Dads Say the Darndest Things

Grandpa and boy sitting on a dock look out at the water

Cropped image. Shona1968, Flickr. CC License.

My daughter said a four-letter word.

I’m not proud of it, but it happened and I have to own up to it. These words aren’t thrown around lightly in our house, but when a 100-year storm is washing away half of your worldly possessions, you might let a few words slip out that you normally don’t use in front of the kids.

I’m not making excuses for my salty choice of words, can’t take them back now. But I can learn from it and understand that little ones are sponges and learn from their surroundings—no matter how wet.

In an odd twist of fate, we have a small social experiment going on in our house. No, it’s not who can talk more like a sailor; it’s that one of our daughters was home when our basement flooded, and the other was living it up with her aunt in Chicago. Our 3 year old flood victim was here to see us bag up some of her favorite toys and put them on a pile that stretched driveway to driveway. Her older sister saw the aftermath when she came home, but we don’t think she was able to truly grasp the magnitude of what happened.

Unfortunately, both of them have felt the stress of my wife and me trying to figure out what we’re going to do next. Where do we start? How do we pay for it? Will we get any assistance from the government? Some of those questions remain unanswered, but through the help of great friends (from our Beaumont Parenting Group) and family, we’ve been able to start the rebuilding process to get our home back to the safe place it was for our girls before the rain.

Our youngest is still a little apprehensive to even go downstairs, while our oldest still thinks some of her lost treasures are still in the garage. It will be interesting if they’ll even remember what a mess this was, or just go with the flow and be better and a little tougher for it?

Who knows, but I’m guessing that kids learn by example, so we’re trying to teach perseverance and that through trying times, family sticks together.

But maybe with fewer four-letter words.

– Jim Pesta, Parenting Program participant and father of two girls

Beaumont Parenting Program Contest: Grand Prize Winner

Mom, dad and daughter standing in park

When I found out I was pregnant, I was so excited but also very nervous. My pregnancy was full of constant anxiety and some depression, but I stupidly thought that all of that would just melt away when my daughter was born. Boy was I wrong!

I remember the first night in the hospital: Sitting on the edge of the bed looking over at my newborn daughter all bundled up and my snoring husband enjoying his slumber, I had an intense feeling of panic and doom. I would fall asleep hard, but then wake up basically mid panic attack and then be afraid to fall back asleep.

I was very blessed to have a very supportive husband and also extended family that stayed with us to help with nighttime feedings, but I started feeling guilty because I wasn’t caring for my baby all by myself. It was a terrible cycle and I was continuing to get worse. I started to hear voices and I was paranoid that I would hurt my baby or someone else. I had to spend five days in a mental health facility away from my daughter and family to get myself back. It was the hardest time ever, but I survived it!

Then I was introduced to the Beaumont Parenting Program and an angel by the name of Kelly Ryan. I remember my first postpartum adjustment support group meeting. I walked in and was greeted by her welcoming smile. I was a mess but she was so patient with me. I remember telling my story and bawling to her. Her support and her listening ear helped immensely. She then called the psychiatrist office that the program worked with and got me in for an appointment the very next day! I was also given a contact number to someone who had gone through similar issues. Kelly was doing anything and everything she could to help and continued to tell me that I would make it through this.

I am forever grateful that the Beaumont Parenting Program support group was there to help me make it through my postpartum depression/psychosis. I have since made it my duty to be there for any friend, family member or even stranger who goes through any postpartum issues. I feel that I made it through my issues to pay it forward and help anyone else I can. Together we will make it through this!

– Sarah Hutton

Getting Back to the Basics with Reading Comprehension

Dad reading a bedtime story to his daughter.

Cropped image. Gracie and Viv, Flickr. CC License.

Did you know you can truly impact your child’s literacy development with just a few questions every evening before bed? It’s true.

