Kanika Chadda Gupta

Parenting

Baby Proofing Must-Haves

 

Each milestone in your baby’s life comes with a host of changes you have to make to your own lifestyle. As newborns, they can only placed down on their backs, then explore the joys of tummy time, start rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking, and before you know, your little one is running around the house amuck, curiously exploring every corner and gadget he can find. We are in the thick of our twins toddler phase and took these precautionary measures to baby proof our home (without having to compromise our interior design and aesthetic!) 

Baby Gates

We use the Retract-a-Gate mesh, retractable gate for all our stairways. Firstly, these gates are the only ones that fit our broad main entrance steps. Secondly, they’re discreet and retract away when not in use. When they are locked in place, they’re fixed and taught so the kids can’t push their way through.

Child Safety Locks

We use Magnetic Child Safety Cabinet Locks which have hooks that you place inside your cabinet drawers and a magnetic opener which you hover over the hook to open it up. I bought small 3/8″ circle felt black stickers to use as indicators from Etsy. You can’t see them at first glance and they match my white and black kitchen.

Crib Rail Covers

For the first two years of their lives, kids have to grapple with teething and gnaw at everything in sight! My husband and I were shocked to find that our twins left teeth marks in the wood of their cribs and the paint had chipped off. Not only is the wood & paint toxic for the little ones to ingest, their beautiful cribs look worn out. I came across Trend Lab Waterproof Crib Rail Covers, which are perfect for covering the crib rails, protecting the kids teeth since the fabric is a soft felt/shearling, and they’re waterproof and easy to throw in the wash as needed.

Play Yard

One of the first things you want to buy when your toddlers are walking everywhere is a play yard. Throw their toys, games, and books in there so they can play in this confined space. We have this North States Play Yard at home. As a DIY project, I covered the play yard rails with felt/shearling fabric that I bought from JoAnn Fabrics and had my tailor sew in strings every 10 inches to tie around the rails. They get the job done and protect our little teethers much like the crib rail covers.

Play Mat

Lastly, invest in a good play mat for your kids. We have the Skip Hop Geo Grey/Cream Playmat, which matches our cream/grey decor. Your kids will tumble and wrestle and bang their toys on the floor, so the thick foam cushioning protects them (and your home!)

What baby proof items do you have at home that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comment section below! 

Family Beach Vacation (With Packing List!)

 

Since I’m due with baby #3 this summer, I know my family and I won’t get much of an opportunity to travel or go on vacation with our newborn. So, shortly after the Memorial Day weekend rush, my husband and I decided to take a long weekend trip to the beach in Long Branch, NJ (just 45 min. away from home!) with a bunch of our friends and their kids. This was the first time we took our 16-month-old twins to the beach and pool, and given how much they LOVE splishing and splashing at bath time, I knew they would love it.

 

We made a group decision and chose staying at a resort over a beach house. First off, there weren’t many viable options available since houses get booked up months in advance. Secondly, I knew I didn’t want to have to deal with the upkeep involved — making the beds, laundry, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen after meals. No thanks! I already do that enough at home and I wanted housekeeping and room service! We stayed at the Ocean Place Resort and Spa and had an amazing experience. The hotel staff were very friendly and provided us with everything we needed (1 pack & play, 1 crib, microwave). We ate our breakfast at the Seaview Restaurant in the main lobby and enjoyed our private entrance to the beach where we were given umbrellas, chairs, towels and were close to the boardwalk to be able to pick up snacks & drinks while we lounged. We also taught the older kids chess and let them play in the designated kids play room.

As for dining out, we explored the family friendly restaurants along the boardwalk. We took the kids own food along just incase (oatmeal, squeezable fruit) but mostly ordered items off the kids menu like grilled cheese & fries for them to eat. 

Here’s what we packed for our toddlers (and managed to fit in our sedan!)

Beach Vacation Toddler Packing List:
Clothes & Toiletries:

  • 6 outfits for 4 days
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • Headbands for my daughter
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of sandals
  • Toothbrushes
  • Tom’s baby toothpaste
  • comb/hairbrush
  • coconut oil (we use this instead of lotion) in a small tub
  • Eucerin baby body wash/shampoo we transferred into a small travel size bottle

Diaper Bag:

Sleeping:

  • Toddler Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Teddy Bear & Baby Doll

Beach/Pool:

Food:

  • Trader Joe’s unsweetened applesauce
  • Trader Joe’s string cheese
  • Earths’s Best Organic baby oatmeal
  • Plum Organics squeezable fruit
  • Frozen aloo parathas from our local Indian grocery store
  • Homemade kichdi (rice and yellow moong daal) in glass containers which are microwavable
  • Gallon of milk (lasts us 2 days)
  • Gallon of water

Toys:

  • Books
  • Mini Football, Basketball
  • Plush Toys
  • Android Tablet with Case

Misc:

We stuck to our nap and bedtime schedule for the most part (which was fine with me since I napped with the kiddos at the hotel in the afternoon!), but we also allowed ourselves to go with the flow, like enjoying evening strolls well after bed time and dancing at the hotel Tiki Bar! The most important thing is to have fun — family vacay memories will last a lifetime!

