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“Burrow”ing into the New Decade :: Choosing to Live Offensively

LSU is undefeated and we are the champions, my friends (insert loud cheering and Queen song playing in the background)!

At this point, it feels like Joe Burrow isn’t just LSU’s quarterback, he’s our nation’s quarterback.

I’m not here to talk about Burrow’s Heisman win, his cigar preferences, or even his butt (no matter how nice those are). I am here to tell you about how I’m burying 2019 and the past decade in general. They kicked my butt … my mama butt, my relationship butt, my work-life butt, figuratively, all of my butts …

BUT … they’re over!

As I was watching that historical championship, I recognized something very simple about life and how I can make 2020 not only my year but the starting point of an entirely new way of living.

You see, I recognized something about the way I’ve been living while watching our Tigahs win. Maybe how most of us have been living.

I’ve been living defensively when I really need to be living offensively.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a mama bear. If a group of ninjas comes to my home and decides to break in, they had better run. I’m going to protect my little ones, barricade the doors, and kick them back like I’m Chun Li from Street Fighter. I was also taught to drive defensively (do you even live in Baton Rouge if you haven’t slammed on your brakes on Siegen?). These are the times being defensive works for me.

If I think of my life as a football game, I’m in the 2nd quarter! I can be Burrow. I am the quarterback in this game, no matter how cheesy you may think I am for saying that. The main job of the quarterback is to be the leader of the offense, have a determined heart, call the plays, encourage the other teammates to play well, and to throw dat ball. Burrow has proven that he is a master quarterback this year; I watched him on that field and ESPN, his eyes were always focused on downfield. He rarely loses sight of downfield.

I believe that there is a lot of societal pressure to live defensively. We are told to proceed through life with caution – don’t color outside of the lines, don’t do this, don’t do that, you’re too much, stay average, keep a low profile, avoid love because you may get hurt, avoid risk because you may fail. We succumb to these beliefs and then project those onto others, we pass them to our children.

The defensive life (much like the defensive line) doesn’t play to win. It plays to not lose.

Metaphorically speaking, the defensive line is not proactive with thinking or plotting on the field, they’re really not in control. They are responding to threats through instinct, they are there to block the others from scoring.

For me, in this case, living defensively has caused me to consistently block myself from feeling like I’m worthy of good things happening to me. I’ve stopped myself from countless paths that could have been “field goals” or “touchdowns,” but the fear of failure has certainly kept me offsides.

Last year was emphatically difficult for me. My whole life has been incredibly strenuous. It’s caused me to be on the lookout for fires to put out. I was bitter about the huge obstacles I was forced to face  and I responded to these threats with negativity, tears, and hopelessness. I lost sight of downfield.

Living a defensive life is stressful and I can say this, the defensive line rarely scores any touchdowns.

I know I needed to welcome this new decade with open arms and ample reflection. It just didn’t hit home until this week, while watching Joe Burrow efficiently move through all obstacles of his 6 touchdowns to win the game.

In a football game, it takes 4 attempts to move the ball 10 yards before you have to turn it over to the other team. The offense has to decide whether to run or throw the ball. They have to be in the moment, know the defense can come at them from any side, and make a quick decision. They have to act and to continue to move toward the end zone. Even if they only move one yard, they don’t give up after one down. Most touchdowns don’t even happen in one play. Their quarterback leads them with intention. They are proactive.

I want to live offensively, I want to be the Burrow of myself, of my family (my team).

The defense will always be there. Their job is to block someone else from winning.

There will be naysayers, bullies, droughts, miscarriages, cancers, deaths, fake friends, cheaters, jealousies, toxic family members, negativity, and losses in this life and my future. Stumbling blocks are on everyone’s path, that’s just a fact, however sorrowful.

If I continue to live defensively, I’m facing the wrong way on the field.

I can’t see my goals and I cheat myself from touchdowns. If I continue a defensive life, I am in danger of becoming an obstruction in someone else’s game, possibly my children’s.

A championship depends on a strong offense.

According to my beliefs, the game is already won. So truly, it only matters how I play it.

In this new decade, I choose to anticipate change and obstacles. I choose to improve, to be willing to lead, and take risks. I choose to make as many attempts as it takes and I choose not to surrender on the first down. I choose to live in the moment, to bench any players that don’t have my back, I choose to keep trying, learning and plotting new “plays.” I choose to take a knee.

Playing in the game of life is a choice and it is mine. I choose to keep playing. I choose to look downfield.

Whatever happened in the first quarter, whatever mistakes I made, they don’t matter, because it’s over. The second quarter has begun, it’s on the clock, and it isn’t even half-time yet.

I am the quarterback of my life and so are you. I am a champion. I choose to bury the past and Burrow into my future.

 

Mardi Gras Wearables for the Whole Family, Cher!

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Party Time, however, all opinions are my own. 

Mardi Gras Wearables for the Whole Family, Cher!

If you are reading this while eating king cake and Popeyes’ red beans, then you’ve come to the right place it’s Mardi Gras season, Cher! We’ve teamed up with Party Time to make it easier on you to get your entire family Mardi-Gras-ready this season!

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Party Time on Bluebonnet Boulevard near Airline Highway. From the moment I walked in the door until checkout, it was such a pleasant experience. The employees were so helpful and friendly, pointing me in the right direction to find exactly what I needed. Party Time has something for everyone in the family to make their parade season extra special. It’s your one-stop-shop! Y’all, the selection is unbelievable! I literally could not choose what Mardi Gras accessory to buy because I wanted it ALL! I may or may not have walked and down the many aisles a time or two… okay fine, three times.

Here are my top Mardi Gras wearables for the whole family, that can be found at Party Time.

