Month: April 2010

Tofu is not the root of all evil

 - by Sarah Lipoff

You caught your baby eyeing your dinner with big saucer eyes. Her excitement over rice cereal has waned. It’s time to try something new! But, what is safe for her to eat?

With the transition to solid foods, I figured tofu would be a great option for my wee one, as it’s super squishy and full of healthy soy and natural proteins.  Along with steamed fruits, veggies, and cooked beans, tofu seemed to be an awesome option for any gumming child.

When I try anything new with my babe, I check out what everyone has to say online.  I was super surprised when instead of coming across happy cheerful recipe ideas, I was bombarded with articles denouncing soy and even blaming soy products for turning children ‘gay.’

Wow.

Tofu and other soy products have come under some heat, due to potential links to digestive and health problems. From articles finding soy to be the root of all evil, to the aforementioned “gaying” up of our society, I got a bit confused, but only for a moment.

USA Today cleared the air with solid stats that soy contains estrogen, but would have to be ingested in hugely large amounts to cause anyone of any age any harm. Phew.

Because, the minute I gave my babe a chunk of tofu, she couldn’t get enough.

If you have a soy allergy, there is a chance your child could have one also, so proceed with caution. And, it’s not recommended to introduce soy into a baby’s diet until they are at least 8 months of age.  Tofu is full of calcium and protein, and is very versatile.  Blend tofu into baby food, cut into cubes for finger food, or cook some tofu together with veggies.

Have no fear; tofu is not the root of all evil.

*This is an article I wrote from a couple months ago, that I updated, and wanted to include on my blog. Sadly, my babe enjoyed tofu for a short bit, and then proceeded to throw it to the floor, just like she now does with all foods (other than grapes and cheese).

The messy eater

 - by Sarah Lipoff

The last couple weeks have been challenging at our house, full of clothing changes, wasted food, and cleaning. Lots of cleaning.

My child is a messy eater.

I have come to grips with this, and actually can’t really blame her. If I were a small little thing getting acquainted with the world around me, textures, smells, and tastes would rule. So, the experience of eating has turned into a complete package of fun.  A panacea of sensory overload.

Anything that can be mushed is turned into the texture of guacamole. Foods that make fun noises when they hit the floor, such as beans, are tossed with glee. Favorites that taste good are screamed for, which include cheese and grapes.

Cheese and grapes.

Yes, a bib could be dispatched to assist with the frontal mess, but bibs have turned into implements used for self-strangling. Wiping the babe while she eats is pointless, and cleaning the floor after each meal is extremely time-consuming.

So, I have resigned to feeding my child cheese and grapes.

We had a short reprieve with the turkey pineapple meatballs, a very short reprieve.

Sex after baby

 - by Sarah Lipoff

We love our partners, there wouldn’t be a new baby in our lives if we didn’t, and only so long the inevitable can be put off.  Plenty of time for recovery has taken place, the baby is starting to nap regularly and life is getting back to normal (if that’s possible).  It’s time to get busy. Yup, time to hit the sheets.

Ah, sex, the forbidden topic.  Sex is pretty much the last thing on your mind after having a baby.  The memories of the labor experience are still fresh in the mind and the idea of any other action in the nether region is a bit daunting.  Will it be painful?  Are things going to feel different?  Am I ready?

Here’s the thing, when you are ready you can still have a great sex life after having a baby, either after delivering vaginally or by c-section.  The most important thing is to jump back in the pool when YOU are ready.  If your partner was around for any part of the delivery, they got a big glimpse of what the birthing experience was like for you.  This should give them some understanding of how you need to heal, and (hopefully) have some understanding for your lack of enthusiasm.  If you had any tearing, or an episiotomy during birth, it needs to heal before partaking in any sexual activities.

I am going to be real honest.  My husband was there for the whole birth of our daughter and it was absolutely awesome to have him be such a large part of the experience.  He saw the pain, the blood, and the whole shebang.  I was absolutely amazed that he was ready to get back in action just a few weeks after our baby was born, but, he is a man after all.  I explained there was no way anyone was going anywhere near that area of my body, not now, not for a while, maybe not ever!

My hormones were raging, which is normal.  I was also still bleeding, which is normal.  My breasts hurt and were swollen from breastfeeding, which is normal.  And I was exhausted from lack of sleep, adjusting to breastfeeding every 2 hours, keeping a house clean, and just living in general.  Having a newborn is lots of work, and it can take its toll on other aspects of one’s life.  Sex was definitely not high on my list.  But, I knew it was for my husband.

After my 6-week check-up I was given the thumbs up and told to take it slow, use lots of lubrication, and make sure to have some fore-play.  It seemed so awkward hearing sex suggestions from my OGBYN, who just weeks ago brought my daughter in to the world.  She could read the trepidation all over my face and basically told me to just do it.  So I did.

