Parents, protectors of the Earth

hand holding small earth

The experience of having a child brings with it an intuitive sense to protect our children from harm. This sense brings with it a set of shared actions that most parents engage in to protect their babies from the outside world. We educate ourselves on the latest and greatest baby-proofing devices. We stand in grocery store aisles reading long lists of ingredients on the backs of boxes. We survey our doctors, friends, and family members to learn about their experiences as a parent to get advice on what to do, and what not to do. We do all of these things because we want our child to be safe and healthy. But, what are we doing to keep the physical world in which they will grow up in healthy?

In the same way that we instinctively try to protect our children, we also must find ways to protect earth from the damage caused by human-made waste. Becoming more aware of how we can reduce our own negative impact on the environment, and remove the waste that we produce in our world will help. This awareness can help our children to understand the role that they can play to help our earth recover from the waste that today’s generation and earlier generations have produced.

It is our responsibility to make our earth healthier, safer, and a cleaner place for our children as well as for the other inhabitants of our planet. Let us thank Mother Earth by becoming good environmental overseers of her.

Some of the ways that new parents can help earth recover from the debris that comes along with having a baby include the following actions.

  • Reduce your use of disposable products
    • Sustainable Baby Steps offers a great set of suggestions in “Over 35 alternatives to plastics
    • Consider using cloth diapers versus disposable ones. A great place to learn more about this change is from Mama Natural.
  • Reduce your refuse impact
    • One quick and easy way is to stop using plastic bags. Invest in reusable tote bags for groceries and other carriables.
    • Check out the article “15 Ways to Reduce Landfill Waste” by Conserve Energy Future to see how you can lessen your load of garbage in landfills.
  • Reuse everyday items
    • Handing down baby clothes and toys to a friend or family member is a great practice that helps reduce your negative impact on the environment.
    • You can make baby toys from everyday household items with this article from Pathways.org.
  • Recycle
    • Recycle Nation lists 15 recyclable baby items.
    • Bright Horizons has some great answers on how to recycle baby bottles.
    • Visit your local recycling center to find out what you can and cannot recycle. If you live around Beaumont Royal Oak, your city may be a member of SOCRRA.
    • Looking to recycle a particular item? Earth911 lets you enter your zip code and material to be recycled to help you find a place that collects it near you.

– Lisa Ball is an intern with the Beaumont Parenting Program. She’s pursuing a degree in social work.

Giving thanks to the best of the best

“Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch.” – Judy Blume

If ever there is a time to celebrate in the Beaumont Parenting Program world, it’s National Volunteer Week. This one-of-a-kind program, focused on supporting and educating new parents, simply would not exist without volunteers. Our Parenting Program volunteers are the best of the best, the cream of the crop. They give from the heart, making an impact that helps build a firm family foundation. This contribution to a healthy start for new families creates a ripple effect with lifelong influence. In a time when parents often feel unsure, judged, and are barraged with unsolicited advice, our volunteers are like a breath of fresh air. Armed with knowledge and experience, they are genuine, neutral, open-minded listeners who give without expectation of anything in return. They give from the heart because they’ve “been there.”

If you ever want to be inspired, place yourself among volunteers.

Every single day I am awed by what our volunteers do and give. Maybe it’s during a new volunteer interview when people explain what led them to share their gifts with us. Sometimes it’s when I observe a volunteer working with new parents, behind the scenes, or helping our amazing nursing staff. It could be when I read a glowing evaluation and get to hear from a new mom exactly what her volunteer meant to her. Or even once a month when I get the privilege of standing in front of a room full of new volunteers eager to begin their journey with the Parenting Program. Truly I often get teary, so moved by all our volunteers give, and the difference they are making, one family at a time.

This is one of those times when the words “thank you” just don’t seem to carry the weight of the gratitude I feel. But for lack of better words, I say it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, from me, from the Parenting Program staff, from our Beaumont Health medical team and administration, and from the families you serve. Happy National Volunteer Week, Parenting Program volunteers!

– Kelly Ryan, LMSW, Parenting Program Director

Helping our youth, protecting our future

small brown hand in a large white one

Times are changing and youth violence has become a very serious issue in our communities today. Research has shown the following:

  1. In a nationwide survey of high school students, 6 percent reported not going to school on one or more days in the 30 days preceding the survey because they felt unsafe at school and/or on their way to and from school.[1]
  2. In 2015, 485,610 young people ages 10 to 24 were treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained due to violence-related assaults.[2]
  3. On average, 13 persons between the ages of 10 and 24 are murdered each day in the United States.[3]

These facts are sad but true.