For the Babies

 

When my husband and I were facing our first Mardi Gras season as new parents, we decided that we wanted our children to experience all the fun and revelry of the parades with us. This year is the first year we will be bringing an actual baby with us and not just a toddler, unlike previous years. So, when I saw this adorable king cake t-shirt for infants, I had to have it! Party Time carries tons of sizes, so if you have twins or a crazy mama like me that still loves to match her kids, then you’ll want these shirts!

For the Kids


I let my daughter pick out what she wanted to wear. Bless her heart, she wanted to match Mama so she picked out these headbands for us to wear together!


If you have a boy, you will want what is sure to be this hat of the season!! It’s called a “Dragon Hat” so you know that’ll impress him. My son hasn’t taken it off since we got home. This is just one of the so many festive hats Party Time carries in stock.

For the Dads


It’s typical of my husband to throw on a t-shirt and call it a festive outfit before heading out to a parade. So this year… I was looking for something a little more and I found it! These Mardi Gras suspenders are the perfect thing to pull an outfit together!

For the Mamas


I’ve saved the best for last. I found the perfect accessory for every family member, but especially for busy moms like me—a Mardi Gras fanny pack, y’all! Obviously, moms need to be hands-free to tend to our kids and catch beads, cups and all those stuffed animals we don’t really need (in that order, haha kidding)! This fanny pack is pretty spacious and can help hold all the things you need so you can fully enjoy the festivities! Need jewelry to complete with your outfit? Party Time has that too! Check out these precious earrings I picked up from there, too!

Even though I shared only a few options per family member, Party Time is packed with so many options. From hats to beads, socks to t-shirts, masks to sunglasses and tutus to handbags, you will be so impressed with everything Party Time has to offer.

Most people ask, “What is Mardi Gras without a king cake?” but I think it should be, “What is Mardi Gras without Party Time?” Before the parades roll through this year, take a trip down to Party Time to get your family Mardi-Gras-ready!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Mommy, Why Am I Tan Brown?

My child is curious. He asks a lot of difficult questions, funny questions, and shocking questions. Luckily, a lot of his questions are answered at school and by my husband who is a walking Wikipedia page. Culture is a big topic in his Pre-K class this month and they have a large poster of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the wall in their classroom. The teacher told me that they have lots of open discussions about ethnic backgrounds, skin color, and friendship. He has noticed that his tan skin is different from other people’s skin colors, but just solely because colors are different, and everyone has different color skin.

I picked him up from school one day and he asked me why God made him have “tan brown” skin. He announced,

“I can never be a Kidz Bop kid because I have dark skin and Kidz Bop kids only have light skin.”
This shook me to my core.

I wanted to find the person that told my four-year-old that he cannot do something because of the color of his skin. His beautiful Filipino American skin should not be a daily topic of conversation in his little life. He should not be self-conscious or emotional because his skin is not as light as Mommy’s. My momma bear instincts to hunt these people that are speaking negatively about race in front of my child should not be coming out this early in his life. Kids do not see race. Kids need to be kids and play, love unconditionally, and be weird. After his accusation that he cannot be a singer, I immediately whipped out the Kidz Bop videos and showed him that there are children with many different skin colors. I repeated that he can do anything he wants to do and be anything he wants to be.

The next morning, he asked me if I knew who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is. He asked to see his “I Have a Dream” speech, he asked good questions, he wanted to understand why MLK was assassinated, he wanted to know why peoples skin color even matters. Valid question buddy; why does skin color matter? Why are we still having to fight racism in 2020? Why is my 4-year-old questioning his worth or ability based on his skin color? Can we all just take a page from our children’s playbook – in their innocence and purity they do not see color as something that has weight in a persons value, it’s just really cool that his best friend (in his words) is “from African American” and the other “was made in Louisiana” and the other is “made from India.” When he is with his friends who are different races, practice different religions and come from various backgrounds, the thing they really care about most is who can fart the loudest.

Dear Sleep, I Will Not Take You For Granted Again

We bragged too early. After giving birth, I returned to work when Aeris was four months old. She began sleeping for six hours straight through the night, out of the blue. I continued to read articles and check her developmental stages as new moms tend to do, but we never realized how lucky we were. Anytime family and friends inquired about sleep, we responded arrogantly that we slept well. Our daughter didn’t cry at all times of the night, she slept soundly and occasionally stirred when it was time to nurse.

It was a parent match made in heaven.

As the months flew by, six hours gradually turned to eight and finally, she was sleeping throughout the entire night. We slept peacefully. We had successfully stopped co-sleeping and there were no complaints in the sleep department. I didn’t feel exhausted and I reveled in the fact that I had a baby that slept through the night without reading any manuals or incorporating any sleep interventions.

Fast forward and our toddler continued her reign of good sleep until the r-word reared its ugly head. At approximately one in the morning, shrills came from our daughter’s room that sent us in panic. My husband raced to her room and returned minutes later with our teary-eyed girl. She had refused to go back down in her crib. It was too late to put up a fuss and sleep was waiting on the other line. We coaxed her back to sleep and agreed that she could stay a night in our bed. Less than twenty minutes later, she popped up and began crying again.

We were petrified. The thermometer had a normal temperature, she wasn’t hungry or thirsty. There weren’t any rashes, swollen areas, or bug bites. We racked our brains for the next two hours as she whined and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning was brutal but she woke up with a smile and as cheerful as ever. My fatigue faded because she was well and didn’t show any signs of illness. My husband and I chalked it up to nightmares and didn’t think twice.

Three sleepless nights later, we had shuffled up enough research to conclude that it was sleep regression.

