Posts Tagged 'daily life'

When I was a kid

1980s nintendo

When I was a kid, I remember driving Up North in a new car that had the cutting edge in luxury: cruise control.

My dad was at the wheel, mom in front, sisters and I in back, driving up I-75. When we got into open space, my dad decided it was time to try it out. We all held our breath as he flipped the switch.

I’m constantly reminded of all the technology my kids have in their lives. Growing up, we had to use needle nose pliers to change the TV from 2, 4 or 7. If we wanted to watch 20 or 50, we had to put the TV on “U.”

Now, my kids ask me to pause the TV. They’ve even tried swiping the screen to get to the Netflix show they want. And, honestly, I’m not sure why they’re being taught to use a keyboard and mouse. Everything in their lives will be touch-screen or track pad.

Gone are the days when you have to program the VCR to the correct channel, then pray that it actually records. They’ll never know how close I had to sit to the TV when I was playing Super Mario Bros. or Paperboy on my Nintendo because there were actual wires running from the console to my controller.

They’ve also never known peace. We’ve been at war since before they were born. They’ve witnessed an African-American man as president and the first woman ever make it to the ballot. And also, love is love.

When school starts in the fall, I’ll have first graders. Every kid in their school will have their own laptop. That amazes me because when I was in grade school, I can still remember the sound made by our five Texas Instruments computers as they rolled down the hall. That and playing the original Oregon Trail.

Seeing your photos is instant, you can shop for just about anything from your couch, and cars drive themselves.

What in the world will we think of next?

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

What I learned from my daughter’s study abroad experience

mom and daughter close up

I was asked to write an article about what my husband and I did to prepare our daughter for her semester abroad. I tried to write that article; I really did. The problem was that we really didn’t do that much (unless you count the 20 years we spent raising her to be an independent, resourceful, head strong, and intelligent woman). Because she is those things, and because we knew it was a good test of her ability to succeed in a study abroad experience, we didn’t do much of the planning and prep for her semester in France. Instead, we placed that responsibility on her.

If she was going to travel to a foreign country and spend four months (116 days to be exact, but who’s counting?) there without current classmates, family or friends for back-up, we knew she had to be able to plan and organize it herself. That’s not to say she didn’t have support (including a 3 a.m. text only six weeks before she was supposed to leave that started with “I think I screwed up.” She did, but only a little. And she fixed it). But the bulk of the responsibility for the trip was hers. So, while I did little to plan her semester in Europe, there are many things I learned from it.

Trust, but verify

The responsibility for planning, organizing and preparing for a semester abroad was my daughter’s. That doesn’t mean I never checked in. Remember that she was still an adolescent human (she was 19 when she left). She was organized and driven, but she still didn’t have a parent’s life experience (or priorities or concerns). So while she made all of her housing arrangements, we asked questions regarding safety and security. As she made the banking plans, we reminded her of ATM and exchange fees. She prioritized travel opportunities and classes, while we asked her to think about situational awareness and emergency options.

Furthermore, I also learned that following up with her was key. “Have you checked back with the Study Abroad office about which classes will transfer?” “Have you looked at the train schedule to get to Chicago to visit the Consulate for your Visa?” “Have you finalized your budget?” “Did you check with your landlady in France to ensure the deposit wire has been received?” This was key because while the answer was almost always “Yes,” the occasions when it was “Oh shoot, not yet” were the saves she needed made in an exciting, stressful and completely brand-new experience.

I love technology

I’m not a technology geek nor am I anyone’s definition of an early adopter, but I learned that I love technology. Specifically, I love FaceTime and text (and iMessage). Truly the only things that keep me sane with her an ocean away is her response to my “Good Morning” text, the almost weekly FaceTime calls (though I am given to understand that the FaceTime calls with her boyfriend are more frequent), and the pictures of her beautiful face by the London Olympic Rings, the Eiffel Tower, and Edinburgh Castle.

If your child is planning a study abroad experience, the first thing to do (or have your child do) is contact your cell phone provider. Find out what is included in your plan with respect to international services. And find out the cost of what’s not included. That last part is just as important as the first part. Because while my daughter assured me that “she never actually talks on the phone” so the cost of calls was unimportant next to text and data, neither of us considered the job interview calls that would be required by an unexpected internship opportunity. We were fortunate in that our cell plan was incredibly inclusive. If yours is not, remember that there are other options including calling cards and VoIP services like Skype.

Expect the unexpected

OK, well that’s just silly. You can’t expect the unexpected. What you can do is expect that there will be things that come up that you couldn’t possibly have planned for. For example, our daughter got stranded on a week-long holiday to the UK by a freak winter storm. We couldn’t have planned for it. Even the weather people in Europe didn’t see it coming until it hit.

So know that there will be things that happen that are out of everyone’s control. Be there as a support when it happens. Encourage your child to have an Emergency Fund built into his or her budget (my kid did that one on her own — business major that she is). Try to keep calm on your end, which will help him keep calm on his. And remember: You let your child go on the trip because you were confident in her ability to handle the experience; she can handle this too.

That’s not to say that you are no longer needed. While my daughter arranged lodging and food while stranded, negotiated refunds for cancelled transportation and excursions, and booked the three trains and the 27-hour bus ride, complete with a middle of the night Channel crossing, that got her home from the “Beast from the East” storm, she still needed me to counsel her on laundry procedure. Stay flexible, stay available, and you’ll both overcome the sudden obstacles.

We’re both stronger than I knew

And a thought from that previous section brings me to my last lesson. “They can handle this too.” Boy has she ever handled it. She dared things that I’m not sure I’d dare on my own now, let alone when I was barely 20 years old. She handled unexpected circumstances and emergencies with a grace and aplomb that I could learn from. She went alone to a country she had never been to, where most people speak a language she does not, and she made friends, mastered classes, finessed her budget, managed homesickness, and filled her passport. She fed her wanderlust, while still maintaining her safety and her studies.

