share. The Brookshire's Blog

Family Matters: Vision

BabySome things really are black and white, like baby’s vision at this stage of life. Babies can start to see colors around eight weeks, but they’re very much attracted to objects with sharp color contrast. You might not want to paint your baby’s room in black and white, but certain accessories are perfect to stimulate baby’s vision and attract his attention.

Try a black and white mobile to hang above the crib, or one with reflective surfaces to draw his attention. Remember that newborns can only see blurry shapes because they are very nearsighted. At birth, a newborn’s vision is between 20/200 and 20/400. Your baby’s best vision is about 8 to 12 inches away, so don’t hang the mobile too far away but not too close that he could get tangled in it either.

A black and white blanket for tummy time, printed with different objects or shapes, is another good choice. This gets baby up close and personal with the contrast.

TIP 0-6 months: Dress baby in natural fibers like 100 percent cotton and in light colors as dark dyes may cause a skin reaction.

Family Matters: Avoid Post-Holiday Letdown

ChristmasThe day after Christmas can really stink.

While there’s lots to play with, great leftovers to eat, new clothes to wear and new movies to watch, it just seems like the lights on the Christmas tree don’t twinkle quite as brightly the day after Christmas. The past few years I’ve tried to take an active role in avoiding that post-holiday letdown.

Last year, on the advice of a friend, I set aside one of the Christmas gifts and then let the boys discover it on December 26. “Oh wow, Mom! Santa must have dropped this one under the couch by mistake!”

Yep, that’s exactly what he did. Wink. Wink.

We also do one more Christmas “cooking” project.

You know all those candy canes you get at every event during the holidays from Christmas parades to class parties to church?

We crush them up, roll pretzel sticks in melted dark chocolate and then dip them into the crushed peppermint. It prolongs the feeling of the holidays and gets rid of the candy canes no one eats plain. Win/win.

So, enjoy those days between Christmas and New Year’s, and don’t let the holiday spirit go out the chimney with Santa.

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Family Matters: Hugs…A Special Touch

Family MattersAs you can guess, living in a house with four girls is always interesting, never calm and very seldom peaceful for long periods of time. When you have so many different personalities (and hormones) within the same household, you just expect days of total chaos, but I don’t think our family is any different from many others. Among all the drama and “life is never going to be the same again” happenings, there is a sisterly love and affection that they just have to be reminded of sometimes.

I have always been a “hugger” when it comes to family and close friends and sometimes just to those that I realize need something to lift them up. A hug has a special effect on people – no magic, it is just that sense of comfort and the warm embrace that lifts the heart. It is such a small gesture and yet can have such a positive effect on those whom you choose to share.

When our girls just can’t seem to find a “happy medium” or find kind words to express to one another, we make them stand in the middle of the room, both arms wrapped around their bodies and hug each other for one minute and then tell each other “I love you.” It is funny how long a minute lasts when you are embracing your sister. By the time the minute is over, they are laughing and giggling (as we are watching them), and in the end they rarely remember what the argument was about in the first place. It is nice to see them smiling and laughing, and without really knowing it, they are bonding. I think the expression “bear hug” is used because a good hug can calm even the most furious of situations.

As a parent, we cradled our little ones in our arms, what a great feeling it was, but as they get older, things change. The good news is that you can always embrace your child and squeeze them tight, and even if no words are spoken, the gesture (hug) alone speaks volumes. Your kids are never too old that they don’t need or would not welcome a hug. You will find that hugging your child will have a transforming effect on your everyday life…and theirs!

We are not promised tomorrow, so we must live each day with no regrets. Hug your family daily and be reminded of how blessed you are. Such a simple gesture will change your family and be a life lesson for your children. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you have to “hug” your family.

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Family Matters: Pets

FishThis is one of those “out of the mouths of babes” stories.

I bought a small submersible heater four our 5-gallon aquarium yesterday, an aquarium which houses ONE Beta fish. (Yeah, you know the kind that are supposed to be able to live in a small bowl without any problem whatsoever.)

Luke, my younger son, helped me install it, and by “install,” I mean suction-cup it to the inside wall of the aquarium and plug it in.

