share. The Brookshire's Blog

Family Matters: Foraging Treats for Pet Rodents


While searching for treats for small pets, I came across an absolutely ingenious idea that is not only a food reward for your small rodent (rat, mouse, guinea pig) but also a great foraging activity as well.

Start with a bell pepper. Cut a small hole in the side, leaving the top intact. Remove seeds and pith through the hole. Stuff the bell pepper with a few baby carrots, some 2-inch sections of celery, some sugar snap peas and chunks of the removed piece of bell pepper. Hang the stuffed pepper from a string in your rodent’s habitat, and let him forage in it to get his treats. Remove when vegetables begin to get limp, before they spoil.

 

TIP: Only offer this treat on an occasional basis, as too many fruits and vegetables can cause intestinal distress in rodents.



Family Matters: Pet Bird Treats


Help keep your pet bird cool this summer, even if he is an indoor pet, with some frozen treats that will keep him chilled and help his foraging skills.

Simply freeze some chunks of berry, banana and apple in an ice cube tray. Add in some birdseed if you wish. Let harden, and then give your bird a cube when he needs some good, cool fun.

He’ll enjoy pecking out the parts he likes, and he’ll stay cool doing it.

You can even freeze one of his favorite small toys inside an ice block, and let him chip it out with his beak.

TIP: Peel a banana, and freeze the fruit itself for another way to let your bird enjoy a cold, tasty treat.



Family Matters: Frozen Chicken and Apple Dog Treats


It’s so hot outside, and I can’t even imagine what it feels like to have a layer of thick fur on when you spend a couple hours a day outside.

My pup has plenty of shade and water when he has to be outside during the day, but it’s also great to be able to make him some cold, tasty treats to enjoy to help him beat the heat.

This super-simple recipe is nice for him to enjoy when he is outside in the hot, summer sun.

Frozen Chicken and Apple Dog Treats

Ingredients:
2 cups chicken stock (prepared without onion)
1 apple, thinly sliced

Directions:
Place multiple apple slices in the compartments of an ice cube tray. Pour chicken stock on top of apple slices. Freeze until solid. Serve to your pet one at a time when he’s outside to help cool him off.

TIP: Substitute fresh green beans or shredded carrots for the apples or coconut water for the chicken stock.



Family Matters: Catsicles


I recently adopted a cat. More accurately, he adopted me. He was abandoned by a neighbor who moved away. After a few months of seeing him wander the neighborhood sadly, I couldn’t take it anymore, and he became mine. He’s mostly an outdoor cat, so he needs to stay cool and healthy in the summer heat.

He loves this catsicles, and I’ve learned that they sell milk for cats (don’t use human milk! Your cat can’t digest it well, no matter what myths you see and hear!)

Keep some of these in your freezer, and your cat will come running.

Catsicles

Ingredients:
2 bananas, mashed
2 cups cat milk
1/4 cup dried cat food, crushed

Directions:
Combine the mashed banana and cat milk in a bowl; mix until smooth.

Crush the cat food, and place in the bottom of a small paper cup (like the kind you use in a bathroom). Pour banana mixture on top. Freeze cups until mixture is firm. When ready to serve, peel cups away from catsicle, and let your cat enjoy it outside.

TIP: Your cat might also enjoy eating wet cat food frozen. Simply freeze a pate-style food in a paper cup. When ready to serve, peel cup away, and let your feline enjoy it outside.



Family Matters: Summertime Fun


Summertime FunSummers are a toddler’s best friend. Nothing is more fun than all the adventures you can have while traipsing about town with your toddler.

Splash pads are so much fun for you little one. Put toddler in a swim diaper, invest in a swim shirt to help protect them from ultraviolet rays, and prepare to have a great time. Splash pads are fun because there is no deep water. They can usually run in and out of jets of water at their own pace, and they have more control over how wet they get. They can even stay cool, and they have a good time from the periphery of the action if that’s their personality.

The local zoo or aquarium is a great place to visit with your toddler. If they enjoy your first visit, invest in a season pass for many memorable hours with fabulous animals.

Check out story time at your local library. Aside from developing a love of literature, story time can help you and your little one make some new friends, possibly learn some new crafts, and engage in group activities together.

