Happy(?) Mother’s Day

I’ve never been a daughter and a mother on the same Mother’s Day. Well, that’s not exactly right. I am still my father’s daughter on Mother’s Day, but my mom passed away before I became a mom. The first Mother’s Day without my mom was bad. Really bad. I missed her like crazy. I had been trying for some time to become a mom myself without success. I was lost — a train wreck. I went to the cemetery where she was buried to visit her grave. I asked my mom for help becoming a mother myself. I literally said, “I don’t know how much pull you have up there yet, but if there’s anything you can do to help, I really want to be a mom.” Three-and-a-half weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. My daughter (who has my mom’s blue eyes even though her father and I have brown eyes) was born the following February.

Awwwww. That’s a sweet story, right? Beautiful happy baby, beautiful happy ending, beautiful happy first Mother’s Day, right? Wrong! My first Mother’s Day as a mom was bad. Really bad. I was still a train wreck. But — you know — I had a new baby. I wasn’t sleeping as much as I was used to. My body was getting back to normal, but I was still adjusting to nursing and my C-section scar. It’s understandable that I would be emotional. And of course, I still missed my mom. It was hard to celebrate that day without her, even as I held that gorgeous gift she had managed to send me. It would get better. I would get better at living through those days that screamed for her.

Over the next decade or so, my family and I tried all kinds of things to celebrate Mother’s Day in a way that would work, in a way that would be better. I wanted to honor my mom but also celebrate having the role I’d wanted my whole life: my favorite job of being a mom. We tried doing Mother’s Day the way my mom did it: making dinner for all the other moms in my life including my mother-in-law and our grandmothers. But honestly, that was too hard because it was what she had done. We tried to be out of town, going places that she liked to go, for Mother’s Day. Don’t get me started about keys locked in cars, hot water running out in a cabin we stayed in, or restaurants that closed down without our knowing it (they were the last time we passed through!). Nope, that wasn’t the fix either. Once each trip fell apart, I did too. Even though my amazing husband and kids did everything they could to make the day special.

So here’s what I’ve figured out, 22 years later. I can’t make it right. There is nothing I can do, nowhere I can go, no plans that I can make that will compensate for the fact that I am motherless on Mother’s Day. So I don’t. At some point on that day every year, I’m going to fall apart. I’m going to be a train wreck. I know it. My family knows it. That’s OK. It’s a testament to the amazing woman who gave me life and raised me to be the (hopefully at least half as amazing as she was) mother that I am. I spend my day with the people who made me a mom and I miss the woman who should be there to see it.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program staff

Earth Day, plastic edition

Parents, it is our responsibility to step up our game. Ugh, I know. We are all doing the best we can in so many areas of our lives. You might say, “Please don’t push me to do better.” But I am going to do just that because wherever you are in your consumption of plastic (which is actually both figurative and literal), you can do better. We must all do better.

Earth Day is the best when it’s about the kids. Kid-centered activities of recycling crafts, seed plantings, and science experiments are so much fun! But it’s about the kids in another way, too. We have to think about what type of Earth will we bestow upon our children. Do we really want to pass on an Earth that is covered in plastic? Plastic pollution is everywhere: air, soil, rivers, lakes, oceans, beaches, even in our drinking water!

China and India are no longer taking the plastic we drop into our recycling bins. It’s piling up in some communities or being sent to landfills or incinerators in others. The answer: stop using so much plastic!

We use plastic for many reasons; it’s inexpensive, lightweight, but most of all it’s convenient. However, the convenience and the savings aren’t convenient or inexpensive if we stick our children with the bill and a big mess to try to clean up. (Our kids can hardly clean their rooms!)

Enough, I say. Let’s think about how, when, and where we can avoid plastic as if our children’s future depends on it.

  • Reusable bags: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has a new member: “Refuse.” If you haven’t gotten into the habit of bringing your own reusable bags everywhere, now is a great time to start. There are endless options for bags. You can even find bags that fold up into tiny pouches that fit into a purse. Yes, bringing your bags takes planning and you have to make it part of your routine, but it’s worth it. Plastic bags are the low-hanging fruit of what we can live without.

    Don’t just stop with bags at the grocery store. Take your reusable bags to big box stores, the hardware store, even take out for restaurants. Tell them why you are bringing your own bags and refusing the plastic. (It’s for the children!) If you’re kids are like mine, they may say, “Mom, don’t embarrass me!” Do it anyway.

