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Family Matters: Bathing Your Cat


Bathing Your CatNot only does your dog need to be groomed, especially if he’s an outdoor sort, but your cat should get some pampering, too.

Cats are somewhat self-cleaning. Their tongue is designed to help keep them clean and neat, but if your cat gets smelly, you might need to step in.

Bathing a cat can be about as fun as wrestling an alligator, but here are some tips to make it an easier process.

Choose a time when your cat is most mellow, maybe after an afternoon nap in the sunshine. Don’t attempt this right after they eat, however. It can upset their stomachs if they get stressed out during the process.

Trim their claws before you attempt a bath, for your safety.

Place a fluffy towel or rubber mat in the bottom of a sink or the tub, whichever you use. This will help with traction.

Place an oven rack or cookie-cooling rack in the tub or sink. This gives kitty something to cling to, besides your arm, during the bath process.

Make sure water is warm, but not too hot or too cold. Don’t suds their faces; they usually hate that. Using the water wand, gently and thoroughly wet the cat. Massage some specially formulated shampoo (made for cats, not for humans and definitely not dish soap) into his coat. Rinse thoroughly.

Immediately scoop your cat up with a towel wrapped snugly around him; dry thoroughly.



Family Matters: Sleep Pattern Disruption


Sleep Pattern Disruption A lot of my (younger) mommy friends have been complaining that their toddlers have a significant backslide in sleep between the ages of two and three.

This throws them for a loop.

First of all, they’ve had at least a year of blissful, uninterrupted sleep from when their little one finally slept through the night after infancy.

Secondly, a lot of these moms have introduced a new sibling to the mix, so their older baby getting enough sleep is crucial.

Ironically, the older child may backslide because of a new sibling. Whether it be due to a little unconscious jealousy, insecurity, disruption in their routine or being woken by the new baby, your toddler might start waking up during the night, too.

One friend’s son was having bad dreams. Nothing she did would get him to settle back down into his own bed. Against everything she said she would never do, she put him in her bed for a few nights, and then he was fine to go back to his own bed after the brief phase of night terrors passed.

Another friend’s son woke up around 2am to get a drink of water one night. Then, he did it the next night, and the next and the next and the next. The doctor finally advised taking him out of his routine entirely. My friends sent him to his grandmother’s house for the weekend, and when he came home, the pattern had been broken.

There’s not a lot of reason for your toddler to wake up at night. They may wake up because they have a wet or dirty diaper, and they are starting to be aware and uncomfortable (in this case, it’s probably time for potty training). They may actually need a drink. (You can leave a sippy cup of water near their bed for easy access. Don’t leave milk or juice as it could spoil, and it pools in the teeth overnight, which is bad for dental development.)

They might just need some comfort and to be tucked back in. If sleep disruptions persist, consult your pediatrician.



Family Matters: Make Your Own Baby Food


Make Your Own Baby FoodOne of my favorite gifts that my friend received at her baby shower last week was a baby food cookbook, for when her 6-month-old is about ready to start solids.

Note: Some babies start solid foods earlier, but both of my boys were ready at 6 months.

It was an organic cookbook full of great recipes for first foods for their precious daughter. Since Mom is quite the gardener, I’m sure she’ll have tons of options available for when her daughter is ready for solid foods.

You don’t need an organic cookbook or a garden to make your own baby food.

Making my sons’ food was one of the joys of that age period for me. It’s simple, and you know exactly what’s going into their meals.

All you really need to get going are some storage containers (use ice cube trays and freeze individual portions if you’re going to prepare food in bulk), a good food processor or food mill, and lots of beautiful produce and whole-grains.

To prepare foods, most vegetables just need to be steamed until they’re very soft, and then pureed. I would use either the liquid from the cooking pot, or some breast milk or formula to help thin the puree mixture and add extra nutrients.

It was fun to make different combinations of foods. Sweet potatoes were good pureed with apples. My boys liked peas and carrots, and broccoli and carrots together, too. If you’re not freezing your portions, avocado or banana is great mashed with other foods.

Your baby will guide you as to what textures and consistencies he likes. Both of mine had to start out with a thinner, more watered-down mixture and build up to a thicker consistency.

You can even puree and serve baby leftovers of your own foods, if they are age-appropriate.



