Airplane Busy Bag Must Haves + Tips on Flying Internationally with a Baby or Toddler

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A recent pic from our Portugal travel diaries. (Pena Palace,Sintra)

Me and my husband love to embrace adventure and explore new places. The idea of exploring this big beautiful world with our toddler is exciting.  Yes it takes a lot of work, time, patience and planning and no doubt it gets difficult sometimes too. But, then anything difficult has the opportunity to help you grow. I have realized after travelling to 4 countries and total of 6 destinations this year with my son,  that each trip comes with new challenges and learnings.

In this post I will be sharing all the different techniques l learned from our past travels for not just surviving but thriving with a growing toddler on our travels.

In April we travelled to Switzerland & Amsterdam for 2 weeks,(Post here with our travel pics and more tips) Our son was 10 months old at that time . His major food source was formula, he was crawling and standing with support and was understanding just a few words. This is a good age to travel as they sleeping comfortably in the stroller.

My learnings from that trip was –

  1. Always carry at least 2 days worth of formula or milk in the carryon luggage, to avoid shopping for your baby’s food in a foreign land (with packaging in foreign language) since they are chances your baggage can be delayed
  2. Try to take only red eye flights so your baby can sleep in your lap and not be awake throughout your ten hour journey
  3. Every country is not baby bathroom friendly (We faced this issue in Amsterdam). It was almost impossible to find a restroom that had a changing table in the city.

In July we travelled to Los Cabos, Mexico (Our Vacay pics are here ) for a 3 day getaway when our son was 13 months, almost walking,  drinking cow’s milk and eating real food.

My learnings from this trip was-

  1. Always carry extra food on the flight or places you visit at your destination -like bread, cheese, fruit or any other snacks, as you will run out of them especially if your kid throws everything on the floor. Be prepared if you have a picky eater at this age.
  2. Plan your day trips around the kid’s nap schedule so they can be happy when you plan to step out, since a tired kid and cranky kid can cause stress if you are miles or hours away from your hotel.

In September we travelled to Seattle for a 4 day trip, where Vir was walking, eating well and understanding many words and communicating with us.

My learnings from this trip was

  1. Even though kids are tiny and can fit in your lap easily, it is a good choice to get their own seat for more comfort. (I carried a pillow with me on the flight on which our son comfortably laid across me and my husband )
  2. Once they learn to walk, it will be hard to have them seated in a stroller for long periods of time, so be prepared to carry them in a baby/toddler carrier or in your arms half of the time when you are sightseeing or shopping.
  3. The best way to keep them excited about visiting new locations is to allow them to explore it by running around in a safe place and burn all that energy. Once they are tired they eat peacefully and want to sit in the stroller.

 Post these travels I started to plan ahead of time on what I need to do for our recent vacation to Portugal. We were now aware of all possible scenarios   – covering in flight entertainment, meal preps at destinations, planning the day trip around the toddler’s schedule, dealing with jetlag , expected crankiness  and meltdowns at public spaces etc.

However my biggest concern this time around was to handle the 14 hour journey with an extremely active and energetic 18 month toddler.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a red eye flight from Houston to Lisbon and for that reason I worked on my BUSY BAG solution to keep my little guy occupied with the least amount of screen time possible.

Below are the items I used in the busy bag that was a huge success in keeping my little one entertained.  Honestly, I was so happy my tricks worked and we had a smooth journey.  Also as expected my son didn’t sleep the entire flight, which means I had to keep him engaged for over 14 hours.

15 Dinner Ideas for You and Your DadToys

I only pack items that are small and can be sorted, stacked, or otherwise moved from place to place. My son’s favorite are his pull back Cars from My B toys  (good for play at the airport ) Finger puppets, legos , a musical remote,  wooden activity board were a huge hit too. The buckle toywas a new toy we introduced on the plane, it’s great for learning basic skills and kept Vir busy for over 15 minutes.

Books

Small board books with flaps are great to engage also try getting new books so it keeps them interested , I really like this Water coloring On the Go book

Craft Play

Play Dough is low mess and easy to pack , my son tries to eat it but he enjoys cutting it and pressing it too. You can also get felt activity books.

Games

Flashcards are fun and also cheap, easy to find at the dollar store or at Target dollar bin, I never feel sad about losing half the cards by the end of the trip). (They’re great for quizzing her on words and sounds, and making piles to stack and counting the cards as we put them back in the box (that’s a game, right?)

SNACKS

Anything bite-sized is perfect for little fingers…plus, it stretches out the snacking time twice as long. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY SNACKS. I probably pack twice as many snacks as toys, because snacks double as entertainment. When it doubt, get out the snacks. I always carry the Oat bars from Happy Baby, raisins, fruit, cheerios , yogurt and for long haul flights even get homemade pasta, veggie sandwich or  veggie muffins(Recipe here)  and very importantly Horizon organic low fat milk. Always carry extra milk and yes these packs are allowed in flight in carry on luggage along with any other baby food.

Random Things like

Glow stick was very helpful to divert his attention if he was cranky and great play when it got dark on the flight. Stickers are fun to carry too.

Screen time (And yes the ace in your bag of tricks when everything fails )

Let’s face it. As much as I try to avoid giving our toddler the tablet, it’s going to happen on travel days. We expect a lot out of our little guy and we definitely push our limits of what a little body can handle, so I find that bending the rules and treating him to the Amazon Fire HD tablet and his favorite snacks is the least we can do to help ease the stress for everyone involved.

Downloads Shows  from  Amazon Prime or Netflix, Little Baby Bum, Super Simple Songs, Word Party, and Sesame Street are a few of our favorites.

Fun and educational Apps like Peekaboo Barn, PBS kids, Happy Valley Friends and Sago Mini Truck and Diggers are few of our favorites.

I completely forgot to carry headphones for my kid , so definitely going to carry them on our trips moving  forward .

Here is more information and tips on travelling with kids.

A pediatrician’s advice on caring for your child’s health while travelling

How I survived a long haul flight with a lap child

How I prepare to leave my Breastfed baby for a work trip

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Vir wanted to stand for sometime and play on his ping board in the flight

Hope this post was helpful, please do share any tricks or tips you have on travelling with kids. Please feel free to leave me your questions and I will get back to them as early as I can .