Though it seemed to have an answer that was helpful, it was a hard truth. How? She had spent well over a year sleeping throughout the night and now this “regression” thing was lingering in our home. The next two weeks were a living hell. Every night between one and two a.m., she would wake up and cry intermittently for two hours. As new parents, this was our first rodeo. We sang songs, offered snacks, gave extra cuddles and read Goodnight Moon a million times. Nothing worked. My mom friends advised me that it would eventually go away. Things would get back to normal and we would sleep again. Now, I identified with the part of motherhood that called for sleepless nights and dragging days.

My co-workers and friends could see and hear the exhaustion on my face and in my voice. Every morning and night were a struggle to stay awake and not lose my temper. We fared as best as we could, and eventually, we made it out!

Occasionally, she stirs and my anxiety shoots through the roof. The thought of repeating those sleepless weeks is a hard pill to swallow. As for now, we have been reacquainted with sleep and I vow to never take it for granted again. Dear regression, we rescind your invitation.

Easy But Delicious Dinner Recipes the Whole Family Will Love

“Is dinner ready yet?” That sentence usually pops up around 4:15 pm on any given day, right when you are starting to cook and wondering why you even bother. My kids come home from school, have a snack or two, and by 4 pm they are acting like they have not eaten in 3 days. I always say the same thing, “Guys, it is 4:00 – GO PLAY, it will be ready when it is ready.”

I am going to share some easy, and quick recipes below in hopes that it makes cooking dinner a little bit easier. Now let me just say, I am no chef! However my husband is, he is an executive chef and he is an amazing cook, but when you cook all day at work you typically do not want to do it when you come home. So … dinner usually falls to me. (Do you know how hard it is to cook something a professional chef might like?) It is not an easy task, but luckily my husband keeps his opinions to himself … sometimes. So I am going to share some easy recipes that my kids and husband both like.

Spinach Alfredo Lasagna:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, combine ground meat and one jar of Alfredo sauce, stir together. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and drained cooked spinach, and stir.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, place one layer of lasagna noodles, edges overlapping. Pour meat and Alfredo sauce mixture over the noodle layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded mozzarella over ground meat mixture. Top with another layer of noodles. Spread spinach mixture evenly over noodles. Pour 1/2 of the remaining jar of Alfredo sauce over spinach mixture, spread evenly. Sprinkle another cup of mozzarella over sauce, lay on the final noodle layer and top with remaining 1/2 jar of Alfredo sauce, 2 cups of mozzarella, and salt and pepper to taste.

Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the top, is brown and bubbly.

My family’s FAVORITE thing to eat at home is steak and vegetables.

We can honestly cook a steak with some Brussel sprouts or asparagus in about 20 minutes. I will typically go to Ralph’s or Rouse’s grocery stores and look for steak. They always have good deals where I can get 4 ribeyes or 4 New York strips for less than $25. I am an OK cook (like it is edible) but not top chef quality by any stretch of the imagination …. but this dish is one my husband has helped me cook and it is one of my favorites to do. Now we do not have a BBQ pit and honestly, I would catch the house on fire if I tried to use one, so I learned how to cook a steak on the stove and oven. (TRUST ME… it’s YUM)

Steak and Brussel Sprouts (or vegetable of your choosing):

  • 2-4 Ribeye Steaks
  • One package of Brussel Sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Take a skillet that you can sauté in but also put into the oven (so no plastic handles), heat it on the stove.

Take your steak and season on both sides.
Place the steaks on the preheated skillet and sear on both sides (Do not cook all the way through)

Once both sides have a nice brown sear, place the entire skillet in the oven and cook the steaks all the way through. My husband can do this thing where he pokes the steak and can tell you if it is Rare, Medium, etc. (I can not do that – so I use a thermometer)

Rare 130 to 135°F 130 to 140°F
Medium Rare 140°F 145°F
Medium 155°F 160°F
Well Done 165°F 170°F

 

While the steaks are in the oven you can cook the Brussel sprouts. Cut each Brussel in half, season and place in a heated sauté skillet with butter. Cook through until they have a light brown coating (Not dark brown – I say this because I have burnt them before)

And last, but certainly not least, I give you the easiest Peach Pie recipe on the PLANET.  

I found it via Google and my kids and husband eat the entire thing in one day! The hardest part is peeling the peaches, and that is not even that hard. The peaches can be on their last leg before you throw them away; they do not have to be perfectly ripe. I usually make this pie when we have leftover peaches that are about to go bad because nobody ate them.

Easy Peach Pie:

pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie (buy the pre-done kind in the cookie dough section)

cups fresh peaches, sliced
cup sugar
131cup all-purpose flour
141teaspoon cinnamon
tablespoons butter

tablespoons sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Stir together flour, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon and set aside.
  • Wash, peel, and slice fresh peaches.
  • Mix together peaches with the combined dry ingredients.
  • Turn into pastry-lined pie pan and dot with butter.
  • Cover with top crust, cut slits in it, seal the edges.
  • Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Cover the edges with foil to prevent over-browning; remove foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.
  • Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in the crust.

I hope you guys enjoy the recipes above, and please comment and let me know if you tried them and what worked or didn’t work for you.

If you are not like me, and you want to try some harder more professional recipes, you can check out my husband’s website.

Good luck and happy cooking or ordering pizza, because honestly that is awesome too! 🙂 Cheers to happy babies with full tummies! 

There’s a Facebook Group for That

Motherhood can be incredibly lonely and isolating. Though our ancestors often lived in large extended family units and shared the responsibilities of child-rearing, modern society has told us that good mothers should be able to handle this monumental task on their own. To up the ante even more, 70% of mothers work outside the home. We’re SO busy with work, keeping up the house, and extracurriculars that we often forget to prioritize time to cultivate important relationships with our friends.

