Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Calling for "Theme of the Month"

(This post by Sandeepa)

Let me first apologise for disappearing from the scene for so long. Unfortunately the "disappearing" act may continue due to some health reasons.



However I did feel the need to make a post to have the "Theme of the Month" at DMC go on. First let me thank Indo for having come up with a lovely theme for January. I have not been able to contribute for the December dare (which I really wanted to) or for this month either, but I did read the posts and thoroughly enjoyed them. I just lurked ;-)



Now I would like to have some volunteers for the next few months theme. Please leave a comment with the month you wish to take up.



Theme for Februray -- Initially I think Poppins Mom had volunteered. I will check with her.



Please volunteer for the next months. As ususal you can have any theme you fancy for a month.

Also I have been lagging in adding all those who have requested new membership. I will add you all as soon as possible.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Book Review: 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for 2-12 year olds

[This post is written by mummyjaan]

Hi, all, Desi Mommies.

January is nearly over, but Slowpoke Mummyjaan has finally had a chance to contribute to this months' theme. This handy little manual is one I like very much, and had wanted to write my review on it for some time. Many of you may be familiar with it - those who aren't might find it very useful. Here it is:

This is a highly successful book on parenting written by a clinical psychologist. It's a short and sweet book, under 200 pages and very easy to read. I was able to go through most of it in the course of a day, in between my various household chores.

The success of the 'program', (as the author calls it) is obvious from the book's cover: "875,000 copies sold", it screams. It also carries the testimonials of parents, teachers, counsellors, psychologists. All are unanimous in their praise of the effectiveness of the techniques that the book talks about.

I first came across this book about 2 years ago. I was working with a consultant who routinely saw children with behavioural problems and he would lend this book - and other similar books - to the parents. One of his assistants did a presentation about this book and the principles it advocates. It was attended by more than just the Paediatric Department - many nurses and office staff were curious to listen to it because they are all parents once they finish work and go home.

So I had read the book before Apya was even 2. She was too young then for me to apply any of this 'wisdom' - the key to dealing with younger children is being in tune with their wants and needs and being experts at distraction. However, as she grew up and became more vocal, more manipulative, more ... uh... more 'everything' and altogether too much to handle, I went back to this book to see what it could do for me. I haven't been disappointed.

With 4-year-old Apya, who has an extremely short attention span, but who can be singularly focussed on something she wants, I find the 1-2-3 counting-followed-by-time-out system highly effective. Apya has never had typical 'tantrums' - save an occasional one now and then. However, she is a whiner par excellence. She can repeat her request dozens of times until I stop what I am doing to give her what she wants. It is with this type of behaviour that the 1-2-3 tactic has been most helpful for me. I explain that she can't have what she's asking for because (insert fair and justified reason) and then I start 'counting' her. It has averted 70 percent of the headaches for me. (The other 30 % I'm working on....)

How does 1-2-3 Magic Work?

The book is divided into 3 sections:

Section 1 deals with techniques to stop 'obnoxious behaviour';
Section 2 offers tips to help youngsters develop healthy habits,
and Section 3 talks about building a loving, trusting relationship with your offspring.

In the introductory chapters, Dr. Phelan sets out explaining a few theories on which the rest of the book is based. The first thing he does is debunk the 'Little Adult' assumption. He argues that:

1. Children are not as reasonable as we expect them to be. Certainly not when we most want them to be.

2. They have short attention spans.

3. Which is why, arguments and explanations don't work. In fact, arguing with a child is a sure-fire way to lose!

And the most important concept:

4. The 'No-talking, no-emotion' rule.

No. 4. is, the author claims, the real secret behind the success of 1-2-3 Magic. Children apparently love the feeling of power that they get from seeing you riled up, and when they see that their bad behaviour is not in fact driving you up the wall and you are still in control, they check their bad behaviour quickly.

In a way, 1-2-3 Magic is a technique for the parent to keep his or her cool when faced with a child's disobedience or challenging behaviour. The author devotes a whole chapter to describing the half a dozen ways in which children try to get what they want (something the cruel parents are denying) and this is indeed a valuable read. The author calls these 'testing and manipulation tactics'.

I have not needed to apply the advice in Section 2 yet, but I think I will use the kitchen-timer idea (another favourite of parents) for some 'Start' behaviours of Apya's that are getting a bit difficult (preparing for bedtime, especially, always a big challenge in our house).

The book is simply written, and does not bore you with lots of theoretical stuff. Instead, the author uses common everyday scenarios to demonstrate the 1-2-3 'technique'. There are simple diagrams and summary boxes throughout, emphasizing the core points. All written in a pleasant, humorous way.

