Healthful Mondays: Soda free summer

It came to my attention this morning that the Bay Area is attempting to encourage youngsters (and old-sters) to kick the soda habit this summer. The realization that kids are drinking soda morning, noon and night makes my teeth hurt and my body to feel a bit bloated. I’m not a soda fan, and don’t drink it myself, but I do like sugar. So, I decided to learn more about this “Soda Free Summer” thing and find out what it was all about.

On average, the typical person ingests about 175 pounds of sugar a year. Go to your kitchen cabinet and look at the bag of sugar you have in your pantry. Mentally times that bag by however many it needs to create 175 pounds and imagine that in your body. ACK. That’s enough to scare anyone silly. The majority of that sugar comes from drinks. Kids chug soda without even really understanding or realizing what they are doing, starting their bodies down the path toward a lifetime of potential health hazards from diabetes to obesity.

As adults, we have to set the example and stop tossing back sodas ourselves. Not only are many of us addicted to the caffeine included in the fizzy drinks, but the sugar creates a buzz, too. Cutting off the soda can be like quitting smoking. Your body goes through withdrawal and it’s not super fun. BUT, the result is a healthier body and, probably, a good amount of weight loss.

You can get more information about Soda Free Summer and commit yourself to the program no matter where you live. This is an opportunity to educate yourself and your family about the downfalls of sugar and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You  might also save some money by cutting out the soda for the summer. Seriously. Check it out!

Hey, there are lots of other yummy things to drink that don’t make your hands shake or cause you to gain weight – like ice-cold water. Oh, and water is free, which is a major plus.

The bottle battle

My daughter is just about 15 months and having a nice warm bottle before bed is the routine she’s been enjoying since she was born. Yes, I did breastfeed, and wanted to for as long as possible, but SHE made the choice to be done with my low supply boobies and opt for the free-flowing and bountiful bottle. So, every night before bed she slurps 6 to 8-ounces of tasty warm whole milk. I would opt for one also, but am sure someone out there would find fault with that.

The other day while at our healthy-check-check-up, our pediatrician suggested starting to wean her from the bottle. I told him she was already happy with a sippy-cup and is even able to drink from a glass, along with dumping whatever she was drinking from said glass all over herself. Nope. He was referring to the bottle before bed.


I nodded along with him and raced home. I wanted to research this. Can’t she continue having a bottle until she’s at least 2? Can’t I stretch that to 3? I really want to sleep at night and, of course, want my daughter to sleep, also. BUT, I really want to sleep at night. That bottle helps make that happen.

Just like all other transitions we’ve been through (moving to the crib, no night feedings, not constantly feeding…) the bottle has been the constant – other than our unconditional love. So, my big fear is the removal of the bottle will cause great disruption in our somewhat-perfect-6-hours-of-sleep life.

For now, I’m giving her the bottle. I just don’t have the energy for the bottle battle and figure when we go for our 18-month, doc and I can have our own battle about it.

Now, who wants a warm bottle of milk?

It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

So, today is my birthday and I’m officially 35. It’s just a number and honestly, the excitement of birthdays has long past. This year my parents have flown out to spend some time with me (well, really their granddaughter) and enjoy some California countryside. I’m not going to say sunny California weather, because in a crazy twist, it’s warmer in Wisconsin than California this week.

For some reason, whenever I think of my birthday and various parties celebrating the special day, I remember crying. There was my first birthday sleepover party where someone said something which made me cry. One year, in my twenties, I had too much to drink and things turned into a screaming match, ending with crying. I think last year I cried just because I felt like it.

It’s not a bad thing, really. Crying is healthy and I think people should do it more often. I didn’t cry for years because I was worried it would make me seem “weak” or too “womanly.” Crying isn’t always a bad thing. I cry over happy things, too. I sometimes cry over commercials (yes, I admit it).

Silly me.

This year on my birthday as we watch my daughter run about, enjoy a tasty dinner and have a glass or two of wine, I’m not planning on crying, but if I do, it’s okay by me. It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to.

Healthful Mondays: pesticides = yuck.

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

This morning, while getting my small dose of breaking news from the Today Show, my husband and I caught the snippet about how pesticides can lead to a higher potential for kids to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

This information didn’t surprise me one bit and supported my eating philosophy of supporting area farms and ingesting yummy organic foods as often as possible when they are in season. I understand that not everyone has access to a farmers market or tasty organic foods all year round, but maybe it’s time to search out other options – seriously.

So, this hit the airways today, with several channels telling you to skip the frozen blueberries and eat strawberries in small amounts to keep the risk for ADHD development from over-exposure to organophosphate pesticides low. This may send some families into a tizzy tossing all their fresh and frozen fruits and veggies in the trash while shaking their heads. But, before you start banning those tasty strawberries, hit the local farmers market and talk with your area farmers about their pesticide use and practices. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about farming with your kids!

