Playground Fun

family, kids, Svara, Talisa

One of my favorite things about the place we live is that we can just go right outside our door to play at the playground, and go down a path to an even bigger playground as well.  We go out each evening that we can.  Right now it is hazy so we are staying indoors, but a few weeks ago we were going out each evening.  Usually either Naren or I take the girls out to play with the other stays in and makes dinner.  But one evening we were both able to go out, so I took the opportunity to get some updated playground photos!

Talisa has been going up and down these stairs by herself for many months now.  I stay close, as she occasionally stumbles, but she’s very insistent on doing it herself!


After seeing the older kids swing on the bar above the slide, Talisa had to try as well.  Now she does it every single time she goes down the slide.




Swinging with Papa!  She can sit on the swing herself as well, but sometimes she still enjoys swinging with one of us.



A few months ago for Ayyam-i-Ha (a Baha’i holiday) we bought Svara a scooter.  Now it’s one of her favorite things to play on outside!




Right outside our house this stray banana tree has been growing for the past couple years.  It finally got a blossom and I was looking forward to possibly having some bananas, but it looks like it’s an ornamental type of banana plant, as the bananas are only about 3 inches long.  Ah well, it’s still neat to look at!



More fun on the scooter!  Talisa often rides on Naren’s shoulders after she gets tired of running around.



More swinging!






Talisa asks us to lift her up to this higher bar.  She hangs there for a few seconds and then asks for help to get down.



Here is one of Talisa’s favorite ways to swing by herself:






Svara practices on the monkey bars each time we go to the big playground.  She hasn’t gotten the hang of going across yet, but she reaches as far as she can, swings, and drops.



Slide time!



Because it makes sense to climb UP the slide….



And then go DOWN the stairs…




Now I’m hoping that seeing these pictures from when it was nice and clear outside, it will help the haze dissipate and we can go back out and enjoy the playgrounds again!!!

Visit to the Rabbit Farm in Bukit Tinggi

family, out and about

We haven’t done a lot of traveling around since Talisa was born, but we are hoping to start visiting more places!  So a couple months ago we suddenly decided one morning to visit the rabbit farm that afternoon!  The rabbit farm is located in Bukit Tinggi, which is on a hill, so it’s a lot cooler than the city.  A nice place to visit these hot days!

Here are some photos from our visit:

Talisa was utterly delighted to see all the rabbits.  She was running all over saying “bundeens!!!”

1 rabbit farm 2 rabbit farm 3 rabbit farm

Svara has fed rabbits a few times before, so she was an old pro!

4 rabbit farm 5 rabbit farm

They also had some deer there.  Svara was a little hesitant in approaching them.  I don’t blame her 😉6 rabbit farm 7 rabbit farm 8 rabbit farm

But she was not hesitant in carrying around the bunnies!

9 rabbit farm

They had guinea pigs as well, though you couldn’t go in to pet those.

10 rabbit farm

They had a pony (well, donkey actually) ride as well.  Last time we came here a few years ago she was too young, so she was thrilled to be able to have a ride this time!

11 rabbit farm

Talisa followed saying “Akka ride horse!”  I believe she would have hopped on if she could.

12 rabbit farm

So Naren took her to his shoulders to distract her and they watched these very territorial deer.  I feel kind of sorry for all of these deer, they seem a bit cramped!

13 rabbit farm

After the ride we had to let Talisa hop on.  She was SO excited!

14 rabbit farm 15 rabbit farm

Time to feed the donkeys!

16 rabbit farm 17 rabbit farm

And the deer!  We had some pellets to feed the animals, but the deer were not very interested.  So we reached through the fence in one area to pick some long grass and they were SO excited to eat that.

18 rabbit farm 19 rabbit farm


We brought some sandwiches, chips, and grapes with us to have a picnic and had a nice afternoon.  It is always refreshing to take an afternoon off!

Catching Up

family, kids, Svara, Talisa

I’m still playing catchup!  I’ll try to get mostly caught up in this post so I can start actually posting current photos!

Halloween 2013

We’ve never celebrated Halloween here in Malaysia, beyond dressing Svara up when she was an infant and visited my classroom when I was teaching.  Halloween is becoming more common here, but we still didn’t have any plans for this year.  Svara, however, has learned about Halloween through a few cartoons, stories from me, etc.  so she was ready to celebrate!  We decided to go to the mall on Halloween and the girls dressed up for the fun of it.  Here they are!

halloween halloween2

Talisa wore the same costume that Svara wore many years ago and Svara decided to dress up as a witch.  A black Indian outfit and a handcrafted paper witch hat completed her outfit.  I decided to let her to to the mall without brushing her hair, to make it look more “witchy”.

