Monthly Archives: November 2015

How the Elf Creates Christmas Doubters

Tomorrow is December 1st.  The official day that the elf arrives from the North Pole.  I am all for Christmas spirit but things have gotten severely out of hand with the “Elf on the Shelf”.  Not only is it a major pain to be trying to figure out new places to move it to every night but it has made my kids completely question Santa all together.

If you have not heard of the elf on the shelf, consider yourself lucky and hope you never have to deal with it.  The idea of it was supposed to be simple.  The elf arrives from the North Pole and keeps an eye on you to report back to Santa whether you have been naughty or nice.  The elf moves around every night to get a new view.

After 2 years of hearing how lucky the other kids at school were, I caved and bought one.  Oh boy have I regretted it.  My kids love waking up in the morning and looking for it.  The initial twinkle in their eyes was priceless.  Overtime however, it has made them question the magic of Christmas.  Each parent handles their elves differently.  For most other Santa related activities, that is fine because the kids are on break and can’t compare notes.  Since the elf comes out while school is in, it becomes the water cooler talk at the playground.  I find myself lying to the kids the entire month of December.  If your kids are old enough (mine were 5 and 7 when we started) and have  a curious mind, these questions are sure to follow.

  • How come all these kids have an elf and we don’t?  – They came home from school everyday retelling the stories their friends told them.  There was a magical elf that appeared on their mantel, they had to look for it every morning.  They were so sad that an elf hadn’t come to visit them.  “Santa already knows that you have been very good and doesn’t need to send anyone to check in on you.”
  • If the elf comes from the North Pole, why is it sold in stores?  – As soon as you walk into many retailers, the elf is sitting there in a box waiting to be purchased.  My sister  told my kids that the elf isn’t bought at a store. “The elf spirit must come down from the North Pole into the elf overnight”.
  • How come Neil has 2 elves? –  If you are going to to bother with 2 elves, beware. “They must be extra naughty so Santa needed to keep 2 sets of eyes on them”.
  • How come the elf didn’t move last night?  When we did finally get one, remembering to move it once we were sure the kids were asleep was so difficult.  Because mommy was tired and forgot?  No.  “She must not have seen what she was looking for there and needed to stay an extra day”
  • How come the elf’s handwriting looks like yours?  The kids started writing letters to the elves since they heard that is what their friends do and the elves wrote back.  I tried to disguise it, I really did.   “I don’t know, must be a coincidence”
  • Jayden’s elf already came before Thanksgiving, how come ours isn’t back yet?  Seriously people, you want to do this for longer?  “Maybe our elf was visiting family for the holiday”
  • It’s past Christmas and I saw Maya’s elf still at her house.  Doesn’t it need to go back to the North Pole?  To their defense, most delinquent parent’s children are too young to know the difference.  But please if you are going to have older kids over, put the thing away!  “Maybe his travel arrangements were delayed”
  • Why is our elf in the back of your closet in June?  Shit.

Dads are from Mars, Moms are from Venus

We have all heard that Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus when it comes to relationships.  How about when it comes to parenting?

Getting a Haircut

Mom: I am going to schedule a hair appointment at 6, will you be able to watch the kids today?

Mom:  Where have you been? I was looking for you.

Dad:  I went to get a haircut.

Dinner Time

Kid:  Mom, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?

Mom:  We are about to have dinner, just wait a few minutes.

Kid:  Dad, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?

Dad:  Sure, eat a few of these donuts and you’ll be fine.

Time to Leave

Mom:  We need diapers, wipes, snacks, and a bottle.  Did you wash your face?  Where is your other shoe?


Dad: You guys ready?

Putting Kids to Sleep

Mom:  Come on kids, let’s get ready for bed.  Make sure you brush your teeth.  What book would you like to read?

Dad:  Go to sleep.

Weekend Getaway

Mom:  I need some time to myself.  The girls and I are planning a weekend in 6 months.  Will you be OK watching the kids by yourself?

Dad:  Sure, let me check if my parents are free.

Dad:  Hey I forgot to tell you, me and the boys planned a guys trip this weekend.  I’ll see you on Monday.

Did you already forget him?

A few short months ago on September 2nd the image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body on the beach went viral.  This was the first time I had really been made aware of the situation in Syria and the world was heartbroken.  I could barely hold back the tears.  When I looked at this picture, I saw a boy not much older than my own son, with the same dark brown hair, his tiny little shoes, and bright red shirt . I thought how lucky I am to be able to keep my own son safe.  His mom was not so lucky.

