1

Reading for your Kid

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An elephant going for an evening walk when he bumped into a mouse. They started walking together and while they were busy chatting, the elephant stamped a pig on his feet. He said sorry but the pig didn’t stop crying. Sad and guilty, both decided to make him smile by singing a song. Eventually, the pig smiled. They became friends and decided to have more fun together.

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Reading for your child is the best activity to the little minds when they are away from exploring the world with their little hands and feet. Each time the kids sees the colour pictures of their favorite characters speaking the same language like us, their longing for more always fascinates us. And the funny noises we make, the special effects we give, the add­-ons we do, compels them to add reading to their to­-do fun-list.

Reading a book before bed time is ok, but sometimes the so called “Story Book Time” comes unscheduled and we often hesitate. “When will I finish my chores?”, “I am too tired now, I am just back from office?” and “It’s so boring to read the same book over and over again.” becomes some of our common excuses and we try to push it for later. But, needless to say, the wonders the books do are many. How easily we can plop the food inside while they open their mouth delighted over something. How easily the books succeed to pass on the right messages. And then the pleasing smile, we see on their face while falling asleep over a bedtime story, always keeps us going.

Some tips for a fun time reading:­

1) Choosing the right book : ​Think what your child likes, considering his / her age level. Be it a toy they are attached to or a rhyme they always sings. When they see the same thing over a printed paper, their curiosity shoots.

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2) S​peak like the characters:​ Make weird noises, create special effect, you never know when your stress just goes away from a tiring day after having a good laugh with them.

3) Give them authority: ​While you handle the reading part, ask them to hold the book. In the meantime, use your hands to finish up on cutting the remaining vegetables.

4) A​sk questions:​ Ask them whom do they see in the book, what they are doing and whatever you see catchy in the book. We always get surprised when they say exactly the same way we recited, the last time.

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4) Change the mood: Kids love to explore new things. And when they see you sleepy over the same book, they  lose interest too. Grab the chance and change the book.

5) V​isit the nearest library: T​alk about it and make it a  fun outing like the park. They get more curious when  they get to choose their own books. After they are done,  tell them it’s now Mommy/Daddy’s turn to choose a  book.

Benefits of Reading:­

1) Bonding Time​­: We get a chance to snuggle up close with our kid with a book and enjoy some calm time. We never get the same chance when they are always running and jumping as they grow older.

2) Develop vocabulary skills:​ Early reading develops vocabulary and literacy skills. How a word produces sound and the combination of words forming a sentence makes different sounds helps them in speaking.

3) Love for Books:​ Early reading promotes interest on books. They might prefer books over television, CDs, games etc. This also might continue as they grow older.

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4) Boost confidence:​ When they are ready for school, reading to them helps them to gain confidence on how to deal with things independently without their parents.

5) Logical Thinking:​ When kids are always busy finding logic over something we say, books help us to answer them on our behalf.

So, have a cuddly time with your kids and enjoy reading.

6

Baking with your toddler

Baking with your toddler

Baking with your toddler

“Baking with your toddler” does it sounds exciting?

Well it is great for your toddler as they see their mother cooking all the time in the kitchen.

The pinch of this, a pinch of that, the colorful vegetables always fascinates a child. And then comes the smell of haven. They love to explore things in this amazing world and especially when it is something which they are not allowed to do, doesn’t it sound interesting? They know baking with their toys is never same. It definitely does not give them the same satisfaction.

But when we think of the mess they might make, we shiver with fear. How will I ever finish cooking? How will I ever clean up the happy spills? Always the escape route is- Cook while the baby is sleeping. If we can get past the horror of cleaning the floor, the kitchen, the dishes, the cloths and of course the happy little mischief maker, we will understand how much fun it is to see their unrestrained happiness. Their awestruck smile when they lick the cake batter from their fingers. And then their satisfied first bite of the cake they cooked with you.

Baking with your kid is a very good way to connect and the results are delicious. Right from the mixing the batter, frosting the cake and making their favorite cookies of different shapes, sizes and of course decorating it with their favorite color.

Well here are few tips to get you going:

1) Talk about it: remind them of the cake they like or the cookie that daddy liked. It will excite them that with just few whips and bakes they will soon be eating one of their favorites.

2) Let them do it: You can measure the ingredients but let them mix it. Kids love to smear greasy stuff. So let them grease the baking tray till you do the final mixing.

3) Let them imagine: Use different color frosting and while decorating let their imagination go wild. It might not be the perfect store decorated cake or cookie but your child will eat them haphazardly cooked cake with more enthusiasm.

And while doing all this have fun. Put their favorite song and sing with them.

Benefits:

1) Bonding: It’s a great way to bond with your toddler as they get a feeling that we trust them to do a job or to help us.

2) Build self esteem: When they see what they helped to create it gives them a great sense of self accomplishment.

3) Follow directions: Asking and showing them what needs to be done next, gives them a sense of following directions.

4) Creativity: When they make their own design of their cookies it encourages them to be more creative.

5) Patience: This is something which is very hard for the toddlers. The waiting time involved here will teach them how to be patient.

Safety tips:

1) Always accompany your toddler in the kitchen

2) Wash hands before starting

3) Wear apron to protect clothes.

