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contents

letter from the editor 4 deserving mom winner families reaching out 8 couch talk

fun & games

date night diva 16 railcats opener 27 taltree arboretum 30

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mtm health fifth disease 20

parenting with disabilities 10

pet of the month

pedi-ready 12 breaking bread

lakeshore paws 28

fit & active

recipes from mom 14

field station 5k 21

ask the mom

community calendar 22

what i learned from mom 18 Front Cover Photo By: balee images

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

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 stephanie@momtomomnwi.com Sales / Publisher: Roly Martinez 773-416-0665 • rolym05@comcast.net

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.

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letter from the editor by: stephanie vega edwards

movin’ on up never get pregnant again or move. Wow – what an effect I had on those closest to me! I then started wondering if I was projecting that negativity often, and it hit me that maybe I was. I have to admit that I’m not the best at dealing with stress. I’m a “Nervous Nellie” and a “Worry Wart,” and I second-guess EVERYTHING. I started to think about how I’d pack up a house filled with memories and how I could leave a place where I brought my two babies home from the hospital. For a moment, I thought, “I can’t do this,” and then my mom assured me I can. Leave it to mom to give those words of encouragement you need. She told me, “You’re just packing your stuff; the memories will stay with you a lifetime.” She was right – absolutely, 100% right. It’s hard to see things for what they really are sometimes when you are right in the middle of living through them. Emotions really play a role in our thought making process.!

Every now and then we go through some life changing moments that have us questioning everything about ourselves. Am I strong enough? Am I patient enough? Am I deserving enough? The list goes on and on. For me, that “life changing moment” happened in April when after nearly seven years, our family moved to a new home. First there was the financial stress of meeting with a mortgage lender to learn how much we could afford vs. how much we wanted to spend. Then it was countless weekends looking at houses while keeping our house in tip-top shape for when we had a showing scheduled at our house. Anyone with kids can attest to how nearly impossible it is to keep your house looking ready for a showing. I remember one day an agent called and asked if someone could look at my home in two hours – it was a Tuesday at 11:00am – I’m sure you all know the answer to that one! The emotions of this process can be extremely overwhelming, and for this work-from-home pregnant momma of two, the stress was at an all-time high. When friends or family would call to ask, “What’s new?” they quickly realized it was a question that couldn’t be answered with a simple “not much.” My own sister told me one day that I gave her anxiety just talking about everything that was going on, and my good friend told me she’d

But in the end, after all the decisions had been made, the papers were signed, and the boxes were packed and unpacked, everything worked out better than I could have ever dreamed! Things really have a way of working themselves out, and I’m a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason. I keep telling myself that I have to stop sweating the small things, to live in the moment, and from now on I will do just that. So this Mother’s Day, when my family asks what I want, the only thing I need is my family by my side. Everything else will fall into place! Happy Mother’s Day! Take Care,

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deserving mom you should know: Rea Robinson Ryzewski When we become mothers, we do everything we can to make our families and children happy. We do this because there’s so much love in our hearts that there seems to be no other way. Ask any mom and they’ll tell you they don’t want or need to be recognized for what they do, but every now and then, it is nice to recognize the role mothers play in all of our lives. Our Deserving Mom contest does just that by highlighting a few local moms who serve as an inspiration to us! We received dozens of entries nominating moms whose loved ones believed they deserved this honor. After we narrowed the nominees down to a final four, we asked our fans to vote on our Facebook page, and they choose Rea Robinson Ryzewski as our 2013 Deserving Mom. Here’s a portion of a letter we received on her behalf: “I’d like to nominate my best friend Rea RobinsonRyzewski. She’s married to her husband Don, and they have a 6 year old daughter, Aira. Rea suffers from fibromyalgia and pulmonary hypertension. She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension three years ago and was given an estimate of about five years to live. However, due to her positive outlook, treatment, and care for herself, her health is currently stable. Rea hasn’t accepted her diagnoses as fatal, and instead of worrying and focusing on the possibility of death, she embraces life and tries to live her days to the fullest with her daughter.” So, on a beautiful Sunday morning, we met up with Rea and her family to give her all the goodies our wonderful sponsors donated to her and to do her family photo shoot with Balee Images. We learned so much during our time with Rea and family – she loves to bake, play music with her family, and take care of a large number of four legged creatures! We sat down for an interview with Rea:

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Steph: “How did you react when you found out you were a finalist?”

Steph: “Has your health played a role in how you live your life?” Rea: “When I found out that I had some of the health problems

that I have, it was kind of a wake-up call. The light bulb went off: I want to make sure when she’s running back and forth in the yard and says ‘chase me, mom,’ I want to make sure I can chase her instead of saying ‘no, I can’t do that.’ I might not ever be able to keep up like younger moms, but I’m trying very hard to get in shape and maintain my health a little bit better – all while trying things I always wanted to do.”

Rea: “I was

completely shocked because my girlfriend knows that I’m a pretty private person. So she came to me, kind of apologetically, and said, “I nominated you, and you’re a finalist, please don’t be mad, but I told everyone your private information.” But she did it out of love, so I couldn’t possibly be anything but thrilled about that. I was shocked that I was a finalist, and even more shocked that I won; it’s just amazing to me.”

Steph: “So tell us about some of those things you’ve always wanted to do.” Rea: “I always wanted to learn how to play the ukulele, so I got one and I tried it. For Mother’s Day, I’m going to try the flying trapeze in Chicago – we’ll see how that goes. My girlfriend and I took a modern dance class last summer, and even though I’m not a dancer, it was amazing to see how much we learned in a matter of a few months. I became stronger and more confident, so I started taking ballroom Latin and Salsa classes. It’s one of the best things I’ve tried!” Steph: “It’s great to see you enjoying me time – all moms need

that! You seem to be living life to the fullest - do you think it helps in raising your daughter?”

Steph: “In the letter we received from your best friend, she talks

Rea: “Her whole lifetime is contingent on what I do now. Her whole opinion of herself is contingent upon these years. So then her children – how she raises them comes from how I raise her.” Rea’s daughter Aira is 6 years old, and she’s been married to her husband Don for almost 10 years. They have five dogs – Kong, Potato Soup, Bora, Aldo, and Indy - and three cats – Smudge, Whitey and Action Cat #5. Their family is a joy to be around, and we at Mom to Mom, NWI couldn’t be prouder of this Deserving Mom. Thanks to all who voted, and Happy Mother’s Day Rea!

about living your days to the fullest with your daughter. Tell us a little bit about that.”