Enter, the Facebook group. While there are many downsides to social media (many many), Facebook groups have been a huge source of connection for moms like me. Some might argue that replacing in-person interaction with social media is a negative of social media. And I understand that line of thinking. However, if my choices are between rarely seeing my friends and connecting with them mostly virtually, the latter also has a lot of pros. Here are some of the reasons I have come to love and rely on my Facebook friend groups.

There are groups for every interest and type of mom. I am personally in well over 100 Facebook groups with varying levels of participation. I’m in groups with local moms like Red Stick Mom’s Neighborhood Groups where we can discuss topical issues based on where we live. I’m in LOTS of groups specific to a particular brand where members can buy, sell, and trade clothing or other items and chat about the brand and life in general. I’m also in many groups pertaining to my interests such as groups about Target Couponing, home decorating, and politics. I love having friends in these various groups and sharing a sense of community with other like-minded adults. It’s a huge help to have topic-specific groups where I can ask questions or offer support in an area where I have knowledge and interest. When I’m up feeding a baby at 3 am, there’s almost always someone else online to offer support or help answer whatever random questions are on my mind.

 

A few examples of how Facebook groups have helped me on my motherhood journey:

When I found out I had gestational diabetes, I had no idea what to expect. A friend referred me to a few gestational diabetes Facebook groups where I learned tips to help regulate my blood sugar, found lots of recipes and snack ideas when it felt like I couldn’t possibly eat another egg, and read reviews on which glucose meters are the most accurate. When I ate something I thought would be fine but caused an unexpected spike, other women in the group were there to offer ideas and advice. It made the diagnosis much less scary and helped me to successfully navigate the last few months of my pregnancy.

A friend and I realized that there was a lack of local resources for moms who want to discuss mental wellness and who struggle with their mental health. So we created that group. And now there are 95, mostly local, moms who have a safe place to talk about struggles with motherhood, recommend therapists, and ask questions about mental wellness as it relates to motherhood.

The many buy, sell, trade groups I’m in allow me to buy and sell pre-owned kids’ clothes at great prices. So many nice pieces are only worn a couple of times before their outgrown, and it’s great to be able to pass them along to another family. This also cuts down on waste. Clothing is the 2nd largest pollution source in the world. Buying at least some clothes second-hand helps to lessen the environmental impact of the clothing industry. It also allows me to dress my kids in clothes that I otherwise would not necessarily be able to afford at a fraction of the cost. If I can then resell the items, it cuts down my cost even more. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a more generous group of women than those in buy, sell, trade groups. Friendships are formed around a love for specific brands, and these ladies have each other’s backs. I’ve seen fundraisers created for another member going through a hardship, gifts sent along with packages to make someone feel extra special, and a willingness to offer unconditional love and support to members in need.

My husband laughs at how often I start a sentence with “In this Facebook group I’m in”. But, I’m realizing more and more how much fulfillment I get from the connections I’ve made in those groups. While Facebook groups can never replace the benefits of spending quality time with our friends, they are a great way to foster new friendships with people you may have never otherwise met and to deepen the relationships with those who you also have an “in real life” friendship. So for now, in the weeks and months between Moms’ Nights Out, I’ll settle into the blue light emissions from my iPhone and spend some time scrollin’ with my homies.

Suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Williamson Eye Center.

Suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome?

Did you know that dry eye affects up to 33% of all women?

There are a lot of factors that amplify the symptoms including the changing weather (which we know all too well here in Baton Rouge), screen time, systematic medications like antihistamines and antidepressants, and normal hormonal changes.

So how do you know if you have dry eye syndrome? Sandy, scratchy, foreign body feeling on the ocular surface is a huge indicator, but so too is eye redness, frequent blinking to alleviate blurry vision, and excessive watering of the eyes.

Wait, excessive watering can indicate dry eyes? Yes! Your body produces two types of tears. Baseline and Reflex. Baseline is what’s always on the front surface of your eye and can/should be modified by your body. For example, if it’s dry outside, you should produce more baseline tears and vice versa. Reflex tears, on the other hand, are your body’s response to being emotional, in pain, etc. These tears are produced in excessive amounts very quickly, thus leading to them overflowing the lid and running down your cheek. When someone’s baseline tear film is low and they’re put into a challenging environment that includes wind, dryness, or excessive screen time, the eyes may start watering to make up for the low baseline tear level. Thus, watery eyes can indicate dry eyes.

So, what can be done about dry eyes? Lots! The other good news is most of the treatments for dry eye are covered by your medical insurance. It’s important to talk to an eye care provider about the best solution but even a simple warm compress on the eyes can provide a lot of relief. For more severe cases, lid physical therapy may be recommended to alleviate symptoms.

During a dry eye evaluation at Williamson Eye Center, non-invasive tests will be performed to prepare a Crystal Tear Report which will explain everything you need to know to develop a treatment plan with your doctor.

Ready for dry eye relief? Williamson’s Dry Eye Center of Excellence is the only place in Louisiana with the most advanced testing and therapy for dry eye. Call today to schedule an exam 225-924-2020 or chat with us online at williamsoneye.com to learn more!

What You Need To Know Before Hiking Tunica Hills

One of my family’s favorite places to go hiking is Tunica Hills. It’s a beautiful piece of heaven that is located right over the state line in Woodville, MS. If you have never been before, go ahead and plan a trip with your family. Here are a few things you need to know before going:

The trailhead is called “Clark Creek”

Most people try to put “Tunica Hills” into their GPS and it leads them into the middle of nowhere. Be sure to type in “Clark Creek” and it will lead you straight to the trailhead. From Baton Rouge, it’s a little over an hour’s drive. 

