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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!

Family Matters: Make Every Night A Family Night

Make Every Night A Family NightBe sure to put September 28 on your calendar as National Family Day. Family dinnertime does not have to be perfect. CASA’s Family Day is a national movement to celebrate parental engagement as an effective tool to help keep America’s kids substance free. Eating at the table with your kids is a simple way to stay engaged with time to talk, eat and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t expect your meals to always turn out delicious where everyone is raving about your cooking. Also, don’t expect your kids to always be polite and on their best behavior. Let’s be real, good food is only as good as the people you enjoy eating it with. Dinnertime is about sitting down at the table for at least 30 minutes and catching up with everyone. Let the kids tell you what went on at school, open up to one another and share the day’s events with each other.

Keep your family grounded this fall with these 15 ideas for fabulous dinners and family nights:

  1. Enjoy a movie night with homemade pizza. Make your own individual pizzas, and let each family member take a turn selecting the movie.
  2. Have an overnight staycation at home with a cookout and camping. Pitch a tent in your yard, and cook over an open fire (or on the barbecue). Sit around the fire pit and tell stories.
  3. Volunteer as a family. Help out at a school fundraiser or serve meals at the local soup kitchen.
  4. Bake together. Take turns picking favorite recipes and let everyone join in on the fun.
  5. Take family photos. Get out the camera, and have some fun taking photos of each other. Be silly, be serious and have fun.
  6. Have a formal family dinner. Set the table with your best tableware, have everyone dress up and use your best manners. Give everyone a fancy name and title — like prince or princess — and behave as one would.
  7. Play show-and-tell. Have each family member choose an item that is important to him or her, and tell all about it.
  8. Play a casual game of baseball, football or basketball.
  9. Play “Name That Tune.”
  10. Make a family cookbook. Have every family member choose several of his or her favorite recipes and type it up. Make copies to pass out as gifts at Christmas.
  11. Have a family slumber party. Put blankets down in the living room and pile on top!
  12. Visit a local bookstore and read together. Buy a chapter book each member of the family can read aloud from to the others.
  13. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or park. Play “I Spy.”
  14. Play charades.
  15. Have a Bible lesson, songs and snacks.

Family Matters: Doggie Ice Cream

Doggie Ice CreamMy pup, Astro, loves a good bowl of ice cream.

He discovered it when his person, Paul, brought him some Frosty Paws ice cream for dogs on one hot, early summer day. I can’t tell you how many cold, tasty “treats” Astro has had since.

He loves his person, and he loves his ice cream.

(Oh, the mischievous part of me was hoping that one day the boys would mistake the Frosty Paws for one of their ice cream treats…Yes, it’s safe for human consumption, but that would have made me laugh. Hard.)

Anyway, I decided to see how difficult it would be to make homemade doggie ice cream for Astro.

It’s so simple that I couldn’t NOT try it!

Basically, you combine yogurt with some dog-safe ingredients, freeze and voila! Homemade doggie ice cream.

This is Astro’s favorite.


1 ripe banana
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups natural plain yogurt
2 Tbs honey

Mash the banana and stir it into the yogurt, mixing well. Microwave the peanut butter for 30 seconds or until it’s easier to stir. Add the peanut butter to the banana-yogurt mixture, then stir in the honey and mix until well-combined. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. When your pooch needs a treat, pop out a cube and let him enjoy!

Family Matters: Mother’s Day Out

Mother's Day OutAt this age, your little one might be ready for a Mother’s Day Out situation. Lots of kids LOVE to socialize with others their age, while others are a little more hesitant to be left alone.

If you have the latter, ease your child into the situation by starting out small, leaving them for small increments of time. I remember leaving my younger son in the gym’s childcare so I could try to squeeze in a 30-minute workout. I also remember the loudspeaker at the gym asking me to return to the child care area before I even broke a sweat. However, we went consistently, and each time, he held out a little longer before he would cry for me. Finally (and it probably wasn’t that long in the great scheme of things), he played happily in the child care and actually got excited when I dropped him off.

My older son never had separation anxiety. He just took to new situations with ease, which is kind of funny considering their personalities today (total opposite of their baby years).

If you’re considering leaving your little one in a social situation, visit the facility and make sure it’s clean; the staff is competent, warm and friendly; and YOU are comfortable with the whole package. Then, take baby by for a visit, staying with them the first time. Remember, they will pick up on your cues, so if you are excited, you might help them feel more at ease.