XOXO

Arushi (2)

Tricks to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

fruits that you need to try

As a parent, sometimes getting your toddler to eat anything, let alone eat healthy can be very stressful! There are sick days, moody days, fussy days, some really happy and hungry days and this list could go on and on.

For me it is all about teaching my kid to love healthy foods especially fruits and vegetables, and some days we all need to have a backup plan. On my Instagram stories you will see regular updates of my morning latte cups and some days meals, recipes and food pictures of what I am offering my son.

I have been getting several questions from moms on my email and DMs on what I am cooking for Vir requesting for recipes of my favorite spinach and veggie loaded toddler meals. So in this post I am listing out few of my recipes that have worked for us and some great ideas for back up plans on feeding your picky eater.

Also you can check out my previous post that has a list of food items I offered my child as he started solids and a Free Printable with all nutrient information for different food types with nutrients information. Click Here 

My son is 18 months old, and is still figuring out his taste buds, so I try to provide a balanced meal while including veggies in his favorite Pancakes, Pasta, Muffin , Stuffed tortilla and Soup. My tip if your toddler refuses to eat any veggies – SNEAK THEM IN !!! Some might think it’s sending a wrong message, but for us it’s a work in progress. There is ample time to develop my kid’s understanding of his food and I will like take as it goes. However, I am doing this to make sure he has a balance diet.

To sneak in veggies especially on those fussy days :  Boil Spinach, carrot, some kale and blend it. (You can add veggies of your choice depending on how you plan to use them.) Replace water with this mix in all the dishes like Pancakes, Pasta, Muffin , Stuffed tortilla and Soup

Toddler Approved Recipes!

Spinach And Banana Pancakes– Add boiled and blended spinach and carrot mix with Banana, oat flour and 1 egg to make healthy Spinach breakfast.

Veggies loaded Mac and Cheese/ Pasta– Sauté diced pieces of carrot, peas with onion and spinach in butter or olive oil. Add boiled pasta with desired pasta sauce. I add cheese slices in the pasta too, it never hurts to add more. Offering really small pieces of veggies is a good start and later moving to bigger pieces.

Veggie mix Roti/Tortilla-  My son is not a big fan of stuffed breads , so I have started mixing the boiled veggies directly to the flour or you can use the blended mix as an alternative to water while making the dough. I recommend including beets and sweet potatoes too as they look colorful and are nutrient dense.

Veggie and Fruit Muffins- Fruit and veggie muffins have all of the elements to basically be a complete meal!  I recently came across this great recipe on Pinterest and it has been a great success. It is loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals and fiber . Click here for Power Packed Fruit Muffin Recipe from Super Healthy Kids.com

Make a Dip Bar

veggie dip tray

In Dr Sears’ book, The Portable Pediatrician, he suggests serving all types of chopped vegetables and foods in an ice tray, with some yummy dipping sauces on the ends. Making it fun, colorful and full of variety can encourage little ones to eat more vegetables. Marinara sauce, ranch, Parmesan cheese, Coriander chutney are great to start with. I am currently offering steamed carrots , broccoli with Marinara sauce to Vir

 

Cook Veggies in different ways

Raw, Roasted, or Steamed has been a hit in our house.  We all vote for baked and boiled as my son loves grabbing small pieces of sweet potatoes, carrots and peas. Seasoning the veggies is a winner in my friend’s house and I will be starting that soon too. Let me know what seasoning you use.

Beat the Veggies (Smoothies for the WIN )

smoothieSmoothies are a great (and easy) way to get nutrient dense fruits and vegetables into your kids without them really knowing it! Spinach, Kale, Beets and Fruit of course! The best part is that toddlers and kids think that smoothies are the equivalent of having a milkshake.We love the Banana+ Peanut butter+ Spinach+ Kale+ Milk smoothie. Tip : Start adding veggies slowly in the smoothie and get to the right amount of sweetness and taste. I started with small quantities of spinach and kale at first and once my son got used to the taste we added more.Check out this Toddler Approved Smoothie from one of my favorite blogger mom Ashley. I love the Jamba juice cup idea.

Butter them up

Young tongues are particularly sensitive to bitterness, and kids may instinctively repel from bitter foods. Masking the bitterness with butter especially for broccoli is working for us so far . “Everything tastes better with butter, especially vegetables. Try adding 1 tablespoon of butter per half cup of mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, and cooked spinach to temper the bitterness.

 

Hope this post helps you get some veggies in your fussy toddler’s meal !! Please do share your tips and tricks and any great recipe .

Now, go get some broccoli and LOVE it

Arushi (2)

Get Your KIDSto LOVE Veggies (1)

 

My Last Minute Family Halloween Costume You can DIY! 

First Halloween is always special, you get to dress your little one in cute outfits and click several pictures to reminisce later. I bought my 5 month old son 4-5 costumes from the store to try and see what suits him best. But of course he was extremely uncomfortable in all of them and kept fussing.  (Now I think a simple onesie costume would have worked best )

So just a day before Halloween last year (2016) I decided to make this cute Popcorn costume for my son to create a look that matches the entire family. I definitely felt it was more practical for our First Family Halloween outing..

While some moms blow my mind by putting  hours to building outrageous costumes, I can tell you  there are tons of ideas for creative DIY baby costumes that you can pull off with a little imagination, some basic crafting skills. I believe a baby carrier costume is the best solution if you plan to leave the house for trick or treating. Your baby is cozy and snug against you and you have your hands free!

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“Clothes make a statement. Costume tells a story” Mason Cooley


This DIY popcorn costume is perhaps the cheapest and easiest of ALL the costumes to make! 

Cut, glue, wear. BA-BAM!

You’ll need:

  1. 5-6 sheets of White and Red felt
  2. Scissors
  3. Glue gun
  4. Thread and needle
  5. Baby carrier
  6. A baby bonnet or cap
  7. White infant and adult clothing
  8. Matching adult shoes optional
  9. Red bow ties
  10. 1 red or white apron
  11. Real popcorn

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The steps are extremely simple. 

Wear your baby in the carrier and measure the length and breadth to decide how many white felt sheets you will need to glue together to make the base.

Cut Red felt into thin stripes and glue them on the white felt base.

For the popcorn alphabets I drew the letters with a pencil on the felt and cut them out. You can use stencils too.