  • Produce bags: OK, you’re a pro at bringing your reusable bags to the grocery store. But the first thing we do in the produce aisle is pull on that big roll of plastic bags and tear one off. Instead, put your produce in your own muslin cloth or recycled bag. Also, seek out produce that isn’t pre-wrapped in plastic. You’ve already created the habit of bringing grocery bags. Just add produce bags to the routine.
  • Water bottles: It’s 2019. Disposable plastic water bottles are so last decade. Fill up your own stainless steel or glass water bottle. Not only is the plastic hugely wasteful, but water bottling companies are draining the freshwater in small towns in Michigan, Maine, and other beautiful states. If you are providing the drinks for the soccer game or birthday party, bring a large dispenser and paper or compostable cups. You can encourage others to bring their own drinking vessel, too. Collapsible stainless steel cups are fun!
  • Coffee cups: Some of us drink as much coffee as water! (Hey, we’ve all got to get through the day). Many take-out coffee cups are lined with plastic and can’t be recycled. Find yourself a ceramic coffee cup or insulated thermos. Make your coffee at home or hand your empty mug to your favorite barista. You’ll skip the waste of the stirrers and lids too!
  • Pay attention to packaging: Wherever possible (grocery store, big box store, etc.) opt for items wrapped in paperboard or cardboard rather than plastic. Notice other places you can skip the plastic, like choosing cotton swabs with paper sticks rather than ones with plastic.
  • Lunches: The European Union just passed a law to phase out the use of many single-use plastics, including cutlery, plates, straws, and Styrofoam food and drink containers to help reduce marine litter, prevent 3.4 million tons of CO2 emissions, and save about $25 billion in environmental clean-up costs.
    • Kid-friendly options abound for reusable and non-plastic lunch packaging. Try beeswax wraps (they are fabric dipped in a beeswax blend) instead of plastic wrap. Consider stainless steel bento boxes with separate compartments for each lunch item. Reusable bamboo or stainless steel cutlery comes in compact cases or cloth pouches. Find reusable lunch packaging that fits your style as well. We can’t let the kids have all the fun. It can be a great conversation starter.

If all of this is new to you, it’s not too late to take action. Start with one or more of the action items. When you’ve mastered those, add another. Some of these actions may require us to expand our comfort zones. But hasn’t much of parenthood? And what better gift could we give our children than a healthy, thriving Earth? Parents, we can do this. Happy Earth Day!

– Melissa Cooper Sargent is Beaumont Parenting Program blog contributor with a background in green living.

What is Whole30®?

The Whole30® is a 30-day program co-created by Melissa Hartwig, with the intention to change food habits and cravings though a short-term “nutrition reset”. The program aims to remove foods from the diet that may cause undesired symptoms in some individuals such as, fatigue, aches and pains, skin issues, and gut ailments that may be interfering with the ability to perform daily activities.

Acceptable foods

  • Meat, seafood, eggs
  • Fruit and 100% fruit juices
  • Natural fats
  • Ghee or clarified butter (as dairy)
  • Vegetables and “pod” legumes (green beans, snap peas, and snow peas)
  • Coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute made from coconut)
  • Vinegar, herbs, spices, and seasonings

Foods to avoid

  • Added sugars (real or artificial)
  • Alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy
  • Carrageenan, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and sulfites
  • Baked goods
  • Junk foods, even treats made with “approved” ingredients

Pros of the Whole30®

  • Focuses on whole and unprocessed food choices
  • No calorie counting
  • Prohibits self-weighing and body measuring
  • Limits consumption of sugar and fats; can reduce blood sugar levels and cholesterol
  • Short-term program that can be repeated as needed

Cons of the Whole30®

  • It is a restrictive diet; removing large quantities of foods from the diet may cause fatigue, irritability, and increased hunger.
  • There are many food rules to the plan that can negatively impact personal relationships with food.
  • You must plan ahead for meals and cook everything from scratch.
  • Restricting consumption of grains and dairy can result in deficiencies of vitamins and minerals such as, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, iron, and B vitamins.
  • The program can be costly and time consuming to follow.

Megan Heath is a dietetic intern with Beaumont Health. The Beaumont Weight Control Center offers cooking classes to kids in the community. View a list of upcoming classes here.