If you missed all the fear mongering today, here’s a couple of links to articles and snippets to assist with your future fruit and veg purchasing. Just remember – buy local, eat seasonally fresh items and opt for organic. You might find you are paying more, but the flavor sure makes up for it!

Chicago Tribune


ABC News

5:30 am

I love my cats. We have two cats and they are very different. One is old and fat and doesn’t do much other than beg for food, shed her long hair all over the place and lie on the floor. She has so mastered the art of lying on the floor that I have recently started nudging her to make sure she is still alive. The other cat is small and fast, and enjoys spending time outdoors. Neither one gives a crap about us other than when they want to eat or be let outside.

When I got pregnant I had crazy visions of the cats wanting to sleep with the baby in the crib, the cats scratching my baby, the cats doing nasty things to the baby…. None of these things happened. The fact is, I don’t think either cat COULD jump into our daughter’s crib even if they really wanted to, and just like my husband and I, they don’t really care about her unless she were to start feeding them or letting them outside.

Everyone adjusted to each other fairly well after our daughter joined the household. The small cat runs and hides when she comes near her and the big fat cat just lies there. She even lets our daughter pull her tail without protest, which seriously surprises me.

So, the cats are okay. Our daughter is okay. I am not.

My side of the bed is the side that has the sliding glass doors that open to allow the cats to go outdoors. My husband, who slept soundly through the first year of nights with baby, sleeps through everything. He doesn’t hear the scratch, scratch, scratch at 5:30 am. He doesn’t hear anything. One night I tried yelling at him to see if he would wake up in an emergency. He didn’t even roll over (that’s a whole other story).

It seems the cats have decided that the break of dawn means it is time to go outside and chase the awakening birds. It seems I am the one that has to suffer through the incessant scritch, scratch, scratch of the cats’ nails against the glass. I get up in a daze, open the door, the cats go running out, and without fail my daughter wakes up.

She falls back asleep. I don’t.

I have been living life on 5 hours of sleep for two weeks. I feel like I am slowly going insane. I would like to strangle the cats, but they’re so darn cute.

So, until I figure out a way to leave the sliding glass doors open without allowing the raccoons in, causing our heat bills to be astronomical or train the cats to jump out a window to get outdoors, I will be walking around in a daze.

I did pick up some water guns the other day. Maybe some good cold early morning squirts to my kitty-cats’ heads will keep the scritch-scratching away.

I’ll let you know.

Healthful Mondays – Pilates

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to exercise. I do it, but am not into the high-impact-super-sweaty kinda stuff. Anything that guarantees getting in shape that involves laying down, sitting in a chair or low-impact cardio, I’m excited about.

While pregnant, I figured I needed to do something to stay in shape that wouldn’t shake the baby. Someone suggested to check out Pilates, so I did. At first I thought the whole thing had to be a bunch of hooey – something that promised long lean legs and a flat tummy by doing slow movements. I wanted long lean legs and a flat tummy (yes, I am fully aware that a flat tummy can NOT be obtained while pregnant – but I had visions for the future).

With a couple of fun and super short work out DVD’s, I started out slow and found Pilates to be an enjoyable and challenging work out routine that was beneficial during pregnancy and post-pregnancy. Today, along with attempting some cardio to keep the heart healthy, I still do Pilates almost every day. Do I have long lean legs and a flat tummy? NO. Genetically, I’m just not built that way. I can still dream though, right?

My favorite pregnancy Pilates work out was Pilates During Pregnancy with Niece Pacenka. Not only do I like Niece’s name, I found her routines easy to follow, comfortable and adjustable for your trimester. Post pregnancy, I couldn’t get enough of Ana Caban and her Maintenance Pilates for Weight Loss. These short work outs kick your tushy and are also easy to follow. Yes, you spend most of the routine on your back, but be ready for your stomach to burn the next day!

So, whether you are pregnant and want an engaging work out or just looking for a way to get some defined muscles, check out Pilates. You can do it in the comfort of your own home or check out a class at your local gym. In no time you can look just like me!

Mother’s Day

On this special day celebrating mamas everywhere, I sit here and think about my adventure thus far as a mother. I wasn’t sure IF I was going to be a mama, as getting pregnant took us a long (LONG) three years. During that time I questioned if being a mom was the right thing for me, if my body was trying to tell me something or if I should just enjoy the life I had sans children.

Then, I got pregnant. Everything changed.

My days are full of my child. She really wouldn’t have it any other way. My life is completely different. No longer can I sleep in until 9 am on Sunday mornings, having one too many drinks isn’t a possibility (because you never know if a late night trip to the emergency room might be necessary) and owning anything white is impossible. There are some sacrifices with motherhood, but they are all worth it.

So, on this Mother’s Day when my husband asked me what I wanted in celebration of “me,” I told him another fantastic day. Because, in my world, every day is Mother’s Day.

