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FAMILY MATTERS: BABY SERIES


BabyMy friend’s daughter, Sweet Baby, just turned six months old. Can I just say I can’t even fathom where the past six months have gone? It goes by so quickly, and babies develop in leaps and bounds at this point in their lives.

Sweet Baby surprised her mama this weekend by pulling up to standing at the coffee table in the living room.

Don’t be alarmed if your six month old is not pulling up to stand yet. The average age for pulling to standing is about 9 months. Sweet Baby is just proving to be precocious.

Another milestone a baby should hit around five months of age is hugging! What’s better than when your baby learns to wrap their chubby little arms around yours? Let baby hug you, a stuffed toy or a blanket. Some babies aren’t crazy about hugging. My older son certainly wasn’t, but if yours is a cuddler, then hug away.

Tip 0-6 months: When baby begins to be mobile, it’s time to baby proof. Take all breakable, sharp and heavy objects off of coffee tables and shelves. Make sure your cabinets have locks if they contain items that might be dangerous to baby.



Family Matters: Laundry


Doing the family’s laundry is probably my most time-consuming household task each week, so anything I can do to make it go more smoothly and get my clothes the cleanest is quite welcomed!

This week Brookshire’s is offering $5 off a laundry item so you better believe I’ll be going back several times to stock up.

One of my challenges is school uniforms. My older son wears khaki shorts and either a navy, white or gold polo shirt, easy enough on the uniform end. Keeping them clean and pressed is a different story! One thing that helps is washing them in a gentle detergent, like Purex, with a boost of OxiClean. I always wash in cold water and hang dry immediately when the cycle finishes. Line drying keeps me from having to iron as vigorously, extends the life of the uniforms and saves on electricity. Plus, if I don’t put them in the dryer, any stains I might have missed before washing won’t set with the dryer heat. Speaking of stains, when he gets some strawberry jelly from his lunch on his white shirt, a Clorox Bleach Pen is a lifesaver! When it’s one of his other shirts, a stain remover stick is handy. I wish I could get him to keep one in his backpack, but it’s probably not cool in middle school to whip out your stain stick in the cafeteria.

Do you get stuck with socks that don’t have a pair? I think we’re all victims of the disappearing sock  phenomenon! A small mesh laundry bag can help. Simply pop your socks in, zip, launder and dry! All of your socks stay together.

My work clothes take some TLC as well. I like to make them last as long as possible. Dryel dry cleaning kits for home use are wonderful! I can get dry-cleaned results right at home with a product easy to find right on the laundry aisle.

One last piece of advice: boys are not fond of lavender-scented dryer sheets. I found that out the hard way. Luckily, there are plenty of other fresh scents available to keep your clothes soft, smelling great and static free.

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FAMILY MATTERS: TREADING NEW TERRITORY


Recently my husband and twin daughters decided they wanted to go camping. This would not seem unusual except that we did not own a tent and had never been camping before. I am not sure what brought on the new adventure, but it was definitely just that. They ordered a tent and started making plans for what to take and what to do while at the lake. As they prepared, they pulled out their bicycles, fishing poles, chairs, etc. and made their pile of things to take. The trip to the grocery store to get their food came next. Three people would only be spending two nights, but it took a full-sized plastic tub to hold just their snacks. Their reason being that you never know what you might be hungry for and there is not a grocery store nearby. 

When Friday came, they were so excited to pack the truck and off they went. A few hours later I received a text with a photo of the tent set up and ready to go. They had their camp looking like home and had already gone for a bike ride. Another daughter and I went out that afternoon to join in the fishing. Within about an hour, we caught a handful of fish, and I had gotten hooked in the lip but not from my fishing pole! Why does it always happen to mom?

After fishing, they decided to cook their hot dogs and S’mores over the open fire (which if it had not been 98 degrees would have been fun!). By that time, I was ready to head back to the air conditioned house and my nice comfortable bed. They proceeded to watch scary movies after dark (I still don’t understand that decision) and talked until they fell asleep. When they returned home two days later, our girls talked non-stop about everything they did while they were gone and wanted to know when they could do it again. 

