20 Cheap Family Friendly Things To Do In Baton Rouge (1-5)

Hey guys. As I was preparing for how to spend the next chapter of summer with my littles, I put together a great mixture of free, near free and mostly inexpensive summer activities for the kids and I to enjoy together. A lot of this stuff is off the beaten path, or you may just not know about it. I didn’t know about a lot of this stuff until I was trying to plan out our July. I thought I would share for anyone else who is running out of steam for budget friendly summer ideas to keep the family moving.

I have totalled up what each of these should roughly cost for a family of 4 (Mom, Dad and two children) below for your convenience. This list is even less expensive if you are a single parent, as I am since my divorce, because I only have one adult to pay for. That brings the cost way down for a lot of these activities. Regardless of the size of your family, the ideas below will give anyone affordable summer fun ideas that won’t leave you feeling financially drained.

I have tried to be as detailed as possible about each place, price, hours of operation, address and insider details to save you the time and hassle of having to look any of this up. If parents know anything during the summer, it’s that it’s pretty non stop. After a while, it gets pretty exhausting trying to come up with ideas to keep everyone entertained without breaking the bank, which is exactly why I am sharing.

I always try to make sure that we have a well rounded selection of activities from playing at water parks and hiking to volunteering to help the homeless and continue to develop reading skills, etc. You will see that mixture reflected below, because I really want my children to grow up to not need to be ‘entertained’ every single moment.

I mean that I want them to learn to find value in helping others, continuing to evolve as people, learning about new places, being outside in nature and of course, having fun, eating out and indulging in all that Baton Rouge has to offer.

If you know me at all in my ‘real life’, then you know that I am a bit passionate about protecting the environment. As such, I have taken the time to create links for each of the locations listed below. Whenever you see an address listed below, just click on it and you will be taken to a map where you simply enter wherever you are starting from. I took the time to do this so that you don’t have to write down the addresses or print them out. This will save you time and frustration when you have antsy children in your car who want to get going. Simply come back to this page, find your activity, click the address and be on your way.

One more thing. We live in Baton Rouge, so the specifics listed below apply to the Baton Rouge area, but 15 out of the 20 ideas below can be used wherever you live. Just read the idea and then look up your local resources. I hope this helps you guys out. I know we are going to be out and about in Baton Rouge in the next two months exploring all of these places and I hope we see you out there.

 

ACTIVITY # 1: 

BOWL FOR FREE AT DESIGNATED LOCAL BOWLING ALLEYS

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 4.17.14 PM

Cost: $0-$29.95 For The Entire Family For The Entire Summer + Shoe Rentals

As part of a national program, kids can bowl up to 2 games per day, all summer long for FREE. No, this is not a joke and yes you really can do this. My children and I do it all the time. If you visit the Kids Bowl Free site below, you simply sign up your children, find your local bowling alley and go have fun. You will have to pay for shoe rental, but it’s about $2 per child and you can purchase an unlimited shoe rental pass for the summer.

Adults and older children who want to bowl with their children have the option of signing up for a discounted rate family pass for $29.95. For that price, all children above the age of 15 and any family member adults (up to 4) may bowl two games all summer long for that one price. If you have ever taken a family of 4 bowling, you know that you will pay this for a single visit, so the $29.95 for 4 people, coupled with the little ones bowling for free, is an absolute steal!

In our local area, the participating bowling alley is:

Circle Bowl

8878 Florida Blvd

Baton Rouge, LA, 70815-4024

(225) 925-5471

 

Times When This Program Is Honored At Circle Bowl: 

12 PM – 5 PM Monday-Saturday

12 PM – 7 PM Sunday

 

Register your little ones and learn more at www.kidsbowlfree.com.

 

ACTIVITY # 2: 

GET INVOLVED IN A LOCAL CHURCH

get

Cost: $0-$? For The Entire Family, Depending On What You Decide To Tithe To The Church

Most churches have fantastic summer programs and several events for children. Use this free time to get plugged in to a church family. Simply call the churches that you are thinking of visiting and ask if someone can greet you on Sunday and walk you around. They are always extremely helpful because they want your family to become part of their church.

Additionally, they have many family events and life groups that meet all summer long, so get out there and started building up your support network while working on your faith.

Most churches also participate in the Right Now Media program, which gives you access to thousands of Christian videos, Bible study programs and Christian shows for the kids and the whole family, all free of charge.

Simply go to Google and type in ‘local churches and whatever your religious preference is’ and then go church visiting until you find one that you and your family love. Once you have selected a church, ask them to give you a username and login to the Right Now Media program if they are a member church. They will get you signed up right away and you and your family can start enjoying this amazing resource.

Find your local church now at: https://www.google.com.

 

ACTIVITY # 3: 

EXPLORE ALL THAT BREC HAS TO OFFER (COMMUNITY PARKS AND RECREATION)

Screen Shot 2018-06-17 at 4.31.17 PM.png

Cost: $0-$15 For The Entire Family, Depending On What You Rent At The Parks

BREC (Recreation and Park Commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge) is a finalist for the 2018 Gold Medal Award for Parks and Recreation, so if you are local to the Baton Rouge, LA area there is a seemingly endless array of options for the public to enjoy. Whether you enjoy running, hiking, swimming, tennis, fishing, horseback riding, bmx racing and so much, BREC has a park for you.

Don’t let the fact that you don’t have your own equipment stop you from getting out there. You can rent BMX bikes, cruiser bikes, canoes, kayaks and pretty much anything else that you can think of right there on the grounds at each park. Check find the activity that you are looking for and then click the page for that park and all of the rental details are on their website. Here is just an example of what three of our local parks offer:

 

North Sherwood Community Park

-Indoor Air Conditioned Track

-Indoor Gated Play Area

-Mini Rock Climbing Wall

*All Free

Address: 3140 N. Sherwood Forest Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70814

http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/park/NorthSherwoodForestCommunityPark

 

Perkins Road Community Park

-Skateboarding Ramps

-Running Track

-BMX Track

*All Of The Above Are Free

-Huge Rock Climbing Wall (*Minimal charge for this.)