A few more photos to complete 2013:

swimming hug

Hugging her sister, even in the pool!

signing %22more%22

signing “more”


summer fun!

playing in dirt

children must play in the dirt, right?

kitchen mess

this is what my ktichen looks like on a daily basis! I also usually end up pushing chairs against the sink cabinet and in front of the stove and oven to keep her from those places. If Naren isn’t home and I need to get something done in the kitchen, this is the only way!


a rare family photo! All dressed up ready to go to a wedding celebration



Talisa’s First Birthday

family, kids, Talisa

Talisa’s birthday party was not scheduled for her actual birthday, but I wanted to make sure we marked the occasion as a family.  So I made a simple carob cake, some coconut based icecream, and we planned a simple outing.  Here are plenty of pictures to commemorate the simple, yet sweet, occasion.



“hey, this is pretty good!”


time to ditch the plate before everything lands on the floor in one quick sweep!


Now testing the icecream


“now THIS is good!!”


“VERY good!!”


The cake got thrown to the floor and the icecream all licked up


“All finished!”

cake10 cake11 cake12


After cake it was time to have a bath and then go out.  We needed something simple and close by.  Talisa loves animals, so we decided to go to a big pet store and just browse around.



Walking in the mall like a big girl


Here’s the pet store!


Ooh, fish!! She learned how to say “blub blub”

mall5 snake

An active snake! She really enjoyed this and learned how to say “ssssss” for a snake

mall6 doggy

Here she is panting, her sign that means dog. there were real dogs and cats there, but she was more impressed by this huge dog poster



After our little trip it was time to go home, eat dinner, and get the girls to bed.  A nice simple day together to celebrate our baby’s first birthday.


Time Together

family, kids, Svara, Talisa

At night before going to sleep Svara likes to plan out our next day.  We talk about possible things we’ll do for school, things we might make to eat, etc.  Our days don’t usually go as planned, but that’s okay.  We usually find time to do some of the things and think of new ones as well.  Here are a few things we have been up to in the past couple months:

Playing Monopoly!   As my siblings can attest to, Monopoly has always been one of my favorite games.  I was always pretty good at it, too!  Svara saw it on the shelf and wanted to learn how to play, so we’ve been playing it since.  It is good practice for counting and learning higher numbers.  We play with the time limit of Talisa’s nap so the game doesn’t drag out too long.  So far she has beat me every time (disclaimer: I’m not being ruthless and I’m actually giving her many tips throughout the game, so at this point it’s kind of like me playing against me).  It’s fun playing Monopoly again!



One of the activities that Svara likes to do while I’m putting Talisa to sleep is building.  Sometimes with regular legos, sometimes megabloks, sometimes these wooden blocks or anything else she can find.  Here she was creating a little house for her polly pockets.  In the second photo she made the house into  a stage with a curtain.  It’s always fun to come down after putting Talisa down and see what creative things Svara has been up to.

engineer1 engineer2



Last month there was a day that was so cool and breezy, it almost felt like fall or spring, it was awesome!!  I made some homemade veggie burgers, buns, and lemonade and we ate our dinner outside, taking full advantage of the beautiful weather.  We set up our table right outside our house next to the playground.





Well, it looks like most of the other photos are on the camera, not downloaded yet.  And Talisa has just woken up from her delayed and then short nap, so it’s time for me to go for now!


Spontaneous Picnic

family, out and about, Svara, Talisa

One day last week all things came together unexpectedly and it turned out to be the perfect time for a picnic!

1. I had picnic-worthy calzones already baked, ready to be eaten

2. It was not too hot out and there was a slight breeze

3. It was the perfect time of day and we were all itching to go outside.  

4. I know that Svara has been wanting to go on a picnic for awhile, she loves picnics!

So a picnic it was!!

Lesson 1: Keeping a 10 month old ON the picnic mat is a losing battle.


Lesson 2: Letting your 10 month old help herself to the container of chopped cucumbers leads to chopped cucumbers e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.


Lesson 3: Roselle juice makes a nice pink moustache


Lesson 4: Always bring bubbles on a picnic!

