Chaats and snacks

Everyone says it’s a terrible idea to grocery shop while hungry, but nobody talks about what a bad idea it is to stop at the chain drug store on the corner at the end of a long week with two tired kids in tow.  I guess people are more worried about being tempted by a bag of chips than ending up with — oh, I don’t know — a new bottle of moisturizer, some back-up shave foam for Papa, new toothbrushes for the family, nail polish, and (I almost forgot why we came here!) some children’s toothpaste. Read More


The other day, Kishmish came whining into the kitchen as I was making dinner, and her chief complaint started with, “Mommmmmyyyyy, how come you never. . . .”   Are there actually any good endings to that sentence?  “Mommy, how come you never let us play video games?” “Mommy, how come you never let us have anyone over to play after dinner?” Or, the version that often comes from tired little ones around here: “Mommy, how come you never let us do anything we want to?!”  Oh, Lord.

Can you imagine, then, how happy I was to hear this?  “Mommy, how come you never make those yummy things with dal on the inside? You know those triangles, and we dip them in ketchup?”  Hooray! My work here, as they say, is done!  It’s fair to say that, right, when your kids start asking for real food? (Except for the ketchup part. . . . ) Read More

I know there is this stereotype that kids growing up in New York are stressed-out, overscheduled, and forced to grow up too fast. My children, however, have no structured activities outside of school (a statement which, I realize, is almost nonsensical — “They only spend 6 hours each day in a structured environment.” Well, la-di-dah).  They’ve asked me to get them into piano, Brownies, gymnastics, swimming, and science classes (?), and I’ve resisted because if I cannot handle the scheduling, I just don’t see how they are going to handle it.

The one exception is Bharat Natyam class. We started last year, just to see how it would go, and that once-a-week class in classical Indian dance became something they looked forward to all week. The youngest kids in the class, Kishmish and Pista learned all the hand gestures and foot work along with the other kids, and though the 4:30 class felt late in the afternoon, it was doable.

But this year?  The class time was moved to 5:30 on Fridays!  Friday afternoons!  Can you imagine a time in the week where you are more tired, unfocused, and spent than on Friday afternoon?  I almost pulled them out of the class, thinking there was no way my children were going to be able to keep it together and behave in a way that wouldn’t make me ashamed from 5:30 to 6:30 on a Friday evening.

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We're definitely headed towards fall.  It's crisp and sunny today.  And we've had our share of dreary grey school-day mornings this week, mornings when Kishmish and Pista fought getting out of bed and came to the breakfast table bundled in blankets and refusing to open their eyes and admit that grey sky was actually the dawn. It's fall, and I need to start posting some soups and spicy curries and yummy baked things that warm up the house.  Pumpkin halwa, baked apples. . . . ok those are all coming. Read More

Kishmish and Pista are going to turn 6 in December.  Over the past years, I have learned enough to provide advice on dealing with all the pains and fevers and bleeding and sleepless nights that come with various benign childhood illness. Having a child who is suddenly ill with a fever or a cough or an allergic reaction to bedbug bites is just terrible and makes a parent question his/her existence, but let me tell you — the experience of having a child not acutely ill with an as-yet-undiagnosed but extremely irritating abdominal pain?  That takes it to a different level.

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There is an Andrei Codrescu poem — or maybe it’s part of a poem* — that says:

Anything that moves faster than I can walk

Does so by a mean trick.

I like the specific sentiment about walking vs. getting around another way; I like even more the general, gentle reminder that you don’t get something for nothing.

Take, for example, granola bars. I spent several months last year beating my head against a wall trying to put together a home-made granola bar I wouldn’t feel terrible sending in my girls’ lunches.  I hate boxed granola bars. I hate the wrapping, the smallness of them, the obnoxiously large box they all come in, the back-to-nature claims they imply or state outright, the healthy veneer for something we know is just one step away from being either a cookie or a candy bar.

But what put me over the edge, the moment that made me decide granola bars and I had to go our separate ways, was a comment from Pista. Over the summer I told them we were going to try out a granola bar recipe, and she asked, “like real granola bars?”  “Yes,” I told her, “real granola bars!  Why not?”  “Well,” she said, “how are we going to make the wrappers?Read More

Today I was picking up the girls from the school and the teacher told me Kishmish would probably be hungry because she had to take her nuts away from her at lunch time.  “There are some kids in the class this year who are allergic to nuts — I mean really allergic.  Like they can’t even be near a nut.  I had learn how to use an Epi-Pen today!”  (In case you are wondering, it’s this.)

Grrrr…..  I am totally fine with eliminating nuts from the lunch-box rotation, but things are getting really challenging around here. As of now, I try to send lunch within the following specifications:

  • “I don’t like peanut butter and jelly!” (Well, I guess that’s out now anyway.)
  • “I don’t like sandwiches every day!”
  • “Why can’t we eat chicken nuggets?”  (We really don’t eat chicken.)
  • “Please send me soup/macaroni/dal but only if it can be really hot at lunch time!” (OK, I have yet to find a thermos set-up that makes that possible.)
  • “Don’t send me idlis/rotis/dal parathas because people will laugh at my lunch!”

This last one drives me bananas. The girls go to a school with all these international kids, comopolitan New Yorkers, and children of diplomats. I cannot believe everyone is bringing tuna-fish sandwiches on white bread.  What happened to being cool for having something different!?

Seriously, I am running out of options. Read More