Address: 7122 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808

http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/park/PerkinsRoadCommunityPark

 

Greenwood Community Park

-Canoe/Kayak/Cruiser Bike Rentals

-Hiking Trail

-Waterfront Restaurant On The Grounds

-Splash Pad

Address: 13350 Hwy. 19, Baker, LA 70714

http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/park/GreenwoodCommunityPark

 

To learn more about BREC parks, visit http://www.brec.org/index.cfm/park/search-home

 

ACTIVITY # 4: 

GO GET SOME SUN AT SPLASH PADS, POOLS OR WATER PARKS

liberty

Cost: $0-$150 For The Entire Family, Depending On Which Location You Select

I am going to list these in order from free to most expensive so that you can find the one that works for your family.

Free

If you are looking for free splash pads for the kids to just cool off at, check out this huge list of local gems where the kids cans enjoy some water play:

http://batonrougemoms.com/water-fun-baton-rouge-splash-pad-parks-pools.

 

$6 Per Person

If you are looking for a community pool, check out the Jambalaya Park Pool. For just $6 per person admission daily, it’s hard to beat. Hours are as follows: Closed on Mondays, Tuesday-Saturday 11 AM-6 PM and Sunday 1-6 PM through July 31st. After that, the pool’s hours change, so check their site or call them for updated hours towards the end of the summer.

Location: 1015 E Cornerview St, Gonzales, LA 70737

Learn more at https://jambalayapark.swimtopia.com.

 

$12 Per Person

This park is a great local alternative to Blue Bayou Waterpark. It is smaller and vastly less expensive. They have an amazing array of water activities from a surf zone and splash pads to a lazy river. You can not take anything in here (water, food, etc), so take money for the concession stand, but it’s a fun and inexpensive day of play. Get there early, don’t leave anything in the car because they do not allow you to go in and out. Still, all told between admission, food, drinks, and rental upcharges, a family of 4 could easily spend a day here for under $75.

Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m.- 6:30 p.m.

Sunday: noon – 6:30 p.m

Admission Price:

12 Months And Younger: Free

Under 48” Tall: $10

Over 48 “ Tall: $12

Shockwave Wristband (Surfing Area): $5 Additional Per Day

Lazy River Tubes: $1 Per Day

Liberty Lagoon:

111 Lobdell Avenue

Baton Rouge, LA 70806

225-923-3202

Learn more at: http://www.libertylagoon.com/

 

$36 Per Person

Check Out Blue Bayou if you want a water park and an amusement park all rolled into one. They have amazing kids rides, a pretty scary rollercoaster and more tall water slides than you will be able to ride in a day. They also have a great wave pool and a lazy river. This is a great place to take the kids if you have a full weekend to spend here, as you will see below that you can go two consecutive days for the price of one, just not on a Saturday.

My recommendation is to go on a Saturday and then use your second free day on Sunday. When you get two day’s admission for the price of one day, it actually only works out to $18.50 per day, and that’s not too shabby for all that this park has to offer.

Admission Price:

$36.99 — 48″ and taller

$29.99 — 48″ and under

$29.99 — Senior Citizens (60 years of age and up)

FREE — 35″ and under

Blue Bayou does offer these 2 perks that may make the increased price worth your while:

DEAL # 1: COOL TIMES, COOL PRICING

MAY 25 – AUG 6; AFTER 3PM; MONDAY – FRIDAY, NOT INCLUDING HOLIDAYS OR SPECIAL EVENT DAYS.

$17.99 — 48″ and taller

$14.99 — 48″ and under + Seniors

Free — 35″ and under

DEAL # 2: 2ND DAY FREE

If you pay the full daily admission price, and get your ticket validated before you leave that day, you may return the next day at no charge. May not be combined with other offers. Your 2nd Free Day may not be a Saturday.

Location:

18142 Perkins Rd E, Baton Rouge, LA 70810

Learn more at Blue Bayou https://www.bluebayou.com.

 

ACTIVITY # 5: 

TAKE THE KIDS TO SEE THE DRAG RACES AT STATE CAPITOL RACEWAY

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Cost: $40 For The Entire Family + Concession Food 

What kid doesn’t enjoy playing with cars, so imagine how much more excited they would be to go watch them in real life. Take hats and water and don’t forget the sunscreen as it gets hot standing there, but your kids will love a day at the track. They have so many different events and times, but this is a great way to spend a day with the little ones. Take ear plugs to protect their little ears, because it gets very loud. You can grab them at any Walmart for about $2.

They seem to always have a Friday Fun Race at around 5 PM, but check the link below for the current schedule before heading out there. When we went, they had a cute little concession stand with usual fare (hotdogs, nachos, sodas, etc) that were all reasonably priced. They do have a covered area where you can sit and eat before heading out to take your seats on the bleachers.

It does get soul crushingly hot during the day events, so take a lot of water and tons of people had umbrellas over their heads to take shelter from the brutal sun. You can take anything you want here; food, beer, whatever, which is kind of cool because if you want to make a day long event of it, you can take your own food. Obviously, if you are the one driving, it goes without saying that you should skip the beer. I had to put this in here as a disclaimer.

Usual admission prices are $20 for adults and kids 12 and under are FREE.

State Capitol Raceway

11436 Highway 190 West

Port Allen, LA

Phone: (225) 627-4574

Learn More At: https://www.statecapitolraceway.com.

