Month: February 2011

For the cat(s)

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I’m just going to acknowledge first and foremost that my mother isn’t going to like what I’m about to share with you. Nope. She’s already shared her feelings, but, I’m going to have to go out on a limb and do something she’s not going to be excited about (sorry mom). I’m getting a new kitty-cat. Since we had to put our long-time pal Delilah down in November, our little kitty Shasta just hasn’t really figured things out without her. We picked Shasta up when she was a kitten, and the hubs picked up Delilah from the pound in Santa Barbara. I lived with Delilah for almost 10 years, and have had Shasta for just about seven.

It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have pets at home what it’s like having pets. I love having animals around, heck, I’m partial to fish, too. But, when your pet isn’t right, it’s the worst thing ever. They can’t just come out and tell you, “hey, I’m feeling a bit lonely.” They do what they do, which usually involves behaving in a way that isn’t fantastic, sometimes annoying, and often darn-right-out-of-control horrible.

So, when we walked in the house the night we put Delilah down and Shasta saw she was now the lone cat of the house, she let out a truly sorrowful yeowl that caused both the hubs and I to succumb to horrid gasping dry heaving bawling.

And, guess what? The Shasta cat hasn’t stopped yeoooooowling.

She meeeeeeeeeows all hours of the day and night. It’s not like a social “what’s up” kind of meow, it’s a “I’m lost” kind of meow.

And, it’s the worst.

We’ve been up with her in the middle of the night, we’ve given her loads of extra attention, we’ve played with her, we’ve talked with her, we’ve chased her, we’ve thrown things at her, and we’ve doused her with the water gun.

She’s still yeooowling.

Getting rid of the Shasta cat isn’t an option.

So, another kitty-cat it is.

Meet Coco.

(sorry mom)

:)

Nut-free granola bars

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

My wee tot isn’t excited about eating anything. She likes cheese and grapes. And then she doesn’t like cheese or grapes and only eats pasta. Then she turns her nose up at pasta and only wants oranges. This makes packing a little lunch challenging when we hit the preschool. Add to that the kiddy-school being nut-free (and meat-free) and I’ve got a challenge figuring out what to make for the babe.

I’ve discovered that the tot likes raisins, and she will tolerate toasted o-shaped cereal (you know, Cheerios), and oats have good healthy protein – AND, you know how I love the wonders and taste of quinoa, which is uber-packed with protein, so I set my sights on concocting some sort of granola bar with all those lovely items.

Now if you are looking for a super-sweet gooey granola bar, this isn’t for you. If you want a crisp and light granola bar, then these are perfect. You can also add and change to create the best granola bar for your family. My daughter couldn’t get enough of these, and she enjoyed them all last week at school. This means, unlike grapes, cheese, pasta, and peas, these granola bars lasted the test of time, which makes them a winner!

What you need

2 cups Cheerios

3 cups oats

1 cup cooked and toasted quinoa (don’t freak out, I’ll explain what I’m talking about in a moment)

1/2 cup raisins

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons honey

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 small pear (or apple) peeled and chopped fine

9 by 12 inch sheet pan

 

What you do

Start by boiling up your quinoa. Follow the directions on the package for making 1 cup of cooked quinoa. It only takes a couple of minutes and then you’re ready for the next step.

Once your quinoa is cooked through, evenly spread it on a lightly greased sheet pan and place it under the broiler. Don’t go away – keep an eye on those little buggers. Within a minute or so, you can use a spatula to gently turn and move about the quinoa so it is evenly toasted. Once your quinoa is a golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool. You can also set that oven to 350 Fahrenheit so it’s ready to go when you are.

In a big bowl, add the Cheerios, oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, and brown sugar. Mix everything up so there aren’t any big chunks. Go ahead and mix in the toasted quinoa, too.

Now you can add the oil, honey, egg, and vanilla. Really mix those ingredients together and then add the raisins. If your kids aren’t big on raisins, you can add any dried fruit they are into, like cranberries, chopped apricots, pineapple, prunes…..

I also happened to have a nice small pear ready to be eaten, so peeled it, chopped into a small dice, and added to the mix. A small apple would work great, too!

Remember that sheet pan you used to toast the quinoa? Get that back out, coat with oil, and then press your granola mix evenly about the pan.

Toss those granola bars in the oven and let cook for about 30 minutes. If the top is just starting to brown, they are ready to take out. If you want them to be a bit more toasty, let them cook an additional 10 to 15-minutes.

Use a knife, or pizza cutter, to cut the bars while they are warm and in the pan. If you don’t cut them now, you’ll have a big 9 by 12-inch granola bar on your hands.

I attempted to let the bars cool before eating, but the wee tot was ready to taste test. We all enjoyed several bars before I was able to get them into a nice sealed container to save for later.

