It’s Daylight Savings Time!

"Don't forget to set your clocks ahead" written on chalkboard

Retouched image. Will, Flickr. CC License.

While you’re changing clocks this weekend, check these things too.

Twice a year here in Michigan, we experience a time change known as Daylight Savings Time. It’s often suggested to check a few things in your home during this time as a way to make sure it gets done at least twice a year. So, while you’re changing your clocks, here are few other things to check out around the home!

  • Replace batteries in all of your smoke detectors. If the smoke detector itself is over 10 years old, time to get a new one.
  • Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors, too. It’s advised to have at least one detector on all levels of the home, specifically in the area outside each sleeping area. For more information on carbon monoxide click here.
  • With your family, review the location of your home fire extinguisher and how and when to use it. Most importantly, discuss a safe fire escape plan and do a practice home evacuation. Here is more information on how to implement this plan.
  • Check home medicine cabinets for expired medication and first aid supplies. If you carry any medication in a purse or backpack, such as an EpiPen® or Glucagon kit, make sure those haven’t expired as well.
  • Check the contents of your home emergency kit to see if medication or food has expired and if any supplies were used. If you don’t have a prepared kit, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a checklist.
  • Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan. In the winter you’ll want to use your ceiling fans on low in a clockwise direction. This simple step will force warm air down from the ceiling to the occupied space.
  • Change the time on any medical equipment such as a blood glucose meter.

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

Meet the Parenting Program Staff: Michelle Enerson

Mom with daughter

Michelle Enerson is the NICU Program Coordinator for the Beaumont Parenting Program.

Where did you grow up?
Davenport, IA. Also known as the Quad Cities.

Tell us something about your family.
Dave and I have been married for 20 years. We have three children: Becca (17), Andrew (15), and Alena (8). Our kids have an age gap with the older two in high school and the youngest in elementary.

Sometimes it can be difficult picking activities to do. However, the older two have a very special relationship with the youngest — one that many families don’t have.

Why did you choose to be part of the Parenting Program?
It happened almost by accident. I was at a point in my career that I needed a “change”. Instead of continuing my clinical work, I knew I wanted a more educational role for the families that I worked with.

The BPP gave me the opportunity to stay with NICU families who I had grown to love and to continue working with them in a supporting educational role.

Who or what inspires you?
People who choose to make a difference in the world in a positive way. Their contributions, not necessarily money, may not seem powerful or influential but have somehow impacted my life or others. I’ve found that as I grow older, most times, I remember the “little, special things” that someone has done. And it makes me want to pass the feeling along to someone else!

What are your hobbies or special interests?
I love to knit, bake, read, hike and garden.

What’s your favorite family-friendly destination?
Tee Lake Resort near Lewiston, MI

What’s your favorite movie? Book?
Movie: While You Were Sleeping

Book: Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series for a lot of laughs. Also, The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien for serious reading.

What’s your favorite meal?
My mom’s hamballs with green beans and garlic mashed potatoes.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Hard to pick just one. My mom’s homemade vanilla ice cream is the best. But if that isn’t available, then Clark’s Cinnamon flavor comes in second.

Share something about you that might surprise us.
I’m really most comfortable in my jeans and t-shirt, and if I am at home…no shoes. :)

– Michelle Enerson is the NICU Program Coordinator for the Beaumont Parenting Program.

Beating Cabin Fever with Toddlers

Little girl looking out the window

Unaltered image. LeAnn, Flickr. CC License.

There’s been pestilence at our house for way too long. In addition to the common colds and stomach bugs, we’ve had a round of RSV. The fun’s lasted for three weeks now, and with the extremely cold weather, it’s tough to keep two three-year-olds occupied indoors and maintain the adults’ sanity.

Lucky for me, the clearance sections at big-box retailers have been ripe for the picking.

At Meijer, I discovered Little Hands craft kits. Paper bag puppets, animals on craft sticks, and all kinds of other fun projects (sometimes as many as 20 and it includes a glue stick) came in a box. For a little over $3, you can’t beat the price. Now we have a menagerie, with some aliens and monsters sprinkled in, on our countertops, cabinet doors, refrigerator, etc.

While at Target (my home away from home), I found Cra-Z-Art projects on clearance. I scored a set of cardboard blocks that can be colored as well as a giant dry-erase floor puzzle. Huge hits with the kids!

We also have indoor sandboxes. This isn’t a project for the faint-of-heart. It can get messy, but it’s easy to clean up. Start with a smallish, shallow container with a lid that can be fastened on tightly. Ours are about 8 inches wide, 12 inches long and 3 inches deep. At the store, pick up birdseed, corn meal, dried beans or pasta, rice, aquarium rocks — anything with a dry texture. Combine them in the containers and provide small cups for pouring, spoons for scooping, and trucks for driving. The kids love it. Just keep the vacuum handy when you’re done playing.