Rea: “Well, every day is something different. I homeschool my daughter, so we do a lot of different activities – a lot of them are field trips and things out of the house. When we are here though, at this age, I try not to follow a strict curriculum. I think of it as a combination between unschooling and Montessori – where she leads what she wants to do and what she is interested in and then we just pick that up and run with it. And while she is doing those things, that’s where we practice the basics like writing and math - we tie everything in together. Right now she is really into birds, so she reads the bird books and we talk about – it kind of ties all the subjects in together. We do a lot of playing; I think that’s the main way kids learn, by spending time playing – if you take every opportunity and use it to take something out of it for them.” Steph: “You really seem to love your job of being a stay at home. Is it something you always wanted to do?”

Rea: “Actually, when I was younger, I never imagined being a stay at home mom. I always worked; I often worked two jobs, and so I imagined that’s what I would continue to do. It wasn’t until we were pregnant with her – in theory things always sound different but then when the reality is there you realize you want to spend every minute you have with these precious little things – they are the most important thing in your whole life. I consider myself exceptionally lucky that I get to be home with her and have the one on one time that we do. And that she gets to know I’m always around for her is really important.”

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Families Reaching out

by: Nichole Odijk DeMario

being different, the overall life expectancy is hard to determine. Many individuals suffering from the disease do not live past their 20th birthday. “I’m thankful for the years we have had. When she has good days, we have good days, when she smiles and laughs,” Krissy Florkiewicz says. “She has been so strong through all of this. I can’t be weaker than she is.”

When a child is diagnosed with a disease, the adults in their lives are faced with numerous choices and daunting decisions. Two local families are going through their own unique experiences, but through the trials and tribulations of caring for their ailing children have chosen to share their stories and shed light.

The Florkiewicz Family

The Florkiewiczs have a close network of family and friends they have shared their journey with. When a firm diagnosis was received, several individuals were quick to reach out to see how they could lend a hand. “They felt helpless and wanted to help. It’s very humbling,” Krissy says. “It feels good there are so many people that have been so supportive of Kailey and our family.”

As Kailey Florkiewicz grew up, her parents Roger and Krissy, began noticing delays in her development. At first, it appeared she may have learning disabilities, but when they noticed her balance

Family friends are hosting a walk/run benefit to help raise money for the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation in honor of Kailey. The benefit will be held Sunday, May 5th at 1 pm at the Clark Middle School Track in St. John. Age groups will include 18 and under, and 19 and over, and costs $20 per participant. Prizes will be awarded to the top two male and female finishers in each group for runners. Walkers who complete the race will be entered into a separate drawing. Sign-ups may be completed on Facebook, search Walk/Run for Kailey. For more information contact Jessica Buikema at 219.805.5242 or sbuikema@sbcglobal.net. In the event of rain, the event will be cancelled and all money may be dropped off at 7349 Bell Street in Schererville from 1 pm to 3 pm on May 5th. Then on May 1st, Capri’s Pizza in Schererville will be donating 10 percent of all sales - dine-in, carryout or delivery to the Walk/Run Kailey Benefit. Kailey’s parents are hoping she is accepted into the National Institute of Health’s medical trial this fall. At this time the one prescription drug available to improve the quality of life for Niemann-Pick patients is not covered by their insurance. They are in the process of appealing the denial with their insurance company. “The only way we’re going to find a cure is through medical research. The only options now are to improve the quality of life,” Krissy explains.

appeared to be off as well, they felt there may be more going on. After a long road of various hospitals, doctors and testing the Florkiewiczs learned their daughter had a rare genetic disorder called Niemann-Pick Type C. There are 200 confirmed cases of the disease in the United States and approximately 500 worldwide. The degenerative neurological disease causes an enlarged spleen and liver, loss of muscle control, deterioration of speech, seizures and dementia. At this time, there is no cure for the disease. Since there are so few cases – and with every one

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The Griffith Family

fundraiser Pins for Peyton and Gracie too. It’s the fifth year they’ve held the event. This year’s event will be held May 18 at 6 pm at Camelot Bowling in Portage. The cost is $30 per bowler and $15 for non-bowlers. The price includes bowling and shoe rental, refreshments and door prizes. Contact Sarah at 219.718.1260 or lagacy1@hotmail.com for details. Proceeds benefit the LoeysDietz Foundation.

In Hobart, the Griffith Family experienced a similar shock when six years ago they learned their son Peyton had an inherited connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. This rare disease was first discovered in 2005. Currently, about 600 individuals have been diagnosed throughout the world. Individuals with LDS have a variety of symptoms with varying intensity levels. Symptoms include arterial aneurysms, orthopedic issues, gastrointestinal issues, severe food allergies, long fingers and toes, loose joints, widely spaced eyes among other symptoms. Some patients may have one or two symptoms while others have many.

“We foster any kind of awareness and education. There are some conditions related to LDS. It’s just nice to have that support network of people going through some of the same hardships,” Sarah says. “We are blessed beyond belief that our children aren’t as severe as others, but every days it’s tough for them.”

Prior to his diagnosis, they were told he needed skull reconstructive surgery due to craniosynostosis or an early fusion of the skull bones that was caused by genetics. Peyton’s father, Randy, had lived with a heart condition for much of his life. He and his wife Sarah knew there had to be a connection between the two and consistently questioned doctors. Genetic testing verified their instincts. Randy had been misdiagnosed. At the time of both father and son’s diagnosis, Sarah was pregnant with their second child, Grace. Their daughter has since been diagnosed with LDS. Now 8 and 5-yearsold, each of the Griffith children see five different doctors, have different symptoms and had different treatments based on their symptoms. For instance, Grace has had one heart surgery. Peyton will have his first heart surgery this year. He suffers from excruciating headaches multiple times a week. Grace is beginning to suffer from migraines as well. Every six months they each have to have full body CT Scans. “The first year we were diagnosed, I was heartbroken,” Sarah Griffith says. “We realized we had to do something to create a positive awareness campaign for others suffering. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the type of person to sit and wait.” That determination to share their story and provide others with support led to the creation of the bowling

