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08 Feb

Happy Valentines Day, Daddy

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, daddies can often be left out. This
year, make him feel extra special by taking a few tips from a daddy to seven,
Daddy Nickell. I’ve put together some ideas that won’t break the bank, and are
sure to melt daddy’s heart, too.

There are lots of things kids can get their dads for Valentine’s Day
without digging into the piggy bank. Here are several of my favorite options:

1. Personalize
Dads love to receive something personal and close to their hearts. This
year, gift dad an extra special memory in the form of a framed photograph.  The picture will no-doubt be treasured for
years to come while it adorns a dresser or a desk where Dad looks at it often.

2. Made
with Love:
The way to a dad’s heart is usually through his stomach, so make
Dad a delicious treat! You could make cookies, brownies, ice cream sundaes,
etc. – the best part is you’ll get to share the treat all together!

3. Get
Make something creative for Dad. Little ones can make a hand-made
Valentine’s Day card or art project, and older kids can give dad a hand-made
coupon booklet complete with activities like: go out for ice cream, head to the
bating cages, let’s go mini-golfing, etc. Be creative – Dad is sure to love it!

And if you’re a wife trying to come up
with a Valentine’s Day gift for your loving husband and father of your children
look no further! I’ve got some great ideas for you:

Red and Silky: Guys like sexy
stuff too! Why not gift your hubby a set of fun sexy boxers this Valentine’s
Day? Of course they don’t have to be red and silky – just have fun with it; I
promise he’ll like it.

2. Thrifty
Go all out by creating a coupon for an all-inclusive date night with
your husband. When it’s cashed in you and your husband will hire a babysitter,
get dressed up and head out for a fancy night on the town.

3. Surprise:
Most husbands love special surprises. Go ahead and have a lovable Valentine’s
Day dinner with your family at home. And while your husband puts the kids to
bed whip out a special desert, queue a romantic comedy and light some candles.
It’ll make for an extra special end to an extra special day.

Remember when it comes down to it
Valentine’s Day isn’t about the gifts – it’s about spreading the love and
letting everyone know just how much they mean to you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Daddy Nickell

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15 Nov

Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

With the month of November comes Thanksgiving, which reminds
us all to be thankful for the wonderful things each of us has. Throughout my 26
years of being a dad I’ve learned to express thanks and gratitude for something
everyday, whether big or small. And I’ve tried hard to instill that same sense
of thanks in each of my six children. Teaching kids to be thankful is not
always the easiest task, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but if you follow my
tips you’re sure to be headed in the right direction.

Lead By Example: First
things first, it’s extremely important to lead by example. Allow your children
to watch you express gratitude to a friend or a neighbor for their kind acts of
generosity. It’s also important to thank your child when they act in a positive
way or do something special for you. Your acknowledgement will make them want
to do more good things to receive those special thanks.

What Are You Thankful
Traditionally families discuss things they’re thankful for around the
dinner table on Thanksgiving; however, I would encourage each of you to expand
this tradition outside of November. If it works for you to mention one thing
you’re thankful for everyday – that’s great. If not, make sure you make a
special time for each family member to share what they’re thankful for once a
week or once a month. Turning this Thanksgiving tradition into a routine will
encourage your child to reflect more often upon what they’re truly thankful

Do Nice Things for
Doing nice things for other people is one of the greatest things we
can do, as parents, to instill gratitude and thanks in our children. It’s the
simple acts of kindness that allow us to experience thanks and gratitude from
others. Bake a loaf of bread for your nanny along with a special card your
child can help decorate, let your child give the UPS man a bag of homemade
cookies along with a “thanks for delivering our packages,” etc. Brainstorm,
with your child ways in which they can do nice things for others and then work
through that list together.

Encourage Helping: Having
your child help around the house will ensure they don’t take you or mom for
granted. If you always clear the table or sort the laundry or pick up your
child’s toys then they won’t know what effort each activity takes. Encourage
them to help you with chores or give them a couple of their own chores – that
way you can give thanks and appreciation for their help, and they will give you
thanks and appreciation for all that you do to keep the house running smoothly.

