share. The Brookshire's Blog

Family Matters: Getting Dressed


Getting DressedSomewhere during this time period, your toddler will develop an opinion about what they want to wear and how they want to wear it.

Don’t turn it into a power struggle. Give your child some freedom in choosing his wardrobe and dressing himself.

Getting dressed is great for developing motor skills. They need gross motor skills to do things like put their pants on or put on a coat. They need fine motor skills to fasten a button or pull up a zipper.

They may only like pants with elastic waists or short-sleeved shirts. They might only wear the color green from head to toe or like to wear their knit hat around the house.

A lot of this is great development as they determine their likes and dislikes. While you don’t have to let your daughter wear her Belle ball gown to story hour, it’s probably fine to wear around the house.

If your son will only wear green socks, that’s probably fine, too.

If choices become an issue, help your child by letting them pick between two objects. “Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red one?” helps your child narrow down their choices, while still giving them freedom.



Family Matters: Baby’s First Words


Baby's First WordsSorry to break it to you, dads everywhere, but the “d” sounds are easier for your baby to make. Therefore, it’s much more common for a baby to say “Dada” before “Mama.”

Oh yes, he knows it’s you and he’s showing you affection. but it probably doesn’t indicate a preference by your baby for one parent over the other.

Typical speech development has a huge range of what is normal.

However, by the end of 12 months, your baby should be imitating sounds and saying a few words, including “dada,” “mama” and maybe “no.”

They should understand simple instructions, like “clap your hands” or “smile.”

They can recognize words for the common objects in their life like “snack,” “dog” and “cup.”

They should turn in and look in the direction of sounds.

If none of these are happening, consult with your baby’s pediatrician at his one-year checkup.



Family Matters: Tummy Time


Tummy TimeSomewhere during the first 6 months, your baby will learn to roll over on their own. For a lot of babies, this means they spend less time on their tummies.

However, more tummy time can strengthen baby’s arms, neck, shoulders and torso, and even help them get moving as all those body parts are essential elements for scooting and crawling.

Encourage baby to stay on his tummy by providing stimulation in the form of books, pictures, colors and textures that baby can easily access from a prone position.

You can also do “baby sit-ups” with him by having him lie on his back, letting him grip your fingers with his hands and helping him “sit up” into a seated position (you might want to do this on a bed or pillow in case he lets go and falls back).

You can also make a game of tummy time by moving different fun objects around baby’s field of vision so he has to look up, look around or push himself up more to see where the toy went.



Family Matters: Making Memories


Making MemoriesAs I’m writing this, my boys are gone on a spring break trip with their dad. By the time you read this, they will be home and my heart will be full. Right now, they’re on an adventure and making memories.

They’re going camping at a national park that they’ve never explored before, and I’m excited for them.

When it comes down to it, they’ve been pretty spoiled by spring break trips. They’ve been to the beach, to the Grand Canyon, to Arkansas and camping all around the state of Texas.

You don’t have to take a spring break trip to make memories, though. A weekend staycation or small trip to somewhere special makes memories just as significant as flying over the Grand Canyon, I promise you.

Look into hiking your closest state park. You don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy the great outdoors. We take day trips and make use of the day-use sites, where we can still grill out over an open fire, make a fire pit and hike the trails without having to sleep on the ground if we choose not to.

Find some local museums, or visit ones in a city nearby. You never know the gems you’ll find, or the people you’ll meet, inside.

Tour a few historic landmarks in your area. You might want to explore an old cemetery, being utterly respectful, of course. The artistry and history can be captivating.

Go to an amusement park for the day, and ride one ride that terrifies you.

Most of all, take pictures. Put together a photo book from a photo-sharing website, and the memories will last even longer.



Family Matters: Family Walks


Family WalksA few weekends ago, my 13-year-old asked if we could go on a walk.

I was tired. I had mountains of laundry to do and piles of papers to sort and organize for the upcoming week.

I said yes.

We had the best 45 minutes of the week together.

We put our phones away in our pockets (they were still counting steps!). We talked about things that happened during the week. There was no electronic interference or other people interrupting.

It was wonderful.

We did it again the next day with his brother. We found lichen-covered boulders and wild roses, and we counted rings in a tree that had fallen near the trail.

