Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How to help your kids get over Jet Lag

Guest Post by Sarah Westgreen from Tuck Sleep

Jet lag is bad enough for adults traveling without children, but if you throw kids (who are also suffering from jet lag) into the mix, things can get rough. As in, kids waking up for the day at 3 a.m. local time the day after an 18 hour flight rough.
Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet for jet lag. The fact is you'll just have to slowly trudge through it, adjusting your family's sleep time by about an hour each night. However, there are some tricks that can take the edge off and help kids get adjusted with minimal fuss.

Why Jet Lag Wrecks Kids' Sleep
Jet lag occurs when you travel rapidly across time zones. It causes a misalignment between the body's circadian rhythms and what you're experiencing in the environment, such as morning sunshine when your body expects it to still be dark.
When adults or children experience jet lag, it can cause fatigue, daytime sleepiness, poor mood, impaired performance, and insomnia. That means not only are your kids tired and cranky, you're probably tired and cranky, too -- and not in your best shape to get through tough moments with your kids. And of course, it can be especially difficult to deal with kids experiencing jet lag when you're traveling and out of your familiar home environment.
How You Can Avoid Jet Lag
Some families decide jet lag just isn't worth it. There are two options if you make that decision: you can avoid traveling out of your time zone or you can avoid adjusting your family's sleep schedule to local time.
If you avoid traveling out of your time zone, you'll be pretty limited in your destinations. You won't be traveling very far and may miss out on exciting destinations a time zone (or a few) away.
If you decide not to adjust your family's sleep schedule while traveling, you'll simply keep your children on the same sleep/wake/eat schedule as if you were still at home. This can simplify dealing with jet lag, especially if you're spending less than a week at your destination.
However, sticking to your home sleep schedule while traveling is not always possible. For instance, when you're traveling multiple time zones and your internal clock is more than an hour or two off of local time, you may be sending your kids to bed around the time everyone else is eating lunch. Or you may wake up so late that you miss out on half of a local attraction's admission hours. And of course, you may pick up on time cues (sunshine in particular) that will cause jet lag as you adjust to local time whether you're trying to do so or not.

How to Help Kids Overcome Jet Lag
The gentlest way to help kids to get over jet lag is to gradually adjust their bedtime each day. Every day, push their bedtime one to two hours closer to local time until you're aligned with the sleep schedule for the local time zone. Of course, there are some tricks that can make the transition easier.
  • Adjust sleep times at home before vacation: Before you leave for your destination, start pushing bedtimes in the direction of the bedtime you'll need when you get to the new time zone. Move their bedtime 15 to 20 minutes each night for a week or two prior to your trip so that they'll be used to getting to sleep at the same time as your destination.
  • Plan on losing a day: Adjust your expectations when you're traveling over time zones with children. If you're traveling on an adults-only trip, you might be able to get away with toughing it out until you recover from jet lag. But with kids, jet lag means you may be facing meltdowns and serious fatigue if you try to push through it. Don't count on doing much, if anything, your first day or two at your destination while your family gets adjusted.
  • Give kids activities and exercise: While you may keep things low key on the first day, you should still get out and be active. While flying, you should let kids stretch their legs on the plane. Walk in the airport if you get a chance as well.
  • Watch naps carefully: Naps can and should be used to help children adjust to local time, especially if kids are obviously tired. However, it's important that you don't let them sleep too long if it's not yet nighttime at your local destination. Don't let small children sleep longer than their usual nap time. Older kids shouldn't sleep more than 20 minutes or so. A nap should be refreshing, but not a full night's sleep. Sleep too long, and they'll have a hard time getting to bed at night.
  • Keep kids awake until bedtime: If you're traveling to a destination where the local time is later than your time zone at home, plan on occupying children until it's time to go to sleep. Plan activities that will keep them awake and engaged for the extra hours so that they don't accidentally fall asleep before they should. If they go to bed too early for the local time at your destination, you may be facing some early wake times.
  • Pay attention to light exposure: Daylight is one of the strongest sleep cues, telling your body when it's daytime (and time to be awake). If your child is already struggling with jet lag, don't make it worse with poorly timed light exposure. Be careful with lights at the hotel, keeping the room dark at night and light in the daytime. Keep in mind that even a brief exposure to bright light, for example, a hotel bathroom, can make it difficult to get back to sleep. Pack a dim nightlight to use instead. In the morning, open the hotel windows so that lots of sunshine can come in. Do your best to get your family outside and in the sun in the early morning so you'll be more alert according to the local time.
  • Maintain good sleep hygiene: Make sure that your family's sleep quality is the best it can be by practicing good sleep hygiene. Avoid heavy meals and caffeine before bed. Do not allow screen time within an hour or two of bedtime. Keep the room cool, quiet, and dark, and be sure that children are sleeping in a mattress that's appropriate for their needs.
While jet lag can be tough on anyone, children are typically resilient and bounce back from jet lag easily. Although crankiness and unusual sleep/wake times can be draining for parents, kids often get through jet lag quicker and with less trouble than adults. Be prepared, practice good sleep hygiene, and give your family time to rest as you work through jet lag at your destination.

