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BR Parents May 2021

As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages pages 14-21  and page 26 of the May 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

BR Parents - Thrive: The Girl Who Doesn’t Give Up

Originally posted on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website . A nine-year-old second grader, Piper Walters loves Frozen , her dog Amelia, and riding her bike. Despite the challenges that come with living with cerebral palsy, Piper makes the most of her life. “She likes to dance, she actually takes ballet and tap,” says Tessa Walters, Piper’s mom. “She likes to ride her bike.” Piper’s bike is a giant tricycle with harnesses and straps to help keep her safe while she rides, and she received it in 2018 from the McLindon Family Foundation.  “Piper’s (bike) is so important to us, and not only allows her to have fun, but it’s good exercise and coordination. And those bikes are very expensive,” says Tessa. Giving back is important to the Walters family, which includes Tessa, Piper and her dad George. They often participate in fundraisers to support other children who live with disabilities. Before the pandemic, the family worked with Louisiana Hogs on Hogs, now called Sout

BR Parents Blog: The Comeback Kid: Celebrating the Return of Birthday Parties

 Originally published on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website . My poor five year old, with her spring birthday, has now had two COVID-style celebrations. However, this year we made the festivities incrementally bigger. Instead of a family-only celebration and the half-hearted drive-by party of 2020 when she turned four (which we piggybacked off an older church friend who has her same birthday), this year we invited one (1) friend to come play. Basically we hosted a playdate party like her 3rd birthday , but much, much smaller. In the year of COVID, a playdate became her heart’s desire, and it was so sweet to be able to fulfill that request that used to be so minor and has come to feel so risky. This year, when her age became a whole hand, we rented a bouncy house for the backyard to make things feel more special and a little different than just a playdate, although having a friend at our house was a novelty in itself. Now that we know COVID is less likely to spread

BR Parents: April 2021

  As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages pages 14-21 (except for Parkview and East Iberville briefs) and page 26 of the April 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

BR Parents - Thrive: Life with Down Syndrome: Shouting His Worth

Originally published in the April 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and on its website . When he was born seven weeks before his due date, prematurity seemed to be the biggest obstacle facing Gideon Schroeder. His parents, Marianne and Greg, were completely surprised when Gideon was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. “We had the option to do (prenatal) testing, and we discussed it, and we said, you know, ‘It is what it is,’” Greg says. Heart tests came out perfect, and the facial characteristics associated with Down Syndrome typically seen on ultrasound didn’t show up.  “It was unexpected,” says Marianne, now a stay-at-home mom with a background in education. “It was tough at first. It changes your whole perspective on what you thought was going to happen.” The Schroeders didn’t have much experience with Down Syndrome, although Greg had a cousin who lived with the condition.  Gideon spent his first three months in the hospital, unrelated to Down Syndrome or his pre

BR Parents - One Amazing Kid: Annie Engholm

  Originally published in the Baton Rouge Parents magazine's April 2021 issue and on its website . While most kids took advantage of additional screen time when quarantining in 2020, Annie Engholm used her extra time at home to craft. She turned her hobby into a lucrative Etsy shop and has given away all her profits. “I wanted to get rid of COVID, and I was feeling like everyone else wanted to do that as well,” says Annie, a 10-year-old fourth grader at Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. “I thought of the store to raise the money to do it.”  She launched Annie’s Ever After Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/AnniesEverAfterShop) in March 2020, and has since raised more than $500, which she has donated to Baton Rouge General. “My goal is to give a thousand bucks to them,” she says. Annie sells jewelry, keychains and an original creation called click clack clams, “two clams that are painted and decorated by pretty tape and googly eyes and you can click them together.”  Her pare

