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Family Matters: Bird Safety


Bird SafetyDid you know that your pet bird is the adventurous sort?

Well, he is!

The first way to keep him safe is to make sure his environment, in most cases, his cage, doesn’t pose any unseen dangers. Make sure the bars are close enough together so that he can’t fit his head through, or else he might get it caught. Use a water bottle and feeder that are designed for your cage and that don’t pose an extra safety risk. Check doors and spring-locked mechanisms so that your bird can’t get a beak, head, wing or foot trapped either.

If your bird is allowed to fly around your house, make sure the house is bird-proofed, too. Watch for crayons, household cleaners or foods that are harmful to birds. Blankets, yarns, threads in sewing supplies, ropes, macramé decorations and small toys, such as Lego bricks, can also be hazardous. Put away table salts and insecticides, too.

Certain houseplants are toxic for your bird, including avocados, calla lilies, coffee beans, eggplants, Jerusalem cherry, milkweed, mistletoe, philodendron, tobacco, tomatoes, Virginia creeper and yew.



Family Matters: Small Pet Safety


Small Pet SafetySmall animals like hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and mice can make great pets, but you have to keep them safe!

First of all, make sure their habitat is secure, and they can’t escape! Take care to make sure cage lids, latches, doors and other openings can’t be pried open by your small pet. Also, make sure no one else in your house (i.e. curious children) can leave them open by mistake.

Then, make sure that large pets don’t have access to your small pet. Cats and dogs can definitely be a danger to a hamster, gerbil or other small animal.

Make sure the lining in a small pet’s cage or crate is appropriate. Dryer lint isn’t safe to use for pets because it’s flammable.

When you let your pet out of the cage, make sure they are being monitored and can’t scamper easily under any furniture or appliances.

Finally, do not sleep with your small pet, as you run the risk of suffocating them.



Family Matters: Springtime Benefits


Springtime BenefitsDays of beautiful springtime weather are upon us. We begin to breathe a little deeper, closing our eyes and inhaling as much fresh air as possible…what an amazing feeling! Another great feeling is getting out of the house and doing something with your family, like working in the yard.

I know, your first thought is “what is great about that?” Well, how about working side-by-side with your kids to pick up limbs, rake leaves, mow the yard, clean flower beds and plant flowers. If you are not looking for a big task, just get plastic containers, fill them with potting soil, and plant a few tomato , onion or radish plants, a little “garden” so to speak. The time you spend working together, communicating and spending time in the sun is so rewarding for a parent and the child. You have their undivided attention doing something that does not involve an electronic device, and you get the health benefits of the fresh air and sunshine. Even if you can afford to have someone else do your yard work, you need to do this once and see the benefits firsthand. You could also volunteer to do yard work for a friend or neighbor that needs help. Setting an example for our kids is so important.

Our youngest daughters like working at the barn with their dad, building things out of materials laying around and tearing things down to take to the scrap yard (for spending money). They built a wire cage to put our empty aluminum cans in and a planter made out of a pallet to put herbs in (herbs that keep mosquitoes away). These are things, along with yard work, that they enjoy doing, and it teaches them responsibility of helping around the house and earning money for “extra” things they might want.  All the time that they are working, they are visiting with dad about school, friends and life in general.  There is always a lot of laughter involved, and nothing is sweeter than seeing your child happy and smiling.

Springtime is a great time to reconnect with your kids – get outside and enjoy them, Time passes quickly, and they are grown and gone. Work together to accomplish something around the house. Laugh together to remind you of the joy of having kids, of raising them and of knowing you are teaching them to be strong, independent and thankful. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for time with your family!



Family Matters: Group Activities


Group ActivitiesYour toddler probably loves group activities.

They’re important for parents, too, as you can make new friends and socialize with someone who speaks in complete sentences and gets you out of the house for a while.

Lots of toddlers like a story time at the local library or bookstore. These are usually free and often involve a story read to the toddlers, with lots of exciting voices and maybe puppets or actors, some songs and games, and maybe a craft project.

You don’t have to take a class to get involved in a music group. You probably have a parent friend with a rudimentary knowledge of music and some spare instruments. Get your toddlers together and let them make some noise, I mean, music.

