Friday, July 30, 2010

Pancakes for Dinner

In Holland everyone for the most part eats very healthy. When I walk around town I see very tall thin people. But they do have some food traditions that I find very interesting...and very yummy. For example...

Did you know that it is very common to eat french fries for lunch when you are on the go? You can buy them at stands on the streets with a big glob of mayonnaise. They also like bread with butter and chocolate sprinkles for breakfast. I really like that one.

But my favorite has to be pancakes for dinner. Yes, you read right...pancakes. Well, they are a little different from the pancakes you get at IHOP. You can eat them with syrup, sugar, Nutella or something salty like cheese, ham, salami, etc. They are delicious....

Luka loves them as well and he made them with Oma for dinner. He ate three pancakes that night!

Happy Birthday Grandma


The four of us want to wish my mom a Happy Birthday today, but Sam as the newest member of the family wanted to say Hooray and Happy Birthday Grandma! See you soon...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Family Time in Holland


We have been in Holland a couple of days and I have lots of stories and photos to share, but I am not sure where the time goes. We wake up in the morning and before I know it it is time to put both of the boys to bed. Where does the time go? I promise to update the blog soon with some of our outings and adventures in Holland. But for now we are enjoying the time with the Dutch familia and Sam is busy meeting everyone...

Here is a photo of Luka and his cousin Benthe the day we celebrated Oma Joke's Birthday (JJ's mom).

Napping in Daddy's Arms


I just couldn't resist posting this photo of Sam napping in JJ's arms...doesn't he look delicious?!?!?!?

McReunion


Yes, that is JJ & our good friend Bastiaan at a McDonald's in Den Haag. No, we are not really excited to be at the golden arches....we were really excited to see our best friends from Maputo. They left Maputo in mid-June and we had really missed them and will miss them in Bolivia. But we got the chance to meet up with them for a couple of minutes before they embark on thier Brazilian adventure. They will be moving to Brasilia (close to Bolivia.....yeah!)

Paty, Bastiaan, Max and Nynke have been a constant in our lives the past four years. We would see them everyday (sometimes twice a day). They were our neighbors in Maputo and Luka and Max played together all the time. Check out Luka's reaction when we surprise him:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Birthday Oma Stolk


Today it was Joke's (JJ's mom) birthday and we were in Holland to celebrate it. We started off the day at Neenord (a kid's park) and then we had lunch at a restaurant on a nearby lake. It was a great day. To see all the photos from the day click here.

Happy Birthday Joke!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Maxwell


We missed Max's party at Chucky Cheese...Luka is really upset about that. But we will be in Miami soon and Luka and Max will have time to celebrate. Here is a photo of him at his birthday extravaganza.

Thank you Dad for sending me all the photos.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Farewell Mozambique


Today we said goodbye to our home of four years. So many wonderful things happened for us in Africa. It is a posting that we will never forget and I have a feeling we will visit often so that Luka can always feel close to his country.

It was a very strange feeling to leave Maputo and know that we won't be back after a holiday. It was our home, the place where we began our lives as a married couple, had our children, had our family and made some of the best friends we will ever have. The friends we made in Maputo became our family and I am not sure what i will do without them, but I know that we will see each other very soon....actually we have already planned a Maputo reunion in Brazil next year.

I will also miss Maputo the city. The day I found out I was moving to Mozambique...I am not going to lie to you I was afraid and didn't know what to expect. As an American never stepping foot on the African continent I had no idea what was in store for me. Little did I know that I was moving to one of Africa's best kept secrets. Mozambique is considered a "hazard" post according to the Dutch Foreign Ministry....but I think the only hazard is that you won't want to leave after four years.

Coming from Miami I was very happy to live on the ocean again. It was great to be able to see the ocean every single day. Either when we woke up in the morning (when we lived in our apartment) or in our daily drive around the city.

I also am going to miss Elizabeth & Clotilde. They became part of our family and Luka developed a close bond with them. Elizabeth was Luka's surrogate grandma and my surrogate mother at times...always giving me advice. I was a little lost sometimes when it came to the kids getting sick and she was always there to calm me down and answer all of my questions. When we left they each wrote Luka a letter and I will save the letter that I will read to him again when he is old enough to understand where he comes from. He will always have a tie to Mozambique through them. After all they are his Mozambican family. To see photos of them with the boys click here.