Our Twins 1st Birthday Bash

Ahh…the joys of party planning! In the age of Pinterest, Instagram, and Etsy, it seems parties, whatever the occasion (birthdays, bridal showers, bachelorettes), are on steroids. I knew what I was getting into when I decided to throw our twins a themed 1st birthday, and now that it’s all said and done, I have to admit it was well worth it. We have memories and beautiful photos to last a lifetime and most importantly our friends and family from far and wide got to celebrate the little ones who have made us a family.

Our theme for our boy-girl twins was Ties & Tutus. (So cute, right?) I created a Google doc of all the logistics and am sharing all the vendors we used for their special day.

Invitation
If you haven’t heard of Fiverr, your world is about to change. Fiverr is a marketplace of graphic designers, video editors, and other creative professionals you can hire based on their portfolios and reviews. I wanted my twins birthday invite to look like a chalkboard with pops of baby pink and blue and came up with a concept that my designer Sachi executed to a T. She specializes in kids invitations which is big plus.
Graphic Designer: diplomadon

Venue
Since we were expecting 75+ guests, my husband and I decided it would be best to have the kids’ party at a venue which allowed for catering rather than hosting at home. Big win! I just googled “clubhouse New Jersey” and happened upon a place called The Clubhouse in Montclair, NJ. It was perfect. I love the industrial interiors, which appealed to the adults. Someday, we’d like to go there for a get-together with friends and actually make use of the pool table, darts, and the private theatre upstairs. The event manager was extremely helpful throughout the booking process (you have to register for insurance and sign a contract to reserve your date) and the staff member who helped us on-site the day of was excellent.
The Clubhouse, Montclair, NJ

Catering
Our cuisine of choice was Mediterranean – it’s healthy, flavorful, and has plenty of options for non-vegetarians and vegetarians alike. Once we reserved our venue, I was on a hunt to find a restaurant nearby and came across Mediterranea. My family and I reserved a tasting session with the chef a few weeks prior to select our menu. We decided on the following:

  • Greek Salad
  • Falafel with Tatziki Sauce
  • Cheese & Spinach Borak (phyllo rolls)
  • Hummus and Pita Bread
  • Chicken Shawarma
  • Mussakah (sauteed eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes)
  • Rice Pulao

For the kids, we ordered a few large pies of pizza. 
Mediterranea, Villa Victoria Pizzeria

Entertainment
Since we had a winter birthday party, our entertainment was confined to indoors. We wanted to cater to our kids who were 1-year-old up to kids who were 5. I was referred to a company called Parties for Peanuts which has characters (Elsa, Paw Patrol, Elmo, you name it!) who do circle time music, balloon making, the parachute game, and face-painting. We chose Daniel Tiger, my kids’ favorite and ours too since my hubby and I grew up watching Mr. Rogers. He was a hit!
Parties for Peanuts

Cake
We had two separate cakes rather than a 2-tier that way each kid got to cut their own cake and have “Happy Birthday” sung to them. Krish’s cake was a butter cream and fondant chocolate cake with vanilla icing. Suhana’s cake had rosettes made of butter cream; it was a yellow cake with raspberry and white chocolate ganache filling. We ordered custom tutu and bow-tie sugar cookies that were a nice touch on the desserts table. Everything was delicious!
Pink Petals Cakes

Photographer
I can’t say enough about our photographer, Melissa of Little Spoon Events. Not only does she take stunning photos and specializes in kids photo shoots and events, she was my right hand woman throughout the party and helped my vision come true. She had props for our dessert table, crafted poufs for our backdrops, had photo stands, our handmade cake toppers, the works! We’ve done several photo shoots with her including a holiday family shoot, the kids 1st portraits, and of course their big 1st birthday. We couldn’t be happier with the fun moments she’s captured for us.
Little Spoon Events

Decor
Decorating was the lion share of the planning, but it was only possible because of the amazing women who are so talented and crafty to bring my vision life! Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

Misc.
For all the extraneous items, my go-to shopping destinations were Amazon, Walmart and Michaels, Home Goods, and Trader Joe’s.

  • Amazon: Gold-trimmed plastic plates, Gold-trimmed plastic bowls, Gold plastic utensilsGoody Bags, Gold curling ribbon, Apothecary jar set
  • Walmart: Hershey kisses (2 lb. bags in pink, silver, and navy blue), 9 oz. clear Solo cups, 2 oz. clear Solo shot glasses, Sheer white curtain panels, White & black table cloths, Burners for buffet trays, Gold balloons, Pearl balloons
  • Michaels: Cookie packets, Jute twine string, Vase for Photo Booth props
  • Home Goods: White dessert trays, Cake stands, Ice buckets, Water Pitchers, Silver frames for printed signs
  • Trader Joe’s: Sparkling Lemonade & Pink Lemonade

Printed Signs
I designed the printed signs using Canva, an online portal for designing graphics, posters, and signs. We had signs that read Milk Shots, Photo Booth, Lunch is Served, and Sweets & Treats. Download the Photo Booth Printable I made for your upcoming event!

