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

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

How I Am Working To Build A Lifetime Bond Between My Child & My Dog 

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Our sweet little scruffy terrier (Rio) was competing for attention once his little human brother (Vir) arrived to be a part of his pack. Rio was so sad for the first few weeks that he wouldn’t even look at Vir nor accept sitting next to him. We knew from there on that Rio needed time and space to realize that his baby brother will be his new playmate very soon and so we laid out the groundwork to build a loving relationship between both our babies.

In my previous post When Our Fur Baby Met Our Son I spoke about our relationship with Rio and how we introduced him to our new born. I also discussed how he reacted with the presence of a baby in the house in the initial months. Fast forward 6 months, today Rio and Vir have come close to forging a friendship. Getting them off to a good start took some work! And in this post I will be discussing about how it was all worth it.

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Vir loves Rio, he is obsessed with him. Even before he could really start looking at books, stories, movies, music and toys with imaginary critters in it, Vir built a fondness for animals. He is always mesmerized by Rio’s presence in the house and follows him everywhere smiling and babbling. I believe this fondness also led, Vir to crawl faster than expected. Our high on energy 10 month old is always looking forward to touch Rio, pull his fur or bite his tail. It is amusing to watch his excitement when he sees Rio play tug with us. And honestly it is very entertaining to watch them run around like cat and mouse in the living room

On the other hand our 6 year lazy furbaby is a calm and obedient dog; he is very gentle with Vir and has never shown any sign of aggression. That is one of the biggest reasons why Vir is so comfortable around him. We never have to worry about him pulling Rio’s tail or playing with his favorite chew toy when we are out of sight for a second. Rio has realized that there are three food sources at home now mom, daddy and baby and he couldn’t have been happier. There is a lot of baby food now flying around the house courtesy Vir and there is always someone to catch and clean the floor courtesy Rio. His presence is often a calming source for our kid especially when there is too much crying involved. I just have to command Rio to “Roll”, “Twist” and “Woof” and my inconsolable baby just forgets he was crying. (While Rio is showered with treats)

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Begging for food from his brother

Its true kids love their pets; these creatures large or small teach, delight and offer a special kind of companionship.  If you see my amusing Instagram stories, you know how both of them play around the house, compete for attention when daddy is back from work and laze on the couch or bed looking at story books.

 Vir is still young to understand his boundaries with the dog, and we are glad that Rio can handle the exciting little monster rushing behind him. I know over time both my babies will learn to respect each other and there is a good chance they will be best of pals. But this loving scenario is only possible by doing your best to foster a relationship between them.

Below I am sharing few of my Tips and Tricks on how we worked on our child and dog’s relationship. I hope this helps all parents who are either planning to get a dog for their children or are looking for some advice on how to handle their dog when their new baby comes home.

Our Preparations for Rio in the earlier months

  • We started to socialize Rio with kids at the park so his fear of them goes away. Often kids tried to pet him but he would run away. But, with time his fear ran away.
  • While I was pregnant I started to say the word “Baby” to Rio so he gets used to it. I often pointed towards my tummy and asked him to put his paws on my belly.
  • When I returned home with Vir for the first time, I first met Rio and greeted him for 10 minutes until he was relaxed. Post that I took Vir in my arms and allowed Rio to smell his feet.
  • We included Rio in our day to day activities with Vir, from going on walks together, to allowing him to sit between me and my husband while I was holding the baby. This way we habituated Rio to our new born’s routines, smell and our new habits
  • As mentioned earlier we kept a close watch on Rio when he was in the same room as Vir. We never left him alone with the baby especially for the first month.
  • To avoid jealousy and dullness, we ensured to have some playtime with Rio whenever we could. We also got him new toys and gave him more treats  and ensured to take him out for longer walks so he stayed exercised and stress free
  • I ensured that Rio still had his space as before. He was sleeping with us in our bed as always. (Vir slept in the crib next to our bed) He was allowed in the nursery and if there was no room on the couch for him or anywhere next to us, we would let him find his own space. I didn’t want to confuse him and at the same time didn’t want him to lose his discipline around the house.

