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On Beaches and Failures

June 27th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

I had grand plans for the first few weeks of summer break. We would alternate days of errands and responsibilities with days in our jammies vegging out on the couch or running through the sprinklers. For the most part, we hit our goal.

After being both productive and unproductive for a few days, we decided to switch it up a bit and head to the beach. We hopped into our swimsuits, loaded up with sunscreen (geez, I hope I got that right) and drove over to the dunes to have a little fun in the sun.

Fail. Ultimate Fail.

The kids just wanted to have a good time, but I was super-anxious about the short one running off and getting lost in the crowd (not really a huge crowd, but still) that I couldn’t relax. With two kids going two different directions, I was a basket-case. I spent 45 minutes of the hour or so we were there giving them lectures on safety and not eating weird things they find in the sand (you’d think this should go unsaid at this point, but…)

After about an hour, I gave up. We packed up and called it a day. Then, the guilt came. All the way home, I was the feeling awful, just sick with guilt. I couldn’t chill out long enough to just let them have a good time. They were behaving wonderfully, just being kids. I was just too uptight and nervous to let them do their thing. The beach fail was my fault – all my fault.

It’s hard as a parent to admit when you’re wrong. Heck, it’s hard as a person to admit you’re wrong – but I was wrong. Lesson learned. I don’t know about anyone else, but parenting for me is about going with my gut and learning from my mistakes.

I’m going back. I’ll be armed with toys and lunch and I’ll set up as close to the water as possible so that no matter where they want to play, I can keep an eye on them. Happy Summer and bring on the sand!

Indian Dunes State Park Beach

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Father’s Day Fail

June 22nd, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

“When things go wrong don’t go with them” – Elvis Presley

Our Father’s Day did not go as planned this year. If it could go wrong, it kind of did.

It got off on the wrong foot when my hubby got called into work late Saturday night due to problems. He came home Sunday morning, and we decided to just postpone our day a little while he napped to catch up. Once he was up and running, we decided we’d rather have dinner somewhere that evening to celebrate Father’s Day since we’d scratched our celebratory breakfast plans.

After a few errands and lunch, he was off to play soccer with his usual Sunday afternoon league. This is when things went downhill. He texted me to see if I’d like to bring the kids over to watch. Since the short kid was napping, I declined. After all, she’d had a level 9 meltdown in Costco earlier, and I really wanted her to get her…beauty sleep.

About an hour later, he called and quickly said, “Hey, can you come get me, I’ve hurt my leg at the game.” He was very nonchalant about the whole thing. I hung up, grabbed the kids (as quickly as that goes, which is not quick at all) and we headed to the fields to pick up Daddy.

When we get there, I see four grown men carrying my husband across the field to my car. He is almost crying from pain. I’m now at level 9 freak out.

They load him into the cargo area of the car because he can’t entertain the thought of sitting in a seat and bending his leg. Off to the ER we go.

After a day of staggering pain at home, he is admitted to the hospital and there he remains.

As a loved one posted on Facebook – He deserves a Father’s Day Do-over! I couldn’t agree more.

Filed under: Uncategorized.

Happy Father’s Day Northwest Indiana

June 15th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

So, my ideal Mother’s Day is a nice big breakfast with my hubby and kids, then the rest of the day off. I know, that goes against everything Mother’s Day is supposed to celebrate, but with only one other “special” day dedicated solely to me (my birthday!) I’ll take the break in the form of “Me Day” wherever I can get it.

Father’s Day is something entirely different around here. My husband loves to be on the go with the entire family. This Sunday will be a day of big breakfasts, family time at the beach or park, family movie time and then dinner that will involve a steak somewhere. I love the fact that he wants to spend his “special day” celebrating his family and that he loves to be on the go. In fact, I love it, but it makes me feel guilty because I’d rather spend my “special day” curled up with a good book enjoying the peace and quiet.

At any rate, Father’s Day is one of my favorite “special days” because I remember to slow down and tell my husband what a wonderful father he is. And boy is he, he’s “that guy” that plays baseball in the front yard till dusk, he’s the guy that wags his daughter to the Justing Bieber movie (I shamefully said “no way”), he’s that guy who shoots baskets with his little girl for two hours so she can make one on her own.

To all the dads out there who try hard to be a strong, positive presence in their children’s lives, I say thanks. To the man who tries so hard to be a great dad to my own children, I cannot express how thankful I am. Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father's Day Northwest Indiana

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Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City

May 31st, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

Rain. Rain. Rain.

I love spring and love to listen to the rain. I (like so many) find it incredibly soothing. My kids? They could care less. All this rain means we haven’t been going and going as usual. So, in between thunderstorms this past weekend, we scooted over to the charming Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City.

This little zoo is a treasure for us here in Northwest Indiana. I love walking down the little hidden paths or walking through the beautiful gardens to get to the next exhibit. Spring was putting its best foot forward with the beautiful blooms decorating the grounds. While it was way too cool (and threatening to rain) to head over to the beach, we talked about how we can’t wait to do both in one day this summer.

Been to the zoo yet? It’s open!

