The sniffles

© 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?!


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?


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?

Inside fun

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

Well, the weather outside is frightful, and the wee tot has decided to NOT be delightful. This means there are lots and lots of activities going on at my house attempting to keep the babe from being a pill. With holiday guests still at the house (my parents) it’s nice to have an extra set of hands to help out and keep the little monster occupied. Living in northern California is great, but during this time of year it’s all about rain, rain, RAIN.

The other day I was starting to run out of patience, ideas for activities, and we were all a bit exhausted from turning the upper floor of the house into a race track, peek-a-boo hang out, and imaginary play kitchen/hair salon (seriously, my daughter can whip up a great pretend snack while working on your hair).

So, I figured it was time to actually get in the kitchen and do some real cooking with the daughter. And, we adults needed to eat, too! AND with the rainy weather, we’d all been cooped up way too long with those icky-kid germs. I found some great snowy (or rainy, in my case) indoor fun activities from the Motherboard and came across the perfect solution! Chicken soup! I happened to have some matzo ball mix hiding in the back of the pantry, which was a great addition. The babe loved rolling the balls and watching as they poofed and boiled in the soup. This also encouraged her to actually TRY some of that tasty soup before turning up her nose – or tossing it to the floor!

Now that we all had a yummy lunch, I got out my go-to watercolor paints and markers. We do a lot of art activities at my house and on some days we all get caught up in making something fun to hang on the fridge. But, I had come across the idea to make some really cute thank you notes (seriously, these are REALLY CUTE IDEAS) and created a tot-art-making assembly line!

Once I had a good pile of creations to work with, I figured I would add my own personal touch by using some letter stamps to write “thanks” on selected cut out pieces of artworks and then pasting them on construction paper. Add a sprinkle of glitter for some bling, and – voila! Fantastic grateful thankful cards!

My daughter is a bit young to understand the concept of being grateful, but I’m glad we created something together that we can send off in the mail to recognize and acknowledge the nice things that others have done for us – and given us – over the last couple of weeks! I also love receiving stuff in the mail, which means I assume others do, too. Right?!

Hopefully some of my grateful-ness will rub off on my wee tot and she’ll remember to say “please” and “tanks” (yes, TANKS) when we return to preschool….


TV and your babe’s brain (a bit of a rant)

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

This morning I came across yet another article telling us mommies and daddies that plopping our kid in front of the TV diminishes language development. There are quotes from research, fancy important people sharing facts and ratios, and a couple of big words tossed in, too.

Really? I think most of us KNOW that using television as a babysitter isn’t the best for encouraging our wee tot’s brains.

What I did find interesting was that the article states that the stuff we like our kids to watch, like Sesame Street or Yo Gabba Gabba, weren’t taken into consideration in the study. Just shows not geared for kids.

Hey, guess what? My daughter doesn’t watch anything other than PBS kid shows and maybe an occasional Disney movie. I’m not cuddling up on the couch with her to catch a couple of episodes of True Blood.

And, if a parent IS watching that with their young child, that’s just not cool.

I think we are all aware that the television isn’t the best for encouraging brain development, stimulating learning, or motivating interaction. But, when a parent is watching WITH the child and enjoying the bonding time together, doesn’t that count for something? Stating that it is recommended that all children under the age of two aren’t exposed to ANY TELEVISION AT ALL seems a bit unrealistic, doesn’t it?

How about some research on which shows motivate kids to learn new things or develop language skills? Maybe some uplifting information on how Sesame Street is one of the longest running television shows dedicated to educate and inform? I’d love to hear about new and exciting educational children’s programs like Juno Baby!

So, until then, I’m letting my child enjoy her allotted 60-minutes of daily television, which usually includes our favorite, Sesame Street. Sometimes we get in some Sid the Science Kid, and a bit of another goodie, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That!.

What television shows are you watching with your kids – or do you keep the TV off in your home?

Parenting tips

© Sarah Lipoff 2010

The other day I was chatting with some ladies at about super-secret parenting tips – or sanity tips. You know, those things you’re not sure you should share with others, but are lifesavers in your house? When I sat down to think about what salvages my day, I discovered that my solutions are a bit silly more than any kind of secret!

