contents letter from the editor 4 summer fun 6 dad you should know 8 gardening for summer 10 couch talk
teaching your kids to be kind 12
daddy delights 14 breaking bread grilling greats 16
date night diva 18 ask the mom vacation tips 20
fun & games blast camp 21 diy craft night 30
fit 4 mom 23 breast cancer follow up 28
school reflections 22 community calendar 24 Front Cover Photo By: balee images Table of Contents Photo By: balee images Advertising & Submissions: Mom to Mom, NWI LLC 6212 US HWY 6 Ste. 170, Portage, IN 46368 • (219) 973-5138 Managing Editor / Publisher: Stephanie Vega Edwards email@example.com Sales / Publisher: Roly Martinez 773-416-0665 • firstname.lastname@example.org
OUR TEAM Matt Scearce – Designer/Layout Eva Williams - Sales Priscilla Metros - Sales Mindy Gear – Contributing Writer Megan Ciszewski – Contributing Writer Brooke Recktenwall – Contributing Writer Beth Whitaker – Contributing Writer Emma Kester – Contributing Writer Nichole Odijk DeMario – Contributing Writer Amber Neace – Contributing Writer
Mom to Mom, NWI is a monthly publication by Mom to Mom, NWI LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. All photographs and articles submitted become the sole property of Mom to Mom, NWI.
counting down It seems that all I’m doing lately is counting down the days. From my oldest daughter counting down how many days until her Kindergarten graduation, to my youngest counting down the classes remaining in her first year of preschool, it’s been kind of hard to focus on another countdown going on in my life: the countdown until baby girl number three is here. With my first pregnancy I wrote down and kept track of every little thing. With my second, I kept track of some stuff, but I had my hands so busy with a toddler that it easily slipped my mind to count how many times the baby kicked that day. And now with my third, I’m realizing that the day to day life of pregnancy really goes by the way. Between work, my daughters, and a new house to manage, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time to keep track and monitor the ups and downs of pregnancy. I’ve been taking it in stride, always moving, not really taking a moment to stop and smell the roses. But sometimes life throws you a curve ball and reminds you that focusing on the here and now is the most important job of all. For me, that moment came in May when I visited my doctor for my 30 week check-up and she told me that I needed to rest and relax for the next four weeks because I was at risk for going into early labor. Talk about a wake-up call! I’ve been moving boxes, painting, staying up late - doing all the wrong things. I could feel my baby moving, see my belly growing, so I just figured everything was alright. Even though I was having a lot of pregnancy symptoms, I just chalked it up to normal pregnancy aches and pains and figured that since this was my third pregnancy, I was feeling everything earlier. When she told me initially told me to slow down, I figured that I’d have my husband take care of the laundry and the cleaning and that I would try to take a couple of hours a day to recline on my couch while I did my work. But it didn’t take long before I realized that I was still doing too much, and once again, I was having way more aches and pains than I should be. And then it hit me: the most important thing in my life right now is doing everything I can to assure that my baby is healthy. If that means limiting the time on my feet for the next four weeks until I get in the “safe zone,” then that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Recently, I relaxed with my closest friends at a beautiful baby shower hosted in my honor. We sat, ate, and laughed, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. For the first time during my entire pregnancy, I felt like I was finally taking the time out to enjoy my pregnancy – and it felt wonderful. And because I had such a wonderful time at this absolutely gorgeous party, I had to share it with you all of you. My friend Brandi threw a beautiful shower,
and with the help of some of her talented industry friends, she put on a party worthy of being published in a magazine. So here it – a glimpse of what enjoying pregnancy looked like to me, and now maybe you’ll all see why it is so important to take time for yourself!
feature by: Nicole Odijk DeMario
Summer vacation – that coveted time of year when kids of all ages receive a break from school. If you’re looking for different activities to fill your child’s time, Northwest Indiana offers an immense variety of summer camps that provide opportunities to experience the arts, nature, science, sports and more in a whole new way.
Camp Invention Summer Program 800.968.4332 | campinvention.org
This summer enrichment program introduces children in grades 1 through 6 to science, technology, engineering and math through hands-on activities that encourage brainstorming, experimentation and action. Local schools in Crown Point, Hobart, Highland, Munster, Porter, Schererville, St. John and Westville will be offering the camp at various times and dates from June through August.
Valparaiso University’s Summer Smart, Summer Fun 1700 Chapel Drive, Valparaiso, IN 219.464.5000 | valpo.edu
This summer will be the first time Valparaiso University is offering its new academic camp for elementary and middle school students. Depending on their age, campers will be entered into programs based on global citizenship or world exploration. Global citizenship will focus on cultures, languages and customs from around the world. The Explorers Program will highlight science, multimedia and creativity. The university also offers athletic-based programs.
Lubeznik Center for Arts
101 W. Second Street, Michigan City, IN 219.874.4900 | lubeznikcenter.or g The center offers one-day works hops to full-length sessions for all ages. Topics include dra wing, digital photography, bookbinding and more. They are offering two new camps – Culture Club Art Camp that introdu ces students to art, crafts, music and food from different cul tures and Famous Artists Art Camp where students learn about famous Masters and create their own masterpieces.
Memorial Opera House
104 E. Indiana Avenue, Valparaiso , IN 219.548.9137 | mohlive.com Students will take part in Bro adway Bootcamp. The intensive summer theater cam p is built on the principles of professional music theater. Students will learn and perform a musical adaptation of “Cinderella” in five days that includes professional cos tumes, lights and sound. All students will have a role and will sing, act and dance. Audition techniques are also cov ered. Class sizes are small and overseen by working profes sional performers.
ns y, – s, ts d
2300 173 Learning Cente rd ro 700 Howe Road, Chesterton, IN 219.989.3 Street Hammond f Northwest In diana , IN 250 | clc 219.395.9555 | duneslearningcenter.org nwi.org The scien c Dunes Learning Center has an array of day and overnight includin e education cen ter offers g its ne a multitu w Astro camps. Camps include: Dunes Discovery Camps; ParKids Astrona -T de o o ut Trainin t Space Quest, U f camps g Camp, Day Camps that give younger children a chance to Camp Generati and Rob nderwat e ons Inter otic explore the park’s forests, streams, meadows and Explore generatio r rs, Disco s. They will als n a o very Cam l be offer trails; Teen ParKids Summer Camps combines behind- Camp a p, India lon na Spac ing Moon the-scenes interaction with nature with volunteering Science g with one day c e Adven amps su Investiga ture ch as CS tor, Rock and stewardship; Summer Earth Camp (limited to East I: Challen etry and ger S u r vivor: Ma Chicago 4th through 7th grade students) and Mighty rs. Acorns® Nature Camps.