Bring cash

It’s $4.00 cash to park. It’s based on the honor system, so be honest! You’ll have to park first, walk up to the trailhead, and you’ll see the envelopes and a box to put your cash in, along with a parking tag to go in your vehicle. 

You may want to bring a backpack

A backpack is necessary if you plan to hike for the day. I bring multiple water bottles, snacks, cliff bars, and sometimes sandwiches if I know we’ll be out there for the day. 

There are different trails to choose from

There are three major routes to take, the improved trail, the primitive trail, and the creek bed. The improved trail is a nicely carved out portion of the route if you just want to take a stroll through the woods. The primitive trail is a little more adventurous and the longest. The creek bed is off the beaten path but is the most fun. But be prepared, there are giant boulders you will have to climb over and water to hike around. 

Bring a change of clothes and a towel

If you plan to hike in the creek bed, there is a good chance you may get a little wet. If you don’t, then your kids will! There is a bathroom at the trailhead you can utilize before and after your hike.

Wear Chacos, old tennis shoes, or hiking boots

Parts of the trail may have lots of slippery leaves, water, or you may find yourself climbing over a fallen tree. Not to mention the uphill drudgery you have to do to get back to the parking lot. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. I like to bring a separate pair of shoes for the ride home, just in case mine get wet along the hike.

You will see waterfalls

There are multiple points along the path where you will see little waterfalls. You can find them by looking at the map along the trail. 

You don’t have cell phone service

What a perfect way to disconnect from social media and enjoy the beauty of nature. Use your phone to take pictures and videos. You’ll want to look back on the sweet memories that were made. 

Bring your dog on a leash

People bring their dogs on leashes, big and small. They always have a blast!

It can take a few hours up to a whole day to hike it

You can hike as little or as long as you’d like. The creek bed hike, which is my personal favorite, usually takes a couple of hours from start to finish, depending on your speed. 

There are no bathrooms on the trail

There is only one bathroom at the start of the trailhead, so be sure to go before hitting the trail.

The hike back to the parking lot is tough

Since Tunica Hills is very “hilly,” the hike back to the car is pretty much all uphill. It just about kills you, but the challenge is well worth it. 

You can tent camp nearby at Tunica Hills Campground

If you’re into camping, there is Tunica Hills Campground about 10 minutes away. It is the perfect fall weekend adventure for the family that is cost-effective and filled with opportunities to make memories.

Any time I get stressed or overwhelmed, I make my way to the hills. It’s a perfect “reset” button and a great way to destress from our daily lives. And the kids are sure to have a blast.

Admissions :: Navigating Years on the Wait-List

We had it all figured out.

My husband and I strategically chose the location of our first home based on the elementary school down the road. By strategic fortune, it also contained a daycare.  All the houses in my neighborhood seemed to sport plastic signs with the school’s crest adorned on it in neatly groomed flower beds. I fantasized about my future children holding up little chalkboard signs with their school year, teacher’s name, and dream occupation.

The day after I gleefully clutched a positive pregnancy test, I handed in my registration form. The director took the paper with a smile and inquired after our community involvement. I proudly rattled away the committees I chaired, my weekends of service, and gratuitous qualifications tailor-made for the school. She nodded throughout my speech as though she was mentally checking off boxes on an invisible spreadsheet. We could expect the start day to be in approximately one year, she asserted cheerfully as she tucked my paper away. We are quickly approaching the fourth anniversary of that conversation without being any closer to our child’s admission.

Fast-forward to the present. My husband and I are wringing our head in our hands as we take turns pacing around the kitchen and pouring more wine. As we wait for our little plastic sign, we plot out another course. I can’t help but feel like a little vessel that wandered naively into a dark and angry ocean with no means of navigation.

Pre-K3 here leads to a definite kindergarten admission but only to 5th grade. Pre-K3 there leads to uncertain kindergarten admission but an assured middle school admission upon admittance into said kindergarten. 5th grade is a certainty here but not there. 5th-8th there is ideal but then won’t feed into the high school of our plans. And what about his friends? Is it fair in 5th grade to place him where his friends won’t feed into because we have expectations for high school? Don’t even think about applying for kindergarten there if you go to kindergarten here because a regretful decline there will haunt you everywhere.

From the outside, meticulously plotting the course of our child’s education before he turns three may seem bizarre, knee-jerk, and utterly premature. But for as many scoffs as I get when I tell my story, I get just as many melancholy nods and deep sighs from people who have been in the same situation. They utter words like “cut-throat” and “impossible” and others that shouldn’t be synonymous with our children’s education.

Of course, our children’s happiness, well-being, and educational success are at the core of every decision we make. If we had to detonate every well-placed brick in our strategic path because it meant the happiness of our children, we wouldn’t hesitate. There is no way to plan for every accommodation or unexpected challenge, but I also feel it foolish to not consider future scenarios as we approach school time. Taking it one year at a time doesn’t exactly work when the horror stories of the kids stuck in the “rubber-band room” circulate at a neighborhood gathering.

I’ll think of something to say to the questions from my friends and acquaintances when they ask why we didn’t get in again. “It’s a big sibling year,” or “I guess we need to volunteer more.” All of those pale in comparison to the questions my son will ask one day, “why couldn’t I get in?” I haven’t decided yet, but I tell myself I will be honest with him – “We didn’t have the right connections,” or “it’s not about you; it was about Daddy and me,” or even more brutally, “everything is political, even education.”

The sting of rejection never gets easier year after year. The bright little signs still dot flowerbeds around my neighborhood. I still volunteer where we have yet to be accepted. Instead of picturing the chalkboard sign, I fantasize about picking up the phone to ask what is so wrong with us, and what we need to do to fix those shortcomings. I still haven’t fully charted this leg of our journey as a family. I am half hopeful, half incredulous.