When the kids aren’t sick, we like to take them to open play at a local gymnastics place. For a few bucks per kid, we get free rein of the gym, trampolines, foam pit, balance beams, and all the other fun things. It’s a great way to burn off pent-up energy and make new friends.

I’ve also been looking into the Michigan Activity Pass Program, which gets you entry to parks and museums around the state for little to no cost. The program is run through local libraries, so check to see if yours participates.

There’s also a ton of great kid-activity websites out there. What are a few of yours? What are some great indoor activities for your kids?

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

No Debate: Vaccinating Children is Safe, Effective for Disease Prevention

Little boy holding up his sleeve for a shot

There’s a big debate raging among parents: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. But if you ask pediatricians, infectious disease physicians and allergists, there’s no debate. Vaccinate.

“There isn’t a single vaccine on the market that hasn’t been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration,” says Bishara Freij, M.D., chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “The FDA even sends inspection teams to the manufacturers overseas who distribute vaccine in the United States. Having children vaccinated in the United States is a safe and effective way to prevent many communicable diseases that can be deadly.”

Those who argue against vaccinating children tend to fall back on the same misinformation:

  • There’s mercury, or thimerosal, in vaccines.
    There hasn’t been mercury or thimerosal, which is a preservative, in pediatric vaccines in more than 10 years. “The concern was always with the developing brain and the effects of mercury,” explains Dr. Freij. “Researchers measured mercury levels before and after vaccination, and found there was nothing to note.” Only multi-vial doses for adults contain some thimerosal.
  • Vaccines can cause autism.
    “This has been studied and researched endlessly in many countries because parents expressed concern,” says Dr. Freij. “There is no increased risk for autism and there’s no science to support a link. It’s just an unfortunate coincidence that children are at the height of their vaccination schedule around the same time that autism signals start showing.”
  • Why would I inject my child with poison?
    “I tell people that my son got every vaccine that was available and sometimes before it was recommended for his age,” shares Dr. Freij. “The idea of ‘poison’ is the price for success. Many of the diseases children are vaccinated against are under control now, but that leaves room for people to focus on the sideshow. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh any perceived risk of poisoning.”
  • The herd mentality
    There’s a difference between herd immunity and herd effect. “Herd immunity only happens with live vaccines,” explains Dr. Freij. “For example, I get the vaccine and it passes through my system and comes out as bodily waste. Other people inadvertently become vaccinated with direct contact and cross contamination.” The herd effect happens when unvaccinated people are the minority population. Those who are vaccinated won’t become ill, which reduces the transmission of the infection and reduces exposure for unvaccinated people. Unvaccinated people aren’t protected, they are just less exposed. “The ideal rates for vaccination are over 95 percent,” says Dr. Freij.
  • People die from being vaccinated
    Death from vaccinations is extraordinarily rare, according to Dr. Freij. “If a child dies from a vaccine, it’s usually because they were immune compromised and didn’t know it,” he says. “Or they developed anaphylactic shock which is an exceedingly rare event.”
  • My child is allergic to eggs.
    According to Devang Doshi, M.D., chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Beaumont, Royal Oak, eggs are only a concern with two vaccines in the United States: influenza and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). “The amount of egg protein in these vaccinations is so miniscule, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommend giving them to children with egg allergies,” Dr. Doshi says. “The typical protocol is to give the vaccine and then have the patient stay in the doctor’s office for 30 minutes to be monitored as a precaution.” A normal reaction to the shot includes a low-grade fever, redness at the injection site and slight swelling. “Restricted airway, hives, swelling of the lips and eyelids are signs of an anaphylactic reaction, which is exceptionally rare, especially in view of an egg allergy. But the risk of not vaccinating due to an egg allergy is not worth the theoretical risk of a potential reaction and definitely not worth getting a life-threatening infection.”

If you have concerns about vaccinations, Dr. Freij recommends checking out the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics. “All these concerns have been tested and debunked,” says Dr. Freij. “It’s a false sense of safety to believe medical information that’s not supported by science. You’re setting yourself up to be bamboozled.”

Use Books for Play

Little girl stacking books

Cropped image. Mliu92, Flickr. CC license.

For a over a year now I’ve been writing for Beaumont’s Parenting Program blog on ways to encourage reading and writing through the use of books in your home. But have you ever thought of using books simply for play? Here’s how!

  • Book Doctor. Use tape to help your children help fix their broken books. A torn page can be recovered in just minutes using clear packaging tape. If you don’t have broken books pulled aside just yet, make a label for a basket that can be kept near your family library to collect broken books over the next few weeks.
  • Build a Book Tower. Stack books. Talk about which ones work best (hardcover) and challenge each other to see how high your tower can get!
  • Home Library. Set up a check-out system for your home library. You can make pretend library cards using index cards or print one off the internet like this one. Don’t forget that local libraries have story time. Your children can grab a book, a chair and some stuffed animal friends to play the role as children as they retell a favorite story to an audience!
  • Design a Bookstore. A few weeks ago my girls set up books in the playroom with signs labeling groups of books (books with animals, Disney books, etc.). Then they played bookstore with one of them working the register at the store and the other coming through with a shopping cart and collecting books.
  •  Go on a Book Scavenger Hunt. This can be done in your personal family library or the local library. Here is an awesome printable to guide this play activity!