 

You just finished reading part 1 of 4. Click here to read Part 2 of 4, which details activities 6-10.

To read the other parts of this post, just click on the links below:

Part 1 (Activities 1-5)

Part 2 (Activities 6-10)

Part 3 (Activities 11-15)

Part 4 (Activities 16-20)

Power and Control Wheel : Divorcing An Abusive Narcissist

Good Afternoon World,

I just walked in the door from a meeting and I feel like it’s time for me to start this journey on my blog. I kept thinking that I would shoot a series of YouTube videos to follow the one that I shot last year ‘My Divorce, What Really Happened‘, but I just can’t get myself to do it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m naturally more inclined to write than to speak, or if it’s because this last couple of years has a felt a bit like the sh*t filled tube in the movie Shawshank Redemption. If you’re not familiar with the movie, watch it, it’s Amazing!

 

Shawshank Redemption

When he is finally crawling his way to freedom, his last journey is through a sewage pipe, filled with, you guessed it, sh*t. He wanted out so badly that he didn’t care.  I have imagined myself crawling that disgusting journey, on my knees, hand over hand, suffering that unbearable stench to get to this place. I think I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t get me wrong, the air is still stained with the stench of a life that I am fighting to pull away from, inch by inch, but I am resolute. There is only one direction, forward.

 

Shawshank Redemption Escape

 

For those of you not familiar with my family’s journey over the last few years, I will be writing a lot about that in the coming months, but for now just know that our home, our former life, was a beautiful Hallmark card, printed with disappearing ink. My ex husband, two beautiful children and I had all the trappings of a good life, but behind closed doors, we were living out a nightmare. The children and I lived in constant fear. We walked on eggshells. We were invisible cast members in the one man show ‘The Pilot’. We orbited my ex husband and his ego like confused planets in some twisted galaxy. We were extensions of his life. We were never a part of it. We were a necessary inconvenience for his career and ‘soul suckers’ as he used to put it. He wanted complete freedom, constant accolades and he was the star of our family’s story line. He was/is a narcissist and we were his supply. Then one night, one God damn awful night, it all just exploded.

 

Never Let Domestic Violence

 

I knew it was coming. You see your marriage disintegrating in front of you. You try to slow time. You try to make family memories before they are gone forever. You grab at straws. You try to have that one last family vacation. You try to make love to your husband one final time. You hold on like someone hanging from a cliff who just wants to see the sun come up one more time. You suffer things that you would formally have scoffed at. You do anything and everything to hold it together. You think that it will come to some natural breaking point. You think that you will know when the end is near. You think that you will have time to prepare for the worst pain of your life, but then it just happens. It’s as fast as taking a picture or ordering a cup of coffee and your marriage is over, click, boom, done.

 

Hands Slipping Away

 

I wasn’t prepared, not even close. I don’t even remember the last words that were spoken or the last time that his hand touched mine. It was all gone, in a flash. Yes, I feared him, but I was still very much in love with him. I wasn’t ready. Time stopped. My heart didn’t break. It shattered into a million pieces, some of which must still be in the corners of that fateful room where our marriage ended. Then time just sort of stops, well, slows down like some old fashioned movie where you can see the individual stills passing by. You are a shell of your former self, a zombie (a mombie in my case, because I have children), and you just exist for a really really long time. There is no joy. There is no laughter. There is simply an emptiness, darkness, and a deafening quite that fills your life. In the words of Pink Floyd, you become ‘Comfortably Numb’.

For the last few years, I said basically nothing. I said nothing because I couldn’t bare to tell the truth. I couldn’t speak it, or write it, or quite frankly even be honest with myself about it. I was am also afraid. I am afraid of making him angry. I am afraid of retribution for speaking the truth, but that is how they win isn’t it? Abusers abuse, they devalue, discard and replace you and then they expect you to be quiet about it to spare their name. Just like I said in my videos last year, which were met with a lot of love and a lot of hate, this isn’t about revenge. It’s about truth.

 

 

It’s about a truth that so many victims of domestic violence never get to tell, because their voices are silenced by their abusers. It’s about an insidious epidemic that happens behind closed doors in every city, in every corner of the globe. It knows no socioeconomic bracket, no race, no religion. It discriminates equally. So what should I do? Should I be silent forever? Should I never speak of the almost decade of torture that my children and I endured?

No! I reject that reality, because it is tantamount to having my voice silenced, which I can not allow because I am still here when so many others are not. It is to revictimize my own children and pretend that that chapter of their lives didn’t happen. It is to rip chapters out of my life’s story and leave the reader confused as to how I ended up here. I will not do that anymore. That ends today. It ends with every key that my fingers come into contact with on my laptop.

So where do you start? How do hand someone a book and then expect them to know the history of every chapter without filling in the blanks? You don’t. There is no good place to start. There is just a moment when your soul tells your fingers to type. There is a moment when you decide that you have once and for all had enough. That is this moment, today at 2:31 PM as I am typing this. I can’t tell the story chronologically, because it would be so long and sad that no one would be able to stomach it. I can start with today. I can start with why I decided to start blogging again and fill you in as I go.

 

fingers typing keyboard

 

My ex husband and I have had a few less than pleasant exchanges in the last few days. I always notice one overriding tone in his communications to me. I state the facts. I say what happened. I don’t hurl insults or call him names. I stand my ground. I repeat the reality that I know to be fact, not allegations. He minimizes my emotions. He calls me terrible names (you’re a cancer Raphaela, you never were and never will be worth my time, etc, etc). He plays the victim in a drama written and acted out by him. He never takes responsibility or even admits to his actions. He tries to make me feel like a worthless person, and it almost works. When he did this yesterday, I reached for the Power and Control Wheel (more on that in a moment) and it reminded me of the power of this piece of paper. It was just the push that the universe needed to give me to begin to write again. Thanks Universe!

