Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Smile..Luka, Benthe, Sam & Olin Look Here!

Today Luka and Sam spent the day with their cousins Benthe & Olin. They really wanted to get to the swimming pool, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity...They were all there and clean. So we went outside to take photos, but it proved to be a little more difficult than we thought.

The yard was full of duck poop and then as we started to take the photos they came with a big lawn mower to cut the grass. The kids really wanted to look at the man on the lawnmower and didn't really care about the crazy lady with the camera.

I guess it also didn't help that we took photos for only 1 minute! I think it would have been very entertaining if I would have recorded myself talking to the kids during the shoot..."Luka No!... Sam look over here...Benthe grab your brother...Olin, no, don't run away...Sam, don't eat the stick...Oh, I stepped on duck poop." ha ha ha.

Well, click here you can see all the photos we took.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Spending the Day with Our Cousins

Today was a great day. Luka has been really excited to spend time with his cousin Benthe and today finally he got his wish. The four of us headed out to Amersfoort (about 2.5 hours from where we are staying) to spend the day with Marielle, Rick, Benthe & Olin. I have to apologize, but Olin was taking a nap when I took out my camera, so he isn't in any of the photos. Sorry Olin, I promise to take a bunch of photos of you on Sunday.

So Luka and Benthe...man, they haven't seen each other in months, but they didn't miss a beat when they saw each other it was like if they have been hanging out all the time. They play so well together and they look blissful walking around and running together. Here are some photos from today.

Look at Benthe...she is so freaking cute and such a little princess. She is lovely and such a joy to be around. Luka couldn't get enough of her.

Here is Benthe with mommy and daddy. Marielle is JJ's sister. Don't they look alike?

Okay, I love taking pictures of my niece. Gotta love those wings!

Sammy also had a fabulous time. He was in awe of all the toys. Kids always like everyone else's toys better. I have never seen him so engaged...

Then it was Tea Time. Luka prepared tea for us and his cousin.

Benthe showed us the photo book from her latest holiday.

Sam being cute with his aunt and uncle. He thought he would be cute enough for them to let him play with the pink CD player...but it didn't work.

He was really happy today.

Final hug and some "love" before we left.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Breakfast Time with Sam & Luka

Untitled from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.

Just a little peek into breakfast time with Sam & Luka. Sam loves fresh fruit with yogurt but this morning he didn't want mommy to help and he wanted to grab the spoon on his own. Our little Sammy is growing up!

This was taken this morning at JJ's dad's house. We will be in Holland for a couple of more weeks.

Happy Father's Day

Photo: JJ and his father Jan Erik during Brunch.

This Father's Day our family woke up in Bedum (north of Holland) at JJ's dad's house, but JJ wasn't here yet. He went out for a Bachelor Party last night and daddy was MIA all morning. He had a rough/fun night with his friends and drove the 2.5 hours to get home in the morning. He made it home by 2 pm and we had a great Father's Day Brunch!

Baby, we want to wish you a Happy Father's Day! I am happy you got to "celebrate" last night and spend the day with us today.

Luka and Sam know they have the best daddy in the world!

Happy Father's Day to my dad too! I miss you Papi.

Thank you Jan Erik & Coby for a delicious brunch. I really love croquettes. Cuban croquettes are good, but I think I like Dutch croquettes better....que rico! I hope my Cuban family doesn't kill me.

Why Walk 60 Miles?

Why Walk 60 Miles? from Komen 3-Day for the Cure on Vimeo.

Many people ask me, "Why are you walking 60 miles?" Watch the video...it will tell you a little bit of why people do it and why it is so important. Do you know someone that has been affected by breast cancer. I am walking for them, for my grandmothers and for all the women that I don't know that have been affected by this disease or will have to battle it in the future. Hopefully we will find a cure soon and our daughters or future daughter-in-laws will not have to suffer from this disease.