“Mom,” he said earnestly “why does the fish get a heater and we freeze all night?”

Once again, reality-checked by my 10-year-old.

He’s not wrong; I love sleeping when it’s cold, really cold. I’d write what temperature the house was yesterday morning when we woke up, but I run the risk of someone calling Child Protective Services. Now, the boys have blankets, warm pajamas and the whole nine yards. They’re in no danger of freezing, trust me.

The fish, on the other hand, was an entirely different story.

Scramble has been with us for about a year. There used to be TWO Beta fish in the aforementioned aquarium, divided by a big, black piece of plastic because male Betas are born to fight each other. However, we lost Boomba (the other Beta) about two months ago, so Scramble reigns supreme in the 5-gallon tank.

However, there has been more than one instance of late that I’ve come into the kitchen in the morning, or after work, and have been pretty sure he’s dead, floating lethargically at the surface. Then, I started doing some reading. Beta fish need water temperatures between 76 and 82 degrees. Again, without divulging the temperature of my house, let’s just say it’s not close to 76 degrees. So, if the air temperature is colder, it stands to reason the water temperature was colder, much colder.

So, the fish got a heater which keeps his tank at a balmy 78 degrees. (Hey, that’s practically bathwater in my house.)

He’s more responsive, he swims around far more frequently and I haven’t had that panicked moment of thinking we’ve lost Scramble, too.

Point being, pets aren’t people. Pay attention to their needs this winter and adjust accordingly!

Family Matters: The Elf Returns

Family MattersYep, I’m one of THOSE moms.

You know the kind: the ones who stay up way too late on the nights preceding Christmas to create mischief with an elf named Saxon who comes to visit from the North Pole on December 1 every year.

My boys anticipate Saxon’s arrival with almost as much enthusiasm as they do the Big Guy in Red.

I anticipate their joy when they find Saxon hanging out somewhere on the morning of December 1. After all, Christmas magic is especially strong in the young.

This year, Saxon arrived tied with a big red bow onto the antenna of our car.

Then, last night he levitated in from the living room ceiling, “Mission Impossible” style.

Another night, he hid under the Christmas tree skirt, and yet another time he was stowed away in the cargo pocket of my son’s school uniform pants.

Saxon is a very silly elf, and the boys get a huge kick out of him.

However, this year, Saxon has come with a little extra something.

It was my sister’s idea. She’s really smart that way. It probably helps that she’s a counselor for adolescents and teenagers.

Her idea was for Saxon to bring a positive message or missive every day, along with making some mischief during the night.

So, every morning, Saxon has a note for the boys.

“Pay someone a compliment today.”

“Do a random act of kindness for someone at school.”

“Smile at a stranger.”

“Hold the door open for a friend.”

“Say a prayer for someone who needs it.”

And etc…

I love the silly Christmas magic Saxon brings to our house, and this year I really love the Christmas spirit he’s encouraging.

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Family Matters: Christmas Gift Ideas

FamilyMatters_Baby13-36Months_228x173What are the best gifts for toddlers? We all know it’s the boxes and wrapping paper that the gifts come in!

Besides those, which can keep your toddler occupied for hours, toddlers love anything that promotes running, grabbing, touching, exploring, hopping, smelling, problem-solving, talking, pedaling, tasting, thinking, climbing and listening, for starters.

Try a set of wooden stacking blocks or a shape sorter. They love play tents and tunnels, tricycles, push toys and percussion sets (sorry, Mom and Dad). Little ones love anything that lights up or plays music.

Puzzles and stuffed toys are always a big hit, too! Did we mention books? Books, books and more books! Board books are a parent’s – and a toddler’s – best friend. Some varieties have different textures and windows that your little one can use fine motor skills to open up.

Tip 13-36 months: If you do want to make your wrapping useful, wrap toddler’s gift in a soft fleece blanket they can use to cuddle with later!

Family Matters: Keep Your Baby Moisturized

FamilyMatters_Baby7-12Months_228x173With the cold weather here, it’s easy for baby’s skin to get dried out.

