Monday, March 30, 2009


Kids and taste buds share something in common: both can be cranky.
Food was never the first thing on my mind during childhood. At the same time, I was a picky eater and attached lot of detailing to the ingredients in a cuisine. Is this cooked in onions, ginger, or garlic? I never relished these, more so as they set my teeth on edge but accepted tomatoes in almost everything offered. Peas, those innocent sweet green balls, were a big no-no for me.

Falling in line were mushrooms as I mistook them to be the ones growing in our backyard as weeds. I wondered who discovered those ugly little umbrellas as edible since they were so bland and a torture to my palette as and when offered on meals. And come to think of it, literally chewed on yogurt as I could not muster enough guts to gulp it down my throat in one go. I still recall my dad giving me an earful for it, every now and then. Dinners at family get together and relatives were an event to look forward to but all along, my taste buds were screaming for mercy. Guess who pitched in! My sweet sister, wary of dad's watchful eyes, scooping up peas from my bowl and transferring into her own(she was a peas devotee). All said, I liked other vegetables which other kids at my age would resent. And here I am years later, appreciating sweet peas and bland -meaty -flavored mushrooms. Whatever happened to mom's claim that if I do not eat my peas in early formative years, it will never go with my system later on? She still finds it hard to believe that my taste buds have evolved, after all.
I still remember my mom always praising my passion for milk and eggs during early childhood. Come teenage and my tongue made a reverse gear. Somehow my senses failed to appreciate the aroma of milk, in any form. Mom in her urgency to stuff my brain with brain boosting proteins, laced milk with edible almond oil. Call for mercy again! But then came the unexpected. My taste buds starting accommodating and appreciating yogurt almost twice a day, for breakfast and lunch. It has been the happening part of our meals with varieties offered: mint yogurt, cucumber and tomato yogurt, potato yogurt, strawberry yogurt and list goes on. Dad is a die-hard yogurt freak and totally committed to having it three times a day!

Two foods have been always consistent with me: eggs and cheese. While expecting my first baby, I digged into cheese three times everyday and my husband always remarked teasingly that we were heading for a cheesy baby.

Fruits! Fruits! Fruits! Call me bone idle but I never liked peeling and cutting big sized ones meanwhile preferring small ones like berries, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, litchis, grapes and small mangoes.
Now a mother of two adorable little monsters, I see my childhood being relived every single day at the dining table when my 8-year old eagerly demands to know lunch or dinner menu . Apprehensive of his tastes, I announce "spicy peas and mushrooms curry" to which his face brightens up! The word 'spicy', I guess, brightened up his taste buds too because a week earlier he resented these foods. Now that mushrooms and peas have been shown green signal by his palette, bell peppers are waiting approval too.
By and large, my experiences tell me that our taste buds are ever evolving, even as we grow older. I wonder if I start appreciating sea food, some day soon.

Taste buds, listen up!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kids big on age gap?
While some parents have children spaced out due to medical reasons, others do it out of choice. Whatever the reasons, all parents have their share of experiences in raising siblings with different age gaps. I would like to share my ongoing experiences in bringing up two boys with 7- years age gap and I'm enjoying every moment of it.
What's happening now:

  1. They don't fight, not in the least! Since they don't have anything to compete and grapple for (owing to the age gap), they seem to enjoy each other. My older son(G, 8yrs) is like a robot programmed to enact various roles for the little brother(J,20 mos), be it barney or BJ (our favorites)or Cookie Monster (as seen on sesame street) although at times I enjoy playing Baby Bop.
  2. G pairs up with me in web crawling and enthusiastically learns about his brother's developmental milestones; as a result, understanding his growing needs and changes in his behavior.This helps him coping up well with J's tantrums and acting up.
  3. Mommy's best aide: At times of diaper disaster or emergencies, G is a big help as he runs around for getting me the stuff as well as singing songs to his little buddy to soothe him during diaper rash or dermatitis episodes. Here is his favorite one: we have a smiley baby who loves to smile; he loves oatmeal and banana; we know he hates the itch , but this lotion will do the trick. wow! mommy has finished.
  4. Help at feeding: Every so often when called for help, G is great at it and mess free too; moreover, he has taken well all the teaching about correct way to hold the milk bottle while feeding (to avoid ear infections and dental caries) as also the right proportions to be scooped up in spoon to avoid choking. This really helps when I'm having my hands full.
  5. Language and speech development: With his vocabulary expanding, J tries to pick up words from G and jumble up sentences in a funny language of his own. Recently he started with words like no, yes, knock knock door, wow, thanks, take it, give, put down, feet up, put pants , put shirt, diaper change, water bath, blocks, sit down, hello, goodbye, and the like; also, he relates these spoken words with the respective meanings and actions.