This trip was treading new territory, and even though I did not understand them wanting to sleep in a tent on the ground, it was such a wonderful experience. What memories they now have of a “first” camping trip with their dad, something they will always treasure! We are already planning another trip (in cooler weather, of course) with the whole family this time.   Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for the time you have to share with your family.  

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Family Matters: Pets


This is not a sad story, so keep reading.

My best friend got a call today from her elderly mother who gently broke the news that her longtime friend and companion, her dog of 16 years, had passed away.

My friend was devastated, as you can imagine one would be losing the sweet dog you’d had for so long.

About an hour later, her cellphone rang again. It was her mother calling back.

“He’s alive! He’s alive!,” she screamed into the phone.

However, she had not only called my friend, but she had also called a stranger. When she was trying to dial, she called the wrong number. In her excitement, she left a message on some unsuspecting person’s voicemail. “He’s not dead! He’s alive! He got up and got a drink of water” was the message that a flustered stranger received. The stranger, who immediately called back to check on the welfare of, well, the dog, ended up getting a good laugh, as did my friend, her mom and a bunch of other people.

Moral to this story: Check for respiration, dial carefully and always love on your pets every day!



Family Matters: Self Care


FamilyMatters_Baby1336Months_91313_228x173This is about the stage for your toddler when they not only WANT to do everything for themselves, but it’s about time for you to start letting them.

Curt always wanted to brush his own teeth. Now, I wasn’t going to completely relinquish care of his teeth, but I let him brush first before I took over, and that eliminated so much of the power struggle that is common in kids this age. The same thing happened with washing his hair. He no longer wanted me to rinse the shampoo out of his golden-brown baby locks; he wanted to do it himself. So, I let him dump that cup of water over his head, repeatedly. It made him giggle, too. Go figure.

At this age, they can try to comb their own hair. They can help choose what foods they eat (within reason, obviously). They can feed themselves. They can pick up and put away their own toys with help. Independence, here we come!

Tip 13-36 months: Have child-sized brooms, mop cloths (for wiping the table) and sponges available for your toddler, and allow him to clean like the adults do.



Family Matters: Strollin’


BabyBetween 7 and 12 months, baby will start to toddle around. It’s MUCH more fun, at this age, for baby to push your stroller instead of having to ride in it all the time. It’s not always practical to let baby push, but when you can, put the stroller in a safe spot (backyard, inside hallway) and let him go to town. He’ll feel important and powerful. Just make sure he doesn’t tip it back on top of himself!

Tip 7-12 months: Bring out the balls. Rolling a beach ball back and forth is a great inside activity.



Family Matters: Rolling Over


Baby

Rolling over was one of the first, big “Mom-screech” moments in my baby’s development. It happened around four months old for both of my kiddos, although between four and six months is in the range of normal. Belly-to-back rolling usually happens first, maybe during a tummy time session. About a month later, baby will roll from back to stomach in their first venture toward mobility. Luke, my second son, was a rolling machine. In fact, at one point, I was certain he’d never bother learning to crawl because he could just roll everywhere he went. I was surprised he didn’t make himself dizzy. Curt, my older son, was never much on rolling. He only did it when he needed to and without the enthusiasm Luke displayed for the feat. Once they start rolling, use caution about where you place baby and make sure nothing dangerous is within reach.

Tip 0-6 months: When baby becomes mobile, it may be time to pad sharp corners of furniture, fixtures and fireplaces with some kind of buffer between the object and baby’s noggin. Store-bought pads for all kinds of furniture are available, and you can certainly fashion homemade padding as well.



Family Matters: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with the Taste of Food


Hispanics love celebrations! One of the best times to celebrate their heritage and history is Hispanic Heritage Month. During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), companies can recognize the contributions and the important presence of the Hispanic community in this country. The Hispanic culture has had a profound and positive influence in the United States through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, service and food.

