Our Recent Family Vacation to Kauai, Hawaii in April 2021.

Shipwreck beach hike near Poipu

Wow! Kauai lived up to our Hawaiian dreams with its lush mountains, dramatic sea cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and stunning beaches. Finally, after 14 months our family took our first flight post our vaccination to the beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii. This place is extremely kid friendly and there are so many activities you can do with your kids. Traveling with a kid looks a lot different at age 4. Vir was very excited, comfortable and cooperative on the journey. He wore masks for almost 14 hours non stop one way from the airports , to flights to shuttles to car rental service.

My idea for travel for this family vacation was a combination of relaxation and adventure for total 10 days while being completely logged out of office mails and calls. Kauai checked off every box and that is how we new it was the place to be. We chose the island of Kauai in Hawaii over other islands ( have also visited Big Island in 2010 for our honeymoon) because of its far more relaxed, natural environment. Here is a video on our hikes.

Sailing to Napali coast, hiking in multi-colored canyons and along coastal trails, frequent sightings of whales, dolphins, and snorkeling with turtles (and not forgetting the wild chickens that roam the island) was just what we needed for our souls. We found a real sense of solitude here due to its great outdoors and lack of major developments. You can reconnect with nature, lots of local culture and explore uncluttered sites.

It was such a refreshing and rejuvenating trip and a perfect birthday gift for me.

All my trip highlight and videos are saved on my Instagram page under Hawaii highlights. Click here to see all the stunning hikes, views and memories we made with our son.

Kauai Travel Restrictions

Note on April 5, 2021 Kauai rejoined Hawaii’s Pre-Travel Testing program which allows visitors to avoid a 10-day quarantine by taking a test before arrival. Visitors from the mainland US (and now Canada, Japan and Korea) will be able to avoid the mandatory 10-day quarantine by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the final leg of departure. The test must be taken with one of these trusted testing partners.

Note: Only kids under 5 don’t need the test. So Vir didn’t have the RT PCR test.

The situation is constantly changing so check the County of Kauai website for the latest news.

Currently, proof of vaccination is not a recognized exemption from quarantine or pre-travel testing, but the state government is looking into it and it is possible that vaccine passports may be used by the summer.

We had to fill in the Safe Travels travel and health form online and upload negative test results before boarding our flight to Hawaii. Everyone will have their temperature taken on arrival. 

NOTE : Once screened at airport you will need an updated QR code to get to your car rental and to also enter your condo/ vacation rental. Make sure you have it updated right at airport, as several people at the car rental didn’t have the QR updated and had to go all the way back to the airport to get it checked.

Note wearing a mask is mandatory in Hawaii in indoor public places and outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible. Please travel responsibly.

Different islands have their own rules in addition to the pre-travel test so please check accordingly.

For in Island travel you will need a rental car. Most of the car rentals are at the Lihue airport only. There are also island taxis available, but I do not recommend relying on them. The island is not huge—you can drive from one side to the other in a few hours—but there is plenty to keep you occupied. We rented a Jeep for off roading experience.

Also, if you plan to book any tours, I recommend booking them in advance as due to new health protocols on the island lots of tour companies are running on limited capacity and get filled very quick or still not operational.

Our Stay in Kauai.

We split our stay on the island and lived in Poipu on the south shore and Princeville on the north shore to avoid long drives. This was a great decision.

Sunset views at Poipu from our airbnb condo

Things to do in South of Kauai.

Poipu Beaches

 I chose the South side for first half of the trip as it is sunnier and drier most of the year. The ocean is calm and was swimmable. There was easy access to beaches from our condo. Plus, there is a wide range of accommodation including some of the best hotels in Kauai (resorts and condos).  Also, lots of restaurants and cafés to get good food.

We loved our stay in Poipu, our son had such a great time on the beach. The beaches have areas that are perfect for kids and has no waves.

We also saw monk seals soaking the sun.

Kids beach at Poipu
Monk seals at Poipu Beach

I had an amazing time snorkeling here. The reefs are very close to the beach, so you do not have to swim too far or get a boat to get to snorkeling spots. The best place to snorkel in Kauai.

The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail at Shipwreck beach is a great hike to explore the otherwise inaccessible coastline.  Strong shore break can make this beach a dangerous spot to swim. Best for beachcombing and sunsets.

Go to Port Allen for sailing tours. We did the 4-hour Sunset Napali coast catamaran tour from Captain Andy’s. The sailing experience was not great for us as we three had sea sickness all the time. Yet we some how managed to see a pod of dolphins close to the boat and watch a mama and baby whale breaching. The Napali coast is seriously stunning, and I think it is a must do!

I recommend sitting in the front of the boat and having some Dramamine before and on the boat. (I learned my lesson the hard way).

If you have kids younger than 4 I won’t recommend it, our son is 4 and he threw up a lot and slept 80 percent of the time.

Catamaran boat tour to Napali Coast.

Makauwahi Cave Reserve trail A beautiful hike along a well-marked trailed with stunning ocean views (and access) leads to this ancient cave holding many fossils and delightful history. You do have to crawl through a narrow entry at the base of a sink hole to enter this magical place. I highly recommend this and recommend taking the long route and not short one. There is also a farm right next to the cave where you can go and see the male and female turtles. We had a great experience here.

Tortoise farm near Makauwahi Cave Reserve trail

Glass Beach is not the most spectacular on Kauai but is closer to Port Allen and you can see it on the way. It’s too rocky for swimming and small in size. Right behind you is an oil storage facility that provides a not so pleasing industrial backdrop. We couldn’t find enough glass here so I recommend to skip unless you have time to just have a look.

Glass Beach in Kauai.

From Poipu we also drove to the West Side of the island and explored:

  1. Waimea Canyon State Park. The area is remote and less developed. You can stop at different viewpoints to enjoy the beautiful canyon scenery. Traveling across the Waimea Canyon will take you approximately two hours if you spend some time at each stop. If you are planning to travel through the canyon without breaks, you will finish the journey in an hour. There are several lookouts dotted across the rim of the canyon, providing you with beautiful views throughout the hike.
Lookout point at Waimea Canyon State Park
  • The lookout above Kalalau Valley on the Na Pali Coast, provides one of the most fantastic views on the island and considered by many to be a must see. At 4,000 feet above sea level, the Kalalau Lookout is the highest elevation you will reach in Kauai by road alone. The air is much cooler at this level and it’s a good idea to bring a coat or sweatshirt. Kalalau Valley is part of the Na Pali Coast and there are no roads to it. The closest you can get to it by car is this overlook. The valley itself is two miles wide and one the widest on Kauai’s west side.
The lookout above Kalalau Valley on the Na Pali Coast
  • Pihea & Alakai Swamp Trail – The start of the Pihea Trail skirts the back of Kalalau Valley offering views into the valley that are incredible. The trail dives into the Alakai Swamp, and eventually intersects the Alakai Swamp Trail.

After 4 days of living in Poipu we moved to the most stunning part of the island the north shore in Hanalei, Princeville.

The North Shore is the most beautiful part of the island and one of the best places to stay in Kauai. We loved the mountain scenery, beaches, and cool town of Hanalei. This was by our favorite place to stay at any destination ever! (Ok close match to Santorini, Greece)

Anini Beach at Northshore of Kauai

Things to do near in North of Kauai, Hanalei.

Princeville is just stunning. We loved to walk to the Sunset look out point from our cottage on the lush green trails with the backdrop of the Makai golf course and stunning mountains. There is also a beach access, but parking is very tricky as there is no street parking and extremely limited public parking available to go to the beach.

We timed our trips to Hanalei almost daily and visited when the roads were open. In March 2021 there was a landslide which has led to limited road access to Hanalei (single lane at certain times of day). To visit Hanalei from Princeville we kept checking the latest news on the Hawaii Department of Transportation

Hanalei Beach and Hanalei Pier are one of the best places on the island to watch the sunset and enjoy the beach. You can rent SUP boards and kayaks too there. We visited this place thrice on our trip

Hanalei Pier

Limahuli Garden and Preserve– We explored this preserve and enjoyed the self-guided tour on one of our last days in Kauai. A bit off the beaten path, well, nearly the end of the line, by road, this was a great place for a leisurely walk into native and evasive plants found on Kauai.

