Posts Tagged 'holiday'

My top 10 Thanksgiving books to share with a child

grandma reading to toddler

  • The Itsy Bitsy Pilgrim by Jeffrey Burton
    • A Thanksgiving spin on a classic nursery rhyme.
  • Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anne Dewdney
    • Spend Thanksgiving with Llama Llama Red Pajama and his family.
  • Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon
    • A Thanksgiving-themed countdown book
  • Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
    • This read-aloud book teaches children how to be thankful every day.
  • Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
    • Part of the popular Bear series for Pre-K and young elementary children, this story highlights friendship, gratitude and thankfulness.
  • Happy Thanksgiving (Bright Baby) by St. Martins Press LLC
    • Pictures and word labels introduce Thanksgiving concepts to some of the youngest family members.
  • Baby’s First Thanksgiving by DK Publishing
    • Cute photographs and simple sentences make this a good starter book for the holiday.
  • My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola
    • Another short and simple option to share together.
  • First Thanksgiving by Nancy Davis
    • A lift-the-flap book
  • The Thankful Book by Todd Parr
    • A fun way to teach gratitude for the little things in a child’s life.

– Lori A Irwin, M.Ed., is a Parenting Program volunteer.

Celebrating National Kindness Day

woman holding basket of lilacs

What is kindness? One definition is doing something for someone without expecting anything in return.

Some kindnesses are big and memorable, like creating Halloween costumes for our tiny NICU patients. That thoughtful gesture made the day for so many of our families. (Thank you, Ingrid Peeples!)

Some kindnesses are smaller, but still can bring joy to those around you. In fact, it’s the little things we can do daily that make the most impact. Here are some simple ways to show kindness today and every day.

  • Pay it forward by extending someone’s parking meter or pay for coffee for the person behind you. (Stephanie Babcock)
  • Put a little note in your child’s lunch.
    • When I include a joke, my son likes to share it with his friends. (Becky Bibbs)
  • Give a handwritten note.
    • Giving encouragement or thanks to my family and co-workers in a handwritten note in the age of electronics really makes a personal connection. (Nicole Capozello)
  • When young children are learning about kindness, always show appreciation and respect towards people animals and nature. (Lucy Hill)
  • Give a stranger a compliment.
    • I love doing that because I can see how it makes them feel. (Lori Polakowski)
  • Leave a surprise on the doorstep of someone.
    • I like to leave a pot of flowers or a goodie basket with fresh jam, bread and favorite tea or coffee. (Deanna Robb)
  • Reach out to friends you haven’t spoken to in a while.
    • I don’t know about you, but throughout the day my mind will go to certain people, or I may have a memory that is sparked that makes me thing of someone. A simple text to say, “Hi, I was just thinking of you. I hope you have a great day” or “Oh my gosh, I just heard the Spice Girls on the radio and it reminded me so much of all the fun at our old apartment. Hope you are well!” Little random notes like this can make people feel really good and can brighten a gloomy day. (Kelly Ryan)
  • Leave an extra hefty tip above and beyond the typical 20 percent for great service, or to server who seems to need the pick-me-up.
  • Leave a penny by the Sandy horse ride at Meijer so a kid who may not have a penny can take a ride.
  • Give a smile to someone.
  • Allow someone to change lanes in front of you.
  • Give a friendly wave to the driver behind you when changing lanes.
  • Take a meal to a family member, friend or someone in need. Whether it’s a new baby, a loss in the family or just some overwhelming stress, providing a warm meal can be a kindness.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Hold the door for someone behind you.
  • Offer to help someone without them having to ask you.
  • Remember to say please and thank you.
  • Share lots of hugs in your family.
  • Remind (and demonstrate to) children to stand up to someone who is bullying another.
  • Listen, demonstrate presence, and show openness and empathy to those around you.
  • Try and live each day with intention and positivity.
  • Donate to your favorite charity.

And one final thought from Betsy Clancy:

  • “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
    • My mom was always saying this, but more importantly, she lived it. (In honor of my mom, Betty Farley 1920–2016. “Love you, miss you …”)

Random Halloween musings

My childhood Halloween outings took place in the 1980s. Never being one particularly fond of dressing up, my costume was usually one that was handed down from a random friend of my parents or cobbled together from cast-off sporting goods. My younger brother—also not one to go out of his way for, well, anything—usually ended up dressing as whatever I’d impersonated the year before.

One such costume we both experienced was the Smurf. A typical offering of the era, this costume was composed of only two parts: a rigid, plastic Smurf-face mask secured with a flimsy elastic band around the head, and a plastic vest/shield/tunic thing upon which was a silkscreened image of a frolicking Smurf. Vision was strictly limited to what was directly ahead and respiration was limited to near-asphyxiation. Mobility was hampered by the ill-fitting tunic thing. Misery was imminent. But candy was the ultimate goal, so the misery was borne.

And speaking of candy … what was the item you most feared? You know. The one you never, ever wanted to see in the depths of your Holly Hobby pillowcase but yet somehow always ended up with in abundance? This is a trick question because there is only one right answer: Good & Plenty. There must have been some wacky individual working in his candy lab, twirling his handlebar mustache and speculating to himself: “How would young, innocent children best enjoy nasty licorice?” Encapsulating it in a chalky white substance isn’t quite icky enough so let’s make it interesting and also use some chalky pink substance! Mwahahahahaha!

