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Family Matters: Putting Your Pooch on a Diet


Putting Your Pooch on a DietYou might not have been the only one to overindulge during the holidays; your dog might have gotten a bit fluffier as well. It’s easy for pups to sneak treats during the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and the colder weather is making exercise more difficult.

To tell if your dog is overweight, feel around his ribs and spine. You should be able to locate both with only a thin layer of fat separating the skin from the bones. If you can’t find the ribcage, you have an overweight dog.

Don’t worry; it’s pretty easy to take care of on your dog. After all, your dog can’t raid the freezer at midnight for that gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream you have hidden in the back.

First of all, know the correct portion size for your pup. Consult your vet; they should be able to tell you quite easily how much you should be feeding him.

If necessary, cut back on the amount of food he eats. You might also have to evaluate the kind of food he eats and make a change appropriate for overweight or less active dogs.

Limit or restrict treats entirely. Just like with people, they can be empty calories. Use other rewards, like hugs or cuddles, for incentive.

Take your dog for a walk! It’ll be good for both of you.



Family Matters: Keeping Your Cat at a Healthy Weight


Keeping Your Cat at a Healthy WeightWe’ve all seen the grumpy cat memes where the fat cat is generally disgusted with life, but it’s not such a laughing matter in reality.

Cats can be prone to obesity because they don’t tend to get a lot of exercise.

First, talk to your vet about how many calories your cat should be consuming each day. This might be far fewer than you think.

Secondly, rethink the way you feed your cat. If you have food available to her all day every day, of course she’s going to want to eat it. Consider portioning out small amounts throughout the day, then removing uneaten food until it’s time to feed again.

Next, look at what kind of food you’re giving your cat, and have a discussion with your vet over what is the best for her needs. Read labels carefully. Just because a food says that it’s made from real meat doesn’t mean there’s much actual meat in the food, and cats thrive off of lean protein.

Try to get your cat moving by playing with her toys, giving her a scratching post or a place to climb, and by tossing objects for her to pounce upon.



Family Matters: Music To Your Ears


Music To Your EarsDid you know that your pet bird probably loves music?

We know birds sing, but that’s not even the kind of music we mean.

Letting your bird listen to music can make him a happier, healthier pet.

First of all, don’t play music too loudly. Nothing you play loudly will sound good to your pet bird. Keep the volume low, and experiment with what kind of music he likes to listen to. Nature sounds might be inviting to some birds, while others might like classical tunes.

Play it softly near their cages, especially if your bird is anxious or high-strung.

While you can let your bird listen to music for his enjoyment or to soothe him, don’t keep it on all the time or he will become dependent on the white noise.



Family Matters: Toddler Proofing


Toddler ProofingWeebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.

Babies do though, especially toddlers

There’s no need to put a crash test helmet on your toddler who is learning to walk, but there might be good sense in toddler-proofing the rest of the house.

Fireplaces, specifically their hearths, could use a good, padded edging and corner protection.

Corners of sharp dining tables and end tables could also use protection from baby’s teetering step. Foam padding, or just a heavy quilt and some duct tape, can help protect baby’s eyes and head from sharp corners.

Use duct tape or non-skid pads to secure rugs or throw rugs to the floor.

Secure things they can pull down on top of them, like tablecloths with candlesticks on top, towels with pots or runners with decorative dishes.



Family Matters: Repetition


Repetition Babies of this age like repetition.

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

You get the idea.

Repetition helps baby learn. It also helps them feel secure in their routine and gives them confidence to predict what comes next.

With that familiarity, baby has the confidence to learn and branch out.

He thinks, ‘I know what’s coming next, so I’ll venture to learn the next line.’

Repetition improves baby’s learning skills.



Family Matters: Dance with Baby


Dance with BabyWhen baby is about 6 months old, there are so many fun things you can do with him!

For instance, you can dance.

From birth to 6 months, baby has worked on strengthening neck and back muscles. So, when he’s six months old, you can dance!

All you need is music. Then, you can hold baby close to your chest and torso, and gently move him around the room. Baby will love the feel of being close to you and moving gently in time to the music.

Developmentally, baby is learning proprioceptive movement or, in other words, the feel of how his body moves through space.

He’s learning rhythm or the feel of how he moves in accordance to the music playing.

He’s also bonding with you from the close contact, laughing and enjoying the activity.



Family Matters: Family Resolutions


Family ResolutionsI don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I feel like that just sets me up for feeling like I failed (and be honest, have you ever KEPT a resolution all year? If so, write me.)

However, there are goals that I focus on accomplishing. Argue, they’re the same thing. They very well may be, but I prefer “goals” to “resolutions.”

Either way, I set some goals for myself, and I try to ask the kids what they want to do, too. This year, I changed the approach because of something I saw work amazingly well at the corporate level: We set team goals (or resolutions, what have you).

Here’s what my family came up with as resolutions/goals for 2017. It’s a fun exercise to do with your family, too, no matter what you call it.