Glue the red alphabets on a rectangular strip of white felt that cover the top part of  the base of the costume.

Stitch the felt base loosely with the carrier

Glue real popcorn on a  bonnet or baby cap

And lastly, don’t forget to dress your fur baby in a hot dog outfit to complete the Family Costume  !

Happy Trick or Treating!!

Arushi (2)

Top Nursery Essentials + A Tour of Vir’s Room

As a new parent, moms have plenty of decisions to make for the first time, be it decorating the nursery, shopping for your baby’s outfits, deciding on the style of the baby-shower dress, picking out the baby registry Must Haves, packing the hospital bag and so much more. Working on all these tasks during my pregnancy in 2016, made me realize that one can never be too prepared for parenthood.

Yet, I will like to say the first and foremost step during your pregnancy is listing out the products you want for yourself and the baby. I had an excel spread sheet of items that I needed and was gradually listing them out in my baby registry after taking recommendations from my mom, friends, and seeking reviews online.  Thankfully, Amazon recently made the registry process extremely convenient for all new parents with theirBaby Registry service. They truly have Earth’s biggest selection of products, meaning you can pick and choose items from any retailer, giving you endless product options, great discounts, rewards and prime member offers. (I am glad to partner with them for their #BundleOfBenefits Program and share my opinions on their convenient service.)

Decorating Vir’s nursery was our most exciting and creative project so far. Honestly, planning it was a bit overwhelming, as there are tons of options to choose from styles, accent pieces, décor and colors.  In this post I am sharing a tour of our son’s modern /neutral nursery while hoping to send some inspiration your way. He is a toddler now and growing fast so we have also made some more additions to his room in last couple of months. I have compiled a list of my Must Have Items, after using most of them for more than 17 months.

Décor : We stuck to mainly white walls and white nursery furniture. To pop up the room we put grey triangle decals on one of the walls and added a personal touch with 4 small paintings made by me and my husband. Highly recommend making a simple piece of art whether you are good at art and craft or not. There is a keepsake framed artwork, which has balloons signed by our guests from our baby shower and a ledge with books right above the dresser. I really like the animal theme so most of the décor pieces are influenced by it.

Nursery items Must Haves

Crib: Vir has been sleeping in his Babyletto convertible crib since he was 3 months. Creating a safe sleep environment and good sleeping habits are important for your baby’s physical and emotional well-being. An important part of establishing good sleeping habits is the sleep environment – where your child sleeps, the kind of crib or bed, the type of mattress, and so on.

Dresser: Closet organizing can really take a lot of your time. I choose Ikea 8 drawer dresser to store my son’s clothes, diapers, bedding, toiletries etc. It is very convenient to fold and store the tiny clothing and easy to rotate as they grow. Highly recommend buying drawer dividers to separate their tiny pieces of clothing like onesies, shorts, pants, t shirts, socks etc.

A cool mist humidifier (warm mist can breed bacteria in the humidifier)- Highly recommend Crane Drop humidifier to all my friends, in fact this is the gift I like to pick up for baby showers. So definitely add it to your Amazon Baby Registry. It has been so helpful especially on those nights when our son has a stuffy nose. One of the most important benefits of having a humidifier in the nursery is the protection it provides against dry air. This is especially true in the winter months when indoor air tends to become dry from your heating system robbing the natural moisture in it.

White noise machine or soft toy– The Gentle Giraffe has been Vir’s sleeping companion since he was 3 months old. It has over 4 soothing sounds to lull the baby to sleep and is very convenient to travel with too. Babies are used to hearing a lot of noise in the womb, so I think its hard for them to sleep in a nursery that is too quiet. The white noise machine is one of my highest recommended registry items.

Diaper Pail: We live in a town home with 3 floors; we definitely needed 2 diaper pails as our baby lounges with us in the living room, too, apart from napping in his nursery. The Diaper Genie has been the most convenient option. Tip : While looking for a diaper pail remember trash bags need to be bought with them too. Amazon Registry lets you earn free baby essentials when your registry’s total purchase value reaches $1000 (from you and your gift givers), you can redeem $100 in diapers, wipes, formula, baby care products and more. Learn more here

Basket Bin: The clothing hamper is an important decorative piece of Vir’s nursery. It is so convenient to have all dirty clothes in 1 place. Also, instead of having several small baskets to store toys I recommend getting 1 big bin.

Nursing Chair: Breastfeeding is hard and sometimes you want your own zone to bond with your baby. My nursing chair was our space where we sat for hours. It supported my back and gave me the right positioning and comfort to feed or rock my baby to sleep.

Books and lots of them– Reading is essential to every child’s growth and development. Whether you read to them or they page through books themselves, you probably have an ever growing and changing stack of books for your child at home. Some of my son’s favorites are –The very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Little Zoo, My Papa Loves Me, Goodnight Moon amongst many.

With Amazon Baby registry, one can make their complete list of items that they need for their little one from the convenience of their home. No more running around the stores with a list and searching for scanners and bar codes, you can choose what you need with just a few clicks. Additionally there are many other benefits like (a) It is extremely simple to set up (b) Returns are easy and hassle free (c) A surprise from Amazon for parents-to-be and baby is  a Welcome Box containing selections of full, travel and sample size. The contents of the box changes from time to time, but always includes a full-size swaddle blanket and more. Learn more here  (d) Prime member Baby Registrants are eligible for additional rotating limited time offers. These offers can be found in the Exclusive Offers section of your desktop registry dashboard or in Offers & Benefits from your mobile device

nursery essentials by The Snazzy Mom

What are some of your highest recommended baby goods or nursery essentials? Will you be suggesting Amazon Registry to your friends and family after seeing the benefits and convenience in this post?

Arushi (2)

Take Your Kid’s Style & Wardrobe To Next Level This Fall !

HUGO BOSS Time to play T shirt at 30% OFF from KidsAtelier.com

As a mom that really loves and embraces fashion, dressing up my kid is one of the things I really enjoy! Be it cute baby onesies with funny slogans, bright colored T shirts for summer or stylish formal wear for a wedding, I am always on the lookout for adorable outfits that are equally comfortable for my little guy. These days I’m really into creating Matching aka “Twinning” outfits with Vir.

Tip – Try to match bold and primary colors to Twin with your kiddo.

