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What to pack and tips for a beach vacation with a toddler

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What to pack and tips for a beach vacation with a toddler

If the title of the post was not a good enough hint, I am just back from a refreshing and much-awaited vacation from Goa. Yes!! Goa, the land with some of the best beaches in the world, beautiful churches, fun, frolic and amazing seafood. Before I go on a tangent and start describing my vacation in detail, let me get a grip. This post is all about vacation tips for having a memorable beach holiday with kids especially toddlers. So without further ado here we go:

Clothes: The thumb of the rule should be two changes of clothes for each day of your vacation. If your toddler is not potty trained yet, then carry diapers and the extra set of clothes. Jeans are not the attire for a beach holiday. Choose airy and lightweight fabric like cotton while heading for a beach destination with kids. You can also carry 2-3 swimsuits for the beach and pool. It usually gets a little chilly at night near the beach so you should carry a light jacket or a shrug which the kids can wear.

Sunblock: Look for “waterproof” or “water-resistant” on the package. A sunscreen with SPF 30 will block almost 97% of the sun’s rays if applied every two hours. Also, make sure that it is paraben free for the sensitive skin of children. Make sure that you let the suncream absorb in their skin before they venture into the water. Also once they are out of the water to dry their skin completely with a towel before reapplying the cream.

Accessories: Beach toys, hats, sun umbrella, float and sunglasses are a must carry if you are taking the kids to a beach destination. No beach holiday can be complete without making some sand castles so carry a sand bucket and shovel. In case you are travelling by air like we did, you can also buy or rent these from the various shops near the beach. Also, carry extra towels for each outing on the beach because believe me you are gonna need it.

Food: While you may enjoy feasting on exotic seafood like prawns, scallops, lobster (*drooling), it may not be a great idea to let your toddler also have these food items unless there are no proven allergies. Also remember, the cooking techniques and ingredients might be different from what you usually have so it is better to err on the side of caution. Fresh fruits, juices, rice, pasta, veggies are great options for children.

Hotel: While you may not spend a lot of time in your hotel while at a beach vacation but it still pays to stay at a kid-friendly hotel when you travel with kids. For those days when the sun is too hot or the tide is too high, your toddler might have to spend time indoors and a hotel which has amenities like a kiddie pool, play area or indoor game room will be appreciated. Also, read the online reviews of vacation resorts to find out whether the staff is kid-friendly, toddlers are welcome at all the restaurants, housekeeping is open to accept requests like ice for a sunburn or a kiddie meal.

Apart from the above you also need to be cautious regarding sea creatures like jellyfishes, unexpected tides, and getting in the eyes of kids etc while at the beach.

I hope these tips will help you have the perfect relaxing and wonderful vacation at the beach destination with your toddler. And yes, don’t forget to carry your camera because this trip will give you a lot of memory making moments.

DIY Sky Theme Birthday Party

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The first birthday of a child is one of the most special moments in a parent’s life. I wanted to do something very very memorable and unique for my adorable son Shaunak on his 1st birthday party. I first discussed my ideas with Shashank, my husband, and talking to him helped me get several more ideas. We explored numerous banquet halls and finally zeroed on our favourite restaurant Tabla and its banquet hall, giving utmost priority to the delicious quality food we wanted our guests to enjoy. The hall was simply beautiful and the ceiling was the thing to notice! Deciding on the banquet hall earlier helped me plan the decoration better. Later I spent around 3 months planning and working on my ideas. The family support, parents, in-laws, brother and especially Shashank helped me pull it off successfully. The party was attended by over 100 guests.

Theme Selection

I love colours, my husband is an aerospace freak and we both love Blue and Shaunak had started liking the planes and helicopters, had started noticing the moon and stars and so was the theme Sky! And it was totally a handmade party!

Kite_Invitations

The Invites

I made around 100 handmade invitations, handwritten, hand cut, hand painted, depicting a kite coming out of the cloud with 3 bows, colourful and bright I wanted them to be and of course a personal touch to each. When at the party guests came in I remember everyone telling me how much they liked it. Many guests made it a point to come to the party due to the invitation itself.

And now lets’ start with the party day:

Welcome Board

Board

We placed this stand at the entrance of the hall and my idea was to welcome the guests giving them hint about what is going to be inside. Generally, this stand is used to place a printout with information like name, time, date and venue. These details I wrote on a cloud and pasted with a paper tape on the ground floor near the lift.

I made this with colourful paper strips, the art called Quilling, depicts Sky elements… Sun, Clouds, Kites, Hot Air Balloon, Rainbow, Rain, Umbrella, Aeroplane and a rocket, and of course Shaunak in 7 colours of Rainbow… Border made with Blue handmade paper and rhinestone.

