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FAMILY MATTERS: HOLIDAY COOKING WITH YOUR KIDS


Cooking KidsChances are that you’re spending a lot of extra time in the kitchen during the holidays preparing for countless festive meals. What a great opportunity this is to get your kids in the kitchen side-by-side with you baking up some wonderful holiday treats. Your hours spent in the kitchen will also be great bonding time with you and your kiddos.

My daughter, Grace, loves apples and wanted to bake something using apples since we are in the heart of apple season! You can take advantage of the abundance of the tasty little treats by preparing this scrumptious baked apple dish. It is a deliciously simple recipe that your kids can make with just a little supervision from you.

May you all have a wonderful holiday season baking and making memories with your kids!

Baked Stuffed Apples

Ingredients:
4 medium baking apples
1/3 cup snipped dried figs or raisins
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp apple pie spice or ground cinnamon
3/4 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp butter, cut into four pieces

Directions:

Clean & core apples:
With a parent’s help, clean and core apples with a knife or apple corer. Make hole 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide
and within a 1/2 inch of the bottom of the apple, making sure to remove any seeds. 

Cut strip off top:
With a paring knife, cut a strip of peel from the top of each apple. Place apples top sides up in a baking pan. Preheat oven to 375° F. 

Mix & stuff ingredients:
In a small bowl, combine figs, brown sugar and apple pie spice. Spoon mixture into centers of apples. Pat mixture in with a knife or spoon. Pour apple juice around apples in pan.

Butter & cook apples:
Top each apple with a piece of butter. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until tender but not mushy. Using a large spoon, transfer apples to dessert dishes, then spoon pan juices over apples. Serve warm with Goldenbrook Farms Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream on the side.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 260, Fat: 8 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 8 mg, Sodium: 28 mg, Carbohydrates: 50 g, Fiber: 6 g, Protein: 1 g

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FAMILY MATTERS: PLAYCARE


I saw a new (to me) term the other day: “I’m dropping Sophia off at ‘playcare,’” a friend posted on Facebook.

In between daycare and preschool, “playcare” situations are becoming more and more popular for parents of toddlers who need to run a few errands. Also called “mother’s day out,” playcare settings range from formal, registration-required programs to drop-in type services.

Is your toddler ready? Well, that depends on you. While separation anxiety is normal at this age (Does your toddler suddenly develop superhuman strength as he clings to your leg when you try to leave him in the church nursery?), letting him learn to be on his own and socialize is good, too.

Sophia went to playcare for two hours that day so her mom could go to the dentist, but I also have friends who have a regular schedule established each week. Regularity and consistency do help a child adapt to being dropped off to play!

Tip 13-36 months: Let your 3-year-old be responsible for some self-grooming, such as brushing their own hair and washing their face and hands. (You can always go behind them and ‘help.’) It teaches them responsibility and helps them feel important.



FAMILY MATTERS: CRYING


BabyA friend of mine had a baby about six weeks ago, and her Facebook posts for the first two weeks were pure bliss: sweet baby sounds, sleepy baby pictures, snuggling baby pictures and sheer happiness.

Then, the crying started, and it didn’t stop.

She took the sweet little thing to the doctor because she was getting just as distressed as the baby was. Her pediatrician diagnosed her little one with colic. Colic is often defined as crying more than three hours a day, three days a week for more than three weeks in an otherwise well-fed, healthy baby. Between 5 and 25 percent of babies are diagnosed with colic.

It’s excruciating. I should know. My younger son was what doctors called “colicky.” From about 4 to 7 p.m. each night, he screamed. I could only hold him positioned with his belly over my left (never the right) collarbone to ease the screaming. Let me just tell you, this was not an easy position to maintain with a 10-pound baby and a 17-month-old who needed to be fed, bathed and snuggled during this particular time period.

The good thing about colic is that it goes away. The bad thing is that there’s not a lot you can do about it. My doctor prescribed gas drops for my son. They sort of helped…and sort of didn’t. I changed my diet because I was nursing. That didn’t really help either. We just had to wait it out.

The good news is that we survived.

You will, too.

Tip 0-6 months: Don’t ever think your baby is too young to be read to. Read him a book every day and cuddle while you do. He loves the sound of your voice and the proximity to your body.