*Start a nighttime routine and stick to it! The day we brought our daughter home from the hospital I started a bedtime routine – no joke. The essential part of our beddy-bye time is NOT making eye contact with baby after she’s in the crib. I give her a bottle, zip her into snuggly-soft jammies and then –without making eye contact, lay her down. If she causes a fuss, I wait five minutes, offer a pacifier, which she only gets during sleepy-times, and her blanky (no eye contact!). Most nights she falls asleep in 20 minutes – no crying. I know some of you hate me just a little bit right now, but that’s okay.

*Sometimes yelling isn’t bad, or some really loud music. Distraction is one of the best ways to change your babe’s (and your) mood. I’m not talking ear-splitting noise level or anything, but put on some Lady Gaga and dance around while holding your wee one. If she’s not into music, yelling out the ABC’s might do the trick. My neighbors probably think I’m insane, but when my babe’s a grump she seems to find it fantastically silly when I jump up and down and yell the ABC’s.

*INDULGE. I got a stroller as a baby gift and it wasn’t the one I wanted. I went and purchased the stroller I had put on my baby registry and have no regrets – even though it cost a ton! Splurge on the baby items that you’ll be with for a while (stroller, high chair, crib, car seat, etc.). If you do a lot of walking like I do, you’ll feel better pushing your wee tot around in the stroller you wanted instead of suffering with one that was a good deal.

*Take the baby in the shower/tub with you. This may be the only way you get clean. Seriously. Once my babe could sit on her own, I plopped her down with a couple of wash clothes around her for support. Now that she’s older, I can actually enjoy a shower while she enjoys some splashing. And, she ends up sitting on the wash cloths, which help her from slip-sliding away! I also put a towel right outside the tub so when we’re done, I can lift her directly onto a fresh towel and wrap her up. Often, she runs off dragging the towel after her, but at least she’s not dripping wet (and I wont freak out worrying she’s going to slip and crack her head open).

*Oh, and schedule “special time” with your partner. Sex makes you feel good and strengthens and the bond you have with your mate. When I feel wonderful about myself, I’m a better parent.

What are your secret sanity tips?

5:30 am

I love my cats. We have two cats and they are very different. One is old and fat and doesn’t do much other than beg for food, shed her long hair all over the place and lie on the floor. She has so mastered the art of lying on the floor that I have recently started nudging her to make sure she is still alive. The other cat is small and fast, and enjoys spending time outdoors. Neither one gives a crap about us other than when they want to eat or be let outside.

When I got pregnant I had crazy visions of the cats wanting to sleep with the baby in the crib, the cats scratching my baby, the cats doing nasty things to the baby…. None of these things happened. The fact is, I don’t think either cat COULD jump into our daughter’s crib even if they really wanted to, and just like my husband and I, they don’t really care about her unless she were to start feeding them or letting them outside.

Everyone adjusted to each other fairly well after our daughter joined the household. The small cat runs and hides when she comes near her and the big fat cat just lies there. She even lets our daughter pull her tail without protest, which seriously surprises me.

So, the cats are okay. Our daughter is okay. I am not.

My side of the bed is the side that has the sliding glass doors that open to allow the cats to go outdoors. My husband, who slept soundly through the first year of nights with baby, sleeps through everything. He doesn’t hear the scratch, scratch, scratch at 5:30 am. He doesn’t hear anything. One night I tried yelling at him to see if he would wake up in an emergency. He didn’t even roll over (that’s a whole other story).

It seems the cats have decided that the break of dawn means it is time to go outside and chase the awakening birds. It seems I am the one that has to suffer through the incessant scritch, scratch, scratch of the cats’ nails against the glass. I get up in a daze, open the door, the cats go running out, and without fail my daughter wakes up.

She falls back asleep. I don’t.

I have been living life on 5 hours of sleep for two weeks. I feel like I am slowly going insane. I would like to strangle the cats, but they’re so darn cute.

So, until I figure out a way to leave the sliding glass doors open without allowing the raccoons in, causing our heat bills to be astronomical or train the cats to jump out a window to get outdoors, I will be walking around in a daze.

I did pick up some water guns the other day. Maybe some good cold early morning squirts to my kitty-cats’ heads will keep the scritch-scratching away.

I’ll let you know.

