A Detroit Mom Guide to Build Up Michigan – Why YOU and Your Preschooler Need Them

Have you heard of Build Up Michigan but aren’t sure what services it offers or how it can help your child? We’re here to break things down and help you understand how Build Up can help families in the world of special education services, particularly at preschool ages 3, 4 and 5.

All About Build Up:

Build Up Michigan strives to help parents and their kids, ages 3 through 5, receive appropriate educational support services. Those kids may just be beginning, or perhaps continuing, to learn essential life skills needed to enter kindergarten.

Build Up is devoted to identifying children who may be eligible for special education services in Michigan.  It continually engages in public awareness activities, screenings, evaluations, and referrals of young children with disabilities and their families to appropriate local programs and special education support resources. Build Up wants to make the community – that’s YOU! – aware of the programs available to help families and children who qualify for special instruction and related services.

These efforts are supported by a partnership with the Michigan Department of Education.

Check out Build Up’s FAQ Quick Guide, with answers to your top questions about your young child’s development, Build Up’s services, and how it all works.

How Do I Know If My Child Needs Help?

It’s normal for children to grow and learn at different rates. However, there are some developmental milestones that most children will generally reach between the ages of 3 and 5. Milestones can assist in identifying whether and how a child may be struggling. Click here for Build Up’s list of what most children do at ages 3, 4 and 5, and what you might be on the look out for as parents of young children.

Keep in mind, a wide range of concerns could potentially impact a child’s learning ability, including difficulties with speech and/or language, cognitive impairment, autism spectrum disorder, emotional concerns, traumatic brain injury, hearing or visual difficulties, early childhood developmental delay or a specific learning disability. The key is early intervention!

Special Education Services Available to Preschoolers:

Now you know that Build Up can help connect you with some fantastic resources! But wait, where exactly are these programs?

If after receiving a free evaluation, it is determined that your preschooler qualifies for special education support, the actual special education services and programs are available through your local school district. Read more about the specifics here, including how Michigan’s Early Childhood Special Education program offers a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all eligible children, in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Get Connected:

For more information on Build Up Michigan or its services, visit https://www.buildupmi.org/ or call the Michigan Special Education Information Line at 1-888-320-8384.

Detroit Mom has partnered with Build Up Michigan to bring you relevant content about helping parents and preschoolers get connected with the special education services available to them.

Beating the Mom Guilt

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Why do I feel so guilty? How will I do this? Is there enough of me to go around? Do I return to work? Will I love my second as much as my first? Does my toddler feel neglected? Is she spending too much time in front of the TV? 

When it was time to return to work after my first daughter, I was torn. How am I supposed to leave my daughter for 12 hours to take care of other people’s children? I had guilt overshadowing me that I was “giving up time” I could be spending with her. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my job or want to return; I have a passion for what I do. But, I wanted to be home, and I wanted to return to the job that gave me purpose, the one I worked so hard for. I wanted to have a piece back of the person I was before I was a mom.

Throughout the first year of my daughter’s life, there were multiple experiences where I experienced guilt. However, after a lot of work on myself, my working mom guilt began subsiding.

A Growing Family

Two weeks after our daughter’s first birthday, we found out I was pregnant with our second child. I was excited, surprised, anxious and feeling a plethora of other emotions. I was questioning myself: how will I raise two children when I’m still learning one? Will I love the new baby the same? I also accepted a new position before we found out about the pregnancy, so my maternity leave would be unpaid. How would I help support our growing family? The guilt began to build again…

A Mother’s Heart Can Only Grow

After the birth of our second daughter, some guilt went away as I learned a mother’s heart grows with each child. You experience love like you never knew you were capable of. However, the next few months were a whirlwind. There were good and bad days and new experiences with two under two that made me question if I was doing this right. It made me question if having two was the right choice.

When it was time to get back to work this time around, I was ready. I was actually thinking of only taking eight to ten weeks off instead of the 12 I initially planned. I began questioning myself again: is it bad that I thought of work as a break from my children? Do I not love her as much as I thought? Why would I want to return to work early?

Finding Myself

The guilt and anxiety consumed me. I wasn’t taking time for myself, and I needed to refuel my cup. When I went back to therapy, joined a mom group, took a yoga class, and took time to work on myself, the mom guilt began to dissipate. I realized that as long as my daughters are loved and their basic needs are met, I have nothing to feel guilty for.

Motherhood has taught me self-acceptance and to allow myself grace. There will be days she watches television for hours and days we don’t turn the TV on. There will be days I hate leaving for work and days I can’t wait to get there. These thoughts don’t make me a bad mom, and I have learned that I don’t need to feel guilty for having these feelings. These feelings are normal and not every moment of motherhood is glamourous. There are days the guilt likes to try and creep back, and I remind myself to stay confident in my choices as they are what works for our family.

Have you experienced mom guilt?
I’d love to hear how you have overcome these feelings.