Check into other group classes like music lessons, gym or yoga classes, or swim instruction. Your toddler will learn socialization skills and have a lot of fun while learning a new skill.

Plant a garden or grow a few potted vegetables with your toddler. Involve him in the process from beginning to end, and let him eat the fruits of his labor.

Visit playgrounds outside of your neighborhood. Your little one will like new scenery, and you will both make new friends.



Family Matters: Outdoor Fun


Outdoor FunSummertime is a great time to have fun with your little one outside!

Babies love bubbles! Maybe they can’t blow them yet (and you really don’t want to find out what happens if they get soap in their mouths), but they will enjoy bubbles when you blow for them! Put on a show with bubbles. Let baby “pop” them and feel them in his fingers and on his skin. You can even set up a bubble machine nearby and hear baby giggle.

Put a swing in a shady tree or set up a backyard swing set. Strap baby in safely and let him swing. Baby will love the proprioceptive discovery (the feeling of his body moving through space).

Set up a wading pool with a few inches of water, and let your little water baby splash to his heart’s content. Remember to never leave baby alone for a second! Fill the pool with baby’s favorite water toys, some sponges, some cups or other fun objects to enjoy the water. Make sure to use fresh water every time your little one is going to use the pool, as standing and stagnant water attracts mosquitoes.

A covered sand box is also a fun place to play (the cover is for when you’re NOT using it, to keep animals from using your baby’s play place as a litter box). Buckets, shovels and other scooping objects can keep baby occupied for hours, plus the sand (since you’re keeping it covered) should stay nice and cool.

Balls are fun outside toys! In all sizes and textures, balls are fun to throw, kick, roll on and bounce. Engage in reciprocal play with your baby or let him play alone.

Chalk is fun for outside play, too. Plop down on a cool sidewalk, stand at a wood fence, or even use the brick siding of your house or a stand-up easel for some creative coloring.

Taking walks, riding in a stroller, a safe bike carrier, going to the zoo or park, or even just spreading a blanket in the grass and enjoying the fresh air are great activities to do outside with your baby on a summer day.



Family Matters: Caring for Your Baby in the Heat


Caring for Your Baby in the HeatCaring for your baby in the hot weather months, especially since we live in the South, just takes a little extra care and attention than when the weather is more temperate.

Infants can’t always regulate their body temperature properly, so it’s up to you to pay attention to the cues that baby is too hot or too cool.

First of all, baby doesn’t need to be bundled up in blankets during the summer months. This includes covering their carrier or car seat. Let air circulate around your baby to help keep them cool. Swaddling at night is fine if your house is cool and air-conditioned, but don’t wrap baby up in the heat of the day or if it’s too warm in the room.

Keep air circulating around your infant, but it’s probably best not to point a fan directly at them.

Baby is too hot if she is sweating, red or flushed, or breathing rapidly.

Keep her dressed in loose-fitting, cotton clothing during the summer. Hats are great to help shield their faces and heads. Remember that babies also lose heat from their heads, so removing the hat helps cool baby off, too. Keep baby in shade and not exposed to direct sunlight if you are outdoors. Consider a window shade for your car window if baby’s car seat is next to the door.

Decrease the temperature of baby’s bath slightly in the summer months. Use cooler water for baby’s bath for a refreshing and enjoyable bath time! Water that is just about body temperature should be perfect for baby.

Make sure you are offering breast milk or water often to keep baby hydrated, as that will help her regulate her body temperature best during summer months.



Family Matters: The Chores Can Wait


Chores Can WaitThis morning (Saturday), I woke up with a to-do list a mile long. Make that a mile and a half.

I wanted to get the grocery shopping done early. I had laundry backed up all week. There are at least four problem areas in my house that have stuff piled so high that someone might call “Hoarders” on me for an intervention if I don’t get them sorted out soon. The bathrooms weren’t cleaned this week. There was yard work that needed to be done if the homeowner’s association wasn’t going to be paying me a visit, and my list didn’t even include the daily things that just need to be done.

I drove my older son to work and came home ready to tackle the tasks at hand.

“What are we going to do today?” my younger son asked.

I started to list off the things I was going to get done today.

“Okay,” he said, quietly.

“Why?” I asked him. “What did you want to do today?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said, noncommittally.