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

Chocolate “Chirp” Cookies, Anyone?

cricket flour - for use

As I approach my graduation this year, I decided to take on the challenge of publishing my own research. Simply graduating with only a degree in hand wasn’t satisfying the scientist in me. I felt the need to do some real research!

While I was wrapping up one of my senior writing classes last semester, I was exposed to the topic of entomophagy. What is that, you ask? Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects.

OK, I know that sounds pretty disgusting … but it actually isn’t! In fact my children, husband and I have all consumed bugs (and so have you, believe it or not).

In the western world, we usually only see people eating insects as sort of a gross factor. It’s somewhat of a taboo here in the United States. “Fear Factor” and “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern” are a couple shows where you’ll almost always find someone eating insects. But for the rest of the world, this is a fairly common practice, and in most cases, essential for human health and sustainability. Here I will give you five reasons why we should consider eating insects.

1. They are healthy and nutritious (and actually taste good).

Did you know that insects are a great source of not only animal protein but vitamins, micronutrients, healthy fats and fiber? Insects also have high-quality protein similar to that found in other animal meats. For example, crickets contain 21 g of protein per 100 g of meat, while beef contains only slightly more at 26 g per 100 g of meat.

Anyone who eats insects will tell you that they taste great as well. Ants are known to have a sweet taste, while grasshoppers will most likely taste like the spices they are cooked in. Bees taste nutty, and termites taste like carrots.

2. They will save the world.

Insects for food consumption and feed will become important in sustaining our planet. Right now the world’s population is estimated to be about 7 billion people. In 2050 the population is projected to be at or near 9 billion. Nine billion people on this planet! That means the demand for food will be extremely high.

Right now, 70 percent of the land on Earth is used to grow feed for the animals we consume. In 2050 we’re talking about beef becoming a luxury, more rainforests and land being developed to feed the hungry planet, more greenhouse gasses emitted, more pollution, etc.

Here’s where insects can save us. Crickets, for example, require 12 times less food than cattle for the same amount of protein. Cows produce 132 pounds of methane per day (which is as much as a car) while crickets produce 80 percent less. Further, insects are able to reproduce more rapidly, can live and reproduce off of environmental waste such as cow manure, and use substantially less amounts of water and land than cows or pigs. For example, in order to yield 1 kg of beef, you need 10 kg of feed for the animals. For crickets: 1.7 kg is all you need to harvest 1 kg of crickets.

3. They are less likely to carry diseases.

Animals such as cows and pigs are more closely related to us than insects, and therefore are able to transmit diseases from animal to human, like mad cow disease for instance. However there is a possibility that insects may have diseases of their own, and therefore more research is needed in that area.

4. We already eat them!

Did you know that we already, unknowingly, consume insects? The FDA allows a certain number of insect parts per number of grams of food you buy off the shelves. Here are some examples:

  • Chocolate: 60 parts per 100 g
  • Peanut butter: 30 parts per 100 g
  • Cinnamon: 400 parts per 50 g
  • Wheat flour: 150 parts per 100 g

And don’t forget natural colorings like carmine and cochineal!

5. They’ve been consumed for centuries and they’re still being consumed.

Whether you like to believe it or not, 80 percent of the world’s population feasts on insects. They’ve been part of indigenous people’s culture for centuries and continue to be popular all over the world. In some areas, insects are a source of income where work is hard to come by. Some insect species are used in medicine. In some parts of the world, insects are essential for nutrition in starving communities, while in other places insects are simply a delicacy that can be found in many restaurants or on a street vendor’s cart. There are 1500 varieties of insects known to be consumed today. And on a planet where there are 40 tons of insects to every human being, odds are there’s a bug for everyone’s taste.

Okay, so maybe you aren’t running out to order batches of fresh mealworms to eat for dinner tonight, but I encourage you to think about it and maybe even do some research of your own.

As a mother I try to encourage all kinds of “outside of the box” thinking. Our children really are our future and what we expose them to now will ultimately shape the way they think as adults. My family and I haven’t dipped into cooking whole insects yet (as much as I would love to), but we do bake and make smoothies with our cricket flour. (Pssst. It doesn’t taste like anything!)

Learn More

If you’d like to watch some really interesting and short videos on entomophagy and how this practice will help save the world, here are two TED talk videos that I think do a great job of that!

– 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.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Mom brushing a young boy's teeth

Unaltered image. Makelessnoise, Flickr. CC License.

In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, check out our previous article on some frequently asked questions about child dental care.



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