Month: July 2011

Sunday spectacular: Town

 - by Sarah Lipoff

This week was not a great week. I was glad to see it end so a new week could come over and take its place. Let’s just say I haven’t been the extra-specialist person to be around for the last couple of days, and had been pretty busy at my own pity-party, eating and drowning my sorrows in alcohol. So, this afternoon when the hubs suggested a walk into town for some gelato, I couldn’t say no. And it just so happened some super-happy people were hanging out in the park listening to a local band.

I couldn’t help but smile.

So, bring it new week. I’m ready for you.

Onesie/t-shirt bag

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

I finally went through all the old clothes stuffed in the wee tot’s drawers and found so many onesies full of stains and stuff. Sure, they were clean, but they had endured the wonders of baby-hood and were ready to move on to the world of Goodwill. But, before dropping them off, I pulled a couple that I had other plans for.

My daughter loves bags. She turns pretty much anything into a carrying implement and then attempts to shove as much stuff into it as possible. She’s transformed the husband’s socks, an old ring box, and even wrapped paper towels into ways to carry all her goodies. I knew we could turn that onesie into something fun she could proudly trot around with.

But, we had to do something about those stains first.

So, we got out a few simple materials and got started. This is a great project for old t-shirts, too! And, the younger set, aged four and up, can have fun with this (even the adult ones). In fact, I really got into making a few old t-shirt bags for myself to carry our groceries.

Start by finding a random piece of sandpaper from the garage. Any type will do, so don’t be fussy. Cut a square out of that sandpaper making sure it fits on the front of the plain onesie or t-shirt. Your child can get out a ruler and do all the measuring, which encourages her budding math skills!

Now offer lots of crayons and get coloring! Your child can draw a random design or a detailed picture. Encourage her to press hard, which will ensure a nice bright crayon transfer.

While she’s coloring away, start heating an iron for the transfer process. This part can be tricky for kids, so offer some adult supervision. No one wants to get burnt when creating a fun art activity!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Pop a piece of folded paper between the sides of the onesie or t-shirt and then position the sandpaper, crayon side pressing against the fabric. Place the hot iron on top and slowly move around the square for about 30-seconds.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Let the sandpaper cool for a minute and then remove, revealing the crayon transfer.

To finish the bag, invite your child to cut the arms off the onesie or t-shirt, along with cutting along the middle section, removing the bottom of the onesie. If you are using a t-shirt, all your child has to do is trim off the arms.

Offer your child a big craft needle and a length of string. She can secure the upper shoulders of the onesie (which will cut open when the arms are cut off – no big deal) and then turn the onesie or t-shirt inside out and do a simple straight stitch along the bottom. If she’s using a t-shirt, she can follow the bottom seam of the shirt.

Once your child reaches the other side, she can gently pull the string, gathering the bottom edge of the shirt. Encourage her to tie the string tight and then turn the bag right side out and check out her finished product!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Enjoy!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Loss and a blue jay

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 © Sarah Lipoff 2011

When I started this blog my goal was to share sunshine and unicorns – happy little ideas for art projects and yummy things to cook and bake sprinkled with various So says Sarah wisdoms. I’ve tried to be somewhat vague about where I live, my child and husband, and some of the more personal stuff that goes on behind the scenes. I guess I felt like I was protecting my family from stuff. You know. The real stuff.

Really. I was protecting myself.

Shit happens.

This week was not so great at my house. Behind the scenes sucked some pretty serious ass. When everything was happening, the last thing I felt like doing was sharing. After a couple of days, I’ve realized sharing is necessary. Not because I want you all to go, “oh, poor Sarah.” Nope. I need to write this down, hit publish, and walk away. It’s as simple as that.

I have to let this out and then move on.

So, here goes.

I found out last week on Tuesday I was pregnant. The hubs and I figured it was time to think about baby number 2, so I stopped taking those itty-bitty pills and threw caution to the wind. Sure, we didn’t expect things to “happen” the first month out, and I had NO idea I was pregnant – because I wasn’t expecting it. You know the story, spotting is thought to be the regular monthly (even though a week or so late), and everyone has a glass of wine (or two).

