Summer Camps

Greetings, NOLA Parents! Hopefully Spring is treating you well and that this post about summer camp comes just in time. It seems odd that we have to start figuring out summer camp plans so early in the year. Although after spending so much “quality time” with the kids over Mardi Gras, making sure they have somewhere to go and something to do besides bicker with each other and destroy my house for weeks on end seems very, very timely.

But let’s face it, figuring out summer plans months in advance isn’t always easy, especially if you’re a procrastinator like me. And trying to accommodate multiple ages, interests and schedules makes it even more complicated.

Fortunately, the programs that you see listed here are the best of the best and there is something for everyone, whether your camper is an aspiring artist, athlete, veterinarian, engineer or lives a little outside the box.

Personally, I like to put the little ones in the same program over many weeks and sign my 8yo up for different week-long camps so she can be adventurous and explore things she may not otherwise be able to do during the school year.

At the end of the day, though, it has to work for the family… and when I say “family” I mean “me”.

Good luck and if you have any questions or need to reach me, shoot me a note at!

xo ashley

Visit a complete list of Summer Camps here.

My first ever book club with wine

I have just returned from my very first book club meeting. I was going to blow it off because it was cold and rainy and for some reason (because I got drunk last night) I was tired. But then it was dinner time and a quick scan of the kitchen a glimpse into what would be my next three hours, I decided to go and be tired at someone else’s house where there is wine, food and no children.

It is almost a guarantee you’ll have a good time whenever you do that thing you were almost on the cusp of not doing. I met the most amazing, beautiful, smart, well-read, down to earth, hilarious group of ladies. I’m so glad I went.

If you or someone you know is Type A, please heed the cry of those who long to be part of a book club but are too Type B to do anything about it. Tonight we had handouts, spreadsheets and a logo. Thanks, Meg!

We decided on our first three books and scheduled our next three meetings. Whoever hosts, leads the discussion. Here are the first two. There were three but I’ve already forgotten.

The following book descriptions come directly from and each book cover links to the NOLA Parent Amazon affiliate page. If you happen to purchase a book via this affiliate link, I will get a penny or something. At the end of the year, I get to buy one lucky person a cup of coffee.

The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty) 394 pages

“Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.”

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion) 295 pages

“Now in paperback, the international bestselling romantic comedy “bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and…humor,” (Entertainment Weekly) featuring the oddly charming, socially challenged genetics professor, Don, as he seeks true love.

Here’s is our preliminary list. To narrow it down, we eliminated the books that had already been read. We also decided we didn’t want to go with anything too heavy in content and length. It’s all about setting the group up for success. None of us have read an entire book in quite sometime and I could tell that each of us was determined to read a book cover to cover in less than 12 months. Go us.

Are you in a book club? How does yours work? What are you reading now?

