Thursday, 30 May 2013

"Awesome Himachal"


“Awesome” One word to describe my days spent in Himachal though I covered a very small portion of the beautiful state in a very short time, I am in love with its natural beauty and can’t wait to go back again and explore it in more details.

It was magical, serene, alive, idyllic and a land of smiles.....I have never seen people so happy and chirpy everywhere I looked. What made it more special was, it was the first place we ever visited as a family of 4, yes!!! My own family of 4 :-)

If I really want to write about my trip to my heart’s content, I would have to start a new blog dedicated to it...so I have decided to sum it up in few things that I would love to share with everyone.

Here we go, highlights of my trip:

Our stay: After a lot of research and considerations to a lot of things we finalised on 2 places to stay. The first one was “Bird and Chirps” a home stay about 2 kms out of Dalhousie  The place is not only amazing; it is a breath taking property. You have one of the best views of the valley from any room. We decided to try a home stay because we were travelling with 2 small kids and we wanted comfort of home away from home. We were not disappointed at all. The hospitality of the owners was par excellence, from one amazing meal after another, to looking after the kids while we were eating, to sending milk for kids daily without fail-without even asked for it, to all the guests eating together, to the host waiting for the last guest to eat.....it was true personification of the saying “Athiti devo bhava”.

From there we moved to Mc leodgunj, to a fully commercial hotel. At Mc leodgunj we were looking for some privacy and wanted to spend the last 2 days just idling away but we didn’t want to miss the amazing views of the valley. Our hotel “Triund” gave us all. From a warm and friendly staff, to an amazing view and good food, we loved everything about the place.



View from our room @ Dalhousie

View @ Mc Leodgunj


Excursions: 
We made a conscious decision to not travel to Himachal during snow, because of a lot of reasons like both the kids are too small to remember snow later, and both are highly susceptible to cold....etc etc

This gave us an opportunity to travel to a lot of places around Dalhousie and Dharamshala which are normally closed down because of snow. A snapshot of it is posted below


Kalatop @ Dalhousie

Mc Leodgunj

Mc Leodgunj

Dharamshala
Dharamshala stadium


The inseparables
Both our kids though were very friendly at home but I never did notice how close they are. This can be because I am always around them and it’s mostly three of us together. During the trip I realized how much both of them are dependent on each other. My younger one who was only about 11 months refused to be without his brother even for 1 minute, he wanted to do everything that the elder one was doing (Witness below) and was not ready to leave him even for a minute. Their interaction and love for each other was heart warming.
My life

My life

Lookkkkkk below the table!!!!!!!!!!!

My life

The people
One of the memories for me will always be happy and talkative people. The simplicity and naivety of them was heart melting. Here I would like to mention the members of both the places where we stayed. At Mcloedgunj our elder son fell sick and the staff of “The Triund” were so sweet and caring towards him.....because of their compassionate behaviour even the illness didn’t bring down our spirits...
Our taxi guy

Sweet kid

The shy guide who refused to look at camera

Our taxi guy
The post will not be complete without a special mention of our taxi guy..”Deep baba”. He is a 65 year old guy who has one of the sweetest voice and claims that he knows almost everything about everything (which he doesn’t :-)). He even claimed he knew Ambanis :-) and owns a bunglow ..but what made him special was his spirit to work even at his age, his innumerable memories about the region and his love for people around him.


His bunglow  :-) (His photo is shared above)

In addition to this following are a few snapshots to sum up my wonderful experience at Himachal..


My Family

No.1

No. 1


Muscles!!!

Mastiiiiii



Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Fun and Learn games for Kids

Few more fun and learn indoor kids games focused on comprehensive language learning. (Those who are new please read FUN AND LEARN)

 




As I explained earlier it is advisable to laminate all the cue cards and these can be used again and again later.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Did she cheat?


With a trembled voice and gloom in her eyes

She entered the room pale and blank
A look at the paper and her heart sank

Blood rushing through her veins
Sweat pooling through her manes

The paper was black and white
The numbers, mocking at her plight

Hands clenched tightly on a torn piece of paper
It was her lifeline
One look at it, she will be fine

If she excels their dreams will fly
If she cheats her’s will die....

Results are out today, she has passed but her home wears an abandoned gaze,

She has passed, passed on
To a better world devoid of them and their expectations

Photo credit chriskoehler.deviantart.com

The details of the contest can be found here

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Travel tips for kids



This summer we will be taking our first family vacation. All four of us together for the first time!!!!!!. We have been on a few trips before but nothing that required so much travelling or staying out of home for more than a day with 2 kids. So keeping this in mind I started planning for it months in advance to avoid the stress at the last moment. Following is a list of few things that have helped me in last few years and that I have incorporated for this trip also.

