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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


Do you wanna build a snowman?

Do you wanna build a snowman? Come on lets go and play. I never see you anymore. Come out the door. It’s like you’ve gone away. We used to be best buddies. And now we’re not. I wish you would tell me why. Do you wanna build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman. Go away, Anna. Okay, bye…

Oh, I’m sorry. Was I just typing the words to the song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” as sung by Kristen Bell in the movie Frozen because it’s I’ll I’ve heard for the last 72 hours since downloading the soundtrack for my 7yo?

Right. Sorry about that.

Every time I hear this song, it makes me weepy. I tell this to my daughter and she completely disagrees.

“Mommy! It’s not sad! She doesn’t want to hurt her sister!”

For me, my heart breaks for Anna who is lonely and longs for her sister. For Anson, Elsa is doing the right thing by not turning her sister into an ice sculpture. It makes perfect sense.

If you haven’t taken your kid to see Frozen, do it. It’s good. Then download the soundtrack on iTunes and meet me at the looney bin after you’ve heard it on a loop for 72 hours.

Frozen is nominated for 2 Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song “Let it Go.” It won the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature and “Let it Go” won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Song.

p.s. I forgot to ask… Do you wanna build a snowman? Ride our bikes around the halls… la la la la la la la…

playtime – starring your child

I opened my daughter’s backpack last Friday to an explosion of purple, green and gold. ‘Tis the season for Carnival and Valentine’s Day, which means that my walls and refrigerator will be decorated with the latest and greatest seasonal art for the next two weeks. But how interesting that red and pink adorn the hearts and cherubs that I see. Is that my daughter’s choice or someone else’s? What about your children? When they express interest in painting or coloring a heart, do you instantly take out the red or pink markers or is there a choice?

Whether art projects or open-ended exploration, allowing children to make choices during playtime leads to greater flourishing. Parents need to take a step back, become less directive and let go of the need to control. Your child will not be doomed to a life of failure if she takes the top off of the shape sorter and puts all of the blocks inside or the doll baby is wearing shorts on its head.

You may feel the need to direct, correct, or show them the “right” way, but by doing so, you are stifling creativity and exploration. Parents who are highly directive make the decisions about how to play, what to play and how quickly to play. As a result, their children harbor negative feelings, especially if the parent is not affectionate. The child may think that they are being controlled, which doesn’t sit well with any child OR adult for that matter!

Children hear us nibbling at their ears all day long… pick up your toys, brush your hair, get dressed, buckle up. Isn’t playtime the one time during the day when we can parachute out of our helicopters and allow for more choice? They don’t need us hovering. They need time to be creative and imaginative.Here are three easy things that you can do to ensure a pleasant, choice-filled play experience for your child:

  1. Allow for symbolic play. Children use play as a way to make sense of the world and experiment with different social roles. If the firefighter is wielding a spatula instead of a fire extinguisher, let it go! This may be a difficult one for parents who want things clean, orderly and put in the proper place, but you will be giving your children time to explore, master their environment, build competence and work out social norms.
  2. Find different paint colors. I see this in a lot of classrooms I visit. The art project is to marble paint a heart, so the teacher puts out pink and red. What if your child wants to make a black heart? Allow choice. When your child expresses an interest in coloring or painting, make sure that you offer a wide range of color choices.
  3. Look for loose ends. It’s not the most expensive toy, but the crinkliest wrapping paper that is most fascinating to young children! They love to play with loose ends — items that don’t have a specific purpose. Fill a bin with shoelaces, scarves, bottle caps, buttons, rocks or king cake babies and let the kids play. When children play with toys that only have one function (press the button and Elmo laughs), play ends more quickly.

Choice builds autonomy – one of the essential ingredients to psychological fulfillment. Feed your child’s brain today by giving them choice at playtime.

Comment and let me know your ideas for flourishing play!

hope stone new orleans hosts “studio 54” gala to raise funds for free arts education.

Hope Stone New Orleans is hosting Disco for Dance! gala event on April 20, 2013, from 6 – 10 pm at NOLA Spaces for community members interested in ensuring that art is accessible for all. The organization aims to raise $10,000 to provide scholarships for New Orleanian youth to participate in the Hope Stone Kids New Orleans arts program at NOLA Spaces, the renovated firehouse located at 1719 Toledano.

Festivities will begin at 6 pm with an cocktail reception where guests, who are encouraged to come in “Studio 54” and disco costumes, will have the opportunity to explore the new facility and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and beer and wine from local restaurants. Following the reception, Hope Stone New Orleans will offer a Hustle Dance Lesson to all guests. The DJ will spin disco favorites for guests who are ready to get out on the floor and dance.

Throughout the night, raffle girls dressed in “raffle ticket fringe” costumes will be selling tickets to two separate raffles – the “Nothing Raffle,” which will consist of buying as many tickets as possible to get the girls to the point where there’s “nothing” left, as well as the “Something Raffle,” where a $20 raffle ticket could win a guest a mini iPAD! Winners will be announced at 9:30 pm, followed by a very special surprise revelation.

General tickets are $75. VIP packages are $250 and include a red carpet entrance, a makeup session with a fabulous guest makeup artist for a photo shoot with a professional photographer, specialty cocktails crafted by a certified mixologist, and a customized Studio 54 take home gift featuring an original piece of art by a Hope Stone student. For the price of a VIP ticket, one child will receive a full 15-week program scholarship.