Dunes Learning Center
They are currently seeking funding for their Operation Military Kids programs, which helps offset the cost of camp children of military parents before, during and after deployment in the US Armed Services.
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens
450 West 100 North, Valparaiso, IN 219.462.0025 | taltree.org Taltree offers week-long camps throughout the summer. Its CSI Taltree Camp pairs science and nature together. Campers investigate maggots, flies, worms and larvae. They take part in a “dead things” hike, and will be introduced to the Scientific Method and get to meet scientists. Wacky Water Week explores the Grand Kankakee Marsh, Taltree’s wetlands and learn about ecosystems. Campers fish and observe wild life while journaling and photographing. Other camps offered include: Science Quest and Wilderness Safari Camp.
e CES SOUR
RE s and CAMP R es’ Park E ti H li a ip OT ic mer un local m f camps and sum na h it w k India list o to chec nts for a rthwest e o N m Be sure t f r o a p s Club on De ities. Recreati Boys and Girls n array of activ a . r s activitie MCA’s also offe Y a e r and a
Bulls Sox Academy
nd and ughout Chicagola ro th ry va ns tio Loca Northwest Indiana soxacademy.com 219.864.8200 | bulls ho are des professionals w clu in aff st y’s em ad The ac d coaches ofessional players an former collegiate, pr icago Bulls directly from the Ch who have learned s summer hing staff. It offer ac co x So te hi W ing, and ograms for beginn pr d un -ro ar ye d camps an seball, fast gh level training in ba intermediate and hi ll. pitch and basketba
Northwest Indiana University ll Camp RedHawks’ Basketba nasium, er Gym IUN Savannah Cent ry, IN Ga 3400 Broadway, edu 219.981.4279 | iun.
n an inmp gives childre ca ay -d ur fo e asizes Th rience that emph pe ex ll ba et sk ba all depth anship. Children of m ts or sp d an ls ta fundamen are grouped are welcome and experiences levels ill work, program includes sk e Th y. ilit ab d an e and by ag d drills, league games an es cis er ex g in ld team-bui RedHawks will be overseen by skill competitions. It s. players and coache 7
profile by Nichole Odijk DeMario
Nearly five years ago, Steven and Chanda Musial - now of Michigan City, were planning a family trip to Walt Disney World. When they couldn’t find Alice in Wonderland themed costumes to fit their infant twins, Steven suggested he make them. The couple purchased a sewing machine and with only the directions to guide him, Steven made the costumes as planned. “My dad and my dad’s dad have always been good at making things. It seemed simple to me,” said Steven. “There’s a plan and a pattern. I knew I could do it.” 8
And when the couple learned their youngest daughter Amelia was severely allergic to disposable diapers last fall, his sewing skills would be tested again. “I came across cloth diapers on a pregnancy forum I was part of,” said mother of six Chanda. “At first I thought - I can’t believe we have to use these. Then I went to Steve and said I need cute ones at least.”
The diapers are constructed in multiple layers with adjustable snaps to fit infants from 10 pounds to 27 pounds. Their customers include regular cloth diaper users, but others buy their diapers for special events such as first birthday photos. Prices range from $35 to $45 per diaper. Many of their diapers are named after the child who first wore them. For instance, “Riley” is named for their first military themed diaper and is one of Steven’s favorite designs. This diaper is constructed from the child’s parent’s military issued t-shirt and name tag. Daddy’s Diapers tea party fabric design was their first design and continues to be their most popular for girls.
After about four hours, Steven came up with a custom design. Amelia was clad in a “cute” cloth diaper as requested and was soon rash free. “I can honestly say they were amazing – they were just perfect,” Chanda said. “People who have been sewing for years are amazed that these cloth diapers are hand sewn.” Like many proud parents, Chanda posted a picture of Amelia with a description that she was wearing “daddy’s diapers.” Soon friends were commenting, asking where the diapers were sold and how adorable they were. When Chanda explained they were made by hand by Steven the orders starting coming in. As positive online comments were made, orders continued to increase. “I haven’t warmed up to the reaction until recently,” Steven said. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I thought it was just support from friends but it’s a different feeling now. I didn’t really want to assume it was going to turn into something,” And so, Daddy’s Diapers became their out of home business. Steven oversees the designs and creation, while balancing work as an engineer technician and student. Chanda, stay at home mom turned work at home mom, manages logistics and fabric purchasing. Chanda’s twentyyear-old son Gavin also works full-time for their business. The Musial Family defies the saying “not enough hours in the day”. “Everybody helps and nobody sleeps,” Chanda said.
The Musials say business isn’t slowing down whatsoever. Orders are coming from around the world and have since been sent to Puerto Rico, Canada, England, Germany and Australia. They used to purchase fabric by the yard from local fabric stores - now they buy in 80 yard bolts. Their kitchen work space had to be moved into their all seasons room and has since spilled over into the garage and basement. Sales are up 30 percent each month since they began taking orders and they have more than 2,500 likes on Facebook. The pair hopes to expand the Daddy’s Diapers line in the future. They regularly have contests and conduct various drives for children’s charities. They are committed to keeping their product domestically made and actively searching to add an employee with fast, but excellent sewing skills. To learn more about this growing company, visit their Facebook page, website daddydiapers.com or email email@example.com.
feature by: rea robinson-ryzewski
gardening for summer Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or someone who already managed to kill off that hanging basket you got for Mother’s Day, there’s something about summer that brings out the nature lover in all of us. For many, there is no better way to get close to nature than to bring a little piece of it into our lives with a garden. One thing I love about gardening is how it unites people of every age and every walk of life. Children can grow quite passionate about this pursuit because they can be fully hands-on – doing everything from planting to watering to harvesting. Perhaps the best thing about gardening is that there is no right or wrong garden. Gardens are as individual as the person who plants them.
M ru mi Bir to yo
Consider Your Space Though this may seem obvious, space considerations mean more than the physical size of your yard. How much sun your space gets, whether your soil tends to be wet or dry, sandy or clay, all play into your options. There are plants that thrive in every environment. Irises love sandy soil (look for re-blooming varieties to get flowers twice a year instead of once!). Abusive heat and sun are welcomed by petunias, day lilies, ornamental grasses and more. A shade garden can be your relaxing getaway, filled with ferns, hostas, and shade Coleus. If your soil is difficult, it can be amended with additives such as compost and perlite. Or you can rely on planters, where you have complete control over the soil and whether you place them in sun or shade.
