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Family Matters: Pet Boarding


It was so hard when I’d go out of town on vacation for an extended period of time. I wanted someone to take care of my pets as I would, but I hated to ask someone to spend all that time.

So a pet boarding kennel is a great option, especially when you have one you know and can trust.

With vacation season arriving,  it’s important to have good care for your pets while you’re gone.

Here are a few things to look for in a potential boarding situation, according to the Humane Society of the United States:

·      Does the facility look and smell clean?
·      Is there sufficient ventilation and light? 
·      Is a comfortable temperature maintained? 
·      Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring? 
·      Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
·      Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
·      Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow?
·      Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
·      Are cats housed away from dogs?
·      Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
·      Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
·      How often are pets fed?
·      Can the owner bring a pet’s special food?
·      What veterinary services are available?
·      Are other services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
·      How are rates calculated?

If you’re satisfied the facility meets these requirements, by all means, book your pet into a pleasurable stay while you’re taking your own time off!



Family Matters: I Did it All By Myself – No- Bake Cookies


Building a strong foundation of skills early in your child’s life is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time and create unforgettable memories with your little ones. Turn your kitchen into a fun educational tool that your kids are sure not to forget – especially the yummy treats made with their own hands!

No-bake cookies are the perfect way to introduce your little ones to the basics of any recipe and even help develop life skills.

Planning, organization, time management and responsibility are all among a lengthy list of traits that correlate between executing a recipe and day-to-day tasks. Letting your children lend you a hand in the kitchen is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn and master a new skill. This boosts self-esteem, self-confidence and also gets the creative juices flowing.

The benefits of getting your kids involved in the kitchen are endless. This is a great way to accomplish a task and let your kids pave their way to some edible accolades!

You, as a parent, can easily give your kids the champion-like feeling of accomplishment that may serve as a launching pad to developing their hunger for success – not to mention you and your loved ones get to enjoy a tasty treat together.

Invite your kids into the kitchen and introduce them to skills they will use for the rest of their lives! 

Ingredients:

1 cup Food Club Creamy Peanut Butter
1 cup Food Club Confectioners’ Sugar
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter softened at room temperature
1 cup coconut flakes 

Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl combine peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, chocolate chips and butter; mix well.

Take a teaspoon of batter and roll into a small ball. Continue making balls with the remaining batter. 

Roll each ball in coconut. Chill in refrigerator.

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Family Matters: Speech


There’s a wide range of speech development in children that is considered typical, but there are also milestones a child should hit.

When my older son was 18 months old, I realized he didn’t babble. He made sounds, but his language development wasn’t organized. Turns out, this was an early sign of my son’s autism. But not all language delays are the sign of something serious. If your child isn’t hitting his milestones, just ask your pediatrician – he should be able to steer you in the right direction.

12 to 15 Months

Your toddler should have a wide range of speech sounds in their babbling (like p, b, m, d or n). They begin to imitate and approximate sounds and words modeled by family members, and typically say one or more words (not including “mama” and “dada”) spontaneously. Your toddler also should be able to understand and follow simple one-step directions.

18 to 24 Months

The average toddler vocabulary is about 20 words by 18 months and 50 words at 24 months. By age 2, they should start combining words into two-word simple sentences. They should also be able to identify common objects, common pictured objects and body parts.

2 to 3 Years

Your toddler’s speech should explode during this year. Their vocabulary will increase exponentially and their sentences should be multi-worded and show the beginnings of complexity. They should also understand more; for example, commands with multiple steps like, “Please put the book on the table and come here.” They should begin to identify colors and comprehend descriptive concepts (big versus little, for example).

 

TIP: Kids this age LOVE music. Turn it on loudly and boogie with your baby. 



Family Matters: Separation Anxiety


My older son Curt was a toddler when his baby brother was born. Curt was a highly portable child, going with the flow and running around with me with very little fuss or muss. He could run errands with me or easily be dropped off at the gym or church nurseries.

When Luke was old enough to go to the gym nursery so I could try to workout, around the time he was 7 months old, I was in for a shock.

