Who loves the potty?!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I’ve kept you some-what updated on our potty training adventure, which has really turned into a potty training non-adventure. After getting the potty, attempting to sit on the potty lots, using the potty as a toy, carrying the potty around the house to use as a step-stool, and a couple of successes, we’re pretty much nowhere with the potty training thing.

So, the other day, when the babe tossed out, “potty!” I ran her over, sat her down, and she actually went! (Just a wee little bit – but enough to get me all excited!)

I think she was so surprised with my reaction she got a bit confused and then wasn’t sure what I really was excited about, and then she started crying.

For real.

I felt horrible. What a silly thing, and I just sat there staring at her thinking how aweful this was and how she’ll probably be traumatized for life and never use the potty ever again. Ever. Again. Never.

It just so happened I had stocked the drawer next to her little potty seat with small treats and itty-bitty items to share with her (okay, “reward” her) when she used the potty. I pulled that drawer open so fast and shoved anything I could reach under her nose trying to turn the crazy situation into a happy one, hopefully un-traumatizing the babe.

She grabbed those stickers as fast as she could and took off running. While I took care of the mess in the bathroom, she got caught up doing something – I’ll admit I didn’t really know what (because she was quiet and seemed happy and I didn’t want to disturb her so I could get a couple of things done).

When I happened upon her a little later, she had turned those stickers into a wonderfully lovely fine motor creation using her leg as her canvas.


A typical nothing day

Sarah Lipoff 2011

I’m all caught up getting ready to head down south for our first real family vacation and it just so happens a guest post I wrote for my mama friend, Babe_Chilla (aka Brandee), came up at the absolute perfect time. It totally reminded me what my day is usually like – what most mamas are dealing with, whether they are a SAHM, WAHM, WOHM, PTWAHM, or PTWM. Seriously, I made a couple of those up.

So, if you are a work-at-home mama, a work-out-of-the-home mama, or a stay-at-home-mama, you all know what it’s like preparing to leave the house for a vacation.

It’s living hell.

You worry you aren’t packing the right stuff, you obsess about cleaning the house (I really don’t know why), wash all the clothes, make the beds…

I’m exhausted.

So, when Babe_Chilla let me know my guest post was up this morning, I couldn’t help sharing it, too – and sharing her with any of you who haven’t met her yet.

What are you waiting for? Go. Go read the post. I know you’ll get a chuckle out of it, and want to read more from Brandee, too.

A Typical Nothing Day

Family vacation – oh my!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Have I mentioned we are going on a family vacation at the end of the week? Have I mentioned it’s the first time we are taking a vacation as a family on our own? Have I mentioned we are going to be driving for eight-plus hours to get to the afore-mentioned blissful vacation spot?

I feel excited and nauseous all at the same time.

This is a big “first” for us. Yes, we’ve traveled with the wee tot before – somewhat successfully, and somewhat not – but this is the FIRST time we are going somewhere on our own. All on our own.

I’m shaking in my flip-flops.

How are we going to do it?

When we took the babe on the plane, I was loaded with food, movies on the laptop, and babas galore. But, I knew that whenever we got to wherever we were going, there would be salvation. There would be hands to hold the tot, other adults to entertain her, and kiddies to play with.

Not so when we’re going on our own. Along with finding things to pack in the car to keep the wee tot occupied, I’m already searching for amazing things to hold her attention while on our beach getaway. Because our babe’s just starting to figure out the whole talking thing, she’s really excited about answering questions and singing along with music. So, I’m busy burning loads of CD’s to play during the drive. I also discovered she loves brushing her stuffed animals, so I’ve already filled a bag with her favorite mini-fluffies and some great brushes, too.

My super-secret go-to is a baggy already packed with fruity circle shaped cereal along with a couple of lengths of string. I figure she’ll find threading those o’s fun, and munching on them pretty exciting, too. She hasn’t explored the wonders of those colorful circular cereals, so I know they will be a big hit!

Now, onto things to keep her happy at the beach. Included in the bag are sunscreen (she actually loves “pretending” to put sunscreen on everyone, so the bottle in and of itself offers hours of fun), obviously a small bucket and shovel, along with a watering can for pouring salty sea water all over the place.

Sadly, the tot isn’t so excited by the idea of actually playing in the water, so I’m including a few old pots, pans and plastic utensils for her to do some sandy cooking. Nothing like making pot pies at the beach! I figure we can enjoy those cooking tools while we’re there, and then toss them before heading home.

My big hope is she’ll be so tuckered out from fun sun-filled days that she’ll blissfully fall into a deep slumber (without fuss), sleep through the night – and the morning, to happily awake around 7:30 am.

