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Family Matters: Express Baby’s Creativity


Express Baby's CreativityDid you know that as young as a year old, your baby may be on her way to becoming a baby Picasso?

Right about this time, your baby can scribble on paper, and you should encourage her to do so! She’s imitating what she sees you and her older sister do.

You should encourage her to scribble on paper, giving her different colors, and to mark on the sidewalk or an exterior wall with chalk.

Provide thick, sturdy crayons or chalk with a huge piece of paper (ask for an end roll from your local newspaper office; they’re often free) to let her express her creativity.

You won’t see intentional shape or objects, but baby will love making her mark.



Family Matters: Prepping for a new baby


Prepping For a New BabyBringing your baby home from the hospital is a huge deal and a life changing event, but there are lots of things you can do to make the transition smooth.

First of all, have your car seat installed in your vehicle before baby is even born. The hospital will not let you leave without it. Find a certified seat installer, possibly at your local police station, who can help you get it in correctly for baby’s first ride home.

Secondly, prepare older children and pets. Older children can visit you in the hospital when baby is born, but pets cannot. Talk to your older children about the baby, let them help prepare his room, set safe boundaries on items like a baby swing or bouncy seat, and maybe have a special gift to the older child “from” the new baby.

Get your pets ready by setting boundaries for any of baby’s equipment and getting him used to the smell of baby blankets or baby’s clothes after they’ve been washed.

Next, have all of your baby clothes and linens washed and ready to go weeks before baby is expected to arrive. The LAST thing you want to do when you come home from the hospital is baby laundry, and baby might need four outfits/sleepers that first day. This is also a great project for older children to help with.

Be realistic. You might not be able to go back to your pre-baby routine immediately. The house likely doesn’t need a deep-cleaning right away. The dishes can wait, or you can ask a partner or children to help. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone says this, and every new mom tries to get things accomplished during naptime. Give in. Sleep.

Adjust relationship expectations, too. Communicate with your partner about being tired, irritable, depressed, overwhelmed or anything else you are feeling so that person can help you through it. If you’re noticing that you cry more easily or feel blue, some of that is normal. Feelings of great sadness that extend beyond about 6 weeks should be discussed with your doctor, though.

Give yourself grace. If I had to go back and do it all again, I’d do nothing those first weeks but enjoy my baby. That’s not always realistic, but I’d try harder to accomplish that goal!



Family Matters: A Movie and More


A Movie and MoreAfter a very long day at work, I went home ready to plop on the couch and do nothing, but I was approached by my teenage twin daughters to take them to the movie. Wow, that was the furthest thing from my mind, and I expressed this to my kids. I could tell they were disappointed, and after a long discussion back and forth (wearing me down), I agreed. After all, they chose a “chick flick” as we call them, something with love and romance…couldn’t get any better, right?

We saw one of the best movies I have seen in years. I cried through almost the last hour with both girls laughing hysterically at me (telling me to blow my nose) and vowing to never sit with me again! After the movie, we proceeded outside where the laughter continued once they saw my red swollen face and absolutely no makeup left. The crying to my surprise was such a stress relief that I had not expect after my long day at work…it was refreshing and something I totally needed.

We continued to talk in the car and at home. Now, weeks later, we are still talking about the movie and what we got out of it. There were some good life lessons in the movie and topics for family discussion, which added up to even more than what I anticipated out of the night. As I reflect back on the instant they asked me to take them to the movies and my immediate response, I am so thankful that I changed my mind. I did not get just another movie; I got so much more out of the time I spent with my daughters.

Every day, there are moments we can’t get back. Don’t deny yourself and your kids just simple times of hanging out and visiting…you will never be so glad you did something in your life. You, your kids and your family as a whole will benefit from the laughter, tears and great conversations that come out of your quality time together. The next time you’re exhausted and want to say “no” to your kids, just reconsider for a moment what you might be missing. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for your time with family!



Family Matters: Summer Snacks


Summer SnacksSchool’s out for summer, and it’s time for the kids to be a little self-sufficient during the day.

I’m at work the vast majority of days in the summer, but that doesn’t mean my kids can’t eat a healthy meal and snacks while I’m at work.

One of their favorite things is apple slices with assorted toppings.

I slice the apples into rounds because, let’s face it, the knife is really sharp, and it makes me nervous if they use it if I’m not in the house. They do the rest. They love to slather an apple round with peanut butter. Then, they top it with raisins, almond slivers, coconut shreds, chocolate chips and dried cherries.

They also love celery sticks filled with cream cheese and topped with taco meat or buffalo chicken.

They also love to snack on fresh strawberries mixed with blueberries, Greek yogurt topped with granola and bagel thins spread with peanut butter.

If I can’t be at home, then I’m happy to know they’re eating healthy snacks that will sustain their energy throughout the day.



Family Matters: Hot Weather Safety for Your Cat


Hot Weather Safety for Your CatThe best place for your cat during summer months is inside. If your feline gets frisky and needs to go outside, there are ways you can help keep him cool.

First of all, provide plenty of water and shade. An automatic water bowl provides fresh, clean water all day long. Make sure there is a porch, patio or tree cover in your yard to help provide shade for your cat. Cats are likely to seek cool places under a porch, house or other structure, so make sure those places are safe and secure for your cat.

