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Family Matters: Let the Eating Frenzy Begin


I’d always heard horror stories of the bottomless pits that teenage boys have for stomachs. My friends who have older children have intoned, “Just you wait.”

I think the wait is over.

With an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old, it seems food is flying out of the house as quickly as I can go to Brookshire’s to restock.

Last night was the boys’ first night home after a spring break trip. They asked for a veritable feast of hot dogs and hamburgers, so I got out the grill and fired it up. I had purchased a pound of 80/20 hamburger meat, so I made four patties, about a 1/4 pound each. I’d planned on bringing one leftover burger to work today for lunch.

The 11-year-old ate three of them – on a bun, with oven-baked fries, THREE. After the second, I cautioned him about being hungry, waiting a few minutes, listening to his stomach, etc. So he waited…and was still hungry. I couldn’t believe it.

Meanwhile, little brother was the hot dog king, devouring three as well, on buns, with oven-baked fries.

I couldn’t believe it. No leftovers. Not a single one.

Then they ate a cookie. Then the 9-year-old ate a banana. 

Where do they put it all? Where am I going to get it all?

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Family Matters: How Does Your Laundry Grow


I’m pretty sure that last week I did 18,327 loads of laundry –  at least. 

Between me and my two sons, we can accumulate some serious dirty laundry. 

Curt went to camp last week on a school trip, so there was his sleeping bag, two towels that had been balled up under his bunk bed for three days, two washcloths, four pairs of socks he’d walked through the woods in, four pairs of pants he wore to sit on the bank of the lake, three sweatshirts that smelled like campfire smoke, sweat-stained T-shirts and a pair of tennis shoes I strongly suspect went into the lake. All needed to be washed, ASAP. 

Then, there was Luke. He had a soccer game Saturday. His new team uniforms are white –  all white. 

Who gives 9-year-olds all-white uniforms? 

It went through the wash twice, due to the copious grass and mud stains.

I’m not even going to mention the fact that my kids wear something for five minutes and all of a sudden it’s dirty. 

As for me, my work clothes go in cold, delicate cycles, so they have to be done separately from the yoga pants and UT Austin sweatshirt that are my weekend uniform. 

Luckily, we get all our household essentials at Brookshire’s, so stocking up on laundry detergent, especially when it’s on sale, isn’t a problem. 

Now, if only I could get Brookshire’s to come over and fold.

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Family Matters: First Times


Remember the first time your child smiled, their first tooth, their first steps, first words, first day of kindergarten?  These are moments as parents that we will always remember and cherish.  As our children continue to grow, they experience the first day of middle school, first boy or girl friend, first broken heart, first day of high school, etc…  No matter how old our children are, they will continue to have “first times” in every area of their life.  As parents we should hold these times close to our heart and not take these moments for granted.

I remember the first time our 18-year-old daughter played Little Dribbler basketball in third grade and the laughter there was in watching her attempt to dribble the ball (or run with it).  As years passed she continued to play, and each year, as she progressed, the more exciting it was to watch her play.  She loves the game of basketball, and in doing so, it taught her leadership, perseverance, hard work and dedication. This year she is a senior, and watching her play was even more extraordinary. We cherished the moments of each game (win or lose) knowing it was her last time on the court.  Senior night was a special time for her to be recognized for her hard work and love of the game and a moment that we were honored to stand by her side. 

Now, as she moves forward, there will be the first time she attends college, first time to hold a full-time job, first time…first time…and life goes on.  As parents, we will continue to be there for all the “first times” she encounters and encourage and support her. 

Life is unpredictable and “first times” will never come again.  Don’t let your children’s “first times” in life be something you take lightly.  Let them see you smile (or laugh), give them hugs and always tell them “I love you.”  These moments are times they will remember, and it will make a difference in their lives.  Focus on your children and all the “first times” you are blessed to be a part of.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you are given with them.  

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Family Matters: Brushing Pet’s Teeth


I’ll never forget the first time I took our dog, Jill, to the vet and the doctor asked if I brushed her teeth.

Um. She’s a dog. A DOG.

Exactly, the vet responded, and dogs need their teeth brushed just like humans do.

Dogs don’t get cavities the way we do, but they do get plaque, tartar, and gingivitis — all of which can cause foul breath and tooth problems for your pooch.

To avoid the doggie dentist, you want to brush your dog’s teeth every day.

SAY WHAT? I have a hard enough time getting my two boys to brush their teeth TWICE a day, let alone factoring my dog into the equation. And with the dog, it’s not like I can send her into the bathroom and trust she’ll come out with pearly whites.

The vet assured me that if I brushed Jill’s teeth once a week, I’d be doing well.

But, how to trick my cunning canine into allowing me to brush her teeth? I was guessing a pink princess toothbrush was not going to provide the incentive Jill needed to open wide.

