Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Little Frankensteins

On Sunday we unveiled yet another Halloween look. To tell you the truth Luka was not very fond of this one. He much preferred being a prince, but he did humor me and wear his Frankenstein costume to the party we had yesterday. Sam on the other hand loved his Frankenstein hat and didn't even try to take it off. I just think they look so cute and Sam had his Frankenstein "growl" down perfectly.

Luka is not scary at all...

Trying on his "zombie" face

There he goes again with his funny tooth thing he does...

OMG, I love this hat on him!

There is Luka's famous smile!

Pure yumminess...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carving Our 1st Pumpkin

I must confess that carving my first pumpkin had me very nervous. I don't know why...I just had never done it and I had no idea where to start. Well the first hurdle was finding a pumpkin in town. You see the pumpkins in Bolivia are a completely different color and shape so finding a "gringo" pumpkin was a challenge.

My friend Matt owns a restaurant and his chef goes to the central market every day. For an entire week I had his chef on "pumpkin watch." But no luck...

On Saturday afternoon after Luka begged and begged to make a Jack-o-Lantern we stopped at the market by our house and thank goodness they had a green pumpkin...close enough.

On Sunday Luka woke up at 6 am begging to carve the pumpkin. I couldn't believe his excitement for this truly American tradition. I was kind of excited too, but very nervous at the same time. How the heck do you carve a pumpkin?

So at 7 am JJ and looked for videos on You Tube (seriously, you can learn to do just about anything there) and whala we learned how to carve our first pumpkin.

In the first photo you can see the boys ready to carve the pumpkin. Luka was so excited that he went to get his own camera to chronicle the event.

Luka liked getting all the guts from our special pumpkin.

Sam didn't want to miss any of the excitement either.

Luka drew the shapes so that mommy could cut them out.

Luka was so into this project. I wish I had this type of concentration for some of the other activities I do with him...like reading or writing.

Hey, Luka has pumpkin mouth...is that contagious?

And there you have the first Van Herksen Family Pumpkin! By the way, I asked Luka to name the pumpkin...he named her Isabella. I think he has a crush on my friend's daughter and guess what her name is...Isabella. Kind of a funny name for our 1st pumpkin, but it was a total success.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

ACS Book Parade


Luka's school celebrates BOOK WEEK and at the end of Book Week they have a Book Parade where classes dress up like characters from a book and they parade around the gym. Very simple, but very cute and the kids and parents enjoy it a lot. Here is a video from Luka's class at the "parade."

Sam's Friday Updates



This week LIVE was full of activities and Sam's class got larger. There are now 8 students in his class and by the looks of one of the photos he might have a crush on Daria. Look at this expression in the photo. It is the first photo for "Jueves." Remember you can click on the photos to see them larger.

Friday was a big day. We had the Halloween party. I will post photos on that later, but Sam's favorite part was eating cupcakes. That boy really loves his sweets. He was dressed as an apple and I was Snow White. I really have to post those photos soon so you can see how cute he was. Here is a little teaser...

36 Seconds in Cape Town

I love Cape Town! This video was a little reminder of how much. Just a surprise when I clicked open my New York Times email this morning.

And if you are intrigued by the video click here to see what to do if you are every 36 hours in Cape Town. I miss you Africa!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life from My Blackberry

I don't really love the photos that I manage to snap with my crack berry, but sometimes I don't have another camera close by and my boys have their moments of absolute "yumminess" and I can't resist...

Here is Sammy at the Tennis Club having lunch. This was before we finally took him to cut his hair. It was little long, but I couldn't bring myself todo it.

On this day I was laying on the couch feeling under the weather and Sam was just hanging out with Mommy before he had to go to school. I love his expression in this photo. Will they always be this cute?

Okay, I think we need to cut his hair! ha ha ha ha...We finally did a few days later.

Every Friday Luka and I have "Fun Lunch Fridays" or "Fast Food Fridays" as I like to call them. We go to lunch and Luka gets to pick...so needless to say we usually go somewhere that has burgers and fries on the menu. On this Friday Luka wanted to bring a special "friend"...he loves Catalina. At times he says he wants to marry her, luckily that day they just wanted to share fries and Fanta. I wasn't sure if Burger King could handle a wedding on such short notice.

