Kid-friendly patriotic yogurt parfaits

Berry and yogurt patriotic parfait

image: Kabubble

Looking for an easy, patriotic dessert to serve at your Memorial Day cookout this year? This treat will be tasty and healthy. Let your kids make them for added fun.


  • 1 8-ounce low-fat, Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 8-ounce container frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries and/or cut-up fresh strawberries
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries
  1. In a large bowl, stir together yogurt and vanilla. Gently fold in whipped topping.
  2. To serve, in six 12-ounce glasses or dessert dishes, alternate layers of the berries with layers of the yogurt mixture.
  3. Parfaits can be covered and chilled for up to an hour.


6 12-oz. servings

 Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories: 119
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Sodium: 17 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Sugars: 15 g
  • Protein: 5 g

Can my child stay home alone all summer?

Close up of girl sitting on couch

Schools are about to break for the summer and you may be questioning whether or not your child is ready to spend all summer home alone. In Michigan, there is not a set age in which legally a child is able to stay home without adult supervision. Using some of the State of Michigan’s legal handbooks, it seems that it is generally acceptable to leave your child without adult supervision once the child is age 12.

Within the “Improper Supervision” section of the State of Michigan Child Protection Handbook: “According to the Child Protection Law, there is no legal age that a child can be left home alone. It is determined on a case-by-case basis, but as a rule of thumb, a child 10 years old and younger is not responsible enough to be left home alone. A child over the age of 10 and under the age of 12 will be evaluated, but the case may not always be assigned for a CPS investigation.” Additionally, The Michigan Child Support Handbook states, “The court may include an amount covering work-related child care expenses when the child is less than 12 years old.”

Despite the recommended age, it is even more important to determine your child’s maturity. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a few tips to help determine if your child is responsible enough to stay home and also some suggestions on what type of rules to set.

Some key questions you may want to consider are:

  • Does my child have any reservations about staying home alone?
  • In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or medical event, can your child respond appropriately?
  • Are you in a safe neighborhood?
  • Do you have neighbors who will watch out for suspicious activity? Would they be able to check in on your children if you aren’t able to reach them?
  • Does your child know when it is safe to answer the door?
  • If there are younger children in the home, do you trust them in the care of their older siblings all day?
  • Have you discussed internet and social media safety?
  • Do any children in the home have serious medical conditions, such as life-threatening allergies, diabetes or seizures?
  • Are you available via phone at all times?

If you’re still unsure you if or your child is ready, consider a few trial runs. Let them stay alone for a few hours at a time. Once you get home, talk about their day, particularly any problems they encountered and how they handled them. I am a big fan of the “drop in”; if you can, leave work early see and how they are faring when they don’t expect you back for hours. If you still don’t feel comfortable leaving your teen or tween home alone all summer, look into summer camps that may be of interest to them. You can also ask available aunts, uncles or grandparents to visit, or see if your child can hang out with friends who have parents home during the day.

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

Help for your picky eater

Messy little girl feeding herself with a spoon

Unaltered image. Matt Preston, Flickr. CC license.

Having a picky eater can be quite a challenge. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you through your journey.

  • Have fun by giving familiar foods a catchy name.
    • Turn broccoli into “little trees”.
    • Serve a “sunshine sandwich” instead of grilled cheese.
    • Offer “bunny food” instead of veggie sticks or salad.
  • Cut food into shapes (cookie cutters are a great tool) or present it in a fun way (like a smiley face).
  • Serve smaller portion sizes. Have you noticed that kids like things served in little cups or on toothpicks?
  • Take your child shopping with you and have him pick some healthy foods. You may be surprised when he chooses a mango, kiwi, or bok choy because of how it looks, feels or sounds like.
  • Let you child cook with you. A child is more likely to try something she helped make.
  • Younger children like foods they can pick up themselves, so think “finger foods” like chunks or slices.
  • Talk about what the food looks like: color, shape, aroma, texture. You don’t need to focus on taste.
  • Talk about food’s benefits.
    • One mom told her son that Brussels sprouts were “super green balls of power” and they would make him big and strong. He loved them!
    • Remind them that milk helps their teeth grow strong.
  • If your child has trouble with a texture, remember that texture can be changed.
    • Don’t mash foods as smoothly. Leave some lumps.
    • Offer a crunchy cracker to dip into a “mushy” food like applesauce.
    • Serve foods in a different format, like apple slices instead of applesauce or a baked sweet potato instead of mashed.
  • Make sure your child takes a “no thank you” bite. It can take several times of trying (10 – 15 times!) a food before a child decides to like it.
  • The earlier you introduce a food, the more willing a child is to accept it.
  • Don’t offer your child an alternate or “special” meal. If he knows that’s an option, he’ll be more resistant to trying new things. But make sure there’s something you know she’ll like to eat on her plate.
  • Consider enrolling in the Little Munchers and Big Crunchers program offered through Beaumont Children’s Center for Children’s Rehabilitation.
  • If you have nutritional concerns, talk to your pediatrician.

