Monday, August 29, 2011

It's all about the PINK

If you are in La Paz I really hope you can make it to the PINK PARTY. We will be raising money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the 3-day walk in a couple of weeks. If you aren't in La Paz, but still want to help out remember that you can always make a donation.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bolivia "High Society"

(I am the tall one in the top right hand photo)

Look at me..I am famous. There I am in the "social" pages of La Paz's premier newspaper. Well, I don't know about being famous, but our fundraiser received great coverage in some of the local papers. I am part of the American British International Association (ABIA) and we had a "Generous Hearts Party" to raise money for our four charities. It was amazing. We raised over $6,000 USD in one night!

5:30 am...Seriously?

JJ left very early this morning. The boys seem to sense when daddy is not home and they always wake up early. Today they decided to wake up at 5:30 for me. Well, I don't really function that well in the morning, but my boys do. One thing Luka loves to do is take photos. Here are his photos from early this AM. Sorry of for the quality, but they are taken in low light with my cell phone. But I love to see what Luka captures...

Don't I look beautiful...

Sam runs away from his brother with the camera...

We really need to get rid of Samy's pacifiers...any suggestions out there?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Getting Lost with the Hash

Every two weeks I walk with a group in La Paz called the Hash Harriers. It is a very fun walking group and every walk ends with a beer drinking circle. Well, I don't really drink beer but the songs and silliness is always very amusing.

The walk is marked by a "hare" the day before, so no one really knows where the walk goes. It is all a mystery. There are turns and traps, but if the hare does a good job we shouldn't get lost. Well, I don't know if it was the hare or us, the walkers, because we were having too much fun walking and talking, but we got SUPER lost. I mean really lost. We kept going up and up and up and did I mention up. It was supposed to be a one hour walk, two hours into it we were still walking uphill. We found the runners trail and ended up in a spot where the runners came to pick us up.

I got in a great workout yesterday and it was actually kind of fun getting lost in a scary way. Oh, did I mention that we ran into Kujo. My friend Lucia almost got her butt bit off by a dog. That is why I picked up this spear (aka tree branch) to wear off the next Kujo that would cross our path. Luckily I didn't have to use it, but don't I look scary...not really, huh?

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Little Salty Sam

(click on the images to make them larger)

Sam has had a busy and "salty" week at LIVE this week. He also discovered that he loves to paint and we painted at home as well. I just can't believe he ate a tossed salad today at school. Now, why won't he eat salad at home?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Women Who W(h)ine in La Paz

Tonight I went to my first "Women Who Wine" event in La Paz. What a great group of ladies! I had a fabulous time and hope to join them on a regular monthly basis. Next time I will actually drink wine, this time I was a little, no a lot, carsick from the taxi ride uptown and when I got there the last thing my stomach needed was wine. But the company and conversation was divine, just like the wine...I was told.

Here is the official description of the group: Women Who W(h)ine is a space in La Paz for fabulous women to come together and share, talk, laugh, debate and even sometimes w(hine) in Spanish and English. We meet once a month in one of the members houses (changes each month), bringing something to share eat / drink. Meetings usually happen on Thursdays starting at 7pm and go on til around 10ish. It is a group that is open to all women in La Paz be they bolivianas or gringuitas - they only requirement is that they be FABULOUS!

Doesn't it make you want to w(h)ine?!?!?!?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Abuelo's Interpretation

My dad is so freaking funny. I love getting emails from him, especially when they are a response to one of my posts. Here you go....for your reading pleasure:

Dear Busy Daughter:

Thanks for sending Sammy's first drawing to start my 4th grandson's art collection. As you know when you are retired, you have more time to research stuff like Disney characters and I'm sorry to tell you the his first drawing IS NOT a dinosaur, but the famous and lovely Donald Duck.