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Curtain Call

May 24th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

My daughter is borderline obsessed with musicals. Her favorite? Mamma Mia. She requests the soundtrack in the car all the time and after 2+ years, well Meryl Streep singing ABBA can get a bit…old. Don’t get me wrong, I love her. LOVE. But you know.

So, her favorites in addition to Mamma Mia – Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, Annie, The Sound of Music… If they dance and sing, she’s in.

About a year ago, she starts getting it that the same people were pretending to be different people. You know – what we call, acting. She spotted Judy Garland first. Then Julie Andrews. She was fascinated and intrigued.

Last summer, we spotted a summer acting workshop put on by The Memorial Opera House here in Valpo. I knew it would be perfect, unfortunately we had already planned some extensive travel during the time of the final few weeks and performance. I didn’t even tell her – she would’ve opted to stay home, I’m sure of it.

Thankfully, they ran another session in the spring and she finally made her on-stage debut. Every week before class she rehearsed in her room with her CD. She read the lyrics in her music book as best as she could.  She even *sigh* practiced her bow. A star was born. Well, sort of.

She tends to get really shy in situations like that – you know, situations where she’s in front of anyone and on the spot. She usually hides behind me until she warms up, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Ok, we expected her to stand there and maybe mouth a few of the words and hide behind her friend who was also in the show. I even had a little warm-up talk before the show that basically consisted of “What would Taylor Swift do?”

To our delight, she didn’t do that at all, thank you Taylor Swift. She got up there, did all her steps, sang her heart out and beamed the whole time. We had a great time and so did she.

For more information on The Memorial Opera House and their programs, check them out – Valparaiso Memorial Opera House

Memorial Opera House

Memorial Opera House

Spring Cleaning

May 20th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

Nothing indicates spring more around my house than my annual spring purge of no-longer-needed items. I love a good purge. I hate clutter and love to simplify – by cutting down on all the stuff, I’m simplifying life in my own little way.

I’ve never been one to hold on to every single thing. I know people who don’t like to get rid of anything. To each his/her own, but I don’t get it. I actually feel great when I clear out a little junk. I might even have a slight buzz when I look at bins that have been pared down and organized within an inch of their existence. I find getting rid of stuff (meaning junk I don’t need or never did) exhilarating. I’m definitely not a knick-knacky kind of girl – whatever the word is for anti-hoarding, is probably a good word for me.

Of course, my definition of stuff (see above) and other people in this households version of stuff is very different. Take, for example, my kids. All week I’ve been cleaning out closets and storage rooms. They’ve been on high alert, code orange, eyes wide open…Essentially, they’ve set up camp just outside the playroom intending to protect those broken Barbie dolls and puzzles with missing pieces. They need it and play with them all the time – so they tell me.

I’m trying to be respectful of their things. I don’t want them to think that whenever they turn around I’ll be scheming to get rid of some of their “stuff” – even if I will be.

Rescue of a so-called beloved toy from the Garage Sale box

Rescue of a so-called beloved toy from the Garage Sale box

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Cruisin’ On a Sunday Afternoon

May 5th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

Well, what’dya know, Easter snuck up on us a week or so ago – even though it was later than usual – ok, April snuck up on me as a whole.  But, back to Easter. We’re 10 hours away from friends, family and the traditions we’ve celebrated our entire lives. That means we get to start new ones.

While it’s a bit sad knowing you can’t be with your family at your usual spot on a particular holiday, it is kind of exciting to find new things to try and love. So, Easter weekend, we had a great dinner party with friends in our home, then Sunday decided to celebrate by doing something special – and out of the ordinary for us.

I’d read about the Odyssey Dinner Cruise at Navy Pier and heard other people talk about how much fun they had – but we’d never considered it because we have small kids.

For us Small kids + Confined spaces + Open water (and no prayer or returning to your car if they spazz out) = NO go. But, we knew Odyssey was hosting a special Easter Brunch cruise featuring the Easter Bunny and thought, “Yeah, we can totally do this.”

So, Sunday morning (we’re not always on top of our game) we were lucky to see that tickets were still available. We decked out in our finest Easter frocks and headed into the city.  We made it to Navy Pier in 45 minutes and then realized we’d made the rookie mistake of getting on the boat WAY earlier than departure. I could see a storm brewing in my toddler’s eyes – 3 hours on a boat. No car to escape to. No way to go home should she have a meltdown.

We tried to pace her through the buffet. Our servers were awesome and helped us entertain her a bit. The boat set sail and we knew we might be in for a bumpy ride with 2 more hours to go. Meanwhile my 5-yr-old daughter was being the perfect little lady.  She was so excited to be able to take part in this special day trip – not to mention the white tablecloths, napkins and goblets.

Still, we were nervous. A 3-yr-old who’s out of food and no longer interested in the smooth jazz band could have been a disaster. Then, we were informed that the entire upper deck was transformed into a movie viewing room with coloring tables and….the Easter Bunny! We were saved!  Hip Hip Hooray!