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Couch Talk

family health Beth Whitaker Beth@momtomomnwi.com

Motherhood is hard. I am sure that does not come as a surprise to many of you. I have had times where I feel like I do not know what I’m doing as a mother. My children do not conform to my expectations like soldiers – so things get tricky. I appreciate the support and friendships that I have with other mothers because, through conversations with friends, I realize that I am not alone. Though we connect as mothers on certain levels, there are some issues we face in raising our children that others just don’t understand. I am talking specifically about mothers who are raising children with special needs. This could be a physical, developmental or emotional disability or even a learning disability. Whatever that disability may be, we need to support each other as mothers. I am not the mother of a disabled child. I have an older brother who is disabled, and I saw the daily toll it took on my parents - specifically my mother. I vividly remember the judgmental looks made by other mothers or nasty comments made by people while out in public. My family was definitely blessed with supportive friends and family, and that’s why I know how important it is for other families to receive this kind of support. Since motherhood is difficult, we need to include and support mothers of all children, not just “normal” children. For this article, I consulted with Jenny Heath. She is the administrator of the Barker Woods Enrichment Center in Michigan City, and her oldest child has Down’s Syndrome. I thought that Jenny could help identify ways that we can work toward supporting each other as mothers. Jenny discussed some of the roads she had to navigate while raising her daughter, now 15. “One struggle for every parent is identifying services available for them and accessing benefits,” she said. “Finding a parent support group would be beneficial in many ways. You find support from other parents who are

raising a child with a similar disability. While this is helpful for many reasons, having support from mothers in the general public is welcomed too.”

Jenny then stressed how important it is for parents to let children know that a special needs child, like her daughter or my brother, are really not that different than any other child. “Moms with special needs children feel compelled to protect those children more and desire to see their children be provided with the same opportunities as other children. It is so important for all children have opportunities to reach their full potential,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions to a mother with a special needs child. We can support each other by understanding others’ experiences.” Other tips she had includes: • Don’t apologize to a mother of a special needs child for their child’s disability. • Do not be afraid for your children to spend time with a special needs child. Only good can come from children spending time with special needs children. • Provide empathy and support, not sympathy. Every child is an amazing blessing so embrace every child equally. Along with supporting mothers who have disabled children, we need to work with our children to be accepting of all diversity. Next month I will let you know how we can work with our children on acceptance and kindness. One option to get families involved in your community would be through the Challenger Baseball League. Many communities in our area have Challenger leagues and this gives children ages 8 and up the opportunity to be a buddy to a child in the league. Adults can also be used as volunteers to run the games. Look for ways to get your family involved with special needs children in your community.

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Be kind: Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. ~ Anonymous


k

W h y d a n c e a t M i r r or I m a g e D a n c e Ac a d e m y? • We are a Christian based dance

studio focused on building strong dancers and strong character. •Our competitive teams have earned top honors! •Our music, costuming, and movements are contemporary, yet age appropriate! •We have been an integral part of the community with over 12 yrs of exceptional dance instruction.

219-462-3160 www.mirrorimagedance.net

Dance for all levels 18 months-adult! Ballet-Tap-Jazz-Contemporary-Hip Hop-Modern-PointePraise Dance-Performing and Competing TeamsAcademic/Dance Preschool

3207 Cascade Dr., Suite G, Valparaiso Just off Silhavy Rd, 2 blocks north of Target

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Get Pedi Ready! Must-have Shoes for the Season Adios, winter - time to paint those toes and put your best foot forward with these fun, flattering and FUNCTIONAL summer shoes.

Metallic Gladiators are HOT! Gladiator sandals are becoming more and more popular every year. This season, grab a pair with metallic accents: spike, straps, etc. I find it easiest to shop for these shoes on major shoe hub sites like DSW.com or Piperlime.com where you can search by category and filter options. If there’s one new trend to try this year, it’s this one. Get your edge on!

For transitional weather, we’re loving Sperry’s! Check out Sperry’s shoe collection for this time of year. They are comfortable, on- the-go type shoes that vary in style and color to fit all of our personality types. I love the cool metallic colors and these adorable Angelfish black leopard print slip-ons. Their canvas collection is top notch too! I just picked up these Katama Espadrilles (which come in different patterns & colors) for my “go-to mom shoe” of the season.

For comfort, nothing beats Sanuk’s! Made of actual yoga mats, this flip flop is the softest sandal around. This company has a really cool history and the technology they incorporate into their shoes actually benefits the wearer. Known as “funk-tional,” they carry many styles that are comfortable and fashion-forward. Fun fact: you can match the whole family in Sanuk style as many of their sandals come in adult and kids sizes!

Shop Style Locally! Shout out to Silcott’s Shoes and Apparel in downtown Valparaiso! If you love shoes as much as I do, be sure to stop by the next time you are in the area. It’s a tiny treasure trove of cool brands and styles that we’d usually seek out online – without having to wait for shipping! Sales and coupons are often available. Here’s your chance to buy local and momtomomnwi.com support our community.

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Wedge into a Neutral Zone! A safe, yet trendy way to ride the seasonal transition is to stick with neutral colors in footwear. The wedge is a closet staple, but this year pick a neutral color that can be worn flexibly with anything from maxi dresses to shorts & a tank.


Place your Ad Here Call 219-973-5138 Brad’s Designs & Jewelry Brad Belush Owner & Designer

Custom Designs Diamonds & Colored Stones www.bradsdesignsandjewelry.com

brad@bradsdesignsandjewelry.com

(219) 663-5801 146 N. Main St. • Crown Point, IN 46307

Valid at Crown Point Location Only

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breaking bread By: Mindy Gear

Where did you learn to cook? Was it a patient Mother who helped answer questions along the way? Maybe it was a Grandmother who enjoyed passing down the family secrets to another generation. My daughter and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen together. She is a great help and loves to be creative when making something new. The best part of a family recipe is the memory of the person who passed it down. I’m sure all of us can remember a particular dish or meal that our Mother or Grandmother made. Our Mom’s cooking could either make our tummies rumble with hunger or turn at the thought of something less than pleasant we were made to try as children. Recently, my mother spent a week at my house and we relived some of the meals she made when I was a child. My brother and I like to tease her about her budget-buster meals. She does make lots of good things, but my less-than-favorite ones are the memories that stick! Just digging thru my old family recipes reminds me of a few meals I need to make. Try something from your family tonight!

