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Monday, March 31, 2014

Girls + STEM = EXCITEMENT

Girls + STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) = EXCITEMENT!!  Project Scientist in Charlotte wants to share this equation for fun and success with your daughters ages 4-12 through their Project Scientist Academy.  
Photo Credit: Project Scientist
Project Scientist Academy is a weekly summer program which will engage and inspire your daughters through hands-on experiments, discovery-based learning, field trips, expeditions and the arts. Female STEM role models and mentors will interact with your daughters, and share their passion for their STEM careers. 

Project Scientist Academy is now enrolling for weekly curriculums held at Queens University and the Trinity Episcopal School. This is an amazing opportunity to help your daughter cultivate her knowledge and develop leadership skills to help her reach her highest potential.

Photo Credit: Project Scientist
 Project Scientist through a National Science Foundation funded curriculum Sci-Girls recently hosted 30 educators from CMS and surrounding Charlotte area schools. They educated the teachers in the best practices to encourage girls in STEM's. Many of the educators will become instructors at this year's Project Scientist Academy and others will bring these techniques into their classrooms around the Charlotte area.

I was honored to participate in last year's Project Scientist Academy as a STEM presenter, I'm an embryologist and I spoke with the girls about how embryos develop into babies and about my interesting career. I was impressed and encouraged by the organic curiosity of the girls and the well thought out questions they asked.

To enroll your future scientist visit the Project Scientist Academy. Sessions begin June 23rd and run through August 8th.





Friday, March 28, 2014

Hope Floats Duck Race - Supporting Kindermourn



It was the unimaginable. My sister was 24 weeks pregnant when her life changed during a routine ultrasound, and she learned that her son Aiden had passed away. He was stillborn, and there aren't words to describe the soul and spirit wrenching grief and difficult healing that she and her husband have undergone since his passing. 

We created Aiden's Light, a peer support page on Facebook for parents who have had a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. 

Locally, we are supporting Kindermourn in Charlotte, which provides free counseling and support for bereaved parents of children. The mission has remained strong, and the heart of KinderMourn still beats for one purpose...to provide a safe haven for those who have suffered an unimaginable loss.

 
You can help with their mission. Kindermourn is hosting their 10th annual Hope Floats Duck Race on April 27th, 2014 at the White Water Center. 15,000 ducks will be raced down the white water rapids and one single duck will win prizes for their adopted family.

Please consider adopting a duck in honor of a loved one. They are $5 per duck (unable to purchase a single duck online, contact me for a form to submit). Online you purchase a quack pack (6 ducks) for $25 or a float of ducks (12 ducks) for $50. Click here to adopt a duck and make a difference for those who have suffered an unimaginable loss.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Holes. In Your Ears. On Purpose.


"Holes - in my ears? With a needle?? On purpose?!?" was S's 5 year old response as we strolled by a tween getting her ears pierced in the mall a few months ago. She knew mommy could wear earrings but hadn't determined how I arrived at that privilege. I think she figured the holes grew in when you got older - like boobs.

My memory of getting my ears pierced around 12 was mostly, well - unsettling. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I can still recall the spine tingling *sound* of the gun and the pain and tears that followed. I was super freaked out, but my desire to adorn dangly and sparkly trinkets made me claim my spot in the chair.

One day a few weeks ago S came to me and said she wanted her ears pierced because one of her friends had it done. I was fine with her getting them pierced when she was ready. I explained the process again from soup to nuts, but she was not dissuaded. Then began the research on my end. I had read an article about how using a professional piercer provided a more sterile, less painful experience versus using a piercing gun.

I was somewhat skeptical about my un-pierced (other than my ears), un-tattooed self toting my 5 year old in to be pierced at a piercing/tattoo studio. Was it really going to be a better, more sterile, more professional environment? I reached out to my friends on facebook for suggestions on where to begin looking for a good piercing studio and one of my friends told me she brought her daughter to Sadu.


I contacted Sadu Body Piercing & Modifications in Charlotte with my list of questions, and spoke with Diana who had all the answers.

  1. I inquired about how they sterilized their tools. Sadu uses a steam sterilizer for the jewelry and tools/clamps. Needles that go through the body are pre-sterilized for one time use, and discarded in a sharps container. Each piece is thoroughly sterilized. Piercing guns used at Claire's or even a physician's office cannot be thoroughly sterilized. If an ear was to bleed during the piercing there would be no way to remove the tiny blood splatter. They may use alcohol or antiseptic to 'clean' it, but that doesn't kill all blood-borne pathogens that could be on to the gun.
  2. I asked about the quality control for the sterilizer, and they had up to date records of their biological indicators (spore tests) that determine that the sterilizer is achieving and maintaining the proper temperature to kill all blood-borne pathogens. 
  3. The hollow needle they use is claimed to be less painful than the piercing gun. This is why.  The hollow needle cuts through the skin more fluidly because it's extremely sharp. A piercing gun uses a blunt stud that essentially rips through the tissue to create the hole.
  4. I asked how they cleaned the skin, and they use betadine and alcohol.
  5. Diana has had 6 years of experience which included a year long apprenticeship. 
Diana explained that she only pierces people who are five and older, and told me she wanted to talk to S first to discuss everything that would happen and make sure she would be willing to follow the rules for after care and healing.