There is just this burning desire inside of me to stand up and say no more. I just can’t take another minute of it. I think of all of the people who are currently sitting on the floor, face in their hands, wiping away tears, maybe blood, and wondering when it will all end. That’s who I am writing to. I am writing to those victims survivors and anyone who loves them and wants their pain to stop. I am writing to anyone who is so lost, afraid, confused, and completely broken because someone has completely devalued you. I am writing to anyone who believes that they are worthless, because someone in your life has told you that time and time again. You are not worthless. You are valuable. Hurt people, hurt people. You have to turn their voice off and turn yours up.

 

your life

 

When will it all end? I have a hard cold truth for you. It won’t. The truth is that the abuse hasn’t ended, even though we have been divorced for more than a year, and separated for almost three years. The truth is that when you escape that situation, you only put distance, not an end to it. The truth is that you will have to have more emotional stamina than you could possibly imagine to pick your broken self up off of the floor, day after day, year after year and fight just to keep your joy. Know these things to be true, accept them, prepare for them. Make your body strong. Make your mind strong.

It may seem like I am bouncing around a bit here today, and I am. It’s hard to begin telling this kind of a story or trying to throw a lifeline to someone who is drowning, which is how I felt just yesterday after yet another round of terrible insults courtesy of my ex husband. I literally felt as if the wind had been knocked out of my chest. I felt like the light in my heart had been put out. I felt all of those terrible emotions that I used to wake up with and go to sleep with every single day for so many damn years. I felt…..dead inside.

I dislike to even admit this on my blog, which I know that he and his lawyer read religiously. I don’t like that he may take satisfaction in knowing that he knocked me back a bit, but here is the bottom line. I care more about reaching someone who is hurting than protecting my own pride. They watch everything that I do online. They bring it up in court.

So, this line’s for you ex husband and his attorney. Know that from this day forward, I will not suffer your attacks in silence anymore. I will not allow you to attempt to destroy the life that I have rebuilt. You may not have my joy. You may not silence me with your intimidation and stalking. Read what you like and know that I will live this out for the world to see from now on. Your days of silencing me with the fear that you are watching me are over!

stalker, online stalking

I have chosen to say hell with it. I am going to speak the truth. I accept that there is a level of risk in writing these things. I accept that I may make him angry. That fact alone kept me silent for a long, long time, but that’s just another form of control and abuse, isn’t it? Sometimes, you just have to roll the dice and hope for the best. He doesn’t get to control my thoughts, words, or life anymore. I have a voice and for the love of God I am going to use it. You can’t just stop living. You can’t deny your story. You shouldn’t have to. You just have to learn to blow it off and give it less importance when people stalk every move that you make even though there is a court order in place that says they can’t.

 

If You Don't Like Me, You're A Fan

Or A Stalker. Your Choice.

 

Fortunately, I have been very blessed in this chapter of my life to be surrounded by a wonderful man and solid Christian friends who help me walk out this difficult journey. They all encouraged me to be patient, to wait for when I knew it felt right to talk about these things. I did wait. I waited for almost three years. I likely would have stayed silent if it had stopped, but here we are three years later and the abuse keeps coming like a bottomless bread basket. I have realized that it no longer matters what I do. I can say everything or nothing and it is the same difference to him. He will never stop, so I can not be silent. I have to speak up. I have to stand up.

 

friends, friendship, do life together

 

Remember a moment ago when I told you to make your mind strong? This blog post is about a tool that has really helped me to gain and maintain clarity in the midst of this storm. It is just a simple piece of paper, or a tiny image stored on your computer if you are too afraid to print it out. It is called the Power and Control Wheel and it changed, and in some ways, saved my life. A piece of paper saved your life Raphaela? Um…..yup, sure did. No, I am not being mellow dramatic, I am being authentic and transparent with you.

When he used to speak to me the way that he did yesterday, I would feel the life just leaving my body. I was at a point where I only kept going because of my children. The only thing worse than death to me during that time in my life would have been having this man raise our children. I could go on for hours about that, but I won’t because it no longer holds the same amount of power in my life. It used to make me cry, feel worthless, question myself, etc etc. Now, it makes me feel those emotions for about an hour. Then I drink some coffee, read a lot of scripture, pray with a friend, knock out a killer workout, focus on work and cuddle up on the couch with my man. Trust me when I tell you that this ability to reject my ex husband’s words was hard won. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.

This Power and Control Wheel has eight ‘pieces of pie’ and it was instrumental in helping me learn to hear, but reject his narcissistic attacks.

 

 

  1. Using Coercion and Threats
  2. Using Intimidation
  3. Using Emotional Abuse
  4. Using Isolation
  5. Minimizing, Denying and Blaming
  6. Using Children
  7. Using Male Privilege
  8. Using Economic Abuse

On the outside of the wheel, you will see physical and sexual violence in black. On the inside of the wheel, you see the eight tactics that abusers use to establish and maintain dominance over their victims.

I could write a book on these different pie pieces, giving you examples of each, but this blog post is not to detail the specifics of my story. I will get into that in other posts as time passes. This blog post is to make you AWARE that this tool exists. You see, before someone showed this to me, I really genuinely believed that I was losing my mind. I later learned that this is called gaslighting, and is a common practice used by narcissists to destabilize their victims.

 

gaslighting, mental abuse,

 

His behavior was so cruel, so calculated it was almost impossible to articulate to people, which for the most part I did not even do. With the exception of a few very close friends, I endured this situation in silence. Partly out of shame and partly because I didn’t even know how to explain it, because it seemed like such unspeakable behavior.

