Friday, August 10, 2018

Children’s Blocked Nose - Do’s & Don'ts

The monsoon season is here, and with the beautiful weather also comes the season of flu. With schools starting for my toddler, I know that it also means the frequent bouts of cold and cough will make an entry into my home. As they’re under 5, their immune system is still developing and catching different viruses is common at this age. Kids cannot express their discomfort when they’re Ill. A thermometer will help with knowing the temperature – but a toddler won’t be able to tell if they’re having a headache or feeling tired or if they’re having a blocked nose. It’s a mother’s experience and instinct that helps. Here is what to do (and not) when your toddler has a blocked nose:
Look for the first signs –
Babies are obligatory nose breathers. Meaning, they don’t know how to really use their mouth to breathe if their nasal passage is blocked. If they have a blocked nose while feeding/drinking milk out of a bottle, it may get very uncomfortable for them. Less oxygen going to the brain means impacting their early-age development as well. Hence, when you see signs of discomfort like keeping the mouth open while sleeping, being cranky, not eating or drinking their milk – they may have a blocked nose. If they have a temperature too, take them to the paediatrician. 
Hydration –
Make sure they get a lot of liquids, at room temperature and warm, to soothe and heal their throat faster. Water, clear soups, room temperature juices are some options. Remaining hydrated helps thin out the mucus and remove it from their system easily. This, of course, applies to adults as well. If they are being cranky, keep them hydrated, at regular intervals. You can use a straw or fancy glass to make it attractive.
Nasal spray/drops (consult your paediatrician before using the product) – 
To help the child sleep better, a nasal spray/drops that is made specially for babies/toddlers could be used. Opt for a nasal decongestant in an easy drop form, like Nasivion® Baby Nose Drops 0.01% for babies below 1 year. Its active ingredient Oxymetazoline is well tolerable on the nose and provides upto 12 hours of easy breathing. It unblocks the nose to help your baby play and learn in a more enjoyable way. Up to the age of 4 weeks, instil 1 drop of the solution into each nostril 2-3 times per day. From the 5th week of life until the age of 1 year, instil 1-2 drops into each nostril 2-3 times per day or as directed by the physician.
For children aged between 1 to 6 years, you could opt for Nasivion® Child Nose Drops 0.025%. Instil 1-2 drops into each nostril 2-3 times per day or as directed by the physician/paediatrician.
Avoid the air-conditioner –
ACs tend to dry up and remove moisture from the area – which will only trouble and irritate the baby/toddler more. Humidity in the air helps the baby breathe better and removes mucus. If you stay in a place where the climate is dry, then you should try using a vaporizer/humidifier in the kid’s room.
Avoid sending them to playgroup/school –
This is obvious; but let them get plenty of rest and avoid sending them to school where they won’t get rest and may infect other children too. They may get bored at home, specially the toddlers, so keep them engaged, play some games with them, read those stories and allow a little extra screen time. Keep the noise low and lights dim. Like adults, while having cold even kids are very irritable and they may not know what is irritating them.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Eleventh Hour by S.Hussain Zaidi

I finished reading this book in 2 days straight. That is how gripping and thrilling it is! Just my kind of novel - crime, thriller with some emotions and a lot of twists and turns! I am a sucker for such books, and Eleventh Hour turned out to be just like that! I wonder why I haven't read other books yet!

Situated years after the 9/11 Mumbai attacks that nor me, nor any other Mumbaikar will ever forget...the book and the characters take you through on-the-edge ride towards another attack in the waiting. I won't tell a lot about the story, you can read the summary below, but Vikrant's chemistry with his mentor Misra and the character Daniel are just awesome! I could imagine the story as a movie in my mind, infact this so could be a Bollywood movie (if done well). Can't wait to read Mr.Zaidi's previous books. A must read!

New Delhi, 2017. It is nine years since the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai and the wounds have still not healed. Especially not for Superintendent of Police Vikrant Singh, who ends up landing a slap on the High Commissioner of Pakistan’s face when he meets him at an event. Meanwhile, in Bhopal, five members of the Indian Mujahideen, arrested by Vikrant, break out of the Central Jail. Vikrant, suspended for the diplomatic disaster, is unofficially asked to assist the team tracking the escaped terrorists. In another part of the country, a retired tycoon, a heartbroken ex-soldier and a young woman dealing with demons of her own embark on a journey of self-discovery aboard a cruise liner from Mumbai to Lakshadweep. Fate, however, has other plans, and the cruise liner is hijacked. Racy and riveting, this is Hussain Zaidi at his best.

About the Author
S. Hussain Zaidi is a veteran of investigative, crime and terror reporting. His previous books include Black Friday, Mafia Queens of Mumbai, Dongri to Dubai, Byculla to Bangkok and Mumbai Avengers, some of which have been adapted into Bollywood films. Hussain Zaidi lives with his family in Mumbai.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What's new on Netflix! #StreamTeam

Hello readers! As you are aware, more than TV, we watch online streaming shows and being part of Netflix India's #StreamTeam, I want to share the latest updates and shows that have got me excited!