Enjoy!

 

Pampering (or, a glass of wine solves everything)

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

The last couple of weeks have been utterly crazy. I can’t even believe we survived. Really. Between getting packed up and ready for vacation with a toddler, enduring a visit to Urgent Care in an unknown city, and bottle weaning, I feel like I’ve aged five-years in the last three weeks.

I need a break. And, it’s really hard to make time for that to happen. I used to be able to hide out in the bathroom (it was my go-to place), but now that the wee tot is starting to potty-train (kind of) she’s in the bathroom with me at all times. I actually resorted to spending extra time with the laundry the other day just take a couple of deep breaths and enjoy a moment to myself.

Lame.

It wasn’t long ago that I guest-blogged for the awesome Amber Strocel about working on spending more time on “me.”  I’m sad to say that “me time” didn’t last long. So, when I was hanging out on the Motherboard the other day and found an article about real mamas getting in some quality “me time,” I was motivated to get back on that “me” schedule again. If all these other fabulous moms can do it, I can, too. Right? RIGHT?

Here’s the thing, not making time for yourself isn’t healthy. In fact, pulling those late nighters can cause your health to take a tumble. I’m totally at fault of trying to get in just a little more work when I really should be hitting the sheets. And those extra-cozy yoga pants are slowly starting to creep back into daily wear. My inner hot-diva mama is not shining through at all. I need to dig her out and let her see the light of day!

I got on the phone and made an appointment for a pedicure. I hadn’t had one since before my baby-shower forever ago, so it was time for some indulgence and pampering. What I love about a pedicure is that you can be anonymous and not chit-chat while hiding behind a magazine or book. It’s really like a mini vacation – except someone is touching your toes. I also picked up a nice bottle of chardonnay and got out those dusty bath salts hiding under the sink. I had visions of a nice long bath in silence, sipping a big-ol-glass of wine, all while appreciating my amazing freshly painted toes.

Well, on the day of the pedi appointment, the hubs couldn’t stay with the babe, all hell broke loose about the house, and the toes had to be painted by moi. And, instead of having a nice long soak on my own, the babe and I had a super-bubbly bubble bath – which really wasn’t that bad.

But, I did enjoy a nice evening. The husband offered to rub my neck while I sipped that nice, big glass of wonderful chardonnay. I even snuck a few peaks at my shiny toes.

I felt pampered (well, kinda – but good enough).

Maybe “me time” isn’t about being by myself, but really about enjoying those special moments with the ones I love.

What about you? How do you make “me time?”

Bottle cap magnets

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to reuse things, and that includes all those bottle caps from all those fizzy beverages we consume. So, instead of tossing them, I decided to turn them into a cute and colorful way to keep me updated and reminded of special artwork or important dates by making magnets! All you need are a couple of basic materials. If you’ve got kids, they can help make lots and lots of magnets, too!

It’s as easy as pouring Mod Podge over a collection of bits of things inside of a bottle cap! I found googly eyes, glitter, cut out pieces of paper, and string to be fun and interesting to experiment with. Your child can go on a scavenger hunt for all those itty-bitty things hiding around the house that need a new purpose and use them for creating her own fun stockpile of magnets. Heck, if you’ve got a big enough stash of bottle caps, you could create an alphabet magnet set!

Set your bottle caps on a tray or sturdy piece of cardboard. Go ahead and arrange the items in the caps and then really fill them with Mod Podge. Carefully place the caps in a safe and level spot where no one will jiggle or dump them. Those little suckers need about three days (or longer!) to dry. Until then, they are going to look like white gloopy things. But, be patient….

Magically, they will become transparent and all your fun little bits of stuff will be shining through! Slap on a small square of peel-and-stick magnet to the back of that bottle cap and you’re all set to display those special bottle cap magnets on your fridge!

Bye-bye baba

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I started out this month with some pretty high hopes of getting the babe started on a couple of big transitions. My plans included getting rid of paci (I’m so not a fan – but the wee tot is), really starting potty-training, and no more babas. Yeah, we call the warm milk bottle at the end of the day a “baba” and that baba needed to go. The thing is, I think I want baba time more than the babe does.

Hmph.

During our last well-check, my pediatrician asked about the big bottle, “You aren’t still giving her a bottle, right?” Right, right.

Okay, so I lied. Are you going to tell on me?

I fully understand the baba could cause teeth issues, icky stomach stuff, and baby addiction problems. But, I sure like those few moments where I get to snuggle up with the babe. She’s SO active – it’s rare I get to wrap her up in a blanket and spend just a minute or two with her.

But, it’s time. The baba has to go.