BAWC Book Club Book Suggestions

  1. The Orphan Train (Christina Baker Kline) 288 pages. The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask. Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.
  2. Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn) 560 pages. On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media–as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents–the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter–but is he really a killer?
  3. The Goldfinch (Donna Tartt) 771 pages. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
  4. The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion) 295 pages. An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.
  5. The Bean Trees (Barbara Kingsolver) 232 pages. Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.
  6. A Star Called Henry (Roddy Doyle) 342 pages. Born in the Dublin slums of 1901, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he’s out robbing and begging, often cold and always hungry, but a prince of the streets. By Easter Monday, 1916, he’s fourteen years old and already six-foot-two, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army. A year later he’s ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian and a killer. With his father’s wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a Republican legend – one of Michael Collins’ boys, a cop killer, and an assassin on a stolen bike.
  7. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant) 336 pages. Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s society.
  8. The Secret History (Donna Tartt) 559 pages. Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldly, self-assured, and, at first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another…a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life…and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning….
  9. And the Mountains Echoed (Khaled Hosseini) 404 pages. Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.
  10. Department of Speculation (Jenny Offill) 182 pages. Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all. Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband, postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, bedbugs, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it, as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands.
  11. The History of Love (Nicole Krauss) 260 pages. Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he s still alive. But it wasn t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family. With virtuosic skill and soaring imaginative power, Nicole Krauss gradually draws these stories together toward a climax of extraordinary depth and beauty
  12. The Lowland (Jhumpa Lahiri) 340 pages. Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel–set in both India and America–that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.
  13. Life after Life (Kate Atkinson) 544 pages. On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.
  14. The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach) 512 pages. At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment—to oneself and to others
  15. Lives of Girls and Women (Alice Munro) 277 pages. WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE®IN LITERATURE 2013. The only novel from Alice Munro-award-winning author of The Love of a Good Woman–is an insightful, honest book, “autobiographical in form but not in fact,” that chronicles a young girl’s growing up in rural Ontario in the 1940’s. Through these unwitting mentors and in her own encounters with sex, birth, and death, Del explores the dark and bright sides of womanhood. All along she remains a wise, witty observer and recorder of truths in small-town life. The result is a powerful, moving, and humorous demonstration of Alice Munro’s unparalleled awareness of the lives of girls and women.
  16. Brain Rules (John Medina) 301 pages. Most of us have no idea what’s really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know—like the need for physical activity to get your brain working its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget—and so important to repeat new knowledge? Is it true that men and women have different brains? In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule—what scientists know for sure about how our brains work—and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives. You will discover how: Every brain is wired differently Exercise improves cognition We are designed to never stop learning and exploring Memories are volatile Sleep is powerfully linked with the ability to learn Vision trumps all of the other senses Stress changes the way we learn In the end, you’ll understand how your brain really works—and how to get the most out of it.
  17. A Study in Scarlet – Sherlock Holmes #1 (Arthur Conan Doyle) 108 pages. In the debut of literature’s most famous sleuth, a dead man is discovered in a bloodstained room in Brixton. The only clues are a wedding ring, a gold watch, a pocket edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron, and a word scrawled in blood on the wall. With this investigation begins the partnership of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Their search for the murderer uncovers a story of love and revenge-and heralds a franchise of detective mysteries starring the formidable Holmes.
  18. The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) 313 pages. Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
  19. The Hunger Games #1 (Suzanne Collins) 374 pages. The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.
  20. The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty) 394 pages. Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . . Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Three Must-Read Books for New Moms

Last night we attended what we thought would be a low-key birthday party for our longtime friend, Uncle Lee, who is not actually anyone’s uncle. He and his wife, Mandy, pulled off a quick little last-minute shin-dig at the Davenport Lounge. After hugs, kisses and a few high-fives, Lee whipped out his phone and showed us a favorite picture… a sonogram of their first child. This wasn’t just a birthday party. More kisses, more hugs, more high-fives and few added tears of joy.

Lee and Mandy are that couple everyone prays will be parents someday because everything they bring into the world is always good.

While I’ve learned over the year to offer parenting advice only when asked, there are a few things new parents don’t typically think about while marinating in gestational bliss.

There is a reason you hear so many mothers joke/lament about the last time they actually read a book. And since you have some time before baby arrives, try to get in as much reading as possible because you will soon be tired and hormonal and your brain will turn to mush.

Here are three books every new parent should read before giving birth.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

The most valuable thing you can wrapped your head around before baby arrives is the importance of sleep and it’s direct impact on the cognitive development of the young, developing brain. Sleep training is the first real parenting mountain that you must climb because it involves allowing your child to be uncomfortable (cry), albeit only temporarily, so that healthy sleep habits are established. Healthy sleep = happy child. Every child is different, of course, but if you understand the science behind sleep as it relates to babies and children, you will be ahead of the curve. This is one area you don’t have to learn as you go. Arm yourself and start thinking about how you feel about all this sleep training stuff. And be warned: sleep training is a hot topic in the parenting jungle. You will find very strong opinions with every approach… and there are many. Take the time to figure out where you might fit into the conversation.

bright from the start

Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind from Birth to Age 3

Again, we’re talking brain development. If you don’t think screen time directly impacts your kid’s long-term ability to think, learn, focus, sustain, communicate, relate, or stimulate, think again. For the “normal” child, apps and videos are babysitters, not educational tools. They do not help your child become smarter no matter how you slice it. Accept that and move on. This book with help you set your kid’s brain up for success.

belly laughs

Belly Laughs, 10th anniversary edition: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth

Long before launching a worldwide crusade against vaccinations, McCarthy actually used to make us moms laugh so hard we’d pee, which, by the way, happens more and more once you have kids. So do your kegels. If you can’t laugh about it, what’s the point? Find the humor and enjoy the ride.

