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Showing posts from 2019

BR Parents: No Santa Here (Except When He Is)

“What are you asking Santa to bring you for Christmas?”

Strangers in the grocery store and well-meaning friends at church ask my daughters this question without fail throughout December. My girls can usually answer, translating the question to the more appropriate “What do you want for Christmas?”

We walk a fine line because we don’t “do” Santa at our house despite being very much an Advent and Christmas celebrating family. Santa is not my tradition, as the miracle of Christmas is far greater than any funny, magical character. It can be hard for my girls to be different though, and the whole world seems to conspire to make kids believe in the Jolly Old Elf.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website.

BR Parents: Into the Unknown: Finding Inspiration in Frozen 2

My birthday almost always falls during Thanksgiving break, and this year, my girls and I went to see Frozen 2 as a celebration (and then I ate a bunch of queso!). I didn’t think I would like the movie as much as I did. In the week since seeing it, I’ve listened to the soundtrack a couple times, read some reviews and reactions. And I like it even more.

Being the mom of two daughters, I am drawn to stories about sisters. I am also one of two sisters myself. Frozen 2 continues the narrative thread of Elsa and Anna, flashing back to childhood and even beyond to their parents and grandfather’s lives to provide the plot line and enrich the storytelling.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website.

Mari Walker, Communications Professional

Mari Walker is a communications professional with extensive experience writing, editing and managing projects for NOAA, Research!America, the University of Maryland and Oklahoma State University. I have more than a decade of experience as web master, social media manager, editor and writer in these jobs and more recently through freelance and volunteer work. I have a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor of arts in news editorial journalism from Oklahoma State University. I live with my family in Baton Rouge, LA.

Recently I’ve worked on freelance projects as writer, project manager, copy editor, web editor and content developer for Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, LSU’s Center for Computation & Technology, Jameson Communications, Research!America, Neel-Schaffer, LSU Campus Club and St. John’s United Methodist Church.

I would love to discuss your communications needs. Please email me to start the conversation.

BR Parents Feature: 2019 Holiday Happenings

I researched and wrote briefs about more than 100 holiday events taking place around the state of Louisiana.

From shopping to making your days merry and bright, jingle your way through this season of cheer with some of the many amazing holiday happenings around Louisiana. We’ve tracked down a sleigh-full of options for you and your little reindeer to enjoy as you make another year of memories. Happy holidays from all of us at Baton Rouge Parents Magazine!

Read the entire feature on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: A Different Kind of Strength

Brady Larson was two and a half when his parents, Sherry Carpenter Larson and Eric Larson, received the devastating news that he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The genetic disorder is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. Brady, now eight, will soon be in a wheelchair full-time.

The third grader at Denham Springs Elementary doesn’t let his diagnosis slow him down. He receives physical and occupational therapy and adaptive PE at school and regularly travels to Cincinnati to be monitored by specialists.

Initially, the Larsons’ former pediatrician assured Sherry nothing was wrong despite missed milestones. During a session, a physical therapist said Brady looked like he had muscular dystrophy. “I just remember leaving so mad at her, like how dare you tell me that my son has muscular dystrophy,” Sherry says.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: One Amazing Kid Condoleezza Semien

What makes you happy? Fourteen-year-old Condoleezza Semien took that question and created an entire business, Beluga Bliss.

“I came up with the name because when you say ‘beluga mad,’ you start laughing because it’s not possible,” Condoleezza says. “That’s where the bliss comes in, so I thought that was funny.”

The McKinley High School ninth grader is a graduate of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy Baton Rouge. Her business idea was chosen by the academy’s Shark Tank-style investor panel to continue onto a larger competition in Rochester, where Condoleezza won people’s choice.

Read the rest onthe Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: December 2019

As Community and Education sections editor, I wrote pages 16 to 25 of the December 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Pathways to Parenting: Color Blindness, Exceptional Lives: A Different Kind of Strength and 2019 Holiday Happenings.

BR Parents Blog: Oh Snap! Preserving Childhood Memories with a Weekly Email

My husband and I have a running joke that I have a Swiss cheese memory–nothing dangerous, but I don’t retain things the way he does, including some memories of life events. It doesn’t take much to jog my memory, and of course, plenty of less-than-desirable memories are glued to my brain forever. (Hello, anxiety my old friend.)

