How to Help #FamiliesBelongTogether

I listened to an NPR story this week about a facility that takes cares of separated infants and toddlers. They were interviewing a pediatrician who said the place was clean and nice and well staffed. But all the tiny children were sitting quietly in the room. Eerily quiet. There was one was crying inconsolably. A staff member was offering toys and trying to console the toddler without holding her.

Yes, the staff are not to touch and comfort the children. No holding, no hugging, no snuggles.

The pediatrician said the quiet children along with the crying one, are suffering irreparably harm to their bodies. No love, no real attention, no recognition of people they know, they are living in utter fear.

The youngest child at the center was 8 months old. With no parents. No mom. No Dad. No siblings. No family.

That’s the age of our little A. She is 8 months old.

I could never imagine her being away from us. Ever. She may drive me crazy at times and refuse her naps, but she is a tiny child. Completely incapable of speaking up for herself.

My son is 3 years old. He can talk and go to the bathroom by himself, but he too, is just a tiny child, barely out of babyhood. He doesn’t understand if we, as his parents, disappear suddenly. He doesn’t know how to defend himself.

Who would help him and his sister if they were taken away from us. The mere thought of it sickens my heart and makes it heavy. There are no words or emotions I could fathom these parents who are separated feel. They too must be inconsolable and shattered.

We need to get a couple things straight. Coming into the United States, or any country, is NOT a crime when seeking asylum. In fact there are international laws and it’s one of the few the US has signed onto when it comes to human rights.

There is NO law that mandates separates children from parents. It’s a policy invention by the administration to strike fear and emphasis a zero tolerance policy against “animals” and those “infesting” our nation. Their words, not mine.

Entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor offense. There is a reason why we have misdemeanor and felony offenses – they are meant to represent the severity of the crime. Yes, people who enter the country illegally (and without seeking asylum) have committed a crime, it is NOT a grave crime. The theory of the justice system is to weigh a punishment equal to the crime committed, not to exact punishment to teach everyone else a lesson.

If you do not care and are content with the current administration policy, then I have no way to make you feel empathy or care for people. You probably are the person that spends time on a high horse screaming how immigrants have ruined your country and the coal job you had has disappeared. You probably are using an Android or iPhone built and developed by immigrants, but that doesn’t matter; they are still destroying this country.

You probably are “religious” and consider yourself a “Christian” enforcing the ways of the Holy Bible. In your view Christianity is about ridding the lazy, the illegal, and the weird from your society. Compassion is not for you. Blaming others makes you feel good about yourself. Putting other people makes you feel powerful and righteous.

If you want to help, there are lots of ways.

HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Moveon.org – For in person gatherings.

Stand For Kids – Join us this weekend by making your own solidarity lemonade stand where you raise money for an amazing group of 14 organizations working at the border, and offer your neighbors opportunities to take action including signing up to take part in the National Day of Action on 6/30 and writing postcards to kids currently detained apart from their families to be delivered by NDWA. (And if your neighbors take action, maybe give them a free cookie?)

Register your stand or find a stand near you. (We have materials you can download and use for your stand.)

Share #StandForKids and StandForKids.net with all of your friends and across social media.

Support Keep Families Together Act

Donate to the ACLU or RAICES Texas.

You can read more on Mom2.0.

How I Ended Up Crying in the Middle of a Grocery Story Parking Lot

Last night turned into one of those nights that that you don’t believe could get worse but ends up getting worse.

I was called from daycare in the late afternoon because kiddo had a big accident. It all over the floor because it (the poop) leaked from his shorts. He was so beside himself that he ran into the bathroom crying. When I arrived, the mess from the floor was cleaned up but he was still in the bathroom – he wouldn’t let daycare mom touch him.

I got him partially cleaned and we came home and showered. Spirits improved and the three of us had a nice dinner of rice and dal (simple but tasty and nutritious). After dinner, kiddo was excited to go grocery shopping to get the rabbits’ food.