It might hurt.  You aren’t going to probably be really into it, and there is a big chance you will have some bleeding afterwards.  But it is important to not forget that sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing.  Take the time to bring it back into your life.  It is important for you, your partner, and the continuation of your relationship.  Just because you have a new baby doesn’t mean you can’t get busy every once in a while.

Oh, and one last thought to leave you with.  Make sure to use birth control.  Unless you are ready to go down that path again.

The pacifier

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Before getting pregnant, or even thinking of having a child, I had made the decision that no pacifier would pass the lips of my future children. I had seen the 4-year-old in the market sucking away, the child talking through the pacifier, the screaming baby that dropped their pacifier. I wasn’t going down that path – no way. Then, I had a baby.

Oh, how things change.

Pacifiers pacify – that is what they are for.  Your baby is wailing and nothing seems to calm her down, so you shove in a pacifier.  Babies like to suck, and many times while they were in the womb, they were sucking on something. During one of my ultra-sounds, sure enough, there was the little one sucking away on her hand. Sucking is a self-soothing activity, and pretty essential to helping calm newborn babies down.

When babies are born, everything around them is new and different from what it was like in the womb. Pacifiers offer some relief to frustrating situations that both baby (and parents) encounter.  It has recently been documented that pacifiers also help in lowering chances for SIDS if used at night while baby is sleeping. Pediatricians suggest making sure, if you are breastfeeding, that your baby is following a good feeding pattern and latching well before offering a pacifier.  Everyone also says that during the first couple weeks, even months, that you shouldn’t feel badly about spoiling your little baby – so offering a pacifier isn’t so bad, is it?

Pacifiers can potentially lead to language delay and dental problems.  Your sweet adorable child might also become hooked on it, refusing to give it up, and wailing for it all day.  A pacifier used too early might also interfere with breastfeeding, and your baby might not learn how to nurse.   It is suggested to stop use of pacifiers by age 2 to make sure the jaw and bite of your child forms correctly.

Pacifiers can lead to various health issues, such as inner ear infections, if you don’t properly clean your beloved pacifier regularly.  You can put many pacifiers in your dishwasher or boil them on the stove.  Make sure that the pacifier you select doesn’t have any recalls and it has proper ventilation holes.  Not all babies will take a pacifier. Then you are dealing with a frustrated child, and confused parents, and no one is happy.

Wow, sounds like all that information at the end of a Cialis commercial.

So, does my child have a pacifier? She sure does. I try to allow the pacifier only during sleep times, and am already anxious about the day I will have to wrangle it away from her.

I fear the day.

How can you NOT like Neil Diamond?

 - by Sarah Lipoff

The other night while watching the opening day of baseball season, I uttered words that had never passed my lips. Words, I will admit, I never ever thought I would say.

How can you NOT like Neil Diamond?

I was in the kitchen when it happened. While cooking our dinner, the song just wafted into the kitchen. It tickled my ears and tempted my mouth. Before I knew what I was doing, the words to “Sweet Caroline,” had been sung. The whole song. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I did it. I had sung along with Neil Diamond as he belted out “Sweet Caroline.”

In high school, I was too busy singing along with the Violent Femmes, The Cure, and Depeche Mode to get caught up with Neil Diamond. Anyway, he was WAY before my time – really! In college, underground radio was the thing with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Radiohead ruling my world. Neil Diamond didn’t have a chance.

So, as a semi-adult, my music tastes have adjusted, and with a baby along for the ride, I have had to cut back on some of my listening choices (and only blare them while alone in the car). But, I never thought I’d see the day when I would admit, Neil Diamond doesn’t suck.

It’s not like throngs of admiring fans are filled with the giddy desire to loudly sing along with Massive Attack during a sell-out concert.

You’ve got to hand it to Neil Diamond.

Children and Their Art: Stages of Development

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Your child just spent five minutes scribbling on a sheet of paper and then proceeded to tell you about the amazing picture she created. As you nod your head in mock understanding while she explains the dragon, castle, and trees in her scribbling, you wonder what IS really going on, and if your child ever will actually draw the things she is describing. Have no fear, scribbling is an actual stage of development in art, and in no time, your budding artist will be creating amazing abstract artworks and eventually realistic representations of the world around her.

A child’s first foray into the world of art is called the scribbling phase, because she scribbles lots – and lots. While scribbling, she is mastering the fine motor skill of holding her marking instrument of choice, whether it is a crayon, pencil, or that permanent marker you left out by mistake. Offer your budding Rembrandt lots of coloring implements along with many, many sheets of paper to help hone her skills.

Along with developing fine motor skills through scribbles, young children are making large hand and arm movements while making their marks. Children are also learning they can express themselves through lines, shapes, squiggles, and lots and lots of nothings. These short bits of coloring are allowing your little one to learn about herself, what she likes, and how making marks feel –  sometimes before she can tell you about her creations!