Until I saw this Power and Control Wheel, I felt like a sick patient who continues to go to the doctor and tell them that something is wrong, only to have the doctor tell them that they could not find anything. Then one day, a doctor tells you, “Oh, you have this or that”, and you are just grateful to finally know what it is. I knew that I was being systematically torn down, broken on a cellular level, but I didn’t understand how to describe it or to convey how it made me feel.

I remember the day that I saw this wheel. I was in a coffee house in New Orleans with a very good friend who had flown in from California to see the children and I after my marriage ended. That person handed me this piece of paper and said only one thing. They said, “I want you to read this. I don’t want you to say anything for at least ten minutes. I want you to see if any of this looks familiar to you.” That very good friend walked away to get a coffee for the both of us. When that person returned to the table, I was no longer there. I was in the bathroom, with my back pressed against the cold tile, sitting on the floor after I had slid down the wall into a hysterical pool of tears.

I cried so hard that I didn’t even want to leave the restroom, because I knew that everyone would know that I had been sobbing. I tried to get myself together. I applied my signature lipgloss and headed back out to greet my friend.

 

NYX Pump It Up Lip Gloss

Seriously, I Love This Stuff.

 

My friend didn’t say anything. They didn’t have to. They knew all along what was going on. They had tried to tell me for years, but I could not hear them through the dense, confusing fog that was my life. People learn in different ways. I am a visual learner, so this hit me like a hard slap on a chilly day. In other words, it got my attention. In an instant, my life was changed. I knew what had been happening. I couldn’t deny it. I couldn’t sugar coat it. I couldn’t do anything except accept the cold hard reality that my life was staring back at me in 12 point font on a flimsy piece of black and white paper.

 

i was blind but now i see

 

I don’t know how to explain it exactly, other than to say that it was one of the most powerful moments of my life. It was like I had been wondering through a cloud, unable to see, and in an instant, someone sucked away everything and you are just left standing there. Suddenly there was this perfect clarity. That was the moment that I realized that I was going to survive this awful thing that had destroyed my life, my family, my joy, my hope……me.

Seeing all of the forms of abuse that had been taking place was like having someone translate my thoughts onto paper. It was validation that these things did exist and were real, as he had told me so many times that I was ‘making something out of nothing’ and that ‘this is just marriage Raphaela’. I knew all along that it was abuse. I knew all along that I never felt loved. I knew all along that I never was loved by this person. I just simply couldn’t understand why it was happening. Most importantly, I couldn’t make it stop. I was never going to be able to make it stop. That is what I realized in that moment. I was never going to make it stop, but at least now I knew what the problem was, and in the wise words of GI Joe:

 

knowing is half the battle meme

 

It was like when a newborn baby draws oxygen into their lungs for the first time. I could finally breathe. It was as if I had been holding my breathe for so long and someone suddenly pulled my head above the water. That was the moment that I became a survivor, not a victim!

I decided to read everything that I could get my hands on, make connections with those who had endured this terrible abuse before me, and I built a support structure so high and so wide that I knew that not only would this never happen to me again, but that I was going to one day help others claw their way out if necessary and find themselves again.

This post is my first step toward that mission. In telling you my story, I hope that you find the strength to write yours. I hope that hearing about this tool will help someone to ‘see the light’ or in some way understand that you are not crazy. Hold on to what you know is right and true. Don’t let them put your light out, silence your voice, or in any other way rob you of what is good inside of you that they want to erase from you.

Just hold on. Learn what you need to know. Make a plan. Create a safe place. Equip yourself and prepare for the fight of your life, because that’s what it’s going to require for you to get out. You can do this. I will do everything that I can to help you. There is help. There are tools. There are people that survive and live on the other side of this soul crushing abuse who go on to love again. There are people who care about your safety and emotional well being. Reach out. Call the Domestic Abuse Hotline. Get some perspective. You can do this. You can break away from this and survive it. You don’t have to stay a victim. Don’t you dare quit.

 

Never Be Bullied or Silenced

 

This post was not about pity, nor revenge. It was about truth, survival and hope. It will not be the last post on this, but this chapter in my life also does not define me. It is one spoke in a huge wheel that makes up my life. Thank you for spending some time with me today. Please share this information with anyone who you think needs to see it. I have a playlist on YouTube called ‘How Bare You’ that has videos that deal with domestic violence, restraining orders, etc. If you need for information, please click here to be taken to that playlist.

Please share the Power and ontrol Wheel. It really can save a life. I know that, because it gave me back mine.

Gratefully,

Raphaela

 

 

Am I A Single Parent, Co Parent, Choice Parent?

This is Divorce: The Sudden Shift in Your Reality

This is Divorce

This is Divorce.

Hello Everyone, 

For many weeks I have been completely silent online. There was one reason for that only; my husband and I separated for the final time. Just before we separated he began an argument with me about what I had been writing on my blog. He said that I was using my blog ‘to trash him’, which was in no way true. I was simply explaining some of the ins and outs of my personal life, and how you can not allow those factors to cause you to lose sight of your goal. 

That said, for the duration of our marriage, he never watched any of my YouTube videos, nor read any of my blog or social media posts. Suddenly, upon realizing that we were on the brink, he took interest in what I was writing and saying. I am not writing any of this to be mean or spiteful, but only to explain why I didn’t write anything for so many weeks. 

Let’s just say that for the purposes of this blog at this moment that the safety of both me and my children was in question. That reason, coupled with my new knowledge of the fact that he was reading all of my social posts, did not lend itself to an environment where I felt free to share. Has that changed? Only slightly. I am sure that at some point he will make time to pry into my life by reading these posts, but after weeks of losing the right to write on my blog, I simply do not care anymore. 