In those four years since driving away from the little school with a smile on my face, I’ve run the gauntlet of emotionally charged words. Unfair. Frustrating. Reality. Enraging. Absurdity. Nonchalant. Today I’m resting on the word teachable. I don’t know what tomorrow will be.

The Ultimate Guide to Baton Rouge Summer Camps

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2020 Red Stick Mom Summer Camp Guide Mobile Banner (1)

Although we still have a few more months before school ends and summer begins, NOW is definitely the time to start thinking about summer camp in Baton Rouge! In this guide to Baton Rouge summer camps we have highlighted a variety of different types of camps. We have worked hard to find camps that fit the needs of all families and that hit various price points. It is our genuine hope that this guide will help you plan a fun and stress-free summer in Baton Rouge!

Thank you to the many sponsors that participated in this guide. If you are looking for a comprehensive list of camps in and around Baton Rouge you can find that HERE. Would you like to be included in this guide? Please email us at [email protected] 

Happy summer planning!

The Ultimate Guide to Baton Rouge Summer Camp

The Dunham School

Dunham Summer Camp 2020

Spend a slice of summer at Dunham! Registration opens February 1 for Dunham Summer Camp. Open to Dunham and non-Dunham students and conveniently located near Bluebonnet and Perkins Rowe, our summer opportunities include a traditional day camp as well as enrichment camps in arts, academics and athletics. Campers enjoy arts and crafts, weekly field trips, swimming, a giant waterslide, and much more!

Camp Ages :: 3 & Up

Camp Costs :: $90 – $200 per week

Camp Dates :: Dates vary by session chosen

Camp Location :: Dunham Summer Camp is located at The Dunham School at 11111 Roy Emerson Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Knock Knock Children's Museum

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Summer Camps at Knock Knock Children’s Museum are like nothing your children have ever experienced before. Our Summer Camps will fly them to the Moon, then whisk them back to a “real-life” video game world where adventure abounds, all the while teaching them about science, engineering, art, and creativity. If you are looking for ordinary, Knock Knock Summer Camps are NOT for you. Our camps are nothing less than EXTRAORDINARY! Over eight glorious weeks, our award-winning staff will bring your little campers to places they’ve only dreamed of going. From creating masterpieces in our one-of-a-kind art camp to the first-ever “Real Life” Minecraft camp to getting a taste of what it’s like being an astronaut in ASTRO Camp. Summer 2020 will be one exciting adventure after another here at Knock Knock. It will be here before you know it. Knock Knock Summer Camps fill-up very quickly. Don’t settle for ordinary when EXTRAORDINARY is just a click away. Members enjoy special discounted pricing.

Ages :: 0-12

Camp Cost :: $50-$250 depending on the camp selection.

Camp Dates :: See website for all dates and sessions

Camp Location :: 1900 Dalrymple Dr, Baton Rouge, LA 70808

Camp Istrouma

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Camp Istrouma is a beautiful 140 acre summer camp located outside of Baton Rouge. We offer a place where kids can come have a blast and also learn about Jesus. We have three different summer camp programs, Overnight Camp, Day Camp and L.I.T.E. (Leadership In Training Experience). Campers love our lake activities with The Blob, Zip-line, and Water Slide. We also do a lot of other activities like canoeing, archery, hiking, paintball and much more. For more information contact Cody Hanken at [email protected] or call (225)261-2089.

Camp Ages and Costs :: Overnight Camp cost $420 for a week and ages range from 2nd-12th grade depending on the week, Day Camp cost $170 lunch included and is for 1st-6th graders, LITE Program is $100 a week and is for 9th-12th graders.

YMCA of The Capital Area

The “best summer ever” is right around the corner and the YMCA is offering Summer camp to make sure kids and teens are adventurous, active and healthy this summer. YMCA camp programs offer youth fun and unique experiences with an opportunity to explore the outdoors, meet new friends, discover new interests and create memories that last a lifetime. Times are 7am until 6pm Monday – Friday.

Camp Ages ::  4-16

Camp Costs :: $120 – $170 ***Scholarships available based on need and availability of funds.***

Tulane Pre-College

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Tulane Pre-College offers middle and high school students the opportunity to explore their artistic, intellectual, and professional passions while experiencing college life. With both credit and enrichment options, our one- and two-week programs provide students with an introduction to Tulane University, where young minds can explore academic disciplines, build their resumes, and imagine making an impact. Tulane Pre-college offers multiple sessions during the summer with both residential and day options to meet the needs of demanding calendars. To be inspired to think, learn, act, and lead, join us at Tulane this summer.

Camp Ages :: Entering 6th-12th grade in fall 2020

Camp Costs :: Enrichment Day Session (1 week) :: $595

Enrichment Residential Session (2 weeks) :: $2,995

College-Credit Residential Session (2 weeks) :: $3,695

Baton Rouge Music Studios

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Spend the summer making music, new friends, and super fun memories at Baton Rouge Music Studios’ Young Band Nation™ Music Camps. Whether your kids just love music and being creative, or they are really serious about making music with like-minded young musicians, our summer day camp offers something fun and educational for them all summer long. Pop in for a day, a week, or sign up for the whole summer for an unbeatable value! We also offer FREE early drop off and late pick up!

Camp Ages :: 6-17

Camp Costs :: $325 per week (day rates also available)

Painting and Pinot

Each day the campers will be introduced to different artists and create one of a kind art based on the style and period of the artist discussed that day. Mediums used will include pastels, watercolor, tempera, chalk, color pencils, and more. The kids will have a chance to explore their creativity and create original pieces of art every day! It will be a fun filled week!