Limahuli Garden and Preserve

Tunnels Beach It was my favorite beach. The snorkeling is incredible – the reef is home to a multitude of beautiful fish, and there are almost always sea turtles! The mountains make for a gorgeous backdrop as well for family pictures. The parking can get tricky, so your best bet is to park at the public side and walk to Tunnels beach.

Anini Beach is a great for simply relaxing with a book, fishing from shore or paddle boarding above the lively reef and perfect for kids. The deeper and clearer water can be enticing, and I swam right close to few turtles here and got some great shots on my Go pro. The Beach Park has multiple campsites with permits, shade trees, picnic tables, pavilions, restrooms and showers. We went here thrice on our trip

Snorkeling with turtles at Anini beach

As we spent almost 7 days at Princeville, we drove to the East side to explore, shop, and eat.

Kauai Hindu Monastery and the Rudraksha Grove –We were overwhelmed with emotions upon seeing the beauty of this Hindu monastery in Kauai. Beautiful outdoor monastery and new temple being built near Wailua River Falls. Statues and grounds are amazing. Make sure you get a reservation if you want to visit the inside of the temples. The Rudraksha grove is very close to the temple and a must visit. We spent over an hour here mesmerized by color and beauty of the holy grove. You should not miss going here.

Rudraksha grove in Kauai near the Kauai Hindu Monastery

The Wailua falls can be seen from a viewpoint and  cannot be hiked so these 2 locations can be done on same day.

Kauai Plantation Railway in Lihue– We wanted to do the railway tour. Unfortunately, it was closed. Seemed great for kids. You can check them out and call and book in advance.

Luau Feast -A trip to Hawaii would not be complete without taking part in a traditional luau (feast). This luau experience at Kilohana Plantation on Kauai includes the convenience of round-trip hotel transport (if option selected), a lei greeting and champagne on arrival, and a 4-course dinner of local specialties. Unfortunately, all Luau on Kauai, were closed during our visit. You can check ahead of time if you travel.

Local Farmer’s Markets are also great places to go to see the local cuisines, art and fruits. I recommend checking online while or before travelling when and where are the farmer’s market in the are you stay or close by. We visited to one in Hanalei.

In my next blog post I will be sharing our favorite places to eat, and things I packed for our 10-day trip.

Note: Hawaii is not cheap or budget friendly, you will have to decide what to prioritize: ocean views, beach access, fantastic pool, kitchen, onsite restaurants, access to sights or whatever is best for your family. I believe on the East Side, you’ll get the best value for money, but you won’t have the views of the North Shore or as easy access to sights as in the South.

You might also consider splitting your time between two areas to avoid long day trips as we did.

If you plan anytime to travel to Kauai, I wish you have a wonderful time. Do not forget to be updated on local island travel guidelines. You can ask me a question in comments below or DM me on my Instagram and I will reply you as soon as I can.

XOXO

Celebrating Holi “The Festival of Colors” with Kids. DIY, Crafts, Recipes & More

Like many South Asian parents’ preservation of culture is imperative for me and family too. It is of utmost importance we pass on our cultural values to our children. And so, just like every year we are very excited to celebrate The Festival of Colors- Holi with our almost 5-year-old son.

Holi teaches our kids about unity as a family. I believe it is the perfect outward expressions of infusing hope and optimism into our homes. As Vir is growing older he is understanding and remembering the significance of each of our festivals even more. My mom has been a special influence on Vir for past few months as she has been visiting us from India. He is so lucky to celebrate Diwali in November 2020 and now Holi in March 2021 with his Nani.

Last year I shared a blog post How to Celebrate Holi in Your Child’s Classroom. Similarly, this year too Vir will be presenting to his class all about Holi. We will be doing the same this year as well. I always prepare Vir for a short presentation that he gives to his class. He did one on Diwali too.

To kickstart the arrival of spring we plan to decorate our home for a fresh feel. Some simple changes I am doing:

Decorating Vir’s study with this Free printable Holi banner

Giving the living room a bright new makeover, with bright and colorful cushions.

Adding fresh flowers to the center, side, and dining table to welcome spring and light some scented candles.

Changing from whites to colorful bed sheets with vibrant pillows and cushions in tandem with the colorfulness of the whole ambiance.

Using Vir’s art to decorate the space especially his Art wall in the room.

On the day of Holi I plan to decorate the dining table and kitchen island with Holi colors in small pots and colorful décor pieces from All Things Artistic (they have some really beautiful pieces of decor items and more), also fresh flowers and of course some homemade delicacies like thandai, shakar parre and gujiyas, savory items and more!

7 DIY activities we are working on to celebrate Holi

1.Last year we made this Easy DIY Holi T shirt. It was a hit and we love how you can make this a family activity every year and wear to school.

2.Making a card for any occasion is an essential part of celebrating any festival. This year Vir made this Paint Splatter card. You need water colors a paint brush and to splatter just use a comb and rub the painted brush .

3.Planting seeds for spring flowers – Not only is its super fun to plant your own seeds and watch them grow, but it provides all kinds of learning opportunities. Besides learning about plants, children also gain knowledge in using various scientific skills like making observations and predictions. Planting seeds also teaches children about responsibility as they learn to care for their plants daily.

4.I recently came across a design and illustration shop called Intrikate Ink https://www.intrikateink.com/. that creates original and customized coloring books, tattoos and even merchandize for adults and kids. This gorgeous Mickey Mouse Mandala coloring page caught my eye and I reached out to the creator Surabhi on her Instagram page to help me share her beautiful work with my son and my readers. This was such successful activity for me and Vir as we both participate and collaboratively completed it. I am framing this one.

Download the Free Mickey Mandala Page here by Intrikate Ink

5. Get the kids in the kitchen and make some desserts. I recently made these delicious and healthy version of Gujiyas with my mom. They were perfect and I can indulge without worrying about too many calories. To see the video and healthy recipe you can check my Instagram post.

6. Rangoli Floor Puzzle from Kulture Khazana has been a such a fantastic way to engage Vir and teach him the importance of it for our festivals. I love through these fun activities our kids can learn the importance of these elements in our culture.

7. Reading Lets’ Celebrate Holi by Ajanta Chakraborty is a great way to learn all about this famous Indian festival of colors including the story behind Holi, the colorful Holi markets, the incredible fun of playing Holi, the delicious Holi food and drinks and even about some unique ways of celebrating throughout the country. We will also be reading this book in Vir’s class. There is also a fun activity book that

Let's Celebrate Holi! (Maya & Neel's India Adventure Series, Book 3) by [Ajanta Chakraborty, Vivek Kumar, Janelle Diller]

Stocking on items to play Holi with family and our friends in pandemic pod.

We started to use the Holi powder to play with our 4 year old since last year only. When he was a toddler, we used flower petals and used these edible homemade paints made with just 2 ingredients to make celebrate the festival with our baby.

I ordered this Holi powder that is anti-allergic, skin friendly, washable, and non-toxic. You can get Holi Powder from Amazon or local Indian Grocery Stores just in time for the festival.

Also I recently got these 100 water ballons packet to prepare for water fight.

And this water blaster . As Holi is incomplete without that splash of water!

You can also use colored bath drops in the mini pool and bath tub to create the colored water effect.

We are very excited to celebrate Holi this year and it’s even more special as my mom is visiting us. Vir is so lucky to have his grandparent, his Nani on this joyous occasion.

I wish you and your family a fresh start and a bright and cheerful 2021. Happy Holi.

Thanks

How We Updated Our Kid’s Bedroom. Easy Ideas, DIY and More

Creating a space for your little one to play and grow can is a fun experience. Although, it can also be a challenging one and so I took a lot of time to get it done. After all, a beautiful, functional room that your child will love both now and for years to come is a tall order! Whether you’re working with a small room or a big imagination, making the most of your child’s space is an absolute necessity.