That’s what I call vacation.

I’ll keep you updated…

Sunday spectacular: And cannibals moved in next door

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

  1. Last night I didn’t sleep. I know I did for at least a short amount of time. But, there were definitely more hours spent awake than asleep.
  2. During the time I was awake, the husband was carving a cave with his snoring. The blatant fact he was so happy off in dreamland caused my blood pressure to rise to potentially fatal levels.
  3. In the other room, the wee tot sporadically coughed, cooed, coughed, cooed, and coughed more, causing me to spend an undetermined amount of time trying to decide if I should attempt giving her some of that natural cough syrup crap that says it’s flavored like bananas and butterflies, but really tastes like shellac, but really works.
  4. When, in fact, I did fall asleep, I dreamt that cannibals had moved into the house down the street, along with their monster-huge Winnebago, and were really eyeing up the neighborhood. But, because our area is so open and willing to understand alternative lifestyles, none of us had the guts to discuss their intentions – and were scared shitless they would eat us (duh). So, we huddled in our houses yelling at each other through open windows.
  5. As the morning sunshine streamed through the windows, my husband rolled over and asked me how I slept and the babe started singing, “mommmmmmy, MOOOOOMMMMMY.”  What was I supposed to do? I gave the hubs a kiss, stumbled out of bed, cuddled the adorable baby, and did a quick check to make sure the cannibals’ Winnebago wasn’t parked out front.


*This picture really has nothing to do with the post – just thought you’d like to see the one freesia that blossomed in my yard…



My real-life deck makeover


© Sarah Lipoff 2011

We moved into our house just about two years ago and it seems like we are just now starting to figure this whole “home ownership” thing out. I still reach for the phone when something breaks to contact the property owner, and then remember, nope, that’s my job now. Sometimes I get excited by the prospect of painting or installing new fixtures without having to ask first, but, when it comes to certain things, I still need a little help.

Serious help.

You could say I’m a bit thrifty and love finding cheap and creative ways to deal with the fact that half the time I feel like we are barely getting by (you know, that “home ownership” thing). So, finding ways to make our outdoor areas exciting hasn’t really worked. We’ve got a yard (which was a barren wasteland), a side yard, and very small backyard with a wooden deck. And, there’s an upper deck off our bedroom that I lovingly refer to as the “spa deck.” There isn’t anything very “spa” about it.

But, for some reason, it’s where we always hang out.

Well, the hubs and I put a lot of time last year into creating grass in the main yard, and the spa deck became populated with free deck furniture and kid toys. It pretty much looked like a garage sale. Add to it that we live alongside the neighborhood high school’s football field, and there are times there isn’t much privacy – like during football season. So, I needed some inspiration to create an actual oasis with real stuff, not things picked up off the curb.

I pursued an article from the Motherboard and found some fun inspiration. Many of the ideas weren’t obtainable for us on our budget, but I did find a way to use select suggestions and put my own thrifty spin on things.

Before doing anything, the hubs and I hit the local garden store to actually buy a set of outdoor furniture. My mismatched items had become overwhelming and a bit disastrous – meaning we sometimes worried if we would be falling on the ground the next time we sat on the things. I committed to a budget, and we found a set on sale that fit our space and style.

Then I decided it was time to take care of the privacy thing. It’s not like we’re out on display or anything, but who doesn’t love the look of soft white curtains blowing in the breeze? So, I popped some up by installing a curtain rod using some hooks, and we were good to go.

All my frugal finds from our favorite flea market weren’t a total waste, I simply wove them in with the brand new fancy stuff to create a bit of whimsy and outdoor drama. By tossing an old rug on the ground, putting a couple of nick-knacks here and there, we were on our way to a brand new super spa deck.

So, we did this whole deck makeover for about 200 bucks. I re-purposed old curtains, had a rug hiding in the garage that worked just fine, spent the money on the chair set, a nice outdoor thermometer, and some fresh plants to go along the side of the deck. It’s not perfect, surely not fit to be showcased in any magazine, but, as you can see, we created a just dandy spot to comfortably sit in the sun and look at the view.

And here’s what we’re looking at….


© Sarah Lipoff 2011


Do you have an awesome outdoor hangout area that you love?


Can you see the sky?


© Sarah Lipoff 2011

*This is in response to the writing prompt: Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?

I’ve spent a long time doing this. During the first couple of years with you I was fine adjusting and moving about to fit your construct. I was okay changing myself and fitting my ideals into the interesting nooks and crannies. It was a completely different mold. I had been a big square for years, and you were for sure an organic form.