9/11: My Journey Home

This is a picture of me and Lannie, one of my best friends from college. It was 2001 and I was in New York for a job interview. I got the job, so she took the train down from Massachusetts to celebrate with me. I had two weeks to pack my bags, grab my cat, and move my life from Houston to New York.

I had been waiting for this moment my whole life.

Lannie and Ashley, NYC 2001

NYC 2001

Gosh, we were so young… so happy… so tipsy. To the stranger who took this photo, thanks!

I wanted to post this picture of us because every year on this day, I get a note from her:


Because this was where I worked:


For the record, my office did open earlier… I was just always late. You see, I had just met this great guy and saying goodbye every morning was tough. Eventually, I would leave New York for New Orleans and marry him.



So basically, it was love that kept me safe that day. But it shook me to the core. It shook the world and everyone felt it.


I remember the heavy dust that hung over the entire city for what seemed like forever. In a city that never sleeps, it was so quite and so still.

I remember walking for hours trying to get home. My apartment was on 79th, so I had about 80 blocks to go. Public transportation was paralyzed and it took a few hours to get home. It shouldn’t have taken that long. I don’t know why it did. I was running in water.

There was no cell phone service. I remember hitting redial on my phone over and over and over again desperately trying to get through to someone. Anyone. I was so glad to finally get through to my dad. I think I heard his knees fall to the floor. After we hung up, he called my mother. I didn’t know if I would get another line.

By the time I reached Time Square, both towers had fallen. I stopped to rest only to realize I was surrounded by the instant replay of falling buildings and falling bodies. News tickers swarmed around bearing terrible news.


Times Square, September 11, 2001 (image source

When I finally reached my apartment, there was a note on my door. I changed my clothes, washed my face and stared at the blinking light on my answering machine. I walked out the door and headed to his apartment. I can still see his face when he opened the door.

I called my mom. She sobbed. She sobbed because she wasn’t sure she would ever hear my voice again. And then she sobbed for all the mothers who would not get a call that day.

And that’s when I realized the magnitude of what had happened.

Books to help you “Choose Kindness” inspired by the book WONDER, by R. J. PALACIO,

Envision a world where all people are accepted for who they are and not how they look.


April, one of my girlfriends from college whom I have always looked up to as a sweet blessing to our world, is mother to a super hero with Crainiofacial syndrome. Together they are working very hard to raise awareness of Craniofacial Acceptance Month.

Inspired by the book Wonder by R. J. PALACIO, a #1 New York Times Bestseller and listed on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, Random House launched an anti-bullying initiative called the Choose Kind Campaign.

In an effort to help children understand the wonder of our differences and importance of choosing kindness over bullying and ugliness, April and her friends have put together a Choose Kind Wish List for their school library. Families are invited to donate any of the books listed to help build the library. Each donated book has a nameplate for dedications and the books are even marked as “Choose Kind” books! This is such a brilliant idea.


Here is a list of children and young adult books that celebrate differences and encourage understanding, compassion, acceptance, empathy and inclusion.