Overall, if you are a parent of a child over 3, you will find this book highly valuable, even if your child is easy to manage. There is nothing really 'magical' about it - time-outs are an age-old technique of successful, in-control, sensible parents. The only 'magic' about it is that as one parent claims, "Guess what, folks? It works!"

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Books for kids

I'm not sure if the theme is books about mom-dom or books for kids. If it's the latter, i just blogged about it at my book blog, here: http://thehungry-bookworm.blogspot.com/2008/01/childrens-books.html . If the former, I read Allison Pearce's book some time back and while I enjoyed it, it also made me a little upset. Why did it have to be the mother that gave up her job? Why was there so much stress in the family when the father was not working and the mother was out full time? What bothered me was that it wasn't only about the woman's feelings about working full time and losing out on time with the kids, but that her decision to quit work was also impacted by how her husband was unhappy that she worked fulltime and he was a stay-at-home dad. I don't remember it all that clearly now, but it did seem like it was giving in to the stereotyped image of what a 'happy family' should look like - mother stay-at-home and dad in the office.

In fact, many books in this genre make me unhappy for the same reason - the mother who tries to juggle everything or to achieve some dream of her own eventually realises how shallow that is and how her dream is really to be around for her kids everyday and be playing Happy Cook when her husband comes hoem from the office. Why doesn't anyone write a book about a family which decides it's ok for the mother to go off and pursue her dream once in a while? Why doen't the wife and husband both decide to work shorter hours so they can both have a career and still be home for their kids? If the wife is doing better economically, why doesn't the husband decide he's going to be the stay at home dad?

Sorry to rant but it has always got my goat and not merely because I'm a working woman. I find the stereotypes about stay-at-home moms equally annoying - any book that focuses on them has to have the angle of hypercompetitive moms trying to outdo each other at the my kid is best sweepstakes. What makes it infuriating for me is that so many of these books are written by women for women.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A couple of interesting books.

By Shruthi of Hallucinations.

The theme for January immediately reminded me of a book I had read a while ago - Allison Pearson's "I don't know how she does it."

It is the story of a working mother. It is funny, sad, and incredibly chaotic. Kate Reddy, the protagonist is highly likeable but at the same time insufferable. Kate is torn between love for her job and the desire to be with her kids. Add to this, a feeling of profound guilt, and a long-suffering husband, and there, you have the story.

The book is a very good read. It doesn't preach working motherhood, nor the opposite. It just tells a story, it just gives you the facts. It is up to you to pick what you want from it. It is very interestingly written. Full of laugh-out-loud similes, and spot-on behavioral observations.

I read this book much before I even thought of having a baby, so a second read should probably be of more relevance to my life now!

While we are on the subject of parenting and books, I cannot resist mentioning Bill Cosby's Fatherhood. It is absolutely hilarious. Here are a few quotes from the book - it should give you an idea of what to expect from it.

Happy reading, and a very happy new year to you all!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Theme for January - Mom Baby books

Spur of the moment choice for 'Theme for January' - Mom Baby Books

Fiction or Non Fiction Mom Baby books that you would like to share with the Club. Reviews, recommendations and views on the book are all Welcome.


I'll start with a book I read recently and the original reason for this post.
Picked this novel from the library (Librarian's recommendation, a working mom perhaps!)

Piece of Work By Laura Zigman Amazon Link

A story about a stay-at-home being forced by circumstances to get back into the working world, sometimes funny, sometimes heart wrenching book about the choices to be made going back to work. Pick up this book if you are looking for something to read :)



PS: Since it is well into January and I am not sure if someone was assigned to do select a Theme for this month! If so please go ahead and override this theme.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Preschools - enlighten me please!

I really should know this by now. This whole preschool, kindergarten business in the US has me confused. I'd appreciate some insights from experienced parents.

My son is now 2y3m, goes to a toddler program, which is actually part of a private school. Today we saw his school overflowing with applicants for preschool registration, and it got me all panicky - was I supposed to fill out a form and stand in line? Since he is enrolled in the school already,I suppose he'll automatically be moved to the next class next year? I'll check this with his teachers. But what if I wanted to change schools? Should I have already prepared for that? And some general questions -

What age does preschool start?
What kind of preschools do you look for? Private or public or it doesn't really matter?
I have seen preschool programs in churches, local community centers - how are they better/worse than the private ones?

This makes me feel so unprepared! Any suggestions and advice welcome!

UPDATE: So it turns out I panicked unnecessarily - how typical!
I called the management office to figure out if we need to register, and we didn't need to. Because we were already enrolled in a full time program, he will automatically be moved up to the next level, as he grows older. Only the part timers need to re-register every year. This explains why I never got any kind of notice!

