Friday, December 31, 2010

Evan's Letter to Sam

Recently I posted an update on Sam's 7 months. Here is his cousin's reply to that post. I suspect he had a little help from Abuelo...

Dear Sam:

I'm very happy to hear you are seven months old. Time flies when you are having Bolivia. Your mom loves you very much and wants the best for you, but when it comes to adviceon how to grow up, you better listen to your older brother or you cousins from Miami, like me.

I told you not to go to the bottle, to keep using the boobs as means of nutrition. I can tell you of my own experience, my dad was always talking to my mom to start using the bottle and give HIM a chance to play. And finally my mom gave up.

Also DO NOT SLEEP THE WHOLE NIGHT. By doing so your mom and dad are happy and refreshed in the morning and have more energy to tell you what to do and educate you. I'm more than a year old and still wake up at 4 or 5 AM for a bottle of milk and remind them I'm still in charge.

Be careful with the LEGOS, my brother Max is always playing with "little" LEGOS and I'm very smart, but for some reason they always look like Cheerios to me and in two ocassions I almost swallowed small pieces and almost gave a heart attack to "abuela". Tell your freaking Mommy to buy big LEGOS or DUPLOS.

Your mom is very concerned about the instructions on how to crawl. I was an expert on that before I started walking.
Just go forward and close you eyes. Follow the sound of your Mom or Dad's voice and you will be okay. I never had a nanny in my freaking life, but I trust you can follow her voice too.

The first word I said was "Grandpa". I know its going to be hard for you to say the same thing because you dont have crazy "abuelo" in front of you all the time. But try your best because he is also very proud of you. I promise you I will teach you how to say it, with a cuban accent, when you come by the end of January.

There is a misconception in all parents, that if you like to get things out of the box and putting back in the box is
because you are going to pick up your stuff in the future. The reason we put the stuff back in the box IS TO BE ABLE TO TAKE IT OUT AGAIN. When you get older is will be the same. Mommy gets all the stuff out of the drawers and NEVER puts it back. At least that is what ABUELA is saying all the time.

Well dear cousin I have to let you go. It's almost 1:15 AM and today I'm going to ask for my bottle a little bit earlier.

Love you,

Cousin Evan from Miami

Christmas in Miami

Here is a photo that my father sent of my mom's Winter Wonderland in Miami. A couple of things made me really nostalgic when I saw this photo:

1. The real tree. I miss having a tree that you can smell as soon as you walk through the door. I love my Target tree, but it is not the same.

2. The presents. Did you see how my mom wraps every present individually with a beautiful bow. I can see her opening up the ironing board in front of the TV to watch a Christmas movie and wrap presents. I love to wrap presents too, but here in Bolivia I couldn't find ONE roll of wrapping paper. You could only buy theses small single sheets that made it very challenging to wrap big or even medium size boxes.

3. The chimney. Yes, I know I am from Miami, but I can't think of Christmas without thinking of our fireplace. Not only did Santa have the perfect way to enter our house every year, but the best part was dropping the air conditioner down to 50 (the years that it was warm) and sitting by the fireplace roasting marshmallows or just sitting and listening to Christmas carols.

We weren't able to see family in Miami or Holland this Christmas, but I think my mom will leave the Christmas tree up till February until we get there. Lots of water mom!!! ha ha ha.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Luka's Report Card

(click on the image to see it larger)

We are so proud of Luka. He is doing so well at the American Cooperative School. Way to go Lukkie! Can I be anymore of an annoying mom...posting his report card on the blog. Deal with it...ha ha ha.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday in La Paz

(Photo of flower inside the Japanese Gardens)

Like I said before I need to catch up on my posts...Last week I had a session with a family in the local Japanese Gardens. I had a good time with this family taking photos. I also got to walk around by myself and the camera...first time this happens since Sam was born. There wasn't too much to shoot, but here are some pics from my Sunday.

