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Family Matters: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet PotatoesSweet potatoes are one of the best first foods for your little one! I think they were the first food, after cereals, for both of my boys.

You know sweet potatoes are packed with all the great things an adult needs; the same goes for baby. Plus, a little one is apt to enjoy a sweet potato as a first food because it mimics the flavors in breast milk and first formulas, which are slightly sweet.

Sweet potatoes and all orange vegetables, really, are great for baby’s vision development!

They’re super easy to prepare for baby.

Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Boil potatoes in water until VERY tender and almost falling apart. Drain, reserving some of the liquid.

Puree sweet potatoes in a food processor or blender with the reserved water, formula or breast milk until the consistency baby can tolerate. Freeze in ice cube trays for individual servings or serve immediately after they’ve cooled.

Family Matters: First Six Months

First Six MonthsBaby’s learning curve and physical development are extraordinary in their first six months. Just think about all the things they learn in that time, from little bundles of sleepiness in the first few days to rolling, playing machines by six months.

A few of the vitally important things babies learn during their first six months are trust, social development and all the fun things their bodies can do!

This activity helps promote all those things, upper-body strength in particular.

Get a soft blanket and lay your infant on the blanket, face-up. Hold on to his wrists and then count, “One, two, three, UP” and gently pull him into a sitting position. Watch as he holds his head up flush with his body, strengthening those neck muscles. Gently lower him back down to the lying position and repeat. I used to give them a big, tickly kiss when I did this with my boys.

Family Matters: Treats not Tricks

Treats not TricksFall is my favorite time of year. The cooler weather, the crunchy leaves, soccer Saturdays, porch parties, fires in the chiminea, cooking out, camping, hiking and Halloween.

My boys LOVE Halloween. Confession: they decorated for Halloween on Sept. 13 of this year. They hung orange lights all over the walls in the living room. There are creepy spider webs on all the brick pillars inside our house and all over the trees outside. The holographic skeleton placemats are on the table, and the bat and spider banners are hung over windows and door frames. There are pumpkins galore on the mantle, sharing the space with the carved black cats. It gives them so much joy to decorate; I don’t even mind them using 97,000 push pins in the wall to hang the lights.

They also get a lot of joy from picking out a costume. They love to dress up for a night, pretending to be something they’re not. When they were little, I LOVED picking out their costumes and helping them execute it. For his first Halloween, Curt was a plush, cuddly frog (but it was so hot that night he could only keep the costume on for pictures). Luke was a pea-in-a-pod for his first Halloween because he was only 7 weeks old, and I’d called him “Sweet Pea” in utero. As toddlers, they were, among other things, a pink pig (Curt was obsessed with pigs that year), Woody and Buzz from Toy Story (one of my favorites; I spent a ridiculous amount on Disney costumes to make this happen), a green sparkly ghost (Luke’s idea), a spider (we made the costume with a black sweatshirt and 8 black, stuffed, knee-high socks) and Eddie from The Little People. They’ve always loved having a hand in creating their own costumes. Even as they’ve gotten older and a trip to the Halloween store is as much a part of the tradition as a costume itself, they still like to make part of their costumes. This year, Luke picked out a scary mask and wants to make a “straightjacket” of sorts, so we’re working on that. Curt opted for a black fedora and mask combo, but we’re going to spray a T-shirt with fake blood for effect.

Next weekend, we’ll paint and carve pumpkins. Maybe we’ll go to a pumpkin patch as a family and pick out the ones we’re going to decorate, another throwback to when they were little and we’d spend hours trying to get the perfect pumpkin patch pictures. I doubt they’ll sit on pumpkins for hours, but it will be fun to try.

For us, Halloween has always been about family. Not about devils, spirits or anything else evil or wicked. It’s just about enjoying the time together, being creative and having fun.

Family Matters: Holiday Baking Idea

Cranberry Fruit BreadThis recipe is one that a sweet friend shared with me in 1986 when I was working in the produce department of one of our stores. It is a great addition to any holiday meal with family and friends. You can bake this in small loaf pans, wrap in colored plastic wrap and give as gifts during the holidays…a personal touch that anyone would appreciate!