Since I became a mother, when it comes to splurging, I would often rather spend money on my kid than on myself. Personally, I wanted to bring my baby home from the hospital in brand new outfit. I spent a good deal of my pregnancy picking out the perfect, tiny outfit that he would come home in. It’s the one outfit I have saved and will probably give to him once he have his own kids.

Honestly, bulk of Vir’s clothes are from the mid-price range stores. I don’t believe there is any point in spending a lot of money on clothes that the kids will grow out of within a few months. But I don’t mind spending a few dollars more on dressy outfits for special occasions like birthdays, family photo sessions, holiday pictures or school pictures.

I recently came across Kids Atelier, a sleek online boutique that curates the world’s most prestigious international children’s clothing brands from classic chic to creative bohemian that has clothing for newborns, toddlers taking their first steps all the way up to the teens.  What I really like about the store is that they have a vast range of designer baby clothes and have something to satisfy everyone.

Kids Atelier allows the kids to wear designer clothing just like Mommy and Daddy with fashion and prices that adapt to each and every one.

kaww

There are so many brands, stores, boutiques, etsy shops and ecommerce websites to shop cute clothing for kids and babies these days. All of them deliver a promise. However for any brand to be successful it is important they adhere to quality. I buy a brand because it tells me what to expect. It stands for consistency and quality.

Similar to my own wardrobe, I like to mix my son’s wardrobe with clothing from different brands and stores for special occasions, daily wear, and some really fun and quirky pieces too. I really loved the Fall/Winter 2017 lineup at Kids Atelier  and recently picked up some great outfits for Vir. The best part is you can snag some really amazing deals on these brands on their  Summer Sale items ranging from 30-60% off now.

TIP : You can also get a sneak peek on Kids Atelier upcoming promos and get 10% off your first order as you sign up here.

Check out Fall fashion inspiration for Girls. Links to shop below.

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One – Little Marc Jacobs Swan Dress / Two-  Billie Blush Pink Hooded Raincoat  / Three- Karl Lagerfeld Sweatshirt/ Four- Little Marc Jacobs Black and White Letterman Jacket/ Five – Billie Blush Pink Roses Dress

My Top picks for Boys Fashion this Fall.  Links to shop below

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One- Karl Lagerfeld Cardigan & Pants / Two- BOSS Grey combed knitted sweater  /Three- Billy Bandit Space Sweatshirt  /Four – Little Marc Jacobs Cat onesie/ Five- BOSS quilted snow suit in Navy 

I try to stay in budget by

  • Re-selling clothes Vir outgrows on our local consignment store or fb groups .
  • I looks for deals and shop online when discounts are available. You can easily get upto 30-60% off on Kids Atelier on their sale items.
  • I buy pieces that I can mix with at least 2 other items in his wardrobe.
  • I size up in shirts so they last longer. You can always roll up the sleeves.
  • I buy shorts that have built in elastic expanders so they continue to fit as Vir grows.

Please do share what are some of your favorite stores you like to shop for your kids. Do you have any rules that you follow while shopping for your kids?

Arushi (2)

ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY

throw a birthay party

When I began writing this blog a year ago, my plan was for it to be a place for me to share and record my journey to motherhood.

I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when it came to blogging. I was never really into writing. In the past I wrote a few diaries at different stages of my teenage life, but never did I imagine that I would be sharing my personal thoughts and emotions with the world in the voice of a mother.

I realized that I loved writing about an experience and sharing the emotions involved in it as it connected with my readers. I started getting emails and messages on my social media asking for recommendations, advice and guidance. Suddenly the blog started to take on a life of its own.

Before I knew it, The Snazzy Mom was gaining traction and I was slowly starting to come into my own as a writer. I started sharing daily snippets of my life on my blog’s Instagram page while constantly engaging with my followers only to realize that within a year I had gained almost  21000+ followers!

A part of me feels like I’ve had this blog forever and the process of writing, creating, and sharing in community with you all has become a normal part of my life that I love and enjoy. Another part of me can’t believe it’s been a year and feels like I’m still so new to this whole blogging world with lots of things to learn.

Time Management has been one of the biggest challenges I have had with my blogging journey. As you can see I am able to complete only 2 -3 blog posts a month. Honestly a LOT of time and planning goes behind each blog post .It might look easy and appear effortless on Instagram but trust me there is a lot of work involved from taking pictures, writing & editing the photos to constantly engaging with your followers. I wish I could tell you that I have it all figured out but honestly I’m still working on balancing time with my full time job, family and blogging.


As I enter into this new phase of motherhood- running behind an energetic toddler, working full time and managing my home responsibilities, I know that this blog will continue to be an outlet, a place where I can share my heart and connect with other women in beautiful ways.

My goal with my blogging journey is to use this space to inspire women to be self confident and be supportive of one another. I hope my blog posts have managed to speak to moms, new moms or moms-to-be all over the world, who are constantly trying to do the best they can for their children and families.

There are a LOT of exciting new things happening here at The Snazzy Mom in the near future! I’ve spent the past year creating content and providing value to the community. I wholeheartedly promise you that that will never stop. But with continued growth comes new challenges and opportunities as well.

I’ve loved connecting with so many of you through sharing life ramblings, experiences, and advice. Like I said before, I truly would not be where I am today without a community of supportive bloggers from whom I have learned so much from. And not only them, but of course my friends and family too. I couldn’t do this without ANY of you. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart. XOXO

Arushi (2)

The Most Important Family Decision I Made to Protect the Future of My Child !

There are many child-related issues that keep me awake at night. Guilt trips of leaving my son behind while on a work trip, my toddler’s hunger strikes in the evening or even failure to understand the reason why my son was too cranky on a particular day. But lately, the importance of naming a guardian for my child in my will and deciding on a prospect had been on my mind a lot.

Making a will is something that has been on the top of my to-do list since the birth of our son, but I have been putting off for more than a year.  Of course no one likes to face their own mortality. However, it is imperative that we are prepared for the unpredictable.  So finally last weekend my husband and I finished making our wills and appointing a guardian in case something were to happen to us.

My life changed when I lost my dad at 14 years of age. I have seen my mom run around for paper work, settling accounts, finding documents and figuring out everything on her own. Fortunately the entire financial bit was in place due to the proper planning of my parents and we had nothing to worry.

