January 29, 2013

Toddler Tales (2): Power Struggle

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Lately, everything is a battle with Little Dude. It takes an enormous amount of effort to get him to take a bath, eat and get his diaper changed. He will not sit in his stroller. He will not sit in his car seat. He will not sit. And he doesn't even say "No" yet! I was getting really worried before I read on my BabyCenter bulletin that the 15 month mark is a major developmental milestone. This is around the time kids realise that they are independent human beings and that they have free will. And they will exercise that free will until we just give in. Many parents would prefer beginning the discipline lessons right about now, teaching them what is acceptable and what not. I think I'll just let him grasp the whole concept of being a separate person first. This is the first step, probably, to un-gluing himself from me and it's about time! For now, the power struggles continue, and I'm just letting him win!

(Toddler Tales is a new category of posts that I am writing as snippets, about what I'm learning every day from my little one. Here's the previous one.)

January 28, 2013

'Sand In My Toes' has a new home!

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When I renamed my blog to 'Sand In My Toes', it didn't occur to me to check whether this domain name was available. My sole purpose was to write and fast, before I got lazy! So, I was disappointed when the dot com domain was taken (but you can go there to buy swimwear). What got me excited however, was that there is a dot tk domain available. That's how I've been signing off my posts and interacting on the social media sites, so this was perfect! There you have it - my blog's new address is:

http://www.sandinmytoes.tk

Since I have configured this site recently, it may take a little longer to load. That's just a temporary glitch.

A note for Dubai visitors: You may be directed to a page in Arabic if you come from my blog's original page. It's just asking whether you want to be redirected to the new page. Just click on the box on the right for a 'Yes'.

I also request readers to let me know if they encounter any problems or errors surfing the new site. If you have a little yellow bucket image (favicon) in the address bar, you're in the right place!

P.S. Vacation time: I am going on vacation in a few days but, all things working, will be posting regularly. There will be posts with a local flavour too, from New Delhi, India!

January 25, 2013

Product Review: Merries Diapers

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I've never really found the 'perfect diaper', and have tried almost all brands available in the market before settling on one that belongs to a big brand. It's not everything I want in my baby's diaper, but it works. So when I was presented with an opportunity to try out a premium brand, I was keen to take it! Merries Diapers have been developed by the Kao Group from Japan. The company has recently launched it's range of regular and pull-up diapers in the UAE.

I gave Merries a trial run (the regular/tape diapers) and here are my observations:
  • It rates high on the comfort factor. The diaper is made of a cotton fabric with a dotted texture. I found this to be soft almost like cloth. The texture is such that it won't stick to the baby's bottom. The band which goes around the baby's thighs is also of a soft material. There are two side bands, in fact, to prevent leakage. Perhaps what I like most is that this diaper does not make a crinkly sound when my active little one moves about!
  • It has a snug fit.The soft material sits comfortably on my baby's bottom. Another thing I noticed in my boy's diaper is that it is slightly thicker on the top than the centre. This probably accounts for the good fit and also makes it less bulky.
  • I didn't find the slightest bit of moisture during diaper changes, indicating that it absorbs well and maintains dryness, even after being on all night. I don't wake up my baby even for diaper change at night as long as he is comfortable, so at times, the diaper is on for as long as 10 hours! Merries fared well here. Even in the poo test, there were no leakages and a hardly detectable odour (see below).
  • The diapers contain a natural herb called witch hazel, which has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. This coupled with the softness and absorbency, will work well in preventing diaper rash.
  • The diapers are virtually odour-free. Upon reading their package, I figured out that the outer surface of the diaper actually has microscopic pores that keep releasing the odour gradually, so there is no unpleasant smell!
  • An interesting feature of the diaper is the wetness indicator strips down the middle of the diaper. It starts off yellow and turns a darker shade of green with saturation. While seasoned moms may not need the indicators, it will be pretty useful for moms of infants. It took me some time to figure this out, so I took pictures as a demo:


To try the diapers, you can call the local distributors for free home delivery on 04-3685191, or write to them at  [email protected] for more information. You can also pick them up at Union Coop (Safa Jumeirah, Al Barsha, Al Wasl), or at the Quick Buy store on Palm Jumeirah. Online deliveries are also offered at supermart.ae and diapersbox.