I want to capture my daughters’ childhoods and hold onto them without relying on my fragile memory, both for myself and for my girls.

There are so many great ways to do this nowadays. At a recent coffee date with other moms from my younger daughter’s preschool, the subject came up and several moms shared their ideas, including creating physical books from their Instagram photos each year and using private or limited social media accounts to preserve and share memories.

Although I never finished my girls’ physical baby books, I have created an ongoing record of our family life by taking a lot of pictures and a lot of notes. I send both photos an…

BR Parents Blog: Disney Rookies: Should We Book a Trip?

Second graders are prone to hyperbole, or at least mine seems to be. However, she may be pretty close in thinking everyone but her has been to Disney World. Of course, I know that can’t possibly be true, but I do feel the allure of the magic mouse and invisible pressure to make sure she has the same experiences as her peers. We certainly haven’t been successful in avoiding the pull of the global powerhouse, as we’re big fans of Elsa, Moana and Minnie Mouse. My girls have dressed as all of those for at least one Halloween.

As someone who dislikes crowds, noises and heat though, Disney World shouldn’t even be a thought for me. But I love my girls even more than I dislike those things, and I know they’d enjoy themselves and have an incredible time if I could just get myself to make the plans. (For the sake of argument, let’s pretend the cost isn’t a factor, although it certainly is at our house!)

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: November 2019

As Community and Education sections editor, I wrote pages 16 to 25 of the November 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, except for the Polar Express brief on page 20, which was added during layout. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Pathways to Parenting: The Keto Diet & Thanksgiving and Exceptional Lives: A Love Like Any Other Child.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: A Love Like Any Other Child

When Carter Williams was born, everything was fine. But when Carter was three months old, his parents Lauren and Casey Williams realized something wasn’t right because he didn’t make eye contact.

The road to a diagnosis was not straightforward. Lauren remembers it took visiting four pediatricians before Traci T. Brumund, MD, at the Baton Rouge Clinic took them seriously and helped them find answers. The whole family had genetic testing done, and Carter was diagnosed with GRIN1 disorder. Now three, Carter is one of about 70 people in the world to receive such a diagnosis.

The rare genetic condition is characterized by developmental delays and intellectual disabilities among other symptoms, including seizures. In Carter’s case, GRIN1 disorder occurred spontaneously and wasn’t passed down from his parents.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Child’s Play: Don’t Hate the Playa OR the Game

“Mama, will you play with me?”

The question can sometimes sink me like a stone, especially if I’m in the midst of a work project or otherwise doing something I want or need to do.

Read a book? Sure. Play a board game? I can manage that. Take you on adventures to play spaces, museums, story times, the zoo and more? I do those kinds of things a lot, as my Facebook wall can attest.

But playing? It’s not a skill at which I excel.

I try to play with my girls, I really do. But often I find myself at a loss.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Choosing Who to Be: Baby Halloween Costumes Will Always Be My Favorite

Originally posted on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine blog.
My girls love to dress up any day, so Halloween season is a favorite because it adds even more options to their already overfilled dress up corner. Oh, and the candy, my girls LOVE candy. (So does their mama!)Growing up, my sister and I trick-or-treated with friends in my small town and dressed up for the annual school carnival. I like looking back at the funny 80s-style budget costumes: clowns, cheerleaders, ghosts. One year, I was Punky Brewster (whom I adored), and I was devastated to lose my bandana I’d tied around the knee of my jeans. Weirdly the loss still haunts me, although I could have a hundred bandanas now if I really wanted. One of the many times I was less than careful with my belongings, but perhaps the first time I was aware of that.Mostly, my mom let my sister and me pick our costumes, within reason and ability. I’m doing the same for my girls, but of course I chose their baby costumes because Mama …

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: My Life: After Attempting Suicide

Emma Benoit is ascending.

 The 19-year-old graduated from Dutchtown High School in 2018, but the summer before her senior year was when her life changed forever.

“I was 16 and dealing with a lot of depression and a lot of anxiety but I didn’t know what those things were,” Benoit says. “I was so confused about the way I was feeling.”

 Life felt too much to bear, and on June 7, 2017, Benoit shot herself in the chest. “By the grace of God, I’m still here,” Benoit says of surviving suicide.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: October 2019

As Community and Education sections editor, I wrote pages 16 through 25 of the October 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on themagazine's website.