 

Yet, I still cannot forget my mom’s face and her words to my aunt 19 years back at our home in Mumbai “What would have happened to my children if I was also gone?”

 

The loss of a parent had taught me from a very young age that there is nothing guaranteed in life. And after becoming a parent myself I want to take all the right steps possible to ensure a secure future for my child /children.

Creating a will is crucial even if you don’t have a lot of money or property to pass along because it is where you designate a guardian for your minor child. In the absence of a will naming a guardian, a court will appoint one, and he or she could be the last person you would ever have chosen. If something were to happen to both the parents, and no official guardians have been appointed, the children could end up in foster care while the court appoints a guardian of its choosing.

Note below are the questions I had before starting the process of creating a will. I thought this might help my readers too if they plan to make their own wills. I am not a legal expert and this information is limited to my research of the country and state I live in. I encourage you to look up online or consult with an attorney in the country or state you reside to understand the legalities and your options.

What is a will?

A last will and testament is a legal document that lets you, the testator (the person making the will), designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away. A last will also allows you to name a guardian to care for minor children. The main purpose of a will is to ensure that the testator’s wishes, and not the default laws of the state, will be followed upon the testator’s death

What happens if you die without a will?

Dying without making a will mean you’ll have no say over who receives your property. State laws will decide. In some states, only 1/2 of one’s assets go to the surviving spouse. Depending on your situation, the rest would go to your children, parents or close relatives. If you have minor children, a judge will decide who cares for them, and the situation may not be ideal.

Remember laws vary from state to state and not all states will automatically place children with a family member, even if they are a grandparent, aunt or uncle. Judges weigh placement based on the best interests of the children. Your kids might have a close and loving relationship with your parents, but if your parents are elderly, the court might decide they’re not up to caring for them, especially if they’re very young (LegalZoom.com).

What is the cost of making a will?

Honestly when I heard about the potential price of failing to make a will, and putting my child’s future in jeopardy, I immediately made one in a period of few days without really caring about the cost. However, the cost of any legal endeavor depends on whether you decide to handle it yourself or use the services of an attorney. You can access free templates online or pay for something more complex, or you could pay an attorney to do it all for you. Whether you use an attorney to draft your will or do it yourself, costs will depend on the complexity of your estate

How does a family pick the right guardian?

Appointing guardians who could offer our children the support and love they would need in a horrible situation is the most important decision in the will making process. It can be also be very emotional and political decision.

I and my husband used a website www.legalzoom.com to create a will. It was very effective and fast. We also consulted our family and friends for more information regarding the will making process. (not sponsored)

You can look at more detailed information here –

  1. Baby Center
  2. Wiki How

In the end I would like to say that the decision of safeguarding our children after we are gone is a crucial one, and one that I dread to think of. Who will be my child’s guardian is too important a decision to leave in the hands of someone who doesn’t know me, or my child, or the values that are important to me. We know our children better than anyone. We are in the best position to make the decisions that will affect their lives.

Arushi (2)

Our First Summer Family Getaway to Los Cabos, Mexico



“A vacation is like love — anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia.”

This trip was our 14 month old son’s first official summer vacation.  Some of my favorite memories were made in this past 1 year travelling with our son. The funny incidents, the little mishaps, the closeness shared and so many other lifetime memories have been made on our getaways.

Vir started travelling in flights since he was 3 months old. His first trip was to New York, followed by India, Switzerland, and Amsterdam and recently to Mexico. Our little one has already been to 4 countries in this past year!

Travelling with a baby/toddler to any destination needs a lot of planning from packing,  scheduling flights around their nap time, flexibility of stay, meal preps at the destination and things to do with a little one. Through my past travel experiences I am constantly learning and getting more and more comfortable with it.

So this time for a short getaway we decide to go somewhere close to Texas .Los Cabos, Mexico has long been known as hot getaway for honeymooners, sport fishermen and spring breakers. The truth of the matter is that this sunny destination at the tip of the Baja Peninsula also makes a fantastic getaway for families. The price of a family vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. Cabo, all-inclusive resorts abound, and many of them offer very reasonable rates and promotions. It was the perfect destination for us from the point of flight duration, pricing, length of stay and activities with a kid.

If you follow me on my Instagram you are aware that the place completely stole our hearts. I posted so many pictures on my feed and uploaded tons of insta stories to share our fun and excitement with my followers. We ate our weight in guacamole and tacos, swam in the pool, and Vir did something he’s never done before say Agua ! (Water in Spanish)

I’d love to share a few anecdotes and photos, if you’d like to see.

Oustide a local souvenir shop near the marina . I love shopping at local flee markets. Bought the straw bag

Some lovely views from our hotel of the Cabo marina

Strolling around the downtown sipping some milk

One of the best things about an All inclusive restaurant is the food! It was also a matter of convenience

Vir’s first Catamaran ride at a sunset tour to the Land’s end at Cabo San Lucas

The perfect ocean and pool view from our room balcony

There was no shying away from the sun ! He loved playing with the sand

Enjoying our time in the pool !

We had some beautiful views on our 2 hour catamaran ride. We saw a lot of sting rays jumping out of the water.

While we lounged at the beach for hours. Vir also caught a nap

Exploring some local restaurants at downtown Cabo

 

 In the end, of course, our vacation or, as my friends put it, our “relocation” was filled with many lovely moments. Our son learned how to say a few new words; he danced in front of a live Mexican band; he fell asleep on the beach under the shade, took a catamaran ride with us and watched the sunset .He kept waving to so many people at the resort while eating his meals and enjoyed all the attention.On the flight he slept most of the time or was busy in his books and toys. When he started to fuss and was restless to get out of our laps, we had to finally use the iPad to calm him down.

I spotted a baby, no more than a few months old on the flight sleeping calmly in the baby carrier and whispered to my husband. “Remember when Vir was so small ?”. “I miss those days,” I said, already sure that, in just a few years, I would be saying the same of these.

You can check my previous Travel posts and Tips here- 

Also for any parents travelling with kids on long haul flights and other countries , read here for advice from a Pediatrician.



We had an All inclusive stay at Hotel Sandos Finisterra in Los Cabo and travelled by Spirit airlines. I always look for deals on Hopper.com for flights and for hotels on Hotels.com. I recommend  checking reviews of the location before travelling to any destination on Tripadvisor.