In Maputo Luka used to LOVE milk shakes, but then he just stopped drinking them. This week he suddenly got the urge and I couldn't wait to share this yummy treat with him here in La Paz. It made me remember all the milk shakes we had at Cafe Sol in Maputo...oh, the good ole days! I think this will become a tradition here. The strawberry shake at Alexander's Coffee was excellent by the way!

Hey, you are drinking from mommy's straw too! You didn't leave much for me! But it is okay...I know you enjoyed every bit of it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Pink Party Made it to VIP


Finally...better late than never. Over one month has passed since the PINK Party took place in San Miguel, but it is good to have some publicity on this great cause. I hope to have many more PINK Parties next year. So people in La Paz get ready and who knows I might plan one in Miami and Holland during one of our holidays. My sister and I have signed up for the 3-Day Walk in Tampa for 2012 so the fundraising has turned into a year-long project. But 2012 will be a little easier since we have a whole year to do it.

Thanks again to Rodrigo and Ignacio from Destapa for such a great party!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

La Paz's High Society

Well, not so much, but JJ and I did appear in some of La Paz's society pages recently. The article above is from a Baby Shower I attended for one of my fellow KG4 moms at one of my favorite cafes in town - Harina. Do you see me? That is me with the short hair on the second little photo from the top.

And here you can see JJ at the ambassador's Going Away party. I love how we leave Miami and all of a sudden we are in the Society Pages...who knew we were so posh...ha ha ha. That was a joke! Do you see JJ? He is the 1st photo in the 4th row.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Updates



So my little Sammy is growing up so fast and these Friday updates from his daycare are a constant reminder. Enjoy!

Remember that you can click on the photo to see them larger.

Oh, here is another photo from the fabulous Rio Birthday Party he had this week on Wednesday. Is he eating a donut? I am really jealous...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Everything Happens for a Reason

I was a Facebook this morning and saw someone comment on Giuliana Rancic saying she has breast cancer. My first thoughts were, oh my gosh, she has been trying to get pregnant for such a long time. Okay, I am not friends with the woman, but she has been very vocal about her struggle to have a baby and IVF. Having had fertility issues for many years I related with her story and like Giuliana I always talk about my road to motherhood, adoption, IVF, etc. but I am not famous and I think it is very commendable that she has chronicled her experiences to share with other women. I am a strong believer that it is easier to go through the whole ordeal when you talk about it...at least it was that way for me.

Well, today when she went on the Today show, her news wasn't about her pregnancy, but about her new battle with breast cancer. The way she found out was amazing and very important. Before she started her latest round of IVF with a doctor in Colorado she was told to get a mammogram. The doctor explained that he would not go through IVF with her if there was any chance she had any type of breast cancer. The hormones in the pregnancy would accelerate the cancer and would speed up the disease. Reluctantly she did the mammogram and it was not good news.

She is in the early stages of breast cancer. When I went through my final round of IVF, the one that gave me Sam, I also had a sonogram (the doctor said that with "young breast tissue" sometimes a sonogram was better) and I also had the blood test to check for the breast cancer gene. I have a strong family history of breast cancer (unlike Giuliana) but thank goodness all was okay and the IVF was a success.

But I remember thinking I wish all doctors were this thorough and honest. I am so proud of Giuliana to go public with this very personal story. The moral of the story is that you are never too young to be vigilant against breast cancer - check yourself monthly, ask your doctor about a sonogram or mammogram, be informed. If you catch it early, you will most likely be okay and live a full life.

On my recent 3-day walk for breast cancer I met many young girls (ages 25 - 45) that had breast cancer young and as survivors they almost had one thing in common...early detection.

So Giuliana thank you for keeping us informed and aware! We are sending prayers your way for a speedy recovery.