I Only Have Time for Family

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The first alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. with the additional bells following closely behind. My morning routine is calling me— workout, journal, and shower. Then, spending the next 45 minutes attempting waking up my son in between applying mascara and brushing my teeth, we somehow make it out the door. After work I rush home. Some days I get back only to quickly check on my son’s day before rushing off to my second job; others, I am quickly making dinner before driving here and there, off to sit in the uncomfortable chairs at karate, off to take my son to yet another appointment, off to his Cub Scout meeting, etc. I only have time for family.

What is a weekend?

Weekends are filled with running errands and more work for me. Between teacher to-dos and logging hours at my second job, the weekends are rarely relaxing. When I can, it’s popcorn and movie parties with my favorite eleven-year-old or trips to The Henry Ford, the Detroit Zoo, or the state park. Maybe it’s even trashing the kitchen with crazy science experiments and baking adventures.

The daily grind is enough to make me want to hide.

My anxiety rises just thinking about that stuff. All the directions I’m pulled. Something is going on almost every night, which I know isn’t rare for school-aged parents. Practice, school events, work meetings. That hustle isn’t ending any time soon.

Like many moms and dads, I’m in that season of life where all I have time for is work and my family. I don’t have time to waste on petty drama or your opinions of my priorities.

The joy of missing out.

Sure, I have a bittersweet feeling watching social lives and girls nights play out on Instagram and Facebook. I miss friendships and adult social outings, but I love my Free People sweats, too. More importantly, I know one day soon, my tween boy isn’t going to want to indulge me in movie night and traditions. He won’t want to be part of our little “mommy and me” family all the time. He will want to go to games and see movies with friends. Talk to them, be with them.

So, I soak up the time I have now as limited as it is. And pardon me if I only have time for my little family.

Toddler Books That Don’t Make You Want to Skip Pages

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Don’t lie. You know you’ve done it. 30 pages into The Lorax and you can feel yourself losing your audience. Despite the bright pictures and incredible message about our environment (he’s speaking for the trees after all), your two year old is starting to fidget. In an attempt to salvage bedtime, you desecrate the good Dr. and start skimming…out loud. Maybe you’re grabbing two pages at once, maybe you’re only reading the first line or so, maybe you’re just going to summarize what’s going on in the photos, but at this point, it is survival. 

No need to worry. I am here for you. Whether you’re compiling a list for the holidays, love a good book instead of a card for a shower, or are just likely to be found smothered underneath a massive pile of children’s books (guilty). It is important that we find those books that meet a very specific criteria. Engaging. Thought provoking. Short.

Below are some of my favorite books to read to my son. These are the ones that I don’t “accidentally” kick under the bed or groan when they’re handed to me. You won’t find many classics on this list, not because I don’t love them but because I was trying to provide some fresh options.

Little Green Peas, Keith Baker

This is a fun way to explore colors with your little one. Each page features a different color, but it always comes back to those “little green peas.” It’s silly, repetitive, and the illustrations are great for prompting toddlers to fill in the next word or phrase.

The Color Monster, Anna Llenas

Absolutely one of my favorites, especially as you start to dive into the ever-varied and often-frustrating toddler emotions. This book starts off with a multi-colored monster who just doesn’t feel right. With the help of a caring narrator, the different emotions (red for anger, blue for sad, etc.) are sorted into different jars. The simple lessons in this book have really helped my two year old when dealing with his own feelings and emotions.

Tell Me a Tattoo Story, Alison McGhee

This choice is definitely geared to a particular family, but as somebody with a tattooed husband, I found it charming. The book is a sweet story of a dad explaining his body art to his young son. He has tattoos dedicated to his parents, his time in the service, and both his partner’s and son’s birthdays. Not going to lie to you: this one choked me up when I was reading it. It is a warm hearted addition to any tattooed family. 

On the Night You Were Born, Nancy Tillman

Nostalgia! Pretty sure this one is written for us parents to snuggle with our little ones, sniff their hair, and reflect on when they were brand new to us and the world. Gorgeous illustration and poetic writing celebrates the importance of every child. I love this one for a baby shower gift. 

Purchase From Amazon

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, Jane Yolen

Most kids love dinosaurs. This mom loves this book. I love the artwork; the retro-inspired illustrations almost deserve a frame and a spot on the wall. The story calls to attention all of the tricks that little ones can use to get out of a quiet bedtime (stomping, wanting “one book more,” pouting, etc.) and allows the oversized dinos to set a good example for bedtime rituals.

Purchase From Amazon

ABCs of Biology (Baby University), Chris Ferrie

Written by a physicist and mathematician, this book is a great introduction to biology for even the smallest scientist. Each letter of the alphabet introduces a concept and is further explained below, so you can continue to build concepts as your child grows. This is only one book of a series (Engineering, Organic Chemistry, etc.), and they are all great choices for the more intellectual kids and parents.

Purchase From Amazon

Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell

A lift-the-flap book for younger readers, this is a fun read for introducing and learning animals. If you’re a patron of the zoo, it is fun to read before or after a visit, so you can point out all of the animals you read about and discuss their characteristics.