When I woke up feeling super-sore and tummy sick, I couldn’t believe it. After three pregnancy tests, I was amazed. I told the incredulous husband that night, and we sat and stared at the TV for what seemed like a couple of days wrapping our heads around it.

Over the weekend we started getting excited. I was enjoying some full-on all-day sickness, my boobs were sore, you know, all the fun early pregnancy stuff. And we were tossing names around, every time we saw a new baby we oooohed and awwwed, we told total strangers we were pregnant just to get the feel of it….

Sunday night I took this picture of my husband and daughter having the awesomest time and, after we put her to bed, we sat and chatted about all the things we hoped and dreamed for our new addition.

I started spotting that night, but didn’t think anything of it. The husband reminded me I spotted with our first child, too.

The next morning I knew things weren’t right. I was bleeding.

Bleeding.

While pretending it wasn’t happening, I continued on with my day white-faced and nauseous. I wasn’t cramping or anything.

But I was losing the baby.

I knew it.

I was overwhelmed.

But, what did I do? What have I always done? Push it aside and pretend like nothing was happening. Don’t feel. Don’t get upset. Don’t think.

I was in the middle of a somewhat important conference call, trying to toss a bit of humor into something not so exciting (spreadsheets) while feeling my body releasing that potential future totally kick-ass little being.

I kept on going.

In the middle of it all, the tot was in the other room watching Caillou (of course) and began repeating, “mammammma lloooooooook LOOOOK!”

I walked into the living room all while hoping the other conference call attendees wouldn’t hear annoying Caillou to see what she was all frustrated about only to find a very large and very angry blue jay stuck in our fireplace.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Seriously.

The hilarity, sadness, and utter all around horrible-ness of this whole mess hit me.

Luckily, the mesh screen was containing the mongo blue jay, but his screeching call was bone rattling and disturbing. I quickly signed off from the conference call and yelled for the hubs (who was in his man cave working).

While we both cried and cried, we stared at that stupid blue jay and tried to figure out what to do with it.

The cats came up and began circling like sharks. The child was crying because she didn’t understand why we were crying and kept repeating, “no bird, NO BIRD.”

Total shit mess.

As animal control pulled up, I headed to the gyn to get the final word.

The bird was set free, our daughter has been walking by the fireplace checking for “NO bird,” and I am no longer pregnant.

 

*It turns out what happened with me is considered a “chemical pregnancy,” which means the egg and sperm happily connected, but that wee embryo got lazy and didn’t cozy itself in properly. So, technically, (as the gynecologist explained over the phone) I wasn’t ever actually “pregnant,” and shouldn’t really get all caught up with this. Nothing was wrong with me and, obviously, I was fertile.

**This conversation didn’t change the fact that I had thought I was pregnant, my body had thought I was pregnant, and it still hurt that I wasn’t.

 

 

 

 

Kinetic kids

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Last week we once again attempted story time at the library. All the young kiddies were sitting perfectly quiet while listening to the nice lady read various stories about animals. My child politely attempted listening, but couldn’t contain herself. She jumped up every time the librarian turned a page, moved her body like each animal, and loudly made all those animal noises.

While enduring some of the “quiet your child” looks from the other mamas, I attempted some quiet shushing, and then just let it go. Why should my tot sit staring silently like the other kids? What’s so wrong with an active child?

After an extremely rousing rendition of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” I scooped up my child and we headed home. Along the walk, I was reminded of an article I was invited to write for  Funderstanding and figured it could benefit from a re-visit.

Kinetic learners are active learners and being active is important. Teaching kids to sit quietly and stay put is part of learning, but it is often forgotten that movement is an essential part of emotional and developmental growth, as well as being healthy, for kids of all ages.