Some things I won't miss from Mozambique...everything taking so freaking long and all the red tape and bureaucracy in the government. After all a place can't be perfect. Mozambique still has a long way to go as far as these things go.

But our time in Mozambique will always have a permanent space in my heart...it gave me the most precious gift of all...my family.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Luka's Last Day of School


Luka was able to celebrate on the last day of school with his friends and teachers. We took cake and chamussas for his schoolmates and they sang songs and wished him well on his new Bolivian adventure. Here is a "silly" photo of his class and teachers (Ms. Maria & Ms. Rita).


To see all of the photos from his special day click here.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bath Time

Every night we have our routine. Luka takes a bath first....then he is put in bed. Then it is Sammy's turn for a bath. JJ and I do it together and it has become a little ritual. For the last couple of night's Luka has wanted to join in on the fun. He really gets a kick out of helping us with Sam. And from the looks of Sam's face in the photo below he seems to enjoy having his big brother around as well.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One of Sam's Favorite Poses

Doesn't it look like he should be saying, "Hmmm, one million dollars."
From Austin Powers....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Los Tios Cubanos


Luka was lucky enough to have sus tios Cubanos in Mozambique. We met Mirtha and Yudel a couple of years ago and they have been a constant in Luka's life in Mozambique. This couple is amazing. They volunteer 100% of their time in an orphanage in the outskirts of Maputo and live on donations from the church. They are wonderful with the children and even took in Deborah as their own. Here she is in the photo. She was teeny tiny and very ill when they got her and with them she has flourished and keeps getting better everyday.

Luka loves his visits from his Cuban aunt and uncle. We will miss them!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Two Tinhikos


Today we said goodbye to our very good friends Sergio, Salut & Tinhiko. We met them a month after we adopted Luka and they have been there for the rest of our adoption adventure. They have become a very special part of our lives with Luka, and now Sam as well.

We met Tinhiko in the hospital a couple of weeks before we adopted Luka and visited her daily. She was just a tiny newborn baby and we loved her very much. We wanted to adopt both of them but they wouldn't let us...so we were very excited to find out that Tinhiko had been adopted by a Spanish couple and they had kept the name we gave her...same middle name we gave to Luka - Tinhiko (I think they spell it differently, but in the end it means the same thing - GIFT.

These two children have been the greatest gifts anyone could have given us. Tinhiko and Luka are beautiful children that are so animated and full of life and this really comes through when you are with them (and in the photos). Those two are inseparable and really love each other.

The times we have spent with Tinhiko and her family are moments that Luka (and we) will never forget. I know that we are only saying goodbye for now because we will see them very soon in the near future.

I don't think these two can stay apart for long....

For all the photos from that day click here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Other uses for the Vuvuzela


If you have seen at least two minutes of the the World Cup you might have seen, but certainly heard the Vuvuzelas. At first I couldn't believe that FIFA would allow them inside the matches. I mean they are freaking loud. But some friends that went to the World Cup said they totally made the atmosphere. It was electric. We had one here at home for a couple of days and Luka was blowing that horn and he loved it. They do have a very unique sound! Here is a cartoon on some "other" uses for this very interesting horn....ha ha ha.

We have our very own photo booth!



I just love my Mac!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just because...


I have no particular reason to post this photo other than I love it and I was playing around with one of my photo editing programs.

The look in this photo captures Luka perfectly at this stage. He is still the same sweet Luka, but he is loving being really naughty at times and he loves to constantly challenge me at the moment. I think being a big brother has stirred up many emotions for him. He is crazy in love with Sam, but he is still three years old and acts like it sometimes. The excitement never ends...

We love you Luka!

Say Cheese


A couple of weeks ago when Sam was 5 weeks we went to take some photos. I thought it would be the perfect time to capture Sam's "teeny tiny" stage and also to take some photos with Luka. The photos were taken by Vanessa Kruger - a South African photographer here in Maputo. The package was such a deal. If you are in town and need to take family photos I think she will do a great job.

Click here to see the rest of the photos from our session.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Best Team Won


Our household was a little sad after the outcome of the World Cup...but the best team did win. Congratulations to Spain! If another team had to win I am glad it was Spain. Viva Espana!