Preventing violence/trauma at home could be a key to its prevention outside of the home. Youth who are raised in a home environment that doesn’t promote healthy youth behavior and relationships tend to become a risk factor to others and to themselves. Furthermore, youth who are exposed to neglect, abuse and other risk factors are predisposed to later-life health and well-being concerns. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), through Kaiser Permanente, performed the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study.[4] This study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. Ultimately, the study showed a strong correlation between exposure to abuse or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults.

The definition of “youth violence” is when young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years intentionally use physical force or power to threaten or harm others.[5] The CDC named many evidence-based prevention tools that have shown positive effects for preventing youth violence when implemented. These tools include, but are not limited to, the following:

Furthermore, the CDC outlined programs that are beneficial in helping individual families focus on goals. These programs specifically focus on areas that strengthen economic supports to families, change social norms to support parents and positive parenting, provide quality care and education early in life, enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development, and intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk.

In our own community, groups such as the Beaumont Hospital Parenting Program, help prevent violence/trauma at home by providing individual family support, parenting classes and single moms groups to help address and prevent negative concerns at home.

Continuing our advocacy and protection of our youth should continue to be a priority because we all are aware that our children are our future. In the words of author Cindy Thomson, “hunt the good stuff.” I encourage you—along with your family and children—at the end of each day, to think of at least three good and positive things that happened that day. This is helpful because, as Cindy Thomson described, if you hunt the good stuff you will find it, you will bring others to it and you will lessen the pain of the bad stuff.

– Charla E. Adams, J.D., NCC, LLPC, is a former intern with the Beaumont Parenting Program. In addition to being an attorney, she is a couples counselor, teaches Love and Logic parenting classes and is an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing clinician.

Sources referenced:
[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance—United States, 2013. MMWR 2014;64 (No. 4)1-172.
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online].  National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). 2013.
Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html(https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html). [Accessed 2016 March 01.]
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online].  National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). 2013.
Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html(https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html). [Accessed 2016 March 01.]
[4]Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults,” published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998, Volume 14, pages 245–258.
[5] David-Ferdon, C., & Simon, T. R. (2014). Preventing youth violence: Opportunities for action. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/opportunities-for-action.html(https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/opportunities-for-action.html).;
and
Dahlberg, L. L., & Krug, E. G. (2002). Violence: A global public health problem. In E. G. Krug, L. L. Dahlberg, J. A. Mercy, A. B. Zwi, & R. Lozano (Eds.), World report on violence and health (pp. 1-56). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.

I’m not a saver

cozy coupe combo

I’m not a saver. I’m a donater, seller and thrower-outer.

Purging the house is therapeutic for me. Civilizing a messy pile or closet gives me great satisfaction. This goes for kid stuff, too. We don’t have a huge house, so if I kept everything they ever received, we’d be that family on the news, “New at 10—Two adults and two children found swallowed by stuff.”

Nope. I’m going to skip to the nearest donation drop-off and leave lighter and happier.

However, I recently sold some of my kids’ toys (with their permission) on the Facebook Marketplace and leading to the items being picked up, I was feeling seller’s remorse. The toys were big items that the kids had long since outgrown, and they were excited to get paid for them. That’s the deal with us: The kids agree to sell and I give them the cash. It works beautifully because we’re usually getting rid of something big, and they buy something small, like LEGO. Win-win.

But I was getting choked up about this one. I felt bad about it. Almost as if I was selling off their childhood. It’s ridiculous, I know, but I couldn’t help feeling that way. Why was I so excited to sell things that held memories?

I had to tell myself that the things don’t have memories. I do. The kids do, and I have photos of all of it.

Then I remembered something that happened 20 years ago. A relative died and we were cleaning out the house. This person was a saver. There was stuff stacked everywhere; some places it was floor to ceiling. It wasn’t garbage or anything disgusting. It was stuff that couldn’t be parted with—antiques, letters, vintage clothes. Stuff that meant something to someone at some point.

But that’s not for me. My memories are in my heart, head and iCloud Drive. It’s the only way I know to keep making room for more. If being a mom has taught me only one thing, it’s to create the best memories you can with the time you’re given, because soon there aren’t any more diapers, pudgy fingers, or room on my lap. All you have left are memories.

– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.

April is National Poetry Month

children's poetry book

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets created one of the largest literacy celebrations in the world: National Poetry Month. The yearly April celebration was started to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. Schools, libraries and bookstores are wonderful places to get involved and join in the celebration.

