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Family Matters: Souper Meals

Souper MealsWhen I was little, one of my favorite meals was grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Truth be told, it’s still one of my favorites.

I must have passed that down to my sons because when we’re menu planning, one of them will often suggest grilled cheese and tomato soup.

One of the things that made having soup such a treat was that my mom let us add things to the soup. For example, I always wanted to add carrots to chicken noodle soup, so my mom taught me how to dice the pieces I wanted and add it to my can of soup.

With tomato soup, we added all kinds of things. Looking back, I probably wouldn’t make some of those choices today, but it sure sounded good at the time. We added croutons, Goldfish crackers, chunks of cheese (it was on the sandwich, so why not?), a tablespoon of heavy cream, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and whatever we thought would make it taste great. As an adult, I’ve been known to add diced avocado to my tomato soup.

Soups are a great way to share a warm meal with your family, especially during colder weather. For me, soup is comfort food, and if you can get your kids to eat it by adding their own special touch, that’s all the better.

Family Matters: First Aid for Your Cat

First Aid for Your CatJust like with a child, it’s always best to be prepared in case of an emergency with your feline friend.

Cats can get into all sorts of trouble where first aid might be necessary.

They could get into a cat fight. If your cat is bleeding, approach him carefully to avoid getting hurt yourself. Apply pressure to the wound with a wad of gauze, tissue or a clean cloth. Hold pressure for 10 minutes. Keep your cat as calm and as still as possible during this time. You might lay the cat on its side and elevate the area where the cat is bleeding, if the cat will let you. For bleeding that won’t stop in 10 minutes, seek veterinary care. After the cut has stopped bleeding, clean with warm water and apply a topical ointment like Neosporin. Bandage with gauze, if necessary.

If your cat gets stung by a bee, it’s important to try to get the stinger out. Do so by running your fingernail along the bite, which should dislodge the stinger if it’s protruding from the skin. Apply ice or a cool compress to the sting site. A paste of baking soda and water may neutralize the sting. If it swells disproportionately, seek veterinary care immediately.

Your cat is usually pretty good at discerning what should and shouldn’t go into his mouth, but in case of accidental poisoning, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at (888) 426-4435. Staffed by a veterinary team, this line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

When your cat is vomiting excessively, remove all food and water. If no vomiting occurs for 6 hours, reintroduce water and a little food. If vomiting persists after 24 hours, contact your vet.

Family Matters: First Aid for Your Pup

First Aid for Your PupYou should have a first aid kit at home for your hound.

You never know what kind of mischief your pup will find!

The first aid kit should include:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes, lotion, powder or spray
  • Blanket (a foil emergency blanket)
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Gauze rolls
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting — do this only when directed by a veterinarian or a poison-control expert)
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex, disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rectal thermometer (your pet’s temperature should not rise above 103° F or fall below 100° F)
  • Scissors (with blunt ends)
  • Sterile, non-stick gauze pads for bandages
  • Sterile saline solution (sold at pharmacies)
  • Tweezers
  • A pillowcase to confine your pet for treatment
  • A pet carrier

In addition, make sure to post your veterinarian’s information, an emergency vet’s information and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline number, (888) 426-4435, somewhere that’s easily accessible.

Family Matters: Grooming Your Feathered Friend

Grooming Your Feathered FriendYour pet bird will preen with pride when you give him a good grooming.

Start by checking his beak. Bird beaks should wear evenly, and be sure your pet bird has something in his cage that he can use to peck at to help with his beak. If his beak is uneven, contact your vet who can help trim it evenly.

Then, move on to his nails. Overgrown nails can cause problems with your bird’s feet. Trim with human nail clippers or a pair of dog nail clippers. Only trim a small amount each time.

If your bird is allowed out of his cage, he’ll need his wings trimmed. Leave this to a professional the first time, but watch closely so you can do it yourself at home. Be careful not to cut any blood feathers, as treatment will require first aid.

Finish up by misting your bird. Your bird might really enjoy getting a little wet because that will encourage him to groom himself. Choose a frequency that does not stress your pet bird; some birds will tolerate a daily misting; others will only enjoy once a week. Using a spray bottle with room temperature water, lightly spray your bird all over. Then, let him groom himself. Be sure he is out of drafts when you do this.

Family Matters: Grooming Your Small Animal

Grooming Your Small AnimalLuckily for you, your small pet, like a gerbil or guinea pig, is a fastidious groomer by instinct, so there’s little for you to do.

Small animals don’t really need to be bathed unless there’s some sort of extenuating circumstances, but they can use a nail trim on occasion. Use small human nail clippers to trim the tips of your small animal’s nails. Don’t take too much off, as they need their nails for traction, digging and burrowing.

Check your small pets’ teeth for signs of even wear, and make sure they have something available in their cage to chew on. Ferrets actually require a daily brushing of teeth, so make sure you’re committed to doing that before taking one into your home.

