One Lucky Mom

When I was asked to write about my career and life as a “working mom”, I realized it would be the first time I had ever really reflected on the past 14 years working as a dentist, and the past 11 years being a mom!

I was raised by a working mom who had a career in nursing for over 25 years. Being married to a pilot, she also had to balance taking care of my brother and me while working full time. She was the perfect example of a mom who dedicated so much of her time helping children as a nurse while also being an attentive and present mom. I know I fall WAY short of balancing life the way she did, but I am so grateful to have her to lean on when I have struggled with the balance.

People ask me all the time why I chose to be a dentist, and for me, I was fortunate to know dentistry was the career path I wanted to pursue as I entered Texas A&M. Always excelled at science, dentistry seemed to combine both science and art, by improving one’s smile. It also wasn’t a coincidence that I chose a career where you could work part time or full time quite easily. I knew at some point I wanted to have a family, but I also never envisioned myself not having a career.

Following graduation from dental school, I was an associate dentist for many years. I was blessed to get to work in two different offices for two amazing women who also had established successful practices while both raising children. Dr. Huet and Dr. Andersen were amazing mentors to me in the first few years out of school, and they still are! This was also when my husband Victor and I started our family. Working with other dentists for over 8 years allowed me the flexibility to spend more quality time with my kids without the added pressures of running a business as well as managing a large team. It is definitely a choice I don’t regret.

Working all day, coming home to two small kids, finally getting them to sleep, and only seeming to have 5 quiet minutes before bed was definitely an adventure! Looking back on those years, I do sometimes wonder how I balanced it all! I know it was a team effort.

Even in the past few years, I have made a conscious effort to better prioritize my obligations at work. I am blessed to have a husband who is off the Richter scale, in my opinion, for being a strong support for me. Since Victor is able to help manage our business, it allows me the flexibility now to only work 3 days a week and gain more quality time with our kids.

Sometimes in life, God throws you curveballs and you are given opportunities to really reflect on your choices and re-calibrate your priorities to make those hard decisions. For me, that came about through the tragedy of losing our best friend, Dr. Vance LeCrone, almost 4 years ago from a sudden heart attack. Vance lived here in The Woodlands and had established a very successful orthodontic practice through the years. We often would meet together after work with our families over a margarita and compare work stresses of managing our patients or office that day. After his passing, I know many of our friends’ reflected on their work/life balance. It was a tragic reminder that LIFE IS SHORT, and our loved ones could be gone in a moment.

Living in a successful community, it can be easy to get caught up trying to excel in your career. I can promise you Vance would not wish he had done a few more orthodontic cases, but he would value every moment he had with his wife and kids – that is something I reflect on often.

I know I do not have it all figured out and probably never will! However, I do have an encouraging family, best friends who stand by me, and a career I truly love – I would say I am one lucky mom.

Dr. Carrie Muzny DDS, FAGD, graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Biology and received her DDS degree from the University of Texas- Houston Dental School in 2004. Dr. Muzny has a passion for learning and was awarded the Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry (FAGD), recognizing her dedication to completing over 500 hours of extensive continuing education courses. She is the owner of Carrie Muzny DDS & Associates located in the center of Market Street, where they focus on advanced dental techniques and comprehensive dental care for the whole family. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and two children.

Super Mom – Jerissa Belsha

I can assure you, I am not a super mom by any means.
I lay in bed each night replaying the day, thinking of the things I could have done differently. Why did I get short with the kids before school? Why did I forget to remind them to pack a lunch… and why did I not have the energy to read one more book?

Our children are seven and ten in what we call: The Golden Years. Past diapers and tantrums (well most of the time) and prior to the “fun” teenage years. We try to balance being two working parents, with my husband’s long hours downtown and my work as a pediatrician here in The Woodlands. Our mornings start at six when my husband leaves for the office. I’m soon getting the kids ready for school, chasing the puppy around and cleaning up behind all of them (still potty training the pup.) I ride my bike with the kids to school – yep, in my work clothes – then rush off to the office myself.
I love my work. Being a pediatrician is the most fantastic job. It gives me a front row seat to watch sweet children grow up and mature. I love being goofy with them and giving high fives. Who else gets to wear a Cinderella dress to their office on Halloween?! Hugs from my little patients rank pretty high in my book. I’ve always felt that this is my calling. I’m so honored that parents trust me with their children’s health.
I see miracles every day. At the same time, I do see tragedy and sometimes have to tell parents bad news. While I’m a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, there are times when I’m at work taking care of sick kids while my own child is at home sick.