I wrote Pathways to Parenting: Understanding Celiac Disease and Exceptional Lives: My Life After Attempting Suicide.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Emma Edmonds

At age seven, Emma Edmonds is already an accomplished gymnast. The second grader at Bethany Christian School is passionate about the sport and competing with her Pristine Performance Academy team.

“She started when she was four years old,” says Stephanie Edmonds, Emma’s mom. “She started riding her bicycle when she was three without training wheels, so we just knew she had a great sense of balance. We decided to see what piqued her interest.”

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Overscheduled: Otherwise What's a SAHM For?

When Miss Seven started Kindergarten, her dad and I decided to limit after school activities to two: one sport or otherwise something physical and one more arts focused activity. My, how times have changed. Right now, we have four extracurricular activities, and the possibility of another huge time commitment on the horizon.

Where did I go wrong?

I have trouble saying no–both to her if she asks and if another friend suggests something our kids could do together. And I have trouble letting go–like of activities we’ve been doing and enjoying for a while, especially those skill builders that only pay off if you keep at them.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: How Do I Respond to Comments from Kids About My Body?

As I established in Suit Up, Mama, I’m living my life in a fat body. It’s not good or bad, it just is. I certainly wish my body were smaller sometimes, and I do exercise and try to be healthy. But I also accept it for what it is: my body that allows me to exist on this corporeal plane is fat.

Several times in my life, children have commented on my body, specifically its size. Long ago, pre-kids and when I actually wasn’t even at my heaviest, an eight-year-old friend bluntly informed me I was fat, as if I didn’t know. It was an awkward moment, and I don’t remember how I responded, if I did at all.

Kids are honest and straightforward, sometimes to a fault. I don’t want to limit their expression or to think that talking about bodies with trusted people is bad. It’s good! But there are social skills learned through these types of interactions. I’d rather the lesson be “ask in private with someone you trust” rather than “fat people are bad, but we shouldn’t tell them that…

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: A Gold Medal Life: Full and Wondrous

Julia Hawkins has been a mother for 73 years, giving birth for the first time on her 30th birthday, and now she is 103.

Such a long, healthy life is remarkable in itself, but Hawkins is also a decorated athlete who competes in the National Senior Olympics. She is believed to be the oldest woman to formally compete on an American track. Known as “Hurricane” Hawkins, she set a world record for her age category, running the 100-meter dash race in 39.62 seconds in 2017.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: September 2019

As Community & Education section editor, I wrote pages 16-25 of the September 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, except for Dads & Daughters, which was added during layout. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Pathways to Parenting: Anger or Anxiety? and Exceptional Lives: A Gold Medal Life, Full and Wondrous.

BR Parents Feature: Keeping Precious Cargo Safe

From the initial click of buckling up our newborn on that first ride home until we eventually hand that baby the keys to drive the car, we as parents only want to keep our kids safe as passengers.

The leading cause of death for Louisiana children is motor vehicle crashes, and the proper use of child safety seats and seat belts can reduce that risk. This summer, state legislators unanimously passed changes to child car seat requirements to keep children safer and ultimately reduce the number of deaths. The new law went into effect August 1.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: I'm 38. What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

The only call I’ve ever felt certain of was the call to be a mother, and it’s specifically the call to be the mother of my two daughters, ages seven and three. But my professional call, what I’m supposed to be “when I grow up,” has been much murkier. Other than perhaps writing, nothing feels like something I’m supposed to be doing the way I felt I was supposed to be a mother. Is that just how things are though?

After my first daughter was born, I came back from my maternity leave (short-term disability–oh brother) to work part-time from home. I was a strong enough employee, and my job was small enough, that I could manage most of it even with part-time hours–a disaster for me really and a huge benefit to my then employer. Once my baby started walking around 10 months, I quit completely and fully embraced the stay-at-home mom life. A privilege I fully recognize and appreciate.

While she was young, this was pure bliss. I was so happy to be caring for, nursing and loving this …

BR Parents Blog: Sleepaway for Mama: Leaving My Daughters Overnight for the First Time

In more than seven and a half years of parenting, I had never left my children overnight until recently. Other than her recent trip to pony camp, the only time I was away from my older daughter was when my younger daughter was born. I stayed in the hospital for several days, but she was able to visit. I’d never left my three year old at all. Part of it is attachment parenting, part of it is not really anywhere to go and no one to leave them with.