Headphone safety

Young boy with earbuds

Cropped image. Kelly, Flickr. CC license.

You may not give much thought to the ear buds that came standard with your new cell phone or media player. But surprisingly enough, those little things can cause some big problems. A recent study found hearing loss is affecting 20 percent of U.S. adolescents between 12 and 19. Although the source of hearing loss wasn’t clear in the study, we do know there are steps to prevent hearing loss.

  • Consider using noise cancelling headphones instead of ear buds. These go over the ear, while ear buds rest inside of the ear canal, which brings the noise closer to the inner ear.
  • Always limit the length of time you listen with headphones or earbuds to approximately 60 minutes a day to give your ears a rest.
  • Turn the volume down! Most experts recommend keeping the volume to no more than 60 percent of the device’s volume level. If people around you can hear what you’re listening to, the volume is definitely too loud.
  • Set volume restrictions on your device if you can. This is especially important for children.
  • In addition to preventing hearing loss, never walk or drive while using headphones. We rely on our senses to protect us from danger, and hearing is an especially important way to keep safe. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise and many experts believe it’s due to electronic distractions.

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


Celebrating safely: Help your kids avoid underage drinking

Faceless teen girls holding drinks

I again teamed up with Oakland County’s 44th District Court Chief Judge Derek Meinecke, this time to take a closer look at underage drinking.

Proms and graduations are around the corner — time for photos, dressing up, and great memories. But did you know that proms are also the time when teen traffic deaths peak? Or that one-third of alcohol-related deaths in kids under age 21 occur during prom and graduation season?

Underage drinking: Let’s change our thinking

Many parents and kids think that underage drinking is almost a rite of passage. “Everybody does it, so it’s no big deal.” We may know that “Minor in Possession” charges blight records for years. We know that alcohol affects judgment and motor skills. We certainly know that driving under the influence can cause accidents, injury and even death. But alcohol affects a developing body and brain in different ways than in an adult, and this seemingly “normal” choice could set the stage for disaster.

If your child drinks before age 21, he or she is more likely to:

  • develop substance abuse/addiction (age of starting to drink is highly correlated).
  • carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault.
  • have poorer grades in school, have run-ins with the law, or use other drugs.
  • engage in risky sexual activity, such as teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV (the AIDS virus).
  • binge drink (more than five drinks on one occasion), which can lead to death.

As an adult, you are responsible

Judge Meinecke created a Parental Responsibility and Underage Drinking video. Whether it is a retail clerk, a parent, an older sibling, or the guy at the party store who agrees to “buy for” some kids, anyone supplying alcohol to a minor is breaking the law. You may think that hosting a party is safer, but enabling underage drinking can cost you fines of up to $1,000 (not including court costs and legal fees) and up to 60 days in jail, just for the first offense! If your party involves underage drinking, you may be found not to have exerted “reasonable parental control” even if you didn’t provide the alcohol! Furthermore, if a minor who drank at your house gets into an accident and dies, it’s a felony, carrying a $5,000 fine and up to 10 years in jail. And all of this pales in comparison to knowing you were any part of this tragedy. It’s just not worth it.

Even if no one is caught or harmed, it’s important to consider what precedent and expectation you’re setting for your kids. Maybe you made choices to drink before age 21, and maybe you were lucky enough to have escaped all the bad outcomes listed above. This doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to roll the dice with your son or daughter’s future, or the lives of others they could harm while drunk.

Talk with your kids

Knowledge is power: the more we understand the consequences of promoting, condoning or ignoring underage drinking, the better we can prepare our children to make safe choices. Let’s have open, honest conversations, not bury our heads in the sand or use scare tactics and threats. Answer questions and share information, like this great resource: FAQs from Young People about Underage Drinking.

Enjoy and celebrate safely! Being informed and proactive about underage drinking may be the best graduation gift you can give your kids.

– Lori Warner Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital

Springtime play and learning

Little girl blowing bubbles outside

While the cold, rainy days make you think you should check your calendar for when Halloween is coming, spring is really here. Soon a beautiful Michigan summer will follow. What a great opportunity to get outside and help your kids develop their motor skills under the guise of play. While kids all love their electronics, you’d be surprised how happy they are to go outside and play even the simplest of games.

