Saturday, March 31, 2012

Holy Nanny!!!!

(photo taken from the NY Times article)

I definitely have been living out of the USA way too long. I have been lucky enough to have wonderful nannies/housekeepers in Mozambique and now in Bolivia. We have always paid way above regular market salary for all of our nannies. In Mozambique we paid about $200 USD/month and here in Bolivia we pay almost $300 USD/month. Yeah, super cheap I know.

Okay, okay so I have been living in third world countries thousands of miles away from family and friends, but I know that a good nanny is worth the money. I would have gladly paid double that or more for all the ladies that have worked with us.

They take care of my babies...that is worth more than any salary I could afford. When I read this article I almost fell to the floor....$180,000 USD/year plus plus many other benefits...that is a whole lot of cash. But you know what...good for that nanny. Taking care of kids is hard work and these ladies seem to work 24 hours a day and take on multiple projects in the household (correspondence, play dates, planning parties). So power to the nannies! I know it seems like a lot of money and it is, but if I was one of those elite/rich families in NYC that could afford one I would get the best for my kids...wouldn't you?

Having a nanny in a third world country is the norm and very affordable, but actually having a nanny has afforded me the luxury of spending quality time with the kids (you think I am crazy, right?). I pick up the kids, run around town with them on play dates and birthday parties..but then I know I get home and I can get 3-4 hours of productive work in my home office because I have someone to watch the kids. It also is great for Friday and Saturday nights. JJ and I do the whole bedtime routine and once the kids are dreaming all cozy in bed we can run off to a movie or have an "adult" dinner. Yes, I know we are really lucky!

But back to the point of the article...I think these nannies are worth the money...but I still think that if kids have nannies they should never forget who their mommy and daddy are.

By the way I always secretly hoped to be posted in NYC at one point...but I am not so sure about that now...ha ha ha.

Click here to read this article.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sam's Weekly Updates

(click on the images to see them larger)

Man, we are really going to miss LIVE when we eventually leave Bolivia. Sam loves it and he loves his friends there even more. This week there was a special note on the report. Apparently Sam is a great little helper in class and is attentive to his classmates and takes care of them. He also helps with the distribution of snacks.

I think Sam is the second oldest in the class. Go Sammy!

Ice Skating in Holland

Photo: Anniek, Marlotte (JJ's sisters) and Olin & Benthe

A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law from Holland sent me these photos. I have been meaning to post them and finally I have. I thought these photos were amazing and so much fun. I can just imagine the whole city ice skating on the cool is that.

Look at our niece and nephew - Olin & Benthe....They are so cute and I think Benthe's new glasses are very stylish, but Dutch people in general have very cool eyewear!

Here are Rick & Marielle (JJ's other sister) skating with Olin...okay my question is where did all the house boats that I always see in the canals go???

Oh, there they are...FROZEN STILL. Kind of funny seeing people walk and stroll their strollers next to freaking boats.

So my sister-in-law Anniek, step mom-in-law Coby and almost brother-in-law Thomas won medals for skating 50 km (the boys) and 25 km (the girls). For those non-metric system users out there...that is 31 miles for the boys and about 16 miles for the girls. That is a whole lot of ice skating. Way to go!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"The Zen of Doing"

My friend Ana had sent me an email that said "Good Article, Read" and I had saved it until I had time. Well I opened it today and I was a quick blog post on man was it perfect for me today or what!

Take 30 seconds and read this. It is so true! I spend my life making to-do lists and stressing out about what I didn't do, what I have to do and what I should do...when I should be doing is doing.

So many times I am doing something but I am thinking about someone, something or somewhere else. I have a big challenge with just being.

After reading this, I sat down and I wrote all of Luka's Thank You Cards from his birthday and it was super therapeutic. As I wrote the cards I just pictured all the kids having a great time and Luka and Sam running around in their costumes. I didn't watch tv, check email or answer my phone while I did it. Wow, who knew that writing thank you cards could be such therapy!

Thanks Ana for passing along the post. To all those reading this...if you see me sometime in the near future doing too many things at once just ask me, "Melissa what are you really doing?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In the Social Pages...

(click on the image to make it larger)

Last week I went to a really interesting photo exhibition from a Dutch and Bolivian artist and La Razon was there snapping photos. There I am in the middle with my friend Adriana, who is also my neighbor.

The show was called Almas de Sal and it was a beautiful show with photos taken in the "salaries." Here is some info on the show.

Kind of fun that we came out in the paper and our "diplomatic" hubbies didn't get any press...ha ha ha.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Luka Turns FIVE!

This post is almost a year overdue. I just realized as I was getting ready for Luka's 6th Birthday that I never posted about his 5th Birthday. It was a crazy time for us (getting ready to move from La Paz to Santiago) but still I have no excuse. So this will be posted with the correct date in the blog, but those that subscribe to the feed you will see it as a new post...don't be confused...Just a little late. I had the letter written, just never typed up. I like to type it up not only for the blog, but I have a Birthday Book for Luka & Sam, where I have a current photo and a letter for each of their birthdays. I hope to have a whole book of them (at least 18) by the time they leave to college. Here is his 5th year letter.