Thank you, Asha, Dotmom, GTN, Indosungod and Seetha for explaining the preschool
process in great detail. It will come very handy should I choose to change schools next year!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bringing work a baby– Anybody?

Bringing work a baby .

An excellent article in Time.com that talks about, how companies in the USA, are now more open about having the option of babies at their cubicles. Sigh! Being a working mom I am so fond of this new system that would allow Kaju to be right next to me all day, all afternoon and she being taken care of just by me and not by anyone else. This sounds very utopian to me. Does it?

Personally, weighing all pros and cons I feel that it is not a feasible option after all. Some of the commenters do have some valuable points out there.

So all working moms of DMC, what say? Do you guys wish that you have your baby in your cubicle while you work?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Introductory solids

Note: I have posted this on my personal blog My Two Cents as well.

On my post on Month 4 update, I got many comments to share the food I gave S. I need to remember all that and document it for my reference too. Hence this post.

I don't remember too much from that time - after all, it has been over 8 years. But I do remember some of it. One thing I remember is that I wanted to start S on better eating habits from the beginning. I don't know if I have mentioned this before or not, but I have mostly based my parenting on how two particular kids were raised. One was my cousin's daughter, who lived with her grandparents (nana-nani) for the most part of first three years of her life (she is still living with them for that matter) - I shall call her N for the rest of this post. And the second kid is my nephew - J's elder brother's son. Lets call him S2. N had very good eating habits (she ate everything except peas) while S2 still is very picky and fussy about food. Now I don't know when N was started on solids, but I do know that even as an 18 month old toddler she knew she was supposed to eat whatever was placed in front of her on the dinner table. So, that told me it IS possible to discipline and cultivate good eating habits in an 18 month old and I applied that knowledge to my parenting when S arrived.

Anyway, coming back to the topic of discussion - eating habits. Or rather – developing good ones in kids. I believe it is very important to introduce babies to varied tastes and textures in order to develop good eating habits. At an early stage they don’t know enough to be picky. Or maybe, at an early age they are more open to new things. More eager to try out new things. Till now it was only my personal opinion, but from the comments I received for my earlier post I am beginning to believe that it is correct.

When I started S on solids, I kept a few things in mind –

1. The food had to be easy on a delicate stomach. If I had any doubts, I started it at a later age.

2. No sugar, no salt and of course, no other spices. Reason for not adding salt is very specific – at an early age, the babies’ kidneys are not fully equipped to handle it. No ghee or any other fats for similar reasons (digestive system is not fully developed to handle them).

3. I stuck with one food for two to three days to make sure S wasn’t having any adverse reaction to it.

4. No refined flour until the age of 8-9 months. That means nothing made out of maida.

5. I started fruits later – after 5 months.

6. No fruit juice until 1 year of age and only 2-3 ounces even after that.

7. ABSOLUTELY NO CANDY/CHOCOLATE.

8. I started giving her water (boiled and cooled) pretty early – from 3 months of age or so. I used to give her a few sips of water after every feed of formula. Despite pressure from my ILs to give her sweetened water, I didn’t budge and gave her only plain water. As a result she is a good “water drinker”. She prefers water to soda and juice. She does like juice but doesn’t like soda at all.

Now, on to the food that I cooked for her.

Lentil Soup: Took a handful of lentils (red – Masoor Dhuli or yellow – Moong Dhuli) and boiled them in lots of water (about 8 times by volume) until it was thoroughly cooked. Then I would just pour out the water into a bowl and feed it to S. This was when I had just started her on the soups. Later, as her digestive system became stronger, I reduced the amount of water and slowly started giving her the lentils along with the water they were cooked in. I didn’t add any salt or other spices until she was 8 months old or so. You can delay adding these a little more if you want.

Rice water: Same recipe as that for lentil soup. Though later, I never gave S plain rice. I made a very thin “khichdi” with one part rice and 3 parts lentils added to 6 (or maybe more) parts of water. Again, no salt or fat or other spices for at least 8 months.

Upma: Actually – not really! I just dry-roasted some semolina and then cooked it with water to a thin consistency. Not exactly the recipe for a mouth-watering upma :P This time with M, I roast the sooji and take it off the stove. While it is still hot, I add warm formula to it so it cooks and softens. I add enough formula to make it into a running consistency.

