Friday, December 14, 2012

Last Diwali...

On the heels of our trip to Kerala, we entered the festive season. We arrived back in Delhi to the winter fog/smog and not crisp but cooler air. Diwali was just a few days away. I have posted about Diwali before (Diwali 2009Diwali PrepDiwali Walk) and this year was not different with the light-adorned houses, buildings, even gas stations and the pop pop boom of the nightly firecrackers. As usual we put our diyas out and decided to take a neighborhood walk the night of the main Diwali festival.

We ran into our friends from down the street who invited us up for puja and firecrackers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions! The problem has been resolved (and without buying more space!) If you're interested or have the same problem, follow the link that Sofie left in her comment under the post. It takes a bit of time, but works. Thanks, Sofie!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Technical Question

I'm putting this out there because I haven't been able to upload photos, I'm not finding the answer when searching through Blogger and I'm not sure what to problem is that I'm not able to upload photos and Blogger tells me I've used up all my free storage. Is there a way to free up storage on the Picassa album linked to my blog without deleting the photos from my computer? Any suggestions? Or, should I just purchase more storage space...seems a bit silly to me to have to do that but I do want to continue posting my photos. Please send any ideas or solutions my way! And a huge thank you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Marari Beach luxury...

One of the best things about getting out of Delhi is a change of routine, a change of scenery and all of us being together...oh, wait, that's about three best things. I guess you can tell that I love traveling with my family! And, the best thing about being at the beach, besides the beach of course, was the hotel. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting a nice seaside stay in Kerala. It is tiny--there are only four small villas that are beautifully decorated. There is a lovely pool, very nice grounds and it is just steps from the beach. Breakfast and dinner were included and they tailor the menu to your tastes (even to kids' tastes). We opted for as much fresh fish and fresh fruit as we could get.

Our home, with separate bedroom for the boys:

 Outdoor shower, swimsuit optional:

Boys relaxing:

The view:

Beach time:

Watching the rain:

Dinner on our terrace:

We will miss you Marari Beach:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seaside in Kerala

During our first three days in Kerala, we did quite a bit of driving--about four and a half hours from the airport to Thedakky and about four hours from Thedakky to the house boat. Luckily, leaving the houseboat on our fourth day, we only had to drive half an hour. We arrived at our perfect seaside hotel on Marari Beach and knew at once it would be hard to leave after our four days there. The first two days or so it was pretty cloudy with slight drizzle from time to time. Apparently, just on the other side of the Indian peninsula in the Bay of Bengal, there was a cyclone and we were getting some of the side effects. Fortunately, it did not spoil a thing! The boys still loved jumping in the waves and digging in the sand or playing in the hotel's pool. If there was a bit of rain, we stayed on our terrace and the boys painted or played. It was such a relaxing four days.

When we were on the beach, I loved just sitting and watching the boys, listening to the waves and looking at all the fishermen and their different ways of fishing.

 A little sun....

Lots of sun (finally!)...

Sunday, November 11, 2012


After two nights among the spice-filled hills, we crossed back over the Western Ghats and headed towards the backwaters of Kerala. The backwaters refer to a huge network of lakes, canals and rivers that border the Arabian sea. In total, there are 900km of waterways, including India's longest lake, Vembanad lake. Towns and villages line the waterways along with rice paddies and other farm land. There is even a system of transport--boat buses. The houseboats with their thatched roofs, called kettuvallam, were originally used to transport agricultural products. But, overtime, were used as living quarters then eventually for tourists. They seem to come in all sizes--ours was a modest one-bedroom but had an upper mezzanine and came with a captain, a cook and a waiter. We arrived at noon and were served a fantastic lunch of fresh local fish. We spent one night, which was perfectly enough with our two boys. It was a relaxing tour of the waterways and the boys absolutely loved being on the boat.

Passing another houseboat:

The view from above:

Small river:


 School kids walking home:

Brightly-colored church:
 And house:

Rice paddies:

Heading back to land:

Along the way, we saw fishing boats, bus boats and birds. We listened to the croaking of frogs as we dined, then looked at the stars from the top of our boat.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Spices in Kerala

Kerala is one of the southern most states of India. Since coming to Delhi, we've been told it is beautiful. It has places with names like the Cardamon Hills and the Malabar just sounds so lovely. Recently, we were lucky enough to get to spend 7 days in Kerala. It is relatively small state but there is so much to see. We divided our time between spice plantations, a houseboat and the beach.