One Family, George Shannon

Rhythmic, easy read that begs the question “How many things can ‘one’ be?” This book is loved because it is a great introduction to diversity, opening up the conversation to how many different configurations can still mean one family. Featuring multigenerational homes, single parents and inter-racial relationships, there is a lot of exposure for little ones to realize that “one is one and everyone” while learning acceptance and practicing their numbers.

One of the best gifts we can give our children is the gift of story time. Reading to children from an early age builds bonds and vocabulary and offers cognitive benefits that extend into adulthood. It is my hope that this list will give you some ideas for gift giving or building your own little library.

No, I Do Not Love Being Pregnant

You know those women who say being pregnant was one of the most amazing times of their life? I’d like to know which prenatal they were taking because that is certainly not me. 

The famous pregnancy glow, the luscious model-like hair, everyone giving up their seat for you. Those are all great perks, but after having my own child, I relate to the “one and done” moms more than ever. I chalked up my aversion of pregnancy to being young or not having met the right person yet. I figured once I was ready for a baby, I’d enjoy being pregnant. Wrong

I love my son with every fiber of my being, but I don’t miss a single day of being pregnant.

First Trimester – The Little Secret

I love being a mom, but I don’t love anything about being pregnant.

Those two little pink lines show up and just like that you’ve got a secret! At this point, only my husband and I know I’m pregnant, and I have this amazing buddy I literally get to carry with me everywhere I go! No one knows I’m glowing, but inside I am! 

I am also terrified though, trying to balance positive thoughts with the reality of possible miscarriages and being both excited and nervous for every small hiccup, every weird noise my body makes. 

I have morning sickness with a complementary side of post nasal drip. I can smell everything…EVE-RY-THING. I have three-day-long headaches. I fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 p.m. every night; I can’t control it. In all honesty, I feel like I can’t control anything. 

I’m worried all the time. Googling what to do, what not to do. I’m trying to come up with ideas about what I would say if I have to run out of a meeting sick. I’m unsuccessfully avoiding social situations where there is alcohol, building my artillery of lies from “I had food poisoning last night” to “My dermatologist put me on this weird medication” (yeah, I don’t have a dermatologist!).

In between it all, I am joyous, knowing that today, right now, I am a mom! 

Second Trimester – From Bulge to Bump

Pregnancy is a physical toll! It feels like you’re losing total control of your own body.

Finally past the golden 12 week mark, we are all clear to tell friends, family, and work. Enter the daily game of 20 questions. Every day, at least five different people ask me how I am feeling. FINE, I am feeling fine, and if I’m not, I don’t want to talk about it. Please treat me like a normal human being…I’m begging you! 

If they aren’t asking me how I feel, they are telling me how cute I look. I don’t feel cute; I feel round. I don’t even look pregnant yet. I just look like I am wearing the wrong size of pants. Every morning, there’s me desperately trying to squish into my regular clothes, avoiding my first trip to the maternity store. 

After seeing all the fashionable mommy-to-be clothes online, I quickly decide I’m going to be that pregnant lady, the one who totally pulls it off…until the price tags reveal themselves. $85 dollars for one dress I’m only going to wear for five months? Every day I remind myself, “Relax, you’re growing a baby!,” but I feel body conscious, insecure, and definitely not sexy. Who are these women who feel sexy while they’re pants wont stay buttoned, and they are craving Funyuns? Don’t even get me started on maternity photoshoots. I don’t want to look at myself…what makes anyone think I want someone photographing this?

Third Trimester – Beached Whale Sighting

Sexy? Definitely not. Hungry? Definitely yes!

Now there is no hiding it. This is clearly an invitation for anyone and everyone to talk to me like they are my best friend. The lady at CVS wants to know if it’s a boy or a girl. The homeless man outside the cupcake place tells me he, too, is excited for our arrival. There are high-fives on the street and free orange juice from the servers. Then, the advice begins; it seems like all we talk about is my impending labor. I would love to talk about the weather or the Lions’ failing season or the construction on I-75…please! 

When I’m not playing real-life minesweeper with questions, I’m crying. Yes, sometimes it’s the dog food commercial, but other times it is because of fear, anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, happiness, excitement, and even the fact that my burrito was so good! I feel like a crazy lady.

My nose won’t stop bleeding. They don’t tell you about that one, ladies! If my nose isn’t bleeding, my fingers are swollen. I can’t bend down to tie my own shoes. The doctors say to walk an hour a day to help alleviate my SPD pain, so we drive to the nearest mall to stroll; my wide-load self sways from side to side as my husband stops every 49 seconds to let me catch up. 

Just when I think it can’t get any worse, my belly runs into one of those food displays in the grocery store, and it all comes cascading down (yes, just like in the movies, folks!). All the while everyone keeps telling me how cute I look. Super cute. Like a beached whale? Especially during my baby shower, sweating all over myself as everyone looks on while I open each gift with parched enthusiasm. There is not enough water in this galaxy for this pregnant porpoise, and if there was, it certainly isn’t cold enough. 