1. Smart Download -

Currently rolled out for android devices, now when you're watching a show/series, the next episode will automatically download using WiFi while you're watching the previous one. Not only that, it will also delete watched episode on it's own! Watch the video to know more:

2. New profile character avatars -

Earlier, all the account profiles had to be selected from a limited set of avatars which were kinda boring. Now you can select your profile DP/avatar from your favourite Netflix shows like Stranger Things, Lost In Space, Series of unfortunate events and more! Here is how my account looks like -

3. New shows - 

While we wait patiently for our fav shows to come with new seasons, there are so many new offerrings being added week on week, month on month! For adults, who are okay with violence and mature content - Sacred Games (based on a book) is a must watch! Featuring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazzudin Sidiqui. There also are new shows for preschoolers - Treehouse Detectives, Harvey Street Kids, The epic tales of Captain Underpants, Boss Baby - Back in Business and more! A lot of new chick-flicks and rom-coms that I saw and liked - Set It Up, Kissing Booth, Ali's Wedding, I feel pretty and more. Also, if you're into cooking shows like I am, Nailed It is back with a Season 2, and there is another cool dessert show called Sugar Rush which has Zumbo as a judge again (From Zumbo's Just Desserts). The monsoons and staying indoors got a lot more fun with the plethora of shows and movies to choose from!

4. Giveaway and free month of Netflix!

Did you know that your first month of Netflix is free? Yess! Netflix allows you to fill in your details and try Netflix for free for a month! And if you don't like it (which is like next to impossible due to the amount of content there is) you can discontinue your subscription, and if you do love it you can continue and be charged from the 2nd month onwards! So if you haven't seen somethng you heard rave reviews about, here is a chance to watch for free!

Last but NOT the least! I am giving away a supercool Netflix goodie bag which will have some cool stuff to ONE lucky winner. What do you have to do? SIMPLE. Just comment here with your favourite Netflix show and why do you love it. (Open for residents of India only). All the best!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Teaching failure to kids for the best

I remember when I was a kid and I would see a new toy or book or anything else that caught my fancy, and I asked my parents to buy it for me, their answer would almost always be NO. Then maybe on pleading, negotiating, insisting or even throwing a tantrum - I would once in a blue moon get what I wanted. One would think that the parents didn't want to spoil the child or waste money on useless things. But it is soo much deeper than that.

While we're under our parents shade and guidance, we feel confident, positive about life and that nothing can ever go wrong. But when kids start getting exposed to the outside world.. Right from school days, to independently commuting to school/college/tutions/classes and later doing grown up things like getting a job or going for higher education - reality hits.

Life isn't all that easy, people aren't always good or kind. There are obstacles, you won't always get what you want and things may sometimes look bleak. Back then because we were already used to not always getting what we want, we would be alright. Forget or get over it or find a way to earn it. 

But today, we as parents of this generation with most probably a single child, give our kids whatever they want - out of guilt for not spending enough time with them or because of impatience and not wanting them to throw a fit or create a scene or even because we want to give them everything because we can afford it. How wrong are we!

With all the recent (and not so recent) suicides committed by children due to failing an exam or being lonely or not meeting their own expectations I can only try to figure where are we as parents going wrong.

And the answer lies right in front of us. Not spending quality time with the kids (going shopping to the mall or going for movies etc hardly counts). Giving them a gadget too early in life whilst being on another gadget ourself giving excuses to self that it's important work or it's necessary to finish this right now at night.. Not teaching them that failure is as probable as success.. That sometimes you have to settle for not getting what you want. Be it a toy or school of choice or a vocation of choice.

I am guilty of doing this too. Mostly out of being worn out and tired all the time. But every time the news or viral video of another soul ending it's own self comes to my eyes, it's like a bolt of shock. It's like ice cold water hitting my face asking me to finally wake up from whatever deluded world I'm living in where I think it'll all be fine without me doing good much.

Also, if you're a blogger/influencer reading this - we spoil our kids further with all the freebies/special invites and other privileges. We need to be careful and make them feel they have earned the privilege or else later in life reality will hit hard and how!

Next time my toddler asks me for something I'll say No, not today. He'll cry, he'll yell and be angry. I'll let him. I'll calmly try to explain to him that he cannot get every thing he lays his eyes on and has to earn things by doing tasks. It will be difficult. It will be frustrating. I may even want to pull my hair when he shrieks and cries, but I will try to remind myself the greater picture I am trying to create. I'll keep my phone and other gadgets away when I'm home. If he asks for the iPad or phone I'll tell him it's at office. Sorry if I don't reply to your messages people, I'm sorry if I cannot do the work at hand on priority. I'm sure you will understand.