For a grocery store experience with two little ones, it was easy peasy. Kiddo snacked on green beans and an apple. Sister was smiling to everyone she met. No crying, yelling, or otherwise meltdowns we associate the grocery store and baby+toddler. The gods were on our side!

Hahaha, not so fast.

Once finished with shopping, we packed up baby into the car seat and then kiddo into his car seat. All of a sudden we heard “blurp blurp”. We looked over at sister, she had thrown up all over herself, the car seat, and the car. There was food everywhere.

In typical toddler style, my son says, “it’s a mess. my car is a mess! we need to clean this is.” Yes babe, we do. And no, I don’t know what’s wrong with sister.

Pulled baby and seat out of the car, then opened the trunk of the car. Kiddo climbed in and said, “me stay here. no car hit me.” Good idea.

There we were, cleaning baby’s car seat in the middle of the parking lot at the grocery store. She was on the ground with a nice coating today’s and yesterday’s food.

In typical parent style I didn’t have wipes, though we surprisingly had a roll of paper towels and an old bottle of water. Cleanup the old fashioned way. And the irony that the we were 100 feet from the doors of the grocery store wasn’t lost on me. The grocery store was this tantalizing night club you just couldn’t get access to.

In all the cleaning up, I was bummed out. I feel alone. Nobody stopped to help or speak to me. At least 30 people passed us by. One lady stopped by and handed me a box of tissues and said, “I’ve been there”, then walked off.

But in a parking lot full of people, I was alone with a 3 year old and puked up 8 month baby. Everyone was in their own world, perhaps staring at their grocery lists or looking at Instagram – too busy to stop by and say, “hey, let me help you mom.”

It was lonely. And depressing.

We pushed on, the three musketeers. I got baby cleaned up and back in the car seat. Kiddo was happy she was looking better. We went back to our usual banter of the color of cars. Slowly driving out of the parking lot, I hear “blurp blurp” again. I call out to kiddo and he says, “baby threw up again. no good baby.”

She vomited. Again.

Drove the car back into a parking space. Baby is giggling the whole time (puking is fun?!) and brother says, “no more throw up baby. Me is here, it’s okay. Me is here.” For all that he is, he is loving brother.

This time after pulling out the car seat and cleaning up even more vomit, I had tears. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I felt lonely that the world goes by and doesn’t look at you. Perhaps because I didn’t know why baby was throwing up again. Was she sick? Is the constipation making her vomit? Is she eating the wrong foods? Who knows.

I was somewhat lucky that my husband arrived to the local BART train station after the second vomit. He met us at the grocery store and took care of the rest of cleanup. Even though it was 45 minutes after vomiting first began, I wasn’t alone anymore.

If anything from this experience I learned that if you see a mother in need or looking upset, help her out. STOP. Go see what she needs, a couple minutes of your time would mean the world to her. It’s okay to put your phone away and look at the world.

Because you don’t want to end up crying in the parking lot of the grocery store.

Existential Thoughts 108: When You Can’t Remember What You Were Thinking

Do you ever feel like you have so much to write but you don’t know when you will have time to write it down?

I feel this all the time! Just the other evening, I conjured up a masterstroke of an article in my head. I went over it, in my head. Promised myself to get a computer or dictate into the phone when the kids were asleep. Forgot about it the next and had no recollection what I was going to write about!

These rare times when I am able to write I have no idea what I want to write about. Shall I discuss my baby who never likes to nap? Or my pelvis that is still having a hard time stay in place? Or that I have no idea what I should with my life besides raise kids? Or wonder when I’ll finally lose the baby weight.

I don’t know if the multi-track thinking is the result of becoming a mother or having fast paced lives. I believe it’s a little of both mixed in with the mother’s guilt that we believe we never do enough for our family, but we are awesome.

You Know You’re A Nursing Mom When…

This has been a post in the making because there’s nothing like having a small boobsucker attached to you all the time.