I am sharing some links and tips in this post on how to keep it practical and functional without having to splurge a lot.

You can also check my previous post on Tour of our son’s nursery.

1 Keeping it Simple– My idea was keeping the décor simple and furnishings to a minimum, this way we can create more space to play and provide a neutral canvas that can be easily updated as our son grows. The bed can take up a lot of space so we wanted a simple one that it can be extended with time. We have it for last 2 years now. Open shelves for books and toys not only gives easy access but also acts as décor for the room

Book Sheves from Ikea , Toy 6 Cube shelf from Target , Extendable bed from Ikea , Mini storage chest from Ikea (I updated this with some chalk paper), Cubes from H&M Home

2. Designing a kid friendly space – Keeping the height in mind of our growing son we made sure the shelves, bed and toys are easily accessible. Which mean low bins, open shelving, and easy-to-access hooks all encourage self-responsibility and independent play.

3. Focus on play We have used chalkboard paper to upgrade our son’s kitchen, an easy-to-update art gallery where to display his favorite creations .

Play Kitchen – Ikea , Pin up board from Marshall , Picture frames for gallery wall , Wall hook from Ikea , 8 drawer dresser Hemnes Dresser , Rocket Night light

Some other ideas like a kid friendly swing, built-in rock-climbing wall, bunk bed slide, or ceiling-suspended cargo net also make for great options, encouraging play while helping to burn up all that extra, pre-bedtime energy if you have a big house.

4. Use wall art for inspirational quotes, images and brightening the room. A great piece of art can make a child’s bedroom, or a playroom come alive. While one wall of our son’s room has his art work , the other walls are filled with inspiring quotes, posters and personalized  wall décor.

Posters from

  1. Customizable Positive Affirmation print  –
  2. Little Man Cave print
  3.  Mars Explorer wanted poster

Also a kid-friendly work area is a must. Providing your child with a place to color and create will not only keep them busy but may also help with their physical and mental development. When your child is older, a personal workspace can come in handy, offering a quiet place to study and do homework. We have his work area in our living room currently as that is where I also work from and is the most used space of our home.

Workspace in our living room

5 Play with Color- Kids love color but choosing the right one can be tricky. We kept our son’s nursery white and added wall decals.  And for the first time have we painted a wall in the house. Love that neutral setting can be easily updated when your kiddo is ready for a new look. And so we went to lowes and picked the HGTV-HOME-by-Sherwin-Williams-Blue-Bicycle- paint and painted 2 walls.

Here is a how to on painting

Don’t rush prep time. If you usually do your own painting, you can probably manage a half-painted wall too. Take your time, be sure you have a helper and gather all the necessary tools before you begin. Start here:

High-quality painters’ tape is a must for this project because you will be relying on it to create a really crisp, neat line.

A laser level (which usually costs $50 to $100) is a worthwhile investment for this project because it makes the process much quicker — and more precise.

If you want to keep the existing wall color, you can move along to making your line. If not, you’ll need to paint the wall first and allow it to dry.

Use the laser level to cast a laser line at the height you want, and have your helper trace the line in pencil. Once you have the pencil line where you want it, cover the line with painters’ tape. If you don’t have a laser level, measure up from the floor in several spots, mark each spot and then use a straight edge to draw a line between the marks. Check your work with a level before continuing.

Cover the floor with tarps, cover, and tape baseboards, and loosen any switch plates in the painting zone.

Paint on one side of the tape line, allow it to dry and apply a second coat if using. Wait until the paint is dry to the touch (usually about an hour) before removing the tape.

Hope this helps, more videos and information on my Instagram. I am available to answer any DMs on my IG Page or here in the comment section. Happy Decorating!

XOXO

2020 Holiday Gift Guides for Moms & Kids

One thing that I love about the holiday season is the endless supply of gifting options that are available in stores and online. Covid-19 is forcing all of us to rethink our holiday gift-giving. Concert tickets? Can’t go. New sweater or clothes? No one will see it. But there’s plenty that loved ones and we could use to get through the long days of work from home and general pandemic loneliness. 

Here are some of my recommendations that have been 2020-tested by me and my family. I have curated a list of some of my favorite things. And additionally added some of my son’s favorite items from toys to games.

Gifts for the Women in your life or for yourself

  1. Rechargeable Self Defense Alarm Key chain with Emergency Mini LED Flashlight – Security Personal Protection Devices for Women Girls Kids and Elderly. ( Available in 3 colors $15.99 on Amazon) Great Stocking Stuffer
  2. Portable Otterbox Charging kit. Its convenient and slim design slips into pockets, and you can trust the 3-in-1 cable to power any device. Available in many colors here Great Stocking Stuffer
  3. CIYOYO 3 in 1 wireless charging station can charge your Phone/iWatch/AirPods simultaneously. Makes a very useful gift. I am getting one for my husband for his night stand. (Available on Amazon)
  4. For the home decor lover – Decorative White Books, Set of 3 – This is Us Stacked Books – Rustic Farmhouse Accent Decor for a Living Room Coffee Table, Entryway Shelf, End Table, Mantel & Bedroom Night Stand. Available in 3 designs on Amazon.
  5. Mid Century Indoor, Bamboo, Wooden, Adjustable (8-12 Inch), Tall Modern Plant Holder. Love the planter holders. Pots not included Available on Amazon
  6. One of my most used item in our house Bearaby weighted cotton napper A buttery soft, breathable, knitted weighted blanket made from long-staple GOTS-certified organic cotton. Available in many colors here.
  7. Recharging my skin care routine with this face pack. A five-minute facial in a jar that targets dull, rough, and uneven skin for a smoother, brighter complexion by Fresh. Available at Sephora. Great Stocking Stuffer
  8. Print Fresh Bagheera Long Sleep set is one of my recent picks for myself and my mom. These long pajama sets are sewn from a lightweight, breathable cotton poplin that becomes softer with each wash. They are perfect for lounging around on a relaxing Sunday morning or curling up for a cozy evening with a good book.
  9. Depuff , brighten, hydrate and treat your and your loved one eyes with these award winning Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks as gifts. Great Stocking Stuffer
  10. I recently got this unique inspirational quote and time marker water bottle for measuring my daily intake of water, reminding me to stay hydrated and drink enough water throughout the day. Available in many colors on Amazon
  11. Love these jumbo Coconut Bowls And Wooden Spoon Sets: 2 Vegan Organic Salad Smoothie or Buddha Bowl Kitchen Utensils. Makes a great gift for anyone. Available on Amazon.
  12. Worth investing into this jump rope for a quick and effective workout at home. Adjustable for Men, Women and Children. Available on Amazon. Great Stocking Stuffer

Gift Guide for Kids (Age 3-10)

By now, you’ve already been overwhelmed with Top Toy Lists for 2020 hitting your Instagram stories every single day. However, this list is a little different most of these toys are a big win in our home. This year, I decided to put together an Amazon gift guide for kids so that you can find all the best toys in one place. From games to STEM toys, I’ve gathered them all to zoo membership. Be sure to bookmark this post so you can refer to it whenever you need to buy a gift! Whether you need to shop for the kid who has everything, or something special for your own kids, you’ll find everything you need in this massive list! Here is the Ultimate Amazon gift guide for kids, I hope it will make your holiday shopping so much easier.

1.Archaeology Science STEM Crafts Gifts for Boys & Girls. Dig up 12 dino eggs & discover 12 unique dinosaur models: Feel like a real paleontologist excavating up unique toy dinosaurs from the dino eggs. This toy keeps my son busy and has helped him learn about Dinosaurs. Available at Amazon.

2. Sequence for kids- If you see my IG Stories you know we play this game daily ! Play a card from your hand, and place your chip on the corresponding character on the board – the first with four chips in a row wins! Available at Amazon.