We don’t always have time on a weekday to take a walk. However, every weekend since that first walk, we’ve taken 45 minutes to just be together on a trail and not worry about anything except being together as a family.



Family Matters: Snakes


SnakesI have bad dreams about snakes.

My sister, who is a therapist, explained that I need to get over my fear of snakes.

I’m not sure I can.

However, they can make good pets.

Corn, King, Gopher and Ball Pythons are wonderful to keep in your house.

For health reasons, a snake should be able to stretch out two-thirds of its body length inside its own cage. If your pet snake reaches an adult length of six feet, its container should be 4 feet in length.  You don’t want your pet snake to have to stay curled up at all times.

Make sure that the type of snake you secure for a pet has a good temperament, as do the four mentioned above. Don’t try to tame an unruly snake; it’s not going to happen.

Take into account their feeding habits. Corn, King and Gopher snakes will accept frozen rodents as feed. Ball pythons are much more finicky, but be prepared to handle rodents, no matter what.

Don’t force the situation. The four snakes listed above thrive in captivity. Not all snakes do so without expert care.

Don’t buy a pet snake because you think it’s cool without careful consideration and study.



Family Matters: Leaving your Dog Alone


Leaving your Dog AloneOver the summer, I went on vacation.

I was gone for a week.

I brought my dog, Astro, to a local boarder who has a deluxe operation for taking care of pets when their people are on vacation. I mean, this place has TVs for each dog, a pool, a run yard and lots of great care.

Astro hated it. I mean, hated with a capital “H.” He jumped out of the car, but he refused to go in. He laid down on the concrete and wouldn’t budge. He had to be carried in, and let me just tell you; he’s pushing 100 pounds easily.

There are so many great options for taking care of pets while you’re gone, but you have to find the right one for your pet.

  1. Your vet might offer boarding. Your dog will already be familiar with going there, so that could be a great option.
  2. There are lots of places all over that board dogs, and it’s the only thing they do. See above. They are fabulous if your pet is social and accustomed to leaving the house. Make sure they have all their shots and records from your vet when you make reservations.
  3. Pet sitters. I now use a service that comes to my house on my (or in this case, Astro’s) schedule. They come every morning, love on him, let him out, feed him, make sure he has water and play with him. They do the reverse at night, letting him inside for the night. It’s about the same price as the full-service boarding, and he gets to stay home, no carrying required.
  4. Use a teenager or responsible child in your neighborhood. My boys, young teenagers, dog sat last summer and thought it was the best gig ever. That pup got more attention than our own dog receives because they were so intent on doing a great job.

There are a few things to remember before leaving your pup alone.

Make sure he has all his shots.

Make sure he has on a collar and tags, in case he does get lost. Even better, get him chipped. Many pet facilities offer this for no-to-low cost.

Make sure your sitter/facility has plenty of food (if you’re boarding him, you might need to provide your own food to avoid intestinal distress) and treats.

Make sure his caregiver has access to his favorite toys and knows his schedule, routines and any quirks. For instance, Astro will not eat if anyone is in the room, and I’ve trained him to only accept treats in one particular spot in the house.

Leave emergency contact information, and make sure there’s an in-town backup person if necessary.

LOVE your dog when you get home! He’ll have missed you as much as you missed him.



Family Matters: Bird Cages


Bird CagesWhen you bring your pet bird home, you can just use one little cage, right?

Wrong.

Your pet bird should ideally have two cages: one to live in and one to travel in. This is the cage your bird will identify with when it’s time to go to the vet, or to clean his primary cage.

Your bird’s cage needs to be large enough for him to spread his wings. For some birds, the traditional oblong cage is enough, but for other birds, a rectangular cage is necessary.

Provide a variety of perches for your pet’s comfort. Some like wider perches, but some like a more narrow space as it makes them feel more secure. They might like a wooden ladder, a rope, a swing and something in textured plastic for variety.

To clean, use diluted white vinegar and water.

Most of all, provide a variety of toys on a rotation to keep your bird interested and stimulated. Switch between toys that will provide different skills stimulation every day, such as balls, cardboard tubes, feathers, rings and bells.

When you transport your bird, keep the cage sterile and clean with one reminder of their regular home, such as a soft wash cloth that bears the scent of home.



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.



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