Svara the Baker

food, kids, Recipe, Svara

Lately Svara has been enjoying baking more.  But it can’t just be any baking – it has to be baking as much as possible BY HERSELF.

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At seven years old I certainly can’t let her have free range of the kitchen, so I help her get out the ingredients and materials needed.  She reads the recipe to find out everything she needs, and then she does all of the mixing, measuring, etc.   I help with the oven.  Maybe in another year or two I’ll take another step back and let her get out the ingredients, clean up, and even place things into the oven herself.

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For now it is enough ‘herself’ for her to proudly exclaim that she has made these goodies ALL BY HERSELF.  She couldn’t be more proud.  Neither could I.

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Svara’s favorite cookbook is Live Learn Love Eat (you can find it for sale here by the author).  This book is written by a vegan mother of three.  The recipes are very child friendly and family friendly.  It is both the fact that the book has children in it AND the fact that she can easily read and understand it herself that appeals to Svara.  I love this cookbook as well!

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The recipes Svara made on this particular day were the chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting.  Mmmm!  The recipe for both are here on her blog.  The only thing we did differently was that I put the raspberry puree into a sieve to get the seeds out.  I wanted a smooth frosting.

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Svara had a blast making these cupcakes, and of course eating them as well!

I’m sure it’ll be a matter of days before she’s in the kitchen again paging through the cookbook for another recipe to make 🙂

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Perseverance

kids, Svara

Several months ago Naren decided to take Svara’s training wheels off of her bike.  The same day her bike fell on its side and the pedal broke.  So she couldn’t ride it for awhile.  When Naren found time to get the pedal replaced she begged him to put the training wheels back on.  Instead he put on a kickstand and said it was time for her to learn how to ride her bike.  It’s been a long 3 or 4 months of practice (I’ve lost count!).  Some weeks she didn’t practice, but most weeks she practiced at least a few times.  Usually she only got 10-20 minutes of practice a day, between dinner and bedtime.  Many days she would end up saying things like “it’s no use”, “I’ll never be able to do this”, or “I’m not going to try ever again!”    But by bedtime, or least by the next day, she was ready with a smile and a “I KNOW I can do this, I just need to practice more!”    And practice she did.  And fall she did.

And slowly she got better.

Until this past week she finally REALLY got the hang of it!  She’s not perfect yet, but she’s almost there.  She’s SO proud of herself and it’s so great to see that.

svara bike

 

I wish I had more pictures, but it’s SO hard for me to remember to take the camera when we go out in the evenings. Usually it’s just Naren or I who goes out with both girls while the other person cleans up after dinner.  But occasionally we both go out and this was one of those days and I remembered to take the camera.

 

Svara and Mrs. Monkey

Svara

Svara has been known for making funny faces ever since she was a baby.  Just a few of her funny faces are documented here, here, and here.   I think it’s about time for some of her updated looks!  Here she is posing with Mrs. Monkey, a gift from her Aunty Saffy (my sister) and Uncle Nelson.  I asked her to smile nicely so she did, and then she asked me to take some more photos.  “How about this one?”  “And this one?”  And so on!   Anyone who has skyped with Svara might recognize some of these faces 😉

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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

First Sewing Lesson

crafts, Homeschooling, Svara

I mentioned in a post several months ago that I am trying to find craft activities where Svara does the majority of the work and they are learning opportunities for her.  So I decided to start Svara on occasional sewing projects!  I started sewing when I was a few years older than her, but I think she’s old enough to do very simply sewing projects.  We started with making a felt pouch that she could use with her dolls.

I cut a piece of felt and folded it in half.  Then I tied the knot for her and showed her how to make whip stitches.  When I do this next time I’ll use actual thread instead of yarn because it was kind of difficult for her to pull the doubled yarn through the needle hole.  When she was finished, I sewed the handle on for her (she had had enough sewing by then) and she glued on a ribbon and buttons for decoration.

I have a photo of the work-in-progress on my (broken) computer.  I’ll add that when I finally get access to that data.  For now, here is a photo of the finished piece:

svara purse

I enjoy helping her with projects like these where she is actually learning something herself.  Lately she has been begging me for another paper mache project.  I think I said last time that it’d be another year before we did one, but it’s only been six months.  She wants to make a factory for her polly pocket dolls.  She is envisioning using toilet paper rolls as tubes so she can put things through and pretend they are being made.  Sounds cool, but it sounds like a lot of work for me.

