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Family Matters: Diaper Changing Made Easy, Anywhere


Diaper Changing Made Easy, AnywhereIt’s a little known fact that you spend 99 percent of your child’s first year changing diapers.

Okay, it’s not that much, but it sure can feel like it.

That’s why it’s important to make the job quick and easy, anywhere in your house.

You probably have a diaper-changing station set up in your baby’s nursery. I started out using a waterproof, wipeable plastic pad that I set on my son’s toy box. That proved kind of awkward, so I bought a Jenny Lind changing table that I kept in his room for easy diaper changes.

However, his room isn’t the only place I needed to change a diaper quickly, especially when my second son came along and I didn’t want to leave him alone in one spot while leaving to change the older one’s diaper (or vice versa, especially with a toddler who can move!). I set up another diaper-changing station in my living room. I bought a cute basket and stocked it with diapers, wipes, an extra set of clothes, a mat or pad I could easily wipe down, plastic bags for disposing of dirty diapers and a few toys to distract baby during diaper changes.

I created a similar portable changing station in my bedroom with a box I could slide under the bed.

A basket, decorative box or even a fabric bag can make cute, portable changing stations all throughout your house so a quick diaper change is only a grab away.



Family Matters: Self-Feeding Snacks


Self-Feeding SnacksBy now, your baby has acquired some mad fine motor skills and wants to put them to use at all times, especially when they’re eating.

My son used to slap my hand away when he saw the long-handled silver baby spoon coming his way. He’d much rather painstakingly pick up morsels from the tray of his high chair than have me feed it to him.

There are plenty of snacks your baby can enjoy and exert some independence by feeding himself. Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts are one of those.

Yogurt Melts are little bite-sized yogurt nuggets, freeze-dried and easy for snacking at home or on the go. They are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and they are made with real fruit and yogurt. They are easy to chew with no mess! Yogurt Melts are made with live and active cultures, and contain no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or flavors.

Whole-grain cereals, like Cheerios, are another tried and true favorite. Baby can pick them up, enjoy their whole-grain taste, and either chew or gum them, all by themselves.

Small bits of banana, slightly smashed peas, avocado, toast and cheese are also great snacks for baby to pick up and eat by himself.



Family Matters: Diapers and Pull-Ups


Diapers and Pull-UpsSometime in the next months, your baby will transition from diapers to pull-ups. Big kid diapers, as we used to call them.

I loved when we finally hit the stage where they could take their own diapers off and on (carefully, with some help, of course). They felt pretty empowered, too, and it spurred them on to potty training!

Pull-ups are diapers that function more like regular underwear. Still absorbent and ready to catch whatever your little one eliminates, pull-ups can be pulled up or down, or opened at the sides, if necessary.

They are not as bulky as regular diapers and, at least in the case of my boys, made them more interested in using the potty and wearing “big boy” underpants.

 



Family Matters: Family Vacation


Family VacationIt’s that magical time of year again, the time when we get to travel to see my family on the East Coast.

I love this family vacation more than words can express.

My two brothers, two sisters, two sisters-in-law, one brother-in-law, six nephews and two nieces, and my parents, all converge in one beach house for seven glorious days. This year, there will be two significant others added to the mix, too.

I say it’s glorious. It is, but we have our moments. The coffee pot is emptied pretty much as soon as it’s filled. Packing beach lunches for 10 kids is an exercise in precise logistics. Sharing a bathroom with anyone isn’t fun, but sharing with your brother, his wife, their son and your two boys can be dicey first thing in the morning.

However, we do it and we do it with happy hearts because the biggest blessing of all is to be together.

I never take the annual visit for granted, especially because I really only see my family once a year, but I’m extra thankful for the relationships we have with each other. I’ve seen so many of my friends’ families deteriorate this year. One lost a father and all her siblings went to war over his estate. Another is estranged from her sister and brother. Yet another is struggling, by herself, with the care of their elderly mother while the rest of her family stands by without helping.

It’s not easy being family. You don’t get to choose who you are born to and raised with. I’m just thankful and appreciative that we still enjoy this week at the beach, together, every year.

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Family Matters: Zesty Strawberries


Zesty Strawberries  Looking for a simple, refreshing and absolutely delicious dessert for summer? This recipe is great for family gatherings, weddings, showers, church events…or just a special treat for your family. Fresh strawberries are in season, and though they are sweet by themselves, why not add a little zest to make them even more of a treat. This recipe is one that I recently enjoyed at an event and then decided to make for Mother’s Day, and they were a hit with the family and friends.

Summer is a great time to plan family gatherings or picnics for the important people in your life. Try this simple and easy recipe, and add some “zest” to your family gathering that they will not soon forget. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

Key Lime-Filled Strawberries 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
1 Tbs lime juice
1 lb fresh strawberries
zest of 1 lime (optional)

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lime juice and lime zest. Place the creamed mixture in the refrigerator to chill. Carefully cut the strawberry tips and stems from the strawberries (be careful to not cut into the edges). Take a small spoon or metal 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon and hollow out the inside of the strawberries. Pipe or spoon the creamed filling into the strawberries and then refrigerate until ready to serve. These can be placed in the freezer for a few minutes to set the filling in case they tip over in the container. Additional lime juice may be added (up to 2 teaspoons) if more lime flavor is preferred.

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Family Matters: Protecting Your Outside Pet from Fleas and Ticks


Protecting Your Outside Pet from Fleas and TicksMy dog, Astro, spends most of the day outside while I’m at work. Luckily, I have a large, covered patio that keeps him out of the direct sun when he wants to cool off and take a break. I’m toying with the idea of getting a hard plastic kiddie pool for him, but I’m afraid that would be a mosquito magnet.