Dear Luka,

Happy Birthday Sweetie! Today is a big one…you are now FIVE years old. Where did the time go? It really seems like only yesterday we brought you home and we were clueless, scared and absolutely filled with joy all at the same time. It has been the best five years of my life.

You are such a special little boy and I know that parents say that all the time, but I really mean it and I hear everyone else say it when they are around you. That smile of yours and sparkle in your eyes has been there since the day I met you and it never seems to burn out. Everyone just wants to be around you.

That is very evident at school. You have so many friends and everyday you have a different play date. This mommy finds it hard to keep up with your social calendar, but I love that you get along with everyone and treat all the kids in your class with love and respect.

Oh, talking about love….you do kind of like one little girl in particular. Her name is Fernanda and I am only writing about her in the letter so you can remember your first crush. You are mad about her. You have even told me a couple of times that you have managed to get a smooch at school…oh, no what am I in for later?!?

Your love of learning continues to grow. You now know all of the letters and can read and write many words. I think by this time next year you will be reading books to me. At school your love for music is also very obvious.

As usual at home you continue to sing many songs and dance like crazy… this year in particular you love Adele, David Guetta and as far as musicals…well Lion King still tops your list, but this year you discovered Grease, Hairspray and Rio. Music is just in your blood…I hope that having non-musical parents won’t diminish your love of music in the future. Oh, daddy and I love to sing but we can’t really play any instruments, but we can bust a move with you any time you want.

This year you requested a Samba Party. I think you were inspired by watching Rio over 20 times. The music is pretty fun and we definitely had a great time at your party.

Probably the biggest change this year was our move to Santiago, Chile and in true Luka fashion you handled the change like a champ. I have never met a little boy that can adapt so well to change. Not only are you very comfortable with change, but you are Sam’s rock.

Yes, you are an AMAZING big brother. He looks up to you and wants to copy everything you do. But mostly I am so proud of how patient you are with him and I love to watch the both of you play for hours.

Some other things you have been working on this year are…Your father is teaching you how to ride a bike (almost there) and we are working on the swimming…just a little left to go.

Lukkie, I love you and wish you the best on your special day.

Love, Mami

Here you are in your RIO costume. Gotta love La Paz where you can get a costume like this custom made for $10 USD.

During your party you asked if you could thank everyone for coming and say something special on the
microphone. It was very sweet and made me very just came out of nowhere.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Everything Happens for a Reason

I have not been on the blog for a couple of days but I came across this print today on House Full of Moxie and thought I should share since I am a firm believer in this. Sometimes in this "diplomatic" life of mine I complain about being away from family and basically just being far away from loved ones...but you know EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON. Without meeting JJ and starting on our world adventure we wouldn't have Luka or Sam. Africa gave me two sons (was able to adopt in Mozambique and in South Africa we were able to afford multiple rounds of IVF treatment). We have also met people that have changed our life. So yes, sometimes being away from family on two continents is hard and trying at times but the we are in this life for a reason and I think each and every country will teach us an invaluable experience.

So have a great Sunday and I will be posting soon about Luka's Samba "Rio" Birthday Party. It is tomorrow and I am so behind...but lots of fun pictures/ideas coming your way.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sam's Friday Updates...Father's Day @ LIVE

This was a busy week at LIVE. It started with a special activity for Father's Day (in Bolivia)...Dia del Padre. JJ was able to visit Sam's class for a little while before heading out to work. Here are some photos from that morning.

Here are my two Dutch boys walking to school (actually Luka is officially Dutch as well...ha ha ha).
Sam loves his backpack..or "mochila" like he calls it. He never wants to put it down. When I strap him in his car seat in the morning he cries when I have to take it off, then he hugs it like a old lady holding her purse the whole ride to school. I am not sure how his teachers are able to pry it off him.

Sammy wanted to show daddy the puppet area.

The kids performed some songs wearing their dad's ties. Okay, Sam didn't really perform. He stood up and stole cookies from the tea/cookie table (supposed to be for the dad's after the show) and sat there looking all cute with his tie and eating his cookie.

PS By the way Luka also had a "Dia del Padre" activity at school...I just didn't go...I wasn't allowed to go and I really wanted to. They had donuts for dads...yummy! I have to scan the photo that they took of the two and post it...later I promise.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Our Sunday with Ollie

Luka and Ollie are great friends. Ollie is actually a little more than two years younger than Luka but they get along so great. They love to spend time together and Ollie was bummed that he was going to miss Luka's Birthday Party next week, so he invited us over to his house for a special play date and dinner at Pizza Chef. We have heard wonders about this place - delicious pizza and games and costumes for the kids! What a great combination. Ollie was super excited and he told Luka all about it and they couldn't wait to get there and try on all the costumes.

Hanging out at Ollie's house...being silly.

Sam found this guitar and he didn't let it go the entire time. I think he thought he was really playing it.