 

Happy 6th Birthday, Svara!

kids, Svara

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Dear Svara,

I can hardly believe you are 6 years old already!  You have grown a lot this past year and I am in awe watching you become your own person.  You are so full of enthusiasm and energy for life.  You want to do everything and you want to do it NOW.  I think you must get that from Papa, because I can hardly keep up with your energy!  I hope you never stop, the world needs your kind of energy!

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You show your helpfulness and caring every day.  You love to do little spontaneous things to help out, like take my dishes to the sink for me, get a drink of water for me or Papa, and always always help out with your baby sister.  The way you love and care for Talisa always brings warmth to my heart.  You love to hold her, talk to her, make funny faces at her, and do anything you can do make her smile and laugh.  If it were up to you, you would be taking over all care of her including bathing and feeding (you’d probably still leave diaper changing to me).  You are such a wonderful and caring big sister!  You love to help out when I am cooking/baking as well, and I hope you are always my kitchen helper! Pretty soon you’ll be able to start cooking by yourself!

You have been working hard on developing your flexibility, patience, and respect this year.  Some days you do an awesome job, go with the flow, and find things to be thankful for even when there are disappointments.  Other days you have a rough time, but I know you are trying.

I smile when you say things like: “Come say morning prayers with me, Mama, my soul is hungry for its breakfast!”

You have a strong sense of fairness and justice, and you wish everything would be fair.  Of course you know that’s not the way  it is, and that’s hard sometimes.  When you practice thankfulness you realize that even though not everything is the way you’d like it, you are still pretty lucky!

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You have developed your friendliness this year and now you are able to make friends more easily which is great!  You got to spend time with and be great friends with your Uncle Xander, which was awesome!  You’ve also made some great friends at Feast and at Baha’i children’s class.

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You have always been creative, and this year has been no different.  You have learned how to draw anything you want, color and cut carefully, think of SO many stories to act out with your dolls, and more.  If it were up to you we’d do  art and craft projects every day!  The good thing is that you are now old enough to do some art and craft projects all by yourself, so you don’t always have to wait for me.

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You are, as you always have been, my funny girl. You’ll do anything to get a laugh!  This year you learned how to tell a knock-knock joke!

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Your favorite color this year has definitely been PINK! Anything is better as long as it is pink!

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We have been homeschooling this year and you have enjoyed lots of things, but you show the most enthusiasm for science experiments! You have done a great job learning to read, and you have quite the aptitude for math!

This hasn’t been the easiest year for us.  I haven’t had all the time to focus on you that I would like as there were many other things going on this past year.  You have tried very hard to be understanding and you have been very helpful to me.  I am hoping that this year I will be able to focus more of my time with you as you continue to grow and learn.

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Happy 6th birthday, my dear Svara!  I can’t wait to see what the next year brings and to continue watching you grow in so many ways.  I am so proud and thankful to be your mother!  I love you!

Love,

Mama

Blooming Creativity

crafts, kids, Svara

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t talked about Svara’s creativity lately.  She has always been a very creative child.  Arts and crafts have been at the top of her list of fun things to do for as long as I can remember.  And it’s still that way!

I have to admit that I am often too tired and exhausted to get into crafts.  When she suggests doing an art project I heave a very large sigh.  Sometimes she wants to do projects that are very advanced for her and she ends up watching me doing the whole thing.  She ends up with some cool project/toy, and I end up resentful because I spent all that time working on it when I should have been doing other work.  Not the most positive of experiences.  So I’m trying to find things that either I can make that she can play with (like the cloud dough below) or projects that she can do mostly by herself, with my supervision, and she can actually learn skills from.

So first up is cloud dough!  Playdough has always been one of Svara’s favorite activities.  But sometimes it’s fun to mix things up.  So when I saw cloud dough on pinterest I had to give it a try!  Basically it’s a mixture of 8 parts flour to one part oil.  Most people use baby oil (it probably stays fresh longer that way) but you can also use any vegetable oil.  I used a mix of baby oil that I had a sample bottle of and some canola oil to top it off.  I used 4 cups of flour and 1/2c of oil.  Actually I ended up adding an extra tablespoon or so of oil because it seemed to dry.