I’ve always taken pride in my ability to speak my mind and share with others my viewpoints, silly notions, and impressions of the world. I’ve been called idealistic, hippie-istic, and artistic. I wore all those labels with pride on my sleeve for others to see and touch as they walked by.

I didn’t mind the stares, the questions or inquisitions. This was how I was raised – to sit around a round table, battle, squabble, banter, and conclude. Those previous skirmishes were won with love, compassion, excitement, understanding, and endearment.

With vivid memory I remember saying no. I remember the moment I stood my ground and stated my strong opinion. I remember the sly smile on your face as it tried reconstructing while crumbling in disbelief at my misconduct.


The giddy-ripple that built within me proved my response was correct. My inner being had popped the cork of the champagne hiding for years in the fridge and was desperately grabbing at any clean glass ready to pour. My heart was pounding out of my chest making me feel my face was pulsating showcasing my emotions for everyone to see.

In no less than a second you had already moved on. Your thoughts had progressed from my pathetic being. I was not in your crosshairs, just another thing that was insignificant.

You had made me feel special – important, a golden child. But, in that moment, you made me feel no less than a garden worm in compost – important in the plan but useless for show.

I found you to be compelling, unconditional, and endearing. For years I was loyal (like a dog). I’d suffered harm from much worse that had left scars. Your one moment of searing disdain was enough to completely cloud the sky.

Pain was quick and deep. But in time, had become something that waxed and waned without tucking itself in at night. Instead, it hid in the closet waiting to visit late at night. I was determined to continue – to move on.

Salvation came in the grasp of a small hand reminding me of me. The cutting reality that another took self-worth away from me stung greater than any verbal slap received. How I had allowed another to make me feel any less than whom and what I am was inept, inexcusable, and incomprehensible.

I look back at that moment years ago and hover above myself as I cried and cried and cried. I could blame it on hormones, or just giving birth to a healthy child after all that turmoil, but now I understand I learned in that moment how to say no.

And, as much as at that instant in my life it seemed like the absolute worst thing ever, I now realize if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As much as at that moment I thought with gut-churning pain I had thought you had taken something away from me, I hadn’t realized you had given me something so absolutely wonderful.

I was too focused on your rejection to understand.

That, without you,

I had found me.

And, now I see the sky.



Fine Art for Kids: Spring with Klimt


© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Spring is here along with a whole palette of new colors. Fresh flowers are popping up all over the place making those bare trees bright with blossoms and yards burst with brilliant hues. This time of year reminds me of the vibrant paintings of Gustav Klimt and how he captured the freshness of spring in his dreamy artworks. When most think of Klimt, his famed The Kiss comes to mind, but in actuality, Gustav loved the flowers, and many of his artworks were filled with them.

Our friend Gustav Klimt grew up in Austria and was one of the founding fathers of the decorative Art Nouveau style. His expressive and moving artworks were based on his life experiences with love, death, and more and more love. Let’s just say many of his paintings are sensual in style, full of rich color and soothing lines. With all those spring flowers popping up all around, I figured it was a wonderful opportunity to create a beautiful blossoming artwork with the wee tot!

We started by examining some of Klimt’s flower paintings up close and personal via the Internet. On of my favorites, Farmergarden with Sunflower is a sea of green with brilliant dots of colorful flowers shining through. We had fun trying to count all those flowers and naming the colors, too. This is a great way to promote language and math skills with your child, too!

Then it was time for making our own Gustav Klimt painting to showcase all the spring flowers around our home. Before hitting the paints, I shuffled the babe outside for an interactive walk around the neighborhood to see what colorful flowers we could see. I even brought along a cutter to trim a couple of stems to use for inspiration.

Back at the house I put our spring flowers in a vase and got out a sheet of white paper. But, instead of using plain green paint, I had the babe tear some shades of green tissue paper to make things a touch more interesting. Not only is tearing fun, it hones your child’s fine motor skills!

Once you’ve got a nice pile of green shreds, you can offer your child a small dish with a mix of water and glue along with a paintbrush for slathering the stuff all over the place. Invite her to wash her paper with glue water and then press those pieces of tissue around her paper. She can paint over them again securing all that green to her paper.

Once she’s finished with tissue and glue, invite your child to select some of her favorite colors of paint to use for making her spring flowers. Now she can dab, dab, and dab her paint filled brush all over the green tissue paper to create a garden full of flowers, just like Gustav Klimt!

Her finished flower creation can be put in a frame and proudly displayed in the home reminding everyone, no matter the time of year, how wonderful spring can be.