It’s OK to Not Love Pregnancy

You can (and are!) an amazing mom even if you don’t love those first nine months.

Pregnancy is like training for a marathon, running that marathon, and coaching someone else to run it all in the same day. Why would anyone want do this more than once? For the same reasons anyone does it in the first place. The ability to have a baby is an honor. Every day I was “over it,” I still always felt deeply grateful. There are so many women in the world struggling with infertility, and I would gladly go through the nausea and the pain if it meant having a child. 

The truth is though, I envy those women who enjoy their baby bumps. I also accept that pregnancy is difficult, and it’s OK to not feel pretty or confident. Not enjoying those 40+ weeks doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby. It also doesn’t mean you won’t be a good mom. It just means you’re human.

In Search of Imperfection

My husband is the cook of the family, far more efficient and talented than I. Baking, however, is something that I can do. There’s magic in the way powders and liquids combine into a spectacular finished product. There’s magic in the memories of homemade birthday cakes from my own childhood. With recollections of the three dimensional log cabin cake and others that my mum created for my brother and me, pouring my heart and soul into my own children’s celebratory cakes was inevitable. For my oldest’s first birthday, my talented friend, Wally, created a beautiful cake for our Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed party. A year later, I took on the role of baker and cake decorator extraordinaire. Perfection was the only option I gave myself.

Picture-Perfect Expectations

My lofty, self-imposed mission was to create a 3D train, complete with an engine and two carriages. The baking was easy, the sculpting was somewhat challenging, and the homemade-fondant making was nearly impossible. Late into the night, my husband found me close to tears as the too-soft fondant puddled in a sticky mess on the kitchen counter. I remember his offer to take over and my reply that I just wanted to be able to do this one thing for my baby. I was a working mum who couldn’t spend my baby’s birthday with him. Baking his cake was my solace. I needed perfection. Only when my husband contacted Wally to discover that our caterpillar cake-baking friend relied on store-bought fondant did I lower my expectations and agree that a trip to the nearest Michaels store was acceptable.

Pictures on Display

Before my oldest was born, I had a vision of parenting that was based on two things: my observations of peers who entered the parenting world before me and picture-perfect depictions of my own 1980s childhood. The former were openly displayed on the walls of social media while the latter were safely tucked between the pages of old photo albums. Before my firstborn arrived in 2012, social media was a place of perfection. I saw flawless family portraits, always-loving siblings, and immaculate homes. My 1980s albums commemorated only the most special of events, including the birthday parties and aforementioned cakes. A whole year could fit into one album. There was no evidence of the stories hidden from view. The less than picture-perfect stories of parenting’s honest chaos shied away from the camera.

Jump ahead seven years. I’ve become wiser over the years of making cakes for three children. I still insist on baking and decorating the cakes myself, but I’ve lowered my expectations and raised my joy in the process. Although I’m now much more adept at making 3D train cakes after recent requests for Thomas, Percy, and Toby, I look for ways to make cakes that are based on rectangular or circular cake pans. Middle’s Little Mermaid cake? A square with a Little Mermaid bath toy on top. Little’s Thomas the Tank Engine cake? A circle depicting Thomas’s face. No longer do birthday cakes bring me close to tears. 

Picture-Imperfect Reality

This year, Big celebrated his seventh birthday with a solar system cake. It was square and covered in blue (store bought) fondant. When Big asked to help decorate, I said yes without hesitation. My original vision had included the sun in one corner with neatly circular planets sequentially leading to the opposite corner. In reality, the finished product included an exiled Pluto relegated to the upper corner of the cake, a moon of equal size to Venus, and a blob of a satellite somewhere in the neighborhood of Mars. These were Big’s contributions, as was the red fondant spot he appropriately added to Jupiter and blue icing he dabbed around the edges. It was imperfectly perfect. He was so proud of his additions, and I was proud of his pride. The memory we’ll both have of standing side by side at the counter, rolling fondant between our palms is so much more important than the finished product.

The Beauty of Imperfection

I recently came across kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing cracked pottery. Artists mend the cracks with lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. Kintsugi finds pride and beauty in imperfection. I don’t know a better symbol for parenting. When we share the cracks between the smiles, either through social media or honest conversation with each other, we’re embracing the beauty of our own imperfection.

Today, my iPhone captures everything from the momentous to the mundane. My photo library may even contain evidence of a recent anonymous child’s toilet accident, a picture taken to later share with my husband to include him in a mundane part of the day. With the ready availability of my phone and the ease of digital photography, I’m less selective about the moments I capture. Thus, my photographs tell a story that’s more true to life. The photographs show the cracks between the smiles. They show the chaos of life with small children. Some of these photos remain hidden away from social media but present in my family’s photo library. Others perch on my Facebook wall, side by side with images of smiling faces.