Back to costumes. Kids these days experience Halloween in a much different fashion (no pun intended). Store-bought costumes are detailed, readily identifiable, and breathable! For those who want to up their game, Pinterest brings the DIY attempt to a whole new level. Of course, it’s easy to become overwhelmed simply by the sheer number of choices at hand! Basing one’s selection on price is useless, as all costumes retail for the same cost as that of a small car. Choosing based on popularity is also tricky, as manufacturers employ small armies of researchers who can pinpoint trends months in advance and use their brand knowledge to exact maximum dollars from consumer’s wallets. Thus, everything on the shelves is trendy and current. Everything is equally necessary in the eyes of the young “costumees.” What is a parent to do?

To achieve that unique, yet inexpensive, costumed visage, perhaps one should look to less current ideas for inspiration. For the right bribe incentive, I just might have a Smurf costume to lend out. Just don’t try to use a bag of Good & Plenty as a bartering tool.

– Wendy MacKenzie is a mother of four, Parenting Program volunteer, and avid licorice avoider.

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

Tips for Mother’s Day from a Mom

MOM decorative letters

What does Mother’s day mean?

It is one day of out 365 to highlight the main woman (or women) in your life who works endlessly, tirelessly, and often unnoticed, in your family to keep things running smoothly.

This day is a celebration honoring the mother in your family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. How should this day be celebrated? How do you take one day out of the year to show your appreciation for all this love and hard work? Here’s my take on some tips for Mother’s Day:

  • Make the entire day about what the women in your life want to do. No joke here when I say that last year I spent some of my day in Home Depot picking out paint colors for our house. Take my advice when I say do not do this! Don’t treat Mother’s Day as any ordinary Sunday where you can cram in some house chores. Instead, have the men take the kid(s) out of the house to lunch or to the park so mom can enjoy some quiet time to take a shower without children barging in, read a book she’s been behind on, or do anything that she wants to do!
  • If you have young children who can’t make a cute project or pick out a present for their mother, dads you are responsible for getting something for your other half. Yep. Although she may not be your mother, your significant other is the mother to your children. Get her a meaningful gift from your little one to show her how much she means to the both of you. Hands down, I would prefer a handmade gift from my husband and little ones over a store-bought necklace or candy. Pinterest is full of ideas, but suggestions can be these adorable handprint canvas sign, this salt dough footprint craft, or this floral perfume spray that little hands can easily pick out, cut and stuff into spray bottles!
  • Although flowers are nice, even better than that is a nap and a day off duty from being a mom. Don’t get me wrong, I love both my children. I have two young boys (4 years and 4 months) and give them everything I have every single day. But for Mother’s Day, I would really like to have a day off from being Mom. I would like for my husband to be the one to get the cup of water, peel the banana, put a Band-Aid on my son’s knee, fix the broken toy, and help rock by baby to sleep. Being a sleep-deprived mother means that all my daydreams right now are currently of scooting away from my responsibilities and catching a 15 minute power nap. If you really want to spoil the woman in your life, give her money and time to go to Target by herself or a trip to the spa to get some pampering!

These tips are just from my point of view, but from my talks with family and friends, I know that I’m not alone. The most important point I’m trying to make is that moms want this day to be meaningful. Take the time to tell your mother, your wife, your sister, your mother-in-law, stepmother, friends and others how much they mean to you and your family. One day out of the year to show gratitude and appreciation for all the work moms do for their loved one the rest of the 364 days of the year.

P.S. Moms, feel free to give a “subtle hint” by sharing this post.

– Stephanie Babcock is an IFS coordinator with the Parenting Program. She’s a proud mom of two.

Irish eyes are smiling

bride dancing with her grandpa

​I guess when you have a name like Kelly Cathleen Ryan, you shouldn’t be surprised when you’re asked to write an article about St. Patrick’s Day. My first idea was to write about our family traditions and how we incorporate our kids into the festivities. My thoughts centered around making sure the kids have something green to wear on March 17th, the buttons we have that say “Kiss Me I’m Irish,” and the corned beef and cabbage we enjoy on that special day. I also thought about how our St. Patrick’s Days have changed over the years to become more family friendly if you know what I mean. I remembered our college days and that certain cold, green beverage and going pub to pub with friends. I found myself getting a little nostalgic as I recalled these fun memories. My mind kept going back to how it all began and the reason why this day of celebrating all things Irish is important to me. I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandpa, the first Irishman I ever loved, and then this article went in a completely different direction.

​My grandpa was simply the best. He was proud of his Irish heritage and passed that pride along to his six children, and seven granddaughters. My parents decided my name before I was born, so even though I came out with lots of dark hair and brown eyes, favoring my Dad’s Italian looks, I was “Kelly Cathleen” and there was no going back.