Get out and play

  • Don’t sell short the importance of playing games like catch or kicking a ball; it helps build upper and lower body strength, eye-hand coordination and balance. You can mix it up too: Change the size of the ball you throw, or balance on one leg and see how long you can each stand before kicking the ball back.
  • Bubbles are great for kids and even school-age kids like them. Blowing bubbles builds oral motor and fine motor skills. The larger bubble wands are great fun for promoting running as you make bigger and bigger bubbles.
  • Kite flying is also wonderful for coordination and special time together.
  • Some more active ideas include roller skating and bike riding. Both activities are a fantastic chance to build strength, coordination, endurance and many happy memories. But don’t forget your protective gear — especially a helmet — for both you and your child.

Academics outdoors

  • If your child needs to work on more academic tasks, get out the sidewalk chalk to practice letters and math. Early learners respond well to large motor activities like drawing letters on the driveway as a way to learn letter formation.
  • Math facts can be called back and forth as you throw or kick a ball. When children have these types of sensory experiences combined with academics, they tend to have great recall and learning.
  • Speaking of sensory play, take advantage of the outdoors and enjoy messy play. Activities with shaving cream or Play-Doh (a carpet nightmare that looks so much better on your lawn) can build sensory and fine motor skills.
  • Fill a large storage tub with water and practice measuring and pouring to build coordination and math skills.

Other opportunities

As summer approaches here are some opportunities for children of varying abilities.

  • If your child struggles with handwriting skills, consider Beaumont’s eight-week summer handwriting program (for pre-writing, print or cursive). The program expands to 10 weeks during the rest of the year.
  • Have a picky eater? Try the Munchers and Crunchers group.
  • We also offer therapeutic swim programs, adapted martial arts, adapted dance, adapted yoga, and several sensory groups for children on the autistic spectrum.

Beaumont is proud to offer services in Macomb now, as well as our West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Grosse Pointe clinics. Check out our website.

– Debbie Adsit, OTRL, is the Supervisor, Pediatric Rehabilitation at the Beaumont Center for Children’s Rehabilitation. She can be reached at (248) 655-5687.

Just do your best. That’s what your kids will remember.

Mom and daughter sitting on playground equipment

Cropped image. Donnie Ray Jones, Flickr. CC license.

A few days ago I was semi-frantically running around my house in an attempt to return it to something that resembled order. As I eyed the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, I heard a tiny voice behind me say, “Mommy, you sit next by me.”

I turned around to see my 2-year-old emphatically patting the small spot next to her on the coffee table that she isn’t supposed to climb up on at all. Her dark curls were bouncing and her legs were swinging. “Please, Mommy, you want play with me?” I sighed.

The truth is that I did want to play with her. I had worked much of the day and hadn’t seen her. However, I also needed the dishes done, dinner made, the laundry folded and the dogs walked. And while I was at it, I should sweep the floor, organize paperwork, and go through my daughter’s clothes to see what I needed to get her for summer. The recycling needed to be taken out and I forgot to make her doctor’s appointment yesterday. And why in the world couldn’t I keep everything straight?

I often find myself questioning silly things like this as a mother. Am I making the right choices and decisions? Am I a good mother? Sometimes I feel like other moms have an answer book that is just perpetually out of my reach.

On Valentine’s Day, I went to the store and dutifully picked out a box of non-candy, paper valentines for my daughter to take to school. I wrote her name on all of them and was feeling pretty good about myself for getting things done in time. That is, until I saw the Facebook pictures start popping up. Friend after friend proudly showing off Pinterest-worthy creations. Robots crafted out of candy boxes, hand-created valentines with adorable sayings — all personalized to perfection. I had no idea that this was even a “thing”. I am not crafty.

I spent the rest of the evening convincing myself that my daughter would be the only one without these spectacular treats and think that I love her less. I imagined this as the turning point in her life where it would all start to go downhill to a life of crime and it would be all my fault. (Yes, I have an active imagination.) The truth is, there were a few of the crafty valentines, but the majority were just like mine.

I look up to my own mother as someone who I want to emulate. In my memories, she was kind and loving, patient and fun. When I brought this up to her recently, she didn’t have the same memories. She recalled times she lost her temper and rushed us. She said she wished she could’ve been more patient, like me. She is still questioning these imaginary faults when I think she was the greatest mom in the world.

In the end, I sat next to my daughter and we played for 15 minutes. Then I got up and did the dishes. But it would have been OK for me to just do the dishes, or to just play with her and forget the dishes altogether. These small and day-to-day choices are not the things she will remember. She will know she was loved and cared for just as I was.

So this Mother’s Day I plan to enjoy myself. No judging. Just fun with my kid. I hope that all moms will do the same. Even if you are one of those awesome crafty ones.

Happy Mother’s Day!

– Sara Kuhn is a Parenting Program participant and volunteer.


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