3.Super hero capes for the kids to keep them busy for days and change multiple daily while locked indoors. Available at Amazon

4. OSMO – Award winning and innovative tech game for kids of 3 and above. There are several games to choose from and my son plays it almost daily. Currently on Sale HERE

5. My son loves getting new magazines in mail every month . We really like the Highlights Magazines for Kids, designed with humor to keeps kids engaged. Currently over 67% off. here.

6. This was a great gift from our family friend to Vir. This Shifu interactive AR globe is our kid’s magical gateway to travel the world and I love how it sparks curiosity. Available here

7. On my Christmas gift list for our son is this Ultimate Microscope for kids. Beginner Microscope STEM Kit with Metal Body Microscope, Plastic Slides, LED Light and Carrying Box. Available at Amazon.

8.Recently ordered this for my son. Think Fun Zingo Bingo Award Winning Preschool Game for Pre-Readers and Early Readers Age 4 and Up – One of the Most Popular Board Games for Boys and Girls and their Parents. Available on Amazon.

9 Zoo Memberships make a great gift for the year. We have been of Houston Zoo for last 2 years and have really taken advantage of it every season.

10.My son always carries his Geo Safari Jr Binoculars, for outdoor play and at parks and on our travels. Available at Amazon. Great Stocking Stuffer

11. We love outdoor play especially in rains and for the puddle fun. These kids Hunter boots are long lasting and can be sized up for 1-2 years of fun. Available here.

12. Vir recently go these Way To Play roads . Love the quality and design. Straights, curves, parking spaces, and more. Love that these are made of high grade, child safe rubber, and you can take anywhere and anytime the beach, deep pile carpet or that bumpy garden path, turn any place into a highway. Available here

I hope you find something for yourself or your loved ones. These are some practical gifts that range from $10 to $250. Happy Holidays!!

Gearing Up for Diwali at Home. Recipes, DIY crafts & More

This post is sponsored by Riondo Prosecco #Ad21+

2020 has been a tough year for all of us. The pandemic has affected each one of us in different ways. Yet it has also taught us to slow down and truly enjoy the simple things while being grateful for what we have. 

And with very limited things to be excited about this year, I am looking forward to celebrating Diwali with my family. The festivities around Diwali bring in so much peace and warmth in our homes. 

Although this year Diwali will look a little different as we won’t be going to house parties or for that matter to the temple to enjoy the fireworks, I am busy finding the right ethnic outfits, cleaning our house, ordering decorations for our home, and planning the menu. We are in complete festive mood here as we plan to celebrate it with the same vigor and joy with another family of 3 in a few days.  

I am especially excited to play Teen Patti also known as Flash or Flush which is one of our favorite card games and a huge hit during Diwali season. It’s more of a tradition to play with friends and family at home and is auspicious too. We usually also add board games into the mix like desi chaat, snakes and ladders, ludo so that kids can also join. 

To complement a good teen patti night with spicy and aromatic food I highly recommend trying a glass of prosecco with a curry meal instead of beer as trust me it tastes even better. The finer bubbles in Riondo Prosecco (my favorite) stimulate the palate and the aromas of the prosecco complement the delightful spices in Indian food. It’s also perfect to enjoy while you’re preparing your home and meals in advance of Diwali.

Riondo Prosecco is an authentic sparkling wine that celebrates the easy-living spirit of Italy. This vino frizzante boasts fresh aromas of Golden Delicious apple, pear, and acacia blossom. Its persistent effervescence is followed by a crisp, clean finish. While delicate and fruity on the palate, this prosecco is the perfect choice to either sip by itself or mix to make a bubbly cocktail.

You can order it here and with the code ARUSHI you can get $10 off your first delivery order!

Diwali is a festival that is a feast for the eyes, and stomach, with many variations to enjoy! And in today’s post I am sharing some exciting recipes from award winning author and cooking instructor Shubhra aka @SpiceGirlKitchen’ s books- Entice With Spice and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking. I love how Shubhra Ramineni has worked on easy and quick Indian recipes that any beginner can cook at home. 

Snacks/ starters are essential for any festival and so Indian chaat, samosas, pani puri, allo tikkis, bhel make a great way to start the celebration at home. I created this Chaat board a while back and will be improvising it on Diwali by adding a few more items like dhokla, puri, chakri and more. All of these items are available in Indian stores in the frozen section, or from Indian restaurants. You can add a glass of Riondo Prosecco with the starters too or enjoy at the end with teen patti card party or Strawberry Lassi.

Below are some delicious and easy to make Indian food recipes from Shubhra aka @SpiceGirlKitchen from her book- Entice With Spice.

Check this easy to make strawberry lassi recipe here. A healthy, refreshing, no sugar added lassi (Indian yogurt smoothie) 

Check out this spicy and flavorful paneer recipe here.

Check out the Pea and Jeera Rice recipe here. Perfect fragrant Basmati rice every time in minutes without a rice cooker!

photo from Entice with Spice

Kheer is a famous South Asian dessert served hot or chilled as per one’s liking. Check out the recipe here

We are also creating some Diwali crafts and cards at home. You can see my blog post here and download the free Diwali printable to color. Pavni from @Pkk.designs has created this beautiful Diwali coloring card mandala for all my readers. We will be coloring a lot of these cards for our family and friends.

Pic by @Pkk.designs

I Wish You A Year Rich With Love, Happiness, Prosperity And Wisdom. Happy Diwali to you and your family! Wishing that this Diwali brings prosperity to your business and more opportunities for us to work together! May the lights of Diwali Diyas fill your home with wealth, happiness, and everything that Brings You Joy!

DIY Diwali Craft Ideas For Kids.

Diwali is approaching, and we have started preparing for it at our home, be it from buying diyas, rangolis, decorative items, lights, to preparing for the festivities. Re-decorating our home is the big goal and if you are looking for new ideas to deck up your house with simple crafts hand made by your little ones, read along.

I am delegating simple and easy to do tasks to Vir. While there are multiple Diwali craft ideas for preschool kids as well as grown-up children, I shortlisted some of our favorite craft activities that we are working on this year. I started looking for some craft kits and shops too to get pre made kits. And that saved me so much time. I love to support small business and encourage you all too also do your bit in helping them out this time of the year.

Here are some of the interesting and easy to make crafts for Diwali.

Diwali Greeting Card (Free Printable)

There is no precious gift than something handmade, right? We are teaching our son to make some personalized ones for each relative that can be posted in mail for families across the world. I loved the art work by Pavni Kapoor from PKK DESIGNS and she was so kind to custom make a Diwali Rangoli design card for my readers. Vir loved coloring it and adding some jewels and stickers to bling it up. You can download it HERE.

2. Hand Painted Diwali Diyas as gifts

We ordered some earthen diyas online (you can also find it in Indian stores) and used acrylic paint to color the diyas. After they completely dry, add some different colors, jewels, or use markers to make patterns. Vir loved making them and was so proud to see how they turned out.

3. Foam Diya Craft Kit for home decoration.

Apart from working painting and coloring we really wanted to make some home decor pieces for the house. I found these beautiful foam diya craft set from Etsy and loved how they turned out.

Foam Diya craft for decoration

4. Paper Lantern Kit for home decoration.

I cant imagine Diwali decoration without some kandils in the house. This beautiful kit from etsy store was just the perfect craft for me too honestly. I really enjoyed making the kandils and decking them up. You need to supervise young kids with this craft.

5. Making Rangoli with flowers.

Last year we celebrated Diwali at Delhi, India and Vir helped me make a floral rangoli at my in-laws houses. This year we are planning to make some floral rangoli too and I cant wait to share that very soon on my Instagram.

6. Diwali Banners & decoration from small shop Desi Favors.

Desi Favors specializes in merchandise of traditional Indian handmade products, party decor for weddings, religious events, bhajans, baby showers, get-togethers, give away gifts, DIY backdrop kits, gift packs, DIY kits for kids and more. Check them out. I love these Big diya cut outs that I am using to decorate indoors.

Small sized Diya Paper Cutouts for Diwali Decorations Set of 15
Source: Desi Favors etsy shop

7. Diwali photo frame.

I found this image on Pinterest and immediately pinned it for future craft reference with Vir. This is a perfect activity for older kids to cut, paint and craft.