Consider your Investment of Time and Money
Are you simply looking for a little color? Are you trying to attract birds or butterflies? Or were you looking for a harvest of fruits and vegetables at the end of the season? Perhaps you want all of the above, as I do! To surround yourself in color, choose annuals, which bloom the entire season. Summer favorites such as petunias for sunny areas and impatiens in shady areas are classic choices. Annuals can be purchased as single plants or in large trays called flats, which contain 48 plants. Many annuals, such as lantana, can do dual duty by also attracting butterflies. Butterfly bushes, rue, and the herb dill will draw swallowtail butterflies to your yard, whereas planting common milkweed is the trick for bringing monarchs to your space. Bird lovers can consider fruit trees, bushes and vines, such as plums, blueberries and blackberries, to attract their feathered friends. Be aware, of course, that much of the fruit will be “harvested” by your birds and not make it to your table! A harvest of vegetables, however, can be yours whether you choose to build a large garden bed or simply plant in containers. Many varieties of tomatoes have been cultivated specifically to accommodate smaller areas. Tumbling Tom, for example, is a cherry tomato that does beautifully in hanging baskets. Herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and basil can share a planter and provide you with fresh seasoning for all your summer cooking. A larger planter can hold a patio tomato, jalapeno pepper plant, and cilantro - almost everything you need to make your own homemade salsa!
Breathtaking gardens can be planted on a shoestring budget, but they can also become a large investment for some gardeners. Like the limited resource of money, the amount of time and energy you want to put into planting and maintaining your garden will be a large factor in determining your choices. To save money on plants, take advantage of friends and family with established garden. Gardeners are generally more than happy to share cuttings or portions of plants from their own yard. Many established perennials can easily be split into multiple plants to share, including day lilies, hostas, ornamental grasses, and more. Local garden clubs often have plant sales as well, in conjunction with their garden walks, which are a great way to get ideas for your own yard. To help reduce the upkeep of your plants, choose a moisture control potting soil and use self-watering planters. In garden beds, use mulch to reduce the need for watering and weeding. Gardening can be a joyful, rewarding and excellent learning experience for the entire family and a wonderful expression of our individuality. Visit your local garden center to see what options Mother Nature has in store for you this year! “No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.” - Hugh Johnson
family health by Beth Whitaker Beth@momtomomnwi.com
“I don’t think the worst thing that could happen to me is raising a child with special needs. I think the worst thing is to raise a child who is cruel to those with special needs.” This quote speaks volumes as I strongly believe that as a mother, it’s my priority to teach my children to be kind to everyone. Having a sibling with special needs taught me that people can be very cruel to people they view as weak. Unfortunately, cruelty can come from anywhere. I want to make sure my children learn from me and not their peers as to how to treat children who are different. I know as well as anyone how embarrassing it can be in a store when your child points out someone in a wheelchair. So, how do we handle those difficult situations? Well, the important thing is to start the conversation early so that the questions can be easily answered.
Here are some ideas to share with your child about people with disabilities:
1 GAME of BOWLING SHOES HOT DOG, CHIPS & POP 135 N Broad Street, Griffith 219.924.3181 www.setemuplanes.com
1. Disabilities are on a spectrum. Some are obvious and some are “hidden”. Be open to discussing both obvious and hidden disabilities with your child. 2. No two people are the same. We all have strengths and challenges and we need to learn to appreciate that in ourselves and others. 3. The disability is only one aspect of a person. All people have many different pieces to them and the disability is not their entire being. They are human first; not defined by their disability. 4. Children with disabilities are just like other children; they want friends and respect. They enjoy the same activities as other children and enjoy the company of friends. 5. When someone has a physical disability, they may not necessarily have a cognitive disability. 6. Children with disabilities can do many of the same things and your child. It might take them longer and they might requirement assistance or adaptive equipment to help them. 7. Children are either born with a disability or become disabled from an accident.
As parents we need to model respect and kindness to your children. Small, off-handed comments can be overheard and repeated. Make sure we use (and teach) clear, respectful language when talking about someone with a disability. Even when you think your child may not be listening, they are. Reinforce that name calling is never ok - even if it was meant as a joke. Donâ€™t allow offensive or derogatory language in your home. Often times, people do not realize how they treat someone with a disability and I saw this first-hand with my older brother. I would see the looks and hear the comments when he has a seizure in public. I have never understood how this banter has been allowed for so long, but we are in a position to change things by teaching our children to be kind. As I mentioned last month, encourage your children to get involved as volunteers for the Challenger Baseball League in your community. Find ways to encourage your children to interact with children with disabilities. Help your child see all children as unique and special.
Libby Heath, 15 along with her siblings Molly, 12 and Matthew, 9.
profile By: Megan Ciszewski
Daddy Delights Gift Ideas for Father’s Day Father’s Day is June 16th, and for most of us moms that means another reason to shop! Here are some unique ideas to make our men feel like the superheroes we know they are. Personalized Dinnerware I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that the food on the grill is done and that I needed to bring out a plate to put the meat on. But now, I have finally found the solution to empower our men to do it themselves! How about personalizing this adorable platter from Lillian Vernon and gift it with his favorite snacks (aka beef jerky) or grilling utensils. It’s practical and sentimental – and you’ll love the cute factor as well. Footwear Reef makes a super cool flip flop made with a bottle opener on the bottom of the sandal. Our beer drinking boys will eat up the envy as they flip their flop to open their Corona when sitting around a backyard BBQ. Smell Goods Men don’t know the power of pheromones. By gifting him a scent that you like, there’s a strong likelihood that he’ll win in the end (wink, wink). Head to your local department store and get your sniff on. Colognes generally fall into three categories: citrus, spicy and green. Determine whether your guy is more of fresh-out-of-the-shower type or maybe more of a seasoned leather man. Talk to the sales people about the way he dresses & skin type. These people are trained on the brands’ qualities and they will help narrow it down for you.