P.S. - I wrote and published this from phone while in commute so please excuse any grammar/spelling mistakes.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Royal Weekend with Volkswagen Passat at Fort Jadhavgadh

It was my parent’s 30thwedding anniversary last weekend and I wanted to make it special and memorable for them. At the same time we just had the weekend to us as with busy work schedules no one could take a holiday. I was exploring resorts & hotels around Mumbai – Lonavala, Khandala, Karjat, Pune, Alibaug, but any hotel is a typical food + pool + room kinda stay and I wanted something different for the occasion.

I had been wanting to go to Fort Jadhavgadh, which is a little ahead of Pune since long, but because it is expensive and also that it’s far we never ended up going. But I really wanted to go and finally booked 2 royal tents (chhavanis) for the occasion. FYI, they don’t mention anywhere that the tents are a little bit of a walk from the main fort. So if you have anyone who has physical issues, trouble walking – please go for the rooms/suites and not the tent. I would have myself opted for the rooms if I knew. My parents were a little tired at the end of the trip with all the walking.

Google maps showed that the destination was 3 hours away from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai – but in actual it took us 5+ hours to reach thanks to the weather and traffic! Thank god that we had the comfort of a luxurious car so that we weren’t tired at all upon reaching Fort Jadhavgadh, or else the whole trip would’ve been spoilt.

Saviour of the day was Volkwagen Passat that was given to me for the weekend! The 8thgeneration Passat with park assist, hold-assist, 9 airbags, sensors, a surround sound speaker with multiple tweeters and a lottt of other lifestyle features and a sun-roof made the travel comfortable, royal and fun!

A head-turner model with interiors that are as stylish as the exteriors! I absolutely loved the wooden finish on the dashboard, details like sunglasses holder, 360 degree camera view of what is there outside the car, a multi-function steering wheel which gives all the controls right on the steering wheel and a boot that opens from the foot via sensor! And opening the sun-roof and enjoying the pleasant breeze was just amazing – even my young at heart parents enjoyed that. Though getting up there is not very comfortable.

We reached and checked-in around 3.30-4pm (they welcome you in a royal way with tutari and a tika). Please remember to carry ID proof for everyone. My mom didn’t have hers (forgot it in the photocopy machine at home and doesn’t carry PAN card), because the manager didn’t let us go to our tents till that was sorted. (Yes, we were on the road for hours, conveyed that to the manager, but he was adamant to have ALL the IDs, we had already given the other four). We were shown to our rooms and given the list of activities available as a brochure, but here was another issue. We assumed all the activities were available all the time, but they had specific timings which we didn’t ask and the hotel staff did not tell us. So pottery, mehndi, bullock ride, trek etc all only once at a specific time – not knowing of the same we missed it all. So please make sure you ask the staff to tell you what time is what. Oh and you will see a lot of bugs and creatures - I had a blast showing them to my toddler, as you don't get to see them in the city. Caterpillars, butterflies, frogs, chameleons, snails etc of all shapes and sizes! I heard that you even spot rabbits, deers and foxes if you go for the morning trek.

Apart from that, the fort is MAGNIFICENT. In full glory, very well preserved with all the underground tunnels and verandahs.. It was lush green and stone and the weather was beautiful (not raining but very cloudy and windy making it perfect). There are huge sprawling lawns of green grass for you to rest, play or do anything. There are some swings and a hammock for you to laze around or you can just lie down on the grass. They have games like football, badminton, lagori, cricket etc equipment lying for you to use. My mom and dad teamed up with other guests and played lagori, my mom had a lot of fun remembering her childhood days! We decided to next take a dip in the temperature controlled pool – but even after it being temperature controlled, it was cold due to the cold breeze outside and height, so thought adults are okay, you need to be careful with the kids. My toddler’s lips started turning blue in 15-20 minutes and we had to get him out of the pool. There also is supposed to be a poolside bar called Kund, but couldn’t see any bar in open, but they do serve drinks if you order. We chilled with some chilled beer. There is a really old tree right in the middle of the pool and hence the pool has a shade all the time, so you can even come in the afternoon without worrying much about getting tanned.

We had dinner at Chhajja – all day dining. Instead of sitting inside, we preferred the outdoor sitting which was more peaceful and dim, with nature’s sounds of crickets, frogs and bats the only thing to hear. On display as décor were utensils and ornamental décor from the royal times centuries ago. The food was really nice – we had the Fort Jadhavgadh special kanda bhajiya, paneer handi and dal tadka with assorted breads. Quantity is very nice and it was a wonderful hot meal.

We had a surprise for the parents with balloons, a home-made cake, flowers, greeting card etc so we asked them not to go to sleep. They loved the surprise and we took some pictures, wishes them and called it a night because we wanted to get up early. The morning weather was absolutely beautiful. We decided to take a stroll around and took some pictures. You should do the audio tour, and you will cover all the places of the fort, so you can take pictures everywhere you go. We then headed for the buffet breakfast at Aangan – the courtyard café. The spread and variety was nice – cereals, baked items, south Indian, Maharashtrian cuisine, eggs, filter coffee and more. But because it was crowded the service was a little slow. They mention that they get live counter orders to your table, but in that chaos they never came to our table, so you might as well stand and wait for your order at the live counter – or else come really early and have your breakfast.