IMG_2572 IMG_2578 IMG_2579 IMG_2580 IMG_2582 IMG_2583 IMG_2584 IMG_2585 IMG_2587 IMG_2588 IMG_2589 IMG_2590 IMG_2591 IMG_2593

Refer back to lesson 1

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Lesson 5: Never miss the opportunity to pose with a cat



It was a great spontaneous family outing!   We often go out for a walk in the evening (well, a couple times a week at least) to this playground, but we hardly ever happen to have picnic food on hand, so this was a nice opportunity.  Hopefully we’ll do it again soon!

Thankful for Papa

family, kids, Svara

I have a sweet story about Svara that I wanted to post so that I will be sure to remember it in the future!

The other day Naren was away from home for a couple hours in the afternoon.  The girls and I were in the kitchen, getting a few things done.  I had some almond milk to use up, so I was making some cashew cheese with it as well as some chocolate pudding.  Svara was sometimes helping me.  While making the chocolate pudding she said, “Papa loves chocolate, this could be a surprise for him!  I know!!!  Let’s have a surprise thank you party for Papa!!”  During the next couple of hours she planned out her party.  She was quick to mention that we didn’t need to make decorations or anything, since she knew that would be a pretty sure “no, we don’t have enough time for that” from me, hehe.    She decided that we would turn out the lights, hide, and jump out and yell “surprise!” when Papa came home.  She would then present him with a card that she made specially for him as well as the pudding treat.  She would then sing him a made-up song just for him about how she is thankful for him.

We had just gone back inside the house from playing outside and closed all the windows and curtains for the day when we saw him drive up to the house.  Perfect timing.  We hid in the kitchen and she executed her party plans just as she wanted.  During the song she was listing things she was thankful for such as him taking us all out places, giving her treats, being loving, teaching her things, etc.  Naren thought it might have been something I put her up to, or that I had been talking about being thankful or something.  But nope, this time it was all Svara!  I love seeing Svara’s sweet nature shine through 🙂

I don’t have any photos of that impromptu party, but I have this photo from a couple weeks ago.  Whenever Svara is hugging Naren, Talisa just HAS to crawl over and get in on the hugging action too.  Too cute!


papa love

Chocolate Monster

family, food, kids, Talisa

I’ve created a chocolate monster!

Today was kitchen day for me, I was trying to get many things done in the kitchen at once, to last for at least a few days of snacks and a couple days of meals.  I did some of the work while Talisa was taking a nap, and when she was awake Naren kindly offered to play with her.  But he started not feeling well and needed to go lay down for awhile, so I had to take over.  Watching  a baby while trying to get things done in the kitchen always has a potential for things like this to happen:


I had almost finished.  I had completed three types of date-based snacks, the homemade buns were out of the oven and cooling, the lentil balls were in the oven baking, and Talisa had been sitting in her high chair enjoying tidbits of the snacks I had made.  But she had had enough, and wanted out NOW!  So I picked her up.  But I still had to put a tray of chocolate-date fudge into the freezer to chill.  No problem, I can do things with one hand as I balance a baby on my hip, I’m a MOM.

So Talisa is on one hip while I carry the tray in the other hand.  I deftly open the freezer door with my pinky finger and aim to slide in the tray.  Oops, small problem, the freezer is a bit crowded.  There is ALMOST enough room at the top, but one container in the back is too tall.  No problem, some slight re-arranging needed.  Now, due to being a MOM, I also have a few loose brain cells due to sleep deprivation.  For some reason I am holding onto the tray with the hand of the arm that is holding Talisa.  Thinking (or not thinking) in my mind that this was going to be super quick.  And it almost was.  I was JUST about to be ready to take the tray back into my right hand and slide it into the freezer when Talisa notices the tray and SLAMS her hand into it and grabs a fistful of fudge.



And what to do with a fistful of fudge except to smear it into your own face trying to eat as much as possible, right?  I mean, what would YOU do with a fistful of fudge?  Yeah, I thought so 😉

p.s. I didn’t mind TOO much because this is a HEALTHY fudge with only dates as sweetener.  It’s similar to THIS recipe which was my inspiration.


family, kids, Svara, Talisa

There is a quote I want to share today. I’ve seen it posted by friends on facebook several times over the past few months, and I want to keep it here so I can always look back at it.  It is written by George Townsend, one of the early Baha’is and a Hand of the Cause of God.   It really captures why we should treasure our children while they are still small.  Here is the quote:

“While they are at your side, love these little ones to the utmost. Forget yourself; serve them; care for them; lavish all your tenderness upon them. Value your good fortune while it is with you and let nothing of their babyhood go unprized. Not for long will you keep the happiness that now lies in your reach. You will not always walk in the sunshine with a little soft hand nestling in each of yours, nor hear little feet pattering beside you and eager baby voices questioning and pattering of a thousand things with ceaseless excitement. Not always will you see that trusting face upturned to yours, feel those little arms about your neck and those tender lips pressed upon your cheek nor will you have that tiny form to kneel beside you, and murmur baby prayers into your ear. Love them and win their love and shower on them all the treasures of your heart. Fill up their days with happiness and share with them their mirth and innocent delights. Ere you are aware it will be gone with all its gifts forever.”