Teddy Tennis

Swing into summer with Teddy Tennis! Allow your children, ages 2.5-6 years, to learn the basic of tennis with us this summer. Teddy Tennis is a fantastic way to encourage young children to get active and learn to play tennis. It works by combining music, pictures and teddy bear stories into a totally interactive learning adventure that young children love. Our mission is to provide a fun and encouraging atmosphere for children, helping them to fall in love with the sport while building coordination and character.

Parkview Baptist

Eagle Experience is the summer place for pre-K through 6th graders to explore a new talent, make new friends, learn new skills and make lifelong memories! Weekly sessions feature a unique selection of indoor and outdoor activities and field trips that take advantage of all the wonderful resources available in this community. Our eagle experience magic starts with our outstanding counselors, whose talent, creativity and leadership set the tone for a great experience.

Baton Rouge Center for Visual and Performing Arts

Go for the Gold with BRCVPA Summer Camp! Students entering Kindergarten through 5th Grade for the 2020-2021 school year will engage in reading and math enrichment, STEM and technology activities, and afternoons full of music, art, drama, and more with our highly energized staff! Discounted Early Bird Registration NOW through May 1st. Weekly, Session, and Full-Sumer Rates available!

Girl Scouts

Resident Camp is a magical place where girls make new friends, learn new skills and develop the confidence every G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader) should have. Not a girl scout, no problem, all girls are welcome!

Episcopal School of Baton Rouge

Don’t miss your opportunity to make the summer of 2019 great! Episcopal summer camps have something for everyone in PreK-4 through eighth grade. Registration opens on February 8th.

Art Academy

Each week at Art Academy, students will learn about a different art period and study masters from around the world! From Renaissance to Pop Art, they will get an introduction to art history while learning techniques that they will carry with them for their own future masterpieces.

Topgolf Baton Rouge

Our Summer Academy is five days of non-stop entertainment and learning that kids will love. From chipping, putting and full swing, to the rules and etiquette, kids will learn everything they need to know to improve their game. Summer Academy is staffed with a low student-to-instructor ratio to ensure each Junior Golfer receives in-depth, hands-on attention while he or she develops a winning golf swing.

The Spanish Class

The Spanish Class is offering two types of programs this summer. One option is a Spanish, Art, and Music camp for children ages 3-10 were participants will learn Spanish through art and explore Latin American music with highly trained native Spanish speaking teachers. The second option is a High School Spanish Prep for children ages 11-15 for students who want to get ahead in their high school Spanish courses.

Joy Early Learning Center

“Spread JOY around the World” at JOY Early Learning Center’s Summer Camps. Options available by week or month beginning June 1st. Ages 15 months to 10 years old are welcome! We are located at 17737 Old Jefferson HWY, Prairieville, LA 70769.

Piano Pathways

Give your child the gift of music this summer! Your child can have a fun, first-experience of playing piano in our beginners’ piano camps. This camp is perfect for children and teens with little or no experience. Students will learn introductory musical skills like music and rhythm reading, and also piano performance skills.

Bennett's Water Ski and Wakeboard School

Bennett’s Water Ski and Wakeboard School in Zachary is the place to go to escape the summer heat. A short hop from anywhere in the Red Stick, this watersports facility caters to all abilities – from complete begineer to world class athletes.

Recalibrated Strength & Conditioning Sports Performance Camps

Set your youth athlete up for success this summer with the Recalibrated Strength & Conditioning Sports Performance Camps. The goal of our camps is to build a strong foundation for the youth athletes (ages 10-18) of Baton Rouge so that they can succeed in any athletic venture they desire. Athletes will be getting faster, jumping higher, and playing better!

We hope that the Baton Rouge Summer Camp Guide is a useful start in your Baton Rouge summer planning. Additionally, if you would like to review a comprehensive A-Z list of summer camps in and around Baton Rouge you can check that out HERE.

Don’t see your camp or business featured? Please email [email protected]

Movie Tavern: Your Destination for Family Fun & Great Value all Winter Long

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Movie Tavern.

Movie Tavern: Your Destination for Family Fun & Great Value all Winter Long

It’s the best time of year to cozy up to a movie! Whether catching a Disney classic, $3 kids movie (yes, that’s a thing!) or new release, Movie Tavern by Marcus is your family entertainment headquarters. Keep reading to learn about all their family-friendly offerings, then make sure to visit Movie Tavern Citiplace in Baton Rouge, Movie Tavern Covington in Covington and Movie Tavern Juban Crossing in Denham Springs.

If you haven’t been to your local Movie Tavern lately, you don’t want to miss out on all the fun in store; they’ve recently rolled out plenty of new offerings since joining the Marcus Theatres family!

What is Movie Tavern?

Don’t let the name fool you, Movie Tavern is the perfect place to catch a movie with your family. Whether you’re simply grabbing soda and popcorn or want to enjoy a full meal (because, hello, convenience!), they make the entire experience easy. Here’s why:

  • Ability to purchase tickets online, through the mobile app or in theatre
  • Reserved seating to make finding your own personal DreamLoungers a breeze
  • Traditional movie theatre snacks, plus a full menu of freshly crafted appetizers, entrees, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, salads and desserts — all ordered in theatre and delivered right to your seat. There’s also a kids’ menu!
  • Great values like $5 Movie Tuesday and $6 Student Thursday that make it possible to bring the whole family
  • In addition to Hollywood hits, year-round series like Kids Dream and Disney’s Enchanted Tales bring back family-friendly favorites at a reduced price.

Mark Your Calendar for the Return of Disney Classics!