Family Matters: “Must-Have” Gadgets


Must-Have GadgetsI went to a friend’s baby shower last week, and let me just tell you, it’s been a long time since I went to a baby shower.

It was fun to see all the new “must-have” gadgets and products for your newborn.

The one that probably surprised me the most was the new style of nasal aspirator.

You want a nasal aspirator around when you have a baby because they can’t blow their noses or clear fluids from their noses and mouths, which can impede eating and even breathing. When my kids were babies, we used a bulb syringe, a suction device with a balloon-shaped piece at the end of a tapered cone that you simply inserted into the baby’s nose and squeezed (then thoroughly sterilized between each use).

Now, the hot nasal aspirator also has the little tube that you insert into the tip of baby’s nose, but instead of bulb suction, there’s tubing attached so you can use your mouth to suck out the baby’s blockage. It doesn’t make it all the way to your mouth, mind you, and the thought is that you can better control the level of suction with your mouth, instead of with the bulb.

My friend received three of them, so they are probably a big deal.

Whatever style you use, keep one on hand, as a clear airway is imperative to baby’s health.



Family Matters: Peanut Butter for the Win


Peanut Butter for the WinBrookshire’s Peanut Butter makes snack time more fun.

Peanut butter is a great source of protein for little ones who often don’t like – or have a hard time chewing – meat. Peanut butter to the rescue!

Tasty, delicious, nutritious and just plain fun, peanut butter can be the star of your kids’ snacks.

  • Dip apple slices into peanut butter or sandwich peanut butter between two thin slices of apple.
  • Spread peanut butter on celery and top with raisins.
  • Combine peanut butter with chia seeds, oats and mashed banana for high-powered energy bites.
  • Add peanut butter to your smoothie for extra protein.
  • Mix into plain Greek yogurt for a yummy fruit dip.
  • Drizzle over apple slices and sprinkle with toasted coconut to make apple “nachos.”
  • Use as a topping on pancakes.
  • Slice a banana in half lengthwise and spread each half with peanut butter, topping with granola.
  • Slice bananas into rounds, spread with peanut butter and make little banana “sandwiches.”
  • Flatten a slice of sandwich bread with a rolling pin. Spread with a thin layer of peanut butter and jelly. Roll into a log; slice into rounds for a PB&J roll-up.
  • Spread a whole-wheat tortilla with peanut butter. Top with thin slices of banana. Roll up; slice into rounds.
  • Peel a banana and freeze it. Spread with peanut butter, and roll in sunflower seeds. Store in freezer for a banana pop.


Family Matters: Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Small Animal


Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Small AnimalYour small pet needs some power-packed nutrition for all its energy needs.

Specifics will vary with your small pet, but follow these guidelines to provide the safest, healthiest food for your small animal.

Do give your small pet hay. Hay should comprise approximately 75 percent of the diet for guinea pigs, chinchillas and rabbits because its fiber helps them maintain a healthy weight. It is also good for their teeth.

Serve them a salad! Kale, collards, mustard greens, dandelion, escarole, broccoli, zucchini, squash or carrots make a great meal for your small pets. If they haven’t finished their serving in a few hours, remove the extra from their cage.

Nutritional pellets that you can buy at a pet store or from your vet are good choices as well; serve in moderation.

DO NOT feed your small animal any kind of chocolate, alcohol, caffeine or anything spicy. Do not give them meats, cheeses or dairy. Keep them away from any houseplants or any other indoor foliage they could chew on.



Family Matters: Earning Cat’s Trust


Earning Cat’s TrustMy boyfriend, Paul, is the pet whisperer. My dog, Astro, loves him more than me.

Paul has also recently acquired a pet cat at his house, not really on purpose. She was a stray that had a litter of kittens under his storage shed. She’d hiss at him if he came near or run away if her kittens were safe.

Little by little though, he’s won her over.

Now, she jumps into his lap for some daily love and lets him hold her and pet her.

Cats don’t always trust easily, especially if they’re wild cats. It takes time and patience. Paul started out just by sitting on the back porch and letting her get accustomed to him being there.

He spoke to her softly and stayed pretty still while she got used to him.

Gradually, she’d come out of hiding if he was there and sit across the yard.

