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Family Matters: Does it really matter?


Does it really matter?As I sit in the hospital room where my youngest brother lies battling terminal cancer, I am brought to tears. When I talk to people and they mention fighting among their siblings and families about things that are so small and petty, it pains me. I have such a great relationship with my three brothers. We have always been close and supported each other and our families. I consider this as one of my greatest blessings.

As my brother would say, “put on your big girl panties” – meaning, grow up and learn to just move on when something upsets you. In the picture of life, do those small things that irritate you really matter? We are not promised tomorrow. We must learn to live each day to the fullest and to not leave things unsaid or undone that you would regret. In every situation, just ask: does it really matter?

I promise that if you find yourself (or a family member) faced with a life-threating situation, it will change how you look at life and how you live. So, why wait? Look for the good in each situation and find just one positive when it appears all negative. If you just take a few minutes each day, you will find the glory you are surrounded by and the small blessings you miss daily because you don’t take time to see them.

We are all blessed beyond measure of what we deserve, and it is a shame that it goes unnoticed. Take a moment each day to get on your knees, close your eyes and listen…God speaks to us daily. If we take time to speak to Him, you will view each day and every situation differently. If you don’t think it is for you, try it anyway. I promise you that it will change your life and the lives of those around you. Does it really matter…yes, when prayer is concerned and loving those around you like it is your last day…it does.

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Family Matters: I Love You A Wafflelot


Cinnamon Roll WafflesValentine’s Day may be over, but you can still show your family you love them a “wafflelot!” Sweet or savory waffles with various toppings, syrups and fillings will generate the love inside and out, and prove that you love them a “wafflelot.” Get in the kitchen with your kiddos or hubby and try your hand at making cinnamon roll waffles, savory cornmeal and chive waffles with salsa and eggs, maple-brown butter dessert waffles or lemon-ricotta waffles with poppy seeds.

Waffles and toppings go together like peanut butter and jelly, or love and marriage! Top your waffles with fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, whipping cream, cream cheese, nuts, bacon, chives, brown sugar, sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, honey, ice cream, granola, sausage, Nutella, chocolate chips, shredded coconut, raisins, chocolate syrup, jams, apple butter, pretzels, candy, peanut butter and more!

CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLES
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

WAFFLES
1 3/4 cups Food Club All Purpose Flour
2 Tbs Food Club Sugar
1 tsp Food Club Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Food Club Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Food Club Salt
2 large eggs
2 cups Brookshire’s Buttermilk
1/4 cup Brookshire’s Canola Oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

CINNAMON TOPPING
1/2 cup Brookshire’s Butter, melted
3/4 cup Food Club Brown Sugar, packed
1 Tbs Food Club Ground Cinnamon

CREAM CHEESE TOPPING
4 Tbs Brookshire’s Butter
2 oz Brookshire’s Cream Cheese
3/4 cup Food Club Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

WAFFLES
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened; batter will be slightly lumpy. Preheat a waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron grid and close the lid. Bake until waffles are completely done. Keep waffles warm until ready to serve. When ready to serve, drizzle cinnamon topping over waffles and then drizzle cream cheese topping.

CINNAMON TOPPING
In a medium bowl, mix butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Scoop the filling into a small zip-top bag and set aside.

CREAM CHEESE TOPPING
In a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and cream cheese for 30 to 60 seconds, just until melted. Stir together until smooth; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Do this last as it will thicken quickly as it cools.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 655, Fat: 38 g, Cholesterol: 137 mg, Sodium: 508 mg, Carbohydrates: 70 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 10 g

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



Family Matters – Leash Training Your Pets


Leash Training Your DogI took my dog, Astro, to the park last weekend. I’ve never walked Astro on a leash before, but for whatever reason (the beautiful weather must have given me a touch of spring fever), I decided that day would be a good day to try. At the park. With 9 million other dogs. Astro is about 95 pounds of pure muscle, and he’s about two years old. What I’m saying is, he’s big and he’s enthusiastic. Do you see where this is going? Walking Astro on a leash in a crowded park was not the best idea. Since then, I’ve gotten him a no-pull harness (which is gentler on his neck), and I’ve read up on teaching him how to walk on a leash. Here are some tips I’ve read from an article on BuzzFeed about getting started. I plan to try again this weekend.