Reading before bed for infants, toddlers and preschoolers is beneficial in developing several pre-reading skills. Below are just a few:

  • Recognizing and supplying rhyming words
  • Understanding the features of a picture book (page reads left to right, pictures match the words, written by someone called an author, pictures by an illustrator, etc.)
  • Identifying the difference between letters, words and sentences
  • Punctuation
  • Reading intonation

Let’s keep it simple with this month’s tip. Here’s a sure-fire way you can increase your child’s reading comprehension, which they will develop before they are reading words.

  • As you read the story or afterwards, ask your child to identify the story elements: characters, problem, solution, and setting.
  • Your child will get really good at listing the above elements. Once this happens, add in more challenging story elements: the author’s message/theme, and the sequence of events. For the sequence of events, have your child retell the story across their fingers (i.e., First the boy while holding up one finger. First, next, then, last.).

– Maria Dismondy, mother of three, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan.

Disaster Preparedness: Tornado Safety

Photo of large, close up tornado

Unaltered photo. Paul McEnany, Flickr. CC License.

After the “Polar Vortex” this winter and recent mass flooding, many Michiganders have a new appreciation for disaster preparedness. Michigan’s most common potential disaster situations include thunderstorms, power outages, tornadoes and extreme winter temperatures. This special series will offer a few suggestions on how to make sure you and your family are ready.

Each year over 1,200 tornadoes hit the United States, causing about 60 deaths per year. It’s estimated that wind from tornadoes can reach up to 200 miles per hour, with most injuries and fatalities occurring from flying debris. A tornado can happen at any time, but most occur in spring and summer, often during the day between 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Here is what you need to know to keep you and your family safe from tornadoes.

  • Sign up for weather text alerts to notify you if you are asleep or outdoors away from the TV and radio. I use the free American Red Cross tornado app .
  • “Tornado Watch” means that weather conditions are capable of producing a tornado.
  • “Tornado Warning” means a tornado has been sighted; this is time to take cover! The average warning time from until touchdown is 13 minutes, so move fast!
  • If you have a basement, gather the family there. If there’s not a basement, go to a first floor room away from windows, such a closet or bathroom.
  • Mobile homes don’t offer safe protection during a tornado. It’s important to seek alternative shelter early so you avoid driving when a tornado has been sighted.
  • If you’re in a car, seek shelter if possible or drive to avoid the tornado’s path.
  • When outdoors without shelter, lay flat in a ditch, cover your head and hang on to something sturdy if possible.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System

Pinterest Wins and Fails

Photo of giant water blob in a backyard

Pinterest inspired me to make this giant water blob.

Confession: I’m not “crafty.” I can’t crank out beautifully handmade Christmas cards, or “ooh” and “ahhh” over my kids’ scrapbook. But Pinterest has a strange power over me. I look at it and think, “I can bake a three-tiered, Mickey Mouse-themed birthday cake.”


Still, I keep trying projects on Pinterest, hoping that one day something will work.

A Few of My Greatest Hits

  • The hidden objects bottle was awesome for a long car trip. I used orange juice bottles, which in hindsight were a bit too heavy, and put all kinds of objects in it to find. The kids loved it.
  • My husband made the PVC car wash sprinkler out of scraps in the garage. He felt very manly. This toy soaks the grass, so make sure you move it around frequently.
  • This one has nothing to do with kids, but I’m telling you — it turns out perfect every time and it’s easy. Make this bread once, and it’ll be your signature dish forever.
  • Then there was my home organization kick. My kitchen cabinets were driving me nuts so I reorganized them. Why didn’t I think to store water bottles on their sides, instead of standing them up so I have to knock them over and catch them before they hit someone, or make a loud noise that wakes the kids? It’s brilliant!
  • I also loved hanging the scissors on the inside of a high cabinet. Note: I tried this with a small nail first, but the scissors kept flying out of the cabinet when the door opened, which freaked out a few people (including my unsuspecting husband). So, I bought some small screw-in hooks. Worked like a charm.
Scissors hanging inside a cabinet door

Hanging the scissors inside a high cabinet keeps them out of the reach of curious kids.