The CHOOSE KIND Library Book List

  1. Monday is One Day Levine, Arthur: (p-k) Working Parents; Family Differences
  2. Mama Zooms Cowen-Fletcher, Jane: (p-1st) Wheelchairs
  3. Moon Rabbit Russell, Natalie: (p-1st) Self-Acceptance; Unlikely Friendship
  4. Just a Little Different Mayer, Mercer: (p-1st) Differences; Interracial Families
  5. What’s Wrong with Timmy? Shriver, Maria: (p-1st) Down Syndrome
  6. Skin Again Bell Books: (p-2nd) Race; Identity
  7. Howie Helps Himself Fassler, Joan: (p-2nd) Cerebral Palsy
  8. Clifford Vista el Hospital Bridwell, Norman: (p-2nd) Hospitalization
  9. The Name Jar Choi, Yangsook: (p-2nd) Cultural Diversity; Self-Acceptance
  10. Night Shift Daddy Spinelli, Eileen: (p-2nd) Socioeconomic Difference
  11. How Kind! Murphy, Mary: (p-2nd) Good Deeds
  12. What Can You Do?: Inspiring Kids to Play Haring, Kevin Arnold: 9p-2nd) Spina Bifida
  13. I Accept You as You Are! Parker, David: (k-2nd) Acceptance of Difference
  14. Dotty the Dalmatian has Epilepsy Peters, Tim and Epilepsy Foundation of America: (k-2nd) Epilepsy
  15. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed Pearson, Emily: (p-3rd) Kindness;Social Responsibility
  16. Lost & Found Jeffers, Oliver: (p-3rd) Friendship
  17. Alex & Lulu: Two of a Kind Siminovach,Lorena: (p-3rd) Friendship Despite Difference
  18. Frog & Toad are Friends Label, Arnold: (p-3rd) Unlikely Friendship
  19. How Full is Your Bucket? Rath, Tom: (p-3rd) Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem
  20. Will You Fill My Bucket? McCloud, Carol: (p-3rd) Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem, Cultural Differences
  21. My Mouth is a Volcano Cook, Julia: (p-3rd)Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem, Respecting Others, Manners
  22. Diana Estubo en el Hospital Givaudan, Diana C.: (p-3rd) Hospitalization
  23. Let’s Talk About It: Extraordinary Friends Rogers,Fred: (p-3rd) Disabilities
  24. My Princess Boy Kilodavis, Cheryl: (p-3rd) Unconditional Love; Gender Roles; Acceptance
  25. Zoom! Munsch, Robert: (p-3rd) Wheelchairs
  26. I’m Just Small,That’s All Braithwaite, Karalee: (p-3rd) Dwarfism
  27. Lee, The Rabbit with Epilepsy Moss, Deborah M.: (p-3rd) Epilepsy
  28. No Fair to Tigers Hoffman, Eric: (p-3rd) Courage; Standing up to Injustice
  29. Mixed Blessings Cosman, Marsha: (p-3rd) Interracial Identity; Multicultural Differences
  30. The Lemonade Club Polacco, Patricia: (p-3rd) Cancer; Friendship and Support
  31. My Brother Charlie Robinson, Holly and Ryan Elizabeth Pete: (k-3rd) Siblings of Difference; Autism
  32. Ballerina Dreams Ferrara, Joann: (k-3rd) Overcoming Obstacles; Determination; Hope;Courage
  33. My Brain Won’t Float Away Perez, Annette: (1st-3rd) Hydrocephalus
  34. Stand in My Shoes Sornson Bob: (p-5th) Behavior, Emotions, Self-Esteem
  35. Rosa Giovanni, Nikki: (p-5th) Differences; Race; Civil Rights; Courage
  36. Imagine Me on a Sit-Ski! Moran, George: (1st-4th) Cerebral Palsy
  37. What is Dyslexia? Hultquist, Alan M.: (1st-4th) Dyslexia
  38. Nice Wheels Hooks, Gwendolyn: (1st-4th) Wheelchairs
  39. Make Way for Dymonde Daniel Grimes, Nikki: (1st-4th) Self-Acceptance; Race
  40. Children, Just Like Me Kindersley, Anabel & Barnabas: (k-6th) Cultural Diversity
  41. Stretching Ourselves: Kids with Cerebral Palsy Carter, Alden R.: (k-6th) Cerebral Palsy
  42. Can I Tell You about Dyspraxia? Boon, Maureen: (1st-6th) Dyspraxia
  43. The Goodenoughs Get in Sync Kranowitz, Carol Stock: (1st-8th) Sensory Processing Disorder
  44. The Barn at Gun Lake Tuitel, Johnny and Sharon Lamson: (3rd-6th) Cerebral Palsy
  45. The Great Gilly Hopkins Paterson, Katherine: (3rd-6th) Fostercare
  46. In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Lord, Bette: (3rd-6th) Race; Immigration; Cultural Diversity
  47. The Lemonade War Davies, Jacqueline: (3rd-7th) Sibling Rivalry; Pride; Values
  48. Hey World, Here I Am Little, Jean: (3rd-7th) Self-Awareness; Emotions
  49. The Thing About Georgie Graff, Lisa: (3rd-7th) Dwarfism; Self-Confidence
  50. Rules Lord, Cynthia: (3rd-7th) Autism; Siblings of Difference
  51. Liesl & Po Oliver, Lauren: (3rd-7th) Depression; Friendship
  52. The Great Unexpected Creech, Sharon: (3rd-7th) Friendship; Forgiveness
  53. Bridge to Terabitha Paterson, Katherine: (3rd-7th) Friendship; Loss
  54. Wringer Spinelli, Jerry: (3rd-7th) Peer Pressure; Character; Gender Roles; Bullying
  55. Jacob Have I Loved Paterson, Katherine: (5th-9th) Self-Knowledge; Sibling Rivalry
  56. Eleanor and Park Rowell, Rainbow: (7th-12th) First Love; Self-Acceptance; Individuality
  57. Stargirl Spinelli, Jerry: (7th-12th) Individuality; Popularity
  58. Maniac Magee Spinelli, Jerry: (7th-12th) Race; Orphan Identity; Defining Family
  59. King and King de Haan, Linda and Stern Nijland: (3rd-5th) Diversity
  60. The Sissy Duckling Fierstein, Harvey: (K-3rd) Diversity