  • Eat more pizza. (Ok, we’ll have to see about this one. Luckily, Brookshire’s prepares it in the grocery deli case!)
  • Go on more adventures. (Yes! A thousand times, yes. Sometimes on weekends we get SO bogged down in what NEEDS to be done that we forget what we WANT to do. An adventure doesn’t have to cost anything or take a lot of time; it just has to be fun for the family.)
  • See more movies. (Um, do these have to be in the theater because Brookshire’s now stocks Popcorn Junction popcorn, and I purchased a subscription to Amazon Prime).
  • Eat outside more often. (This could be my favorite. This is the South, y’all. We can make this happen 10 months out of the year.)
  • Play more board games. (Board games might be my younger son’s love language. I’m all in, as long as he doesn’t cheat at Clue.)
  • Have us do fewer chores. (Sorry, buddy, no go.)
  • Go camping more often. (YES! And leave electronics in the car for emergencies only. And I mean “I just saw a bear in our campsite emergencies,” not “Can I play Pokemon Go?” emergencies.)
  • Take the dog for more walks. (Brilliant. Yes, good for everyone involved, Astro included. Note to self: Take a pooper scooper and bags so we don’t anger the neighbors.)
  • Plop your bottom on a surface at mealtime, and don’t get up for at least 15 minutes. (That’s mine. No matter how well-strategized mealtimes are, someone needs water 15 seconds into the meal. Someone else needs salad dressing 5 minutes in. Someone needs to use the restroom, and someone finished 5 minutes faster than everyone else.) Sit. Relax. Enjoy.

I’d love to hear some of your resolutions/goals/ideas, whatever you want to call them!



Family Matters: Quick ‘n’ Easy Party Rollups


Quick ‘n’ Easy Party RollupsI had never made tortilla rollups before but needed some type of “finger food” that was quick and easy for a party recently. After looking over several recipes, I finally decided to make my own based on other recipes but with things my family would eat. Try this recipe, and make it your own by adding your favorites!

Quick ‘n’ Easy Party Rollups

Ingredients:
1 pkg  cream cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
1 can Rotel, drained
3/4 small can black olives, diced
1/2 small can green chilies, chopped
1 (8 oz) pkg Colby Jack cheese, finely shredded
1 large can white chunk chicken breast, drained and pulled apart
black pepper
Morton Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend
1 pkg large flour tortillas

Directions:
Mix items in the order listed. Spread on tortillas (leave about 1/2 inch around with no mixture); roll them up and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for 1 hour; remove. Slice in 1 inch diameter pieces, and plate for the party. If you are not ready to eat immediately, you will need to refrigerate until ready. Do not refrigerate for more than 3 hours because that may cause tortillas to get a little moist. Other added suggestions include pimentos, chopped nuts, green olives, jalapeños, green onions, pickle relish (sweet or dill), hot pepper cheese, etc.

Serves 10

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

As you plan for parties for New Year’s, big football games, church gatherings or special holidays coming up, figure out what you like and give this recipe a try. Make several varieties, and see which everyone likes the best. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for time with your family and friends!



Family Matters: Baking Up a School Project


Baking Up a School ProjectBefore a recent school holiday, my son came home with an assignment for his world geography class that he was supposed to execute during the break.
In the vein of kids everywhere, he lamented having to do homework (insert eye roll here) over a school holiday (insert more eye rolls).

The project was to create a Christmas wreath from a country of his choosing, and it had to include salient points like prominent geography, language, religion, culture and holiday traditions. He informed me that he chose Switzerland.

I couldn’t have been move overjoyed.

When I lived in Germany, I spent quite a bit of time during the holidays in nearby Switzerland because Swiss Christmases are the stuff fairytales are made of. I also ate more than my fair share of hefekranz, a holiday treat.

The Swiss, and the Germans (and Austrians), bake these sweet breads for Christmas and for Easter. Translated literally, it means “heavy wreath.”

My son decided that he would bake a hefekranz as his “wreath” and add the other required elements in as pictures pasted to wooden skewers.

It was an all-day project. Considering it was HIS project, I was just around to make sure nothing went wrong. He had to execute it, beginning to end, by himself, and he did.

He learned to measure flour properly, leveling off the measuring up with the flat side of a butter knife. He learned to zest a lemon, sprinkling the fragrant yellow into the dough and being careful not to zest the bitter white part of the lemon peel. He learned how lukewarm water activates yeast, but if the water is too hot, it kills the live cultures.

He learned to knead, braid and glaze, all over the course of a Sunday when he punched down dough and waited for it to rise again. He learned that being patient, very patient, is often the best way to coax dough into a rope. He gained new appreciation of the Swiss that day, along with the necessity of reading directions carefully before beginning to bake. He learned that baking is a science and not something to undertake haphazardly.

I learned that he has a lot more patience and tenacity than I gave him credit for. I learned that I passed my skill for making a mess in the kitchen onto the next generation. I also realized the project (which I had kind of been dreading) was actually a great day to spend in the kitchen with my son.

You don’t have to bake a hefekranz this holiday season to spend some time with your children and learn something new. They will love it, and I suspect that you will, too.



Family Matters: Dog Ear Infections


Dog Ear InfectionsDogs can get ear infections, too.

Just like humans, a dog’s ears can ache and cause them quite a bit of misery.

Canine ear infections are often caused by bacteria or yeast. Ear mites, unkempt or excessive hair, moisture or ear wax, foreign objects, allergies and hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) can all contribute to your dog developing an ear infection. Another risk factor is due  to the fact that a dog’s ear canal is mostly vertical (unlike the human ear which is horizontal), and it’s easy for debris and moisture to be retained in the ear canal.

Signs of an ear infection in your dog include:

  • Scratching of the ear or area around the ear
  • Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
  • Odor in the ear
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Crusts or scabs on the inside of the outer ear
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Rubbing of the ear and surrounding area on the floor or furniture
  • Head shaking or head tilt
  • Loss of balance
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Walking in circles
  • Hearing loss

Luckily, ear infections are easily treated. Your vet might prescribe an antibiotic and a topical ointment.

To help prevent ear infections, keep your dog’s ears clean and dry. Check them frequently for debris, mites or the sign of anything unusual.



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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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