Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Guest Post>> Books: A gift for lifetime

Inside look at Anagha's Pictorial Dictionary
I am so glad to publish this Guest Post by one my friend - Archana Swamy. If you are following my posts regularly you would have noticed that I often mention a name, 'Archie'. Yes that's her, my friend, sister, gossip partners, agony aunt, mentor, what not. Every conversation with her brings lot of inspiration to me.

How I wish to be at least 10 per cent of her. Her perseverance and dedication towards all sorts of life challenges is remarkable, be it education, family or parenting. 

So for all my smart moms, following article is written by one of the smartest Mom of all, 'Archana Swamy'. She is a mother of two angels one is aged 10 years and the younger one is 3 years. She also practices her 'Reiki Healing' for friends and family. 

In this article, she is sharing her experience on reading books and how it can do wonders to the future of our child.

Guest Post>> Books are gifts for life
By Archana N Swamy

When I came from school my mother handed over me a big red book and said, 'Happy birthday dear' it was a dictionary! It was a big surprise for me. While having a wonderful gift , which had all my answers and made my reading easy. From then I simply started to love reading books of all sorts like drama, poetry, philosophical, political to name few.

When I became a mother to a baby girl, I realised that ‘books’ are best ever gifts given to a child.After when I became mother of baby girl that day itself I decided to gift books on her birthdays.

Anagha's first book - A Pictorial Dictionary
On one fine day, just after her 2nd Birthday, a group of students arrived at our doorsteps to sell books. My eyes were looking for some pictured and colorful book.

And finally I found a 'visual' dictionary and gifted to my elder daughter ‘Anagha’. More than her, I was thrilled to see such an attractive and big book in her tiny hands.

Once she entered 1st standard she started looking in to the dictionary for pictures initially and later on also for meanings. Any ways that was my main intention behind gifting her a  dictionary at very young age.

Anagha's Home Library
Along with this we have gone for 'Time Life' series came with four different library called Child's first Reading Program, early learning program, library of values and library of learning.

As she started growing she began relating herself, her friends  and her cousins with the characters of her story books. Anagha may not be a book freak but likes to read any new thing available around her.

The baby is no more little one, she has grown up and select her own books. Now a days she is reading on 'Treasure Island'.

A closer look at Anagha's book collection
Her frequent reading habit have made her to go through her syllabus in advance and understand lessons in the textbook without any difficulties. She refers through her books to complete given projects in the school. In fact books made her to think more independently and express her opinions.  

Needless to say, reading is only the best way to gain knowledge. It doesn't mean that I never allow her to do other activities. She's doing her Bharatnatyam and plays video games during free hours

I firmly believe that every work that our kids do should be a matter of choice not a matter of chance.

-With love

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Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Travel smart: Tips and tricks for flying with kids

In this holiday season as families are considering traveling to see friends and relatives; I thought this would be an apt topic to bring attention to. Travelling with kids can be very stressful and flying with kids below 2 years looks like the most adventurous journey you can ever have. 

But not always that flying with our little ones is annoying. I have been lucky enough to get lot many tips and trick for happy flying with kids. Thanks to my smart moms network that's  my friends and my mom. Though many of them wouldn't have flew with their kids but at times they are really good at giving advice. And trust me, most of the suggested tips and tricks works the best. 

I am not an expert in baby/toddler travel, but I have traveled a lot with my princess. In these past 18-20 months I have been travelling a lot, be it train or flight. I have routed several thousands of miles with my princess and flown more than 8 times with an infant and early toddler in the past 20 months, so I feel I might be able to provide some useful tips on traveling with a early toddler or a lap infant.  

Here are my top tips and tricks for all smart moms who travel often with their little ones (Children under the age of 2 years old).