The vet gave me a pamphlet with these tips:

Choose a time when your dog is a little tired and less likely to want to play.

Train her to let you touch her mouth. This could take some time.

Flip up her lips.

Wet the edge of a clean washcloth so you can rub your dog’s gums and teeth; hold a corner of the wet portion of the washcloth with your index finger and use a gentle, circular motion.

When she is used to this, it’s time to get her accustomed to brushing.

Get a soft, silicone finger brush made for pets. Don’t try to use a human toothbrush and NEVER use human toothpaste. Check your pet aisle for toothpaste appropriate for pets.

Flip up your dog’s lips and gently rub the toothbrush and toothpaste against your dog’s teeth and gums for a few seconds.

Give your dog a treat, even if she allows you to work on her teeth for only a few seconds.

Repeat steps one through three the next day, gradually lengthening the amount of time spent brushing.

Hopefully this will help when Fido gives you one of her enthusiastic kisses AND will keep her healthy.



Family Matters: Monkey Bread – Kids Love This Stuff


Monkey bread has been around as long as I can remember. I have fond memories of making this treat as a kid. The whole house would smell of warm cinnamon, and my brothers would come running to pinch off a bit of this sticky and delicious dessert. 

Kids love this stuff, and it’s so easy for them to help make. They’ll have fun pinching off the dough and shaking it in a bag of cinnamon and sugar. They’ll have even more fun getting their fingers all sticky while they enjoy the warm, sweet, cinnamon bread.

So, if you are looking for a fun activity this weekend, get your kids in the kitchen to help you bake this easy recipe. It will make for some sticky and delicious family time!

Monkey Bread
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serves 16

Ingredients
1/2 cup white sugar
2 Tbs cinnamon
4 cans refrigerated biscuits
1 1/2 sticks butter (3/4 cup)
1 cup packed brown sugar 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9 or 10-inch bundt pan.

Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized plastic bag. Pinch biscuits into quarters and place six to eight biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix. Shake well.

Place biscuit pieces in greased bundt pan.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute. Pour over the layered biscuits.

Bake for 35 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, invert onto serving plate. Serve warm, pull apart and enjoy!

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Family Matters: Potty Training


Sometime between birth and age 5, your child should be ready to potty train.

I say this tongue-in-cheek, as there’s such a huge variation in what age a child is ready to use the potty and how long it takes them to master the skill.

Even between my two boys, who are quite close in age, there was such a huge discrepancy in the age, manner and methodology of potty training.

First things first: your child has to be able to tell when they need to go. Don’t even bother trying to teach them this. If they can’t feel it, they won’t learn it.

When they’ve got that down, get them their own potty or get a potty insert for your larger toilet (and probably a stool). Pick out some fun underpants.

I was a cold-turkey mama myself. Once they were GOOD AND READY to use the potty, diapers just went away.  For our family, training diapers were not a practicality – but because they didn’t work for us doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. We just went straight into underwear and committed to staying home for three days (in Luke’s case) or as long as it took.

I’ve had friends who have had videos or books about using the potty. I’ve had friends float Cheerios in the toilet to help their boys learn aim. I’ve had friends put blue food coloring in the potty water so their little tinkler could turn the water green. Whatever it takes! Stickers, M&M’s, or a progress chart are also helpful incentives.

But, I’ve seen too many people try before their child is ready and everyone ends up frustrated. I know you want to get rid of those diapers, but waiting until your child is truly ready saves everyone a massive headache.



Family Matters: Solid Foods


The time period from 7 to 12 months was (almost) all about food in my boys’ lives.

I didn’t start either on solid foods until they were about 6 months old, so after they graduated from baby cereals (Curt loved oatmeal; Luke liked rice), it was a non-stop adventure into different flavors and textures.

I think both of my boys had puréed sweet potatoes first, then carrots, then squash. I think I’d read somewhere to start with vegetables: orange first, then yellow, etc…working your way up to green veggies. I looked online to see if that was still the predominant recommendation (this was 10 years ago, after all). The advice now seems just as varied as it was then, but I was too tired to look it up in those days.

Either way, both boys ate well as babies, and I loved making my own baby foods.

At about 13 months old, my older son Curt went on a hunger strike, and it was all I could do to get him to eat cheese toast and bananas. I could tell you about the broccoli and carrot purée pancakes, but I think I’ll save that for another blog. He eats anything and everything now.

Luke, my younger son, ate everything as a baby and as a toddler. That came to a screeching halt about two years ago. He’s now 9 and picks everything out of his soup and just drinks the broth.

That just goes to show you what happens when they get a mind of their own.



Family Matters: Sleepless Nights


The first six months of my boys’ lives are largely defined by how tired I was. I had NO IDEA of the impact of waking up umpteen times a night. Mildly put, it wreaked havoc on my emotions, my energy, my moods and pretty much everything in between.

