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Family Matters: Vacation Time


Smiling BabyIt’s vacation season and you want to take your first trip with baby! 

Is it easy? 

Um, not really, but there are definitely ways you can make traveling more effortless with a little one. 

Stock the diaper bag. Baby will need snacks, sippy cups, several changes of clothes (you’ve never experienced a blowout at 30,000 feet? Really?), extra diapers, toys, books, an extra blanket, a lovey, ear plugs if you’re flying, and more toys and snacks. 

  1. Sanitize. Bring hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for public areas and any weird things baby might touch.
  2. Pacifiers. If your baby loves them, bring them. They are soothing in almost any situation and perform double duty as ear pressure relievers on air planes.
  3. Food. I already mentioned snacks. I’m mentioning it again. Food never fails. It’s ok if they have 17 snacks while traveling for one day if that makes it easier on everyone (fruit is always a healthy snack that won’t break the calorie bank).
  4. Slings. Does your baby feel more comfortable in a carrier? Do it. Slings or carriers are the most efficient way to transport baby from point A to point B, and they feel most secure. 


Family Matters: Colic


Crying BabyWhen my younger son was about three weeks old, he started howling. From approximately 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., he’d scream. Sometimes if I was holding him up on my left shoulder, cradling his bottom and pointing northwest, he’d stop for about 3 seconds. The pediatrician diagnosed him with colic, a condition you can’t really do anything about. You have to ride it out. He was prescribed gas drops, as a common cause of colic is intestinal distress. However, they didn’t really work.



Family Matters: Graduation


GraduationI’ll never forget the day as long as I live.

I couldn’t wait to get to my high school senior advanced placement English class that day. As per tradition, the students in that class brought their college acceptance letters to share with each other. There were always cheers and congratulations all around and I couldn’t wait; I had in my hands an early acceptance letter to my first choice of schools.

When I stood up in class to share my news, the teacher cut me off abruptly.

“You’re going WHERE?” he sneered.

I repeated myself.

“Well, that just pretty much guarantees you’ll never amount to anything,” he said.

You could hear a pin drop in that classroom as my fellow students shifted uncomfortably in their seats.

I wanted to cry.

I sat down quietly and let my hair fall like a curtain over my face, hiding the tears that forced their way out of my eyes.

My English teacher that year, that mean man, was convinced that if you didn’t go to one of the “top tier” schools in the area, your education would be worth nothing.

I quickly realized that he was wrong.

You get out of an education what you put into it, whether you’re at an Ivy League university or the local junior college.

Twenty years removed from my college graduation, I’m in exactly the job I’d always planned for and studied for. Sure, some of my classmates who went on to the so-called “right” schools hold prestigious jobs in their fields but so have some of my classmates who went to vocational or technical schools, to the military or straight to work right out of high school.

It’s high school graduation time, and I’ve been so excited to see the children of my friends and colleagues get so excited about starting college or choosing a career path.

I hope they know that no matter what they choose, if they work hard and infuse their choices with passion, conviction, dedication and hard work, then they will always, ALWAYS amount to something. 

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Family Matters: Family Down Time


Down TimeSpring is here. Have you taken time to smell the flowers, sat and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, or breathed in some fresh air? Most families are so busy that they don’t take time to just sit still, listen to the birds chirping, smell the fresh air and enjoy the blessings around them each day. It is important that your family has some “down time” to recoup from busy work weeks, daily pressures and the shuffling of children, and your kids need it, too!

Make plans to sit out on your porch with your family and catch up on what is happening in their lives. If you have a hammock, lie in it, soak up the sun and feel the breeze blowing while you leisurely enjoy your family. Break out the dominos or cards, and play some games with your children. This is such a great way to reconnect as a family, and there are no pressures and no expectations other than resting and taking a breather from your busy lives. 

If your family enjoys walking (but you never have time), go to a local park with your family and family pet, if you have one. Have a nice peaceful walk, enjoy a picnic and take a little nap while you breathe in the fresh outdoors. Take a drive in the country with your windows down, go fishing or take a family bike ride. Where would you rather be than with your family?

