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Family Matters: “Me Time” for Mommy


“Me Time” for MommyWhoooo weeeeee, those first six months of baby’s life are quite the ride.

You’re exhausted beyond all possible endurance, your body is doing all kinds of amazing – and weird – things that you weren’t expecting and another human is attached to you at almost all times.

You wouldn’t trade it for the world, but you still need a break.

“Me time” is good for new mothers. It makes you a better parent, gives you some respite from your rapidly changing world, and refreshes and rejuvenates you.

Getting “me time” in can be as simple as taking a long bath. Don’t just let it be a bath; make it a spa experience with scented body washes from the personal hygiene aisle at Brookshire’s. Treat yourself to your favorite scent and soak away. Or, add about 1/4 cup Epsom salts to your bath, sprinkle in your favorite essential oil and relax. Give yourself a facial at the same time by mixing oats with raw honey and placing slices of cucumbers over your eyes to help the bags (yes, you probably have them, we all did).

“Me time” can also come in the form of finding a quiet corner (let Dad be in charge of baby!) and reading your favorite book or magazine with a cup of Brookshire’s Best Coffee.

Make time for your favorite hobby. Mine, at the time my boys were little, was scrapbooking with actual paper, scissors and glue! I would spend any free time I had at my work table, happily creating new designs. Is your hobby sewing? Make time for 30 minutes a day for that. Do you love crossword puzzles or yoga? Make sure to schedule time for yourself.

Whatever it is, from a monthly Girls’ Night Out or Bunco game to quiet time to rest and recharge, make “Me Time” a priority!



Family Matters: Get More Dairy


Get More DairyOnce your baby is about six months old, they’re ready for more dairy in their diet.

Now remember, this does not include cow’s milk (save that until baby is one year old), but it can include things like yogurt, cheese or baked goods.

Yogurt is a great way for baby to get calcium and the “bacteria” in yogurt that is good for digestion. Yogurt is also a great way for babies to get the fat they need. Choose a Greek yogurt that is high in calcium and protein. Stay away from varieties with artificial sweeteners.

Cheese is another good way to get dairy into baby’s diet, starting at about 8 months. Small cubes of cheese that they can chew or gum on are a good way to snack and to practice fine motor skills. Mozzarella cheese sticks or string cheese is good, too. You can also make cheese toast with American cheese and whole-grain bread. Mac and cheese with whole-wheat elbow macaroni is a good choice, too.

Using cow’s milk in baked goods is just fine for baby. Banana bread, zucchini bread or biscuits are a great start.



Family Matters: Savvy Snacking on the Go


Savvy Snacking on the GoThere are lots of great ways to keep your toddler healthy and happy, and his belly full when you’re on the go. Savvy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated. Just pack a few of these essentials.

Dried fruit – Raisins, dried mangos, banana chips, prunes, dried apricots and dried cherries all make great snack choices.

Kale chips – What a great way to get your toddler to eat greens! Easy to make at home, these are a fabulous alternative to processed foods.

Granola bars – There are plenty of great recipes out there for homemade varieties, or buy something like KIND for your toddler’s nutritional needs.

Roasted chickpeas – My boys used to love these, and I couldn’t help but sneak a few from their baggie, too. Again, these are also easy to make at home, adding the seasonings your little one likes.

Sweet potato chips – Another great idea for a snacking powerhouse and super simple to make.

Homemade fruit leathers – Yummy, fun and highly portable (just stock a few wipes for sticky hands).

Homemade beef jerky – You control what goes in, so you know your little one is getting maximum nutrition and a ton of protein.

Cold grilled cheese – Why not?

Cereals – Look for a whole-grain variety that’s easy for your toddler to pick up.

Applesauce or fruit sauces – Homemade or from the store without added sugars.

Fruit – Sturdy fruits like bananas, apples and pears are easy to toss into the diaper bag.

String cheese – A great snack and a good way to get more dairy into your child’s diet.



Family Matters: Homemade Banana Bread


Homemade Banana BreadAbout a year ago, I found a recipe for banana bread made with buttermilk that is fantastic; it is so moist and has the best flavor. This is now our favorite bread recipe…it is delicious for breakfast (quick and easy for kids before school), snack time or a bedtime treat. You can heat a slice in the microwave and add a little butter – my husband’s favorite thing to do! It has been a family tradition to bake loaves of strawberry bread and give as gifts to close friends and teachers, and serve at family gatherings. Now, we have added this banana bread. If you enjoy bananas, this is a must-try recipe!

Homemade Banana Bread

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup Brookshire’s Buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups  ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
Cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time using a mixer. Stir baking soda into buttermilk then add to the mixture. Sift flour and baking powder; add to the mixture. Add vanilla and mashed bananas next; mix in and stir in pecans as the last item. Pour in a greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan (or 4 mini loaf pans, less cooking time). Bake at 300° F for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until bread is done (check with toothpick). Let cool shortly before removing from pan, or cut immediately and enjoy fresh hot bread with a glass of milk. Note: Bake it in a bundt pan for a fancy look and sprinkle with powdered sugar; it is a great party item.

Plan an afternoon and try this banana bread recipe – time in the kitchen with your family is an opportunity to bond and grow relationships. It may become a favorite family recipe that you can pass on for generations to come. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you share with your family!

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



Family Matters: Lucky Ice Cream Floats


Lucky Ice Cream Floats St. Patrick’s Day may be over, but you can still have some “green” fun in the kitchen this weekend. Your kiddos can still feel lucky with delicious – and decidedly green – ice cream floats that are simple for kids of all ages to make.

Start out by chilling the glass you will be using in advance, so the ingredients stay nice and cold. With an ice cream scoop, dip 2 to 3 scoops of Goldenbrook Farms Lime Sherbet into the glass. With a steady hand, carefully and slowly pour in the Brookshire’s BLAST! Lemon Lime. The combination will begin to foam. Stop pouring before the foam reaches the top of the glass. Add a fun straw to the drink and enjoy every sip!

For more kid-friendly recipes, pick up a free copy of Celebrate Cooking Magazine available online or at your local Brookshire’s.



Family Matters: Bathtime for Your Pets


Bathtime for Your PetsLast weekend, we gave my 95-pound rescue dog, Astro, his first bath. Well, at least the first time we’d bathed him since we got him in July.

Yes, it was long overdue.

The most difficult part was getting Astro into the bathtub. He didn’t like it, at all. He dodged and ran into my closet, which is an adventure in and of itself. (In the summer, we’ll bathe him outside, but it was too cold last weekend for an outside bath.) Then, he slipped through our grasps and got into the bedroom. He tried to hide under the bed, but a dog that stands hip height can’t quite make it. We finally got him into the bathroom and got the door closed, and two of us lifted him into the tub. Once in the tub, he didn’t mind at all, and I think he kind of enjoyed the warm spray from the shower head and the lather. (It took three times of lather, rinse and repeat to get him clean!)

According to the ASPCA, what we should have done was spend a few days slowly introducing him to the concept of bath time by bringing him into the bathroom, teaching him to step in and out of the tub by himself, using treats and rewards, and letting him hear the running water and get accustomed to it.

That would have helped.

Another way to give your pooch a good bath time memory is to give him treats AFTER the bath and to play with him. Trust me. I’ve filed all this information away for next time.



Family Matters: Splish, Splash, Baby was Taking a Bath


Splish, Splash, Baby was Taking a BathI think babies come in two categories when it comes to bath time: they either love it or they hate it.

I had two lovers, but my nephew was a hater of epic proportions. Getting him into the bath was akin to dunking him in a tub of scalding water.

There are lots of things you can try to make bath time a fun and relaxing experience for all involved.

First, you might want to try to experiment with different temperatures of water. Baby might like it warmer or cooler than what you expect.