He was having fun in Ollie's room with all the toys and here he found a new friend - Mr. Sapito.

And here we are at Pizza Chef. This place is great. Super laid back, really fun atmosphere for the kids and SUPER DELICIOUS pizza. Definitely the best in La Paz so far! Too bad they open at 6:30 pm. Our kids are usually bathed and in pajamas by then...but I think once in a while we will have a late night at Pizza is that good!

The play area was so cool...

Hey, who is that? ha ha...Sammy found the wig and decided it was his style! And who knew he could play chess. Sammy, you have to teach mommy.

Oh, oh...all the photos of Luka and the cake are on JJ's phone...coming soon!

Here they are...I found them. Luka was so happy and felt very special. Thanks Susan, George and Ollie for this pre-birthday bash.

Luka partaking in the Bolivian tradition of "Muerde la Torta"

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sam's Friday Updates

This week is a first for Sam...he has his first "girlfriend." Today when I went to pick up Sam I ran into Nicole's Mom. She told me how much Nicole talks about Sam. Sam doesn't really talk yet...I mean a few words here and there, but I still can't understand his adorable gibberish so I hadn't heard about Nicole.

Nicole's Mom and I were waiting for our little angels and then the teacher came down with both of them...Nicole, kept saying Sam, Sam! And then Ms. Lourdes told us of their torrid daycare love affair. Apparently they spend a lot of time together. Sam pushes Nicole on the swing, they share their food at snack time and even feed each other....OMG my son has a girlfriend! Under "Viernes" you can see them sharing together. They are so cute!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Boys Strike a Pose for a Local Toy Company

A couple of weeks ago Luka and Sam were invited to participate in a photo shoot for Anatina Toys - a toy company in Bolivia. Here are some of the top picks from the session. I was not super impressed with the photos. The photographer and company representative did not do a really good job of directing the shoot. When taking photos of children you really have to specialize in that or else you lose something when taking the photographs.

Luka is usually the super photogenic sibling, but I think Sam beat him on this one. What do you think?

The photos are supposed to be used for their 2012 Product Catalog and some advertisements in the states, mainly Miami.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday with Our Boys

Sundays are usually pretty quiet for us. Well this Sunday we woke up and went to the gym, then while Sam napped at home with the babysitter we took Luka to the Food Court at the mall for lunch. He loves to eat all types of junk food, so I was very surprised to see that he chose Spaghetti and Meatballs....Mommy and Daddy had Subway....YUM!

Here we thought we were going to have some "quality time" with Luka....but all he wanted to do was play with the iPhone and take photos. That boys is obsessed with all of our parents like son I guess. I really can't get upset with him because I spend my life "Instagramming" photos every chance I get...So I think we need to cut down our gadget use before I start yelling at him to put down my iPhone.

After lunch we headed home to get ready for a BBQ at our friends Andrew and Ginger's house. The boys had fun playing with Bash & Axl...Axl has a drum set so you can imagine how much Luka and Sam had.

Sam was especially sassy on this day. He was off and running on his own and really didn't want our help or listen to anything his parents had to say. Here he is with his doggy and eating a chocolate chip cookie (Ginger makes the BEST cookies).

Here he is telling me he doesn't care if I tell him to take his hands out of the cheese dip.

Oh, there he is eating AGAIN...he was determined not to leave any room for dinner.

There he is on what I think is his 5th chocolate chip cookie. There was no stopping Cookie Monster.

I think here he had enough of Mommy telling him to not eat cookies, slow down, etc. and he just wanted to take off on his own. If he could I think he would have.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sam's First Computer Lesson

Yesterday I posted about Luka's addiction to our iPhones, iPads, computers, etc. Well, Sammy is not far behind. Lately he sees how much his big brother loves to play with iPhoto and yesterday I found them both in the office and Luka was giving his sibling his first computer lesson.

You should have seen it...Sam would listen for a few seconds then push Luka out of the way...when he couldn't do something or get stuck then he would call Luka over to help them. So far he can scroll the photos and open albums. I was shocked!

Here you can see his excitement!

He loved seeing photos of himself and his big brother!

Here you can see his focus and concentration on the task at hand.

By the way when did toddlers get so into computers. I guess kids learn from their parents and if Luka and Sam see JJ and I on our computers all the time, then they are destined to pick up our habits. I really need to get out from behind the screen more.

Friday, March 09, 2012

My Little Models

Wow, I am loving the photos from our recent family photo shoot more and more every time I see them. And even more when I use CameraBag2 to edit them...not for nothing, but these boys are photogenic. Too bad I don't live in the states so I can have these boys model and pay for their college tuition...ha ha ha. In La Paz there is not really a high demand for blonde or black cuties.

Thank you to Patricio Crooker for taking the photos. We had to hire a local photographer to document our family for an upcoming article on adoption for BZ Blad - the internal magazine for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (will post the article as soon as it comes out...I will have JJ translate some of it).

Look at this photo of Luka....I love him so much!!!!

I haven't loaded all the photos from the shoot to our online gallery, but I will soon...promise.