Once Vir started getting mobile

  • I kept a watch out for any signs of aggression from Rio, especially when Vir is around trying to chase him.
  • I always reward him with treats for all positive reactions and firmly say “NO” in case there is any unwanted behavior.
  • When Vir started to sit we use to leave a treat on Vir’s lap or make him hold it out for Rio. This truly helped develop a bond between them as Rio was happy to realize the baby is also a food source
  • At least once a week we take Rio for his outing with the family in the car to a dog park, coffee shop or even at our friend’s place so that he feels loved and secured.

We had success in training Rio to respect the baby, his toys, his food and his space. Yet I have more work to do with Vir, to teach him to respect animals. Our son is too young to understand this concept, but we ensure that he doesn’t hurt Rio by poking him or hitting him. In time I look forward to teaching Vir to stroke Rio gently and explain that Rio’s tail is not a toy to pull. Once Vir starts to walk and carry tiny objects in his hand, I want him to start caring for Rio by offering him water and food in his bowl.

I am aware that the learning process involved for both Rio and Vir in building a friendship and lifetime bond will take some time. But the thought of Vir and Rio playing with a ball or strolling at the park together while enjoying each other’s companionship melts my heart  and makes this wait tad bit harder.

In the mean time I plan to give my dog and the kid the best chance for a successful relationship by taking deliberate steps to create a kid-loving dog and develop empathy and respect in Vir.

arushi

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First few moments with 3 day old Vir

A Pediatrican’s advice on caring for your child’s health while travelling to a new country

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As a new parent we have so many questions and fears about travelling with our children for the first time. After travelling with my son to India on a 30 hour one way journey for a 2 week vacation, I now know that vacation or travel plans are not as easy as they were pre baby.  And while there are tons of tips on how to get there, there is not much advice for how to manage once you arrive.

In my last post How I survived a Long Haul flight with a Lap Baby I discussed my inflight experience/nightmare and shared some tips. And now, in this post we will be discussing on concerns related to our children’s health once you arrive to your destination.

Infants are at high risk for many food related and waterborne illnesses. This is not because they are travelling to India or any other country. It is simply because their immune systems are not developed. This post discuses some of the practical issues faced by us on our trip to India. I reached out to Dr. Abha Sharma a General Pediatrician and an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) to talk more in details about precautions and measures parents can take while travelling to a new country with their child.

Dr. Abha practices and resides in Southern California with her Husband and 2 year old Daughter. I am very thankful that she was able to take out some time from her busy schedule to attend to this list of questions and give us advice on how to prepare ourselves and manage our kids while travelling overseas. Follow her journey on Instagram @healthymamadoc for some great tips and advice on healthy and nutritious meals.

My hope here is to help all my readers with vital information of caring for their child’s health while travelling abroad .

What is a good age to make a long distance travel?

Newborn babies and young infants have developing immune systems and are more susceptible to becoming ill from diseases spread by cough and sneeze.  I usually recommend that parents wait until their baby is at least 2 months old to travel – waiting till 6 months is ideal. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) strictly cautions against travelling with a newborn younger than 48 hours old; most airlines prohibit babies younger than 2 weeks old to travel without a Physician’s clearance.

What medications do your recommend to carry, to avoid catching cold and flu in flight.

It has been thought that secondary to recirculated air and limited ventilation in a confined area over a long duration of time, airline passengers have a potentially higher risk of infectious diseases. But, the good news is that one study by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that because the spread of infection is usually by direct contact, the risk is no different than that if you were travelling by train or bus.

If you have an older infant or toddler and are travelling by plane, make sure you carry non toxic sanitizing wipes with you. Germ laden surfaces such as the tray table and arms rests should be wiped down frequently – your little one may want to lick and chew on these repeatedly!

