Book Review: Eighteen Moons | An inspiring book about surrogacy struggles

Eighteen Moons (by Andi Webb) is a truly inspiring and interesting book. I am so glad I picked it for my first read after a three-year gap from reading. Surprisingly, I finished it in three days (even though I am a very slow reader) reading late nights as I just couldn’t put it down! 

The book (available here) is the true story of a gay couple, Andi and John from the UK, determined to have a family complete with kids. The book takes you through their extraordinary journey of becoming parents to five wonderful kids through surrogacy. How they go through an unbelievable amount of struggle but stay strong and determined in the face of adversity is commendable and inspiring. Whatever problems you are facing today, not just related to surrogacy, the perseverance that the couple shows will make you want to never give up, come what may!

Read this amazing book that will take you on a surrogacy journey to three countries – India, Nepal and Thailand. With every trip, there’s a lot of doubt whether or not the couple would be able to bring their surrogate newborns home. Andi stays in foreign countries for several months, away from his beloved and very supportive partner John, manages newborns, and struggles to find the right nannies and places to stay. Meanwhile, John struggles in his own country to be able to meet and bring home his newborns. Seeing them being the victims of bureaucracy amid changing laws related to surrogacy makes you feel the helplessness the couple goes through. At times you wonder if they would give up, but wow they are so patient and determined!

Such is the excellent writing of the author, that you wish if only you could have known them then and done something to help. The couple stays apart for a long time as one of them doesn’t get the right Visa with the system being, as we all know, far from perfect. And as if the changing laws, cheats and a blackmailing surrogate mother are not enough, there’s an earthquake and a possible jail time. There are tears and fears, smiles and hopes, and both the good and the bad sides of humanity playing their parts.

The pace of the book is awesome and the uncertainty involved keeps you hooked from the beginning to the last page hoping that maybe things will work out on the next page. And the kids are so cute, you can picture them as the author describes them with so much love. Read the book Eighteen Moons by Andi Webb to find out how they navigate through all the struggles. I absolutely recommend this book.

The book is available on Amazon UK here. For all other locations, just search Andi Webb on your Amazon browser.

Beetroot Cutlets / Healthy Burger Patty Recipe for Kids

I made these yummy beetroot cutlets / burger patties just now! I didn’t expect that I’ll be able to do it but I managed to completely eliminate the raw flavour of beetroot. Yay! Experimented with a unique combination of spices and achieved the best flavour ever.


Here’s the Beetroot Cutlet / Patty Recipe ❤️ Save for future reference! Do share if you like it.

Ingredients:
2 large grated and boiled beetroots
2 large boiled potatoes
2 bread slices broken into fine pieces / coarsely powdered based on the texture you like
Salt to taste
1 pinch turmeric powder
1/2 tsp jeera powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (I forgot adding)
1/2 tsp chat masala
1/2 tsp oregano (that’s the twist, but you can skip)
1/2 tsp chilli powder / sliced green chillies (I don’t use as Mishika doesn’t eat spicy food

Method:
1. Remove excess water from boiled beetroots. Save it to add in anything else later or for food colouring / to colour any homemade play dough for kids.
2. Mix and mash beetroots and potatoes.
3. Mix well all the other ingredients.
4. Taste at this stage and adjust the flavours as per your liking.
5. Shape the cutlets / patties.
6. Coat them with semolina or bread crumbs.
7. Shallow fry on medium flame till the surface becomes a little brownish and crisp.
8. Remove on absorbent paper / kitchen roll to remove excess oil.
9. Alternatively, bake it!

PS Use any combination of spices available at your location but the bread and oregano does the trick!

Enjoy with ketchup / chutney / dips of your choice!

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Do comment below if you like or try this recipe!

Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins Recipe

Looking for the best apple cinnamon muffins / cupcakes recipe using wholewheat flour? You have come to the right place!

I have experimented with many recipes but this one turned out to be the best as the aroma of the freshly baked cupcakes filled the entire house and they were really very delicious. The texture was just perfect, neither too moist not too dry. And my two-and-a-half-year-old absolutely relished it. So did I 🙂

Now, before I proceed, please let me tell you that my oven overheats and I bake at a lower temperature. So If your oven works just perfect, just use the temperature setting for a regular muffin recipe. I baked at 170° C instead of 190° C and it turned out to be perfect!