There are so many moments of nursing that are routed in insanity and hilarity. I captured some below but I would love to hear from you on your “you know you’re a nursing mom when…” stories.

Also, don’t feel bad if you didn’t nurse baby. I nursed my firstborn for a week before it was too difficult to get him to latch. No number of lactation consultant visits helped. Instead I exclusively pumped for 10.5 months. I have post coming up just for you pumpers!

You Know You’re A Nursing Mom When…

You go to the bathroom with a baby attached to your boob.

You are in the kitchen for the 5 seconds you have time to escape baby, only to realize your boobs are hanging out.

Your baby decides nursing in a “normal” position is no longer fun and starts experimenting in different yoga positions. Currently popular: baby in downward dog while you lay on your side.

You are sleeping and don’t even know someone is attached to you. Beware, the boobsucker strikes!

Baby kicks the daylights out of you while nursing. Because you need to eat and exercise at the same time apparently.

You whip out a boob in public as soon as baby is hungry. Or tired. Or cranky. Or whatever is causing her to scream.

Your boobs become floppy when nursing ends. Really, you wonder if the boobs will ever inflate again.

Your baby can instantly sense you’re in the house because they smell the milk and want it from the source!

You pull the car over, hop in the backseat and nurse to sooth baby.

You miss it when it’s all over because you know it’s a special time.

Top 10 (unisex!) Eid Gifts For Toddlers That Won’t Break the Bank

Eid, marking the end of the Ramadan, is coming up in a couple weeks and I thought I’d share some favorite Eid gifts to give to children.

My friend, Sidra, at Jasmine and Marigold, compiled this lovely list of gifts. She has an adorable collection of Indian desi onesies and tee for babies and toddlers. She also sells dulhan tribe swag (super awesome if you want the bride tribe, desi style!)

I’ll let her take it from here. Thanks Sidra for sharing!

As a mother to a two-and-a-half year old, I have started shopping for my daughter’s Eid gifts – I’ll get her two or three nice presents to keep the excitement of Eid alive that morning. I also have many nieces and newphews under the age of five to shop for as well. So I came up with a list of toys that won’t break the bank, and won’t overwhelm the parents with “too many toys” syndrome.

Everything here is under $30 and as low as $3! For the close cousins, I’m going to give actual gifts for the kids, but I’ll admit that for distant friends I’m giving money and will use any selection of pretty Eidy envelopes available on the internet to gift them, while including placing a few $5 bills, balloons, and allergy safe candies in our J+M pillow boxes.

Here are my favorite Eid gifts for babies and toddlers:

Alif baa taa – Arabic alphabet learning book – Who doesn’t love books for gifts? A great way to learn your Arabic alphabet, and to get them a head start on reading Arabic letters. Not your moulana’s Arabic book, that’s for sure.

IKEA stacking cups – at $2.97, you cannot go wrong with this set! It’ll keep little ones busy for hours…. OK, minutes…several minutes at least!

Wooden puzzles, like an animal Melissa and Doug set on Amazon or a triple puzzle kit. Wooden puzzle work great from 18 months-4 years, you just have to get more complex puzzles as they get older.

Fisher Price Basketball hoop – a great toy to establish hand-eye coordination, and with summer coming up, we anticipate spending loads of time outdoors.

Magformers – an amazing way to introduce STEM to young children — this is at the top of our wish list

Arabic feeding set by Lila & Tiny – a kids gotta eat, and this beautiful set helps teach Arabic in a modern style (you can purchase this from With a Spin in the USA, helping to avoid hefty UK shipping fees).

Kids Doctor kit – making learning fun! With so many doctors in the family, what’s with inspiring one more?

Hena Khan books – I love her books. The illustrations are beautiful. A couple books you can introduce now because well, they’re about Ramadan and Muslim holidays, Night of the Moon, It’s Ramadan, Curious George, the others are shapes (Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets) and colors (Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns). Who knew a shapes book could be gorgeous?!