I'm sending graphic proof of your artistic error. Don't fell bad. When the 3 only things I have to do is: 1. Do what your mom tells me to do 2. Watch my 4 grandchildren and 3. feed the birds....I have time to research Disney characters.


a.k.a Proud Abuelo/Grandpa

I have to agree with my dad after seeing the does look like Donald Duck! Thanks Papi. I love you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sammy's First Drawing

This drawing was actually done back in June in Holland. We were at JJ's mom's house and Sammy picked up the post-it note pad and started doodling. What an artist! Being the proud mom that I am I had to save it, but being the crazy mom that I am I didn't find it until today that I found it stuck to the bottom of my to-do pile. Well, at least I found it and I can share it with the world. Sam was about 13 months when he drew this. What do you see? I think it looks like a dinosaur.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Breakfast with My BREASTfriends

Here is the invite to my latest fundraising project for my walk that is less than 5 weeks away. Where did the time go? I can't believe my 3-Day Walk is almost here. If you are in La Paz, please call me to attend this breakfast. It is not only to raise money for the walk, but 50% of the proceeds will go to Ms. Anabel Garcia. She is the elementary school secretary at ACS and her battle started with breast cancer a couple of years ago. Now she is fighting brain cancer and going through chemo and if things couldn't get worse, her insurance will not cover the treatments....they say it is a pre-existing condition.

Help me fight this terrible disease. If you are not in La Paz, remember you can still sponsor me for the walk by clicking here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One of My Training Walks

I clocked in many kilometers training for the 3 Day for a Cure in DC. Here is a little insight into my walks here in La Paz. This video was taken after we had walked all the way up to "La Muela Del Diablo" and then walked about 30 minutes down to the entrance of the park. We are about to make the 10 Km (6.2 mile) walk downhill back to town. Let me tell you, a long walk downhill in La Paz is sooooo much easier than a short walk uphill!

Thanks to my walking buddy Bianca! Aren't the mountains beautiful...

Our Picnic Spot after our Walk

Este mensaje fue enviado desde un dispositivo BlackBerry®, un servicio provisto por Tigo.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Just a Regular Day with My Boys

There was nothing really special about today except for the fact that I realized I hadn't snapped any photos of my boys just hanging out at home in a long time. Lately, I have been so busy and I can't remember the last time I snapped away while Sam and Luka played.

In the photo above you can see Luka's signature expression. He loves to make that face and I love to take photos. It makes me smile every time. The boys were playing out on our terrace.

Lately Sammy has all these faces, but this one is one I really love. He looks a little like he wants to hurt you...I think he is even packing a punch, no?

Okay, this hat is still a little big on him, but who cares...he looks so darn cute!

Chug, Chug, Chug. It was a warm day outside in the La Paz sun and it is important to stay hydrated.

Luka, of course, as photogenic as always. I wish I knew how to smile like that!

Bolivia & Butch Cassidy

I just came back from the movies and I am usually not a fan of westerns. The whole outlaw with guns thing just doesn't amuse me, but today I really enjoyed this unique western.

The plot was great...supposedly Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in Bolivia in 1908, but this movie has a different take. Butch Cassidy survives and assumes a different name, James Blackthorn. He stays in Bolivia, where he raises horses and carves out a quiet life for himself. He wants to return back to the states as an old man, but his plans take a turn when he runs into a Spanish engineer/ have to see the movie to find out the rest.

Sam Shepard does an amazing job. He has this innate talent to let you know what he is feeling without saying a word. It was pretty spectacular to watch. And the scenery...Bolivia is beautiful and this movie celebrates this country.

I have lived here for one year (one year anniversary on Sunday) and I haven't seen any of the places in the movie. I am so taking the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid tour!

Well, I don't really know if they died at the hands of the Bolivian army in 1908 or not, but I rather think that Butch Cassidy aka James Blackthorn made a life for himself in Bolivia...who knew I had this in common with a legend.

I am not sure if this movie has been released in the US or not, but go see it. You won't be disappointed and you will get to see a lot of this beautiful country I live in now.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sam's Weekly Update from Daycare

(Click on images to see them larger)

I really love these updates I receive every Friday afternoon. I love them so much I just have to share. Look at how "grown-up" my little boys looks...

FYI, he does not sit like that so concentrated at home, but I am glad he does it somewhere.

Happy Friday and enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Somethings Gotta Give...

(Luka, Sam and I in Holland on our recent holiday)

The last couple of weeks I have been on overdrive. I have been extremely busy, but so busy and all over the place that I can't seem to do anything 100%. I think I need to re-evaluate my commitments and somethings gotta give. I have to let go of something if I want to be good at anything.

I have come to the realization (I already knew this) that it is hard for me to say NO. When I was not a mom not saying no was not that big of a deal, but nowadays it has much bigger ramifications.

