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Family Matters: Family Fishing


Family FishingThis summer, we have spent a lot of time fishing with our girls, our family and the kids’ friends. Since I was a child, I have always loved to fish, but as our family got busier, we never seemed to have time because something else was always more important. I can absolutely say that everyone has enjoyed not only catching fish but also the time spent laughing, getting fishing lines out of the trees, playing with the worms and the family gatherings to fry up the fish we caught. Nothing is better than the taste of fresh fish, french fries and hushpuppies. My middle brother is always the one that prepares and cooks our fish. No secret ingredient, just soaking it in milk the night before, rolling in yellow cornmeal, adding his seasonings, and frying it up nice and hot. Simple, but delicious!

Our friendly fishing contest consists of the largest fish, the smallest fish and kids against adults. There is midnight fishing, fishing at dawn and fishing until we are all too blistered and sore to move the next day. During this time, we are reminded of childhood memories of fishing with our grandfather or dad, and of being able to share with our kids as we all laugh at the funny things that have happened in the past, good and simple times long forgotten.

As we get older and go through life’s trials, we learn that it is getting back to these simpler things like fishing, sitting and visiting, and just enjoying each other’s company that is really important. Maybe fishing is not for you; maybe it is nature trails and bird watching. Whatever it is, as long as you are with family, it will be time well-spent. Fishing gets everyone out of the house, off the couch and cellphones put up (kids don’t want to drop phones in the water!!)…what better use of our time.

Now, as we move toward school starting and the cooler months, the cousins are all talking about weekend fishing and camping trips together and more family fish fries….what great memories for our kids and family. Fishing stories passed down for generations… Who would have ever thought that fishing would be the bond that “reels in” the family together and reminds us of the important things in life? Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.



Family Matters: Back-To-School Time Savers


Busy Day Italian-Style Rump RoastIt’s back-to-school time, and we all know how busy school nights can be! With so much to do during the day, from getting kids up in the mornings and making the PTO meeting, to running them to soccer and dance after school, it’s easy to forget about making healthy meals—at least until it’s dinnertime!

For a lot of parents this can be an overwhelming time of the year. We send our kids off to school expecting them to keep up with all their classes and not lose any of their school supplies. Yet as we head to the kitchen to figure out what’s for dinner tonight, we begin to feel inadequate, unorganized and so wish we had a meal-planner genie!

As an out-of-the-home working Mom, I have found a few tricks that help me maintain sanity while putting a delicious meal on the table most nights of the week. For our family, mealtime is a wonderful time to sit down together, relax and talk about the day’s events.

FREEZE
Make a big pot of homemade soup, double the recipe of a casserole or lasagna and freeze half of it for a later evening when you have no time.

PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Prepare entrees you can mix together the night before, store in the refrigerator and then transfer to the oven right before dinnertime.

USE A SLOW COOKER
This has got to be the easiest way to have dinner ready the minute you walk in the door! There are hundreds of slow cooker recipes online to suit your family from chicken and beef recipes to appetizers and soups. Did you know you could even bake breads and desserts using a slow cooker?

One of my family’s favorite meals is a roast cooked in the slow cooker. With a boneless rump roast and your slow cooker handy, this meal is almost a no-brainer.

Busy Day Italian-Style Rump Roast
Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients
3 lbs boneless beef rump roast, well-trimmed
5 cups cut-up fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, onions and potatoes
1 package McCormick Slow Cookers Savory Pot Roast Seasoning
1 cup red wine or water

Directions
Place beef and vegetables in slow cooker. Mix seasoning mix and water until blended. Pour over beef and vegetables. Cover. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high. Remove roast and vegetables to serving platter. Stir sauce before serving.

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Family Matters: Getting a Pet-icure


Getting a Pet-icureMy 95-pound hunka hunka burning love, a.k.a my dog Astro, pretty much has one trick.

“Gimme paw,” we say, and he presents us with one massive doggie paw.

Whether or not he’s recently had a nail trim is the difference between the trick being cute and sweet or nearly lethal.

There are lots of good reasons to trim a dog’s nails. Dogs’ nails are constantly growing, just like those of humans. They don’t always wear them down walking on floors or concrete, either. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own paws, ‘er hands, that is. Left to their own devices, a pup’s nails could grow so long that they curl into your pet’s foot pads.

Ouch.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to trim your pet’s nails when they touch the floor when they are standing still. You’ll probably hear that little click, click, click before you see them.

To prepare him for a trim, hold his paws several times a day. He should be comfortable doing this because he’ll sense affection. Keep your attitude upbeat and give him a treat after the trim. You might want to enlist someone else the dog loves if you have a big pooch. When we trim Astro’s nails, I sit with him, hold his collar and talk puppy talk to him while Paul does the trimming.

