
Lauren is funny, creative, caring and is always doing something to help out someone else. She is down-to-earth but also has a very fun, hip style. She throws the best parties where you can expect everything from the most adorable invitations down to homemade cakes that you swore a professional made. This is probably where I should tell you that Lauren is a young Martha Stewart. I marvel in her creativity and what she can create with a glue gun and some fabric. She recently took her creativity to the next level, launching her own website elle pea. Elle pea offers everything from favorite retail lines to unique gifts made by Lauren to items you can’t get anywhere else in Charlotte (i.e., Twirly dresses for girls, they are fabulous). She truly has an amazing gift and I’m thrilled that she is now making all of her fun creations available to buy!
I can’t wait for you to get to know Lauren!
Your husband travels quite a bit (as in all week, every week) … how do you juggle 2 young children, managing a household and all the other things that come with motherhood, all with a big smile on your face week in and week out?
The things that help me the most are having a schedule and accepting help from others. I plan out the weeks meals ahead of time and have a pretty consistent schedule with school, ballet, swimming, and playgroup, so I have a great routine down. I do chores on the same days every week so the weekends we can relax and have fun as a family. I make sure the kids are down every night by 7:30 so that I have some time for myself. I also depend on so many people around Charlotte. Because my family is all out of town (Philly and Boston), I have been so lucky to have developed a family in Charlotte. My neighbors and friends are amazing. They protect me, do above and beyond favors and offer some adult conversation (which is much needed without a husband home every night). And I always look at the positives too: I can watch whatever I want on TV every night 🙂 and only have to impress my kids with my sub par cooking skills most of the time and we have such a fun homecoming when Tim comes home each week.
According to your friends, you throw the best parties and impromptu get-togethers. In addition, you’ve had some great experience helping others plan parties during your stint working at a stationery store in town. What is your number one piece of etiquette/advice is for throwing a great party?
Expect that everything is not going to turn out perfect (especially with kids) and have fun yourself. If you are stuck for an idea, visit your local stationery store and you might get a great idea. For a first birthday party, spend the week before singing Happy Birthday to him/her so they are used to being sung to. Clap and make it fun so they don’t cry when the whole party is singing some random song at them. And ask a friend to take the cake pictures so that you can enjoy the moment. The best party we have had so far was for my daughter’s 3rd birthday. We had a pony from Pony Parties By Janet Menetrier. Other fun get togethers we have had are… a bow party for moms- where i bought 100 alligator clips and everyone brought ribbon and we had a hot glue gunning blast and made cute free hair bows for our girls, a cd exchange at playgroup where we each brought 10 copies of a children’s cd (not sure if this is even legal- haha), and a shaving cream playdate where we filled a baby bathtub with shaving cream and let them have at it.
What is the best “new baby” gift you’ve ever received and/or the best gift you’ve given?
The best baby gift I have ever given is a Sugarboo Designs Photobox small frame. They are such unique antiqued wood frames with a special quote and can be personalized with a baby’s name. As a shameless plug, I recently opened an online store which is a collection of my “favorite” gifts over the years and items that my kids and I have loved and tested. It is web.me.com/ellepeaonline if you want to check it out!
What’s the smartiest way you save $$?
I like to buy “plain” clothing items (like solid color shorts, jeans, leggings, white t shirts) at Target or Old Navy and pair them with more expensive items. That way you save money on some items (no one will know where the “cheaper” items are from) and you can justify buying a $25 Luigi kids t shirt or $40 Tea Collection dress.
What is your favorite family-activity in Charlotte?
We love to rotate at all the Y pools in the summer. They all have something a little different and are all perfect for kids. They are so much different (by that I mean way better) than the Y’s I grew up with. We go to Harris, Siskey and Ballantyne.
Favorite mommy-time activity?
Embarassingly enough, I love to sleep in on the weekends (my only chance for this much loved past time). And watch mindless TV shows at the end of the day.
Favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
Church dinner Wednesday nights at St. Gabes (I know alot of churches in the area have similar nights). It is so inexpensive, delicious, and almost stress free. They have a separate kids buffet. After dinner, they have a movie set up for the kids, coloring and some other games. (My kids choose to run around the cafeteria, which is somewhat frowned upon by other patrons, but not nearly as frowned upon as a restaurant setting).
Favorite date-night spot?
Any good steak restaurant (Del Friscos and Chima are my favorites) and then somewhere fun in the Epicenter (like bowling or the piano bar).
Favorite lunch spot with your girlfriends?
With kids… Chick Fil A. Hands down, it is the best fast food restaurant around. They are so helpful and thoughtful with regards to kids. They bring your food out to you, they have the disposable sticky placemats, and you can trade in your kids meal prize for a small ice cream. I can honestly say I don’t think I have been to lunch in Charlotte without kids. That is pathetic.
Favorite GNO outing?
I actually enjoy sitting around someone’s house with a few drinks and some great conversation the best. I depend on my girlfriends for so much and just hanging out talking without kids is my favorite Girls Night Out.
Best book you’ve read lately?
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.
Funniest thing your kids have ever said to you/ever done?
I can’t think of anything specific (I should write more things down), but I just get such a kick out of hearing my daughter use expressions that I use. When she talks on the phone she says “what’s up daddy.” I can hear myself all the time as she decides it is her job to yell at her little brother. And recently, as she pretends to be someone new everyday, I get a glimpse into things her teachers, friends and daddy say and it is so funny.
What is your favorite CSP blog thus far?
I love the blogs about the Weekend Activities. Even my husband knows to go on CSP to see what is going on for kids. And the Divine Consign contest because I was a winner and got some great items!
What is the best kept secret in Charlotte?
Going to the preschool playgounds. I hope this is allowed because I do it all the time. They are so clean and age appropriate. They are never crowded. And there are so many around Charlotte, you can’t go wrong.
I could not live without my…
iMac. It has helped me edit and organize the million photos I have taken, it is easy for my daughter to use to play games, and with no web design experience at all, I was able to completely design my online store website. Oh, yes and it helps with my addictions to email and facebook!
Thanks, Lauren! If anyone has a Smarty Mom you would like to nominate, please email us at email@example.com.