Welcome Board

Stage and Backdrop

We decided to go for the party decorator for balloons and stage decoration. We gave them our ideas and asked them to make a rainbow helium balloon arch on the backdrop. Happy Birthday, letters- I did cut these out using KR Birthday Letters font on White ivory, painted the borders with Shimmer Green acrylic and flames with Orange and Yellow. And the name SHAUNAK using 7 colours of the rainbow, cut using colour papers in Arial font. The stars were placed by the decorator. And on the stage they placed, huge white clouds made using cardboard.

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The Ceiling Decoration

I decorated the ceiling of the banquet hall with clouds and sky elements handmade, hand cut – Sun, Moon, Stars, Hot Air, Balloons, Rockets, UFOs, Helicopters, Planes, Kites, Birds, Raindrops, Umbrellas, rainbow clouds and much more.

Ceiling

First Things Table

I arranged a table of Shaunak’s FIRST THINGS~ His first car, first toy, first clothes, first cloth he was wrapped into, his first artwork, first photograph, first shampoo bottle, hair oil bottle, massage oil bottle, his first hairbrush and many more. Have saved everything I can. Waiting for that day when Shaunak will enjoy looking at them and understand and feel the feeling behind saving it.

Table of firsts

The Orange box of memories

Chose one photo each of the first 12 months and made a vertical flip collage, fitted it into a wooden box and coloured it Orange!

Orange Box

Message clouds for Shaunak

I cut two huge size clouds and colourful raindrops and wrote two beautiful famous quotes for Shaunak and placed them each on the two pillars in the hall.

Message Cloud

Welcome Drink for the guests

Welcome Drink for the guests was served in a glass with the White straw and a tiny cloud. Hand cut clouds out of White ivory paper and hunted at least 7 supermarkets for the desired size of White straws!

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Cloud Cookies and Rainbow cupcakes

I ordered for cloud-shaped cookies from my friend and baking expert- Sonali Mitra. She even made the cookie cutter by herself at home! Cookies were yummy and super suited my theme.

Cloud Shaped Cookies

Rainbow cupcakes were ordered from the bakery shop from where we ordered the birthday cake too, Just Bake. I asked them to place Cadbury Gems in rainbow colors on top of each cupcake and it was a big it among the kids.

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Birthday Cake

A Pure Chocolate Space Shuttle Cake, of course, Shashank’s choice! It was definitely out of this world! It was ordered from Just Bake bakery shop.

Space shuttle Cake

Menu Clouds

I wanted everything in the hall to suit the theme. So made these hand cut, handwritten menu clouds cut out of White ivory and dashed with the blue pen.

Menu Clouds

The buffet menu

Cream of Broccoli Soup, Veg Rekak, Papadi Chaat, Macaroni Chaat, Bhindi Do Pyaza, Veg Jalfrezi, Paneer Kofta Curry, Veg Manchurian, Noodles, Dal Makhani, Sambar, Rasam, Rice, Peas Pulao, Breads- Naan, Tandoori Roti, Pickles, Papadams, Curd and Sweet Dishes- Angoori Gulabjamun, Butterscotch Icecream, Birthday Cake, Cookies and Cupcakes.

Return Gifts

I planned to make something that would put the guests in awe and that they would love to place it in their homes. I made 85 of these handmade mementos! On the glass bottles, I placed Shaunak’s 1st Birthday tag in a cloud shape on a Green crape paper frill, and filled the bottle with four sky elements- an Aeroplane, Pinwheel, Hot Air Balloon and a Birdie. My mom made these beautiful frills, she stitched them in the middle to make them firm and stay on the bottles, it also made it easy for me to stick them onto the bottles.

Return Gifts

The second return gift was floating Tea-light candle holders, again, made +85 pieces of these sing foam, kundans, pearls and ball chains.

Return gifts

 Both of these were placed in a cloudy brown bag. Handmade bags made out of brown paper and hand painted clouds with White acrylic, with thank you tags attached, and a tiny quilled gift on each. My friend Charuthilatha Akkala helped me make these quilled gifts.

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Other attractions of the party were 1-minute games with the anchor, nail art, tattoos, balloon twisters, etc.

Sensory Activity for Kids- Mud Pie Kitchen

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My daughter loves Mud, absolutely loves it and I hate it. I hate the mess it makes and the clean up required afterwards, not to mention all the germs that one might get on their hands. That being said, I also understood the duality I was showing by stopping my daughter to play in the mud. Here I was talking all about green living, getting kids closer to nature and connecting our family to natural products and yet could not stand to see my daughter playing with mud.

