Top Things to Pack to Keep A Preschooler Entertained During a Long Flight

It is hard to believe that our big India trip is less than two weeks away! I feel like I have been planning for months, but have so much to pull together at the last minute!  One thing that I wanted to make sure of was that I had plenty of activities for our 4 year old daughter to do during our 30+ hour travel time to India.  Like most kids her age, she LOVES to play with the iPad, and she will be allowed generous amounts of iPad time throughout our journey, but at some point, the battery will die or she will get bored of it, even though I will be loading all fresh games the day before, so I wanted to be prepared!

backpack-for-traveling-with-kids

I found a great preschool sized backpack, by The North Face, called Happy Camper.

I chose this backpack for the following reasons:

  1. That she would be able to carry it herself
  2. That it have a chest clip/strap so that the straps wouldn’t fall off her shoulders
  3. That it not be too small to hold all of her activities

This backpack is perfect for our trip – and I’m sure it will last through preschool and kindergarten too!

So once I had the backpack nailed down, I had to figure out what to fill it with.  All of these things are new to her and will be a surprise, which I hope will ad to the fun factor, and help hold her attention for more than just a few minutes!

backpack-full-of-goodies-for-airplane

 

Top Row: Three different mini activity books, stickers
Middle Row: Lalaloopsy Magnetic Fun Paper Dolls, 3D Origami Sea Animals (from the Dollar Tree), Doc McStuffins Sticker Activity Playset (from the Dollar Tree)
Bottom Row: A sewing craft (with plastic “needle”), Runway Scratch Art Set, Melissa and Doug Paint with Water Book

Pictured with the backpack at the top: An iSlate Dry Erase Case with a set of dry erase markers and crayons inside, and a report cover holding several printable Octonauts coloring pages – so that she can use the dry erase markers on the clear plastic cover and color the pages over and over again.

Below: 3 Leap Frog Workbooks

airplane-busy-books

I will also add a small tub of play-doh, some individually packaged snacks, a surprise stuffed animal, crayons, a surprise set of Gup Speeders (she’s a huge Octonauts fan!), which I will give her one by one throughout the journey, and a custom mini photo book that I designed, with fun “Octonaut” activity pages – I’ll have to try and share that once it arrives in the mail!

All in all my strategy for traveling on such a long flight with a preschooler is lots of new & surprise lightweight activities and snacks that can be contained in her own bag (so that I’m not fumbling through all of our carryon bags looking for her stuff!) The iPad is a little too heavy for her bag (and I don’t trust her to carry that through the airport!) so we’ll keep that safely tucked in with our laptop until we get on the plane.

Up next, what I’m packing to entertain a 12 month old!  This one is MUCH harder than packing for a 4 year old – let me tell you!  If you have any ideas or suggestions – I’m all ears!  What activities or toys would you pack for a toddler and a preschooler for a long international flight?

Family Night at the Movies: Disney’s Million Dollar Arm

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Have you ever taken a 4 year old and a 11 month old to a movie?  Either we are really brave or really crazy, because this past week we got the chance to go to a prescreening of the new Disney movie Million Dollar Arm.  We saw a preview for the movie a couple of months ago and right away we knew we wanted to go and see it, so when we got the opportunity to check it out early we were really excited! It is based on a true story about a sports agent who goes to India to find raw talent and the next big major league baseball hopeful.  Cricket, baseball, India, humor, this movie had it all!  However, our babysitters didn’t pan out at the last minute, so we had to make the choice to go anyway and pray the kids made it through or give up our tickets.  We decided to take the risk and go for it – and we were not sorry – the kids did pretty well and we loved the movie!  If you haven’t heard about it, here is a quick synopsis from Disney’s website:52410bf41ee1b020e8fb6b308c9d245212ce5bd7

In a last ditch effort to save his career as a sports agent, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next great pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a major league baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “Million Dollar Arm.” With the help of a cantankerous but eagle-eyed retired baseball scout (Alan Arkin) he discovers Dinesh (played by Madhur Mittal from “Slumdog Millionaire”) and Rinku (played by Suraj Sharma from “Life of Pi”), two 18 year old boys who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. Hoping to sign them to major league contracts and make a quick buck, JB brings the boys home to America to train. While the Americans are definitely out of their element in India – the boys, who have never left their rural villages – are equally challenged when they come to the States. As the boys learn the finer points of baseball – JB, with the help of his charming friend Brenda (Lake Bell) – learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and what it means to be a family.

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The movie debuts in theaters on May 16, 2014.  Do you plan to go and see it?  I’d totally recommend going – it is a great, clean, family friendly movie!  If you take small children, be sure and take lots of cheerios!

