A season of change

house for sale

In most homes with school-age children, fall is a season of change. But in our family, these past few months have provided a little too much change.

This past summer, we left Michigan to return to our home state of Connecticut. It was our second big move in three years and although it felt good to be coming home, the move was (and still is for that matter) particularly hard on my two teenagers. In fairness, there was a lot of newness: new town, new house, new school, new job, new sports team, new friends. I also felt overwhelmed by all the changes, but as the captain of this ship, I had to be mindful about my reaction.

Here are a few tips I have learned after five moves with kids.

  • Convey the expectation that your kids can adjust, adapt, and yes, be just as happy. If I’m consistent with this expectation, then my message is that I have faith in their ability to be successful in the transition.
  • Don’t sit too long with the negative emotions around the change. When I ask them about their day and the response is negative, I will shift the conversation to something positive, even if the one positive is something totally superficial like the school lunch was good.
  • Stay in the here and now; try not to let your child focus too much on the past. Memories are fun to share and laugh about, but then we turn our attention to the present and work to create new memories in our new space.
  • Let your children have some ownership in decorating their new bedrooms. I gave my two older kids a reasonable budget and they had fun decorating their rooms in a way that didn’t constantly remind them of their old bedrooms.
  • Be patient and consistent. I have found in all our moves, older children take longer to adjust. I stay mindful about my own language when it comes to the changes we are experiencing as a family. I set the tone for the kids so I try to keep it positive and optimistic when they are within listening distance.

We aren’t out of the woods yet. None of my kids are saying they love it back here in Connecticut. But I’m confident that the winter months will bring a sense of familiarity and comfort that the fall did not. And although I’m proud of my kids for being adaptable, I think we’re going to sit tight for a while.

– Andree Palmgren is a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Westport, Conn. A Parenting Program volunteer, she is also a mom to a 15, 13, 9 and 5 year old.

Hand washing: Instilling healthy habits in your children

mom teaching boy to wash hands

Hand washing is one of the most important preventative measures that everyone can take to stay healthy. Making this part of a routine from an early age can help prevent many future illnesses. While it can take only a few seconds for your little ones to accidentally infect themselves from dirty hands, the resulting illness can last days to weeks. So take the time now to prevent those lengthy illnesses as we focus on the importance of hand washing.

Teaching kids about germs

Proper hand washing can remove germs that lead to illness but the idea of germs can admittedly be a bit abstract for young children. In my family, we often look to books when embarking upon a new adventure and there are plenty of books about hand washing—including “Germs Are Not for Sharing” by Elizabeth Verdick—that are perfect for a young audience.

For older, school-age children, glitter or washable paint are cool visuals for demonstrating the spread of germs. Try this fun project to help visualize the spread of germs, although I think I might save this lesson for the summertime when it can be done outside.

When should we wash hands?

As a general guideline, hand washing should occur:

  • Before and after playing with other children
  • After playing outside
  • After touching a pet
  • After using the bathroom
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Before and after eating

While hand sanitizer is great in some situations, it isn’t always best. Children’s hands are often visibly dirty; soap and water will remove dirt and soil unlike hand sanitizer. However, if you are on the go, hand sanitizer can be very helpful when water is not accessible.

Making it fun

Hand washing should take about 20 seconds, which is about the length of time it takes to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” twice. I like to use these lyrics to make it more fun for my children:

Wash, wash, wash my hands

I can wash my hands

Washy, washy, washy, washy

Now I’ll wash some more

Wash, wash, wash my hands

I can wash my hands

Washy, washy, washy, washy

Now my hands are clean

While singing the song, the following steps should be done to ensure clean hands:

  1. Roll sleeves up
  2. Thoroughly wet hands
  3. Place a dollop of soap on hands
  4. Scrub fronts and backs of hands
  5. Rinse
  6. Thoroughly dry on a disposable towel

Other helpful tips

  • Place a step stool near the sink and put soap within arm’s reach, so hand washing is more accessible for smaller children.
  • Rewarding children with a sticker (for step stool decorating) after proper hand washing can make hand washing more fun for toddlers when they’re learning and in that “do it myself” phase.
  • Letting children pick the scent of the soap can give them something to look forward to as well.

Take the time now to instill this healthy habit into your routine and it can pay dividends in your family’s future health.

– Melissa Rettmann, M.S., PA-C, has a background in pediatrics and allergy. She is the mother of three young children and volunteers with the Parenting Program.

Source: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/prevention/Pages/Hand-Washing-A-Powerful-Antidote-to-Illness.aspx

Did I say too much? A year in review.

man thinking

I’ve really enjoyed writing these Parenting Program blog articles for the last couple of years. The kind words I received when I wrote about loss were all very much appreciated. The note or two I get every time a blog posts proves that at least one or two people are reading. That’s why I wanted to do a year-in-review look back at what I’ve shared with you.

