Hair today, gone tomorrow

before and after pics of hair donation

Summer is at hand and it is, as they say, time to let your (long) hair down. And while you’re doing that, perhaps you’ll realize that having long hair is really quite sweltering in the summer. Maybe you’ll realize that chopping off the voluminous hair would be really quite refreshing. And perhaps when you realize that, you will consider donating those luscious locks of yours.

“Excellent,” you say. “I’ve heard of Locks of Love”. But wait! Did you know there are other organizations you could choose based on how much hair you have to donate and who you would like the intended recipient to be?

The three most often-used hair donation charities are Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids. Because Google is awesome and I use it to answer all of life’s questions, I used it for some research and found this table included in an article from Business Insider earlier this year (Jan. 6, 2017, to be exact):

comparing hair donation charities

I’ve donated my hair several times now. (I am pleased to report that doing so inspired my niece and my daughter to donate theirs as well!) At first I chose Locks of Love because, like you, I hadn’t heard of any other organizations.

After learning of the others though, I changed over to Pantene. Why? They take the smallest amount of hair; I’ll be honest, it’s really hard for me to have to the patience to grow my hair out enough to create a 10- or 12-inch ponytail. Rather, I have enough hair to create a 12-inch ponytail, but the resulting cut makes me look like Kramer from Seinfeld and that’s, well, not a look I care for. On me.

It’s not necessary to go to a participating salon for the haircut, but having it done at a salon is easier than doing it at home. At a salon, a stylist can section off the hair into ponytails of the required length and gather it neatly for you to slide into a zip-top bag for shipment. Then the stylist can style what’s left behind.

Hopefully you will enjoy the resulting look and the feeling of liberation. Chopping off all that hair is very freeing! But even if you end up looking like Kramer, you can rest easy knowing two things: 1) You helped restore the self-confidence of a woman or child going through a medical treatment who feels lost without hair, and 2) Your hair will grow back. And then you can do it all over again.

Who’s with me?

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and frequent donator of hair.

It’s time

tug of war closeup

Toffehoff, Flickr. CC license.

I’m going to warn you up front, this blog is going to be a therapy session for me.

I’ve written before about how I’ve struggled with my weight since birth. Recently, and by recently I mean over two plus years, I’ve lost 89 pounds. Which is great, but it got me thinking, why have the changes I made finally stuck? Why didn’t it stick with the other countless diets I tried? Quite honestly I wasn’t ready or didn’t feel worthy.

Let me tackle not feeling worthy to lose weight. I know it sounds weird, but when you had to wear “husky” onesies from day one, you don’t feel as worthy as everyone in the room. I’ve been bullied, made fun of, and even dragged across the field of a middle school during a tug-of-war prank on field day.

I had to be the bigger man and let it all go because I knew if I started a fight, it wouldn’t end well because of all my pent-up anger. I internalized it, ate those feelings too, and eventually became the class clown.

Class clowns are really the only way for a person built like me to stop the bullying and harassment. I held court with my humor, deflecting any negative comments with a witty retort … much of it self-deprecating. As you grow up and move away to college, you hope for the best and a new lease on life.

I reinvented myself a bit in college, using my humor as a columnist for the school paper. But no matter how many positive comments I received for what I wrote, I still felt like the kid being dragged by the rope across the soccer field. Honestly, I still do sometimes.

Some of you who’ve read this far might be thinking, “Just lose the weight already.” Trust me, I tried but the only two coping mechanisms I knew were humor and food. And since food is sort of a necessity, it’s a hard habit to break cold turkey.

Becoming a dad was truly the best thing that ever happened to me and I thought some sort of switch would flip, but sadly it didn’t. What finally made me feel worthy enough? The look on my oldest daughter’s face while I was laid up in a hospital bed with kidney stones. She looked so scared and helpless; all I wanted to do was hug her and hold her.

At that moment I felt worthy enough and ready to make some changes, no matter how small, because I want to be around when she needs me to give her a hug. This isn’t a “poor me” blog, but more of a telling of a journey of one dad who still has a lot of work to do.

Funny as I reread this blog article, I realize most of my examples happened long ago, but around the same grade my daughter is going to be in next year. She doesn’t have the weight issue like I did, but might face challenges that I never did. But, I know I’ll be around if she needs me.

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

Dear Daddy

dad holding little girl

I was asked to write a blog post for Father’s Day and was finding it challenging. Not for lack of material or inspiration — I think because there was just too much. So I thought I would try doing this in the form of a letter and sharing it with the “world.” So … here it goes.

It’s difficult to put into words how much I love and appreciate you. As my life has gone on and I’ve had new experiences, both personally and professionally, I have learned more and more how important it is to not only have a father in your life, but that the true gift is to have a really good one.

I can say without a doubt that you are a really good one, Dad. There has never been a time when I haven’t been able to count on you. You can fix anything, you have moved me more times than you would like. If I need your help for anything, you always say yes without hesitation. The comfort and security that comes with having that in my life is priceless.

I have so many wonderful memories growing up with you as my Dad. Teaching me to catch a ball in the living room, you would say, “Just keep your eye on the ball, Baby.” You coaching my softball teams, and thanks to you, I’ll never forget to “always run through first base.” Then when you surprised me with a Care Bear after I had oral surgery when I was 6 or 7, or when we went to the movies just the two of us to see “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito and we snuck in our own candy. Let’s not forget those walks in the woods, eating cold pizza for breakfast, you cooking venison and rice, lots of rides in your truck when you would quiz me on my spelling words, watching “Little House on the Prairie” and both of us always getting teary at the same time. I could go on and on with these little things, and they may seem random and little, but I think of them often and smile; there were so many happy times.

dad and daughter

And then there are the big things: graduations; moves; my wedding, walking me down the aisle and dancing at the reception to our song, “My Girl”; you being there when Cassie and Connor were born. All of it, everything, from little things to big milestone moments you are a constant. I am so lucky that you are my dad.

Billy Graham said, “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.” So true, but I want you to know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed by me. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!

Love you,
Kelly

­– Kelly Ryan, MSW, Parenting Program, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator

The Face of Beaumont Parenting: Aimee Cisler

woman with mountain backdrop

There is one thing that all of the volunteers for the Beaumont Parenting Program have in common. You might immediately think that would be that they are parents, but that’s not it. It’s passion. The men and women who give their time to benefit the BPP and its families are all passionate. For some, their passion is service; for others, it’s children. And for others, it’s the program itself. The next volunteer I’d like you to meet is passionate about helping others suffering with postpartum depression and mood disorders. Her name is Aimee Cisler.

Aimee, 27, resides in the city of Detroit with her husband Andy. In her day job, she is a social worker for a mother-infant program at American Indian Health and Family Services. In her volunteer work with the BPP, she previously served in the role of hospital tour leader, but she currently aids families as an Individual Family Support caller.

She goes above and beyond in that role by offering to meet with her IFS families in person; Aimee finds she can make an even better connection to her families face to face. She goes on to say that “it feels really rewarding to be able to answer moms’ questions and affirm their choices as a parent. It’s a scary and exciting time and [she] hopes it helps them to know there’s someone like [her] in their corner!” In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Aimee also “lead[s] the Detroit Perinatal Wellness Coalition on a volunteer basis; it’s a gathering of parents and professionals working to create better supports for parents with postpartum mood disorders.” Clearly, Aimee has found ways, through both work and volunteering, to pursue her passion.

In her free time, Aimee likes to read (her favorite book is “Catcher in the Rye”), spend time with her pets, and run and walk. She is a big believer in the physical and mental health benefits of walking. Among her favorite places to get outside and exercise are Riverwalk and Dequindre Cut in downtown Detroit. In 2014, Aimee once again exhibited her passion for the important things in her life when she quit her job and spent three months backpacking in Europe. This trip was a demonstration of Aimee’s favorite quote: “I go to seek the great perhaps”. These were the last words of poet Francois Rabelais, and it is a sentiment more recently embraced by popular author John Green. Aimee has embraced this philosophy as well, even getting the words as a tattoo.

In closing, I’d like to share Aimee’s advice to new parents. When asked this question, it is unsurprising that her message illustrated her passion for helping those with postpartum mood disorders. Aimee would “love all parents to know that it’s OK to not feel super happy all the time. It’s OK to be tired and frustrated, or even sometimes bored! If you aren’t feeling like yourself, talk to a friend, your partner, or your doctor, and they’ll help you get back to feeling good again.”

We’d like to thank Aimee for being one of those friends to BPP families!

– Nicole Capozello is a Parenting Program volunteer.

Let’s go hiking!

family hiking

Spring is here and with summer right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to do an article about hiking. Just like camping, hiking is a great way for you to spend quality time with your family without spending a fortune. But how do you get started? Here are some tips that can help.

Location

First, decide how big of an adventure you want to tackle. Start small and work your way into longer treks.

  • The easiest trails can be found at nature centers or Metroparks. These are often just a few miles on groomed trails so they can be completed in a few hours.
  • You can then steadily increase the distance and/or altitude on future hikes. As you take on more challenging trails, you may eventually decide that you want to spend the night on the trail.

Boots

Absolutely, the most important equipment is footwear! If you don’t have boots that are comfortable or fit properly, you are going to have problems.

  • Generally you’ll want a boot that provides plenty of arch and ankle support (although some hikers like to wear lightweight shoes with very little support).
  • Spend as much as you can afford on the boots. It is true that you get what you pay for.
  • Consider getting your boots from an outdoor recreation store like REI. Stores like this often allow you to exchange the boots for a different style if you find them uncomfortable. Their staff is also going to be more knowledgeable about hiking than at a regular shoe store.
  • Wear your boots around the house or during the day to help break them in before going on a hike.

Equipment

Backpacking is all about saving weight. When you have everything in your backpack, it shouldn’t weigh more than one-third of your body weight. If it does, either you have too much stuff or you need to buy lighter equipment. Not surprisingly, lighter equipment is usually higher in price.

  • A backpack
    • Start with basic equipment. A regular school-type backpack is fine for going a few miles at a Metropark. You can pack a lunch, snacks, and a small first aid kit with plenty of room left for a raincoat, extra water, etc.
    • When you’re ready to start spending the night on the trail, it’s time to upgrade your equipment.
      • The duration of your hike will help determine the size of the backpack that you need. If you plan to continue expanding your hiking abilities, go with a bigger pack so you can grow into it.
      • For overnight hikes, you can probably get by with a 40 to 50 liter backpack. For a weeklong hike, you’ll want 80 to 90 liters.
    • Most backpacks now have an internal frame, meaning that the structure is built into the backpack instead of the frame being on the outside. When you’re at the store, try on several different brands and styles to see which one fits your build the best. Again, an outdoor recreation store is great for this because they have a wide selection and knowledgeable staff.
  • A sleeping bag.
    • There are generally two types of sleeping bags: down and synthetic. Down is warmer but can take longer to dry if it gets wet (although there are new styles available with water-resistant down). Synthetic bags will dry faster and are usually cheaper. Be sure to get a waterproof compression sack to store it in.
    • Note: You don’t want to use the same one that you use for tent camping because it won’t compress small enough to fit in your backpack.
  • A tent.
    • There are several styles of backpacking tents available in a wide range of prices. If you’re hiking with other people, you can get a two person tent and each of you can carry half of the tent.
    • Generally speaking, most tents are similar in design; you’ll have poles, a nylon shell, and a rainfly.
    • When you buy a higher price tent, you’re paying for lighter weight.
  • Some cooking gear.
    • Start with a backpacking stove. You can get ones with pre-filled canisters of fuel, ones with a fuel bottle that you can refill, ones that use fuel tablets, or even ones that use wood. Talk with a staff member at the store to determine which one is best for your needs.
    • For pots and pans, look for ones that nest inside each other to save space.
    • Again, higher price means lighter weight.
  • You don’t need to spend much money on plates, cups and utensils. Just get a plastic bowl, a cup, and a spork (a fork, spoon and knife all in one). You can even go simpler and use a Frisbee for your bowl!s
  • That’s it for the basic equipment that you need. You can consider getting things like collapsible stools, hiking poles, pillows, GPS, coffee pots, and more. Just remember to watch the weight.

Food

  • To save weight, go with freeze-dried food. It stores easily and is fairly easy to cook on the trail.
  • Bring high-energy snacks to eat while hiking. You will go through more of these than you would expect, so have plenty.
  • Water can be your biggest obstacle when hiking. If you’re doing a strenuous hike, you’ll want to have at least one quart of water for every hour that you’re hiking. Drinking water also helps combat altitude sickness. You’ll also need water for cooking and cleaning. Consider dedicating specific bottles for each of the categories. You’ll likely need to fill your bottles during the trip so plan ahead. Either know where you can find clean, sanitized water or bring a method to sanitize water from streams and lakes.

Clothing

  • Less is more with clothing. Believe me, you can go a whole week on two sets of clothes! Bring some biodegradable soap and you can wash your clothes in a stream. Hang them on the outside of your pack to dry as you hike.
  • Spend some extra money and get a lightweight, thermal, long-sleeve shirt. You can wear this in the morning so you don’t have to bring a coat.
  • Have a separate set of sleeping clothes. Shorts and a T-shirt work great.
  • Bring a couple extra pairs of socks so that you always have a dry pair to wear.

