Month: February 2011

The sniffles

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Even though we are on vacation, that doesn’t mean that the sniffles haven’t decided to make an unwanted visit. This time of year is the worst, with the wee kiddies being kept indoors when it’s cold and damp and let out to run and run when the weather is warm. And, then, the snotty-drippy nose makes an appearance.

Yup. We’re on vacation and our child has a cold.

When you’re not at home and your child is sick it seems like everything is much worse than it really is. You worry her breathing isn’t right, her temperature is soaring out of control, that she’s going to go into high temperature seizures and stuff. Basically you become the total freak–out mama that’s supposed to be relaxing because she’s on vacation but can’t because her kid is sick. SICK.

So, when we got on the plane the other day and the babe starting this hacking icky cough kind of thing, I started to panic. The minute we got off the plane I insisted on a trip to any store where I could pick up cough suppressant and infant pain remedy. But, was it all really necessary? Was I a bit out of control?!

YUP.

I did a little research in the am while everyone else was blissfully slumbering – and I was bleary-eyed awake – and found that most kids (and adults) are going to have a bit of some sort of nastiness this time of year. What I wanted to know was what I should be doing to avoid causing my already snotty-nosed wee tot any more pain, and how to get rid of this nastiness, quick!

There are a couple of myths about dealing with sick kids. I remember my mom telling me to avoid dairy when coping with the sniffles, and that going outdoors when it’s chilly (with wet hair) can cause a cold. Well, guess what. Not true. Dairy isn’t bad – in fact it provides your little sicky needed calories if they aren’t excited about eating. And, the Motherboard finds that heading outdoors in the cold (even with wet hair) isn’t going to cause everyone to get sick on the spot. Instead, it’s all about proximity. Did someone sneeze on you? Cough in your direction? Not wash their hands?

Ick.

My little one was fighting a stuffy nose pretty fierce and had a bit of a fever – nothing to get all worried about. She still had her I-can-do-anything attitude, which made me realize that she was good-to-go with some pain reliever and honey in her milk to help that tickle of a cough she was dealing with.

And, hey, hitting the beach won’t hurt either! A little sunshine will burn all those icky germs away!

What helps your child battle the sniffles?

Vacation

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Did I forget to mention we are heading south for a long weekend-get-away? Yeah, we are braving a short plane trip with the child to relax in the sun and sea – which means there will be swimsuits worn. This realization hit me pretty hard last night as I began to pack up our big overstuffed bag.

I will be wearing a swimsuit.

Ack.

It’s the beginning of February and I’ll be prancing about along the beach in a swimsuit – and one that I let the husband talk me into buying last year. A two piece swimsuit.

I don’t know what I was thinking.

So, last night while I was standing in front of the mirror with the horrid thing on, I wondered if I had enough time to make a run to anywhere that sells swimsuits (in February) to purchase one that covers my entire body, or if I should just swim in long paints and a t-shirt or something.

Then, the fact sunk in that I will be leaving tomorrow for a VACATION. You know, that thing where you are supposed to relax, not worry about anything, have FUN – things that are a bit foreign to me lately.

I shoved that swimsuit in my suitcase and got over myself real fast. It’s not like I’m going to see any of these people ever again, right?

Bring it, beach.

Sleep

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I went to sleep last night at 9:00 pm. I don’t know the last time I’ve gone to sleep that early. It had been a long day and I was over-exhauseted, over-extended, and just plain tired.

While completely ignoring the husband’s taunts of being a party-pooper for going off to the cozy bed so early, I snuggled down and was snoring within five minutes.

Totally worth it.

I’ve been struggling with sleep stuff on and off for a couple of months now. I have no problem falling asleep, it’s a waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-falling-back-into-dreamland issue. The husband snores, the baby cries, the cat yeooowls, and my eyes pop open and then won’t close again.

