(This article was first posted in the Parent column of Austin South Asian newsletter)
My daughter told me the other day, ‘Our teacher said after 22 days, we will go to a new class.’ She was very excited about it. For me, it was a like a message that now I have only 22 days to think for options to keep her occupied during summer break.
When you ask any mom (parent) if she is excited and happy that school year is almost over. She seems in a dilemma-hmm..yes..I am happy that now I don’t have to wake up too early or I do not have to run after my kid because clock runs too fast. But..?? Yes the big ‘B’ question. Every year whenever we are close to year end, it leads to the question of how to fill the days with fun things! Summer break for 3 months is definitely a long time.
It’s hard to give a concrete solution or a summer break agenda. I guess we all do trials while counting days… jokes apart. But we do look for (not some) various options to keep our kids occupied. Even with summer camps and hobby classes, there is lot of extra time left. So here is something from my options palette:
Maintain a holiday routine: This doesn’t mean that you have to set up a proper school type routine. But do try to set a study time out of their daily schedule.
Teach them any new language: Take this time as a wonderful opportunity to teach them your language (if you have any). 3 months time is more than enough to encash this opportunity. At my place we try to practice Hindi and our mother tongue (reading and writing) more during my daughter’s break.
Instead of looking at summer as “time off” from learning, approach summer as a time for fun hands-on, experiential activities and projects that may not be possible during school year.
Take that craft and scrapbook box out: Make greeting cards (for holidays, family).
Time in the kitchen: Cooking together unfolds lot of new and unknown concepts. Sometimes Math and Science concepts or sometimes knowing other cultures. For young kids (or almost ready for school) introduce numbers and objects through cooking activity. You can also plan play dates. Children develop important social skills by spending time together. I remember my daughter once had a play date and we baked cookies. She and her friend were so happy eating their self-baked cookies. Check out the Ice Cream recipe written in the end of the post. I came across this recipe on Food.com. My daughter made this kind of an Ice Cream at her pre-school and she had fun eating it directly from the Ziploc bag.
Read together: Set aside a time each day for family reading time. So this summer, set a target of at least 20 books. Give you child something as a token for achieving the target. You can also sign up for summer reading programs. This is a wonderful opportunity for preschoolers and pre-kindergartener to dig into reading.
Last but not the least,
Spend quality time together: Time flies. Do not overload you kid with too many classes. I would say a combination of classes along with home activities can make these 3 months a good experience. Summer break should be a time for some downtime and family fun, so remember to keep things low-key, simple, and relaxing!
Home made Ice Cream:
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 sandwich ziploc bag
2 gallons ziploc bag
6 cups crushed ice
2/3 cup rock salt
Put first 3 ingredients in the smaller Ziplock bag and seal bag (Make sure it is tightly closed!). Put ice and rock salt in the larger bag and then add the filled small bag. Seal the large bag.
Squeeze bag until ice cream is thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove small bag, unseal, and eat with spoon.
(This article was first posted in the Parent column of Austin South Asian newsletter)
As I mentioned yesterday, here is my first post of the new section ‘Mom with her story’. I got this wonderful chance to talk to Dr.Sripriya Santhanam,Oncologist & Physician.
I met Dr.Sripriya Santhanam two years ago at a non-profit group. But I got to know her more during one of the events organized by this group. Dr.Santhanam was one of the speakers and I was the event planner. She is a wonderful person with a very kind heart and deep thinking. When I thought of interviewing someone from medical field for this new section, she was my first preference. And luckily, she agreed to be featured.
Getting To Know Her: I am born and raised in Delhi,India and a mom to three boys. After receiving my MBBS in India, I moved to the US in 1999 and pursued further studies. I am Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hematology and Medical Oncology. In clinical practice for 7 years.
Mothers Gurukul: Dr.Sripriya, you are a wife, a mom and a doctor; three very different and challenging roles. There might be some stressful days at work. How do you maintain a balance among the three? How do you manage to step out of the doctor role and enter the mommy role?
Dr. Sripriya: Yes, you are right. I have to play three very different roles at the same time. I would say the role change occurs during the commute time. For example, while going to work, my focus is on my patients at my clinic and at the hospital and I plan my work day accordingly. On my way back home, I start to think about my household chores, kids’ activities, their homework etc. I have to take some time to re-organize myself. I try not to take work home. It’s also not easy to completely forget my work day where I see extremely sick and dying patients. Sometimes the misery and sadness of the day’s work clings on and makes it very hard to adapt into my role change as a wife and mother but I, like most other women, have to wear many hats and slowly and steadily, get used to it as being part of life.
MG: Wow!! It is indeed not an easy task.
When it comes to culture, or practicing family traditions how do you look towards it being an immigrant parent? Do you think it’s a challenge?