I decided for myself that he was not going to take one more thing from me, not my training goals, not my spirit, and not my ability to communicate with the world on my blog or any other social media channels.

There will be a time in the future where I may share the details of the final moments of our marriage, but this is not the time. We are getting ready to go through an ugly divorce, a nasty custody battle, and I will not provide his team of paid henchman with any ammunition to use against me and my babies. The only thing that I will say is this. I did what any mother would do in my situation; I protected my children, even at the expense of my marriage. Enough said for now. 

This pretty much sums it up.

This pretty much sums it up.

So what does divorce look or feel like? It feels like having your guts ripped out, while watching your standard of living plummet towards the earth, and having to figure out how to rebuild your life from basically nothing, and you have to do it all with a smile on your face to protect your children from the truth of their life. 

It doesn’t hit you all at once. For me, it happened in little ways. First, it happened the day after he left. I was making our usual amount of coffee, and realized that I no longer had to do that. The next day, it was looking at the door and seeing three jackets hanging, where once there had been four. It is tiny little knives that meet you around every corner.

Little knives in your heart.

Little knives in your heart.

You think you are just going to do the laundry, when you realize that one of his socks was mixed in with the clothing. You are overcome with a myriad of emotions; anger, resentment, profound grief, disbelief, disappointment, fear, and so much more. You look at your children playing joyfully in the bath tub, and you try to establish new routines, implement new rules. You have to tell your children that ‘Daddy loves you very much, but Mommy and Daddy are not going to live together anymore’. You have to fight back the urge to say the things that you are really thinking, because this is not their fight. Thankfully in our situation, they were not asking where Daddy was or why he was gone, so that has been a small blessing in all of this.This is their only childhood, and it is your job to protect them from this terrible new reality. 

When my parents were going through a divorce, I felt like a tattered and worn ball that was thrown violently between two parties that didn’t want to play ball. They were both highly educated, incredibly intelligent people who made the profoundly stupid mistake of not understanding that we were not responsible for their divorce. They would take their resentment towards each other and pour it on us like some disgusting syrupy goo that you could not wash off. I remember thinking that I wished that they could understand that I could, and would not divorce either of them. I was not going to choose one over the other, even though there was plenty of reason for me to do that. I was only issued one mother and one father at birth, and I didn’t get to dismiss them from my life because my parents were unable to make their marriage work. Case closed. 

Why do I tell you that? Simple, because I learned from their mistakes. I know what that feels like. I know the insecurities that created in me and my siblings. I simply will not do that to my children. It is my job to model love, compassion, and strength for them, even if I have to do it as a single mom who doesn’t think so highly of their dad. Is he a terrible person? I will let my children form their own opinions about him. As for what I think, I wouldn’t divorce a kind and loving husband, so I guess you can deduce what I think. I am not saying that he will not make a good husband/boyfriend to someone else down the road, but I am saying that the shelf life of our relationship expired, a long time ago. I was too patient, too forgiving, and simply just too stupid to end it. Thankfully, his actions took care of that for me, and now all I have to do is deal with the collateral damage. 

Do I hate him? No, I still love him. I will always want the best for him. I just no longer want to be a welcome mat for he and his family to abuse. Honestly, I could fill this blog and several others with the terrible things that happened during the course of our marriage from he and his family, but I probably won’t. The reason is because when I decide that I am truly done with something in my life, I release it. I don’t hold onto it, mull it over, regurgitate it and reanalyze it. I try to learn from it. I make my peace with it, and I just go on a more mature, more seasoned version of me. More to the point, my children and I deserve a peaceful life, filled with two parents who love them, and are whole. The only way that he and I will be happy is apart. It took me years and years, almost 10 to realize this, but it is an undeniable fact.

I also have the ability to understand the long game here. Someday, emotions will calm, he may remarry, I may remarry, we will have to learn to find peace in the one fact that we have to co-parent our children together. At the end of the day, years from now, that is all it will be. It will simply be another relationship in my life that I need to manage. It will have a different dynamic. It will have different expectations, but I hope that it will always have love and respect. I know that may take many many years to achieve, but I will conduct myself according to that one goal. I do not want to do or say anything that my children would ever look upon with disgust. I want them to see their mom as someone who took a really bad, and completely unfair situation, and built a life for them that was so much sweeter than the life that they had. I want our story, my story to be one of victory, not simply survival. I want to thrive in my divorce, not just survive my divorce. 

So what do you do? How do you go on? You make the slow realization daily that you were once a person who didn’t have another half. You used to be able to choose your own movies, your own evening activities, meals, vacation places and more. You were a person with hobbies, friends, goals and dreams of your own before you merged them with someone else’s. You realize that for the first time in your 40 years on this planet, you are actually going to be allowed to exist, in your own right, and live your life your way. There are these small victories that happen when you realize that grocery shopping is easier, there is less laundry, and you can really focus on yourself and your children. 

These children are going to need a lot of love and counseling. I can help them with the love, but we are all going to counseling together (Ava, Cash, and I-not the ex). They need to realize that they are not at fault and that they do not come from a broken home. They lived in a broken home, a very broken one, but now they are going to live in a whole home, one where the foundation is solid and stable and sure. I despise the term broken home, because it is positively laughable to assume that simply because two people manage to tolerate each other and live under the same roof, that they are somehow not broken. This is a lie. It’s a lie that society feeds us, to keep us in place, to keep us half alive. 

Sure there is a stigma with walking around with two children, and no wedding ring. People look at you. They make assumptions about you that may or may not be true, but they don’t really know anything about the situation. Just today, the kids and I had to get out of the house, so we walked into town to get ice cream. We live in a very upscale part of New Orleans. When we walked into this store, ordered and sat down, I felt the stares. I noticed one blonde woman and her husband in particular who kept looking at my left hand for a ring, which was not present. 