Bubble machine – what child doesn’t love bubbles? And what parent enjoys blowing them all afternoon long? An automatic bubble machine will keep the outdoor fun going long after mommy and daddy sit down for a cup of tea.

Eid Mu-baaa-rak onesie – For the youngest ones, this onesie (shameless plug) is a favorite.

What do you have planned for Eid gifts?

Desi Baby Books & Toys to Get in Touch with Your Indian Culture

I have been meaning to write this post forever. Just forever. Every time I’m on Instagram (which, face it, is all the time), I see Indian Desi inspired books, art, and projects for Indian babies and children.

Growing up, there were hardly any books for me to read and feel more connected to my culture. What was around were tiny newspaper print black and white books that just lacked quality and creativity.

I’m so glad those days are gone. Even though we don’t have a huge selection of books for South Asian children, we have a *growing* collection.

Here’s my list of go-to baby and toddler along with activities and a couple toys from small business Indians and Pakistanis. This is THE list if you’re looking for a gift or to enrich your child’s life.

The books can be bought direct from the website, Etsy, or Amazon. Some links below are affiliate and I may make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase through it. Purchasing through these links also keep me going and pays the coffee and diaper bills! Thank you. <3 Desi Babies – Get your baby started off with Indian culture. From the adorable counting book, 10 Noisy Rickshaws, to My First Hindu Gods, these are perfect board board to introduce your little ones.

For toddlers, grab some stickers, the Indian coloring book, or the Eid coloring book. I can’t wait for my toddler to draw to his heart’s content!

Gnaana – Alphabet baby blocks in languages that’s not just Hindi! Tamil is sadly no longer available, but you can still buy blocks in Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi. They haven’t been posting much on social media in the past months, so I’m not sure if they are in full production still, but I own both the Hindi and Gujarati block sets through their Indigogo campaign a couple years ago. Even used them in my maternity photo shoot!

Bharat Babies – Based in Massachusetts, Bharat Babies is a South Asian publisher. Creating books for toddlers and children, these are the books that make you feel like you belong. We all know what’s it like to have a different name. We know what it’s like to be the only Indian in your class. These stories will help Indian children know that they belong, they have company. Check out Always Anjali, Sarla in the Sky, Ganesh and the Little Mouse, and Indian Alphabet.

Toka Box – A monthly subscription box inspired by South Asia. Toka Junior focuses on children ages 3-5, while Toka Explorer is for kids 5-8. Each month comes with a book and activity.

Jai Jai Hooray – Not books, but lovely learning toys from Rupa Parekh. The stacking Hindu Goddess tower stands tall and powerful for any Indian toddler to feel empowered. She also stunning flash cards on Hindi gods and goddesses, perfect for those little hands to learn.

The Playful Indian – Need to send a funny card to an Indian friend? Or you love pins and hilarious coasters? You need The Playful Indian from Dina Mistry. The coloring book and greeting cards for mom, dad, siblings are most suited for older children.

Nidhi Chanani – Her Everyday Love website and shop are by far the CUTEST illustrations ever. Oh my gosh so cute. If I had all the wall space in the world, I’d probably buy everything of hers (and my son would go nuts for the elephant drawings!).

Her stories are beautiful, the artwork is inspiration, and she’s one of the few desi artists who have cards for same sex parents.

Studio Yali – For the older children who love to paint or for the kid inside you, Studio Yali has beautiful prints and peg dolls inspired by goddesses and dancers. Older children will love the coloring books and DIY peg dolls.

Hena Khan – If you don’t know Hena, you’re missing out on some of the most intricate illustrations. Her books about Muslim life jump out of their pages and into your hearts. When I bought her Muslim inspired color book, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, I had no idea how big she was, I was just fueling my desi obsession. She has a new book on shapes, Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets, as well as books on Ramadan and holidays, Night of the Moon, It’s Ramadan, Curious George. All are available online at Amazon and even in retailers.