Here’s a link to the trailer of Million Dollar Arm.

Homemade Dried Ginger

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I’ve been putting my dehydrator to good use lately… I love to use it for making yogurt and dehydrating ginger.  Why you might ask? Well, my husband might be the one from India, but he is not the only one who likes homemade chai every morning!  I like to mix chai spices “masala” together ahead of time to add to our tea as it’s brewing on the stove. Ginger is a nice addition. If it is dried – it can be added to the spice mixture and it saves me a step when I’m stumbling around the kitchen first thing in the morning!

ginger-in-dehydrator

There really is no “recipe” to share – I simply used my mandoline and sliced the ginger at the thinnest setting. I didn’t even bother peeling the ginger. {I hate peeling ginger!!} Then I spread the slivers of ginger around my dehydrator tray and set it to about 125º and left it for about 6 hours. Check it to make sure it is completely dry – if not, then continue for another hour or two. Finally store it in an airtight container in a cool dark place!

dried-ginger

If you are looking for a way to fuel your chai addiction at home check out my recipe. If you want to know why NOT to call it “chai-tea” or would like to download a free recipe card printable, check out this post.

Homemade Whole Wheat Indian Chapatis

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We love to eat traditional Indian Chapatis with our meals – on any given day you might find us having chapatis for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I try to avoid store-bought tortillas as much as possible because of all the preservatives and unnecessary ingredients.  I have finally gotten a routine down, and after lots of practice, I would safely say I can whip up a batch of homemade whole wheat chapatis in no time!

Here is my recipe:

  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour {I use freshly ground hard white wheat}
  • 5 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 1.5 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt

Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer until a smooth dough is formed.  You want to divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Cover the dough with a damp towel and allow it to rest for a while.  I usually mix the dough and form the dough balls a couple of hours before I want to make chapatis.  You can certainly make the chapatis immediately, but the dough might be sticky or end up tough. I use an electric tortilla press to form my chapatis, and then I cook them partially on the press, and finish on a hot cast-iron skillet.  {I use a skillet to make it go faster, I can be pressing one chapati, while cooking another!}  If you don’t have a chapati press, a rolling pin works just as well – and I’m sure with enough practice you might even get round chapatis – I have yet to achieve that feat with a rolling pin though!  As you cook the chapatis, if you press down with a big flat spatula, and turn the chapati, it should “puff up,” flip it over and cook briefly on the other side.  I stack my cooked chapatis in a tortilla warmer and serve them hot!

whole-wheat-chapati-homemade

Do you make homemade chapatis?  Can you roll a round one to save your life? I honestly have a hard time eating a store-bought chapati now.  There is no comparison!  My husband’s only complaint is if we run out!  

My Must-Have List of Gear for Traveling Internationally with Kids

must have gear for international travel with kids

For our upcoming trip to India this summer, I have put together a list of travel gear that we won’t leave home without!  Here’s our favorites…

The Joovy Ultralight Caboose Stroller is the best travel choice for a tandem stroller.  Last time we went to India we had just one baby, who was about 18 months old.  We left our stroller at home and went with a baby carrier instead. This time the tables have turned and with a 10 month old baby and a 4 year old, we decided that a double stroller was the best option for the airport.  Once we land in India, we will probably leave the stroller at home {unless we are going to go to a mall or someplace where the stroller would be useful}. We’re planning to leave the canopy and tray at home for a more compact fold.

Baggallini Crossbody Bag - I’ve been traveling through airports for many years now, and I always take a small crossbody bag for keeping tickets, passports and other essentials handy.  There is nothing worse than having to dig around for your passport or tickets while you are holding up a line of passengers behind you!  Now that we are traveling with a family of four – we have US Passports and Indian PIO cards to keep up with – it is much easier if I keep them all right with me, with easy access.  The bag is small enough that once we are safely on board the plane, I can slip the whole thing into one of our other luggage pieces, or I can keep it across me for safety.  I usually don’t keep much cash in my bag, I would recommend a money belt for lots of cash and extra credit cards.

Littlelife Baby Backpack Carrier - We have the Voyager S2 Model of the LIttlelife Backpack Carrier.  We used this on our last trip to India – and it was wonderful!  While I’ve decided to take a stroller for the airports, a stroller within India isn’t very practical {depending on where you are going} the sidewalks are generally uneven, and crowded. As a fair-skinned baby with a “foreign” mother, our little girl got lots of attention.  Sometimes it can be frightening for a young child, and the best part of this carrier, was that she was up high – away from prodding hands! The only downside is that it can be hot for the person wearing it {my husband in our case}. Ours goes up to 44 lbs – which means that our daughter {who is now 4} can still ride in this.  It also works for our son who is just 10 months old.  While we probably won’t be offering our daughter any rides in it – it is nice to know she can still fit in case she gets too tired to walk on any of our excursions where the stroller wouldn’t be appropriate.