An opportunity arose within my church to serve as a district delegate to the state’s annual conference. There’s unrest in The United Methodist Church, and my husband was supportive of my desire to volunteer. He was willing to take over the primary caregiving for the four days I’d be away in Shreveport.

There were jokes about me finally taking time for myself or that I should relax now that I was away from my children. There really wasn’t any time for myself during the conference, which was non-stop with worship and business …

BR Parents: August 2019

As Community & Education sections editor, I wrote pages 16 to 25 of the August 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I wrote Pathways to Parenting: Children and Broken Bones and Exceptional Lives: Finding Purpose After Abuse.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Emma Monroe

Lots of little girls dream of owning a pony. Fifteen-year-old Emma Monroe’s dream came true when her parents, Todd and Jessica, bought her Bailey, a grey Welsh pony mare.

Bailey was four years old when Emma got her as a surprise Christmas gift, and conventional wisdom said Bailey was too young to compete. With a lot of hard work, Bailey and Emma proved that wrong when they qualified for Pony Finals 2018, a three-phase competition judging the pony and its rider.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: Finding Purpose After Abuse

Growing up in Arnaudville, Louisiana, Twahna P. Harris always knew who she was. “I was never one who cared what people thought of me because I had my own identity,” she says. “I knew what I wanted to be in life, and I was driven.”

That all changed when, as a 21-year-old college student, Harris found herself in a domestic abuse relationship.

“I didn’t run to domestic violence, I woke up in it,” she says. “I would have never thought, and there it was one day, a slap across the face. And I was in total disbelief.” That slap led to mental, emotional and sexual abuse.

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain power or control over the other.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Mamas Never Get Vacation, Not Even at the Beach!

Packing up and hitting a beach somewhere along the Gulf seems to be an annual event for most middle- and upper-class families in our area, at least according to my Facebook feed. This year, we decided to join the fray, meeting my in-laws from Virginia at Perdido Key for a five-day beach-front condo stay.

Several years ago, when we only had one child, we made the much longer drive to the Outer Banks, North Carolina, a beach my husband visited often during his childhood. (I was a Pacific coast girl, as my mom’s parents lived in Orange County, Calif.) The Outer Banks trip–also with the in-laws–was good but didn’t seem feasible for us this summer. A four-hour drive is much more doable, although basically, we shifted the long driving to my husband’s aging parents!

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: My Heart Walks Around Without Me: A Girl Scout Camp Experience

“Making the decision to have a child–it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ―Elizabeth Stone

Parenting through the elementary years seems to be a gradual release, letting go of the demands (and some of the rewards) of mothering small children. Part of me welcomes the release, and I want nothing more for my daughters than to soar into fulfilling, independent lives of their own. But another part chafes from the change, wanting to keep the chubby hands in mine, kiss the soft cheeks whenever I want, and to feel OK with pushing the rest of the world aside while I do the important work of bonding with my babies.

I thought it would be years from now before I experienced a night away from my older daughter, a rising second grader. But when the opportunity arose to attend sleepaway camp, the day in which my heart would be an hour away from me came much sooner than I expected.

The Girl Scouts in our region offer a shor…

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: A Bright Future After Darker Times

You will never meet a nicer girl than Carissa Murray. The 11-year-old is sweet, kind and caring, with an inquisitive mind and an ear for languages and music. She also has faced unique medical challenges throughout her young life.

Although she’s received no single diagnosis, she has undergone multiple procedures and surgeries, including five craniotomies. “These have left noticeable scars on her face and head that tell of much darker times,” says Ginger Gauthier, Carissa’s mom.

However, life at home is bright and full of love. Carissa lives with her mom and stepdad, Maurice; her sister, Cadee; and her aunt and grandma. “We have a unique family blend,” Ginger says.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: July 2019

As Community and Education sections editor, I wrote pages 16 to 25 of the July 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine, except Silver Steppers, which was added during layout. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Pathways to Parenting: Plantar Fasciitis and Exceptional Lives: A Bright Future After Darker Times.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Tyler Brazier

At nine years old, Tyler Brazier already holds two ambassadorships. He is an ambassador for Westdale Heights Academic Magnet (WHAM), meaning he represents his school to prospective parents and visitors.