From about six months on, it’s generally safe to use most moisturizing products on baby’s skin (stick to lotions specifically made for babies, though).

To keep his skin baby soft, remember to keep him hydrated. After six or seven months, it’s safe to introduce small amounts of water into his diet. Make sure he drinks up.

Use sunscreen developed for babies if you’re spending a lot of time out in harsh light.

Don’t overdo baths in the winter months as warm water and soap dry out a baby’s skin. Don’t let him soak too long in the tub. Pat, don’t rub him dry, when you take him out of the bath and use a mild baby lotion after bath to help seal in moisture.

Tip 7-13 months: If baby’s skin is really dry, try a cool mist humidifier in his room at night.

Family Matters: It’s Getting Cold Outside


The colder months are upon us now, but that doesn’t mean your infant can’t – or shouldn’t – go outside. It’s really OK for babies to be exposed to the cold as long as you use some common sense. After all, you catch cold from a virus, not the temperature outside.

Be sure to keep a hat on baby, especially if it’s a newborn or small infant. Most of the body’s heat is lost through the head.

Dress your baby as you’d dress; don’t feel the need to pile on layers upon layers. If you’re cold, he’s probably cold. If he’s flushed, he’s probably too warm.

Resist the urge to put baby to sleep with blankets; that can increase the risk of SIDS. Instead, use a fitted flannel sheet on his bed and dress him in a fleece bunting sleep sack or a sleeper with built-in feet.

Tip 0-6 months: Warm baby’s crib with a hot water bottle or heating pad before you put baby to sleep, but be sure to remove it before you snuggle him in!


Family MattersI never participated in Black Friday.

You know, that day every year that used to be the day after Thanksgiving, that became midnight on Thanksgiving and that is not the DAY OF THANKSGIVING, thank you very much.

Ok, well that’s not true, entirely.

I’m a stickler for shopping LOCAL, to buy to support local business owners.

However, I have been known to shop ONLINE on Black Friday.

I regret it! Fine! Yes, I do.

I want to shop local.




I can’t always, though.

If you’re out shopping the weekend after Thanksgiving, between Thursday and Monday, you’re going to need a battle plan while you’re SHOPPING LOCAL AND PUMPING MONEY INTO YOUR LOCAL ECONOMY. (Yes, I’m passionate about that.)

My best friend is a dogged Black Friday shopper. She plans out her route on Thanksgiving Day and has a battle plan ready to execute.





When you’ve spent the entire day after an exhausting holiday shopping, it’s good to have dinner waiting on you when you return. Try this meal in your slow cooker!


1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consommé
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar or honey
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cooled sauce from the slow cooker after being cooked
fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
hot, cooked rice (brown rice or riced cauliflower)

Place beef in a slow cooker.

In a small bowl, combine consommé, soy sauce, brown sugar/honey, oil and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

In a cup, stir cornstarch and sauce from the slow cooker together until smooth. Add to slow cooker. Stir well to combine. (If your sauce is not thickening, try bringing your sauce to a boil on the stovetop with the cornstarch mixture. Boil until the desired consistency is reached.)Add broccoli to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high heat. (The sauce has to boil for it to thicken.)
Serve over hot, cooked rice.

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Family MattersAs families gather around holiday tables, I’ll be enjoying a different kind of family.

You see, my parents live in Richmond, Va., along with one brother and his family. My other brother lives in northwestern Virginia. One sister lives in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., and my other sister lives near San Diego, Calif. We’re quite spread out.

Not a single one of them live near my headquarters in East Texas, and that makes me sad.

What makes me happy is that I also have a “family” that doesn’t consist of any blood relatives but people I love and who love me. It’s my best friend Connie, her daughter and her mother; my best friend Kim and her little girl; and my best friend Nicholas and the assorted firefighters he adopts at the holidays, too.

It’s fun spending holidays with non-family “family members” because you’re not stuck with the same traditions your family has had in place for the past 52 years and counting. We might have grilled turkey this year for Thanksgiving, and Christmas might bring a silly Christmas Eve pajama-clad gift swap. You just never know.

So, don’t fret if your family is far away; make a new one where your heart is!

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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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