Kinesthetic Learning  Style and the Young Child

Kids are active, some more than others. And, occasionally, those active kids are labeled as difficult students or challenged learners. This is not always the case. Those wiggly kids might need a bit more attention due to being kinesthetic learners, or children that best understand new information when learned in a physical way or by working things out tactilely. Kinetic learners are also considered tactile learners, which means the act of touching and using the hands and body is additionally beneficial to learning.

There are three different types of learning – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual learners learn through visual activities, auditory best through listening, and kinesthetic through movement and activity. Characteristics of a kinesthetic learner include enjoying participating in sports and physical activities, having good coordination skills, using hands to gesture often, and enjoying spending time outdoors. These are wonderful characteristics for a child along with a motivating force to keep active with a child. But, along with having positive attributes, being a kinesthetic learner also has some aspects that can be demanding

Kinesthetic learners are often easily distracted by others, have difficulty sitting or staying in one place long, and find moving while learning to be beneficial and even necessary in some cases. Educators and parents may tag these traits as problematic when in actuality the child’s learning style has not been taken into consideration. Once it is understood that the child is a tactile/kinesthetic learner, there are easy ways parents and educators can adapt teaching and parenting moments to aid in learning and development.

Kinesthetic Learning in School or Home

According to FamilyEducation.com, most school-aged children benefit from kinesthetic learning activities where touching, feeling, and experiencing is allowed, especially at the preschool and kindergarten level. As the child develops, her personality and learning style evolves, and parents and educators can specify through observation and interactions what type of learning style best fits the child.  But, even if a child is a visual or auditory learner, tactile and kinesthetic learning experiences are still beneficial just as visual and auditory activities also benefit kinesthetic learners.

When teaching and learning with a kinesthetic child there are simple ways parents and educators can tap into the child’s inner need to move and touch. Try tactics such as:

Take Five: Kinesthetic learners can easily be lead off track by what is happening around them. Within the classroom, create a spot where kinesthetic learners can go to take a break when they are feeling overwhelmed or distracted. They can count and do ten jumping jacks, set a timer for one minute and see how many times they can hop in place, or rock in a rocking chair for an allotted amount of time. Allow for breaks during the day or moments when transitioning for kids to sneak off for a quick movement break. Or, if at home, take short study breaks often with your child and do a quick dance party or game of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

Take Notes: Either at home or in the classroom, offer a pencil and paper to the kinesthetic learner to take notes or draw while learning. This offers the child the opportunity to stay active but in a contained and controlled way. Also, the act of writing encourages the child to remember learning facts and stay motivated. Along with a paper and pencil, offer a colored marker for the child to underline facts they find most important or interesting while writing. This way when she goes back to take another look at her notes, she’ll focus on the items that she highlighted.  When in the classroom, take into consideration that the doodling child may not be daydreaming, but finding ways to encourage her concentration. It may not seem that she is actively listening when in actuality, she truly is.

Stay Active: Integrate movement activities or hands-on opportunities while introducing information to the kinesthetic child. Playing physical games are a wonderful way to learn math concepts. Try throwing and catching a ball while counting, or adding and subtracting the amount of baskets a child can make. Within the classroom, integrate clapping while singing the A,B,C’s or saying the multiplication tables. At home the child can head outdoors and jump rope while being quizzed on spelling words for an upcoming test. It’s all about staying active and tying in learning.

Kinesthetic children are tactile, vivacious, energetic, and enthusiastic. They just need a helping hand to lead them in learning and offer opportunities to move their bodies within the environment.

 

 

Sunday spectacular: Crazy cat

 - by Sarah Lipoff

The cat we adopted from the Milo Foundation, Coco, has totally fit herself into our family and is comfortable enough to share some of her more unique characteristics. She is totally afraid of the camera, and runs frantically if you are holding one. Oddly, Coco likes water and will hang out in the bathroom while I give the tot a bath. While blowing bubbles the other day, we discovered Coco will track, plan the perfect attack, and maul all stragglers that aren’t popped by our daughter.

And, she brings us leaves.

(I prefer this to the snakes our other cat enjoys sharing with us.)

Here are a few she left for us today…

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

How was your week?