To date I have raised $930 USD. I still need $1,370 to participate in the 3 Day for a Cure and I have less than 14 weeks to do it. Please consider helping me out by making a donation. No amount is too small...this is an amazing organization that is doing so much for breast cancer research.

Fundraising is a little challenging while on holiday, but if you are reading this post think about it....

Thank you to all my friends that have donated to date...it really means a lot to me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bachlorette Party in Holland

Today was my first bachlorette party experience in Holland. It was very different from a bachlorette party in the states...no dollar bills or strip clubs here...no veil with a crown or cosmopolitans to go around.

We spent the day on an organic farm in a cooking class by a renown local chef. Okay, so i didnt cook so much as I did take photos and eat the delicious food, but it was very interesting to see all the planning that went into a day with the "girls."

For the last couple of months I have been recieveing emails about Khadija's Party. We each had to bring a present that symbolized our relationship with the bride to be. The coordinator made a game and then a video that went along with the question game. The video was her husband to be going on about her...it was in Dutch. I cant really comment much on the video other than the fact that it had the bride and all the girls laughing and everyone seemed to enjoy Ted's commentary on Khadija.

I couldn't stay for all of the festivities as I had to get back to Sam & Luka (we had babysitters but I told them I would be home by 8 pm). And it took me three hours to get to the party. I spend 5 hours there...then three hours on train to get back. Yes, it was longer to travel than the actual event, but Khadija is worth it.

After the day on the organic farm the girls went for a hike on the beach followed by drinks and dinner at a beach bar.

JJ had the bachelor party for the groom on the same day. It was also a day full of activities followed by a night full of partying. The boys didn't come home that night. Does that sound fair to you? Well, the point is that they had a night to remember.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Mom Test

I don't usually post jokes and stories I get via email, but this was really made me laugh and it is really fitting at the moment since we are on holiday and Sammy seems to put everything in his mouth and I am following him around with a wipee 24 hours a day. My son has crawled and practically licked the floor in 4 different countries. If he doesn't get sick he will be IMMUNE to all germs..I hope.

In any case this story sent to me by my friend Maria in La Paz is very cute and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:


I was out walking with my 4-year-old daughter. She picked up something off of the ground and started to put it in her mouth.

I took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that. 'Why?' my daughter asked. 'Because it's been on the ground; you don't know where it's been, it's dirty, And probably has germs,' I replied.

At this point, my daughter looked at me with total admiration and asked, 'Mum, how do you know all this stuff? You are so smart.' I was thinking quickly and replied, 'All mums know this stuff. It's on the Mum Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a Mum.'

We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but she was evidently pondering this new information. 'Oh....I get it!' she beamed, 'So if you don't pass the test you have to be the dad.' 'Exactly,' I replied with a big smile on my face.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Boys will ROCK You

My Boys will Rock You from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.

Luka loves to play the drums and he doesn't miss an opportunity to do so, even if there aren't any drums around. Check out the instruments that he found in the lobby of our hotel in Mallorca. Sammy doesn't miss a beat and decides to join his older brother.

They always seem to keep me entertained!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Holiday Quickie

Okay, so Sam is keeping us really busy and I don't really have time for updates this holiday...but here is a quick recap and some photos.

We spent two days in Holland when we first arrived. We spent time with Omas and Opas and basically just refueled from our 50+ hour trip from La Paz. Then we were off on another plane to Mallorca via Barcelona. We arrived in Mallorca and the weather was beautiful. We are staying in Camp de Mar and is this place beautiful!

I have family here. My paternal grandmother was born here and she never had brothers or sisters, but was very close to her cousin Gabriel Covas. He passed away a couple of years ago, but his wife Anita is still in town and somewhat of an unofficial town mayor. He also has four sons - three living in Mallorca. The family owns a hotel and restaurant in Camp de Mar and have been excellent hosts. I love my "primos" from Mallorca.

Here is my uncle Gabriel talking to Anita...reminiscing about the "old days" and talking about my grandmother and relatives...she is a trip.