Most OTC Cough and Cold Medications are labeled for use in children above age 6, secondary to the potential for serious side effects and overdose.  Sticking with your little one’s regular diet, keeping them hydrated, and nursing them if you breastfeed, will help prevent illness and help them cope should they come down with the sniffles inflight.

Three items that I would definitely recommend parents take with them when they travel is a Rectal Thermometer, Fever Reducing Medication, and Powdered Packets of Oral Rehydration Solution (i.e. Pedialyte).  For fever, stick with Acetaminophen (Tylenol) prior to 6 months of age, and after they cross 6 months you can use Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well. Consult with your child’s Physician regarding safe dosing of these medications.

Is giving Benadryl recommended to help the baby sleep?

It is not recommended to give Diphenhydramine (commonly marketed as Benadryl) to children for the purposes of the side effect of drowsiness.  Diphenhydramine has the potential to cause several side effects in children, the most serious being overdose and allergic reaction.

What precautions are a must when a child is taken to a different country for the first time? (Vir was on formula and even though we carried bottled formula and took good care of sanitizing bottles he caught a fever and had diarrhea. He lost weight and wasn’t eating properly.)

Strict attention should be paid to hand washing and cleaning bottles, pacifiers, teething rings, and toys that fall to the floor or are handled by others.  The water used to clean these items should be drinkable water.

Parents should be particularly careful to wash hands well after diaper changes, especially for infants with diarrhea, to avoid spreading infection to themselves and other family members. When  handwashing facilities are not easily available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing ≥60% alcohol) can be used; hands should be then washed with warm water and soap for 15 seconds as soon as possible.  Hands that have visible soiling are preferably washed right away.

 

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Dr. Abha Sharma with her beautiful family.

Is it important to get the child vaccinated for travel like for Malaria? At what age do you recommend it?

Malaria is a disease contracted from mosquito bite in an area endemic to this disease. To prevent transmission, the first step is to identify if you are travelling to an area with a recent outbreak. The website Cdc.gov/travel and your Pediatrician or Family Physician are great resources to assist you in this. Your Physician will determine if it is recommended for your child to take medication to prevent transmission of this disease.

General preventive measures include:

  • Wearing lightweight clothing that covers the arms and legs, and wearing socks.
  • Mosquito repellents used on skin can also be applied to clothing; it must be reapplied after laundering.
  • Apply lotion, liquid, or spray repellent to all exposed areas of skin; reapply frequently.
  • Avoid the outdoors from dusk till dawn, as this is the peak time for mosquitos to bite

Which fruits or vegetables should be avoided in a new country? Do your recommend and food we should carry? ( I carried liquid formula bottle, cereal and snacks but ran out of it and switched to Indian Nan Pro formula which I mixed with bottled water)

Don’t offer your child food from street vendors, and stay away from food prepared and served in unclean conditions. Raw or under cooked meat should be avoided. All raw fruit and vegetables should be washed, peeled and cut by you before offering it to your child.

Safe beverages include bottled carbonated water, boiled water, and water treated with chlorine or iodine.

If your infant or toddler is formula fed, I do recommend packing more powdered formula than you anticipate you will need. The constitution of formulas abroad may not be the same as the one you regularly use. Additionally, pack plenty of dry snacks that you normally keep at home; if your child is picky they may not like what is available locally.

How to handle breast feeding strikes while travelling? My son stopped breast feeding completely in India. I tried to feed him in the night. Once we were back in US, it took him over 2 weeks to get back to his normal feeding schedule.

A nursing strike during or after travel is not an uncommon issue – you can maintain your milk supply AND eventually get your baby back to the breast. During the strike, pump or hand express the milk at the same frequency as you would breastfeed. This helps maintain the supply and prevent infection; this expressed milk can be fed to your baby.