Have a great summer .

Love

arushi

EASY & FUN SUMMER ACTIVITIES FOR TODDLERS

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A blast of sunshine and a bit of a breeze go a long way!!

The temperature’s rising and playing inside seems ideal. Also school’s out of session which means a lot of activities, games, crafts need to be planned to do indoors. I decided to round-up some ideas for toddler activities that can be done during the summer, indoors and out, any time of the day.

These fun activities involve lots of hands-on exploration and can be shared with older children, too! I will continue to share more ideas on my Instagram feed and stories.

Outdoor

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1.Hit the swimming pool: We introduced our child to the water when he was 6 month. Join a class or play in the pool get the kid comfortable in the water — not learning to swim. Get a float, throw a ball and show them to splash. Keep your baby sage in your arms at all time

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2.Let’s Feed the Birds: Kids of any age can enjoy this activity, head to the park in the evenings with some break and get ready for endless entertainment and lot of giggles. Vir is wearing the Lark Adventurewear Onesie , that is the first and only Infant activewear for adventurous babies.

diy-chalk-2 by Project Nuresery3. Sidewalk chalk is one of those playtime staples that offer endless amounts of entertainment without requiring anything fancy. (Image Credit : Project Nursery)

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4. Find the Painted rock in your Neighborhood:  

A new trend has been gaining popularity among kids which is also adding a lot of fun to your regular scavenger hunt. Kids are finding rocks, taking them home to paint, and then putting them back out into the world for others to find. The goal is to brighten up the world around us while spreading some much-needed joy.

Soap Bubbles 5. Bubble and GIANT Bubbles: The best thing about bubbles is that you don’t have to buy a special bubbles solution. It’s easy to make your own bubble solution. DIY Bubble solution: 6 cups water, 2 cups dishwashing liquid, 3/4 cup light corn syrup. Mix all ingredients together in a large container of. Shake everything up and let sit for a few hours. Pour into empty bubbles containers or dishes and go wild with your bubble wands!!

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6.Head to the Beach: A day at the beach sounds like the perfect way to spend a Summer day. Just don’t forget the sunscreen and beach essentials you need.

7.A water fountain or a Splash Pad helps keep the kids cool. Check out which parks have splash pad accessibility in your city.  You can also make your own DIY sprinkler

Homemade Sprinkler ~ Made with Recycled Materials

Image credit : HousingForest.com

8.Go Visit : Family outings to the ZOO, Children’s museum, Library, Aquarium , Botanical Gardens or a visit to the Flea Market are all great ways to spend a weekend.

 

Indoor Fun

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  1. Create a Tape Race Track in House: Just when it is too hot outside staying indoors seems ideal. I found this very cool race track inspo for you all. Try it .

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  1. Fishing in the pool: Great activity for toddler for color recognition and on hand-eye coordination and fine motor control (by manipulating the net).All you need is baby pool, foam toys that you can make or store bought boy toys.

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11. Mess Free safe Finger Painting: Colors and more colors are always fun. Check out my previous post to make your own DIY safe finger paints. Ideal for babies over 6 months  Click here.

12. Other Sensory Play Activities like

Playdough, Water beds, Sand castles, playing with rice, beans or cornmeal or playing with those arts and crafts poms poms.

Summer days are really long, with these activities you can kill some time and keep them busy.

Here’s to summer fun with your little one!

arushi

Meal Ideas and Recipes For Babies & Toddlers! Free Meal Plan Printable Included.

Each child develops so uniquely and just because they are late at hitting a milestone doesn’t necessarily means it is a cause of alarm. As a new mom I had too many questions related to my son hitting his milestones, but I have realized in this 1 year, that we need to be patient and not stress about it.

img_1106Eating solids for the first time is a huge milestone for every baby. As parents, we love to know that our babies are getting lots of nutrition and calories so they can grow big and healthy. I was nervous about feeding solids in the beginning and was worried whether  my son would eat well, consume enough milk etc. But this was a temporary phase, since I religiously followed a routine of introducing solids daily.  We started first with introducing fruits, veggies and later cereal. Most pediatricians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, recommend introducing solid foods to babies when they are between ages 4 and 6 months. Vir was able to sit up around this age with support, and was showing interest in the foods he saw us eating. I realized it’s probably a good time to venture into feeding him solid food. Since my son was exclusively breast fed for 6 months, we waited until he turned 6 months to start solids.

I tried the Baby Led weaning approach right from the start. Baby Led Weaning is a method of introducing solid foods that leaves it up to your baby to decide what, when and how much to eat.  While not necessarily a “hands off” approach, Baby Led Weaning does advocate allowing your baby to make all food choices for him or herself. You can read more about it here.

What I liked about it that there were no purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher, no baby rice, no weird fruit and veggie combo just eating wholesome food. Note : I followed the Four day rule , to make sure that my son is not allergic to any food items. Read more about it here 

Note Milk is a child’s most important food in the first year of life and is still very important in the next few years. Children under 12 months of age should have breast milk or formula for their main drinks.

I am sharing below with you a list of Food items I introduced to my son.

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Image credit – www.Alisandlois.com

6-8 months+

  • Baby cereal – Rice cereal, Oatmeal cereal and wheat cereal. Mixed with breast milk or formula . After my son got used to it , I added mashed bananas or stewed apples for flavor
  • Fruits– To avoid choking I gave my son small pieces of banana, steamed apples and pears as finger food. My son hated avocadoes, it is great fruit for weight gain.
  • Veggies: Steamed and boiled sweet potatoes and carrots chunks as finger food.
  • Egg yolk only upto 8 months. I used to scramble it in butter. My son didn’t like the egg yellow boiled.

Note: Meat, chicken can also be given as it is rich in iron. I haven’t yet introduced it as I don’t eat it myself neither grew up eating it. However I am not opposed to my son eating meat. (Leaving that to my husband as he is non vegetarian

8-10 months+

My son didn’t have any teeth until he was 10 months, however the gums were strong enough to mash small pieces of food. I wanted to introduce new textures and real food so I prepared below simple meals for him and also introduced other new foods. All of the food items above are also a part of his diet.