Source : Pinterest

8. DIY recipe for chocolate gifts for Diwali

If your kids enjoy joining you in the kitchen, they can help you in creating this Pistachio Rose Chocolate Bark as a DIY recipe gift for Diwali. Love this easy and delicious recipe by Nisha from Love Laugh Mirch. Check out the recipe post here on her blog. I love following Nisha, she has some great recipes and tips.

You can also give it a twist and make yogurt barks instead of chocolate, use mango yogurt, strawberry yogurt or any other flavor and add same toppings.

Pistachio Rose Chocolate Bark
Source: Love Laugh Mirch blog

We love Diwali at home and its the time of the year when the whole family is in one place, celebrating and enjoying. Wishing you all a very Happy Diwali. May the festival of lights brighten up you and your loved ones lives!

XOXO

PIN THIS IMAGE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE

9 Ways To Get Your Child To Read

In this post I am sharing some of my tips on how we prepared Vir to read. Social distancing has been helpful in giving a lot of one on one time to our son as he has been home since March 2020. I used this time to work with him on reading, writing and building other skills as you must have seen on my Instagram Page The Snazzy Mom

Please note I am not an expert or a teacher and have used my personal approach to prepare Vir and build his interest in reading. Vir is currently 4 years old and in PreK 4, he is currently reading Kindergarten level books. Reading at bedtime has been a daily activity in our home and that has helped us encourage our son to start reading. I recommend including reading daily in your routine.

Also recently I was contacted by Motherly to share my take How we’re defining success this school year. You can read all my mantras here!

Once Vir mastered identifying the letters visually, and memorizing the sound associated with the letter we started with below steps. You can help memorizing letters by incorporating in play, by clay, drawing or through letter magnets and toys.

1.Phonics is Important

Phonemic awareness (understanding sounds in spoken words) and an understanding of phonics (knowing that letters in print correspond to sounds) are the most basic first steps to becoming a reader. We practiced it daily by reading books out loud and using Reading Eggs app. This app has been extremely helpful in making phonics a fun process and after a while I didn’t even need to supervise my son as he enjoyed doing it himself.

(Reading Eggs uses self‑paced lessons that match each individual child’s ability. Children are regularly rewarded for completing activities and reaching new levels, which keeps them motivated to stay on track. Parents can also view instant progress reports to see how a child’s skills are improving.Free trial.

Additionally, we used songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness. the rhyme and rhythm help kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read.

2. Making word cards

Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. dog, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin). Invite your child to choose a card, then read the word together and hold up three fingers.  We focused on the sound each letter makes, more so than letter names. In my Instagram posts I have shared how I used Post Its to DIY these words cards and color code it. You can also use the post its for learning lowercase and uppercase letters.  And play a word scavenger hunt at home.

3 Create Print Rich Environment at home

Seeing printed words (on posters, charts, books, labels, white boards etc.) enables children to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols. When you’re out and about, point out letters on posters, billboards and signs. Focus on the first letter in words. Ask your child “What sound is that letter?” “What other word starts with that sound?” “What word rhymes with that word?”

We love Highlights preschool workbooks because it’s designed and written just for their age group. Highlights is an exciting, colorful, fun-filled magazine developed by the early childhood experts at Highlights. Vir loves practicing his writing in the workbook and reading and solving puzzles in the magazine.

Additionally, we also put cartoons for Vir on Netlix with captions on so he can hear and read the words as well. I have seen him point at many new words he now recognizes.

4 Start Introducing Sight Words and Play games

Sight words are typically shorter words that come up very frequently in text and sometimes they don’t follow predictable spelling rules. Some examples are: look, yes, the, do. It’s better to know them by sight rather than trying to sound them out. Sight word practice can include flash cards as suggested with post its, hunting for the words in books, and using computer games or apps like Reading eggs.

We also started with Bob Books and now Vir is reading the Advanced Readers Set 2 book. Bob books helped a lot in learning sight words and build the confidence in reading. I really like how each set focuses on a few key reading concepts. Throughout the set, each book uses repetition to build mastery of that concept before moving on to another set of concepts in the next set.

Sight words examples

5 Play CVC word games

Say a CVC word (consonant-vowel-consonant), for example ‘cat’, and ask your child to spell it using the magnets or write on a magnetic board. I help Vir, say each vowel sound aloud (/ayh/, /eh/, /ih/, /awe/, /uh/) while pointing at its letter, and then ask him which one makes a sound similar to the middle sound. We practice this daily too on the magnetic board and I often use this site for free printable and CVC word list. Pinterest has a lot of free downloads too. You can download 1 here.

CVC list for A

6 Read together daily and ask questions about the book

A lot of people don’t realize just how many skills can be picked up through the simple act of reading to a child. Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, you’re also building key comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like. Most of all, regular reading helps your child to develop a love reading, which is the best way to set them up for reading success.

Strengthen your child’s comprehension skills by asking questions while reading. For younger children, encourage them to engage with the pictures (e.g. “Do you see the boat? What color is the cat?”). For older children, ask questions about what you’ve just read, like “Why do you think the little bird was afraid?” “When did Sophie realize she had special powers?”

7 Reading online apps & books

Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like. We have all these below e magazines saved on Vir’s ipad and often switch to online reading to make it more fun and interactive.

Time , Nat geo kids library Story online Scholastic learn at home Lego Life Magazine

For  more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.

8. Get magazines in mail or make going to library a monthly affair.

Arranging for kids to receive free or monthly subscriptions of fun and educational items by mail is a great way to bring smiles to their faces and bring joy to reading. There are many sources of free items you can order, and your kids will have fun anticipating and receiving free stuff by mail! Here is FREE PETA helping animal guide I ordered recently for Vir.

If your child is between ages 5 and 9, they can receive a free two-year subscription to LEGO Jr. in the mail. The magazine is sent six times throughout the year and includes LEGO news, interviews, and fun projects to build.

We have Highlights magazine annual subscription for Vir and he loves receiving it in mail. He has his own mini car library full of Highlights magazines. Currently annual subscription is for $29.94

Due to COVID we have not had access to the library for months but few weeks back the library opened in our city and so we might go to it sometime soon.

9 Be Patient and make it fun!

We all know every child learns at his or her own pace, so I remind myself the single most important thing I can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you’ll instill an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.

We also have a list of podcasts on Spotify that Vir listens too and asks questions about new words he is learning . Here is a link to the FREE podcasts you too can follow. I highly recommend this activity.

Also resources like School in a Box by Tittle Tot are engaging kids at home with their unique, fun, and exciting, programs designed for kids age 3-8 years. It is a combination of online classes and do-at-home activities. Tittle Tot has 50+ themes, 30,000+ worksheets, 5,000+ DIY activities, and STEM projects. From Science, Math, Arts, Space , Halloween and many more. You can check them out. We recently started with Artist Box.

Tittle Tot theme boxes.

I will love to learn some of your favorite resources that helped your kids read.

Happy reading with your little ones!

Here are some more posts on Homeschooling , Crafts and My most recommended products

DIY Back to school activities

Learn & Play activities for Kids At Home

Pretend Play Indoor Activity Ideas for Kids. Free PJ Masks Activity Sheets Printables

Tips For Traveling Safely With Your Kids During COVID.

Pit Stop at Raton, New Mexico

Traveling looks much different right now than it looked last summer. My husband and I talked for a week before we decided about the trip and it was not an easy decision to make. We decided to go with the idea that we’d be diligent, overly cautious, and not take any unnecessary risks.

My family just finished a 2300 miles road trip from Houston, Texas to Breckenridge, Colorado. One-way drive from Houston to Breckenridge was 18 hours and 1150 miles. This was the first time ever we decided to go on a long road trip with our son and dog. The longest road trip ( 7 hours) with our son was to New Orleans in December 2019.