Tech Tools I am loving Brookstone’s wireless headphones – and I can’t think of a better compromise! Picture this… you have the most stressful day of all time: work was demanding, the kids physically wore you out, you had an argument with your mother (or his!) and you are dead tired. Just as you finally crawl into bed to crash into the much needed peace and quiet, your #1 grabs the remote to catch up on his shows. Groan. But never fear! Wireless headphones are here! Check them out on Brookstone’s website.
eats By: Mindy Gear
It’s June and that means sunshine, warm(er) weather and GRILLING! It is nice to give your oven a rest and take the cooking outside - not to mention there is far less clean-up (no crusty pans to wash) and you don’t have to heat up your house. Another perk is that I prepare everything and my husband cooks it – he is much better at cooking on the grill than I am, plus it’s almost like a cooking vacation! As with many other seasons, I find that I get stuck in a rut of eating the same thing all the time. Chicken, pork chops, and hamburgers…seasoned the same way every night. I enjoy trying different rubs and marinades, but sometimes lack the enthusiasm to find recipes. You can always buy a pre-made rub or bottle of marinade at the store, but some can be filled with all sort of extra unnecessary ingredients. So this month, I decided to spend a week checking out different ideas and making some of my own rubs and marinades. These can be used on chicken, beef or pork. One might make a great Father’s Day cookout idea - maybe Dad could use a new grill to try them out on. Several ingredients this month were purchased at Good 2 Go in Chesterton. They have some unique spices and a great selection of balsamic vinegars and olive oils. My basil plant also came in handy. Fresh herbs are a great way to add flavor to many dishes.
Smokey Spice Rub
1 Tbsp of your favorite chili powder 1 Tbsp ground black pepper 1 Tbsp garlic powder (not salt) 2 Tbsp brown sugar (light) 1 Tbsp smoked sea salt 2 Tbsp smoked paprika 1 tsp cumin or adobo seasoning (optional) 1 tsp cayenne pepper - Mix all of the ingredients together. Good 2 Go had Applewood or Hickory smoked sea salt. I tried both and didn’t have a preference; both gave the meat a great flavor. We used this rub on steak. Rub all sides generously and then brush steak with olive oil before grilling. It would also be great for ribs! Barbecued food definitely rates highly at our house during the summer months. Here is a great BBQ marinade and BBQ sauce for chicken. I recommend letting the marinade sit overnight or all day. Then grill and brush with sauce during last few minutes of cooking. Don’t let the homemade sauce frighten you off. It is mostly ingredients you probably have in your cupboard. It tastes so much better than store bought.
BBQ Chicken Marinade
1 Tbsp Yellow Mustard 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes 1 tsp cayenne pepper ½ Tbsp fresh chopped basil 1-1/2 Tbsp white sugar 2 Tbsp paprika 1 tsp onion powder ½ cup balsamic vinegar ¾ cup canola0 oil Salt and Pepper to taste - Whisk ingredients together. Pour over chicken, cover and refrigerate several hours (best if left overnight). Grill thoroughly and brush with sauce near end.
1 small onion, chopped 2-3 cloves garlic, minced Cook in a drizzle of olive oil for 3-5 minutes over low heat, until translucent.
2 cups ketchup ½ cup water 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice ¼ cup brown sugar ½ cup vinegar (I used honey Serrano balsamic) 1 Tbsp yellow mustard 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce ½ cup molasses Salt/Pepper to taste Cayenne pepper (optional, to taste) 4 Tbsp Adobo sauce (optional) – This is the sauce from a can of chipotle peppers. Generally found in tiny cans in Mexican food aisle. One can is plenty. Remove peppers and use the sauce. - After cooking onions and garlic, add remaining ingredients and let simmer at least 30 minutes. Store remaining in airtight container.
Another great marinade can be used for vegetables too. If doing vegetables, only marinade about 2 hours or less. Summertime is a great time to visit Farmer’s Markets and buy fresh produce. Colorful vegetables make great kabobs. I used baby redskin potatoes on my kabobs. I steamed them for about 8 minutes, just to soften them. They went into the marinade with the other vegetables. If you are using chicken, marinate overnight in refrigerator.
Vegetable or Chicken Marinade 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar 1/2 cup canola oil 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup or honey (use REAL maple syrup, not imitation) 3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 4 cloves minced garlic Salt/Pepper, to taste
Whisk ingredients together. If you are marinating chicken, try bone-in chicken breast. After removing from marinade, stuff small amount of goat cheese and more fresh basil. Too much goat cheese will made a gooey mess on grill.
eats By: Mindy Gear
201 N. Main St. • Crown Point, IN. 46307 Attire: Casual Good for Kids: Yes Reservations: Yes
Station 21 in Crown Point has an atmosphere that is fun, inviting and modern and is truly fun for the whole family. If you and your family enjoy eating outdoors when it’s warm, then this is the place to come! They have a fantastic outdoor eating area on the second level and they have several TV’s out there if you want to catch the game while you dine. The service is fast, and friendly, and I really enjoy the fact that Station 21 really caters to families offering up a great variety on their kids menu.
El Salto Mexican Restaurant
3304 Calumet Ave • Valparaiso, IN. 46383 Attire: Casual Good for Kids: Yes Reservations: No Multiple Locations: Chesterton, Valparaiso, and Munster
El Salto is one of those feel good restaurants – when you walk in you feel welcomed. When I visited El Salto, I went with a group of my girlfriends after work. The atmosphere was fun and colorful the staff was friendly and attentive. The food and presentation was amazing and authentic - the margaritas were flavorful! Now, let’s talk about that food! We ordered a guacamole for the table and let me just say that this is not your ordinary guacamole. It had a unique flavor with chunks of avocado - it was phenomenal! For my main dish, I ordered the Enchilada Yolanda’s and man did I enjoy this dish a lot. On my plate was three delicious enchiladas stuffed with chicken (you have your choice of meat and enchilada sauce or mole sauce), served with rice and a fresh guacamole salad. One of my girlfriends ordered the Tocino Camaron - grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon and sprinkled with crushed red pepper. It was served with rice, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado & a chef special sauce. The dish was colorful, aromatic and delicious! And seriously, how can you go wrong with bacon! A few of us did order drinks and we were not disappointed! The margaritas were a big hit, but they also had great Mexican beers to choose from as well. I recommend a visit to El Salto either on date night, a night out with the girls or dinner with the family. Any way you go, you can’t go wrong.
When we visited Station 21, we started with an order of Frito Pie - crunchy corn chips topped with chili, black beans, sour cream, tomatoes and scallions – YUM!!! For my meal I tried the Mac N’ Pork - applewood smoked bacon, pulled pork & scallions with a four cheese blend. HOLY COW, this dish was the AMAZING - a must try! My husband ordered the O’Leary’s Cow Burger topped with applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese and half an avocado. He was very impressed with his choice – and how can you not? It’s an S-21 burger that is ½ pound of USDA PRIME certified Angus Beef. Our two little ones went with their favorites and ordered the chicken fingers with fries – they were not disappointed!! If you’re looking for a nice place to take the family that’s not too pricey, this is the place! Do you have a restaurant you’d like me to review?? Send an email to momtomomnwi@gmail. com with the subject Date Night Diva.
