So says Sarah…

Trick-or-treating with a toddler (for the first time)

Posted in About Me, Life with Child, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 10/29/2012

Yes, that’s right. We just took our tot trick-or-treating for the first time. She’s three, almost four, and we haven’t attempted the whole trick-or-treating-Halloween-pumpkin-carving thing at all. She had a bit more interest in the pumpkins at the grocery store this year, and had learned more about Halloween while at preschool, but had no desire to wear a costume at all.

Taking a toddler out for her first night of treat gathering is also a unique thing. My child was totally clueless. We attempted to prep her before the adventure, stressing to say, “trick or treat” when accepting goodies and offering a “thank you” once the candy was in hand.

Yeah. That didn’t happen.

Amazingly, after getting a bit of face paint, our tot jumped right into her Halloween outfit and was ready to head out. Our town turns main street into a trick-or-treater’s paradise and shop owners offer candies to tots as they walk by. It’s perfect for little kids and the street was packed. We walked up to the first spot to stop and my child seriously freaked. She hid behind me, wouldn’t move, didn’t talk, and literally tried to crawl me. I pulled her aside and we took a moment.

I got down to her level and asked her about what was going on. She didn’t seem to like all the attention being on her when walking up to a person with candy so I offered to say trick or treat with her. We cautiously walked up to the next spot and she hid again.

So, at this point, I pulled her aside again and talked it through again. The thing about little tots is that sometimes it just takes a bit more coaxing to open up. And, hey, I said if she wasn’t up for it, we could head back home.

Nope, she wanted to try again, which we did. This time she didn’t hide behind me, I held her basket for her, and she slowly walked forward for a treat.

Then she was hooked.

As we continued down the street she started speaking for herself and began offering a quiet “tanks” after receiving a treat. And as she became more comfortable I reminded her that taking a treat before being acknowledged wasn’t polite, not to grab, and that saying thank you was a must. While we walked through town, I loved seeing her opening up, feeling more comfortable, and understanding the give-and-take of the whole thing.

After making our way up and back I was exhausted, our tot had a glazed look in her eye, and we were all ready to go home and enjoy a few treats.

If you’re heading out for a night of trick-or-treating fun with your tot for the first time it’s a good idea to prep your child before the adventure so she has a basic idea of what’s going to happen. Reading a Halloween trick-or-treating book helps, as well as explaining that talking to strangers in this situation is okay. Along with begin lots of fun, trick-or-treating is actually a great way to encourage your child’s language and communication skills, and get a handle taking turns.

Understand that your tot may not be into it and don’t force it. We really wanted to have a great time trick-or-treating with our daughter, but we exchanged “that look” the second time she started freaking out, understanding that we might have to grab her and go if her behavior didn’t change. The last thing you want is for your tot to have unhappy memories about Halloween adventures.

Set limits before hand on how much candy your child gets to eat after trick-or-treating. Our tot wanted to sit down on the sidewalk and eat her candies the minute after they landed in her basket, but we reminded her we were going to keep walking, enjoying our Halloween adventure, and at home we’d have two of her trick or treat candies.

And, amazingly, we did.

Happy Halloween!

 

Fine art for kids: Black and white with Picasso

Posted in Art Activities for Kids by Sarah Lipoff on 10/24/2012

It’s been raining the last couple of days, making the tot and I a bit ornery. We knew the rain was coming, but it’s so dark in the mornings, causing us all to cuddle deeper under the covers instead of popping out excited about the day ahead. There’s nothing to rush for, so I curl into the bed and wait for my daughter to mumble “good morning” from her room letting me know she’s ready to start the day.

After about an hour of rubbing our eyes and figuring things out, we go about our daily routines. The husband heads to work, I sip tea and write stuff, and the tot either goes to preschool or does projects with me. Because of the dark, and somewhat dreary day, I couldn’t help being reminded of when I was teaching high school art and what I would do with a class that was stuck in the doldrums. I’d pop in a movie, shove sketch paper and sticks of charcoal under my students’ noses, and encourage them to doodle while zoning out.