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck Sleep. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.​

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

5 Foods You Can Make At-home That the Kiddos Will Love

This is a guest post by Joe from Village Bakery
My ideal foods are normally healthy - greens, salads, lots of baked chicken – you get the idea. And, my Saturday morning often consists of runs to the farmer's market to pick up locally-grown goodies.
Kids don't seem to like my zest for good-for-you foods.
I've learned how to cook veggies kids will eat, but they always want the store bought foods filled with sugars and preservatives. I'm going to discuss 5 foods (and trust me, there are plenty of others) that you can make somewhat healthy at-home.

1. Zucchini Pasta

I grew up in a household that ran on pasta. We ate everything from spaghetti to ziti and anything you can think of as long as pasta was included. But, carbs aren't the best thing to overload kids with all of the time.
A compromise that I've recently learned to love is making zucchini pasta.
Zucchini pasta doesn’t taste 100% the same, but it's also healthier and has far fewer calories, which is a major health bonus.
What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
Peel your zucchini and cut lengthwise. Use your vegetable peeler to make the cuts and stop when you reach the seeds. Continue until the zucchini is peeled thoroughly, and cut the strips into thin, spaghetti-like strips.
In a skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat and stir the zucchini into the mix. After a minute or two, add in your water and cook until soft (5 – 8 minutes). Season, add spaghetti sauce if you like, and serve.

2. Turkey Meatballs

My family is from Italy, so we love our Italian food. Meatballs are another great treat, but the traditional ground beef meatballs have a higher calorie count than their turkey counterparts.
And there's also the benefit of homemade meatballs being tons healthier than store-bought.
FatSecret says turkey meatballs have 42 calories, while beef meatballs have 57 calories – a big difference.
What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
You'll want to finely chop the onions and chop the parsley up, too. What you'll do next is place all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Form little meatballs and place on a lightly oiled nonstick pan. Cook for 5 – 6 minutes at 350 degrees.
Check the meatballs and cook until the outside is nicely browned.

3. Homemade Bread

I'm a fan of bread (who isn't?). While not the best to eat day and night, there are times when bread hits the spot. I recommend investing in breadmakers if you'll make bread often because it takes a toll on the arms, and cooking it just right is half luck and half science.
Let's get started:
What You'll Need
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. yeast
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. butter
Your butter needs to be melted, so place it into the microwave for a few seconds. Set the butter aside for now. Now, you'll want to mix all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, add in 2 cups of water and the honey.
Mix very well for a minute or two, gradually adding in the additional water.
Knead for 8 – 10 minutes by hand (a mixer helps a lot here), cover and then let rise for an hour.
Place your palm in the middle of the dough to make a crease, break into two loaves, and knead and shape the dough until you have two loaf shapes. You'll need to tuck the ends thoroughly.
Grease a bread pan, place the dough in it, cover, and allow to rise again. Bake at 375F for 20 – 25 minutes, remove, and brush with the butter before baking for an additional 10 minutes or until done.
This isn't coconut ice cream on bread, but it's equally as delicious.