  • Until your dog learns to walk without pulling, consider all walks as training sessions. Keep training sessions frequent, short and fun for your dog.
  • Since loose-leash training sessions will be too short and slow to provide adequate exercise, find other ways to exercise your dog until he’s mastered loose-leash walking. In fact, you’ll succeed more quickly if you find a way to tire your dog out before taking him on a training walk. Dogs pull, in part, because they’re full of excess energy. So, unless you can expend that energy, your dog will find it hard to control himself. Before you train, play fetch in a hallway or your backyard, play a vigorous game of tug or drive your dog to the park so that he can play with his buddies.
  • Teaching a dog to walk without pulling requires plenty of rewards. Use highly desirable treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times. Soft treats are best so your dog can eat them quickly and continue training. Most dogs love wieners, cheese, cooked chicken or ham, small jerky treats or freeze-dried liver. Chop all treats into small, peanut-sized cubes.
  • Walk at a quick pace. If your dog trots or runs, he’ll have fewer opportunities to catch a whiff of something enticing, and he’ll be less inclined to stop and eliminate every few steps. Additionally, you are far more interesting to your dog when you move quickly.
  • If you expect your dog to control himself while walking on a leash, you must also expect him to control himself before you go for a walk. If he gets wildly excited as you prepare for a walk, you need to focus on that first. Walk to the door and pick up the leash. If your dog races around, barks, whines, spins or jumps up, just stand completely still. Do and say absolutely nothing until your dog calms down a bit. As soon as he has all four paws on the floor, slowly reach toward him to clip on the leash. If he starts to bounce around or jump up on you, quickly bring your hands (and the leash) back toward your body. Wait until your dog has all four paws on the floor again. Then, slowly reach toward him again to attach his leash. Repeat this sequence until your dog can stand in front of you without jumping up or running around while you clip on his leash. This may seem like a tedious exercise at first, but if you’re consistent, your hard work will pay off. Eventually, your dog will learn to stand still while you attach his leash.


Earth Mama Angel Baby


Earth Mama Angel Baby

When I was pregnant with my boys and in the months after giving birth, I was so conscientious about what I put in – and on – my body.

Many mamas are, so Melinda Olson began formulating organic herbal remedies for friends in her Oregon kitchen, an endeavor which led to Earth Mama Angel Baby products.

Earth Mama Angel Baby products are safe, hospital-recommended, certified-organic and Non-GMO Project Verified. These natural, herbal personal care products, gentle castile soaps and teas are specifically formulated to support the entire journey of childbirth, from pregnancy through postpartum recovery, breast-feeding and baby care.

Melinda Olson is an expert in the benefits of plant medicine, and continually balances her trust and care of traditional herb wisdom with evidence-based research. She formulated her herbal pregnancy, postpartum, breast-feeding and baby care products to be safe and effective without worrisome ingredients. Of course, they are also baby-safe with no synthetic fragrances or preservatives.

Products include Angel Baby Lotion, Angel Baby Bottom Balm, Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash, New Mama Bottom Spray, Natural Nipple Butter and Organic Milkmaid Tea.

All are available at Brookshire’s.



Walking


Walking

My 12-year-old son had to write his autobiography recently.

He refused any help on the essay, even to verify important facts such as how much he weighed at birth and when he started walking.

He wrote that he started walking at 10 months, which isn’t even remotely true. He was 13 months when he finally tentatively struck out across the kitchen, only to make it two wobbly steps before my shrieks of delight scared him so much that he plopped right down on the floor and began to howl.

While walking at 10 months is on the early side of normal and 13 months is on solidly average, anything in that range is right on target. My mom claims I walked at 9 months, skipping crawling all-together. My pediatrician also told me, at the time, that he doesn’t really worry until a child isn’t walking at 18 months.

So, watch your little one. Don’t panic and enjoy the time before you have to batten down every door and cabinet in your house.



Potty Training


Potty Training

My friend just had twins, which is super awesome, except that she’d hoped to have her two-year-old son potty trained before the babies’ arrival.

It didn’t happen.

Try as she might, Evan would not pee-pee on the potty.

I don’t blame the kid. He wasn’t ready. It’s far easier to play with Thomas the Tank Engine and let ‘er rip in your diaper than it is to stop what you’re doing to have to go to the restroom.

While between two and three years is normal for potty training for a lot of girls, boys often take longer, easily age three, often approaching four.

I’m a firm believer in not pushing it. It will frustrate you more than it’s worth. Make that kid almost beg to go to the potty because he’s so ready to be rid of diapers.

With that said, there are gentle nudges you can provide to nudge him in the right direction. Big boy and girl underpants are huge. My younger son didn’t want to tinkle on Thomas, so that worked for him. Nothing worked for my older son, and he was almost four by the time he potty trained. Nothing I did was effective and I just got upset. I let it go and waited until he asked me. After that, there were no issues.

So, watch your toddler for signs of toilet readiness, but again, don’t force the issue. It’ll happen in due time.



Family Matters: The Butcher Shop


The Butcher ShopMy son came to work with me today.

He had a school holiday, and while he’s capable of staying home alone, he didn’t want to be by himself for so many hours. I don’t blame him.

So, this morning, he packed up his laptop, his headphones and his charging cord, and he prepared to hunker down in my office for the better part of 10 hours.

We dropped his brother off at school (amidst wails of “It’s not fair.”), and we headed to work.

Luke didn’t make a peep for four hours until I said I was getting hungry. His agreement was instantaneous.

I think he was expecting to hit up a fast food joint, but I upped the ante on him. We went to The Butcher Shop, a local favorite that specializes in burgers, homemade desserts and grinding their own beef. We’d been a few other times when Luke’s soccer team played in town for tournaments.

He was beyond thrilled.