One of my Mother’s favorite recipes is a Rhubarb Crunch. She grows the rhubarb in her garden and makes this cobbler for all the summer picnics. There is never any left.

vanilla in saucepan. Cook until thick and clear. Pour over rhubarb and sprinkle with remaining half of topping. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Rhubarb Crunch

My mother’s Mom HATES cooking. I remember many times as a kid, we would sit down to a meal and my Grandpa would pray for the “burnt offerings” we were about to eat. She didn’t even try to pretend she enjoyed it. There are a few side dishes she likes to make (and I enjoy eating). One of them is her delicious corn casserole. I’ve seen many variations, but hers is my favorite.

Baked Corn Casserole:

Crust and Topping: 1 cup flour ¾ cup oatmeal 1 cup brown sugar ½ cup melted butter 1 tsp cinnamon - Mix until crumbly. Spread and press ½ onto bottom of a greased 9x9 baking dish. Cover with 4 cups diced rhubarb. - Combine 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 cup water and 1 tsp

1 stick melted butter 2 eggs, slightly beaten 1 cup sour cream 1 can whole kernel corn

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d e

1 can creamed corn 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix - Mix butter, eggs and sour cream. Add remainder of ingredients. Pour into greased 9x9 pan and bake 1 hours at 350. My Dad’s Mom was an amazing cook. We always looked forward to eating at her house. She believed in cooking with lots of butter or Crisco (which is probably why high cholesterol runs in that side of the family). One of my favorite things she made was macaroni salad. This unusual sauce is non-dairy and perfect for hot summer picnics.

flour and sour cream. It is a rich treat their family will only eat at Christmas. Due to the nut allergies in our family, we generally make without the pecans. It does taste delicious if you use them!

Coffee Cake:

Macaroni Salad:

, e d I n

2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked according to package Chopped celery, onion, red and green peppers Making the Sauce: 2 Tbsp butter 2 Tbsp flour ½ cup brown vinegar (apple cider vinegar) - Melt butter and flour into a rue. Slowly add vinegar and cook until thick. Remove from burner and add sugar to taste. Start with 1 tablespoon sugar and go from there. Salt and pepper to taste.

2 cups sugar 1 cup butter, softened 1 cup sour cream 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp salt 2 cups cake flour Topping: 4 Tbsp brown sugar ¾ cup pecans, chopped (optional) 2 Tbsp cinnamon - Cream butter, sugar, sour cream and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour ½ the batter into greased tube pan (bundt pan or springform). Add half the topping. Pour in remaining ½ of batter and sprinkle with rest of topping. - Bake at 350 for 60 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while hot.

When I first visited my husband’s Grandmother during Christmas many years ago, I was introduced to their family tradition. His Grandmother makes the most amazing coffee cake. It contains cake

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Mother’s Day is a great reason to get a break from the kitchen and enjoy a meal out. Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, it’s always such a treat to have a meal someone else made for you! So, with Mother’s Day around the corner, I thought I’d share with you two great reviews on restaurants that would be perfect for this special occasion.

To sum up Sophia’s House of Pancakes - it’s an atmosphere very modern and casual, the staff is friendly and attentive, prices are affordable for a family on a budget, and the food portions are HUGE! 

15 E. Lincolnway • Valparaiso, IN 46383 (219)242-8035 Reservations: Yes Attire: Casual Good for Kids: Yes

Sophia’s House of Pancakes 9344 Indianapolis Blvd. • Highland, IN 46322 (219) 924-4955 Attire: Casual Good for kids: Yes Reservations: No If you’re looking for an amazing restaurant to take mom to for Mother’s Day breakfast, look no further! Sophia’s House of Pancakes in Highland is AMAZING –and you will not leave hungry!  This popular pancake house is always busy, but there’s never a problem getting a seat! I’ve noticed that the wait is never longer than 15 minutes, even on a busy day. They are very friendly and hate to see anyone turn around and walk out the door because the wait is too long!!  Sophia’s is a family friendly establishment, well known for their famous pancakes and omelet - but you can’t go wrong with a skillet either!  Let’s start off by talking about the first thing we normally offer – a cup of coffee! Their bottomless cup of coffee is seriously the best coffee I’ve had at a restaurant.  There’s nothing like a great cup of joe to get your morning going! Now – let’s get to the food! I’ve tried a lot of dishes and there are some I highly recommend you try when you visit: - French Breakfast - French Toast, 2 strips bacon, and 2 eggs served any style. - Bacon and Cheese Omelet - Omelets are made with five fresh eggs and served with hash browns and your choice of toast or two buttermilk pancakes. - Corned Beef Hash Skillet - Green peppers, onions, cheddar cheese, eggs and potatoes. This was yummy and so flavorful. So what are the kids going to eat? Well, we know kids love breakfast (I know mine do) so they were really excited when they found out at that Sophia’s is famous for their Mickey Mouse pancakes and pigs in a blanket. The kids won’t be hungry 10 minutes after leaving - I promise!  

  If your kids and hubby surprise you with some breakfast in bed, than an outing for lunch sounds like a plan! Let me recommend The Silver Spoon in Valparaiso – a perfect setting for lunch.  The ambiance is chic and the décor is clean and modern. I enjoy the fact that the food is fresh and locally grown. The Silver Spoon is also famous for their coffee and tea. They have loose tea in charming infusers - it made me feel like I was in France!  The menu at Silver Spoon has so many enticing dishes. It’s hard to make a choice, so I had to choose a few to share so I could sample a little bit of everything. Here are some dishes I recommend you try: - The Courthouse Burger - Grilled grass fed beef, caramelized onions, lettuce & tomato on an artisan bun with cheese. And if you want to spice things up a bit, add a fried organic egg or applewood smoked bacon. - The Pilgrim Wrap - House roasted turkey breast, cranberry-orange chutney, and warm herb stuffing. Yummy – a Thanksgiving dinner wrapped in one dish! **Choices of sides: Sweet Potato Chips, House Spiced Fries or Daily Pasta Salad If you’re looking for something lighter check out these dishes: - The Montali- Warm bread, garden tomatoes, bacon, poached egg and parmesan with Lemon-herb vinaigrette. - Ancho Chili Crusted Shrimp - Mixed baby greens with mango and crispy tortilla strips, red pepper oil and citrus vinaigrette. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there – hope it’s a day filled with family, love, and good food!