I didn't realize how thin I was spreading myself until I made a list of everything I was doing. These are my paid jobs:
- Mami Love Design: design on anything paper & photography (avg about five projects per week, this week a lot more)
- Marketing Consultant for the School (currently working on new brand and website)
- Herbalife (started an Herbalife business that just came about spontaneously from people asking me what I was doing, still in initial phases)

Then I volunteer, but these take up a lot of my time:
- ABIA: I am the president of the American British International Association. I am not really sure how that happened. It is a great organization that raises a lot of money for local charities, but president...I just wanted to participate.
- School Marketing Committee

Then I have these pet projects:
- La Paz Yard Sale: online site where you can buy and sell goods in La Paz. Currently I am doing this for free. I was waiting to get the weekly update list to 100 people before I started charging, but lately I have so many ads and it takes time to post and keep the site current. I had done this in Mozambique and I saw the need for a site like this when I arrived in La Paz, but I should start charging.
- 3 Day for Cure Walk: As you know I have been raising money to participate in this event. I have reached the required goal of $2,300, but now I am helping my sister get to hers. I am organizing two fundraising events here in La Paz...but know I am rethinking this. It is like a whole other job, but I feel I need to do this.

Let's not forget my 24-hour responsibilities of being a mommy and now I have two schools to drive to and two different drop-off and pick-up times for Sam and Luka.

I feel like I am not dedicating enough time to being a mother. I have the opportunity NOT to work, so why am I working so much. I need to learn to say NO (if I say it enough times, I will eventually do it).

I also lost my nanny a few weeks ago and haven't been able to work out a new system. I have someone babysitting, but they don't engage the kids, specifically Luka. Today I realized that since we got back from holiday he is watching too much TV. What happened to my 30-minute per day rule? I have been so busy that it has been extended without noticing. Poor Luka, I am only hurting him.

I also noticed that I hardly take photos anymore (only for work). Poor Sam doesn't have one photo book. This really makes me sad and anxious. I have so many personal projects to get to...but don't have the time. I really need to take time to enjoy my children and not to mention my poor hubby!

Do you remember that Calgon commercial from the 80's? I find myself repeating over and over all day long, "Calgon Take Me Away."

I think I know what I have to do, it is just very hard for me to do it. But for the sake of my kids and my marriage I have to come to terms with the fact that being a wonderful mother and wife doesn't mean that I have to do all these other things.

At the end of the day, what accomplishments will I be proud of? Of course, my kids and my family!

I apologize for this post "rambling." I just really needed to vent.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Top of the World @ La Muela del Diablo

We had heard people talking about La Muela del Diablo and we were very curious, but what I really wanted to do was to "investigate" la Muela to see if it was safe for an in-town walking expedition. It is only about 30 minutes by car and that is due to all of the twists and turns more than the distance.

So we packed everyone in the car and off we went. We also went with some friends: Bianca, James & Santiago and our friend Samantha. I wasn't sure what to expect...but I kind of had an idea that we would see some type of "muela."

But when we got there the view was breathtaking and it is one of those days that you appreciate the beautiful scenery of La Paz. The weather could not have been more perfect.

Here we are the four of us. As you can see we put Sam in the Ergo Baby. I was kind of paranoid that he would just walk off the mountain. I know I am crazy, but this place was not the most child friendly.

There is the famous muela...I think it has a cavity...What do you think?

Trying to get a photograph with the boys...after about 50 shots I think this is the winner!

Luka showing us his Michael Jackson moves at the top of the mountain. "No oxygen....who cares...I still feel like dancing." Just kidding...there was plenty of oxygen.

There I am with Bianca and walking buddies.

For all of the photos from that day click here.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sam Ate Through Zoe's Birthday Party

Today was Sammy's first Birthday Party for one of his classmates - Zoe. She invited Sam and Luka to her Rapunzel fest. Sam either was really hungry or loves party food. That boy would not stop eating!

Prince Luka had a great time hanging out with some of this friends from LIVE. Zeky and Emiliano (twins) get along really well with Luka and they happen to be Zoe's big brothers.

Hey, is that Sam eating again? I think at this point he had 15 pieces of hot dog.

Oh, it is time for the cupcakes now....

"One, two, five cupcakes...who is counting?"

"I hope Mommy doesn't see me eating this too"

If Sam wasn't eating he was playing in this little house. I think Sam thought it was a real house he could move into...he felt right at home. The house had a working door bell that Sam couldn't get enough of.