He screamed. And screamed. And screamed. I couldn’t leave him. We finally got to the point where I’d drop him off and catapult up the gym steps to try to get any kind of workout in before the nursery paged me to come get my inconsolable child. After a few times, I realized that sprinting up the stairs was going to be the extent of my workout for a while.

Separation anxiety is quite common between 7 and 12 months of age, and can be even longer if baby has never been away from you.

To help ease separation anxiety, visit the place you’re going to leave your child the day before you need to drop him off. Stay and play with your baby. Leave together. When you come back, make sure the caregiver knows your expectations on how long it is acceptable to let your baby cry. Then, hand your baby over to the caregiver, give him a kiss and leave. Immediately. If he cries, the caregiver should page you/call you/come get you at the predetermined time interval, whether two minutes or 10 minutes feels right to you. After the routine is established, it should get easier. I used to work in a church nursery, and the worst thing I saw parents do was come back to “check.” If the caregiver hasn’t contacted you, chances are baby is fine. Peeking in and risking baby glimpsing you could set him off all over again – back to square one. And, if the experience is too traumatic for the both of you; don’t do it. Try again in a few weeks or months.

 

TIP: Babies love to play in boxes. Get an old shoebox, with lid, and fill it with a variety of small items; toys, little stuffed animals, plastic shapes, etc.  Be sure to vary the sizes, colors and textures. Give baby the box and show him out to take the lid off. Let him play with the box before dumping out the objects inside.



Family Matters: Growth and Development


Two months ago baby S was born to one of my best friends. I’m not a blood relative, but I love that little girl like I love her mama.

I was babysitting last week and marveled at how a baby changes so much in the first eight weeks. She’s gone from sleeping 22 hours a day to regularly being alert. Her sleep has organized into ‘naps’ during the day and long stretches of sleep at night. She holds her head up all by herself. She throws her chunky little leg over in what looks like an attempt to roll. Her infant reflexes have nearly faded away, and, my favorite, she coos and vocalizes with her baby bird voice.

Growth and development during the first six months is a miracle to behold. Treasure every minute.

 

TIP: Cradle cap, the slight scaling or flaking of the skin on baby’s scalp, shouldn’t require medical treatment. It’ll clear up on its own in a few weeks to months. Meanwhile, you can wash baby’s hair once a day with mild baby shampoo and brush the scalp lightly with a soft brush to loosen the scales.



Family Matters: Cabot Cheese


 

A few months ago, we had a houseguest who brought us a gift of cheese.

Cabot Cheddar, that is.

“It’s a very nice cheese,” she said.

Well, she had me at “cheese.” But she had me AND my boys at the sharp flavor and complex taste of Cabot Cheddar.

The large block of cheddar is, as the company’s website says, “well proportioned with subtleties that are evocative of our farm families’ grass-covered fields. Because of its relatively high ratio of butterfat the acidic tang of this sharp cheddar is flawlessly balanced.”

Since then, my boys, who are mimics by nature, request, “a very nice cheese” for a meal or snack, in their most polite voices.

In fact, often times on Saturdays we are caught in the maelstrom of soccer, shopping and chores. When we need a quick pick-me-up, they request, you guessed it, a very nice cheese.

I wish you could hear them say it.

 

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Family Matters: Hannibal the Hamster


When I was in second grade, I wanted a pet more than anything.

According to my parents, I’d had one, a dog, when I was…oh, two years old. Who remembers a dog from when they were two?

I mean, I had vague recollections of a dog named Flip, whom I somehow recount was party to me tumbling down the basement stairs as a toddler, but I wanted a pet I could…well, pet. And love on. And take care of.

I’m not sure how the whole hamster idea came into play.

I do remember a book, about a hamster, named Hannibal. So when I finally got a hamster who had a cool cage and awesome tunnels and a wheel and all that, I named him Hannibal.

One morning I woke up and Hannibal was not in his cage.

My mom gently broke the news that Hannibal had died overnight.