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Mother’s Day is May 12th, and it’s a day we recognize mom for all her hard work and dedication to her family. Being a mother can be the most difficult and rewarding job in the world, but it’s one mother’s wouldn’t trade in for anything in the world. In keeping with our Mother’s Day theme for this May issue, we decided to ask our Facebook fans the following: What lesson did your mom instill in you that you are especially grateful for? Was it a tough lesson to learn? Are you teaching your children the same values you learned from your mother? Here’s what they told us: Amanda R., “My mom taught me honesty, education, faith, integrity and the value of hard work by the way she lived her life. She was the successful manager of a local library for over 25 years, yet always balanced work and home. Although we are very different, there is no-one I would rather be like.” Beth M., “My mother taught me many things but the one that I keep going back to is - respect yourself. I use this lesson every day in dealing with my kids especially, my teenagers.” Melissa O., “The lesson I’m especially grateful for is the one where mom told me about faith and family. They are the only two things that you either accept or deny, but never go away.” Nicole P., “My mom taught me about independence. At an early age, I learned how to cook and help out with the chores. This was a valuable lesson which has made me appreciate my home and my material goods.” Elyse K., “My mother taught me to be grateful for what I have. We didn’t have much money growing up but we had each other. There were kids that had everything money could buy, but not a close family like we had.”

Emma K., “This is an easy one! THE GOLDEN RULE: My mother always taught me to do onto others as you would want done to yourself! I still to this day remember her telling me this whenever I was going in a jam and needed guidance. I tell my kids the same. It’s a great value to instill in your children.” Jen B., “My mom taught me two things that I LOVE her for. The first was to never react to your child stumbling or falling. To this day, my kids both brush themselves off and carry on regardless if it is a physical injury or an emotional one. The second was the Christmas rule – 3 wise men, 3 presents. Christmas never gets out of control and my children have more of an appreciation for what they got from Santa. Daddy and I usually get each of them one from us as well, but Santa never brings more than three.” Deanna G., “My mom taught me how to be a strong independent woman. She taught me that in order to survive in this world, you need to stand on your own two feet. She also stressed the importance of getting a good education. I am definitely passing this down to my kids.” Hollie B., “The biggest lesson I learned is - patience is a virtue. Also, always think the best of someone, until they prove you wrong.” Amy B., “My mother taught me to listen well, but question the answers. The ultimate lesson being - learn to think for yourself.” Melissa F., “I think the best thing my mom instilled in me is to be forgiving, compassionate, and understanding. You never know what a person is going through so you shouldn’t throw out negative energy into the universe.”

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family health By: Sheila Pochron

Fifth Disease

With the recent spread of fifth disease, we thought it would be a good time to bring the readers a guide of the ins-and-outs of the disease. Fifth disease, also known as “slap cheek”, is very common amongst those in the 5 to 15 age groups. Fifth disease is a viral infection that usually comes and goes quickly, without any complications. There is a 4 to 21 day incubation period between the initial infection and onset of symptoms. Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache and mild cold symptoms. After the symptoms clear up the rash will soon appear. The rash will start on the face and will appear pink and blotchy on the face and may spread to the arms, legs, and trunks. Once the rash appears your child is no longer contagious. The rash may take 1-3 weeks to fully clear up and may be aggravated and thus re-appear if exposed to the sun. In adults, the rash may be followed by joint type pain affecting the hands, knees, wrists, and ankles.

like symptoms and the symptoms of the virus before the rash appears, it is difficult to avoid exposure. If you are pregnant and exposed to fifths disease you should contact you OB immediately to schedule testing to determine if you have immunity to the virus. Complications of exposure while pregnant only occur about 5% of the time. Due to the risk of complications during the pregnancy, your OB will want to watch you and the baby very closely if there is no previous immunity. If you are pregnant or immunosuppressed in any way, it is recommended that you get an antibody test if you believe that you may have been exposed or are at risk for exposure. Any questions or concerns about the virus or exposure should be directed to your primary care physician.

In order to decrease your child’s chances of contacting the virus, you should encourage them to practice good hand washing techniques just like with the common flu. The virus is spread by bodily fluids through droplets such as sneezing and coughing. If one of your children has the virus, there is a 50% chance that the other children in your household will end up catching it too. Once your child develops the rash, they are able to attend school or daycare since they are no longer contagious. Most children will only have the virus once and then will be immune - in a few rare cases the virus will be contracted again. Fifth disease is extremely dangerous for those who are pregnant and do not have immunity to the virus. Since there really is no way of differentiating between flu

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With warmer weather finally upon us, we can lace up our shoes and hit the pavement running – literally. As an avid runner, I look forward to the snow and rain going away so I can take my love of running outdoors - and not worry about inclement weather. Throughout the year, I do various 5K’s, 10K’s, even a half and full marathon, but around this time of year I start getting ready for a favorite race of mine – the Field Station 5k Frenzy. The race is in its 7th year, and for the second year I’m the race director. It’s a race near and dear to me because my kids have gone and go to school there.

kids’ races will receive a ribbon and a medal. This family oriented and community event is perfect for runners, walkers, beginners, recreational and elite athletes. With over five miles of scenic trails, Coffee Creek Watershed offers a challenging, beautiful course for this race. The Field Station 5k Frenzy It is  a Calumet Striders Gold Cup event and this year is expected to be the biggest yet with over 500 runners/walkers.

Now let me tell you about the race! The Field Station 5k Frenzy will be held on June 2nd at the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve in Chesterton. The race, which Mom to Mom, NWI will be sponsoring for the second year in a row, is more than a race – it’s a fun and healthy family event. That’s because this event includes a chip-timed 5K run, a 5K non-competitive walk, kids’ races, prerace goody bag including a t-shirt, post-race refreshments and kids’ activities. The kids’ fun runs include a tot trot for 3-6 year olds and a 1-mile race for those 6 and up. All children participating in

This race is held annually to benefit The Field Station Cooperative Preschool, a nature-focused learning center nestled in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter, Indiana. This nature based preschool is committed to teaching young children about the natural world around them. To register for this event or to request additional information please visit the race website at www.5kfrenzy.com. If you would like to run with Mom to Mom, NWI please enter the code mtm when you register online – you will receive a $2 discount! Race day registration will also be available.