Prince Luka is ready with his crown!

Hey is Sam sneaking some food in during the show?

I thought Sam was too little to sit and watch the show, but he was captivated! But look, he is still eating too. He has gummies in his hand.

To see all of the photos from the party click here.

Sammy is such a BIG boy!

I am so happy with Sam's daycare. The school is amazing, two weeks ago Sam couldn't sit in a chair on his own without falling and look at my big boy now. He looks like he is conducting a really cool science experiment, no?

Every Friday I look forward to these "weekly recap" emails I get from his teacher, detailing of all the activities they have done for the week. It is a real treat to be able to take a peek at what he is doing while mommy is away.

You can click on the photos above and see them larger. Enjoy! I loved his expressions and look of concentration so much I just had to share.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Little Sis and Her "Sheldon" Story

(My little sis and her son Max a few years ago)

Sorry, I know my posts have been few and far between. I am so busy these days, seriously uber busy and I really need to do something about that, but more on that later.

For the last couple of days I have been helping my sister with her application for a prestigious program - The Miami Fellows Program. I actually applied for it while I was working at the University of Miami (many moons ago), but at the time I switched jobs and my new employer wasn't too keen on the idea. So I am so excited to help my little sis get into this outrageous leadership program. It is truly an honor just to apply.

And I really can't think of a more deserving person, go Moqui!

But the reason for this post is that I wanted to share a little story with you. It is actually one of the questions on the application. You have to discuss a community issue of particular meaning to you and use a personal example or experience. Here is her response:

Years ago while I was still in college I had an experience that would make an enormous impact on my life. At the time, it didn’t seem like a life changing experience. It would take a few years for my lesson to come full circle.

I had spent the afternoon shopping at Bayside and as I was walking to my car as homeless man approached me and asked me for money. On this day I decided to do something bold and out of the ordinary, I invited this man to have lunch with me. In that instant all I could see was that this man was hungry and I felt he needed something. As we sat in Burger King we talked, as normal and awkward as it could have been with a stranger. We ate, he said thank you and I felt strange parting ways, wasn’t sure of what to say. “Call me if you need anything,” just came out and I wrote down my phone number of a piece of paper.

Two days later I received a call, “Hello, it’s Sheldon. Do you remember me? You said to call if you I needed anything. Well, I got a job at a local car wash and I would really love a Walkman to hear music.” A Walkman? He needed money, a home and all Sheldon asked for was a Walkman. I could do that. We met two days and I gave him a Walkman. I never spoke to Sheldon again, until…

Fast forward to three years later, I was interviewing prospective clients at a local shelter as a law clerk intern. We could both sense we knew the person sitting in front of us. He looked at me, I looked at him and then I just asked, “Do you remember someone giving you a Walkman years ago?” It was Sheldon. That day I learned that my short encounter with him has a lasting effect. That day when he was asking for money, he was looking to get a fix, but when we sat down to have lunch something changed. They day ended unexpectedly – it ended with HOPE. Sheldon still struggled, but at this point he was clean, had reconnected with his daughter and he had a purpose. Everyone deserves a voice and to be treated with dignity and respect. My encounter with Sheldon has given me a mantra for my work - I can make a difference by being a voice for those that don’t have one or need help finding one.

Isn't that a great story. I have known it for years and I have used it on many occasions to talk about my sister. She is still the same student that invited a homeless person to lunch at Burger King (you are a little loca Moqui, but I admire you sooo much!).

These days instead of taking homeless people to Burger King, she is advocating for the rights of those people that can't find for themselves and she is doing a darn good job at it. This month she is fighting for medical benefits for kids with autism and just last year she won another big healthcare benefits case in the Florida Supreme Court! This are just two of the many, many cases she works on. No, wonder she was one of South Florida's Most Effective Lawyers of 2011.

Well, obviously working for Legal Services, she doesn't do it for the money. I know she loves it and she wouldn't give up the high that she gets from helping her clients. I don't think we all need to be super attorneys, but I do think we all need to stop and think of what we would have done if Sheldon would have stopped us to ask us for money outside of Bayside that day? I wish I could say that I would done something that bold, but I don't know. Think about it...maybe the person you meet on the street just needs a little respect and a smile.

Just something to think about today...She is so going to KILL me for posting this...too bad.