Don’t trim them too short. Look at your pooch’s paws before you start, and you’ll notice that part of the nail is white and part is clearer. Stay away from the inner white part! That could hurt him and make him bleed.

There are a variety of tools you can use to trim your pal’s nails, but simple nail clippers should work just fine.

When you’re done, praise your doggie and get him a treat!

 



Family Matters: Twin Differences


Twin DifferencesI took a trip back in time last week, in lots of ways, but one of the big ones was that I spent the week with my sister and her twins, who turned six months old last week.

It’s been 12 years since I had a baby in the house, and wow, how quickly we forget, or at least how quickly I forget how little they are, how much they need and how simply sweet a baby can be.

Patrick and Emma are my sister’s twins, and they are as different as night and day. This isn’t unusual, according to experts, especially with boys and girls.

Emma is social and engaging, and she is physically developing ahead of Patrick. Patrick is quieter and less vocal, and he is slightly behind Emma’s physical milestones. Since multiples are usually born a little earlier (three weeks early for these guys), developmental milestones need to be adjusted just a little.

At six months, they are eating solid foods, responding to voices, cuddling into their parents, rolling over and having a great time laughing at amusing antics, like cousin Luke sticking his tongue out repeatedly.

Soon, they’ll be sitting up.

And then crawling and creeping.

Heaven help my sister.



Family Matters: Let Imagination Grow


Let Imagination GrowMy nephew Beau is a hoot.

He’s a lean, mean, superhero machine, and he’s not even three yet.

Beau was hilarious last week at the beach. I’m pretty sure his suitcase of superhero toys was larger than the one containing his needs for the week.

He was attached to those superheroes.

Around age two, you’ll see your toddler’s imagination start to skyrocket.

Beau was pretty convinced he was the real Batman, after all. When your baby is born, he has about 100 billion brain cells. By the time your child reaches the age of three, his brain will grow to have 1,000 trillion connections. Crazy, huh?

The way he develops these is through talking, taste, touch, sound, sight and smell.

To nurture your child’s imagination, read to them. Tell them make-believe stories. Weave a tale out of walking down the grocery aisle with them. Let them lead the way. Start a story and let them fill in a word.

Dress them up.

Play hide and seek.

Encourage them to solve problems through games.

Play with them. Give them a box and call it a pot. Give them a sock and call it a hat. Laugh.

The best way to nurture your baby’s imagination is to have one yourself. Be silly. Don’t be afraid to make a mess or make up a fictional story. Baby will love it.

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Family Matters: Jolly Jumper


Jolly JumperWhen I visited my parents’ house, they had an apparatus hanging from a door frame we used to call the “Jolly Jumper.”

It’s basically a seat that hangs from the door frame on a spring, and your seven to 12-month-old (and beyond) can sit inside and jump to their heart’s content.

Mine started in the Jolly Jumper at about 7 months. Luke, my younger one, jumped and giggled, and he had a great old time. Curt, my older, took the Jolly Jumper to a whole new level. Extreme Jolly Jumper, if you will.

He wouldn’t just bounce; he’d SPRING INTO THE AIR, getting slack in the line and landing back on the floor with a gentle “thud.” He’d laugh and laugh and laugh.

However, his most famous feat was planting one chunky baby foot on the ground and spinning himself, nonstop, for minutes on end. I have him on video shrieking in delight.

While most kids don’t do that, they do benefit from the movement, the jumping and the stimulation. You benefit from the time to get a shower or hear baby giggles.

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Family Matters: Family


FamilyIn the blink of an eye, I was transported back to childhood: my teenage years, to be exact.

I walked into the bedroom I was sharing with my sister on our annual beach trip, when 22 of us crowd into one house with a handful of bathrooms and have fun for a week. Her stuff was all over my side of the dresser, and my clothes were flung across the (small) space between the two beds crowded into the room.

Déjà vu.

While we never actually shared a room growing up, my first instinct was to screech, “MOOOOOMMMMMM, Beth’s stuff is all over my side of the room.”

Then, I realized that it was NOT. A. BIG. DEAL.

We see each other ONCE a year.

She lives in Virginia. My parents live in Virginia. My two brothers and their families live in Virginia. My other sister and her family live in California. We hardly ever see each other.

The week at the beach is probably the closest thing to heaven on earth I can imagine. We’re all together, in one house, at our favorite place in the universe with the people we love most.

Yes, someone is always in the bathroom when you need to use it. There is always someone using the one square foot of available kitchen counter space. You couldn’t sleep late if you tried, and the amount of stuff we haul to the beach each day would make Mayflower proud.