Tumbling or movement classes provide great sensory input and great fun for your little one. A local gym might have a toddler class, or just go to the playground and swing, run and jump.

Older toddlers might like some kind of art or craft group, with projects fitting for gross and fine motor skills. They can paint large murals, do handprint or footprint crafts, or paint splatter projects. They might also like craft dough and finger paints.

A just play group is great, too. Let the toddlers decide what they’re doing and enjoy watching them interact.



Family Matters: Playtime


PlaytimeI just asked my sons, now 12 and 14 years old, what their favorite toys were when they were about 9 months old.

They each rattled off a list so quickly it made me laugh.

First, they probably don’t have a lot of memories from that time period.

Secondly, I guarantee they were not playing with little Legos at that age.

It was still funny to hear and brought back memories of what were their actual favorite toys in the second half of their first year.

  • Board books, especially the ones with the peek-a-boo windows, were a huge favorite of both my kids. We’d spend hours opening the windows and seeing what was revealed in each story. At 7 months, I was still opening the windows for them. At 12 months, they were trying to do it themselves.
  • Anything that played music. If they could whack it with a chubby hand and make it play music, it was a favorite. We had a plastic toy radio that they could turn on by pressing a button, and it was great to see how they developed to be able to do it themselves.
  • Wooden stacking blocks. Again, at 7 months, they had only rudimentary command of stacking, maybe two at a time, but they could manage a whole lot more by 12 months.
  • Mirrors! Anything reflective is super fun.
  • Baths. Bathtime was often the very best part of the day. The warm water, plus a lot of splashing, was a great combination.
  • Boxes. Empty pots and pans, anything they could just explore completely, with sounds, textures and experiences.
  • The shape sorter! I can’t count the number of hours we played with this. Lots. Lots and lots. It evolved from banging it around to actually sorting the shapes and naming them.

Whatever your baby likes, let him have a lot of playtime. It’s really learning time!



Family Matters: Never Leave Baby in a Car


Never Leave Baby in a CarAs the weather heats up, this blog post is for all parents, not just those with babies.

Do. Not. Leave. Your. Child. In. The. Car.

Each year, approximately 38 children die from overheating because they were left in a car during warm months.

That’s 38 too many.

So far this year, and it’s only April, two children have died from heat-related deaths in cars.

Parents and caregivers, this is 100 percent preventable.

Do not leave your child in the car, period.

It doesn’t matter if you crack the windows; the car will still get too hot. On an 80-degree day, the interior temperature of the car will reach 123 degrees in only one hour.

Heatstroke is defined as when a person’s temperature exceeds 104° F, and their thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed and cannot continue to function properly.

Symptoms of heatstroke include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizures, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations.

When the core body temperature reaches 107 degrees, cells are damaged, and internal organs begin to fail and will rapidly lead to death. This happens three to five times faster in children, who cannot regulate their body temperatures as effectively as an adult.

In 54 percent of cases where a child died of heatstroke, their caregiver “forgot” them in the car.

In an additional 24 percent of cases, a child was playing in the car and could not get out.

Teach your children to never, ever play in the car. If they are in the car, you must be in the car with them.

Develop a system of double-checking the car before you leave and lock it. Some adults place their shoe or purse in the backseat, so they have to look in the back before exiting the vehicle.

If you see a child of any age in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately and take measures to get them out of the car.



Family Matters: Honey Boy Pink Salmon Croquettes


Honey Boy Pink Salmon CroquettesI am so excited to share this salmon recipe with you because my two boys (my husband and son) are not that crazy about fish. You can imagine their faces when they saw me in the kitchen the other night opening up a can of Honey Boy Pink Salmon to make salmon croquettes! Yeah, they were not happy. They were even talking about eating something else instead, but neither of them can cook.

I was prepared to take all of the leftovers to my parents. I knew they would appreciate tasty salmon croquettes. However, as we sat down to dinner, I watched my husband and son gulp down two croquettes each, and they asked for more! You can bet this will be on my dinner menu again in the near future. As for my parents, there were no leftover croquettes to be had!

The recipe is really easy and can be found right on the Honey Boy Pink Salmon can.