She was your typical trophy wife; tall, blonde, well dressed, huge ring, etc. She was me until 2.5 weeks ago. She is just walking around in her safe, secure, over privileged life not wanting for anything. What she doesn’t know is that the river that separates her life from mine is not so wide. She could be me in an instant if the tides turned. As I sat there thinking about that, it occurred to me that even though her stares were making me uncomfortable, that I didn’t want to live her life anymore. 

She was at this ice cream parlor, and it obviously meant nothing to them. They ate half of their ice cream and threw it away. For us, it was a huge treat. My children at every last bite of their ice cream, because they know that it will not happen again for quite some time. It occurred to me in that moment that I felt somewhat dead in my former life. We had everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. This new life will come with far less in the physical sense, but we are blooming as a new family unit. 

In case you are wondering if I have completely let go of my bikini bodybuilding training as we have navigated this new life, NOPE! I haven’t missed a single workout. I have lost more than 10 pounds since I began training. It has actually been wonderful to have a goal and a plan to focus on while the rest of my life is very uneasy at this time. Bragging? Not even close. I am simply telling you that when you make a decision for yourself that you are going to do something, you will move heaven, hell, and anything else that comes down your path to make it happen. 

It is going to be a long, bumpy, and windy road until this is over and I can look back and laugh. That said, I am going to strap myself and my babies in and enjoy this ride. I feel alive for the first time in so many years. I feel free to breathe, to exist, and to be. 

Living my Life, 

Raphaela

Blackhawk Helicopter Crash in Florida: We Wait

Good Morning Everyone,

I woke up today, like any other day, and checked my phone before reaching for my water bottle. It was every military wife’s worst nightmare. There was a CNN Update and it read ’11 Missing after Blackhawk Helicopter Crashes in Florida’. I couldn’t even breathe for a minute. My throat felt tight and I felt the tears welling up inside of me. Anyone who reads that kind of a thing will feel deeply saddened, but for military members and their families around the world this kind of news is devastating.

I want to remain hopeful, as the news is only reporting that they have found debris. They say that the 11 are presumed dead, but nothing is confirmed. My thoughts switch immediately to the families of these service members. What are they going through right now? They sit, and they wait, because that’s all that they can do. They are powerless and broken at the same time. The thoughts that race through your mind are is it my Marine?, is it my Soldier?, if it’s not, do I know their wife, their children?

They wait for a knock on the door that they know will likely come. They know what they will see and it will be like some terrible nightmare, but it will happen in their homes. Those uniformed men and women will come. These brave people have to deliver that kind of news with honor and dignity, and they have to be very strong while they are delivering the worst news imaginable.

They will say those words that no one wants to hear. They will tell you that today your life is changed forever. They will be the people whose words confirm your deepest fears. They will be the fingers that walk up and put their thumb and index finger over the flame of hope that still burned inside of you when you heard about this crash. They will put out your hope. They will confirm that your loved one was among the missing, and is now confirmed dead. They will confirm your terrible thought, you are now a widow.

You will have to deliver this news to your children, and you will have to be strong until family arrives to help you because you likely do not live near your family. You live at your spouse’s duty station, and that is almost always no where near home. The families of these service members will receive this news. The moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and friends will all hear this devastating news today. That brave service member who everyone assumed was safe, because they were in the states, is gone. No one is prepared and so it hits you on an entirely different level.

The words will come, then the tears, denial, grief, the funeral, and then life will just go on for everyone else. Your story will not be in the headlines anymore, but your life will still go on. Your broken, gaping hole in your life will just have to keep moving forward. You will have to be a single parent, a widow, and people will talk about your ‘deceased spouse’ whenever you leave the room. That is your new life.

You may be wondering why I am writing such a post. The answer is simple. I am a military wife, and today all military wives are heartbroken. We wait together. In these moments, we make no distinction between branches of service. We all feel the same thing today, sadness. We are reminded today that we have to stand together, or we will fall apart. We are all asking ourselves what we can do to help, because those ‘sisters’ of ours are going through the worst day of their lives. We are reminded that tomorrow that knock could be on our front doors.

I have sent my husband on many deployments; Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly. He flies Cobra Helicopters for the Marine Corps, so this crash hits me on a very personal level. We all feel this false sense of security when they are stateside that they are safe, and today is a reminder that this is a lie that we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night. What else do you do? How else could you kiss your service member goodbye in the morning to go to work and know that you may not see them again? Service members, police officers, firefighters and probably others that I am overlooking right now, we all share that common thread.

Let us stand together today as military wives, husbands, family members, and patriots and support these families. No amount of money can ever put their dad in their living rooms on Christmas ever again. No amount of money can walk their daughter down the isle on her wedding day, or teach a son to grow up to become a good man like his daddy was. Lastly, no amount of money can hold those wives tonight as they realize that their spouse will never lie next to them again, never. They are gone.

I asked myself what I would want if it were my door that was getting knocked on today, and I would want a memory. It wouldn’t be about money, or help, because those things will come as a natural progression of this event. I would want a memory. I would want something that I could watch with my children, play at holidays, and share with my grandchildren about the man that was lost, the person we buried, my husband. That is what I would want.

The reason this occurred to me was as a result of the recent movie ‘American Sniper’, which is of course a heartbreaking account of one family’s loss. The reason this movie was so moving to me was not just how it documented the life of Chris Kyle, but how it offered his children a look at their father. They will have something to show who he was, how he was loved, and how he was mourned.

The next time you see a service member, be sure that you are mindful that they, and their families make sacrifices every day to prepare to defend the freedom that you enjoy. Our families are prepared, though perhaps not ready, to pay the ultimate price as patriots and supporters of this wonderful country that we live in.