Apple Cinnamon Whole Wheat Muffins Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup (minus two teaspoons) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup grated apples
1/4 cup butter (I used regular salted Amul butter)
1/2 cup sugar / powdered jaggery (1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar give best results)
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (lesser if you have a stronger extract)

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 190° C / 375° F.
2. Prepare muffin moulds / tins / cupcake liners by gently coating with butter or oil. Skip this step if you have non-stick / silicon moulds / tins.
3. Beat an egg. Add to it butter, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and grated apples. Mix well.
4. Preferably in a separate bowl, mix whole wheat flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
5. Add the wet mix (point 3 above) to the dry mixture (point 4 above) and gently fold all the ingredients together. DO NOT OVERMIX at this stage at all. It is okay to have a few lumps.
6. Scoop the mixture into the muffin cups (filling about 2/3.)
7. Bake for 10 minutes and keep an eye for them to turn slightly golden brown. It might take a couple of minutes more depending on your oven. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.
8. Carefully remove the muffin moulds from the oven and let them cool a bit.

Enjoy warm or cold.

COATING: You can coat them with a Butter and  1:1 Cinnamon + Sugar mixture but I couldn’t wait to eat 🙂

Let me know if you try and like this Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins Recipe.
Happy baking!

15 Tips on how to relax as a tired mom

Are you a tired and overworked mom? Welcome to the club! The desperation to feel relaxed, even temporarily, makes us spend whatever little time we get to research advice everywhere possible. You can Google all the possible solutions shared by many mothers and parenting experts online. Some of those ideas really work. But, let’s be real. Not all of us have that liberty to follow all those tips (I will share a few later in this post) to relax as a mom. Some of us are single moms, some are without family support, some are juggling jobs and home, some have more than one kid, some have elders to take care of, some have chronic illnesses and relatively lower energy levels and some are really really very tired regardless of whatever our Instagram pictures show the world.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It’s been 31 months since I became a mother. As some of you following my blog know, I suffer from fibromyalgia and all the symptoms that come with the syndrome. And a few more medical conditions that make even some of the simple motherly tasks extremely difficult for me. I did not give in to my medical condition and have been pushing myself every single day of excruciating endless pain and now severe sleep deprivation. Needless to say I have researched all the tips to relax over the last two and a half years. But frankly speaking, I haven’t been able to implement anything. I could not even manage to do those kegel exercises after a normal delivery (with forcep assistance at the last minute) and well, my bladder has started to really bother me now. That’s a story for a different day.

Last night, I finally hit the bed at 2 am thinking I would be able to sleep then. I co-sleep with my toddler. She was fast asleep and I switched on the night light to have some water. That’s when I gazed at her lovely face. She was sleeping like, well, a baby! It was a magical moment that took me to the time when she was born and what followed was almost meditative. I reminisced those initial weeks of the super hectic new mom life. Remember that time? When you are just learning everything from how to help a baby sleep, feed her non-stop, burp her, change nappies endlessly… you know that phase! But at the end of that super long and tiring day, however drained out we all new moms were, remember that one thing that made us smile late in the nights? Yes, looking at our baby for so long, watching that tiny (often smiling) face, those tiny fingers and toes, and feeling the miracle of motherhood. I remember just watching her for long while she was asleep and somehow that made me feel so happy and relaxed even when I knew she might wake up in two hours for another feed!

So, last night I realised that over the months, I did less of that… watch her sleep at the end of the day and reliving the memory of the day I held her in my arms for the first time. The daily chores and running around make us forget the most beautiful day of our life. That moment has so much power to make us feel happy and relaxed. Trust me, last night felt so special and different as I just watched my toddler sleep, the way I did when she was a newborn. So the next time you are feeling tired and helpless, just look at your sleeping baby and know that you are doing a wonderful job as a mom.

Also, try these tips to relax when you can, if you can (I am keeping Covid lockdown in mind):

  1. Get some me-time, even if it is for 15 minutes in the privacy of your bathroom :). Read a book, browse the internet for non-parenting stuff, watch some show, chat with a friend… something you don’t get to do very often now.
  2. Exercise, meditate or do some yoga. Else play it on the TV and do it with your toddler.
  3. Play some music which is not nursery rhymes 🙂 Dance, even if you have two left feet! Sing, even if you think you are bad at it.
  4. Indulge in some self care if you have been avoiding it since you became a mom
  5. When you spend time with your kid, sometimes do a fun activity that you both can enjoy. Play a game from your childhood, like hopscotch.
  6. Go for a walk.
  7. Talk to a friend or a cousin or a nice relative or neighbour you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  8. Play a game on your phone / gaming console / whatever, but nothing stressful.
  9. Indulge in good food to be in a good mood.
  10. If you can’t step out, just look out of the window and observe whatever you see, sky or streets or people or birds. Try not to think about what all work you need to finish today!
  11. Start writing a diary.
  12. If someone offers help, just take it. Don’t feel guilty about lying down for sometime when someone watches your child.
  13. Schedule your day. It works for some parents but if this stresses you out, don’t do it.
  14. Post covid, well get out and meet people, eat out, watch movies and visit malls and parks and everywhere outdoors!
  15. At the end of the day, don’t forget to watch your sleeping kid for a few minutes and think about all the good memories with your baby!