Ever since I saw Rashmie and Pari’s Mud Pie Kitchen on their blog, I was itching to get one going for Samaira. I kept on delaying it thinking I need to get some cookie cutters, moulds, the proper place to set the kitchen but today I cut those shackles loose and went ahead with setting the mud pie kitchen for my daughter and my niece with whatever I had at hand.

Okay, the best thing about our new house is that I have a patch of land both in the front yard and backyard of our house. We haven’t done much with the garden except getting the grass going and this patch of fresh grass is the first thing I see every morning, I can’t even begin to tell you how happy it makes me.

I decided to set up the kitchen in our backyard with an old rickety table that was lying around. I got some utensils from Sam’s play kitchen and some disposable ones which were lying around. Since we have a vegetable garden being planted right now (Yay!!!) there was plenty of potting soil and mud for the kids to make mud pies with.

I didn’t give any directions to the kids regarding how to play with the kitchen and thought I will just observe how they play. For my daughter who is three years old playing with the mud unabashedly was the most beautiful sensory activities ever. She just couldn’t get enough of squishing, feeling and kneading the mud dough with her hands and fingers.

My niece who is 4.5 years old started with making mud pies and quickly decided that she wanted to make mud cupcakes. Since we don’t have any flowers yet in the garden she thought of decorating the cupcakes with grass. But they were looking quite bland so we thought of using some real food to accessorize the mud cupcakes. So I got some almost finished cornflakes, a little macaroni and these coloured fryums (I think that is what they are called). The kids got so excited to see these toppings and quickly got to decorating their creations.

By this time the kids were having a lot of fun but I was finding it hard to control my urge to direct their play the way I wanted to.

This was such a lesson for me; as an adult, we might want to our kids to do what we deem is appropriate action or the sensible thing to do. But if we want kids to have fun we should just let them be and mean it.

When I left them to their own devices that is when they really got creative. A pizza was being made and a piece of thermocol was being grated as cheese on top of it. Ingenious isn’t it? They even made a pretend oven under the table where they were cooking their pizza. At other ends a cake was being baked with lots of raisins and butter ( more soil). Could I have thought of these things? Probably not!

After the kids were through, the clean up was really easy, I just got a garden hose and gave a thorough cleaning to the whole area. (Bonus I watered the garden too). But don’t let the absence of a garden deter you from letting kids play in a mud pie kitchen, lots of people have set up the mud pie kitchens in balconies, pathways, passage etc.

By the end of it ( a good two hours) even I was thinking of all the ways I could make the mud pie kitchen more fun and interesting for the kids. I want them to enjoy this kitchen with all five senses. The kids want more and I sure want them to have more fun. So I will be tinkering with the kitchen off and on and would definitely share the progress with all of you.

The major takeaways for me as a mom during this beautiful sensory activity was that Kids need to be kids. I can’t keep them in a controlled, sanitized and protected the environment all the time and expect them to become curious, creative and exploratory personalities. Another important lesson was that we parents need structure, things planned out and an infrastructure even when the play is involved but kids certainly don’t need all that. All they need is to be uninhibited, explore and have loads of fun.

Mini Vanilla Heart Cakes

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Mini Vanilla Heart Cakes

 Ingredients

 3/8 cup butter at room temperature + extra to grease

3/8 cup powdered sugar

2 small eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla

3/8 cup plain flour

¼ tsp baking powder

Directions

 1. Grease the base of a cake tin and then line it with parchment paper. Brush some butter on top of this parchment as well. Preheat the oven to 190° Celsius.

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2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and keep aside.

3. Beat the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add the vanilla and beat again.

4. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon, mixing while making sure that the air incorporated while beating is not lost.

5. Pour the batter (it’ll be a little thick) into the prepared cake tin and flatten the top gently with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes or till a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The top will be nice and brown.

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6. Run a knife around the cake to release the sides from the tin. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then upturn it onto a wire rack and cool completely.

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7. While the cake cools, make the buttercream frosting (recipe below).

8. While still on the wire rack, press a heart-shaped cookie cutter on the cake and cut through. Push it upwards with your fingers from under the wire rack. Repeat till all the cake is finished up.

 

9. Spread a little frosting on a heart, then sandwich with another one. Spread a little more frosting on top and leave as is, or decorate with sprinkles/stars/silver drageés.

 

Your kids will have lots of ideas; mine had the brilliant idea of decorating with coloured stars!!

 Pink Buttercream Frosting

 70 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

140 g icing sugar

2 Tbsp milk

Pink food colour

1. Beat the butter till soft. Add the sugar in parts, beating well after each addition.

2. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time, and only if the buttercream appears dry.

3. Add a few drops of food colour and stir well till the colour is uniformly mixed into the frosting.

 Notes:

 1. Kids will love cutting through the cake with the cookie cutter, though you’ll have to extract the cut shapes!

2. Spreading the frosting is also relatively simple, just give your child a butter knife and ask to spread. If you want to go fancy, you can pipe it on the top.