“Balance” implies that being a mom and a doctor are two distinct entities, where in reality I’m both all the time. Most nights I’m calling specialists, answering emails from concerned parents, finishing my notes from the day and reading about new studies to help find answers. My career doesn’t stop when I leave the office. I go home each night thinking about my patients just as I go to work each day thinking about my children.
Our life is hectic, to say the least. Sometimes we joke that our motto is to “survive and enjoy this roller coaster that is parenting.” Here are a few things I‘ve learned over the years:
Find fabulous, real friends that will help you in a heartbeat (even at three in the morning) and be your listening ear. We can talk about our struggles and keep each other grounded. It really does take a village to raise children.

Marry a spouse that is your biggest supporter and best friend, who understands and encourages your career.
Take time to help others. We are all called to serve and it’s important to find ways to serve as a family.
Kids are more resilient than you ever imagined. Mine WILL be okay if I can’t attend every field trip or school event or have lunch with them every day. My job is to nurture, love and teach them to be happy, successful and independent adults.

Have faith that God is in control. Praying daily for my family is so important.
Take away that nagging “mommy guilt.” So what if dinner consists of cereal – more nights than I like to admit – or my kids get to search for their clean clothes out of the dryer (unfolded.)
Schedule quality family time… for us it can be playing a board game, family movie night or all going for a walk. Sometimes the simplest things are what my kids enjoy the most.
Be present (I have the hardest time with this and it is always something I strive to do.)
Realize that each day, your “crazy” life is a gift. Don’t take it for granted.
I’m not trying to sugarcoat our lives. I share this true rawness and vulnerability to let you know that even pediatrician moms struggle and don’t have all the answers about their kids. Parenting is not an exact science and I’m right there with you in the trenches learning as I go. Super Moms, here we go!

Jerissa Belsha has lived in The Woodlands for eight years and loves her job as a pediatrician at Agape Physicians. She enjoys traveling, participating in medical mission trips, helping with local children charities and spending time with her husband and two children.

The Woodlands, a Hotbed of Fitness and Endurance Sports

What a blessing it is to live in the 7th best city in the country!

As a practicing sports orthopaedic surgeon who preaches healthy living and fitness and grew up in southern California with a “born to run” mentality, I have truly appreciated the gift of living in The Woodlands.

As an endurance sports athlete and four-time Ironman finisher, I have lived to appreciate all that this incredible community has to offer for healthy living and fitness – a “blessing of riches” my mom would always say when we have been given far more than what we deserve. From fitness clubs, spin studios, swimming teams, bicycling clubs, running clubs, cross fit and personal weight training gyms, there are a plethora of local opportunities offered to get your endorphin high on.

The Woodlands not only provides the opportunity and coaches to perform well, but it also is the home of many well-organized running and triathlon races.  This amazing town secured the first full course (140.6 miles) Ironman competition offered in Texas in 2011 and is currently the site for the Ironman North American Championship. I vividly remember the first Ironman Champion who crossed the finish line in 2011 and from that moment on, Ironman has been a common topic of conversation around the community. You cannot drive down Woodlands Parkway without seeing an M-Dot on the back of someone’s car.

How does this all happen? How does a city on the outskirts of Houston become such a hotbed for high-level fitness and endurance sports competition?

I can share with you from my personal experience that racing in these local events and caring for many Ironman athletes in our community that this unique town provides all the ingredients to train, participate and perform at a high level in endurance sports.

