How to Do City Putt!

 

My boys and I went to City Putt in New Orleans City Park and despite a few hiccups, which had to do with heat, humidity and sibling rivalry, we had a ball (pun intended). The facility is clean and attractive and it’s a fun outing plus you and your kids can work on hand-eye coordination and math skills. You can buy beer and wine, (along with water, soft drinks and tea) at the concession cart, which could help to calm your nerves when your kids have no more game and they start calling each other names. You can also host a birthday party or corporate event there. Go – and heed these recommendations:

Play one course. There are two 18-hole courses at City Putt. One is the Louisiana Course with holes named for cities and regions in the state and the other is the New Orleans Course with holes named for streets and neighborhoods in the city. We played both but sometime after the 27th hole and after we took this shot with Mr. Bingle everyone fell apart. It was hot and humid (a point driven home by the fact that this giant snowman was sizzling to the touch), so both courses may be more doable when it’s cooler or at night.

 

Play the Louisiana Course. Both courses are good and similar but Louisiana seemed a little less crowded (maybe because it’s starting hole is hidden away on the left), a little more varied and a little more spread out. Having said that if you’re looking for a little more kitsch (ie boiling seafood pots, Louis Armstrong and Mr. Bingle) then the New Orleans course is your gig. Neither have swirling windmills or castles with moats but both have clean, challenging but doable holes with new turf and a range of obstacles. Both are scenic with streams, greenery, trees and sculptures. And both have misters on every hole and festive New Orleans-themed music piped in.

Older kids will like it more. My 10-year-old loved it and wanted to keep score and play for real. My 8- year-old liked it but had had enough half way through the second course. He also accidentally hit me in the nose with his putter when he put a little too much back swing into his putt after he couldn’t get a ball up and over a hill. (Nothing broken or seriously injured but it hurt! I cried. He cried. Then we all kept going). I spied a 3 or 4 year old out there with his dad, who was chasing down balls, hunting down left behind putters, and picking his child out of the water. I’m not sure if they had fun but it didn’t look like good times to me. Then again, I got hit in the face with a putter and had fun so I guess there is something to be said for just being outside spending time with your kids.

city putt collage

 

Go when it’s not crowded. Some outings are more fun when more people are around but I think this is probably a good one for an off-day. The day we went we didn’t have to wait for a hole and could take our time finishing out. If you felt rushed by the people behind you or if you were standing around waiting for your turn it might not be quite as much fun. Call the desk at (504) 483-9385 to get a reading on crowds.

Overall — A fun outing. Cost: $32 for 3 of us to play two courses plus $5 for water and ice tea.

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 Amazon.com 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

RECIPES

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Puree

Broccoli, Pear and Kale Puree

Warning signs your kid might have a communication disorder

The month of May is designated as Better Speech and Hearing Month. May has been set aside to educate the public, as approximately 40 million Americans have trouble speaking or hearing due to a communication disorder. Early identification of communication and hearing problems can improve academic, social, and career experiences, and ultimately improve the quality of life for individuals of all ages.

Unfortunately, many Americans either do not recognize or quickly dismiss the warning signs of a communication disorder. A recent poll of speech-language pathologists and audiologists who are members of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association reported significant parental delays in getting help for children with communication disorders. This report illustrates just one example of the many missed opportunities to help children and adults with communication disorders and demonstrates the importance of understanding the following symptoms as possible signs of a problem:

Speech-Language Symptoms in Children

  • Does not interact socially (infancy and older)
  • Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)
  • Says only a few sounds, words, or gestures (18 months to 2 years)
  • Words are not easily understood (18 months to 2 years)
  • Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)
  • Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)

Speech-Language Symptoms in Adults

  • Struggles to say sounds or words (stuttering)
  • Repetition of words or parts of words (stuttering)
  • Speaks in short, fragmented phrases (expressive aphasia)
  • Says words in the wrong order (expressive aphasia)
  • Struggles with using words and understanding others (global aphasia)
  • Difficulty imitating speech sounds (apraxia)
  • Inconsistent errors (apraxia)
  • Slow rate of speech (apraxia)
  • Slurred speech (dysarthria)
  • Slow or rapid rate of speech, often with a mumbling quality (dysarthria)

Hearing Symptoms in Children

  • Lack of attention to sounds
  • Does not follow simple directions
  • Does not respond when their name is called
  • Delays in speech and language development
  • Pulls or scratches at their ears
  • Difficulty achieving academically, especially in reading and math
  • Socially isolated and unhappy in school
  • Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)


Hearing Symptoms in Adults

  • Inattentiveness
  • Buzzing or ringing in their ears
  • Failure to respond to spoken words
  • Persistent ear discomfort after exposure to loud noise (regular and constant listening to electronics at high volumes)
  • Muffled hearing
  • Constant frustration hearing speech and other sounds
  • Avoids conversation
  • Social isolation
  • Depression

If you recognize symptoms in your child or loved one, there are many places in New Orleans that can help. The LSU Medical Center Department of Communication Disorders has a number of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists that can screen and assess individuals of all ages. They can be reached at 504-568-4348. New Orleans Speech and Hearing Center is another tremendous resource. Their number is 504-897-2606.