3. Decorating is definitely the kid’s area – even toddlers can do this!! Give them the raw material and let them do what they want!

4. Other modifications to this can be:

Coffee sponge with coffee glaze

Chocolate sponge with chocolate ganache

Pink Cake with white buttercream frosting

Whole Wheat Chocolate Walnut Muffins -Healthy Lunch Recipe for kids

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The schools have reopened and one of the biggest headache for moms is planning for Lunch recipes for kids. My daughter like most other toddlers her age likes to have two-three varieties in her lunch box. Although I love to give her variety of food groups in her meal, it is not always easy to think of three-four things to keep in the lunch box every day. I definitely don’t want to put any junk food in her lunch box but would still like to keep the food interesting and attractive to her.

During my quest for healthy, wholesome, tasty and easy recipes for Sam’s lunch box, I came across lots of recipes on Whole Wheat Muffins. Now Muffins is universally loved by kids and adults alike. It is a quick baking food which is not as sweet as cakes and can have lots of ingredients to vary the taste.

I decided to make Whole Wheat Chocolate Walnut Muffins which is a great healthy option for lunch box. Here is the recipe for muffins:

Whole Wheat Chocolate Walnut Muffins Recipe
Ingredients

(Makes 12 muffins)

Dry Ingredients

1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 cup sugar ( using palm sugar will make it even healthier)

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 Tsp Salt

Wet Ingredients

1/4 cup oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Egg (If you don’t want to put eggs you can add vinegar or applesauce)

1 cup warm water (or milk)

Other Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped walnuts and raisins

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200° C.

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients i.e. flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine the wet ingredients i.e. Oil, vanilla extract, egg and milk and whisk for a while.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and fold them in with a wooden spatula until just combined. The dough will be sticky and not watery. Don’t overmix because it will make the gluten in the flour stringy and the muffins will be hard.

Stir in the walnuts and raisins.

Now spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tray. (You can use Muffin liners but if you have run out of them like I did then simply grease your muffin tray)

You should fill the muffin tray almost to the top.

Bake the muffins for almost 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These will remain in the fridge for a few days and you can add them one at a time to your little ones’ lunchbox as a tasty treat. I baked some with less sugar for the adults which we can have at tea time. Between my 3-year-old daughter and my 5-year-old niece, I don’t think these muffins will survive for more than a day or two. The smiles and “more please” requests make it worthwhile to bake these every once in a while.

10 Tough Questions Kids Ask And How To Answer Them

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Kids!! You can never know what’s going to come out of their mouths next! Being so adorably innocent, they tend to say exactly what they see or feel and they question anything and everything they don’t understand. The result can be hilarious but embarrassing as well!

While every kid is different, we find that there are some common difficult questions that many kids ask. This is probably because kids ask them based on what they see happening around them and the way the world runs is pretty similar everywhere. Here we list 10 of the most common difficult questions asked by young kids that can stump the most articulate among us!

10 Tough Questions Kids Ask

And How To Answer Them

1.    How does the baby come in Mommy’s tummy?

Ah, the top question on our list! Most kids see their own Moms or other relatives walk around with a big tummy for a while before having a baby in their arms. This begs the logical question – how did the baby get there in the first place? This is a question that can be asked as early as three years of age, so the answer would have to be age appropriate too. As far as possible, stick to true facts; and give out details on a need to know basis.

2.    What is that blue thing they’re pouring on the diaper?

You can’t watch TV without watching at least one ad for a sanitary napkin, and kids are bound to be puzzled. Most kids know that babies pee and poop all the while and need diapers, but there are no babies in these ads featuring mysterious blue liquids! A short answer about this being something for big girls and ladies will suffice at a young age and you can move on to more detail as they grow older. Try to avoid making it sound like an illness though!

3.    What happens when someone dies?

This question actually has a lot of readymade answers that have been going on for generations. He turns into a star in the sky; he’s now an angel and watching us; he’s in Heaven; he’s with God etc. For a deep question like this, there are hardly any right or wrong answers, although you’ll have your own opinions based on your religious or spiritual beliefs. You may share them with your child in the most simple way possible, although he might not really understand. Don’t worry too much about it; just ensure he isn’t overly terrified. Such questions usually arise when someone dear dies, so your child is probably looking for some kind of closure.

4.    Why are people of different colors?

With world news broadcast on our channels these days, your child is sure to notice that not all people look alike; some have slanted eyes, while some have darker skin. A long discourse on human races and genetics may go over their heads, so you can say simply that it’s just the way it is; people look different, even if they belong to the same country. Rather than explaining the difference, you can use this opportunity to focus on the similarities between humans, how our very basic needs and emotions remain the same the world over.