Bradâ€™s Designs & Jewelry Brad Belush Owner & Designer
Custom Designs Diamonds & Colored Stones www.bradsdesignsandjewelry.com
(219) 663-5801 146 N. Main St. â€˘ Crown Point, IN 46307
Vacation tips Summer Break is around the corner - can you believe it? It sure does seem like this school year flew by!! For our monthly installment of Ask the Mom, we thought we’d ask our Facebook fans the following question: When you go on a family vacation, do you have all your activities planned out, or do you tend to go with the flow?? We got a mixed bag of reactions, here’s what some of them said: Rhonda G., “I plan everything out! If we are going to Disney, we get all the brochures, research what rides are for what ages, then we have everyone mark which rides they want to go on, which shows they are interested in, and what restaurants we want to try. I then get a schedule down and we stick to it. We have always been able to have time to enjoy all that we wanted to do - and it’s much more relaxing for me that way too!! We do schedule pool time too, so there is some relaxing.” Heather R., “I think it’s good to have a few things planned out but to be a bit spontaneous as well – plans never go accordingly when kids are involved.” Brandy B., “I have a list of ‘must do’ items, a long list of ‘maybe do/would like to do’ items, and a list of ‘rainy day/not feeling well’ activities. We plan one to two days at a time, but because I have already done the research and bring the pertinent info along, it’s fairly easy to switch gears.” Annette L., “A little bit of both! We pick specific things we would like to see/do but leave ‘recovery’ days so that we don’t all end up overtired.” Laura L., “The professional planner in me would like 20
to say that I have it all planned out but I’d be lying. I’ve learned to have a general idea of what we plan to do but keep it extremely flexible - less drama and meltdown moments that way.” Jennifer S., “We always have a loose plan that includes one particular day where we focus on the one thing we really want to accomplish on the trip, and then let the rest fall where it may. This allows us to completely relax and enjoys the moments.” Wendy E., “I get a game plan and just go. I figure if we hit any rough patches, then I’m giving my kids memories of true family vacations that will make for good conservations when that are older.” Emma K., “I like to do a little of both. There are some specific reasons why we go on vacation – a certain attraction, restaurant, theme park, historic landmarkand I want to make sure we get that in! Then I let everyone pick something to do while we are there. At the end of the vacation, everyone got to do something they wanted.” Amy Z., “This is what happens when you plan a vacation for a family with seven kids. Mom spends weeks, if not months, searching out and planning the perfect getaway. The morning of departure, Dad says “Just wing it!” and the kids scream with glee. A half hour later in the van, the baby is screaming because his pacifier is on the floor, the ten year old is puking in a paper sack, the fifteen year oldis sulking and refusing to speak, the thirteen ear old won’t stop talking,, the four year old won’t quit SINGING, the two year old just pooped, and the seven year old somehow got gum in her hair. And for some reason (and no-one knows why) Mom is crying. But not to worry – it’s a seven hour drive.”
fun & games by: amber neace
As your kids get older, it becomes harder and harder to not only find ways to entertain them but also have a fun place to celebrate their birthday. This is where Blast Camp comes in. Say goodbye to your everyday cake and ice cream party and enjoy an action packed, adrenaline filled afternoon that no kid will ever forget. Offering open play - where you join other players based on age and skill level, or private parties - where you only play against the people in your group, it is an experience like no other. Located on an old Nike Missile Base near Wheeler - containing original buildings, barracks, and 10 different fields - Blast Camp has something to offer every person that walks onto the field. On site referees will help guide you through different games and Blast Camp is even open year round! If you have never played paintball before you are probably going to have a lot of questions. First off, paintball is safe as long as the right precautions are taken. Blast Camp has strict safety guidelines and no one under the age of 10 is permitted to play. Kids aged 1013 are required to follow certain “kids rules” and are not allowed to have any exposed skin while on the field. Anyone under the age of 18 will have to have a waiver signed by their parent or guardian. What about equipment? No need to bring your own! Anything you need - from guns, ammo pouches, masks and chest protectors, are all available to rent. You can even purchase camo pants! All paint must be purchased through Blast Camp. They use higher quality paint balls that will not damage the buildings on the property - which have been around since the 1950’s - and it is mostly washable since it contains no oil. Anyone found to have paint not purchased at Blast Camp will be asked to leave.
a family reunion. You can book a party as late as the Wednesday before your planned event, but it is suggested to call at least a week in advance for the best availability. For more information on special events at Blast Camp simply visit their website www.blastcamp.com. As always, tell them Mom to Mom, NWI sent you!
Contact Us: Blastcamp Paintball & Airsoft 318 Main Street Hobart, Indiana 46342 (219) 947-7733 Store Hours: Monday - Friday: 10-5 Field Hours: 550 West 600 North Hobart, Indiana 46342 Monday - Friday: By appointment Saturday - Sunday: 9am - 4pm Gates open at 8am
To book a private party you will need a minimum of 10 people. You can choose between a full day or a half day of play and with that you will receive a mask, gun, some ammo and a personal referee for the day. You are allowed to bring in your own food, and there are grills and a refrigerator available if needed. And if you don’t feel like cooking it’s ok! There’s food available for order through the concession stand. Private parties are not limited to birthdays. You can consider Blast Camp for a group Father’s Day outing or
editorial by: Krystal Taylor
Reflecting On A School Year
With the end of a school year upon us, the reflection process has truly begun. My oldest son started kindergarten and my two youngest started preschool this year - it’s crazy how quickly time passes. When I look back at the past year, it amazes me by how much my children have grown and learned, and how much I have changed as well. I remember there was a time when I thought I was the perfect parent and knew all the answers – of course this was before I had children. My views have changed so much since I gave birth to my first little bundle of joy.
“After the kids go to school, a mom really does not do much, she just sits around.” Now that I am a Mom, I realize the happiness I saw other mothers express at the bus stop was only to fight back the tears on the first day of school. In fact, I am not even the mom at the bus stop; I am far too paranoid for my son to even ride the bus- so I drive him to school every day. And boy was I wrong when I thought that a Mom got to sit around all day - we all know that is far from the truth! Some of us work and some of us stay home- but sitting around is something we very rarely indulge in.
Before having children, I would see a mom at the grocery store with her sloppy clothes, pony tail, kids hanging from the cart screaming, and I would think, “I will never be that Mom,” and “If my kids ever acted like that I would…” But now that I am a Mom, I realize that the Mom I used to see in the store was not sloppy; she was simply doing the best she could do. She was exhausted from the sleepless nights, drained from trying to keep track of everyone’s busy schedule, and probably forgot her grocery list at home. She was simply trying to drain the noise of her kids out so she could remember who needed what food for lunch the next day.