Cloud dough is kind of like soft, fluffy sand.  You can pack it together, but then you can easily break it apart as well.  It’s quite unique and fun!  Svara likes to add some little plastic dolls and animals for role playing.  We are keeping the cloud dough in a plastic container in the fridge so that it stays fresh longer.  It also feels nice when she plays with it cold.

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Svara’s drawing has taken off exponentially in the past couple of months.  For quite a long time she was drawing only people, and they always looked the same.  Then she’d occasionally add a new item to her repertoire such as a  flower, the sun, a butterfly.  But suddenly a couple months ago she started drawing anything that she wants!  Without seeing how it is drawn, without asking how to draw it, she’ll just think about it for a few seconds and go ahead and draw it.  It’s pretty amazing me to me how she came to this jump in her art abilities without any prompting, urging, etc.  I think it shows that in some respects learning really is internally motivated and things happen at their own times.  Here are a couple of her recent drawings:

She loves drawing ocean scenes.  The stuff on the bottom is seaweed.  The bigger fish is a whale.  She likes writing Svara, Mama, and Papa on her drawings.  And notice how she colors in the empty part of the letters, that is also a new thing she likes to do.

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This one is a cow. I must admit I thought the red thing in the front was a milking stool or something.  Turns out it’s actually the cow’s udder.  She is definitely focusing more on detail these days, I’ll just have to point out where the cow’s udder is next time she plays with her plastic animals  hahaha

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A cute bunny 🙂

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Svara’s Surfboard

family, parenting, Svara

This is a guest post by Naren, originally posted on his facebook page.  I just had to share it!

 

Svara surfboard

Another proud moment as a father

My first born is now 5 years old and my wife and I are witnessing her growth in many ways. We really endeavor to parent her the best possible way so that her character shapes her into a person who will have depth, humility and someone who can understand what are the more important things in life and to be able to truly make wise choices but more importantly how to

 make the best out of life with what we have while pursuing excellence. We also want her to truly understand that she can choose to be happy even if she does not have everything in the world or the fact that we choose not to give everything she desires with ease. Our recent trip to the orphanage is among some of the various practical activities we are using to help Svara understand and value life. We just don’t want her to turn into a spoilt brat
Svara has attended many birthday parties and has playtimes with her friends and many times she has played with toys that she does not have. Sometimes she sighs and whines about how she wished she had a particular toy that her cousin has or she had played with at her friend’s but each time we consistently and patiently explain to her why we were not going to buy her that toy. Svara already has many toys but at this age, a child can be so easily swayed especially when she witnesses the parents of other children just buy anything the child wants especially when the child uses the oldest trick in the book and that is the “cry”. Parents can cave in so easily and most of the time it is because they feel there is just too much work to put in to deal with. They always seem to want the short and easiest way out. This has dire consequences in the future.
Honey and I have been witnessing a lot of improvement and progress with Svara in terms of her attitude. She still struggles with many things but what truly makes us happy is the fact that she really tries to be better. Yesterday I witnessed something truly profound. Last weekend, my daughter attended my niece’s 5th birthday bash. It was a beach party Hawaian theme big celebration at the Renaissance KL. There were so many fun activities and gifts for all the children. My daughter really loves the beach and water activities(Which kid doesn’t?) She was really drawn to the surf board. This has been the sequence of how her reactions have developed and changed over time which I am really amazed at:
1.Usually if she saw something really cool, she would want one for herself too 2.As time passed, she moved on to asking our permission if we can buy her the same toy
3.As more time passed, she asked if we can buy her the same toy for her birthday
4.Her latest effort to obtain something she wants was to save money from her allowance and buy it herself. She patiently waits to save enough. She even attempted to get a job from her grandma once.