A rising fifth grader, Tyler is the youngest Flipgrid Ambassador of Student Voice in the country. Flipgrid is a video discussion platform created by Microsoft. Tyler first started using Flipgrid as an alternative to creating his own YouTube channel, about which his parents, Wiley and Tirza, had reservations.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parent Magazine website.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Kalyee Freiberger

Kalyee Freiberger is known for her incredible volunteer work. The 18-year-old recent graduate from Runnels High School received the 2018 Outstanding High School Volunteer Award at last year’s Greater Baton Rouge State Fair. The award includes a $500 scholarship, which Kalyee will use at Louisiana State University. “I’m looking at pre-med track, either biology or biochemistry major,” Kalyee says.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Raising Readers One Book at a Time

A recent Baby Center email for my seven year old (yes, I still open them to read about her development!) had the headline, “How to Encourage Reading.” I laughed and read along, knowing the advice doesn’t apply to me just now.

Miss Seven is an avid reader, almost to the detriment of anything else. She wants to stay up late reading and has been known to use her alarm clock or nightlight (both of which are too dim for reading!) to stay up past bedtime to get in a few more pages. On school nights, this leads to disastrous mornings, but she persists in her love of the written word. She reads on the potty, while she’s eating, in the car and during church. She still prefers screen time on her Kindle or the TV, but since those are more rationed, she’ll most often be toting a book or two. She will also read to her three-year-old sister, and those are some of the sweetest moments of my life so far–gazing on my angelic children enjoying a book together.

Read the rest on the Baton…

BR Parents Blog: Suit Up, Mama!

You’ll never consider my body bikini-ready or beach-worthy. I’ve never had six-pack abs or been a small person, even in my younger, pre-kid days. I have a soft, squishy tummy; big, strong thighs; big everything. But my body is a powerhouse. My body built two beautiful baby girls, birthed, and nursed them. I love my body, whatever its size, and I want my girls to love their bodies, too. Part of that means living in my body without apology, and I hope you can, too.

As summer rolls around once again, we’re faced with Louisiana heat and humidity. I’m not built for the heat, so getting outside almost requires water of some sort. And where there’s water, there are swimsuits. Splash pads, swimming pools, the beach and water parks–all ways to stay active and have fun in the hot summer sun without completely melting.

It can be tempting to just sit in the shade (perhaps with a cool towel) and watch your little ones have fun in the water. Or even to avoid being the one taking t…

BR Parents: June 2019

As Community & Education sections editor, I wrote pages 16 to 25 of the June 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Pathways to Parenting: Primary Immune Deficiency Diseases and Exceptional Lives: Building a Legacy of Love.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: Building a Legacy of Love One Hug at a Time

Avery Vasta is a preschooler at Central Primary in Gonzales. When she hears music, she has to stop and dance, and she’s free with hugs and kindness, making her a favorite at school and everywhere she goes. She loves Moana and Elena of Avalor. Avery, who is five, is different in only one way. She has Down Syndrome.

Avery is in a regular PreK class, and her mom, Kayla, says the inclusiveness is the best thing ever. “Her peers love her, and they’re amazing with her,” Kayla says. “She’s taught them a lot.”

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Parenting Advice from the Sopranos?

I was a high school senior when The Sopranos debuted 20 years ago. I lived in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma, and didn’t have basic cable, let alone access to HBO to see the cultural juggernaut as it was airing for the first time.

While I was aware of the show, I didn’t watch it even while I was in college and presumably could have found access. But thanks to the peer pressure of Twitter (more like FOMO), I decided to binge all six seasons available on Amazon Prime like some of my online favorites.

Now I’m a basic, approaching-middle-age mom of two girls, which gives the series a different flavor than if I’d watched it when it first aired. The first season did feel like a time capsule to my high school days though, a time before cell phones or computers, with pagers and pay phones, CDs and low-rise jeans. But because of the time that has passed, rather than identifying with Meadow, who was about my age during the series run, I absolutely identified with the parents, a…

BR Parents Blog: A Playdate Style Birthday Party

Birthday parties for littles can add up fast. For a few Benjamins, you can take them and a few friends to a bounce place or rent a bounce house for your backyard. We didn’t start big parties like that for my older daughter until she was about five. So when my younger turned three, even though she now knows about big blow-out parties, we decided to stick to a small, at-home party.