Feel free to brush your small pet or clean his ears with small cotton swabs and a drop of baby oil.

Family Matters: Pacifiers

PacifiersAs the mom of a child who spent many, many years in speech therapy, I feel qualified to offer this tip: If your child can walk, limit pacifier use to bed only.

I see LOTS of toddlers walking around with pacifiers.

A pacifier is a great object for self-soothing, and many babies need to suck to relax themselves and soothe that instinct. However, a toddler should be replacing the pacifier with other self-soothing habits.

Walking around with a pacifier can inhibit speech, either because there is something in their mouth preventing them from speaking or because extended use of a pacifier can lock a child’s mouth into an unnatural position, making it more difficult for his tongue and mouth muscles to develop normally.

Pacifiers can also push against teeth, making them come in at an unnatural angle.

Some pediatricians recommend ridding baby of the pacifier all together by 18 months. I’ll readily admit that both of my boys used them until they were after 2, but only in bed, for naptimes and bedtimes after about 9 months. Also, our speech issues were not pacifier-related. Although, I talked to lots of moms in the speech language pathologists’ waiting room who did admit a pacifier contributed to their toddler’s speech issues.

Family Matters: Teething

TeethingAround the time your baby hits the second half of their first year, you might see teeth sprouting, if you haven’t already.

The age for a first tooth varies widely. Some babies are born with them, and some don’t sprout until closer to a year. It’s all normal, so don’t fret.

Between 4 and 7 months old is average for a first tooth.

When baby starts drooling a lot, gets a little fussy and you can see raised ridges on her gums, she’s probably teething. She might refuse food or chew on anything she can get her hands on. Again, all normal.

Some children experience diarrhea as a result of teething, but doctors can’t agree on whether this is actually a symptom. Some say that the increase in saliva production (the drool) also causes some upset tummy issues. Same with fevers. There’s no physiological reason for a child to spike a fever when they are teething, but enough babies do it that a lot of moms consider it normal.

When your baby shows signs of teething, you can give her a little infant Motrin or Tylenol for the pain. Let her chew on something cool, even a soft rag that you’ve put in the freezer. Teething toys or rings are also great for baby as she gets her first teeth. Carry some with you at all times and keep them handy!

Family Matters: Baby Smiles

Baby SmilesI have a new nephew, a cute little guy with a head full of hair, born about two weeks ago.

He’s precious.

My sister-in-law recently texted a picture of him smiling at us.

Totes adorbs, but did you know that he’s not REALLY smiling?

Babies don’t reward all your hard work, sleepless nights and constant care with a genuine grin or coo until about six weeks of age. Despite how hard your mother-in-law might protest, yes, it’s just gas or an involuntary reflex.

That doesn’t mean baby can’t be happy or content or even grace you with what looks like a smile, especially if he’s sleeping. In reality, the purposeful expression of happiness will come in a few weeks. Hang in there, Mom and Dad. He’ll be smiling at you for years to come.

Family Matters: Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast CookiesGive me breakfast foods or give me cookies. I love them both! Then, what could be more perfect than cookies to start your day! Before you think I’ve gone off the deep-end, these cookies are packed with lots of wholesome ingredients like oats, bananas, blueberries and pecans.

These are so easy to make ahead of time and store in the freezer until you are ready to eat them. You can pop them in the microwave to enjoy hot or take them on the go with you. You will love these, and your kiddos will think you are awesome for giving them cookies for breakfast!

Breakfast Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 1/2 cups Brookshire’s Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Brookshire’s Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1 Tbs golden flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried blueberries
3 very-ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid form
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine oats, coconut, flax meal, salt, pecans and blueberries in a bowl. Stir in bananas, coconut oil, agave and vanilla until well-combined. Firmly press together 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 2 1/2-inch flat round onto baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Continue with remaining mixture. Bake at 325° F for 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Let cool on pan.

Serves 15.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 132, Fat: 9 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Sodium: 79 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 2 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.

Family Matters: Back to School

Back to SchoolGet your kids ready for back-to-school by engaging them in the process of making their own lunches.

School-age children can definitely pitch in when it comes to school lunches. Older kids, in high school perhaps, can be completely responsible for their school lunch. Younger kids can help with all the prep work, and they can have an investment in a healthy diet by helping to choose some options.

Take your kids grocery shopping with you on the weekends, and let them pick out some proteins, some fruits, veggies and maybe a snack or two for a treat.

When you get home, go ahead and package a lot of those items into individual serving sizes. For example, lunch meat can be rolled into rollups and saved in small, zipper-lock bags. Carrot sticks and celery can be cleaned, cut and packaged into bags as well.

Your kids can create trail mix with nuts, popcorn, pretzels and chocolate chips, and store in baggies, too.

Then, on school mornings, all you need to do is have them grab a protein, a fruit (whole, cleaned fruits like bananas, apples, peaches, pears, plums and grapes are great) and a veggie. Drop it in a bag with a bottle of water and a napkin, and voila! Lunch is served.

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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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