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Family Matters: Don’t be spooked by these sweeties


Halloween CandiesWhat kid doesn’t love Halloween? Scary or silly, they get to dress up in their favorite costume. They can go trick-or-treating, trunk-or-treating, attend a fall festival or host their own party. I have discovered that my daughter really enjoys making fun Halloween treats. She likes to wrap them up in cute gift bags and pass them out to all her friends when she gets to school. One of her favorite Halloween treats is these stacked skeletons.

These stacked skeletons are a wacky and wonderful way to celebrate Halloween!

Buy a pan of brownies from our bakery and cut into squares.

Melt 8 ounces of Food Club White Chocolate in the microwave and dip small twisted pretzels into the chocolate to coat. Spread out on a rack to let dry or buy pre-made yogurt-covered pretzels.

Stack several pretzels on top of the brownie to form the skeleton body. Top with a medium-sized Food Club Marshmallow.

Using food-safe frosting pens (purchased at a craft store), draw a silly, scary, spooky or sweet face onto your skeleton. Place in a baggie, tie with a ribbon and you’re ready to go with a Halloween goodie bag that’s sure to be a hit.

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Posted in: Family Matters


Family Matters: Pets


Family Matters | CatMy boys wanted a cat. Begged for a cat.

They told me they’d clean toilets for a year for a cat.

Well, I can’t have a cat; I’m allergic. I’m sticking with my big doggie.

However, one day while riding home with their bonus mom, they saw a small kitten trying to cross the busiest thoroughfare in town, dodging traffic and surely expending one of its nine lives. They pulled into the mall parking lot and rescued the kitten who was riddled with worms, had an eye infection and was clearly malnourished.

They dropped it off at the vet, hoping the vet could get it healthy.

The boys, plus their bonus brother, must have really worked on the parental units that night, begging to pick the small, white, fluffy kitten up from the vet the next day and bring it home with them because that’s exactly what happened.

The kitten, a Manx, has big blue eyes and a little nub of a tail distinctive to that breed.

Remember the promise about cleaning the toilets for a year? Well, apparently their dad didn’t extract that promise, but the boys DO have to clean the kitty’s litter box.

It’s not their favorite chore in the world, but cat litter is engineered to lock in moisture and odors. It’s easy to clean and clumps to be easily scoopable. Plus, the kitten is worth it.



Family Matters: Healthy Snacking


Healthy SnacksWhen your baby becomes a toddler, they are in full-on snack attack mode! I could never keep the diaper bag stocked with enough snacks, it seemed, even for a short outing.

Because toddlers do love to snack, it’s important to make sure they are getting appropriate snacks.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins are always good for a snack between meals. I used to carry bananas with me for a fast sugar but a good carbohydrate. Whole-grain crackers with peanut butter or another nut butter are also a great choice. Veggies with hummus are also yummy.

What you don’t want to do is load up on junk and processed foods. Keep it to the basics, if you can. Small chunks of ham with string cheese are delicious. A fruit salad with many small pieces of chewable fruits transports well and keeps your toddler satisfied. Roll cheese or peanut butter inside a whole-grain tortilla. Easy for your toddler to hold and chew.



Family Matters: Teething


Teething BabySome babies are easy; some aren’t.

When it comes to teething, there’s no exception to that rule. Some little ones will have a hard time with it, and some won’t.

The range of normal teething is huge. There are babies born with teeth, and there are babies who don’t sprout that first pearly bud until closer to nine months to a year old. Either way is okay. Just know that the earlier they start teething, the earlier they might lose their first baby tooth.

  • So-called symptoms of teething include:
  • Increased drooling
  • Gum swelling and tenderness
  • General crankiness
  • Gnawing or biting
  • Refusing food
  • Sleep problems
  • They may or may not exhibit any of these symptoms.

Keeping a soft, cold compress in the freezer (dampen a clean washcloth and place in freezer) can help relieve some of the pain. If baby is very fussy, a small dose of over-the-counter ibuprofen might help.



Family Matters: Diaper Rashes


Baby with Diaper RashIt’s the middle of the night. You are startled awake from a deep sleep and pleasant dreams of more sleep by baby’s screech. Not just any screech, a blood-curdling scream. You rush into the nursery. Baby is fed. Baby isn’t overtired. You investigate. One peek inside baby’s diaper and you deduct the cause…diaper rash!

Diaper rash is a common form of inflamed skin that appears as a patchwork of bright red skin or bumps on your baby’s bottom. It can be caused by a wet or dirty diaper. However, I’m telling you, I could have changed my younger son’s diaper every 30 seconds, and he still would have had a diaper rash. Some babies have more sensitive skin than others.

Diaper rash also may develop after solid foods are added to baby’s diet, when breast-feeding mothers eat certain foods or when your baby is taking antibiotics. It’s a crap shoot. Pun intended.

There are many ways to treat diaper rash. First, you can try to prevent it. Change baby’s diaper as often as possible. Secondly, use a light coating of petroleum cream to form a protective barrier over baby’s bottom whenever you change the diaper. It doesn’t absorb, but it prevents urine and feces from touching the skin directly. Secondly, use an antibiotic cream to clear up a rash. Lastly, let baby go “bare bottomed” as much as possible, exposing his bum to direct air and helping to clear up the rash.