With my first son, I was so certain, as most first-time parents are, of how things would be done. He would not use a pacifier. He would sleep in his own crib. He’d be sleeping through the night by 8 weeks old.

Ahem.

After his first week of life spent sucking a blister onto my pinkie finger when he wasn’t actively eating, I made a middle-of-the-night dash for the stash of pacifiers – still in packages – that I’d received for my baby shower. Ripping open the first pack I found, I hurriedly boiled water on the stove, sterilized the paci, then popped it into the freezer to cool it off.  When the temperature was moderate and my left arm was cramped from the bouncing baby in it during that process, I popped that pacifier into his puckered lips. He went right to sleep. Ahhhhhhhh…..

Now, my older one did sleep in his own crib from the first night he came home. He had a cute little sleep positioner that kept him on his side (his preferred position), and I kept him swaddled like a baby burrito (easy to do with a January baby). After about the first three weeks, he was like clockwork. He woke up at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and went right back to sleep. I fed him in the rocking chair in his room in the dark and quiet. Soon, he weaned himself off of the 1 a.m. feeding and by 16 weeks was sleeping through the night. A little longer than I’d hoped, but still, not unreasonable.

So, with baby No. 2, I figured it would work pretty much the same way.

What was I thinking?

Second son didn’t stop eating his first month of life. I mean, I’m pretty sure he didn’t stop at all. At least that’s how I remember it in my sleep-deprived state. Forget the crib. I was too sore after a second c-section to get up and down every 30 seconds all night to feed him. I borrowed a bassinet from a friend and popped him down next to me.

I kept telling myself, “You can make it 16 weeks; you can make it 16 weeks.”

Soon he became too congested to sleep in the bassinet. He slept, partially upright, in his bouncy seat. After we got his cold cleared up, he just decided not to sleep at all. Now at this point, not only did I have Mr. Eats Nonstop, I also had Mr. Terrifying Toddler, his older brother. I had to sleep.

Going against everything I’d done the first time, I stripped all the blankets off the bed and popped that baby right beside me at night. He ate, we slept. All got better in our world.

He did make it to his crib eventually. He wasn’t sleeping through the night at 16 weeks – or 20 weeks – or 24 weeks… I’ll just stop there as not to be forced to reveal how long it did take. But he did sleep through eventually. Now he’s my kid who is impossible to wake up. Go figure.

Point being: every kid is different. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to sleep. Your child won’t be scarred sleeping only in his crib OR only in your bed. And if he has to sleep in the bouncy seat for three weeks, so be it. They sleep. You sleep.

All gets right with the world.



Family Matters: Baby Love


One of my very best friends had a baby this week.

I got to be there with her when that beautiful little girl made her entrance into the world.

I’m not sure my friend realized how much it meant to me to be there.

For me personally, there is no greater validation of the presence of God than watching the birth of a baby. The sheer miracle that is 6 pounds, 11 ounces of perfect person is overwhelming.  The sheer miracle that is the human body, producing another human body, is overpowering. How perfectly everything works in glorious orchestration is awe inspiring.

I got to watch that sweet little girl take her first breath. I heard the mewling kitten-gasps of her first sounds and was there when she pried her eyes open for her first look into her mama’s face.

I’m not that sweet baby’s mother; I’m not even a blood relative, but witnessing and sharing in her birth has given me a bond with this little girl (and her mother). It’s a good reminder that family doesn’t always mean bonded by blood. Family means bonded by love.



Family Matters: Jack


My first case of puppy love was for a cute boy named Jack.

He had big brown eyes, short, soft hair and big, floppy ears.

Jack was some kind of beagle mix who captured my heart with his sweet puppy breath and patient nature, even though I hadn’t even considered getting a dog.

Jack and his siblings were deserted on the property of a friend of mine, who brought a basket full of the puppies to preschool one day and let them mill about among the thrilled three-year-olds. Those kids manhandled those puppies all day in their enthusiastic, innocent way, and those puppies just played gently right back. My friend found homes for all those dogs that day, but a few days later, one puppy came back. The person who took him home turned around and tried to sell that sweet thing through a local classified ad.

I knew immediately I wanted to take him home. 

Jack was a great dog. He would lick my knees and never had accidents in the house.  Sadly, Jack died before his time, but for someone who never even wanted a dog, Jack was living proof that puppy love was alive and well. 

Show Your Love Doggie Treats
Ingredients: 
1/2 cup of peanut butter 
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together peanut butter, honey, oil and chicken broth. In a separate bowl, combine flours and oatmeal. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Place dough on flour dusted surface. Roll or press dough out to about 1/4-inch thick. Use a small bone cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Roll out leftover scraps and cut out as many as possible. Put cut out cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.

 

 



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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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