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!

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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.

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. 

Kids Fest!

Feeling guilty because you can’t seem to bring yourself to treat yourself to a long, hot day of pushing strollers through the sand and managing meltdowns at The Jazz Fest? Well, don’t!

Fulton Alley, the fabulous and chic new bowling alley in the Warehouse District, invites children and their families to Kids Fest this Saturday, May 3rd, from 12-2, to enjoy one free game of bowling.

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Fulton Alley just rolled out a new kid-friendly birthday party package and wants you to see and taste for yourself what a fun, kid-friendly option this is for Boo’s birthday celebration.

Personally, I attended an adult birthday party at Fulton Alley a few months ago. It was so fun and the food was so delicious, I couldn’t believe I was in a bowling alley. It’s just a great place to go for some good old fashion family fun that doesn’t smell like feet and ashtray.

Come bowl a free game with the family this Saturday at Kids Fest and be sure to add Fulton Alley to your list of awesome venues for the birthday party circuit!

What the new 65 Pound LATCH rule means and where to get yours inspected

A new 65 lb. LATCH rule was announced yesterday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Julie Vallese, Consumer Safety Expert for Dorel Juvenile Group, a leading manufacturer of children’s car seats, offers some insight:

Statistics for proper car seat installation haven’t changed in more than a decade. Despite changes in federal regulations, the availability of car seat installation checks, and ongoing education campaigns, three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly. While some may need minor adjustments for proper installation, others sometimes need to start from ground one. It only seems like an advanced degree may be needed in “installationology,” but by starting off with the basics you’re one step closer to success.

Here are some easy tips to think about:

The three most important things to consider when choosing a car seat:

  1. Does this car seat fit my child?
  2. Does this car seat fit my car?
  3. Is this a car seat I will be able to install and use correctly every time?

To find out the answers to these questions:

  • Have the car you will be using the seat in with you and try it out at the store;
  • If possible, have your child with you at the time of purchase;
  • Follow information in both the car seat manual and vehicle manual for installation; and
  • Attend a car seat check for assistance in proper installation and use from a certified car seat technician. (SEE BELOW FOR CAR SEAT CHECK LOCATIONS)

New rules for car seats using LATCH require understanding of your car seat’s weight and child’s weight:

  • Car seats manufactured after February 27, 2014, are required to carry a new label with guidance on maximum weight limits for LATCH;
  • The combined weight of seat and child should not exceed 65lbs;
  • Look in the manual and label on the car seat to identify the weight of the seat;
  • Look for a weight on the maximum weight for the child;
  • Know your child’s weight; and
  • If the combined weight of the seat and your child exceeds 65lbs, install the car seat using the vehicle’s belt.

It is important to know that installations with the belt or installations with LATCH areCar-seat-LATCH-install equally acceptable. However, car seats should not be installed using both methods at the same time. No matter what method is chosen, be sure to finish off the installation by using the top tether.

Go to the National Highway Safety Administration’s Child Car Seat Inspection Station Locator to search by state or zip code for a child car seat inspection station nearest you. Certified technicians will inspect your child car seat, in most cases, free of charge, and show you how to correctly install and use it. Also, check out these great Child Car Seat Installation Videos and know the Child Car Seat Laws in Louisiana.

CHILD SAFETY SEAT INSTALLATION LOCATIONS IN THE NEW ORLEANS METRO AREA

Touro Infirmary
1401 Foucher Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70115
(504) 897-7319

Touro Infirmary, in partnership with certified Child Passenger Safety technicians from Interim LSU Hospital, will conduct two FREE car seat check events at Touro during 2014. The drive-up car seat inspections will take place in a blocked off area at Touro’s Foucher Street entrance, 1401 Foucher Street. Certified safety technicians will show parents and other adults how to correctly install car seats and determine whether children are in right size seat for their age.

Saturday, March 29 from 9am-12pm
Saturday, September 27 from 9am-12pm

Tulane-Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children
4700 S. I-10 Service Road W
Metairie, LA 70001
(504) 780-8282

Car seat safety checks occur on the 4th Thursday of every month from 5:30pm to 7:00pm. They will be adding more dates/times this summer.