Although there’s still an abundance of flawless families on social media, the rawness and truth of parenting is surfacing. There are photographs like the one of my husband covered in Big’s infant vomit, having just showered and dressed in clean clothes after the first projectile vomit session minutes before. Posts about tantrums and mess and sleepless nights appear with greater frequency. Requests for advice and commiseration pop up as we seek the support of our virtual village.

I’ve found that the occasions that lead to the strongest connections with other parents are the moments in which we’re vulnerable and honest. I’m a better parent for my own children when I can find the beauty in imperfection. Embracing imperfection helps me to be a better member of the parenting village, too.

I’m learning to live comfortably in imperfection, and I’m so much happier for it. I might even buy cupcakes next year.

Stop and Smell the Desitin

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If you’ve been a mom for more than 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard (and reacted to) the well-intended phrase, “Enjoy it! You’re going to miss this!” If you’re like me, you smile at whoever is delivering this prophecy, then mentally roll your eyes. I can list off dozens of things I won’t miss about the newborn/infant stages. But once I realized I was finished with that stage of life for good (my baby will be three years old this spring), it honestly made me nostalgic for some surprising things.

Baby smells

I can’t believe I’d even say this, but I really miss the smells of early infancy. The heavenly smells like fresh out of the bathtub and using that favorite essential oil or lotion stand out to me. But honestly even that sickly sweet “milk dribbled down my chin and Mom didn’t wipe in between my neck folds” smell was something special. Big kid smells are just not the same. My big kids lately are a combination of sweat, sunblock, bug spray, and old shoes.

Nursing

No, I honestly don’t miss the cracked and bleeding nipples, the around-the-clock feedings, or showering with a towel wrapped around my massive milk-makers when even the gentle spray of water was too painful. I don’t fondly remember the struggle to get a good latch with each of my four kids. What I miss about nursing is that no matter how stressed or busy things got, I had guaranteed one-on-one time with each of my babies. At family parties I could slip into another room for some peace and quiet and snuggles.

Gummy Smiles

I can vividly remember the first time each of my children smiled at me. Not a gassy newborn smile but a full-on “I know who you are and I love you” gummy, toothless smile that melted my entire heart. For the first month or so, I felt like I was just a milk source. Once I knew my babies recognized me and smiled right at me, it made all the exhaustion worthwhile! When I smile at babies in the grocery store, and I get a gummy smile back, it brings me right back to those moments with my own children.

Bigger kids, bigger problems

Hear me out! When you have a crying infant, you will have to decide from a relatively short list of possible solutions to make them happy. Change diaper, fill their tummies, burp them, distract them, or put them in the car and drive around until they fall asleep (no judgment…we’ve all been there!). But as they leave that infant stage behind, it is harder and harder to find the source of their unhappiness and solve the problem. My two year old was in hysterics when I cut her sandwich into the wrong shape (how dare I!). There could be dozens of reasons why my eight year old is moody, so I have to pepper him with questions: was someone mean to you? Did someone say something rude? Are you tired? Do you feel sick? What happened at school? It is so much harder to figure out what their problems are.

Baby naps

Way back in those early months, I can remember many times when I would nurse my infant, prop them up on my chest for a burp, and they would fall asleep on my chest. I absolutely loved feeling that baby weight on my chest. There’s just something magical about that heartbeat-to-heartbeat sleep that newborns can do. There’s nothing like it in this world. I wish I could go back in time to that new-mom me, who was SO worried about spoiling the baby by holding them too much. I would probably tell her, “You’re going to miss this!!”

First day home from the hospital with Chloe in our recliner. I can still feel her there. My fourth and final newborn baby!

Dear Postpartum Body

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Dear Postpartum Body,

Postpartum Body

I caught a glimpse of you today as I was rushing to get into the shower while my kids were finally down for their 20-minute morning naps.

Usually, when I see you, you are covered in a baggy t-shirt and leggings (maternity leggings that is).

I got in the shower and as I washed my once full head of hair I was reminded that not only have you forced me to buy clothes two sizes bigger than what I wore pre-pregnancy,
but you have made me say goodbye to my thick locks as clumps of hair washed down the shower drain.

My youngest woke up mid-shampoo so I didn’t have time to use conditioner. My hair would have to air dry into a frizzy mess.

That’s okay because I would have probably ended up throwing it into a ponytail anyway.

As I got dressed, I noticed my hanging belly, full of stretch marks.

While I was pregnant, I was so happy that I remained stretch mark free. Who knew you could get stretch marks AFTER giving birth?

I put on my favorite maternity pants, packed up both babies and headed to the grocery store, hoping no one would see my belly and ask me when I am due.

I’d like to say I don’t recognize you, but that would be a lie. I am used to seeing you.

In fact, the other day a pre-baby picture popped up on my Facebook memories.

There I stood in a cute little tank top and shorts. My hair was perfect, and I had a full face of makeup on.

That is the girl I no longer recognize.

After dinner, I played cars with my toddler and danced with him to his favorite songs by The Wiggles.