We had a great time on our Chicago Odyssey Cruise and although I’m not ready to brave the open waters again so soon, moms sail for free on Mother’s Day – so go, have a buffet, enjoy the jazz and the water. Go figure my favorite part was the food – specifically the salad. Luckily, here’s a link to the recipe for the Odyssey Cruise Mixed Greens with Apples and Strawberries which is awesome!

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Sweet Home Alabama

April 29th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm”~Willa Cather

I had another post set up for this week, but in light of things that change beyond control, there’s nothing else on my mind right now.

I’m a native of Tuscaloosa, AL. I spent the first 25 years of my life there, then moved to Birmingham, which is an hour north. My entire family lives in Tuscaloosa. Every memory from childhood to college, marriage and beyond is somehow tied there in one way or another. And now, much of it is just…gone.

On Wednesday, the city was destroyed by a tornado. Tornadoes are something we’re used to, but we’re not used to anything like this. Once I heard what was happening, then saw some of the first images, I had to talk myself out of driving home. What I planned to do, I couldn’t tell you, but I wanted to be with my family more than anything else in the world. Since then I’ve frantically been checking in on anyone I can think of to make sure they’re ok.

My aunt lost her home and everything she owns in the storm. She was lucky to have survived, as so many did not.

As it stands today, there are several hundred people dead throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. There are many who are still missing. There are many hundreds of people who are homeless with nothing left of the lives they lived only a few short days ago. I’ve been trying to imagine what they feels like and I can’t even begin.

I’ve tried to take care of things as normal around here, but every minute of every day I’m awake, my thoughts return to everyone suffering so much there. It will take a long time to rebuild and recover, but they will.

If you want to help, there are many ways you can. The easiest way is to donate to the RedCross.

I love you Sweet Home Alabama.

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Close Calls

April 21st, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

At what age do kids start to figure out those awful things like….the Easter Bunny might not be real?

My observant 5-yr-old seems to be snooping a bit more than usual these days.  I had a very close call today when we were leaving a store and she spied a few Target bags in the cargo area of my car.  I could see curiosity flash across her face, but I distracted her in just enough time to help her forget what she may or may not have seen. I’m crafty like that.

I don’t look forward to the day when my kids don’t believe in the magic of childhood fantasies.  I love the way they look in wonder when they come downstairs on Christmas morning.  I love the way she ran downstairs to announce her first visit from the Tooth Fairy.  I’m going to hate it when the magic of “believing” is gone.

I don’t recall when I stopped believing.  I know I was much older than five.  Still, I wish I could capture some of that again for myself – the magic and mystery of believing in princesses and fairy tales, of Santa Claus and The Easter Bunny.  Now, I happily watch my own children as they delight in the “magic” of the seasons.  I wish I could capture it and keep it forever, but sadly I know I they’re not small enough to *believe* forever.

When did your kids stop believing?  Even better – do your kids still believe?  I hope so.

Don’t forget about the fun stuff going on:

3rd Annual Valparaiso Community Egg Hunt – Free Community Egg Hunt for Porter County Residents – Saturday April 23rd 10 am at Porter County Expo Center (age 0-12 years – Rain or Shine)

Free Spring Movies at Goodrich Quality Theaters/IMAX in Portage – 9 am and 10 am Saturday and Sunday (call for times and movie)


Washington Park Zoo is OPEN!

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Mom on the Run

April 13th, 2011 - By Jamie Bissot

Busy.  Bizzay.

These past few weeks have been a dizzying haze of appointments, errands, to-do lists and to-don’t lists. And, news to me, it’s April.

Sometimes I think back to the time when I didn’t have kids and remember what it felt like to be free as a bird. Sometimes I long for those ole days. Days when I….

  • Didn’t feel like cooking dinner at 8 pm?  No problem! We’ll go out.  There were no bedtimes to take into account.
  • Could stay up late watching Annie Hall because it’s on AMC (even though I’d swear I own a copy somewhere?) No problem.  I only have to get myself dressed and out the door in the morning.
  • Get my car detailed and it stayed clean for longer than 45 minutes. You betcha.
  • Remembered what day it was without having to ask a 5-yr-old.

But with all the hurry and scurry of parenthood, I wouldn’t change a thing.  My life was far from empty before I had kids.  But now that I have the little darlings, my cup runneth over.  It’s easy to look back and remember fondly how easy life was before you were completely responsible for the well-being and health of another human! (Ack! That’s pressure)

But, my life then was just a shadow of the one I have now.  Parenthood is a funny thing.  Some days, I feel like crumpling into a ball on the floor and crying.  But, I can’t.  I’ve got laundry to do, dinner to cook and errands to run.  Most important, I have two kiddos to hug.

If you’re not busy and want more stuff to do – check these out:

Earth Day Celebration at Sunset Hill Farm County Park – Saturday, April 16th 10-3pm

3rd Annual Valparaiso Community Egg Hunt – Free Community Egg Hunt for Porter County Residents – Saturday April 23rd 10 am at Porter County Expo Center (age 0-12 years – Rain or Shine)

Free Spring Movies at Goodrich Quality Theaters/IMAX in Portage – 9 am and 10 am Saturday and Sunday (call or check site for times and movie)


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