Sometimes you just need to do nothing to find creativity.

One of my favorite things to pop in the old video player was this documentary of Picasso. The music is a bit funky, Picasso is crazy, his paintings are so simple but amazing, and it’s black and white — which is actually soothing.

After showing this snippet to my tot, we got out black and white paper and black and white paints. I offered her a sheet of white paper and a selection of paintbrushes ranging in size from big to small, along with black paint, and encouraged her to make interesting lines. This is a great activity for introducing focusing on making long and expressive lines to tots. Your little one really wants to go with her gut and simply scribble, but encouraging her to make shapes, or even attempting to draw a form, makes for an exciting creation. Older kids can paint exaggerated forms with simplistic details, just like Picasso.

Once your child is finished, swap the white paper and black paint for a sheet of black paper and the white paint. Leave the black painted sheet of white paper within sight and encourage your child to create the same design, but with the white paint on the black paper.

Once the paintings are dry, display them side by side to see how they are similar and different.

Homemade play table

Posted in About Me, Cool Stuff, Life with Child by Sarah Lipoff on 10/14/2012

We have this spot at the top of the stairs on the side of our living room. It’s a “spot” we have no idea what to do with. It isn’t really part of the living room, not big enough to do much with, and has been the home to several different things, including a large plant, small bench, and mini pool table — all of which just sat there doing not much of anything.

I was getting really tired of just looking at that empty corner and watching it become home to a happy family of daddy-long-legs.

I was also getting a bit tired of the tot’s toys ALL OVER THE PLACE.

She needed a solution. I needed something. We talked about getting a toy chest (I had visions of pinched fingers), we dreamed of putting together a built-in bookshelf-slash-seating area (I had visions of power tool mishaps), and we chatted about buying furniture (and I had visions of lots and lots of fighting). So the corner sat deserted, the cat turned the mini-pool table into her new favorite lounging spot, and I kept vacuuming up the spiders.

While at O.S.H. picking up who knows what, I spied round cuts of plywood and knew I had to make a play table. But how to make it cool… Then we spied the big spools used for holding rope and I batted my eyes and inquired if we could have an old one. It was my lucky day and we headed home with the round and a spool.

After a nice sanding, and a coating of white stain, the husband took over and screwed the spool to the round and we had a table. I had plans for adding another round base to make the table sturdier, and to touch up the paint, but the tot had other plans. She got busy working the minute it was brought into the house.

Once she was tucked in for the night, I added a few other cute items around her area so she’d stay interested for more than a few days. On the other side of the play corner is our entry way buffet (that houses a bunch of the hub’s old CD’s) that will be cleared out for her toys so the area is comfortable for her to play and stay organized — and I’ll be able to slide the doors so they will magically disappear.

So for less than $20, we reinvented a spool into a fun play table that will hopefully be used for years and years.

 

 

Chocolate peanut butter oatmeal yogurt cookies

Posted in About Food by Sarah Lipoff on 10/10/2012

 

Yeah, that’s right. All those ingredients are in these cookies and they are good. And along with begin tasty, they are really easy to make. In fact my toddler did most of the work this afternoon. We needed something sweet and gooey that also was filling but not loaded with sugar. So this combination of healthy ingredients seemed wonderfully perfect. Along with being just slightly sweet the cookies are have healthy protein from the yogurt and peanut butter and fiber from the oats. So grab a bowl and get mixing, these cookies are ready to eat in less than 15-minutes.

Ingredients

1/2 cup room temperature butter

1/2 cup yogurt

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

Directions

Blend together the room temperature butter, yogurt, and peanut butter in a medium-sized bowl. Preheat the oven to 350 F so it’s nice and hot when you’re ready.

Now you can add the sugar, vanilla, and egg and mix until blended nice and smooth.

Measure and add the oats, baking soda, dash of salt, and then the flour, stirring until everything is incorporated.

Drop big spoonfuls of the batter on a sheet pan, pressing them gently to form flattened rounds — the cookies don’t spread much.

Pop the cookies in the oven for 12-minutes and then let cool for a minute or two before eating.

Yum!