Naturally when we think about this holiday, we think about food. Hispanic food is one of the most celebrated cuisines in the world, and it typically provides the opportunity for families to get together and pass along their traditions. One of the customs of Hispanic Heritage Month is simply eating and cooking their favorite Hispanic dishes, such as mole, tamales, ceviche, quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos and tortillas…so many delicious choices!

When it comes to Hispanic food, there are so many different alternatives to choose from. Every Hispanic country and Mexican region has its own typical foods, drinks and cooking styles. This makes it fascinating and exciting for food lovers with all of those choices.

Hispanic cuisine influences come from all over the world, including Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and indigenous cultures. Some of the dishes, like tortillas and tamales, are made out of corn. The ingredients or spices used while cooking also play an important role. They are used slightly differently from region–to-region and country-to-country to give salsas, marinades and other sauces a distinct or unique flavor.

Most Hispanics view food as an extension of their culture, an extension of family’s love and tradition passed from one generation to another. It’s a smell or a particular taste that reminds you about a special time in your life. It is history and memories!

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Family Matters: Twice the Fun


Last week, my twin daughters turned 14 and decided they wanted to decorate their own cake for their birthday. I make cakes for family parties and have the decorating tips and coloring, so they have watched me prepare cakes for years. I was excited they wanted to decorate their own cake, knowing this would save me hours of work…nice break! I baked a large cake, mixed their desired colors of icing and let them go. 

First came a long discussion of what each was doing on “their side” of the cake. They wanted to make sure whatever the other one was doing would not make their side look bad. A line was then drawn across the center to mark boundaries. Now, picture two teenage girls in the kitchen working beside each other for hours…not all fun and games. Immediate frustration came from them both trying to decorate at the exact same time and needing to turn the cake closer to them. This was followed by the critical evaluation of the other’s decorating skills (and impact it was having on their side). I finally decided that mowing the lawn would be a good escape from the kitchen trials.

The funny thing is that after it was all said and done, the cake looked great. Apparently,  they actually learned something from watching mom over the years. They worked together to accomplish a task and realized how much hard work, time and effort it takes, and according to both, their back and feet were throbbing (all along I thought it was my old age!). They have never volunteered to help me on a cake, and I am pretty sure after doing their own, that will still be the case!  We laughed as we listened to them tell their friends at the party how much fun it was to decorate. Even after all the drama, the end results brought much joy and trials were soon forgotten. The next life lesson will be how to clean up the kitchen after you get through decorating a cake! 

Homemade Cake Icing

Ingredients:
1 Crisco Stick
2 Food Club Butter Sticks
2 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbsp  milk
1 bag powdered sugar (sifted)

Directions:
Mix Crisco, butter and vanilla well, and then slowly add sifted powdered sugar. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.   

Schedule a time to try this icing and encourage your kids to work together to decorate a cake of their own – life lessons learned. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks to the Lord for the time you share with your family. It “bakes” a difference!      

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Family Matters: Pets


A few years ago, I got a box in the mail that was labeled “Living Contents. Open Immediately.” 

Intrigued (and thankful I was home at the time of delivery), I ripped into the box. 

Inside was the most wonderful gift!

My mom had sent my boys a “Grow-A-Frog” kit. Along with a clear plastic aquarium, a lid and special food, there was a baggie of two tiny tadpoles. 

The boys wanted to get started immediately, so we carefully rinsed the aquarium and set it up to be the tadpoles’ new home.

Over the next months, we watched the tadpoles develop into frogs. We saw them grow tiny legs, develop a distinct head, lose their “tails” and finally morph into two good-sized frogs!

We eventually found new homes for the frogs in a friend’s pond, but then we ordered new tadpoles and repeated the process.

The joy of the pet tadpoles came in the daily discovery and the renewed wonder in my boys’ eyes each day. It’s definitely one of the best gifts we’ve ever received.



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