Yummy in the tummy? The Rise of the Baby Food Revolution.

If I had to do it all again, I would have made my own baby food. I never did embark on that particular parent adventure because I thought homemade baby food was for hippies and helicopter moms. Making baby food just seemed cumbersome and unnecessary since I could just buy a few jars during my daily trip to Target. But that was seven years ago and since then baby food sales have been on a steady decline. Why? Because moms are making baby food at home.


Millennial moms (those born between 1981-1994) research everything from sunscreen to car seats, so it makes perfect sense that we are educating ourselves about what we put into baby’s belly.

“As a new mom it is reassuring to know exactly what is going into your baby’s mouth, and that you had a hand in creating it,” says Touro dietitian Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN. “Making your own baby food allows you to shop seasonally and locally for fresh, clean foods. It also increases the variety and flavors available to your baby. This all ensures that your precious baby is provided with the peak nutrients essential for growth and development.”

​Making your own baby food is healthier no matter how cute those babies in the commercials are or how sleek the newly designed glass bottle looks. On the other hand, over-the-counter baby food is convenient and because of advancements in technology, the quality and nutrient value in baby food is improving, but you’re going to pay for it.

For example, a jar of Beech-Nut banana baby food is $1.50. The price of one banana is $0.23. This means that for every jar of baby food you buy, you’re paying a convenience fee of $1.27 to Beech-Nut so that it can market its products and pay its shareholders. That’s just the business of it all.


Baby food pouches like Ella’s Kitchen and Happy Baby exploded onto the baby food market in the early 2000s and have since seen significant growth. The pouches are expensive, which balances out declining sales of traditional baby food. Personally, I loved the pouches but because they were expensive, I tried to save them for certain “situations” like shopping at Target with a screaming baby, driving home with a screaming baby, waiting in the check out line with a screaming baby, not to mention our general on-the-go lifestyle. I also hated how wasteful the pouches were; You can’t recycle them.

beabaIf you’re curious about making homemade baby food, here are two great recipes from Touro dietitian Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN. And be sure to Save-the-Date for a Baby Food Making Class at Touro, where Julie and ZukaBaby owner, Erin Reho Pelias, will host an interactive baby food making class on Thursday, August 7, 2014, from 6-7:30pm. You’ll learn everything you need to know! Register today for this free class. One lucky parent will win a Beaba Pro Baby Food Maker!