We then completed our check-out procedures, and then chilled a bit in the garden area. There is a 300 year old temple which you can visit. There is also a small kid’s garden next to it. Infact if you’re not in a hurry, you could stay around till late afternoon and head back. We started back for Mumbai at around 1.30pm (Mom wanted to apply the mehndi which happens at 1pm) and halted at Sunny Da Dhaba for a very late lunch and reached home by night because of the traffic situation again.

The audio system in the Volkswagen Passat was so amazing, we played high-bass and intensity songs on the way back and I felt I was sitting in a moving music concert! We were 3 people and a toddler on the back seat but it did not feel cramped up at all due to the massiveness of the car’s size. Also, the boot size is really huge too, it can take all the luggage you would have as a big family with kids quite easily. That’s a major plus too. Everyone around were staring at the car which only tells you how beautiful it looks. Thank you Volkswagen for making our parent’s special day even more memorable. My dad now officially has this car on his wishlist! If you guys are looking at going to Fort Jadhavgadh, I suggest going for 2 nights so that it’s worth the travel and so that you can do all the activities they have. Don’t forget to book rooms and ask for activity timings in advance though! You can opt for their special packages which include meals – I think that will turn out as a better deal.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

How to book a tatkal ticket from IRCTC.

Please note : this is based on recent personal experiences trying to book train tickets via the IRCTC portal.

So you have an unplanned travel ahead and cannot / won't shell out money for expensive flight tickets. Tatkal train tickets is the option for you, but if you're trying to get lucky with tatkal tickets, the probably and chance game is like that of winning a contest. So all the best!

  1. The route: Chances of scoring tatkal tickets on a popular route eg. Mumbai to Delhi is much better than getting it for an unpopular route for instance Panvel to Gwalior. Because less trains / less frequent trains hence more competition for you.
  2. Internet Connection: Your Lan / broadband / wifi/ Hotspot better be strong enough to survive the way till the end. If your takes more than a couple of seconds to load, you will fail.
  3. Typing skills: now it's best to have a master passenger list saved in advance, but u still have to type a few things like to and from stations, enter dates etc.. Payment card details and more. So u better do ur typing test and be good at operating/navigating the laptop/computer!
  4. 10am alarm! Now even if u login before, u may have to relogin again and the server becomes really really slow. I almost feel that it's a conspiracy where you won't be able to login because no captcha image or login error or server not responding (all of this happened with me). So be ready to bang your head with the keyboard in sheer frustration. (Timing for non-AC tickets is different. 11am)
  5. No surety:  By God's grace and some luck if you enter all details and find availability in the train of your choice, there are good chances that by the time you make the payment what you've booked are tqwl tickets or tatkal waiting list tickets, the chances of confirmation of which is really really slim. As the general quota waiting list is given preference first. So basically, full popat. 
  6. Why the app? There is an IRCTC mobile app that works faster, but once you enter details it sends you to log-in to your desktop-like IRCTC account (from the phone). What logic?
  7. Success! Maybe after trying for 2-3 days you will finally hit jackpot and get confirmed tatkal tickets. And if you can have a fundraiser organized for your travel, you could book premium tatkal tickets. Still cheaper than last minute flights but way too expensive for train travel (double the cost of a tatkal Tkt and equal to flight if you had booked it months in advance!)

So, if you think you may travel later, even if there is a remote hunch - I would suggest you to book tickets and bear the nominal cancelation charges if you don't go. It's cheaper than the tatkal surcharge and fares. And I get sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat every time I try to book tatkal tickets - the pressure and anxiety of getting one for the family members I tell you! So if it's a life and death situation, I suggest you go to a known agent.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Top 5 online tools to ease parental woes!

Technology has influenced every single aspect of modern life in the 21st century. It is almost impossible to think of life without technology in a device-driven world where the screen holds infinite power.

While parents may not entirely be happy with navigating the tricky by-products of technology like managing their childs’ screen time, most also acknowledge the way technology has positvely impacted their lives.

From helping with their child’s education to aiding parents to seek advice about the quandaries of parenting, technology is there for everything. It has helped organise things and schedules, save time, and answer essentially any question related to parenting (or otherwise). In moderation, the right tech tools can arm parents with curcial information, save time and money and, of course, give them a well-deserved break.

Here’s a lowdown on some of the best tech tools that have made life much easier for parents and have almost managed to change the parenting game.