So, yesterday, we picked up some big girl sippy-cups and figured it was as good a time as any to ditch those bottles. I tossed them far back in the cupboard behind the glasses, so the wee tot couldn’t see them, and handed her one of the new cups full of milk. She seemed happy enough – but that was the middle of the day.

Then, the true moment came. It was baba time.

I warmed some milk in the sippy-cup and offered it to the babe.

She took a couple swigs. Looked at it. Handed it to me, and said, “no baba.”

Well, bye-bye baba.

(I’ll miss you)

I think tonight we’ll try cozying up with a book before bed.

Paper cutting with Matisse

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

There are several art activities that are fun, easy, and doable for just about any age that I use as good-ol-go-to projects when something needs to be done. Paper cutting in the style of Matisse is one of those awesome activities. Just about any age can get into this engaging project, and you can put a spin on things to connect with other learning areas – such as math!

So, the other day, when the babe and I were really getting sick of all that rain, I figured it was the perfect time to get out the scissors and see what we could do. The majority of Henri Matisse’s life consisted of creating colorful and vibrant portraits, landscapes, and still-lives. Matisse started painting while recuperating from appendicitis in childhood and things evolved from there. He hung with van Gogh and the other Impressionist artists in France and then comfortably moved into the modern art movement with buddies such as Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. Matisse’s real claim to fame is as the father of Fauvism, a movement that embodied color and movement – which is what Matisse’s work is all about.

It wasn’t until the end of Matisse’s career that he began exploring the art of paper cutting. And, we’re not talking cutting on a dotted line, here. Matisse turned simple cut paper into colorful, masterful artworks that grabbed the viewers’ attention and didn’t let go. His organic shapes and color combinations jumped off the paper, seeming to move and dance.

While the rained poured down outside, I cuddled the babe up to the computer and shared with her some of my favorite paper cuttings by Matisse. While we looked at them, I pointed to colors asking her what she saw, challenging her color recognition.

Now, my wee tot isn’t ready to wield any type of sharp implement yet, but she sure can create some crazy organic shapes! We picked out a set of complimentary colored construction paper (complimentary colors are located opposite each other on the color wheel – red and green, yellow and purple, orange and blue) and folded them in half. Then I helped by cutting each of the papers in half along the fold.

I gave the babe some glue and a sheet of white paper. After she had coated the backsides of each of the orange and blue papers, we slapped them on a white paper.

Then, I offered her a marker and let her create some funky free form organic shapes on the other half of one of the papers. (I’ll be honest, her shapes turned into some pretty serious scribbles, so I had to make some organic shapes for us to use for our finished Matisse creation on the half sheet of orange paper.) This is a great opportunity to chat with your child about shapes, and the difference between organic (free-form) and geometric shapes (hello, math concepts!).

If you’ve got a good-to-cut-with-scissors child, he can now place the paper he drew his organic shapes on top of the other complimentary color construction paper and cut – so he will have two shapes exactly the same. He can cut out as many shapes as he’d like to create his creation. And, that cutting is giving all those itty-bitty muscles in your child’s hand a work-out, great for helping with coordination and building hand writing skills!

Now he can go ahead and glue those organic shapes on his paper, thinking about making a symmetrical creation. Symmetry is when something is the same on both sides – like a butterfly. Or, your child can go off on a tangent and create his own design layout.

Once he’s finished cutting and pasting, your little Matisse can share his finished paper cutting with friends and family!

Happy cutting!

 

Movie time

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

After Valentine’s Day, and our exciting vacation adventures, the husband and I have dedicated ourselves to being more attentive to each other, which really means being nicer to each other. We haven’t been doing a great job with that thing called communication, and also tend to just zone out, go to sleep early, or (gasp) toss back a couple of extra drinks when Friday rolls around. So, I’ve decided to change things up a bit and start Friday night movie night! And, I’m thinking the babe can get in on the action, too.

Here’s the deal. My husband loves kid’s movies. I like them, too. But, he really likes them. Anytime there’s a new animation flick coming out, he says, “maybe this is the one.” The “one” refers to the being the right movie for the first potential visit to the movie theater with the babe….

I remember going to a movie for the first time at the dilapidated movie theater in our small downtown and being totally AMAZED. It was a packed theater, one of the coolest movies of all time (E.T.) and I was totally hooked – HOOKED! I love movies. Really. I love a good movie just about as much as I love me some good chocolate. I want my daughter to have that same connection with the big screen.

Our daughter’s a bit young for sitting through an hour-and-a-half of colorful moving things that may sing and then get her totally hooked on characters (and products), but the husband really loves seeing movies in the theater and it’s been over two years since that’s happened. Yeah, we could get a sitter and go out ourselves, but do you know how much a babysitter costs? Much much more than the price of seeing that movie – and dinner combined.