Remember teaching children to be thankful doesn’t happen
overnight; it’s a process. Be patient and take it one day at a time trying to
express gratitude at every opportunity you receive.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Daddy Nickell

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15 Sep

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Services for people with disabilities are changing. In this economic environment, it seems all government funded programs are competing for dollars, and there are fewer dollars to compete for. I urge you, in this election year, to get to know the people who are running for office locally, at the State level, and for President. Learn their stance on Medicaid funded programs for people with disabilities. This is your opportunity to let your voice be heard. Educate yourself and then go vote! This is such a critical time for services for people with disabilities. I am currently navigating through drastic cuts in Indiana which have resulted in a new service delivery model. This model is much less client oriented. I will be at the polls on election day taking a stance for children with disabilities. My voice will be heard. Please join me!

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10 Sep


This post was not researched. I have no famous quotes to share. This
post comes from my heart. It comes from 35 years of experience. I want
to preface this post by saying that my parents are great people. I truly
believe they did the best job raising us that they knew how. They had
no instruction book on parenting, especially when one child has
significant disabilities. My sister has Spina Bifida.
My brother was six years old and I was four when our sister was born. I
remember very clearly the day my mom came home from the hospital after
my sister’s birth without a baby. I remember my mom and dad telling my
brother and me that our sister was sick and couldn’t come home. From
that moment, at the ages of six and four, my brother and I knew that our
sister would need our parents more than we needed them. Without ever
saying a word, we knew that we needed to take care of each other. And so
it was. Our parents spent almost every summer at the Children’s
Hospital three hours from our home. Our grandma stayed with my brother
and me most summers. I made sure my brother’s clothes matched. He made
sure I drank my milk and ate something healthy. We both had summer
birthdays that we celebrated in the fall when everybody was home from
the hospital.
Now, I’m not trying for a sob story here. I just want to paint a very
clear picture of the responsibility I felt to take care of myself so my
parents could take care of my sister. They never asked this of me. It
just was. And I accepted it. And I love my family to pieces. But there
are memories of my childhood that do not include my parents. And their
are things I didn’t get to do because my sister needed them more. The
purpose of this post is to give parents some insight into what siblings
of children with disabilities may feel. Of course no two families are
the same, but I would like to give a list of things that I wish were
different about my childhood:
1. I wish I could have celebrated my birthday on July 20 every year. That is the day I was born.
2. I wish my parents could have gone to watch my gymnastics lessons and softball games.
3. I wish I didn’t have to learn how to give an enema at the age of 8.
4. I wish I didn’t have to leave class in fifth grade every 2 hours to take my sister, who was in first grade, to the bathroom.
5. I wish I didn’t feel guilty for wishing these things.
On the other hand, I also have a list of things I am grateful for because I have a sister with a disability:
1. I’m glad I learned how to love people unconditionally and see the value in every human life.
2. I’m glad that my brother and I grew up as best friends and had such a special relationship.
3. I’m glad that, even though my parents seemed to care physically for
my sister more than they did me, I never doubted that they cared for me
emotionally just the same.
4. I’m glad that I chose a career where I get to impact change for
people with disabilities and help them to achieve fullness of life.
5. I really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, am glad that Jill is my sister.
Here are just a couple of practical suggestions for parents to learn from my experience:
1. Enlist a support system…friends, family, neighbors….whomever is
willing to be there for your family. Allow others in your support system
to babysit for your special needs child every  now and then so you
can do something fun with their siblings.
2. Seek services through your State when your child is young. There may
be a waiting list. You do not have to do this alone. Look into respite
services to give you a break so that you will be fresh and completely
present when your family needs you.
3. Do not forget special milestones of the siblings. The little things really do matter.
I want to end by saying I love my family very much. My experiences and
relationships within my family have shaped my career, my attitude, and
my values.

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03 Jul

Helping Parents Helping Babies: Sleep

As a father to six children I have experienced many
variations in the learning curve of what helps babies get to sleep and what
doesn’t.  I currently have two toddlers, four children in their 20’s, and one more on the way.  Together, all of my kids have helped in
teaching me the all-important sleep patterns of babies.