ERGObaby Carrier - we will be tossing one of these in our checked-in luggage, and might use it in the instance where both kids need a ride or if I go somewhere without my husband.  While the Littlelife carrier is adjustable and fits me, I feel more comfortable using the ERGO if it is just me.  However, I would say it is easier to load a child into the Littlelife Backpack Carrier than the ERGO {especially our wiggly baby boy!}  Given our son’s personality he will do better in the Backpack Carrier because, he prefers to be on his own and have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on vs. strapped tightly to Momma. But the ERGO is light and portable and will be nice to have as an option if we need it. {Plus my daughter is still able to fit in this as well! You never know!}

Northface Happy Camper Backpack - Our daughter is old enough to carry her own backpack full of goodies, but a full size backpack is still too big for her.  I also wanted a backpack with a chest strap so that she wouldn’t have to fight with it falling off as we rush through airports!  The Northface Happy Camper is a great size for preschoolers, but still big enough to hold a good amount of “stuff” {including full-sized folders – a great option for preschool or kindergarten!}.  I have quite a few ideas for activities and surprises to fill her bag with for the airplane ride.  {details coming in a future post!} Our son isn’t quite walking yet – but might well be by the time we travel – so I also have one of these that I’ll throw in our carry-on luggage, in case he wants to toddle around in the airport terminal.

BenBat Yummigo Booster/Bag - I’m super excited about this one!  On our last overseas trip, our daughter was in between being able to kneel in a regular sized chair and still needing a highchair or booster seat.  We decided not to travel with one, but I really wish we had.  Some restaurants in India have highchairs and some don’t.  For those that do – the chairs are often well used, and not too hygienic! Believe it or not, we are trying to limit our luggage for this trip… so I didn’t want to waste space with a regular travel booster, but the genius thing about the Yummigo Booster is that it opens up like a suitcase and has tons of storage inside.  Basically, if we are going out to a restaurant in India {or to someone’s house for a meal} we will use this as his diaper bag.  There is plenty of room for diapers, wipes and his food/sippy cup.  I also plan to use it at my in-law’s houses, since they don’t have a booster or highchair at home either.  I look forward to seeing how much use we get out of this product on our trip.

So that’s my list of must-have baby gear for international travel.  I’ll be sure and update you with details and photos of all of these being put to good use on our 2 month trip to India!  Have you traveled overseas with kids?  What makes your top list of necessary baby items?  Have you used anything from my list?  I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts!

Ready, Steady, Go!

The other day, my 4 year old daughter, “Miss A” said: “Ready, steady, go!”
A friend who was visiting, said: “Do you mean, ‘Ready, set, go?’
Jumping in to “translate,” I said: “I think in India, they say, ‘Ready, steady, go’.”
And {snarky} Miss A jumped in and said: “Well, we are Indian, so we say that!”

Whichever way you say it, “Ready, Set, Go!” or “Ready, Steady, Go!”  - IndianTies is relaunching!

I’m ready. I have been planning for a “comeback” for a while…and I’m super excited about some new ideas and direction that I have planned for IndianTies.  Even in my absence, the blog has been generating lots of hits and buzz, and our Intercultural Blogring, Desilink Blogs, has one new blog after another joining {check it out if you haven’t already!}.

I’m Set. I’ve got lots of posts planned, (see below) And I’ve been waiting for the right time for a return. So I hope you’ll reconnect with me here at IndianTies, and let me know in the comments!

And Go!  I’ve missed interacting with the Desi Intercultural Community & am eager to catch up and move forward!

we welcomed our new Indian-American Baby

Here’s what’s been keeping me too busy to blog & a quick update on our family:

  • Our son “Mr. A” was born in May of last year {he is 9 months old already}
  • Miss A is 4!  She amazes us each day & we try our best to keep up!
  • We moved!  We said a sad goodbye to the Pacific Northwest of the USA, and packed a BIG moving truck and moved across the country to…Texas!
  • My husband started a new job at a University, you probably guessed that one, right?
  • We are planning a summertime 2 month trip to India!

Here’s what I have planned for the blog:

  • Regular posts – I’m planning to take it slow for now, but look to hear from me at least once per week
  • Continuing to highlight great resources for intercultural families
  • Support for those in intercultural relationships
  • More about my journey towards “real food” & great Indian “real food” recipes
  • Resources for raising intercultural & interracial children

I hope you’ll join me for this new ride & I would love to hear from you!

