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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: 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: 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.



Dine In: Hot Chocolate Shots


Hot Chocolate Shots‘Twas the night before Valentine’s Day…and all through the house, I was prepping for a romantic Saturday night meal.

It doesn’t matter if you have a special someone or not, Valentine’s Day is all about the people you love. All of them.

This year, I’ll be spending Valentine’s Day with my sweetie and my first loves – my two boys. We’ll have a special meal, and it will celebrate our love for each other. It will also be kid-friendly.

I did a trial run on these hot chocolate shots (no alcohol involved!) around Christmastime, and they were so popular that I decided to bring them back for Valentine’s Day.

The only problem with them is that you want several! I’m going to dip the chocolate rims of the glasses into red sprinkles before serving to add a Valentine’s flair.

Hot Chocolate Shots

Ingredients:
2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate ice cream
1 square unsweetened baking chocolate
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
whipped cream, orange zest and grated chocolate, for garnish

Directions:
In a saucepan, melt together the butter, sugar, ice cream and baking chocolate until smooth. Whisk in the water and orange flavoring. Heat over medium-high heat, just until steaming. Serve with whipped cream, a sprinkling of orange zest and grated chocolate in chocolate-dipped shot glasses.

To chocolate-coat the edges of your shot glasses, microwave 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips in a small, microwave-safe bowl just until melted. (The chocolate should be smooth and melty but not hot. Overheating it will cause the chocolate to mottle as it cools and hardens, so be careful that you only just microwave it until it’s barely melted.) Dip the edges of each shot glass into the melted chocolate. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden before pouring hot cocoa into the glasses.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 194, Calories from Fat: 120, Fat: 13 g (8 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 31 mg, Sodium: 78 mg, Potassium: 146 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 1.4 g, Sugar: 17 g, Protein: 2 g

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



Walking


Walking

My 12-year-old son had to write his autobiography recently.

He refused any help on the essay, even to verify important facts such as how much he weighed at birth and when he started walking.

He wrote that he started walking at 10 months, which isn’t even remotely true. He was 13 months when he finally tentatively struck out across the kitchen, only to make it two wobbly steps before my shrieks of delight scared him so much that he plopped right down on the floor and began to howl.

While walking at 10 months is on the early side of normal and 13 months is on solidly average, anything in that range is right on target. My mom claims I walked at 9 months, skipping crawling all-together. My pediatrician also told me, at the time, that he doesn’t really worry until a child isn’t walking at 18 months.

So, watch your little one. Don’t panic and enjoy the time before you have to batten down every door and cabinet in your house.



Potty Training


Potty Training

My friend just had twins, which is super awesome, except that she’d hoped to have her two-year-old son potty trained before the babies’ arrival.

It didn’t happen.

Try as she might, Evan would not pee-pee on the potty.

I don’t blame the kid. He wasn’t ready. It’s far easier to play with Thomas the Tank Engine and let ‘er rip in your diaper than it is to stop what you’re doing to have to go to the restroom.

While between two and three years is normal for potty training for a lot of girls, boys often take longer, easily age three, often approaching four.

I’m a firm believer in not pushing it. It will frustrate you more than it’s worth. Make that kid almost beg to go to the potty because he’s so ready to be rid of diapers.

With that said, there are gentle nudges you can provide to nudge him in the right direction. Big boy and girl underpants are huge. My younger son didn’t want to tinkle on Thomas, so that worked for him. Nothing worked for my older son, and he was almost four by the time he potty trained. Nothing I did was effective and I just got upset. I let it go and waited until he asked me. After that, there were no issues.

So, watch your toddler for signs of toilet readiness, but again, don’t force the issue. It’ll happen in due time.



Family Matters: Giant Christmas Tree Cookie


Giant Christmas Tree CookieAre your kiddos crushing on cookies this Christmas? Make a giant treat for your little ones to decorate, a sweet and easy, memory-making activity to share with loved ones during the holidays.

Giant Christmas Tree Cookie

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1/3 cup Brookshire’s Butter, softened
green gel food coloring
1 (12 oz) Betty Crocker Whipped Fluffy White Frosting
1 (12 oz) Betty Crocker Whipped Chocolate Frosting
decorations or candy, as desired for decorating

Directions:
Heat oven to 375º F. In a medium bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms.