This blog post represents just one of the hundreds of TV, radio, print, and digital public service announcements intended to educate the public about warning signs and connect parents and caregivers with professional help. I encourage you to share the information that you learn by reading this post and go to the ASHA website (www.asha.org ) to find out more about communication disorders.

Ladies Night at the corner of happy & healthy!

Where can you go to buy diapers, pick up dinner and a bottle wine, fill a prescription, print a photo, and get a mini-makeover… on your lunch hour?

At the corner of Happy & Healthy, of course… otherwise known as Walgreens Uptown on Magazine and Joseph Street.

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As one of only 13 flagship stores in the country (think New York, LA, Chicago), Walgreens Uptown offers a LOOK Boutique–a gorgeous beauty department featuring dozens of prestige and niche cosmetic, skincare and hair care brands that you typically have to order online or go to the mall to find, including Britain’s leading skincare brand, No7, which is known for its internationally acclaimed range of anti-aging beauty serums.

Please join me for a casual evening of wine, nibbles, mini-makeovers and DIY manis!

Thursday, May 22, 2014
6:30-8:30pm
Walgreens Uptown
5518 Magazine Street

Learn how to apply a cat-eye or create an evening look, find your perfect, everyday shade of lipstick, or the best anti-aging beauty serum for your skin.

Did I mention free beauty samples?

Space is limited, so please email me and I’ll put you on “the list.”  Can’t wait to see all you beautiful ladies!

A new boot camp for a mom like me

Throughout my life, I have dealt with weight issues. After having my beautiful son, I find that the challenges I face losing weight are much different. Nowadays, I am tired, none of my clothes fit, and to make matters worse, I have no motivation. Under these circumstances how am I supposed to lose weight?

Haven’t we all been there?

Currently, I carry a considerable amount of excess baby weight and am clearly out of shape. I woke up one morning and realized something needed to change. My priorities have changed and this weight loss is not just about me, it is about my son. I realized as a parent, I need to be a role model. This is where I am starting my journey.

I wanted a workout program that would challenge me and make me break a sweat. When I read about  Salire’s Boot Camp I thought, “OK. This is it. This is my chance.”

I started at boot camp in City Park mid-way through the month. I went into it with a lot of confidence that I would kick butt. The workout started with different stretches followed by two laps around the track. Half way through the first lap I realized how out of shape I was, but I was determined to keep going. The rest of the workout consisted of arm exercises with weights, a ton of lunges, and ab work.

I finished the workout feeling like a million bucks. It was the kind of workout where you get into your car to drive home and you instantly feel sore. I call it the good sore, the sore that makes your muscles stronger. After the workout I was itching for more!

About the author:  Eliza is 29 years old, born and raised in Tennessee. She and her husband moved to New Orleans from New Jersey and recently welcomed an adorable baby boy. 

Should I take my kid to the Jazz Fest?

The question of whether or not to bring kid(s) to the Jazz Fest comes up every year. When asked, my first response is always a resounding “No,” because I’m selfish and I love the freedom of running around with my husband, checking out new bands, worshiping the old, and hopping around to visit friends, some of which I only see once a year… at the Jazz Fest. All of this is very difficult to do while dragging a little one around because, let’s face it, kids don’t like to walk.

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Having said ALL that, the real answer is Yes AND No.

Yes, you should take your kid to the Jazz Fest, but only for a few hours.

Identity

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of our city’s major cultural events. As a local, it’s important for our kids to be part of our community and appreciate the uniqueness that is New Orleans. The Jazz Fest is part of our city’s modern narrative, and anyone who lives here understands that there is a rhythm and flow to New Orleans life. Jazz Fest, in a way, marks the end of our celebratory season… which is about 6 months long. Exposing kids to their community’s cultural and musical traditions creates a shared identity and a sense of belonging to something bigger.

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Jazz Fest is as much New Orleans as New Orleans is Jazz Fest. Kids need to be exposed to the special parts of our city, even if it’s only for a few hours. Eventually, the sites, smells and feel of the Jazz Fest will sink into their bones and become part of who they are and where they come from. They will be glad you loved them enough to sacrifice your own enjoyment for the sake of their cultural and musical development.