This girl greeted me outside the Japanese Gardens. I am not sure why she was there, but she stroke up a conversation with me and when she saw my camera she wanted me to take a photo of her. I love her expression.

It seems that I wasn't the only photographer in town that had the great idea to take photos at the Japanese Gardens....

Walking to my car I was surprised to find that they were selling real Christmas trees. Everyone had told me that you had to buy an artificial one if you wanted a Christmas tree, well now I know for next year. This year our tree was already up and decorated...our beautiful plastic tree from Target.

Is it me or this lady doesn't look so merry to be selling Christmas trees...

Wondering how my photo session turned out with the family...well here is the Christmas card I designed for them with some of the photos from the session...just in case you are wondering what Limmil is..that is their family nickname and the name of their business.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Feliz Navidad

I am a little behind on photos and postings, but here is a photo I took a couple of weeks ago when Luka went to help me with a photo session. He was very excited to pose with this has the name of his favorite Christmas song.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

This Christmas didn't turn out quite how we would have expected, but I can't say it was a bad Christmas..just a little more low key than we would have planned. Let's see...Christmas Eve. We were supposed to go to a friend's house for Noche Buena for a Bolivian feast, but Sam came down with a really high fever so we stayed home and JJ and I cooked a pre-cooked chicken in the oven and had a couple of glasses of wine and saw a silly movie. No lechon, no yuca (i missed the yuca), no black beans...but what else does a girl need anyway.

I thought Sammy would wake up better, but he actually never woke up because he never really went to sleep. He was up all night, poor baby, with a fever and just a general state of uncomfortableness.

Santa managed to make it to our house and Luka was up bright and early to see if he had been naughty or nice. Poor Sam didn't really enjoy opening the presents at all, but Luka did! You should have seen his face when he saw the living room with was magical. This is the first year that he "gets" Santa Claus.

Well the day progressed and the whole family stayed in pajamas. This is the first Christmas ever that I stay in PJs all day. Let me tell was kind of fun. The pajama part...not the Sam being sick all day (reason why we stayed home). But it is 7:35 pm on Christmas Day and he is finally in his own bed sleeping for the first time in 24 hours. I think he is starting to feel better.

After our french toast breakfast in PJs. We had lunch (sandwiches) in PJs and then we had homemade fish and chips (deep fried) in our PJs. Some of you reading this might think..what slobs...but we had a good time soothing Sammy all day and watching Luka play with ALL of his Christmas presents.

Hopefully Sammy will feel better tomorrow and we will get dressed and venture out into La Paz. It has also rained all day so it has made it impossible to leave the house.

That is our Christmas report. We didn't have a Noche Buena, but we enjoyed the day as a family and we are healthy, happy and very lucky to have each other. Like Luka said today, "Mami, I am very lucky."

Merry Christmas from Bolivia.

To see more pictures from today click here.

PS I really got a kick out of watching JJ build all the toys and things Luka got. It made me think of my dad and all the things he built for us on Christmas Day through the years. I bet you he lost a couple of hairs trying to figure out some of those instructions. There was no internet in those JJ was able to find a video online when he got stuck on Luka's big pirate ship. What did people do before the internet??? ha ha ha.

PSS Mom, thanks for sending the whole family Christmas PJs...if not we would have been naked all day...ha ha ha. Just kidding!

Friday, December 24, 2010


This video broke my heart when I saw it on It made me think of all the times I will have to break Sam and Luka's heart along our journeys in this diplomatic life. I know they get many things in return, but they will be so sad every time we have to move. This little girl is moving to Japan...I wonder where is the next place we will live.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

For all those techies out there...

I was absolutely addicted to my iPhone before they stole it a couple of weeks ago and when I lived in Miami I couldn't go anywhere without my I really enjoyed this video. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

JJ's Version of a Christmas Tree

If it were up to JJ this is the Christmas tree that we would have up in our house. He is a total mac maniac. Too bad I can't buy him any mac toys for the holidays, becuase I think he already has everything. Baby, Merry Christmac!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sam is 7 months!