Honestly there was a guilt of traveling in pandemic, the time away from our house was much needed for our mental health. We’d all been cooped up together for 5 months, and it’s been a real challenge working from home and keeping Vir active and engaged for so many months. The summer in Houston is always hot and humid with temperatures touching 102 degrees on some days.

This act of taking this road trip was a luxury for us even though it wasn’t a luxurious one. I realize we are extremely fortunate to both have jobs at a time when so many Americans are looking for work. And we are so grateful of the ability to take time off from work and stay out of our home for 10 days.

Please note – any decisions to travel are highly personal and I encourage you to take note of the risks. Please do your research, take your doctor’s advice, assess the health of your family and make an informed choice. The information I am sharing here cannot guarantee anyone’s health or safety and is not meant to be divisive or comprehensive. Please do not travel through Indigenous communities currently.

On my Instagram page I shared with you all details on my road trip and was flooded with questions on several topics. I will be sharing my tips and experiences on this post and will be happy to answer any questions either here on the post in my comments section or you can DM me on my IG page. Note- I approached our road trip planning with an overabundance of caution.

Covid Related Road Safety Precaution.

Tip- Plan you breaks ahead of time. Find the biggest rest stops that wouldn’t have a dingy bathroom.

Gas station

While stopping for gas, we took extra precautions. We wore hand gloves and a mask while pumping gas. I wiped the card down after inserting it into the card reader everytime. Also trashed the gloves immediately before entering the car.

Restroom

Our one-way trip was 18 hours so we broke up our trip in to 2 stops. 1 in Amarillo and 1 in New Mexico for the first phase of the drive.

However while returning from Colorado we drove 9 hours to Amarillo . (Pit stop at Sand Dune National Park) and straight to Houston next day.

On our entire road trip we ended up having total 3 restroom breaks. Stopping at hotels helped minimize public restrooms usage too.

Post using the restroom we used hand sanitizers immediately. We didn’t use any rest room that someone did before. I also carried sanitizing wipes and used on doorknobs and toilet seat before using. We wore masks all the time! Vir wasn’t allowed to touch anything.

Tip – With younger kids I recommend bringing a small, portable toilet to use. And be open to roadside bathroom break depending where it is allowed. Carry all toilet essentials.

On Road meals

I packed lot of snacks for the entire trip and a cooked meals that could easily stay fresh for few hours . We carried lots of water, juices to avoid any stops in an ice box. However we did stop at Starbucks and Mc donalds only to grab coffee, snacks and food. We wore masks all the time while getting our food from drive through.

Note none of these restaurants has restrooms open for public.

Staying in Hotels

We dint want to make this our first camping and RVing experience and so we decided the best option for us will be hotels. So far the hotels we stayed in took fantastic precautions. Everyone was wearing masks and it was enforced for all guests even kids. There were face shields between customers and front desk. The check in was smooth. The breakfast places were closed and food was only to go. Some places pools were closed too, while at our Colorado hotel, the pool had to be booked in advance . And only 2 families were allowed for an hour. We stayed in a condo in Colorado at Marriot Inn Breckenridge. Since we had our dog we had only pet friendly hotel options.

Tip – Take the first-floor hotel room next to the exit door to avoid getting in elevators and corridors with others. Call in before booking to check for covid measures taken at the property and booking room on 1st floor.

I carried a bag of cleaning supplies like lysol spray, paper towels , sanitizers and cleaned all the surfaces that would be touched before Vir entered the room.

We found that staying in a hotel and getting food to go felt perfectly safe with the excessive protective measures in place. Yet we booked a condo in Colorado with a kitchen and cooked some meals there too. I carried some ready to eat food like (pasta, pasta sauce, frozen paranthas( stuffed tortillas) noodles etc.

There was no room service until we stayed. For change of linen and towels we called the reception and left the stuff out of the room. Same with trash. It was replaced by the staff in few minutes.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

National Park Visits on the way

Note: Some National parks are requiring reservations via advance ticket purchases.

We stopped on our way to Colorado at Paulo Duro Canyon in Amarilo. We checked ahead of time if the parks were open and what were the Covid restrictions. The tickets needed to be purchased in advance. We drove around the canyon and didn’t get out as it was 100 degrees that day.

On our way back from Colorado we stopped at Great Sand Dunes National park. Here the tickets were not needed in advance and was first come first serve basis. We wore masks throughout our trail and social distancing was relatively easy as it wasn’t crowded people were respectful of space.

Road trip Entertainment.

Spotify was the only source of entertainment for us. Apart from listening to my playlist we were hooked on to True Crime Podcast.

You can follow my playlists and podcast I like here

Kids Entertainment.

For Vir we had downloaded his favorite cartoons from Netflix and Amazon prime on his iPad.

Also he played his favorite online games and did reading eggs.

Additionally, Vir enjoyed listening to his favorite songs and stories podcast from Kids Spotify.

You can follow our Prek / Kindergarten playlist here

Things I carried for road trip for  Vir

  1. We also carried a car fold-able table that I highly recommend.
  2. Toys -He played with his toys, legos, monster trucks and also did puzzles and coloring on his favorite kid’s magazine Highlights for Children.
  3. Snacks – Juicy Juice boxes, fruits, chips and nuts, cheese and yogurt pouch and granola bars.
  4. Travel Neck pillow for sleeping. Highly recommend this.
  5. Blanket
  6. Bike and helmet for the trip
  7. Cap, sunglasses, sunscreen, change of clothes and shoes.  
  8. Kids mask and hand sanitizer

Other Essentials for the road

1)Big Bottle of hand sanitizer and several small for pocket use, Clorox wipes, latex gloves, lysol spray and paper towels

2)Lots of disposable masks and cloth masks, garbage bags

3) Back up phone charger Fast charge power bank from Otter box

4) Lots of water, snacks and fruits.

5) Supergoop sunscreen glow stick , sunscreen spray and Babyganics sunscreen for kids

6) Other essentials like – Mints, gum, chap-stick, pain killers, eye mask, flip flops to get in and out of car comfortably., scarf, glasses, caps, hairbrush, ties.

7) UV window shades

8) Cooler bag to keep food, water cold. Thermos. Tupperware

9) Swiss army knife, emergency window hammer and flashlight

10) Small reusable tote bag/ backapack with essentials for getting out of car and on trails or restroom.

On our way back to Houston from Paulo Duro Canyon

Have a safe road trip friends!

DIY Back to School Activities For Kids

With the school year approaching, we’re ready to beat after-school boredom with some classic DIY- inspired activities and crafts you can do at home with your kids. When the school year turned virtual, Vir and I loved spending the days cooking and creating new crafts – we even set up a camp tent for our “summer vacation!”

Even though I loved the extra time with Vir, I know he missed his friends and teachers while we were at home. Homeschooling my son while working from home has made me realize how much work and effort goes into teaching our kids all day. Our teachers really made the year special, which is why I’m so happy that we’re a part of the new Juicy Juice 100% Thankful Teacher Contest. To honor and thank the teachers that go above and beyond for our kids, Juicy Juice is giving away over $30,000 in prizes to set them up for the best school year yet, and Michaels is even providing gift cards for the teachers.


Do you have a stellar teacher you want to nominate? If so, it’s super easy!!


1) Throughout August, parents can nominate the superhero teachers who have made school special for their kids, whether in-person or through virtual learning.
2) Entrants can go to juicyjuice.com/thankful to nominate teachers until August 31.
3) 20 finalists will be selected and then the grand prize voting begins!
4) All finalists will win an assortment of prizes, with 2 grand prize-winning teachers each receiving $10,000 and others winning a selection of Juicy Juice merchandise, product and a Michaels gift card!

Enter here.

To help get ready for the year, we found inspiration from Juicy Juice to help get in the back to school spirit and find at-home entertainment.

We usually play with the sprinkler in our driveway to cool off in the 95 degrees Houston weather and hydrate with Juicy Juice fruit juice boxes. Juicy Juice is an iconic kids’ beverage brand enjoyed by families for over 40 years. Available in 15 juicy flavors, Juicy Juice 100% juice has no added sugar, ever! I love that Juicy Juice is an excellent source of Vitamin C, making it a great choice as we head back to our school routine.