  1. Fly when your child is most relaxed Flying comfort can vary from child to child. Some children are happy fliers during their naps and other after that. I have flown all alone with my lap infant during nap time when she was just 3 months old. And it was successfully peaceful travel for both of us. With just few nappy change and few in-between feeds, it was kind of smooth ride for us. Again that could be also because she was too young to throw any travel tantrums.   But when I have traveled alone with her when she turned early toddler it was really difficult for me to manage her. But it was not that bad though, as she kept interacting with all passengers with her gestures and also read few picture books. For me the early morning flight has worked the best, as I make her travel in her sleeping mode, it becomes easy for me to settle with boarding, check-in, security and stuff.  And if at all in the rest of the journey, she wakes up, she is undoubtedly will be in good mood.

  2. Check the airlines regulations for lap infants Yes, most airlines allow lap infants (Child below 2 years) to fly free under the age of 2, but some require physical boarding passes for the infants and some do not. This is essential if you are trying to check in prior to arriving at the airport. Every time we have flown with my child, we physically have to go to the counter for assistance because they have to print a boarding pass for us. In some air-lines, the machines will not print the boarding pass for the infant because the infant did not have a paid seat.
  3. Select the best seat If you are travelling along with your spouse or any other known passenger, this is the best option you can have. Other might disagree, but I think the window seat for you flying with a lap child is the best. Your child gets an opportunity to look outside look outside and  also convenient enough if you are still breastfeeding your infant. In case you are travelling alone, make sure you select the aisle seat. By selecting an aisle seat, your frequent trips to washroom fro diaper change will be very comfortable. with help you to have  which makes it easy. You won’t feel conscious for disturbing the other passenger, every now and then.
  4. Carry lot of food/drink Ensure that you carry ample food and other juices for your little one. Try getting more variety of flavours and colours. For example, carry all flavours of fruit juice like apple, orange, guava or carry all different flavours of cookies like raisins, almonds, oats. This will give them change and keep them occupied while enjoying their drink. drink/food of choice. Depending on your child’s age, ensure you have whole milk, formula. Also for food items I used to carry plenty of small food boxes. I used to carry cut-fruit pieces, sheera ( porridge), corn-flakes, wheat pretzels, cookies, cake and so.  Make sure you pack all finger foods (relatively non messy), with no sugar and other sticky elements. If your child is 10 months or below, make sure that you breastfeed or bottle feed while your air-craft is taking off and landing. While sucking the milk, the movement of mouth will help to reduce their ears from popping. If you are traveling with formula, I would recommend the powder type because it doesn’t require any special security inspection. I used to carry formula milk powder in ‘Powder dispenser’. It was like blessing for me as it has 3-4 compartments (you can fill the milk powder measured as per each feed instructed by formula), with free rolling, which helps to pour milk powder directly into the bottle without any mess. 
  5. Change of clothes Is it an excitement or the stress? I do not have answer but I think flying encourages extreme blowouts :-) And such unpleasant incident happens just when the plane started to back out of runway, and will give a huge and smelly surprise.   On a recent flight I had to change her several times on a flight because her diaper got leaked, she did potty couple of times, which never happens any other time, and I was not the one who would allow her to travel in soiled diapers and wetty clothes.
  6. Carry more diapers and wipes Always consider carrying more and more diapers and wipes than you would normally carry. If the plane is delayed or your flight last longer than expected, then you are always prepared. I generally put 4 diapers, 2-3 sets of clothes(keep more t-shirts and leggings), powder, lotion, bibs, 4 wash cloths/hand-kerchief, socks, a baby blanket small, sos medicines in my baby bag. 2 Diapers in my hand bags, 5 in diaper bag. I have made a separate small pouch size diaper bag of 4X7 inch, which is transparent and with an easy zip opening. I also place a panty/underwear after each diaper, also one T-shirt for a quick change, one baby rash stick (Size of lip balm), baby wipes small pack, a small inch size toy (to distract her while changing), 2 polythene bags (to trash away soiled diapers). For baby wipes, I always carry brand new small size travel pack, which has around 30 sheets ( quite sufficient). I have used it not only to wipe her bottoms but also to wipe her hands, face, neck, armrest, dirty fingers/feet and so.
  7. Layer-up the little one Dress your child properly for the trip considering climate of both home and destination. for this the layers works the best. Even in air-craft sometime it becomes extremely cold or extremely hot.  My toddler sits on my lap, so his body heat and mine transfer to one another; therefore making us hotter than normal.  Also carry scarf or a muffler to cover your baby from extreme sun or extreme cold breeze. Pack more of leggings as sometimes they just want to walk all around with no shoes, and sock make it easy for them to remove.
  8. Change your baby’s diaper before boarding If possible, try to change your baby’s diaper prior to boarding the plane. and if you have enough time, then just before boarding you can change their clothes too, with bit of sponge with wipes and make them feel fresh and comfortable before you fly. I always do this about 15 minutes before they announce parents with young children.