Pumpkin Sweet Potato Puree

Broccoli, Pear and Kale Puree

Let’s go to the Zoovies!

In case you haven’t heard, Audubon Zoo is hosting a series of family-friendly outdoor moving screenings of the summer’s most obsessed-over movies. They kicked off their Dinner and a Zoovie Nights series with Frozen, which is why the oak trees in Audubon Park were gently swaying in synchronicity that day to the sound of hundreds of tiny voices singing “Let it Go.”

This Saturday, July 13, 2014, is the The Lego Movie, which my entire family has only seen six times. But those don’t really count because they were all indoors. We have yet to see this hilariously entertaining movie outdoors on the big screen surrounded by lots of friends, neighbors… and zoo animals (but they’ll be sleeping because that’s what sleepy animals do at the Audubon Zoo).

And if you’re one of those people who obsesses over where your favorite food trucks will be at all times, please note that FRENCHEEZE and TACEAUX LOCEAUX will be at the Zoovies on Saturday, July 13, 2014, for your gastronomical pleasure.

Bring a blanket, bring the kids, maybe some environmentally friendly-biodegradable-sustainable-all natural bug spray, and let’s go to the Zoovies!

Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance so dad doesn’t have to stand in the long lines cursing the heat.

All shows are $5 per person (children under two years of age are free). Chairs and blankets are welcome. No glass containers, open candles or pets. And yes, a wine bottle is considered a “container.”

Shows will be outside at the Capital One Stage and Field inside Audubon Zoo.

See you there!

Summertime beauty at the corner of happy and healthy.

Last month’s Look Boutique event was a huge success. The folks at Uptown Walgreens were super excited to meet so many moms and learn about the products we love. Check out some of the fun stories from the evening and the moms behind them.


Andrea has been using the same lipstick pencil since her wedding… in 2000. Her husband isn’t around anymore but her lipstick is, which is down to the stub. She decided it was time to let it go. The Look Boutique beauty advisors helped her find an exact color match from the popular Vera Moore line. Out with the old, in with the new. She was so thrilled.


Wendy and Erin jogged to the event. To tone and refresh, they spritzed a little La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water.


Jesse loved hearing the centennial story behind the natural skincare recipes of Le Couvent Des Minimes and the 17th century botanists monks who cultivated the plant species found in the beauty line’s recipes today. (This particular line is a personal fave of mine.) Anne walked away as the winner of the Look Boutique Beauty Basket full of fabulous beauty products valued at $300.


Christine and Dina picked up some fun nail polish from the trendy line POP Beauty. Christine also grabbed a bottle of the award-winning Klorane Dry Shampoo–a summertime must-have, especially if you find yourself traveling a lot.

Marlene (not shown) noticed her eyelashes are thinning so she decided to try Talika Lipocils eyelash conditioning gel to make her lashes longer and thicker… in 28 days.

Here’s a pretty collage of all the products mentioned. You will find them at the Look Boutique in the Uptown Walgreens on the corner of happy and healthy!


25 Summer Fun Ideas for Kids in New Orleans

As somewhat of a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants kinda gal/mom, I often come up with summer fun activities at the last minute. Here in the mommy-sphere, “summer fun” generally refers to blocks of time spent with children in the heat herding, buckling, unbuckling, counting heads and applying sunscreen. This isn’t exactly my version of fun, which is probably why I don’t plan ahead our summer days. I think I’m in denial. Not sure about what, but I’m pretty sure it’s denial. There may also be a little part of me that hopes the kids will wake up and say: “Mom, can we please just stay home all day and chill out on the couch while you sip on mommy juice and read your favorite magazines that have been piling up in the corner because we demand so much of your time and you never get to read anymore?”


As such, I like to turn to my Type A moms who don’t have to put their kids in camp because they’ve mapped out the entire summer with wonderful, refreshing, educational, fun-filled activities.