January 21, 2013

The dynamics of 'going out'

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It's funny how the most routine things become complicated post motherhood. Earlier, there were three simple steps to going out:
Step 1: Get dressed.
Step 2: Pick up the car keys.
Step 3: Go out.

Now with Little Dude in tow, it's a whole new ballgame. For the first six months, it was like I was under self-imposed house arrest. Apart from not having the motivation to get dressed in those first few months (more on that here), it just didn't seem worth the effort. Now, over a year later, I am surprised at how much effort it still takes to do something as simple as a grocery run. I have to be prepared for every possibility in that time frame (which includes everything). Water, snacks, diapers, toys - you name it!

If it's an outing we're after, my mind is planning in advance for the estimated time of departure hours in advance. You see, the 'perfect' time to leave is when Little Dude isn't hungry, sleepy or tired. When all forces of nature collide at that single point, yup, we're ready to go! Of course, by then, the other two of us are hungry, sleepy and tired, but at least the baby's happy! Very often, he'll just refuse to nap and we can't really go to the beach after sunset, so all plans are just abandoned.

That's why I dread fixed appointments. I know that when we have to get somewhere at a certain time, he will want to do something other than be at that very place. Phew!

I don't have a very fussy kid, so I think I'm a fussy mom and I get worked up because I'm a first-timer and want everything to be perfect. I never wanted Little Dude to sleep in a mall or the car when he could do so comfortably at home. I don't regret anything, though. But I do admire moms who do manage to take their kids of all ages out, all at once. That must require a lot of hard work!

With just going out being such an elaborate ritual, you can imagine how tough it is for me to plan a vacation. There's a post coming up on that, soon!

Meanwhile, I'd like to hear what other moms have to say. Do share your thoughts!


January 16, 2013

Toddler Tales (1): Dumb Charades

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Little Dude is at that stage where he can understand every word I say, but can't verbalize his thoughts yet. It must be pretty frustrating, I assume, to not be able to say what you're thinking! For now, it's like a constant game of Dumb Charades/Give Us A Clue (or whatever you grew up with!) for us. He gesticulates wildly while we are forever trying to decipher what he wants. Sometimes, it involves pointing at dozens of things before we get to what he's really asking for. Tough phase for him and us, but it's cute at the same time!

(Toddler Tales is a new category of posts that I will be writing as snippets, about what I'm learning every day from my little one.)

January 14, 2013

Eight beautiful quotes from Dad bloggers

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I admire the Dads who are contributing to all things parenting on the web. Wherever you come from, there is no denying that fathers are becoming more and more involved in parental duties, whether for a diaper change, late night feed or just some cuddle time.

While moms definitely dominate the parenting blogs category, the Rad Dads out there are doing a great job writing about their own side of the coin. Here, I share some of the recent quotes I've read from Dad bloggers which just prove that parenting highs and lows are not for the moms alone:

"I have never felt more vulnerable and mortal than I do now, having produced a son. He is my spinach and my kryptonite. My shield and my open wound. He is my everlasting life. To learn that I’m mortal, that’s my fatal flaw."
- Charlie Capen in this post on HowToBeADad.com writes about how he views his own mortality now that he has a child to care for.

"We need to teach kids that choosing to be good is a mark of strength; that choosing to forgive, love and to get along is higher than fighting, hating and harming; that there will also be many times in their lives that they will need to forgive even themselves; that they need to play with the cards that they’re dealt with; that not everything they hear and see is good and worth following. Why? Because as they grow up, they will be bombarded by views opposite to this. As they grow old, the urge to let go of these things will be intense and your role as gatekeeper and teacher will fade over the years."
- Herbert Paul Guillem, in this post on Playground Dad, about the importance of teaching kids to value life.

"Who gave him permission to grow up so fast? It certainly wasn't me. I usually indulge the Missus with a sympathetic shoulder and assurance that "he's still little" when she is sad about the Boy growing up. This time I need the indulging."
- Justin Knight in this post on Writing Pad Dad on his son's sixth birthday. The boy fought against all odds when he was born prematurely.