Honey Boy Pink Salmon Croquettes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Serves: 6

1 can Honey Boy Pink Salmon, drained
2 cups soft breadcrumbs
1/3 cup onions, finely minced
1/4 cup Brookshire’s Milk
2 eggs
2 Tbs parsley, minced
1 to 2 Tbs lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dill weed
dash of pepper
cooking oil for browning

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix well. Heat enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of a non stick pan. Form the salmon mixture into patties, and cook over medium heat until browned on the bottom. Turn them over and brown on the other side.

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



Family Matters: Fun with Mom


Fun with MomSome of my favorite memories with my mom happened in the kitchen.

Whether we were at the kitchen counter cooking or at the kitchen table crafting, to say that the kitchen was the heart of our home is probably an understatement.

My mom can create anything. She’s a wonderful cook and an amazing seamstress. She can master any craft or art, and she can grow anything beautifully. She has a million more talents I don’t even have room in which to enumerate.

She tried to pass along those things. Key word: “tried.”

I’m a good cook. Better than average, probably. However, when it comes to sewing, crafting or any other visual talent, I’m strictly skill level glue gun and spray paint.

Still, those times spent with my mom, learning something new, at least being exposed to it, are better than any material possession she could have given me. As a small child, we made clothes-pin dolls by the hundreds. Remember the wooden, stationary clothes pins used to hang clothing on an outside line that had two “legs” and  a “head?” We turned those into dolls with fuzzy yard hair, painted faces and all sorts of elegant clothing culled from my mom’s bag of scraps. We did the same thing with dried corn husks. Mom would twist and turn then fashion them into robust women figures, and I’d paint them, dress them and play with them until they fell apart. Mom spent hours trying to teach me how to sew and quilt. I can whip out a hem or sew a button with the best of them, and for years, I slaved over my grandmother’s solid metal Singer sewing machine until I conceded that sewing just really isn’t in my temperament. I remember painting a rock one time – red – and painstakingly cutting letters out of a magazine that I decoupaged onto the painted rock, “I love you, Daddy.” One year, we used stained glass paint in clear glass ornaments for Christmas décor. She let me punch down the dough and knead it when she made her famous raisin bread each holiday season. I stirred red sauce simmering on the stove for hours. I licked the beaters after she made chocolate chip cookies.

Now, with Pinterest offering projects galore, you don’t have to have great skills to spend time with your kids, at the kitchen counter or table, making memories.

If the memories turn out better than the project, well, that’s fine, too.



Family Matters: The More Movement, The Merrier


The More Movement, The MerrierYour small pet, like a hamster or guinea pig, spends most of his day in a cage, so he needs a good outlet for exercise.

You can purchase a tunnel system for many small pets, which extends the area in their cage and gives them a great opportunity to climb and run. If your cage doesn’t accommodate this type of exercise run, build one within safe confines where your pet can’t get loose, and let him work his way through it.

You might have to start by hiding a small treat in the tubing to help motivate your pet to move through the course.

A wheel is also a great form of exercise. Hamsters, gerbils and mice especially love to run on a wheel mounted in their cage.

Create an enclosure (outside of the cage and in a much larger space) where your pet can roam free. They will like the feeling of vast freedom that they will experience.

Small balls are wonderful playthings, as your pet will chase them.

Finally, invest in a collar and leash for your small pet. You can walk them, too.



Family Matters: Keeping Your Feathered Friend Active


Keeping Your Feathered Friend ActiveEvery once in a while, you have to let a caged bird sing or, in this case, exercise.

You’d feel all penned up in a cage, wouldn’t you? While it’s not exactly the same for your pet bird, you do need to make sure it gets enough exercise to keep him healthy and happy.

One thing you can do is put a ladder in his bird cage so that he can climb up and down it at his pleasure. When he sees the ladder, he will be compelled to climb it to the top.

Purchase foraging toys from your local pet shop. These toys allow you to hide food or millet treats inside so your pet has to work for them.

Let him fly, literally. Provide a safe, enclosed space, and let him flap his wings. If your bird’s wings are clipped, take him out of his cage and put him on a perch to let him flap around.

Hang a small bell in your bird’s cage; he will reach for it and ring it.

Offer your bird things to tear up, like newspaper or eucalyptus branches. He’ll get a good workout shredding.

Finally, place your bird on the floor at one end of a hallway (with doors to the hallway closed). Go to the other end; call him and let him hop to you.



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