I went toward the shower, determined to get through my list.

Then, I stopped. I’d worked all week. He’d been cooped up in the house all week. I knew that he was itching to get out and do something. I knew he wasn’t asking me to do anything extravagant or expensive. I knew that he just wanted a few minutes of my time. Actually, with his brother at work, it was a golden opportunity.

I will admit that I hesitated for a moment. Oh, that list!

I went back to the living room.

“Do you want to go to the park?

Walks with Mom are his love language. Ever since he was a toddler, it was our thing to do together, even if we only made it 50 feet down the driveway and collecting rocks, which he’d hand me like treasures, all the while clutching one in his chubby little baby hand.

His freckled face exploded into sunshine.

“Yes!”

We went to the park. We walked on the trails for about an hour. We both came home with enough happiness to fuel the entire weekend.

I didn’t make it through my whole to-do list today, but that’s fine. It will all still be there tomorrow, but the chances to take walks with my teenage son are a precious commodity. I’ll always put those on the top of my to-do list.

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Family Matters: Bootcamp Summer


Bootcamp Summer

I’m writing this on the first official day of summer vacation, and I’ve been doing some thinking over the weeks leading up to this day. My goal for this summer is that, come August, my teenage boys are ready to be self-sufficient and lead independent, productive lives. I’m calling it “Bootcamp Summer.”

It’s not that I’m not willing to whip up some pancakes and wash their bath towels for several more years, but all kids need to have the life skills to live on their own by the time they graduate from high school, in my opinion.

My introspection was prompted by a couple of things. First, I ran into a friend of mine who told me, in all seriousness, that her son brought an entire semester’s worth of dirty clothes home from college because he didn’t know how to do laundry.

Then, another friend who works in a call center for a local cable service had to work with a college student on the phone who didn’t know her address because her mom handles all her mail and her correspondence, including bills.

I started compiling a list of things that I wanted to do with my boys this summer to make sure they had all the skills they will need by the time they graduate from high school. We started out by ironing dress shirts the right way. Then, we filled out bank deposit slips (you know, the “old fashioned” kind) for their bank deposits.

They also cut the grass, weeded flower beds and put down mulch. They’ve been doing their own laundry and cleaning their own bathroom for several years now, so I polled my friends to see what other skills would be essential to know before they left the nest. Here’s what they said:

  • Cooking a few good meals, from planning, budgeting, shopping and executing, including re-purposing leftovers
  • Writing a check
  • Putting gas in a car
  • Changing a tire
  • Jump starting an engine
  • Washing dishes by hand
  • Loading a dishwasher correctly
  • Vacuuming
  • Changing/cleaning air filters in household appliances
  • Making their own appointments
  • Using a calendar and scheduling
  • Reading instructions and following them
  • Making a budget and sticking to it
  • Using public transportation
  • Establishing and maintaining good credit
  • How to check oil levels and replace oil in your car
  • Sew a button on shirt/pants
  • How to manage a retirement plan/401K
  • Fill out employment paperwork
  • How to (correctly) apply for a job, fill out a job application, ask for references and provide them
  • How to make your bed and change your sheets
  • How to send mail at the post office with insurance/overnight/signature-needed requirements
  • How to set up accounts in their name for utilities, etc… This might be hard to show them without actually doing it, but if you have the opportunity to do it yourself, bring them along for the process.
  • Familiarize them with their own important documents, social security cards, birth certificates, etc.
  • Using basic household tools
  • How to address an envelope and write a proper letter

What would you add to this list?



Family Matters: Keep Your Small Pet Cool


Keep Your Small Pet CoolSmall pets, especially those in cages or glass tanks, need special care in the summertime when the weather heats up.

First of all, move their habitat out of direct sunlight. Most small pets aren’t big fans of bright lights anyway.

Secondly, if their habitat has a cover, make sure it’s well-ventilated and air circulates well through their living space. You might want to add a small fan nearby to help circulate air (just don’t point it directly at your pet) to help keep them cool.

Provide plenty of fresh water for drinking and play, if appropriate for your pet. Make sure the water is clean and doesn’t attract insects.

If your small pet has an outside habitat, you might want to consider an inside space on the hottest days.



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