Holland, it was a great ride and you did an amazing job. We are still very proud to wear orange!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Sam...Sort Of


Dear Sam:

Today you are two months old. Although it has only been 8 short weeks it seems like so many things have happened. You have changed so much since the day you arrived and I have also changed, or should I say I am feeling normal again. Everyone said it would take about 8 weeks, but at the beginning you don't believe anyone...but it is true. And now that I am feeling better I get to have a lot more fun with you.

You managed to find your rythym at night and only wake up once for a feeding. You sleep MOST of the night....I know that you don't realize how great that is...but mommy and daddy are very happy.

You are also breastfeeding like a champ and grow about 300-400 grams per week. I wonder how long that will last. You are already wearing 6 month clothing and I am running out of clothes since I sent all the larger clothes to Bolivia thinking that you would be wearing the 3-6 month size until we got there...silly mommy. I guess we will just have to do some shopping.

You smile at us everyday and I think now you almost have a real laugh. Daddy is much better at getting you to laugh than I am. Luka also makes you laugh sometimes.

You are really good at holding your head up and enjoy our daily tummy time. You don't like being left alone to sit...we still need to work on that one.

We love you and are having so much fun with you at the moment!

Love,

Mommy

PS This is a photo of you today, to see more photos from your second month click here.

Early Mornings on the Weekend


Luka is up at 6:15 am everyday no matter what. He doesn't change his routine for the weekends. So lately I am up with Sam anyway so I try to entertain him. Luka loves to dance so he is very happy when I play music on the computer. He particularly loves music videos on YouTube. Here he is jamming out to one of his favorite songs.

I apologize for the dark video, but it was very early in the morning and I wasn't ready for the bright sunlight.

Mozambique in The Economist


I came across this article on Mozambique and I thought I would post it on the blog. My friends and family always ask me about Moz and this article gives you a peek into the economy and how Mozambique ranks in terms of other African countries.

Did you know that in 1992 Mozambique was the poorest country in the world? The article also says that Mozambique is "one of the best examples of post-conflict recovery in Africa." Well living here I find it hard to believe and I often wonder how success is measured, but then again I have never lived in other post-conflict African countries...so I don't have much to compare with. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Mozambique, but I often get frustrated at how things are run here and as an outsider it seems that many of these "donor" programs don't necessarily benefit those that the programs are intended for.

Click here to read article.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letter to Sam from Evan


Evan was the baby in the family until Sam took his place. I think Evan got a little help from Grandpa...here is a letter Sam received a couple of weeks ago from him. It was very funny and I wanted to share it with all of you:

Dear Sam:

We have seen your pictures and you are a great looking baby. Enjoy those comments now, because if you are going to look like your daddy when you grow up, then the comments are going to change.

I am no longer the youngest grandson in the Vigues/Pitan/van Herksen tribe, so let me give you some tips regarding some of the comments Aunt Melissa has made on the blog (that is your mommy in case you are not familiar with family connections yet).

The burping thing is funny…parents like to hear that. It doesn’t mean anything to us, but they think we are going to feel better after that.

The farting part…enjoy it as much as you can. In a couple of months they are going to complain about the smell. I have learned to control the farting and only do it when I am with Grandpa or Grandma, because they really laugh and don’t mind the smell.

Enjoy breast milk as long as you can. My mom cut me off and started giving freaking Similac on my third month. I probably did not get all the antibodies I needed, but what the heck I survived.

The sleeping the whole night without waking up is not cool. My brother Max and I are famous for waking up 2-5 times per night and you are going to make us look bad. We are cousins and we have to stick together. So, if is not a big deal, wake up and cry a little bit for the sake of us.

You don’t know a lot of stuff yet, but slow down the learning curve. They told me that Aunt Melissa (your freaking mom) was always talking a lot about how smart your brother Luka is.
I know you are going to be smart because you daddy is very smart and your mommy is ok, but don’t be a show off like your brother speaking 4 languages at two tears old. It puts a lot of pressure on us and its not fair. Maxwell had to learn to count to 50 in Spanish in case your mom started showing off.

I’m very happy you are my cousin. I was a little upset when grandpa and grandma ignored me for a couple of days, but now I am starting to talk and say words. I know how to say "mama” and "papa", but apparently they don’t care and try to teach me how to say "abuelo" and "abuela", but that is really hard for an eight month old baby.

I love you and will see you very soon!

Your cousin

Evan

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Peter


Today our good friend Peter celebrated his fourth birthday. Luka and Peter are buddies and he had been looking forward to the party all week...especially since it was a "superhero" party. We found Luka a "Superman" shirt (adult size, so it looked more like a dress) and I managed to find a hankerchief in red, white and blue so that was the perfect cape. He thought he looked really cool....I thought he did too.