My grandpa loved my Irish name and always called me “Brown Eyes.” He was short in stature and I remember he had a long, thorny shillelagh that leaned against the wall in the corner of his bedroom, and he would sometimes use it when we went on walks. (For the Detroit readers, yes, an old shillelagh is more than just that infamous bar downtown!) Grandpa didn’t know a stranger, and I don’t know anyone who didn’t like him. Grandma often said he was full of blarney, but it served him well in his career as a salesman. He always had a twinkle in his eye, and I think that is what I remember most. He was quick with a joke and had lots of fun sayings; one of my favorites was “You can always tell an Irishman, but you can’t tell him much.” There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him, but he is particularly on my mind on St. Patrick’s Day.

Now to circle back a bit to that Irish name I carry with me. My first and middle were given to me by my parents of course, but that Irish last name came from my husband, the second Irishman I’ve ever loved. Chris and I met outside of a house party in Kalamazoo. The night we met he was wearing a white t-shirt with a huge green shamrock on the front. Funny thing is, it was in summer not on St. Patrick’s Day!

girl with arm around brother

In keeping with the Irish names, our daughter is Cassie Cathleen and our son is Connor.

I should’ve known what I was in for. Like my grandpa, Chris also had (and still has) a twinkle in his eye. Just like my grandpa he is successful in corporate sales. There are many traits Chris has that remind me of my special grandpa. Life with an Irishman is never boring!

Sure, we will do all of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day stuff on the 17th (like a shamrock hanging on our front door), but our Irish pride is with us every day. It was passed on to us from loved ones who are now gone, and we will do our part to continue sharing it for generations to come. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

– Kelly C. Ryan, LMSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator and Team Leader for the Beaumont Parenting Program

Valentine memories

Valentine mailbox

Kathy Rizzi remembers:

valentine exchange boxMy favorite Valentine memory is from my childhood. It was making my valentine mailbox, which would be placed on the edge of the desk where all our classmates to drop our Valentine “mail.” It required searching through the house to find the “perfect” box that will hold all of my valentines (usually a shoe box or a tissue box if there was one available). I would carefully cut the slit in the top so all those secret notes could be dropped in, silently hoping that my “crush” put something more than just his name on the card. I covered it with aluminum foil or maybe some old wrapping paper Mom saved, smoothing it out just so. Then came decorating it: Cutting out paper hearts to paste on or maybe Mom had a paper doily to glue on.  The best part was coming home after school, tearing into my mailbox to read all those special notes and then calling my best friend to see which valentine she got from her crush!

Wendy MacKenzie has a different story:

I had always felt kind of “meh” about Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it was the total and utter lack of any boyfriend-type personages in my formative years. Maybe it was that one February 14 in 1994 that ruined it for me; I sat in my incomprehensible Organic Chemistry lecture, surrounded by people who were not only smarter than I but also more loved (based on the number of roses they were having delivered to them in the middle of class). Or perhaps it was just that I already ate chocolate every other day of the year, so a day devoted to sweets didn’t really stand out for me. Whatever the reason, there I was, feeling meh.

cut out heartsUntil this year. A week or so ago, I got sucked into the bowels of Facebook (as one does), and made a discovery. Someone had posted a “Love Notes” idea in one of the assorted groups I peruse: Every day from February 1 until February 14, tape a heart to each of your children’s bedroom doors. In this heart you can tell them something you love about them such as their personality, their skills, their talents, their capacity for life. Upon seeing this, my view on Valentine’s Day instantly changed. Instead of chasing down reasons to enjoy the day for myself, now I had myriad reasons to remember why I enjoy my children. And so it was with pleasure that I sat down with my trusty Cricut® machine to cut out my hearts.

Valentine’s Day is the furthest thing from meh this year.

Betsy Clancy made one of her favorite valentines:

One year in the early stages of my mother’s dementia, I gave her an “old school” valentine card. It was something I would have made in kindergarten: red paper doily, pink construction paper hearts, glitter and a crayon signature.  It made her smile and she kept it on her dresser for a long time.

It made me smile too, as I remembered the simple pleasure of childhood creativity, the joy of giving, and the satisfaction of a completed project. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lucy Hill received the “very best”:

handmade valentines

The best valentine memories were when my two boys would make their homemade cards, coloring big hearts and kisses and writing “I Love You Mom” with such sweet innocence that only my children could give! Of course on the back of the homemade cards was always the seal of quality. My boys would always point to the back were they would draw a symbol of a crown and wrote “Joemark” or “Ryanmark” that was their way of saying they were giving you the best!

Deanna Robb shares:

I have many fond memories of my kids bestowing me with handmade Valentine’s Day gifts and cards. It brings a smile just thinking about the carefully cut out (misshapen) hearts with love notes scribbled in the classic multi-colored crayon font. The glued-on, half-eaten, candy pieces spattered on cards were favorites for sure.

valentine notevalentine note

Valentine’s Day wishes come in many shapes and forms, but I think, for me, I was especially touched when I continued to receive thoughtful notes and cards throughout the college years (and beyond).

Sending out a special Valentine’s Day wish to my amazing hubby, three beautiful children and to my “you melt my heart” grandchild, Emilia Rose: Loved you yesterday, Love you still, Always have and always will.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! Cheers to celebrating everyday with love!


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