PS By the way, I have to give prop to my parents, because they always taught us to help those less fortunate than us, no matter what situation we were in at the moment. My dad always buys food, blankets, etc for people on the street. Growing up it was not uncommon to take all the left overs from Thankgsiving and Noche Buena, wrap them up in individual portions and drive around Downtown Miami to give it away. Moqui, must have learned it from somewhere...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

This one is for you Mom!

Every year growing up, and I mean EVERY year my mom took these awful photos on the first day of school. Yes, she took photos of us all dressed up and ready to go to school on this important day, but the photos I am talking about aren't those.

I really hated the breakfast photos she always took. I mean come on...I wanted to eat my cereal in peace and have time to wake up before seeing a flash. I always thought, "Why can't she wait until I am dressed up and ready to smile?" As much as I hated these photos growing up, now I love to see them. I love the funny faces, forced smiles and the best part is seeing all the different cereals I ate through the years. I have to dig up some of those photos and post...let me see if I can find any.

The photos became a Vigues family tradition and now they are a van Herksen family tradition. So mom, you asked for them and here they are: Breakfast photos of Luka on his first day of KG4!

As you can see Sam was as excited about the photos as I was growing up, but I know that one day he will appreciate them...I hope.

Here he is trying to learn how to use his fork. Breakfast is always a battle with Sam, but his favorite seems to be eggs.

Finally out of PJs and finished eating breakfast, here you can see Luka with his new KG4 teacher Mrs. B! Good luck this year Lukie, we love you!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

I think I might like this walking thing...

I never thought of myself as an outdoorsy type. But the more I walk around town and the mountains, the more I like the idea of hiking and maybe, dare I say it...camping. Well, let's not go crazy just yet. I am getting into this hiking thing.

It all started training for my 60-mile walk in DC, but here in Bolivia I haven't really been able to train the usual way. Most people that do the 3-Day for the Cure train with short walks during the week and 10-15 miles walks in the weekend. Well, here in La Paz a 15 mile walk is always going to take me uphill and 15 miles would take me forever on the weekends I walk 5-6 miles but it is always a challenging terrain.

I hope that training at this altitude, will prepare me and maybe give me a little advantage. I will be walking less than 48 hours after I arrive to DC so I should have lots of red blood cells to give me the boost I need. One can hope...

But back to this walking thing...I really love it.

Next week, I will go...let me get this right "La Muela del Diablo." It is about a 3-mile hike all UPHILL. At a much higher than where I live in the Zona Sur. Today's 6-mile hike had a portion that was uphill and I was wheezing like crazy...but I can do it. If I keep conditioning my lungs...who knows I might be able to run one day. No, just kidding. I will be happy with hiking uphill and not wheezing like an 80-year old that smokes 2 packs of cigarette a day.

La Muela del Diablo here I come! It sounds like a place in a Goonies movie or maybe Romancing the Stone. Boy, I watch too many movies.

In addition to the training, this week is a BIG week. Luka starts KG4 tomorrow and he needs to be at school t 8:30 am. This is going to be a huge challenge. Luka, Sam and I all need to be ready at 8:10 am and out the door. I drive Luka to school, then drive Sam to daycare, then drive back to Luka's school for PTA and other meetings. Sam can't be dropped off at school before 8:30 pm hence my loop around the city. I will let you know how this "first day" goes.

Well, I need to get to bed and rest up...oh, i need to charge my camera. If I don't take photos of Luka's first day of school and breakfast at home my mom will kill me. She never missed a first day of school or breakfast from Kindergarten to College. Yes, college...

Sweet dreams...

Friday, August 05, 2011

Loving LIVE...

It has been three weeks since Sam started daycare and he is hooked. He loves going to "school" and he can't get enough of Ms. Mari - his teacher. I actually am loving LIVE too. He has changed so much since starting and is becoming so independent. Luka went to daycare so early, so I was little reluctant and I think that it was harder for me than for Sam, but I don't regret it for one moment.

Look at that face...he is so happy.

Here he is showing me his blocks.

"Well, hello you come here often?" This is Zoe, the only girl is Sam's class of 5.

They have this mirrored triangle. The kids love it and Sam as well. On his first day at school he layed on the ground and was laughing hysterically from seeing his reflection all over the place.

I am such an annoying mom...I need to learn to let go...but I don't want to.