Peter is the one under the Spiderman mask.

Thank you to Laura, Peter and the rest of the Spear Family for a wonderful time!

To see more photos from the party click here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

HOLLAND GOES TO THE FINALS!!!


Holland has made it all the way to the World Cup Finals! We can't believe it. Hopefully now people will know where Holland is. You know that people still ask me if JJ is Danish....it happened just this Sunday! Come on people.....

Now everyone will know that Holland has a great soccer team in addition to windmills, cows and clogs!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Sam's Many Faces


A couple of people have told me that Sam is starting to look like me? What do you think?

But the majority still think he is a mini JJ. Most people see him and automatically say he looks like his daddy. We should start calling him Sammy JJ Jr!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Happy Birthday USA


I was trying to explain to Luka what the 4th of July was and the easiest way was for me to tell him that today was the USA's birthday. He still wanted to know "who" the USA was....I tried to explain but I don't think I was doing a good job on that one. Nonetheless we sang Happy Birthday to the USA and were off to the 4th of July picnic sponsored by the US Embassy in Maputo.

The festivities were held at the American School and they did a really good job. The decorations were great and I felt like if I was in a fair somewhere in the USA. I also loved the music...especially when I heard God Bless the USA by L. Greenwood. I am not a very patriotic person, but man I love that song and every time I hear it I stop and ponder on the fact that I am an American. It is one of the few songs that really make me stop and think about all the lyrics. It is so cheese, but I can picture myself traveling all lover the US. I guess that makes me a little patriotic...at the very least proud to be an American. Please tell me that someone else out there has the same reaction to this song...

The day was full of activities for Luka and JJ and I had a mediocre hot dog...but it was either that or Thai food and I thought the hot dog was more "4th of Julysy."

Here are some photos from the day and above you can see the whole family celebrating "Sam." No, not Uncle Sam...our new baby Sam.

Luka was very proud of his tattoo.

Awwww...the new family of four!

Yummy....blue ice cream!


To see all the photos from the 4th of July please click here.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July


Today we will go to the Fourth of July Family Day at the American School. I am really looking forward to it and spending the day with my three boys.

July 4th is a day that I always spent with my family and many times we spent it on the beach. I am feeling a bit nostalgic today and I am missing them terribly, especially knowing that my mom, dad, sister and her family are renting on Miami Beach this weekend. They must be having so much fun with the kids. But we will see them soon enough and it will be perfect beach weather when we arrive in Miami, barring any hurricanes from appearing.

This video has nothing do to with my family or 4th of July, but I came across it this morning and I was looking for Luka's favorite music video on YouTube. I had never heard this song during his campaign...but I guess it is as good of a song as any to jam to on the 4th of July. Luka really liked it as well...

P.S. OMG, if they have sparklers at the picnic today it will really make my day.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Way to Go HOLLAND!!!!


Way to go Holland! I can't believe they beat Brazil...and one of the favored teams to win! Now we have to beat Uruguay or Ghana. I am rooting for Ghana tonight when they play Uruguay, but I think I will be wearing orange if they get to play Holland.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Lucky 7



It is incredible to see how much babies change just in 7 weeks. Here is a photo of Sam at seven weeks and one the day he was born! Amazing...

Let's see...this week he started to have somewhat a routine at night...Bath at 8 pm then some milk...then bedtime at 9 pm. He sleeps till 2 am then some more milk...then up at 5 am for some mommy and me time. This is such an improvement from the marathon of feeding him every 1.5 - 2 hours. Thank you Sam! He still hasn't had a bottle, but seems to love mommy's booby juice.

He is a champ at lifting up his head during tummy time and every time we hold him up straight he has to lift up his head to see what is going one. He is really observant.

His smiling is all the time now and I think he recognizes JJ and I and can tell us apart. I guess that is not too hard, since I am the one with the milk on tap...ha ha. But he responds to our voices with slight differences and he also stares at Luka all the time. I wonder what he is thinking about his big brother...probably "please stop counting my fingers and toes" since Luka is obsessed with that. I think he wants to make sure Sam doesn't loose any of them.

Luka has become very overprotective of Sam. If he cries he yells, "Mommy, please help him...he is crying." It is pretty cute.