Focusing on triathlons, there is everything you need to learn, train and compete well in this challenging sport. We have many triathlon clubs, which provide coaches and training plans to prepare for all levels and distances of a triathlon. Valhalla & Valkyrie Racing, Team Tritactics, TXTri, TriDot, Mach 5 Racing, Outrival Racing, Tri4Him, South Coast Endurance, Bala Racing and Finish Strong Coaching are some of the local teams who participate, place athletes on podiums and even squeak out some Kona Qualifiers for full course Ironman races! We have incredible swim coaches in Tim Floyd with Magnolia Masters and Gemma Hollis with Push Glide Kick, who keep athletes swimming streamline and safe to finish the swim leg strong with plenty of energy in the endurance tank to attack the bike and run phases. The cycling training is some of the best in the city.  There are many bike loops of different mileage and scenery that are tackled throughout the week but mainly on Saturday mornings. Some of my biggest smiles appear while I’m driving and I see the early morning pelotons dropping the hammer on the back roads leaving The Woodlands. We have some of the strongest cyclists in the state in our community, in large part due to the training loops so accessible out the front door of our homes.

All this to say, there are no excuses! If you have the desire to compete in endurance sports, you definitely have this community to help you reach your goals.

Keith W.V. Johnson, M.D., FAAOS- Co-Owner/ Sports Orthopaedic Surgeon Sterling Ridge Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

Photography: Derrick Bryant Photography

Minding Your Modern Manners

Good manners provide us with structure in a world filled with unpredictability. We often think of manners and etiquette guides as a thing of the past, but today it is just as relevant even though the rules of the game are rapidly changing. Let’s face it  we live in a world where technology is here to stay, and we are more connected globally than ever. Different cultures have unique customs which makes it so important to teach our children how to show mutual respect through good manners. According to the Post family, the well-known authors of numerous etiquette guides, “Being considerate, respectful, and honest is more important than knowing which fork to use. Whether it’s a handshake or a fist bump, it’s the underlying sincerity and good intentions of the action that matter most.”

While we can’t keep up with the rapid pace of social media, we can certainly keep up with teaching our children the basics to help guide them through life’s sticky situations.

Jena McCrann and Madeline McCrann are two sisters-in-law who are Directors of The Woodlands Proper Chapter of National League of Junior Cotillions, a national etiquette course whose mission is: To act and learn to treat others with honor, dignity, and respect for better relationships with family, friends, and business associates later in life, and to learn and practice ballroom dance. They work with children who are in fifth through ninth grades to help teach them the tools to confidently navigate through some everyday situations. Below, we discussed some common modern day and traditional questions.

Q: We have mastered the elbow off the table and the napkin on the lap, now what do we do with cell phones at the dinner table? What are some basic cell phone etiquette rules that children can remember when eating at home or out with friends?

A: As soon as your party arrives, turn your phone on silent or vibrate. It’s tempting to keep checking it if it’s within view, so place your phone in your pocket or purse and never leave it on the table facing outward. Never play with your phone at the table. We also suggest that while in the home, do the same. It may seem obvious, but mom and dad should also follow these rules to teach children to respect family time just as much as friend time.


Should it be absolutely necessary to take a phone call at the table, say “excuse me” to the group that you are with, and take your phone call away from the table, either outside the restaurant or in a quiet hallway. Do not disturb other diners with a phone conversation.


Q: Today’s children are somewhat picky eaters, what do I tell my child if they are eating at a friend’s or relative’s house and they do not like their meal?

A: If you do not like what is being served, take a small portion but don’t find yourself with absolutely nothing on your plate. If you do, your host/hostess may be offended or say something to you about the empty plate and perhaps put you on the spot in an embarrassing situation.


Q: What if my child has allergies, how do we tell the host/hostess of these preferences?

A: We suggest letting your host/hostess know of any allergies and offer to bring a dish. Do not expect the meal to be catered to your specific needs so be kind and politely decline a dish if they forget. If you have a dietary preference, like low carb or dairy free, that is a different story. Peggy Post always says to make due with what is available if it is a large group; if it is a small gathering, then again, offer to make something so your host doesn’t feel offended or waste time making a meal you can’t eat.


Q: Is it ok to write a thank you note as an email or text?