Sam turned seven months on Monday and I haven't taken time to write about. I am sorry Sam. Things have been very hectic in the van Herksen household. But I think this week is going to be great and hopefully less eventful. Luka is off school and we can concentrate on celebrating the holidays in La Paz!

So back to Sam. Yes, our baby is 7 months already. We can't believe it! Just this week JJ and I have noticed what a big boy he is. Sam is already sitting on his own and I think he is days away from crawling for the first time. He gets into position then is sort of lost and doesn't know where to go from is really funny to watch him try and grab toys and things that are in front of him. He finally loves to eat. He eats three meals a day plus milk and I think I am going to have to start increasing the portions because he always leaves his bowl empty.

As far as the milk...he has finally started to drink formula and give my boobs a break, but he still breast feeds about 3-4 times a day. For months I couldn't wait for him to get off, and now I feel so freaking guilty when he drinks a bottle. Why are moms so crazy??? I should be happy that I am getting a break after seven months...but what can you do.

He has (I don't even want to type it because I feel I will jinx it) started to sleep 6 hours straight at night. I hope it is not a phase and he starts to sleep better at night (so far it has been around 3 nights). I really need to sleep! And I noticed he is much happier when he does get a good night's sleep vs. waking up every 2 hours which was happening. Sleep Sammy sleep!

Sam, you definitely have your own personality now and you have started to express yourself. I can't get enough of your laugh, which comes out the most when your Big Brother Luka is around. He cracks you up!!!

Your favorite toys at the moment are you Fisher Price Shape Blocks...not so much for the blocks but because you like to take it in and out of the plastic box it comes in. You LOVE to empty containers...anything that is in front of you gets tipped over. And you also love LEGOS..again not that you can build anything at the moment, but you love to pick them up, throw them and take them in and out of the container they are stored in. I hope this means that you will be great at picking up your toys in the future.

Happy seven months Sammy! We love you.

PS You haven't had any first words yet but I swear I have heard you say Mama and Nononono.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Story about a "Rockstar Baby"

I was reading the New York Times Travel Newsletter that I get via email and I came across this great article about traveling with a baby in Southeast Asia. I could relate to the family on so many levels living with Luka in Mozambique and now in Bolivia with Luka and Baby Sam. Babies seriously break any cultural divides and everyone loves to talk about babies even if you have problems with the language you can always talk "baby."

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did.

Click here to read it.

PS Living in La Paz Luka and Sam are total rockstars. Probably more Luka than Sam...Everyone always wants to talk to him or touch his hair. The hair gets a little annoying, but Luka is slowing starting to warm up to all the greetings and "hola bebe" he receives on the street. But he is very adamant about NOT being called a baby.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Pummelvision

My Pummelvision from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.

I found this really cool website that takes your photos from Facebook, Flickr and I can't remember what other service and puts it together into this ultra cool video. It is like watching your life flash before your eyes.

I actually don't have many photos on facebook, I put them all on shutterfly and they don't work with shutterfly. But I thought it was really cool nonetheless and I thought I would pass it on.

Try it and send me the link to your video!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas...Even in La Paz!

This past weekend Luka got very excited when he saw Santa Claus in the mall and I was even more surprised to see it was a black Santa. I mean I have counted a total of like 10 black people in La Paz (including Luka) so this was a treat! Actually there were two Santa Clauses at the mall. Luka was very confused. But I told him that Santa Claus couldn't be everywhere at one time so these were special Santa assistants. One of the Santas was playing along and quickly chimed in, "Yo soy assistente #15!." Luka seemed satisfied with this answer.

Then he was curious as to why one Santa was brown and the other one was white. He went on to explain to me that he thought the brown Santa spoke English (he was American) and the white Santa spoke Dutch (he was Sinterklaas). Well I didn't explain and just said, "oh really, hmmm." When he sat on Santa's lap and he started to speak Spanish he was thrown for a loop.