Most times this happens around 4:30am. This is that purgatory time of the morning. You’re stuck in that it’s-a-bit-too-early-but-not-really time. You could get up and start your day and be okay, but most normal people are still blissfully slumbering, and you know that, which makes things worse.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that most adults need about seven to eight hours a sleep a night – but that it depends on the person, environment, elements….. Basically, they aren’t wanting to tell the general public a number so we all walk around touting that we deserve, should get, or need X amount of hours of sleep a night. But, I know I need at least six hours to function, and at least seven to fully understand sentences, feel confident driving a car, and not catch myself dream-walking through most of the day. If (and I say IF here because this option rarely happens) I get more than seven hours of sleep a night, it’s like being a new person. I feel like I was at the spa. It’s amazing.

So, last night when I slept for (wait, let me count on my fingers to make sure) just about nine hours, I am super ready for the day! Hell, I’m ready to take on the entire WEEK!

How much sleep do you get?

Fine art for kids: Red with Rothko

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Mark Rothko was an abstract artist that came to fame in the 1940’s. His color-field creations covered large canvases, using shades and hues of vibrant color. His concentration on color, composition, and balance created artworks that compel, as well as sooth, the viewer. Rothko’s famous works were often titled just with a number – often being the number of the paint he used for creating it. His linear, box-like style was simple, but yet had depth. When asked about his work, Rothko commented, “Silence is so accurate,” fearing any input would spoil the viewer’s experience.

Well, the other day, the babe and I were both feeling a bit stir-crazy, so I figured doing a colorful and creative artwork would be fun. And, why not use Rothko’s grandiose color paintings as influence? Even the wee tot can have fun with this project! Older kids can get into color theory when taking into consideration color mixing and combinations!

Start by taking another look at Rothko’s artwork. One of my favorites, Untitled, 1953, concentrates on shades of red. Your child can pick any color she would like to focus on for her creation. But, we decided to stick with red, and create a shade using a couple drops of black tempera paint. If you’ve got a little one like I do, this is a great opportunity for honing color recognition skills! While looking at Rothko’s paintings, I pointed to areas of color and she attempted to tell me what color it was!

Then we happily covered ourselves, and our work table, with a big garbage bags. This isn’t necessarily a really messy project, but it does have the potential to go awry, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Take a sheet of white 9 by 12-inch drawing paper and run it under some water, coating the paper. Now let your child evenly smooth the paper on the work table, squeegying off any excess water with her hands.

Give your child a piece of tape that is just shy of the width of the paper vertically and let her position it dividing the paper however she wishes. Many of Rothko’s paintings were divided into squares and rectangles. Your child can create as many divisions as she’d like – just give her a couple more bits of tape!

Now put a couple big drops of whatever color your child has selected tempera paint into a small container and invite her to add a small amount of water to help thin it out. Offer her a paintbrush to mix the water and paint together until smooth.

Okay – it’s time to pour some paint! Invite your child to pick one side of the paper to begin working from and start pouring her paint over the section. She can watch as the paint blends and moves over the wet paper! Encourage her to gently tip and move the paper to help cover the entire area she’s selected.

If she’s got any paint left, she can use that as the base for creating the shade of the color by adding a couple of drops of black tempera paint, and some more water! For the older kids, you can take this opportunity to discuss shades and hues and how they’re made. A shade of a color is created when a darker color – usually black – is added gradually. For a hue, a lighter color – often white – is gradually added.

When your child’s happy with the shade of the color she’s created, invite her to pour it all over the other section of her paper, once again tilting and moving the paper to help it move. She can always do a little finger painting to cover areas of her paper as needed.

All that’s left is to let her Rothko inspired creation dry and then carefully remove the tape! Her finished fine-art painting can be framed and displayed in your home!

Lovin’ you

 - by Sarah Lipoff

Dean Lipoff Photography

Yup, lovin’ you is easy cause your beeeeeautiful. Right now that old classic by Minnie Riperton is floating through my head (I always get caught up with all those “lalalalas”). With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about the “love” thing. You know, what should I do to show my appreciation for the hubs, if I’ll get my usual chocolate and flowers, blah, blah blah – boring.

