Pop of Color First Birthday Desi Family Photo Shoot

My second little bean turned one year old a few months ago and of course we had to do a family photo shoot!

Our Indian-Swedish inspired family photos started back in 2015 when I was pregnant with #1. It’s since evolved into a beautiful series that we hang on the wall.

If you want to have a family series for years to come, do it! Dream it! It is absolutely possible. My tips on creating an everlasting family photo series will do you well.

It might even mean nursing your baby during the photo shoot

Love to:

Fancy Fig Photography, Marin County, CA | Lifted Balloons, Martinez, CA | The Lighthouse at Glen Cove Marina, Vallejo, CA

This 4 Years+ Maternity & Family Shoot is Seriously on Fire

When I was pregnant four years ago with my firstborn, I always had it in the back of my mind to create an epic photo series with my family.

And by epic I mean, taking the same photos styles every year, at the same venue, with the same photographer, AND the same clothes.

Back then it was a dream and we were floored with the initial reception of an Indian maternity photo shoot. Buzzfeed, Good Morning America, BBC Radio, My Modern Met and many other places honored us by sharing these photos.

Our Indian maternity photos broke the barriers of being pregnant AND Indian. For so many reasons, there weren’t any Indian pregnancy pics to be inspired by when it came time to taking one’s own photos.

And by golly, an Indian pregnant woman with mehendi on her belly was sacrilege for many members of the South Asian community (we received plenty of hate mail). Yet, Darcy Vasudev of Henna Lounge, an Oakland mehendi wedding artist, was up to the task to turning my belly into a work of art. Seriously, she is magic.

Henna Lounge (left) | Ritual by Design (right)

Of course after the maternity photos, we knew we would do a first birthday photo shoot. It’s our first little baby turning one!

We did the traditional smash cake (thanks Ma Petite Maison Cake Design) and M Sutra Bride glammed me up. I mean it’s a first birthday!

And then I got pregnant with my second baby.

That meant, another photo shoot! Actually TWO photo shoots. A pregnancy milk bath shoot (<3 Juniper Spring Photography in San Jose) and the third year series.

My photographer extraordinaire Tami Weis of Fancy Fig Photography made extra time to spend the *entire* day with us (with a 2 year old toddler and pregnant woman is super exhausting). Sabreena of Ritual by Design, one of the best henna artists in all of the San Francisco Bay Area did my belly mehendi and hands. Timsi, an Indian bridal MUA, of TM’s Makeup Artisty spent the morning with us because it’s not often moms look uber-glamorous.


Plus don’t forget the balloons. I mean, can you never have enough balloons in life?! Lifted Balloons doesn’t think so and we agree.

2017
2018


Here are a bunch more photos from our four years of Indian maternity and first birthday family shoots at The Lighthouse in Vallejo. It’s a historic house on the water and seriously, you cannot go wrong with hosting a party at this event space.

I’ve written some tips as well on how you can create a family photo series too.

2015
2016
2017
2018

With my two little beans from 2015-2017.

Don’t forget your spouse!

2015
2016
2017
2018

I’ll see you next time when our 5th year is complete! (Cue the shock!)

Family Car Buying Guide: Questions to Ask Before Buying a Family SUV

Turns out, we are a buying a car! It’s like having a baby; but with more upfront costs, depreciates quickly, yet fun to ride.

We are in the market for a seven seater car and it’s something we have never looked at in our life. The good news is that every car manufacturer has one seven seater offering – and it’s usually just one model. The porblem is that the pricing for a seven seating car in the same models can vary $10,000-40,000 (thanks Volvo!).

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When it comes to buying a larger car, I mean SUV/crossover/minivan/small creature bus, what matters to you may not matter to someone else. And those details will determine which car you should buy.

I designed this handy guide to ask yourself and your partner on what matters to you when purchasing a seven seating SUV. You can also download this handy PDF. I’m hoping to put together a test in the upcoming weeks that you can take and receive suggestions on best matches.

Questions to ask yourself when buying a 7 seater car:
Do you want three full rows (two passengers in the front, 3 passengers in the middle, 2 passengers in the rear) or a second captain’s row?
A captain’s row is where the middle is just two seats and use identical seat framing as the front seat. They are often more comfortable, but can cost more money while losing the 7th seat.

Do you want second row seats to fold down and be flush with the flooring or just fold down? Or does it not matter?

Do you prefer the second row seats to move together as one unit (3 seats), two units (1 seat, 2 seats) or it doesn’t matter?

Do you plan to keep the third row seats in regular use for people or folded down for more truck space?

Do you want the third row seats to comfortably accommodate adults, older children, or babies/toddlers?

Do you want the third row seats to fold down?

Do you want the rear doors to open as regular, lift up falcon style (e.g. the Tesla Model X), or automatically slide open and close?

Car perks
Do you want a full spare tire and kit?

Do you want Apple Airplay, Android Play and other similar latest connectivity?

Do you want USB cables? This way you can connect your phone and charge.
Because some car manufacturers charge to add a USB outlet. Facepalm.

Do you want standard outlets?
If you are a pumping mom or someone who will travel on the road a lot, consider this.

Do you want automated parking for parallel parking (and regular parking)?

Do you want high definition screens?
Makes a big difference when you’re looking at a map or anything else for that matter.

Do you want driver seat memory?
If you are short and your spouse is tall, seat memory will keep you two from quarreling.

Do you want a tow hitch?
If you are an outdoor person and plan to take bikes and things on trips, a tow hitch will be helpful. You can also add it post purchase.

Do you prefer yearly maintenance or every six months?