In the end you see everything happens for a reason. She mentioned in this interview: "This baby saved my life. If I had never gone through this process of IVF I would have probably never found out about the breast cancer until later and maybe by then it would have been too late. I found it early and I AM GOING TO BE OKAY."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Just a Regular Saturday

Yesterday was just a typical Saturday. The boys had a Birthday Party and my fabulous Hubby gave me a couple of hours of peace and quiet...so my three boys were off and I had a couple of hours all to myself and guess what...I was bored and kept wondering what they were up to. So when they got home I thought they looked so cute I just had to snap away. I love "brother" t-shirts and Luka wears them so proudly that is just melts my heart (he has a couple of them).

We took these photos outside on my terrace. I wasn't too happy with my snapshots, but doesn't that always happen...if you force the shots then the session is a bit of a disaster, but at least I have some snaps to remember the shirts and to remember the day that I missed my boys while they were off at a birthday party...not only did I miss them, but I didn't get to eat cake...ha ha ha.

Luka loves the camera!

Here you can see Sam's new haircut closely...Oh, I missed that too. I heard Sam was such a big boy and sat very quietly on Daddy's lap.

Okay, this photo is a little blurry, but I had to post because I wanted to share Sammy's favorite smile/expression. He spends the day making this face every time he is doing something that he knows/thinks he shouldn't be doing. It makes me and JJ laugh every time. I just have no idea where he gets this under bite expression. When Luka was little he had his "winky" face and Sam has this one, but I haven't come up with a name for it. He just does it all the time.


For all the photos from this day click here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BeyBlade Battles in Bolivia

Photo: Notice Luka's enthusiasm and Sam's inquisitive face.

Well, I am not sure if they are happening all over Bolivia, but they are happening in front of my house. We are new to this whole BeyBlade phenomenon. Actually it all started a couple of weeks ago back in Washington, DC....JJ calls me and the conversation goes a little like this:

JJ: Where are Luka's BeyBlades?
Melissa: His what, what the heck are BeyBlades?
Moqui (my sister chimes in on the conversation, she is with me in DC): Please don't tell me that Luka doesn't have BeyBlades
JJ: Luka is invited to a BeyBlade Party and I thought he had one (JJ didn't know what they were either)
Melissa: No, Luka doesn't have a BeyBlade...that was just a top I bought in Miami last time.
Luka: I need to take BeyBlades to Stefan's House

So there I was in DC feeling really bad that my son was going to be the only one boy at the party with no BeyBlade and my sister wasn't making me feel any better...so you know Luka was definitely going to have BeyBlades by the time I arrived back in La Paz.

My sister sent my father on a mission to buy them. We had to walk for three days straight so we really didn't have time to shop. But my dad came through, as always, and bought Luka two super cool blades.

And now you see it...Luka is a BeyBlade Champion, well not so much...just yet, but he is enjoying this BeyBlade madness.

I really just love hearing him say, "ONE, TWO, THREE, LET'ER RIIIIPPPP!"

And Sammy loves to make the BeyBlades stop once Luka gets it going...actually a really good toy for both of them and really good for their social skills as you can see from the photo and video.

My Latest Project

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly offers exclusive photobook layouts so you can make your book just the way you want.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Updates


(click on images to see them larger)

Another Friday and more updates from LIVE. This week we are in for a treat...because there is one with Luka too. Luka had two days off from regular school and he loves LIVE so off he went to join his little brother...in the older class of course. At LIVE Luka is a leader and basically runs the class, but at his regular school he is more of a follower. I still haven't figured out why because the kids in his class at LIVE are the same age as in his KG4 class at ACS. Maybe it is because he is in the "oldest" class at LIVE and his "little" brother is in the building.

Here is Sammy's update...isn't it amazing all the do at school. He must love that life size screen with animals. Don't miss the last photos with the bunnies from LIVE. Yes, they have bunnies hopping around the garden all the time. Remember to click on the photos to see them larger.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Over One Year Since We Landed in La Paz


This past weekend I spent it cleaning up my iPhoto and organizing all of my photos and I came across this photo from the day our container arrived in La Paz and we started to unpack our life from Mozambique to start our new life in Bolivia. Really, has it been over one year? The time really flew and in a blink I have a "grown-up four year old" and the tiny baby I arrived with has disappeared forever and been replaced by an extremely active...is 16 months a toddler? I really hope it isn't. In any case he is growing up so fast that I can't seem to catch up with him.