Most importantly, do not compare yourself with other moms who you think are able to multitask more. And, never get affected if someone judges you. They are not in your shoes and only you know that you are doing your best for your kid.

Hope some of this helps you. Do share what helps you relax as a mom. And remember, you are awesome!

Happy parenting!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio 

Colour Sorting and Counting Activity for Toddlers

Our toddler activity of the week is the perfect idea for fun learning while focusing on: Fine motor skills + colour sorting + counting (maths) + balancing!

Toddlers get bored of playing with the same toys and doing the same activities. So the other day, I tried this idea and 26-month old Mishika enjoyed the activity a lot. It was a boon that the pipes of our construction toy almost perfectly fit on the Lego base plate! So I gave her a demo with two colours and she continued with the columns with much excitement.

The process involved colour sorting, counting, balancing the lego plate and arranging the pipes at the interval of two green points / pegs / dots each. The pipes are a bit loose on the base plate so they did fell at times and she managed to place them again. The best part was that she carefully lifted and balanced the entire creation ❤️

Give it a try and see if any of your other toys or blocks fit the lego base plate and this could create a lot of interesting game ideas! Pls let me know how did you like this innovation by us.

Whole Wheat Churi / Leftover Roti Recipe

Have you tried making sweet churi from leftover rotis / chapatis? It is a sweet, a little healthy and yummy Indian dish enjoyed by kids and all!

Here’s the recipe:

1. 4 leftover / freshly made rotis / chapatis / phulkas (keep refrigerated at night if leftover after dinner).
2. Break them in small pieces and then grind them to make smaller pieces as per your liking.
3. Heat 2/3 tablespoons of ghee / clarified butter (oil or butter, preferably unsalted, if you don’t have ghee).
4. Add a pinch of crushed cardamom.
5. Add the ground roti and roast for 3-5 mins on medium flame.
6. If making for toddlers, add dry fruits powder (cashews, almonds, walnuts). Add crushed or full roasted dry fruits if making for adults.
7. Throw in some raisins and pieces of soft dates if you like and if your kids can chew.
8. Reduce the flame and add 3 or more tbsp of jaggery / jaggery powder.
9. Mix in for a couple of minutes.

That’s it. Cool it and enjoy!!! This is the perfect idea if your kid refuses the rotis you make. It worked wonders for my picky 2-year-old toddler.

Ladoos from rotis: Grind the entire mixture for a few pulses in a mixer grinder and everything will combine in fine / little coarse form. Make laddoos out of it ❤️ Mishika had 3 mini laddoos made from half the churi amount and I ate the entire thing 😀

NOTE:

1. You can skip any ingredient except the rotis, ghee and jaggery (use sugar or dates if you don’t have jaggery).
2. Add spices or your liking like cinnamon powder or nutmeg for different flavours.
3. Make a salted version instead for a savoury snack instead.

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Do drop in your comment if you find this recipe interesting or try it 🙂

Homeschooling a 2-year-old toddler: Counting activities

Last week, Mishika turned two years old (this post was written in the last week of November 2020)! We had taken a break from homeschooling two weeks ago as it was Diwali festival time here in India and within a week was Mishika’s birthday. I tried to sync her vacation with the schools around.

So, after our break, we started her home preschool today. She was all excited and so was I. We went over numbers from our previous sessions but since she was off school for sometime, it involved a lower attention span and more naughtiness today… LOL. I absolutely did not mind it as we all had been unwell since her birthday on 20th November. So the energy levels were low and she needed to have fun.

Mishika knows numbers till 20 (not necessarily in sequence all the time) and the focus now is to help her count. This happens in our day-to-day activities as well. However, I planned a little systematic way. I placed colourful wooden chips from her new toy on the table in order of one to five. It became more fun and interactive as, along with numbers and counting, she also took interest in the colours and shapes, which she is pretty good at now (Do check out our YouTube video on charts to see how it became really easy for her.)

How to go about counting in a fun way:
Place one object.
Place two objects next to it while counting. So on and so forth.
While doing so let your kid watch you count and encourage to repeat after you.
Now ask the toddler to point to one object, two objects, etc.