A: Know your audience. If he/she commonly communicates through email or text and it is not a wedding or formal thank you, then it is ok. If your note is going to an older family member, perhaps they would prefer good old-fashioned paper and pen.
We think writing a letter and mailing it is best and a good habit to get into at a young age. Thank you notes should be at minimum 3 sentences long. Tell the person you are thanking why you love the gift and how you will use it.  If you are writing a thank you note from a party or overnight stay, tell the host/hostess something you particularly enjoyed about the event and how you hope to get together with them again soon. Again, thank you notes should be brief and to the point, and sometimes email enables people to create different paragraphs off subject, so send more than one email if you have more to write than a thank you.


Q: Speaking of email, what are some guidelines to follow when replying to emails?

A:  Respond as soon as possible to the email messages you receive, and change the subject line to the subject of your reply. If the other person has spent a long time writing the email, then respond with more than a one-liner response or it may look unappreciated. Never respond quickly to an email that upsets you. If you feel annoyed or angry, wait at least one day to reply.  When you receive a group message, don’t reply all unless your reply applies to the group.


Q: Many electronic games have children (and grown-ups!) looking down at their phones as they walk around playing – what are some back-to-the-basic rules for walking down the street or entering a person’s house?

A:  This is tricky – it is really never ok to walk down the street looking down. First of all, it’s not safe. We should all be aware of our surroundings at all times. We should also make eye contact and greet those walking down the streets. This gets back to the basic societal rules that keep us grounded. We need to acknowledge each other and help others when needed. Opening doors for others is something that will never go unappreciated.

While technology seems to be the way of the world, let’s not forget that a first impression can leave a lasting impression and a good ol’ handshake and eye contact speak volumes.


Want to wow your family? With the holidays approaching, here is a quick
reference guide for setting the table properly adopted from The Post Guide.


Article by: Carey Scasserra | Photography: Andrea Custer Photography

Start Your Year Off Right

Each year, so many take the opportunity to use the beginning of the year as a starting point for a health and wellness journey.  This year in particular, I couldn’t be more thrilled for the potential that lies ahead.

As the owner of local boutique fitness studio, DEFINE: The Woodlands, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many opportunities to help others build longer, leaner and stronger muscles through the five methods we offer.  Whether our clients choose to take advantage of all five methods or maybe just one or two, they will see results, both physically and mentally.

With 2018 off to a great start after a personally devastating end to 2017, I’m not only excited to focus on the physical aspects of wellness, but to see how finding strength and length within my body helps me feel emotionally and mentally balanced. It has been rewarding to witness this phenomenon through our clients’ journeys as well. It has allowed me to begin healing by paying that sense of wellness forward, both within and outside of the studio.

This year is filled with opportunity, promise and hope. I hope that as we all take this time to focus on our goals, we let them become part of something bigger.  Regardless of your goals – I hope that the pursuit empowers your body, enriches your mind, and provides you with a community that makes 2018 your best year yet.

G’s 2018 Health & Wellness Punch List

  • Drink more water
  • Laugh…a lot! Smile lines are beautiful!
  • Surround yourself with those who inspire you.
  • Start each day with a clean slate. Every day is a gift!
  • Eat more greens, purples, oranges and yellows no matter how many carbs you crave.
  • Sweat once a day…or twice…possibly three times!
  • Disconnect online to find a genuine connection offline!
  • Take a rest day (or two), be kind and listen to your body.
  • Hold planks longer– you can do anything for 30 more seconds!
  • Step outside for 10 minutes a day and get some Vitamin D!


Gelena Scally- Gelena “G” Scally has lived in The Woodlands for five where she owns and operates boutique fitness studio DEFINE: The Woodlands. She is passionate about connecting with her community by helping them achieve their health and fitness goals.
Photography by Jen McDonald, Interfaith of The Woodlands

Valentine’s Day

Now that we’ve all had time to put our Christmas decorations away, it is time to pull out the pink and red and focus on the most romantic day of the year – Valentine’s Day. If you are like me, you are most likely rolling your eyes right now. Believe me, I get it. Take this little parable, for instance. On our first Valentine’s Day together, my husband, whom I had only been dating for a few short months, came to pick me up and told me he had a surprise for me and that he couldn’t tell me where we were going. I was very excited as we drove over the bridge that led out of town and onto a very rural road that led to the middle of nowhere. I was far less excited about 45 minutes later when we pulled into a darkened, empty parking lot in front of a burned out building. My husband jumped out of the car without a word and walked up to the building as I sat in the car with a sneaking suspicion I was about to be murdered. But when he walked back to the car, it wasn’t the face of a deranged lunatic, but that of a very confused and embarrassed young man. It turns out the romantic restaurant he was planning to take me to had burned down some months prior, and he hadn’t bothered to call and make a reservation (rookie mistake). So, he had no idea. Good times.