BR Parents Blog - We Are All Irreplaceable: Deciding to Get My COVID Vaccine

First published on the Baton Rouge Parents magazine website . I am someone who loves science, at least as a bystander and beneficiary. I even wrote about the benefits of animal research in my high school English class for our persuasive essay assignment, convinced science was critical to my survival of jaundice as an infant. Right now, I am in awe of science and particularly amazed at the work that’s gone into so quickly creating successful vaccines against this pandemic-causing novel coronavirus. When my turn to get a vaccine for COVID-19 came up, I did not hesitate. I had already been looking to get vaccinated via waste lists at local pharmacies–several moms I know in my circles had success that way. A waste list is filled with people who are willing to come at a moment’s notice to get a vaccine should there be one that’s otherwise going to be wasted or expired. But when Governor Edwards expanded eligibility to include people 16-54 with certain health conditions that m

BR Parents: March 2021

As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages pages 14-21 and page 26 of the March 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

BR Parents: One Amazing Kid - Dev Iyer

First published in the March 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and on its website . Amazing kids run in the Iyer family. Recently named the East Baton Rouge Parish Public School System’s elementary student of the year, Dev, a fifth grader at Buchanan Elementary, is following in the footsteps of his brother, Jay, now a high school senior who was also honored as a fifth grader. Dev excels academically. “I’m particularly proud of getting principal’s list in all my years in elementary school,” he says. He’s already planning a bright future. “I want to become an architectural engineer when I grow up,” he says. The career, which would follow in the engineering footsteps of his dad and grandfather, combines Dev’s love of math, science and art. A multisport athlete, Dev participates in swimming, taekwondo, basketball, baseball and soccer. He’s also an accomplished pianist and artist. Dev’s artwork was chosen as the EBR school system’s annual holiday card three years i

BR Parents: Thrive - Filling Hearts with Kindness, Starting with Her Own

First published in the March 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and its website . Kindness is the keyword for eight-year-old Tiva Thyssen, and she’s involved in several efforts to spread it. Specifically, since losing her older brother Traeh to suicide in 2019, Tiva works to bring awareness to and prevent bullying and suicide Rosalynn Thyssen, mother of Tiva, Traeh, and their siblings Theodore, Trinitee, and Chloe, started the Traeh Thyssen Have A hearT Foundation, which provides information, resources, and support to combat bullying and prevent youth suicide. Tiva plays an active role in the foundation and bringing its message to more people in the hopes of saving other children who are hurting like Traeh. The foundation’s marketing efforts include a focus on hearts and the number 13. Traeh is heart spelled backward, and he was 13 when he died. “The foundation just tells people that you should always have a heart,” Tiva says.  For Random Acts of Kindness Week

BR Parents Blog: Let the Good Times Stroll: Saying Goodbye to The Last of Our Baby Gear

 First published on Baton Rouge Parents magazine's website. Our family is almost ready to say goodbye to our stroller, and looking back, it might be my most beloved piece of baby gear (after my DSLR camera perhaps). Our orange BabyJogger CityMini has served us well, hauling two girls around the neighborhood and around the world. In the last year, it hasn’t seen much use, of course. Mostly because of the pandemic and not really going anywhere. If we walked around the neighborhood together as a family, the girls could motor on their own legs or ride their bikes or scooters. Having a nine-year-old and almost five-year-old negates the need for a stroller, pandemic or not. I can feel sentimental about most anything, especially things relating to my girls. Folding onesies into a box for donating or passing down, dropping off the giant, loud, plastic toys and other accoutrements of toddler life, and sorting through board books all make me feel my feelings. How I feel about

BR Parents: Thrive - Young Writer Inspires Others to Overcome Bullying

First published in the February 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and on the magazine's website. After she experienced bullying, Holli A. Holland wanted to help other children navigate through the experience. The slower pace during the pandemic provided time for the eight year old from Baker to write and publish her first book, You Are Enough! She also created an accompanying workbook, You Are Enough: You are Beautiful, For You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made . In a few short months, she’s already sold more than 250 copies. Holli wrote to inspire others. “You don’t have to change your ways. You can be yourself, and you can accomplish things by being yourself,” she says. In the book, Holli shares her story of being bullied about her shoes. “I took it and I turned it into something positive,” Holli explains. Holli learned a life lesson early when the child who picked on her would not apologize to her even when the principal told him to.  “At an early age,