  • Toast with butter/hummus/peanut butter /cheese – Toast is my son’s favorite food. He was sucking small pieces and enjoying the new texture at 8 months and now he chews and eats it.
  • Full fat cheese singles is his favorite snack; I also offer it between toast. I make Paneer (cottage cheese) at home from organic whole milk. I mixed small pieces of paneer with banana or apple to add flavor to it .
  • Multigrain Roti (flatbread) made at home with multigrain flour, some ghee or butter. You can dip it in milk/formula to make the texture softer.
  • Rice with Veggies– Rice mixed with carrots, potatoes and spinach cooked in ghee and butter with no salt and only some turmeric.
  • Fruits– Apart from banana, apples and pears I also I introduced at this time strawberries ,blueberries , mango, peaches and kiwi. You can soften hard fruits by steaming or boiling it. We have stayed away from grapes as they can choke.
  • Yogurt– My son was not a huge fan of yogurt at the beginning, so later I started mixing it up with bananas, strawberries and also added very little sugar to get him used to the texture.

10 -12 months + Food recipes

Apart from all the above food, I also started making healthy meals to get him used to real food and interested in new flavors. I post a lot of videos on my Instagram stories of him enjoying his meal. And lately a lot of moms reached out to me for recipes of the food my son has been eating. Here I sharing  some quick and easy to make recipes.

  • img_8761-1Pancakes – This is by far the simplest and most preferred food. I simply add Half Banana (you can even substitute it with sweet potatoes) , 1 egg, 2 -3 tbsp multigrain flour (you can substitute it with wheat ,or oatmeal cereal or flour) and mix it all together. Spread it on the pan with some butter and it ready in no time. Easy to chew and also makes great ready to go meal.
  • Rice, Lentil and veggie Mush (Khichdi)– Wash and soak the rice and dal in water for half an hour. Drain the water. In a pressure cooker, add the Rice, Dal, Garlic, onions, spinach, carrot and potatoes. Add 3 cups of water. Pressure cook till 3 whistles (one on high and 2 on medium).After the steam is released, add ghee or butter and serve. I give this everyday for dinner as it is an extremely nutritious meal
  • Veggie Paratha or flatbread- For ease and convenience I add mashed and boiled potatoes, spinach and sometimes carrot to the flour directly and add in some water to make it in a dough. Roll it in small and thin circles and heat it on the pan until it is slightly brown and serve it with ghee or butter in small pieces. You can add some salt too.
  • Fruit Bars with oatmeal-1/2 ripe banana, mashed. approx 3 to 4 tbsp rolled oats, 2 tbsp raisns. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F, 180 deg C. Grind the oats in a food processor OR leave them just as they are. The final texture of your fruity bars depends on whether or not you ground the oats – leaving them whole, of course, provides more texture than grinding them. Stir the oats into the mashed banana. The amount of oats you need depends on the size of the banana – you need to achieve a ‘doughy’ texture that you can shape with your hands. Stir in the raisins. Form the mixture into ‘bars’ then place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes until firm and lightly golden.Cool and serve. Freeze leftover bars for up to one month.
  • img_8623Oatmeal ,banana , Peanut butter muffins – This is another easy and ready to go recipe my son loves. It makes a great snack item too. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. Place 1 cup oats in a medium bowl and add 1 cup milk. Allow the oats to soak while you prepare the rest of the muffins. In a separate large bowl, mix together the 1 cup flour,1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt and cinnamon. Some applesauce,1 tbsp peanut butter, 2 egg and 1 tbsp vanilla to the bowl with the soaked oats and stir to combine. Add and combine all the ingredients. The batter will be very runny. Bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes, until done. These are just barely sweet and great for little ones. If you want them to be sweeter, try adding sugar or maple syrup.  Extras can be stored on the counter for 3 days, in the fridge for up to 5 days.

I hope this post is helpful for moms who are starting on the journey to give solids to their babies. Please reach out to me if you have any questions. Also if you can comment and share some recipes that worked for your baby, it will be extremely helpful for me and the readers.

For your convenience I have made a Meal plan print out listing out Carbs, Proteins and Veggies/Fruits options that can be given to kids. Click on below link.

Toddler Meal Plan Print Out

Love

arushi

 

 

How I Prepared For My Boy’s Cake Smash Photo Shoot

 

 

oatmeal cookies (2)I can’t believe my son is already a year old ! How did this happen? Where did all the time go ? It was only yesterday when we brought our tiny guy home and now all of a sudden he is a toddler. Time flew by so fast and I guess it was also because the first year is full of trails and treasures.

If I could just freeze time, I would continue to gaze in his eyes , nibble his toes, kiss his chubby cheeks and just keep listening him giggle. My heart melts thinking how fast time will slip and my child will outgrow my arms and lap in the coming years.

First birthday is a momentous occasion in any child and parent’s life. This is such a huge milestone for our family too and it warranted for a special photo shoot, so that we can savor it now and reminisce about later (like during the tumultuous teenage years)

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One my favorite captures by Brianne Hardcastle Photography 

Nothing quite says beautiful mess like first birthday cake smash photography. But when you decide to go the DIY route, the results tend to be less beautiful and more mess. I am sharing on the blog few tips on how I prepared for my son’s outdoor cake smash photo shoot. I am not sure who was more excited for the cake smash session me or my son. That excitement make its pretty easy to go overboard with props, but i wanted to keep it simple.

Photography: Hiring a good photographer ensures great results.It may not always be the most ideal option to spend money on a professional, but really and truly, paying for a service makes SUCH a huge difference. I am so glad our pictures from the cake smash session have come out so beautiful. Thanks to the talented Brianne Hardcastle who was committed to capture the best moments. Check out her FB Page for more details.

Location: We wanted to shoot outdoors as it was in tune with our theme and also excellent for good lighting and for that we choose the Bayou Bend Park in Houston.

Keeping Props Simple: An outdoor shoot saved us from all the expensive background decorations and detailing. I used item that were available at my home.