Later on:
  1. Reusing: I always store G's outgrown stuff to be used later on by younger one, be it clothes, toys or books;moreover, it might help ease the weight on our pockets to some extent later on.
  2. I am hopeful G can assist J in riding bike, balancing on scooter and skates, skiing, and the like later on.
  3. Big brothers can be great help when filling out those lengthy application forms for various activities.
  4. At times, a big brother's presence on the school grounds can be a welcome relief from bullies .
  5. We'll not have empty nest syndrome at one go with J staying longer with us after G ventures out for new horizons.
  6. Last but not the least, who's going to give the dating tips to the teen sibling? A grown up brother, of course

Any parents sharing the same fun as me? Others having apprehensions with spaced out births? Join in and leave your comments and experiences.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

 Tip of the week:
What should u look for in a breakfast cereal:2 grams of fiber or more, less than 8 grams of sugar, less than 2 grams of fat.

What to buy organic?

Recently I was reading some information about what and when to start with when going organic, especially with kids. According to Dr Alan Greene, MD, Pediatrician and author of Raising Baby Green, 'our body and brain grow faster from birth to age 3 than at any other time'. Therefore, to lower your body's chemical load, you don't need to take an all-or-nothing approach. Wisdom lies in initiating with a change or two, based on what is your family's regular consumption. The article was quite informative for organic rookies with some interesting comments from readers which are worth mentioning here. But first things first, let's start with list to start with :
  • Potatoes : Are one of the 12 most pesticide contaminated fruits and vegetables(the dirty dozen list), according to Environmental Working Group(EWG), a non-profit agency working for food safety. Also, they are consumed on almost daily basis by kids and adults alike. Even when washed, peeled, or scrapped, they still retain almost 81percent of pesticide. Others on this list are apples, peaches, strawberries,  nectarines, cherries, grapes(imported), pears, spinach, celery, sweet bell peppers.
  • Peanut Butter: If your kids are peanut butter freaks, it's time to switch over to the organic variety. According to Dr Greene,"The pesticides used on peanuts are found to be toxic". Also due to a recent rise in peanut butter allergies, it's all the more risky.
  • Ketchup: Well! Kids and adults, both love this tangy red condiment as it makes for a perfect dip and spread for almost anything- eggs, pizzas, wedges, vegs and so on. Not only scoring great on taste, ketchup is also super healthy  as it is loaded with lycopenes(antioxidants) that aids in lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease. So why organic? Because the organic ketchup is 57% higher in lycopene and is nutrient dense. There's more: Organic ketchup score zero on sugar and artificial flavors.
  • Beef and Milk(dairy products): Because conventional livestock is given antibiotics to promote growth, those drugs may find their way into your system too; whereas, Organic  grass -fed beef( unlike conventional beef that  is corn and grain fed) is leaner and has 5- times the heart healthy omega-3 fats. Likewise, conventional milk contains antibiotics and pesticides. Experts are concerned about these hormones role in kick starting early puberty in kids, considering how much milk they consume on a daily basis.

    All said, these points make sense. But what's interesting is a comment from a dairy farmer and a mom about milk.Here it goes: As a dairy farmer and a mother I was shocked what you had to say about conventional milk. It is absolutely not true that conventional milk contains antibiotics and pesticides. When the milk truck comes to pick up our milk, early in the morning, the milk gets tested for antibiotics. If there is even one drop of antibiotics found, the milk will not get picked up. The whole tank of milk is dumped down the drain at the expense of the dairy farmer. The cows that do get treated with antibiotics are being milked separately and that milk is being fed to the baby calves after it has been filtered, cleaned and pasteurized. It does not ever reach the human food supply. Nutritionally all milk, organic and conventional, is the same, the only difference is the way the milk is produced. We treat our sick cows with antibiotics, so that we don't have to see them suffer and potentially die. There is also no artificial hormones added to any milk. Further more, there is never pesticides added to milk because there is no purpose to adding pesticides to the milk. All milk contains wholesome and natural hormones and helpful bacteria and enzymes. Putting any type of pesticides in the milk would not accomplish any positive result and therefore is NEVER done. Once again, ALL milk in the human food supply is equally nutritious, free of pesticides and always free of all antibiotics.

With me going organic already with kids( especially dirty dozen, poultry, and dairy), am I barking up the wrong tree after reading such comments? What's your take on this?


Friday, March 13, 2009

HELP! My toddler is fiddling with kitchen cupboards.

This is a common complaint by concerned mommies(one of them being my dear sister) and it forms a perfect recipe for kitchen accidents too, in many cases. Although market is full of great and useful accessories for a child proof home, sometimes we need to use tricks and commonsense in tackling this matter.

