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Family Matters: Sippy Cup


Sippy CupAt about 10 months old, baby can drink from a cup.

Let him.

Using a sippy cup instead of a bottle promotes fine and gross motor skills, as well as important oral development.

Baby doesn’t really need to nurture the sucking reflex with a bottle, which soothed them as an infant. Now, they can also be a big kid and drink from a cup.

To transition baby to cup, use the same liquid they are already familiar with in their bottle. If baby is still nursing, introduce diluted juice, small amounts of water or formula in the cup.

Let them practice in their high chair and don’t worry if they don’t get it right away. Learning to tip the cup so far back takes practice!

TIP 7-12 Months: Let your little one “pick out” the cup he’s going to use. That might help with the transition. Also, sippy cups with a flexible spout are more like the bottle or breast and might make the transition easier. 



Family Matters: Ear Infections


Ear InfectionsOne of my good friend’s baby has had a rotten go of it.

She’s congested. She coughs a lot. Her little nose is stopped up, and she constantly tugs at her ears. She’s had ear infection after ear infection in her short little life.

My friend finally opted to have tubes put in her ears, at the recommendation of the pediatrician. Ear tubes are plastic and shaped like a hollow spool. Doctors suggest tubes for children who have repeat ear infections or when fluid stays behind the eardrum. The tubes drain the fluid and hopefully, the child will not only have fewer or no ear infections but also fewer upper respiratory problems.

Tubes allow air to enter the middle ear and flow back out into the ear canal. They clear fluid from the middle ear and restore hearing while preventing the future buildup of fluid. They also release the feeling of pressure and pain for your little one.

She took her baby in early one morning. The procedure usually is on an outpatient basis under light general anesthesia. She went home about two hours later. That’s been two months ago, and she hasn’t had an ear infection or bad cold since.

 TIP 0-6 months: Use wax or custom ear plugs to keep baby’s ears dry after tubes. It’s also not a bad idea to use them while they swim, as well, to keep the ears dry. 



Family Matters: Brothers…Make a Difference


BrothersIt’s funny to me that I have four daughters but grew up with seven boys…3 brothers and the others were family. I was a “tomboy” by every means and enjoyed hanging out with the boys and their friends. It was a given that no one messed with me or they would be answering to more than one. It was a great feeling knowing my brothers loved me and wanted to protect me. I always knew I was special to them, as they were to me.

We all married and have children of our own now. My brothers live close and I see them regularly. While my “other brothers” live away, they are not forgotten. I am always telling my girls stories of how much fun my brothers and I had growing up on our dairy farm. Having brothers was (and still is) a blessing and I treasure every moment with them.

We recently found out my youngest brother has cancer and will soon begin chemotherapy and radiation. It was a shock to our family, but we are all committed to facing it together. I now find myself in the role that my brothers played in wanting to protect and comfort him at all costs. I daily ask the Lord to give him strength to face each day and peace in knowing that he is loved by so many who will be there with him through this trial. My heart is broken and tears are shed, but my faith keeps me focused and gives me hope in the tough days ahead.

There is a lot that my brother will need in coming months. We will see that his needs are met, but most of all, he needs our prayers. In my family, we know there is “one greater” and we look to Him daily for direction, comfort, peace and understanding in all things. Our families have faced many trials over the years. The one thing we know for sure is that prayer works miracles, and that is what we are now praying for. God is good and His love endures forever.

Remember that even though we are not kids anymore, we need to always love and support our siblings. Don’t miss out on opportunities to tell those you love how you feel. Reach out to your “brothers” and let them know how special they are. Most importantly, PRAY daily. It makes ALL the difference. Count your blessings and give thanks for time with family!

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Family Matters: Pizza and a Movie


Pizza Movie

Friday night at our house has always been a traditional pizza and movie night. When the kids were younger, we would take them to the video store every Friday night. First, we would order our pizza. Then, the kids would pick out a movie for them, and my husband and I would pick out a grown-up movie for us. By the time we made our video selections, our pizza was ready to take home.

Times have changed over the past 16 years. We no longer go to the video store, and we can now download or stream the movie of our choice. We no longer need to get a kids’ movie and an adult movie. Now, it’s usually a guys’ movie and a girls’ movie. However, one thing remains the same; Friday night is always pizza night!

Over the years, I have tried all kinds of pizzas: ordered in, homemade, frozen, cook it when you get home pizza, etc. This past Friday night, I wanted to change it up a bit and made a pizza casserole. My kiddos and husband were impressed that I made something new that kept with our traditional Friday pizza and movie night!

Pizza Casserole

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 (16 oz) bag rotini or penne pasta, cooked
1 (32 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1 lb bulk Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
4 oz sliced pepperoni
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1 cup sliced green bell pepper
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 cup sliced bottom mushrooms
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place cooked pasta in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Top with spaghetti sauce and all other ingredients except the cheese.
Top the entire dish with the shredded mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.

BITS & PIECES
Many casseroles can be assembled ahead of time and chilled until baking.
Remove the dish from the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before putting it
in the oven. You may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.

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

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Family Matters: Another Dog?


DogI’ve been facing a dilemma recently, that being whether or not to get another dog.

I had three of them until they dug under the fence into the neighbor’s yard, and she let them out of her gate without bothering to tell me that they’d gotten out.