 


Chocolate chip marshmallow cookies

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

This week got away from me. Between our dishwasher drama, picking out the right one, and then spending about three hours entertaining the plumber while he was installing it, I’m ready for the weekend. But, I had made a promise earlier in the week, and I wasn’t going to let the day end without making things right.

We got an amazing deal on our new dishwasher thanks to some awesome guys that work at our local OSH. I promised I was going to bring them cookies because they were so wonderful while trying to hook me up with the dishwasher I wanted at the right price while maintaining composure while my tot screamed, “NOnooooonononNONONONOOOOOO.”

Even enticing her with shiny light up buttons on the washing machines didn’t help.

But these guys kept their cool, and even after we made the initial purchase and they discovered we could get the dishwasher for less, our guy called us up and told us to come back in. Yeah, that’s right. He called us, re-did the whole transaction, and ended up saving us another $100.

They deserve some cookies.

I had some tasty fixings for cookies and came up with something totally yummy.

Chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.

Ingredients

1/2 c soft butter

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 t vanilla

3/4 c sugar

2 Tbsp brown sugar

Dash cinnamon and salt

1 egg

1/2 t baking soda

1 1/2 c flour

1 bag chocolate chips

1/2 c chopped marshmallows

How to make the goodies

Start by creaming the soft butter, oil,  and the sugars with a hand mixer. I used salted butter, but if you aren’t just make sure to add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to your mix. Once things are blended nice and smooth, mix in the vanilla, dash of cinnamon and salt, and the egg, too. Preheat your oven to 375 F so it’s ready to get baking when you are.

Now sprinkle the baking soda over the batter and begin adding the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the flour has been worked in. Go ahead and mix in the chocolate chips and the chopped marshmallows. Dicing up marshmallows gets a bit sticky, but it’s totally worth it. Really.

Pop spoonfuls of the cookie dough on a parchment lined sheet pan and place in your hot oven. Set the timer for 12 minutes and walk away.

When that timer dings, you’ll have some ooooey-goooooey cookies! Let them rest on the sheet pan before moving to ensure they are set. Sure, some of that marshmallow has leaked out and gotten all toasty, but the result is absolutely fantastic.

Enjoy!

 

Fine Art for Kids: Pepper prints with Edward Weston

 - by Sarah Lipoff

 

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

There’s nothing cooler than when you look at something in a new way. Edward Weston turned simple things into superior works of art by changing up our idea of perception. Weston was an American fine art photographer taking pictures of just about anything in the 1920’s. His close-up images of various items from nudes to heads of lettuce (really) gained the attention of the art world – and regular people who found his pictures stunning. And let me tell you, Weston’s ability to grab you by your eyes and suck you in is addictive. Once you see one photograph you like, you just want more.

One of his most iconic images is of a pepper. His ability to focus on the graceful angles, curved textures, and light and shadow of the simple natural form proves his talent. I can’t deny that Weston has been a big influence on my interest in photography and inspiration to keep searching for unique ways to turn the norm into something spectacular.

So, the other day when red peppers were on sale two for a dollar, I had an Edward Weston moment. Sure, we could take a couple home and photograph them. But, that’s been done before, right? Instead, we hurried those curvy peppers home and prepared for creating pepper prints.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

This is a simple activity perfect for younger kids aged two to eight. It’s a bit messy, but hey, that’s what art is all about. Older kids could take things further by setting up a pepper still life, just like Weston, borrow the digi camera (or load your actual film camera with some black and white), and take pictures of the peppers before getting printing.

Start by taking a closer look at Edward Weston’s collection of natural studies photography. Discuss all the shapes and lines your child finds and see if she can recognize the object in each photograph. Some of them are a bit tricky! Taking a closer look at artwork encourages your child’s creativity and self confidence.

Now help your child slice a pepper in half. If you picked up the pepper at the store, encourage your child to select one that has an interesting shape to it, which will result in a unique print.