1. Research and organise (a lottt). If you are travelling to a new place or a touristy destination research the place well in advance. Figure out if the place has any child/kids attraction (Relevant to your kid’s age). Research the hotel that you are planning to stay in. Make sure to talk to the hotel representative and clarify the age of kids travelling with you and any specifications like extra bed, hygiene, accessibility etc. If possible carry a list of tourist attractions of the place (it lessens the headache later)

2. Talk to your kids: If your kid is 3 or more it makes sense to mentally prepare them about the upcoming trip. I started a month ago and explained again and again that we will be travelling continuously and we will not be at home for a lot of days. You can even play games around the travel to make it easier for them and for you later

3. Medicines: I have a master-list of medicines that I carry with me whenever I travel. Though it was pain making it the first time but it has worked like magic. It was worth the effort. I have copy pasted my master grid for reference (I have removed the name of medicines)



No.1 (4 yrs)
No.2 (11months)
Mom Dad

Medicine
Dosage
Medicine
Dosage
Medicine 
Fever

Stomach infection

Acidity/Gas

 NA
Rashes
Eyes
Ears





Cut
Antiseptic cream
Same

Antiseptic powder

Band-aid

Bruises
Spray
Same
Spray
Balm
Balm
Cream
Cream
Cold-Running nose


Cold only cough


Cold antibiotic


Headache
NA 
Vertigo
Burns







If this looks complicated, uncomplicate it, simplify it or make completely new but put in the effort once and you can always use and modify later if required. In addition to above my medical box also has a mosquito repellent, thermometer, antiseptic and cotton.

4. Medical record: Make sure to carry the medical records with you. God forbid if an unforeseen medical problem arrives you should have their medical history handy (We carry their medical files without any extensive reports)

5. Packing: For clothes I follow a simple rule: “Carry double”/atleast 2 pair/each day for my 4 yr old and have modified it to “Carry 4 times” for my 11 month old.

o Extra extra extra pair of socks, undergarments and hankies (more than twice as per your estimate)

Carrying so many extra clothes will result into lots of luggage. Some tricks that I use are: Carry 2-3 common jeans/dark colored bottoms, do not carry inner vests extra (It’s ok if they do not wear them on few days), water wash socks on alternate days and carry less number, and carry similar colored clothes- can be mix-matched with a common bottom.

Sort and organise the clothes even in the luggage. I create rows and keep them methodically like Innerwear rows (for all), Night dress for all, Toiletries for all, Light travel wear for all, and good clothes for the trip for all etc.

Toiletries bag: I normally carry fresh sealed smaller bottles of anything that can explode like shampoo, creams etc. And along with that I carry a lot of zip pouches for my return journey. All open bottles sealed and packed in them.

6. Carry a handy travel bag: It is imperative to carry one handy travel bag. Think of everything under the sun that you could need only during the travel (Air/Train/Bus/Car accordingly). Things that I will always keep for my kids are:

o Extra clothes: Depending on the time of travel to reach the destination keep one or more extra pair of clothes

o Snacks for each child

o Some toys specially favourites. If possible keep a few new toys to keep them interested

o Extra diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, cups, glasses

o I always keep a roll of garbage bin bags with me

o Flashlight

o Cotton (If flying, can plug the kid’s ears)

o Sanitizers

o Baby Carrier (if travelling with a baby)

o Toiletries pouch

o Basic medicine for fever and cream etc for cuts

7. Brand your kids: If your kid can move on his own, brand him. Put a tag in his/her pocket with details like name, contact information of parents, travelling to and fro details, flight/train details etc etc.

8. Checklist: Plan a checklist in advance. Take a print and double check everything before leaving the house. My checklist is a veryyy detailed one which includes things like carrying towels, sunglasses, shoes, sanitizers etc etc.

In addition to this don’t forget one very important thing...close your eyes and pray to God before leaving the house..He will make sure you, your family and everyone around your family will have enough patience and love to endure and ignore the kids through the trip..........and inspite of all the planning if anything (most likely most of the things) goes wrong, put it behind you, don’t think about it and....have fun and don’t forget to add your magic to the trip and build beautiful memories

Sunday, 12 May 2013

How to teach young children about sexual abuse!!

Image courtesy :Fanpop.com


As a parent we worry day and night about our kid’s safety and wish to protect our children from any hardships and problems in life but the fact is, they have to face the world alone. We cannot be physically present with them everywhere but what can be with them are “the skills and knowledge” that we can help them acquire. 

