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Family Matters: Handprint Gifts


Handprint GiftsMother’s Day and Father’s Day are rapidly approaching, and (to me) there’s no better gift than something that your little one has had their hand in. Literally.

Handprint gifts are the best. I can look back from years ago and see the sweet preciousness in their tiny handprints.

One year, my younger son made me a clay flower pot with his handprint as the green base and stems of a plant with his multicolored fingerprints as the flowers. It’s in my kitchen, holding pens and pencils.

Another year, we made footprints in a concrete paver for the back garden. Their sweet little feet are forever immortalized in concrete with the date and their names stamped into the stone. It’s my favorite thing in the backyard.

I have a bookmark with my oldest son’s handprint cut out of craft foam, mounted to green pipe cleaners to look like a flower. It has his name and the date on the back, lest I forget which small, sweet hand it belongs to.

I have handprint clay molds and handprint Christmas ball ornaments.

The possibilities for these special gifts are endless (there are so many ideas online that I can’t even name them all). I promise that any gift this unique will be treasured forever, and you won’t even feel bad about wiping their chocolate pudding handprints off the living room wall.



Family Matters: Solid Foods


Solid FoodsBy your baby’s seventh month, he’s been introduced to solid foods.

Some babies are more adept with solids at 7 months than others, but all should catch up by the 12-month mark.

By 7 to 12 months of age, your baby should be able to hold a bottle or sippy cup, and drink from it while sitting upright in a high chair.

He should be able to eat thicker pureed foods (7 to 8 months) and softer finger foods.

Your little one will enjoy teething biscuits that soothe swollen gums. While teething, they’ll often put anything, edible or not, in their mouths to chew on.

Your baby’s meals are more consistent these days, and breast-feeding is equal or lesser to the amount of other food they are taking in. Your little one stays full longer after eating.

In the second half of their first year, baby knows what he likes and does not like, and he will reach for food he’s interested in. That doesn’t mean to stop offering food he turns away. Sometimes it takes several attempts to get baby to enjoy something new.

Baby will show a strong reaction to new smells and tastes. Keep offering them to him to help expand his palate.

During this time, he will start to eat finger foods. Let him pick them up and make a mess! He’s learning fine motor skills and enjoying significant sensory development.



Family Matters: Baby’s Vision


Baby’s VisionMy best friend’s daughter is going to have a baby any day now, and they’re both beyond excited (rightly so!).

My best friend’s love language is decorating. She’s helped her daughter prepare the nursery, painting the walls the perfect shade of light, smoky blue, hanging vintage toy airplanes from the mobile over the crib, and framing antique maps for the walls to complete a theme of travel and adventure for her new grandson.

He’ll love it in a few months, but in the early days and weeks, your baby can’t see very well. Unlike hearing which is completely developed by the end of baby’s first month, vision takes longer to form. In fact, when baby is born, his vision is about 20/400, and he can’t see color well. It will take 6 to 8 months to fully mature.

Initially, baby can see about the distance from his face to yours when you’re cuddling him.

He might not be able to make both eyes move in tandem in that first month, so don’t be alarmed if they cross or wander randomly. They’ll get stronger as he develops. Lock eyes with your baby and move them back and forth. It will help him learn to do the same.

While baby can see color, he might not be able to distinguish tones. This is why he likes high contrast patterns in black and white over pastel pictures. He’ll also like bright, primary colors and objects that are all one color.

Baby also doesn’t have very good depth-perception. He might reach for your nose and grasp the air several inches in front of your face. This will start to come together around the 4-month mark. You can help him by handing him an easy-to-grasp toy, like a rattle. Have him reach for it and take it in his grasp. Position it differently, so he has to look for it in different places.

Baby’s favorite thing to look at is your face. Let him spend lots of time gazing at you. He might also like a mirror and might start to recognize himself during the latter half of his first year.

Eye exams are part of every well baby checkup. Make sure to let your pediatrician know if either of baby’s parents have serious vision problems or a family history of vision problems.



Healthy Living: Using Sunscreen


Using SunscreenWe should all REALLY wear sunscreen all year long. Let’s be honest. How many of us don’t even think about it until the warmer months when the sun beats down a little more intensely than at other times?

I know I don’t (although I use a facial product with an SPF every single day, all year long).

As I was taking out the sunscreen today before a trip to the state park, I realized that I need to be a little more diligent about using sunscreen all year long.