5.    Why are people calling that aunty ‘hot’?

Okay, we agree this one can stump anyone! When we were young, it was more about being cool, but today’s youngsters seem to have reversed temperatures! With words like ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’ being thrown around freely these days, kids might hear it from some place or the other. You might want to explain that it’s just a way some people describe others who look a certain way, but it’s better to use other words like, ‘nice’, ‘pretty’ or ‘good’. Saying someone is ‘hot’ has a clear sexual undertone to it, so try to avoid saying it yourself, at least in front of your children.

6.    Where is God?

Ooh, super tricky question! The easy but unsatisfactory answer – everywhere! Kids prefer solid, concrete answers, so you might have to go into a little more detail. Does He live in a temple or mosque? Is he in heaven in the sky? Your religious beliefs will obviously come into play here, but try to keep the answer as neutral as possible for a young child. Most kids find the thought of a protective God who always watches over them comforting, so you might want to start with that.

7.    Why is that girl on the street asking for money?

This question might be arising out of a mix of sheer curiosity and concern for the child who’s begging, so be sensitive with your answer. You can be completely honest – say that her parents don’t have any money for a home or food, so they have to ask people on the street. Having said that, you don’t want to encourage the begging mafia, so tell your child that there are laws in India about every child being in school and that she isn’t supposed to be doing this. It would be a wonderful lesson for your child if you could actively take some action to help such children in your locality.

8.    Why does Ramu kaka eat in the kitchen and not with us?

This actually does vary from family to family and explaining a centuries old class divide will get you nowhere with your 5 year old! In some families, the maids eat with the women folk, while the men eat separately and in some everyone eats together, community style. In most Indian nuclear families, however, the house help is busy serving or turning up fresh rotis as the family eats, and settles down for her own meal later, after the flurry of the family’s dinner. You can explain it truthfully, however it is done in your household, at the same time stressing how hard they’re working to get fresh food on your plate. It is a lovely practice to get the children to compliment the help whenever a dish has turned out really good.

9.    You’re okay, then why did you tell that uncle that you’re sick?

Oops, gotcha! We teach our kids to never lie or steal and then they catch us lying to our boss on the phone! They have every right to be confused! The best answer here is to simply not do it – bite the bullet and tell your boss the truth! As they grow older, they’ll realize that societal norms dictate some level of white lying and that you can’t always be brutally honest, a la Dr. Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory.

10. What is love?

Love is….. !!! Kids hear ‘I love you’s all over the place, and the varying contexts might puzzle them. You can explain that there are different kinds of love, and all of them are special in their own ways. You can also say that love isn’t exactly quantifiable and that different people show love in different ways. That’s an important life lesson that kids need to remember as they grow into teenagers too, because that’s when they’re going to see lots of tough love!

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and you’ll probably face many more googlies from your young ones as they grow. Saying you don’t know is a safe answer that’ll buy you some time to come up with a more suitable one and that is perfectly okay. No one has all the answers and you’re not a failure if you can’t come up with ones that are 100% safe and politically correct. Don’t worry if you stumble and fall, just dust yourself and get up again!

Too Many Toys By David Shannon

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 Oh, that annoying statement about the batteries not being included. That has got to be the number one reason I can’t stand battery operated toys, apart from the racket they create.

If you are drowning in a sea of plastic, (battery operated or otherwise) and are at your wit’s end, here’s a book that understands exactly how you feel. ‘Too Many Toys’ is written by the hilarious and super talented David Shannon, who is also the author of the naughty ‘No, David!’ book.

Title: ‘Too Many Toys’

Author: David Shannon

Spencer is a boy who could be anywhere between 3 and 10 years of age. His specialty, if you can call it that, is that he has heaps and heaps of toys, and he plays with ALL of them, often invading the entire house.

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Every imaginable kind of toy is featured in this delightful little book, and kids will love identifying the individual toys that Spencer has. Every illustration is extremely detailed, and more than half the fun in reading this book is in looking at all the little details hidden in the pictures.

Kids are sure to enjoy picking out their favorite among Spencer’s toys, but what about the parents? You’re definitely going to relate to poor Spencer’s Dad who has had the misfortune of stepping on Lego.

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Or to Spencer’s Mom, tripping over all the thingamajigs on the floor:

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The funny part here is that, even if this deluge of toys causes pain/annoyance to his parents, Spencer remains unperturbed through it all. He continues his adventures, which aren’t exactly limited to the playroom.

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Cub loved, loved this book!! We always say that he has ‘too many toys’, and he thought it was really funny to be the title of a book!

