Month: September 2010

Who REALLY needs a time-out?

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© So says Sarah...

Things have been a bit challenging at my house. These last couple of days the temperature has been hot, hot, and really hot. With all that heat came some pretty bad behavior. Not only was my daughter fed up with being all sweaty, I was getting a bit sick of it, too. So, shove two not-so-happy people together (no matter the age) and you’re going to get some head butting.

It all started with my desire for my babe to stop pulling me to what she wanted along with her constant pointing and somewhat annoying high-pitched noise making. Who am I kidding – it’s a TOTALLY annoying noise. So, attempting to encourage a bit more language and a little less pointing, wailing, and dragging during 90 degree plus temperatures wasn’t proving to be a happy and healthy bonding experience between mama and baby.

Needless to say, I’m pretty determined. My daughter is determined, too.

Neither of us was budging.

There was an overload of pulling, whining, crying, foot stomping, and even the throw-body-to-ground-deadweight routine (my total favorite). And, it wasn’t only coming from the babe. I was doing a good amount of talking a little too loudly at my daughter.

I was even tempted to put her in the crib for a time-out because I was getting so super frustrated.

Wait, what?!

While teaching, wasn’t I the teacher that told parent’s to STOP putting their kids in time-out? Wasn’t I the cheerleader teacher that encouraged them to work through high-drama situations and really take a look at what was causing the frustration? Wasn’t I the one that suggested maybe it was the ADULT really in need of the time-out and not the child?

You see, kids don’t want to cause irritation or frustration (for the most part). They are just working through what’s bothering them. And, in some cases, when language hasn’t developed yet, wee tots are figuring out how to tell you what they want – and when they don’t get your attention or the item of their desire, they make horribly annoying noises to let you know that THEY are frustrated, too.

I plopped my pointing, skirt-pulling, and whining child in her high chair filled with delectable goodies (cheese and grapes) and took a 15-minute time out on the couch. I felt a ton better after watching a couple of minutes of Sesame Street and listening to my babe attempting to sing along with Elmo.

And, my daughter didn’t seem to mind either.

I think I like time-out.

Healthful Mondays: How to stay cool

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff

With the forecast saying it’s going to be another day with record high heat, I’m ready to find the coolest spot possible to hang out for the day with the babe. BUT, that’s not going to happen. We have preschool today and not only will the kiddies be toasty, but us adults, too.

The best way to beat the heat is to avoid it. For those that aren’t able to turn up the air conditioner or spend the day at the mall, there are simple ways to stay safe in extreme temperatures. Start by keeping kids indoors or in shady areas and limiting high energy activities to 15-minute bursts. This helps reduce the potential of heat stroke and some super sweaty kids. Also, make sure to slather on the sunblock if you are planning on more than 30-minutes outdoors. No one wants a sunburn on top of heat stroke.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, when the heat is high, you must stay hydrated. That means get out those colorful cups or water bottles and drink up. Water is the best, but if you’re not a huge fan – or your kiddo isn’t having it – water down some juice, herbal tea, or sports drink. For every 90-pounds an individual weighs, they should be tossing back at least 5-ounces of liquid every 20 to 30-minutes.

Along with staying hydrated and taking it easy in extreme heat, enjoy some water play. It doesn’t matter how old you are, get out the spray bottles, hose, kiddie pool – whatever you got – and soak up some water. Surrounding yourself in cool water helps keep your internal temp low, which makes the high heat tolerable (and maybe a little fun).

You can also indulge in my favorite hot-day helper – popsicles! They are easy to make yourself and are quite healthy! Hitting the kitchen and concocting some fun and super-cold popsicles is a great way to teach your child about cooking, spend some quality time together, and create a tasty treat!

No matter what you choose to do on a hot day, keep the communication rolling. Ask kids and adults around you how they’re feeling and keep tabs on their behavior. Heat stroke can happen quickly and no one wants to make a trip to the ER, which totally ruins the day.

Stay cool!

I’m a celebrity (kinda)

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

These last couple weeks have been pretty eventful at my house. Both my babe and I headed to school, I was featured in a blogging-mom article by some big-wig people, an article I wrote landed on the front page of BlogHer – and it was our eighth wedding anniversary (which the hubs purchased these amazing flowers for).

Seriously. I’m on a crazed super buzz.

I feel so honored that my silly little rants on life with a baby have caught other’s attentions and my grungy-granola recipe enticed someone from BlogHer to even think about making granola. Of course, BlogHer changes their home page daily, so I can’t really *prove* I was on the front page, other than by directing you to either my Facebook or Twitter pages where I totally blathered on and on and on about it for like 10-hours straight.

