Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The hubs and I had a serious discussion the other night. To get a tree, or to not get a tree. Last year we used a big plant in the corner as our holiday tree for fear our hobbling babe would pull the whole thing down. This year, our daughter’s a bit older (not so much wiser) and we’re wanting to create a festive home for the holidays to enjoy – but how to do it safely?!

I know, I know. There are other mamas and daddies out there chuckling at my concern. Yes, she’ll survive, and she’s not going to pull the tree down. But, I am worried she’ll spend countless hours putting on and taking off those colorful and shiny ornaments! Do they make rubber christmas ornaments? Ones made from un-breakable plastic?!

Someone told me to just do it – get a tree and not worry about what the wee tot does. We’ll love the pictures and she’ll enjoy looking at them later in life, too. I always remember having a tree and enjoying the sparkling lights and, of course, the presents underneath of it Christmas morning. It’s all about tradition, isn’t it? And I guess it’s time to get over my Christmas tree concerns and go out and get one.

Will that someone come over every time one of those shiny ornaments gets smashed to the floor?


Healthful Mondays: The holiday pounds

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

I put my jeans on the other day and they were tight. Not just a little tight, like shimmy on in and then do a couple of squats to stretch them out tight, but muffin-top tight. Thanksgiving was a blowout with cheese, sausage, stuffing, BREAD, butter, MORE BREAD, a good amount of mashed potatoes and gravy, and some cookies for dessert. I also made that cheesecake and ate my fair share. So, basically, I’ve packed on some holiday pounds.

It’s not just me. The husband has a little extra wiggle around the middle, too.

Now, how to get rid of the pounds? With Christmas in just a couple of weeks, I know there is more and more eating, along with a good amount of drinking, right around the corner.

I like doing yoga, walking, sitting, reading, and eating. Yoga happens if I’m lucky – and if the babe’s awake, most of that short yoga session is spent with her hanging on me or trying to imitate down-dog. I do spend a good amount of the day walking and moving about, but, I’ll be honest, I sure like sitting, reading, and eating.

I needed help and I needed it FAST! How do other mamas get rid of the extra pounds? If I start good healthy eating and exercise habits right now, maybe they’ll last through Christmas – and beyond!

My friends over at Momster had some fantastic ideas from real-life ladies dealing with the same thing. What I learned is there’s no way to shed the weight without putting forth some effort and and giving the whole shedding of pounds process a good amount of time. One mama suggested switching over to salad plates at meal times – awesome idea (although the hubs wont like it)!

Now I’ve got motivation for cutting back during meals, but what about getting my sweat on? It’s really hard to make time to exercise when you’ve got a wee tot, but I can’t keep using that as an excuse. And maybe there are some things I could be doing WITH the babe that I haven’t thought of.

I love Fitness Magazine and enjoy checking out what they have to say on the health front and found a fun article sharing winter ways to shed the holiday pounds. Along with great ides, they included calorie counts for some of my favorite treats, which also put things a bit in perspective, too.

So, instead of spending loads on a gym membership, I’m going to strap the babe into the baby-back-pack and head out on a brisk hike – and drag the hubs with me. Although there’s no snow in my neighborhood to shovel, spending an afternoon weeding and raking the leaf-ridden yard will also burn tons of calories!

What’s your secret for beating the holiday bulge?

The noisy child toy

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

I have spent most of the day in a daze. This isn’t really a new thing – with a wee tot, a snoring husband, and a mourning cat, there are lots of things happening in the dark hours of the night at my house. But, last night was extra-special. Last night I was awakened in the early hours of the morning by an interesting noise.

This wasn’t a noise that caused alarm or made me reach over to grab at the hubs attempting to wake him to fight in valor whatever had made its way into the house. Nope. This was a noise that was familiar – but I just couldn’t place it.

I snuggled back down and hoped it was a crazy fluke or something, And, then, there it was again. I turned to check the turned-to-the-wall clock (remember those sleeping tips?) and saw a big red 4:30. In the process of moving about, the husband awoke just in time to hear the odd little noise again.

It was one of our daughter’s toys. It was one of her toys that makes noise that she loves and the batteries were dying causing it to make this adorable ding-a-ling noise that was ding-a-linging at 4:30 am in the morning.

I tip-toed upstairs, grabbed the thing and shoved it deep in the couch under the pillows.

Once happily cocooned within the bedding next to the already snoring husband, I heard the noise again, but now it was LOUDER. Somehow those pillows had caused that little toy’s noise to amplify.

I was not happy.

While lying in the bed trying to figure out if I should just cover my head with a pillow and get over it, it la-la-laaahd again and about 1,000 of my already fading brain cells shorted out.