I wouldn’t have let her go if I didn’t think she had the maturity and resourcefulness to handle it, but she is even more amazing that I realized. And while I would have told everyone I knew that I would spend 116 days paralyzed with fear, I found that I enjoyed watching her fly.

– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program staff

No screens

young girl in front of computer screen

Cropped image., Flickr. CC license.

I’ve been traveling for work the past few months, from Florida to Tennessee, learning as much as I can about the business I’ve been in for nearly two decades. Sounds odd to see that in print, but I’m proud that I am always learning something.

Sure, I can learn all I want to know about my area of expertise from books, blogs and websites to just name a few, but meeting and working with people from around the nation is more of an education than the whole Internet has to offer.

You learn the strengthens and weaknesses of co-workers, and they learn yours. You become a team, a family for three or four days until the job is done. Then you shake hands, give everyone a “bro hug” and head home to your real family.

You share some stories with your loved ones, and try to explain there is a whole, big world you want to share with them. You describe that Florida has some of the best service in the world and Nashville has the best music and BBQ you’ve ever heard (yes, the BBQ there is so good it sings).

So many of us spend countless hours in front of screens – both big and small – and we allow our kids to do the same. We need to stop. Don’t get me wrong, entertainment and the Internet are great, but so are the experiences of turning the screens off and living in the real world.

Learn from neighbors; go share a recipe in person. Find out what its like to ride a bike down the middle of the street with your kids and see who can go the furthest without peddling. Think you’re the best chalk artist in the neighborhood? Prove it with an art block party and show your inner Diego Rivera on the sidewalk.

Trust me, I need to take my own advice because as a family we spend way too much time watching everyone else’s lives on screens that we need to start living our own. The summer of 2018 will be the summer of memories.

Turning off in 3… 2…

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

Developing speech and language through routines

While all children develop language at different rates, parents can help stimulate their child’s language long before they even speak their first words. Social routines can be used to target language development in children of all ages.

Daily routines including bath time, dressing, reading books, and singing songs provide opportunities to build upon a child’s language skills. These repetitive routines provide children a structured way to develop language skills within their natural environment.

Below are a few examples of how to target language skills through routine activities.

Singing songs

Hand motions can be incorporated with many children’s songs such as “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Wheels on the Bus.” While singing these songs with your child, pair the hand motions with the words. Pause throughout the song and allow your child the opportunity to fill in the missing word or complete the gesture. When singing “Old McDonald,” try slowing down the words “E-I-E-I-O” and see if your child can imitate you. Or try singing “E-I-E-I” and pause to allow your child to fill in “O.”

Getting dressed

Dressing your child provides opportunities to work on a variety of new vocabulary words, including clothing items and body parts, as well as teaching concepts such as “on/off.” While getting your child dressed, describe what you are doing using simple language and short phrases such as “pajamas off” or “shirt on.” Use the opportunity to talk about where each clothing item goes, for example “Hat goes on our head.” Try pausing to see if your child can complete the statement, “Shoes go on our_____.”

Reading books

Reading with your child allows endless opportunities for language stimulation. While reading together, it is important to read the words, but it is equally important to look at and talk about the illustrations. Label objects in pictures or talk about what the characters are doing (e.g., “boy eating apple”). Books with repetitive story lines such as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” are a great way to target early language development. When reading these types of books, pause to allow your child to fill in the missing word. For example, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you__________?” “I see a yellow duck looking at _____.” Books can also be used to target “wh” questions with older children (e.g., “What are they doing?” “Where is the boy?” “Who is swimming?”).

Delayed responses

During play routines such as racing cars or playing with dolls, use familiar phrases with delayed, emphasized responses such as “Ready. Set. GO!” or “I love……YOU.” After practicing these phrases, pause and allow your child to finish the phrase.

Routine “sabotage”

Throwing off a familiar routine can also be beneficial in promoting language. What would happen if you gave your child an empty cup or placed a favorite bath toy out of reach? These forms of “routine sabotage” allow your child opportunities to correct you or ask for assistance. Encourage your child to use their words to tell you what’s wrong. During snack time, try giving your child only one piece of snack and wait for them to point or request “more” on their own. Screw the lid on a container extra tight before giving it to your child and wait for them to request assistance.

If you have concerns about your child’s language development, discuss them with your pediatrician or contact a speech-language pathologist.

– Candice Smale, M.A. CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech and Language Pathology Department, Beaumont Health

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
  • 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.

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.

Reducing your family’s food waste

food in grocery cart

  • Be mindful. Plan meals based on the foods you have on hand and before going grocery shopping. Only buy what you need and know you will use/eat.
  • Get creative with leftovers. Transform meals into soups, salads or sandwiches by cutting up leftover meats and veggies.
  • Freeze fresh fruits like bananas and berries before they go bad or use them for baking into breads and muffins.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. Choose smaller portions to stay within your calorie needs, as MyPlate recommends.
  • If you don’t typically eat leftovers, split meals when you go out to dinner to limit food waste and reduce overeating.
  • Implement the “first in, first out” practice. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front and put newer products to the back. You will be more likely to use the older items before they expire.
  • Monitor what you throw away. This will make you more aware of what common food wastes are for you. You may be less likely to buy those items in the future, or you can develop a plan of what to do in the future.
  • Designate one dinner each week as “use-it-up” or “leftovers” meal.
  • Store food in air-tight containers. This will help your food last longer and taste fresher.

­ ­– 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.


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