By Michelle Lloyd
Meet Alicia Roberts, the new site administrator for MomsCharlotte.com. Alicia has been with the Observer on and off for about four years. She worked full time until her second child was born in March 2007. Shortly after that, her family moved from Columbia, S.C., to Charlotte. With two kids, a new house, and a new city, she realized her plate was full (actually, overflowing). Now, she tries to keep her journalism skills sharp here and there - while dreaming up new craft projects (for her and her kids), teaching the kids about gardening and other time-honored pastimes, and taking Spanish lessons with her husband. You can get in touch with Alicia on the forums under the name AliciaR or via email at email@example.com.
Q. Where are you from?
We live in the Stonehaven neighborhood in southeast Charlotte, and we love it. We were fortunate to find a house with a nice yard for the kids, a view of a creek across the street, and access to the McAlpine Creek Greenway just around the corner. That’s a fantastic place to teach a kid how to ride a bike or catch a frog.
I grew up in Pittsburgh. I miss my family, and I miss the pierogies. But I don’t miss the snow, even one bit.
Q. How long have you been at the Charlotte Observer and what was your previous title?
A few months after we moved to Charlotte in 2007, I started working at the Observer, and I’ve done a bunch of things as I’ve juggled being a mom and being a journalist. First, I worked as an assistant metro editor, and then added some copy editing shifts. As my kids settled into a 6 a.m. wakeup routine (ugh!), I found it hard to work nights. So I was able to transition to the team that started up what has become the Charlotte News Alliance.
Q. How many children do you have?
We have Hank, who is 6 and just finished kindergarten, and Audrey, who is 4. I hope that one day they appreciate having a sibling so close in age. And they do get along pretty well for the most part – they both have huge imaginations and can play make-believe for good stretch of time. But when they get crabby at each other, I wish I could be on another planet.
Q. What did you do before the Observer?
My husband, Dave, and I lived in Columbia, S.C., for 10 years and worked at The State newspaper. I worked as the metro editor, features editor and community editor. It was a great place to get a lot of experience quickly. And to eat loads of delicious barbecue - though, I have to say vinegar-based barbecue will always be my favorite. Columbia also was only about three hours to the beach, and we took day and weekend trips whenever we could.
Q. What is your inspiration?
Many days, it has to be my to-do list. I have to focus on that cursed list to get things done. But, when I stop for a breather, it’s usually nature that inspires me. I love to watch the change of seasons – from flowers in the spring and summer to colorful leaves in the fall to snowflakes in winter (at least for a few days!). We do a lot of gardening, we like to watch the birds at the feeders, and we take many, many walks in the greenway when the weather cooperates.
Q. Tell us one interesting/strange/funny thing about yourself.
I’m never without a three-hole punch in my house. You never know when you have to create a binder full of information. It worked out really well last summer, when we drove to Maine for our family vacation. I downloaded maps of all the states we would drive through and got some cool construction paper, and made the kids each “travel binders.” They drew pictures and asked questions about the maps as we drove.
Q. What is your favorite store in Charlotte?
My current obsession is knitting, so I spend a lot of time at Baskets of Yarn, at 1318 E3 Central Ave., in Plaza Midwood. It’s in the Family Dollar shopping center. I love to look at the pattern books and all of the amazing fibers, and to imagine what I could make for me, my husband, my kids, my friends and relatives - if I had about six more hours in each day! I recently finished my first pair of hand-knitted socks. If you’ve never worn socks made just for your feet, it’s unreal how comfortable they are.
Q. What is your favorite quick meal?
I am so lucky my kids will eat this anytime I make it: curried chickpeas, rice and steamed green beans. To make the chickpeas, you basically just dump cans into a sauce pot: 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained; 1 can of diced tomatoes (I sometimes use stewed tomatoes); and 1 teaspoon of curry powder, or more if you like it. Heat all of that up, and you’re good to go. If you have a little bit more time, you can sauté some onions first; if you want to add some green to the mix, you can throw in a handful of frozen peas. It’s quick (the rice takes 20 minutes), it’s cheap, and my kids gobble it up. I keep some Indian chutney and spicy Indian pickles from the international grocery store around, so my husband and I can make the meal appeal a little more to our adult palates.
Q. What are your plans for MomsCharlotte.com?
My plans are pretty simple: Post more great stories, offer more giveaways and improve on an already excellent site. And I'd love your help! Send me ideas and story tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.