I was trying to be a responsible pet owner, I really was, but perhaps an Australian shepherd puppy and a German shepherd puppy weren’t the best choices for a smallish, suburban backyard.

That was over a year ago, and I’ve gone back and forth about getting another dog.

On the pros list: I love dogs. I would enjoy their companionship and having company when I’m home alone. I’d love to “rescue” a stray and give it some love. The boys would like it.

On the cons list: Nothing can change the fact I work long days and am not home to give a dog a lot of attention during daylight hours. I still have the hole under my fence. Vet bills can be expensive.

So, I’m still pondering.

What do you think?



Family Matters: First Words


TalkingBetween 8-12 months, your child should say his first word.

“Dada” is a very common one, and while dads are of the utmost important, the “d” consonant blend is very easy to say. So, don’t despair, moms. It’s just the path of least resistance at this point.

My boys had to do things their own way.

My older son’s first word was “light” and my younger son’s was “bird.” Now, the older one talked later, much later, than average, but I have no idea where “bird” came from with the younger one.
During this time, they’ll probably add another word to their vocabulary, babble and make noises all the time.

If your child isn’t talking, don’t worry, but if he’s not much into babbling, just ask your doctor for a quick check-up.

TIP 7-12 months:  Around 12 months, baby can scribble with a crayon. Give him a washable version and some paper, and let him go to town!



Family Matters: Brushing Baby’s Teeth


Brushing TeethFirst, baby’s gums need to be brushed then the teeth.

By the time they’re one year old, you should be brushing twice a day with a soft toothbrush.

Decay in baby teeth can be painful and cause infections.

When brushing, teach your toddler how to spit out the fluoride toothpaste (they’ll probably enjoy approved spitting), but don’t rinse after brushing. That actually removes the fluoride.

Don’t give your toddler a bottle or sippy cup in bed. If they have to have something, stick to plain water.

Don’t introduce sugary drinks. It’s easier never to start than to wean them from sugar-filled drinks.

Visit a dentist at 1 year old. The dentist can advise you on the best practices for your little one.

TIP 13-36 months: Use a fingertip toothbrush, a soft rubber form that fits over mom or dad’s finger, to get the best brush for your young toddler.



Family Matters: Crying Baby


CryingMy friend, Kristina, had a baby in the late fall, and that sweet little bundle of joy never stops crying.

Ok, that’s a huge exaggeration, but from what I’ve experienced with my two kids, her baby cries more than normal. She’s taken her to the doctor to rule out colic, pain or any other kind of sickness. So, while it’s frustrating, even maddening at times, the fact of life is that babies cry. Sometimes, they cry a lot.

Crying is almost an infant’s only way of communicating. They can’t tell you they’re hungry or cold or wet or dirty, so they squawk about it.

Excessive crying can be caused by boredom or loneliness, colic, discomfort or irritation, gas, hunger or thirst, illness, infection, medications, normal muscle jerks that disrupt sleep or pain.
Once you’ve ruled out pain, changed the diaper, fed them and gave them something to drink, the best cure could just be cuddling. Simple enough, right? We hope so! If your infant’s crying seems out of hand, consult your doctor. They can do a thorough examination.

TIP 0-6 months: Are you cold? If you’re cold, baby is cold. Baby doesn’t need TONS of extra layers, so dress baby like you dress and add an extra blanket if needed.



Family Matters: Birthday Boy


Birthday BoyI could probably write this post every year. In fact, I think I probably have, but where on earth does time go?

My older son will turn 12 on Tuesday, and it feels like he was just born yesterday or the day before.

In the blink of an eye, he went from a 7-pound bundle of joy to a smart, handsome, clever, funny, hardworking young man.

I think back to all those milestones: When he took his first step in the kitchen and I cheered so loudly he fell down and started to cry.

When I left him in the church nursery for the first time and spent the entire worship service worrying.

When he went off to school for the first time and I went home and cried and cried and cried.

When he played on his first soccer and basketball teams. When he wanted to learn Power Point (in the first grade) so he could give his class a presentation on the real meaning of Easter.

When he started middle school and went to his first dance.

It goes by so quickly.

Enjoy every day and every moment, even the tough ones, the mouthy ones, the sleepless ones and the worrisome ones. You never get those moments back.

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Family Matters: Valentine’s Tradition


Valentines

Flowers, candy and stuffed animals are what most people think about when you mention Valentine’s Day. At our house, we treat Valentine’s Day differently; we don’t do the traditional flowers and candy. My husband found after a few years of purchasing items for five women in the house that it is a lot of money spent on things that are short lived. So, he decided to make a new tradition that would not take the “sweetness” out of the occasion. 

Every year, my girls and I are treated to a home-cooked meal prepared by their dad and then a trip to a movie. We go to an early show (saves money), and since we just ate at home, no one is hungry for snacks at the movie (another money saving tip). As a family of six, we do not go to the movie but a few times a year, so this is a real treat for us to go together. The meal is always special knowing it was prepared with love and then sitting together as a family and enjoying it. 

To some, our Valentine’s tradition may not be what you consider spectacular, but to our family, it is something we look forward to each year. The money spent on flowers, candy and stuffed animals is something that no one remembers weeks later, but the time my husband spends making Valentine’s special each year, we will forever hold dear. 

Don’t go broke trying to show those you love the most that they are special. Focus on your family by personally adding a little “sweetness” to their Valentine’s. Count your blessings daily and give thanks for the time you are given with them.  

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