Groom your cat frequently to remove his excess hair, and also to check for fleas and ticks. Your vet can prescribe medications and topical ointments to help treat and prevent both.

If you have an inside cat, it’s cute to see them curled up on a windowsill, but make sure that area doesn’t get too hot for your cat. Those areas inside can get just as hot as places outside.

Of course, never leave your cat in a hot car.



Family Matters: Hot Weather Care for Your Dog


Hot Weather Care for Your DogMy pup, Astro, is not a huge fan of the summer months. While he doesn’t have a heavy coat, he, like all dogs, is totally covered with hair! That keeps him hot. He solves this problem by digging a swimming pool-sized hole in the backyard and lying on the cool dirt.

If you don’t want your dog digging to China to stay cool or if you can’t control it, there are other ways to help him through the warm months.

First of all, make sure he always has access to plenty of clean, cool water. I fill Astro’s bowl with ice in the morning before I leave, and it keeps his water cooler during the day.

If your dog stays outside during the day, make sure he has adequate shade. If a tree, porch or patio isn’t available, consider installing a camping canopy or other shade to give him shelter from the sun. Some pet owners provide a hard-plastic child’s wading pool filled with a few inches of water, depending on the size of your dog, to splash around in. Drain every evening as to not attract mosquitoes.

Don’t over-exercise your pet on hot days. If your dog is already accustomed to taking a walk, it’s probably still fine, but bring water with you. Make sure he drinks when you’re finished. Limit your walks to the cooler parts of the day, and never walk your pet on hot asphalt. Remember, you have shoes on, but he does not.

If your dog goes outside, check him regularly for fleas, ticks and other insects that creep and crawl, especially in hot weather. Your vet can prescribe both internal and topical treatments for these pests.



Family Matters: First Aid for Your Small Pet


First Aid for Your Small PetTreating your small pet, like a hamster, guinea pig or mouse, at home can be difficult. Parts are small, and these animals are extremely skittish when hurt. They can even snap and bite at you.

There are measures you can take at home to help your pet before you take them to a veterinarian. Small cuts probably don’t need to be treated professionally, but remember that your small animal doesn’t have a lot of blood volume. So, if you’re in doubt, take him to the vet.

At home, hold or secure your pet firmly (but not too tight!) by wrapping him in a clean towel. Use the body of a syringe (without the needle) to flush the wound with saline or clear water. Dry with gauze and apply an antibiotic ointment. Keep him isolated from other pets until the wound heals.



Family Matters: First Aid for Your Feathered Friend


First Aid for Your Feathered FriendWe strive to keep our pets safe, but accidents can still happen.

Birds can run into a window, get tangled in their cages, or even have a close encounter with another pet.

If your pet is injured, use your best judgment on getting it to a veterinarian, but there are measures you can take at home to help, too.

If your bird has broken his wing, cut the toe off of a sock and slip your bird into it, pulling his head out the cut end so he can breathe. The wing is bound by his side and he can’t flap it. See your vet.

If the bird is bleeding, use baking powder or styptic powder to stop the bleeding. Then, place a gauze pad over the bleeding and apply appropriate pressure. If the wound is on its leg or foot, apply antibiotic ointment and cover.

In the case of an encounter with another pet, use hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound and cover it. Your bird should be taken to the vet for an exam.

Keep your bird at rest after an injury. Make sure they are warm, dry and in a peaceful environment. If you suspect infection or shock, take him to the vet immediately.



Family Matters: Books for Baby


Books for BabyI can’t stress enough how good books are for baby.

Board books. Pop-up books. Books with big, bright pictures. Even books that play music (although I resisted them forever).

Cuddling your toddler on your lap and reading to him is one of the best things you can do for your little one. First of all, they get cuddle time with you and that’s priceless. Secondly, they begin to appreciate reading while listening to the sound of your voice. Thirdly, they are developing their imagination and learning things each time a page turns.

Provide your little one with all kinds of books. My sons liked board books with the windows that opened and revealed another picture. They also loved ones that stimulated more senses with different textures they could feel, reflective surfaces and other sensory gems nestled among the pages. By the time they got to preschool, sight words were as commonplace as lunch and naptimes because they’d seen them so frequently on the pages of a book.

What will your little one’s favorite story be?



Family Matters: Dental Care


Dental CareEven before your baby sprouts a pearly white, you want to start taking care of her gums in preparation for teeth.

Babies get their first teeth at all different ages, but it’s probably safe to say they’ll have several by the time they’re in their second half of their first year.

From infancy, wipe baby’s gums with a soft, warm cloth to clean them after eating.

After the first tooth arrives, clean it with either a soft cloth or a soft finger brush. If you want to use a toothbrush, use one made for babies with soft bristles. Also, use a toothpaste formulated for babies. Adult toothpaste has too much fluoride for your tiny tot.

If you start early, baby will be accustomed to having her tooth and gums brushed, and the sensation shouldn’t bother her too much.

As your baby gets more teeth, make sure to brush every morning and every evening, and don’t let your child go to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, even if it’s diluted. The sugars pool in the mouth overnight, and they are not good for baby’s teeth.

My older son was never a fan of having his teeth brushed, even though we started from day one. Soon, we discovered that letting him hold his own toothbrush and providing him with ample brushing time after mom was finished solved the problem.



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