BR Parents: One Amazing Kid - Zaila Avant-Garde

First published in the February 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and on the magazine's website . A Guinness World Record holder for her basketball skills, Zaila Avant-Garde is also a successful speller, winning the first-ever Kaplan Online Spelling Bee. Zaila, 14, won $10,000 and free Kaplan pre-college test prep courses. The Kaplan Bee was developed after the 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee was canceled due to COVID-19. “I have always been interested in reading, so spelling was more or less a natural progression,” Zaila says. She spends a lot of time studying spelling words and she was also the 2019 New Orleans regional spelling champion.  An eighth grade homeschooler from Harvey, Zaila’s opportunities to compete have diminished. “Most spelling bees you can’t participate after your eighth grade year.” Zaila’s interest in achieving a world record began when she received a Guinness Book for her eighth birthday and she put her plan into action when she t

BR Parents: February 2021

As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages pages 14-21 and page 26 of the February 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website.

BR Parents Blog: Have We Become a Gaming Family?

First published on Baton Rouge Parents magazine's website . Christmas 2020 looked super different for our family , and as parents, my husband and I did something that we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. We fulfilled our nine-year-old’s request for a gaming system, specifically a Nintendo Switch. She had been asking for it throughout the pandemic saying everyone she knew had one, but it felt too expensive and one more screen to fight over.  And of course, earlier in the year, the Switches were pretty hard to come by. I’m a great deal shopper, even online–scoring Clorox wipes when they were scarce and Lysol for my friend who had COVID in July. But I didn’t want to activate my shopping powers for something we weren’t sure we could handle as a family or to pay too much just because it was hard to find in stock. But a good deal that was available for pickup and our daughter’s persistence led us to make the purchase in early December. It was SO HARD to not tell her

BR Parents: Thrive - Powering Through While Beating Rare Bone Cancer

Originally published in the January 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents Magazine and on its website . Although 2020 was a hard year for everyone, the White family’s experience was extra challenging.  Their eight-year-old, Hayden, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. His victory over the rare bone cancer was complete when he finished chemo on December 11, one of the first in-patients to do so at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.  “Hayden started having leg pain probably in February,” says his dad, Corey. An X-ray in March led to consultations with orthopedists and soon thereafter an orthopedic oncologist, and chemo began in April. “It happened really fast,” Corey says. Hayden’s mom, Karen, says, “From the time we saw the pediatrician to the time we started chemo, it was about three weeks.”  COVID-19 complicated everything, with only one parent being allowed with him during some of Hayden’s procedures. Karen and Corey were even told separately about their son’s diagnos

BR Parents: One Amazing Kid - Matteo Runge

Originally published in the January 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine and on its website . When so many things shut down last year, Matteo Runge was lucky to find a silver lining. The sixth grader at Baton Rouge International School became a 2020 Louisiana state chess champion and credits his success to extra practice time. “Since coronavirus happened, I improved on chess,” Matteo says. “I wouldn’t have gotten second in the state if it weren’t for coronavirus because I was online and practicing every day for that state championship.” Now 11, Matteo has played chess for several years and is a member of his school’s chess club. “I thought he was too young to learn the game of chess when he was in Kindergarten,” says Donald, Matteo’s dad. “I didn’t learn myself until I was about in seventh grade. But he kept insisting on learning how the pictures moved.” Matteo’s mom, Isabella, first taught him the basics. Virtual tournaments have allowed chess competitions to c

BR Parents: January 2021

As Education and Community sections editor, I wrote pages pages 14-21 and page 26 of the January 2021 issue of Baton Rouge Parents magazine. See the web layout on the magazine's website .