For information or to purchase tickets, please contact Dana Reed at or call (504) 390-8399



Hope Stone New Orleans is an extension of the national Houston-based Hope Stone, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in 1997 in Houston that unlocks the innate creativity of young people and adults and is committed to providing art for all and expanding boundaries through engaging artistic experiences. Hope Stone entered the New Orleans market in 2010, originally as Kid’s Play New Orleans and later as Hope Stone Kids New Orleans, then grew the organization to include adult programming and children’s (paid) classes at the organization’s new headquarters at NOLA Spaces, and therefore transitioned to the name Hope Stone New Orleans. Children’s classes are for ages 3 – 17 and include creative movement, ballet, hip hop, theater and modern dance. Adult classes for those over 18 include modern dance and ballet.

Hope Stone New Orleans continues to run the Hope Stone Kids New Orleans program, a youth outreach program that offers FREE (scholarship-based) arts education to more than 300 underserved youth in New Orleans each year, at NOLA Spaces and as part of various existing after-school sites, schools, and community centers around town. Skilled master teachers and artists train students in dance, music, photography, theater, improvisation, creative writing, drumming and yoga, providing young participants with an arts education that builds self-esteem, confidence and the skills that children need to be the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers. The students also gain a greater knowledge of New Orleans’ rich arts culture and heritage while expanding their own individual creativity and self-expression.

For information on Hope Stone New Orleans, its classes for adults and children, and the Hope Stone Kids New Orleans program, call at 504-390-8399 or visit NOLA Spaces is located at 1719 Toledano, New Orleans, LA.

books: holiday gifts that keep on giving.

It’s that time of year again when parents are looking a special gift. As clichéd as it sounds, books truly are the gifts that keep on giving.

Reading with your child is a present to both parent and child. Whether your children need you to read to them, with them, or simply curl up near them with your own book, reading brings families together. However, the world of books can be overwhelming, so here are a few tips for how to find the perfect book.

For babies and toddlers, look for durability, such as board, cloth, or plastic books. Simple rhymes and colorful pictures can intrigue and entertain your toddler. Tactile books (Touch-and-Feel) are also popular among young readers.

For pre-school and school-aged children, there are a number of different resources available to help simplify your search. Schools can be a great asset, as many keep a list of books recommended by teachers. Lists of award winning books for each year can be found through the school or online as well. Your local librarian or bookstore clerk are also great sources for finding the perfect book.

When looking for books, let your child’s interests guide you. Whether it is cars, fairy tales, or dinosaurs, a book exists for every curiosity. Don’t discount your childhood favorites either, as most of the classic books you loved are still available and can create an added bond between you and your child.

Here are three websites with good book suggestions for all age groups. Happy holidays and happy reading!

Common Sense Media Holiday Gift Guide 2012 for kids ages 2-6 years

Reading Rockets 2012 Buying Guide for Kids ages 0-4 years Holiday Gifts in Books for Kids and Teens

Online consignment shopping for nolaParents

Tip submitted by: J. Bertucci

Category: Shop

Title: The Wiggle Room NOLA ~ an online consignment shop for NOLA moms!

My tip is rad and/or relevant to parents because…

it’s an awesome new business that I, a nolaParent, started for other nolaParents.

My name is J. Bertucci, mommy of two wonderful little boys ages nine and four months. I have a nine to five job but  I am an entrepreneur at heart.

A few weeks ago, I decided to open an online consignment shop focused on buying and selling baby and children’s clothing. I have always enjoyed shopping at thrift stores for children’s clothing because I love finding great deals on great clothes. Lets face it, kids grow quickly. Why spend a fortune on clothes they may only wear a few times when you can purchase gently used items for a fraction of the cost? My thoughts exactly.

The Wiggle Room is an online retail space, where photos of gently used items are posted to Facebook. Customers can purchase items using a contact form found in the about section of our page.

The Wiggle Room represents the local market, where nolaParents purchase items from other nolaParents. I believe in supporting our local economy and helping New Orleans prosper. We live in an an amazing city with amazing people.

If you have items you would like to sell in The Wiggle Room or are looking for a great find, let us help!

Got a parent tip? Submit it here.

Impress with local designer Alexa Pulitzer’s Kids Collection

Parenting leads to innovation. As an executive turned stay-at-home mom turned entrepreneur, one of my favorite things to do is celebrate the successes of other parents. You, dear reader, will be introduced to some beautiful products, ideas, solutions, and innovations born of other nolaParents.

Alexa Pulitzer is not only a dear friend but an incredibly talented designer of custom stationary and invitations. You see her designs everywhere in New Orleans; her paper collections displayed front and center at almost every stationer here in the city. What New Orleanian doesn’t recognize her signature King Gator – an esteemed member of her Royal Court collection, an ode to New Orleans’ theatricality?

Alexa’s design aesthetic is defined as Old World Sophistication, a style that, in my opinion, also defines her as a person. She’s one of the most gracious hostesses on the planet, a consummate brand ambassador to the City of New Orleans. It’s not surprising Alexa has been tapped to design proprietary collections for the likes of Anthropology, Bergdorf Goodman, Tory Burch, BHLDN, Mignon Faget and Rejuvination.

Some of my favorite pieces hail from her Kids Notes and Custom Kids Collections. You can go big or you can go small but you can never go wrong. A few of my favorites.

Impress yourself with a clever school Permission Slip notepad. I can’t wait for our first after-school playdate.

Don’t we all wish we could just go back to the little red tricycle? Ah, nostalgia. A simple, no-fuss notecard.

For the gentle man in your life. Custom stationary and calling card collection. Such a playful use of animals.

Happy Birthday gift card. A must-have.

Do you have a favorite local designer or stationer? Tell us about it here.

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