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Family Matters: Compromise, Not Sacrifice!


My kids are much older now, but when they were little, I was a real fanatic about serving only the most-healthy foods possible. Compromise was out of the question. In the years since then, I’ve softened my position, and while my family still eats healthier than most, sometimes you have to give a little here and there. And it’s compromise, not sacrifice. We stay true to the most important aspects of our food plan, but there are some areas where a little splurge now and then can be a good thing!

For instance, in their lunch boxes, or in the snack bag when we went to visit friends, I used to insist on ultra-healthy, ultra-natural foods. And I’m still not going to put cookies and chips in the bag, but I have decided that some of the pre-packaged items I’d always boycotted weren’t really that bad! Crust-less sandwiches, frozen yogurt tubes and juice boxes were still a lot cheaper than buying fast food, and they weren’t as pure as foods I prepared myself, but you know what? They’ll still work just fine. Kids do like to fit in with their friends, and the convenience of ready-to-use items is really handy. At home, they’re happy to eat what they’ve always eaten, but when it’s a special time, the food can be special, too.

We saved these items for play dates and lunch boxes, and it turned out to be a compromise that worked.



Family Matters: Parakeet Health


Sometimes toddlers like to eat the same food, day after day after day. Mothers wonder what’s wrong with them—because most folks like a little variety in their diet. 

It’s the same with birds, too.  If you have a parakeet, do you offer a variety of foods? It’s easy to fall into the pattern of the same foods, but your bird will thank you for switching things up a little. 

Many experts say that instead of a seed diet, parakeets do better with a diet of special bird pellets. It’s a lower fat diet that keeps birds more active and healthy. If your bird is currently eating a seed diet, you may want to talk to your vet or pet care provider about making a gradual switch to the pellet food plan. 

Pellets (or seeds) should make up about 60 to 70 percent of your parakeet’s diet. The rest can be a mixture of fruits and vegetables, including grated carrot, raw broccoli, apple slices and leafy greens. Vets recommend no fruit seeds, avocados, chocolate, alcohol or caffeine. Remove uneaten food every day and replace with fresh. Birds also need clean water, changed daily. 

You’ll know you have a healthy parakeet if you see alert, sociable activity, dry nostrils and bright eyes, and a body full of smooth, well-groomed feathers. 

(Material collected from the ASPCA Complete Guide to Pet Care)



Family Matters: Take ‘Em Along!


Do you dread taking your kids along to the grocery store? I have to admit, it’s always easier when I’m alone, and I definitely stick to my list better when there’s nobody else along to sneak forbidden foods into the buggy. But what about when there’s no choice and the kid(s) will be joining you? Don’t groan; you CAN make this work!

And of course, the key element is to plan ahead. Sometime, totally unrelated to the shopping trip, gather a few tools that will make grocery trips more do-able. Depending on the age of your children, maybe you can make up a bingo card of items to spot in the store; maybe you can have your child match up coupons with products; younger children can help make veggie choices—like broccoli over carrots, or red grapes instead of green. Kids are great at matching colors—even the youngest child can help you look for the reddest bell pepper, or the largest beet.

Does your child pester for treats and candy? How about making a coupon, one per child; once they find what they want, they redeem their coupon to you, and that’s it. Whenever they see a great potential snack item, you can ask your children if they feel this is the best choice for their coupon….often they’ll reconsider!

In short, the success of your shopping trip will depend on a positive attitude all around, as brief a trip as possible, and if you know of any trouble areas (the candy aisle, perhaps?), discuss them before you ever enter the store.

Grocery shopping with kids is a great educational opportunity. You can learn about fractions, budgets, prioritizing, nutrition and making change. It really is worth it!



Family Matters: My Baby Spits Up!


Almost every baby spits up from time to time. It usually happens because a baby’s digestive system is still developing. The muscle that keeps foods in the stomach may not  close tightly when babies are young. As a result, it’s easy for a baby’s most recent meal to splash back up, so be prepared to do a few extra loads of laundry for a few months!

Usually spit up is nothing to worry about. Talk with your doctor, and if your baby is gaining the proper amount of weight and is thriving, you can be confident that he’s getting enough to eat. Another strong sign that your baby is well fed is having six to 10 wet diapers a day. To reduce spitting up, try feeding your baby only when she shows signs of hunger, keep him in a semi-upright position during feeding, and burp him regularly throughout the meal.

Sometimes, however, lots of spitting up is a sign of a serious condition, so it’s important to discuss this with your doctor. If a baby is not gaining weight, is crying excessively, is choking or seems to be in a lot of pain, he may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which your doctor can diagnose. Fortunately, most children outgrow spitting up by the time they’re a year old.



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