Below, I’ve shared a few of our favorite crafts and activities that you and your family can enjoy while getting ready for the year. Paired with 100% juice from Juicy Juice, it’s a great way to get ready for a new year!

1) Making tie dye shirts was on our bucket list, and it’s not as messy or daunting as it sounds. Vir was very excited about the project.

You need- White T shirt, Tulip one step Tie Dye kit and plastic bag. I searched on you tube to learn some tie dye techniques and used the spiral one for Vir’s T shirt. The idea is to keep it simple and mess free.

After tying the T shirt with rubber bands, we squeezed the dye bottles to get the color on the T shirt and then let the T shirt soak in the color up to 8 hours in the plastic bag. Later wash the T shirt in cold water and run a cycle too in the washing machine to get rid of the remaining dye and air dry.

2) Juicy Juice Monster Juice Box craft – Vir is fascinated with googly eyes and Halloween and we decided to decorate Vir’s favorite strawberry + watermelon flavor and berry flavor Juicy Juice boxes with felt paper, goggle eyes and colorful Chenille stems. It was one of Vir’s favorite craft activities to date. We are reusing the monster Juicy Juice boxes after they were empty as pen and crayon stands.

3) DIY hand painted bug rocks-These DIY hand painted ladybug rocks are perfect for your garden or indoor pot decor this summer. They’re so adorable, and so easy to make for kids. If you have stones is your front yard this is a great way to re purpose them. Vir learnt some facts about the bugs and insects too as it was the main theme for one of the camp days.
You need smooth rocks, acrylic paint, black color pen, glue, google eyes. (You can also use spray paint for better coverage)

4) Nature Scavenger Hunt – Taking a walk with the kids in the summer is exciting especially when they have the Summer camp Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet. This activity makes them more aware of all the things going on around them that they might otherwise miss. You can download the free Scavenger hunt sheet here.

I hope these are helpful and you enjoy them with your kids.

Happy Homeschooling!

Learn and Play Summer Activities for Kids at Home.

There are no doubts that trying to juggle working from home with children is challenging. Whether you’re in a video call, focusing on writing, or making a presentation, there are going to be several times you are going to be interrupted and called out Mama, Mommy, Mom breaking your concentration or rhythm.

In these 3 months of working from home with a four-year-old I have realized that there are some activities where you will need to be involved with the kids and some that need minimal involvement. In this post I am covering ONLY those activities that have worked for us.

For many parents around the country school year is closed, and for those with younger kids who go to daycare, there is still time when things can go back to normal schedules. And so I hope this post can help you to keep your kids busy and occupied while learning from home.

Honestly the first few weeks of homeschooling were hard, but after trying and testing several things I have found a schedule that works for all of us. The key is Flexibility. We made sure each day for our son flows like how it would have been at school. (screen time is a new entrant although in this timetable).

Not every day is the same, we switch activities, play and learning time as the day goes by. We have no hard timetable that we follow for Vir, it is not possible given the fluidity of the workday. (Except for breakfast, lunch, snack, nap, chores and outdoor play.)

Below list is broken down into different categories.

I highly recommend Children’s Museum of Manhattan for daily inspiration and ideas on new topics and activities you can have the kids do.

Outdoor time

We step out of the house at least twice in a day, once after breakfast to get some activity for 20-30 minutes and once in the evening at 5pm for longer time anywhere between an hour or more. We take necessary social distancing measures and now have started wearing masks too. (walks, scooter rides, biking, dog walk, nature treasure hunt, park hikes etc)

Educational Time

Vir is in Pre k 3 and at at almost 4 years of age I try to ensure 3 core activities are part of his educational time. Reading, Writing and Numbers. Below are some resources

Reading online apps & books

Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like

Time , Nat geo kids library , Story online , Scholastic learn at home

We also love the Reading Eggs App and Vir has picked up so many spellings. He is learning to read and can form 4 word sentences. I love the amount of puzzles, activities the app offers. Also there are worksheets that come with it, so we download that and practice too. I highly recommend this app.

Also we started the Highlights magazine monthly subscription for Vir and he loves getting one every month and reading and solving puzzles on it.

For  more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.

Writing, Tracing, Patterns

We follow this daily with some workbooks I bought from Amazon to make sure Vir practices his writing. He has learnt writing all alphabets big and small.Here are some resources

Alphaprints Workbook from Amazon

Skillmatics tracing puzzles, pattern work sheets are a huge hit !

Reading Eggs to has worksheets available. You can download it here.

We also use the Notability App on Ipad with Ipencil. That has help change things around when Vir is bored of the books. I use the app for work but have realized we are able to lot more things with Vir for his writings and dot to do activities that are reusable.

Pinterest has several free printables online that you can use.

I also recommend having a magnetic slate, it makes it more fun and has multiple uses.

Numbers and Counting

Using flash cards has helped most in teaching Vir numbers. Also, we use a white board at home and the magnetic slate daily. All the above online resources have math and number printables available too

Visit a Zoo and Aquarium online.

Although some states have opened up and museums and zoos are accessible, you can watch animals online here

Open Play

1.Household scavenger hunts have been a huge success whether be it with hiding eggs indoor on Easter or to reintroducing the Easter hunt every week. We improvised with a monster truck hunt and recently took it outdoors with nature hunt too. Below are some ideas. You can download these free printables

Indoor Treasure Hunt by aboutamom.com  , Pj Mask Super Hero DIY costume and FREE Printables for preschollers, Egg hunt printable from Skillmatics , Nature Scavenger Hunt from Free Kids Craft. Pinterest too has loads of ready-to-print ideas.

2. Lego Time or Building Activities: Lego is sharing videos and daily challenges online for kids to build something new.  We have been following the lego masters build amazing cities and characters. You can see more here on Lego’s initiative to help families 

3. Toy-Washing Bin or Water activity – Let your kids wash their plastic toys, cars trucks etc. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies. You can also open your backyard or driveways to water play with water table, balloons, toy water guns. Summer is here.

4. Bathtub Play When the day is long, and I feel I did nothing that day, all I have to do is fill up the bathtub with a little bit of water, put some fizzy bath tablets in the water and give Vir markers and toys and also a Popsicle somedays and we are good to go for a 45 minutes at least!

5.Ice Smash Game – By far one of the most IG shared and successful games to keep Vir busy while I am on office calls. Just freeze tiny toys in water overnight and give it to the kids next day to break and smash with toy hammers, spoon. Sticks etc.

Creative Time

1.Pasta Necklace with food coloring – We recently made our quarantine accessory at home.To make the “jewelry”, you need 2-3 spoons of water in a ziplock bag + 4 to 5 drops of food coloring + pasta. Shake the bag and dye all the pasta. Repeat step for different colors. (Optional: sprinkle in some glitter) Let the pasta dry and use a yarn to string the pasta! You can also use acrylic paint if you like. With food coloring the pasta is dyed evenly. Vir enjoyed the entire process and was proud of his creation. I love how I can do this fun activity with my son and match with him too!

2. Tootpick and Playdough STEM activity– We have started discovering the concept of Geometry and it is so much more fun while playing! We use playdough and toothpicks in this classic, hands-on activity to learn about shapes on a 3-dimensional level.

3. DIY a Boardgame Forget about a ready-made game. Your child’s creativity will kick into high gear when they make their own board game. Vir and I made a simple board game with markers, colors and paper and he loves playing with it. You can keep changing it up every few weeks by adding stickers, more colors, levels on a new chart paper or sheets

4. Nature Craft. One of Vir’s favorite activities is picking flowers from our plants and on our morning walks. We made some mixed material crafts at home on paper and with flowers, beads, crayons, colors, paints, clay and more. Try it out !

Online Dance & Karate Classes

Learn specific stances and basic positions for karate, Taekwondo or another martial art or even free dance lessons by following YouTube videos. (Definitely requires supervision.)