Here are a few helpful tips for getting your baby to sleep:

0 – 3
: A baby in the “4th trimester” can often fall asleep in
any appropriate place; ie: your arms, a bassinet, the floor, an infant carrier.
If your baby has a difficult time falling asleep take a look at their
environment. Are they too warm or cool? Is the light too bright? Are there loud
noises? Babies often like to be rocked and soothed at this point in time.

3 – 6
: At this point, you should have started to figure out what works for
your baby and what doesn’t work. When your baby becomes fussy, you should rock
them, give them a pacifier, speak to them softly, sing a song, or play soft
music. Some experts say the sound of the vacuum cleaner will calm baby down. Keep
in mind that whatever you start to do regularly will become their known

6 – 12
: The most important thing during this phase is to create a routine
and stick with it. Everyone comes up with something a little different that
works for them: a song, a story, a warm bath, a final bottle, whatever it may
be, it is up to the parent to implement this routine while remaining consistent
in order for baby and parent to successfully understand and enjoy the bedtime

From my experience, the most common mistakes include:

Entering the room to coddle the child because
they are fussing for too long. If you do this your baby will learn that if they
fuss they’ll get picked up. It is best to make sure your baby has “burped,” is
not wet and not hungry before putting them down, or you will second guess
yourself, and end up falling into their ploy to be held instead of nap.

Encouraging change too quickly and without
realizing it causes shock and confusion for your baby. For instance, if your
child is used to falling asleep in your arms and you decide to now put her in
the crib awake, it is going to be a little bit of a shocker for the baby with
this drastic (but wise) change. Put yourself in your babies shoes (so to speak)
and work on the process gradually; there’s always a learning curve – for both
you and your baby.

Naptime: And then
there’s the all-important naptime. Create a schedule and a routine for your
child and stick with it. A sound naptime is essential to beneficial nighttime
sleeping too. Make sure your baby has a quiet, dark place to nap multiple times
throughout the day. Just as with bedtime, naptime should come with a sense of
routine and comfort. Your baby will get used to the routine and the stable
rhythm, and will soon fall into naptime effortlessly.

Keep in mind that during your first weeks of sleep training,
you may have to listen to a few tears and heartache, but as long as you have
bathed, read, fed and burped your baby they are most likely okay.  Few babies will cry for more than 10 minutes,
so give them a chance to figure things out for themselves. If they are still
crying after 10 minutes, go back in and check on them, rub their back and talk
to them softly. Give them another 5 minutes and leave again. If this crying
process continues on for more than 30 minutes go ahead and pick them up so they
feel secure, rock them for a few minutes and begin the process again.

You’ll soon discover, as your kids get older they will start
wanting to go to bed.  They will enjoy
their sheets, their blankets, they will want to have some stuffed animal
“friends” join them in bed, and they will sleep happily.

Good luck

Daddy Nickell

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11 Jan

Ties that Last a Lifetime

Take a few tips from Mr. Daddy, an expert on all things “dad,
father, and daddy”. This veteran father has been through it all, with six kids
ranging in age from 6 months to 25; he has learned the ins and outs of bonding
with children at each stage in their development including infancy, toddlers,
tweens, teens and even adulthood!   Mr. Daddy has remained a hands-on father while
juggling a busy career and is excited to share his “tips and tricks” for building
bonds with the little ones you love.

First things first, Mr. Daddy knows how tough parenting in
today’s world is. The amount of time a new daddy or mommy spends with their
children can sometimes feel limited due to work, travel, etc. Take a bit of
advice from an expert to build a long-lasting and unique bond with your child. 

The best way to truly bond with an infant is to offer your full
attention. Make it a rule that the time you spend with Baby should be all about
Baby – bottom line. For instance, if you’re holding Baby and happen to notice a
new email on your Blackberry, don’t be tempted to read it or reply, in fact: Step
away from the Blackberry and focus your energy on baby! Remember Dads – during
the infant years, it’s quality over quantity, so dig deep, and show Baby you’re
there by making eye contact, singing and playing with them!

Goo Goo
Okay, so you can probably skip the “goos” and “gaas” and go straight
for words, phrases and sentences. Talking to your little one is important on so
many levels. The age of your baby shouldn’t matter; they will love to hear your
voice no matter what you’re saying. Whether you’re washing dishes, changing a
diaper, eating a meal, or riding in the car, it’s important to talk to your
child explaining what is going on and why.