The prose is very simple, and even the youngest child will enjoy it. There’s only a sentence per page, with the focus being on the illustrations.

 This book really helps a kid to gain some perspective on the quantity of toys he has, by looking at it from a third person’s point of view. Everyone agrees that we’re raising a consumerist generation, who just can’t get enough of ‘stuff’. When we were young, birthdays and festivals were toy buying occasions, but nowadays every trip to the mall warrants something new. Every situation is touched upon in the book, even those little cars you get with kiddie burgers, or the mad craze of birthday party and return gifts.

Recommended for every child and parent, regardless of whether you guys are toy hoarders or not! Every time you see a scene like this

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And go like this

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You can remember that you’re not alone, and some other Mom on the other side of the world is dealing with the exact same situation.

When I Feel Angry: A Book on Anger Management for Kids

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We started our Reading corner recently and I am so happy to see such a wonderful response from all the readers. I am also excited that many of you want to contribute to this section with reviews and recommendations on books for kids. I am really pleased to announce the first guest post in this section is by Fabida, a reader and a blogger par excellence.

She is reviewing a book called “When I feel angry” which gives anger management tips to young kids. In our parenting journey, at some point, we all have to deal with an angry child and this book will help our children to understand the emotion of anger and deal with it. I loved the wonderful review by Fabida and I am sure you will love it too. Over to Fab!!

Book Review: When I Feel Angry

A huge thanks to Swapna for giving me an opportunity to guest post on her beautiful blog!! I love that she has started a ‘Reading Corner’ and I’m delighted to be contributing a post for it!!

Anger is an emotion that affects everyone, across continents, male and female, young and old, making it pretty much a universal feeling.

But like Cornelia Maude Spelman shows us in her book ‘When I Feel Angry’, it is how we respond to that emotion that makes us the person we are. This is an excellent book to help young children understand this anger and learn how to control anger.

Title: When I Feel Angry (Part of the ‘The Way I Feel’ series)

Author: Cornelia Maude Spelman

Illustrator: Nancy Cote

Plot: A little bunny finds that a lot of things make her angry, and when she feels angry she wants to do and say hurtful things. But she also learns that feeling something and doing those things are completely different and that she should take care not to hurt others in the process.

Review: This is a lovely little book, perfect for preschoolers. I would go so far as to say that even adults like us could gain quite a bit from reading this!!

Little Bunny first learns to identify the emotion called anger and she finds that many different events can trigger anger in her. All sorts of scenarios are covered – things that are out of our control can make us angry, something someone does or says to us, or sometimes even we can make ourselves angry when we get frustrated!

Nancy Cote has done a brilliant job of expressing Little Bunny’s facial expressions, especially since pictures are what’ll get to the child more than words. The text is in first person and in simple English, which will help children to express their feelings clearly, for example: ‘I feel angry when I have to stop my game’. This will be especially useful for children prone to tantrums, who can’t seem to use words to say exactly what they want.

The book also provides positive ways to control anger, anger management techniques and ways to curb violent impulses like wanting to hit someone. In the kind of world we have today, these lessons can’t be underestimated. My son gets angry quite frequently, but when I remind him of the book, he does make an effort to calm down (though some explosions are inevitable!!).

I would whole heartedly recommend this book to all mothers, however old your child is, and whether they have an anger problem or not. Learning to control your anger and express your feelings are skills that everyone needs and your child will be grateful to you long after the bedtime book reading sessions are done.

Here are a few more recommendations for other books for young kids in the same genre:

Mean Soup – Horace comes home at the end of a very bad day, but his mother knows just how to fix his mood!! A book that shows children that changing their mood is in their hands.

When Sophie gets Angry – Really, Really Angry – Sophie explodes with anger when things don’t go her way. The book depicts realistic reactions that children have and ways to calm themselves. Tip: Good for kids with siblings!!

Nina in That Makes Me Mad – A lot of everyday things make Nina mad, but then she also learns that she can’t always have her own way! Kids will relate well to the funny incidents in Nina’s life.

When we were younger, most of us were told that we weren’t supposed to feel angry and that an angry child was a ‘bad’ child. But thanks to books like these, we can teach our children that anger is normal and all we need to do is learn to handle it!!

Fabida Abdulla is a former software engineer turned stay at home Mother Lion to her four year old son, whom she calls ‘The Cub’. She blogs about her crazy life at Shocks and Shoes.

Cyber bullying In India- Is Your Child A Target

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Cyber bullying In India- Is Your Child A Target ?

A few weeks ago, I faced one of the hardest situations a parent can face, because my 5 year old daughter was being bullied at park. At first, it was difficult to accept that bullying could take place in such small kids. Then I could not understand how my universally liked, affable and charming daughter was being bullied by a particular child. As much as I wanted to intervene and sort this out, I could not. I had to let my daughter handle the situation and come out stronger, while being there to support her through this phase. It was my first jolt, my first introduction to what problems, nightmares and ordeals as a parent I might have to navigate through and protectmy child from.

