A Big Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting

Varuns yellow -chocolate cake

I was busy making Varun a “biiiiggg” yellow cake with chocolate frosting. He has been asking me all week to bring a big cake to his pre-school on Friday.

I indulged him and baked him a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. This is the best cake ever!

Recipe is from Smitten Kitchen’s best birthday cake. I agree with the title!

We ate the bits and pieces from the cake’s dome. Varun’s school mates get to enjoy it tomorrow.

Apologies for a mobile phone picture. Can’t keep the cake out due to heat and humidity and if I open the fridge any longer, Varun will steal the M& M’s off the top.

I will be back with a real post tomorrow night – a contemporary paan experience in Hyderabad. In the meantime have a great day and thank you for reading me!

A book for Varun -aka Prepping Your Toddler To Stay With Grandparents When You Have to Travel


Some of you know that we had to travel again to Seattle last week. We were going to be there for just 48 hours and it didn’t make sense to take Varun along for such a short time. Our previous US trip was barely a month earlier and I didn’t want to subject Varun to long travel and jet lag again.

But our work was something that we couldn’t reschedule and it had to be done. So, here we were faced with a big dilemma of leaving Varun with his grandparents while we travelled. While he is used to me being away during the day, he has never spent an evening without me. On evenings when I have to come late from work, he gives Vipul a hard time. With travel we would be gone for 4 days and 5 nights. A real long time for someone who has never left him overnight. Ever.

We asked Vipul’s parents to come and stay in Hyderabad. That way he could go to his school and daycare during the day and they only had to manage him in the evenings. I told his teachers to be extra attentive as I wasn’t sure how he would react to this.I was very worried that he may be distressed while we are gone and act out in school.

I recalled reading on Babycenter or on Ask Moxie to talk to the child before hand about any bigger change and so about a week in advance I started telling him about my trip to US. And every time I started telling him about the trip, he would cry, give me a hug and say “Please take me along as well…Varun la gheun jaa na

This broke my heart but I didn’t really have an option.

So, I made him a book – a custom book that talked about when and where we are going, when we will be back and how much fun he will have with grandparents.
We focused on the fun and when we will be back. I wanted to print out this photo book at a studio like a photo album but didn’t have time.I simply printed it out and stapled it together.

As a story with photos, Varun was hooked. We read the book at least a couple of dozen times before we left. He didn’t resist our travelling as much. The evening before we left, we read the book one last time. I also left him small gifts/toys that he could open each day – like a stack of stickers, a soap bubble blower, some post it notes with crayons, a new story book etc.

More than the toys, the book was a big hit. He didn’t cry when we left in our taxi. He in fact hugged us good bye with a smile. Every evening he would sit with the book and make Vipul’s mom read the book over and over again. And together they would “send” us an aero plane to fly back!

On our daily phone calls he would ask us to come back soon, on Saturday, and bring him new shoes. He used to lament that we didn’t take him along but otherwise he did fine. He also reminded us that he has sent us an aero plane and to comeback in it. We played along and said we were still waiting for it. But, whenever he missed us, he brought out the book and read it and kissed our photos in the book.

On Friday night, he refused to read the book stating that its Saturday tomorrow and its time for mamma-dada to come back. Instead he brought all his crayons out and colored all over the paper!

Without further ado, this is the  story I created for him. It helped us a lot. Hoping that it will give you an idea if you ever have to travel leaving your toddler behind.













Update: Download this book’s template and customize for your child!

On popular demand, I am sharing this book as a template so that other parents who have to travel for business (or leisure); can do so guilt free.

No more tears and sad long good-byes as your child’s provider can read them custom book featuring you and your family in your absence. Complete with placeholder pictures, count down days and fun images!

Download and add your child’s pictures and other family pictures in space provided. Read the book before you leave to your child and have their care giver read it to them as many times as they want. Your child will be happy with his parents pictures and will actually look forward to your coming home!


An Interesting Thought on School Selection

Or rather Parenting. Or both as they go hand in hand.