Meenal Patel Studio – Illustrator and author Meenal does prints (and has a fab instagram) and the adorable book Neela Goes to San Francisco. As a Bay Area girl, I highly recommend this book.

Sanjay Patel – Pixar illustrator and film creator, Sanjay has several books just for the Indian soul. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, the Ramayana, The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities: 12 Removable Prints, and The Little Book of Hindu Deities are bright, pop colored books for both younger and older children. From learning about Hindu gods and goddesses to reading an abbreviated version of a classic, Patel’s drawings are modern and beautiful. I framed some of the removable prints from the Big Poster Book of Indian Deities. They are adorable! You can purchase all the books on Amazon (links above).

Do you make a South Asian inspired toy or have a book for desi children? Drop me an email at chotipreeti @ gmail . com!

How to Read to a Baby

It’s the time when I post a question from a mom and crowd source answers.

Question:
I want to read to my baby. She is 6 months and when I try to read to her, she snatches the book and puts it in her mouth. She does this every time!

Her tiny hands have an iron grip, recovering the book is nearly impossible. How do you read to baby without them stealing the book?

Answer:

The short answer is that at the six months age, they will eat anything. Like zombies. Just chew and hold tight onto they find. The 6-9 months is tactile learning where they have control over their hands and mouth; nothing is more fun than understanding what an object tastes like.

There are a couple ways to combat this. Let little baby eat a book of her/his own choosing while you read another book. Or give her a chew toy while you read a book.

Either way, baby is going to do what baby knows how to do best: chew and eat things!

Keep persisting and reading to baby, you’re helping to develop thousands of neurons and get her brain going. Eventually baby will listen to you and you will be able to read 1-2 pages to eventually a whole book.

High five for reading! If you want inspiration on favorite baby books, check out my list.

On this Royal Wedding Day, We Feel You Princess Diana

On this day when Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, I feel a sense of loss. The loss of beloved Princess and mom, Diana.

I am no avid fan or follower of the British royal family, but the day we lost Princess Diana, I will never forget. That morning my mom told me she randomly dreamed of Princess Di. She was in distress and something terrible happened.

When we opened the newspaper, we saw the news. The people’s princess was killed in a car crash in Paris, with Dodi. Her friend. Her lover? Her consort? What was she doing in Paris? Was this a high speed chase? A cover up? So many theories flooded the news and our minds, but no matter how we reacted, our princess was gone.

Princess Di reminded me of my mom. Smart and beautiful, caring, loving, but also struggling. Motherhood brought out the complex emotions in Diana; it does to every one of us. In her later years, Diana had the courage to share her problems, marital issues, bulimia, depression. In one quick moment, she was not just the Princess of Wales, she was a struggling mom trying to find her way.

She was one of us.

I always feel a little pain and sorrow when I think of her. Today, as a mother myself, I know she would be proud, and sad, to see her tiny baby all grown up, leaving the nest to begin his own life.

But we know Diana will never leave Prince Harry’s heart, just as she will never leave our hearts.

Diana, Princess of Wales, we love you. We miss you. We thank you for paving the way to openness of motherhood.

Existential Thought 107 – Why Have Toys When You Can…

I am a bit of a toy freak. Looking online to find beautiful and interesting toys that our children will love, but also serve a purpose. Because as much we all love those battery operated toys that push our buttons, I want toys that help our children grow.

Obviously then I spend a lot of time looking at etsy (ooooooooo etsy) and secondhand.

My seven month old is now getting interested into toys that are more function rather than chewy edibles, I figured I could introduce a few stacking toys and more books (on rotation).

Well, she didn’t care.

Like at.all.

Instead she spends time everyday beating up the blinds on jumping up and down on me grunting like a crazy puppy.

Goes to show that you really don’t need toys, just your house to entertain the kids.