This picture is not the best was an instant print from the mall, but don't my boys look cute. Sam even smiled! He was very intrigued with Santa's beard and you should have seen me dancing and jumping around trying to get them both to look at the camera at the same time. Someone should have taken a photo of that!

Well, we are busy in La Paz. Today the Christmas tree finally went up (i know a little late) but I have been trying to start up a new design business (more on that soon.) and also driving Luka to school, Dutch school and Christmas classes...oh I almost forgot about Sam. He is 7 months now and so adorable, but still quite a handful.

Yes, Luka is taking a christmas craft class and he LOVES it. He comes home saying, "Mami, hice Navidad hoy." They are supposed to bring all their projects home on Friday so I will take photos and post for everyone to enjoy.

Bye for now, but hopefully I will post more entries soon. I have many things to catch up on.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cupcakes, Candy & Rock-n-Roll

I have about 500 photos to edit from this party, but I couldn't wait to post some photos of Luka and his outfit. For two weeks he harassed me for a wig. All the kids in KG3 couldn't stop talking about Stefan's Rock Star Birthday Party. Wait till you see the photos this event!!!

Well, Luka was super excited and ask me everyday for a "PELUGA" (in the cutest gringo accent). I told him the word was like his name PE+Luka...well he was all over that. Finally the day before the party I found a shop that sold crazy wigs. Luka picked it out himself. Doesn't he look hilarious. To me he looks like a cross between a Black Bon Jovi & Garth (from Wayne & Garth). Love it!!!

He seriously rocked at the party...dancing with the company that was hired to entertain and grabbing the microphone to burst out in song or with a Happy Birthday to Stefan. More details coming soon, but these photos had to go on the blog right away.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Holiday Photo Fun

I love photos and I love the holidays so when I got this link in an email from Photojojo (super fun photo site) I had to share it with everyone. Some of these ideas are hilarious. Maybe I can get together with my sister in February and take a photo like the one above.....

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Morning Delights

Lately I am extremely sleep deprived, and unfortunately I am not a coffee drinker. But who needs a caffeine boost when you have these two little bursts of energy jumping into your bed every morning. Sam is usually in bed with us after his 6 am feeding...then around 6:30 am Luka runs into our room and his first question is usually, "Where is Sam?"

Monday, December 06, 2010

Follow-up Comment on Sinterklaas Posting

Here is a message from my sister-in-law:

Dear Melissa,

It's nice to see how much study you've made of Sinterklaas and especially of 'Zwarte Piet'. It might look strange and I understand that completely. But the thing is: we never look at it that way. For us 'Zwarte Piet' is just a funny assistant of Sinterklaas and nothing more...and yes we do say he's black because of the chimney.

After all, whether you celebrate Sinterklaas or Christmas with Santa (and fairytale elfves) it's both commercial and just a fun celebration:)


In the end I guess it is okay and all in the spirit of the holidays. Luka had a great time at the party, but the black paint still erks me!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Congratulations Little Sis!

I don't have all the details, but apparently my sister, Monica Vigues-Pitan, was nominated by the Daily Business Review as one of the most effective attorneys of 2010. That is amazing!

She really loves her job and is a stellar attorney because she is passionate about her clients and cases....definitely not for the money. She works for Legal Services of Greater Miami and everyday she makes a difference in someone's life. I will talk to her later today and get all the details, but I think she WON her category. Go Moqui...Go Moqui!!!! We will celebrate when we get to Miami in February. We are very proud of you.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Sinterklaas vs. Santa Claus

(Luka's Letter to Sinterklaas. He dictated and I typed)

We thought the hardest thing about growing up in a multicultural household (American, Cuban, Dutch, Mozambican & where ever we might be living at that moment) would be the languages. Well, we were wrong. Luka is three now and just beginning to take notice of the holidays, the seasons and all the questions that come with that...specifically Sinterklaas vs. Santa Claus.

