NWI Parent

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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Bears Game!

November 19th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

This past weekend, I had the chance to do something I’ve wanted to do since moving here.  I’ve waited, assumed it would be unlikely due to children & babysitting issues, cost of attendance, setting aside and spending an entire day doing something I wanted to do… But Sunday proved to be the perfect storm of scenarios and I finally got to attend… a Bears game at Soldier Field!

My Dad was in town for a visit, and scheduled it so that he could babysit the kids.  Check.  My husband got a few tickets to Sunday’s game.  Check. And it was on!

It was fantastic! I was over the moon!  And it almost didn’t happen.

I had been very sick, and both of my kids had been very sick.  It seemed that all of my well-laid plans were for naught as it seemed that attending anything that happened outside of the confines of my house was not going to happen.  But we did it, we all managed to rebound a feel a bit better by Sunday.

We boarded the train Sunday morning with one thing on our minds – Win!  And we did it! Go Bears!  (Also, can you believe that me, the newbie, managed to get all the way through this without one “Da Bears!” comment? Well, I guess I didn’t)

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Got Plans? How About The Wizard of Oz Festival and Museum Campus

September 14th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

Dorothy: Goodbye, Tinman. Oh, don’t cry! You’ll rust so dreadfully. Here’s your oil can.
Tin Woodsman: Now I know I’ve got a heart, ’cause it’s breaking…
Dorothy: Goodbye, Lion. I know it isn’t right, but I’m going to miss the way you used to hollar for help before you found your courage.
Cowardly Lion:  I never would’ve found it if it hadn’t been for you…
Dorothy: [to Scarecrow] I think I’m going to miss you most of all.

That’s the line.  “I think I’ll miss you most of all” gets me every time.  We all have a favorite part of that movie.  For over 7 decades children and adults alike have been enchanted by the Wizard of Oz.  My second child is now in her “Dorothy” phase.  If it’s anything like what the first child’s Dorothy phase was like, I can count on many Friday nights spent singing “Ha ha ha, ho ho ho, and a couple of Tra la la’s”.

Imagine our sheer delight in finding shortly after moving here that the town of Chesterton honors the magic of Oz once every year with an amazing Wizard of Oz Festival. My daughter was starstruck by the people dressed in character.  She was thrilled to have her hair braided “just like Dorothy!” and, ok, she was really happy to have festival food too. (scroll on down for last years pics!)  So, don’t miss the festival this year in Chesterton.  For more information, visit the Wizard of Oz Festival Website.


Also this week, the Adler Planetarium is hosting free admission Monday through Friday (September 13-17)  from 10 am-4 pm for Charter One Explorer Days.  This is a great (free!) chance to check out the newest exhibit, Planet Explorers.”In Planet Explorers, families with children ages 3-8 can embark on a modern-day space adventure and explore a distant world known only as Planet X.”


Also, don’t miss Community Discount Days at Shedd Aquarium. “On our Community Discount Days, admission to the aquarium’s original galleries is free”  Upcoming Community Discount Days are: Sept. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 and 28;
Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26; and Nov. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. For more information, visit the Shedd Aquarium website.


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

June 22nd, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

Sometimes, life gets well….complicated.  I don’t know about you, but there seem to be periods in my life where the responsibilities really pile up.  It’s time to say no a bit more (politely, of course), pair down to the necessities and then – go blow off a little steam.

When I get all tied-up-in-knots, wound-up-tight, stressed-out, sometimes I just have to deflate the balloon a little.  I’m not sure if that metaphor works really, but I think you know what I mean.  It’s time to let loose, have a laugh, STOP and enjoy the ride you’re on.

We’re wanderers.  We wander.  More often than not, we wander into Chicago because, well it’s there.  We decided the kids needed to blow off a little steam of their own, so we took them to a Chicago eatery known as Ed Debevic’s.

This totally 50’s diner is authentic down to the characters each server plays.  Our server “Biscuits” was no disappointment.  He had the kids laughing in no time and I even managed to crack a smile.  As he was customarily “rude” to us, my kids thought it was hilarious.  And even I, as grumpy as I was, managed to get into the swing of things.  But the fun had just begun.  As the announcement came over the intercom, all service came to a halt and the waitstaff immediately climbed on top of bars and tables to dance their socks off to a blaring tune.

After that, the kid was sold.  She decided that when she grew up, this was the place she definitely wanted to work.  (Not that that subject isn’t a revolving door – but Debevic’s is definitely now a frontrunner).

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Off to Shedd

February 15th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

One of our first trips into Chicago was spent at Shedd Aquarium.  It’s such a quick trip from Northwest Indiana and well, I love it there.  I’ve always loved aquariums, but this one is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  Now that we’ve been here a little over 6 months, I would guess we’ve gone 6 or 7 times.  That’s probably due to the fact that we have a membership and feel we should use it, but somehow or another, on a lazy day, we often find ourselves there, wandering through the up-close exhibits in awe.

One of the first things that struck me about the aquarium was the beauty of the building itself.  Nestled in the museum campus on the banks of Lake Michigan, its sprawling staircase and grand entrance immediately informs you that you are to prepare for an experience.  The breathtaking architecture is something that even this amateur can appreciate.

Once inside, you can’t help but notice the incredible doors, soaring ceilings and cool marble all around.  Indeed, before you’ve even paid admission, you’ve received a treat for the eyes.  You can only imagine the faces of people as they took the first steps into the aquarium in 1929.  Since then, the building has undergone renovations and expansions and has found its way onto the National Historic Landmarks registry.

But the exhibits, the exhibits here are my favorite.  I love the Waters of the World exhibits, while the kids prefer the Polar Play Zone – where they can spy on the dolphins, Beluga Whales and Penguins.  And,when they tire of watching, there are plenty of places to stop and play a bit.

We also took some time this trip to attend the new Fantasea show.  It was crowded – but the staff was very efficient in finding seats for as many as possible, while making sure that everyone could see and enjoy the show.  I loved it – but I am a sucker for those Belugas.  Always have been.  The show is as interactive as it can be with that many people in attendance, but it’s still a treat for everyone.

One thing that is also new there – although we did not participate, is the Beluga Encounter.  What an experience – although, with a hefty pricetag of $250 ($225 for members), it’s not for everyone.  But, if you do decide to cough up the dough, I believe it might be worth it – participants get to go up close and personal with a Beluga Whale trainer for an experience like no other!

So, while this trip wasn’t new to me entirely, it is one of my favorite things (so far) to do.  The quick trip to Chicago is worth it to see the looks on my children’s faces as the dolphins spin in the air, as they touch the starfish and giggle and as they pretend to be penguins.  A definite good time to be had by all.

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