But, I can share with you the link to an article I was featured in for Ladies’ Home Journal about mommy bloggers. Here’s the deal. I’m included along with some major-huge mom bloggers that I also totally adore. For example, there’s Kristen Gough’s My Kids Eat Squid and Gabrielle Blair’s Design Mom. And, yeah, Dooce (Heather Armstrong) was in there, too.

So, to even be IN that article was major huge.

And, then, my silly little granola recipe landed on the front page of BlogHer – a site that I totally respect and check out everyday.

I’m still shaking my head in amazement.

Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you get a laugh or two out of it – or some really great ideas for tasty vittles to enjoy with your family or art projects to create with your kids.

Now, back to changing diapers and thinking about what to pack for babe’s lunch tomorrow…

:)

The (real) hangover

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other night, the husband and I had a bit too much fun, and I awoke to that wonderful pounding headache, dry mouth, and exhausted-all-over feeling. Yes, I had a hangover. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a hangover, and I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with it for the rest of the day. So, I was ready to find the miracle solution – the way to make that real-life nasty hangover go away.

You’d think, after imbibing in the wonders of alcohol during college, that I’d know there’s no sure-fire way to get that hangover to simply go away. I did my share of drinking in years past, and somehow survived those mornings (dealing with a maddening hangover), making my way to classes and work, to actually come out of the whole experience with a degree – and somewhat decent grades.

BUT. I don’t drink like that anymore. Hitting the party train came to a grinding halt once the babe made her way into the world. Well, really, for a couple of years before even getting pregnant, I had cut WAY back on alcohol. A big night for me was a single full glass of wine.

So, the other night, when the hubs and I hit the bottle, in the morning when we both looked at each other with that “what just happened” look, we realized we had had a bit too much to drink.

And, we were both a bit hung over.

As I said, there’s no way to make a hangover go away, but I do know that drinking a couple of super-cold glasses of water, enjoying a grilled cheese with a fried egg on top, and Tylenol sure made things a bit better.

How to you fix a hangover?

Fall leaf project for kids

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Fall has made its arrival and leaves are changing color and swirling around creating that wonderful crunch and smell of the autumnal season. All those leaves can easily be turned into art projects that kids will enjoy – even the wee tots! The best thing about fall leaf projects is that they are never-ending. There are always more leaves to use!

Before starting your fall leaf project, head outdoors with your child along with a basket or bag to collect some fallen leaves. This is a great opportunity to tie learning into the activity, so start a conversation about the changing season, what colors your child sees in the leaves, how the leaves crunch when stepped on, the scent the leaves emit, or how much a leaf weighs. There are tons of things to talk about! It’s also a chance to connect with your child and share a special moment together!

After you’ve collected some colorful fall leaves, return to your worktable and look at the leaves with your child. Get out a sheet of white 8 by 12-inch construction paper (or a sheet of mat board or piece of tag board) and your trusty set of watercolor paints.

Now, take a look at the colors that your child finds within the leaves. Discuss how most leaves turn shades of yellow, orange, and red during fall. These are the warm colors – a set of colors usually associated with fall, fire, energy, and boldness. Help your child find orange, yellow, and red in his set of watercolors.

To create the background for the fall leaf project, your child will create a wash on his white sheet of paper. This means he’s going to cover it with lots and lots of water! Give him a big brush and a small container filled with water to slather all over. Once he’s finished, he can paint his wet paper with the red, yellow, and orange watercolors. The wet paper will allow the colors to seep together, creating a colorful, fall-like backdrop.

While the paper is drying, he can decide which leaf he would like to use for his finished project.

Place a piece of scrap paper on the worktable and invite your child to paint over the leaf using black or brown watercolor paint. Once the leaf is completely covered, he can place, press, and then lift the leaf on the watercolor backdrop, leaving a leaf print!

Once the leaf print has dried, your child can punch holes at the top of his paper and thread with a length of string or ribbon. After tying the ends, his finished fall leaf project can be hung in the house to enjoy! And, he can make many, many more! They make great fall gifts!

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The preschool situation

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Well, as you know, my daughter just started preschool, and I went back to school with her. So, not only is she getting used to a new routine, I’m right there with her. Things have been going pretty smoothly (for the most part), but I knew it was only a matter of time before things started to get crazy.