Once you’ve had your fill of “Frozen 2,” introduce your family to timeless classics with the return of Enchanted Tales Series featuring classic Disney films! Kids and adults alike will agree that there’s something even more magical about seeing Aladdin race through the sky or Sleeping Beauty wake from her slumber on the big screen. Best of all, admission is just $6 per person!

  • “Aladdin” (original): January 24-26
  • “The Lion King” (original): January 31-February 2
  • “Sleeping Beauty:” February 7-9
  • “Pocahontas:” February 14-17

… And, Kids Dream is Back, Too!

There’s even more fun in store when the Kids Dream Family Film Series makes its way back to the big screen! The upcoming line-up features a great collection of recent hits for an admission of just $3 per person. If you haven’t seen these films on the big screen yet, now is your chance!

  • “Playmobil: The Movie:” February 21-23
  • “Abominable:” February 28-March 1
  • “Trolls:” March 6-8
  • “The Addams Family:” March 13-15
  • “The Secret Life of Pets 2:” March 20-22
  • “Arctic Dogs:” March 27-29
  • “Ugly Dolls:” April 3-5

New Releases & Value Days

Beyond special series, the winter season also offers plenty of new Hollywood hits for families with children of all ages:

During your next trip to the movies, make sure to take advantage of these great value days.

  • $5 Movie Tuesday: Every Tuesday all movies are just $5, plus Magical Movie Rewards members receive free complimentary-size popcorn
  • $6 Student Thursday: Each Thursday, students and school faculty can catch any movie for just $6, plus enjoy free complimentary-size popcorn. Pro tip: many of the biggest Hollywood hits have their premieres on Thursday nights — maybe it’s time to start a new family tradition?!

Visit www.MarcusTheatres.com for movie showtimes and tickets, and if you’re not a Magical Movie Rewards member make sure to sign-up to earn rewards and stay-in-the-know on the best deals and savings. Happy moviegoing!

Dreams on a Shelf :: Reflecting on the New Decade

I’m a firm believer that whoever invented New Year’s Resolutions never met someone from South Louisiana. While the rest of the world is vowing to become a better version of themselves by drinking less, cutting carbs, or adopting healthy habits, we are descending into debauchery as Mardi Gras begins. Crawfish season follows closely behind, by summer its too late to do anything other than lovingly embrace our squishy selves, and football season is the final nail in the proverbial coffin. While we may not have lost the weight, we had an excellent time.

New Year, Same Me

That being said, I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s resolution in the traditional sense. The ball dropped, fireworks popped, ladies on the Nextdoor app complained, and the world went on spinning as it always did, so I thought. There’s been a different energy in the air lately, like old dust has been kicked up. I think it has everything to do with the dawn of a new decade. Many of my friends posted funny pictures of the “decades challenge.” I saw images of people I knew even my memories had forgotten. They recounted careers being launched, children being born, and, most importantly, pillars of their dreams being erected.

I thought about the girl from a decade ago. Then I thought about the little girl two decades ago. One is ever out in front of me, gaining wrinkles and grey hair. The other I shelved many years ago, gaining tarnish and grey dust. I can’t help but think one of those versions of my former self would have a tinge of disappointment. Don’t get me wrong; I’m proud of what I have accomplished over the past decade, particularly my little family. I have two beautiful, healthy boys and a loving husband. The three of them will be the pride of my life no matter what accolades may come my way.

Twenty-Year-Challenge Doesn’t Have the Same Ring

In 2010, I was 24 years old and had already made the defining choices to set myself on a path for where I am now. Things happened to me over those ten years, not me to them. In short, there wasn’t quite as much twisting and turning in my decade story as the 2010’s curtain dropped. Two decades ago, however, I foresaw a slightly different future for myself.

At 14, I carried a frayed spiral notebook with me everywhere I went. I pretended to take notes in class, but I was really writing stories. I could fill a page in a matter of minutes – front and back. This habit had been going on for a while. I remember my first experience with articulating my dreams what in 6th grade. We were asked to say what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I emphatically announced I would write novels.

That young girl, with her sparkling lip gloss and ungroomed eyebrows, would have also said she wanted a husband, children, house … the setting that is ingrained in us from an early age. So why didn’t she? Why didn’t I stand in front of my classmates and announce all the things I have now? I never didn’t want them. Perhaps those things were a given. Perhaps I just wanted to be a writer more.

Shelving Myself

High school came and went with its own challenges and triumphs. Same can be said for college which had many more lows than highs. I abandoned the notion I was meant to be a writer for things that came with much more practicality somewhere along the way but never stopped loving it. I never intended the shelf I put that desire on to be out of reach; either I shrunk or the ceiling grew.

No one tells this to middle schoolers, but the dreams we chart like stars as children don’t account for the obstacles we may face as adults — death, addiction, financial woes, heartbreak. Dreams evolve in the absence of idyllic circumstances and take on new, realistic forms. That doesn’t make them any less shiny or important. I love my life and am proud of the hard work it took to get to where I am. Still, I can see that frizzy-haired girl with her nose buried in lined paper smiling at something that only she and her characters know about.

Dustbuster

So with my most pride of my life at my side (usually asking for a snack), I resolve to not make a resolution this year. I have much bigger ideas in mind. I want to make a promise. I promise to dust off the desires of that 14-year-old girl and give them a shot one more time. I promise to let my personal shortcomings and past struggles be touchstones rather than stumbling blocks. I promise to put away a childish scoff when others talk about their desires and fully embrace them with everything I have. Finally, I encourage anyone else reading this “first step” of mine to look at whatever is collecting dust on your own younger shelves (yes, that was intentional), brush it off, and let it shine.

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