Sexual abuse is a topic that I always thought I will not have to face for next few years but with the latest incidents unearthing about sexual offences against 3 and 4 yr olds, the worst nightmares of all parents are coming true. 

Hence I thought it was imperative that I talk to my 4 year old about it. Easy said than done... 

After wrecking my brains for few days I realized that I cannot talk to him straight about it. It will have to be indirect but in a simple enough way for his young brain to understand and comprehend. I divided the topic in two parts: 

1) Awareness of private body parts 

A 3-4 yr old is generally aware of his/her different body parts like hands, legs, face, eyes, bum etc etc. But are generally not aware of which body parts are private and should not be touched. I went about it very simply, I told him that these are the 2 parts of body which no one is allowed to touch other than mom and dad and that also only during bath and washroom time....no one else is allowed to touch him there . 

(He is very close to his uncle and often has a bath with him) but I realized that we cannot increase more people on the list, else he will not be able to comprehend the difference between who is allowed and who is not allowed. Hence off goes his uncle and the bum tickle monster, naughty slaps on the bums etc 

The key here is to repeat and ask them to repeat. This is something that he/she at this young age is not capable to understand in its true entirety. And generally I am a big advocate of explaining the logic and reasons to kids when asking them to understand something but this was something that he had to learn by heart (Each bath time I repeat the question diligently...which are the 2 body parts that no one is suppose to touch OR who can touch these parts and who can’t?) 



2) Good touch and bad touch 

Second part of teaching was to make him understand the difference between a friendly touch and a bad touch. If this is not explained properly, either it will not work at all or it can backfire, the kid can become sensitive about even a friendly cheek pull. 

Here it is important to remember that in our society it is very common for even strangers or people we hardly know, to touch and kiss our kids. However I strongly discourage every parent to allow it but it is something which is widely acceptable hence your kid should somewhat be able to understand the difference between a good/friendly touch and a bad touch. 

In order to make it more clear and simple I play a game with my kid with two kinds of stickers’ smiley face and upset face. 

In this game, every time when I do a bad touch he shows an upset face sticker and vice versa. For every correct answer he gets a jelly or whatever we decide earlier. 

Some examples of a bad touch can be a long rub on the back or a pinch anywhere or even a prolonged cheeks pulling followed by a lot of touch......and example of good touch can be a small kiss, a small hug, cheeks pulled for smaller duration etc etc. In essence any touch which is prolonged or any touch which is like a rub qualifies as a bad touch. 

The key is to keep them motivated and attentive enough to play this game often. Again we have to repeat and talk about it again and again for them to remember it. 

It may take some time for the kids to understand and comprehend any of this at all. Mine still doesn't get the good touch bad touch part completely. 

As a parent I urge all other parents to realize the importance of talking about it at an early age (I wish we didn't have to but we need to) and continue talking about it for many more years till they are old enough to clearly understand it (No idea what that age is but I am sure I will know when he is old enough)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

India leads with Highest Maternal and First day Infant Deaths

“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.” ~ Jane Weideman

Chances that a mother and baby will survive their first day is lowest in India. India has shown impressive economic growth in last few decades but any growth is inadequate if we do not protect the most vulnerable citizen of the country “pregnant women and the newborns”....Read my full post here:

" Their last summer "







Under the red and orange of Gulmohar, like its crown is on fire

Two drops of tear unify with a blind stare

Quickly the flamboyance of red engulfs the white of fear 

Like it could sense the urgency of adolescence blending with desire

The slender green leaves hiding the moments of tender needs

Clasps and holds, chases and misses,

Laughs and tears, teases and kisses,

Virtue and purity, lust and love,

Soft and rough,

Grips and grins, loss and wins

Of their last summer together.... 

The grandeur of the full bloom has bowed down, 

To create a memoir of their love forever, 

Every summer will remember their last summer together!!!



Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Super Woman- Super Myth!!



Why is Superman a fictional character and Superwoman an urban reality? 

Why do women have to keep all of it together “Manage home, Manage office, Manage kids, Manage husband and Manage relatives and still have a life??? 

If you miss even one from the above list you are not successful and god forbid if u move down the ladder, from doing everything, to doing just a few things. You don’t exist. 

Yes it is right that men don’t have to chose, that men have it all...why?? Because they are married to super woman! 

Well superwoman doesn’t exist..its a myth. Apologies for breaking the bubble but its true. Women who are labelled as superwoman is a breed of overly burdened, overly tired dead women walking around...shouldering all responsibilities. 

No human being can multitask so much and still have a life, ask any “super woman” you know. 