With a very heavy heart and the utmost respect,

Raphaela Laurean

What’s Going On For The Next 2 Months? Moving To….

Ok, so I have been MIA for quite some time, and yes there is a good reason. I will have to blog about that after we get settled. If you want to know what I am up to for the next two months, check out my latest YouTube video. It’s just a short two minute clip.

I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend.

XOXO

Raphaela

 

 

It Was My Foot on the Gas Pedal.

Raphaela's Speeding Ticket
         Time To Slow Down a Little

Ok, so, to be fair, it was my foot on the gas pedal, but that doesn’t make paying this speeding ticket any easier. On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. day, I was headed back from a 2 day trip to Pensacola with my babies. I left work early on Friday, grabbed my babies from daycare, and then drove 6 straight hours to arrive at Pensacola so that we could spend the holiday with my husband.

My husband had been down at NAS Pensacola taking a course for his ‘Marine Aviator Career’, translation, I get to watch the kids alone for an entire month…Yeah Marine Corps! I have been through so many deployments for 7 months at a time, and training for weeks on end during this marriage, that I am surprised that it even phases me anymore. That said, it does.

Most, and of course, I am throwing out a blanket statement, Marine wives (especially Marine Officer’s Wives) are stay at home moms. This is something that I think is amazing, but it is just not my life. It is a really wonderful arrangement, because whenever the Marines are on leave, or have a holiday, the whole family can pack up and have a nice holiday together. Military households function best when there is at least one constant in the home, and usually it’s the wife. She can keep everything going no matter how many times her husband has to fly at night, leave for a week, or deploy for months on end. That is not my reality, at all.

My husband and I both work outside of the home, and trust me when I tell you that it has caused us a lot of grief, and certainly put some wrinkles on my face. When he leaves, it means that our already insanely stressful life not becomes my sole responsibility. I have to manage our home, raise our children, run my business, etc. and keep all of those plates spinning all by myself. Thank God I have super powers…..Not! 🙂

I am not belly aching about being a military wife, just dealing it straight, like it is. There is a lot of romanticism about what it is like to marry a pilot/officer in the military, and I am just giving you a sneak peek at the other side of that script. It’s not so Officer and a Gentlemen…It’s more Top Gun, as in, they are Top Dog, and you just learn to deal with it. Your whole life revolves around the Corps, or whatever branch of service your loved one is in. This can be a really great thing for some. I have found this very challenging.

When my husband and I met, I already owned my business, had my own set of friends and a life that I loved. Then we met, married, had children, and I have had to bend to the Corps every command. For example, when we had my daughter, my husband was deployed just 6 weeks after her birth. He came home when she was almost 8 months old. There I was in California, with no family, a new baby, and trying to keep my business going. When he came home, the Corps moved us (and by extension I had to move my business) all the way to Georgia. This was a challenging chapter in my life to say the least. We bought a home, built a new warehouse, decorated both, moved across the country, and just for fun, I decided that this would be a good time to have our second child. Yes, that was sarcasm, but we got pregnant as soon as he came home, so that is just how it worked out.

So back to the ticket. I was racing home so that I could unpack, do laundry, get everybody bathed, and all of the bags repacked before the next day. There was a lovely Officer (it’s raining sarcasm in here) who decided t0 write me a speeding ticket. To be fair, I was speeding, not a lot, but he was sitting right at the point where the speed limit goes from 65 to 55, and that little gem wrote me a very expensive ticket. I was, to say the least, not a happy girl.

Once he walked away and I started driving again, I completely lost it and started balling. For a minute, I honestly couldn’t decide what I was mad about. Then it hit me. I was upset with myself for allowing my life to become so jam packed with things, that I was always trying to cram 48 hours worth of stuff into 24 hours. The truth is that I already had enough on my plate with my husband being gone, and I should have just politely declined his offer to come to Pensacola for the weekend.

In trying to please everyone, I failed myself. I have a right to relax, rest, and be renewed. I have a right to protect myself from becoming completely run down. However, somehow, I had lost sight of that. I had become so wrapped up in trying to be the ‘good Marine wife’ that I lost sight of the very little bit of my own life that I have control over outside of his career.

I know that some people will read this and think that I am being harsh. What I am being is honest. The military is built on the backs of wives (and some husbands whose wives are service members), and to make matters more complicated, the wives are very rarely ever celebrated for all of the hard work that they are doing behind the scenes. When we go somewhere, and anyone finds out what it is that my husband does for a living, they always thank him for his service. It makes me cringe, because the kids and I are the ones who make HUGE sacrifices for his service, and it is like we are invisible. It’s very disheartening, so please thank the wives and children next time you feel compelled to say ‘thank you’ to a service member. They are the ones keeping the home fires burning! Enough on that…sorry….unexpected rant just occured  😉

Anywho, my whole point is that though I was seriously unhappy about the ticket, it really helped me to set myself straight. It was a reality check that I really needed, and if you ever want to get my attention, *UCK with my money, and you will have it. Having to pay that money was upsetting, but I was going to fast. Not just on 96 East, but in life. I needed and need to slow down, be more careful, protect myself, my time, my energy, and my life from so much chaotic momentum.

If you come from a family that has two working parents (outside of the home), and one of you is always deferring to the other one’s career, then you will completely understand what I am talking about. Here is a little piece of advice-Slow Down, Take Care of You! The Red Cross has a great saying, “If you can’t take care of you, then you are no good to anyone else.”

Remember that it is ok for you to put yourself as a priority from time to time. You don’t always have to be everything to everybody. It’s your life too. Don’t lose sight of that. Stay happy and healthy, and everyone in your family, including your service member will thrive.

Gratefully,

Raphaela