Dr. Sripriya: Yes, it is a challenge. It is not an easy process. Growing in India, it’s a part of everyday routine. You don’t have to do anything extra to stay connected to your roots. But here, every single thing, every single action is being questioned none other than by your own kids. And you have to give satisfactory answers. I am not too much into religious practices but I am deeply bound to my culture. I try my best to inculcate it to some level not very ritualistic level. Temple, organizations like Chinmay Mission, Bal-Vikas, Balagokulam, HSS are helpful in this process. But again challenge is to get the kids to go there. Sometimes putting that practice in your schedule is not that easy. When kids are young they do what you say but later they want to know why they do certain things that their friends don’t? And that is very natural. I prefer not to force them but tell them the importance of knowing our culture. I tell them that there is so much to imbibe. Our culture is very open and has lot to learn from. Knowing more about your culture will make you more diverse, it will not make you look different. And it gives you identity. And I am sure, as they grow; with maturity they will realize the importance of that identity and the strength and uniqueness it gives each individual.
MG: Wonderful thoughts.
So, in this process do you invite your kid’s friends or you friends and celebrate Indian festivals?
Dr. Sripriya: Yes we do celebrate festivals with our friends. It creates lot of enjoyment and excitement for the kids. I want them to associate festivals with lot of positive memories that they get through these gatherings. Today, luckily most of the non-Indian friends are well aware of Indian festivals, especially Diwali. They enjoy being a part of our celebration. It definitely has a positive impact on our children to see them enjoying. Similarly, we celebrate Holi with our friends. We read Mythological stories at home like Amar Chitrakatha. Also, at school kids have to showcase their culture at many school events. During these events, I try to make these a family project so we can all learn together.
MG: Great!! Now moving towards your professional life. Why did you choose medical profession? Can you tell us something about your specialization?
Dr. Sripriya: Sure. My mother is a doctor. I grew up seeing her in that role, performing her duties with utmost dedication and regard for her profession. Coming from a middle class Indian family, we were expected to start thinking about our career paths as early as middle school and the options were limited to engineering, medicine and law. To be honest I could not foresee myself as an engineer or a lawyer. And I loved Biology so I had not a doubt in my mind about my future. After my MBBS, I trained as a Junior Resident in Radiology and then started my post-graduation in Pediatrics, then got married, came to USA. In the US, I decide to change paths and pursue adult medicine instead and hence chose Internal Medicine as my residency. As a resident, I was attracted to Gastroenterology as a sub-specialty but during my Oncology rotation had the chance to work with an extremely inspiring professor who was my mentor. That interaction and experience with her was a turning point in my career path. She was a very kind and empathetic lady, and a very smart physician. I could see the difference she made in her patient’s lives. In this field, the connection with the patient is at many different levels. So I made up my mind to pursue Hematology/Oncology and completed my fellowship and have been in practice ever since.
MG: That was wonderful and very touchy. So will it be appropriate to see it as another area of social service in terms of medical?
Dr. Sripriya: Well it is a service like other medical services. The difference is that I have to deal with terminal illnesses and delivering bad news is never easy. What is harder is seeing the family suffer just as much as the patient as they prepare to accept the loss of their loved one. But then there are the times when we are able to cure them and that feeling is one I cannot describe well enough in words, especially when it’s a young patient. It’s like giving a new lease of life and there is nothing more rewarding than that feeling of gratitude that I receive from the patients.
MG: Dr.Sripriya, you have been in this field from many years. If you could do anything differently, what would you change about it?
Dr. Sripriya: Yes, there are several things I would like to change. First is Affordability. Cancer care costs are exorbitant and simply beyond the poor man’s reach. In developing countries, thousands of people loose their lives to cancer daily because they simply cannot afford any of these inflated costs. Cost wise it is so expensive that not everyone can afford it. The second concern I have is the lack of general awareness and access to cancer care. I wish more education and resources are channeled into making people aware of prevention, screening techniques and early access to care.
MG: What is the most rewarding and challenging part of this job?
Dr. Sripriya: The rewarding moments are definitely the ones when I am able to convey good news of remission or cure. I see patient from many different walks of life, from different ethnic, work, financial and cultural backgrounds and as I try to help and treat them, I grow and evolve in many ways as well. Every day, hundreds of newer treatments to fight cancer are being discovered and I am grateful for being able to be part of the process as an instrument in delivering some of these treatments to the cancer victims. The hard moments are when I see my patients slipping away as their disease progresses. It’s also very hard to see some young patients who have potentially curable disease not wanting to accept any medical treatment. Many times they are in absolute denial. It is also sometimes challenging to deal with family members when they may have different or unrealistic expectations.
MG: Lastly, what tips you would like to recommend to all those who are reading this blog?
Dr. Sripriya: I would like to request all men and women reading this blog to be more aware about screening and preventive measures for cancer. Being a Yoga therapist and Reiki master, I am a strong proponent of holistic healing and advocate that prevention is always better than cure. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat right and exercise. Incorporate healthy habits in children. Take some time out to relax your body and mind with meditation and yoga.
