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Family Matters: Pets National Adoption Month


National Adoption MonthOctober is National Adopt a Dog Month, and my family recently hit the jackpot with a dog we adopted from the local SPCA.

Astro is a 2-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Redblood, Coonhound mix. He’s 85 pounds, stands as tall as my kitchen counter and has the most soulful eyes I’ve ever seen on a dog. He’s sweet, loving, docile and friendly. However, he howls when he’s out in the yard, and my boys and I are inside without him. He’s quite social that way.

We have had dogs in the past, and this summer we were ready to adopt a new one.

We started by watching the SPCA website. There are always great rescue groups, no-kill shelters and pet havens in most communities.

We watched the pictures, looking at all the cute puppies and marveling at all the varieties of dogs and cats that came through the shelter.

We knew we didn’t want a puppy; I’m just not home enough during the day to train a little one.

When we saw Astro’s picture (his name at the SPCA was “Red”), we knew he was the ONE.

I filled out an application through the SPCA, and a lovely woman came to our house to do a home visit. She looked for things like making sure I had a fenced-in backyard with enough room for an 85-pound dog, and she gave me all kinds of great information about taking care of Astro, getting his flea prevention and heartworm medications, and explaining to me that an adopted dog from the SPCA would be neutered and microchipped. The adoption fee, which is nominal, included all these services, and we knew he was up-to-date with shots and a checkup.

The next day, Astro came home. He’d been in a foster home while he waited for his fur-ever family, and his foster mom brought him right to our house with a baggie of his favorite treats and a yellow bandana tied around his neck.

The following Saturday when the SPCA had an open-adoption event, we took Astro to visit all the people who’d had a hand in getting him into our home.

I can honestly say he’s the best dog I’ve ever had, and adopting him was the best decision we’d made in a long time!



Family Matters: Potty Training


Potty TrainingAs your toddler approaches the 36-month mark, they’re likely to start potty training.

The range for potty usage is huge. Girls often train earlier than boys, and don’t fret if your child is older than 36 months when he decides to say goodbye to the diaper.

Pampers offers diapers or Easy Ups in a variety of sizes and styles to best suit your growing child’s needs.

Easy Ups are a good option as your toddler begins to try to use the potty. Still absorbent like a diaper, Easy Ups feel like big kid underpants. Less bulky with an elasticized waistband so your little one can help pull them up or down, Easy Ups make your little one feel like a big kid.



Family Matters: Baby Wipes


Baby WipesWipes are a hot commodity with an older baby. Beyond diapering, wipes are a necessity as baby is learning to self-feed, crawl, walk, cruise, grab everything in sight, play outside and is on-the-go with you. Most parents learn quickly that it’s best to keep wipes at the changing table, in the car, in the diaper bag, in a purse, in the stroller, near the car seat and everywhere in between.

Tippy Toes Wipes by TopCare offer you an affordable way to keep your baby clean and fresh. Tippy Toes offers a wide assortment of wipes that are dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic and alcohol-free.



Family Matters: Formula or Breastfeeding?


Formula or Breastfeeding?The decision to breastfeed or bottle-feed is a very personal decision for most parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby nurses for 18 months to get vital nutrients and immunity from his mom, but there is a myriad of reasons why this might not happen.

Luckily, that’s where TopCare comes in. Tippy Toes Infant Formula by TopCare offers your baby a complete range of FDA-approved nutrients, vitamins and minerals essential to their growth and development during their first year or so. Brookshire’s parents can feel confident that their baby is getting exactly what he needs to flourish and prosper from Tippy Toes formula. Just like breast milk, it’s a good source of protein, essential fats, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin A, potassium and all the other elements your baby needs for development. In powdered or pre-mixed form, Tippy Toes Infant Formula is a great choice for your baby.



Family Matters: Back to School


Back to SchoolIt’s inevitable that summer vacation draws to an end and a new school year begins. It’s also inevitable that I spend the last week of summer vacation wistfully thinking about the passage of time and what we accomplished – or didn’t – over summer break.

In the “win” column for this summer is the 100-Mile Challenge. We have a 1.2 mile loop in our neighborhood that I’d deemed safe enough for the boys to ride their bikes, or walk or jog around. They had to complete approximately 83 revolutions to finish 100 miles this summer. They did it!

Another win is the Summer Story book. In May, I wrote a paragraph in a spiral-bound notebook and handed it to my older son. He added a paragraph, continuing the story I’d started, and he passed it to the younger son who contributed his part. It came back to me and we continued that all summer, ending up with a hilarious short story penned in our own handwriting.