Oh, yes did I mention that my Tio Toto (that is what I call him) is here in Mallorca too. What a blast and how special to be here in the place that my grandmother was born with him! He made the trip with his friend Paco and the six of us have been going all around the island in our Baby Benz....let's just say that we look like the clowns at the circus when we get out of the car...but we are having fun.

Look Sam loves the local beer...that boy puts everything in his mouth and especially loves to eat things he finds on the floor.

Luka loves to give toasts...I think it makes him feel like a big boy and he reallly likes using a wine glass like in this photo. He has been so good on this trip. You know life in Spain starts much later...regular dinner time is around 9 pm. So Luka has been a really good sport adjusting. I mean Sammy has too but he has his stroller to snooze in when he is tired. The great thing is that the kids are sleeping much later here. Let's hope that continues, but I have a feeling that once we go back to our 7:30 pm bedtime then the 6 am wake up call will resume.

Luka never gets tired of smiling for the camera...

We went to the Monasterio de Lluc. What a beautiful place...after the historical visit we had a very "Spanish" picnic complete with wine and jamon serrano (que rico)...

After visiting the monastery we drove to the Cartuja de Valldemossa. It used to be a monastery, but it's big claim to fame is that is was the home to Chopin and his mistress George Sands for one winter. The funny thing is that within the building there are many rooms with different owners and two claim to be the place where Chopin stayed. It was very odd to visit one place and listen to the guide explain to you everything about Chopin then 5 minutes later visit another room and the tour guide there said "No, this is where he really stayed." Well, it was a very interesting place nonetheless. Here is the view from Chopin's room...well, I think this was his room.

Luka in Chopin's cell. The room's were called cells (celda).

Saturday afternoon we had a big family dinner at the Illeta...the family owned restaurant that is on a little island. You have to walk on a wooden plank bridge from the beach to get the restaurant...so unique and the food is delicious. Best paella I have ever had!

After lunch we spend some time hanging out on the beach and Sammy was checking our his first bikini babe!

Sunday my uncle was able to celebrate Mass at the local church in El Puerto De Andratx (not sure if I spelled that right). My grandmother is from Andratx.

After mass we went to Soller, where we had a fabulous lunch at Randemar...funny story about that. I put on facebook I was in Mallorca then a friend said, oh, my sister lives there and has a restaurant. So we went...with the internet it is a very small world. Well the place was fabulous. Click here to learn more about the restaurant and I will post more pics later. But I just had to post this photo of Luka and his new pet Nico (Cristina the owner of the resturant helped Luka come up with a name).

That is all for now...tomorrow we are off to the city center in Palma for some sightseeing and hopefully LOTS of shopping. I really want to shop!

PS Sorry for typos and mistakes...no time to fix.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Beginning of Our Holiday

On Saturday we took a taxi to the La Paz airport ready for our flight to Lima with connection to Amsterdam. As we waited and waited at the airport announcement after annoucement we realized that we wouldn't make our connecting flight to Amsterdam. Our flight out of Bolivia was six hours late and we arrived to Lima, Peru around 11 pm, but didn't get to our hotel until 2 am...that was fun.

But with all that said our Lima stop over was a pleasant surprise. We got to spend some time with Susana, Lua and Calvin (John we missed you)...our very good friends from Mozambique. It had been two years since we saw each other and once we started chatting it was like no time had passed, well except for the fact that this time we had Sam. I guess that is what it is like with good friends.

Luka had such a good time with Calvin & Lua.

Susana has this really cool camera that has a "child" mode...a little clown pops up on an LCD screen on the front of the camera...look it really works!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Thank You...What a Great Birthday

Yesterday my hubby planned a fabulous birthday dinner. The food was amazing...Indian food from local restaurant Indian Spice. It was sooooooo much food, but nobody was complaining. The dessert was made by friend Baking Diva friend Maria Renee...she made pecan blondie brownies topped with caramel, pecans and ice cream....DELICIOUS!

It was the first time we took advantage of the view from our terrace..here is the view from our place.