1. For safe online usage

YouTube Kids:
If there is one place where kids universally love watching videos, it is YouTube. YouTube launched the app YouTube Kids three years ago to give kids around the world a platform to access videos that are enriching, engaging and which entertained them while teaching them new things. Last month, in a bid to give parents more control, YouTube Kids announced three new features around the content available in the app. The new features include ‘Collections’ that will allow parents to choose only the channel collection and subjects they want their kids to view. The ‘Parent Approved Content’ feature empowers parents to handpick every video and channel available to their child in the app while an improved ‘Search-off’ control ensures more contained experience. This way, parents can monitor what the children are watching in their absence.

2. For Finding reliable tutors & keeping a tab on children’s study schedules
Ed-tech or technology in education has created a major evolution in the field of education. One such tool is that has created tutoring space by facilitating parents’ search for a reliable tutor. GuruQ stands out as India's largest tutor community platform where one can pick quality-certified and user-rated tutors. It is a one of its kind digital integrated platform connecting tutors and students and addresses the need for a single, simplified and cohesive ed-tech solution that provides online and offline tutoring. Parents can use the platform to pick reliable ‘GuruQ Certified’ tutor options for primary, secondary, higher secondary and undergraduate courses. GuruQ’s unique dashboard reassures parents as it allows their wards to save valuable study time by managing timetables, schedule classes and assess self-progress. Its biggest plus is that students have the convenience of choosing whether they want to take the customised package sessions online or offline. Parents can also get a complete report on how the child is coping academically with just a click.

3. For child health and managing immunization schedules

Immunize India:
While everything else follows, it is the health of children that always bothers and worries parents. Often, it’s a tough task to keep a track of immunisation schedules for children. This is where platforms that tell parents when a vaccine is scheduled, give information on its efficacy etc and indicate the compulsory and optional ones are welcome. The Immunize India app is a straight forward app from the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) that follows the IAP’s vaccination calendar. All parents need to do is feed in the name of the child and date of birth after which they will receive three sets of email and push notifications in the week that the vaccination is due. The app is available in 12 languages and takes the child through from 0-12 years.

4. For managing kids mobile screen time

It’s a routine scene in most households where children are stuck to mobile devices even if it’s time to eat a meal. An app called the DinnerTime app is a simple solution that helps parents who want to give their kids time-outs from their phones and tablets especially during meals or sleep hours. This is a parental-only app which lets parents connect the mobile device which the child is using to their own device. Once that is done, it allows parents to lock the child's device from their own for a 30-minute, 1-hour, or 2-hour break for dinner. The Bed Time break lets parents set a start and an end time when the device is locked for lights out. Lastly, the Take a Break feature lets parents start and stop a break without a predetermined time limit.

5. For keeping a tab on your child’s whereabouts

Find My Kids – Footprints:
For parents worried about their children’s safety, location tracking devices can be of help. Find My Kids uses GPS in real time to help parents keep track of and automatically locate where the child goes with his phone. Location info is never shared with anyone else beyond those who have permission to see it, and data is saved for later review. But giving a child a smartphone isn't always an option. Even then, technology can still come to the rescue with options such as Letstrack by a UK-based startup that sells location tracking based devices.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Mother's Day Celebrations at Le Meridien Goa

Mothers day all my life has been a day I pamper my mom. Get her fresh flowers she likes, make a greeting or buy one if I'm keeping busy, spend the day with her and the sort. Only after I had my baby 3 years ago did I realize what being a mother really is. And my respect for my own mother only increased ten folds.

This mothers day, I was in for a surprise when Le Meridien invited me along with my son and husband to spend mothers day weekend at their Goa property - about which I have written here. In this blog I am going to talk about how they made our stay very special!

1. High-tea by the pool -

The awesome culinary wizards at Le Meridien Goa, Calangute set up high tea by the pool side, and the presentation was simply unique! All the food items broken down to their raw ingredients and presented - so that kids can know what's in the food they're eating. The samosas and chocochip cookie were the highlight for me. They were also sweet enough to send some to the room for the husband who was not feeling too well.

2. Dinner at Jazz & Grill -

Jazz & Grills is Le Meridien's and Goa's first "whiskey bar". The restaurant transforms you to another place with it's stage for live performances with the big screen, comfortable seating on two levels and a bar where you can sit if you prefer that. The decor has guitars and everything music too. We had our special set menu here and had such a great time with the great staff, awesome drinks and food! 

There was falafel in pita pockets, chicken burger, cottage cheese in thai green marinade, zatar spiced fish fingers. Also a special egg-bhurji that chef Saurav Chattoraj - that was the highlight for me. For drinks we had bourbon based drinks - one infused with honey another with apricots, both just amazing!

For the kids there was french fries, roasted papad and juices - which kept them happy too!

3. Mothers Day brunch at Latest Recipe -

Latest recipe is Le Meridien Goa, Calangute's buffet restaurant and that is where we had our Mother's Day brunch. A wide spread to choose from - I went for their recommended soup of the day - khau suey - had that twice, also tried other things from the spread and then jumped to dessert - the stawberry pavlova was just amazing - light and fluffy. Kings beer was relished along with the food.