Ironically, I had just been chatting with my friends over at the Motherboard about hitting the preschool scene. My daughter has a bit of a runny nose from her first foray with various germs that she wasn’t exposed to in my squeaky-clean house (HA!) and I was curious if this was a common occurrence with other babes. That’s when things really started to go bump in the night.

Really.

First off, my cat has been really enjoying bringing in various living creatures to visit (like snakes) and we’ve had to nip that in the bud by keeping all doors securely closed at night. This sometimes means that wee kitty is left outdoors to fend for herself. Don’t worry – she’s a big girl. But, that didn’t stop her from making some major noise the other night, which woke me up, which then woke up the babe.

I couldn’t get her back to sleep.

So, there we were. Wide-awake at 4 am in the morning – on a school day.

Blech.

Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t only essential for growing kids, but for adults, too. When everyone is happily rested, it sure is lots easier to gather homework, pack lunch, and easily, and calmly, drop the little bugger off at school. AND, he’ll probably skip away with a huge smile on his face, too.

I’ve learned that having everything ready to go the night before helps ensure that on those crazed mornings (whether due to cat shenanigans or a snoring husband), I get my daughter to school with her important essentials – like food and water. I’m so fine with the fact that she often has on miss-matched clothes or grabbed a unique lovey item to share at school during the day (like my watch).

So, let’s be honest. I’m also having a bit of an issue with the fact that my wee baby IS old enough to go to preschool. AND, that she literally does skip away from me with a huge grin on her face at drop off. Granted, I’m next door and we sometimes see each other during the day, but she sure doesn’t care when I say “bye” and head to my classroom.

I’m learning how to understand that she’s a big girl now, and is ready to have her own adventures without me. It still makes me a little sad, but I’m figuring this whole thing out as I go.

We all are, aren’t we?

Healthful Monday: Homemade granola

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other day my husband “mentioned” he might be interested in having some homemade granola. I totally understand that he has these passing fancies for random things, but after he mentioned it, I got a hankering for some granola too. It’s been awhile since I tossed together a batch of granola, and was ready for the adventure.

A long time ago, in a whole other life, I worked at this crazy little health food store in Uptown Minneapolis called Tao Natural Foods. It was a fun job – and a wonderful environment. I learned all about vitamins, health food, why people drink wheat grass, and cooking. I love to cook, so having the opportunity to make fresh salsa, hummus, and granola on a weekly basis (and get paid for it) kicked ass.

I always made the basic granola, but would then add seasonal ingredients or something different to make it interesting. But, I always stuck to the basic deal. Oats, almonds, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, and butter. There are a couple other things that go into it, but if you have those few, simple ingredients, you can make a chunky, totally grungy, granola.

Not only is this a healthy granola, it fills your house with an amazing smell. A smell that makes you want more, and more, and more. Once you’ve made it, you’ll want to tweak the recipe to fit your taste, add ingredients that you love, and enjoy the total yumminess of granola.

Ingredients

6 cups oats

1 cup slivered almonds – toasted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar (I like using raw, unrefined sugar – and you can use brown sugar, too)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons maple syrup

How to make the stuff

Start by toasting your silvered almonds in a 350˚F. It only takes a couple of minutes, so don’t wander too far. Create an even layer of the almonds on a sheet tray and toss them in the oven. After about two minutes, they’ll be ready for flipping and then cook for just a couple of minutes more.

While your almonds are toasting, measure your oats into a nice sized mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the cinnamon, and a good dash of salt, and then stir.

Once the almonds are all toasty, carefully add them to your bowl of oats. Stir it all together and lower your oven temp to 325˚F.

Now measure the water, sugar, honey, oil and butter and place in a small saucepan. Gently bring the ingredients to a boil while stirring. You don’t want to lose any of this precious liquid!

Once the sugar has melted together with the other loveliness, turn off the heat and add the vanilla. Pour over your bowl of oats and stir with a long-handled spoon to coat the oats and cool them to a comfortable hand-touching temperature.

Get out a couple of sheet pans and evenly distribute your coated oats. Wash your hands and get ready to release some stress! Squeeze your oats, pinch them, and mush them up creating fantastic chunks of granola. Gently shake and move the trays to distribute those happy clusters so there is an even layer of gnarly oatmeal granola and place in your oven.

Let the oats toast for about 10 minutes and then remove the pans and gently use a spatula to turn and move the granola.

Put the trays back in the oven and continue turning and cooking until everything is a golden brown, which can take up to 45 minutes.