Line a 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan with foil. With moistened fingers, press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until light golden-brown; cool completely, about 30 minutes.

With the help of mom or dad, cut tree shape from baked cookie. If you need help, create a tree template. Place the template on the baked cookie and cut around it using a sharp knife.

Stir food coloring into frosting as desired. Decorate cookie tree with frosting and candies.

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



Family Matters: Italian Soda


Italian SodaBring your family back to the table for dinner, Italian style. September 22 is National Family Day, focusing on bringing families together, especially around the dinner table. This month, we are celebrating Italian style with Italian meals. Even if you just make a big pot of spaghetti and garlic bread, your kids will love helping you make these sweet cream sodas to top off your meal together. 

Mealtime is family time in Italy so let your child take part in the family’s Italian feast with this easy recipe for Chocolate Italian Cream Soda. Rich and creamy, this quick and simple soda serves as a refreshing drink or dessert that’s great with your family’s Italian favorites. Fill a glass three-quarters full of ice. Pour a half cup of club soda into the glass, followed by three tablespoons of chocolate syrup and two tablespoons of half-and-half; stir. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

Buon Appetito!



Family Matters: Back to School


Back to SchoolIt’s inevitable that summer vacation draws to an end and a new school year begins. It’s also inevitable that I spend the last week of summer vacation wistfully thinking about the passage of time and what we accomplished – or didn’t – over summer break.

In the “win” column for this summer is the 100-Mile Challenge. We have a 1.2 mile loop in our neighborhood that I’d deemed safe enough for the boys to ride their bikes, or walk or jog around. They had to complete approximately 83 revolutions to finish 100 miles this summer. They did it!

Another win is the Summer Story book. In May, I wrote a paragraph in a spiral-bound notebook and handed it to my older son. He added a paragraph, continuing the story I’d started, and he passed it to the younger son who contributed his part. It came back to me and we continued that all summer, ending up with a hilarious short story penned in our own handwriting.

The Mystery Bag was another fun summer game. Every Wednesday, I left a project of sorts in a large gift bag on the kitchen table for the boys to find when they woke up. One week, it was an experiment on what happens when you put Ivory soap in the microwave. Another week, it was materials for each boy to construct their own board game. They loved to see what Wednesdays were going to hold.

Now in the “fail” category: I logged onto the middle school website two weeks before school began to print out the school supply list. Looking for the school supply list, I found a PDF file called “Summer Reading List.” Uh, we hadn’t DONE any summer reading, nor did I even know about it until right that minute. When I told my son he had to read two books – and summarize each chapter – before school began, the meltdown that ensued was of epic proportions. I’d like to report he finished two books. He didn’t. He didn’t even make it through the first one, although he read and journaled diligently every day. It just didn’t work out. Next year, I’ll know to look early.

All in all, it was a great summer and we’re all ready for the new school year. 



Family Matters: Never Too Old for Story Time


ReadingMom, will you read me a bedtime story? Cherish these words spoken from your child because they will not say them forever. My daughter Grace is now twelve and we are long past the bedtime stories.

The other day I was reading an article (nothing I haven’t really read before) about the more you read to your children, the more they will enjoy reading and the better readers they will be. I thought about Grace and how reading and spelling are not her favorite subjects in school and thought for a moment, maybe I should go back to reading her bedtime stories. I finished reading the article and didn’t think too much about this anymore.

Later that same night, I tucked Grace in bed like I usually do, kissed her on the forehead and said good night. As I was walking out of her bedroom, I heard those familiar words once again. Mom, will you read me a bedtime story? Did she just say what I think she said? My 12-year-old just asked me to read her a bedtime story! I am a woman of faith, so I believe the Lord was looking down at me with a wink in his eye and saying here is your opportunity. What are you going to do with it?

We have been reading together every night for the past two weeks. This is a special time that we both look forward to and one that I am going to cherish. Don’t miss out on opportunities to seize the moment with your family. Count your blessings and give thanks for those special moments.

 



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