Friday, June 26, 2009

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. van Herksen

Ronald (JJ's uncle) married Tineke today and it was a beautiful day. It was the perfect celebration with family and friends. Above you can see the happy couple. I have never seen a bride and groom so happy, calm, comfortable and in love on their wedding day and the love they have for each other and their families (they both have children from previous marriages) is obvious.
Luka was at the reception and he had a blast. I am not so sure he new it was a wedding, I think he thought it was a party with a really cool slide. 

Here you can see Luka, Benthe and Marc playing with the fishes at the 2nd wedding reception - the BBQ and Ronald and Tineke's house. They have a beautiful garden with a pond. At one point Luka almost went inside. Thank goodness I had a wardrobe change for him.

The live music was great. The duo are friends with Roseanne (Ronald's daughter). She sings and he plays the guitar. It was awesome. Everyone was sitting around them and laid back and so great at the same time. I wish I would have done something like that at our wedding....maybe at our five year anniversary party. By the way Luka was loving it...check him out in this photo.

Monday, June 22, 2009

We loved this park!

Today with spent the day in Nienoord - a mega playground for kids. It wasn't quite a theme park but this super playground was amazing for kids of all ages. Thank you Opa for taking us. We (the adults) probably had just as much fun as Luka. The park was so clean and almost every activity was operated manually (except the tractors) so it made it very child friendly and interactive. Take a look at some of the highlights from our day...

Luka loved the tractor ride so much we rode it twice. Grandpa got to ride both times!

The petting zoo was great. First we went into the barn, then we went to the open area as seen in the next photo. Luka was scared at first but after a couple of minutes he started to pet the goats.

Okay, here I am having way too much fun on the see saw!

Now I am just being ridiculous on the trampoline. I think I pulled a muscle in this photo. What was I thinking...34 four years old and trying to do a hurky!!! ha ha

Here JJ is peddling in the helicopter with Luka. We almost had to surgically remove him from this ride. I think he was a little bit taller than the average user.

Luka was really looking forward to the train ride! He sat there and waited until the conductor came.

"All aboard everyone!"

"I am such a big boy now!"

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day in Bedum

What a perfect Father's Day in Bedum! The only thing missing was my father, but besides that it was perfect. We spent the day at JJ's father's house and all of the siblings came to visit. We had high tea, mimosas, scones, biscuits, sandwiches, then dinner and fruit....what a menu...oh and we even had some pizza. The weather was gorgeous and Luka and Benthe were able to play in the garden.

Here is Luka in garden...doesn't it look like if he is standing somewhere really exotic. Opa and Oma work really hard to make their garden look this beautiful.

Luka looks a little devious in this photo. I wonder what he was convincing Benthe to do?

Luka loves to play with his Aunt Marlotte!

Happy Father's Day Honey!

Luka learned how to blow bubbles all on his own...just a couple of days ago he couldn't do it...they learn things so fast at his age.

Happy Father's Day Papi

As I was waking up to the sound of Luka saying "Mama, Mama" this morning at 4:30 am (Yes, he really woke up at this time and wanted to play!) I thought of my parents and then my dad since it was the early hours of Father's Day.

I can't remember one time in my life when my father hasn't been there for me. Whether is was waking up at the crack of dawn (I don't remember doing this, but I am sure I did), helping with a homework assignment, a ride to the movies, helping me with a student council campaign or planning a wedding my dad was always up to the challenge. One thing about my dad is that he is always "in the moment" and always makes my sister and I feel like whatever he is doing with us is the most important task at hand.

Papi, how did you do it....Where did you find the energy? You must have been drinking some serious "Red Bull." Now that I get to run around with Luka all day and at 4:30 in the morning I realize all that you and mom did for us growing up.

You continue to be a great dad and grandfather even if we have some miles between us. Who else will get up and put on the Skype camera at 7 am just because Luka wants to see abuelo on the computer?

I see how you are with Moqui, Maxwell and Wole and I turn a little green when I think how lucky they are to have you close by.

I want to wish you a very Happy Father's Day and remember that even though we live halfway across the globe you are ALWAYS in our thoughts and I know that you continue to be there for me in so many ways. JJ, Luka and I send you a big hug and we will hopefully get to see you on the webcam later today.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cuba Week in Groningen

Who would have guessed that it would be Cuba Week in Groningen (city in the north of Holland) the same week we would be visiting? JJ's father had told us about Cuba! Art & History from 1868 to Today an exhibition at the Groningen Museum and I was really looking forward to it. The painting above is titled Portrait of Maria and is on all of the promotional materials. For more information on the show you can click here.

The show was amazing. There was so much artwork. Much of it was Pro-Castro and Pro-Revolution, but that was expected due to the fact that many of the pieces were taken from the National Museum in Havana. But I don't think I would have ever had the opportunity to see so much art from Cuban artists in one place and so well organized and displayed. I loved some of the paintings that depicted regular life in Cuba, but the photos were amazing. You could see so much of the history through the pictures and you could really feel the country coming to life through the series of photographs.

For more photos from Cuba Week click here and look for photos in the Dutch Holiday album.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Luka & Benthe's Photo Session

On this day we had a little photo session with Luka & Benthe. We wanted to take some nice photos to give to Opa (Grandpa) on Father's Day. What do you think? To see more photos from our trip click here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Luka's Trip to the Zoo with Oma & Opa

Today we spent the day at Burger's Zoo. It was an amazing zoo. I have been to a couple of zoos before and this one was outstanding! I have never felt so close to the animals and there were so many of them. We saw giraffes, lions, zebras, tigers, monkeys, gorillas, baboons, sharks, elephants and the list goes on. We were able to see them eat and stand less than a meter away from them including the tigers. Okay so there was a glass wall in between us, but it was still unreal!

