Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Is it really a good idea to bring a kid to a casino? It may not be tops on your list for a family vacation, but it is definitely worth looking into. Casinos aren’t just for senior travel anymore.

    A recent conversation about kids and casinos brought to mind my family’s weekend trip to Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, LA. Yup, that’s correct. I used ‘casino’ and ‘family’ in the same sentence, something I thought I’d never do.

    Mr. CajunMama and I heard about Paragon’s new hotel with offerings for families. We decided to call and see if we could get a room, and were fortunate to secure one on a Saturday night. We hit the road after the kids’ basketball games, and were amazed at the glowing towers arising from the sugarcane fields. Little CajunMama commented that she felt like Dorothy entering the Emerald City.

    The parking lot was almost full, due to Creedence Clearwater Revisited holding a concert that night, but Mr. CajunMama found us a spot (he refuses to pay anyone to park his car, but valet parking is available).

    Paragon Gators

    We walked into the lobby, with the kids gasping at the indoor swamp, complete with live alligators and turtles. We found out at check in that the indoor pool closes at 8pm to minors. Since it was five minutes until eight, we knew the swimming option was out for the night. LittleCajunMama (age 9) was dying to go to KidsQuest, a supervised children’s activity center. Her brother (age 11) wasn’t as excited, but he agreed to check it out for TravelingMamas.com. This allowed The Mister and I to enjoy dinner for two at one of the many restaurants available at the resort. Reservations are strongly recommended at Legend’s Steakhouse. We tried to get in, but there was an hour wait. We ended up at Roxy’s, a fifties-style diner where we enjoyed burgers and shakes. We put a few dollars in the slots, but it just wasn’t our night. We ended up going to check on the kids at KidsQuest. Our son was ready to go, but LittleCajunMama begged to stay and play. We let her play for another twenty minutes.

    We purchased an in-room movie on the flat screen tv before hitting the sack in our super-luxurious rooms. The kids woke us up at 7:30 am, ready for breakfast and the indoor pool. They also begged to see a movie at the on-site movie theater, but the movies only play in the evenings. Breakfast was a steal at Roxy’s, which we found out offers a kid menu. Our family of four had a full breakfast for a total of $14.00US. What a deal!

    The rest of the morning was spent enjoying the indoor lagoon pool with fountains, waterfalls, and hot tub. We were reluctant to leave Marksville and extended the day by visiting the nearby Marksville State Historic Site, which is a recognized archeological site. Not many visitors were there, so we ended up exploring the area of the bluffs and mounds with no one to bother us. We had such a wonderful time that the kids are asking when they can go to the “casino” again.

    Rating of KidsQuest: 5/5 for 10 and under | 3/5 for 11 and 12 year olds

    Rating of Arcade: 5/5 for 13-17 year olds | 4/5 for families

    Rating of Indoor Pool: 5/5 for all around coolness by both kids. The littlest one loved Paragon Casino Resort so much, she asked to go back for her birthday.

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    Anniversaries, birthdays, and Valentine’s days are those special dates that come around where Mamas hope for romance and loving and maybe a romantic trip.

    Sometimes, though, life gets in the way.

    This Traveling Mama experienced a low point in her life when the Birthday and Anniversary occurred a week after a hysterectomy. Yes, TMI, but I want you all to know that what seemed like a lost cause became an opportunity for Mr. CajunMama and the little ones to step it up. They surprised me with a dinner at the dining room table, which hardly ever gets used. The Mister and I ate a candlelight meal of overcooked steak, chewy Au Gratin Potatoes, and dessert of a chilled Reese’s Cup. Top that off with some sparkly and it was better than any fine dining experience.

    Here are Valentine’s Day ideas for those Traveling Mamas who are grounded:

    Dinner and a Movie

    Break out the fine china, the crystal, and let the kids act as chef and maitre d. The kids will really enjoy serving their parents, who can gaze at each other over candlelight. Follow up with the movie No Reservations.

    Day Spa Getaway

    Call up your local day spa and check on their specials. Plan an afternoon when the kids are in school and you can both take time for yourselves. A couples treatment is just the thing.

    Can’t wait for the day spa?

    Get the kids to bed early, lock the door, and break out the massage oil or lotion. Play a little tropical music in the background or turn on “crashing waves” sounds on your alarm clock. Fix some umbrella drinks and take a soak in the bath together. Who needs a day spa?

    Use your imagination

    So you didn’t get that trip to the Bahamas for Valentine’s Day. Neither did I. I’m still having a fantastic V-Day. I’ve got the Champagne chilled (and sparkling grape juice too) and the pizza is on the way. The whole family is having a living-room picnic with the fireplace going. Afterwards we are baking heart-shaped cookies. And who knows what will happen after the kids go to bed.

    Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day from the Traveling Mamas, no matter what your plans are.

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  • Planning family travel and summer vacation isn’t always pleasant. Here are some top tips on finding destinations for the entire family, including the moms and dads.

    As Seen on The Around Town Show – Feb 3, 2008 Cox Communications Channel 4 Baton Rouge, LA

    Planning a Summer Vacation

    School may not let out until the end of May, but now is the time to start planning that summer vacation. While some deals can be found by last minute booking, this does not guarantee you will get your first choice vacation.

    Hot Spots:
    The Caribbean and Mexico – Your favorite travel agent can help you book a stress-free all-inclusive vacation.

    Favorites:
    Orlando – Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and Seaworld
    Gulf Coast Beaches -Gulf Shores, Destin, The Beaches of South Walton
    Smoky Mountains – Dollywood, Dolly’s Splash Country, and of course the mountains.

    Closer to Home:

    New Orleans: Harrah’s Hotel is conveniently located near the Riverwalk, French Quarter, and Fulton Street. Families can book a package that includes the Aquarium, a riverboat ride, and admission to the Audubon Zoo. Music festivals, throughout the summer, including the Satchmo Festival, are family friendly.

    Here in Baton Rouge: With the price of gas and higher airfare, many people are choosing to stay close to home. Summer can provide the perfect opportunity to explore our own backyard with your family. Places to visit include: Planetarium, Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, LASM, Alligator Bayou, and so much more.

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    Sponsored Link

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  • Have you ever heard of a dog parade? New Orleans is one of the many destinations that celebrates Mardi Gras with a different kind of twist. The Krewe of Barkus weaves through the French Quarter, offering hilarious costumed canines on parade.

    My last full day in New Orleans consisted of lots of food and fun. A few of us took a stroll through the Quarter and ended up at Arnaud’s, a restaurant I had yet to experience. It was a Sunday Jazz Brunch and I was delighted by the setup and the personal song by the Jazz trio. The food was superb, but when the trio began to play, “You Are My Sunshine” and the restaurant started to sing, I just wanted to cry. I was beginning to miss my babies, and this is the song I used to sing to them every night when I put them to bed. I realized I had reached my ME TIME limit and I longed to hear from my children.

    Then I had a Mimosa, the trio played a Mardi Gras favorite, and ladies in their Sunday best started dancing around Arnaud’s waving their dinner napkins. This is what is known as a Second Line. My foot started tapping and I was ready to enjoy my time again, the melancholy passing for the moment.

    After brunch and a tour of the upstairs Mardi Gras Costume Museum, I walked slowly down the stairs admiring the signed pictures of prior celebrity diners. Mark Laiosa, from WBAI New York, accompanied me on a walk afterwards to the French Market, where we spoke with Zahdan Sterling, a local artist of tie-die shirts and African trade bead bracelets. 100_06242.jpgI purchased a bracelet for $6 and immediately put it on. I think Mr. Sterling must’ve put some really good JuJu in his creations, because I have been experiencing some awesome luck since putting it on. Yesterday I took it off for a bit, and it was as if the moon was in my seventh house of poop. It was a cruddy day, but as soon as I put it back on, good things happened again. Freaky, but I digress.

    We left the market and caught up with the Krewe of Barkus, the doggie parade that had more the 1500 dogs dressed for Mardi Gras. Instead of throwing beads, the owners threw dog biscuits to the pets in the crowd. 100_0640.jpgTheir theme was in honor of the new release of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Barkus celebrated with “Indiana Bones and the Lost Bark”. Very punny.

    Near the Barkus parade route, I spied the NO Fire Department. Since I have ties with the fire service, I decided to walk over and say hi. I noticed that they were selling calendars of steamy firefighter pics. Of course, I had to purchase one, all in the name of charity.

    The group met up later for dinner at Besh Steakhouse inside of Harrah’s Casino. I ordered the Shrimp and Grits, in homage to my literary hero, Forest Gump. I also sampled the risotto, which was so good it made me want to cry. With a full tummy, I went back to my room to pack up my clothes and gaze at my calendar of hotties. As I flipped through, I noticed one of the guys was climbing a ladder with his hose thrown over his shoulder. He was all greasy and sweaty and then I looked closer. I thought he looked familiar. He was a former coworker!

    I love being a Traveling Mama. Traveling without the family can sometimes be fun and needed, but I find that after a few days I really start to miss those little people hugs. As much fun as I was having, I still couldn’t wait to get home.

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