Everyone needs “down time” so we don’t get burnt out and start missing the wonderful things that each of us have been blessed with daily but miss due to being so busy. If we are refreshed and rested, it brings forth a new outlook and attitude for the people and things we encounter. “Down time” with your family will be what they remember. It’s the little things that count the most. Don’t let the most important thing in life pass you by. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with family!

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Family Matters: Brownie Cake Pops


Brownie Cake PopsKids Love Cake Pops! 

It’s 7PM Saturday night before Easter Sunday, and I’m in the kitchen finishing up my cooking and baking for Easter lunch when my 12-year-old daughter, Grace, comes into the kitchen. She asked me if she could make cake pops. She went on to tell me that she would make them herself, and they would be in the shape of Easter eggs and would be all different colors with sprinkles and decorations. I explained to Grace that cake pops are not easy to make and that it takes a lot of time to bake, cool the cake and decorate, not to mention it is 7PM on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Grace did not really care what time it was; she had her mind made up that she was going to make cake pops!

One of my platforms in life is “seize the moment.” I already knew I had on hand: brownie mix, a can of frosting, almond bark, cake pop sticks and tons of decorations. So, there was no excuse not to seize the moment with my daughter except for that time was not on our side. I gave into her begging to make cake pops, but I told her this was her project and that she needed to do most of the work.

Grace worked all night on her cake pops and even made a step-by- step YouTube video of her baking adventure! I tried to get in the video a couple of times, but I’m sure she edited me out!

Come Easter Sunday lunch, when everyone was sitting around the table, Grace proudly placed her decorated jar of cake pops on the table. She beamed with pride and told everyone that she baked these all by herself! This was a special time in the kitchen with my daughter and one that I am going to cherish. Don’t miss out on opportunities to seize the moment with your family. Count your blessings and give thanks for those special moments.

Grace’s Brownie Cake Pops

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Decorating Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 12 Pops

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix
1 can cake frosting
1 pkg almond bark
sprinkles
cake pop sticks

Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake brownies as directed. Cool completely.

Directions:
In a large bowl, crush cooled brownies and mix in cake frosting. Mix all together well to form dough – it will be a sticky mess!

Shape the dough into 1 ½-inch balls. Place balls on wax paper and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to decorate, place the cake balls on the cake pop sticks and dip in melted almond bark. Place each ball on wax paper and immediately cover with sprinkles. Allow at least 30 minutes for almond bark to harden.

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

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Family Matters: Runaway Pets


DogsA little over a year ago, my three dogs ran away.

I say “ran away,” but in reality, the next door neighbor let them out of her gate.

You see, they’d dug under our adjoining fence a few times, twice that I knew of, actually. I’d get home from work and it would be dark. I’d walk along the fence line trying to make sure the holes were filled.  Apparently, I wasn’t always successful.

I understand it’s irresponsible and annoying to let your pets dig out, but honest to goodness, I was trying my best. Two of my dogs were still puppies and were seriously high-energy. I wish the neighbors would have called me instead of just opening the gate. I never found any of them.

So, 18 months have passed and today a friend posts on Facebook that her friend is looking for a new home for my ideal dog, a 3-year-old German shepherd.

The holes in my yard are now filled. This isn’t a puppy. My kids are older and better equipped to help me take care of her. She’s mainly an indoor dog, but I can’t decide. It was horrible to lose my dogs. Even though they were diggers, I took good care of them.

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility. There’s also a huge reward with having a loving, loyal pet.  However, I still can’t decide whether or not to venture back into the world of pet ownership after having failed before.

Decisions. Decisions.

 



Family Matters: Baby Proofing


BabyBy the time my older son was 2, he had defeated all the child safety locks in the house. Now, keep in mind that this is not typical 2-year-old behavior, but we weren’t taking any chances. We had to install chain locks on the exit doors of the house, high enough so he couldn’t reach them. Any of the locks on cabinets or drawers, he could open in a matter of minutes, so anything hazardous went outside into the garage or on a high shelf for storage.