We buried him in a very formal ceremony in a shoe box lined with the white and pink rosebud flannel that matched my nightgown.

Who knew this breed of hamster hibernated during cold months?

Not me!

Not my parents!

I didn’t find this out until years later. (Nor did they, in their defense.)

I mourned that silly hamster for weeks. I didn’t want a new pet for years.

Point being, pets pass.

And as the saying goes, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”



Family Matters: Family Recipes, Fond Memories


One of my fondest memories, when I was young, was getting off the school bus every afternoon knowing that my grandmother had cake ready for us to eat. My MeMaw made the most delicious old-fashioned loaf cake, and it was wonderful with a big glass of cold milk from our dairy farm. It never got old eating the cake each afternoon. Maybe it was the sitting around the table telling her about our day at school that made the cake taste that much better. My grandmother taught me so many memorable things like crocheting and cross-stitching, but the one I treasure the most was learning to cook from scratch. The recipe I am sharing is one that my family loves, and each time I make it, I am overwhelmed with the special memories of standing in my MeMaw’s kitchen, by her side, baking.  I have many of her recipes that are old, torn and faded, but the memories of her taking such care to teach me will never disappear.  These recipes will be passed down to my four girls for them to share with their families one day. 

1-2-3-4 Loaf Cake

         1 cup shortening
         2 cups sugar
         3 cups flour, sifted
         4 eggs
         1/4 tsp soda

 Mix with the flour:

         1 tsp baking powder
         1 tsp salt

 Mix Together:

         1 cup buttermilk
         1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients in the order given and pour in bundt pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350° F. Enjoy the cake just like it comes out of the oven. Bet you can’t eat just one slice…it is addicting! You can also add fresh strawberries and whipped cream and have strawberry loaf cake dessert. 

It is as easy as 1,2,3,4. Prepare the cake this week, sit together at the table with your family and delight in the goodness of building your own fond memories. It can be the smallest things that make the greatest memories for your children or grandchildren. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family.  

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Family Matters: Salad Sandwhiches


Recently, my boys’ father shared with me that he’d woken up one Saturday morning to sounds coming from the kitchen.

He got up to investigate because usually the boys will just play a video game or wake us parents when they get up.

Not this time. He found our younger son in the kitchen, preparing “breakfast” for the family. He knows better than to try to use the stove without adult supervision, so he was improvising with things he found in the fridge and pantry.

Spread out on the kitchen counter was his creation – Salad Sandwiches. Ingredients: Bread, lettuce and tomato.

He was so excited about making breakfast for the family that they went with it, modifying his creation only slightly to add bacon and make BLTs.

It got me thinking: I should give the boys a little more freedom in my own kitchen. They usually get to each choose one meal per week, but I execute it. Maybe I should just let them have at it and let their imaginations run wild. They’d probably actually eat what they made, too.

Win/win.



Family Matters: Reading


My children are 11 and 9, and I can still recite “Good Night Moon” and “Guess How Much I Love You.” Very handy when you’re travelling and forget your toddler’s favorite books, or hopefully you’ve worn out that board book by turning the pages so often.

Reading to your child is such an invaluable experience. Besides the sweet cuddle time, this is the time when a child’s vocabulary blossoms. They might understand more than they can say, but rest assured your little sponge is soaking it all up.

Experts tell us that reading to a toddler sets the foundation for mastering their ABCs, developing phonemic awareness (meaning she’s starting to understand that words are made up of groups of sounds), and learning that those marks on a page represent letters and words (and things and concepts). It never hurts to point to an object or word as you’re reading it (pre-sight words, anyone?).

Your toddler is also learning voice inflections when you read out loud to them. They’re practicing fine motor skills when they get to turn a page. And hopefully, they’ll develop a love that will last a lifetime.

TIP:  It’s never too early to protect your child’s skin. Starting at about 6 months, you can use a child-friendly sunscreen on your little one. If their skin isn’t covered with light clothing, make sure it’s covered with a layer of sunscreen!



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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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