  9. Change your baby’s diaper after landing Just like changing our baby’s diaper before boarding makes your flying comfortable till the refreshments and snack are served. Similarly, changing your baby’s diaper and clothes just after landing, will give you a smooth way till you get your check-in luggage from belt, find the cab/located the person who has come to receive you, and till you reach home. Of-course do not worry about the luggage if you are travelling with your husband, he can very well take care of it. And if at all you are travelling alone (like me ;-) as always) not to get panic about luggage as the luggage takes time to come over the belt. If you are still skeptical then you can very well as the air-craft staff to inform someone in destination ground that you need an assistance. Once the assistance is provided by the ground staff of your airlines you can very request them to pick up the trolley and wait at the belt for the luggage, till you done with the diaper change.
  10. Bring a stroller
    If you are not a baby wearer or your child is too heavy for you to carry him/her all time, bringing the stroller is the best you do for yourself.  Strollers can be invaluable, especially when carry babies, bags and drinks. And
    bringing a stroller turns out to be a ‘real bliss’ in major airports like Mumbai, Delhi, Heathrow where the walk can take up to 20-35 minutes to get to security to your departure gate. Also it becomes easy to carry your baby bag, hand bag, toys and so on.
    One of my friend, who recently flew Southwest Airlines two years back, informed me that they would not let the mom in front of her gate check her huge Stroller. As far as for me I have been carrying stroller , since she was year as I was unable to carry her and her huge baby bag and so on. Once when I was travelling alone with Erishka, the airlines (it was a small air-bus) has a policy that all stroller had to be checked with baggage and they will provide it to you just when the air-craft is landed. All yo need to do is to once the landing is announce, just inform the air-craft staff that to inform ground staff to provide stroller for the same. Most of the airlines, which are big air-crafts, will allow to check one stroller and one Child Restraint System (CRS) or car seat per child without charge. This is in addition to the regular free baggage allowance. The stroller and CRS or car seat allowance applies to any type of stroller (umbrella, full size, jogging stroller, etc.) and CRS or car seat. You may check the stroller and CRS or car seat at the curb, ticket counter, or gate. When checking your stroller. You’ll receive a tag with a tear off claim check. Then when you walk down the jet way, just before boarding, fold your stroller and leave it to the side. When you get to your destination, it will be waiting for you just as you deplane. Try buying a stroller which can folded quickly, single handily (collapsible) and light in weight so that you can carry as and when required (Specially during security check in, you need to fold it fold for screening).
  11. Walk and talk If your toddler is awake and getting cranky. Keep walking with your infant or toddler, in the aisles a lot. This helps them to feel free and relaxed and they do not get the feeling of being tie-down. I spend most of the time walking and taking her around for 20-25 mins in 4 hrs flight, she makes lot of friends, exchange smiles with other little ones. When is sitting quietly, I make her read picture books and try engaging her in some favourite rhymes and stories.
  12. Handy quick-fix Ensure all SoS items are handy enough for you to reach like her favourite book, toy, small snack box, milk-bottle, juice, wash cloth and also one medicine (I always carry calpol- for unexpected fever rush). Also see to it that small items are zippedin a pouch and can fit in the seat pocket in front of you or below your seat. This help you to travel hassle free when on-flight it’s always a space crunch seat and juggling in different bags, compartments can create haste and panic. Try putting her diaper kit (as mentioned in point  ), 1 picture books, snacks, 1toys, juice, milk-bottle in the front space provide to you, so you do not have to maneuver and fiddle with luggage in the overhead compartments.
  13. Bring your child’s favorite books/toys In total I would not carry more than 2 small picture books on the plane because you have limited space. If your child is anything like mine, we could read the flight magazines, promotional pamphlets, safety instructions and all. Carry only 2-3 toys of small size, of which one should be unique, one has to be the most favourite and the other should be attractive (with light and sound) As suggested by my friend Archie, I always carried my Iphone, which I hardly use but it proves to be the SoS toy for my little one. she loves playing with all kids friendly applications. the same book 20 times and he still would want more. For example try putting an attractive picture cardboard book, mini-laptop or a play pad. This will keep them engages for 20-45 mins, depending on their mood and situations. 
  14. Relax, take a deep breathe! Yes, there will be time when you are fed up of doing trips to washroom fro diaper change, sleepless night in international travel, with no food as your toddler doesn’t allow you to eat. All I can say is to ‘Relax, and take a deep breathe. This is the most important as well as the toughest to do when you are going insane. Remember, once you get to the airport, there is only so much you can do. You can also make use of the resources available like the dining tray (Erishka loves playing with dining tray), make her read materials available to read like magazines, newspaper, safety instruction and so. You can also request few disposable cups for your child to play, in international flight you can give her your remote to play, you can switch the reading light on/off to distract her and so on.