 

 

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Date night FAIL

Posted in About Life, About Me, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 10/06/2012

Last night the husband and I procured a babysitter, drove off to one of our favorite new spots in the area for dinner and a concert. The tot was happy sitting in front of a movie, our crazy-cool baby-sitter brought over her awesome rescue kitten to visit, and we were ready for a night out. We arrived at the restaurant, ordered drinks and dinner, and tried to decompress.

You know how it goes, right?

We found things to talk about, texted to let our sitter know we had arrived, didn’t freak because she didn’t text us back right away, ate, found something to talk about, texted our sitter again, and finished our drinks.

Did I mention this was the first time we were leaving the tot with anyone other than my parents (who don’t live in the area) at night? Yeah, we’ve left the tot with our sitter during the afternoons before to slip out for a movie or hitting the driving range, but this was a big first for us.

We were a bit nervous and twitchy.

So, after dinner, we headed into the concert. We were a handful of the first let in and secured front row spots, literally standing under where Chris Robinson would be rocking out in less than a half an hour.

I like Chris Robinson.

I got another drink for myself and one for the husband and we were feeling pretty good.

Then we got a text.

Sitter: Oh no there was an explosion and the power went out.

WHAT?

I frantically called the sitter. She was cheerfully trying to find candles, flashlights, matches, anything. I was trying to figure out if the explosion happened IN OUR HOUSE.

Nope. Someone had run into a pole just down the street knocking out power for pretty much all of our area.

We hung up and our neighbor called to see how we were doing. We told him we were out for a date night and asked him to check in on our sitter. He laughed.

I knew we had to leave.

But we held out for a couple more minutes while hoping and hoping the band would start so we could catch ONE song before leaving.

Nope.

As darkness fell upon the land, we headed out and started the commute home that should’ve taken only a few minutes.

After 45-minutes we arrived home to a very dark house streaked with flashlight beams, a laughing tot, and a smiling sitter.

And I went about lighting as many candles in the house as possible. Instead of spending a few hours rocking out 2-feet from Chris Robinson, the husband and I spent the next few hours talking and talking by candle light.

Not a total date night fail after all.

 

Are you ready for some sangria?!

Posted in About Food, About Me, The Bay Area by Sarah Lipoff on 10/03/2012

*I was not paid for this post, just provided with a bottle of sangria for tasting.

There’s no other way to say this — it’s been really hot here. We’re talking in the 90’s-can’t even go outside-don’t want to cook or do anything- kind of hot. I’ve been trying to stay cool in the yard with the tot and my laptop getting work done while she stumbles about in a swim suit spraying herself with the hose. So when this box showed up on my doorstep containing a vibrant bottle of sangria, I had a hard time waiting for the appropriate time of day to crack it open.

Just a reminder, I wasn’t paid for this post — just provided with a lovely bottle to taste test and then share my opinion. Eppa SuperFruit Sangria is a blend of real fruits, including blueberries, pomegranate, blood orange, and acai resulting in a wine that contains twice the amount of healthy antioxidants than a regular ol’ glass of red wine and only 120 per serving for about $12 a bottle.

And this sangria is certified organic.

The base is a Mendocino Cabernet and Syrah, made  just north of me, and creates the perfect compliment to the sweet fruits. As soon as I opened the bottle, I knew the wine was going to be tasty and wonderfully fruity. The bottle told me to pour over ice and enjoy with a slice of fresh fruit. Well, thanks, I will!

After my first sampling, the undercurrents of the wine was lovely with a fruity finish. Because the wine is combined with real, organic super fruit juice, the result is quite a treat, and definitely on the sweet side. I decided to use the sangria as the base for a lovely spritzer and topped my glass with a good shot of sparkling mineral water and a big slice of lemon.

Heavenly.

This sangria would be perfect at any picnic or gathering — or for a fun night hanging with the ladies. And it would also be a great base for making tasty cocktails any time of year. Here’s another cocktail suggestion from Shape. Wondering where to pick up a bottle? Whole Foods carries the wine, but if you don’t have one near you, check out their store locator to find a bottle near you.

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