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Upcoming Races in Northwest Indiana: *2013 Hub Run in Crown Point

May 5th with a start time of 2:00pm -The race will start and finish at the Courthouse downtown. The race is a 5K Competitive Run and 2K Run/Walk.

-5K Competitive Run and 5K Fun Walk at the Long Beach Fitness Center. Registration is $20 (before May 20th) and $25 after May 20th. Calumet Region Striders can deduct $1 for early registration only.

*RE/MAX Affiliates Memorial Day Trail Run Xtreme 12K in Portage

*Brothers and Sisters in Christ Basic 5K Run in May 27th with a start time of 8:15am -The Kids’ Mile (a cross country/trail race) begins Crown Point May 11th with a start time of 9:00am -Entry fee for this race is $20 pre-registered, $25 for Race Day.

*2013 Valpo Police K-9 Unit 5K-9 Run May 11th with a start time of 9:00am -The 5K Run and non-competitive 1 Mile Dog Walk will be held in Downtown Valparaiso. The 5K run is a road course with moderate hills.

*Healthy Hustle 5K Run in Valparaiso

*Great Futures Family Bike Ride in Chesterton May 11th with a start time of 8:30am -This Family Bike Ride is a new special event hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County. It is a non-competitive ride that celebrates families and living healthy lifestyles. The Great Futures Family Bike Ride is open to the entire community. Families can ride a portion of the trail or the entire length and back.

*2 Big Hearts 5K in Long Beach May 25th with a start time of 9:00am

at 8:15am. Then the Xtreme 12K begins at 9:00am. The race takes place on the East side of Imagination Glen and is a rugged 12K trail course traversing hills, log jumps, thigh-high creek crossings, mud and switchbacks over single track mountain bike trails. Runners will get wet and muddy and shoes have been lost on the course.

June 1st with a start time of 8:00am -This run takes place at the Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso. The race fee is $20 plus there’s a $2.50 Sign-up fee.

*Field Station Frenzy in Chesterton June 2nd with a start time of 8:00am -This 5K Run/Walk Kid’s Fun Run and Tot Trot will take place on the scenic trails of Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve. The course offers a variety of running surfaces including pavers, gravel and boardwalk. Supervised childcare will be available for pre-registered participants throughout the event.

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*Miles for Melanoma 5K June 2nd with a start time of 9:30am -This 5K Run and Fun Walk for Melanoma Research will take place at Wicker Park in Highland. Registration is $30 (for preregistered and same day). All monies raised will go directly to Dr. Markovic’s research team at Mayo Clinic to help find a cure for Melanoma.

*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

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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.

Family & Kid Events: *Art in the Garden

May 11th and 12th from 10:00am-3:00pm -The 5th Annual Art in the Garden at Taltree Arboretum is now a two-day event! Come and browse the creations of artists from throughout the country in a garden setting. The cost for this event is $10 for adult nonmembers and children 13 and older, $5 for children age 5-12, $8 for seniors 55+, college students with valid student id and military with valid id. The event is free for members and children 4 and under.

information, go to www.bgcpopc.org.

*Explore the South Shore May 11th from 11:00am-3:00pm -Explore the South Shore is a FREE event featuring the “Family Fun” activities and events in the Northwest Indiana area. Discover all the South Shore has to offer for families with our kick-off to the summer season. Games, giveaways, entertainment, rides and more! This event at the Indiana Welcome Center is free. For more information, call 219.989.7770.

*Pins for Peyton and Gracie Too! May 18th at 6:00pm -The 5th Annual Pins for Peyton and Gracie Too, a fundraiser to support the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation (LDSF), will take place at Camelot Lanes in Portage on Saturday, May

*Great Futures Family Bike Ride May 11th from 7:30am-11:00am -The Boys and Girls Club of Porter County hosts the 2nd Annual Great Futures Family Bike Ride. Rally up your friends and family for this non-competitive ride celebrating quality family time and healthy lifestyles! The ride will take place on the Prairie-Duneland Trail between Protage’s Countryside Park (5250 US 6) and Chesterton’s Duneland Trailhead/Skate Park (108 S. 15th Street). You can join for all 18 miles or ride as much as you please, with refreshment and water stations, maps and rest stops along the way. For more

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18th Tickets are $30 per bowler and $15 per non-bowler – price includes bowling and shoe rental, pizza, non-alcoholic beverages, snacks and door prizes. For your added entertainment, there will be music by Part of the Problem and Rhino & The Acoustic Earth Shaker Band. For more information, or to reserve your lane, contact Sarah at 219.718.1260 or by email lagacy1@hotmail.com.

*1st Annual Jump Into Spring Vendor and Craft Show May 25th from 9:00am-2:00pm -This free event will showcase upscale local and regional vendors, crafters and businesses. Look forward to a day full of fun and excitement. This Vendor and Craft Show will feature music, entertainment, raffles, door prizes, kids’ corner and much more. Money raised at this event will benefit a local charity in the community.

Mom and Adult Events: *Listen to your Mother

May 10th at 7:00pm -The 3rd Annual presentation of Listen to your Mother will take place on Friday, May 10th at the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso. The show celebrates Mother’s Day with a series of live-readings shared on the local stage. General Admission tickets are 15. For more information on this year’s performers, go to www.listentoyourmothershow.com.

*Crown Beer Fest May 18th from 2:00pm-6:00pm -The Crown Beer Fest- a local craft beer will feature local craft breweries from Indiana, Illinois and surrounding states. At this event, you will have four hours to sample multiple beers from each brewery. VIP Guest gates open

at 1:00pm. This event takes place at the Lake County Fairgrounds. You must be 21 or older with a valid I.D.

*Shopping Affair Vendor and Craft Show May 19th from 10:00am-4:00pm -Find 84 upscale vendors, crafters, direct sellers, entertainment, concessions, raffles and more at this show. The show will be held at the Patrician Banquets in Schererville and costs $1 to get in. All admissions, donations and raffles will benefit the Human Society Calumet Area.