The Mystery Bag was another fun summer game. Every Wednesday, I left a project of sorts in a large gift bag on the kitchen table for the boys to find when they woke up. One week, it was an experiment on what happens when you put Ivory soap in the microwave. Another week, it was materials for each boy to construct their own board game. They loved to see what Wednesdays were going to hold.

Now in the “fail” category: I logged onto the middle school website two weeks before school began to print out the school supply list. Looking for the school supply list, I found a PDF file called “Summer Reading List.” Uh, we hadn’t DONE any summer reading, nor did I even know about it until right that minute. When I told my son he had to read two books – and summarize each chapter – before school began, the meltdown that ensued was of epic proportions. I’d like to report he finished two books. He didn’t. He didn’t even make it through the first one, although he read and journaled diligently every day. It just didn’t work out. Next year, I’ll know to look early.

All in all, it was a great summer and we’re all ready for the new school year. 



Family Matters: Walk the Talk


Treadmill

As a parent with children, we at times tell our kids how to act or what to do, and we later find ourselves not doing the same. Over the years, I have talked to my kids about overeating or eating healthy but not followed suit. Well, as I have gotten older, I have gained weight, and with my family history of heart problems and high blood pressure, that is not healthy. So, I went out and purchased a treadmill and starting walking every day.

I finally hit my tipping point a few months ago and realized that I needed to get in shape, not only for my own health but for my husband and four daughters. I want to be around to see my children have a family of their own (and some grandkids!). I now get up 30 minutes early every morning and walk one mile before work, and when I get home, I walk another mile. Two miles may not seem like a lot, but for someone who has not exercised in 20 years, it is a big deal. I started watching what I eat, and within two weeks, I can truly feel the difference and my family is proud of me. My goal is to increase my distance of course, but at least I have started in the right direction.

I say all this to tell you that as I have finally made the commitment to change my life for the better, I came home last week to find one of my children running on the treadmill. I was surprised and even more surprised to find out that the other three had been doing the same but none of them had mentioned it to me. Now, we take turns as a family working out on the treadmill. Not only am I now getting my money’s worth out of the machine, but my entire family is in the process of living a healthier life.

Remember: “walk the talk” in all that you do. This is so very important in our Christian lives especially. Let us all reflect Him daily in our actions and words, that His name may be glorified. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you have with your family.

 



Family Matters: What’s in your Kid’s Lunch?


Kids Lunch

What do you pack in a kid’s lunch box when they will not eat a sandwich? That’s right; my 12-year-old daughter, Grace, does not eat sandwiches. Not only will she not eat sandwiches but she also does not eat cheese, peanut butter, bread, pasta, nuts and very few vegetables. It gets really tough to make her lunch every day for school!

The best way to influence your child’s lunchtime habits, of course, is to pack it yourself. How do you pack a healthier lunch and end up with something they’ll actually eat and not toss in the trash so that they’re ready for an afternoon of learning, playing and growing? Get started here:

Get kids involved in planning: If your children go along when you do the grocery shopping, let them select some or all of their lunch components. (This works best, obviously, if you narrow down their choices first to just a few choices, so you don’t spend all day in the store.) If they don’t accompany you, ask for their requests before you head to the store. Again, this works best if you have a list of good choices to start from.

Get the proper packaging: Since kids don’t have access to microwaves or refrigerators, a small investment in thermal containers and cold packs is worth it. It will allow much more creativity in lunch packing – soups, pastas, cool desserts – and more importantly, it will keep cold and hot foods safe and appetizing to eat.

Pack ahead: Mornings are a rush job in most households. If you only have two minutes to throw lunch together, it’s far too easy to rely on leftover pizza and a bag of chips. Instead, pack the night before right after dinner and before you’ve cleaned up the kitchen. Make it a family project; older kids can make their own lunches while you load the dishwasher, or younger ones can help pull out lunch components with your supervision.

Make simple substitutions and phase them in gradually: You don’t have to make drastic changes, at least not right away. A few small substitutions will get you on the way to healthier lunches fast. For instance, substitute yogurt-covered raisins, trail mix or plain dried fruit for candy. Use mustard or fat-free mayo instead of full-fat mayonnaise or sandwich spread. Send pretzels or carrots with ranch dressing instead of chips and lean turkey instead of fatty pepperoni or bologna on a sandwich.