There was a special activity set-up for kids where they could paint a Mother's Day card for mommies or have something painted on their face or hands. There were also lots of candies on display - jujubes, marshmallows and more - and the kids had a crazy time binging on them!

4. Goan thali dinner at Latest Recipe -

For the second day dinner we experienced local goan delicacies, again at Latest Recipe - but this was a thali. Lot's of unique vegetables and curries, served with pav and breads and also the local dessert - bibinca. We also tried the chicken zacuti gravy which was amazing too. Again, with Kings beer, the goan local beer.

5. Eclair making activity at Longitude 73 -

Every Le Meridien hotel has a signature dessert - The Eclair. And for each local hotel, they choose a third flavor (apart from Chocolate / Vanilla) that is known for it's local flavours. For Goa, it was mango and feni flavoured Eclair. Now just eating the dessert is so vanilla (pun intended), so they made us make our own eclair! It looks very easy, but isn't that easy. You have to make holes in the pastry to pipe in the cream all the way through - this is a real challenge. After that you decorate with cream, chocolate pieces and other garnishing and voila! Amazing and tasty!

I felt absolutely pampered over the Mother's day weekend, and the kiddo felt quite special too! It was definitely a stay to remember - and we made some new friends too! Kaavya, our awesome host for the weekend, Kuheli, Pawan and their son Shreysht with whom my son Panav absolutely had a blast! Also Ruchi and husband and her adorable daughter Ivanka.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

5 summer drinks for a cooling and healthy summer for kids.

Summer is at its peak and there is no surprise that we don’t feel like eating the usual roti sabzi dal rice anymore. It’s a fact that appetite can decrease and even more so for kids.

My little one also has become even more fussy and isn’t eating some of the things he earlier was. So it is vital that he stays hydrated and full and gets the required minerals and vitamins in form of liquid at least (not that it makes up for the solids). Here are some healthy summer drinks, after all we don’t want to feed our little ones flavoured, artificial stuff like colas or tetra packed treats.

1. Watermelon juice

Watermelons are quite in-season during the summers –atleast in Mumbai. So I make the most of it! Being a water content fruit – it can be had as is, but also is a great option and easy to make juice out of. Just make sure to remove the seeds or else if those get mixed in the processor the juice can taste bitter. I add a dash of salt, pepper and sugar to it to make it taste even better. You can add pieces of watermelon if kids like it (I used to love it as a kid and still do), or let that be.

2. Chocolate/Vanilla flavoured Enfagrow A+

Fussy eaters require other sources of nutrition. I know that because mine is the most fussy when it comes to food and hence giving him supplements has already been vital for me. Enfagrow is the World's No 1 in Children's Nutrition Brand. It contains Triple Health Guard a unique blend of DHA, prebiotics and various important micronutrients that supports your child’s ability to fight off infections in 3 ways, viz. supports Respiratory health, Gut health and resistance to other common infections. Available in Chocolate or Vanilla flavours. Travelling with a toddler and fulfilling their milk requirements can be quite a task – and Enfagrow A+ being a milk powder itself makes it so much easier – just need to add pre-boiled warm water and it’s ready! Available of Grofers: 

3.  Banana/Mango shake

The healthiest, filling option in getting kids to consume both milk and banana! I remember growing up having this in the morning or evenings. Add some sugar if required, with one banana and chilled milk and blend! And also the best of the summer season – king of fruits – Mangoes to make some yummy mango milkshake! Add smaller pieces of bananas/mangoes so that there aren’t any lumps remaining finally. Kid’s absolutely love it!  

4. Aam panna (kairi ka paani)

Raw mangoes or kairi not only give us tasty pickles and chutneys but also make a great raw, healthy drink – aam panna! This one takes a little more time to prepare as you need to boil the raw mangoes before mashing the pulp and diluting in water. But it’s worth it – add some sugar, salt and black pepper and enjoy the tangy drink with your kids!

5.  Shikanji / Lemonade / Nimbu paani

When nothing else at home, there always is good old nimbu paani! The best way to say goodbye to dehydration. Lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of rock salt mixed with chilled water! You can also store some lemon juice in a bottle so that it’s even faster to make this thirst quenching drink when kids come home thirsty after playing in the sun! You can have them help you make this as well and set-up a lemonade stall. So much fun!

Hope you liked all the different options, try them all so that the kids are not bored and have a variety! Happy summers!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mommy Makeover – tête-à-tête with Dr.Sameer KARKHANIS

Before I dive into the conversation I had a few days ago with Dr.Sameer Kharkhanis – a leading cosmetic surgeon from Mumbai; let me clarify that I think pregnancies are beautiful. Being a mother myself, I know how much an expecting mother’s body goes through during and after the pregnancy. We go through a lot physically, emotionally and in every other way to bring that new person into our lives.