My point, dear reader, is that Valentine’s Day can be tricky.  With so much anticipation and expectation, it’s easy to end up, well, in a proverbial abandoned parking lot.  But, fear not, love birds! With so many fabulous and romantic restaurants in The Woodlands, it’s impossible to have a misstep. Below are some of my favorite romantic restaurants, guaranteed to make your Valentines sweet, stress-free, and delicious.

As one of the first fine dining restaurants in The Woodlands, Amerigo’s Grille has a tradition of exceptional service and amazing food that has kept loyal patrons coming back for special occasions for decades. Five years ago, my husband took me here and surprised me with a trip to Europe! I’m sad to report that I didn’t get a special little envelope with two tickets to paradise this go-round, but we did have a meal that rivals the finest restaurants in Europe.

Amerigo’s offers a special four-course Valentine’s Day menu with a wide variety of options. We began with the Tuna Carpaccio, which was served with asparagus and ginger remoulade, and the Bruno Shrimp, which I could have made an entire meal! The jumbo shrimp were panko-crusted, pan seared and served with a creamy mango sauce. The flavor profiles of both appetizers went very well together and we were thrilled our amazing server, Sarah, had recommended them.

Next, came our salad course with a Classic Caesar for my husband and a Poached Pear Salad for myself. Though I love a good Caesar, I think I won on this course. The poached pears were delicious served on seasonal greens with dried cranberries, gorgonzola, pear, and a blueberry-pomegranate dressing. It was so good I almost felt bad that I needed to leave room for my entrée…almost.

Again, we went with Sarah’s recommendation and I had the Snapper Pistachio. It honestly wasn’t something I would have picked on my own, but holy cow – it was amazing! The red snapper was crusted with pistachio nuts and baked with artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes and topped with a light sherry cream sauce. I would put the sherry cream sauce on top of everything I eat for the rest of my life if that were an option. Not to be outdone, my husband chose the 14 oz. New York Strip, accompanied by roasted potatoes and haricot verts. This steak was perfectly cooked and had the most amazing flavor. Our served told us it was charred with an aged marsala and natural au jus, and it was heavenly.

To finish off this amazing meal, the pastry chef put together a sampling of miniature delectable confections served with chocolate truffles.  Being able to sample each of the amazing desserts was the perfect sweet ending to our romantic evening.  Amerigo’s will always hold a place in my heart for this extremely special experience.

As I’ve grown older, I have come to realize that not all Valentine’s Day celebrations are the same. This year V Day falls on a Wednesday, which as we all know, has long been hailed as the most romantic day of the week. (I’m hoping you sense my sarcasm.)  Because of this midweek malady, many couples will choose to celebrate either the weekend prior or the weekend afterward. Celebrating on a different date also makes it easier to do what we like to do and have a family Valentine’s dinner. No place in my mind is better for this than Schilleci’s New Orleans Kitchen in Market Street. Now don’t get me wrong, Schilleci’s is not what I would describe as a typical family restaurant; in all honestly it is New Orleans style fine dining with one of the most unique Cajun/Creole menus I have ever laid eyes on (and I’ve nearly made a second career out of eating at the best restaurants in my home state). That being said, the Schilleci family is so welcoming and passionate about sharing their love of food that I’ve never thought twice about bringing my children in for lunch or an early dinner. The icing on the King Cake this year is that Mardi Gras falls on the day before Valentine’s so there is really no question as to where we would go to celebrate.