MG: Those were definitely very useful tips. And thank you so much Dr. Sripriya for taking time and sharing with us your story as a mom and as a doctor. We wish you all the success in your life.
That was Dr. Sripriya Santhanam with her story as a mom, a wife and a doctor. Very soon I will feature another mom with her story.
Motherhood is a beautiful journey, not a competition. Every motherhood is perfect in its own way. There is no written manual on that.
We all know that every mother plays different roles in her child’s life – she is a friend, a teacher, and sometimes a doctor too. But apart from this she also has her own different world, where her dreams, aspirations, desire resides. She tries to balance her career and family life to her very best possible extent. Whenever she gets into any of these roles, need not to say, she gives her 101%. It’s not that easy as it sounds. Whether it be working moms or stay at home moms (I like using the term home maker instead), or working from home moms, this role and responsibility of just being a mother itself is equally challenging.
So, on this special day, I welcome you to this new section “Mom with her story”. With this, I am reaching out to other moms who have embraced these roles with all its challenges and glory and at the same time handling their own dreams with the same dedication. As a part of this, I plan to meet moms and talk to them about their career, their life as a mom, as a wife. My first experience was awesome and I am excited to share my experience with you through this section.
“A Mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” – Tenneva Jordan
Are you among those who get I Love You Mom cards from your kiddo almost every other day or when they are in a time out and they want to do buttering.. :-)? Yesterday, my daughter was writing a poem for her teacher. She wanted to do it in a poster form. So, I gave her a stencil. Once she was done with the poster, she said – ‘don’t look here Aai, I am making something for you’. Later, I saw (believe me I didn’t peek..okay..:) I was just passing by the table so I saw..okay. So, she wrote ‘Moms are the best. Moms love Kids. I love my mom a lot whom I call Aai. She is the best.’
If your kid goes to school then you all know that they do something for Mother’s Day. Sometimes they come home with a cute card, or some craft. Last year when my daughter was in pre-kindergarten, they had to write about their mom like how old is she, her favorite food, her favorite activity etc. One kid wrote My mom is 100 years old, other one wrote My mom is 11 years old….:). No matter what they write, you know and they know what you mean for them. What place you hold in their lives.
Teacher’s Appreciation week is almost over, and now Mother’s Day is around the corner!! Sometimes, if your kiddo is very small then obviously he/she won’t be able to feed you with some scrumptious lunch. One thing you will get for sure that is even more special than any breakfast or lunch..a BIG HUG!! It won’t be a bad idea to thank your little ones by making something of their choice. I know, its Mother’s Day; its your day so you want to be pampered..right? But your kid has given you this chance to celebrate this day..isn’t?
I am sharing few of the treats for Mother’s Day from Mothers’s Rasoi. You can check out the recipes in Mother’s Rasoi section. I will keep adding to the list with new recipes.
Karanji is a Maharshtrian dessert prepared during festival season mostly during Diwali. Karanji is the Marathi word of Gujia. It is filled with Khoya or Coconut. I made the filling with coconut.
Desiccated coconut- 1 cup
Sugar- 1 cup
Sooji/ Semolina- 1 tablespoon
Cardamom powder- ¼ teaspoon
Chironji- optional (chironji is a tiny almond-flavored dried seeds of a bush called Buchanania lanzan)
Milk- ½ cup (approx.)
For outer covering:
All-purpose flour/Maida- 1 cup
Sooji/Semoline- 2 teaspoon
Oil for dough and for frying
How to get the shell shape: Karanji mold/karanji cutter or use a fork.
To prepare the crust:
Mix together maida and sooji. To it add oil enough to coat the dry mixture. Mix it well. Now knead it into a soft dough using water. Be careful while adding water. Cover it with wet cloth and set it aside for at least ½ hour.
To make the filling:
Dry roast the coconut and sooji separately. Once it cools down, add sugar. To it add cardamom powder, raisins, chironji. I don’t like when your inner filling starts coming out with every bite. So, I add milk to it slowly. Once you see the mixture is starting to get wet (not sticky), stop adding milk.
Preparation of Karanji/Gujia:
Before start making Karanji, first once again knead the dough for added softness. Divide it into balls and again cover it with wet cloth.
Roll the ball into a small circular poori. Rub the mold with edges with few drops of milk. Place this rolled circle on to the mold. Put little bit of coconut mixture on the first half. Fold it over the second half. Trim off the excess dough. Repeat the same process for rest of the balls. Do not forget to cover the prepared karanji with wet cloth.
If you do not have the mold, then after rolling the ball, place the rolled circle into your palm or on your rolling surface and follow the same steps till the folding part. Now with the form, mark the edges. It will give the same impression same like the mold.
Fry the prepared karanjis in hot oil on medium heat, turning them continuously till they turn to a golden brown color.