Here are some photos of the beautiful aquarium section. At one point you were completely surrounded by water and glass and it almost felt like you were swimming with the stingrays and sharks that would pass by.

Here are the lions. I counted 13. There were so many! Luka was really intrigued. He hasn't been to Kruger National Park yet back this was a big deal for him. Actually it was a big deal for me too. I have never seen so many lions in one spot.

Next on my virtual tour are the tigers and yes it was feeding time. Those poor little bunnies. I was literally standing right in front of the tiger on the glass wall. I don't think I will ever get the opportunity to be this close to a tiger having lunch ever again.

Here you see Luka making friends on the playground. He always likes to flirt with the girls!

Here I am taking my annoying photos. But Luka seems to like them.

Luka with Oma Coby and Opa Jan Erik (JJ's stepmom and dad). He really had a great time today!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Marinke's Wedding Fashion Show

JJ's cousin Marinke got married about 6 weeks ago. We were not able to attend the wedding and I thought we would only be able to see her in her wedding dress in photos, but she surprised us. She knew we were coming and waiting to take her dress to the cleaners until we got to see her in it. I thought that was so cool. So here is Marinke in her beautiful wedding gown. Thanks Marinke...that was really thoughtful!

We spent the rest of the day with them and Luka of course had to be the center of attention...singing, dancing and being his usual self. Here we are in the the living room of their new place as Luka sang to them...I will try and post a video later. This connection is too slow for videos.

Visiting Oma Stolk

We are finally in Holland. I am so happy to be in one place for the next 2.5 weeks. It is really tiring to travel in the car with Luka. It is not his fault. I am sure there are not many two year olds that would enjoy hours upon end in the car. So here we are in Holland...

We are staying in a vacation park centrally located to all of JJ's family members and it is in the middle of a forest. It is also located next to the largest sand dunes in Western Europe. I won't believe it until I see it...what are sand dunes doing here in the middle of Holland. We still haven't had a chance to explore our immediate surroundings.

We have been visiting family. Luka had a blast today visiting Oma Stolk (JJ's maternal grandmother). She is so cute and loves Luka. We got there and she had tons of presents for him that he didn't even wait 1 minute to open. Then we went on a walk with Oma around her house and visited the playground and blew some bubbles. It was amazing to see the interaction between both of them. Even though they are like 80 years apart, they communicated magically and Luka couldn't stop talking about Oma when we left her house.

(Oma's portrait taken by Luka)

I also want to give a special thank you to Oma Stolk. As soon as we walked into her house she gave me an envelope and told me it was for this children at Luka's orphanage. She donated 100 euros to the Infant Nutrition Program I organize at the orphanage. That will buy TONS of diapers and formula! I was shocked she knew about it because I had only posted the information on my blog. I thought does Oma go online and read my blog? But no, she told me she has her little spies that read it and then share the photos with her and translate the information into Dutch (Thank you Marlies...I think it was you). Luka and the children at Primeiro de Maio want to send a big kiss to Oma Stolk!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Lazy Day in Luxembourg

These are our feet taking a break from walking. I think we deserve the break after all we walked in Barcelona. Today we arrived in Luxembourg to stay one night with our friends Jeff and Joao. Once we arrived we took a lazy stroll down to the local market to see what the local Luxembourgans (not sure on this spelling) were up to. Here are some photos from the market:

Did you know that most people that live in Luxembourg are from somewhere else? I found out yesterday, which happened to be election day, that only 56% of the residents are eligible to vote...and voting is mandatory. Walking down the street you hear all kinds of languages, but the neighborhood we were in you could mostly hear Portuguese.

Oh, here you can see Luka on his first swing ride. We don't have these types of swings in yes it took us two years to get our son on a swing. He loved it! Thanks Uncle Jeff for those extra hard pushes.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Postcard from Barcelona

photo courtesy of (I found these really cool postcards. They also have some of Mallorca...Check it out)

Yesterday we arrived in Barcelona after an 7-hour boat trip from Mallorca. Oh, how I miss Mallorca! Barcelona is an incredible city and there are so many things to see, but I didn't find it very toddler or stroller friendly. There are tons of museums and places to visit but not for a two year old. I think Luka needs to be a little older to appreciate city trips. He is much happier playing in the sand or splashing around in the water.

We spent the day on our own "walking safari" getting to know the city. I would love to come back with JJ to take advantage of all the museums, nightlife and so many other things Barcelona has to offer.

We do have to thank Ignacio and Ivette for welcoming us into their beautiful home and for the delicious dinner last night. Seriously, Ignacio really outdid himself! Ivette is the sister of our good friends from Maputo (Sergio & Salut) and it was great to stay in a cozy "home" during our quick visit to Barcelona.

Tomorrow we start our road trip back to Holland with stops in Lyon and Luxembourg.

Here are some of the pictures from our day in Barcelona:

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Felicidades to Me

Well, today I turned 34 and it was a great day. My two boys woke me up this morning with a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday and chocolate crossaints! Delicious!

Then we were off to the market in Andratx, Mallorca. I was a little disappinted in the market, but I always have a good time walking and people watching. Then we had lunch at the port with my cousin Anita at one of the best restaurants in town.

From there we went to relax on the beach. Luka is REALLY happy on the beach...look at my little beach bum.

Here is a photo of my cousin Miguel and his girlfriend Silvia. Thank you to both of them for showing us around Mallorca and being the perfect host. I think Miguel might have a run for his money with Silvia. Luka fell in love with her. The photo was taken at Miguel's apartment in Camp de Mar...look at that view!