Secondly, play some music in the bathroom. Classical is relaxing, but anything he’s accustomed to hearing will help him relax.

Fill the tub with fun toys! Floating animals, soap crayons, small cups, sieves or water wheels are all entertaining in the tub. A stick-on mirror could make for hours of fun in the tub if you put it at baby’s eye level. Sponges, washcloths and anything tactile could distract baby while you wash her hair and body.

Try lavender-scented baby wash. Lavender is supposed to have a calming effect, and the scent might just work on baby, too.



Family Matters: Bottoms Up!


Keep Baby’s Diaper Area Clean and DryThere is nothing more miserable than a baby with a bad case of diaper rash – for the parents or for the little one!

Luckily, with products and techniques available today, diaper rash is both preventable and treatable.

Diaper rash is usually caused by leaving a wet or dirty diaper on too long, rubbing or chafing against the diaper itself, a yeast infection, allergic reaction to the diaper or something the baby ate that comes out the other end and causes a reaction.

Babies get diaper rashes more often when they get older, sleep in a dirty diaper, have diarrhea, start eating solid foods or take antibiotics.

To prevent diaper rash, make sure baby is changed frequently. If they don’t tend to wake up at night when they’re dirty, a thin layer of diaper rash ointment or petroleum jelly can protect their bottom for several hours.

To treat diaper rash, let baby “air” out between diaper changes for a few minutes. Treat the rash areas with a diaper rash ointment. If diaper rash persists, you might have to eliminate certain things from his diet that cause severe irritation or change diaper brands.



Family Matters: Drink Up!


Transitioning Your Baby from a Bottle to a Sippy CupWhen your little one is about a year old, it’s time to transition from a bottle to a cup.

At this point, they have developed enough fine and gross motor skills to handle a cup and the sucking reflex has diminished significantly.

Some babies are ready for a cup much earlier than others, sometimes as early as six months old.

To start transitioning your baby from a bottle to a sippy cup, start by skipping a bottle-feeding every five to seven days.

Put whatever liquid your child is used to in his sippy cup — whether it’s breast milk or baby formula.

Put a little more liquid in baby’s cup and a little less in his bottle each time.

If your baby is old enough to show his preferences, let him get involved in selecting the cup; he’ll be more likely to use it.

Give your little one the liquids he likes best in the sippy cup and the ones he likes least in his bottle.

You can also go cold-turkey (my preferred method). Just hand your (developmentally ready) toddler a cup one day and go to town!

Transitioning can take anywhere from a day or two days to about a month, depending on the child and the consistency of the parents.



Family Matters: Does it really matter?


Does it really matter?As I sit in the hospital room where my youngest brother lies battling terminal cancer, I am brought to tears. When I talk to people and they mention fighting among their siblings and families about things that are so small and petty, it pains me. I have such a great relationship with my three brothers. We have always been close and supported each other and our families. I consider this as one of my greatest blessings.

As my brother would say, “put on your big girl panties” – meaning, grow up and learn to just move on when something upsets you. In the picture of life, do those small things that irritate you really matter? We are not promised tomorrow. We must learn to live each day to the fullest and to not leave things unsaid or undone that you would regret. In every situation, just ask: does it really matter?

I promise that if you find yourself (or a family member) faced with a life-threating situation, it will change how you look at life and how you live. So, why wait? Look for the good in each situation and find just one positive when it appears all negative. If you just take a few minutes each day, you will find the glory you are surrounded by and the small blessings you miss daily because you don’t take time to see them.

We are all blessed beyond measure of what we deserve, and it is a shame that it goes unnoticed. Take a moment each day to get on your knees, close your eyes and listen…God speaks to us daily. If we take time to speak to Him, you will view each day and every situation differently. If you don’t think it is for you, try it anyway. I promise you that it will change your life and the lives of those around you. Does it really matter…yes, when prayer is concerned and loving those around you like it is your last day…it does.

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