Exposure

Jazz Fest is an opportunity to expose kids to live music. How many kids can say they’ve worshiped in a Gospel Tent or seen musical legends of their time? Even if they don’t appreciate it right now, they will thank you later. Also, music is the kind of stuff that makes kids interesting and smart. It’s important that kids get out of the bubble. Disney isn’t the only thing they should be looking forward to.

Strategy

As parents, we want our kids to experience this cultural bliss and appreciate it as much as we do. Alas, this is not always the case, which is why you really need an in-and-out strategy. Two to three hours is enough for the kids to hear some great music, eat some great food and rendezvous with some friends, so have a babysitter pick them up at the gate so the kids can marinate in their experience (at home) and you can be free to enjoy the adult time without the whining. It’s a win-win. If a babysitter (or some other arrangement) isn’t an option, then cut your losses and leave on a high note as a family. Yes, it is an expensive few hours. You’re either comfortable with that or you’re not.

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Lagniappe (this means “a little something extra… like a bonus)

Something awesome happened to us this Jazz Fest. A girlfriend of mine came up to me at carpool and asked me if Anson, my seven year old, would like to come to the Fest with her family for a few hours to see her son perform at the Kids Tent. Her husband would drop them off at the gate, they would stay for 2 hours and then her husband would pick them up at the gate and bring her home. Anson jumped in their car and headed to the Fest like a big girl. She had a great time. The lesson here is that if someone else wants to bring your kid to the Fest, say YES! There is nothing wrong with your kid experiencing cultural bliss with someone else. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Now for the other side of the coin.

No, you should not bring your kids to the Jazz Fest.

The reason you don’t see too many miserable parents lugging/wearing/strolling around their miserable kids at the Jazz Fest is because they had to leave. If it’s your one day to go to the Fest and you’ve paid a lot of money for tickets and/or travel and you don’t have the luxury of sending the kids home, you do not want to bring the kids. The Jazz Fest is an expensive, all-day endeavor. The odds are not in your favor that your kid is not going to rain on your parade.

But…

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Sometimes the stars align, you find the perfect spot, the kids have a little shade and space to dance and play in the grass, it’s not scathingly hot, there are no torrential downpours, and no one has to potty. If this is you, congratulations. There is something so sweet about having a great Jazz Fest with your kids. It’s one of those beautiful memories that you all will look back on and smile. And the only thing you should leave the Jazz Fest with is a smile.

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All the World is Green: Perfectly healthy, kid-approved recipes

Spring is a very green time, especially in New Orleans. In honor of that, here are my absolute favorite green-hued recipes. These are quick, easy, and healthy for those of us who are great at following instructions, but not so great at devising recipes. Some of them are even kid-approved! 

This Winter Green Smoothie one is recycled from my Post-Mardi Gras Juice-Cleansing post, but it’s way too green to leave out.

greensmoothie

  • Thumbnail-sized piece of ginger
  • 250ml of filtered water or coconut water
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 handful of kale (or try watercress/baby spinach/romaine lettuce)
  • 1 handful of winter fruit such as apple/pear/kiwi/pineapple
  • 1 large sprig of parsley
  • Combos: apple & watercress, pear & baby spinach

okra

Balsamic Vinegar Glazed Okra

I heard this recipe on local radio and am not sure to whom it’s attributed. If you roast the okra until it begins to caramelize, its signature sliminess will cook away. Also, the balsamic vinegar lends a bit of sweetness to a polarizing vegetable – so much so that even my six-year-old adores it.

Ingredients: 

  • Okra (3-4 cups)
  • Balsamic vinegar and olive oil in equal proportion (enough to lightly glaze all of the okra)

Prep: Wash okra and chop into chunks; preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl mix okra, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and black pepper. Transfer doused okra into an oven-safe dish. If you’d prefer to dry the okra until it turns into okra chips, place on cookie sheet. Otherwise, any heavy, oven-safe dish is fine.

Place into oven for approximately 25 min. Stir occasionally. Let cool 5 min before serving.

zuchGreen “Pasta”

I was skeptical when a friend first showed me this one, but it’s surprisingly yummy and versatile – a great option for a light side. And my son gets a kick out of the green pasta.

Ingredients:

  • Zucchini
  • whatever you’d normally toss with pasta – olive oil, pesto, marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese, etc.

Prep:

  • Wash zucchini, remove skin but don’t chop.
  • Using cheese grater (the rough side), grate along the side to create strands. You may have to experiment with your grater to make strands, but you’re aiming for thick strings of zucchini.
  • In a pot, bring water to a boil.
  • Throw in “pasta” for 3 min.
  • Rinse with cold water, squeeze out excess water.
  • Toss as preferred and serve (may need a zap in the microwave if topping is cold).