However, we sure do laugh a lot. Loudly. There’s always someone to go jump waves with you or to dig a sandcastle. There’s always someone who will pour you a drink or grab the water bottle you forgot when they go back up to the beach house. There’s always an extra pair of eyes on your children playing in the surf and an extra set of ears to listen to the stories your friends back home are tired of hearing. There’s a lot of extra love in that house.

So many of my friends’ families have lost touch with each other. They’ve fought. They’ve moved away. They’ve let the stuff on their side of the dresser get in the way.

So, I am thankful.

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Family Matters: I LOVE cooking!


Texas CaviarI love cooking for my family. Although, I can only use the word LOVE when I truly have the time to cook. Otherwise, if I do not have time to cook, like the five days a week I am working, I cannot use the word LOVE. I don’t even know if I can use the word LIKE! I do know, however, that having a sit down meal every night is very important to my family’s lifestyle, and I try to meet this goal the best I can. It’s not always pretty, but we make it happen.

Over the Fourth of July holiday, I had my parents over for lunch. This was a time that I LOVED cooking because I had the extra time to prepare. I started the night before preparing the side dishes to go along with a traditional smoked brisket. I decided on making Texas caviar. I had never made this, but I recently had it at a friend’s and really liked it. The best part about this dish is that the longer you let it sit, the better it gets. So, making it the night before gives it time to marinate, making it oh so yummy!

This recipe is easily adjustable to your own tastes and very forgiving, which makes me LOVE it!

Texas Caviar
Serves: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus marinating

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.8 oz) can black-eyed peas, drained
1 (15.25) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup red onions, diced
1 cup cilantro, stems removed and chopped
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
1 Tbs lime juice
salt, to taste
tortilla chips

Directions:
Combine all vegetables. Pour dressing and lime juice over mixture; mix together.

Season with salt. Cover and marinate at least 2 hours in refrigerator before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Calories Per Serving: 186, Fat: 6 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 310 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 6 g, Protein: 7 g

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Family Matters: Thomas Moore Small Animal Food


Thomas Moore Small Animal FoodWhen my sister was in middle school, she begged my parents for a pet rabbit.

They refused.

She wheedled.

Cajoled.

Needled.

Pouted.

Stomped around.

Poured on the sweetness.

Begged.

And begged some more.

I forget what finally tipped the scales because my parents aren’t the type to give in to a whiny kid, but my sister got her bunny. It was a fuzzy brown thing that she kept in a large bunny hutch on a stand my father built in the backyard. She’d bring the bunny inside to play, to hop around her bedroom and to cuddle. I think even my parents had to admit that the bunny was pretty cute.

Small animals need a special diet. Pets like rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters can benefit from carefully-formulated food designed for their unique needs.

Thomas Moore offers a line of small-animal foods that are available at Brookshire’s and perfect for your cuddly pet.

Thomas Moore Feed’s Bunny Cuisine Premium Feed is a source of omega-3 fatty acids that support rabbit’s heart, brain and visual functions.

The Guinea Pig Premium Feed is a timothy hay-based pellet that is rich in fiber to promote gastrointestinal health of your guinea pig.

Thomas Moore Feed’s Hamster & Gerbil Premium Feed has wholesome, palatable ingredients that help maintain proper weight, growth and dental health.

Thomas Moore’s foods will keep your pet in tip-top shape, so you can enjoy him for a long and healthy life.

 



Family Matters: Changing the Focus


Changing the FocusWe recently got a miniature puppy as a surprise for my mother. Even though she did not ask for a pet or know she was getting one, it was the best gift ever. My mom lost her youngest son a few months ago, and every day is a struggle and filled with tears. I know the pain from being his sister, but I can’t begin to imagine if it were my own child. I know the hurt will last a lifetime, but I wanted to find something that would make her smile and for just a moment take her mind off of her loss. She lives alone so there is a lot of alone time after work each day.

I can’t begin to tell you the joy this small puppy has given her these past few weeks. I get multiple calls a day to share what cute things it is doing and hear how sweet it is. She falls asleep with the puppy on her chest each night, and it follows her around the house, nipping at her heels. It has given her something new to focus on and keeps her from continually missing her son.

It is hard to believe that an animal that weighs 2 1/2 pounds can bring so much healing to a grown-up. What a blessing this tiny puppy has been to my mother and to our family! It warms my heart to see her smile and laugh again, and even though she still has tears, they seem a little lighter. As I listened to my voicemail one day this week, my mom said, “Thank you for giving me this sweet puppy. I did not know how much I needed something to love.”…that says it all for me.

Not only did this tiny puppy find a home, it has also found a place in my mom’s heart that so badly needed to be filled. Sit down and pet a puppy, and see how it affects you…I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It brings out a calming feeling and gives us something to focus on other than our everyday struggles. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!



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