Help them count by saying one square, two squares, etc. Also emphasise on the plural bit. So they start registering plurals if they are comfortable with it. Similarly, continue till five. If you have any counting related flash cards, books, activity kits or charts, use them as well. My recommendation is that do not force kids to learn something if they are not very keen at that moment. Try again after a few days.

Then, during the week you start teaching counting, remember to include the concept of counting things in your daily activities. Count food/snack items, diapers, toys, people… whatever you feel like but just make it interesting for them and not like studying per se.

For example:
You just ate one raisin, now these are 2, these are 3…
How many pillows can you see on this sofa?
Can you show me 4 fingers please?
How many bottles are there on this table?

Keep toys in order of one to five. Remember we are learning counting not numbers (which is the previous step). Keep pieces of food in order, or their socks or ask them to keep three socks or random numbers. Let them go with the flow and make it fun. Just keep it casual and don’t worry if they take time to pick up. If they are not ready for this yet, you’ll know. Try the next week or later and focus on something else.

Happy parenting. Happy homeschooling!

Late teething: Should you be worried?

My daughter is 18 months old at the time of posting this article. Until two weeks ago, she had only four teeth and though one more tooth bud was visible for many weeks, no tooth appeared. She started teething pretty late. And every tooth took over a month or two to appear. It felt like a really slow motion thing. Needless to say, I was very worried as a mom.

Photo by Hu1ed3ng Xuu00e2n Viu00ean on Pexels.com

I ended up reading up articles after articles, researching every nook and corner of the internet. Though everything I read said that we should not be worried and that some babies start teething late, being an over-read mom, I was not completely satisfied.

There were more reasons to my worries though (yeah, I am justifying this :))

Firstly, my baby wasn’t able to eat a lot of things because she didn’t have more than four teeth, or so I thought was the reason. This worry was put to rest later by her pediatrician who said the gums of babies at this age are enough to help them chew all that they should be eating. Secondly, I have a chronic illness and few other medical conditions. I really needed to wean my baby off breast milk since a few months so that I could start taking my meds and care much better for her. But until she started eating well, I didn’t want to stop feeding her (at the time of this post, I am still feeding her). Also, she completely refused everything from cow/buffalo milk to formula. Hence, I was worried about her calcium intake. All these factors combined, her delayed teething was a concern for me until a week ago. That’s when she has started eating a little better. And even taking sips of cow’s milk (a little colder with a dash of some flavour like cashew powder, jaggery or very little powdered sugar). Her fifth teeth is a bit visible now.

The point being, I really wasted days worrying unnecessarily. So, if you are in my shoes, seriously do not worry unless absolutely no teeth appear at this stage of your child’s growth. That’s when you have a word with the pediatrician, and trust me things will get better. Every single thing I read mentioned this, but I still kept worrying. Every baby is different, so give it time and enjoy the beautiful stages of your child’s development. A friend’s daughter had no teeth until her first birthday and after a few months several teeth started appearing one after the other. Some kids I know had eight teeth by their one and a half birthday, some only two. So, when everyone says don’t compare kids, it is sane advice.

Late teething
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Teeth will appear, sooner or later. Kids will start eating well, sooner or later. Some kids eat more, some less. My baby hardly eats anything for a day or two barring a few fruit or roti bites during the day, and halwa, her favourite, along with a lot of breastmilk. And then, on some days, she eats really well all through the day.

So, it’s okay. Don’t worry too much about teething. If you are still concerned and crazy-worried-when-not-necessary mom like me, please have a word with the baby’s doctor and trust me, you’ll feel much better. Before you know, the day will come when you’ll be telling your kid about tooth fairies 🙂

Happy parenting.

Toothy smile 🙂

How to make a Bumblebee using Toilet Roll: DIY Craft Activity for Kids / Preschool

We made a bumblebee using toilet paper roll and tried an innovation for wings that really worked with the wings making a flapping sound under the fan.

How to make a Bumblebee using Toilet Roll

We used a sticker plastic sheet that I had saved earlier after all the stickers in the sheet were used up! Yay! It came in so handy! Super recycling – after Mishika is done playing with the bee, it will become a pen stand.

1. Cover a toilet paper roll cardboard with yellow paper.
2. Make eyes and draw a smile.
3. Paste foam glitter paper / black paper strips or just draw black strips.
4. Draw wings using a permanent marker on a transparent thick sheet. You can also use plain white or yellow paper. Paste it on the back of the bumblebee.
5. To use it as a pen stand, simply make a base with some circular cardboard piece!

Bumblebee using black and yellow paper.