The pacifier

Before getting pregnant, or even thinking of having a child, I had made the decision that no pacifier would pass the lips of my future children. I had seen the 4-year-old in the market sucking away, the child talking through the pacifier, the screaming baby that dropped their pacifier. I wasn’t going down that path – no way. Then, I had a baby.

Oh, how things change.

Pacifiers pacify – that is what they are for.  Your baby is wailing and nothing seems to calm her down, so you shove in a pacifier.  Babies like to suck, and many times while they were in the womb, they were sucking on something. During one of my ultra-sounds, sure enough, there was the little one sucking away on her hand. Sucking is a self-soothing activity, and pretty essential to helping calm newborn babies down.

When babies are born, everything around them is new and different from what it was like in the womb. Pacifiers offer some relief to frustrating situations that both baby (and parents) encounter.  It has recently been documented that pacifiers also help in lowering chances for SIDS if used at night while baby is sleeping. Pediatricians suggest making sure, if you are breastfeeding, that your baby is following a good feeding pattern and latching well before offering a pacifier.  Everyone also says that during the first couple weeks, even months, that you shouldn’t feel badly about spoiling your little baby – so offering a pacifier isn’t so bad, is it?

Pacifiers can potentially lead to language delay and dental problems.  Your sweet adorable child might also become hooked on it, refusing to give it up, and wailing for it all day.  A pacifier used too early might also interfere with breastfeeding, and your baby might not learn how to nurse.   It is suggested to stop use of pacifiers by age 2 to make sure the jaw and bite of your child forms correctly.

Pacifiers can lead to various health issues, such as inner ear infections, if you don’t properly clean your beloved pacifier regularly.  You can put many pacifiers in your dishwasher or boil them on the stove.  Make sure that the pacifier you select doesn’t have any recalls and it has proper ventilation holes.  Not all babies will take a pacifier. Then you are dealing with a frustrated child, and confused parents, and no one is happy.

Wow, sounds like all that information at the end of a Cialis commercial.

So, does my child have a pacifier? She sure does. I try to allow the pacifier only during sleep times, and am already anxious about the day I will have to wrangle it away from her.

I fear the day.

Sleep deprivation

The other morning I woke up and didn’t feel like I’d slept.  This had been happening quite a bit lately, and I was turning into a grumpy, ornery, confused mama. It wasn’t so much that the baby was keeping me up, she was actually starting to sleep through the night.  Her uber-early morning wake up around 4 am was the problem.  I could get her back to sleep after a couple times of playing put-the-paci-back-in-the-mouth, but then I couldn’t fall asleep.  The husband snores, the cats want to be fed, and I start thinking and thinking.  This means I average about 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night. Not a good recipe for the perfect mommy.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem for new moms, and it can affect your health and ability to be the great mom you want to be.  I learned a couple things over the weeks that have helped me get back on track.  Just because they worked for me doesn’t mean they will be lifesavers for you, but when you are sleep deprived, anything is worth a try.  Sooner or later you will find what works for you, and a good night’s sleep will be achieved by all.

First off, exercise.  I am not joking.  Every morning I spend at least 10 minutes doing some sort of cardio exercise, many times in the enclosed comfort of my home while my daughter watches from her high chair.  My eyes may be crusted shut and my hair might be sticking up all over the place, but getting regular exercise is good for you, and it gets your body moving in the morning.  This helps you have a healthy heart start to the day, and will encourage your body to sleep better at night.

Secondly, have a cup of coffee or tea, whatever you like.  Even if you are breastfeeding, a cup of coffee isn’t going to be problematic to your breast milk.  Caffeine in small amounts won’t hurt baby, and it gives your body a lift in the morning.  Keep it to one cup, though.  More could lead to drinking caffeine all day, which will make getting a good night’s sleep challenging.

Third, sleep when the baby is sleeping.  Seriously!  That means if baby falls asleep regularly at 9 pm, then it is time to think about making bedtime 9 pm.  This can be a hard one, but if you want to get 8 hours of sleep again and you know baby sleeps from 9 pm to 6 am, then you need to sleep from 9 pm to 6 am.  When baby is napping, don’t be afraid to lie down and get some shuteye.  Even if you lie down and close your eyes but not sleep, your body is having a chance to relax and recuperate.  Take this time to go over any worries you might have or concerns you are dealing with.  You will feel better after.