What is poetry?

Poetry uses language effectively to evoke feelings. It can make us laugh or cry. Some poetry has form and is written in a specific style with rhyme and rhythm, while other poetry is spontaneous with no intentional form. Children’s poetry is written specifically for children but is appropriate for all ages.

Here are some types of poetry that you can enjoy reading with your child.

Nursery rhymes

Rhymes help children learn speech patterns and develop their oral language skills. They help develop foundational and fundamental skills to be a successful reader. It was proven that students who know how to rhyme and can recite rhymes are better readers and writers in school. So, pull out the Mother Goose books and enjoy the fun and rhyme in this form of poetry.

Hickory, Dickory Dock

Hickory Dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down,
Hickory Dickory dock.

Hickory Dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck two
And down he flew,
Hickory Dickory dock.

Hickory Dickory dock,
The mouse ran up the clock,
The clock struck three
And he did flee,
Hickory Dickory dock.

Alliteration

Alliteration is a form of poetry that uses the same letter or sound at the beginning of each line in the poem. Typically, they are descriptive poems and fun to read. Challenge yourself and child by writing one together.

Eat Wisely

Franks and fries, and French fondue.
Beans and burgers and biscuits too.
Chicken, chili, and cheddar cheese.
When I munch too much, I always sneeze!

Limerick

One of my favorite forms of poetry is the limerick. Most often, they are nonsensical and make us laugh. It uses a five-line stanza in which the first, second and fifth lines rhyme. The third and fourth lines are shorter and rhyme. Children love to listen to the rhyme and rhythm of the limerick.

There once was a lady named Sue
Who had nothing whatever to do
And who did it so badly
I thought she would gladly
Have stopped before she was through.

Haiku

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry appreciated and loved around the world. It is a three-lined poem that follows a specific format. The first and third line have five syllables and the second line has seven syllables. Haiku is usually written about someone or something specific, such as a person or animal. Rarely does it rhyme.

Frog

Green and speckled legs,
Hop on logs and lily pads
Splash in cool water.

Kangaroo

In a pouch I grow,
On a southern continent —
Strange creatures I know.

Free verse

Free verse has no rules. It does not have rhyme or rhythm; instead it follows the rules of the natural rhythm of speech. Many people think that this is a new form of poetry, but it has been around for hundreds of years.

Dolphins

By Brook

Here I swim, with my friends.
They jump around me and flip in the air.
I am in Florida.
There are lots of different kinds of dolphins.
I am a Bottled nosed dolphin.
I slip in the water to find my prey.
My predators are sharks and some bigger
animals than me that live in the ocean.
I see something standing on land that I have seen before.
There is a noise coming from there. I keep playing with my friends.

Acrostic

Acrostic poems spell out the topic of the poem going down the left side of the paper. Each line uses the first letter to describe the topic.

Pumpkin

By Kaitlyn Guenther

P iles of candy
U nder the bed
M ake for a delicious snack
P eople
K now
I t’s been Halloween because
N o one is without candy

As you can see, there are many forms of poetry to read with your child. Pull out the book of nursery rhymes and have fun reading them. Visit a library and borrow a book or two of poetry. If your child is older, write poems together.

Have fun and enjoy National Poetry Month!

– Lori Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer. She’s a former teacher of children with severe disabilities in reading, a consultant with a leading educational book publisher, and a mother of two adult children.

Single parents can turn “terrible twos” into “terrific toddler”

crying toddler

Parenting a toddler is a challenging mix of sparkling smiles, sanitizing wipes, and temper tantrums. That special blend can feel especially overwhelming for single parents. Here are some tips for managing the “terrible twos” when you’re flying solo.

It’s normal

The “terrible twos” is a normal phase of child development, but while “normal” is a good thing, it doesn’t mean it’s easy! Testing, temper tantrums and outbursts can sometimes max out even the most patient of parents. It’s important to understand what your little one is experiencing. The Mayo Clinic explains that toddlers act out because they reach a stage where they naturally want to be more independent, but their bodies and brains aren’t cooperating. They want to do things their bodies won’t move to do yet, and they can’t express their needs and desires yet. At the same time, toddlers don’t have the capacity for understanding rules and limitations, disappointment and compromise. So, of course, they express their frustration with tantrums and other bad behavior. Thankfully, with some basic routine and well-defined guidelines, your little one can learn to be well-behaved.

TLC

When you’re portioning out punishment versus affection, let your scales tip on the loving side. Dish out large portions of kisses, hugs and playful shenanigans to ensure your little one feels loved. Reinforce good behavior with lots of praise and attention when your toddler behaves well and adheres to rules.