But this problem pales to the demon that a lot of children in India are facing. The demon of Cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying, literally means harassing or causing harm to vulnerable targets mostly teenagers by means of internet and mobile technologies. As the prevalence of computers & phones increases among kids in India and lack of internet safety awareness, kids are more prone to be targeted for bullying over social media networks.

Cyberbullying

India ranks third in cyberbullying among kids

Even though most Indian parents are unaware about cyberbullying, India ranks a disturbing 3rd after China and Singapore in cyberbullying among kids. According to a study by Microsoft, 1 in 5 children in India have experienced what can be termed as online bullying. According to another study by IPSOS, India reports the highest percentage of kids being bullied at 32%, compared to 15% in US and 13% in UK.

What does a cyberbullying case look like?

Photoshopping the victim’s faces onto nude bodies and circulating it online.
Taking hidden pictures or hidden cam videos and sharing it online
The cyberbully posts details like email ids, address and phone number of the victims on social media networks which exposes them to perverts and harassers.
Targeting the victim with jokes, slander, hate messages or leaking their secrets online
Cyberbully hacking into the victim’s accounts and send hurtful messages pretending to be them.
Creating hate communities which specifically target the victim and bombard them with messages like “you are a loser”, “why don’t you die” and worse “everyone hates you”
Why is Cyber-bullying dangerous?

Cyberbullying unlike other forms of bullying can happen 24X 7, there is no escape from it. Since it happens mostly in tweens and teens, parents are usually the last ones to know about it. Also kids are wary of telling parents in fear of losing their internet access and freedom. Unlike other forms of bullying where parents can intervene to an extent, in cyberbullying once a hate post or a malicious image is on the internet, it is difficult even for the parents to take it down or curb its existence.

Cyberbullying can cause low self-esteem, depression, skipping school and worse, suicide.

Expert Talk

Works with a number of schools through her Anti-Bullying-Campaign (ABC). I spoke with Chetnaa about cyberbullying among children in India and here is what she had to share.

As India is 3rd in cyberbulllying after China and Singapore, parents, teachers, and government bodies should proactively be involved in educating children on laws of cyber bullying. Children do face a lot of cyber bullying.One may walk out of a situation which involves physical and verbal bullying, however, in the cyber space, you could only delete a Facebook comment if it is on your wall! So, this could lead to major consequences. Internet has taken bullying to a whole new level. And when it’s online, there is no place to hide.

The IT Act, 2000 states punishment to all those publishing information which is obscene as also to any form of breach in privacy and confidentiality. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) also covers this issue. Apart from legal help, victims can also hire private investigators specialising in tracking down cyber bullies. For those who want to find the culprit on their own, you can simply Google Reverse E-mail Finder to find a list of websites which can help you unmask the bully. These websites primarily track the email address down to its user and returns the users identity as also some other personal information.

The schools must follow an approach wherein students are taken through lesson or session by teachers or counsellors in Emotional management, Problem Solving, Empathy and Assertiveness Skills. The schools could also have a “Family Engagement” program. The parents must also be actively involved in sensitization programs. Parents should be educated and then in turn they too educate their children on what is good and acceptable to do while exploring the cyber space and what is not.

How to protect your kids from Cyberbullying

Even though schools need to take various measures to protect kids and create awareness about Internet safety, the fight against cyberbullying needs to start with the parents. Here are the

Top 5 Must Dos for every parent to tackle cyberbullying

Google your child’s name and see what is out there. Comb through your child’s social media pictures and see if there is anything inappropriate. Make sure the privacy settings are ON and there is no personal details posted publicly.
Find out how to report cyberbullying and ask your child’s school about their policies around the topic.If you find evidence of cyberbullying, print out the evidence, take screenshots and report it.
Be aware about existing social media networking sites like facebook, twitter, pinterest and the upcoming ones like snapchat, vine etc to protect your kids. Talk to your kids about internet safety tips, cyber safety tips, cyberbullying, sexting and other dangers on the internet.
Never treat cyberbullying as a joke. Whether your child is at the receiving end or is the bully, you need to take charge of the situation and help to resolve. Never encourage kids to post hurtful messages, tease or slander someone on the internet.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Ideas

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Have you been taking steps toward sustainability in your home? Taking things room by room is a great way to ensure you’re incorporating best practices to keep your home as eco-friendly as possible. A good place to start is the kitchen.

Whether you’re starting a kitchen remodel or just looking to make a few changes in household habits, it’s easy to go green in the kitchen. Here are a few ideas on how you can create an eco-friendly kitchen. 