Our first stop after arriving in Cochin (also called Kochi or Koochi, if you're Arthur) was to the land of the spice plantations. We drove between 4 and 5 hours, but the ride was beautiful. Once you leave the city, you drive through the Western Ghats, a green mountain range dotted with waterfalls. From there, we passed rolling tea plantations with the tallest olive trees I've ever seen.

Amazingly beautiful:

We arrived at our hotel to find we were the only our own private hideaway:

The next day, we met Bina:

Dorian really liked her:

We visited a spice plantation and saw all sorts of things growing: coffee, cocoa, insulin leaves, tree tomatoes, nutmeg, pepper, vanilla, oranges and pineapples. But, for me, the most impressive was the cardamom--I had no idea that it grew so closely to the ground:

The two days we spent near Thedakky in the land of spices were fun for all and we all experienced and learned new and interesting things. Oh yes, of course I bought some spices!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Zip It!

We've had a busy past two months, getting the boys settled back in school. Dorian was happy to go back but Arthur took about a month to adjust to his new school. For me, it's nice to finally have them at the same school on the same schedule. So, it's been school, play dates, homework for Dorian, etc. But, lucky me got to get away for a night with four awesome ladies. We booked a big room at the Neemrana Fort Palace (fort palace). It is a mere 2-hour drive from Delhi but feels worlds away.

Our first activity upon arrival was to do the zip line. After hiking up to the top of the hill, we were a bit nervous but it was such fun!

We weren't the only ones to relax at the pool...

Well-guarded fort:

It was a lovely time with good friends. Hopefully we'll get to do it again!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Strother Strong

I started this post a long while back. I kept adding to it, changing it and it still doesn't feel quite right, but I guess sometimes you need to keep some things for yourself...

We are back in Delhi...monsoon rains pour outside while the boys are playing legos on the floor and Dorian hums "Jingle Bells". The summer holiday brought many things and one of them that I am thankful for is that it brought the boys closer together. They still have their moments but they are getting along so much better. This summer also brought a tragic and unexpected life change to one of my dearest friends, Blythe, who is so dear, in fact, that I consider her more a sister. I have not been able to write about this because I haven't been sure how to actually put down in words what has happened and to really do it justice. But, it has been through her family's strength, positiveness and just all-around awesomeness that our world has been truly inspired.

On June 23, her son was in a horrible car accident. The car rolled and he was very seriously injured. When she called me with the news a week before we flew stateside, I spent sleepless nights thinking of  how everything had changed and how I was so far away from her.

The accident left Strother paralyzed from the chest down. He is only five years old. He has always been an amazing child--active in both mind and body--smart, charming, kind and with a smile that melts your heart. And, that has not changed. Visiting him daily, or almost daily, at the hospital showed what strength this five-year old possesses.  

Living half a world away, I feel fortunate that we were able to be there. He and Dorian bonded over paper airplanes and lollipops. And, seeing the extraordinary community of support that is available to his family was so reassuring. I was still so glad to be able to hold my friend's hand and give her big hugs.

Being back in Delhi is hard because I miss them so much. But, they are in a good place now, at the Children's Shriner Hospital in Chicago. He is getting amazing care through a supportive network and in physical and occupational therapy. One of my favorite moments was hearing Blythe describe Strother's first time in a wheelchair. He took off! I would have expected no less from him but it still brought a huge smile to my face.

This summer their lives changes. All of our lives changed. Their strength is amazing and has inspired the world around them--you need only see the team of people looking out for them to know how true this is. I so wish we were there still holding hands, giving hugs and making paper airplanes or participating in the myriad of events taking place to support their family. But, until our next visit, the boys and I will have to content ourselves with photos, skype, phone calls and sending virtual love in any way possible.

Please take a moment to check out his website, see his story and watch his progress: Strother Strong

We wear these Strother Strong orange (strother's favorite color) bracelets to support him and to feel closer despite the distance.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Kuala Lumpur: Birds, Butterflies and Buildings

Our last few days in Malaysia were spent in Kuala Lumpur. We visited the Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Petronas Towers, the Discovery Center and the cool aquarium. The boys thoroughly enjoyed the really nice playground and park that were just in front of the Petronas Towers. KL is a nice, modern and very clean city that's easy to explore with kids.