As I look at this photo I think how many times in my life will I go through this experience. I love the fact that our life is an adventure, but also dread the fact that we never seem to plant roots in one place. Let's see so far I have unpacked moving trucks 3 times - twice in Maputo (we moved to a house while living there) and once in La Paz. I wonder all the places we will open containers in the future and how many of those places will feel like home.

I guess our family feels at home when we are all together, and it doesn't matter where we are. I often get scared of how the transition for the boys as they get older. Right now, even for Luka it is still fun, but what about the day he has to say goodbye to his best friend or worse yet....a girlfriend. Thousands of expats do it all the time but that doesn't make it any easier.

I never thought I would adapt so easily to places that I have never been to or have any connection with, but as my diplomatic life progresses I realize that especially now that we have kids, to adapt means to survive.

You have to get there, find a school, make a home, find some friends, schedule playdates, go to after school activities...make a normal life as quickly as possible. Growing up I never thought I would have to do this over and over again, but it seems to be working out okay.

I wonder where the next posting will take us...

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Tomato for Dinner?


Luka has the pickier palette compared to Sam, but tonight I was surprised at what transpired at dinner. On Sundays I usually make an omelette with Luka, but today we made an omelette sandwich with egg, cheese and tomatoes (yes, super gourmet I know). Those are three ingredients that both of the boys can agree on and something that mommy can actually cook.

I thought Sam was going to devour the sandwich, but Luka beat him and ate every last bit. All Sam wanted to eat was an entire raw tomato!!!! Where did he learn that, unfortunately not from me. But man, does that boy love tomatoes. So much for my omelette sandwich...

Here is a video...

Addicted to Lists

(click on image to make it larger)

Most of you know how much I love to make lists....well, look what I found. This is a pretty genius way to sort my to do list, because they always have to go into separate categories, so one general list doesn't do the job. This way makes it easier for me to prioritize. Enjoy and happy listing!

Found this list and many other great templates at The Project Girl.

Friday, October 07, 2011

7:00 am SURPRISE


This morning I was a little concerned when the doorbell rang at 7 am. When I came to the door they said I had a package from Cielo (mom from Luka's class). Then I was even more confused....

But I was pleasantly surprised. Wow, look at this? I had my own bouquet of fruits....the best were the chocolate dipped strawberries. The entire family had fruit for breakfast. Sam especially loved picking the fruit on his own from the cup.

Thanks Cielo for the wonderful surprise...it was completely unexpected and those are the best kinds, right? She sent it as a thank you for completing the walk...isn't that thoughtful. Well, I cried a little. Who knew I could cry over fruit? Muchas Gracias Cielo!

Friday Updates



(click on the images to see them larger)

Let me know as soon as you get sick of these Friday updates from Sam's school. I just love them and I know my parents do too...so here you go. This week I was shocked to see Sam sitting quietly in the table as the sang Happy Birthday to one of his classmates, because lately Sam does completely the opposite from sitting. I also didn't know he was such a "sidewalk" artist...do you see him drawing with chalk?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Beautiful & Sad Photos from Mozambique


I have a long list of things I receive via email or articles I mark that I want to share with you on my blog. That list is very long and I never seem to have the time to do it, but this one I had to share. I saw a link to this article on Facebook (Thank You Michael B.) and it made me very nostalgic about Mozambique.

The photos are amazing and I can't help but think all the times I drove right past this garbage dump while I lived in Maputo.

We miss you Maputo!

Sam's Weekly Newsletter



Here is this week's update from Sam's daycare. Don't miss his concentration when painting! This week you can also see him sitting at the table ready to celebrate a classmate's birthday and on Friday you can see him playing with soap and foam...thanks looks like so much fun I want to have a foam party here at home.