I landed on the idea of playdate-style, which isn’t really a thing, but I think it should be! It may just be a label I made up to the way most people do parties anyway? With the cost of donut-themed invitations, rings, dollar store helium balloons and food, I was able to pull off the fun-for-my-daughter party on a small budget. (She had picked the donut “theme” from a catalog, and I filled that wish via Amazon and Mr. Ronnie’s Donut Shop!)

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Bunny Bunny Goes Missing!

It’s hard to know what toy your kid will latch onto, what will become the irreplaceable lovey or important, gotta-take-it-everywhere trinket. My older daughter never really did that with much of anything, but it’s a whole new world with daughter number two.

This is her first year in preschool, and after the random bear I sent with her for naps didn’t come home one day, I carefully labeled a soft, sweet giraffe lovey with her name to be sure it would always be returned to her. That worked for the first semester, but sometime after Christmas, as she neared her third birthday, the giraffe lovey no longer cut it.

She cycled through various stuffed animals and somehow settled on “Bunny Bunny,” a small, stuffed pink rabbit from Hobby Lobby. I don’t remember buying it, but my best guess is someone sent it to us in an Easter care package. It never dawned on me to label the bunny (or even really look at it carefully) until he went missing!

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Pare…

BR Parents Blog: Pee Inside, Not on Trees–Please?

If you have to go potty, stop and go right away! Sometimes that’s easier said than done if you’re on a road trip with your littles or just out running errands without a potty nearby. The hassle of adding another stop can be daunting, but I believe in you! You can do it!

A few months ago Brandon wrote about wanting to let his sons pee outside on trees in parking lots rather than deal with finding a bathroom. Maybe it’s the girl mom in me, but I still shudder to think anything but “EEEEeeeeewwwww, NO!” I’m not from Louisiana, but I did grow up in a rural area and know that a pee in the field is a thing, especially for boys. But in a city? In a parking lot? NO WAY. (And for the record, I don’t think peeing in a field is a great idea either.)

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: May 2019

As the Community & Education sections editor I wrote pages 16-25 of the May 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Exceptional Lives: Making a Difference with Dressing.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Allen Duggar

After a grueling application process, Allen Duggar, a senior at Catholic High School (CHS), was chosen to represent Louisiana at the 2018-19 United States Senate Youth Program. Allen joined Louisiana senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy as one of the state’s two delegates in Washington, DC, for the annual program.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: Making a Difference with Dressing

Receiving a chronic illness diagnosis at age nine was devastating for Maddie Plauche. But in the five years since, she has used that experience to make wonderful things happen for others.

Now 14 and an eighth grader at STEM Magnet Academy, Maddie continues to deal with ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease that causes great pain and requires almost constant access to a bathroom. “She is a master of disguise and hides her pain very well,” says Brent Plauche, Maddie’s father. Maddie says she has several friends who didn’t know anything was wrong until she told them.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: A Stand for Life, Independence and Health

Karen Roy has lived most of her life in a wheelchair. When she was 19, she was shot in the back during an armed robbery, resulting in a complete T-10 spinal cord injury.

After being told she would never walk again, Roy remembers her first question, “Can I still have children?” The answer she received was yes. “At that point of my life, all I really knew was that I wanted to be a mom. As long as I could do that, I would be fine,” she says.

Roy is the mother of three young adults, Caroline, Austin and Joseph. She and her husband, Phillip, who passed away in 2016, were married for 20 years.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: April 2019

In my first issue as Community & Education sections editor, I wrote most of pages 16-21 and pages 22-25 of the April 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Exceptional Lives: A Stand for Life, Independence and Health.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Ella Barker

When Ella Barker’s dad, Wayne, encouraged her to get into coding, he didn’t realize she would end up traveling to an international tech conference in middle school. 

Ella, now 13, started her coding journey by participating in the Hour of Code, an event designed to demystify computer science and introduce kids to coding as part of Computer Science Education Week.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Blog: Existentialism in Carpool Line

As a mom of a first grader and preschooler, I spend A LOT of time in my car. Waiting in carpool line can seem interminable, especially with little miss who is passing time with me in the back seat. It wasn't really something I factored into our school decision, but it's become a fact of life. Unfortunately, it's one of my least favorite facts!

