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Family Matters: Grooming Your Small Animal


Grooming Your Small AnimalLuckily for you, your small pet, like a gerbil or guinea pig, is a fastidious groomer by instinct, so there’s little for you to do.

Small animals don’t really need to be bathed unless there’s some sort of extenuating circumstances, but they can use a nail trim on occasion. Use small human nail clippers to trim the tips of your small animal’s nails. Don’t take too much off, as they need their nails for traction, digging and burrowing.

Check your small pets’ teeth for signs of even wear, and make sure they have something available in their cage to chew on. Ferrets actually require a daily brushing of teeth, so make sure you’re committed to doing that before taking one into your home.

Feel free to brush your small pet or clean his ears with small cotton swabs and a drop of baby oil.



Family Matters: Pacifiers


PacifiersAs the mom of a child who spent many, many years in speech therapy, I feel qualified to offer this tip: If your child can walk, limit pacifier use to bed only.

I see LOTS of toddlers walking around with pacifiers.

A pacifier is a great object for self-soothing, and many babies need to suck to relax themselves and soothe that instinct. However, a toddler should be replacing the pacifier with other self-soothing habits.

Walking around with a pacifier can inhibit speech, either because there is something in their mouth preventing them from speaking or because extended use of a pacifier can lock a child’s mouth into an unnatural position, making it more difficult for his tongue and mouth muscles to develop normally.

Pacifiers can also push against teeth, making them come in at an unnatural angle.

Some pediatricians recommend ridding baby of the pacifier all together by 18 months. I’ll readily admit that both of my boys used them until they were after 2, but only in bed, for naptimes and bedtimes after about 9 months. Also, our speech issues were not pacifier-related. Although, I talked to lots of moms in the speech language pathologists’ waiting room who did admit a pacifier contributed to their toddler’s speech issues.



Family Matters: Teething


TeethingAround the time your baby hits the second half of their first year, you might see teeth sprouting, if you haven’t already.

The age for a first tooth varies widely. Some babies are born with them, and some don’t sprout until closer to a year. It’s all normal, so don’t fret.

Between 4 and 7 months old is average for a first tooth.

When baby starts drooling a lot, gets a little fussy and you can see raised ridges on her gums, she’s probably teething. She might refuse food or chew on anything she can get her hands on. Again, all normal.

Some children experience diarrhea as a result of teething, but doctors can’t agree on whether this is actually a symptom. Some say that the increase in saliva production (the drool) also causes some upset tummy issues. Same with fevers. There’s no physiological reason for a child to spike a fever when they are teething, but enough babies do it that a lot of moms consider it normal.

When your baby shows signs of teething, you can give her a little infant Motrin or Tylenol for the pain. Let her chew on something cool, even a soft rag that you’ve put in the freezer. Teething toys or rings are also great for baby as she gets her first teeth. Carry some with you at all times and keep them handy!



Family Matters: Baby Smiles


Baby SmilesI have a new nephew, a cute little guy with a head full of hair, born about two weeks ago.

He’s precious.

My sister-in-law recently texted a picture of him smiling at us.

Totes adorbs, but did you know that he’s not REALLY smiling?

Babies don’t reward all your hard work, sleepless nights and constant care with a genuine grin or coo until about six weeks of age. Despite how hard your mother-in-law might protest, yes, it’s just gas or an involuntary reflex.

That doesn’t mean baby can’t be happy or content or even grace you with what looks like a smile, especially if he’s sleeping. In reality, the purposeful expression of happiness will come in a few weeks. Hang in there, Mom and Dad. He’ll be smiling at you for years to come.



Family Matters: Breakfast Cookies


Breakfast CookiesGive me breakfast foods or give me cookies. I love them both! Then, what could be more perfect than cookies to start your day! Before you think I’ve gone off the deep-end, these cookies are packed with lots of wholesome ingredients like oats, bananas, blueberries and pecans.

These are so easy to make ahead of time and store in the freezer until you are ready to eat them. You can pop them in the microwave to enjoy hot or take them on the go with you. You will love these, and your kiddos will think you are awesome for giving them cookies for breakfast!

Breakfast Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Brookshire’s Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Brookshire’s Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
1 Tbs golden flax meal
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried blueberries
3 very-ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid form
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine oats, coconut, flax meal, salt, pecans and blueberries in a bowl. Stir in bananas, coconut oil, agave and vanilla until well-combined. Firmly press together 2 tablespoons of mixture into a 2 1/2-inch flat round onto baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Continue with remaining mixture. Bake at 325° F for 20 minutes or until golden-brown. Let cool on pan.

Serves 15.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 132, Fat: 9 g (5 g Saturated Fat), Sodium: 79 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 2 g.

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



Family Matters: Back to School


Back to SchoolGet your kids ready for back-to-school by engaging them in the process of making their own lunches.

School-age children can definitely pitch in when it comes to school lunches. Older kids, in high school perhaps, can be completely responsible for their school lunch. Younger kids can help with all the prep work, and they can have an investment in a healthy diet by helping to choose some options.