When we arrived I was impressed with how patient and sweet Dianna and Mattye were as S prepared for her big girl experience. S picked out crystal studs, they sterilized them and the rest was captured on video below.



I can't lie, there were tears, and apprehension for the second ear. Mommy held back tears (you can hear my voice getting reaaally high in the video as I'm trying not to cry). Dianna suggested giving her a breather and got her an ice pop as she prepared for the second ear. She was so sweet to my baby girl. Finally, the second ear was pierced, the tears were quickly dried and S was checking her ears out in the mirror.

We have used H2Ocean sterile saline for her aftercare. The second night there was some blood from her ear, but now we are two weeks out and her ears look wonderful and we have had no other issues. She's so excited about going shopping for her earrings after her 8-12 weeks of healing. Piercing prices vary depending on the jewelry that is selected, but Dianna encourages you call them at 704-344-0011. Sadu Body Piercing & Modification is located at 1515 Central Ave in Charlotte and you can find more info at SaduBodyPiercing.com.

I want to thank Dianna and Mattye for being so wonderful, professional and kind during the entire process. I'm so glad we decided to use Diana's professional piercing skills.

I received a $10 discount and was given the H2Ocean aftercare spray for free, but I planned to have her ears pierced with Diana at Sadu regardless of any discounts.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Red Rocks Cafe Charlotte - Mommy's Favorite Thing to Make for Dinner is Reservations

Red Rocks Cafe, nestled in South Park, offers an extensive menu of upscale American cuisine. The ambiance at Red Rocks is posh, yet relaxed and welcoming to families. I adore dining alfresco, and Red Rocks has a beautiful patio that allows their patrons to enjoy the southern weather during the spring, summer and fall.



We got off to a great start as Red Rocks impressed the kids by giving them a pirate sticker activity set that kept them content as we browsed the menu selections.

Once we settled in we realized that our most difficult task of the night would be choosing the winning entree. In my mind there were about five that were major contenders. The menu options are seemingly endless, and they all sounded amazing. They offer everything from burgers and salads to surf and turf, with many unique treasures in between.

We decided to try the Scott Andrew's Crab Cake Sliders ($12) as an appetizer - they were perfectly seared with a tangy dill mustard sauce. Their light flavor and full texture were taste-bud pleasing. Even little hands wanted to try these pint sized appetizers (as you can see in the photo!).

I shared the Cesar salad ($5) with my husband and S. The lettuce was fresh and crisp and the portion was large enough to share, but there was too much dressing for my liking. This was just a preference issue for me - because S thought it was perfection. I'd recommend asking for it on the side if you are 'dressing sensitive' like me, because it was a great tasting dressing.


S wanted fettuccine alfredo ($6) - do you sense a theme here with her dinners? The kids menu only offered marinara pasta, but the waitress let us know that they could easily swap out the marinara for  alfredo, and S was content with her favorite cream sauced entree.

E tried their burger ($6), as did I, and it was juicy and tender. His latest obsession is ketchup (aka life blood as we call it) and he enjoyed dunking each piece of burger and french fry into his favorite condiment. I appreciate a restaurant that offers entrees that the kids will eat - and not complain about! Dining out should be a fun experience and picky kids with limited menus can pose a problem, luckily there was no such problem at Red Rocks.

Our patient, and attentive waitress visited our table and explained their specials and tried to help me narrow my top five to just one. Ultimately I ended up ordering the Eugene Robinson's Shrimp and Scallop Fresco ($18). I'm a fan of seafood, artichoke and sun dried tomatoes, and together they were served up together as a savory medley. The entire dish was tasty, but the scallops were phenomenal.

Jim's take:
I enjoyed the crab cake sliders and Cesar salad. For my entrĂ©e, I settled on Barry Giller’s Blackened Tuna Avocado ($23).  It featured two good sized portions of seared sushi grade tuna over a bed of red risotto, grilled asparagus, avocado, and pico de gallo.  The tuna was a little spicy (which is a good thing to me) and the accompaniments complemented it very well. For dessert we had the chocolate cake, which was three delicious layers of chocolate cake and frosting. This was a major crowd pleaser.


We didn't sample anything from the wine menu, but next time we visit without the kiddos I'll have to enjoy a glass of one of their many wines.

I was thoroughly impressed with the entire staff, one waitress even stopped by and asked if she could clean off the tidy tray that we bring with us everywhere that E had used. Our server was attentive and able to anticipate the needs (more napkins, don't put the drink in front of the baby etc.) of our family without fail. The restaurant was well appointed, clean and the bathrooms had the ever needed changing table in the women's room. Parking was a breeze and they take reservations (always a bonus when dining with the little ones).

Red Rocks Cafe has two locations, the one in South Park and then a second location in Huntersville in the Birkdale shopping center. You can like Red Rocks Cafe on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. For more information about Red Rocks Cafe, to view their menu or make reservations at RedRocksCafe.com.

Mom About Charlotte Disclaimer: In exchange for this review, our meals were paid for. However, our opinions are our own, and not influenced by the restaurant providing the meal free of charge.