My friend Liv is one such mom. She is actually the one who inspired me not to “over-camp” my kids this summer because of there really are some fantastic things to do in New Orleans. It just takes few minutes to figure it out.

You don’t have to plan every day in advance. Just spend a few minutes before you go to bed and pick one or two things from this list of Summer Fun Activities To Do with Kids in New Orleans that Liv so generously shared with me.


Liv’s Recommended Summer Fun in NOLA


New Orleans Public Library – There are tons of free children, teen and adult programs and events all over town through the New Orleans Public Library. Pretty impressive stuff:

Monkey Room (Uptown)
Closed Tuesdays, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Check calendar b/c MR closes for parties:
Approximately $10/child

Palm Tree Playground (Metairie)
Open daily but hours vary. Check website:
$8/child 4+
$6/child 6mos-3yrs
Free for adults and infants

Open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
$22.50/adult; $16/child

Open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
$16.50/adult; $12/child

Entergy IMAX Theatre
There are some magnificent films scheduled for June. These films are in 3D so the little ones may not love it.
$5 for members (kids and adults included)
$8 for non-members 2-12
$10:50 for non members 13+

Kenya 3D: Animal Kingdom
Great White Shark 3D
Madagascar Island of Lemurs 3D

New Orleans Museum of Art
Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
$10/adult; $6/child; Wednesdays are free for LA residents
Storyquest: Saturday’s bi-monthly at 11:30 a.m.

Children’s Museum
Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., opens Sunday at 12 noon

National WWII Museum
Open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
$22/adult; $13/student
There’s lots to do here, but this seems most appropriate for kids, The Boeing Center:

Paint Pottery
The Posh Paint Pub, Metairie
Hours vary, so check the website

Game Rooms
Party Planet Extreme in Harahan

Roller Skating
Airline Skate Center:
Skate Country:

Prytania Theater
Movies at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, $5.75/person


City Park
Sculpture Garden at City Park
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park at City Park
Tuesday-Thursday at 10 a.m.
$4/person; children 36” & under are free of charge
$17 unlimited rides or $3/ride

Storyland at City Park
Open at 10 a.m., Closed Mondays
$4/person; children 36” and under are free of charge

City Putt at City Park
Opens at 10 a.m., Closed Mondays
$8/person 13+; $6/child 6-12

Botanical Garden at City Park
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Closed Mondays
$6/adult; $3. /child 5-12; free for children under 5

Lafreniere Park Splash Pad, Pond, Playground in Kenner
Open daily, 12 noon to 7:00 p.m.
$5/person cash only, change is not available

Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville
Great splash pad and picnic area!

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
$17.50/adult; $12/child

Cool Zoo at Audubon Zoo
$8/non-member; $6/member

Global Wildlife Park in Folsom
7 days a week, but check tour times
$17 Adults; $11 children

Palmer Park has a shade cover over the playground.

Swamp Tour
There are lots of options. “Honey Island” gets good reviews on Trip Advisor.





LOOK Boutique Ladies Night!

Hey, Ladies! Tonight is the LOOK Boutique Make-Up Party at the Walgreens Uptown from 6:30-8:30pm. Pick up that last minute teacher gift AND play with fancy make-up from Paris, Denmark, Canada and LA, so that you can get summer-ready!

We’ll get the scoop on some fabulous hair, skin and make-up lines, try some new nail colors (it’s all about orange this summer), and get tips on how to apply make-up so we can look like ladies instead of ladies of the night.

I met with our LOOK Boutique Beauty Advisors yesterday and they are SO excited about tonight. They’re a little nervous, too, because this is a first for them. They even gave me a sneak peak into some of the goody bags and, oh, everything is so beautiful.

I took some shots from the store, so please enjoy and I’ll see you tonight!


Oh, and pretty please let me know if you’re coming. Some of you have mentioned that you’re going to swing in and out (which is great!). We want to make sure we have enough thank you bags.

xxoo ashley

p.s. wine.

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