Ochsner Medical Center – West Bank Campus
2500 Belle Chasse Hwy.
Gretna, LA 70056
(504) 391-5529

Ochsner Medical Center – West Bank Campus performs car seat safety checks twice weekly by appointment with a certified car seat technician. To schedule an appointment email FamilyUnitWB@ochsner.org or call 391-5529.

Ochsner for Children
1514 Jefferson Highway
New Orleans, LA 07006
Hours: Monday-Friday, By Appointment
Phone: (504) 842-SEAT
Contact: Cindy Haefele

West Jefferson Medical Center
1101 Medical Center Boulevard
Marrero, LA 70072
(504) 347-5511

Every Wednesday by Appointment–Complimentary car seat checkups/installations performed by Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician are available by appointment. For more information or to schedule a car seat checkup for your child, call Mindy Glenn, R.N., C.L.C., C.P.S.T., at (504) 349-2173.

Louisiana State Police Troop B
2101 I-10 Service Road
Kenner, LA 70065
(504) 471-2780
lspb@dps.la.gov

Every Wednesday 1pm to 4pm, is a designated installation day. No appointment necessary. Walk-ins are accepted everyday, but may be subject to extended waiting periods or rescheduling. For appointments call Trooper Melissa Matey at (504) 471-2780 or email her at melissa.matey@dps.la.gov.

TROOP L
2600 No. Causeway
Mandeville, LA 70471
(985) 893-6250
lspl@dps.la.gov

Every Wednesday from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm is a designated inspection day. Walk-ins are accepted every day, but may be subject to extended waiting periods or rescheduling based on personnel availability. For appointments contact: Trooper Nick Manale at 985-893-6250 or Nicholas.Manale@dps.la.gov.

Jefferson Parish Sheriffs Office
701 S. Upland Street
River Ridge, LA 71112
(504) 465-1480
Hours: Monday-Friday, By Appointment
Contact: Deputy Kelly Kieffer

INFOGRAPHIC

A visual of Car Seat Recommendations for Children from http://www.safercar.gov/ 

Screenshot 2014-02-25 14.46.46

Educating Boys: What We Learned from a Year of Co-education

The percentage of boys going on to college has dropped precipitously over the past 50 years—from 70 percent to 42 percent. That alarming number from the book Boys Adrift maintains that the decline has taken place even while the ratio of boys to girls has remained about the same: 51 percent to 49 percent.

Recently, a growing chorus of voices among education experts has advocated the need to refocus attention on boys’ academic performance as its decline has become too great to ignore. A lengthy but fascinating article in The Atlantic magazine by Christina Hoff Sommers details what she dubs the “war on boys.” As a community, we are seeking answers as to what has caused the drop and how to bring boys back from the brink.

As an educator at an all-boys school, I am often drawn into a debate about the merits of single-sex education. At Saint Stanislaus, we have had an unusual opportunity to witness both single-sex and co-educational settings at play.

Post-Hurricane Katrina, our campus became a real-life lab as we hosted students from our neighboring sister school. Our Lady Academy suffered total devastation of its campus in the storm surge of 2005. We opened our doors wide to welcome them to Saint Stanislaus and for one year, we were “two schools, one spirit.”

It was an instructive experience. The good news was that our boys started to comb their hair and use deodorant regularly, mindful of their status with the girls. As we have always known, women certainly have a civilizing effect on men – and that is important. However, the downsides in the classroom were all too apparent from the outset.

Where once our young men would focus in class on the material, they were distracted and less likely to participate or pay attention to the teacher; where we had a thriving group of school leaders who took the initiative in Student Council and other formal organizations, the girls dominated and boys lost their gumption.

Our faculty quickly noticed that, although the boys were better behaved and smelled nice, they were missing much more critical components of their formation – active participation and willingness to engage in the classroom, strong leadership and involvement in extracurricular activities and the bright-eyed ambition that our boys had been known for.

I was happy to have the girls in my classes because they were smart, interesting and almost always prepared, but I grew frustrated at how reticent even my most talented boys had become. In a private conversation with a student I had previously recognized for his intellect and insight, he confided that he was simply petrified of “looking stupid in front of the girls if I say the wrong thing.” His calculation seemed to follow Mark Twain’s advice that it is “better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

When the challenging year came to a close, the consensus among both faculties of Saint Stanislaus and Our Lady Academy was that this experiment had been necessary and instructive (and had its own moments of fun), but was not a situation we wanted to continue. The faculty and the kids all learned some important lessons about co-existing happily with our neighbors, but they also poignantly understood, both practically and intellectually, the clear value of giving both adolescent boys and girls the space they need to grow academically and emotionally.

