Posts Tagged 'holiday'

Celebrate dad this Father’s Day

man and little boy walking on trail

Moms get a lot of attention on Mother’s Day but dads are just as worthy of our love and appreciation. While you can take your dad out for brunch (yes, Father’s Day brunches do exist!), here are some creative and inexpensive ways to celebrate this coming Sunday. Most importantly, spend time together if you can.

  • Have your children sing a special song to their dad. These songs are sung to traditional kid tunes but the lyrics are specifically written for dad.

A Father’s Day I Love You (Sung to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)

Daddy, Daddy let me say
I love you for all you do.
You are greater than the rest.
Daddy you are just the best.
Daddy, Daddy let me say
Have a happy Father’s Day!

D-A-D-D-Y (Sung to “B-I-N-G-O”)

I love him and he loves me.
And Daddy is his name-o.
And Daddy is his name-o.

  • Who doesn’t love a good Mad Lib? Older kids can fill out this fun “Dad Lib” and read it aloud to him. No doubt there will be a lot of laughter!
  • Help your child have this coloring sheet questionnaire from The picture below will take you the full-size printable. 
  • Read a book together! Each of these 10 books has a father as the main character.
    • Oh, Daddy!” by Bob Shea. Daddies sure can be funny and silly!
    • I Love My Daddy Because …” by Lauren Porter-Gaylord shows how human and animal daddies help take care of their children.
    • Just Me and My Dad” by Mercer Mayer is a classic about a dad and son going camping together.
    • How to Cheer Up Dad” by Fred Koehler. Little Jumbo is determined to turn his dad’s day around and make it better. It’s a homage to Dads and their little mischief-makers.
    • When Dads Don’t Grow Up” by Marjorie Blain Parker. These dads may be all grown-up but they’re kids at heart.
    • Interrupting Chicken” by David Ezra Stein. Papa Chicken tries to read a bedtime story to Little Chicken who just can’t help but interrupt.
    • Hero Dad” by Melinda Hardin is the perfect book for families with Dad in the military. The boy compares his soldier-dad to a superhero.
    • Daddy is My Hero” by Dawn Richards highlights the dads who help around the house and the kids who see them as heroes in imaginary scenarios.
    • Froggy’s Day with Dad” by Jonathan London. It’s Father’s Day and Froggy can’t wait to celebrate with his dad. But things never go smoothly for poor Froggy. Prepare for some giggles!
    • Darth Vader and Son” by Jeffrey Brown. Are you Star Wars fans in your house? Check out this fun comic-style book.
  • Take a family hike on a local nature trail or a bike ride down a favorite path. There are several county parks and Metroparks around our area.
  • Go strawberry picking together. Find a u-pick farm.
  • Play some board or card games together.
  • If you have older kids, play a game of “How Well Do You Know Dad?” trivia. Write up some questions ahead of time to ask your kids and see how much they actually know about him. You can even include things from before your kids were born for some extra fun.
  • Make a “Following in My Daddy’s Shoes” craft.

footstep prints from


Mother’s Day in the NICU

adult hand with NICU infant

Mother’s Day is supposed to be a day of pampering; a day the family goes to brunch. Or your children make you breakfast in bed decorated with flowers they picked themselves. Or maybe you simply spend all day in your pajamas cuddling your little one.

But for moms who have a baby in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), none of these are an option.

Instead, a NICU mother wakes up in a home without her baby. She quickly gets herself together and hurries through congested streets to the hospital. She checks in at the front desk before entering the guarded door. She diligently scrubs in and shuffles her way down the hall carrying bags of freshly cleaned blankets, onesies and bottles. She passes bed after bed of babies with varying levels of illness, until she finally drops her bags on the well-worn chair she sits in day after day, next to one special crib.

“Good morning, sweetheart!”

There is no sugar coating this. Mother’s Day in the NICU completely and irrevocably stinks.

This year will be my first Mother’s Day, and while I am dreading spending the day in a hospital, I am over-the-moon excited to celebrate.

A few months ago I never imagined I would have anything to celebrate this May because my baby was not expected to survive. But thanks to the wonder of modern medicine, and a few miracles, my baby girl is still with us.

And no one can relate to this grateful feeling better than my fellow NICU moms.

This Mother’s Day, I am guaranteed to be surrounded by an incredible sisterhood. It’s a sisterhood no one wants to be a part of, but when you are, it’s a bond you can never break.

We can talk about blood transfusions, CPAP, RetCam eye exams or the litany of other NICU services with complete understanding and empathy—a feat that is nearly impossible for those who haven’t experienced the Unit.

I can also take comfort in the fact that my daughter is surrounded by top-notch medical professionals. So in case something does go wrong, I know she is in the absolute safest place in the world.

I am going to spend my first Mother’s Day cuddle with my baby while also watching her heart and oxygen monitor to ensure she keeps breathing, and that is OK.

Do I wish I was going out to brunch with my baby? Absolutely.

But, no matter where my child may be, I am a mom.

If you know a mom who will be celebrating Mother’s Day in the NICU, tell them “Happy Mother’s Day” and give them a big hug. Because a NICU mom is also a “NICU warrior.”

– A NICU mom

Love scavenger hunt

scavenger hunt clue

Valentine’s Day used to mean I looked forward to flowers and candy from my hubby (And I still do like those things if you’re reading honey,) but besides my husband’s modeling this for my two young boys, I questioned how do I explain this holiday to them?

Anyone could look up the history behind St. Valentine and end the discussion there. However, I’ve been on a mindfulness journey recently and taking an extra minute to really think about the decisions I make for my family. Do I want to show my children that this holiday is another event for candy? (There are just too many of those already!) Along this journey, I’m also paying extra attention to the lessons and traditions that I start for my family. After all, this will shape their lives and eventually how they celebrate this “holiday” in their own adult lives—maybe even one day carry on the traditions with their own children.

Instead of candy, giant teddy bears, or a love explosion concentrated in one day, I started the tradition of a Love Scavenger Hunt.

I created little rhymes and riddles that lead my oldest son, who is almost five, on an adventure throughout our house to highlight the everyday kind of love we have in our family. Once my youngest is old enough, he will get his own set of clues to play detective and join in on the fun.

My husband will tell you that I’m not the best at rhyming, as evidenced by my constant questions of “What rhymes with …..” in bed while writing the clues, but I’m the best at being grateful for everyday moments with my kids. I’m a big fan of gentle tickling my little ones wake them up, bedtime stories, card games at the kitchen table, and movie cuddles. So why not highlight these ordinary moments of love to show my boys that my love isn’t overflowing for them on Valentine’s Day? My love for those two rambunctious boys overflows for them every day.

I will disclose that at the end of the scavenger hunt my 5-year-old boy gets a big prize of dinner and movie (both his choice) with mommy or daddy. I feel this prize is fitting because it highlights that the importance of Valentine’s Day isn’t on the present or candy, but with the people who you love.

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

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 Ryan, MSW, Parenting Program, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator


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