So, yeah, the husband and I aren’t the most romantic people in the world. Add to that a wonderfully lovely and sometimes screaming two-year-old that is awake most mornings at 6 am and there’s not a lot of time for bow-chicka-wow-wow (I think you know what I mean). And, there’s not a lot of time for romantic candle lit dinners. Oh, and also those weekend get-a-ways aren’t such a get-a-way anymore – mostly a big play-date with dada who’s usually at work all the time, which leaves us all exhausted.

That doesn’t mean the husband and I don’t love each other lots, just that we aren’t walking about holding hands and ducking into corners to shove our tongues down each other’s throats.

Blech.

So, the other day when I came across some love stories on the Motherboard, I totally got caught up reading what everyone was saying! It was so fun finding out how others met their love-bugs and what they are like today in comparison to when they were caught up in that lovey-dovey honeymoon phase.

Here’s my lowdown. The husband and I met at my sister’s house. My whole family had met my husband before I did – in fact he went to school with my sister’s now husband! My future hubs volunteered to take me (the newly-arrived-to-California-Wisconsin girl) into the city to see the big buildings. He had to drop off his taxes and thought I’d like to check things out. Well, within a couple of months we were living together, and then we got married, and now we have a daughter. Every time we do our taxes, it’s like a big anniversary celebration (but not so fun)!

After reading all those love stories, I figured I’d better rev up my “usual” Valentine’s Day plans for something a bit more daring. I found some affectionate ways to decorate the house and did some amorous planning for the day (G rated while the babe’s in tow). I might even hold the hubs’ hand!

Ohhhhh, spicy, I know….

So, what’s the best thing your lovah ever did for you on Valentine’s Day? Go ahead and share – maybe you’ll motivate me to really go crazy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Curry soup

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

The other day I was in need of something nurturing pretty fierce. Yeah, I could’ve reached for a slice of bread and butter, but I wanted something that was going to really make my tummy snappy-happy. Something that would also make me feel good after I scarfed down a load of it. A good friend had just given me a collection of tasty things from Penzeys Spices – and I’d found out that kicking up the spice factor in food is heart healthy – so I figured a big pot of curry soup was in order.

I didn’t have much hanging out as far as ingredients go, but was still able to quickly and easily pull together a soup, that when finished, made my tummy very happy, and didn’t leave me feeling horrid for eating a couple of bowl-fulls!

What you need

Half an onion chopped

3 carrots cleaned and chopped

2 celery stalks cleaned and chopped

3 big cloves of garlic smashed and chopped

1/4 a lemon

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1 cup dried lentils

1 large potato cubed

1 14 ounce can peeled and diced tomatoes

6-8 cups water

How to make it

Warm a big stockpot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Then toss in the onion, celery, and carrots and let cook for about 5 minutes or until they start getting a bit crispy around the edges. You can add the garlic at this point and squeeze the quarter of lemon over all the stuff. Give everything a good stir and get ready to add those spices!

Measure the spices, salt, and sugar and let warm in the pot with the veggies. Keep things moving around, you don’t want this stuff to burn! You can also add a couple of dashes of pepper, some cayenne (if you like your curry hot), or 1/4 teaspoon oregano and basil if you’d like a fresher tasting curry.

Now add the dried lentils and give a stir so they are also coated in all the spices. Feel free to use any kind of lentils you like – red, green… Toss in the potato and let things hang out for a couple of minutes.

Slowly add the canned tomatoes and mix together. You can also start slowly adding the water to the stockpot. If you want a thicker stew-like soup, start out with 6 cups of water. If you’d like a soupier soup, you can add the whole 8 cups. If you’ve got veggie stock or chicken stock, go ahead and use it – just skip that salt at the beginning so things don’t get too salty. I didn’t have any the day I made my curry, so made do with water and things turned out just fine.

Cover up your pot and let things toil and trouble for about half an hour.

Now give your curry broth a taste and adjust seasoning as you like. If you want things a bit saltier, sprinkle in more salt. Care for more curry? Add 1/4 teaspoon at a time and then let warm before tasting and adding more.

Once your lentils are all soft and the veggies have cooked through (should take about an hour) ladle up your soup, sprinkle with some parsley and enjoy! Hopefully your tummy will be as happy as mine was after slurping away!