As we wait, I can't help but start doing the math–making myself feel awful as I watch my life tick away one carpool at a time. If I average 20 minutes in line each day, that adds up to more than an hour and a half each week sitting in my car waiting–multiply it by the number of weeks of school and we're talking major time. At least once per week, I'm in line for a solid hour to be near the front and get my daughter early to make it to swim class on time. I'm lucky that my husband does the morning drop off most days, so that doesn't have to figure into my carpool calculus. But of course, I dwell on w…

BR Parents: March 2019

As Education editor, I wrote pages 22-25 of the March 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Exceptional Lives: A Smile Sweeter Than Any Cupcake.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Joshua Green

What started as a way to fill summer days as a kid became a passion for 16-year-old Joshua Green. When Joshua was five, his mom, Brenda, began taking him to the Kids Bowl Free summer program.

Joshua quickly discovered that he was a good bowler, and he has worked hard to become competitive at the high school level and be part of the Southern Scratch Junior Bowling Association League.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: A Smile Sweeter Than Any Cupcake

Like most babies, when Jack Beach turned one, his parents, Emily and David, switched him to whole milk and started adding fruits and veggies to his diet. Unlike most babies, however, Jack reacted badly and began having 7-10 icky diapers per day. With Jack being the couple’s fourth child, Emily knew right away that something wasn’t right.

At first, Jack’s pediatrician suspected that he had a milk allergy, but those tests came back negative. Then, the family took Jack to see a pediatric gastroenterologist. Since Jack’s nine-year-old brother, Howard, had salmonella as a baby, the Beach family returned to Dr. J. Brannon Alberty for Jack’s care. Dr. Alberty suspected that Jack had fructose malabsorption or sucrose deficiency. The easiest way to test this was to give Jack straight fructose and observe him.

“Fructose wasn’t easy to find, but I got it and put it in his bottles,” Emily says. “Almost immediately, after two or three bottles, he began having diarrhea.” At only 14 …

BR Parents: February 2019

As Education Editor, I wrote pages 22-25 of the February 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote Exceptional Lives: From Sound to Silence.

BR Parents Exceptional Lives: From Silence to Sound

Jill Gill’s birth plan didn’t include weeks of bed rest or an induction at 37 weeks due to pre-eclampsia, but when her son Tucker was born last February, she was glad he came early. Her eight-pound, healthy baby boy, however, failed his newborn hearing screenings, and an even more unexpected journey began for the Gill family.

Before more detailed testing, Jill took newborn Tucker to meet a friend at the Whistlestop Café in Denham Springs. “We were outside on the patio, and a train came by and laid on the horn full blast,” Jill remembers. “Tucker didn’t flinch.”

She says she knew then that Tucker could not hear. She and her husband, Jacob Gill, went into the auditory brain response test with that expectation. When Tucker was four weeks old, the family found out that he had bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Siena Snow

When Siena Snow was invited to take the ACT as part of the Duke University Talent Identification Program as a seventh grader last year, her mom, Angie Snow, didn’t think much of it because Siena’s older brothers Curran and Christian had also taken the ACT in seventh grade. However, Siena’s score led her to be chosen for four additional Duke TIP honors: Gifted eStudies, Academy for Summer Studies, Gifted Center for Summer Studies, and Gifted State Recognition, which honors students who score at or above the 95th percentile. Siena, now 13, was the only student at Prairieville Middle School to receive all five honors.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents: January 2019

As Education Editor, I wrote pages 22-25 of the January 2019 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. See the layout on the magazine's website.

I also wrote the feature Poor Report Cards? on page 80 and 82.

BR Parents One Amazing Kid: Allan Wright

One day, Allan Wright walked into his kitchen and informed his mom that he was a drummer. He had never played the drums before, but his mom, Karen Wright, took him to the Dance Center & School of Performing Arts to try it out. After two lessons, the school told her Allan was a natural drummer, and they even invited him to join their performing band. Allan, now 16, hasn’t stopped drumming since that day.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.

BR Parents Feature: Poor Report Cards?

When your child brings home a less-than-stellar report card, you may not know how to react. While there’s no magic wand to ensure good grades return, there are some strategies you can explore to help your child get back on the right track. After the obvious conversation with your child’s teacher and checking the school handbook for grading policies, experts are here to share tips to help your kid bounce back.

Read the rest on the Baton Rouge Parents Magazine website.