50 beautiful custom birdhouses swing from the Tree of Life in Audubon Park

So, this is awesome. You’ve got to see this.

Our family has been climbing the limbs of the Tree of Life in Audubon Park for generations. It’s where my husband takes the girls on a lazy weekend afternoon. They climb and hide and play.

A grande old dame.

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Whether it’s been a while, or you have yet to go, now is the time. From now until Sunday, December 22, when you visit the Tree of Life at Audubon Park, you will notice something very special swinging from her branches–50 beautiful custom birdhouses, each inspired by some of the most interesting and unique Airbnb property listings all around the world.

birdhouse

Airbnb is a community-driven hospitality company that offers the ultimate home experience to the ultimate traveler. It’s revolutionizing the way we travel the world and discover new places.

“We created these birdhouses inspired by real Airbnb homes as a metaphor for the hospitality about which our company is built:  Our hospitality is completely individual and designed by our hosts who know that making people (or birds!) feel at home any where in the world comes from warmth, intuition and an attention to detail,” said Amy Curtis-McIntyre, CMO, Airbnb.  “We love the world’s real travelers and this is an invitation to travel in a new way.”

Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects us to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 33,000 cities and 192 countries.

Please view this magnificent video about the art and philosophy of what “home” means to each of us and let it inspire you to fly where your wings take you.

What does home mean to you? Ask the kids. They just might surprise you.

airbnbnola

12 Years a Slave: an opening night to the New Orleans Film Fest

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the New Orleans Film Festival hosted by the New Orleans Film Society, which also plays host to the French Film Festival, Film-o-Rama, and the New Orleans International Children’s Film Festival. In a city so rich in art and culture and given the major uptick in projects being filmed right here in our own backyard, I’m glad to see that New Orleans has become such a force on the international stage of film.

12YearsImage Source: New Orleans Film Society

Thursday’s opening night screening of 12 Years a Slave with director Steve McQueen and cast was an in-your-face, no-holds-barred, true story of Solomon Northup, an educated free black man from upstate New York who was kidnapped, transported to New Orleans, and sold into slavery in 1841. His years of utter terror, darkness and cruelty took place right here in Louisiana, so it was fitting that the project was also filmed here.

Published in 1853, 12 Years a Slave became a national best-seller but was overshadowed by the book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Northup did not hold back the details in his autobiography, and Director Steve McQueen held true to the script. Nothing sugar-coated. Nothing left out. McQueen also captured so well the nuances of southern life–the heat, the sweat, the sound of cicadas.

It took a while for any of us to actually form sentences once the credits rolled. People weeped. Of the 134 minutes, there was no relief, no pause for the audience. We endured for two hours the story of this man who suffered relentless physical abuse. He was one of the very few free men sold into slavery to eventually regain freedom. Northup became an abolitionist, published his autobiography and lectured throughout the Northeast about his years in slavery.

This is an ugly, grotesque part of our history. I will never look at a plantation home the same. I am actually having a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact that we celebrate our plantations, hold festivals, laugh and play, and pay for tours to admire the beautiful remnants of an old southern world. But let me tell you. There is nothing beautiful about a plantation home. They may as well be called house of horrors.

This film is so important because it forces us to confront our history. As much as we would like to, we can never forget our human ability to inflict pain on each other and then justify it in our heads. No one is exempt.

Racism in America today is the offspring of slavery. Anyone who sees this movie will be changed.

Visit the New Orleans Film Society for a full lineup of this week’s films.

3 types of moms who would benefit from a barre3 class

Lots of “firsts” this week! A first grader, a first-timer and the first year I’ve had all my kids in school. Can I get an AMEN? Everyone asked me what I had planned for myself after the momentous 1-2-3 drop-off.

Tequila shots, of course.

Just kidding. It was too early. I actually edited and posted some of those first captured moments, ran home to grab one of the lunch boxes we left behind in our rush to be tardy on the first day of school, and then headed to my husband’s office to get a little work done.

I didn’t get much work done.