Spring at last!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

The other day, while the rain was pounding down and I thought the winds were going to blow us away, I kept chanting over and over in my head, “spring is almost here, spring is almost here, spring IS almost HERE!” Just about the time I was ready to take the babe under the house with a candle and some bottled water to wait out the monsoon, I peeked out the window and saw there was no way the wee tot and I were heading downstairs because there was standing water all over the place.


We have a space down there that is quite large and we’ve tossed around the idea of finishing it to create an indoor outdoor room. It’s also where all our garden stuff is stored. So, from bulbs to the weed wacker, most items were now either damp, dripping, or totally done for.

So, yesterday, when spring had really sprung, I ventured down to see what was a total loss and what could be salvaged. I’d just stumbled across a spring de-cluttering (well, really, a trashing and tossing) article from the Motherboard and I was ready to stop the hoarding and start the pitching.

I love garden stuff. Every year I plan and create the most amazing garden – in my head. I spend some cash on garden stuff and then it gets hot and I get lazy and nothing gets done. Last year we had a couple of overgrown tomatoes hanging out amongst a wonderful collection of weeds and overgrown dandelions. After making sure all the garden tools still worked (and installing hooks to hang them from), I was ready to go through the other stuff.

Next up, the adorable collection of seeds. Half had been sitting for a few years unused collecting dust and the rest had sprouted in their own paper envelopes. After learning they really aren’t any good after a year or so, I knew they really should go. But, being the way I am, throwing things out are a bit hard for me. There had to be something fun those seeds could be good for other than growing.

And, there was…..

Seed frames!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Your kids can turn those seeds into a spring craft by creating a sparkling seedy picture frame. I started by helping the wee tot glue together four popsicle sticks into a square. While waiting for the frame base to dry, we created a spring inspired marker wash to place in our finished frame.

Once the popsicle stick frame is dry, invite your child to coat the top side of the frame with glue. She can either squeeze it out of the bottle or use a brush to coat the sticks. Either way, encourage your child to really cover that frame!

Now it’s time to get seedy! Older kids can individually place seeds creating patterns or areas of texture with one kind of seed. The young ones can just sprinkle willy-nilly.

Finish things off with a dusting of silver and gold glitter. Once the spring seed frame is dry, your child can place a picture of her own creation in the frame and display it somewhere in the home. We put ours on the mantel!

But that’s not all…

You could also use those seeds for a fun science project. Yes, we know they might not grow, but that shouldn’t stop your family from doing a “will it grow” experiment!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Help your child get started by cutting a fresh sponge into a small square and finding a shallow dish it will fit in.

Now invite your child to select a couple of seeds and press them into the holes of the sponge. Your child can fill the dish half way with water and find a sunny spot to place her sponge spring seed experiment on.

Encourage your child to make a chart to document the changes the seeds go through during the week along with making sure the sponge stays wet.

At the end of the week, take a look at the results, both on the chart and the sponge. Did any of the seeds grow?

Happy spring!

No-no nap

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

As I write this my adorable child is in her crib screaming her head off. It’s Saturday, we’ve run our every-Saturday errands – you know, Costco, Home Depot, Grocery Store – and then we had a nice lunch, and now it is nap time. Well, on the weekends, nap time doesn’t go so well.

During the week, nap time is usually pretty normal. Around 1:30 or so, the babe and I have pretty much had enough of each other and we are both ready for some alone time. She is more than happy to cozy up in her crib and listen to her quiet time music, which always lulls her into a two-hour blissful slumber. I have a chance to catch my breath, maybe eat some food, and do a little work of my own.

But, that all changes when Dada is home on the weekends.

We start out with the surprise visit to the crib when the wee tot least expects it. She’s having a great time playing and then we just happen to end up sitting in the chair next to the crib reading a book. And then – bango – she’s in the crib and I swiftly walk out and cross my fingers hoping this time will be The Time she falls asleep.


First, everything is tossed out of the crib. Then the screaming begins, which consists of wails intermixed with, “no-no nap.” I usually give her about three minutes and then go down and put everything back in the crib only to hear her flinging it all back out while tiptoeing out. (And, the whole tiptoeing thing – not really sure why I do it when she’s causing such a ruckus…)

We usually do this routine for about 15 minutes. By that point, she’s so exhausted from crying, hurling things, and repeating, that she finally falls asleep. The hubs and I sit quietly fearful movement will trigger waking. We so look forward to having some sort of adult alone time on the weekends during daylight hours. We’re lucky if her slumber lasts an hour.

Then we hear the famous, “no-no nap.”

I usually can’t resist going and cuddling her up and giving up on any sort of normal nap time, too.