January 2014


Q: What more could a birthday boy want than a running hose in a pool?

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A: 13 plates of Sushi Train sushi. A new record!!

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Miles had a great day!

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Miles is FOUR!  He is so much fun to be around, has a huge heart and is curious about everything.

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  • Coloring in the lines.  Never one for much arting and crafting, Miles’ creative side has taken center stage recently.  He went from scribbling to get it done quick to careful coloring and drawing anatomically correct people (fingers and toes folks – count em) and mechanically intricate machines.  Favorite subjects: Cruise Ships, Fire Stations (with kitchens), Cops Robbers & Jail, and Farms. With Combine Harvesters.
  • Focus.  The intensity with which this boy can assemble legos, draw a construction site or even help fix dinner is admirable for this multitasking momma.
  • Sounding it Out.  I suppose having Reading Specialist Grandma Linda around this month has helped out a bit with Miles reading.  He is getting solid on his letters, and spelled his first word: NO.  One day he’ll be reading to us, and I think its not too far off!
  • Big, BIG Emotions.  Miles is learning to handle his emotions, they just seem to come a size too big for his little body.  He has his share of misplaced frustration, and is working on channeling it into huffing, puffing, stomping and caveman cries.  Beats bumping his buddies (or sister!)
  • Running/Riding into the Ground.  Ironman Miles is off his supps and has what seems to be boundless energy to swim, bike & run.  We swim several times a week, and he’s gained confidence to dive into the deep end and paddle around.  His 4th birthday gift was a push bike, with pedals and no training wheels and he was off in 10 minutes riding solo!  Running is fun, but  he does get totally crushed by all his super fast girlfriends.  All the activity means that around 6:30 each night he is totally cashed, melting down and asking for bed.
  • Loving.  Miles routinely tells me: “I very love you momma!” and delivers the biggest hugs ever.  How lucky am I?

We spent Miles’ birthday morning at the youth park, discovering a few corners we had not yet explored.

At the Giant Chess Set, Hazel said, “I’m playing chess like an elephant!”  Took me a minute (where did she learn about chess??), but then I remembered her favorite Amos McGee!

SDAM Chess with the elephant

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There weren’t too many domestic spots left on our travel list, but Malacca was glaring at us from the top of the pile.  It was the travel that was daunting to us.  With direct flights from Penang currently on hold, we would have to brave the 6-hour highway ride to enjoy what we felt promised to be little more than a mini-Penang.  Last week, the stars aligned (Tim & Miles were out of pages in their passports so a trip to KL was in order, plus grandma Linda was in Penang to babysit kids, plus a random Tuesday public holiday) and we (Tim and I only) got in the car at 5am on Monday and headed south. We drove four hours to the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and by 1pm we were back in the car for the quick 1.5 hour skip to Malacca.

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We were right on one count, Malacca is small.  The main drag is about 2 miles long and caters mostly to tourists.  The city can be best explored on foot, and Tim and I revisited our past travel lives by spending our time walking walking walking. Down the main Jonker Street and through the little alleys full of homestays and shops selling flip flops and batik clothing; up along the muraled river walk that extended way beyond where the 2008 Lonely Planet said it ended; down to the coast and then an entire morning up and around the old forts on the south of the city.  Lanes were narrow and the weather was perfect.

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Good thing walking makes one hungry because the other thing to do in Malacca is eat!  We had two very notable meals: the best ever tandoori chicken at road-side unassuming Pak Putra and a Nyonya meal at Nancy’s that left me with dreams of spicy lady’s fingers…and that Popiah!  We filled in the gaps with the famous chicken rice ball, pineapple tarts and cendol, cendol, cendol.  Kid-free, we booked a very nice room with a very big jacuzzi (then proceeded to talk about how much the kids would have loved the bath tub).  We had total relaxation under the mosquito net at Courtyard @ Heeren.

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While the food did impress even us foodie Penangites, what’s most striking about Malacca is its rich history and role in the development of Malaysia.  The port city changed hands from Hindus to Chinese Muslims (building the Baba Nyonya heritage) to Portuguese to Dutch to British and finally hosted the Merdeka celebrations for Malaysia’s independence in the 1950s.  Each culture left their ruins, developments, culture and cuisine making it a truly interesting destination.  We loved Malacca and are so glad to have gotten a chance to experience it!

After reading the book with Grandma Linda and Grandpa Wally last month, Miles received the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Recipe Book for Christmas.  Tonight, he made us all dinner from a few of the recipes in the book.  He did it all, from writing and illustrating a menu to shopping to the cooking and construction (see dessert).  The menu was well-balanced and delicious, we all had thirds.  We started with Pickly Cucumbers followed by (or mixed into) Noodlehead Noodles, which resembled mac-cheese, finishing with Strawberry Tall Cake.  Delicious and such a joy to spend time in the kitchen with my junior chef!

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