After the gruesome terrorist attacks on November 13  in Paris,  US Politicians are now wanting to refuse entrance to any Syrian refugees (even though they technically can’t). Included is the governor of my home state, Illinois.

While I am not into politics, I am into humanity.  Please don’t let terrorist accomplish it’s goal and perpetuate hate.  Judging the refugees is like saying Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber, or Charles Manson, or the KKK is representative of all Americans.  These are humans; men, women, and especially children who have done nothing wrong.  Remember that little boy on the beach and think about the families who are affected by these sentiments.

Images and captions from Buzzfeed’s article:  Where do Syrian Children Sleep from photographer Magnus Wennman.

Shehd, 7, on the Hungarian border Shehd loves to draw, but more recently all of her drawings have had the same theme: weapons. “She saw them all the time, they are everywhere,” explains her mother when the little girl sleeps on the ground alongside Hungary’s closed border. Now she does not draw at all. The family brought neither paper nor crayons with them on their flight. Shehd does not play anymore either. The escape has forced children to become adults and share concern for what happens in an hour or a day. The family has had difficulty finding food during their wandering. Some days they have had to make do with apples they were able to pick from trees along the road. If the family had known how hard the journey would be they would have chosen to risk their lives in Syria.
Ralia, 7, and Rahaf, 13, in Beirut, Lebanon Ralia, 7, and Rahaf, 13, live on the streets of Beirut. They are from Damascus, where a grenade killed their mother and brother. Along with their father they have been sleeping rough for a year. They huddle close together on their cardboard boxes. Rahaf says she is scared of “bad boys,” at which Ralia starts crying.
Walaa, 5, in Dar-El-Ias, Lebanon Walaa, 5, wants to go home. She had her own room in Aleppo, she tells us. There, she never used to cry at bedtime. Here, in the refugee camp, she cries every night. Resting her head on the pillow is horrible, she says, because nighttime is horrible. That was when the attacks happened. By day, Walaa’s mother often builds a little house out of pillows, to teach her that they are nothing to be afraid of.


Celebrating Diwali with Kids

Today is India’s biggest and brightest holiday, Diwali, the festival of lights.  Diwali is a 5 day holiday celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists.  The holiday represents the spiritual triumph of good over evil.  Historically, Diwali also represents the start of a new year.  There are several simple ways to celebrate with your family here in the states.

Teach – Why are we celebrating 

The story of Ram dates back many centuries ago (kid friendly video).

Lights – Light up the House 

Waiting for Ram’s arrival, houses in the city of Ayodhya were lit up to welcome him home.  Ever since, Indians have celebrated by lighting outside their homes or windows with diyas (clay lamps) and fireworks.

Alternative:   Grab some Christmas lights and hang them up.  Dig out any leftover sparklers you have from the 4th of July.

Decorate – Rangoli

People decorate their homes with design patterns called Rangoli using colored powders or sand.

Alternative:  Print out some rangoli designs and find some markers.

Visit – Celebrate with the ones you love

The various nights of festivities celebrate different kinds of relationships. The fourth day for example is dedicated to husbands and wives while the fifth day is devoted to the brother/sister bond.The best part of the holidays is being with the ones you love.  Visit family, share a meal, and exchange gifts.    IMG_8826Happy Diwali and a Happy New Year from my family to yours!

Opposite of Redshirting

In my town, there is a lot of conversation regarding holding kids back for Kindergarten. Specifically those who are born near the cutoff of September 1st and even well earlier in the summer.

Redshirting is the practice of postponing entrance into kindergarten of age-eligible children in order to allow extra time for socioemotional, intellectual, or physical growth. This occurs most frequently where children’s birthdays are so close to the cut-off dates that they are very likely to be among the youngest in their kindergarten class.

There are plenty of articles about the pros and cons of that practice.  I agree that children should be challenged.  If they are ready to learn, don’t let them stay stagnant or get bored.  Everything should not come easily as eventually things do get tougher and you should be ready to face challenge when you meet it.

Statistics on Children who are Held Back

The decision to hold their child back is a big one.  It is one that parents take very seriously since it will affect them for the rest of their academic years.  This decision is left up to the parents to make on their own and there is little interference from our school district.

My oldest daughter was born at the end of October.  For my daughter, the 56 days between September 1st and her birthday meant that even though she was ready for Kindergarten, she was refused admittance.  Our district does not have a Kindergarten readiness test, they only go by this magical date.  This decision was not left up to us, her parents, as it is for kids to be held back.  She was physically taller, academically advanced, and most important ready to learn, but they wouldn’t even discuss it.