FAMILY MATTERS: SIPPY CUP


BabySeven to 12 months is the perfect time to introduce a sippy cup.

First things first: buy ones with lids that fit tightly.

Second thing: buy ones with lids that fit tightly.

Now that we’re clear on that, sterilize all parts of the sippy cup before you give it to baby for the first time. After subsequent uses, don’t forget to take the sippy cup all the way apart, removing the rubber stoppers and washing them separately each time. I may or may not be able to speak from experience that if you leave the rubber stopper in too many times between washings, it gets a little funky.

Start baby out with a little water, and let him just go to town with the cup. He may not be able to hold it still at first, and he may hit everything but his mouth. He may also not understand how to tip the cup back to drink from it. It’s OK if he needs a little help.

At the same time I introduced the sippy cup, I introduced the “sports bottle” type cup with a thick straw. Now, developmentally, babies aren’t supposed to be able to use a straw that early, but I never understood that. They can suck, right? My boys learned to use a sippy cup and a straw cup simultaneously with no problems.

As they grow, they’ll become more coordinated. By the time they turn one, they should have the sippy cup mastered!

Tip 7-12 months: It’s getting colder, so keep socks on baby’s feet. At this age, they may be learning to stand or walk, so buy socks with the great rubber grips on the bottom to help traction.



Family Matters: Happy Birthday to Me


Birthday CakeLast Thursday was my birthday.

Never being one for trying to hide my age, I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I turned 41.

Age is just a number, after all.

Truth be told, I love being 41 more than I loved being 21. I was too tired to remember 31; I had two kids under age 2 then.

Finally at 41, as opposed to 21, I love myself. It doesn’t matter that my thighs are a little heavier, the grays in my hair are a little more numerous or that my laugh lines are really wrinkles. I like me. It took a long time to get to that place. It hasn’t been an easy journey. I’m my own biggest critic. I feel guilty about pretty much everything, and I spend way too much time obsessing about how to control each nuance of my life. Now, at 41, I can look in the mirror and see a friend. I see someone who works really hard. I see a good mom (oh yeah, I make parenting mistakes all the time, but I have to give my children fodder for their future therapy, after all). I see a great friend and the decent person I try to be (yeah, I have also made mistakes there, but I can also say I’ve learned from them). I see someone who doesn’t try to stifle their intelligence but doesn’t lord it over anyone either. I see a person who has thrown all of herself into her children. I see a tireless (or is that tired??) volunteer. I see someone who can finally take a compliment (most of the time). I also see someone who values her own worth. I didn’t see any of that at 21. I saw fat, flab, insecurities and a person who did not love herself as much as she wanted others to love her.

I like being 41; it’s going to be a happy year.

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FAMILY MATTERS: PETS AND HALLOWEEN


Pet CostumeIt’s almost time for Halloween, and it’s tempting to dress your pet up like a cute devil, hot dog, fairy or goodness knows what else.

Now, I’m not in the dress-your-pet-up category (but then again, my dogs chewed leather collars off of each other, so a Halloween costume wouldn’t stand a chance), but I will admit I’ve seen a cute devil Chihuahua or firefighter Dalmatian a time or two.

If you do choose to trick-or-treat with your pet this Halloween, keep a few things in mind.

First, your pet might not be a good candidate for dress-up. They might be the nervous type or the chewing type.

If indeed they do channel their inner costume diva, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure the costume fits well and allows your pet to move around freely.
  • Avoid costumes with strings or small parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.
  • The costume should not restrict your pet’s vision, hearing or breathing in any way.
  • If you plan to take your pet trick-or-treating outside after dark, look for reflective safety stripes on the pet costume; add them yourself if the costume doesn’t come equipped with reflective stripes.
  • Always supervise your pet when he or she is wearing the costume so you can help your pet if there is a costume malfunction or the costume becomes hung up on anything.


FAMILY MATTERS: LEST WE NOT FORGET


Lest We Not ForgetI’m not sure how many of you have loved ones in nursing homes, but each time I go, it reminds me of the importance of not forgetting these special people. They are the ones who have been a part of our lives for so many years and helped us through our own life journeys. We must remember that even though someone is caring for them daily, we have a responsibility to be there for them. 