Boiled vegetables: started with one vegetable at a time. Then as her digestive system grew stronger, moved up to two or more veggies boiled and mashed together. Some “popular” items were – Lauki (bottle gourd/ white squash), carrots, peas, “turai” (I don’t know what is the English name for this), potatoes and later various combinations of these (and I also added tomatoes then). This time I intend to try out zucchini, spinach (added to other veggies, not alone. And later – maybe after 6 months or so), green beans (boiled, mashed and strained to filter out the fibrous material). One item S particularly liked later on was potatoes and tomatoes boiled and mashed together (the thin skin of tomatoes removed) with a little bit of ghee and salt.

Fuits: Early on, at about 5 or 6 months of age, I gave S only 2 fruits. Mashed bananas, and apples that were peeled, cored, sliced and boiled with a little milk (to soften them up) and mashed. Later I also started giving her Chikoo and Mangoes, mainly in thin milk-shake form and sometimes as purees. This was when she had turned about 7 months old. This time I will also try peaches and nectarines. And maybe some other fruits as M grows older. I would hopefully have introduced most of the fruits before she turns one year old. And I will definitely introduce juices after I have introduced at least some fruits.

Two more items S enjoyed as breakfast were: 1) Semolina toasts soaked in milk and pureed, and 2) plain corn flakes (no sugar variety) soaked in warm milk and pureed. I used to rotate between these two items and a mashed banana or mango for breakfast. As a result she ate different breakfast every day without having to repeat it for at least 4 days. Same thing happened with the rest of her food – with so many choices available, she hardly ate the same food the next day. As she grew older, choices increased and it became easier to give her varied foods.

This time I have a few other options available as well – eggs, cheerios, oatmeal etc. (when M grows older)

Judging from a couple of emails that I have exchanged with a few bloggers, I think I should get this post out on my blog as soon as possible. So I am going to post it as is, and will put up a follow-up post if I think of something else. I do have some ideas already which I think I will add in the next post. Hope this helps someone. I’d like to add one “disclaimer” – whatever I did or think of doing now is NOT absolute. It is based on MY kids’ tastes and preferences (I have already found out that M’s preferences differ from those of S). You can, and should make changes to the recipes according to your baby’s taste and preferences. No one knows them better than you do.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Need Some Help!

Dear Momz,
Wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New year.
I have recently moved to Chicago from New Jersey. Moving is such a hectic job!! I am slowly getting settled and trying to know more about places here. I am in search of a preschool for my 4 year old Son.
Sandeepa had mentioned sometime back that some of the DMC members live in Chicago.
I live in Naperville and looking for good preschools in the same area. I have also heard that the preschools under school district are pretty good.
If anyone lives in Naperville please do help me find a good preschool for my Son.
Thanks a lot in advance!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

And some more!

Thanks everybody for participating in the theme of December. Those who dared to do what you wanted, I'm so proud of you all. :) It is definitely a step in the right direction. And you guys motivated me!

Dear mummyjaan, I left a comment for you - In case you missed it - here it is. If bunjee jumping seems scary, or it's not what to want to do right now, that's really alright, you need to really feel comfortable with the idea of bunjee jumping to actually jump. It's wonderful - do try it sometime. but right now, move it to somewhere in the middle of your wish list and dare to do the next wish in your list.

Coming back to the dare theme - I did some more stuff too - I emailed a letter of thanks to somebody... This lady that I mailed my thanks to - she had been my mentor during the most difficult times in my career. She was the one who taught me people skills and how to manage difficult people at work. Whenever she helped out with the right advice, I thanked her... but never really told her how much her help meant to me or how much I appreciated her. I have told a lot about that to some of my very good friends but not to her.. It was always in the back of my mind whenever I remembered her. Maybe there was some shyness, maybe a mental block as in 'Would she think I'm doing chamcha-giri'.. I finally dared and did it this month and guess what? She really appreciated it. And I feel a lot better.

Any of you have a Meitei? It's an awesome baby carrier. I was planning on making one for myself, even before the baby was born. The fabric - ready, notions - ready, sewing machine - ready, the courage and time to go ahead and do it - NOT! Buying one seemed so frivolous when I could make one myself. And I wasn't doing it. But I longed for one. If it allowed to keep my hands free, while still soothing my baby, it seemed in my book that it is the best thing in both worlds. So, this month, I went ahead and ordered one from a lovely lady. She makes one of the best MeiTeis around. It is a reversible one and has two hidden pockets and looks so good. And I'm in MeiTei heaven. :) But the best part of this is that my DD loves it and falls asleep in it pretty soon. She is all smiles and squeals (already!) of delight as soon as I take it out of the cupboard.

Thanks guys, it was a wonderful ride with you all, this month. And for the chickens, cluck cluck, cluck .... here's a wish - that you guys might dare too. Now, I can't wait to see what the theme for January is. :)