"I don’t get people who lobby against public breast feeding because, if you do, you’re lobbying for denying a baby its food. And I’m pretty sure it’d be hard to rally people to the cause of starving a baby. So, just stop it, you baby haters. Nobody likes you."
- David Vienna, father of twin boys, in this quote at The Daddy Complex.

"She sees me cooking, and when she pretends to prepare us a meal, I beam with pride. Not because a woman belongs in the kitchen, but because she's acquiring a love of cooking from me, a boy who got his love of cooking from his mom. I want her to believe she can do anything she wants, do it well, and do it just as well if not better than any other boy or girl."
- Daddy Knows Less in this post on his blog about his experiences in parenting. He's dad to a 10-year old girl.

"I don’t care whether you’re fighting addiction, have crappy financial management skills or just need to “grow up”, this baby gives you an excuse to become a better person. It’s like a reset button in life. Focus on the future and on something other than yourself and you’ll be amazed at what’s possible. I have friends and family members who struggled with all sorts of demons. Their decisions to embrace fatherhood and become good dads have made all of the difference in their life."
- Hugh Weber in this post about what he wishes he'd known about becoming a dad, in his website, Dude to Dad.

"Being such an integral part of my son’s life for the last year was an incredible way to put into perspective what being a father is all about, and the importance of being a good teammate with your spouse. I’m not knocking the working fathers – usually, I am one – but being home allowed me to see things and affect things from a different angle, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so."
-  Zach Rosenberg in this post about his year as a stay-at-home at 8 Bit Dad.

"Winning is good. Losing sucks. But losing gives us the opportunity to reinforce some really important things: self-confidence, resilience, perspective, and will power. By removing loss from the equation, we end up raising a generation of kids who cannot deal with things not going their way, and that leads to things like reality shows."
- BusyDad in this post about teaching kids about winning and losing, at The Busy Dad Blog.

Thank you, dad bloggers, for sharing your thoughts with the world. And thank you too, dads who don't write but do everything they can for their families, including my husband who has been a great partner in my parenting journey and has steadfastly supported my parenting choices.

January 10, 2013

Neat memories or a neat house? Your pick!

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Like sleep, a clean house is something you'll probably not get for a looong time once you have kids. It's funny how our definition of what a clean house is depends on who we are and what stage of life we're in. For teenagers, it's not even a concern. For singles, it's not really that important to have a clean house as it is to have fun. Married couples without kids are the ones who come closest to having that fancy house you see in the home interiors catalogue. But when you're a parent, out goes that catalogue. Everything becomes about being practical and safe. It doesn't matter if your child's art project clashes with the wall colour, it has to be the centerpiece of the dining table. And so what if your bookshelf is full of Lego toys and Barbies? To those who 'tsk, tsk!' at seeing a messy house like this (usually from another demographic), I feel like retorting, "It's a house, not a hotel!"

I've always felt that a house should look 'lived in'. Okay, I'll confess: I only feel this way because I have a toddler at home. But I do like seeing those toys strewn around the house. When Little Dude is asleep, it reminds me of what he was doing during the day and it makes me smile. How he hid his ball behind the sofa. How he put his socks in a plastic container. How he hid my lip balm in the... (I still don't know where it is!).

If I was always preoccupied with neatness, I would be missing out on a lot of time I spend with my kid. I would be too busy cleaning up after him to appreciate his creativity or play with him. So, I think you can only have one: great memories or a clean house. Of course, your house should be neat and tidy but it doesn't have to be spic and span, does it? I love this poem that sums up my thoughts:

Song for a Fifth Child (by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton)

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

I don't know why this song is for a fifth child by the way (if you do, let me know!). But it's so true. Kids grow up so fast that it's not worth fretting about the wallpaper or sofa upholstery. I have lowered my standards of cleanliness at the moment and now the ground rule is: It's clean if you can make the house presentable in 10 minutes flat! If it takes longer than that, I've let things go too long!

P.S: Also see this cute post by one of my favourite bloggers, Amber Dusick, on what a real house looks like.

January 7, 2013

The new mom's guide to looking good

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I am so tired of seeing celebrities getting back in the limelight after having a baby, looking wafer-thin and unscathed. That's just not fair to the rest of us, is it? It really does look like their babies were delivered via the stork! But I do feel that mothers often let go of themselves because it really is hard work raising a child. Remember, moms: You don't have to look like a model, but you must not lose focus on yourself. It can take up to a year for a woman's body to lose that extra weight, and more often than not, her body is altered irretrievably. So, when I say 'looking good', it's okay if you look like a 'mom'. You should be proud of that!