To help get your baby back on the breast:

  • Nurse the baby during the night or while napping –  babies who refuse to nurse when they are awake will most often nurse when they are sleepy.
  • Switch up the position you use to nurse.
  • Rock your baby or walk around while nursing.
  • Nurse in a quiet, darkened room.
  • Maintain skin to skin contact when nursing
  • Keep the baby close to you in a sling or carrier in between nursing attempts.

How long do infants, toddlers generally take to get over jet lag? What is the best way to help overcome jet lag? Vir took over 10 days to get over jet lag .

 In general, count one day for each time zone crossed to give you a rough estimate of how long it may take your little one to recover from jet lag.  Of course, direction of travel impacts recovery time – eastbound travel, i.e. from the New York to London, may be prolonged in comparison to your westbound return trip.  In order to reduce jet lag, adjust your child’s sleep schedule 2-3 days before departure (Some sleep medicine experts recommend doing this upto 4 weeks prior to the trip).  After arrival, encourage your child to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.  When returning back from a trip, the same applies – make a trip to the park as soon as you can after reaching back home.

Any other recommendations you will like to give to new parents travelling long distances with babies for the first time ?

Discuss your travel plans with your doctor at least 4-6 weeks prior to your trip, so as to allow any preventive medications that are prescribed to be effective.

Review your child’s immunizations with your doctor, and make sure he/she is up to date with the recommended immunizations necessary for their age.  Other immunizations, including those providing protection against Typhoid fever, Bacterial Meningitis, and Japanese Encephalitis, may be recommended depending on your destination.

Ear pain can be an issue for infants and children during the plane’s descent and landing Pressure in the middle ear can be equalized by swallowing or chewing.  You can nurse your little one, offer them a bottle to drink from, or for your toddler, a chewy snack.

Lastly, if you plan on using your child’s car seat on the plane, make sure it is approved for use. Children weighing between 22 lbs and 44 lbs can use an approved restraint system called the CARES Child Safety Device.

I definitely learnt a lot from this interview with Dr Abha. I am SO glad that she was kind enough to accept my email and request to collaborate on this post. Thank you once again Dr Abha for your advice!!!

We both hope that this post truly helps all the new parents and parents to be, who are excited to travel with their new born babies. Good luck and safe travels!!

You can also follow Dr Abha at her social media accounts on other Twitter and Pinterest.

Check out the  Healthy Travel Packing List by CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) 

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My 2017 Goals, Keeping it Real

It’s the dawn of a New Year and as always a few resolutions are to be made. Honestly, most of these resolutions don’t stick for a long time, and I end up breaking them by mid of the year or even as early as 2 weeks. So, I am tired of these resolutions and won’t bother making them this year.  Instead I have set up realistic specific goals for myself and look forward to achieving them.

A goal is more flexible and achievable for me. I don’t have to be ‘resolute’ in my journey to achieve it. As I got to the end of the year, I looked back and assessed how it went. I tried to categorize the year into eating habits, fitness regime, health, family, baby, finances etc and drew from there my top goals for 2017.

I strongly feel if we do not take the time to think about our hopes and dreams and set goals and actions steps to get there – nothing will ever change. By working on each aspects of our lives that are important or we are frustrated with, we can feel better about ourselves.  In my previous post I stressed upon the taking out Me- Time, and that is more of a lifestyle change I am already working on.

But setting goals is important for us because doing so helps us change things in our lives that are not as we would like them to be.  Defining goals that pertain to both ourselves and our relationships with those who are important to us can result in changes that make our lives happier and more fulfilling.  Isn’t that what you want for 2017 and moving forward?

Below are my TOP 2017 Goals . Please do share yours.

Happy New Year Everyone !

Love Arushi

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“ME” Time – Every Mom Deserves It !


This year, my life has been wrapped around my pregnancy in the first half and with the newborn for the latter half. As a new mom, I don’t have time or energy to think about anything that does not directly impact my child’s life. I am constantly ensuring that everything runs smoothly and I am able to maintain a proper work -life balance.