My stepmother has Alzheimer’s and is in the stage where she does not remember my name and a lot of days has no idea what is happening around her. Even with this, I visit at least twice a week and take her a banana milkshake (bananas are her favorite!), which she sips until the entire cup is empty. To see her smile when she sees me coming makes the visit worthwhile. Even though she does not “know me,” I am familiar and she remembers, I believe. This is a small gesture on my part, but I know she loves the sweet taste and that it brings her joy. Adding an ounce of happiness for her, at this stage in life, brings me even greater joy. 

We try to instill in our girls that even though our loved ones look different, act different and may not recognize us at times, they are a part of who we are and we WILL continue to love and care for them until the end. We are blessed to come in contact with so many others each time we visit, and I pray we are making an impact in their lives, also. There are so many people that are placed in homes and forgotten. It makes my heart ache. Colossians 3:12

Gratitude, patience, compassion, faithfulness….they don’t ask for much, only that we hold their hand, stroke their hair and be there. It may only be a banana milkshake, but it is so much more, for both of us. May this be a reminder to us all, lest we not forget those who have loved us for so long. Count your blessings daily, and give thanks for the time and opportunity you are given to be with them.   

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FAMILY MATTERS: APPLE PIE POPS


Apple Pie PopsWho can resist a hand-held treat? Apple Pie Pops are a perfect and fun way to introduce your kids to the joys of baking. Use Food Club Prepared Pie Crusts and Food Club Apple Pie Filling to cut out the more difficult steps so everyone can focus on having fun!

Apple Pie Pops 

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Food Club All Purpose Flour for dusting work surface
1 box Food Club Refrigerated Pie Crusts
1 (21 oz) can Food Club Apple Pie Filling
1 egg white, beaten
3 Tbsp raw sugar

Directions:
CUT OUT PIE DOUGH
On a lightly floured surface, roll out refrigerated pie crust dough. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter or the top of a glass, cut out pie dough circles for pops.

 PLACE DOUGH & FILLING
Line the back of a cookie sheet with baking parchment paper. Place pie dough circles on sheet about 1 inch apart. Place lollipop stick and a half teaspoon of apple pie filling on top and gently cover with another pie dough circle.

MAKE INDENTS TO SEAL
With an extra lollipop stick or a fork, press gently into the edge of the dough, meshing the two dough layers together and sealing in the filling. 

 
BRUSH WITH EGG WASH
Bake at 425° F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with egg wash made from fork-beaten egg white and 1 teaspoon of water. Sprinkle with sugar. Enjoy!
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FAMILY MATTERS: GERMS


One of the things that always grossed me out about my toddlers was how they had to put their mouths on EVERYTHING, from restaurant tables to grocery shopping carts. Now, this is totally developmentally appropriate and a good sensory experience for your child. However, do you really want them licking door handles in the supermarket? Not me. Although, I will admit I had a kid who licked the diaper pail. You can’t keep their mouths off of everything, but I discovered one of my FAVORITE products for my toddlers was shopping cart seat covers. Made of fabric (so you can toss them in the “sanitize” cycle on your washing machine) shopping cart covers were a lifesaver when the boys wanted to taste EVERYTHING. Found everywhere from your local department store to online vendors, these are an inexpensive way to help combat germs in your toddler’s life.

TIP 13-36 months: Is it OK for your baby or toddler to watch TV? Experts disagree about this matter. If they are getting screen time, most experts DO agree to limit it to 10 minutes or less per day.



FAMILY MATTERS: FIRST WORDS


BabyFirst words often emerge between 8 and 12 months.

It was such a thrill to me to hear my boys’ first words. My older son’s first word was “light.” My younger son’s was “bird.” “Light” made sense to me because lights of any kind were his very favorite things. “Bird” was a bit more perplexing, but I went with it. Both boys said their first words before they babbled “mama” or “dada.” For the record, “D” sounds are easier to say, which is why many little ones say “dada” before “mama.”

TIP 7-12 months : Turn everything you do with your baby into play. They’ll integrate everyday tasks more quickly.



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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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