Yesterday she went up to my wife and asked her if she can use one of the cardboard boxes we have in our storage and cut out a surf board from it. She decorated the surf board, put on her swimsuit and she was surfing in the living room, proudly showing me all her trick moves that she had learned at the party. It would have been only natural for her to ask me for a surf board at this tender age but the fact that she came to this decision and make the best out of it truly warms my heart. She can think, she can understand.I know for a fact that we are imperfect parents trying our best to raise our child right but catching moments like these gives me the confidence that we are headed in the right direction and I hope and pray that God guides us along the way especially for a clumsy father like me. My cup truly runneth over 🙂

Svara Surfoard 2
Svara Surfboard 3

Svara’s 4th Birthday

out and about, Svara

My baby has turned 4!!  Okay, so it WAS almost 2 months ago.  But better late than never, right??  This year Svara’s birthday was a simple affair.  We had a family gathering at Naren’s parents’ house with most of the family and cousins there.  Svara had her main birthday cake there, then we all went out to dinner and spent the night there.  It was simple and fun!

Svara requested a chocolate cake cake with pink frosting.  This is one of those times when I don’t attempt to cut down on sugar, it just doesn’t usually work too well.  I did use beet puree in the frosting, however, instead of red food coloring.

She doesn’t look too sure of her cake here!  But be assured, she DID love it!  Actually she was feeling shy as her older cousins had just arrived and she hadn’t seen them for awhile.

I think Svara’s little cousin was quite amused by Svara’s shyness!

After cake it was time for an art project!  Naren’s sister brought batik paintings for all the kids to do.

Later it was time to go out to dinner!  Normally Naren’s mom cooks dinner for everyone, and while we all love it of course, it was great to see her just relax and enjoy being with the family on this day instead of cooking away in the kitchen for hours!

All the little cousins just HAD to sit by eachother!  It was a feat of musical chairs to get them all satisfied.

I love how it looks like the kids are actually trying to decide what to order!

After eating a game of train around the table was in order – I hope they didn’t disturb the next table too much.

 

Back to Naren’s parents’ house for bedtime!  Svara has been asking for a nightgown for about 6 months, so this was her birthday gift.  Her cousin got one too!

It’s so hard to get great photos of silly little girls!

So this was part 1 of Svara’s birthday.  A few days later on her actual birthday we took her to the aquarium and had another little birthday cake at home (she insisted that since it was her real birthday she HAD to have another cake!).  I need to get those photos off of Naren’s computer and then I will do another post about that day!

Svara’s Icecream

family, food, Svara

Svara’s favorite treat!  The fact that she is allergic to dairy, and has to have only minimal sugar luckily do not keep Svara away from icecream!

 

Here is our super easy icecream recipe that Svara has been eating since she was less than a year old:

Banana Icecream

*3-6 very ripe bananas, frozen

*200ml (approximately 1 cup) full fat coconut milk (can substitute with any milk or milk alternative)

Optional ingredients, choose one or more:

*2-3 Tbs carob or cocoa powder (we use carob)

*Large handful of fresh green spinach leaves (can’t taste them and makes pretty green icecream!)

*Frozen berries, any kind

*2-3 Tbs peanut butter or any  nut or seed butter

*2-4 Tbs lemon juice for lemon icecream! (you may need to add some sweetener to taste for this variety)

 

Place all ingredients into food processor and process until smooth.  It will be quite soft, but still very cold, when it is finished.  It can be eaten immediately or put into a container in the freezer.  You can also spoon it into popsicle molds!  If you have an icecream maker you can also put it in the iceream maker to make it more stiff for immediate eating.  After it is completely frozen it will be quite hard.  You can let it sit out on the counter for 10 minutes to soften, or place in the microwave for 20-40 seconds so it is easy to scoop (just make sure it is in a microwaveable container if you do that!)

 

Because bananas are so naturally sweet you do not need any additional sugar in this recipe, which is great for Svara! (she gets yeast overgrowth if she has too much sugar)   This is also the only way Svara will currently eat bananas.  We make it at least once a week!  Usually the carob variety, but sometimes Svara requests green icecream, or plain banana.

 

Svara knows that she has dietary restrictions.  When in the store if she sees something she’ll ask, “does it have dairy?” or “does it have too much sugar?” and she doesn’t put up a fuss when I say yes, it does.  Perhaps some day this will change, but right now she remembers having a rash and being all itchy from eating the wrong foods, so she’s more than happy to stick with what she’s able to have.  And having healthy and tasty alternatives for her at home always helps too!