All these days, I was under the impression that I have to choose a good school for my son. School where he will be exposed to usual academics as well as extra curricular activities and make life long friends. A good school that will ground him, teach him discipline and ensure that he doesn’t fall into bad influence as everyone going there will more or less want the same for their kids.

A senior colleague and a mom who has been through it all, pointed out that school plays a small part in the grand scheme of things. Kids rarely behave badly in front of teachers/ on school grounds. The negative influence and effects of that ‘bad influence’ are experienced outside school when they hang out with their friends – either in their homes, cafe’s or classes – where they can actually spend their pocket money.
And its wrong to think that good school/ marquee school == good friends. Its more important to know who your kids friends are and become friends with their parents. Get to know their parents and what they think is important to them ( money, reputation, latest gadgets, fashion, art etc) to get an insight into how the friend might be brought up. Once you find out parents who share similar values, together (you and the friends parents) can maintain a better control over how your kids turn out.If the 5 – 10 kids your kid hangs out with share similar values and upbringing then negative peer pressure is less(er).

There are less chances of them abusing their free time, pocket money and health.

As a kid, my mom was friends with all my friends mom and it was extremely hard to do anything without all mom’s agreeing to it. So birthday parties, sleepovers, movie outings, classes we attended etc were all regulated if not outright monitored. Who am I kidding – there was at least one parent or teacher present with us all-the-time.
I used to hate it. There were no secrets and all parents knew if something happened.
Even Vipul’s friends and their parents were friends. They still know what happens in our lives.

The more I think about it, its actually a wonderful way to teach kids values and morals and lessons in life-long friendship.So, maybe I should talk to my friends who are in the same boat and get Varun and others to go to same school – so there is a group already and we are a bit safe from the hazards of modern schooling.

Experienced parents  do you agree? Is it more manipulative? Controlling? Eager to hear your thoughts!

5 Kids Related Blogs That I Read

I am sure, there are several others (baby center.com being the most widely used), but these are the top 5 blogs that I find myself going back regularly for kid related advice and inspiration.

What else is in your reader? What would you recommend?

1. Parenting Advice: Ask Moxie


Nursing, Sleep, Discipline, Weaning, Work, Travel, Books and a lot more. She never fails. There is almost always someone who has asked her the same parenting question that I have and I love that I am not alone. Most meat is in the comments section and there are some posts that I have read and re-read so many times that if this was a book they would have been dog-eared at the very least.

2. Food and Nutrition: 100 days of Real Food


Full of recipes for sit down meals, lunch boxes and snacks. Absolutely love this site.

3. Kid Activities and Events: Red Tricycle


They share local things to do, make, visit eat with your kids. Love their seasonal events and activities for Seattle. Thy also have local events for other US cities.

4. Decoration and Organization: Family @ Apartment Therapy


Organization, Storage, Room Design, Party planning, room tours – oh! this is eye candy. Check it out if you are in for some organization and redesign of your kids room. Even if you are not planning, the site will inspire you to do so. Be warned, this will draw you in!

5. Products, Reviews and Tools: Baby Bargains


Used the book, recommend the book and love the online community. They review everything baby gear related from cribs, to diaper pails to mattresses to toys to clothes to car seats to high chairs to even mom gear and kid vacations. If its for kids in US, they have reviewed it, rated it, and given advice on what to buy and what to stay away from.

Varun’s Feathered Friends


Since our weeklong stay at my mom’s place, Varun is fond of two things: trains and feeding the birds. The complex in which my mom stays has two huge century old Banyan trees. A lot of birds nest there and flit around. To keep him engaged, mom gives him a few rice grains to feed the birds. He throws them one by one.

Today morning, I shadowed him and took photos.The birds were wary of me but came up to Varun. A few snapshots from my moms window sill below. Hope you enjoy them.




There were the usual suspects, crows, pigeon’s and mynas, an occasional house sparrow , a rare parrot or two and even a few kites.

Common house sparrow

Kite chasing a prey


We had fun identifying birds, making cluck-cluck sounds to invite them to the balcony and give them rice grains. Try it sometime, it’s a fun way to spend some time with kids.