Experiment a little: We all tend to end up in a lunch rut. Get away from the sandwich-chips-fruit combo. Why not hummus and pita chips, bean dips and baked tortilla chips, or even a container of edamame? Make that sandwich on pita bread, a whole-wheat bagel or a tortilla. Try a Greek yogurt cup instead of pudding.

Allow the occasional surprise treat: Nobody can be perfect all the time, so it’s fun for kids to discover the occasional unexpected treat. A fun-size candy bar, a small bag of chips, a cookie – anything that’s school-approved should be included at least once in a while to mix things up and remind kids that moderation is the goal.

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Family Matters: Pets and Storms


Pets and StormsWe recently adopted a beautiful dog, a two-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Redbone Coonhoud mix that we named Astro. He’s huge with long, lanky legs like a newborn colt. Weighing in at 85 pounds, we call him the “Big Red Love Machine.”

I found out this week, however, that when 85 pounds of dog become terrified during a thunderstorm, it’s not a pretty sight. To his credit, Astro found my closet, an interior space with no windows or exposure to the outside of the house. He lay inside, shaking like a brittle leaf in a gusty wind, until the storm passed. Even then, he wouldn’t venture outside to use the restroom until the very last drop of rain had seeped off the porch roof into the grass below.

Storm anxiety for pets is a very real phenomenon that can be trigged by lightning, thunder, rain and even changes in barometric pressure, experts say.

Calming, soothing and stroking your dog can help, but you can take a more proactive approach to storm anxiety.

Practice getting your dog to settle on command. Use a special “inside” leash on the dog and practice having your dog lie at your feet while praising the calm behavior.

You can also try distracting your pup by offering his favorite toy, playing fetch, petting it and giving him treats (as long as he remains calm and you don’t upset his stomach. One or two is plenty.)

Let him have a safe place during the storm. For Astro, it was my closet. A bathroom, pantry or under a bed will work, too. Let your pooch pick out the spot he likes, within reason, and let him stay there during the storm if he wants to.

Snug garments, like the trademarked ThunderShirt, can soothe a pet by giving them close, tight, comforting sensory input they need to feel secure in the uncertainty of a storm.

If you want, you can also play recordings of storms when it’s NOT storming to try to desensitize your pet to those noises, as well.



Family Matters: Eating Habbits


CarrotsParents often wonder how much their little ones should be eating.

We all know that serving sizes are becoming larger and larger, contributing to childhood and adult obesity. However, toddlers don’t need super-sized portions. 

The average 1-2 year old needs the following:

Milk/Dairy Servings: 16-20 ounces of milk per day. Whole milk, soy or rice milk are recommended. Other equivalents: 1/2-3/4 ounce of cheese = 4 ounces of milk. 1/4 cup of yogurt = 2 ounces of milk.

Fruit and Veggie Servings: 5 or more per day. Serving size: 1-2 tablespoons. Pureed, mashed or cubed.

Grain Servings: 3-4 per day. Serving sizes: 1/2 slice of bread, 1/4 cup of cooked cereal, 1/4 cup of dry cereal. 1/4 cup of pasta, 2-3 saltine crackers or 1/2 tortilla.

Non-dairy Protein (meat, fish, beans, eggs) Servings: 2 per day. Serving sizes: 1/2 egg, 2-3 tablespoons beans (i.e. black, pinto, edamame, etc.), 1 tablespoon peanut butter or 1 ounce of fish, lean beef, pork or chicken. 



Family Matters: Baby Proofing


Crawling BabyBaby is definitely on the move, whether he’s rolling, scooting, crawling, cruising or taking steps. If you haven’t already, now is the time to baby-proof your home.

About 2.3 million children are accidentally injured every year and more than 2,500 are killed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why it’s so important to carefully child-proof your home.

Making your residence safe for a curious explorer involves more than just blocking electrical outlets or putting a baby gate at the top of the stairs. Furniture will need to be anchored and locks will need be put on cabinets, among other things.

One of the best ways to see what might entice your baby is to get down on his level. Get down on your hands and knees, and see how things look from down there. Survey what is within reach, what looks tempting and where baby could go if he could roll, crawl or scoot.

This will help you figure out which cupboards, drawers and other spaces your child might get into. As he starts walking and climbing, you’ll have to reevaluate again, looking higher each time.

In recent years, the process of baby-proofing has really come a long way. There are now eco-friendly and non-toxic products on the market that won’t damage your furniture but will still keep your baby safe.



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