My final “first” was a 60-minute workout at the beautiful new Barre3 New Orleans studio on Magazine Street. Touro and Barre3 have partnered together this week to offer a Mom’s Day Out afternoon of free classes and free screenings for cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure. If you missed the Thursday MDO, there is one this Saturday. I highly recommend it. It felt good to know what my cholesterol and glucose levels were. I never really knew. High cholesterol and/or glucose levels can lead to heart disease, the #1 killer of women. (https://www.goredforwomen.org/)

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The barre3 class was great. I really enjoyed it and I didn’t think I would.

Being pregnant can really do a number on your body, and all the new and sometimes awkward positions you find yourself in during and after giving birth (nursing, wearing, holding, carrying, transporting baby and gear) can really throw off your alignment. Tack on multiple kids of all ages and weights for multiple years and you may find yourself perpetually aching and sporting a slight lean thanks to one hip being used as a side saddle for most of the day. I personally have a lot of discomfort in my neck, shoulders and lower back.

I know, I know. Who doesn’t, right?

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Parenthood is so physically demanding and if you’re anything like me, you probably focus more on parenting and tending to your child’s body and health than you do your own.

Regardless of the mom-stage you’re in, the barre3 approach to core strength, muscle development and alignment is a great option for those of us looking for a way to prepare and/or reclaim our bodies.

Note: Barre3 1) aligns and strengthens the muscles 2) energizes and elevates the heart, and 3) stretches, elongates and prepares the body.

Here are the three types of moms who would benefit from a barre3 class:

1. The Someday Mom

If you’re planning on getting pregnant, barre3 is a great way to prepare your body for the physical demands of pregnancy, labor and recovery. If you’re core is strong and your muscles are accurately aligned before you get pregnant, the muscle memory that you establish makes it so much easier to bounce back. Barre3 helps strengthen your pelvic floor (important for laboring, pushing and preventing future incontinence), which speeds up your recovery post-labor.

2. The New Mom

Pregnancy and childbirth is a major physical event at every possible level of your existence, regardless of the type of delivery you have. Barre3 is challenging but in a gentle way and focuses on 1) strength so you can pick up your children with less risk of injury, 2) length so you grow taller and have less compression in the spine, and 3) stabilization through the pelvis to protect the foundation of the spine.

3. The Aching Back Mom

Barre3 focuses on functional movement so the hour you spend in the studio, makes the other 23 hours in your day more productive. The focus is on balance, as opposed to cranking out more reps. You regain your balance and alignment in a very accurate and deliberate way. When you are aligned and your core strong, your back is set free.

The Barre3 New Orleans studio is beautiful, warm and welcoming. It’s nice to have a place to go to be supported by other women who are committed to helping you feel good. And it’s a great way to make new friends. I founded nolaParent after I had my first child because of the friendships and support system that grew from a weekly prenatal yoga class I attended. It was that group of women who inspired me (and still do).

A big THANK YOU to Touro and Barre3 New Orleans for hosting what I hope will be the first of many Mom’s Day Outs and opportunities for women to come together, support each other, get strong together and be healthy together. Also, Barre3 New Orleans owner, Kendall Carriere, was a huge help in educating me on why a barre3 practice is relevant to moms in particular.

Healthy moms = healthy families = healthy communities.

A New Orleans Ladies Lunch

Are you having a good summer so far? I hope so. This is actually the first summer in a long time that I am enjoying myself. In years past, I’ve either been too pregnant, slave to the twice-a-day nap schedule and/or carpooling three times a day. I hated summer and counted the days until school started. People promised me it would get better. I didn’t believe them.

But this summer is, in fact, better. All three girls are in camp and I am taking advantage of the few hours a day to enjoy a little freedom. Instead of rushing home after carpool, opening the computer and jumping onto the social media hamster wheel, I’ll meet a girlfriend for coffee or go for a quick run. And I do this guilt-free because I deserve it… and it’s summertime!

The highlight of my summer so far has been the impromptu ladies lunch that one of my girlfriends decided to whip up.

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And when I say “whip up,” I do not mean “whip up.”

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I am so glad I showered.

Lunch was delicious and the conversation was just as you’d expect it to be considering we were six ladies sitting around a table eating carbs and drinking wine. We talked about our annoying children, our incompetent husbands and, of course, the absence (or prevalence) of sex. Mostly absence.