Using sunscreen is the best way to help prevent melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. It also takes the consistent, proper use of sunscreen to make it most effective.

Use sunscreen every time you’re going to be outdoors, even in winter and on cloudy days. Ultraviolet rays can damage your skin under both conditions.

Use about  1 1/2 ounces of sunscreen each time you apply it, which should be about every 90 minutes in the sun, or more often if you’re swimming or sweating. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks all types of UV rays, with a number of 15 or higher.

Use sunscreen or wear protective clothing over every inch of your body. Adding a hat helps, as does wearing a cover-up over your swimsuit for beach days. Use a special sunscreen on your lips, and don’t forget behind your ears and on your scalp.

Remember, tanned skin doesn’t look healthy if it’s riddled with melanoma!

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Product Talk: Reusable Cooling Towel


Reusable Cooling TowelYesterday, I ran into Brookshire’s for two things: King’s Hawaiian Rolls and skim milk.

I came out with about seven things, including dill pickle-flavored popcorn (delicious) and a bag of crispy M&M’s.

I also came out with a reusable cooling towel.

I happened across this little gem in the refrigerated section, near the aforementioned skim milk. As luck would have it, I’d dashed into Brookshire’s between the two sets of soccer games for which my 13-year-old son was refereeing that day. Four games in one day is a lot, even if temperatures are only hovering around the 80-degree mark. We haven’t even seen the hottest of the game days yet.

I grabbed a towel. The cooling towel helps cool you down before and after hard work or exercise, the label says. The material becomes cooler than the air when wet.

He always has water with him. He just needs to wet down the towel between games, and apply the cool fabric to his face, neck or chest, whatever helps cool him down in the hot summer sun.
It comes in a plastic carry container, so he can keep it in his duffel bag easily, and we just wash it in the machine with his referee uniform between weekends.

The sports complex has little shade, and while he brings lots of water, I feel good knowing he has one more tool for staying cool and refreshed when he’s at work.

These would also be great for trips to the park, lake, zoo or amusement parks! Anything outside, really. At $3.99 each, you can get one for everyone in the family.

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Dine In: Beef Enchilada Dip


Beef Enchilada DipOne of my favorite restaurants has a new, seasonal dish on their menu that I’ve been ordering every time we go eat there: Cowboy Nachos.

The dish consists of a mound of crispy tortilla chips topped with a beefy, black bean chili and tons of melted cheese, garnished with sour cream and guacamole. It’s heaven on a plate and satisfies all the senses for me: crunchy, creamy, cheesy. What more do you need?

This dip is a great alternative to my favorite nachos to make at home. Not everyone in the family likes all the same things, so heaping everything on a plate of nachos wouldn’t work out for us.

If you make this dip, it allows each family member to control their amounts and add the garnishes they like.

It’s a fun way to wind down with the family on a Friday night.

Beef Enchilada Dip

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans red enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
cilantro, sour cream or olives, for garnish
tortilla chips

Directions:
Brown the ground beef and onion together in a large, cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet. Add garlic; cook for about 1 more minute. Drain grease.

Stir enchilada sauce into the meat, and mix until well-combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the cheese over the meat mixture. Reduce heat to low, and let cheese melt. If you want the cheese more browned and bubbly, place under broiler until the cheese is the desired consistency.

Garnish with sour cream, cilantro and olives, if desired. Scoop with tortilla or corn chips.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 485, Fat: 31 g (17 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 147 mg, Sodium: 1142 mg, Carbohydrates: 8g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 42 g.

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



Family Matters: “Get a Job”


Get a JobEarlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet the world famous Dr. Temple Grandin and hear her speak.

Dr. Grandin is world-renowned for her work in animal-behavior in the livestock industry, and she has designed the front end of every meat-processing plant in the country. She’s also maybe one of the most recognizable and vocal autism brains in the world.

The point of Dr. Grandin’s speech was that society has done a great job of diagnosing autism and offering early intervention options for our kids. What we are not doing well, as a society and as an educational system, is transitioning people with autism into the real world.

When you think about it, this probably extends far beyond only young adults with autism.

Every time someone in the audience would stand up to ask a question, she asked how old the child in question was, and then her response was a resounding “Get them a job,” no matter the question.