Cranberry Fruit Bread

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
1 egg, well-beaten
2 tsp shortening
1 tsp orange peel, grated
1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup nuts, chopped

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add orange juice, egg, shortening and orange peel. Mix until well-blended, then fold in cranberries and nuts. Pour in 9 x 5 loaf pan, greased on the bottom only. Bake 55-60 minutes at 350º F.

Take time to get in the kitchen with your family this holiday season and do some baking together. Baking makes a difference, especially when it comes to spending quality time with your family, any time of the year. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.

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Family Matters: Ooey Gooey S’mores

S’mores MilkshakeNothing says fall fun like making s’mores outside around a campfire. Even as the kids are getting older, these gooey delights have always been a favorite around our house. My daughter likes to roast her marshmallows until they are a perfect golden brown and warm in the middle. My son just likes to throw his marshmallows in the campfire and watch them burn up! That must be a guy thing! Either way, s’mores around our house celebrates family time together.

Recently, my daughter introduced us to this twist on classic s’mores. It’s like having a campfire dessert in a glass.

S’mores Milkshake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

8 jumbo marshmallows
1/4 cup hot fudge, warmed
1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed
4 cups Brookshire’s Chocolate Milk
4 cups Goldenbrook Farms Chocolate Ice Cream
1 Tbs Brookshire’s Sour Cream

Heat oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread marshmallows on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Place sheet pan under broiler; cook until lightly charred. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Place warm hot fudge in a small, shallow bowl; place graham cracker crumbs on a rimmed plate. Take each glass and dip rim in hot fudge, and then gently roll in crumbs to create a crumb edge. In a blender, combine chocolate milk, ice cream and sour cream until smooth.

Pour milkshake mixture into glasses, and garnish each with reserved toasted marshmallows.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 650, Fat: 26 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 95 mg, Sodium: 352 mg, Carbohydrates: 92 g, Fiber: 4 g, Protein: 14 g.

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Family Matters: Shedding

pet sheddingDid you know that your pet requires some seasonal care, just like your lawn and yard might? They do!

In the fall, a lot of pets go through a period of shedding their fur, getting rid of damaged hair and old skin cells. This is perfectly normal unless you note it’s excessive, then it could be a sign of something else like illness, stress or poor diet. Like I said, a little shedding is completely normal, albeit kind of messy.

Shedding can be managed and minimized with a few easy tips and tricks.

First of all, buy a grooming tool. Your pet might actually LOVE being brushed, and it’s nice bonding time with you. Brushing removes excess hair, stimulates the skin and promotes a shiny, healthy, clean coat. If your dog has dense hair, this job might best be left to a professional groomer who can work out knots and kinks, and even shave your pet’s hair down if necessary.

If you’re doing it at home, groom your pet on a weekly basis so you control the hair loss, and it doesn’t end up all over your sofa and carpets.

Secondly, make sure they’re eating good, high-quality food. Diet can affect how much your pet sheds. Check labels for the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutritional adequacy statement to ensure the product offers balanced nutrition.

Next, during high-shed season, consider covering your furniture where your pet will be with a sheet or a slipcover to minimize hair on your furniture. Vacuum, dust and sweep as often as you can as well.

Bathing your pet during the summer months can also help reduce shedding during the fall.

The bottom line is that some shedding is normal, and it usually only lasts for a few weeks!

Family Matters: DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)DHA isn’t just another acronym in the alphabet soup of all things baby.

DHAs are vitally important for growth and development!

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, sperm, testicles and retina.

Fat is a major structural component of the brain, and DHA plays a role in that structure. Some researchers believe that consuming recommended levels of DHA may help support brain health. DHA has also been shown to help support heart health.

All varieties of Omega-3s are important, but research shows that DHA may supply the greatest number of distinct health benefits. DHA has a huge impact on brain and visual functioning as well as its role in supporting heart health. DHA provides a nutritional boost for baby’s growing mind and body, supporting brain and eye development and function. It has also been shown to support brain and heart health in all stages of life.

