NWI Parent

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)

Nature Escape!

June 2nd, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.  ~Albert Einstein

Sometimes you need to get out and about and you have no destination in mind.  Sometimes, you get a little tired within the walls of your home and feel the need to escape.  Sometimes, you just need to get outdoors.

This happened to us a few weeks ago and we ended up at my dear Mt. Baldy.  We took a long walk in the cool weather and it was the perfect answer to a hectic week.  I watched the rest of my family as they ambled up the path and just smiled to myself.  This unplanned trip was the perfect answer to “What are we doing to do today?”

We ended up talking, laughing, and reconnecting because there were no distractions.  There is no tv to turn on, no computer to get lost in – there’s just a trail, trees and the open sky.  I remembered how fortunate I am to be surrounded with such natural beauty so close to home.  I thought about how fortunate I was to have a family who wanted to spend time with me – doing nothing & everything at the same time. I remembered what it is I love so much about wide, open spaces.

Things I heard along the way:

“Mom! There’s a bee chasing me!”

“Mom, I don’t want to walk anymore.  My legs just won’t work!”

“Mom, isn’t all this green pretty?”

“Oh no! That tree fell down.  That’s so sad.”

“I think it’s warm enough to swim in the lake.  I really think it is.”

I looked on at my family, brought together in this new place, enjoying this incredible scenery and I just….smiled, relaxed, breathed!  Have you escaped the house lately?  Where’s your favorite place to escape?

The Likes of Which I’ve Never Seen.

April 20th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

The beach.  It’s my favorite place in the world to be.  Just the smell of the salty air can bring me back to the appreciation of “now” in a snap.    I love the sounds – sea gulls, waves, crowds (or not).  I love the sights – a seemingly endless stretch of water in front of you, the white of the sand, the lapping of the water as it soaks the boundary between water and land.  I love it all.  I miss it terribly.  I’m used to being pretty close to the ocean.  Close enough to hop in your car and be there in a few hours.

I do, however,  think I’ve found a worthy replacement.  Lake Michigan is grand, commanding and beautiful.  It’s surrounding landscape is breath-taking.  And then there are the dunes.  While dunes are not new to me, dunes the size of Mt. Baldy and the like are quite new.  I’m accustomed to dunes a few feet high.  The Indiana Dunes are indeed a sight to behold.

Last year, when I first made a trip to the beach of Lake Michigan, I was in a state of confusion.  My sparkling emerald water and blinding white sand had been replaced by a bit of sand and rocks – but it was a beach, all the same – the water gracefully lapping at the shore, rather than violently crashing into it.  It was a moving scene, nonetheless.  In fact, I decided on that day that the magic is somewhere hidden in those large bodies of water.

As a newcomer to a Great Lake, it is amazing to see.  And while it wasn’t the beach I was accustomed to, it was a place filled with that same serenity and beauty I’d come to know and love over my life.

I’ve been back numerous times.  The latest was just a few weeks ago.  This time, I hiked to the top of Mt. Baldy (with a baby on my back) and then spent some time at the waters edge.  It was a beautiful day,which had abnormally reached temperatures in the 80s.  I made the absolute best of it and even managed to convince a visitor that she was going to see a part of Indiana she’d never expect.  She fell in love immediately.

The Indiana Dunes are now a part of me, a part of my outdoor routine.  I’m convinced that I see something new and beautiful every time I go.  Whether it be those gorgeous rocks, the beautiful plant life or a new view – there’s always more and I’ll keep going back to see it.

Spring Springs Beautifully Here

April 6th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

indiana winter

This is beautiful.  In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I dreamed of this gorgeous, stark landscape.  So much so, I stopped on the side of the road to grab this picture.  But after a while, it drained me.  I don’t think I realized how much the cabin fever had taken over until the snow started to clear away for the first time. This was, after all, my first Winter here.  I can’t say I was prepared.  In fact, I was terrified.  But, I made it.

And then…


One day I walked outside and I felt like Dorothy walking out of her house into Oz for the first time.  Ok, so that’s a bit dramatic – but it’s pretty close.

The gloomy gray of Winter had finally cleared and I could see a beautiful blue sky.  I could see the evidence of life in my lawn.  I could feel a mild breeze (So,  it was an obnoxious gust – but I’m trying to paint a pretty picture here.)

We’ve spent every day either in the grass or on the porch.  I have to say that Indiana is impressing more and more every day.  Long afternoons in the sun, listening to soft music and watching the grins and hearing the laughs is making for many magical moments.

Welcome Spring! We’re so happy you’re here!

Filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

Libraries are cool

March 23rd, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

I should confess that I love books.  I devour them.  I even love the smell of them.  So for me, a library or book store is my idea of a little bit of heaven.  I often run off to Barnes & Noble after the kids are in bed just to hang out in the place where all those books gather.

But libraries, libraries are the coolest. Local libraries are so much more than a place to grab a good book (which I do – often!)  You can find plenty of information on your community, find out about local events and find local resources.  There’s always something going on at the library – children’s storytimes, craft events – I’m always surprised at what I find.  Our library was a practical goldmine when I first moved here.

Valparaiso LibraryChances are, your library even has a few little spots for the kids to hang out and well, be kids.  The Valparaiso Library’s Children’s Department is great.  Their book selection is immense, they have incredibly popular children’s storytimes (so popular they’re full!), and plenty of niche’s for kids to plop down and read, play with trains or hang out.