Soft rule building

Don’t flood your toddler with lots of rules. You’ll create a perfect storm of frustration in an overwhelmed child. Instead, start with a focus on rules geared toward safety, then gradually expand your structure as time goes by. Childproof your home and remove all the temptations you can find to help support your child and set you both up for success.

Temper tantrums

Even with the best of all possible situations, you’re bound to be on the receiving end of temper tantrums on occasion. Here are some tips for navigating those outbursts:

  • Recognize limitations. Your toddler may act out when you’re asking for things she doesn’t understand yet.
  • Explain rules. Instead of telling your little one not to grab toys from others, suggest taking turns and sharing.
  • Don’t say “no” all the time; look for opportunities to say “yes.”
  • Don’t overreact. When your child tells you “No!” don’t let it get to you. As some experts point out, when you become emotional your child only sees the emotion. Repeat requests calmly and try to turn good behavior into fun games, which will be more motivational.
  • Allow your child to choose some things, such as what pajamas to wear or what story to read. This will help your child feel more independent and encouraged.
  • Routine is your friend. University of Missouri Extension explains that routine and structure help your child feel secure, and maintaining a daily schedule will help your child understand expectations.

Stress management
All parents struggle with stress at times, and as a single parent you can’t tag someone in when you’re feeling maxed out. It’s vital to find healthy ways to cope with your stress and not take it out on your child. Some experts suggest maintaining a good self-care program to manage stress levels, and that you brainstorm “the activities that will help you feel relaxed in a healthy way, and try to do at least one a day in order to reduce stress”. Find some healthy outlets including exercising, grabbing lunch with a friend, or reading a good book. Remember this is just a phase and take a deep breath! In the grand scheme of things, those temper tantrums are small and one day you might even miss them. And don’t be too hard on yourself. As RaisingChildren explains, single parents often feel responsible for every little thing that goes wrong. You don’t have super powers and sometimes things won’t be perfect. It’s OK! Don’t set the bar too high and be gentle with yourself.

Terrific toddler

Single parenting is stressful, but you can set yourself and your child up for success with these tips. Provide lots of love, make your expectations practical, keep your routine and enjoy some self-care. Instead of viewing this phase as the “terrible twos,” you can enjoy your terrific toddler!

Daniel Sherwin is a single dad raising two children. On his personal blog, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

Enjoy national noodle month with veggie pasta and healthy Alfredo sauce

zucchini noodles in skillet

Marco Verch, Flickr. CC license.

Noodles and pasta are great foundations for healthy, nutritious and satisfying meals. However pasta is generally high in carbohydrates and the average serving size of whole grain pasta is 2 ounces dry (approximately 1 cup cooked), which contains 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates. It is very easy to over-indulge and eat more than what is recommended.

Fear not, today there are other pasta alternatives popping up. Some of my favorite low-carb noodles include zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash. Let’s compare them to whole grain pasta.

  • Whole-grain pasta: 1 cup cooked (2 ounces dry) has 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Spaghetti squash: 1 cup cooked contains 46 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Zucchini: 1 cup cooked has 28 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates.

Both spaghetti squash and zucchini are perfect spaghetti noodle substitutes because they are low-starch vegetables so you can have an unlimited amount. Top with your favorite sauce and you are good to go!

Take the noodle challenge

If you really want to step outside of your noodle box, I challenge you to try some more unique pasta alternatives, such as carrot noodles or beet noodles. You can buy these products pre-packaged in the produce department at your local grocery store or spiralize them yourself with a spiral slicer. (Carrots = 1 cup, 70 Calories, 16 grams carbohydrates; Beets = 1 cup, 80 calories, 16 grams carbohydrates)

Healthy Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (low sodium)
  • ½ cup skim milk
  • ½ cup non-fat plain greek yogurt (room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup grated parmesan

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Sprinkle with cornstarch and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  3. While whisking, slowly add in broth and milk. Continue whisking to combine until smooth.
  4. Raise heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Once simmering, simmer for about 2 minutes, until it starts to thicken, whisking constantly.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in greek yogurt little by little.
  6. Once combined, place back on medium heat and stir in Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  7. Bring to a simmer and simmer for an additional 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  8. Serve over pasta immediately.

Yield

6 servings (Serving size equals 1/6 of the entire sauce recipe.)

– Alyson Nielsen is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking demonstrations to the community. View a list of current demonstrations here.

Adapted from www.showmetheyummy.com

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