I made my way upstairs again and quickly tried to figure out what to do with the beloved toy short of throwing it out the front door and smashing it to bits (because it is one of my daughter’s FAVORITE toys).

So, I put it in the fridge.

It’s still in there.

Scribble scribble



© Sarah Lipoff 2010

My daughter is just about two and totally in love with coloring. She will use anything and everything to make marks and lines whenever she can. Not only is she really into scribbling, she spends good chunks of time concentrating while working – which is pretty amazing for this age! Most almost-two-year-olds have a three-second attention span.


So, for those of you out there with a wee tot about the same age, you’ve probably exhausted all patience for scribbles. You’ve put out countless crayons, markers, crayons again, and even pencils for your child to experiment with and now have a fridge covered in scribbles. The scribble stage is the first developmental stage of art, and your child’s first foray into developing his fine-motor skills, concentration, and creativity. Fine-motor skills are the ability to pinch and grasp, which builds those growing itty-bitty muscles in your child’s hands. And, yes, your child may find scribbling to be the next best thing until he’s around the age of three, or even up to the age of five!

There are lots of fun and exciting ways to encourage your little scribbler. At our house, we have some favorite go-to activities that are simple and also great for development. I think you’ll find if you take the time to play and scribble with your child, you’ll both have a rewarding time creating together!

Music and marks – Listening to music gets kids moving – and also motivates budding brains to think in mathematical ways! Tape a sheet of paper on a work surface for your child. If you have a table he can easily reach on his own, he’ll feel free to make his marks. Otherwise, set your child up in the high chair or a booster seat at the table so he can wiggle around safely. Now play some fun music! Encourage your child to move and groove while using crayons to scribble to the beat. If he seems to be losing interest, try changing the music and see how he responds!

Painting surprise – Using a paintbrush gets a bit boring after a while, so mix things up by introducing your child to something different, such as a feather, leaf, or branch! Pre-mix some water downed tempera paint on paper plates along with putting out a collection of new and interesting painting tools. Craft feathers are always enjoyable to dip and delicately make lines and sprigs from evergreen trees or long leaves from flowers are lots of fun, too! Encourage your artist to mix his paints together to see what colors he creates – introducing basic color theory concepts!

Glue mess – Glue is sticky and ooey-gooey. Some youngsters aren’t excited about getting their hands messy, so why not use a glue bottle as a mark making tool! Your child can squeeze away at a slightly opened glue bottle and scribble all over a black piece of construction paper. This project has the potential to get messy, so set your child up for success at a work table along with taping the corners of his paper so it doesn’t slid all over the place. You can help your child get started by squeezing some glue on his paper and then letting him continue to scribble and squeeze. Let the paper dry overnight and the next day, he can scribble all over that dried glue with colored chalk! What fun – and super cool!

So, what are you waiting for? Go scribble!

Recycled plastic bag holiday wreath

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Now that Thanksgiving’s over, it’s time to decorate the house! Because we live in a place that doesn’t get snow, I try to find ways to make the place feel festive, but without any of that fake snow stuff. Along with getting a tree and hanging some sparkly lights, I usually create a fun wreath to hang on the door. Sometimes I use branches and things from the yard, but this year, I had a new idea.

While browsing through some decorating ideas from Midwest Living, I was inspired by one of their featured wreaths. It totally motivated my inner winter wreath making diva, but I didn’t have a white feather boa hanging about the house. So it got me thinking. How about doing something with all those white plastic bags hanging out under the sink? I know you’ve got a stock pile of them, too. Instead of tossing them in the trash (which is a no-no anyway), why not turn them into a super-cool, recycled, repurposed wreath?!

I pulled out the bags and got rid of any writing or advertisements with my trusty scissors and then cut them into 2-inch thick strips. If you’ve got kids that are able to safely use scissors, invite them to get busy cutting. You’ll probably need about 20 white plastic bags to make the wreath, so take your time and sing some holiday songs while prepping the bags.

Now get out a wire wreath frame. I had a 10-inch frame hanging out in the garage, but you can pick one up at your local craft store for less than $5.

Gather the kids around the table, or invite some friends over, and start tying those strips onto the frame! I found tearing the plastic strips in half, making a 4 or 5-inch long piece, created the perfect length for wrapping around two of the wires within the frame and tying.

It took me just about an hour to tie and tightly squish together the strips of white plastic bag to create my finished wreath. My daughter can’t tie yet, but she sure loved helping rip and tear the strips to make smaller pieces for me to use – and pretending she was tying a couple of strips herself!

To finish the wreath, I cut some of the ends that were a bit too long and scraggly and attached a few glittery pinecones.

Your recycled plastic bag wreath is ready to adorn your door welcoming friends and family to your home this holiday season!