Enjoy birthday planning — these milestones go by in a flash! :)

My First Mother’s Day

Dear Krish and Suhana,

It’s because of you, I’m a mother. Unlike the other facets in my life from my career to how I maintain our household, I thought I could plan exactly when I wanted to take on this role, but the universe had different plans and you took us by surprise. These three months have been the most fulfilling in all our lives. You have given us newfound purpose and the will to keep striving, the intention to be kind human beings, and hope for a brighter future. 

I still remember the day I surprised your Papa with the news that I was pregnant. It was our 3-year wedding anniversary and we were on our way to Cape May, New Jersey. I kept this big secret the entire 3.5-hour car ride. When we got to the lovely bed and breakfast on the beach, I surprised him with a card and a small box. I told him to turn on his phone and record the moment. This wasn’t unusual since we recorded the moment he proposed to me too. When he opened the box, he found a ring of plastic baby keys. You see, Papa keeps many spare keys at home just in case we have house guests and he gives them a pair so they can truly feel at home. In my card I wrote, “Don’t worry. I already made spare keys for our new addition.” He was ecstatic. We hugged and cried and basked in what was to come.

Ten weeks later, we went to our first ultrasound appointment. The technician wanted to make sure there was a steady heartbeat. “Sounds good.” She said. “Um, wait a minute, I hear something else. There are two heartbeats. You’re having twins!” She brought in our doctor to take a second look and lo and behold, she was right. We stared at each other in the dark room in total shock. I can still hear the cadence of the heartbeats in my head. We’re going to be a family of four! A few weeks after that, we found out that we were having a boy and a girl. “We EACH get a clone??!” We were so excited.

I took my pregnancy in stride. I didn’t complain once. I wanted you both so badly and wanted to be strong from the get go. We kept the fact that we were expecting twins our little secret. Part of me wanted to protect you against the evil eye of others and another part was just nervous as hell at how things would pan out. On the day of your delivery, I was alone at home. At 3:00 am, my water broke. Papa was on the west coast in Seattle for work. We thought we had at least a month to go so agreed it wasn’t a big deal if he traveled, especially since he doesn’t travel often to begin with. I called him in a sweat. “Jaan, my water just broke.” He couldn’t believe it, “You’re kidding!” and then quickly got into problem-solving mode. “Ok. Now what?” I said we should call the on-call doctor, then Dada & Dadi to take me to the hospital, and then Nana & Nani so they could drive from Maryland to New Jersey. Everything progressed like clockwork. It was a rainy night in January, which reminded me of Lord Krishna’s birth and how his father Vasudeva waded through the river during a torrential storm to leave him with his dear friends Nanda and Yashoda in Gokul. He and his wife Devaki made the ultimate sacrifice for their son. That is why we named you Krish. Suhana, we came up with your name because it’s similar to your dad’s – Sunil. Anyway, I digress. Dada and Dadi drove me the hospital, I walked right up to the maternity floor and when the doctor did a sonogram, she said I was contracting. I couldn’t feel a thing. She said, “We have to operate on you within an hour. Baby A is head down, Baby B is breached. We’ll be doing a C-section.” Monu masi was by my side by then and said she would scrub in. I was rolled into the OR, had an epidural (which was the most painful thing ever!), and soon after felt calm since I was numb from the waist down. The nurse asked me what I wanted to hear on Spotify and I told her to play Jagjit Singh bhajans. “J-A-G-J-I-T…” I spelled it out for her. Another nurse said we could do a video chat with Papa, so Monu opened up Google Hangouts and called him. She panned the phone so he could see the 2 doctors and 10 nurses hovering over me, the curtain that demarcated the surgery, and my smiling face (in my silly hospital gown and blue cap). I was feeling drained from the series of events and asked the doctor, “Will I be able to sleep?” She responded, “It’s going to go by fairly quickly sweetie.” As the song, “Hey Govinda, Hey Gopala” resonated the room, we immediately heard crying. Krish, you were out at 7:24 am. Two minutes later, we heard Suhana’s cries. That was it. Monu Masi squeezed my hand and we both welled up with tears. All of our lives were forever changed.

Your Papa took the first flight out and got to the hospital around 6:00 pm that day. He was in awe when he saw you both. When I held you skin to skin, you two held hands on my chest and ever so slightly moved your tiny fingers. It was the most beautiful sight. Thankfully your Papa and I have photographic memories; We can recall every instant since your birth. We are so thrilled to be your parents and feel humbled that we get a chance to learn and grow with you day by day.

Happy 1st Mothers Day to you, my sweet children.

Love always,

Mummy 

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