Before I was a mom, I knew everything about parenting. Now that I am a Mom, sometimes I feel like I know nothing- each day is a new adventure. I believe that I learn more from my children than they learn from me. The one thing I know for sure - being a Mom is the biggest blessing.
Before having children, I thought I would be so happy when my children started school, I imagined myself doing a happy dance at the bus stop. I always thought,
Reflection is a good thing, and sometimes can take us on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s nice to look back and see how much our children have grown and how much we have grown as parents. Next year, as my son enters the first grade, I will be the Mom at the bus stop - with a huge smile on my face as I fight back the tears on the first day. I will then take a trip to the store with only two kids hanging from my cart instead of three.
family health by: Annette Lister
Fit4Mom Northwest Indiana offers strength and sisterhood in motherhood. In nine months of pregnancy, a woman’s body goes through more changes than a man’s body will go through his entire life. At Fit4Mom, we provide a supportive environment to help moms make strides in fitness and health during and after pregnancy. Our programs are taught by nationally certified pre/postnatal fitness instructors who plan workout sessions to target the muscles groups affected by pregnancy and motherhood. Each workout is customized to meet the needs of each client based on their individual fitness level. Our goal is to provide a positive and supporting environment for mom’s to connect, inspire, and empower each other in their roles as moms while strengthening their bodies.
Taught in a small group environment, moms are able to connect with other moms who understand the daily struggles of motherhood. Christy Miller, mother to Bennett and Jack, shared, “I can work out with mommies who are going through the exact same children issues - it’s a lifesaver”! Studies show that individuals who work out with a buddy or in a group environment have a higher rate of success when it comes to meeting their fitness goals. Katie Perdue, mother to Matthew and Madeline, moved to NWI in October and has been able to make new family friends, lose her baby weight, and focus on her health through the support of Fit4Mom Northwest Indiana. One of the many benefits of Fit4Mom is that you are able to have your little ones join you for the workout. Seated in their stroller, your children get to enjoy singing and interacting with mom while they discover that exercise is a fun and enjoyable part of a healthy lifestyle. Sarah Graddy, mother to AJ and Mikey, said, “I love seeing that my kids have made friends with so many other kids in the group.” And Alexis Einsenhart, mother to Jack and Elise, told me, “My son loves to come to exercise class and I know I am instilling positive values in their lives!” Happy children makes for a happy mommy who also got to make sure that she took some time for herself by getting her workout in for the day. In addition to our workout programs, we offer our nationally sponsored Plum Mom’s Club. Plum Mom’s Club provides a support system by connecting and empowering moms to make a difference. As moms ourselves, we understand that life is about finding balance and nurturing our minds and spirits as well as our bodies. Plum Mom’s Club offers fun and playful activities with your child and a tight community of like-minded moms to share advice, tips and most importantly, laughter. Fit4Mom Northwest Indiana offers Fit4Baby, Stroller Strides, Stroller Barre and Body Back. For more information on our programs please visit our website at
community calendar Upcoming Races in Northwest Indiana: *Valparaiso Jr. Triathlon
June 15th with a start time of 9:00am -The Jr. Triathlon is open for two age groups: 6-10 years and 11-14 years (children must be 6 by June 1st). The younger group will do a 75 yard pool swim, a 5K bike ride and a 1K run. The older group will do a 150 yard pool swim, 12K bike ride, and 3K run. Registration is taking place now – the last day to register is June 7th.
*Munster Rotary Run-A-Round
June 15th with a start time of 7:45am -The Munster Rotary Club is celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Come out rain or shine to the Munster High School Football Field for either a 10K run, 5K run or 5K walk. The course will be consist of a scenic route and paved roads. There will be three water stations along the route.
*Franciscan Omni Health and Fitness Firecracker 5K
June 22nd with a start time of 7:30am -This course is a flat route through the neighborhood adjacent to Omni Chesterton. Parking is available on site or at the Chesterton Health and Emergency Center. No strollers permitted. Race day registration will be held at Omni Chesterton from 6:00am-7:00am.
*24 Hours at Sunset – 24 Hour Run
June 29th with a start time of 12:00pm -This even takes place from noon Saturday to noon Sunday at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso. It’s open to individuals, pairs and 10-person teams. Come out and enjoy an unique experience – 24 full hours of running at one of Northwest Indiana’s premiere parks!
*Running Wild for the Zoo 5K
July 13th with a start time 9:00am -This 5K Run and Walk takes place in Michigan City. The fee for this race is $17 plus a $2.50 Sign-up fee. There will be a beer garden for all participants 21 years of age or older. 24
*Friendship Run 5K
July 17th with a start time of 6:30pm - This 5K Run and 1 mile non-competitive walk in Highland supports CRS Youth and Road Runners Club of America Programs. The race will feature food, refreshments, and a party in the park afterwards.
*2013 Dew It 13.1 Mile
August 17th with a start time of 8:00am - This half marathon takes place inside the Scenic Oak Ridge Prairie County Park in Griffith. It is primarily on grass and wooded trails with a short distance on a paved biked trail. The course loops around a small lake and has a small hill to keep runners on their toes. Proceeds from this race will go to the Lake County Parks.
*Valpo 5 Miler
August 18th with a start time of 8:00am - This 5 mile run takes place at the Porter County Expo and Fairgrounds. Entry fee is $25if received by August 2nd with a shirt; $20 without a shirt. All proceeds of the race will be donated to charity.
*Rock N’ Rails 5K
August 31st with a start time of 12:00pm -The Griffith YMCA is hosting its 2nd Annual Rock N’ Rail 5K. The route will start and finish at the Griffith YMCA and travel down the newly renovated Broad Street, through beautiful Central Park and ties into the Bike Trail. The area’s best bands, great food vendors and activities and all of the entertainment you can handle will immediately follow the race. Participants over the age of 21 will receive a free beer in the beer garden.
Family & Kid Events:
*Central Park Plaza Market
Tuesdays and Saturdays starting June 4th from 8:00am-2:00pm -Visit the market in Downtown Valparaiso weekly to shop for fresh local produce, handmade products, and beautiful plants and flowers. Live lunchtime entertainment on select Tuesdays throughout the summer. For more information, call 219.464.8332.
community calendar *Get Outdoors Day Picnic
June 8th -Join Dunes Learning Center for a day of free outdoor family fun including trail hikes, river exploration, kayak demonstrations, camp crafts, and lunch on the lawn. An exhibition of native perching birds by artist Melissa Washburn will be featured and artist/educator Bonnie Zimmer will guide guests of all ages in the creation of a temporary collaborative sculpture made from recycled and found materials. Admission is free and all are welcome!