You Say
Hello, I Say Goodbye:
Well, in actuality, you will say both, hello and
goodbye. When you leave for work always say goodbye and let your children know
when you’ll be back. Many parents think it may be disruptive to the nanny or
babysitter if they interrupt to say goodbye; however, in order to build trust
and strengthen developing bonds, you should always say hello and goodbye when
you’re coming and going.

Face to
It’s so important for a developing baby to be able to make eye
contact with their parents. Babies are fascinated with life, and love to look
at you straight in the eyes. Staring your baby in the eyes is extremely special
since your eyes can relay so much information – sometimes even more than words.
So hold your baby and gaze into his eyes, lighting up your face with silly
emotion and having fun.

Beyond Boundaries:
Building consistent boundaries for your baby is about
more than setting up a perimeter. Being consistent in the boundaries you set
helps strengthen bonds and builds a foundation of trust. Children need to know
their boundaries are consistent. If you say you are going to do something, you
have to follow through regardless if that leads to a reward or a punishment.
Parents often forget that when the toddler has a time-out, so does the parent.
In short, setting boundaries and then sticking to them will develop trust that
lasts a lifetime.

All You
Need is Love:
When it comes right down to it, love comes from the building
of trust and bonds, and love is one of the strongest emotions we feel. Being
both physical and emotional, it’s incredibly important to show your child love
as often as possible. Hugs and kisses are great, but you can also tell them you
love them and miss them and can’t wait to get back home to them when you’re

Get outside and learn about things together. When you’re a
child, everything is new and worthy of exploration: look at the sky, the moon,
the sun (not for too long), cars driving by, flowers, gardens, bugs, dogs,
cats, sounds, and more. Learning and exploring together will require you to
talk with your child while showing undivided attention and sharing in a common
love for our world. A walk should not include you talking on your blue tooth
while pushing the stroller down the sidewalk. Leave your phone at home, or, at
least, turn it to silent.

Bonding with your baby while being
a working dad can seem like a struggle, but with time, you will soon find, it
does take a little extra effort but it is always worth it.

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11 Jan

New Parent, New Year

I watched the New Year take its place as last year fizzled
out, and I realized, I still needed to make list of resolutions. As a parent,
and especially a new parent, deciding upon your New Year’s resolutions can be
tricky. And following through on those resolutions can be even harder.  

From my 25 years of experience as a daddy, I have compiled a
list of the resolutions that have really made a difference for me and my

New Year’s Resolution
1: To Be Patient

I know as well as anyone, that being a parent of small
children (and big kids too!) can often mean having a short fuse and saying
“no!” to simple requests, just out of frustration. Making an effort to take a
step back, be in the moment and look at a situation from our children’s
perspective will go a long way in helping us all to be a little more patient.  Our children (no matter what age) are
exploring, learning and growing everyday, and that’s certainly no easy feat.

New Year’s Resolution
2: To Just Be

Life as a parent can get a little crazy – to say the least.
I often feel I’m running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to
keep up with everything – including my sanity. This year, take a moment to just
be; enjoy every second you get to spend with your child as these times are
fleeting, and before you know it they’ll be gone. Children are spectacular, so
cherish being a parent as often as possible.

New Year’s Resolution
3: To Take Time for Yourself

It can be difficult to take time out for yourself, as a
parent, but it is one of the most important things you can do. Plan out a “date
night” for you and your partner or a coffee meeting with a friend once a week
or month – whatever you can squeeze in. Taking time for you will make all the
difference in ensuring your child has a healthy, even-keeled parent[s] looking
out for them.

New Year’s Resolution
4: Trust In Yourself

It’s easy to second-guess what you’re doing as a parent.
Chances are, if you care enough to wonder or worry whether or not you’re doing
it right – you’re probably doing a pretty good job. Every parent is different,
so just focus on what is most important in your life, and try to hold onto that
vision every single day.