Chicken lettuce wraps

Blank recipe card illustration

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tsp peanut oil
  • ½ cup green onions, minced
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • ½ cup fresh pineapple, chopped
  • ½ cup water chestnuts, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 12 leaves of Boston lettuce

Directions

  1. Heat peanut oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions, cornstarch and chicken to pan. Sauté for 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring to crumble.
  3. Add pineapple, water chestnuts, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and juice to pan. Cook 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Spoon ¼ cup mixture into center of each lettuce leaf. Roll up jelly-roll fashion.

Yield

Makes 4 servings.  Serving size equals 3 wraps.  Each serving counts as 1 protein.

Nutrition analysis per serving

  • Calories:              210
  • Fat:                    11 g
  • Saturated fat:    3 g
  • Trans fat:           0 g
  • Cholesterol:        75 mg
  • Sodium:               430 mg
  • Carbohydrates:  9 g
  • Fiber:                 1 g
  • Sugars:               4 g
  • Protein:               19 g

– Beaumont Weight Control Center. Did you know that the center offers cooking classes to kids in the community? View a list of upcoming classes here.

Recipe adapted from “Cooking Light”, December 2007.

Where the Wild Things Are

Mural of "Where the Wild Things Are"

Photo credit: Bruce Turner, Wikimedia Commons.

Ugly. Scary. Classic. Imaginary. Far-Fetched. Best Picture Book. Caldecott Medal Winner. Traumatizing for 3- and 4-year-old kids.

How can these diametrically opposed adjectives be used to describe Maurice Sendak’s picture book, “Where the Wild Things Are?” With over more than 19 million books in print, 10 million copies have been sold in the United States. This classic book survived harsh criticism and received some of the most prestigious awards that a book can receive.

Written in 1963 by Maurice Sendak, an American author and illustrator, this book is a 338-word, 10-sentence imaginary classic. When the book was written, feel-good books such as “Curious George” dominated the children’s book market. And while children loved this book, parents felt threatened because this book was different from most. A renowned child psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim, criticized the book and reporting that this book was psychologically damaging to young children. Additionally, words like “ugly” and “abusive” were used, as the main character was unable to control his emotions and was sent to his bedroom without his dinner. Bettelheim later recanted his criticism after admitting that he never read the book.

In the midst of the controversy, the book was banned in the U.S. south and pulled from public library shelves throughout the country in the 1960sSendak’s book won the Caldecott Medal for the best children’s picture book in 1963.

Since then, this book received numerous awards. In 2007, an online poll of teachers revealed that “Where the Wild Things Are” is on the National Education Association’s Teachers Top 100 Books list. The School Library Journal awarded it as the Top Picture Book and President Obama endorsed this book by reading it to a group of children on the White House lawn during an Easter egg roll.

With all these varying opinions, you might be wondering what this book is about. In summary, Max (a young boy) dons a wolf suit and creates havoc in his house. His mother becomes upset with him and when Max yells back, he is sent to his room without dinner. There, he transforms his room into a magical, moonlit forest surrounded by an ocean. Once in the land of the Wild Things, he becomes king and can intimidate the wild things. He eventually comes to realize why his mom sent him to his room, so he sails back home to the place he loves most: home.

What child hasn’t been in trouble and has wanted to escape the strict rules set upon him or her? Occasional conflict is a normal part of family life and happens when family members have different views. Also, Max learns that being in charge is hard work, which is a lesson we all need to learn in life.

Take time to enjoy Max’s adventures and the wild things with your child. Children love this book and enjoy activities that can be done after reading the book. Pinterest has hundreds of ideas to do with your child after reading this beloved book. Here are a few of the things to do:

  • Create paper bag puppets and recreate the story.
  • Make a crown and pretend to be king.
  • Use paper plates, construction paper, and markers to create a wild things mask.
  • Use large roll paper and create a magical world.
  • Look at the moon illustrations in the book and talk about how they change throughout.
  • Using craft paper, design a wild thing and stuff it with newspaper to create a 3D wild thing.
  • While Maurice Sendak wrote and illustrated, he often listened to Mozart. Turn on Mozart while doing these activities.

Happy Reading!

– 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.

Your kids do what for a living?!

guitar player and drummer

One of my boys loved basketball, played baseball and some football, and got good grades in everything even chemistry. When he was 15, he saved up and bought his first bass guitar. His brother was equally athletic in baseball, loved snowboarding and skateboarding, and excelled in English and writing (not so much in math and science). I can’t even remember when he was not drumming. He got a drum kit when he was 13, but before that he took every opportunity to play his uncle’s drums and to tap on any available surface with whatever “stick” was handy.