4. Homemade Nutella

Nutella is sinfully delicious, but it has a place on everyone's must-try list. This delicious chocolate hazelnut spread can be made right in your own home, and it's a lot of fun for kids to help, too. If you're clamoring with excitement right now, so am I - I love nutella.
What You'll Need
  • 1 cup of hazelnuts
  • 16 ounces chopped milk chocolate
  • 3 tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
You'll need to set your oven to 350F, spread the hazelnuts across a baking sheet and roast them for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned. The skin should be blistered, so place in a towel and rub until the exterior of the skin comes off.
Allow to cool and melt chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until you have a paste consistency. Place all ingredients except for the chocolate into the processor. Process some more until the mixture is smooth before adding chocolate and blending well.
Place in a jar, and eat the night away.

5. Salad Dressings
I eat bunches of kale, tomatoes, cheese and whatever else I feel like putting into a healthy salad. A real treat for my tastebuds, salads are a great, healthy food to eat in most cases. The biggest threat to my salad is the dressing.
I love the store-bought dressings, but they're filled with so many preservatives that I question what I'm really eating.
What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Since there is no cooking involved, this is super simple: add all ingredients into a jar and mix together. Add in pepper and salt to taste. Boom, you're done. This is a classic vinaigrette, but it's healthy and not filled with a bunch of preservatives.

So, what foods are you starting to cook at-home that you used to buy in the store?

Joe Hughes
Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website, http://www.village-bakery.com, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at Joe@Village-Bakery.com.

*This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oh my, what kind of Spanglish is this?

My good Friend Annabelle organized a month long series on her blog The PiriPiri Lexicon called "A-Z, Raising Multilingual Children". I chose the letter O because it's one of my favorite letters and I bring you my post called "Oh my, what kind of Spanglish is this?"


My kids and I speak Spanglish, with some other words mixed in that we have picked up along the way in Asia. I call our language Asian Spanglish. My youngest one prefers English over Spanish and I'm pretty sure that's because the only people that speak Spanish to her are her dad and me. When she is with her brother they switch back and forth endlessly usually speaking a good ole Spanglish mix with some Thai words and even Indonesian words thrown in for good measure.

There are lots of instances I remember when they mix the words from both languages and sometimes change them to suit the verb tense. I am always reminded of one time when my first daughter was a tiny baby and we were living with a British family in the Peruvian Andes. We were having lunch at their long kitchen table and someone came to call for the mum. She answered matter of factly; "Tell them we are almorzaring and to come back later".

That little sentence struck me as the reality of the way her kids were living, speaking Andean Spanglish; which is quite different to my kids Asian Spanglish. Her kids grew up with a mix of British and Australian English and Andean Spanish mixed with Quechua. Her kids have amazing accents when they speak Spanish! My kids, specially the little one speaks a kind of English that I can't fully place, it's so neutral and mixed at the same time.

The way she says "mommy" at the end of a sentence for example is extremely British sounding, but when she's just waking up she calls "mamaaaa" in a more Latino tone. My son's English has a distinctive South American twang which I love hearing. He is so good at switching back and forth.

Just now coming back home from the Supermarket my daughter said "You won the ascensor maawwwmieee" because I arrived at the elevator first. When the kids want to drink coconut water it really depends where we are; In Thailand they will say "mamá quiero nam mah phrao" or "agua de coconut". Here in Sri Lanka it's "quiero un thambili mamá!" or me asking them "Do you want thambili"? 

Every time we talk we are switching back and forth and mixing words around to suit the moment. May daughter can't roll her r's so she's specially funny when trying to speak big words in Spanish like ferrocarril and carro rojo.

I wonder what other Spanglish mixes they will have as we keep moving around the world and collecting new words. I'm sure it will be entertaining at least. The fact that my daughter has a Peruvian passport but has never been to Peru (yet) reminds me of how I have an Italian passport but can't even speak Italian. 

What language mixes do you have at home? Had you ever though of different dialects of mixed languages like "Andean Spanglish" and "Asian Spanglish". I made those up, you are welcome to use them. 


My kids speak Asian Spanglish, my oldest daughter's first language was Andean Spanglish. My kids' accents are insane and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I am not Mafalda, I love soup

During my childhood, if I wasn't doodling on a piece of paper or playing with friends or cousins, I was reading Mafalda comics. Mafalda is a little Argentine girl who hates soup, and makes a great big fuzz over it. Whenever I think of soup and specially of someone not liking it, I think of Mafalda.