So, we’re hoping to hit the theater with the babe, but before that crazy adventure takes place, we’re gearing up by having movie night in the comfort of our own home! My friends over at the Motherboard gave me some great ideas for how to make the living room ready for the event and ways for the whole family to have some fun – without dishing out a tons-o-cash, just the price of the movie rental! I figure we’ll start out with a kid-friendly movie, watch for as long as the wee tot is interested, and then whisk her off to bed.

Then, I’ve got plans to reconnect with the hubs. Once the babe is blissfully slumbering, I’m going to dim the lights, cover the ottoman with a tablecloth and some tasty food, and toss on an adult movie! Hey, not that kind of adult movie – we’re talking something along the lines of Inception or The Social Network. Heck, I’d be happy with Red.

The big question is – what’s a good movie to watch with the babe?

Happy Friday!

Who’s driving the bus?

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Well, it’s taken a day or two to recover from our vacation. It’s not like we had a horrible time or anything (really, we didn’t). It’s that we survived. Between the babe’s ear infections, and the hubs and I just about having a knock-down-drag-out fight, we thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sun and sand for a couple of days. It really was fantastic!

But, during the return flight, I had one of those extremely, extremely rare moments. For about 10-minutes I was able to peruse the pages of a current magazine. And, during those few moments (that I’ll never get back), I learned all about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I read about what I should and shouldn’t be doing to have a better sex life, what I should and shouldn’t say to work-at-home or working moms, and, of course, what I should and should definitely not be wearing this spring.

I felt giddy and sick at the same time.

So, while I was trying to absorb how I should be instigating sex more but not talking with my partner about it (so he thinks I’m being more spontaneous), we were deplaning. Then, while struggling with my daughter trying to keep her from running up and down the aisles of the trolly to the long-term-parking, I went over the things I should never say to stay-at-home moms – or wait, what I should say to working moms….

Upon arrival to our house, after enduring the horrid yeeeoooowlings of our cat, I reminded myself that I should toss out any oversized spring skirts and really should think about picking up a mod-print shirt dress.

Wait. Who’s driving the bus?

Why should I listen to all this stuff? These people aren’t living my life! And, hey, if that work-at-home mom is a friend of mine, I think I’ll say whatever I want to her! And, do I really need to feel any more guilty about my sex life? It seems everyone else’s sex life is all blissed out (or they aren’t really telling the truth).

And, who really looks good in a shirt dress?

Who?

I think I’ll keep on keeping on. I’m doing okay.

But, I’m always open for advice….

I’m getting behind the wheel of my bus and taking charge. I’ve got a lot on my current list, and let me tell you, I’m exhausted just thinking about it. I’m planning potty training, paci weaning, and bottle deprival all in the next couple of weeks.

So, anyone have any suggestions for me?

:)

The sniffles – the follow up

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

This morning, our vacation was shot to hell with sick baby drama. It turns out that our wee tot wasn’t dealing with just a drippy nose. After a good 24-hours of hacking, snot, and low-grade fever, the common cold was being ruled out.

MAJORLY ruled out.

And, we’re on vacation in a town we aren’t familiar with.

And, she’s just not doing well. At all.

My general calm started to turn into total melt down out of control freaking craziness when the babe starting acting listless and her eyes got all wandery. I was on the phone, attempting to get ahold of our pediatrician at home, searching for any info online, and desperately looking for answers – NOW. Luckily we are on vacation with my parents, who have dealt with two children of their own getting sick and been through various child-rearing emergencies.

The crowd decided that the babe needed a trip to a location where doctors resided, which wasn’t the condos we were staying in. We made some phone calls, located an outpatient clinic, and swiftly found our way.

And, just in time.

It was early enough in the morning that there wasn’t a long wait. In fact, we were called in before I had even filled out the paperwork. As our child was spiking a 103+ fever, an attending nurse was getting her all checked out and ready for the doctor.

Within a few moments it was determined our daughter had double ear infections and she was given medication and kept under observation until the fever had subsided and her lungs were deemed clear. They even had her enjoy this crazy steaming thing that helped her breath better and clear her head.

This place was the best and treated us amazingly. I’m totally name dropping and letting you know that the Scripps Outpatient Care on Cedar Road in Vista is the best place ever. They made us feel comfortable, cared for, and not insane for completely being overwhelmed, over-tired, and uber-anxious about our first time ever visit to an emergency/urgent care facility with our wee tot.

Yes.

This was the first emergency we’ve had with the babe.

And, while on vacation.

And, things turned out just fine thanks to a great medical team, the help (and calm) of my parents, and some nice sunny southern California weather.

Now, bring it vacation.

I’m really ready.