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 with the purchase of an adult entrée at the Schererville location.

Buffalo Wild Wings – On Wednesday and 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

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and Michigan City location.

Fazoli’s – On Tuesdays, kids 12 and under eat for $.99 from 5pm to 8pm at the Valparaiso location.

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.

Golden Corral – All day, every day, kids 3 and Shenanigan’s Pub and Eatery – Kids eat free 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.

on Wednesday’s and Sundays with the purchase of an adult entrée. Shenanigan’s is located on Route 20 in Portage.

get a free meal when an adult entrée is purchased. The daily special is not included in this deal.

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!

Texas Roadhouse – On Monday nights, the Dyer Goodfellas Bar and Grill, Cedar Lake – Kids location has $.99 kids meals, with the purchase of

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

***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.

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By: Stephanie Vega Edwards

The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting warmer. It’s a great feeling for those of us in the region who’ve been trying to cope with the blast of crazy weather Mother Nature has given us lately. Many of us are longing to spend time outdoors with our family and friends, and what better way to do so then attending a baseball game. The Gary SouthShore RailCats, Northwest Indiana’s only professional sports franchise, takes to the field for their Opening Day on Thursday, May 16th. This mark the 11th season the team has been playing at the U. S. Steel Yard, and fans are in for a treat! “We are really excited to be back,” said Natalie Kirby, Director of Marketing and Promotions for the RailCats. “For Opening Day, we will have our magnet giveaway for all fans as well as our fireworks display.” This year, they are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the RailCats opening weekend, offering fans four nights of non-stop entertainment. “On Friday the 17th, we’ll have The Burning Man, as well as a firework show,” said Kirby. “Then Saturday is Heroes Night. All serving veterans, as well as first responders get in for $5 with a valid ID.” Also on Saturday the 18th, the RailCats will be running their baseball hat promotion for the first 1,000 fans. In addition to great giveaways, the stadium will also be offering some new food and drink specials for fans. “New this year is our Kids Eat Free Mondays and Two for Tuesdays,” explained Kirby. “On Monday, the first 500 kids get a free hot dog, popcorn and a soda. And then on Tuesday, its buy two get two free – and that’s good on tickets, hot dogs, soda and chips.” That deal makes going out with the family a whole lot cheaper! Another way to save some money this year at the ballpark is by getting a group of just 10 together to attend a game. In past, group tickets were for those 20 or more, but this season it got changed to just 10 or more. “Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $9 for box seating, $8 for reserved seating and $4 for seating in the outfield terrace ($6 for games Friday through Sunday),”said Kirby.

With RailCats group discount rates, the more people you gather, the more you save! And if you have a really big group – from your company or for a party, well the Steel Yard can accommodate that as well. “The most popular group option at U. S. Steel Yard, are our three party decks,” explained Kirby. “The party decks are located on the First and Third base lines of the Wayne Hummer Suite Level, as well as one located in center field. The First and Third base party decks have a maximum capacity of 100 fans. The Center Field party deck has a capacity of 30 fans.”

Here’s a look at the Party Deck packages: The All-Star Package - $37/person

Party Deck Ticket, Hamburgers, Grilled Chicken Breast, Italian Sausage, Macaroni or Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Popcorn and Peanuts, Dessert (Fresh Baked Cookies), and Sodas.

Home Run Package- $33/person

Party Deck Ticket, Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, Grilled Chicken Breast, Macaroni or Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Dessert (Fresh Baked Cookies), and Sodas.

Fan Fare Package - $30/person

Party Deck Ticket, Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, Macaroni or Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Dessert (Fresh Baked Cookies), and Sodas. And if you’re looking to book a party for your little one – you’re in luck! The RailCats offer a birthday party package for just $19 a person. The party gets started 90 minutes before the opening pitch and includes all-inclusive hot dogs, chips and soda (until the first pitch), souvenirs for your guests, a birthday cake, and the birthday person throws out the first pitch. This package includes reserved tickets for those in your group. There is a 15 person minimum. Single tickets range in price from $5-$10, and parking is always free!! Doors open 1 hour before the first pitch. For more information, call 219.882.2255 or visit them at railcatsbaseball.com

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Lakeshore PAWS is a volunteer-run, nonprofit organization based in downtown Valparaiso. The organization was established by two business women and animal lovers who simply could not ignore the growing number of animals in Northwest Indiana without homes. The mission of Lakeshore PAWS is to find loving homes for abandoned and unwanted pets in Northwest Indiana. Since the incorporation of Lakeshore PAWS in April 2011, Lakeshore PAWS has rescued more than 500 dogs and 100 cats. To bring attention to the need of animal adoption and foster care, Mom to Mom, NWI is teaming up with Lakeshore PAWS to introduce you to a different four legged creature looking for a home. This month we are featuring Chipster, a five year old Lab Pitbul Mix. He has been in the program at Lakeshore PAWS since the beginning of January. He is going to flourish in a home with no other dogs. He loves to serve his “master”. Chipster is house trained, loves to play ball, and has very good manners. Rachel Glass of Lakeshore PAWS says it’s been hard finding a home for this loveable little guy. “Being that he is black and has pittie in him, he has just sat in our program and has had almost no interest. It’s so difficult on our end when

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we have a great dog that deserves a great forever home, but because of their looks, people over look them.” At Lakeshore PAWS, they do not discriminate against dogs and cats of any breed or age. They believe that every dog and cat deserves a chance at finding a loving family. They provide behavioral training as needed so dogs can learn how to live with a family. They are always looking for families to foster animals while they wait to find a forever home, volunteers to help at events and in the office, donors to provide us with the funds and items necessary to rescue and care for the animals, and supporters willing to spread the word and help us find homes for each of the dogs and cats. Every little bit of help makes a difference in the life of a homeless dog or cat. Want to learn more about adopting, fostering, volunteering, donating, or other ways of supporting Lakeshore PAWS? Contact the organization at (219) 476-PAWS (7297) or info@ lakeshorePAWS.org. You can also see animals available for adoption and learn more about the organization at www.lakeshorePAWS.org or like the page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ LakeshorePAWS.