Creating An Eco-Friendly Kitchen

One of the best places to start in your home when you’re trying to make it a more sustainable living environment is the kitchen. There are many elements you can control that helps to reduce your carbon footprint. While some homeowners choose to remodel for sustainability, often, it doesn’t call for a full remodel to create a clean-living kitchen. It’s a good idea to make some small changes first

 “Kitchen utensils made from recycled materials or biodegradable materials are a great way to start an eco-friendly kitchen,” Emily Hoefler, kitchen and bath specialist at Renovations Group Inc, said. “Eco-friendly kitchen supplies are another great item that is not only safe for families, but good for the environment.”

Here are some areas you can look to change:

  • Cleaning Products
  • Flooring
  • Appliances
  • Countertops
  • Waste Reduction

Eco-Friendly-Kitchen-Cleaning-Products

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Cleaning Products

One of the easiest changes you can make for a greener kitchen is the cleaning supplies you use. There are many toxins in commercial cleaning products that are both harmful to you and the earth. You can easily find non-toxic and earth-friendly cleaning supplies for all of your needs. There are many brands available that are eco-friendly you can buy at the store. Often, you can make your own cleaning supplies from items you have around the home. One kitchen cleaning supply that I go through often is a multi-surface cleaner.

This is an easy one to make and I love having it in my home. It does have an interesting ingredient, vodka. This helps to disinfect the surfaces. I combine one-part water and one part-vodka in a glass spray bottle with 15 drops of citrus essential oil. My preference is lemon. I shake it to combine and spray as needed.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Flooring

If you’re looking for a kitchen upgrade, flooring might be the way to go. Over time, kitchen floors can become dirty and outdated. If you’re thinking about replacing your kitchen floor, it might be a good idea to make it a material that’s eco-friendly too. Recyclable materials are always recommended. If you like the look of wood flooring, bamboo has grown in popularity over the years. Not only is it a green flooring option, but it’s also gentle on your wallet as well. The average cost of bamboo flooring is between Rs 50/sf and Rs 70/sf.

Eco-Friendly-Kitchen-Appliances
open dishwasher with clean dishes at home kitchen

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Appliances

Have you ever considered how much energy your kitchen appliances use? Older appliances can use more energy than newer models, making it more expensive for you and more taxing on the earth. “Replacing kitchen appliances with energy-efficient alternatives is a great way to cut down on energy use,” Hoefler said.

Look for kitchen appliances with the energy star label so you can be confident you’re making an earth-friendly choice. Appliances with energy star certification can save you money as you use them. While you may need to make an initial investment upfront, you’ll save more money long-term. For example, a certified dishwasher can only cost Rs 1500 a year to run, according to Energy Star.

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Eco-Friendly Kitchen Countertops

You may not think of sustainability when you think of your countertops, but if you’re remodeling, this is one area you should consider a green upgrade. Recycled wood has become a popular material in recent years, and according to Hoefler, glass is growing in popularity as well.

“Recycled glass countertops are a great alternative to quartz,” she said. “We have some on the front display in our showroom and get lots of people walking in and commenting how beautiful and smart they are. You don’t have to sacrifice on style to use recycled materials. “

Recycled glass countertops use at least 85% of recycled materials, keeping them out of landfills and providing another use.

Kitchen Waste Reduction

Outside of upgrades and remodels, to create an eco-friendly kitchen, you must create new habits. If you’re not already recycling, set up a place to do so and Hoefler suggests making it easily accessible. It’s one of the simplest steps you can take toward sustainability.

“Incorporate a pull-out recycling bin into your cabinetry design. Making recycling easier means you’re more likely to do it,” she said.

You may also want to consider reducing the amount of food waste you have in your home. Americans waste approximately one pound of food per day. This is a lot of food to be wasted by homeowners. Here are a few ways you can cut back on food waste in your own kitchen:

  • Make a grocery list before you shop, reducing the amount of extra food you’ll by.
  • Keep a list of leftovers that are in the fridge to eat.
  • Before you throw out fruit or vegetables that may be turning, consider freezing them for later use. A great example is using a brown banana for banana bread.
  • Consider starting a compost pile in your yard to get a second life out of produce.
  • Keep track of what food you’re throwing away and evaluate how much it’s costing you.

Conclusion

When it comes to creating an eco-friendly kitchen, small steps go a long way. A chance of habits will make a big difference.

“When it comes to practicing eco-friendly habits or incorporating eco-friendly items into the kitchen, start small,” Hoefler said. “Don’t sweat the small stuff and expect a 100% change overnight or you might overwhelm yourself. Any small steps you make have an impact!”

Artical by Jaclyn Crawford