Then, try to leave them alone. They might take to it easily; they might be nervous at first. You have to get a feel for your little one. In most cases, there’s no need to force the situation. If they hate it, try again in a few weeks.

Family Matters: Talk To Your Baby

Talk To Your BabyMy niece and nephew just turned seven months.

The twins are as cute as they can be and at an adorable age. I loved the time between six and 12 months. Babies are responsive and interactive, and you can really see their personalities emerging.

Emma is pure sunshine. She giggles and laughs, and her blue eyes sparkle. Her twin, Patrick, is much more serious. He looks at you with his big, brown eyes like he’s thinking deep thoughts.

Emma is having babbling conversations with her parents and her big brother and sister. They encourage her by babbling back and talking to her in voices with different pitches and volumes.

Patrick loves peek-a-boo. His big sister, Claire, will hold a blanket over her face and spring out from behind it, shrieking “PEEK A BOO.” Patrick will laugh and laugh.

Babies will also start to understand that different tones of voice mean different things and can start learning a stern “no.”

Your job is to facilitate this conversation with baby, no matter what form it takes. Baby loves the sound of your voice and can recognize the voices from family members. Talk, talk, talk.

Family Matters: Sleepy Time

Sleeping BabyThe other day, I was looking at my boys, both now in middle school, and missing the newborn days when they slept in my arms for hours on end.

I also remembered just how much a baby sleeps, although it felt to me like they were never doing that good sleep at nighttime.

A one-month-old baby needs eight hours of sleep at night and another eight hours during the day. At three months, it’s about 10 hours at night and five during the day. At six months, your little one needs 11 hours at night and about three-and-a-half during the day.

To help your baby get the sleep he needs, try to keep his schedule as consistent as possible. Put him to bed and wake him up at about the same time every day. Let him sleep in the same place each night and in the same place for naps each day.

Of course, if your baby is less than a month old, he’ll probably sleep anywhere and everywhere he can.

It’s not a bad thing to hold your baby while he sleeps during the first weeks of his life. You can’t spoil a baby, but you do want him to get accustomed to his own bed as well.

You might notice a newborn baby can sleep through anything, and there’s no reason to change your daytime routine to accommodate his sleep needs. However, this might change as he gets a little older and becomes used to silence (or noise).

Remember to keep baby’s crib clear of blankets or large stuffed toys. Use a sleep sack or other weather-appropriate pajama set.

Establish a bedtime routine and stick to it. The familiar transition will help baby get to sleep more easily and stay asleep!

Family Matters: Family Fishing

Family FishingThis summer, we have spent a lot of time fishing with our girls, our family and the kids’ friends. Since I was a child, I have always loved to fish, but as our family got busier, we never seemed to have time because something else was always more important. I can absolutely say that everyone has enjoyed not only catching fish but also the time spent laughing, getting fishing lines out of the trees, playing with the worms and the family gatherings to fry up the fish we caught. Nothing is better than the taste of fresh fish, french fries and hushpuppies. My middle brother is always the one that prepares and cooks our fish. No secret ingredient, just soaking it in milk the night before, rolling in yellow cornmeal, adding his seasonings, and frying it up nice and hot. Simple, but delicious!

Our friendly fishing contest consists of the largest fish, the smallest fish and kids against adults. There is midnight fishing, fishing at dawn and fishing until we are all too blistered and sore to move the next day. During this time, we are reminded of childhood memories of fishing with our grandfather or dad, and of being able to share with our kids as we all laugh at the funny things that have happened in the past, good and simple times long forgotten.

As we get older and go through life’s trials, we learn that it is getting back to these simpler things like fishing, sitting and visiting, and just enjoying each other’s company that is really important. Maybe fishing is not for you; maybe it is nature trails and bird watching. Whatever it is, as long as you are with family, it will be time well-spent. Fishing gets everyone out of the house, off the couch and cellphones put up (kids don’t want to drop phones in the water!!)…what better use of our time.

Now, as we move toward school starting and the cooler months, the cousins are all talking about weekend fishing and camping trips together and more family fish fries….what great memories for our kids and family. Fishing stories passed down for generations… Who would have ever thought that fishing would be the bond that “reels in” the family together and reminds us of the important things in life? Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.

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