I fed my daughter a bottle and watched as my son ran up to her giving her kisses and making her crack up laughing.

I smiled as he counted to five, holding up five fingers for every number.

My heart melted when he blew me a kiss and in his tiny voice said, “I love you, Mama.”

Then I realized, postpartum body you are so worth it.

You nourished my babies before they were Earthside.

You grew them for nine months without failing any of us.

You withstood the pain of childbirth and helped give me my whole world.

You’re not going to be around forever.

Just like the baby sleeping soundly in my arms, you are just a season in my life.

Thank you for everything you’ve done, stretch marks and all.

Love,

A grateful mother who will eventually fit back into her skinny jeans.

A Detroit Red Wings Family Guide to Little Caesars Arena

If you live in the frosty state of Michigan, then you’re probably no stranger to the enthusiastic spirit of Hockeytown. The cold weather is in full swing, and so is Detroit Red Wings Hockey!

This year is special as the Detroit Red Wings announced the arrival of new general manager, Steve Yzerman a former Detroit Red Wings player. The former Wings’ captain led the team to three Stanley Cup wins during his career and is expected, as the coach, to lead the team to triumph again.

The state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena (LCA) opened in 2017 as part of a project aimed at revitalizing Detroit’s Midtown neighborhood. If you had settled into the comfort of Joe Louis Arena, former home of the Detroit Red Wings, and this is all new to you, you’re not alone! Detroit Mom has all the must-know information to help you enjoy family outings at the new arena in the heart of Detroit.

Getting Ready for The Big Game

  1. First, Pick Your Game: Choose your home game and scope out your seats before heading downtown. Then, buy your tickets. Although ticket prices vary from $25-190, children under two may sit on your lap, free of charge. Select seats in the arena will be most accommodating for your children. If you have a choice, try to sit in a location (like end-of-row seats) where constant trips to the bathroom won’t bother surrounding patrons. Avoiding the higher bowls will eliminate the need for carrying small children up and down the many steps.
  2. Get into the Red Wings Spirit: If part of your day job involves long strolls down the aisles at Target, you might want to take note! Purchase Red Wings game apparel at a discount from big box stores. Show support in other ways like teaching your crew the “Let’s Go, Red Wings!” chant on the way to the game or perhaps making a courteous homemade sign to display at the start of the game and during breaks at Little Caesars Arena.
  3. What to Pack: Little Caesars Arena prohibits bags that are bigger than 14”x14”x 6”. Hard-sided bags of any kind are also prohibited. Diaper bags and medical bags are allowed. Little Caesars Arena reserves the right to refuse admittance of any item deemed hazardous or suspicious. You may want to pack hearing protection for your children, your cell phone (and make sure that all your tickets are downloaded and ready for Ticketmaster’s mobile ticketing technology at the door), and cash or cards.
  4. Parking on Game Night: Little Caesars Arena provides a parking guide to help locate the best parking places in the area. The arena even offers online parking reservations, so you can save your spot and know exactly where to go ahead of game day. Save the hassle of waiting last minute to find a parking spot and reserve parking ahead of time. Nearby, there are parking decks that are affordable and conveniently located.
  5. Prepare Your Kids for Hockey: Enjoying a smaller hockey game ahead of time can help tell if the kids are into it in the first place! Also, it is not a bad idea to prepare your kids ahead of time for the tough parts of hockey like fighting and injuries. This is helpful, so they’re not shocked when it occurs. Plymouth, MI is home to the USA Hockey Arena, which claims to provide the foundation for the sport of ice hockey in America and promotes a lifelong love for the game.
  6. Take a tour: Enjoy 60-to-90-minute arena tours, which curate an authentic experience and also allow room to explore VIP areas at the home of the Red Wings. This could be your chance to scope it all out without the hassle on game day and sneak a peek behind the scenes.

Keeping Daddy Happy

If your husband is going to a hockey game with his kids in tow, he’s going to need a cold brew. While you’re at, get him some good old fashioned “man food.” Keeping Daddy happy on game day is easy at this state of the art facility!

  1. Budweiser Biergarten & Lounge: There is a variety of domestic, craft, and international beer available at LCA in addition to many other tasty craft cocktails. The infamous Budweiser Biergarten has “Daddy” written all over it! It’s a large outdoor area that features a spacious patio and lawn area. The lounge has a retractable roof and walls to accommodate all types of weather.
  2. Hockey Food: Bring on the pizza! Little Caesars Arena offers a variety of eateries and restaurants any family man is bound to love. Whether it’s a “Made in Detroit Burger” from Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit or a round classic pie from the Little Caesars Kitchen, the dad in your crew won’t go hungry on game day at the home of the Red Wings!
  3. In-Game Experiences: See if Daddy is even paying attention to anything but the score! If you’re feeling extra for this family outing, plan ahead and leave a nice message on the video and score-board or allow him to fulfill the manliest man dream of all and set him up with a surprise ZAMBONI RIDE. His children will watch their hero in awe!
  4. Hockey, Hockey, Hockey!: Did I mention you’re attending a live Detroit Red Wings Hockey game at Little Caesars Arena with your family? Daddy is ALL GOOD.