4) Use plastic containers instead of glass to avoid breakage

5) Ensure your kid understands that the Oven is something out of bounds for them.

So, get set and bake…Good luck and Enjoy

6

Yosemite – A hiking adventure

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Anyone loves to hike? Here comes a perfect escape. Inhabiting in the hub of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite, is well known for its waterfalls, breathtaking granite cliffs, giant sequoia’s, clear streams and wildlife. Beautifully designed by our mother nature, this place is very well preserved, leaving behind millions of travel lovers spellbound on their every visit. If you have kids, there is no need to pause the idea of visiting, as hiking here is the perfect way to spend quality time with your family by exploring the natural world.

After a couple of canceled trips due to overbooked hotels, we finally managed to book and arrived at Okhrust, CA on a drizzly Saturday evening. Since it was already late, we spent the rest of the day lazing around in the hotel. In search of some comfort food after a drive of around 4 hours, we chose to have chinese for dinner at a nearby restaurant.

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With a nice breakfast at the hotel, we started our Sunday morning at 10 for a 25 minutes drive to the National Park. Fortunately the weather went against the forecast and was quite sunny and bright. Just few miles before our destination, passing Fishing Camp, we saw the Sugar Pine Railroad. Curious to know we did a quick search in google and learnt that they provide steam train rides through the historic and scenic route of sierra mountains. The images reminded me of one of my favorite movie Polar express where a similar looking train takes the children up the mountains, through the tunnels to see Santa Claus. Excited to experience it live, we rushed to buy the tickets. However, we missed the train and decided to take the last one of the day while coming back and headed for Mariposa Grove.

Around 0.4 miles away from the parking, Mariposa Grove provides free parking for all. But since it was already full we took the Wawona Yosemite Shuttle from the entrance parking which comes every 20 minutes and was free.

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Mariposa Grove is blessed with the giant sequoia’s known to be 3,000 years old and are the largest living things in the world. They are older than the ones in Muir Woods and Redwoods near San Francisco and believed to be their nearest cousins. Quite stubborn and rigid they look determined to stay strong for many more years to come.

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Trailing through the woods, we took turns to take pictures with a bigger legend, The Fallen Monarch, a tree which fell down three hundred years ago. Massive and dead with its roots reaching up to 15 feet from ground level due to its capsized state, it was used as a shelter for inhabitants way back on 19th century. The kids were busy exploring the place with their walking sticks and were playing with the puddle from the previous day rain. We moved further and saw some wild deers which treated to be an eye candy.

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After a distance of 0.4 miles, we saw the largest tree in the area called Grizzly Giant. Standing like a king of all the giant sequoia’s, the tree is eldest among all of them. Despite it’s huge size it is 25th on the list of giant sequoias. From there, tired and hungry, we decided to take a turn back for the shuttle. IMG_3595

While we were hunting for some place for lunch on our way to Glacier Point, we saw the famous Wawona Hotel. As we were already late, the restaurant was closed. But we could grab some yummy sandwiches and cupcakes from the store. While getting to-go’s we overheard the manager saying that due to the heavy crowd, the glacier point would close in an hour. Heartbroken we checked for the next nearby point in the map provided at the entry. About 2-3 miles from Wawona Hotel there came a Forest Drive. We parked the car and walked through the unpaved road. Soon we heard the musical sound of water coming from the stream. After walking ½ a mile, we reached the spot with clear waters and a swinging bridge to cross the trail.

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We stayed there for some time and returned to our car to go to the Yosemite History Centre on the way back. Kids had some great fun seeing the horses and running around the place where there were collection of historic buildings. We also did a little shopping of souvenirs at the store and had some coffee. IMG_3786 Next day we decided to go the Glacier Point which was around 48 miles from our hotel. But unfortunately even that day the rush had not skimmed. The park rangers said, a minimum waiting time of 90 minutes was involved. Since we had to return back home, we decided to take the exit route. Soon after going for around 2 miles, we changed our minds and returned back and waited. Kids did a great job by being patient. IMG_3913Beautiful glitter’s of snow falling at the granite cliffs, with soothing sound of waterfalls and one iconic rock in between, standing proudly, the place gave us a panaromic view of Yosemite valley, Yosemite Falls and Half Dome. At any cost no great painting can beat this great nature’s work of art. Got some great captures for my collection to save for lifetime. IMG_3940IMG_3920IMG_3948  10988478_823228357724670_2361306850665306614_o We spent some one hour there and came back to Okhrust and decided to go back on the next day.

Overall Yosemite experience was quite enjoyable and adventure. The most impressive part was how well it was maintained and preserved which makes it accessible to all age groups. Glad that we managed to see so many places in short period of time. Our stay was also quite pleasant.

Things to Remember:

  1. Best time to go to Yosemite is in between June and October.
  2. An early booking of minimum 2 months of hotel rooms is must especially on long weekends. Even though the best place to stay is inside the park but there are other nearly places with good hotels.
  3. Please carry a GPS along as mobile phone signal might not be available all the time.
  4. Dress appropriately. Sun screen, hat, sunglasses, comfortable shirt and pants and covered shoes are recommended for the kids.
  5. Carry as much snack items as you can as you might have to skip a meal.
  6. Strollers are accessible to these places but you can avoid if your kids love to walk.

More more information please on tickets and operating hours please visit http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm