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!

7 Tips to Survive Solo Parenting

First off, to all the single moms and single dads out there, I bow to you. You don’t have a choice to parent alone, but you deserve a peace prize for doing it.

Every time I parent alone for the week, I am tired, and a little nutty by the end. And it is not the parenting part that drives me crazy, it is the lack of conversation and interaction with another person, an adult person.

This is my first round of solo parenting while having two kids AND being pregnant. Last time I solo parented, I technically was pregnant, but had no idea. Hahaha. That doesn’t count.

Since I have 45 minutes right now of continued silence before the evening chaos begins, I put together a survival guide for solo parenting.

Make simple dinners
– The odd part when my spouse is out of town, there is less pressure to make more meaty, adult meals. Listen, I am content to eat cereal or oatmeal or bagels for dinner. For at least one meal in the week is one of those things (the kids think it is amazing). Another night we do quesadillas (cheese+beans+tortillas and avocados – done!). We will also eat rice, yogurt, and dal (lentil curry) as the classic Indian dahi bath dal. To be honest, there will be an anti-pasta night full of fruit, nuts, cheeses, meats, and bread and a repeat night.

Whatever it is, it has to be fast. As soon as we get home, the kids are hungry. So I make sure to have dinner within 15 minutes. And all these meals can be prepped in 15 min or less. With the exception of dal, that takes 25 minutes in the Instant Pot.

Rotate toys – Bring out the “new” old toys! The kids will have a blast they get something new to play with and you’ll kill 25 seconds. Just kidding, 25 minutes. Or am I?

Pray for good weather – Since I cannot control the weather, I’ll pray that the weather gods shine down sun and reasonably warm temperatures. This way, as soon as we get home, I can kick the kids out of the house to play in the backyard while dinner is made.

Plan an activity – If you have time, and ONLY if you have time, plan an activity. By plan an activity, I mean going to the park, or visiting the farmers market. Nothing fancy, just something to get out of the house.

Allow for a movie night – We do a movie night on Friday, especially when the weather is terrible. The kiddos are still little so a movie for them is some sort of BBC nature documentary. Toddlers love animals. BAM. Here is a whole movie on turtles. If they want to watch something, they see The Great British Baking Show (quality programming) or Grand Designs with me.

Keep a glass of wine handy – How I would love a glass of wine right now! And by glass, I mean teaspoon because my tolerance has gone down ever since having kids. If wine is not your thing, then pull out your teacup and favorite tea, and drink in peace. You only get to do this after bedtime.

Take a long bath – Not you. Sorry! Them. The small things. If your kids love baths, let them take the longest bath possible without them turning into raisins. You kill 30 minutes.

Lots of books and hugs – Snuggle all together and read books before bedtime. Read lots of books. Fall asleep together even. If you are like me, you’ll be asleep by 9PM too.

And come the day your spouse returns, plan a massage and retreat for yourself. You did it!

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.

B&B’s Favorite Toys for One Year Old Babies

Finding toys for your one year old is a daunting task. Their personality is just blooming and you don’t quite know what their likes and dislikes; although clearly from their tantrums, they HAVE opinions.

With two children in tow and speaking to a lot of moms, here are my favorite toys. They are non battery operated (except for the piano) and foster creativity, innovation and independent play.

Cheer’s to baby’s first birthday and hoping they love these gifts!

PS: These are affiliate links. I may make a small commission (that doesn’t affect your cost) that keeps this site alive. Thank you! <3

Melissa and Doug Pounding Bench

Nothing beats pounding the daylights out of something. And you know your young toddler will go nuts for beating something – legitimately!

Push Prams

Several brands make push carts and strollers. Pick the one that fits your budget. On the easy wallet side, there is IKEA (though the cart itself is small) and Brio. For wood based strollers/prams, there is Moover ($177) and HABA ($149), both on the more expensive side.

You should also stop a Home Goods store and see what is in store in the toy section. I found several wooden push carts/prams for under $50; what a steal!

Baby Piano
If you have space for a small Yamama type keyboard, go for it. We have the Fisher Price Baby Grand Piano – it is absolutely silly but a LOT of fun. The music it plays isn’t annoying and you can flip the switch to play pre-recorded music or music notes. For something a bit more mature and more minimalist, the Melissa and Doug 25 key set is nice.

Tupperware
There, I said it. Find the tupperware or yogurt containers that you don’t want anymore and create a space in YOUR kitchen for them. This is the key, you need to sacrifice a cupboard to your toddler. They feel they get to be part of the kitchen while you get to interact with them. It’s a win win. I store unloved tupperware, a few old pans and spatulas we don’t use anymore in our shelf space.

Dresser Drawers
Again, it doesn’t take much to entertain a young toddler. They are on their feet for the *first time ever* and using those feet mean exploring! We have several dressers in the house (ALWAYS bolt them to the wall) and we keep two drawers available for the little one. Each drawer is in a dresser in a different room. This provides ample opportunity to move things from drawer to another, while working on gross and fine motor skills (opening, closing, picking up, walking, placing/throwing items).

I think my baby spent three months walking back and forth between the rooms just opening and closing the drawers. Be sure to keep an eye for safety reasons (climbing in) and for when your phone disappears (true story).

Grimm’s Large 12-Piece Rainbow Stacker

A post shared by Preeti (@bindisandbottles) on


This unassuming rainbow wood stacking blocks is magical. At first, we didn’t know what to do with it. Soon, we figured out how to stack them, mix them with other toys, and create art pieces. Made in Germany of solid wood, this is a present that will last years.

Montessori Infant Coin Box
This teaches a baby about object permanence. Your little one is well on the way of understanding object permanence, this coin box helps reinforce that idea. If you want to be very budget friendly, grab a shoe box, cut a hole and use a few blocks. Baby will go nuts! If you are feeling inspired by Montessori education, check out my post on Montessori toys for 0-4 years old.

Ball Run
Dropping a ball and watching it go down tracks doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing, unless you are a baby, then it is THE MOST EXCITING THING EVER. When looking for ball runs, make sure you find one that is age appropriate for age 1+. Most ball runs are in fact marble runs, and they are not safe for babies. My favorite ball runs that are for one year and up (but please double check before buying) are the Hape Derby Track, HABA build your ball run, Battat – Pound & Roll tower, and the Hape Switchback Racer (age: 18 months+).

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 74 Piece Set

On the pricey side, magna tiles are awesome. Build in three dimension with triangles, rectangles, square, and trapezoids. A classic STEM/STEAM toy, your toddler, and their friends, will love these. For a budget friendly version, you can buy the off-brand tiles.

Knob Puzzles
Large and easy for small hands, the Melissa and Doug knob puzzles are a great way to get your little one started on the world of puzzles. Teach them about matching, animals, and shapes. My kids got into them around 15 months even though they were introduced them at 10 months, it was mostly throwing at that age.

Books:
Flip books
Any book that has flaps or lift up features will be a hit. Something about them enthralls young toddlers. Matthew Van Fleet books are always a hit, Moo, Dog, Cat, and Fuzzy Yellow Ducklings (so loved by my children it is in pieces, hehehe!) are just a few of his most popular.
Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
by Richard Scarry

A classic paper book with all sorts of crazy cars, trucks, buses, and boats. For a baby, you can get the
Cars and Trucks, from A-Z.

I will keep updating this list as time goes. For now, I hope you enjoy! If you have a favorite toy (rather your baby does), post below.

Essential International Packing Travel List: 3.5 Year Old Toddler 1 Year Old Baby

This is THE list if you are packing for small creatures. I’m still working on packing lists for different ages, though for you, I got you covered for a one year old baby and a 3.5 year old toddler.

The list is long, but it covers everything I could think of when packing. Everything. There are definitely items that are annoying to carry (extra medicine mainly) but you never know when you’ll need them. And of course if you don’t pack them, you’ll absolutely need them!

I included my favorite toys, essentials like diapers and wipes, medicine, extras, clothes and safety. You will need to think of the type of weather and location to make final decisions. Rainy weather = rain boots and raincoats. Winter weather = legging layers, snow boots, gloves, hat. You get the idea.

I use this packing list as my guide when traveling internationally to India and Sweden, but you can apply it anywhere for young children.

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST PDF! Easy to print checklist for you.