Pour a few drops of black tempera paint on a plate and help your child water it down with a bit of water. Offer her a paintbrush and encourage her to move the paint around the paper plate so the whole base is covered. This way the pepper can be pressed evenly, helping to create a solid print.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Get out a sheet of white paper and get printing! Invite your child to gently press the pepper into the paint, then press onto her paper, and then lift up. Does the print look like half a pepper? She can keep pressing and printing creating a random design or a pattern.

Once she’s finished, check out how other veggie prints look! Slice stalks of celery, cucumbers, onions, or use individual lettuce or cabbage leaves to create artful prints.

New old dresser

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

The other day there was a nasty green dresser hanging out sadly on the corner. I quickly snatched it up and drove it home. The color was a bit much but knew it would be perfect for a home project. There’s a closet under the stairs that just isn’t right, and that little dresser was going to help wonderfully.

Paint has been my best friend since moving into our house. If you remember, the previous owners had quiet a thing for bright, vibrant, full-gloss paint, and, room by room, I’ve been putting things right. All that was left was the hall closet tucked under the stairs. Things had gotten pretty bad – you couldn’t even really use the closet because it was so crammed full of junk. It was time to clear it out and transform it into something new.

So, after much grumbling, I enlisted the hubs to help drag things out and go through those items, putting stuff in the trash, the keep stash, or the donate pile. In no time things were sorted out and I was left with a decent sized little room.

After giving everything a nice coat of white paint I was ready to tackle the dresser. I figured going over red and black high gloss paint would take a couple of go-overs, but thanks to Dutch Boy, things were solid white after two coats.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Back to the dresser. I disassembled things and gave everything a good wipe-down. I had come across this motivating article from theMotherboard that provided easy go-to painting info, so was feeling pretty paint confident. Using a roller, I painted the dresser with the same white paint. After things dried for an hour or so, I mixed a small amount of green acrylic paint with the white, creating a nice super-light seafoam color. I got out an old sponge and tap-tapped some lightly over the white, creating some barely-there texture.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Then it was time for power tools! I used the hand sander to distress the corners and edges of the dresser, giving things a bit of texture and intrigue. The green paint started showing through, and even some of the wood. That old green dresser was starting to look pretty fun!

I also talked the hubs into cutting some base boards to go around the freshly painted room, and then scrounged the house for fun things for the final reveal.

The end result is a cute little play room with the dresser offering its lowest drawer to several lucky stuffed animals. The tot loves to go in there, shut the door, and draw on her chalkboard and read books to her stuffed friends.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Perfect.

 

Dishwasher woes

 - by Sarah Lipoff

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Well, our dishwasher is not happy. It came with the house, in fact, it was the only appliance in the place. We bought a foreclosure in Northern California, so we’re lucky there weren’t holes in the walls and such. When searching out rock-bottom-prices in the Bay Area, you see some pretty craptastic houses. When the one came along, we learned to adjust our first-time-home-buyer-dreams for reality.

After living in the house for about two years we are finally figuring a few things out. The dishwasher has never really been right. It makes lots and lots of noise, was installed incorrectly, leaked the first couple of times we used it – and the bottom spinny thing doesn’t spin properly.

And, the other day, during all its noise and lack-of-proper spinning, the spinny thing got stuck. Let me set the scene: the baby is serenely napping, I’m happily doing my work and enjoying a nice quiet afternoon (well, not really because the child was actually NOT napping and in her crib singing the theme song from Caillou really loud and the dishwasher was making this horrid CLUNK CLUNK BUZZZZZZZZZZ kinda noise) when an interesting smell wafted towards my delicate nose.

ICK.

I ran around the house in a panic searching out the smell. Was our house going to burn down? Should I call someone? Was there a wire burning somewhere inside the walls?

And then I knew. I knew it HAD to be that dishwasher.

I opened the door mid-cycle, all the water gushed out, and there was the smelly culprit.

The spinny thing.

It was caught on the heating coil and melting.

Awesomeness.

So, this lovely Saturday morning, we are heading off to do one of my most dreaded things. Shopping with sales persons that make their livings off commissions.

Wish me luck.