Take your kids grocery shopping with you on the weekends, and let them pick out some proteins, some fruits, veggies and maybe a snack or two for a treat.

When you get home, go ahead and package a lot of those items into individual serving sizes. For example, lunch meat can be rolled into rollups and saved in small, zipper-lock bags. Carrot sticks and celery can be cleaned, cut and packaged into bags as well.

Your kids can create trail mix with nuts, popcorn, pretzels and chocolate chips, and store in baggies, too.

Then, on school mornings, all you need to do is have them grab a protein, a fruit (whole, cleaned fruits like bananas, apples, peaches, pears, plums and grapes are great) and a veggie. Drop it in a bag with a bottle of water and a napkin, and voila! Lunch is served.



Family Matter: Dogs Home Alone


Dogs Home AloneBack-to-school can be a lonely time for your pet. It is for my dog, Astro. All summer, he’s had the luxury of having the boys home all day to play with him and to let him in and out at his whim.

When the boys go back to school, Astro is left to his own devices in the yard or in the house. Truth be told, he has to stay outside because it’s not always guaranteed I can come home in the middle of the day to let him out for a play and potty break.

Ease him into the back-to-school routine by leaving him in a quiet house for increasingly extended periods of time as it gets closer to school resuming. This might be hard if you have kids in the house, but hey, school supply shopping takes a few hours, at least.

You might use a white noise machine or leave your radio on set to a classical (soothing music, no heaving metal head banging for your pet) while you’re gone.

Make sure there are not too many temptations around the house of objects he could easily destroy. You might consider gating him into one room or area.

Fill a Kong toy will all kinds of toys to keep your pet occupied during the day. If your pet is outside, leave ropes, balls and other toys in the yard for fun and to help keep him occupied.

If your dog will be outside, fill a bowl with a few toys, then add water and freeze. Leave the ice block outside in the yard for him, and he will uncover the toys as the ice block melts during the day.



Family Matters: Bird Toys and Play


Bird Toys and PlayJust like kids, birds like to play, too!

Birds develop a fondness for play in the “child and adolescent” years between the time they are fledglings and the time they reach sexual maturity.

Provide your bird with plenty of outlets for his play.

They tend to like things that move and make noise. Birds also love a mirror. Place a non-breakable mirror in their cage or somewhere near their cage for them to enjoy their reflection.

Ladders, swings and bells are also fun for birds. Ladders are great because it gives them a chance to exercise, and swings fulfill a need for proprioceptive movement. Bells are a great cause and effect toy, as they will learn to ring them and enjoy the resulting sound.

Paper balls might also be a fun toy for your bird. Wad up a piece of scrapbooking paper, and place it in the bottom of his cage. You can also place a few on top of his cage and make him reach for them. Paper strips from your shredder are also fun for your bird. He’ll spend hours tearing at them. Paper cones and cups, slightly smashed, can occupy birds for hours. Place several around his cage.

Toys on strings suspended from the top of their cages can also give them something to bat around in space.



Family Matters: Cats Home Alone


Cats Home AloneCats are pretty self-sufficient, and they can easily be left home alone all day. However, they can get lonely, too.

If your cat is accustomed to having plenty of company, ease them into a back-to-school routine by leaving the house for several hours at a time.

You might want to leave a white noise machine or radio on that’s playing soothing music in your home while you’re gone, so your cat feels like it has company.

If your cat has a particular spot where he likes to sleep, put a stuffed toy or a hot water bottle (one he can’t puncture with teeth or claws) in the area, so he’ll have something to cuddle next to. Some pets respond well to an old-fashioned alarm clock, one that ticks, wrapped in a blanket or towel.

Make sure your pet has a clean litter box while you’re gone during the day, so he won’t choose other areas to potty while you’re gone.

Of course, make sure he has food and water available as well.



Family Matters: Small Animal Toys and Play


Small Animal Toys and PlayYour small animal, like a gerbil, hamster or guinea pig, loves to play in his cage! Despite the fact that you see them sleeping a lot, these animals, who seem to get a burst of energy in the evening, love a good romp through their habitat.

Provide tunnels for gerbils and hamsters to run through and hide. They will even sleep in these tunnels, where they feel safe and secure.

Balls are great for inside your small animal’s cage. Make sure the ball is size-appropriate for your pet, so he can enjoy it without swallowing it or having it be too overwhelming. Make sure it’s made of a durable plastic or other material that he can’t chew and shred.

Big plastic exercise balls are also fun for smaller pets. Hamsters love to be inside the ball and have free range to run around your house. Make sure they are on the floor, not a table or surface where they can fall. Also, make sure they are supervised when in the exercise ball, so they don’t get stuck under furniture or chased by larger pets.

An exercise wheel inside the cage can be a great option for a hamster or gerbil for exercise as well.

Many small pets love to chew, so visit your local pet store for a block of safe wood made specifically for your type of small pet that they can gnaw on to their heart’s content.



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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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