The A-Z of India – Playtime with Indigrow

I love being an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi). Why? Because our children today have SO many more options to blend their mixed heritages and learn about them in creative ways than we ever did.

30 years ago I never had cool matching cards or puzzles or even beautiful hard bound books to learn about India, Hindi, Gujarati and religion. If you are Generation Xennial, you know what I am talking about.

This generation is the South Asian renaissance. Our immigrant parents have firmly planted themselves into the diasporas, the children (us) have grown up as American and Desi, and now our children live multicultural lives on all levels.

Today I’m super excited to introduce you to indigrow, a small business publishing company based in Singapore serving the global community.

They have created their first collection of learning and play materials for children 0-5. Each of their products ties into the A to Z alphabet yet in different ways. There is a book, a memory match game, on the go flash cards, and a floor puzzle.

Indigrow was sweet and sent me their launch collection to play with. Our children loved them!

The puzzle was the most popular with my 3.5 year old. We did it once together and then he did it on his own. There is a mini poster of the puzzle in completion and it *really* helped us know how to place the pieces (yay!).

Little missy, who is 1.5 years old, was crazy over the matching card coins. I like how they are round instead square, it’s something unusual and fun to hold. I will admit Little Missy did not get the concept of matching but she love looking at the watercolor drawings and asking, “what’s dis? what’s dis? what’s dis”… “OHHHHHHH”

What I love about indigrow’s products are the paper quality, drawings, and diversity. The drawings are watercolor style yet so detailed and exquisite. The card stock for the matching coins and puzzle pieces are thick and heavy – perfect for little, destructive hands!

And, the alphabet takes inspiration from ALL over India, not just the well known cities and things. I even learned about different areas of India, like Nagaland.

Photograph on right: Retlaw Snellac Photograph

Did you know the outfit above is traditional to the Nagas? Me either. I ended up doing some fascinating reading on the state, which was enlightening. Turns out, we adults have plenty to learn from A to Z too!

Thank you indigrow for growing our curiosity and knowledge. Visit Indigrow on Instagram and their website. Shipping is easy and they send anywhere in the world.

6 Tips for a Successful Holi with Little Kids

It was a busy weekend at our house! First, I’ve been getting over a 3 month cold/cough/fever that resulted in beginning a massive antibiotic dose. The meds pretty much wiped me of energy. Second, we got over a week of solo parenting (though neighborette saved my butt one night by cleaning my kitchen). If she believes in heaven, there’s a very special place for her!

Third and fourth, we had plenty of celebrations! We celebrated Holi and Våffeldagen – a smörgåsbord of Indian-Swedish festivities.

Holi is the super fun holiday that celebrates spring equinox and the victory of good over evil.


Våffeldagen celebrates waffles. No joke. Swedes take their food and their puns seriously. Hop over to my post about how våffeldagen got its name along with a recipe!

Back to Holi, with little kids abound, we opted not to attend one of the larger Indian community events. Lots of people, lots of color throwing, it can easily become overwhelming and scary for toddlers and babies.

Instead, we invited our neighbors over and turned our backyard into funfetti of colors. I was planning on making my own colors but didn’t have time, so I bought them from Jai Jai Hooray. The colors are vibrant, non-toxic and made in the USA.

Tips and Rules for a Successful Holi with Little Kids
1. Wear light/white colored clothes – Holi colors show up best on white. It’s important that you wear clothes that are OK to take some staining. I washed our clothes twice in laundry (and pre-soaked them) and they have a slight pink hue to them.

Whatever you do, AIR DRY the clothes. Using the dryer is the best way to set a stain in; if you want the chance to scrub out the stain, air dry the clothes. Also, the sun is a natural bleacher. Once the sunny weather I’ll be line drying them and probably running the clothes again in the laundry.

2. No throwing powder at the eyes. Never fun to get stuff in your eyes especially when you are little.

3. Keep a box of wet wipes out. Wet wipes to the rescue! Got powder in your mouth or eyes? Use one to get it out.

4. Give each child a bowl and a color. Bamboo bowls work great and are easy to hold. Let each child choose a color and fill them up halfway only. You know they will want refills!

We used 14 Jai Jai Hooray packets for 4 adults and 4 children. Gave us more than an hour of coloring, plus “painting” the ground. Winning!

5. If someone doesn’t want color on their hair or face, respect them. Little children are especially emotional and events like Holi can ramp up their feelings. Help a little one out and listen to them.

6. Babies and toddlers may do their own thing and that is A-OK! Our 17 month old was happily chilling with her color bowl as everyone ran around yelling and screaming. All she wanted to do was feel the powder. She eventually joined us and was seriously into the rubbing colors on people in her own way.

Holi is a winning combo for many different learning elements: fine and gross motor skills, colors, listening to rules, open ended play, and cooperative play.

We had so much at our Holi, we’re going to do another one when the weather warms and we can pull out the kiddie pool and water balloons!

PS – If you haven’t downloaded my free Holi printables, make sure you do it!

Swedish Waffle Day {Våffeldagen} & A Recipe

Happy våffeldagen!

Which is to say, happy waffle day!

Yes, true story. March 25th is Our Lady’s Day. This is when the angel Gabriel announces the forthcoming birth of Jesus. In Swedish this is known as “vårfrudagen”. And vårfru sounds a lot like våffel. As a result, some Swedes decided they should eat waffles that day.

Cleary, there is a relationship between Gabriel and waffles. No not really. Swedes do some interesting things for Christian holidays because they are still a pagan nation.

I adapted my waffle recipe from the Chef’s Choice book since it came with the waffle maker. These waffles are thinner than Belgian waffles, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. Classic Swedish waffles also are heart shaped – my husband will even stress out that if it isn’t heart shaped, it isn’t Swedish. Hehehe.

Swedish waffle recipe

2 cupes whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4C melted butter
1.5 cups milk (may need more)
2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all until there are no lumps. The batter should be thick but pourable. You may need more than the 1.5 cup milk, I used almost 2 cups.

To make our waffles more colorful since we were celebrating Holi, we added food coloring and sprinkles. You need a LOT of sprinkles to make them show up on the outside of the waffle. And you need a good amount of food coloring to get the swirly feature. Next time I’ll divide my batter into a few colors and add coloring (or maybe natural food powders).

Top off your waffles with fresh whipped cream, berries, and jam (homemade blackberry jam was our jam).

Finish with a dollop of a very happy baby!

10 Fun Holi Projects to do with Kids

Spring is here! Flowers are blooming. Pollen is attacking us (I can’t be certain I will survive this season of allergies) and kids everywhere are waiting for the Easter Bunny.

But there is something more exciting than the Easter Bunny. And that’s Holi! होली!

Photograph: Steven Gerner, Flickr, wikipedia

Holi is the celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of spring – the beginning of new things to come. Like many other Hindu holidays, Holi is also the celebration of good over evil. On the eve of Holi, known as Holika Dahan, we lit bonfires. The bonfire represents the demon goddess Holika who is burned with the help of God Vishnu. By lighting a bonfire and making prayers, we cleanse our own souls of the internal demons battling inside.

On the next day, Holi, we celebrate by throwing powdered colors (gulal) in the forms of water guns (pichkaris), balloons, or by hands. It’s a way for little children and adults to have fun and be little again.

In some communities, it’s a day to unwind by doing bhaang, a marijuana drink or getting high. Seriously!

Either way, Holi is loads of fun and is celebrated in many different ways across India. Both Hindus, and non-Hindus, mainly Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists take part in the fun.

On all good holidays, Holi is full of food as well. Lots of sweets and goodies.

To celebrate Holi with little kids, I’ve put together a list of fun projects and books to enjoy with them.


Holi Cookies

Love, Laugh, Mirch – has super cute splatter sugar cookies your kids will love to make.

Sketchy Desi made colored sugared cookes with crystallized sugar over on brown girl mag.

Download and Printables
The Playful Indian – has two sheets to print out for the kids. The color by numbers is great for older kids, but no matter, all ages can enjoying coloring in.

I created a few printables on my Holi downloads page. It’s the first time I’m making them, so be nice!

Arts and Craftsy Mom made a few printables along with other craft suggestions for the younger kids.

What better way to celebrate Holi than with splatter paint!

Make Your Own Holi Powder
Essentially you can make a type of sidewalk paint that can wash off from your garden and yard.

You have two ways of making sidewalk paint:

1. Cornstarch and food coloring – You’ll need a few large containers of cornstarch and food coloring. Mix a few drops of coloring into 2 cups of cornstarch. If you mix this with water, you get “paint” which the kids can do on the sidewalk or driveway.
Fair warning, this mixture may not come out easily from concrete pavers because of their porous surface. Test it out first before letting the kids go wild.

2. Smashed Chalk – Grab a few crayola chalk boxes (I recommend at least 4 color boxes), smash them up, and the let the kids go wild. Since these chalks have already been tested on just about every surface a small child can find, they will wash out easily.

To make it more, give you kids small mallets and let them smash the chalk. Then move the powder to bowls. To make it easy to transfer, lay down paper on the ground (do it outside!), then let the kids smash the chalk on the paper. You can then lift the paper and easily transfer to a bowl.

Again, if you add water to the chalk powder, you get “paint”, a second win for the little ones to go wild.

Books
Let’s Celebrate Holi! Book 3 of the series, Let’s Celebrate Holi is a fun introduction to the holiday.

Festival of Colors – Created by mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal.

Amma Tell Me About Holi! – Also available in Hindi, this illustrious book is another good read for young children. The rhyming is a bit forced, and sometimes awkward in places, so you may need to find your own substitutions.

Holi Hai!

Hinduism, Swastikas, and Children

It’s a symbol that we find daily in our lives as Hindus, Jains, and even secular Indians. Thousands of years old, spanning cultures and continents, the swastika has been a symbol of goodness, wishing evil away, and inviting the good spirits.

The irony then, one of our most auspicious and defining symbols as a Hindu was STOLEN, PILLAGED, and RAPED by a group of people bent on waging total war to eradicate an entire religion, groups of people, and anyone in their way.

I don’t remember when I first learned about the swastika, but I remember when I mentioned in grade school that it was a holy symbol, I was a called “Nazi”, an anti-Semite, and was nearly outcasted by classmates. It was the 1990s when the first generation of Indians in America were growing and attending public schools and learning to balance their lives as American Desis.

For a community of people that stays relativity out of the limelight in the US, and being known as doctors and engineers, we were on the front lines. We were targeted, we were screamed at and we were confused. How could an entire country not even know that while the swastika was used by the Nazis, it is also the defining symbol of Hinduism? As it turned out, Americans possessed zero education on world religions, let alone poor education on the geographic location of India itself.

My son is only three years old and his religious awareness is limited because both my husband and I are secular. However, we have a toran on our door where swastikas can be found, occasionally attend temple, and read books on the Hindu gods (cute stories) that all have the swastika. He hasn’t asked me yet, but when he does, what do I say? When he does he become old enough to learn of the evils in the world that stole our precious symbol and attempted to destroy another civilization at the same time?

It’s all rhetorical right now, but I would love to hear your thoughts on how you educated your children on the swastika and how they can effectively deal with ignorance and anger around them.

The Ultimate Resource List of South Asian Toys, Books & Inspiration for Children

Sneak peek draft! Looking for books or toys that celebrate being South Asian? Whether you are Indian or Pakistani or Sri Lankan, the market for high quality products for our children is exploding.

This is my resource list of books, publishers, and educational toys for the desi baby. If you have a recommendation or a brand, comment or email me.

FTC Disclosure: These are some affiliate links and I make a small commission if you buy through them (and it does not affect your price!). Buying through them means you help support this blog to continue to produce fabulous content. Namaskar.

Books & Publishers:
Twinkle Twinkle, Diwali Lights
Meet My Hindu Gods
My First Indian Coloring book
Krishna & Friends puzzle
10 Noisy Rickshaws
Indian truck and rickshaw stickers

Desi Babies

Twinkle Twinkle, Diwali Lights
Meet My Hindu Gods
My First Indian Coloring book
Krishna & Friends puzzle
10 Noisy Rickshaws
Indian truck and rickshaw stickers

Bharat Books
Always Anjali
Sarla in the Sky
Ganesh and the Little Mouse
Indian Alphabet

Studio Yali
A Puzzling Tour of India – Studio Yali
Take a bewildering trip through India that will have you winding your way through Assam’s tea estates, putting together a snake boat race in Kerala, and hunting for antiques at Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar. Just don’t get lost along the way!
Auge: 6 years+

Wanderlust: A Coloring Journal – Studio Yali
A Coloring Journal features 25 gorgeous scenes from lesser-known regions in India with travel notes by the artist, making this book an unforgettable tour of one of the most colorful places in the world.
Age: 10 years+

Hena Khan
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

Meenal Patel Studio – Illustrator and author Meenal does prints and books. Local to San Francisco Bay Area.
Neela Goes to San Francisco.

Diwali, Celebrate the World Series – Board Book

My Diwali Coloring Book
Age: 4+, 24 pages

Education & Toys:
Toka Box – Curated education boxes for older toddlers and young children.
Age: 3-5 years old, 5-7 years old

Modi Toys

Jai Jai Hooray

Language learning:

Sanskar Teaching – Learn Gujarati online with live and recorded classes. For children to adults.

Bolo Bolo Baby – Gujarati and Hindi Montessori inspired learning for children three years and up.

Hindi alphabet blocks – Uncle Goose

Gnaana alphabet blocks – Gnaana

A is for Anaar: My First Hindi Alphabet Book – Gnaana

More to come!

Best Ways to Learn Gujarati For Parents & Children

My life has always been a linguistic mess. My parents spoke English to me, to each other they spoke Marathi and my mother spoke Gujarati, English, Marathi, and Hindi.

Not to mention my years of learning French and living in Sweden speaking Swedish, it’s a giant language mess!

Flash forward to today where we speak Swedish and English at home. I have never been a fluent, or even high level speaker of my native Indian language (regrets abound there), which means my children have limited exposure.

The last few months though I have been looking around for ways to improve my Gujarati, my mother’s language. Googling didn’t get me anywhere and the few books I have on hand are boring, pedantic, and literally not-colorful. I began searching on Instagram. Not by hashtags, but by following friends of friends.

Yes, that’s how desperate I was to find a way to learn Gujarati as a foreigner.

And this led me to the jackpot. First, I found Sanskar Teaching. Vaishali is India born and moved to the US while in high school. This is important because she understands how we learn in the US (not by route memorization) and can pull from creative teaching styles.

She offers live online classes for children (and adults!) as well as, go at your pace Gujarati classes. To supplement there are flash cards and games (see my review on them) and digital downloads. You can also join the email newsletter and receive loads of freebies. Currently available are bhajans for children!

The second person I met on Instagram, whom I don’t know personally but am in complete awe of her, is Sage_ness. Sejal is a Indian American Gujarati mom of four children and raises them in a fully immersed Montessori Gujarati life.

Yes, Montessori teaching in Gujarati. She focuses on how have a Montessori home through the eyes of an Indian family. You can find Hindi and Gujarati sandpaper letters, color wheel, and even a make your own Diwali rangoli.

Both Sanskar Teaching and Sage-Ness are a great place to start your language immersion into Gujarati. Find them on Instagram and their websites to get started on your Gujarati language journey.

Gujarati Alphabet Flashcards & Memory Games

In my endeavor to learn Gujarati and introduce the kids to my mother’s mother tongue, I stumbled upon Sanskar Learning on Instagram.

It was serendipitous that I found Vaishali on Insta – she has short videos, word of the day, and easy ways to access Gujarati as a non-speaker.


After following her, we began chatting. She was so much fun to talk with. Vaishali took my mailing address and a week later I received a surprise package from her!

In it was a flashcard set of the Gujarati alphabet and a memory game card set. They were beautifully made, durable, AND useful!

My son (3 years old) and I have started playing memory matching, card side up, since he is learning the words and matching. Once he masters this part, we can play the memory game with the cards face down.

As for the alphabet, we do that at the dining table with the kids. Even my husband is learning words. (PS – I will post a video working on the Gujarati alphabet with the kids)

Both these cards are both educational and fun. They are perfect from 3 years to adult, like myself or even my husband. The only part that is missing is having a video access online to know the pronunciation. I know how to pronounce most of the words, but I do want to double check that I am teaching the correct with the kids.

Either way, it’s exciting to see products for Indians on the market! Stay tuned as we continue our exploration into being Indian as Americans.

My Pop of Color Indian Maternity Photo Shoot

I am excited to share with you my maternity part II photo shoot! We did the first maternity photo shoot two years ago at The Lighthouse at Glen Cove. It’s this secret historic house on the water in Benicia/Vallejo, California, right in the East Bay.

Because we are one part determined and one part crazy, we had a smash cake first birthday photo shoot at the SAME beautiful venue a year later. We wore the same clothes and had similar look to the first session.

And two years after the baby #1, wed planned and executed another photo shoot, for baby #2!
I have some amazing friends and wedding professional colleagues which most definitely helps. Together we put together an elegant and uncomplicated maternity session.

Let me tell you doing a three year time base photo shoot is crazy but absolutely worth it. I wrote about how to plan a time series of family photos successfully here if you want to know more.

Tami Weis of Fancy Fig Photography photographed us for the second year in a row. She is a San Francisco Marin county based wedding and family photographer – and oomph, dare I saw her photos are stunning.

When it comes yearly photo shoots, simple elegance is your best friend. For decor, Nicole at Lifted Balloons (based in Martinez, California) provided the happy and large bubble balloons with tassels. She matched the balloons to my lehenga outfit – magenta and navy blue. Her work is lovely and durable because the streamers today hang in my children’s room.


To glam up – because you’re a mom-to-be and deserve professional care love, I worked with my good friend Timsi Malhotra. She’s a professional wedding makeup artist and just is darling. So lovely, you want to just squeeze her.


We wanted the light and airy makeup look, but not overly traditional maternity style. That is Timsi to the T! She can give you ethereal look but still have the Indian desi glam.

For mehendi I worked with Sabreena at Ritual by Design in San Francisco. You cannot go wrong with her artistry.

I’m going to stop talking and let you fall in love with the photos. Be sure to see our photos from baby #1 and the smash cake. You’re going to love our same same outfits!

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?