Try to relax and enjoy the trip as much as possible. If it is your first time flying with your child, take picture and capture this “first” moment. I have still preserved her first flight ticket.

I hope my suggested tips and tricks would help all smart moms to travel happy, safe and smartly with their little ones. Wishing you all happy holidays and safe travelling with kids. All the best. Keep watching this space for more travelling tips/experiences and also share your travelling tips with us too.

With love,


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Monday, 25 November 2013

My Kitchen counter: Home-made wheat pasta

Cake designed by me on her 'Birth Announcement Party'
Welcome to my kitchen counter - here I'll share my all recipes which will be intended for healthy eating habits in kids. My little princess Erishka loves anything junky, creamy and gooey. She loves french fries, pasta, noodles and pizza. I definitely make sure that she avoids such food as it contains Soda, high salt and maida i.e plain flour which is highly unhealthy for growing toddlers.

Looking at her taste and health, last week I attempted to make the home-made wheat pasta for her. Any junk food she likes I try making it at home so that her diet excludes emulsifier, egg, maida and other preservative material.

I have used simple kitchen ingredients to prepare healthy yet tasty pasta treat for her.

I got this inspiration from my nutritionist friend  (Atrayee) and my sister (Kruti). Few months back Atrayee in her fitness and food blog 'Revise Diet' had mentined about DIY: Wheat chappati noodles. I had promised her that I will try making it soon. But since then I did not find much peace and time to prepare my home-made wheat pasta/noodles for Erishka.

On one calm afternoon, Erishka was sleeping (Sometimes I get lucky) comfortable in her room. And just that I managed to move out from her room my sis called me up.

As usual we kept discussing about eating habits of our little ones. While talking about Rishabh's inclination towards junk food, and how these days junk food have easily replace the healthy eating habits among kids. Later while chatting on same note she shared that she prepares 'vermicelli' (yellow sevaiya) in namkeen flavour with lots of tomatoes and other green veggies to go with and serves him saying it's 'mummy style' noodles. She also said that she used to serve the Gujarati's one of the favourite dish 'Dal-dhokli' as 'Indian pasta.

This discussion took me straight back to my Bollywood reporting days when once I was accompanied with my Editor to a Press conference and when I made him taste 'Penne pasta' with red and pesto sauce, he just mocked at me by saying, 'Yeh toh Dal-Dhokli hai'. I was just stumbled with his reaction to a perfect Itallian pasta.