*Portage Township Summerfest
Thursday, June 13th through Sunday, June 16th -Family-fun festival designed to appeal to all ages! The Portage Township Summerfest will feature a main stage with entertainment, family stage with entertainment, carnival, food booths, beer garden, commercial and craft vendors, interactive booth activities, and much more! Admission is free and takes place at Have Hollow Park
*Crown Point Corn Roast
June 14th from 4:00pm-11:00pm and June 15th from 12:00pm-11:00pm -An old fashioned street celebration around the Old Lake County Courthouse Lawn and Square, featuring great food, a beer garden, live music, games for the kids, and of course delicious roasted corn!
*I Can Bike Camp
June 17th – 21st at Boone Grove High School -Chasing Dreams will be partnering with Porter Township Schools to bring the I Can Bike program to individuals with disabilities. This will be the first time that this program has been offered in Northwest Indiana for people with special needs. The I Can Bike program is a five-day camp that requires riders to attend only one 75 minute session per day. For more information, contact Denise Babjak at 219.299.9049.
*4th Annual Eat, Shop and Rock: Browse to the Beat Sidewalk Sale & Fest June 22 from 10:00am-4:00pm nd
-A celebration of the 60’s, 70’s and Beatles! A sidewalk sale featuring a wide array of vendors, Fab Four contests (singing, look-a-like, trivia), live music, vintage cars, yummy food and much more! Beatles, Elvis and60’s-70’s merchandise will be available for sale at It’s Just Serendipity, located at 5630 Hohman Avenue (the corner of Hohman and Williams). This event is hosted by the Downtown Hammond Council.
*Cupcakes & Canvas “Rainforest Frog”
June 28th from 6:00pm-8:00pm - Rhythm Rhyme & Party Time in Hobart will host a fun-filled night for children and teens to complete the featured canvas painting! Students will be lead step-by-step to complete an acrylic canvas panting. No talent or experience necessary - suggested age is 8 and up. Cost is $20; registration is required. The class is limited to 16 kids.
Mom and Adult Events: *Valparaiso Wine Festival
June 15th from 4:00pm-7:00pm -Wine Lovers Unite! Enjoy unlimited tastings of over 80+ wines, live music, and a summer day in the park! All tickets are limited and presale. You must be 21 to attend. Tickets cost $50/VIP, $35 General Admission, and $15/Designated Driver.
*Wine & Canvas
June 4th, June 11th, and June 18th starting at 6:00pm -The Blue Chip Casinos’ It’s Vegas Baby! is hosting painting classes with cocktails! During these entertaining classes, an artist walks the novice painters through the actual painting – with fun music playing and a social atmosphere. Anyone can register at wineandcanvas.com and choose he date/painting they would like to paint. All art supplies will be included, and you go home with your own original painting. The cost is $35 per person. For more information, go to www. bluechipcasino.com/whats-new/events/wine-_canvas.
*Coffee & Canvas “Poppy Garden”
June 19th OR June 21st from 6:00pm-9:00pm -Spend time with friends and complete a painting 25
community calendar Buffalo Wild Wings – On Wednesday and
June Promotional Schedule 7th – Prom Night/Fireworks 8th – Where’s Waldo Night / Yowie Rally Towel first 1,000 fans 9th – Bark in the Park 20th – Halloween Night 21st – Circus Night/Fur Circus Appearance/Fireworks 22nd – Treasure Hunt Night/Jute Bag Giveaway first 1,000 adults 25th – Youth and Senior Day 28th – Faith and Family Night/ Stadium Sleepover/Reptile Show/ Fireworks 29th – I Need a Hug Night/Slap Watch Giveaway first 1,000 kids 30th – Cat Craze Night in one evening! Rhythm Rhyme & Party Time, located at 433 E. 3rd Street in Hobart will host an adult’s only painting class for three hours where you will be guided step-by-step to create at 16x20 acrylic painting. No talent or experience necessary. Coffee and cake will be served. All materials will be provided. Cost is $30 – registration is required. Class size is 16.
KIDS EAT FREE OR REDUCED:
Amarillo Roadhouse –Kids eat free on Tuesday at the location in Schererville.
Bob Evans – Kids eat free on Tuesday nights with the purchase of an adult entrée at Merrillville, Chesterton and Valparaiso locations. Boston’s Gourmet Pizza – Kids eat free on Sundays AND Wednesdays with the purchase of an adult entrée of $9.99 or more at the Schererville location. 26
Sunday, kids 12 and under get half-price kids meals at Buffalo Wild Wings in Valparaiso. Denny’s – Kids can eat free at Denny’s on Tuesday and Saturday night from 4pm to 10pm. For every one regularly priced adult entrée purchased, two free kid’s meals are given. That means a family with four children can eat for the price of just two adult entrees. The deal is limited to children 10 and under and is available at the Merrillville, Hebron, Portage and Michigan City location. Fazoli’s – On Tuesdays, kids 12 and under eat for $.99 from 5pm to 8pm at the Valparaiso location. Golden Corral – All day, every day, kids 3 and under eat FREE from the buffet with the purchase of an adult meal (limit 2) at the Merrillville location. Kids ages 4-7 are $2.99, 8-10 are $4.99, and 11 and 12 year olds are $5.99. A drink is included in the price.
Goodfellas Bar and Grill, Cedar Lake
– Kids get a free meal when an adult entrée is purchased. The daily special is not included in this deal. Quaker Steak and Lube – On Wednesday’s, the Portage location offers a $3.99 kids meal, all day long. This includes a drink. Pops Italian Beef, Dyer – On Tuesday’s, kids get a $.99 kids meal with the purchase of a value meal. Reuben’s Mexican Grill – Sunday is Family Day! Kids 10 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult entrée. Dine in only. Shenanigan’s Pub and Eatery – Kids eat free on Wednesday’s and Sundays with the purchase of an adult entrée. Shenanigan’s is located on Route 20 in Portage. Texas Roadhouse – On Monday nights, the Dyer location has $.99 kids meals, with the purchase of an adult entrée. There is a limit of 2 kids meals per family. Andy Armadillo, the mascot, can also be found on these nights, walking around the restaurant and playing with the kids! ***Do you have an event you want to share with us? Just send an email to Stephanie@momtomomnwi. com. The deadline for your entry is due by the 15th. benefit a local charity in the community.
Everybody Deserves Quality Healthcare...