If you are a busy mom like me, you know how difficult it can be to find time for yourself. We are constantly ensuring that everyone is taken care of and are left with very little time for ourselves. Feeling burned out, exhausted, and also craving things that YOU love to do most.

I honestly feel we MOMs need to pencil in some “ME” Time for ourselves. And I stress that one should not feel guilty for taking time for yourself. It’s important to schedule time for yourself on a regular basis so that you can feel refreshed and energized to be on top of our game.

The key here is to tap into things that make you feel most rejuvenated, and  yes few might need more time or may cost more. {I say to myself I deserve it 🙂 }

“Me” Time could be anything, from a decadent dinner date, to a relaxing evening at home with a good book or simply doing nothing. The biggest challenge most moms face is insisting on ‘me’ time,” says Laura Stack, author of The Exhaustion Cure. “If you wait to give yourself time until all your work is done, you’ll never get to play.”

That is why I am listing my some things that I do just for me

  1. Stay Active: These days for me it is impossible to finish work and go out for a workout. Timing everything between mine and baby’s schedule well enough to get some sun is not simple anymore. So I recommend staying active at work or home by taking regular walks throughout the day especially if there is too much stress. If I can’t walk enough in the day or have no energy to workout, I make sure to get out for at least a 30 min stroll around the neighborhood with Vir in the stroller while listening to some peppy music. It helps clear the mind.

 

  1. Take a Bubble Bath: This is truly a relaxing and rejuvenating experience if you can take out some time from mom duty. I recommend treating yourself with some aroma therapy oils, bath bombs and candles. I have been shopping for more of these lately than makeup or beauty products.

 

  1. Get your favorite drink and read up: The best time to lounge and snuggle in a comfy blanket is when your children are sleeping. I can have coffee anytime of the day and with the chill in the weather these days I am also sipping on some soup. If you know me well I don’t read too many books, but I do love flipping through articles on magazines and journals on my ipad or just happily pinning. Ever since I started the blog I am also writing down my thoughts and working on new posts for all my readers.

 

  1. Go out with your friends: A girl’s night out or grabbing a drink at a pub with your family friends can be a great way to start a weekend. You can get a sitter for sometime if you are going with your husband or put him on daddy duty for the evening- while you dress up snazzy, put some heels and mascara!! It is very important to socialize and feel good about these moments.

 

  1. Don’t forget a Spa/massage day : I got a monthly massage membership at a local spa and this has been by far my most rewarding expense. An hour of deep tissue massage can do wonders as it takes away your stress and gives relief to those aching back and neck muscles.

 

Don’t forget to check in yourself this Holiday season !! Lets Treat Ourselves too.

Please do share what are your favorite ways to pamper yourself , or how you like to spend your “Me” Time. 

How I Prepared to Leave My Breastfed Baby for a Work Trip


In my previous emotional post I wrote about my anxiety and fears as a new mom, who was leaving behind her 5 month baby for a work trip for the very first time. It was an emotionally challenging experience and physical one too, as I am exclusively breastfeeding Vir. I couldn’t have left my house without a plan for my family and support of my husband.  As new parents we want to make sure we are doing everything right and at the same time hoping that things go smoothly.

Every mom has to leave the nest sooner or later and to get through this difficult time, I am sharing the list of things I did before getting on the plane:

  1. Introduce care giver ahead of time: I am working from home and of course to be most productive I need to be able to focus without distractions. After my family left, we got a nanny to manage Vir during my work hours. This worked well for us, as by the time I left for work to another city, Vir and my nanny had gotten used to each other. It is hard to trust someone else with your baby other than family, but having a good caregiver can be very comforting.
  2. Enlist a Trusted Relative or Friend: Thankfully my husband could take an off on one of the days in my absence at home and manage Vir. However, I am thankful to have a close set of friends whom I can trust Vir with. It is ideal to have someone living close to your home, just in case.
  3. Maintain sufficient supply of milk in the freezer: Vir is being exclusively breast fed and my biggest worry was running out of the frozen milk. I was short of 7-8 bags as per my calculation and so I made a plan to start pumping after every feeding to increase supply in 1 breast. I pumped only one side, so that I don’t run out of milk on the other. This worked perfectly and I was able to store milk and also give Vir his full feed. Also, I was eating more food that helped in lactation and drinking lots of water.
  4. Leaving behind Mom’s scent: I wore my husband’s T-shirt to bed for 3 days before I left, so that my scent could be transferred to it. In my absence Deep wore the same T shirt to soothe Vir and put him to sleep every night.This strategy also worked for us very well while we were crib training Vir and making him sleep in his nursery. I would leave my t-shirt on the side of his crib, so that he felt that I was around. Note: this might work for younger babies only.
  5. Setting up security cameras or a nanny cam: We bought a security camera for the house through which I could see Vir when I wanted. I could monitor the daily activities live on my cell phone from anywhere. Not only did it give me a sense of relief but I also felt involved. These days baby monitors and security cameras have great features. Ours has a mic function through which I could talk to Deep if he needed something and also see the entire day’s recording. (We have the new Logitech Circle camera)
  6. Make a List of Things related to the baby: A list with all information that is essential for the baby like feeding and nap routines, allergies , medication, place for baby gear and supplies, important phone numbers ,etc etc. This can be very handy for the care giver or your husband. I had emailed it and also printed it and left it on the refrigerator.
  7. Packing your Pumping bag: Even though you might have a temporary break from the baby but that doesn’t mean you get a break from breastfeeding. Our body continues to prepare the milk and that means you can’t forget to carry the breast pump, nursing pads, bottles and the freezing pack. I was pumping daily in the morning and at night, at the restaurants and at the airports. I can do an entire blog post on it, and honestly I hadn’t realized it would be such a complicated affair until this trip. I was able to bring back only 2 bottles of milk from the trip as I had to dump the rest. (TIP: If you don’t have an ice pack, take zip lock bags and put the bottles in it with ice to keep the milk chilled. Also if you have a milk bank close enough to where you are and if time allows you can donate it there. Sadly I couldn’t. Try to carry a manual breast pump too if you want to pump anywhere and not be stuck to a plug.)

I hope these tips come in handy if and when you plan to travel without your baby. There are a lot of things about Motherhood I am still discovering and I hope to share my experiences with all my readers.

Planning ahead of time is key to our sanity!

You can also check my post Tips on Travelling with the baby. (Our short trip to New York)

 

 

 

 

When I had to leave my 5 month baby for a Business trip. 

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The Snuggle is Real 

My head was hurting, my heart was racing. I felt I couldn’t breathe and all of this was happening exactly at the same time while I was waving goodbye to Vir from the window of my cab. Leaving the baby for the first time is not easy and even though I spent a ridiculous amount of time snuggling him and kissing him beforehand, the moment of panic at the door was not going away. I still can’t tell whether at that moment I was feeling guilty of leaving him for 2 days or if I was terrified of the thought of how will he survive without me. It was one of the weirdest moments of my life and is very hard to describe in words. It felt like I was carrying an extra bag that day – A bag of Guilt.

Inside this extra baggage was the guilt of leaving Vir at home while I traveled, guilt of not rocking him to sleep those 2 nights, guilt of leaving my husband on his own to manage an infant and taking leave from work. From the moment I sat in the cab till I reached the airport, I was stuck to my phone the entire 40 minute drive, watching Vir play with his Nanny while I kept taking heavy breaths with moist eyes.