Anyways back to the point, these all incidents and shared experience of my near-ones have inspired to attempt my very own quick, simple and healthy recipe for home-made pasta.

Here is what you need;

1 air-tight container
3 cups of wheat flour
1-1/2 cup of luke warm water
3 tbs oil (olive)
Salt to taste
1 tsp ghee (optional)
1 thick coat pan ( I used the sizzler plate)


Kneed semi-soft dough by mixing all above ingredients except ghee. And the the dough rest for about half an hour in covered vessel. Then add some ghee (Optional) and then make medium size balls. After that just roll out round chapattis and then cut it in to stripes as thin as you can and again cut it horizontal as per your length required (I had cut it around 1 and 1/2 inch or so).

My style home-made wheat pasta
Meanwhile preheat the thick pan ( I have used sizzler plate). Turn the flame off, and then peel off each cut out piece of roti and place it on the pan.

Let it be there for 2-3 mins and then turn the side. It should be of light brown colour. Repeat the same procedure till you finish all stripes and then let it cool for around 20 mins.

Ta-da, your healthy pasty is ready now. Pack these inchy pasta in the air-tight container. It can be stored on shelf for 10-12 days. I hope you all will try this recipe for your little ones. Please share your experience too.

Wishing you all healthy cooking, happy living!

With love,

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Monday, 18 November 2013

We are back!

Little Laxmiji- Erishka's foot print
Heylos! Finally am back to 'Namma Bengaluro'. After a long Diwali vacation in 'Gujarat', we are back to bangalore.

It was 20`degree temp and just a cold breeze when we landed BIAL. I call it 'awesome' climate especially after being stickily baked in Gujarat. And soon after we got in the cab, it started drizzling and it didn't stop till late evening.

Bangalore was painted Saffron as Gujarat CM Narandra Modi was suppose to visit alongwith other BJP leaders.  Our driver was discussing politics and how Bangalore has changed since 2000 with my hubby while Erishka was calmly at the back seat.

My Little one 'Erishka' had real fun like watching sparklers, playing with rangoli colours, bike rides at night-time, visiting grandma's play house, playing with her new friend Kevalya, riding Rishabh's cycle, serving tea to nana-nani (Maternal grand parent) and the list goes endless.

She learned many things and also got spoiled too. Her increasing anxiety while separation was an endless problem. And also her demanding actions to get my attention was complex to understand and resolve.

Apart from our Diwali celebrations @Jamnagar we also visited many places like Dwarka, Porbandar (Birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi), Junagadh and Rajkot. We tried our best to taste all possible street delicacies in this region called 'Kathiawad'. My Personal favourite is 'Kawa' at Tadav ni par- Jamanagar and lunch @ Chotila highway (While traveling towards Ahmadabad).

Her dance sumo-sumo, tata-sumo (standing with hands on hips and moving it right -left right) was loved my all, she also used to enact like an old lady with her head down and bent knees, we called it Doshi-Doshi and her flying kiss was only for the lucky ones.

With Riddhi Fia at Porbandar Chowpathy
What else? We had an unlimited fun with yummy food and colourful festivals.

She enjoyed carrying the colourful bags belonging to Riddhi Fia on her shoulder and waving ta-ta to all, she slept calmly with Kunjal fia on the swing (After getting bit a high ;-) with Doodh-coldrink @Dwarka, reading story books on the lap of the Daddu (Kiran Kaka), going to play house with her Daadi and firing sparklers with dad and going to malls with Riddhi Fia-Fua and enjoying story-session with actions narration by her naani.

This Diwali was special as it was for the first time that Erishka was celebrating this festival @ Jamnagar and with so many relatives.
I wish her many more sparkling and colourful Diwali in the coming years.

Wish you all a belated Diwali greetings and a prosperous new year.

With love,

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