Since she was ready for a full day’s worth of curriculum, our only choices was to put her in preschool for the 4th year or enroll her in a private school.  In preschool she would be required to rest for 2 hours according to state law (she hadn’t napped in almost 3 years).  We had to go with private school.  After excelling during her Kindergarten year, reading chapter books, telling time, we looked back to our local public school for 1st grade.  We moved to this neighborhood for the excellent school district and wanted to take advantage of it.  Only then did we discover that the Kindergarten we had enrolled her in, did not have the correct technical certification (it had the other) and after several phone calls, the public school said she must repeat Kindergarten.

We were at a loss.  Either another year of private tuition ($$$$) or have her learn her ABCs with the incoming Kindergarten class.  She was well beyond the required level of any incoming 1st grader.  I decided that I could not take no for an answer.  I scheduled an appointment with the local school principal, did not say why, and brought my daughter and all her supporting paperwork with me.  I asked him to meet my daughter, talk to her, look at what she can do.  Look at her as a person and not just a date.  With in minutes of her being there, he knew undoubtedly that she was ready for 1st grade.

After meeting with us, he then had to have it approved by the school board.  Since it had not been done in many years, he could not just let her in.  Then they returned with the decision that she had to be tested which she passed with flying colors.  Finally she could attend 1st grade. It was pretty clear with in weeks of school starting that we made the right decision since she had already surpassed most of the 1st grade curriculum as well.

I am happy to report that 3 years later, she is still doing excellent.  She received all Is (“Independent” – new common core standards) on her entire report card last year for each trimester.   She is at the top of her class.  She also has several close friends socially and is not concerned about being the youngest, in fact she is proud of it.

Perfect Report Cards from Both Girls

What I can’t understand is why I had to jump through so many hoops, with roadblocks at every turn, to have my daughter be looked at as an individual to be pushed ahead.   Parents who choose to hold back their children are allowed to do so without question and in this day even encouraged to hold their children back so they can be the “smartest and biggest” and in some cases it is done for all the wrong reasons. If they don’t hold their kids back, they are questioned about their choices.

Just remember that each child is different.  A date maybe a good indicator but not 100% reflective of their capabilities.  What is right for one child, might not be right for another.  Don’t let someone convince you that they know what is best for your child.  Finally, if you are convinced, don’t take no for an answer.

Young Entrepreneurs – Rani’s Treasures

My daughters have been begging me for years to let them sell something.  They enjoyed reading the book, The Lemonade War, and loved the idea of opening up their own stand.  We live on a tucked away cul-de-sac so waiting on foot traffic seemed pointless.  Then they learned how to make rainbow loom bands, along with 2 million other kids in America and wanted to sell that crap.  No thank you.  My kids have been so enthralled with starting their own business, that if I said no this time, it would just be crushing their spirit.

For my daughters 9th birthday party, each guest learned how to make a custom tote bag.  The girls enjoyed making the totes, they look phenomenal, and are extremely practical.  The girls finally found the right product.

First came picking a name.  Combining Avani and Aria gave us Avia and Arani.  Rani means princess in Hindi which seemed like a perfect fit and Rani’s Treasures was born.

Then the girls had to come up with their own ad and model the product.  Since they are too young to have social media accounts, I have been posting it for them.

Hi our names are Avani and Aria Bharadwa. Maybe you need something pretty to hold your stuff to dance, or swim, or anything else. You should check out Rani’s Treasures then. We are selling totes from November through December. They are also awesome gifts to give to your loved ones for Christmas. There are different colors and designs. The colors of the tote are different tones of purple. Thank you for reading, please tell us if you want one at

IMG_0050Guess what?  The girls got their first few orders.  Time to get to work.  The girls are quickly learning what it means to have their own business.  First step is buying their materials, including paying for supplies that we already have in house since this is a business after all.  The girls have been using all of their allowance money as their investment to get their business off the ground.


My younger daughter has not been too thrilled giving away the money and not getting anything back (yet).  My older daughter is learning the ups and downs of hoping business comes in, getting an order, and then all the work you have to do to actually come through!


Since I don’t want the girls to bite off more than they (or I since I am ultimately responsible for them) can chew, I told them they can only accept up to 10 orders.  Interested?


*Mom’s Notes – Rani’s Totes are made from 12.5 x 13.5 x 6 professionally manufactured canvas totes that my girls tastefully decorate.  Most notably reviewed as a great grocery bag or library bag and is durable enough to hold several books.  The girls are charging $20 per tote and $30 with initials.  Additional customization options are available.