Gigs, road trips and diligent practice sessions during high school, continued as my boys began college. After two years, I reluctantly let one of them take a year off to pursue music and later it only took a “we need a drummer” phone call to bring his brother home from school in Chicago.

Fast-forward to today.

It was not a phase. It was not a youthful adventure. It was not a Plan B. It is their life.

Is it hard? Yes. Is it lucrative? No.

As a parent, I struggled with some of the decisions I made about letting them leave school; I spent quite a few years worried about their choices. When asked about my kids, I would cringe when I heard responses like, “Oh, how fun! So when will they get a real job?” or “What else do they do?”

I feel for parents of young adults who have chosen a path that doesn’t include a four-year college degree. Sometimes there is tone of apology, regret or even embarrassment when talking about a child that doesn’t go to college right away, chooses a trade, gets “just a job” or joins a band.

How do we determine how to support the choices of our adult children?

This might help:

  • Ask your child: Are you happy? Are you uncertain? Are you afraid? How can I help?
  • Look at qualities that exist regardless of career choice: integrity, character, work ethic, friendships.
  • And sometimes we need to remember that children’s work doesn’t always define them. Other interests and passions are their true identity and “just a job” supports this passion.

My sons have traveled and made friendships all over the world. They are street smart, kind and hardworking. And the passion continues.

Even now as grown men, I wish I could wrap my arms around them and protect them from the dangers of the road and the disappointments of the music business.

But as far as the choice they made? I’m fine with it.

– Betsy Clancy, MA, LPC, is a group coordinator with the Beaumont Parenting Program.

Meet the Parenting Program staff: Emily Swan

mom, dad, son, daughter, dog

Emily Swan, group coordinator for the Parenting Program, with her family

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Royal Oak. I am a proud product of Royal Oak schools!

Tell us something about your family.

My husband, Bill, is my best friend and amazing partner in life. We have two children: Matthew (age 6) and Annabelle (age 3.5). We have a 10-year-old dog, Lily, who is a mixed breed. I like to say she is Australian Cattle Dog mixed with the streets of Detroit.

Why did you choose to be part of the Parenting Program?

I became involved with the Parenting Program by receiving Individual Family Support and joining a parent group after my son was born. I often say I didn’t know how much I needed a parent group until I was in one. We have a core of five families from that group who still meet regularly.

I loved my group experience so much that I became a volunteer group leader. I led five groups, including one with my daughter. My husband was my unofficial co-leader and came to all the meetings with me; he was a great support to the dads in the groups. I volunteered for five years until a group coordinator position opened up last year, and I jumped at the chance to get paid for working with the program! I now call myself a baby matchmaker and I have the chance to help the program that helped me so much.

What was your first job in health care?

I am a certified genetic counselor. I worked at Beaumont, Dearborn for 10 years providing cancer and prenatal genetic counseling.

Who or what inspires you?

First responders and medical professionals of all types. The people who rush in when others rush out, the people who provide comfort in uncomfortable times, and the healers who help us recover.

woman ice skatingWhat are your hobbies or special interests?

I am on an adult synchronized ice skating team and we are currently undefeated in our division! My workout of choice is Jazzercise, which I attend in Royal Oak and Troy. I enjoy crafts and geocaching. I am the unofficial Parenting Program staff baker – I love to bake!

What’s your favorite family-friendly destination?

Our family tries to get to Mackinac Island every year, which is a favorite tradition. But really, any city that has a children’s museum is my favorite family-friendly destination. We enjoyed Seattle, Chicago, and Virginia Beach.

What’s your favorite movie? Book?

My favorite movies are “Cool Runnings” and “Love Actually.” My favorite book is a “Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I read it several times in print and it’s a wonderful audiobook too. It chronicles his experience with the Appalachian Trail and gives history on the trail.

What’s your favorite meal?

Tacos. I haven’t met a taco I didn’t like. El Guapo is my favorite food truck.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough: it consists of chocolate and caramel ice creams with chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter cookie dough and a crunchy chocolate cookie swirl. That’s two kinds of cookie dough in one ice cream!

Share something about you that might surprise us.

I am a two-time national champion synchronized skater. I won the Adult division with Team Elan in 2005 and the Masters division with Allegro! in 2014.