Speaking of small, pesky insects, summer is prime time for fleas and ticks to hitch a ride on your outdoor pet.

Fleas and their eggs can live outside in grass, soil and even crevices in sidewalks, while inside they live in rugs and carpets, cracks in floors, bedding, etc. Ticks can thrive in trees, bushes, tall grasses and shrubs.

Comb your pet regularly with a flea comb, vacuum frequently and dispose of the bags immediately after use. Mow areas of the lawn where your dog spends time, wash pet bedding weekly and wash your pet with a pesticide-free pet shampoo.

Invest in shampoos, sprays, powders, monthly treatments and other products to control ticks and fleas; discuss these with your veterinarian first.

You can also have your yard treated by a pest control company to help reduce the incidence of fleas and ticks.



Family Matters: Fun and Games


Fun and GamesEven when your baby is a tiny infant, they are learning to develop an ear for speech and communicate for themselves. Any time you talk to them or sing to them, you are helping to facilitate their blossoming language skills. So, what does that mean for baby? Talk to him all the time. Baby is a captive audience and who better to hear you out than your little one?

You can play games with baby to help that language development. All you need is a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll.

Place baby on a safe surface where it’s comfortable for you to get up close and personal.

Tell him, “I’m going to tell you a secret.” Place the tube next to baby’s ear and WHISPER something short and simple, like “I love you.” Move the tube to baby’s other ear and repeat. If he seems confused, let him see your mouth move. You can also blow GENTLY into the tube to tickle baby’s ear. Remember: gentle.

You can move the tube safely away from baby’s ear and make all kinds of noises also. Make them through the tube and without the tube. Let baby grab for the tube (just don’t let him put it in his mouth). When he starts vocalizing and making coos, hold the tube to his mouth, too.



Family Matters: Magic Number 9


Magic Number 9Nine months is a magical time for many babies.

They should be able to stand holding onto furniture or their crib rails.

At nine months, most babies will be able to roll across the floor. Watch out because some will have mastered the art of power-rolling and can get from point A to point B faster than you think they can.

At nine months, some babies will be crawling, whether that’s army crawling on their bellies or scooting across the floor on all fours.

By this point, their fine motor skills are becoming more advanced. They should be able to pick up small objects using a finger and thumb in a pincer grasp.

Baby might start getting excited by their favorite foods and be able to pick up Cheerios, or pieces of toast or banana.

At nine months old, baby can wave goodbye or hello, and could be saying things like “Dada” or “Mama.”

However, it’s important to remember that there’s a huge range of normal development for children, and it’s okay if they aren’t doing these things yet. However, it is worth mentioning to your pediatrician if it seems like baby isn’t hitting any of his milestones.



Family Matters: Making Bath Time Fun


Making Bath Time FunSplish, splash, baby is taking a bath!

Toddlers can bathe every day unless you have a little one with extremely sensitive skin, and it’s always more fun if parent and baby are both having a blast.

  1. Help teach your toddler colors by making each bath time a themed color. Add a few drops of food coloring to the bath and place objects of that color into the bath with your toddler. We promise a few drops of food coloring won’t stain your child or the tub.
  2. Ice, ice baby – Put a few ice cubes into the warm bath water and let baby chase them.
  3. Bath paints are easily made by adding a few drops of food coloring to shaving cream. Let baby go to town all over the tiles.
  4. Give baby a strainer or colander to play with. They’ll love seeing the water flow through the bottom.
  5. Foam shapes are fun. Cut them out of sponges you can buy at Brookshire’s.
  6. Blow up balloons and add them to the bath.
  7. Play music in the bathroom.
  8. Read baby a book while he’s relaxing in the bath.
  9. Set up a glow-in-the-dark bath! Use washable glow paints, dim the lighting in the bathroom and have glow-in-the dark stars for baby to play with.
  10. Have baby dive for treasure. For an older toddler, let them put on goggles and throw marbles or coins into the bath water. They don’t actually even have to put their face in the water, but it might help baby be comfortable getting their head wet.

Of course, closely supervise all these activities.



Family Matters: Life is good…


Life is goodIs life good? This can be answered many ways by different people. It depends on how you are looking at life in general. Did you wake up this morning? If yes, then I would say “life is good.” Do you have a roof over your head and a safe place to rest? If yes, I would say “life is good.” Do you get three meals a day? If so, “life is good.

We need to take a step back and look at the things in our life that are truly good and stop focusing on the ones that may not be exactly what we think they should be. Everyone has visions of how they want to live and things they want to accomplish, but the truth of the matter is that most of the time, our dreams fall short, or so we feel. It is things we take for granted (everyday things) that we often overlook. If you concentrate on the good in your life, things you should be thankful for, you often find that the other things seem to disappear or don’t matter as much anymore.

I have a sign next to my computer that states “Life is good at the beach,” and anyone that knows me can tell you this is so true for me. Though I only get to the Texas coast every few years, the beach is my place to relax, leave all my worries behind, take in the ocean, gather seashells and admire the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Normally, you sleep late on vacation, but I am up every morning by six o’clock to walk the beach and pick up shells: true serenity that restores my soul. I think God made the beach just for me!

Life is good, so good, and once we realize it, we will all be happier. Find something each day that you can say “Thank you, Lord, for blessing me,” and you will begin to see life differently. “May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes”…translation: may you find serenity in your daily life and know that life truly is good. Give thanks daily for the abundant life you live, trials and tribulation…they define you!

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