Honestly I am so blessed to be a full time work from home mom. I can see my child whenever I want, have the flexibility to manage my work and calls, apart from adding income to the household and doing what I love most. Having a house with an office space I am able to get so much done effectively on a daily basis. And with the help of my nanny I don’t have to worry about Vir either. It’s the best scenario I could have asked for. However being a Sr. Account Manager and handling a huge pool of clients across the country, travel in my job role is inevitable. Honestly, I have always looked forward to my work trips as I not only get to reconnect with my colleagues but also get a break from my routine.

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Likely, most of you are not gasping in horror at the thought of leaving a 5 month baby with his daddy, while mom goes on a business trip. Business travel is fact of life for few moms far sooner than 5 months and many 5 month old babies are not exclusively breast fed. But this is a very big deal for me, as I never left Vir for more than few hours a handful of times until this unexpected work related travel. The very thought of getting on an airplane without Vir had been giving me heart palpitations. I was having anxiety of what might happen when I would be away. Will he be all right , will Deep be able to manage the baby, what if Vir doesn’t take the bottle , what if I miss my return flight, what if things falls apart…..I was losing my sleep. The angst of leaving a kid behind is natural and biological; it is out of concern for our children or even out of the fear of leaving our comfort zone as a new mom. The fact that we control our household makes leaving the responsibility on someone else more difficult.

But having a supportive and understanding husband and a loving and hands on dad can make a mom’s life more manageable. I am so blessed to have a husband like Deep. He is a great dad and I knew in case of any urgency I can count on him to manage Vir. This trip was a huge learning experience for me and Deep on dealing with our fears and anxiety as first time parents. While Deep is now more confident in handling Vir, I am more comfortable in leaving the responsibility on daddy at unplanned situations.

But then there are other situations out of our control, like my nanny was not able to make it the next day while I was out and the ordeal on the date I was flying back….

After a very productive meeting, I was looking forward to getting home from LA and snuggle with my baby. To avoid the crazy LA traffic I reached the airport early only to learn that my flight was delayed by an hour. I immediately rushed to the airlines counter to see if I could reschedule my flight to an earlier time, and I was lucky to get one. But, that luck was short-lived; I was put in another frustrating situation where my rescheduled flight was delayed by 4 hours due to maintenance!! Wow !! That is exactly what I needed on my first trip away from Vir. (Screaming in my brain) It almost felt like my nightmare was coming true. But honestly, there was no point getting mad at that time…  Rather, I actually felt blessed, as the flight I was supposed to initially take got cancelled!

After speaking to Deep and knowing that all was good at home, I finally found the time to get something to eat and make most of the delay with a pumping session.  (If you follow me on instagram , you must have been pretty amused with the instastories I made that day.)I pumped at the ladies room standing for an hour splitting the pumping session on each side while watching Vir and Deep play on the camera, as the nursing room at the airport was occupied. While pumping I was able to speak with Deep through the house camera mic function, it gave me so much relief and I almost felt I was with them. Apart from that, I was glad to take the express milk home, unlike the last few pumping sessions where I had to pump and dump. (I hate throwing away breast milk, it makes me feel terrible)

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After an exhausting 10 hour wait time from LA to Houston between flight delays, traffic and flying time, I was finally home at 11 pm holding Vir tightly in my arms, with a heart full of joy and a needy dog liking my face and asking for equal attention.

Even though we might be connected with rapid transit and wireless technology, the emotional distance while traveling is challenging. I wish I could handle everything at once, but motherhood has taught me the unfortunate rule of being a human: I can’t. We have to make hard choices and cope up with the real world. And as a working mom I have to act like one and deal with my lifestyle changes while coming up with strategies that work for my family.

Yes ! The Struggle is Real !!

…In  my next post I will be sharing with you how I prepared to leave my baby overnight for work  and what I discovered about being a mom when I was off the clock.

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Missing Home This Diwali !

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Hi Everyone!! Hope you are welcoming Autumn with high spirits as this is the season of festivals and celebrations. Festivals are a huge part of anyone’s culture and ‘Diwali’ – The Festival of Lights,  is one of the most significant festivals celebrated by me and my family.