When my little baby grew out of babyhood to explore his little world called Home all on his own, it sounded alarm bells in my mind. What should I start with first? What could possibly be the most vulnerable area for him? Anyways, I started shopping for kid safe cupboard locks, door stoppers, kitchen locks and the like. But to my disappointment, I concluded that I can't be child proofing all the kitchen cabinets as they were not designed keeping a child in mind. Now what? After much brain shaking, I had an idea and hoped it worked well. Because my tot wants to accompany me to the kitchen most of the time, I designated this one particular shelf for some of his favorite toys, small bowls from kitchen (which he make- believes as blocks), and two small size board books. Occasionally, he is told' this is for Jasper' as I point to his area, as also 'Not for Jasper' when he tries to sneak into another forbidden one. Also one of his soft squeaky toy stands hanging from this particular shelf door so as to ease him in locating his area. So far it's working. So far so good!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What is my tot chasing away?

It's 11pm and all men of the house are fast asleep with the exception of one little Pokemon named J (my 20-mos old toddler). What is he up to tonight? Making some new discovery under the couch, TV table or beds? Or like other instances, befriended a new soft toy and narrating his Elmo story to it (in a strange language called Tod-Lang, which only he himself can decode, alas)? Or it's going to be one of those long sleepless nights, and he wants to immerse his little brain into board books? Nope! None of these reasons. There's much more interesting and intriguing to it. Here it goes........
I lay in bed letting him play around for a while so that whenever his brain and muscles are fatigued, he can hop on his bed and fall in sweet slumber on his own. As I watch him quietly from beneath my sheet (careful not to distract him), I notice that he is being disturbed by something as I could read the annoyed expression on his innocent face. What is it, I keep guessing. Just then, he shakes off something from his little feet, one after another (as if trying to get rid of it) but seems like it keeps sticking back to him. My smart Pokemon starts walking backwards, slow at first, then gaining pace and running for the closet. No solution in sight! Well, he has another plan. Circling around and around  till his bones are tired, he stands close to the wall when his expression takes a calmer look. His gaze moves upwards to the wall and my curious george is reaching out his hand to touch (or maybe catch something) it. At this point, I break into giggles and suppressed laughter when the sticky thing is revealed to me......MY TODDLER IS CHASING AWAY HIS SHADOW! Although my confusion is cleared, my little J is still coming to terms with this new friend who will be following him everywhere from now on. But at last, he got rid of it the moment he stepped in dark and that was when his ordeal came to a happy ending, letting him sleep. As for me, I got a thing to share and laugh the next day. My silly goose J!


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tip of the week:
Cool way to help small kids blow nose in winters: Instead of blowing with mouth, ask them to blow a candle with nose.

2 Cool discipline tricks

Few months back, I happened to stumble upon these cool discipline methods to be used with toddlers and small children. As I was not ready yet to apply these to my baby who was only couple of months old then; however, its about time now that he'll soon be turning two. Moreover because he is a little monkey who just loves to reach for things by running and hopping, he is just the right kind to be exposed to these tricks. Maybe some of you are already aware of these but I just wanted to share these with all parents out there.
  1. FREEZE TRICK: Toddlers can be quite unpredictable when it comes to standing or sitting still at one place for long. They can swerve roads and break free from an otherwise careful parent and try their exploring hands at expensive exhibits in shopping malls that can, at times, be a costly affair to parents. One cool word, FREEZE! Try making up a game with this word at home (discipline begins at home) when all are required to stand still at the word.Once outside home, this technique can be reinforced as a form of play that each one of you like . For instance, if your curious george is running after a piece of expensive antique at a friend's place or a mall, just utter' FREEZE' and gently take away the thing from him. I'm definitely going to try it on my two year old as he can imitate and understand our commands now.
  2. WALK LIKE GRANDPA: Imagine your darling walking around a store with you and flapping his hands like a butterfly all over(as kids love to walk);meanwhile, your heart sets racing as you watch a piece of bone china flower vase wobbling with a brush of his little hand , ready to fall! There's a way to avoid it: partner with your child at practicing walking like grandpa or an old man at home with both hands folded at the back and walking at a slow pace. Observe the same trick outside home.
Anyone having more cool tricks to share? Leave your cool comments for me and others to share and know more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eat local, Stay healthy is Michelle Obama's word

Feb 28th ,2009.
The occasion is first official White House dinner in honor of nation's governors and the First Lady Michelle Obama is in charge of the kitchen, with her emphasis on consuming and serving local, healthy and wholesome foods. "when food is grown locally, oftentimes it tastes really good, and when you're dealing with kids, you want to get them to try that carrot. If it tastes like a real carrot, and it's really sweet, they're going to think that it's a piece of candy', said she."So my kids are more inclined to try different vegetables if they are fresh and local and delicious", she continued. Here are some of the samples laid out by chefs for dinner:
  • A citrus salad with many local many- hued watermelon radishes with tiny ice greens(they grow in the snow)
  • Chesapeake crab agnolotti
  • Wagyu beef and Nantucket scallops with local red carrots (main dish)