Pregnancy can leave you with a body that you don’t recognize anymore. Not fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes, loosing self-confidence, hair fall, wondering if your partner is still as attracted to you with all those stretch marks and loose skin – If you’re a mother too, you will definitely related to this. Exercise, proper diet and a happy state of mind can certainly help you lose the pregnancy weight and inches and maybe even go back to your pre-pregnancy clothes. But there are certain issues like sagging breasts, post-pregnancy abdominal pouch, fat deposits, stretch marks, and hernia in abdominal area making it protruding as if one is still pregnant – these need special medical attention and the answer is Mommy Makeover.

What is a Mommy Makaeover? I asked Dr.Sameer Kharkhanis when I met him at Currae Hospital, Thane –
A mommy makeover is a combination / series of aesthetic surgical procedures that restore the before-pregnancy appearance, typically (more popularly) focusing on the breasts and abdomen. So it’s cost effective because you don’t get admitted multiple times, and the results are long term and you can see a drastic change in your appearance! For eg. A breast uplift, tummy tuck and liposuction process can make you look and feel younger, more confident and positive – which will reflect on your kid and family too!

When is it a good time for a mommy makeover?
One should be fairly certain that they are done having children (if you get pregnant after having these surgeries done, then your appearance would change again). At the earliest, it is best done 9-12 months post-delivery and there is no age bar.
You will need to plan and take 2 weeks off work and have family support to look after your children/home. After that, you can return to desk work.

What are some myths related to cosmetic surgeries?
Though these surgeries are invasive, they are totally safe and do not cause any problem. Dr. Kharkhanis went on to tell how there are so many myths related to cosmetic surgeries and not a lot of information from credible sources to tell what the facts are.  For instance – breast implants now come in COHESIVE gel form WHICH DOES NOT LEAK INTO THE SURROUNDING BREAST TISSUE with time – as popularly rumoured. One can even breastfeed after getting a breast implant.

How much a Mommy Makeover would typically cost?
Depending on the problem areas treated together, typically a package would be from around 2.5L to 3.5L + 18% GST.

I personally know women in my family who have a stomach hernia post-delivery and lost self-confidence for life, such a makeover can be such a boon for the person! Women today are independent, earn well and can take such decisions for their selves. Also, many job fields require man or woman to have a certain external appearance. For eg. If you’re an actor or air hostess or a gym-trainer – it’s not that you would never have kids, right? Or have to sacrifice your career for that matter?

I feel once you’re done with your family planning and are ready to get your old self back, a Mommy Makeover is a great way to get that confidence and body back! Of-course, exercise and a good diet has to always be there – there is no alternate for that either. To know more about the services offered at Center for cosmetic and reconstructive surgery do visit their website.

If there are any questions you’d like to ask them, do comment away or contact them on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Family Program at Le Meridien Goa

Goa is a place very close to my heart. After all, this is where I met my husband the first time! Now that we're a family of 3 after the arrival of our boy - we are still very much going to Goa but now more particular about where to stay. It has to be kid-friendly after all!

We spent the Mother's Day weekend at Le Meridien, Calangute, Goa and were so happy to know that North Goa finally has a hotel catering to kids and families and here's why -

1. Le Meridien Kid's Club -

A very few 5 star hotels will have a children's play area, and that too would be a really tiny area with a slide and some more toys. Le Meridien has a huge huge space (I don't know the square feet area now) but imagine 5x the size you would generally see. It has activities for kids of every age - plush toys, art and craft supplies (even glass painting, yes!), a chalkboard, slides, soft-play, a bed (incase the really small ones need to crash), a huge TV, couple of video games and more! They have 2-3 attendants present all the time to engage the kids in different activities and teach them some cool craft tricks! What's more? If your kid is old enough and comfortable, you can leave them under the supervision of the staff and step out. (Timings of the club are morning to 8.30pm weekdays and till 11pm on Fri/Sat). Imagine getting to have a drink or two with your partner at the bar while the kid plays here! One recommendation would be to have extended timings on Sunday as well.

2. Activities for the family -


Apart from the swimming pool (with a separate section for kids) and gym, there also are indoor games like foosball, carrom, snooker, table tennis, chess, air hockey for the whole family to play! Usually you'll find a carrom board and table tennis but I was delighted to find the air hockey machine and snooker table and we had fun playing all the games! The swimming pool is a 5 feet pool with bar-stools near the pool bar, some lounging seats where you can relax inside the water itself and a separate kids pool. We had a lot of fun in the pool, thought it would have been great if they also had floatees, tubes etc for the kids, since we don't have a pool near our home in Mumbai - we don't have those things yet and usually find them in the hotels.

3. Le Meridien Library Lounge -

This was my favourite I have to say! I used to love reading as a kid, as a teenager, as a young adult (still do, but don't get the time anymore so resort to sitcoms). Le Meridien Goa, Calangute has a library cum lounge on the first level filled with books for everyone. I just browsed and glanced through and I could find archie comics, tinkles, jeffrey archers, sidney sheldons and more. Even travel related books and more. Someone like me can spend all the time just lounging here instead of being outside.