The meal (shown above) consisted of the most delicious, homemade curry chicken salad on a bed of crisp lettuce with a garnish of red grapes, freshly made curry soup and buttery, parmesan biscuits. We each had three. It was gross. But so good.

Desert was a plate of freshly whipped creme and blueberries atop a moist, butter pound cake, compliments of Winn-Dixie. I doubled up on the whipped creme. It was gross. But so good.

But back to the melt-in-your-mouth buttery, parmesan biscuits. I have been talking about them for days now and I feel obligated to share them with you. My girlfriend won’t mind because they will bring joy to many.

Melt-in-your-mouth Buttery Parmesan Biscuits

Canned biscuits (not the flaky kind)
1/2 stick of butter (we use the real kind because if you’re eating biscuits, you do not care about calories or health)
Parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat oven to whatever temperature the biscuits require. Put the butter in the pan. Stick it in the oven. When the butter melts, place the biscuits in the pan of butter. When the butter starts to bubble, generously sprinkle the biscuits with parmesan cheese. Continue baking until done.

Serving suggestions

Prepare enough so that everyone can have three. The more biscuits, the more butter. These are perfect for a shower, a potluck or any other situation where food is served. Enjoy. 

Do you have one dish that’s always the hit of the party? I’d love to know!

p.s. Don’t you love the placemat? I’m not sure where she found this particular design but Scriptura has some beautiful options. Also, Layla Grace carries a lot of beautiful designs. This one would be equally perfect for a ladies lunch!

chasing junk and napping through mardi gras

Beads dangle from trees and fences around our block, colorful reminders of the whirlwind of Carnival season that just was. Each time we stroll past them, Elle, my 2-year-old, lets out a chirpy “icollares!” (‘Necklace’ in Spanish, which is what we called Mardi Gras beads all season long.) She then asks to go see another parade. Sadly, I have to tell her the floats have all gone until next year.

Carnival is firmly behind us. But the good memories linger. This was Elle’s third Mardi Gras but the first in which she was cognizant and participatory. She had a blast. We live just a few blocks from St. Charles Avenue and together we watched a total of nine parades. We had a great time when McGehee opened their play yard for students during parades by the Krewes of Carrollton and King Arthur. And she really enjoyed the family outings with my wife and 8-month-old daughter, Isla, to watch Krewe du Vieux, Tucks and Orpheus.

But the truly special moments came when it was just her and I, trudging down the street together to catch another parade (“¡Desfile!” she would pronounce proudly; I’m trying to raise her in Spanish). The first ones we went to were Oshun and Cleopatra, both Friday night parades. She was initially intimidated by all the lights, people and blaring band music and clung to me like a starfish. But as the first floats of the second parade passed, she loosened up, ran around our little neutral ground spot and made friends with an older girl next to her. The older girl gave her a set of bright pink beads. Elle reciprocated with a blinky plastic wand. Friends for life (or at least that night). When a marcher gave her a lighted necklace, she squealed with delight. Later, she danced with her new friend.

mardigrasjervis

She slept soundly in the stroller all the way home – a recurring trend, as she never made it home awake from any parade.

The next day, we hit Pontchartrain and Choctaw together. I had assembled a Mardi Gras ladder for the season, which never left our house. Instead, we would just stroll down together to our spot on St. Charles and Phillip, and I would carry her up to the street as each float passed. She got stuffed clocks, all varieties of stuffed animals, lighted necklaces, spears, footballs, baby dolls, bracelets and, of course, beads. Lots and lots of beads. The best was watching her interact with the other kids between floats: giggling, running around, showing off their throws and occasionally swapping prized gets. At one point, as a float approached, I was stunned to see her with both hands up yelling, “Throw me something mister!” – something I never specifically taught her.

On the return ride home, she passed out in the wagon again.

I’m not a New Orleans native; my wife and I moved here from Chicago five years ago. I’ve always embraced Carnival celebrations but wondered what it would be like to be born here and go through the arduous exercise of bead-catching and float-chasing, year in and year out. I’ve quietly questioned the cultural payoff of yelling at men with masks and scrambling after cheap plastic trinkets. But now I think I know. It’s more than the throws. It’s about taking part in daily celebrations unique to this city. It’s about engaging with neighbors and making new friends. It’s about creating a lifelong affinity for street parties and a fearlessness of loud music.

And, of course, it’s learning not to be afraid to nap in public.

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