Indian Yellow Fried Rice

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My hubby requested his favorite fried rice recipe tonight for dinner.  Thankfully this is a quick side dish to throw together, as long as you have some leftover rice on hand.
Yellow Indian Fried Rice
  • Leftover, cooked Basmati rice or Brown Basmati rice {2 cups of uncooked rice = 4-6 cups of cooked rice}
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 serrano chilies, sliced in half, lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 2 tsp. cumin {jeera} seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric {haldi} powder
  • salt to taste
Start with heating the ghee in a large wok over medium-high heat, test if the ghee is hot enough by dropping in one cumin seed at a time, the seed should pop.  When the oil is ready, toss in all the seeds and stir for 20-30 seconds.  Next, add the chopped onion, and cook until onion turns translucent.  Add in the salt, chilies & turmeric.  Stir to combine.  Finally, add in the rice and mix thoroughly, until all of the rice turns yellow and the onions and seeds are well incorporated.
indian-fried-yellow-jeera-rice
This is such a yummy dish on its own, or you could serve it with your favorite curry recipe!  I hope you enjoy & tell me the best thing your better half has requested for dinner recently!

 

Nice Deals on South-Asian Inspired Kids Clothes and Baby Blankets

I was browsing Zulily today and found a couple of cute collections.  The first is a beautiful line of clothing that is handmade in Nepal by local artisans.  We are heading to India soon, and my four year old daughter would love some of these colorful styles!

RISING-INTERNATIONAL-KIDS-HANDMADE-CLOTHES-FROM-NEPAL

Rising International Kids — up to 45% off! (Starting at $16.99)
Imported from Nepal, the beautiful clothing of Rising International is handmade by local female artisans and purchased through a variety of charitable and nonprofit organizations. Every piece of this exquisite and colorful collection tells a story, and you can wear it knowing it makes a world of difference. Find the deal here.

rajer-rabbit-swaddle-and-security-baby-blankets-india-nepal

The second thing that caught my eye, were these Indian-inspired handmade baby blankets by Rajer Rabbit (scroll down or search for Rajer Rabbit on Zulily)  Our 9 month old baby boy would look adorable wrapped in some of these styles! Their blankets are vibrantly colorful, bold, playful… yet soothingly simple. They are light, durable, and can be used in countless ways: cuddling, swaddling, snuggling. Made from breathable, durable and soft muslin cotton. And beautiful patterns of block printing – one of the world’s most time-honored methods of printing, rooted deep in the soul of ancient India.

In case you miss the Zulily sale, you can find Rajer Rabit blankets here on their website. You can find Rising International clothes here (they have women’s styles too!)

Cute Apps to Learn Hindi or Bengali

Many people have asked how we kept Miss A entertained on our long trip to India and through Europe.  I planned ahead and brought some light weight toys and small books that would travel well.  We were already waaaaay over packed, so I really tried to go light.  But 24+ hours en-route with a not-quite-two-year-old toddler could wreck havoc on your nerves if you aren’t prepared.  So aside from her new love of all things Elmo and Sesame Street (I brought some cute little figures of her four favorite characters – big hit!) – I loaded up our iPad (and iPhones) with some new toddler-friendly apps.  Miss A was playing these apps just the other day when I heard it start speaking in Hindi, so I investigated and realized she had changed the settings.  I never would have known there was a Hindi option otherwise!

Jobs – Guess Who? By Ripple Digital Publishing
Animals Premium – Guess Who? By Ripple Digital Publishing (there is also an Animals lite/free version)

Both games feature animals or jobs and the child has to click through the rotating images when the written word matches the correct image. After they click correctly, the name of the animal or job is spoken.

You can choose from sixteen languages, including Hindi and Bengali, and you can set the written language to a different language from the audio language.

All in all these are cute apps and I’m all for these kinds of apps with an educational value – especially when they promote learning Indian languages!

Do you know of any good apps that help kids (or adults!) learn Hindi or another “Desi” language?  Any tips on keeping kids occupied on long trips?

My Indian Reading List

Somehow I’ve managed to collect several Indian novels {otherwise known as Ladki-Lit} over the past few months.  I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to actually read these books.  I keep staring at them on my nightstand and think, “Maybe I’ll get to bed early tonight and have time to read a few chapters.”  Of course that never seems to happen!  Anyway, in case you’re interested, here are the books I’ll {hopefully} be reading soon{ish}…
A Golden Age (P.S.) • Tahmima Anam
Corner Shop • Roopa Farooki
No Deadline For Love • Manasi Vaidya
Ever read any of these?  Stay tuned for my take on them and also a giveaway or two!