HAND LUGGAGE:

Toddler:
Headphones
2-3 emergency diapers (even if your child is potty train you never know when you might them)
2 undies
1 pair pants
1 top
1 sweater
Toddler backpack
Toddler rolling back – optional but can be fun. Be prepared when toddler is tired, you will have to carry the bag.
1 blanket
1 neck pillow
2 packs stickers
1 plain notebook
Crayons
Markers
Favorite stuffed toy – if your kid has one, take it!
Water ink set from Melissa and Doug
Reusable water bottle

Duplos – a car, couple people or animals, few blocks
OR
Few wooden animal toys – always a success

Snacks – see below

Baby:
5 hours per diaper x trip length + 4 extra =
2 wipes packages (75 count) = I prefer two packages instead of giant package because if I lose the giant package, I have no more wipes!
1 warm outfit
2 pairs socks
Favorite stuffed toy
Duplo car and some people or animals
Reusable water bottle

Parental unit – Mom or Dad
Extra top
Headphones
Adult tylenol
Hairbrush
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Mouthwash
Hand sanitizer
Lotion/hand cream

Snacks:
Puffs – Cheerios or the like
Saltine crackers – Seriously, your life will thank you
Fresh fruit – this will help you on the first leg of the journey when fresh fruit is at a premium at 38,000 feet. Blueberries, bananas, and mandarin/clementine oranges are the least messy.

Bars – Larabar, granola bar, nature’s bar…whatever your children love.
Animal crackers – this is treat and a BIG hit for both kids.
Baby food pouches – even if your kids are no longer into those fruit, veggie pouches, take some! You never know when you will need them and you never know when there is a dearth of food options. I pack 6 pouches for a 36 hour door-to-door trip (three pouches/kid).

Candy – no, stop it. I know you and the children are going on a special trip but the last thing you need to do is offer sugar to them. There is nothing worse then giving young children a sugar high and no where to run it off! If you must, pack the candy for yourself in your purse.

Medicine:
The list below is a total hit or miss. If your children are not sick, then all is well and you do not need anything from below. If they get sick while traveling or are already sick, well, best to have everything with you! Remember, once you are on the plane, no one is giving you baby medicine to deal with fevers, coughing, etc.

Gripe water
Petroleum jelly
Ibuprofen
Baby Benadryl
Baby Tylenol/

CHECKED LUGGAGE
I am excluding all parent packing here and focusing on the kids only. Consider how many days your trip is (including travel time) and whether you will have access to laundry.

Baby potty – a Potette or something similar
Baby seat – if your younger one needs assistance at sitting at the table. I love the Fisher Price portable one. It does take up space in the suitcase though!
1 pack new crayons
1 pack new markers
3-5 small, favorite books – pick books your kids love and ones that you will tolerate for the entire duration of the trip. Seriously.
Moving vehicles – one per child
Extra Duplo – so they can keep building!
3-4 sticker sets – the dollar bin at Target or Michael’s is your best friend
Inflatable balls – compact and will endlessly entertain your younger one.

Baby diapers – Count 5 diapers/day x days of the trip. Add 3 days extra of diapers in case of delays or heaven forbid, illness!
Wipes – We average 15 wipes/day (yes, I have counted), but it depends on your usage. Wipes are usually easy to find and if you do not have any, wet paper towels work just as well.
Extra medicine
Extra snacks – for the trip home and back up on your travels.
Baby thermometer
Baby nail cutter
Sunblock
N95 masks – especially useful if you are going somewhere with higher pollution levels
Pedialyte – In case the kids get very sick and you need to give them electrolyes

Clothes:
Clothing is highly dependent on the weather of your destination. Cold weather means more clothes because of layering and gear. Gloves, snow shoes, hats, and even snow suits maybe needed. On the flip side, if the destination is rainy or in the rainy season, pack rain jackets and rain boots – they are impossible to find at any store last minute (yea, I’ve looked!)

For your toddler, let him/her help with choosing clothes. You will of course finalize the items, but let them pick their favorite tops, bottoms, undies and socks. They will be thrilled and they get to be part of the process. This is also a great learning and development opportunity for them (very Montessori friendly), don’t miss out on it.