Every meal at Schilleci’s starts out with a bowl of Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtator potato chips. They are the perfect snack to enjoy while perusing the extensive menu. Executive Chef David Brittain was offering an off-menu appetizer of baked brie served with Gambino’s French bread for dipping. The brie was topped with the most delicious cherry sauce. I honestly forgot what he called it because I was too busy trying to eat it all before my husband got a bite! My daughter also had a bowl of crawfish bisque as a starter. I have made many a meal off that crawfish bisque alone, but one bite had to do because we were eager to try some of their famous fish specials.

My husband ordered the Barramundi blackened with a sautéed crawfish sauce that was topped with mushrooms and green onions. I opted for the catch of the day, which was Sword Fish. Mine was pan seared with scallops and artichokes then topped with mushrooms, walnuts, spinach and a lemon butter sauce. Both were served with steamed rice and were delicious! My very fancy daughter who talks about food as if she were a writer for Bon Appetit ordered the Cajun Fettuccini Alfredo and, I’m not gonna lie, we tried to steal a bite every chance we could.

My little guy would gladly skip dinner and head straight to the beignets, but he surprised me by finishing all his popcorn shrimp, which are part of the kid’s menu. For the sake of this article, I tried one for myself and they were just like the shrimp I would expect to find falling off a po’boy in New Orleans. Well-done Schilleci’s!

Since Hughes Landing opened a few years ago, it has become one of our favorite dining destinations offering the perfect spot for everything from casual lunch to formal dinners. Nestled at the end of restaurant row with beautiful sweeping views of Lake Woodlands are my two favorite spots, both of which would be ideal for a romantic Valentine’s date night.

Broken Barrel is a relative newcomer to the area and focuses on small plates infused with global influences. The Crispy Olives with Garlic Lemon Aioli are addictive. I’ve actually begged owner and executive Chef Hilda Ysusi to make them for me one Sunday because they weren’t featured on the Brunch menu. She politely obliged, of course, and I didn’t have to resort to tears. This year, Broken Barrel is offering a preset three-course dinner for $70 per person and includes a glass of bubbly as well! For your first course, you can choose between Roasted Cauliflower Soup with hazelnuts, bacon and chili oil and Seared Duck Breast with charred sweet potato, citrus yogurt, and pecans. For your second, Chef Ysusi is offering Mussels with salsa verde and chorizo or Gnocchi with confit pork and a spicy tomato sauce. Your meal is finished off with Strawberry Shortcake served with aged balsamic and cracked black pepper.

Image Courtesy Truluck’s-The Woodlands

Last but certainly not least, I must mention Truluck’s. Glorious Florida Stone Crab aside, this elegant spot with its nightly piano player and floor to ceiling views of the lake has one of the most exceptional menus around. My husband’s absolute favorite is the indulgent Filet Oscar Royale. The 7 oz. filet is topped with caviar, king crab, asparagus and béarnaise served with parmesan mashed potatoes. Since he doesn’t like caviar, I always get the first bite when it arrives which is just a bonus for me! Speaking of me, my go-to entrée is the Miso Glazed Seabass, which is oven-roasted and served with crab fried rice and chilled cucumber slaw. Though we usually would stop here and roll out to the valet stand, on Valentine’s you must treat yourself to one of their indulgent made-from-scratch desserts!

So now that I have gotten you all good and hungry, I hope you will take a minute to plan a romantic night out for that special someone. My suggestion is: take them to all four! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jennifer Coyle has lived in The Woodlands with her husband and two children for ten years. She is involved in numerous local charities and is the owner of Fête by Jennifer Coyle, a local event design business. 

Bullard Basketball Camp

One look at The Woodlands’ skyline and anyone who has lived here is reminded of the remarkable change our community has seen in recent years. To the delight of thousands of Woodlands area boys and girls and their parents, however, one thing has remained the same for a very long time – Matt Bullard’s Basketball Camp.

Dr. Joel Reed: A Prescription for Life


Joel E. Reed still goes in to work almost every day, although he claims he’s never worked a day in his life. For 22 years, his job has been treating patients as a volunteer physician at Interfaith Community Clinic in The Woodlands which provides medical, dental, and mental health services to the uninsured in Montgomery County.

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