– George Townshend

I am going through a time when I really need to read this every morning.  It has been hard these past few months with never enough sleep.  I often have a short temper and feel impatient.  Never enough time to do all that I want and/or need to do.  But by reading this quote I remember that my children are the most important things in my life right now.  It’s easy to remember to take care of babies – their needs are so direct – feed, change, put to sleep, keep amused.  But as children get older some of their needs change.  Svara doesn’t rely on me 100% for her physical needs, but she still has so many needs.  I have to remind myself she is ONLY six years old.  She is able to shower, brush her teeth, get a snack, etc.  But she still NEEDS me.  She needs my attention.  She needs my love.  She needs nurturing and guidance.  So I am posting this quote here so I can refer back to it often, and try harder, organize my life better, so I can spend the time I need to with my treasures.


A Long Awaited Visit

family, travel

A couple months ago (yes, I am waaaaay behind on my blogging) my brother, Xander, came to visit us here in Malaysia.  It was a long awaited visit because he is the first member of my family to come and visit us here in Malaysia – and I’ve been here for 9  1/2 years.  I know other members of my family would love to visit as well, but there are many obstacles such as jobs, money, etc.  So I was SO excited last year when Xander said that he was planning a visit!    And even more excited when he confirmed his visit and told us he was staying for TWO weeks!!

The first week he was here was kind of laid back.  Naren had to work for 4 days, so Xander went out by himself for a couple of those days and hung out with us at home for the next couple of days.  It was nice catching up on things, re-living old memories, etc. I haven’t been able to visit the US in three years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve had a face-to-face chat with a family member!  Skype is great, but real-life is better!!  After that week we were full-on with a busy schedule!!  So many foods to try, things to see, etc.

We started with a two night stay in Malacca, a historical city here in Malaysia.  Of course the week before we went had been all sun, but as soon as we arrived in Malacca the rain started!  It rained on and off the whole time we were there.

First up was a trip to Jonker Street – famous for street food, souvenirs, etc.  We got lucky and it stopped raining for a couple hours so we were able to go.  We picked out a few little things, tried some foods, had dinner, and walked back to the hotel (we stayed in a guesthouse that was just a street away).



There was a little “heritage park” in the middle of jonker street, a nice place to take a break, sit down for a bit, etc.  Of course it would have been a nicer place to rest if it hadn’t been soaking wet and still slightly drizzling…




This is what we looked like trying to walk around Malacca… Xander and Svara sharing an umbrella and Naren, Talisa and I sharing another






The second day in Malacca we tried to get some sight seeing done.  We started with walking to Jonker street for breakfast, which turned out to be a dud.  The restaurant we went to didn’t really serve breakfast food, so we ended up ordering “egg sandwiches”.  we thought they’d be fried egg, but it was actually egg salad.  For breakfast.  Yeah.

As we were driving around trying to find the Sultanate Palace, it started raining.  Again.   But we passed by the sightseeing tower in Malacca, so we stopped there first.

Here we are in the spinning tower thing.  It has seats all around, you walk in and sit down and then it goes up a center tower and slowly spins around so you can see the whole of Malacca from up high.  It was pretty cool!





It was raining pretty hard after that, so we decided to eat lunch and head back to the hotel.  We rested all afternoon, and then it stopped raining around 5pm so we headed back to the Fort to finally do some sightseeing.  This place was actually a church that got turned into a fort, it had a long history.







They have a wishing well inside the fort, so we all tossed in some coins.  Svara later confided to me that she was sad that her wish hadn’t come true yet.  She told me that her wish was that her hair would grow as long as Rapunzel (something she’s been wanting for the past year and a half and is the reason I haven’t cut her hair since then!).  She finally decided that maybe the wish wouldn’t come true *right* away, maybe it’d take awhile.  I agreed.  The other day I was noticing how long her hair was and I mentioned that I think her wish is starting to come true, boy did that get a smile!