Family Matters: Quick & Easy Chicken Pot Pie


Quick & Easy Chicken Pot Pies

A family friend made Chicken Pot Pie one night for a get-together, and my family loved it. We, of course, then had to ask for the recipe, and we have been making it for a few years now. I did not eat Chicken Pot Pie, but after trying this recipe, I enjoy making it and eating it. This recipe makes two pot pies.

We often get in the habit of eating the “same old thing” because it is easier than trying to figure something else out, and we know the family likes it. Don’t be afraid to cook something new and different for your family to try. This recipe is packed with vegetables and chicken, and it is a quick and easy hot meal. Hope you enjoy this recipe and enjoy time at the table eating supper together. Count your blessings daily and remind your family to give thanks for a meal on the table each night.

Quick & Easy Chicken Pot Pies

Ingredients:
2 pkg deep dish pie crusts
2 large cans chunk white meat chicken breast
2 large cans Veg-All Mixed Vegetables
1 large can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup milk
McCormick Season All

Directions:
Mix the soup and vegetables (drained) in a large bowl. Add some seasoning for added flavor and then add the chicken (break apart as you put in bowl). Mix all together. Pour in an uncooked pie shell and then flip the second uncooked pie shell on top of the filled one. Pinch the edges together around the pie, and cut small slits in the top of the shell for air and a small hole in the middle of the top. It may look weird, but when it cooks, the shell will lay down. Place in oven and cook at 350° F for approximately 35 minutes and until golden-brown on top. Remove from oven and it is ready to serve. My kids like to add grated cheese on top before eating.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



Family Matters: Italian Soda


Italian SodaBring your family back to the table for dinner, Italian style. September 22 is National Family Day, focusing on bringing families together, especially around the dinner table. This month, we are celebrating Italian style with Italian meals. Even if you just make a big pot of spaghetti and garlic bread, your kids will love helping you make these sweet cream sodas to top off your meal together. 

Mealtime is family time in Italy so let your child take part in the family’s Italian feast with this easy recipe for Chocolate Italian Cream Soda. Rich and creamy, this quick and simple soda serves as a refreshing drink or dessert that’s great with your family’s Italian favorites. Fill a glass three-quarters full of ice. Pour a half cup of club soda into the glass, followed by three tablespoons of chocolate syrup and two tablespoons of half-and-half; stir. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Buon Appetito!



Family Matters: Pets National Adoption Month


National Adoption MonthOctober is National Adopt a Dog Month, and my family recently hit the jackpot with a dog we adopted from the local SPCA.

Astro is a 2-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Redblood, Coonhound mix. He’s 85 pounds, stands as tall as my kitchen counter and has the most soulful eyes I’ve ever seen on a dog. He’s sweet, loving, docile and friendly. However, he howls when he’s out in the yard, and my boys and I are inside without him. He’s quite social that way.

We have had dogs in the past, and this summer we were ready to adopt a new one.

We started by watching the SPCA website. There are always great rescue groups, no-kill shelters and pet havens in most communities.

We watched the pictures, looking at all the cute puppies and marveling at all the varieties of dogs and cats that came through the shelter.

We knew we didn’t want a puppy; I’m just not home enough during the day to train a little one.

When we saw Astro’s picture (his name at the SPCA was “Red”), we knew he was the ONE.

I filled out an application through the SPCA, and a lovely woman came to our house to do a home visit. She looked for things like making sure I had a fenced-in backyard with enough room for an 85-pound dog, and she gave me all kinds of great information about taking care of Astro, getting his flea prevention and heartworm medications, and explaining to me that an adopted dog from the SPCA would be neutered and microchipped. The adoption fee, which is nominal, included all these services, and we knew he was up-to-date with shots and a checkup.

The next day, Astro came home. He’d been in a foster home while he waited for his fur-ever family, and his foster mom brought him right to our house with a baggie of his favorite treats and a yellow bandana tied around his neck.

The following Saturday when the SPCA had an open-adoption event, we took Astro to visit all the people who’d had a hand in getting him into our home.

I can honestly say he’s the best dog I’ve ever had, and adopting him was the best decision we’d made in a long time!



Family Matters: Potty Training


Potty TrainingAs your toddler approaches the 36-month mark, they’re likely to start potty training.

The range for potty usage is huge. Girls often train earlier than boys, and don’t fret if your child is older than 36 months when he decides to say goodbye to the diaper.

Pampers offers diapers or Easy Ups in a variety of sizes and styles to best suit your growing child’s needs.

Easy Ups are a good option as your toddler begins to try to use the potty. Still absorbent like a diaper, Easy Ups feel like big kid underpants. Less bulky with an elasticized waistband so your little one can help pull them up or down, Easy Ups make your little one feel like a big kid.



Family Matters: Baby Wipes


Baby WipesWipes are a hot commodity with an older baby. Beyond diapering, wipes are a necessity as baby is learning to self-feed, crawl, walk, cruise, grab everything in sight, play outside and is on-the-go with you. Most parents learn quickly that it’s best to keep wipes at the changing table, in the car, in the diaper bag, in a purse, in the stroller, near the car seat and everywhere in between.

Tippy Toes Wipes by TopCare offer you an affordable way to keep your baby clean and fresh. Tippy Toes offers a wide assortment of wipes that are dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic and alcohol-free.



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