Some of My Pinterest Fails

  • I saw this system of tunnels and thought it was a great way to use empty diaper and wipes boxes. So I carved out tunnels to drive cars through. Unfortunately, the kids didn’t actually use the tunnels for what they were intended. Nope. Instead, they pretended the boxes were cars and flipped them over and sat in them. And, no. I didn’t get all fancy with my tape.
  • Let’s not forget the water blob. The kids were only “eh” about this one. So, yeah, it was more trouble than it was worth and I ended up looking like a Smurf because of a blue food-coloring backfire. Also, the instructions said I’d be done ironing by the time the Doc McStuffins “I Feel Better” song was over. Not so. I watched two episodes of Downton Abbey.

What are your Pinterest wins/fails? C’mon! We’ll always applaud the effort.

– Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

100,000 Families: A Milestone to Celebrate!

Woman with interacting with 2 babies

Shout it from the mountain tops! Put on your party hats! Break out in dance! Rejoice in song! This week, the Parenting Program celebrates providing support and education to over 100,000 families! Woo! Woo!

A Bit of History

The Beaumont Parenting Program began 34 years ago as a research project with Michigan State University. With a focus on community outreach and primary prevention, this free program was designed to provide a safe environment where new parents could share, learn and grow together. Central to the project: matching experienced, trained parent volunteers with new parents to help educate and mentor them.

Ever-Growing, Ever-Changing

Since its inception in 1980, Beaumont’s Parenting Program continues to grow in scope and size. What began as a small “neighborhood” project, with only a handful of volunteers, has grown into a program with over 300 dedicated volunteers who provide support and education to more than 5,000 families annually. As market trends shift and family’s needs change, our program continues to evolve finding new and innovative ways to meet the needs of the community. Some recent highlights include:

  • In 2008 we became the first hospital in southeast Michigan, among only a handful of hospitals in the nation, to develop a comprehensive program focused on postpartum adjustments and depression.
  • In 2009 the Parenting Program developed Beaumont’s first consumer Facebook fan page that now has a following of close to 2,000 fans.
  • In 2010 we launched Beaumont’s first consumer blog for new parents. In the first two months, we had over 4,000 viewers and now we have a fan base that reaches out to over 91 countries.
  • In 2012 we successfully launched an “in-room” car seat safety education program.

Award Winning and Unique to Beaumont Health

We are especially proud that for almost 35 years, we have what no other hospital in the state of Michigan has: an award-winning Parenting Program. When comparing our local and national hospital systems, there is no other hospital-based program that offers such in-depth and comprehensive services. Presented with two national awards in the past five years, the Parenting Program continues to be commended for inspiring community impact, collaboration, innovation and best practices. Recognized as a “Program of Excellence” and considered a “Jewel in the Community,” the Parenting Program is a shining example of service at its best. It embodies the true spirit of giving and generosity. It embodies the true mission of Beaumont Health.

Program Impact

When you stop to think about the sheer number and measurement of “100,000” families, it is indeed an astounding sum and achievement. But when you think about the true impact, the uniqueness is in the stories from the touch of one person to a plenitude of families. The stories come in many shapes and many forms and the paths lead to incredible accounts of success, dedication, compassion, friendships, heroic actions, and even life-saving measures.

Volunteers are the Foundation of Our Success

Beaumont Parenting Program Advisory Board

At the heart of the Parenting Program is a group of compassionate and dedicated volunteers who give selflessly of their time and passion to help provide support to new parents. A special shout out to all of our volunteers past and present: It is through your efforts that we have been able to support and educate over 100,000 Beaumont families. Thank you for making every effort to ensure that our focus and commitment remains on the needs of our children and their families, that our focus remains on building a strong and healthy community. To our amazing volunteers, keep your passion for new parents filled with the genuine belief that you are making a difference in the world each and every day.

A very special thanks goes out to our amazing staff, generous donors, and our community partners for your dedication and commitment to serving the diverse needs of our community.

We are filled with great pride and exuberance as we announce this major achievement. Please “like” this post if you are proud and exuberant too!

This post is dedicated to Beth Frydlewicz, our fearless leader of the Parenting Program for more than 25 years. You are an inspiration to all!