Svara quickly bonded with Xander when he came.  It was nice to see because the last time she saw him she was 2 1/2 years old and she was not too keen.  He came home for a weekend visit when I was visiting my parents 3 years ago and it was too short of a time for her to get used to him.  But this time?  She clung onto him right away and never let go, he was her BEST bud!  As you can see in this photo he is lucky to have left Malaysia with two arms…




Best buds – she really misses him!





Back to our trip…. it was getting late after the Fort so we went out to eat for dinner and headed back to the hotel for bed.  We hoped the next day we’d have better luck!

We woke up early to go have a GOOD breakfast at a hotel that serves a nice buffet.  The sun was out, it looked perfect! Breakfast was good, and when we came out of the hotel we noticed the ground was wet.  It had apparently rained while we ate breakfast.  We hoped this was it.  But no, as we were driving to the Sultanate Palace it started raining again… sigh…

On our way to the palace we passed by this ship.  It had been closed the day before, but was now open.  We stopped to have a look around!  Svara was enthralled by the ship.  Here she and Xander are being pirates saying “Argh!”  I love Svara’s arms.





Here is the whole ship – quite big!




Our last stop was the Sultanate Palace (the photo is from the day before, but it was closed so we couldn’t go in at that time).  This entire palace is made of wood – no metal nails, etc.  It is not the original palace, but it is crafted from the plans of the original.  There are a lot of historical displays inside.




After that it was time to head home as it was still raining and Talisa had had enough traveling for awhile!

We took a day’s break after that and then the next day headed to FRIM (Forest Research Institute of Malaysia).  They have a canopy walk there, I thought it might be a good family outing.  Our neighbors with a 3 year old son had recently gone here and said that he enjoyed it.  I’ve been on the canopy walk several times since when I was teaching we used to take our students here every year for a field trip (3rd graders).  The walk up was longer than I remembered!  Talisa did well, napping most of the time in the wrap.




We finally made it to the top!  Svara took one look at the walk, took one step out, and that was it.  She was no longer excited!  I wish we would have said “okay, fine” and I would have taken Svara down and we skip the walk.  But we soldiered on and Naren took Svara across.  Svara’s scared and nervous energy transferred to me, and I did not have a peaceful walk either.




Add to that the strange sensation of having my center of gravity off because of a baby strapped to me… eek, I get the jitters just thinking back about it and seeing these photos.  I apologized to Svara the next day, saying I wish we hadn’t made her go on the walk.  She said, “It’s okay, I forgive you.  And maybe I can try again when I’m older!”  So thankfully she wasn’t TOO scarred by the incident…  Xander enjoyed the walk, so that’s good!   After the canopy walk we headed down and had a nice picnic lunch.




The next day Talisa and I stayed home.  Xander, Svara, and Naren went to visit Batu Caves, the most famous Hindu Temple near KL.  Not only is it famous for aaaaaaall these steps you have to climb, but it is home to many MANY monkeys!!  You have to be careful of the monkeys because they’ll grab food or anything else from you that they find interesting.  Xander told me afterwards that the monkeys were throwing pieces of coconut at them!





Xander and Naren enjoyed chatting about cars during the whole visit, and they were able to take a couple visits to some car showrooms.  Here Xander is sitting in a Ferrari!!!




The day before Xander left we went to a mall to see an acrobatic lion dance.  It was too noisy for Svara and of course Talisa, so we waited a bit further away while Naren and Xander “enjoyed” the lion dance.  He was glad he saw it, but a bit shocked at how loud it was.  Certainly they ARE loud!!  The acrobatic lion dances are pretty cool to watch, but definitely would be more enjoyable with less noise.  But then it wouldn’t be a lion dance without all the noise, right?

After that we went to a good friend’s house for dinner and they kindly took a family photo of all of us


On the day Xander left we had relaxing morning at home, and then went out to lunch at at Indian restaurant since Xander hadn’t had a banana leaf lunch yet.  We got super lucky in that we got a parking spot RIGHT outside the restaurant.  This is in a very populated area of town.  And we got a table RIGHT away even though the restaurant was PACKED.  It was a good lunch and then we got to the airport in plenty of time.  Xander got his boarding pass, and we all said our goodbyes.

It was sad seeing Xander go, but I was sooo thankful that he had gotten to stay for 2 weeks.  It was so great having family here and I hope that more family gets to come visit before we leave Malaysia! (not that we have any concrete plans for leaving, but we DO plan on leaving someday, hopefully in the next few years).

Thanks, Xander!!!