Once the scribbling gets old (for you and your babe), youngsters move onto the preschematic stage, or the stage of making symbols. The scribbling stage moves into the preschematic stage when children are around three years of age, but that isn’t set in stone. Some hit it earlier or later – so don’t freak if your child is still scribbling away at five. Those random marks and scribbles start meaning something – and your young artist is insistent on telling you all about it. Many times the preschematic stage evolves along with language development. Those crazy shapes become mom, dad, the dog, your neigbor… Make sure to listen carefully and ask lots of questions about your child’s artwork – she has so much to share!

After the preschematic stage, children move into the schematic stage where artwork begins to become more representational. Children around the age of six or seven start drawing objects that look like what they are, and shapes that begin to correlate with the desired outcome. But, don’t make the mistake of assuming what your child has created before she tells you!  This is a special stage of art, and young artists can easily have their delicate butterfly wings stepped on. Allow your child to lead you through the story of her art and encourage her to continue down the path she’s heading.

Most of us remember when we hit the stage of realism, or the “I can’t draw” stage, around the age of 10. This is when many children decide either they are, or are not, an artist. We remember that time someone said to us, “that doesn’t look like a ______!” and had our heart sink. Young children are going through many things during these dramatic years of their life (puberty), which can make encouraging talented artists challenging. Offer praise to your young adult and find ways to show your appreciation of her artistic skills. Showing how to praise positively will encourage her to do the same of others.

And then, your small child has progressed through her artistic development and is off to college – well, not really. But, it does seem to go by in the blink of an eye, doesn’t it? Spend time sharing your love of the arts with your child, and how proud you are of her artistic talents (whether you are super-excited about her interest in art or not). Creating positive appreciation for the visual arts helps create a well-rounded adult, with a respect and understanding of the world around her.

Pineapple meatballs saved my cleaning supplies

 - by Sarah Lipoff

There has been a battle happening at my house, and it hasn’t been pretty. The dust broom, mop, a couple of sponges, and almost a bottle of cleaner have been lost. The baby has won the war, the cleaning supplies have admitted defeat. The amount of food that has been tossed, thrown, and smashed to the ground has become overwhelming.

Maybe the ants will remove the food bits. Because I, along with the cleaning supplies, have waved the white flag.

My adorable child has decided she only wants to eat cheese and grapes. She will eat a small amount of a new item, and then dash the remains to the floor with glee. With LOTS of glee. I began to question if she enjoyed the throwing of the food more than the eating. It seemed so foreign to me, a true lover of food, that anyone, even someone so small, could throw tasty vittles to the floor.

I began a quest to find food that wouldn’t be wasted on the floor, and yesterday there was a small success! Pineapple turkey meatballs. Not something I thought would save the sponge, but, once a salty-savory-sweet meatball was popped into my babe’s mouth, she wanted more, more, more.

Success!

Super easy pineapple meatballs are made by mixing 1/2 pound of turkey with 1/2 cup mixed vegetables (I used some frozen ones), 1/4 cup cubed fresh bread of your choice and a sprinkle of salt. Roll the turkey mixture into small 1-inch round balls and leave to the side on a plate.

In a medium sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup of cubed pineapple until it begins to brown on the sides. Add 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Drop the 1-inch round meatballs into the sauce and let simmer until cooked through. More water can be added to keep the meatballs moist while they are cooking. Serve pineapple meatballs on their own or over rice or skinny spaghetti.

So, if you are tired of food hitting the floor, try out some pineapple meatballs.

You might even find them oddly addictive, just like I did.

Good Friday

 - by Sarah Lipoff

On this Good Friday (which is more about celebrating friends and family than anything religious for me) I can’t seem to shake some sad feelings. Recently, a friend of mine passed away. He was an old high school friend that I had spent some time with in college, not seen for several years, and then reconnected with just in the last year or so. He died a couple of months ago from cancer.

Death sucks.

I had the privilege, and discomfort, of spending some time with him during the last couple months of his life. The worst thing was seeing this always energetic and positive young person (too young) slowly become a speck.

It super sucked.

For some reason, I just haven’t been able to shake it. Maybe it’s from seeing so many people walking around with sour looks on their faces unwilling to offer others a helping hand or even a smile. Maybe it’s from watching as others almost run pedestrians over with their cars because they are too busy and too important to stop at crosswalks. Maybe it’s from listening to others complain about their lives and how nothing seems to ever go their way when they have no problem paying their bills, tossing cash around, and getting the health care they need without a problem (HAD to add that).

I watched my friend slowly die, with grace, and not complain once. He took it as it came. He dealt with it.

It seems pretty ironic, doesn’t it?

Please stop at stop signs, help someone when they need a hand, and smile at others around you. Please call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while to let them know you are thinking of them. Please invite your neighbors over for a cocktail just because they are your neighbors. Please donate money, or food, to the local shelter if you have the ability to do so.

Life is special. Don’t waste it.