How much does a speaker system matter to you? Rank from (1) a little to (5) a lot.

Do you want a traditional sunroof (1/3rd the room) or panoramic sunroof?

Engine and systems
Do you want AWD or two wheel drive?

Do you want a turbocharged v4 engine, v6 engine, eco/eco boost v4 engine or frankly have no idea what is written here.

Do you want gas, electric only, or hybrid?

Do you want a tighter drive or a soft drive?
The difference here is suspension control. A tighter suspension gives the car more oompf, is noisier, yet tends to be more fun to drive.
Soft drive is for people who want confort and ease and don’t care about their car being an oompf maker.

Preeti’s Car Seat Guide for Family SUVs & Minivans

Shopping for a family car is complicated. Throw in the need for children’s car seats, and your mind may explode.

After searching, and still being in the process of buying our second car, I decided to write a guide on car seats on SUV and minivan models (we don’t want a sedan so they are not included). This includes both 2 row and 3 row vehicles.

With nearly ZERO car manufacturer websites being transparent regarding car seat placement, the burden is left entirely on the consumer to figure this out.
Some questions families with children (from infant babies to toddlers to kids) have to ask:

  • Does the second row come with BOTH lower anchors and back seat tethers?
  • Does the second row middle seat have lower anchors?
  • Do the third row seats have lower anchors? If so, which seats?
  • Do the third row seats have back seat tethers? If so, which seats?
  • Does the third row lack any child seat safety tethering?

That’s a lot of information to figure out. And even on the internet, it is disjointed. However, there are a couple websites to absolutely check out.

First is The Car Seat Lady – she covers just about every car make, model, and year and tells you which car seats can fit. Rear facing, forward facing, booster, etc. Bless TCSL and her team because it is THE MOST THOROUGH resource on the web for car seats.

Second, is A Girls Guide to Cars. The car reviews are detailed and helpful, though the breath of car seat reviewing is limited.

Last, and where I obtained all the below diagrams, is IIHS – Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization that is funded by auto insurance companies. Their safety information is up-to-date for most cars though some, most notably the Chevrolet and GMC car models stop in 2017.

After you have perused the above and feel seriously overwhelmed, it’s time to get a cup of tea and review your intentions with buying a SUV. I wrote a pdf on questions to ask yourself (and your partner) on what is most important in your car purchase.

I also have a spreadsheet comparing pricing, engine power, anchor options, vehicle dimensions for 20+ car models. I manually pulled this data from car manufacturer sites, Edmunds, Car & Driver, and Google excerpts. It is by far the most comprehensive spreadsheet you will find comparing family size SUVs. As I work to complete the list and add new car, you’ll be able to see the changes. I very much hopes this helps you in your car buying process!

Then, figure out how many children you have/plan to have and how many children you want to fit in the car.  For anyone with 1-2 children, every SUV/minivan is available for you.

If you have 3 or more children, then you need to do some planning. How many kids will be in rear facing seats, and how many in front facing seats? Do you want to squeeze another kid in if you’re doing car pooling?

Once you’ve written down your needs, the below diagram of 20+ car models will get you going in the right direction.

Each of these diagrams is from the IIHS, so please visit their website for more information. Also, I’m not a car seat expert and I cannot vouch for the information provided. Car manufacturers can change their info at any time.

I reviewed 25 cars that are both two row and three row options. Some of the interestings findings are:

  • Many car manufacturers do NOT have lower anchor latches in the third rows. This is puzzling to me as bucket seats (used for babies and infants), car seats (rear or forward facing) and booster seats (for older children) all have lower anchor clips.
  • Yet, many of these third rows have back seat tethers, which clearly mean front facing car seats *can* work IF you use the seat belt. Yea, I’m confused by this logic.
  • Fiver seater cars do not usually have the rear middle seat with lower anchors. This means that slot needs to be a booster or a front facing car seat using a seat belt.
  • Subaru as a car manufacturer is a winner hands down for all the larger car models.  Personally, I dislike the interior finishing quality, but by golly, they know how to put down car seats.
  • The Audi Q7 is the only car model that has lower anchors and backseat tethers for EVERY car seat slot. (If there is another model out there, please let me know!)

The list of popular car models and their car seat options

2019 Acura MDX

2019 Audi Q3

2019 Audi Q5

2019 Audi Q7

2019 BMW X-5

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe

2017 Chevrolet Traverse

2017 Chevrolet Suburban

2019 Ford Edge

2019 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Expedition

2019 Ford Explorer

2019 Ford Flex

2019 Honda CR-V

2019 Honda Odyssey

2019 Kia Sedona

2019 Mazda CX-5

2019 Mazda CX-9

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander

2019 Subaru Ascent

2019 Toyota Sienna – Not as versatile as the Honda Odyssey for car seat position, the Sienna does a better job than most other SUVs. Oh, and it comes in all wheel drive option too.

2019 Toyota 4Runner

2019 Subaru Outback

2019 Subaru Forrester

2019 Volvo XC-90

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!

Which 7 (or 8) Seater Car Should You Buy? A Quiz!

I made the quiz! It needs quite a bit of refinement, but if you are willing to test it out, please do so.

Holi Coloring Pages for Children {Free Printables}

Here are few Holi coloring pages I created that you can download and print for free! These are great for children 1.5 year and older. Of course, the older they are, the more they will enjoy these.

If you want to do more activities with kids, I created a roundup list too. Will continue to update that as I find more.

This is my first time making a proper coloring page so I hope you enjoy them. Let me know what you would like to see more of too!

PS – Feel free to share the website link with friends but don’t upload the images to your website.

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!