Save this post of DIY bumblebee craft activity for future reference. Do tell me in comments how you like this idea!
Follow @momandideas on Instagram for more creativity and fun learning!

My baby, my sunshine

It’s been a year and a half since I was blessed with a baby girl. She’s the sunshine in my life.Yes, it’s not easy being a first-time mom at the age of forty while dealing with a debilitating chronic illness, but not a day has passed that she hasn’t made me smile and laugh with her cute acts. That gives me the energy to pull through the early motherhood months.This is my midnight me-time blog. I intend to update frequently (let’s see how it goes) but in this lockdown scenario and a whole lot of indoor time with a very active toddler, I am not pushing myself with deadlines. Mommies need to take easy whenever possible, right!

Starting a mom blog

Listen to the Podcast
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

I have been blogging since 2004. That’s around the time blogging became a trend with writers, copywriters and all those who felt they should write but never knew where to start.

My career in advertising and online communication further made me all the more interested and active in blogging. There was a time when I was running around a dozen blogs, and that too I was active on all. What can I say, I had too much to say 🙂 I joined blogging communities and groups, won some awards/prizes for my posts and all too! That was all until I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. A truly debilitating and invisible illness. Life changed, slowly and a lot. Typing became tough, sitting became tough. At this very point in my post, with such little number of words, my fingers, elbows, shoulders and neck are already hurting. That’s how things changed. I reduced writing blogs, started working part time and then started freelancing.

Finally, after 10 years of marriage and giving up all the strong meds to plan a baby, I became a mom on 20th November 2018. My little angel is 18 months now and as she takes a decent nap in afternoon. So, I can get some me time.

However, with the covid19 pandemic, anything and everything we read and watch these days are obviously about it. I have been reading the news all the time (the break time, of course!) since over two months of lockdown and I realised I should reduce it. I am literally just sleeping 2-3 hours every 24 hours these days (will talk about it in another post). To use a break from the daily chores and have a me-time, I decided to do what I loved most – writing. Since my life these days is all about being a mother, I guess it’s time to start a mom blog to share my experiences and ideas as my little one enters her toddler years. And honestly, I love the sound of being a mom blogger, don’t you?

Hope I am able to share many useful insights, information and ideas with MOM & IDEAS. I am open to suggestions, please leave a comment and join me in this new journey.

Happy parenting!

Monkey Puzzle / Where’s My Mom – Children’s Story Book Review

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW

Book: Monkey Puzzle (known as Where’s My Mom in the US)
By: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

2-year-old Mishika’s rating: ❤❤❤❤❤

This is one of her favourite books. I would totally recommend it. The book is about a little monkey who can’t find its mom and a cute butterfly helps out. The story has a very creative take on how the butterfly think that perhaps the elephant, snake or some other jungle animal might be the monkey’s mom. But no spoilers here.

The colours and illustrations are wonderful, and I am trying to recreate a few with Mishika in her drawing sessions of homeschooling.

Now Mishika kind of ‘reads’ the storybook herself turning pages and asking if the monkey found its mom. The joy on her face is always the same when she reached the last page. She often comes and hugs me as she finds her own mummy ❤😘

Go for this Monkey Puzzle / Where’s My Mom board book, not easy to tear by babies and little toddlers!

FOLLOW @momandideas on Instagram.

About Mom and Ideas

Mom & Ideas is the brainchild of a mom who had her first baby at the age of forty. Planning a baby, a dream since long, was a big decision for a woman suffering from fibromyalgia. It meant going off all the medicines and treatments for over a year before planning, being able to manage the daily life while learning to live with chronic illness without any meds until breastfeeding the baby, and most importantly, being mentally prepared to give her hundred percent in raising the child well. So this meant, doing not just the homework but acing at it!

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but when the child’s mother battles a chronic illness with very limited energy levels, it means a whole lot of preparation and work before and after having the baby.

Hence, even before planning a baby, this mom did extensive reading and research – articles on childbirth, raising a baby, parenting, cooking for babies and kids, their health, education, DIY art and craft for kids, activities with kids… every single aspect related to being a mother. She spoke to almost every mom she knew to gain from their experience and advice. She understood raising children in various ages of their growth and development by talking to friends who had kids from age one to eighteen. As her baby turns eighteen months during the creation of this website, the mom continues to read, research and learn from her own experience too.

This website, is an attempt to share that knowledge and experience to benefit all the women planning to be a mom and existing parents. It is also aimed to be a trusted resource for everything related to parenting while this mom shares her journey of motherhood.

Hope you benefit from the Mom & Ideas initiative. Here’s to happy parenting!

FROM ONE PARENT TO ANOTHER

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