Fourth is to ask for HELP!  This is hard for new moms, as for some reason many of us feel that we can do it all on our own.  You are not a failure if you ask for some assistance.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for some time out by having your partner, friend, or family come and baby-sit while you get some sleep.

And fifth is to start a routine or schedule where your partner gets involved in the evening or morning baby’s sleep or wake up time.  Preferably, the morning is the best time to try to set this up.  Pick a morning that works for you and your partner and have them take over the morning routine.  This means they are in charge of baby during wake up, changing, clothing, feeding, bathing – whatever happens – for at least 2 hours one morning a week.  Close the bedroom door, pull the pillow over your head, or play some music to keep yourself relaxed and asleep.

I found the best thing that worked for me out of these 5 sleep slavers was adjusting my sleep times. I felt pretty silly getting cozy in bed at 9 pm, but if it means I am going to get some sleep, it is worth it.  Some nights I stay up late until 10:30 or so, and feel like a teenager again.

Good luck and good sleep!

How DOES baby learn to dance?

© Sarah Lipoff

My adorable innocent babe was doing the bump and grind in the living room to some groovy tunes I had playing. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I stopped what I was doing and stared at her. Who taught her this? How did she figure this out? I can’t even move my hips that fast!

While I clapped insanely and laughed as she continued butt shaking and grooving out she tossed in a couple handclaps and “raise the roofs” before finishing her amazing dance routine. I was dumbfounded. She didn’t learn this from the other babes at preschool (she doesn’t go), or the bad girls at the park (we haven’t been in awhile) and I don’t make a practice of prancing around the house hoochy dancing every chance I get. How did she learn how to do this?!

I googled “how does a baby learn to dance” and found some interesting results, most I am not going to share. But it does look like getting our groove on is actually hard wired in our brains. There have been times you couldn’t help your toes tapping or your head from nodding along to the music. Well, baby has that in her too!

The minute my husband walked in the door after his long day I pumped the music and watched him watch the baby bump away. Once the music was over and all our laughing died down he uttered, “you know she isn’t allowed out of the house until she’s 18, right?”


Oh my is it really Friday?

What day is it today? That was the first thought I had at 5:17 am this morning, which happens to be what time I normally awaken from slumber these days, and wasn’t really quite sure. Oh my is it really Friday? Not that it matters. Every day is pretty much the same in my world.

You might think the arrival of the weekend would symbolize the opportunity to let loose, tie one one, get crazy, go out, do something different to celebrate the end of the work week, but in my world the work week is every day of the week. Having a baby is like being employed by an insane boss (I am familiar with this position) and asked to do crazy things at the last minute or stay late to work on a ridiculous project.

There is no over time pay, extended vacations or lunch breaks in parenting. Yes, I am fully aware that I could hire a sitter or enroll my wee child in daycare (there is nothing wrong with this) but I am at home and available. So, Friday doesn’t cause that stir of excitement in my tummy like it used to.

What Friday does mean to me is that another week is coming to an end that was full of watching my little one grow and develop. Another week of her life progressing. Kind of bittersweet.

Wait, that just made me think of chocolate. Hmmmmm. Maybe today I will celebrate Friday with a bit of chocolate indulgence!

Enjoy your Friday.

Baby’s in charge

While at the market the other day I let my baby hold, or actually bite, my wallet. She really wouldn’t have it any other way and needing to get the shopping done, I decided to just let her have the ridiculous pink shiny thing of her desire. Without giving it another thought (like hello, my money and stuff is in there!), I went about my shopping and proceeded to get in the shortest line amazed to be getting out of the store in record time.

Time to pay! Wait, where is my wallet? Using my ever-diminishing powers of remembrance the image of my innocent babe chewing on my pink billfold popped into my head. UGH. I went screaming through the isles like a crazed woman, which I was, looking everywhere. Before giving up all hope I checked at the front “help” counter. The smiling gentleman waved my wonderful pink wallet in front of me, obviously amused with my situation.

As I walked out of the store breathing deeply and trying to erase the memory of what just happened from my head, I decided it would be best not to tell anyone about what had transpired at the grocery store. But then I just laughed and realized it could have been a lot worse. And I am sure someone out there knows what I am talking about!