In one simple phrase – way too much! I kid (sort of); these blogs have been a blessing because I’ve used them as therapy. I’ve lost some close friends so I wrote about and how you should teach your kids to live every day to the fullest. But that doesn’t mean schedule every minute of every day. There is something to be said to have some free time to daydream or form a formidable all-girl, leaf-raking crew to make a few dollars on Election Day.

I shared how both of my daughters have grown and now surprise me with their wit, caring and sassiness. I mentioned in the last blog that my oldest daughter gained both brothers and sisters via her Beaumont family, but I didn’t tell you our youngest has a Beaumont family that only grows stronger by each addition.  I’m guessing that we’re not adding more to that family, but sometimes you get just the right amount.

There have been a number of times I wrote about my dad, a single father not by choice but necessity, who showed me what is to go above and beyond for your children, not because he had to but because he knew it was right.

In my nearly decade of parenting, I’ve learned that it’s OK to take time for yourself, because you can’t make your family a meal if the kitchen is empty. OK, I’ll admit it’s not my best analogy, but you get my point. As the great “Parks and Rec” once taught us – Treat Yo’Self – maybe not as much as you did before that little blue line changed your whole world forever, but you need to focus on you from time to time.

I used “I” quite a bit in this blog, mostly on purpose; sometimes the focus has to shift from your three-letter moniker – “Mom” or “Dad” – to “me” and “I.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to fly to Vegas and let the 529 college savings plan ride on black. Far from it. But if there is an extra gift during Hanukkah, or Santa brings you that new jacket you wanted, who’s going to blame you?

Enjoy your holiday season, however you celebrate. Be sure to take a moment and give yourself kudos for making it this far because this parenting thing isn’t easy, but great things aren’t always easy.

– Jim Pesta is a past Parenting Program participant and father of two girls.

The face of Beaumont Parenting: Kimberly Aneiros

mom, dad and young daughter

Kim with her husband and daughter

This blog series has featured many great Beaumont Parenting Program volunteers. Every one of them are members of our local community and chose to give their time and talents to support new Beaumont parents in myriad ways. Today’s volunteer is also talented, giving and supportive. She is assisting new parents with the sometimes-difficult transition into parenthood by serving as an Individual Family Support volunteer. In that role, she communicates with new moms through calls, emails and texts — providing the encouragement and listening ear that new parents so often need. The difference for today’s special volunteer is that she is doing it from out-of-state.

Kimberly Aneiros is a 32-year-old mother of two-and-a-half-year-old Isabelle. Shortly after Isabelle was born, Kimberly and her husband Jeff moved to Chicago from Michigan. That move placed the new family away from the support of their family and friends. Add to that a baby with colic and Kimberly’s suffering from postpartum depression, she truly needed a helping hand. She got that help from the BPP in the form of individual family support.

It was the assistance that Kimberly received that led her to become a volunteer for the BPP herself. Now she reaches out across Lake Michigan to pay back the community that helped her adjust to motherhood across the miles.

Before Isabelle was born, Kimberly worked in human resources. Now she is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys writing, reading, movies and cooking. Kimberly is such a fan of reading that she could not name one favorite book, but rather recommended “Night” by Elie Wiesel, “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, and “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi for adults. For kids, some of Kimberly’s favorites are “The Crown on Your Head,” “Jamberry,” “Love You Forever,” “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Despite all those books, Isabelle’s favorite thing about her mom is not story time, but rather when her mom smothers her in kisses!

Kimberly says that she enjoys volunteering for the BPP because she loves connecting with other moms. She loves reassuring them that they are doing a good job, that “they’ve got this!” She finds it helpful just to listen to the families she supports and let them know that they are not alone.

Because Jeff works out-of-state, Kimberly and Isabelle only see him on the weekends, so they like to make the most of those. Kimberly watches Isabelle squeal with delight every time her dad gets home, and then they share time at the zoo, the park, at church and walking to get donuts. Every weekend Jeff also watches Finding Dory with Isabelle — which I imagine reminds Kimberly of advice she gives and received through the BPP — just keep swimming! (Just maybe not in that lake as winter approaches!)

– Nicole Capozello is Parenting Program staff.

My top 10 Thanksgiving books to share with a child

grandma reading to toddler

  • The Itsy Bitsy Pilgrim by Jeffrey Burton
    • A Thanksgiving spin on a classic nursery rhyme.
  • Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anne Dewdney
    • Spend Thanksgiving with Llama Llama Red Pajama and his family.
  • Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon
    • A Thanksgiving-themed countdown book
  • Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
    • This read-aloud book teaches children how to be thankful every day.
  • Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
    • Part of the popular Bear series for Pre-K and young elementary children, this story highlights friendship, gratitude and thankfulness.
  • Happy Thanksgiving (Bright Baby) by St. Martins Press LLC
    • Pictures and word labels introduce Thanksgiving concepts to some of the youngest family members.
  • Baby’s First Thanksgiving by DK Publishing
    • Cute photographs and simple sentences make this a good starter book for the holiday.
  • My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola
    • Another short and simple option to share together.
  • First Thanksgiving by Nancy Davis
    • A lift-the-flap book
  • The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
    • A fun way to teach gratitude for the little things in a child’s life.