Two Incarnations of Kale

Raw-Kale-Salad-2Kale Salad

Raw kale is bitter and frequently scares people. Blanching the kale eliminates much of the bite and is a great first step for any kale recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of kale (3 cups)
  • Whatever you’d prefer to turn it into a salad. I love balsamic vinegar and sea salt, though it’s too acidic for some. Throw in some sliced apples, cranberries and almonds. Voila!

Prep:

  • Wash kale and chop into 2 in sections (scissors help). Discard the hardest stems.
  • Bring 1/2-1 cup water to a boil in a large pot or pan
  • Add kale and cover
  • Allow it to boil for 3-5 min (depending on desired softness)
  • Rinse in cold water
  • Toss with preferred dressing

Lemon-Garlic Sautéed Kale

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Prep:

  • Blanch kale as in the salad recipe
  • Heat olive oil in a large pan, add garlic, and fry for 3 min.
  • Add lemon juice and 1/2 cup water.
  • Add blanched kale, stir well, and cover.
  • Sauté until desired consistency, normally 10 – 15 min, stirring occasionally.

watercressadvacadoAvocado and Watercress Salad

This salad is my favorite. I could eat bowls and bowls of it. I found it on Epicurious, but it’s originally from Gourmet, May 2008.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla (use large holes of a box grater)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated peeled Gala apple (use small holes of box grater)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cups watercress (thin stems and leaves only; from 1 large bunch)
  • 1 firm-ripe avocado

Prep:

  • Stir together vinegar, onion, apple, soy sauce, and sugar until sugar has dissolved, then stir in oil.
  • Just before serving, toss watercress with enough dressing to coat.
  • Quarter, pit, and peel avocado, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  • Gently toss with watercress.

pesto-chicken-400x400-kalynskitchenBaked Pesto Chicken

This South Beach Diet recipe was given to me by one of my dearest friends years ago, and I still think it’s one of her greatest contributions to my life. Joking – but it really is that good. I’ve yet to meet anyone who dislikes it – definitely kid-approved.

Ingredients: 

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning chicken
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese

For pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed into measuring cup)
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Prep:

Pesto:

  • Wash basil leaves
  • Put basil leaves and sliced garlic into food processor and process until basil and garlic is finely chopped, adding oil through the feed tube as you process.
  • Add pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice to the chopped basil mixture and process 1-2 minutes more, until the pesto is mostly pureed and well mixed.
  • Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and pulse a few times more.

Chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, and then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces.
  • Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ x 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish.
  • Lay chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.
  • Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through.
  • When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted.
  • Serve hot.

Bon Appétit!

Death and Things

My grandmother recently passed away. Life was exhausting her and she was anxious to go. Now she is free and to those of us still here, there is some peace in knowing that.

Last week I flew to Connecticut to be with my father and brother and sort through her things. When we arrived at the nursing home where she spent the last six months of her life, her sheets still warm, we were directed down the hall to where all her stuff had been boxed and bagged. Ninety-two years and all that remained were two plastic bags of clothes, two small boxes and a few pictures that hung on the wall to remind her of how life once was. I claimed the blown-up photograph my grandfather took of the house they filled with love, family and lots of flowers.

The three of us just stood there looking down at this pile of my grandmother’s things that had been bagged and boxed and shoved in a hallway to await their fate. The staff had to “turn the room” because they had a “new admission” on the way. Other than a yellow sweater, we donated all of her clothes to the nursing home so that others might find use for them. Later that night we would sort through the boxes and pictures.

My brother and I had so much fun dusting off pictures from the early 1900s of my grandmother as a young girl. She was apparently quite an athlete, and underneath that proper smile and those fancy clothes was a wide-eyed, fearless girl—a warrior on the inside.

She kept immaculate records of birthdays and important events. She earmarked poems and bible verses that offered her strength during trying times. Now they offered us strength. My grandmother was wise. But so much of her wisdom we were only just discovering—an unfortunate reality of living so far away.

What I didn’t expect during my visit was to hear all the wonderful stories about her from those with whom she spent most of her days, some even to the very end. She was funny and kind but sharp and direct. So many people came up to tell me how proud she was of me and how I was such a light in her life. I didn’t know this, and it made me a little sad because I’ve been wrapped up in my own life and wasn’t as present as I should have, could have been.

So, there are regrets in life. I wish I had taken the time to ask her about her memories, her dreams, her ideas, her regrets, her loves, passions and hopes. Because when people leave this world, they take with them all of these things.

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My grandmother, Helen, with Anson, her great-granddaughter. This was the last photo I ever took of her.

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