Picking Healthy With the Family: Pumpkins

Boy in pumpkin patch holding pumpkin

Fall is here! To me, fall is about three things: pumpkin spice lattes, leggings with boots, and most importantly, timeless moments spent with my family. I gather up my favorite recipes for things like homemade pumpkin pie, breads, muffins and even pumpkin ravioli! Seasonal recipes are always a favorite within families, yet many people may not know how amazingly healthy and pumpkins are in themselves.

When we visit Blake Farms, we make sure to stop at the pumpkin patch where we select our own pumpkins right from their birth places (although I feel as if the pumpkin is the one who chooses you).

Like apples, pumpkins come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. I enjoy growing my own pie pumpkins (the small, round ones) but you can certainly find these at most pumpkin patches, road side stands or cider mills as well. My daughter especially likes the little mini “baby” pumpkins used for decoration, while my boys boast over who found the biggest/most round/coolest looking pumpkin in the patch (and then leave me to do all the carving!).


While pumpkins are fun to decorate and carve, they are also really healthy (no that doesn’t give you an excuse to eat more pumpkin pie!). Almost all parts of the pumpkin are edible, too. In pumpkins, you will find:

  • Carotenoids. One example is beta-carotene, which is responsible for the bright orange color. The body converts this into a form of vitamin A that is beneficial to eyesight, especially in dim light.
  • Vitamin A – It’s good for sight, but also helps regulate and maintain the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of the RDA.
  • Polyphenols.  Just like in the apples, polyphenols or flavonoids are chemicals found in plants that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Vitamin C. A powerful antioxidant.
  • Vitamin E. This antioxidant has properties such as removing free radicals from the body.
  • A variety of B vitamins. Includes folate, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and B6. They are important for cell metabolism.
  • Minerals. Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, and Copper.
  • Dietary fiber. This keeps you full longer and gut healthy. It’s heart healthy and lowers LDL cholesterol.
  • Don’t forget those pumpkin seeds! The seeds also contain nutrients such as dietary fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids, protein, minerals and vitamins. Just 100g of seeds contain 110 percent of the RDA for iron, and also contain tryptophan, an essential amino acid that can help boost your mood by producing serotonin.

Wow! Who knew pumpkins were such a powerhouse of nutrients?

Selecting and Picking Your Pumpkin

As I mentioned before, pumpkins vary in appearance. Colors can range from red to yellow, and green to gray. They are closely related to squash and the names can be used interchangeably. The official “botanical classification” is actually based on the stem. Pumpkins have a more rigid, prickly stem that bends on an angle, while squash have more of a soft, rounded stem that flares where it attaches to the body. Here are some tips for selecting pumpkins at the orchard (or store) and storing them:

  • Look for a solid and attached stem that is dark green in color.
  • Make sure there are no soft spots or wrinkles.
  • Consistent coloring.
  • Listen for a “woody” sound when tapping on them.
  • If you are using your pumpkins as jack-o-lanterns, make sure they sit flat.
  • Never use the stem to pick up your pumpkin. You should always grab it by the body.
  • Pumpkin season ranges from September to November, with peak season in October.
  • Soak your gutted out pumpkin in a bath of ice water before carving. It will keep your pumpkin crisp for much longer when left outside.
  • Cut the bottom of your pumpkin out instead of the top so it stays upright as it gets old, instead of caving in.

Pumpkin Fun Facts

  • They are native to North America, and date back to 7000 and 5500 BC.
  • Antarctica is the only continent unable to grow pumpkins.
  • The biggest producer of pumpkins is the United States. Canada and Mexico are second and third, respectively.
  • There are 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins grown each year in the United States.
  • Illinois produces the most pumpkins, followed by Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.

– Joohi Schrader, is a nutrition and food science major at Wayne State University, a mother of three amazing children, and a certified Square Foot Gardening instructor. She’s also a Parenting Program volunteer.



“Eight Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin”.

National Institutes of Health: U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Self Nutrition Data.


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