Pretend-play

1.You can include little kids in your new WFH schedule by giving them their own briefcase full of office supplies and asking them to “work” quietly nearby. Use markers, pads of paper, child-friendly scissors, stickers, and any other grown-up things like pencil cases, a measuring tape, or an old-school calculator

2.We recently converted Vir’s kitchen into a café, and he loves it. The Ikea kitchen is one of the best investments we made.  I have ordered some chalkboard paper to switch things around and make a taco truck and ice cream parlor too. He is learning to count money and understanding simple math like addition and subtraction.

3.Super Hero pretend play. Check out my recent blog post here for all superhero activities you can try.

Below are some of my other posts with additional ideas & resources

Toys and Games for overall development.

10 Best Educational Apps for Toddlers

List of Age Appropriate Chores for Kids.

Easy and Fun Summer Activities for Babies and Toddlers.

Hope this post is resourceful and can help you navigate summers with your little ones at home.

Mother’s Day: Best Gift for Moms

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I am sharing some of my favorite products and brands here that I have been using and looking to buy. Since everyone is social distancing in May 2020, I have prepared a list that can be useful in current times. There is something for everyone here!

What I love about this list is that it can be referred anytime and for any occasion like birthdays, Christmas gifts, baby showers, weddings, graduation and more. I hope you like these gifting ideas whether you are gifting your mom, your wife, your friend or family member or even yourself.

  1. The perfect gift for the minimalistMark & Graham Monogrammed Card Case on Sale
  2. AM /PM Hydration MotivationWater Bottle with Time Marker Reminder, BPA Free Frosted Tritan Plastic, Leakproof and Drop Resistant, 1 Liter 32 Oz
  3. Update Home & Garden space with HOMENOTE White Ceramic Flower Pot Garden Planters 6/4.8 inch Pack 2 Indoor, Plant Containers with Marble Texture and Gold Detailing
  4. Family Portrait Illustration (Can be customized) I bought it for my  art wall and love it  – By Catepaper co Etsy store
  5. Homebody Must Have, stay cozy at home in this nigh/ lounge wear by  –H&M Pajama Camisole and Culottes
  6. Gift this limited Mother’s Day Gift set by Dyson to yourself or mom for the best hair days
  7. Give the gift of peace of mind. Tile helps find the things that matter most. Lost keys, remote, phone and even cats. I am planning to buy this for myself.  Special Tile Mom Edition .
  8. This Mother’s Day, whether near or far, treat her to an exclusive Venus ET Fleur® arrangement designed with the most beautiful high-quality Eternity® Roses. They last more than a year. I love mine!
  9. A hydrating, plumping treatment for when you or your loved one’s skin is extra thirsty. 12+Applications Versed Face Mask
  10. From the world’s #1 Facial hair remover, Finishing Touch Lumina Lumina flawless, comes flawless contour, a vibrating facial roller and massager in rose quartz
  11. Lightweight lenses with anti-reflective coating to reduce glare. Tijin Eyewear
  12. Mason Jar Garden, Grow Your Own Herbs Gift Set, Contains Rosemary, Basil and Sage Seeds with 6 Soil Pods by Thoughtfully Gifts.
  13. I love my  sterling silver Changeable Heart Charm Bracelet by James Avery . It  is crafted with alternating links of circles and elongated loops, and a twisted wire heart changeable charm holder in the middle. Press gently on the hinge in the heart to add or remove charms. One of the cutest bracelets I own,
  14. One of my favorite & most convenient rain wear piece the Golightly packaway jacket by Joule USA. the PU coating and taped seams make it 100% waterproof so you or your mom can take it anywhere.
  15. This Bamboo Bathtub Tray Caddy is expandable with Wine Glass Holder and Book Stand. Luxury Bubble Bath Accessories & Spa Decor.
  16. Premium Pink Floral Silky Kimono Robe On White With Pockets and can be customized too by The Knot Shop
  17. The Fawn Design Original is the perfect diaper bag, combining style, comfort, and ease and made with vegan leather.
  18. Simple & Modern 4 layer design Jewelry box available in 3 colors available on Amazon

I will love to know which is your favorite!

Happy Mother’s Day !!

Arushi (2)

Superheroes Pretend Play Indoor Activity Ideas for Kids. Free PJ Masks Activity Sheets Printables

Free Pj masks

Kid’s love superheroes. What’s not to love? They can fly, apply super strength, use their superpowers, work as a team and can do good in the world.

Another thing that kids love is “Pretend Play”.  Pretend play sessions promote enthusiastic dialog complete with descriptive new vocabulary words and increased social interaction. Best of all, when kids pretend, they also take on the perspective of another person or creature. This, inherently, helps them to develop empathy—perhaps our greatest superpower as humans.

At our home we engage with our little superhero through Role play in some of his favorite characters. And I have seen through superhero pretend play how Vir feels brave, in control and just plain good.

April 28TH is National Superhero day, this day is for honoring both fictional superheroes and real-life superheroes—those who risk their lives to keep others safe. Both heroes are role models for children, and even for adults.

Vir is a big fan of the dynamic hero trio of fan-favorites – Catboy, Owlette and Gekko – from the hit show PJ Masks. Good News!! Season 4 is debuting on May 15 at 7 PM EST/PST on Disney Junior.  And new episodes, including the FIRST-EVER 44-minute special Heroes of the Sky, that will take us through heroic adventures where we meet new allies, villains and locations while centered around the power of friendship and teamwork! The show is also available to watch on Netflix.

In today’s post I want to encourage all parents to use the power of roleplay and imagination on National Superhero Day with PJ Masks with their little superheroes.

To also help celebrate, check out the PJM National Superhero Day Celebration Kit 2020  (Click on this link for 20 page printable)

In this kit there are Activity Sheets/Printables that will help the kids have an entire day of superhero roleplay fun. Ring in the heroic day with the dynamic trio from PJ Masks, Catboy, Owlette and Gekko.

DIY Costume

Superhero Certificate

The certificate can be a great way to let the kids know they did a great job with all the activity sheets and effort they put in.

Some other learn and play activities you can include

 

Physical activity with a superhero obstacle course and tire them out.
Organize an obstacle course in your backyard or even your living room. Use a small blanket as cape or use the cut outs masks in above link and ask the kids to complete the course, pretending they are superheroes.

  • Balance a book on the head to walk.
  • Crawl under the chair
  • Knock down all the cans.
  • Jump from block to block.
  • Ride the tricycle across the living room while making a silly face.
  • Drag a heavy thing past the line.

 

DIY laser maze

diy-hallway-laser-maze-fun-indoor-activity-kids-rainy-day-easy-4

Source: It’slawaysautmn blog

You can tape crepe paper streamers, ribbons or yarn in your hallway and create a maze for kids to get through without breaking or touching.

 

Science Exploration with Magnetic powers
You need a variety of things available at home (nails, paperclips, coins, rubber bands, crayons, blocks, etc) Hold a magnet next to each item, one at a time. Sort the objects into two piles, those that are attracted by the magnet and those that aren’t.

Practice writing with superhero name

Use a dry eraser board and ask your child to trace or practice writing his /her superhero name.

Make Superpower Jell-O potion.

img_8793Take Red, green, blue or different flavors of Jell-O powder. Ask the kids to add one tablespoon of powder to a bowl. Add hot water and encourage children to take turns stirring until the powder is completely dissolved. Once the mixture is lukewarm, invite them to drink a spoonful of the superpower potion to make them strong like a superhero.

Bring in Real Life Superheroes.

In my recent Instagram post I had shared how I explained Vir that not all heroes wear capes. Real-life heroes put themselves in harm’s way, and in circumstances where they may risk their lives for others, just as their fictional counterparts do. Some of these heroes have careers that put them into these scenarios, such as members of law enforcement, military personnel, and firefighters and as we can see how the front-line workers are daily fighting the current pandemic. Reading a book and talking about their courage to our kids can be a great way to show the importance of helping others in time of need.

I hope these ideas help you and your little ones enjoy social distancing at home. How is homeschooling going moms?

XOXO

Arushi (2)