The best way for your baby to get enough DHA is to choose DHA-fortifi¬ed foods like Horizon Organic Milk with DHA. Horizon Organic Milk with DHA Omega-3 has the same wholesome, creamy and delicious taste that all Horizon milk is known for but supplies a vegetarian source of DHAs.

Make sure your baby is getting enough DHA with Horizon products fortified with this vital supplement.

Family Matters: Magic 9 Months

Magic 9 MonthsDevelopmental pediatricians say nine months is a critical month in baby’s growth.

They are doing all kinds of amazing things at once! Baby will be able to stand holding onto furniture, roll over on the floor, and commando crawl or look like he’s getting ready to crawl. He’ll be developing more fine motor skills, and will be able to pick up progressively smaller objects in a pincer grasp. He will start having favorites, and will show visible excitement at the sight of certain foods or special people.

Nine months is a pretty magical age, but remember, there is a wide range of development. However, if your baby isn’t doing any of the things mentioned above, have a chat with your pediatrician and have them take a look at your little one. My younger son was doing just fine with his fine motor skills but showed no signs of pulling up, standing or moving. A simple evaluation showed that he had low-muscle tone, and a few weeks with a physical therapist had him right back in shape and hitting typical milestone markers.

Family Matters: Rolling Along

Rolling AlongWhen your baby is about five months old, life gets interesting! I’ll never forget leaving my older son on my bed and coming back to find he’d rolled over! I dodged a bullet on that one. He could have rolled off the bed. Talk about scary!

Luckily, the first roll doesn’t usually result in a traveling barrel roll but safety first, always.

Rolling from front to back is probably the first way baby will roll over. It’s a bit easier to get that momentum going when they can use their legs and arms to propel them over. Rolling from back to front is a different motion and set of muscles, and usually comes after the front-to-back roll.

My older son was about four months old when he rolled over for the first time, so it’s never too early to start making sure you don’t leave them alone on a bed or on any other elevated surface. To encourage rolling, place a favorite toy just out of their reach to the side and let them try to get it.

Family Matters: Cooking = Responsibility

 Cooking = ResponsibilityAs my girls have gotten older, I found how helpful they can be, if given the opportunity to do something on their own. They get home from school before we get home from work, so they know if they wait for us to cook supper that it will be late when we eat. Therefore, they have taken on the responsibility of cooking a few nights a week. My rule is that I don’t care what you cook because I will eat it! It’s just nice getting home and not having to go straight to the kitchen.

When I buy groceries, they tell me what items they need for what they are planning on cooking that week. They check the weekly grocery ad and let me know what is on sale (budget shoppers!). They have learned that Pinterest has lots of recipes, or they look through our cookbooks (I know, who uses those anymore!). The twins are 16 now, and they cook just about anything you can imagine. I always tell them how great the food was and how much I appreciate them.

We make cookies for a boys’ home as part of a church ministry, and I came home the other night to them having made 8 dozen cookies. They were not all perfectly round nor did they look like the cookies I would have made, but they tasted great. What a blessing to me (who was exhausted) and to the boys receiving them! Letting your kids grow in responsibility reaches outside your home…what a great lesson!

What a blessing it is that my children do not feel the need for someone to wait on them hand and foot, but they step up and act responsible in helping. If we all pitch in on things that need to be done, then there’s more time we can spend as a family doing things together. Most children are willing (definitely able) to cook, clean and even do laundry if parents would let them. Don’t worry that it may not be the best meal you ever ate or chores may not be done exactly like you would have done it. Let your children learn responsibility; it is good for them and it helps them grow!

What a comfort I have in knowing my girls can cook, clean, plan ahead and work through matters on their own. They will be responsible adults which is a great virtue to have in college, at work, in church ministry and in your family. I count my blessings daily, and I give thanks for my girls and the responsible young ladies they have become!

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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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