mtm editorial does my husband. Normally, if he is at home when this type of situation arises, we will stare at each other and wait for the other to respond. We begin by making strange noises, like uhhh, ummm, well…. trying to think of something quick, honest and age appropriate. I envy the parents with this talent.

by: krystal taylor My children are quite comical - almost all of the time. The rest of the time they are fighting with each other and whining which for the record drives me absolutely nuts! There is never a dull moment in this house, just like the homes of so many other parents I’m sure. From the moment we become parents, we have this idea in our minds about what kind of parent we aspire to be. For most of us, it is a supportive and loving parent. We think about how we will handle situations when the time arises. We think about boyfriends/girlfriends, dates, driving cars, taking the bus, helping with homework- the list goes on and on. What we do not prepare ourselves for are the unexpected moments when we are put on the spot. You know, the moments when your child asks, where do babies come from? What is a divorce? Why does my sister have a different private part than me? Some parents react great under pressure and can give a wonderful, spurof-the-moment response. I however, do not react well under pressure and unfortunately, neither

First, I must tell you how I already feel like I totally bombed the whole “body part” talk. I swear I tried my best. It just so happens that every time a body part question comes up, my husband is conveniently working - really?! Great, now I have to handle the awkward pee-pee talks all alone…ugh. To sum up my failure: my two youngest believe that girls once had a “pee-pee” but it fell off and now they have “pirates” which is what they are called privates. We have always referred to testicles as “beans.” Imagine the horror the first time my oldest son overheard me saying I was cooking beans with dinner. I know, it’s terrible, but it clearly was all quite funny while it was happening. I just hope that I have not scarred them for life! Recently, I was finishing a project for my daughter’s room and I needed my husband’s help for hanging - I always hang it crooked, so I enlisted his help. I was holding the frame on the wall and said, “Alright, this is where I want it. Come nail me.” Not realizing what I had just said, I proceeded to motion him over to hurry up to put the nail in. To my complete shock, my son was standing by the door and said, I kid you not, “Dad, hurry up and nail Mommy!” I about died – my husband turned red! We both started laughing uncontrollably like a couple of kids and then my son started too as well, even though he had no idea what was so funny - which made it funnier. The conversation ended after that because we didn’t say anything else about it. I thought it would be better left alone. I just really hope this is not something he will repeat or an instance that could be added to my list of failed “talks” that I am responsible for by being his mom. My take away message to you is this - be your own kind of Mom. No one person is perfect, and as parents we will certainly make mistakes along the way. As long as we are able to look back and laugh, no harm has been done. As for me, I am hoping that I can clear up the body part talk before my two little ones get any older and want to watch any type of pirate movie. Just to clarify, I meant a real pirate movie - not their version of a “pirate” movie.

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By: Amber Neace

When I was a kid, my mom would take us as often as she could to nature preserves, nurseries and parks. Some of my favorite childhood memories are just walking with my mom and looking at the flowers so imagine my excitement when I heard about Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in Valparaiso. With 360 acres of gardens, prairies, wetlands and woodlands there is something for everyone - not to mention over three miles of beautiful hiking trails throughout the facility. Let’s start off with the gardens! With an impressive list of different attractions, there is no shortage on things to see. Featuring The Hitz Family Rose Garden, The Railway Garden, The Children’s Adventure Garden, Welcome Garden, Meyer Memorial Pavilion Garden, Entrance Garden and Native Plant Garden you can spend all day exploring. All are beautiful and unique but there are a couple - in the eyes of my little guys – that stand out more than any other. The Children’s Adventure Garden is a world of wonder with houses made from flowers, passageways made from branches, and they even a chicken coop. Your kids are free to let their imagination run wild as they explore nature. If they are not careful, they just might learn a thing or two as well! The Railway Garden is a little boys dream land - filled with G scale model trains that roll along the dozens of hand crafted bridges. Covering just under an acre, the garden shows the rich history of the railroad and has different railway lines including canyon, mining, mountain, prairie and steam passenger. As far as the hiking trails go, there are 5 different trails ranging from .4 miles to 1.5 miles. The trails all have walkways and are wide enough to be able to walk side by side. Dogs are allowed as long as they are leashed. It certainly is a nice break from the everyday “walk around the park”. Now, if you are planning a party – Taltree is the perfect backdrop for your special event. With the Depot Visitor Center available for year round rental, and outdoor spaces available from April 1st through October 31st, Taltree meets the needs of just about any event – they even offer kids birthday parties! With two different party packages and optional add on’s, it is a fun and stress free way to celebrate your child’s special day. Both party packages are a good fit for boys and girls alike and are perfect for ages 3-8. And as we prepare for summer, it’s important to mention that Taltree Arboretum & Gardens also offers Summer Camps! You can sign your

child up for a week long camp that is not only educational but fun. Combining nature and science, campers will be taught the importance of conservation and have hands on experience with what nature has to offer. For more information on private events and summer camps visit their website http://www.taltree.org. For general questions, please call 219.462.0025 and tell them Mom to Mom, NWI sent you!

Basic Package 1: Thomas® & Emily Visit the Railway Garden From May through October, children will delight in the thrilling sights and sounds of Taltree’s outdoor Railway Garden through a docentled discovery tour that includes viewing Thomas the Tank Engine characters. Then from November through April, cozy on in to the warm Railway Depot for indoor learning activities and games which examine railway history and amusing train facts. (Call for pricing) Package includes 2-hour semi-private birthday party rental period in Taltree Railway Depot for up to 20 children 30 minute discovery tour led by a trained docent 1.5 hrs open for celebration and refreshments led by party adults Free general admission to Taltree for children & adult party guests Four 8 ft plastic banquet style tables for use during the party 36 plastic white chairs for use during the party

Package 2: Bugs & Butterflies in the Prairie From May through October, your party-goers will search for bugs, butterflies and other cool creatures amidst the tall grass prairie. From November through April, explore diverse ecosystems through interpretive, interactive games. Whether inside or out, learn fascinating facts about the environment with a trained docent. Package includes: 2-hour semi-private birthday party rental period in Taltree Railway Depot for up to 20 children 30 minute discovery tour led by a trained docent 1.5 hrs open for celebration & refreshments led by party adults Free general admission to Taltree for children & adult party guests Four 8ft plastic banquet style tables for use during the party 36 plastic white chairs for use during the party

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Mom to Mom - May 2013