share. The Brookshire's Blog

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.

 

 



Family Matters: I Spy Bottles


I love the games “I spy” and “Where’s Waldo.” So do my kids.

Countless hours have been spent searching for the guy in the red-and-white-striped shirt. More countless hours have been spent in check-out lines and airport queues playing “I spy” to distract my boys from interminable minutes with nothing else to do. 

So when I read that you could make “I Spy” bottles, I rushed to develop them for some little friends I know (my kids were too big at that point and entertained themselves in line with electronics).

The varieties on these are limitless, so use your imagination!

I Spy Bottles

Materials:

Plastic water bottles

10-20 Small objects or charms for each bottle, craft pellets Or birdseed, rice, sand, salt, sugar, plastic pellets, lentils, or small pasta
Super Glue or other strong-holding glue
Ribbon (optional)

Directions:

Make sure you have a clean, dry, plastic bottle with the label removed.

Take a photo (this step is optional) of the items that will be placed in the bottle. This can be printed and attached to the bottle as a reference card.

Pour some of the filler material in the bottle. Then drop some of the objects in the bottle. Repeat until all the items are in the bottle. Only fill the bottle about 3/4 full. The objects need room to mix around and move.

Glue the lid in place with strong glue.

Decorate with a ribbon (optional) or if you didn’t take a photo of the objects, type a list and attach it with ribbon or string around the neck of the bottle.

Once the glue is dry, children can gently shake and rotate the bottle to try to find the objects.



Family Matters: Baby


As I sit down to write this blog, my son is celebrating his 11th birthday. 

Eleven years old.

I can’t really remember where the past 11 years have gone.

I also can’t remember where I got the idea for the tradition of the Birthday Chair.

Each year, in the dark hours before the birthday boy wakes up, the Birthday Chair is born.  It started with balloons fastened to a high chair for a 1-year-old to bat around with cake-smeared hands. When the boys were toddlers, they were bent on dismantling the Birthday Chair moments after waking up; not on purpose, but that’s just what toddlers do. 

The Birthday Chair is usually decorated with balloons – we used to have one balloon per year of age, but 11 balloons didn’t fit on the chair when I was decorating it last night. Some years it’s festooned in crepe paper matching the theme colors of the birthday party. One year it was Batman crepe paper for a child particularly captivated by the Dark Knight. One year the crepe paper ribbons and balloons were all primary colors to match the bounce house rented for the occasion.  One year I made a fabric cover for the back of the chair in festive birthday fabric. 

No matter how it’s decorated, the Birthday Chair is always the place of honor for the birthday boy, until the crepe paper wears off days later and the balloons pop (or are spirited away for balloon wars). 

The past few months leading up to this 11th birthday have been an exercise in all things being too babyish for my fifth grader. I wondered how he’d react to the Birthday Chair this morning, as I never quite know what will set off an episode of “THIS IS TOO BABY!!!” 

“Mom, make sure I always have a birthday chair,” he said. 

And I will.



Family Matters: A Touch of Strawberry


Our family loves strawberries and we are always looking for new ways to prepare them.   We experiment to see how they taste in different recipes or prepared with different toppings.   Our favorite recipe is for Strawberry Bread…it is delicious for breakfast, snack time or a bedtime treat.  

You can heat a slice in the microwave and add a little butter – my husband’s favorite thing to do!  A friend shared this recipe with me back in 1986, and I have been making it ever since.  It is a family tradition each year to bake loaves of the Strawberry Bread and give as gifts to close friends, teachers, and serve at family gatherings.   If you enjoy strawberries, this is a must try recipe!

Strawberry Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs Beaten
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)
2 – 10 oz. Strawberries

Directions:
Mix sugar, eggs and oil well and then add strawberries.  Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon and then add to the mixture.  Add nuts (optional) and stir together until moist.  Put in greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.  After it is cooled sprinkle top with a little powdered sugar (optional). 

When strawberries are in season, it is nice to use fresh strawberries mashed up in place of the frozen.  Also, you can bake it in a Bundt pan for a fancy look and it is a great party item.  

Take time and try this bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your kids is an opportunity to talk and bond with them.  It may become a family tradition that you can pass on for generations to come as I have with my girls.  Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!      



Family Matters: Family goes far deeper than bloodlines


Sometimes being a family doesn’t’ mean you’re related by blood. Sometimes it means that you’re there for someone else, through thick and thin, no matter what. 

Although my family would do anything, at any time for me, they live far away, but I’m blessed – and blessed is the only word for it – to have several close friends nearby who I consider as much my family as my flesh and blood. 

We’ve seen each other through divorces, job losses, ailing, aging parents, a cancelled wedding, countless boyfriends, children troubles, children triumphs, a new baby and several new places to live. We’ve helped each other move, we’ve painted bedrooms, we’ve held garage sales together and taken trips together. We’ve taken a few of us to the emergency room and gone to birthday parties and celebrations for our children. It’s quite fair to say we’ve done a lot of laughing, a little crying, a ton of talking and texting and phone calling. We’ve been irritated with each other and we’ve spoken our minds, but at the end of the day, we’re still so much like sisters it’s… yes, a blessing. 

Every Thursday is Girls Night Out. We get together, usually at the same place, and wrap up the week. The food is fabulous and the conversation is even better. I love our weekly tradition and I love the women who are my family, when my flesh and blood is far away.

Family goes far deeper than bloodlines. Family goes straight to the heart. 

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Family Matters: Keeping your pet warm in the winter


The weather outside can be frightful, but your pet still needs to go outside to potty.

Or, if your dogs are like mine, they spend the majority of their time during the day while I’m at work outside playing (and digging…).

It’s essential your outdoor – or indoor – pet stays warm in the winter. For animals that are spending time outside, whether just during the day or all the time, they need shelter that protects them from wind, rain and snow. A place that is small and well insulated, for the pet’s own body heat to keep the temperature up. You can even use hay and blankets to keep shelters or doghouses nice and cozy. For inside pets, soft, warm places to snooze are a must, especially if you have tile, stone or wood floors instead of carpeting. Older pets, especially, will snuggle into thick beds with egg-crate-type padding. Older pets are extremely susceptible to cold, so think about a warm sweater or wrap for your older pet as well.

Don’t forget about food and water. With freezing temperatures, water bowls freeze as well. Make sure your pet has a fresh supply of non-frozen water to drink during the day. Some retailers even offer heated bowls to help keep your pet hydrated.

In the coldest of colds, use caution when starting your car if you are a cat owner. Cats notoriously creep into car engines to stay warm.

If your pet goes out to potty, you might want to consider pet shoes or booties to keep his paws protected from snow and ice. Just be sure to ask him to wipe his feet before he comes back inside.

Finally, if at all possible, bring your pets inside as often as you can!



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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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