New Year’s Resolution
5: Spend More Time Together as a Family

Family meals like breakfast and dinner seem the most
traditional route for gathering and spending time together as a family. Game
nights are also great, as you get smiles, laughter and lots of personalities.
Going for a walk or a bike ride as a family is also a wonderful way to bond
while staying healthy. There are lots of options available, so see what works
best for your family and, as they say – just do it!

No matter what you resolve for the New Year, remember to
simply be the best person you can be.

Happy New Year! 


Daddy Nickell

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05 Dec

Take a Real Break

You don’t have to plan a vacation this winter break. As a
father of six kids ranging in ages from 7 months to 25 years old, I’ve learned
a thing or two about enjoying winter break in the comfort of your own home – without catching cabin fever.

Follow my tips and suggestions for a fun, engaging break
that will actually feel like a break!

Explore Your
Often times there’s plenty of fun to be had right in your own
backyard. Maybe there’s a park you’ve never been to, a new trail to hike or
even a new bike path to explore. As long as you and your child are dressed
appropriately, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy getting out and about.
Browse the Internet or the phone book to see if there are any interesting and kid-friendly
activities going on within your community; chances are there’s plenty to do and
it won’t even break the bank! Look into aquariums, museums, theater,
ice-skating rinks, and recreation centers. There’s plenty of fun to be had
right outside your own door, so there’s no need to travel too far in the name
of some wholesome, good-spirited fun.

Veg Out: What’s a
break without a little downtime? Enjoy sleeping in, eating breakfast in your
pajamas and lounging in front of the fire. Read your favorite holiday storybook
with your child or watch a good, age-appropriate holiday film. Dust off those
old board games and teach your child your old favorite game. Playing cards and
board games teaches kids to be thoughtful and intelligent- plus, they are just
plain fun!  Spend time together enjoying
the peaceful bliss that is winter break – after all, you work hard all year

Get Crafty: Arts
and crafts have always been a favorite past time for my kids. There’s plenty of
exciting craft kits available at stores throughout the country. Or, you can go
“old-school” with a kid’s table complete with all the supplies for your child
to get a little messy – or a lot messy! Just make sure you designate a craft
area in a room with washable surfaces or put some newspapers down to cover the
floor in that area. You might even encourage your child to make a special gift
for each person they love this holiday season; the act of giving is important
in raising responsible, caring individuals. Remember, when in doubt, just be
creative – and don’t be afraid to get a bit of glitter in your hair.

Get Outside: If
you live in a place with snow on the ground, there are plenty of fun activities
you and your child can engage in – depending on their age. Make snow angels, a
snowman, go sledding, go cross-country skiing on a golf course, have a snowball
fight, or head up to the slopes and let your child take a ski lesson. If you
live in a location where a winter wonderland is a little less accessible, it’s
still important to get outside; taking the dog for a walk or teaching your
child to ride a bike. Learn a new sport together or roam the yard for
interesting and exciting new bug specimens.

When you get down to it, it’s not about where you go or what
you do, but spending time with your children and loved ones. Enjoy the gift
that is winter break as it only comes once a year; give thanks for the time you
get to spend with your child – tis the season after all.

Happy Holidays!


Mr. Daddy

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05 Dec

Traveling with Kids

As a seasoned traveler, I know how stressful it can be to voyage
with small children, and during the holidays it often becomes a requirement.
Don’t get caught up in the stress this year, follow these tried and true tips
for ensuring easy travel with your kids this holiday season.

Whether you’re flying or driving to your travel destination
this holiday season, here are a few reminders to help you and your children get
where you’re going smoothly and happily.

Preparations Are Key:
Make sure your family knows of this year’s holiday plans well in advance so
they are able to collect their favorite movies, download their favorite music
and pack up their favorite stuffed animals. Your itinerary should be solidly
planned out with a little extra room for hiccups and delays. If you’re driving,
purchase a road atlas for your car, print out directions from Google Maps, or
program and update your GPS system, and check on road conditions and closures
due to weather in advance so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Packing: When it
comes to packing it’s all about being organized. And, as it turns out, one of
the more difficult activities when traveling is packing in an organized
fashion. You will need to decide how many suitcases you’ll be packing and who
will be responsible for what bags or belongings. Don’t wait until the last
minute to pack, start early. Remember to pack up a bag full of snacks and
goodies to have on-hand during your travels. Whether on a plane or in a car,
getting into baggage once the journey’s begun might not be a viable option. We
also stick a pair of pajamas in the on-hand bag. Most of the time, our traveling
stretches into the night; changing from day clothes into pajamas while
traveling at night helps kids feel more comfortable.