NOW, the best thing ever is to remove those hot pans, place them atop your oven, and drizzle the granola with REAL maple syrup. We’re not talking cups or anything, a couple of tablespoons will do. You’ll hear the maple syrup caramelizing on the pans as it hits the residual heat.

Gently turn the granola, helping to coat the outside with the maple syrup.

Wait at least 30 seconds before attempting to eat your fresh granola or you will burn your mouth. YOU’LL BURN YOUR MOUTH!

Let the granola cool completely and then store in airtight containers.

Considerations

You can add tons of stuff to this basic granola – pretty much anything you can think of. I’ve tossed in dried fruits, raisins (duh), all different kids of nuts, and even fresh herbs. The best way to incorporate additional ingredients is to gently mix the items into the granola after it’s been removed from the oven while it’s cooling. This way the ingredients don’t dry out in the oven, and remain fresh and tasty.

Yes, this granola is healthy. It’s made with oats. That’s healthy stuff. You can use your homemade granola for lots of things other than for breakfast, such as added to stuffing for cooking with turkey or chicken, grinded up for coating your favorite filet of fish, or tossed into your fresh popped and buttered popcorn – or sprinkled on really good vanilla ice cream!

I just eat it by the handful.

Eating habits of a 20-month-old

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

I am not a big fan of the high chair. It’s beneficial at times, like when I want to take a shower – by myself. Or, when I want to use the computer without fear of the whole thing being covered in fingerprints, snot, saliva, and food tidbits. But, when it comes to being used for eating, the high chair doesn’t deliver.

My daughter is a good eater, but, like my husband, isn’t really a fan of leftovers. So, when I find something that she likes and then try to offer it to her more than once in a couple of days, it is tossed to the floor. Ironically, once she’s removed from the high chair, that floor-food is the BEST food EVER.

I’ve decided that maybe I should ditch the high chair and instead keep my floors extra clean.

Well, no, really. I’ve started introducing my babe to the mini-table and seeing if she’d eat sitting on her own. It hasn’t been super successful, and starting preschool hasn’t been helping. She’s already been labeled as that kid who “eats-everyone-else’s-food.”

My solution has been to lower the high chair to its lowest setting and stock her tray at lunch with a fun selection of food and let her graze away. At breakfast, she’s tightly secured in the high chair while I shower, and at night we are working on eating at her wee table. And, on the days that we are at preschool, I just hope that she doesn’t slobber too much all over everyone else’s lunch.

The other major part of this whole food-stealing/grazing during meals issue is that my daughter is 20-months-old.

There’s no reasoning with a child at this age.

So, until she figures the whole thing out, she’s a food stealer.

I guess she’s getting a chance to taste test lots of different things…

My husband bought a waffle maker (and I’m not afraid to use it).

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other day while running errands, my husband got his lovely man-heart set on a waffle maker. It’s not like he’s a big waffle man. In fact, I don’t really remember him ordering waffles when eating out for breakfast (ever) or sharing amazing waffle stories from his childhood. So, this waffle mania was a new thing.

I was so okay with that, and sure wasn’t going to say no to a new kitchen gadget. I LOVE kitchen gadgets!

By the end of the day, a shiny-new waffle iron was in my kitchen ready to be used and abused. We started out easy with some basic waffles combined with fresh fall strawberries and ice cream for dessert. The rest of the week was pretty busy and we didn’t have much of a chance to spend more quality time with our new waffle machine.

But, then, last night, I was really ready to test it out. I had country-style pork ribs in the freezer that needed cooking and a package of cornbread mix that was wanting to connect with that pork. A match made in heaven, right?! But, a match made in super-swine heaven when that cornbread met with my new waffle maker!

What can I say. Cornbread in the waffle maker with the addition of some finely chopped spinach and green onion was just about the best thing ever. And, with some fresh cabbage slaw as a side, this dinner turned major out-of-control superb.

So, what’s your favorite thing to create in your waffle maker?

(If you don’t have one, go pick one up. Seriously. Go pick one up, now.)

Healthful Mondays: Doing nothing

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

It’s 6:30 pm on Monday and I’m just getting a chance to write today. It’s not like there was anything crazy happening, I just didn’t sit down and write about being healthy and stuff.

I’m feeling pretty healthy lately. How about you?

I think staying busy, getting out for a walk, and cooking my own food has helped me stay healthy. I know I’m tempted to eat nasty things. But, I avoid buying those tasty morsels at the grocery store and keep on driving when passing any fast food joints.

So, really, I’ve been pretty much doing nothing. Nothing different.

What’s your secret for staying healthy?