I remember the first few months after Little Dude was born, I looked like something the cat dragged in! That was when the goals were to sleep three hours in a row and eat warm food. Now that he's 14 months old, I have managed to piece together my wardrobe and make-up kit. Though I must admit, there are days when I'm still in my PJs long into the day!

So, I share some tips for the new mom to keep looking presentable in the first year (and beyond), despite the spit-ups and food missiles:
  • Don't ditch the maternity wear: I wore my maternity jeans for the first three months after baby. Nothing else would do. Maternity clothes are best to hide those bulges that can only come postpartum. There is so much to choose from nowadays, that it's tempting to wear anyway!
  • Get quick make-up products: Replace the liquid eyeliner with a soft eye pencil. The lipstick with a coloured lip gloss.The foundation with the pressed powder. Obviously, you don't have time for that seven-step makeup routine anymore, but don't skip it altogether. Apart from easier to use products, get combination items such as a cleanser-cum-toner, moisturiser with sunscreen and all-in-one makeup remover.
  • Change your wardrobe: After the maternity wear no longer works (and people start wondering what's up), get some new clothes. Most probably, you'll need them as your body shape may have changed. Get the type of clothes that flatter your new figure. It will also pep you up to do some shopping for something other than bibs!
  • Don't skimp on a skincare routine: Stick like glue to the most basic skincare routine. Cleanse, mositurise daily. Keep your stuff next to the crib, if you have to. Do what works. You may not have time to regularly hit the beauty salon but at least maintain your skin before it bears the brunt of neglect. For instance, once a week, soak your feet in hot water and exfoliate them. Put on a face mask.
  • Eat well: Don't rush into diets, for at least six months. Your body needs to recover a lot of vitamins and minerals and you must eat healthy and plenty. Especially if you are nursing. The food may get cold often, but you can snack on nuts and fruits. Think of it as an extended pregnancy diet. Don't forget the treats too, if it helps you cope with all the sleep deprivation.
  • Keep moving: Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but once your doc gives the go ahead, start walking daily. Take the baby out. Walk around the house when making him/her sleep (may not work for everybody, but I think it kept me slim!). A sling will be especially helpful in keeping you mobile with a newborn.
  • Get a groovy diaper bag/large designer bag: The cute diaper bag may not be suitable for all occasions so get one that looks trendy. Or get a big designer (or non-designer) bag that can fit all those essentials. It's bound to make you look like a with-it mom!
  • Wear comfortable heels: You don't have to ditch those heels altogether. Invest in a comfortable pair of heels that you can wear off and on to remind you that you are a woman too! Remember that comfortable is the operative word here and investing in a good brand will pay in that department. And they don't have to be six inches. Kitten heels work perfectly for this purpose and look feminine at the same time.  
  • Get an easy-to-maintain haircut: Not only will it give you a fresh look, it will cut down on your grooming time. Shorter is always better with little hands pulling your hair. 
For moms who get back to work, it's actually easier to get into all these things because they have to. That's why, stay-at-home moms have to make a special effort. This is by no means an exhaustive guide and readers are welcome to share their pointers.

(Pic: By Mttmwiki (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)

    January 3, 2013

    Ode to the Cupcake

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    I am sure any dessert lover like me will agree that whoever invented the cupcake was a genius. I mean, you can imagine what it would be like to see rows upon rows of cakes in a bakery shop and being unable to ask for a slice. And no special occasion to buy the whole cake (and an expanding waistline). Well, the cupcake solves that problem. It gets individual attention from the baker who tops it, unlike the assembly line muffins and cookies. Did I just write all that, seriously? Well, things are about to get more whimsical. Behold, my ode to the lovely cupcake:



    O sweet delight of frosting bright
    O creamy treat, O baker's pride!
    Bursting with sweetened joy
    On every bud in thy employ.
    In a moist bite do I find
    A most delicious state of mind.
    O fuzzy feeling on very sight
    O chocolate dark, O strawberry light!



    (Pic: By Whitney [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)