Chances are your child is going to get bored and burnt-out while traveling, so,
as the parent, it’s your responsibility to have a handful of tricks up your
sleeve. Toys, puzzles, games and books are great sources of entertainment on
the go. Stick a few surprises in your on-hand travel bag so that you can
head-off your fidgety child before boredom turns into a meltdown. When you’re
driving during daylight, you and your child can watch license plates, keep
track of the different colors of cars you pass or listen to a book on tape.
When in the airplane, booklets of mazes and coloring books can be extremely
helpful when it comes to keeping kids entertained. It doesn’t hurt to have a
favorite movie on your iPod or portable DVD player to pop on when your child
gets sleepy.

Keep in Mind:
Your kids are going to be exhausted from traveling, so allow them ample time to
rest. More than likely, you will be having more activity than a typical day at
home would consist of, so keep a close eye on your children to see when they’ve
had enough. Traveling can put stress on our bodies and immune systems, so make
sure you all drink lots of water and try to eat healthy. Remember you’re on vacation
with your children. Plan out some special, kid-friendly activities you know
they’ll love and enjoy!

Make sure you explain everything to your children in advance
so there are no surprises upon stepping onto an airplane for the first time or
visiting the snow. Your child will feel more comfortable, safe and secure if
they know what to expect in advance. Remember to be flexible and have a little
fun – nothing ever goes quite according to plan, so be prepared for a few minor
hiccups and roll with the punches.

Safe travels this holiday season.


Mr. Daddy

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11 Nov

Thanksgiving Treats

In the Mr. Daddy household, we love to bake fun treats that
everyone can help make and will enjoy eating!

When it comes to Thanksgiving, the food and feast seems to
be never ending. We have happened across a few extra special recipes throughout
the years that are family favorites and traditions. One of those recipes is
Stuffed Turkey Pockets. Aside from a cookie-cutter resembling a turkey, these
treats have nothing to do with turkey but will be enjoyed by all just the same.

For this simple, kid-friendly Thanksgiving H’orderve you
will need:

  • ·     
    1 egg
  • ·     
    1 teaspoon of water
  • ·     
    Prepared pie crust
  • ·     
    Mini chocolate chips
  • ·     
    Peanut butter chips
  • ·     
  • ·     
    Cream cheese
  • ·     
  • ·     
    Raw sugar

We like to stuff our turkeys with peanut butter and
chocolate chips or jam and cream cheese; that way, everyone has something to
enjoy – whether they like sweet chocolate or refreshing jam. Just follow these
easy directions:

  • ·     
    Heat your oven to 375°.
  • ·     
    Whisk one egg in a bowl with a teaspoon of water and set
    it aside.
  • ·     
    On a floured surface, roll out a prepared piecrust so it’s
    about 1/8-inch thick.
  • ·     
    Use a large turkey-shaped cookie cutter (or another shape
    if you prefer) to make as many dough turkey pairs as possible.
  • ·     
    For each pocket, spread several mini chocolate chips and
    peanut butter chips (or cream cheese and jam) on a turkey. Leave a 1/2-inch
    margin around the edge of each turkey that’s free and clear of anything.
  • ·     
    Brush egg wash onto the edge of the turkey and place a
    second turkey cutout on top; press the edges together to seal.
  • ·     
    Brush the top of each stuffed turkey with egg wash and
    sprinkle them with raw sugar.
  • ·     
    Bake the turkeys on a parchment-covered cookie sheet until
    their edges begin to brown; it should take about 10 minutes.
  • ·     
    Let them rest on the baking sheet a few minutes before
    moving them to a cooling rack.

Place the treats on a platter and enjoy eating them over
smiles and laughter!

Stay tuned next month to learn about my favorite Christmas
treats and activities.

Until then,

Mr. Daddy

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