What a great birthday celebration. Thank you to everyone that came and thank you for all the presents and donations for the walk.

I have so many more things to share and say, but tomorrow we leave for five weeks and I have tons of work to do and suitcases to pack. I will say hello once we arrive in Holland.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Letter to Elizabeth & Clotilde

(Click on image to make it larger)

A couple of days ago the boys received birthday cards from Elizabeth & Clotilde. They are the mother/daughter team that used to take care of all of us, but specially Luka and for a brief period, Sammy. Luka really loves them, so do I and you can't imagine how much we miss them. I think Luka will always have a special bond with them, not only because they share the same nationality, but because they are two very special ladies that taught my little boys so much. Well, I learned a thing or two from Elizabeth as well.

She was there when I brought my baby boy home from the orphanage and I had all these questions, and was a little lost to tell you the truth. I mean she is a mom and grandmother. It was the next best thing to having my mom around. Clotilde joined our family later, but she fit right in and loved Luka and Sammy almost as if they were her own.

The cards they sent were so beautiful, they even had them personalized (names printed on the cards). They must have gone through a lot of trouble to do that. Luka stared at the cards and just thought about Mozambique for almost one hour. That is a LONG time for a four year old. He begged me to go back to Mozambique to visit. He thought we could just jump on plane and go..I guess we could, but we will have to wait a little while for our return trip to our first home as a family.

When we left Mozambique I said I would take Luka back when he was older and could appreciate it more. But I was thinking about it and I think I want to take Luka now when Mozambique is still fresh in his mind, his love for the country evident and there are still so many of our friends there. Why wait until he gets older....he might forget how much it means to him. Well, we can't go this week...ha ha ha. But I think I would like to take him sometime in the next two years.

I posted the letter the "boys" wrote to Elizabeth & Clotilde above, but it is in Portuguese (Thank you Paty for translating). Let's see how many of you can read it....

If you want to see some photos of Elizabeth and Clotilde click here to see a photo book we made for them when we left Mozambique.

Is this really Oprah or a canned email?

Many of you saw Oprah's last show...if not I highly recommend you download and watch it. Oprah was a constant in my life for 25 years. I started watching after-school at my grandmother's house when I was very young...probably too young but Yeya Angelita didn't understand Oprah...ha ha.

Anyway, during her last show she gave out her personal email address. Well, personal I don't know how much because she is one of the most famous people in the world.

In any event I felt compelled to write her an email and let her know how much her show inspired me and impacted my life in so many ways. I would share it on the blog, but my husband is so embarrassed and thinks I am cuckoo so I am a bit apprehensive about publishing my letter to Oprah for the entire world to see.

But hey, she did write back. Okay, so I think it was a canned email, but it was short and sweet, no graphics just a plain ole'email and I think it is as personal as she can do considering that she probably received literally millions of emails. She has been a busy woman for the last 25 years, never missing a show. I guess she needs a break.

Here is my FIRST official email from Oprah:

Hello my friends,

Thank you for the kindest words I've ever heard. It's so rewarding to hear how the show has impacted your life in profound and simple ways.

Thank you for your good wishes.
I'm bolstered and fueled by the energy of your every good thought.

A week ago, I was saying good bye.

Now finally away on vaca. Relaxing. Trying not to eat too much. But had 2 slices of the best pizza ever in life today. WHITE TRUFFLE! Had to stop myself. Could have eaten the whole thin sliced, home made thing.

Catching up on reading: UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand
I know so many of you have read already. It's as good as everybody says. 72 pgs. in, can't put it down.

Will not be emailing or checking emails on vaca but didn't want you to miss SONS of PERDITION on OWN tomorrow nite. June 2. 9E
Fascinating doc worth your time. About the young boys forced to leave the polygamist camps to make room for the men to marry the young girls.

I love a good documentary, like a good book.

Hope your summer's off to a good start, no matter where you are.

My new ambition is to make a treasure of the small moments.

All of your emails are mini treasures. As was that White Truffle pizza.