Apart from these, the staff is very polite and courteous with the kids. On one instance during our stay, my toddler got cranky and was crying when a staff person walking by halted and directly spoke to my kid like he was a grown up (instead of asking me what's wrong) and enquired what happened, is there anything he could do to help. I was really touched at this! All the restaurants are very friendly to kids and you can order khichdi, fries or whatever else fancies the kids! We also called for hot cuppa milk on both days - I wouldn't be very comfortable to ask for that everywhere - but knowing how important the junior customers are for the hotel - I didn't have to hesitate once!

Stay tuned for my next blog on how we spent Mother's Day at Le Meridien, and till then do check out their Facebook and Instagram pages to know more about their offerings. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Our first selfie! #SelfieExperience

The term "selfie" was coined in the early 2000's and was officially added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013. I don't mean to boast, but I had been taking selfies way before they got popular in India thanks to my then boyfriend now husband Koshik!

We met in 2008 and started dating in 2009, and he was a selfie pro and most of our pictures would be selfies. Now you tell me, how many people were taking selfies then? Not many! At first I found it a bit weird to point the back camera towards ourself (front cameras were non-existent in phones back then, and even if there was one - it was a horrible VGA camera). But when I would see the outcome, I loved it!

So in this blog, I am going to share the very first few selfies we took together!

1. 7th Feb 2009

I had a exhibition stall at a mall in Navi Mumbai to display/sell all the paper quilling jewellery and cards/envelopes me and my friend had made. Here me and Koshik are celebrating that later in the evening. (P.S. I am wearing one the paper quilling pendants myself!). See the angle of the selfie? This is all Koshik's doing!

2. 29th March 2009

We took this one on our first trip together to Alibaug. Because we didn't know the term "selfie" back then, we would call it our own "classic pose". I have really fond memories from that weekend! And man I was so thin, have got such fitness goals when I go back and see these pictures. I do realize, that these selfies if taken now would be so much better. For instance, Mobistar's front dual camera captures a 120° wide-angle shot. So basically this picture would capture all the palm trees and greenery in the background! Such a wonderful selfie experience that would be. Technology has really climbed mountains in the last decade!

3. 27th & 28th Feb 2010

Over time, just like our relationship even our selfie game kept getting stronger! I absolutely love these we took on a trip to Goa. I don't remember which phone were we using then, but these memories are preserved both on the cloud as well as a print form! The creative person I am,  would even use the prints as greeting cards to give to him on birthdays and anniversaries. :)

4. 12th May 2018

And here we are, almost a decade later. Still going to Goa, still taking our selfies. How different do we look! But a marriage and a baby later, that's bound to happen. Haha. It was amazing going down the memory lane, thank you Indiblogger. :)

You can check out more about the Mobiistar phone here or buy Mobiistar on Flipkart.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Little’s Breast Pump – A Boon For New Mothers

It feels just like yesterday when I had my baby. 40 weeks and an emergency c-section later, my prince was there – on the auspicious day of Dhanteras. Recovering from a c-section in itself is tough, me and the kiddo also had nursing issues – unable to latch, baby going to sleep within a couple of minutes of latching, self-doubts of not lactating enough, not getting the kind of privacy wanted in the 8 days we were in the hospital, each nurse giving her own piece of advise on how to hold the baby or how to keep posture while nursing. In all – it was overwhelming.

I tried all the things, all the herbs & medicines there were, even got myself a manual breast-pump but it just didn’t work for me (too much pain and nothing to gain kinda situation). End result – baby was not exclusively breast-fed for the 1st six months and soon after that I resumed work and gave up.

We are all very well aversed with the many benefits of breastfeeding, but just to put it out there for you:
· It supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
· It protects against allergies, sickness, and obesity.
· It protects against diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
· It protects against infections, like ear infections.
· It is easily digested – no constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach.
· Babies have healthier weights as they grow.
· Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests.

Mothers who breastfeed:
· Have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer
· May find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant
· Strengthen the bond with their children

So when I heard of the newly launched Piramal Little’s Breast Pump – that has five levels of suctions to cater to the needs of different mothers – I was like, why was this not there when I needed it! It is the perfect solution to the different problems faced by nursing mothers. Too much pain, decrease suction. No milk being released, increase suction.

It also has two modes of expressing milk – stimulation and expression. This helps mothers to express more milk naturally. The pump has silicone massaging pads which ensure gentle and delicate expression of milk. All breast pump parts are BPA free which make it safe for the baby.

So if you’re a new mom looking for options to express milk because you need to return to work, or because you want to rest a bit so that someone else can feed the baby the expressed milk or you’re struggling with breastfeeding, I really think you should give this manual breast pump a try. And also, don’t be shy of breastfeeding wherever you need to – remember your baby’s health and well-being is more important than what the society thinks.