While the Library isn’t a loud place (Shhh!) I’ve often found that the children’s department is not a place where you must whisper – only be courteous to the other patrons.  Let’s face it – just try to keep any group of kids quiet – it’s a losing battle – might as well teach to be respectful of their surroundings instead.

So go show your local library some love – I’m sure they’d love to have you!

A Brief History of the Place I Now Call Home

March 17th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

It occurred to me that if I was going to do this “new resident to the State of Indiana” thing right, I needed to have a basic understanding of this place I now find myself calling “home”.  I got from the get go that I lived in a highly agricultural area – but I had a feeling there was so much more lurking beneath the surface.

Northwest Indiana

I realized, I had a few questions.  Like, what exactly is a “Hoosier”?  and  “Gee, Basketball is like all the rage here, huh?”  I felt I really needed to dig deep and know what all this meant.

Let’s start with Hoosier.

To say that I was literally clueless about this is an understatement.  I had a vague understanding that it had something to do with Nick Nolte and a basketball movie, but was quickly informed (by my lovingly patient husband) that I was indeed clueless (and it was Gene Hackman).  So, I went to the internet (isn’t that why God invented Google?)

Turns out – by just researching this one term, I became quite familiar with Indiana history and found an awesome website – The Indiana Historical Society, as well as the Indiana Historical Bureau on IN.gov.  Want to beef up on your state history, start there.

So, back to the “Hoosier” – what is it? I expected to find a simple answer.  I didn’t.  But I did find many great possible explanations – like these from the Indiana Historical Bureau.  Nothing short of fascinating.

Now on to basketball.  I like basketball, I do.  In fact, if I had to pick a favorite sport – well, it would be very high on the list.  But you see, I hail from the state of Alabama and my alma mater is  The University of Alabama.  So, we kind of eat, sleep and drink football.  From an early age you learn all about National Championships, Bear Bryant and Big Al.  Basketball is well, well, it’s not football.

But it turns out, basketball is HUGE around here.  Yay for me!  That means I get to watch an indoor sport!

In order to understand the nature of “basketball-love” here, I again, turned to Google.  Turns out there’s even this statement on Wikipedia

“The states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are particularly well known for their residents’ devotion to high school basketball, commonly called Hoosier Hysteria in Indiana; the critically acclaimed film Hoosiers shows high school basketball’s depth of meaning to these communities.”

Hoosier Hysteria! Sign me up!

AND – A ha! I was kind of right about the term Hoosier, basketball and a movie being like the six degrees of Indiana.  Well, sort of.

*For homework, I’ve Netflixed (what? it’s a verb, right?) Hoosiers.  I can’t wait to check out Gene Hackman (how did I get Nick Nolte?)

Filed under: Out and About. Tags: .


March 9th, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

The husband ended up with a few free weekdays last week.  Not being a girl to let anything go to waste, I hopped in the car and yelled “Buh-Bye” as I pulled out of the drive.

I ran a few child-less errands – which amazingly took less than half the time they normally would and then….then, I, I… didn’t know what to do with myself.  I’m not really a mani/pedi type girl – rather, I wasn’t much in the mood for it.

So, I drove around for a bit.  Remembering that I had my trusty laptop with me, I thought, “meh” ((shrug)), I guess I could use a few hours of uninterrupted work.

So, I pulled up to The Blackbird Cafe (b/c I recalled they had wi-fi and I had heard what a great little spot it is), popped in and made myself right at home on a little black couch in the way back.  I ordered up some tea, a little soup and voila’ – I was in business!

The Blackbird Cafe


With it’s quiet jazz background music, it’s WAY friendly staff and my new best friend (this black leather couch) I got crazy amounts of work done.

All in all, The Blackbird Cafe is a definite winner for my escapes when I can wrangle one.  And I have to say, sneaking off and not having to answer when you hear “Mom!” has it perks!

Dear Blackbird, I shall return!

If you like twitter (I’m a twitaholic, maybe, I don’t know) – follow them on twitter for the latest! @blackbirdcafe

Cruising the Storytime Circuit in Northwest Indiana

March 2nd, 2010 - By Jamie Bissot

I’ve been guilty of utilizing story time where ever I’ve lived for the past 4.5 years.  What can I say – I leap at the chance for someone else to take the reigns of entertaining the kiddos, while all I have to do is hang out in the background, hope they don’t cause too much of a distraction and breathe.  It’s the break I need so often.  In fact, I was once on a regular on a story time circuit -  I attended 3 story times a week at different locations. Kind of like a rodeo circuit, except, not.


The other day, I decided it was time to hop back on that train and visit a local story time here in Northwest Indiana.  This would be the first venture for the toddler, so I had my doubts about getting a real break.  However, I was pleasantly surprised!  She stayed in the designated “story time” area, didn’t act like too much of a fool and managed to even listen – once…I think.


However, she did decide that the Barnes & Noble carpet was as good of a place as any to pull up a little bit of floor and go on to sleep.  Seriously.  She squatted, then leaned over a bit (see above), put her thumb in her mouth and decided – “this isn’t so bad” and was on her way to sleepytown.  I intervened, she perked up and we finished story time.

Then, it was time for snack – she gobbled it up.  All in all, we had a very successful inaugural trip to story time.  Can’t wait to become “regulars”.

Training her early

For storytimes in our area, click here.  Also, check out the Porter and Lake County Libraries for their storytimes and activities!

Filed under: Out and About. Tags: .


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