Toddlers are curious by nature. They want to get into things. Here is a list from Baby Center of just a FEW of the things you need to think about when baby proofing your home and environment:

  • Put safety plugs or outlet covers over unused outlets or block them with furniture.
  • Hide electrical cords behind furniture or use a hide-a-cord device.
  • Keep blow dryers, toasters and other appliances unplugged and out of reach.
  • Keep knives, breakables, heavy pots and other dangerous items locked up or out of reach.
  • Restrict access to unsafe areas with safety gates, door locks and knob covers.
  • Put locks or latches on accessible cabinets and drawers that contain unsafe items.
  • Keep trash cans in inaccessible cupboards or use cans with child-resistant covers.
  • Cover or block access to radiators and floor heaters.
  • Secure refrigerator with appliance latch.
  • Keep electronic equipment like DVRs, DVD players and stereos out of reach or locked up. Store remotes where prying fingers can’t get to batteries (which might seem like enticing objects for your child to put in his mouth).
  •  Don’t use tablecloths or placemats because your child can pull them – and what’s on top of them – down.
  • Keep one cupboard unlocked and filled with lightweight, child-safe items to distract him from the cupboards you don’t want him to get into.


Family Matters: Child Development


BabyLet me start by emphasizing that each child develops at their own pace! There is no hard and fast rule for when a baby should be doing something. My mom tells me I never crawled, just went straight to walking at age 9 months, whereas my boys didn’t walk until 13 months and 15 months, respectively.

I found people are quick to point out when they think your baby isn’t doing something he should be, and that can be nerve-wracking on a parent, especially a first-time mom or dad. So, remember that each baby is different.

With that said, there are some things to watch for as baby grows.

If he’s NOT doing these things between 7-12 months, you might want to check with your doctor.

  • Doesn’t crawl
  • Seems to drag one side while he’s crawling for a month or more
  • Can’t stand with support
  • Doesn’t try to find objects you’ve hidden in front of him
  • Doesn’t say any words
  • Doesn’t use gestures, such as shaking his head “no” and pointing


Family Matters: Are You Spoiling your Baby


BabyWhen I had my first baby, I always heard experienced mothers – that means much, much older mothers – tell me that I’d “spoil” the baby if I picked him up when he cried or jumped when he sneezed.

That’s not really true.

Responding to your infant promptly helps him feel secure and conveys that he is loved. You can certainly help him learn to soothe himself by offering him a pacifier or a comfort object, but letting him cry at this age only frustrates him. You can continue to “spoil” your baby by talking to him throughout the day and carrying on a dialogue with him. He can’t respond verbally, but his physical cues should let you know how he’s feeling. Hold him while you read books, share cuddles, play games and stay in close proximity during tummy time. 



Family Matters: The Last Word…


Last WordsRecently, our family has endured the loss of several parents and close friends. These times bring sadness, but they also bring to light the life that was lived and to be remembered by those left behind.  As I have sat through the services, it has made me evaluate my own life and how I live each day. If it was me, what would be the “last word” said about the person I was?

Are we kind, considerate and loving to those we meet each day? Are we generous and giving of ourselves, our time and our talents? Do we judge others by who they are or where they came from? Do we greet everyone we meet with a smile and give words of encouragement? Are we honest, trustworthy and dependable? Do we work hard and diligently in everything? Most importantly, do we have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do we live daily to reflect it? The list may be different for each of us, but the question is – when they stand to honor your life, what do you want the “last words” to be?

I want my life to reflect things that will make my husband, kids and family proud. I want to be known as a Christ-centered wife, mother, sister, friend and (one day) grandmother who loved the Lord and had a faith that changed the lives of those around me. I had several friends who attended my father’s funeral tell me, “I wish I had met your father; he sounded like a wonderful man”…and that he was.  What a legacy he left for his kids and grandkids that he was loved, admired and respected by so many over the years. 

It isn’t too late to finish writing your story. It is up to you who you want to be. We all make our own choices in life; we just have to decide if they will be something that we want people to remember about us. What do others see when they look at you? What will your legacy be when you are gone?

When we hear the “last word,” it comes with tears, a deep sorrow and, in the end, an everlasting remembrance of those lost. Though they are gone, they will not be forgotten because their legacy lives on in the lives of those left behind. Praying your “last words” will be an encouragement and life changing to those who hear. Give thanks daily for the time you have with your family.

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