Little by little, she’d come closer if he was outside (it helped that he started feeding her). Then, she let him pet her gently while she stood on the ground.

Eventually, she let him hold her.

Now, she loves to be held and gets comfortable on his lap out in the afternoon sun every day.

Give it time with your pet cat. Even domesticated kitties take some time to become your lifelong friend.



Family Matters: Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Exotic Bird


Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Exotic BirdFor humans, a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good thing. For your pet bird, some of those things that are healthy for humans are toxic for birds.

DO NOT FEED YOUR BIRD:
Avocados, for one. Do not give your bird avocado in any form. There is an enzyme in the pit that can leach into the fruit and be perfectly fine for humans but toxic for birds.

Do not give your bird onions; there’s too much sulfur in them for a bird to digest.

Avoid garlic; it has similar chemical compounds to onions.

Do not feed your bird tomatoes; they are too acidic.

Also, avoid mushrooms; they are a fungus that birds cannot digest well.

Finally, stay away from celery, specifically, the strings. Birds (except parrots) cannot chew the stringy fibers well.

Citrus fruits. Again, too acidic.

(Also, it should go without saying, but no chocolate, alcohol or caffeine either.)

There are still plenty of healthy foods you can give your bird.

DO GIVE YOUR BIRD:
Apples, grapes and bananas. These are easy to chew and digest, and they supply lots of vitamins for your bird. Cut into a small dice before giving to your bird.

You can also give corn, broccoli, carrots, yams and peas. Your bird will enjoy the different flavors, colors and textures.

When in doubt, ask your vet!



Family Matters: Crafts with Your Pup


Crafts with Your PupIt’s no secret that our pet pups have our hearts.

This is especially true in the case of my dog, Astro, and my boyfriend, Paul. Astro loves Paul like nothing I’ve ever seen. Sure, Astro LIKES me, but he LOVES Paul. Every evening, when Paul pulls into the driveway, Astro hurtles off his chair and runs to the back door, so he’s the first one to greet Paul when he walks through the door.

After we finish eating dinner, Astro is waiting to take his place next to Paul on the couch. He lays his head on Paul’s lap and stakes his territory with a (large) paw across his legs.

Astro talks to Paul, making sounds in a language clearly only the two of them understand.

So, this Valentine’s Day, Astro is making a little present for his favorite person: Paul.

We’re going to dip his paw in acrylic paint and stamp paw prints on a canvas for Paul. All you need is a fresh white canvas and some non-toxic acrylic paint in a color of your choice. Get your dog comfortable and relaxed. Spread newspapers on the floor and place the canvas on top. Squirt paint onto a paper plate or bowl. Have your dog lay or sit next to the canvas. Dip his paw into the paint and press onto the canvas. Repeat until you have a pattern you like. You can do the same with poster board and place it in a frame.



Family Matters: Babysitters


BabysittersSometime in your baby’s life, you might need to ask the grandparents to babysit.

That’s the position my sister found herself in this week. She had a once-in-a-decade opportunity to accompany her husband on a business trip to somewhere fabulous, and she decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

So, my parents in their late 60s flew across the country to stay with her four kids, ages 2 to 10 (in fact, the twins just turned 2 yesterday).

It’s not always easy for a grandparent to step in, but there are ways you can facilitate an easy transition.

  • Have a backup plan. Leave the caregiver the number of a neighbor or a friend who is very familiar with your children and can step in to help if necessary.
  • Enlist this same friend to take a child or two off the grandparents’ hands for an afternoon.
  • Prepare meals to leave in the freezer for the grandparents to easily reheat. Even if they are adept at parenting, they are parenting children they are not used to, and things will take them longer to accomplish. Plus, they are older than when they were parenting you and may wear out more easily, even if they are in the best of health. As an alternative, leave a gift card for a delivery meal.
  • Write down a schedule. Don’t assume they know that one child needs a sippy cup of water and a stuffed giraffe to go to sleep while he’s laying upside down in his bed with a nightlight shining. Write it all down.
  • Call your littles every day while you’re away and FaceTime if necessary. If this upsets them too much, skip this step, but it’s probably for their benefit.
  • If you have time, leave them hidden notes or a scavenger hunt that they can find during the days you’re gone.
  • Bring them back a treat and celebrate your return!


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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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