Miscellaneous Tips

  • A lack of sanitation is the enemy when hiking. Don’t drink untreated water from lakes and streams. Make sure you are properly cleaning and sanitizing your cooking gear. Determine how you are going to deal with your waste and use hand sanitizer as necessary.
  • Be sure to familiarize yourself with the trails before setting out. Even if you are hiking though a Metropark, print off a copy of the map so you know where you are. For longer hikes, purchase topographical maps of the area. Even though you can use a compass on your phone, have a regular compass as a backup.
  • Make sure to use sunscreen. Even in the woods, the sun can filter through and have an effect.
  • Always let someone know that you’re going on a hike (even if you’re with a group). Share your planned route and when you expect to return. This will assist rescuers should you need help on the trail. Remember, your cell phone may not work on the trail, so you may not be able to call for help.
  • Finally, follow the Leave No Trace principles. They can be found at lnt.org. It’s important that we all follow these principles so that everyone can enjoy the trails for generations to come.

Now, get out on the trail and see what the world has to offer!

– Dave Enerson started camping and hiking with his dad as a young child. He is a former Scoutmaster of a local Boy Scout Troop and spent a week hiking at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico last summer.

Finding my tribe

group of women friends

I couldn’t be as effective at parenting as I am without my mom tribe. In fact, I have a few. Each one serves a different purpose for me. One is a person, I belong to a twins group and an online group. I tried getting into another one, but it just wasn’t for me.

My person has been there, done all of it with three kids. She knows when I need to vent, when to worry with me and when to tell me to get over it. I need that. We all do.

In the earliest days of my motherhood, I made sure to find out if Beaumont’s Parenting Program accepted adoptive families. The director was very understanding and got us into a multiples group in the next cycle. It was wonderful. Now, five years later, we still meet with three of the families regularly. I love them. I loved being in a group of people who had two babies at the same time. We all had dark circles under our eyes. We all went through it together. One day, I hope to be invited to those kids’ graduations and even weddings.

My online tribe is more of a secret, like Fight Club. We just lay it all out there. It’s a safe place to rant, swear, and be disenchanted with children and partners. It’s also a great resource for swapping items, a great knowledge storehouse for childhood illnesses, and it’s way cheaper than therapy. They are my people.

The fourth tribe is an amazing group of women working on their online business. I liked them a lot, but in the end, we weren’t a good fit. And that’s OK. I still admire their product from afar. I found the distance in that relationship that I needed and struck a balance.

We all have our “go to” group or friend to help us get through the craziness of parenting. At least, I hope we do. We all need someone to reaffirm that no, you are not losing your mind. Your child is just nuts right now, but don’t worry. It will pass. It always does.

It really does take a village to raise a child. But, more importantly, I think it takes a large suburb to raise an effective parent.

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

Nutrition-focused spring cleaning

basket of vegetables

Liz West, Wikimedia Commons. CC License.

Here are five easy ways to clean up your diet and clear out unhealthy food from your pantry.

  1. Fresh is back! Many of us enjoy comfort foods like hearty soups and warm casseroles during the dreary winter months. Now that the warmer weather is on the horizon, it’s time to switch up your plate and bring back fresh veggies. Asparagus, turnips, kale, mustard greens, lettuce, peas, and rhubarb are all looking to make a comeback this spring.
  2. Farmers’ markets. Celebrate spring by visiting your local farmers’ market. Many open in early May. Bask in fresh produce, hand-made food items and unique crafts. Meet your local farmers and learn new recipe ideas.
  3. Plant herbs. Home-grown herbs can add extra flavor to springtime dishes. Start by picking your favorite variety. Consider basil, chives, cilantro, mint, parsley, safe or rosemary as these are easy to grow. Next, figure out the best spot for sunlight and plant growth. It can be either a backyard garden plot, a windowsill planter, or even separate pots that can be kept on a patio or near a sunny window.
  4. Clean out the pantry. Making the effort to clean and organize your pantry can help you save time and money in meal planning. Start by throwing out anything that is past its expiration date, or appears stale or suspicious. Wipe down any containers that are sticky or have residue on them. For items that can get easily lost (such as packets of taco mix, oatmeal, or meal replacement shakes), place these items in a plastic bin. Put everyday items (such as lunch ingredients, snacks, and bars) at the most accessible level. Group items by category, for example grains/pasta, oils, canned items, etc. By doing this, restocking your pantry becomes an easy task.
  5. Toss the junk food. Tossing out the junk food not only keeps temptation out of reach, but it also creates more room for healthy, wholesome foods. So throw out the cookies, candy, crackers, ice cream and pastries then never look back! Keep these products out of sight and out of mind. Replace with healthier options, such as fresh fruit, pre-portioned nut mixes, tuna packets, hummus, hard-boiled eggs, etc.

– Vicky Pehling is a dietetic intern going through the Beaumont Dietetic Internship program.


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