Over burgers and a shared order of fries, I realized that I almost never get time alone with my boys one-on-one. The other boy is always around. Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t trade the company for the world, but it’s nice to have alone time, too.

We talked about all kinds of things, topics we may not have touched on had his older brother been with us.

I left lunch feeling very satisfied and not just from the burger and fries. My heart was full, and I realized that I need to schedule time alone with each son on a regular basis.

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Family Matters: New Year’s Resolution


New Year’s ResolutionsAs we begin moving forward in a new year, many individuals and families are making resolutions of different types. Whether it be healthier eating, weight loss, charity work or starting to go to church, some resolutions, as we know, don’t last long. This year, how about setting a reasonable goal that will not only benefit you but will touch the lives of others?

Have you ever thought about how your “hand-me downs” could make a difference to someone else? How just the giving of something you no longer want or need will change someone’s life? We all outgrow some of our clothes throughout the year, and a lot of times we just trash them or leave them in the closet or drawer for later when they will fit again…we all do this. The truth of the matter is that most of the time we don’t get back into these clothes, and they are not benefiting anyone.

Our family takes our “hand-me downs” to a local clothes closet that benefits families who are less fortunate. We can take clothes, shoes, toys or anything that is still in good shape, and donate it to be used for the good of others. We have a saying at our house “your hand-me downs can raise someone else up.” This means that something we can no longer use or wear can be given to someone who has a true need, and it will bring them comfort and a sense of joy. What is more rewarding than knowing you are helping others by just giving, something that cost you nothing?

Don’t throw good, used clothing away for there is always someone who can benefit from these items. If you can’t find a local charity that takes used clothing, I promise there is some friend with kids that would love to have them; just ask. Rule of thumb: don’t donate items that have holes in them or stains – things that you would not wear. When you want to raise someone else up, make your hand-me downs something they will be proud to wear. Set a goal to clean out the items that your family can no longer wear or use every three months. My kids grow out of things or they decide to change their style (a girl thing) often. Clothes and shoes are expensive, so donating them is a great way to teach your family to give to others.

Count your blessings daily, and give thanks to the Lord for the time you have to share with your family and the opportunities you have to raise others up!

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FAMILY MATTERS: PET ORAL HEALTH


Pet Oral HealthMy big, red dog, Astro, is kind of funny about some things.

He won’t touch a sausage link left on the kitchen counter, but he will sneak a slice of eggplant.

He likes the front yard better than the backyard, and he does NOT like to be outside if any of his people are inside.

He also doesn’t mind getting his nails clipped or his teeth brushed, which is practically unheard of in a dog of mine!

The first time I tried to brush his teeth, I was the one who was nervous. I mean, he was 85 pounds when I got him and has put on some weight since his adoption. He has a big mouth and big teeth! It’s just as important to take care of your pet’s oral health as it is your own. Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it’s completely preventable. Many pets show signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old because they aren’t provided with proper mouth care, and bad breath is often the first sign of a problem.

PetMD offers these tips for good oral health for your pets.

1. The Breath Test

Sniff your pet’s breath. Not a field of lilies? That’s okay-normal; pet breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling. However, if his breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting, or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your pet to the vet.

2. Lip Service

Once a week with your pet facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and they should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean without any brownish tartar.

3. Signs of Oral Disease

The following are signs that your pet may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system, and your pet should be checked by a veterinarian:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

4. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay

Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on your pet’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course.

5. Teeth-Brushing Kit

Get a toothbrush made especially for your pet or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for toothpaste made especially for your pet or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate their stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs and cats is also available – ask your vet.



Family Matters: Taming the Teeth Tantrums


Taming the Teeth TantrumsEven before your baby has teeth, you need to be thinking about their oral health.

When they still have their gummy grins, begin rubbing a soft cloth, or a brush made especially for babies, gently over their gums to get them accustomed to the sensation of having their “teeth brushed.” You don’t have to use toothpaste; just gently rub their gums.

When they do have teeth, use a small toothbrush with soft bristles, or a special brush you wear on your finger, to get your toddler’s teeth clean. Don’t use adult toothpaste, though. Find a brand specially made for babies and toddlers.

When we hit the toddler years, it was so hard to get my children to stand still long enough to brush their teeth. Plus, they hated when I did it and wanted to do it THEMSELVES (insert foot stomping and general churlishness here). To combat the teeth brushing tantrums, each boy had their own toothbrush they could hold while I was brushing their teeth. Then, when I was done, it was their turn. They also loved the little sand timers that help you know how long to brush. They were so mesmerized by the sand that they’d forget to focus on how long it was taking me to brush their teeth. Spin brushes were another lifesaver. While they weren’t the primary toothbrush, they were fun enough to distract the boys while I brushed their teeth thoroughly.

Good luck!

TIP: When your baby is a toddler, he likely wants to feed himself. Pick out the appropriate utensils to make this task easier. Utensils with handles with a special texture or shape or those with chunky handles with rubber grips make it simpler for little hands to pick up and grip.



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