Everybody â€“ Regardless of the Ability to Pay â€“
Our Services OB/GYN
Full Laboratory Services
340 B Pharmacy
(Discounted medications available for NorthShore patients)
Medicaid, Medicare, Commercial Health Plans, Under Insured, Uninsured Sliding Fee Scale Convenient Locations to Serve You 3564 Scottsdale St., Portage, IN
For Appointments or More Information Call
6450 US Highway 6, Portage, IN 2490 Central Ave., Lake Station, IN 3099 Central Ave., Lake Station, IN 6091 Broadway, Merrillville, IN
Official Hoosier Healthwise Enrollment Site!
family health by: Nichole Odijk DeMario
breast cancer follow-up In October, Mom to Mom, NWI featured Barb Pryatel as a Mom You Should Know. At that time, Pryatel had been in remission of breast cancer. Shortly after the article ran, Pryatel had a routine mammogram done, and found out her breast cancer had returned – her battle would have to start all over again. Her daughter, Kristi was fifteen when Pryatel was first diagnosed in 1994. “Because of my age, I think the first time I didn’t realize the full intensity of the situation. She was a single mom and had to drive herself to treatments, home after surgery and to work when she was sick,” Kristi Strickland of Valparaiso says. “I thought, ‘Does
she really have to go through this again?’ I felt like she had paid her dues.” Strickland who is now a mother of three, says she had wanted to find a way to recognize the fight her mother had to endure not once, but twice. She had hopes of taking part in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago June 1 through 2, but was originally intimidated by the $1,800 minimum donation. “The $1,800 seemed scary and unreachable,” she says. But I convinced myself I had to do it, that I could do it. So I started a group called Barb’s Battle Buddies.”
The group has five team members. Through fundraisers they have been able to raise more than quadruple the minimum required. “The support has been amazing. I’m in awe by how many people have contributed,” Strickland says. Strickland says the walk has given her family the opportunity to focus on something positive. “It has made this bout of cancer easier,” she explains. “It’s very easy to let your focus go to the negative.” Strickland also wanted to take part in the walk because the funds raised go toward programs that give women without health insurance access to the tests and care they need. In recent years, Pryatel had taken a job that didn’t offer benefits. She knew she was still eligible to receive a mammogram annually. Strickland says without a program to assist her mother, her cancer would not have been caught so early. “The key is to get mammograms. Never miss it no matter what,” she emphasizes. “If you can’t afford it, there are programs that will cover the cost.” Strickland says she was happy to hear Angelina Jolie chose to share that she had a preventative double mastectomy. Through testing, Jolie learned she was genetically susceptible to breast cancer. Her mother passed away at 56. The 37-year-old star wrote in the New York Times that this would greatly decrease her chances. “It brings awareness in a different way,” Strickland says. “I think it prompts people to realize it can happen to anyone.” Experts report more than 230,000 women and 2,100 men
will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. A woman has a 1 in 8 chance of breast cancer in her lifetime. The American Cancer Society stresses the importance of finding breast cancer early by utilizing screening exams. It is recommended that women age 40 and older have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so as long as she is healthy. Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam each year by a physician. Breast self-examinations should begin while women are in their 20s. Breast cancer can be non-symptomatic and symptomatic. The American Cancer Society lists the most common symptom is a new lump or mass. A mass can be painless, hard and irregular. Breast cancers can also be tender, soft, rounded or painful. A new lump or mass should be examined by a health professional. Other signs include: swelling of all or part of the breast, skin irritation or dimpling, breast or nipple pain, nipple retraction, redness, scaliness or thickening of the nipple or breast skin, nipple discharge other than breast milk. It can appear in the lymph nodes under the arm or near the collar bone. “In our home we emphasize that it’s important to check in with your doctor. Be honest that way your doctor can find things before they become a problem. And know your body and acknowledge when something doesn’t seem right,” Strickland stresses. To learn more about your breast health, talk to your physician. 29
fun & games by: Brandi Lee
Craft Night with Ashley Thunder Events
The idea for the ATE Craft Night started when Ashley kept receiving the same types of responses on her DIY posts on her blog. People were saying, “how DID you do that?” and “I could never do that!” Ashley set out to prove that all of her DIY projects were totally doable by everyone! “I am hooked on the idea of a class that gets a bunch of girls together to have fun, laugh, create, and learn from each other. Not only do we have a great time, but it’s so amazing to see all the different variations of the same craft and how excited everyone gets about their finished projects.” Ashley also admits (though not to her husband) that she can’t help but be excited about an excuse to plan and host a private party every month! I had the opportunity to attend the ATE 30
Craft Night in May, and I’m already excited for next month! I’m just going to lay it out there: I am NOT a DIY gal. I love a good trip to Hobby Lobby just like anyone else, but I could probably start my own store with supplies leftover from projects that I never finished, or quite frankly, never even started. I have had the opportunity to work with Ashley professionally, so I knew that anything she put together would be fun and beautiful, and I secretly went into the night thinking that if I had to give up because I wasn’t any good at the project, maybe I could convince her to finish mine for me! The night was centered around the hugely trending fad of chevron, along with the current fashion focus on black and white. Everything was planned and
perfect, coordinated and gorgeous, right down to the very last detail: from bags, to straws, to tags, to table centerpieces. I felt like I was attending a party for someone really awesome and important! The best part is that if I wanted to recreate the look myself, I could find how-to instructions for some of the details like jumbo balloons with handmade tassels and handmade chevron tissue paper banners on Ashley’s blog. I love that even though Ashley plans and coordinates beautiful events for others for a living, she’s totally open to sharing how she did it, so that if you’re a DIY girl like her, you can do it yourself. (I, of course, will just be hiring her!) I was totally surprised with how my projects turned out and how they took on a life of their own once I got in the
crafting groove. I love how Ashley picked something – a painted vase and coasters – that I can AND will actually use in my home! I had such a great time. Wanna get your DIY on with Ashley? Become a fan of Ashley Thunder Events on Facebook and watch for details on the next Craft Night! This is the perfect get-out-of-the-house night and would be so much fun to do with a group of your girlfriends! For more information about Ashley’s services for parties or weddings, contact her at athundercarson@ gmail.com or 219.363.6921. Check out her website: ashleythunderevents. blogspot.com.
Whether it be through fashion, home decor, or party planning, I have always had a crazy passion for design and a need to express myself creatively. I have been throwing elaborate parties for friends for years and am now in my third year in the wedding industry, planning and coordinating for The Red Barn Experience. People were always telling me that I needed to throw parties for a living, and when I had actual, official requests for my services, Ashley Thunder Events was born! I love to push limits and always strive to go above and beyond! The fun of it for me is totally surprising people. I consider myself a DIY girl, I have crazy ideas, and I’m not afraid to make it happen. 31