  • The Teepee was the main prop that was central to the entire theme. My son’s lovely Teepee is from – Tnees Teepees. They have a wonderful collection of modern and stylish teepees for boys and girls that look great in any room. I also used a white rug and a cushion under it .
  • Cake: Of Course a cake is the highlight of the cake smash photo shoot, you can use different colors according to your theme. I didn’t want to spend too much on it either, so I went for a simple white butter cream chocolate cake.
  • DIY Cake Topper: Since the cake was very plain and simple , I added some fun to it by making a cake topper with paper straws. I used a craft thread and cut paper triangles and wrote ONE with a sharpie on it and glued them. You can also buy some really nice cake toppers online.
  • DIY Chalkboard first birthday sign– The details of your child’s first year can be forgotten over time, but with a stunning Chalkboard First Birthday sign, you can cherish them forever! I made this chalkboard with some inspiration from Pinterest. Took me an hour to work on it. You can also get one professionally down from etsy and print it .
  • A huge Balloon can cover a lot of space for pictures and also add a pop of color. I used a white one as it went with our theme. This is a 36 inch balloon.
  • Fabric banner: The only main decorative piece I really splurged on was the fabric banner that I got from Etsy (displayed on the teepee). It can also be used as a garland or even a high chair decorative piece. I also used it for decorating Vir’s high chair at his birthday party at our home.
  • Outfit: My sister got Vir his cake smash outfit , she bought it from amazon . There are some great shops on etsy to you can buy cute cake smash outfits . Note its really hard to get something unique for boys.

Color coordinate:  I stuck to a low a key background with white , black and natural green for keeping the pictures neat and bright. Start with one item that you would like to coordinate in the session then, add in colours that coordinate or complement that item.

 

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All these beautiful moments are captured by Houston Based Photographer Brianne Hardcastle. Click here more info

Timings for the cake session is very essential : You want it to be stress and fuss free. I planned the session in the evening after my son’s nap time. The weather was great too. (And yes, it’s perfectly fine if the cake smash photos aren’t done on their actual birthday.)

Get the baby to dig in: Our son was shy to dig in the cake after he touched the frosting. He was weirded out by the sticky texture. I got our dog to join the party and also put my finger in the cake to excite him about the process.

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I had to frame this !! He won’t stay so little anymore

Post session Clean up : This is one thing I completely forgot about, while rushing for the shoot from our home. You need to have paper towels handy, plastic/paper bags to throw away the mess. And a spare change of clothes for the kid after the session is over.

The first birthday cake of our child was a huge milestone for us. And so for that reason I took a break from taking a few cell phone photos and completely avoided the plastic highchair cake smash experience. This was truly a momentous celebration and I hope these tips can help you prepare for your big occasion.

You can see his birthday party video at our home on my Instagram page

#letthembelittle

Love

arushi

Our Much Awaited Vacation to Switzerland 

“The best things in life are the People we love the, Places we have been and the Memories we make”. 

I am very excited to share with you our sweet memories from our recent trip to Switzerland . This was a very special trip and I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures.

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The first picture we took after landing in Zurich

Whenever I am at a vacation I make sure to capture as many memories, as many shots as many beautiful locations and as many sweet moments I can, as I believe there is something very special about reminiscing in the past.

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The magnificent Bernese Oberland region

While planning for our much awaited vacation, I was sure of one thing-  that we needed to be extremely close to nature. And for that reason Switzerland had always been on the top of my 2017 travel goals for its awe-inspiring natural beauty.

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Capture of Mt . Jungfrau from Interlaken

We have travelled earlier with our son to New York and Delhi since his birth last year. However, this trip was our first family vacation, where it was only about traveling, exploring and relaxing. Although he will not remember any of it, he still got to enjoy the experience of traveling in trains, looking at swans, enjoying the long and breezy lake side strolls and so much more.

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Lake Lucerne was one of our top favorite spots

If you follow me on my social media Instagram or Facebook you must be aware that we had a really bumpy start. Not only were our flights cancelled and delayed our baggage also arrived two days later. The stress and anxiety and the  chaos we were caught in didn’t linger once we stepped out of the airport. You cannot be in a negative state of mind when you come across stunning countrysides and the friendly people of that country.

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Views of the beautiful Chapel Bridge at Lucerne

Switzerland has a story book charm to it with ravishing Alpine scenery to quaint villages. From spectacular mountains, flower lined natural paths, lakefront beauty, to picturesque historic centers this beautiful country also has a lot of cultural diversity.

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Breathtaking views from Mt Pilatus

We knew that a week will not be enough to explore all the stunning spots. Yet we planned the itinerary in such a way that we cover some of the best sites of the country. When you travel with a kid there are many considerations to be made and certain restrictions to keep in mind. We had to avoid the Jungfrau region which is the top of Europe and is on a very high elevation. It is extremely cold there and  not recommended to visit with young children.

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A boat trip at the lake is a great way to explore

Traveling in the country between different cities is very convenient. They have an excellent public transportation system. We took trams, boats , buses ,cable cars and of course trains . The ultra-modern trains that operate on the GoldenPass Panoramic are extremely comfortable, they have panoramic windows through which you can immerse yourself in the nature outside.

 

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Panoramic views from our Golden Pass Train ride.

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Changing trains at the Bernese Oberland region

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Views from our cable car to Mt . Pilatus

And did I mention about the food there! Being a vegetarian I didn’t expect to have a lot of food options, but I was pleasantly surprised as almost every restaurant menu had veggie options. The food was extremely tasty but was highly priced. A meal for 2 could easily run upto $60 . We loved the food, fondant , chocolates, pastries ,wine and beer.

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Views of the The Kapellbrücke wooden bridge at Lucerne

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Jet d’Eau Fountain at Geneva

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Vir’s moment with the swans at Lake Lausanne

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Viewing point from Mt. Pilatus

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Mt. Pilatus

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Vir thoroughly enjoyed the lush gardens and lakes at Interlaken

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Old Houses of Switzerland dating back to 16th century

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Hiking on top for the best views from Mt Pilatus. 

 

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Vir wasn’t to happy when I put him on the grass at Interlaken

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The Toboggan ride was an unforgettable experience

We were in Switzerland for 7 days and we traveled to Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Geneva. We spent most of our time in Central Switzerland around Lucerne while the rest of the cities were more touch and go.

I feel like we hardly did the places justice in the time that we were there. To truly savour all the country has to offer, one needs to spend at least a couple of weeks there if not an entire month.

Our trip didn’t end in Switzerland as we caught up with 2 of my oldest pals in Europe’s finest city Amsterdam. Stay tuned for more pictures from our reunion!

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One of the best display of mountain flowers at Interlaken