– Lori A Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer.

Lightened up green bean casserole with shallot crumb topping

close up of green bean casserole with crumb topping

image credit: skinnytaste

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds frozen whole green beans (defrosted and snapped in half)

For the topping:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup shallots, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh)

For the green beans:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup shallots, minced
  • 16 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken stock (or vegetable for vegetarian)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

For the topping:

  1. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots and sauté about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden brown.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add breadcrumbs, grated cheese and thyme.
  4. Sauté until golden brown, about 5 or 6 minutes, stirring frequently, careful not to burn.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a 13 x 9″ baking dish.

For the green beans:

  1. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add shallots and sauté 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms; stir constantly for about a minute.
  5. Slowly add chicken stock, then milk. Bring to a low boil, and cook stirring occasionally until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in Romano cheese.

Then:

  1. Add defrosted green beans and mix well, season with salt and pepper as needed; pour into prepared baking dish.
  2. Top with toasted bread crumbs and bake about 30 minutes.

Yield

Makes 10 servings. Serving size equals approximately 1 cup. (Each serving counts as 1 fat, 1 starch and low starch vegetables.)

Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories:          140
  • Fat:                  5 grams
  • Saturated fat:  1.5 grams
  • Trans fat:         0 grams
  • Cholesterol:     5 milligrams
  • Sodium:           180 milligrams
  • Carbohydrate: 19 grams
  • Fiber:               4 grams
  • Sugar:              5 grams
  • Protein:            6 grams

– Mary Ligotti-Hitch, R.D., is a registered dietitian with the Beaumont Health Center’s Weight Control Center.

Adapted from Skinnytaste.com

 

 

Celebrating National Kindness Day

woman holding basket of lilacs

What is kindness? One definition is doing something for someone without expecting anything in return.

Some kindnesses are big and memorable, like creating Halloween costumes for our tiny NICU patients. That thoughtful gesture made the day for so many of our families. (Thank you, Ingrid Peeples!)

Some kindnesses are smaller, but still can bring joy to those around you. In fact, it’s the little things we can do daily that make the most impact. Here are some simple ways to show kindness today and every day.

  • Pay it forward by extending someone’s parking meter or pay for coffee for the person behind you. (Stephanie Babcock)
  • Put a little note in your child’s lunch.
    • When I include a joke, my son likes to share it with his friends. (Becky Bibbs)
  • Give a handwritten note.
    • Giving encouragement or thanks to my family and co-workers in a handwritten note in the age of electronics really makes a personal connection. (Nicole Capozello)
  • When young children are learning about kindness, always show appreciation and respect towards people animals and nature. (Lucy Hill)
  • Give a stranger a compliment.
    • I love doing that because I can see how it makes them feel. (Lori Polakowski)
  • Leave a surprise on the doorstep of someone.
    • I like to leave a pot of flowers or a goodie basket with fresh jam, bread and favorite tea or coffee. (Deanna Robb)
  • Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while.
    • I don’t know about you, but throughout the day my mind will go to certain people, or I may have a memory that is sparked that makes me thing of someone. A simple text to say, “Hi, I was just thinking of you. I hope you have a great day” or “Oh my gosh, I just heard the Spice Girls on the radio and it reminded me so much of all the fun at our old apartment. Hope you are well!” Little random notes like this can make people feel really good and can brighten a gloomy day. (Kelly Ryan)
  • Leave an extra hefty tip above and beyond the typical 20 percent for great service, or to server who seems to need the pick-me-up.
  • Leave a penny by the Sandy horse ride at Meijer so a kid who may not have a penny can take a ride.
  • Give a smile to someone.
  • Allow someone to change lanes in front of you.
  • Give a friendly wave to the driver behind you when changing lanes.
  • Take a meal to a family member, friend or someone in need. Whether it’s a new baby, a loss in the family or just some overwhelming stress, providing a warm meal can be a kindness.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Hold the door for someone behind you.
  • Offer to help someone without them having to ask you.
  • Remember to say please and thank you.
  • Share lots of hugs in your family.
  • Remind (and demonstrate to) children to stand up to someone who is bullying another.
  • Listen, demonstrate presence, and show openness and empathy to those around you.
  • Try and live each day with intention and positivity.
  • Donate to your favorite charity.

And one final thought from Betsy Clancy:

  • “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
    • My mom was always saying this, but more importantly, she lived it. (In honor of my mom, Betty Farley 1920–2016. “Love you, miss you …”)

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