A job outside of the home, working for someone other than family, is the first step in building confidence and responsibility in our young people, she said.

Having to keep a schedule and be accountable is a life skill that is best taught early and often, according to Dr. Grandin. Kids as young as 11 and 12 can walk dogs, do yard work or serve as greeters and ushers at church, she offered.

Having a job gives our youth skills, lets them earn their own money, and helps get them out of their bedrooms and away from video games, she emphasized repeatedly.
(Brookshire’s hires teenagers at 16!)

It’s important for kids to do internships, she said, starting every summer in high school and working their way through college or trade school. It’s also important for adults to serve as mentors and TEACH children good skills and work ethic, instead of doing it for them.

She suggested pursuing internships in a variety of fields that interest you, as it helps kids focus in on what they want to do later in life.

My 13-year-old already has a job and my 15-year-old is looking for one. Perhaps, we’ll have him look a little more diligently.

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Healthy Living: Cauliflower Rice


Cauliflower RiceI resisted the craze of making cauliflower into rice for a long time, a very long time.

Now I regret every, single, solitary minute of my stubborn holdout.

Cauliflower rice is the best thing since sliced bread, without the carbs, that is.

Cauliflower rice gives you the impression you’re eating rice without the starch.

It’s simple and amazing. Use in place of your fried rice, your Mexican rice or whatever other kind of rice you fix. It’s faster to cook, too. No fluffing with a fork required.

Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
2 Tbs coconut oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Remove florets from the head of cauliflower, and pulse in food processor until it has formed small “grains.”

Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Sauté cauliflower until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or use in another dish.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 75, Fat: 7 g (6 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 601 mg, Carbohydrates: 4 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 1 g.

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



Product Talk: Epsom Salt


Epsom SaltI could extol the virtues of Epsom salt for hours.

Hours, I tell you.

I mix them into my bath water with a few drops of essential oil for the best, most relaxing bath there is.

They’re great for inflammation and swelling: I put a heaping tablespoon into the bucket of ice water my track athlete uses to soak his foot after a hard practice or competitive meet.

They’re wonderful for extracting toxins. Did you know that if you soak an area with a splinter in water with Epsom salt, the splinter will come to the surface of your skin, making it super easy to extract?

Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and has about a trillion uses. Since it’s spring, I wanted to talk about one of them: homemade miracle plant growth stimulator.

Yep, you don’t need to put chemicals on your spring plantings to make them grow into bountiful and beautiful plants. Simply use 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon Espom salt, and dissolve into a gallon of water. I’ve used this on my new rose bushes, my new hosta, my tomatoes and my new annuals.

It has produced lush, huge plants in a short amount of time.

Add one more wonderful addition to the list of uses of Epsom salt.

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Family Matters: Save, Spend, Give


Save, Spend, GiveBoth of my boys got their first jobs recently. I’m so proud of them both for wanting to earn money, for the responsibility it takes to hold down a job, and for the life skills they are gaining while working in their early teenage years.

With the first job comes the first paycheck. Seriously, nothing was more thrilling for them than holding that piece of paper in their hands.

That first paycheck brought the opportunity for new life lessons. They opened their own savings accounts. They are responsible for their bank ledgers. They will learn how to reconcile a bank statement.

They will learn the value of the dollar.

My older son wanted to spend his first paycheck immediately. He knew what computer part he wanted to buy.

My younger son had an idea of something he’d like to purchase, but he also wanted to save his paycheck.

It was time to introduce “Save, Spend, Give.”

My parents always taught us to “pay yourself first,” so that’s what I’m teaching my boys. Seventy-five percent of their paycheck went into their savings account. They can buy a car with that money later on, if they can wrap their heads around the fact that this is an investment in their future.

The next part of their paycheck was cashed for spending money. You can decide what percentages work best for your kids and your family. Since 75 percent went into savings, we decided on 20 percent for spending, and the remaining 5 percent goes to giving. Philanthropy is an important value in our family. Whether the money goes to church or to a nonprofit agency, I want them to know that it’s important to give back.

Some families do 40/30/30, and this is great, too! With younger kids, you can use clear jars and actually divide the cash out so that the visual makes an impact on your children.

I hope this lesson will stick with my kids and carry on the very valuable skills they are learning as contributing members of the workforce.



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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.

Product Talk

Each Monday we feature a new or interesting product.

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Tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, every Tuesday.

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