I grew up loving Christmas and everything about it..plays about Jesus' birth at church, midnight mass, waiting every year for my grandmother to take out her "baby Jesus", putting up the Christmas tree and leaving it up (in my house) until February, waiting for Santa and leaving him cookies, waking up at 5 am to open presents...I could go on and on. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!

Now that I married a Dutchman we celebrate Sinterklaas on the night of the 5th of December. JJ is adamant about not mixing the two holidays, so our Christmas tree will go up on Dec. 6th so we won't confuse Luka.

Luka seems to know the different. Santa Claus is the jolly chubby guy with the reindeer and Sinterklaas is the dude with the long white beard in the red bishop's outfit that rides a horse. They look very similar and I have told Luka that they are cousins.

I have mixed feelings about celebrating Sinterklaas with our African son. I feel uncomfortable with a guy dressed up in silly clothes wearing black shoe polish on his face "assisting" Sinterklaas. To me that is a way of mocking black people. I did some "research" on the Internet and I used that term loosely because I used Wikipedia, but according to this website:

Sinterklaas is assisted by many mischievous helpers with black faces and colourful Moorish dresses, dating back two centuries. These helpers are called 'Zwarte Pieten' (Black Petes). During the Middle-ages Zwarte Piet was a name for the devil. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas eve the devil was shackled and made his slave. Although the character of Black Pete later came to acquire racial connotations, his origins were in the devil figure. This racialization is reflected in the reworking of the characters' mythos. Their blackness was racial, with Pete being an imported African servant of Saint Nicholas since 1850 (though some people say Pete was a slave who, when Sinterklaas bought him his freedom, was so grateful that he stayed to assist him). Today however, the more politically correct explanation that Pete's face is "black from soot" (as Pete has to climb through chimneys to deliver his gifts) is used. Traditionally Saint Nicholas only had one helper, whose name varied wildly. "Piet(er)" the name in use now can be traced back to a book from 1891.

So whichever way you look at it, in my eyes, it doesn't send a good message. "'Black Pete" is either the devil or a slave or both. Please can some of my Dutch family members shed light on this????

We will celebrate Sinterklaas today and I will grind my teeth as "Black Pete" runs out and throws candy at the children and later they will all play games. I would actually feel much better about the whole thing if a real black person dressed up as "Black Pete," but the black make-up kills me.

But on a happy note, Luka got really excited this morning when he saw that Sinterklaas, Black Pete and his horse had come to get the cookies and carrots Luka had left in his shoe...and he got a present! Today at the party Sinterklaas will have another present for Luka. This morning he got a toy story yoyo. Let's see if he gets the Buzz Lightyear at the party?!?!!?

We will keep you posted....

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Luka Gets "Props" in His School Newsletter

Today I received the ACS Connections (the school newsletter) and there it was...Luka's name in lights. Well not so much lights..more like in a bold arial font in an email. But for me it was just as good as lights! Here is the excerpt about his class.


Stefan Skaliks for giving his classmates kind compliments. Tadeo Gerke for greeting his classmates in such a cheerful, friendly manner every morning. Luka Reznicek for following directions so independently. Simon Schuab for bringing his pet rabbit to school and explaining how he cared for his pet to us. Luka Dario Van Herksen for doing such a good job of cutting his owl. Esteban Meyer for feeding the horses so many carrots. Agustin Barragan for rock’n’rollin like a pro in music class. Laura Reznicek for her artistic drawings and cutting. Valentine Mendizabal and Catalina Quiroga for being such expert horse women and smiling like champions. Alberto Blomqvist for doing such a great job of showing his parents and siblings around his classroom at the ES Open House. Dash Reznicek for brightening my day by saying, “Good Morning Mrs. Kirby!” in circle time.

From Mrs. Kirby

Congrats Luka and I can't wait to see that owl you cut!