I did ask for some chocolate, too.

No chocolate for me

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other day I decided to jump on the scale – just for fun (insane, right?). I was rewarded by a gut-wrenching number a good 7 pounds over what I thought it would be. Not believing my scale, I got off and got on again and saw the same number. Hey, it’s not that bad, really. But, the scale rules us women and I had been major chocolate over-indulging.

I love chocolate. I love chocolate in any form. I have eaten chocolate covered bacon and bugs. If it’s chocolate, I will eat it and probably like it.

So, these last weeks I’ve found myself hitting the chocolate pretty hard. I made chocolate muffins, chocolate crackers, chocolate chip cookies and ate lots of plain old chocolate. I guess it translated into 7 extra pounds.

I challenged myself to spend a week without chocolate and see if it made any difference, along with staying away from sugar in general and getting some regular exercise.

It hasn’t been a fun week.

As a reward, I am allowing myself a super special chocolate indulgence tonight. I haven’t decided what that chocolate decadence will be – but it’s going to be good!

Oh, and I weighed myself this morning, and was down 2 pounds, which is good and all – but seriously, this weighing yourself thing is asinine. We really should just eat healthy, exercise and get over it, right?

What do you cut back on eating when you think you need to lose some pounds?

Recycled hand made paper

The other day I couldn’t help myself from stumbling over the piles and piles of newspapers gathering dust in the corners of my home. My daughter had turned them into playthings, ripping and tearing the pages with glee. Her budding creativity was absorbed with the sound and feel of the paper changing shape from flat pages into curling shreds.

Making your own paper out of those old newspapers is easier than you think and a great way to re-use them in a fun creative way with your family (or on your own). You just need a couple basic materials and you can make decorative paper like you find – and pay for – in the craft store for free.

Get out a big bucket and have your kids help tear the paper into strips. It doesn’t matter how big or small the strips are, just enjoy tearing. Once you’ve shredded all you can shred, cover the strips of paper with water and let them relax overnight. The paper will absorb the water and start breaking down.

The next day, get everyone involved squishing and mushing the wet paper into small bits. You may need to add more water to create a nice slushy pulp. This gets a bit messy, but it sure is fun and a great opportunity to talk with your kids, explore texture, and create something lovely together.

If you would like to make colored hand made paper, try mixing a small amount of tempera paint into the paper pulp. Just remember, you can’t take the color out after it’s been added – so go slow.

Use an old window screen, either still in the frame or cut free, to create your paper. Place the screen on a flat sunny spot, like your driveway or patio. Pour the paper pulp over the screen and press and flatten the pulp with your hands to create an even layer.

Press bits of tissue paper, dried flowers, flower seeds, small bits of ribbon, or glitter into the paper. You can also create indentations with items, like sea shells, by pressing them into the wet paper pulp. Let the paper dry in the sun until the edges curl from the screen.

You can cut and use your hand made paper for anything such as decorating the front of a card, making a cover for a hand made notebook, or as decorative seat markers at your next dinner party. The possibilities are endless!

Healthful Mondays – Fun in the sun!

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

No matter where you live there are tons of fantastic beaches, rivers, streams, ponds or pools to visit when the sun is shining. Playing in the sun, and the water, is absolutely fantastic. The thing is  you want to protect your baby from the sun but also let her have a bit of exposure. The sun provides us with essential vitamin D, which boosts our immune system along with making us feel good. Not letting babe (and yourself) get some rays can lead to depression, or in extreme cases, rickets.

Being a new mom, I’m concerned about sun exposure with my young baby’s skin along with keeping her safe.  I’m not just worried about a doozy of a sunburn, but a reaction from the sunscreen I might use.  Experts say that brief exposure to the full on sun isn’t going to directly lead to skin cancer, but I want to make sure she is properly protected during long summer days at the beach. I have also had my fair share of bumpy, itchy rashes from experiments with skin lotions and would hate to have the same happen with my little one.

I picked up a couple of brands of sunscreen and found California Baby Sunscreen to be awesome with Sweetsation Therapy’s Sun ‘n’ Fun Organic Baby Sunscreen great, too.  Both products can be ordered online or found at baby stores. Neither gave my babe (or me) any funky reactions after spot testing on our legs, so we were ready for prolonged sun exposure.

Along with sunscreen, I picked up a sun hat, an umbrella, and a nice beach blanket.  I wanted to be prepared for our first time at the beach.  I slathered her up, packed the bag, and set off.

I figured we would last maybe a half hour at the beach, but it turned into a full afternoon of fun in the sun and cold  toes in the ocean.  It was my daughter’s first time dipping into the sea and she was a true trooper.  The sand was exciting, the sun was warm, and the water was wonderful.  The day was a complete success!  She slept the entire way home.

What’s your favorite baby sunscreen and must have fun in the sun items?