Keeping the Kids Happy

When it comes to Detroit Hockey, Little Caesars Arena takes care of kids. Children of all ages get to have the same great experience as their grown-ups.

1. Hockeytown Heritage: Learn the history of Hockeytown, celebrated through various artifact exhibits, interactives, and artwork. Don’t miss a photo opportunity next to hockey legends like Gordie Howe or a stroll down the walk of fame. Seek out the arena’s one-of-a-kind organ, and it’s one-of-a-kind organ player! Spend time between periods enjoying touch screen exhibits and more.
2. Kids Club Membership: Members receive exclusive membership kits, birthday cards from players and other exclusive opportunities like viewing their name on the video board during home games. Members may receive special ticket offers on select games and events, too.
3. First Game Certificates: Grab your kids an official “First Game!” certificate, which is available at the Kids Club kiosk outside Portal 14 through the first intermission. Following intermission, these certificates can be found at the Guest Services Offices. Your kids will have a take-away to remember this special game day.

Keeping Mommy Happy

Keeping mommy happy is the hardest part of all. Let’s face it: we all know she’s more focused on keeping this family outing functional. Little Caesars Arena provides amenities, which allow mothers to worry less about logistics and more about enjoying the game with the people we cherish most. To keep Mama cool during the big game and to accommodate the needs of her family outside the home, Little Caesars Arena provides many “Mom-Conscious” conveniences!

  1. Healthy Food: Little Caesars Arena provides grilled chicken and a variety of grilled options of food throughout the arena. Additional healthy options are found throughout the arena; search for the St. Joseph Mercy Health System Healthy Choice logo on menus around the arena.
  2. Sensory Inclusive: Little Caesars Arena has proudly partnered with KultureCity to make sure all events hosted at the arena are sensory-sensitive inclusive and accommodate a positive experience. This new initiative parallels the missions of KultureCity.
  3. Nursing Mothers: For the comfort of nursing mothers, there is a “Mothers Room.” Located on the street level concourse outside Portal 20, this location includes a sink, microwave, refrigerator, and private, curtained areas with electrical outlets. Breast pumps are permitted inside the arena.
  4. Wine: Offering a collection of premium local spirits and craft brews, frozen cocktails, and mommy’s favorite wines, “On Ice” is open during event days at Little Caesars Arena! Let Daddy have the kids for a period. Take a walk and snag a solo moment for your own to spice up the next period of the game!

Maybe You’re Not a Red Wings Fan…

Maybe you’re not into hockey (maybe you’re crazy), or maybe you’re not a Red Wings fan. Perhaps you’ll take part in basketball games or Disney On Ice though. Little Caesars Arena has something for everyone. From girls to boys, toddler-aged or ready to hit the rock show, Little Caesars Arena provides entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.

Michigan is deeply rooted in a culture that celebrates hockey. Little Caesars Arena provides an atmosphere that promotes the sport and a family-style vibe to enjoy it in. Serving our families with more than just a rare date night out for mom and dad, Little Caesars Arena provides a family encompassing atmosphere, every single time!

 

A Parent’s Guide to Planning a Vacation without Your Kids

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So, you finally did it! You made the decision to travel with your partner and leave your kids at home. Good for you! Traveling without your children can give a total reset. Recently, my husband and I were able to take a babymoon before our third baby arrives this fall. The time with my husband (and without any little people!) was wonderfully refreshing, but getting ready to leave was nerve-wracking. I was nervous about leaving my kids for an extended time. What if they get hurt? Will they miss us? How can I prepare them (and their caretakers) well for an extended time away from their parents? Here are some tips and tricks to give you peace of mind while you are away:

Legal Stuff

You need to make sure your legal papers are in order before you leave your children. While we were away, my daughter needed to go to the Emergency Room. Thankfully, everything was in order and went smoothly for my mother-in-law. For peace of mind, make sure the following documents are in order before leaving for your trip:

  • Will and Trust Information: You need to have, in written form, a clear declaration of what will happen to your children and finances in case of your unforeseen death. No one wants to think about this, but it will ease your mind while you travel to know that your children are taken care of if anything happens to you. If the caretakers for the trip are not listed as guardians in your will, temporary guardianship may be necessary, as well. 
  • Medical Consent Form: In order for your caretaker to make medical decisions for your child at the pediatrician office, urgent care, or the ER, they need to have your permission. A medical consent form, either a signed letter or a notarized Power of Attorney, will give the caretakers that authority.
  • Insurance Cards: Leave a copy of your insurance card with your caretaker to use if necessary. This will make it easier in an emergency situation like the ER. After my daughter was seen in the ER, my mother-in-law also used our insurance card to make sure the follow up appointment with a specialist was covered. I was very grateful for this extra step!
  • Existing Medical Issues: Make sure your caretaker is aware of any ongoing medical issues. Write down your plan of care at home for any existing health issues, as well as when and where to take your child in for medical care in case of an emergency.
  • Birth Certificates, Lawyer Contact Information, and Other Important Documents: Make sure a trusted family member knows where to find this important information. This may not be your caretaker, but if you are gone, it is wise to make sure that someone has access to this information in case of an emergency. You may find it helpful to put everything in a binder or sealed envelope. 