I am not like Mafalda because have always liked soup, all sorts of soup. My absolute favorite is Pumpkin Soup but only the way my grandmother made it, if it's made any other way then I don't like it. Most of my childhood was spent in Peru and I had my share of soups; from my nonna's red minestronne to Peruvian green menestron and Sopa de Olluco with charki to Adobo in the mountains at dawn and many many more.

I can't pick my favorite Peruvian soup but if I had to pick one to eat right now it would be Sopa Criolla. The best flavor for any winter day with beef broth,  angel hair pasta milk and a fried egg. 

Every restaurant will have this soup as it's a staple for any menu.

21. Sopa a la Criolla

I found this great recipe for you at LimaEasy.com

LimaEasy's Recipe for Sopa a la Criolla

Ingredients for 3 to 4 servings

  • 250 g beef steak (or ground beef)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon aji panca paste (or powder)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 l beef stock (or water)
  • 1 big potato
  • 80 g angel hair pasta (or thin spagehtti)
  • 50 ml evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking oil
  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • garlic salt


Cut the beef in very small cubes (or use ground beef), chop the onion, peel and press the garlic and peel and cube the potato. Prepare beef stock, so it's hot when you need it in just a few minutes.
In a heavy saucepan heat a splash of oil. Add beef and let brown. Salt and pepper the meat. Then add the onion, the garlic and the aji panca paste to the beef. Stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the oregano and stir for another 2 minutes. Pour boiling beef stock (or water) into the saucepan. Then add the potato cubes. Put the lid on, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons. Cube the white bread and sprinkle some olive oil and a little bit of garlic salt on top. Mix with your hands. Heat a skillet and fry the bread cubes from both sides until brown. Set the croutons aside.
By now the soup should be nearly done. Add the angel hair pasta to it and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes until al dente. Then break in the eggs, stir once or twice and allow the yolks to becoming hard. Turn off the heat. Incorporate the milk and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve immediatly garnished with the croutons.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'm getting tired of Curry

Oh Curry, ambrosia of Asia. I'm getting tired of you.

I can't be sure if I am getting tired of curries in general or just the Sri Lankan style. Definitely prefer to eat curry with chopsticks than with my hands, or rather with a spoon while everyone else gets their hands right in there with the spicy stuff.

Let's review my life, curry by curry in chronological order

In Peru:
Pollo al Curry: Chicken legs cooked in yellow curry powder served with rice. Definitely not spicy.

In Australia and back in Peru:
Chicken Curry: Chicken legs cooked like a stew with curry paste, not sure if Indian or Thai or what. A bit spicy but nothing major.

Chicken Curry with coconut milk: Same as the last one but with coconut milk.

Finding out that there were three kinds of Thai curry; yellow, red and green.

Love affair with curry begins!

Eating Indian Food at an Indian Fair and really enjoying all the different curries. Minimally Spicy, probably because the cook though it was best for "foreigners".

Eating Thai Food in a restaurant and trying green curry for the first time. Minimally Spicy. Didn't care much for the tiny green eggplants but no big deal.

In Thailand:
Green curry, red curry, yellow curry, I WANT CURRY!
Finally started to taste how spicy curry could be, but Thai curry has a "fresh" taste that even if the spiciness gets overbearing it is still delicious.

Tried Japanese Omu Rice with brown curry. Interesting...

In Indonesia:
Indonesian curry is ok, Rendang being the best of them. But they just aren't Thai Curry.

In Sri Lanka:
We weren't even there yet and the waiting area to get on the plane in Bangkok smelled like curry. Arriving in Colombo, the first smell was curry. 

Sri Lankan curry is not made from paste like in Thailand, but instead with roasted powders. The flavor of curry leaves and spices and chilli are extremely overpowering. No matter what the curry is made of, meat, vegetables, fruit, the chilliness takes over the flavor and you need more and more rice to be able to eat it all.

The local Sri Lankan staple is Rice and Curry, wrapped in plastic and newspaper, eaten by hand and then left to pick at by the crows. Finding a nice curry is not an easy task, spicy (tasteless) curry is everywhere.

Curry for breakfast, curry for lunch, curried snacks, curry in the air, curry on the ground, curry for the crows, curry in the bread buns, curry in the elevator.


I am tired of curry.