This year we are celebrating Diwali on October 30th and although it is almost 2 weeks away, I just don’t feel the same excitement and fanfare around me as it was back home in India…..

The bright decorations at the mall, the shiny packaging on the sweets,

 the aroma in the meals, the sparkle on the clothes,

the buzz at home, the lamps on the floor, the gifts galore,

the shiny lights on the street, the new Bollywood beat,

the hymn of the prayer, the agarbatti smell in the air,

the colorful rangoli, the diya  and roli on the pooja thali ,

the ladoos and  the burfi , the win in teen pati,

I miss it all …..I feel the absence of my family.

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Image: Pinterest

Of course it is hard to find the same cultural experience here in United States and I know it is silly of me to even expect it. But hey! At least I can long for it. The other day I was in Michael’s to get some supplies for Vir’s Halloween costume which I intend to DIY, and as I stepped into the store, the buzz and hullabaloo reminded me of the scene at the firecracker store in my hometown in Rajasthan, where we would go when we were kids. How we loved going through all the different colored sparkles, amused ourselves looking at the creative names on the new rocket and chakri boxes and searched for that new cracker which our neighbor wouldn’t have, while making sure all of them were within our budget.

As a kid, Diwali for me was about new clothes, firecrackers, chocolate covered dry fruits, decorating the balcony with lights, meeting my cousins and enjoying the break from school. Chores like cleaning the house, shopping for gifts, selecting that dress, seeking for more pocket money were the little things we looked forward to every year as Diwali got closer. As I got back from Michael’s the first thing I did was to create a Diwali wreath with the help of my cousin sister and my dear husband. I just wanted to get a whiff of that the Diwali spirit which has been lost in modern times.

Today, I am so thankful for all the cultural traditions that I grew up with. With every passing year, I have learnt to appreciate the meaning of each of these traditions even more. They constantly remind me of who I am and where I come from. These festivities also make me reflect on the literal importance of the holiness of each occasion. Staying away from home has made me preserve these traditions even more…..my culture, religion and language are the essence of my Indian Heritage and as a new mom I feel it is my responsibility to introduce my child to them and maintain their essence in our lives.

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Image: Rang Decor

Even though I have been visiting India every year since I moved to Houston 6 years back, I sometimes get nostalgic. Especially during the festival season! On our trips to India, we would travel between 3 states to visit our homes and squeeze in as much as we could within the 2 to 3 week vacation. Lately, these trips have been planned around marriages in the family. A perfect opportunity to meet all our cousins and family members at the same place and the same time, dancing off to latest Honey Singh’s songs, while wearing  elegant desi outfits and enjoying the incredible food.

However, right now, at this moment , I wish I was home preparing besan ke ladoos with my mom , making  rangoli with my brother, choosing the color for this year’s salwar suit, packing the gifts for my friends and practicing my skills for teen pati. And even though there is time to book my tickets and head off to India, there are work and life commitments that I cannot get out of. Celebrating Diwali at home will have to wait again.

Yet!! I believe, it’s more the reason for me to celebrate my ‘Gharwali Diwali’ with similar emotion and joy at my home in Houston, because this Diwali is SPECIAL !! We were blessed with our son ‘Vir’, our bundle of joy this May !!  And even though it will be difficult to recreate the same sentiment, I aspire towards sparkling my home with happiness, decorating it with shades of love , preparing the food with more joy and stand in the light with my husband and son beside !! My hope is not to lose my texture as an Indian in a foreign land with time, but to celebrate its elements and authenticity as much as I can.

A Happy Diwali to you and your loved ones!! May the divine light of Diwali spread peace , prosperity , pleasure and good health into your lives.

Do share with us on how  you are planning to celebrate Diwali and what is missing this time.

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Happy Diwali !! Acrylic Rangoli perfect for wooden flooring.