Important Contact Information

For your children: Make a list of important contact information for your caretakers. Include names and numbers for their Pediatrician, Dentist, School, Poison Control, and the Emergency Room/Urgent Care you prefer. I didn’t communicate what to do in an emergency. My mother-in-law ended up taking my daughter to an Urgent Care first when my preference would have been to go straight to Beaumont’s Pediatric ER. Everything ended up fine, but I could have avoided an extra step when my daughter was hurt if I had communicated this ahead of time.  

For your travel: Make sure your caretakers have a copy of your itinerary. Include flight information, phone numbers, and addresses for each location, and the best way to contact you. While we were gone, we didn’t have cell service or internet for part of the trip. It was important to communicate a plan for our caretakers during that time. 

Routine for Your Children

Keep your kids as close to a normal routine as possible. If possible, keep your children in their own environment and have caretakers come to your home to make things easier. Younger children, especially, thrive on routine. 

Food: Tell your caretakers about any food sensitivities or allergies. Post these in a prominent place as a reminder. Make a list of favorite foods and suggestions for meals and snacks. Stock your pantry with simple foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Leave some money with your caretakers in case they need to get groceries or decide to eat out while you are gone. If it’s important to you, communicate about whether or not you want your children to eat out, and if so, which restaurants they like. 

Medical Needs: If your children take medicine on a daily basis, tell your caretakers. Write everything out and/or put medicine in a daily pill box to make it clear. For as needed medications, make sure your caretaker knows where to find them and what dosage to use. I wrote the dosages for Tylenol and Ibuprofen on sticky notes directly on the bottles for my kids. I don’t expect the caretakers to know their weight and be able to figure that out if they need to give a dose. 

Daily Schedule: Write out a suggested routine for each day. Make sure you include any activities, after-school programs, or appointments while you are away. My children are young, so sticking to their routine is really important. I wrote up a schedule that included suggested activities, meal times, nap/rest time, and a bedtime routine. 

Discipline: Discuss discipline methods with your caretaker ahead of time. Make sure you and your caretaker both feel comfortable with a plan for handling misbehavior. Kids act out on their feelings, especially big emotions that are hard to vocalize like missing their parents. Your caretaker should be understanding of this, but you can also make a plan for helping your children deal with those big feelings without hurting others. If your kids are older, you can include them in this conversation, so they know what to expect.

Easing the Transition

Talk about the trip ahead of time. Don’t surprise your children! Separation anxiety will be worse if you try to sneak away. That said, you know your kid. For older children, you can start talking about the trip earlier. If talking about leaving makes your child anxious, you may want to wait until closer to your departure date.

Here are some additional ideas to ease the transition:

  • For preschoolers, Daniel Tiger has an episode reinforcing that “Grownups Come Back.” Watch the show and then talk about how you are leaving on a big trip, but you will come back. 
  • Show your children a map of where you are going. 
  • Make a list before you go of fun things for your children to do with their caretakers. If any special activities cost money, make sure to leave enough with your caretakers to cover any expenses. 
  • Give your children a job to do. Make them in charge of something that they can manage while you’re gone, such as morning routines or taking care of a pet. The caretaker will be there as a safety net to make sure everything goes well, but your child may thrive on the sense of responsibility that comes with being in charge of something. 
  • Leave membership cards with your caretakers, like a library card, zoo membership, etc. if you want them to be able to take your children to these places. Include a letter saying that you are giving permission to this adult to use your membership while you are gone. 
  • Print photos of you for your kids to look at when they miss you. 
  • Create a box of surprises for your caretaker to draw from when your kids need a diversion. My kids are preschoolers, so I put a few new things like coloring books or small toys, as well as some toys that we haven’t played with in a while. A new board game could be fun for older kids!
  • Make a plan for how to talk while you’re gone. Marco Polo is a great app for sending videos to each other despite time differences. If seeing your face will make your children miss you more, arrange to write e-mails or leave letters for them to open each day. 
  • Create a visual representation of how many days you will be gone. We made a paper chain to take a link off each morning, but a sticker chart or crossing the days off on a calendar would work also. 

By planning ahead, you can relax, knowing that your children are set up for a safe and fun time while you’re gone. Even though it can feel monumental to get everything set up, you (and your children!) will benefit from the time away. It was sweet to see how my kids comforted each other before I left, seemed to connect with each other while we were gone, and how happy they were to see us when we returned. You can enjoy your time away without anxiety if you know you have a plan set up ahead of time! 

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