Super woman is a phenomenon created by men. It is a myth that gives all the power to men and all the responsibilities to women. 

Behind every super woman is a lot of heart breaks, marathons, missed birthday partys, missed deadlines, sulky kids and bulky husbands!! 

For some being a superwoman is bestowed upon like a medal because all women they know do it, some do it for the passion of a lot of things, some do it to impress others, some just for the sake of it but I would request all super women to pleaseeee stop, take a break, take a breath, slow down.... 

Sit, have a sip of coffee, have a glass of red...and think of what really is important to you. 

Men are not answerable to anyone for having it all or not having anything, they are not apologetic, and neither should you be. Get out of the guilt trip, drop some items from the superwoman list. 

There is no need to have it all, you can let go. No one is judging you, yes no one is...because anyone who taunts you for leaving career for kids, leaving kids at daycare for office etc etc, is a no one, or should be a no one. 

You have every right to be a normal happy person. You have the right to just sit and not do it all or not do most of it. 

You have the right to be just a normal person!!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Fun and learn (some quick and easy learning game/ideas for kids)


Some more fun games for comprehensive language learning. (Those who are new please read FUN AND LEARN) These games are mostly focused on improving the vocabulary.

Age 4 years and above

Shopping list: We make a family shopping list for our monthly shopping and as a tradition each member writes on the list what he/she wants. My son is allowed 4 items. He writes these on the list on his own.

Menu card: We maintain a menu for each day (Whiteboard hanged in the kitchen). This is maintained by  No.1 our Mom’s cafe manager. He is in-charge of entering the date and specific menu for the day after consultation with the chef. In addition to the meals, any extra chit pits like cheese, biscuits, jelly is available only after writing on the extra cards
What you need: Any note book/Whiteboard/Blackboard and a lot of strength to encourage your child to maintain it on a daily basis.
Keep some small extra cards for the chit pits.

Shopping trip: We highlight one area of a room as a department store, where I keep lots of cards with different items on them (not written, drawn or pictures on one side). After this I handover a shopping list to my kid and a trolley (No.2’s pram) and ask him to read the item, search for it, pick it, put it and pay for it.
Please start with very simple items on the list. Use the words that he already knows and is comfortable with.
After the shopping, encourage him to write the name of the item on the back of the picture card.

I keep laminating all the cards that we make during the games. These can be used again and again for reference and I will keep them for no.2 

Summer Tips for kids!!!


Its summer time ...its vacation time, masti time and its time for sick kids and worried moms. Hence its time to take extra care!!!!!

Here is a list of my 7 summer tips for all worried moms:


1) It’s important for the kids to remain hydrated but its not that simple with kids right? It is correct to assume that kids will not willingly drink as much water as required by the body specially during summers. Some ways to enhance water/liquid consumption are:

a.Summer fruits. .Replace one of the snack break with high water content fruits like Water melom, muskmelon, grapes etc. High in water and kids favourite. Other High water content food includes cucumber, tomato, carrots, beet etc.

b. Cold soups (A lot of easy recipes available with my dear friend google)

c. Frequent water breaks during playtime: Yes moms it is an absolute must. All play times must be interrupted after every 30 min for a water break. ....It can be just a sip of water forced down his throat....and one of the breaks can be a Mama’s special cooling squash.

d.   Icecreams, popsicles, kulfis...yess these help but make sure to NOT serve them directly from the fridge. Some the tricks that I do with Ice-cream  are:

  • Let it wait out a few minutes after taking out from the freezer and mix room temperature yoghurt with it, it improves the texture and makes it more creamy
  • You can also add cut fruits and fresh cream and whip it a little 
  • Make Popsicle from fruit juices (Favorite is Watermelon....I add different colored jellys to it)
  • Quick kulfi: Mix milk with any jam, jelly, fresh fruit pulp. Add a little roohafza and freeze it in moulds.


       2) Meals: Normal meals for Indian kids are high in fat and calorie content which is more difficult to digest during summers. Make sure to include easy to digest and light meals like khichdi, curd rice etc specially during lunch . Ghee can be reduced or if possible replaced with light cooking oil. Avoid spices.  Morning milk can be replaced with slightly diluted milkshakes (Preferably without cream).

3) Avoid outdoor plays during afternoons. Afternoon siesta can be followed by some fun and learn activities @ home (Best step out only before 10 am or post 5 pm)

4) Invest in good Sunscreen for kids: Its expensive but important....yes invest in a high SPF content sunscreen for kids. Chose from the options available in market which are designed especially for kids. I highly recommend ChiccoSun spray“. (I bought from firstcry.com)