Monday, July 23, 2012

Sam Goes to School in Santiago

Today we took Sam for his first day of school. I thought it was going to be tough to leave him there. I mean the boy is 2 and we just moved countries...His world has been turned upside down and he surely wouldn't want to leave his Mommy's side...ha! Does he look like a scared two-year old in the photo. Sam was a champ and he loved his first day at daycare. Look how happy he looks with his three young teachers. I promise they are all certified in Early Childhood Education and are super qualified.

Well, here is a little picture tour of our morning. Here we are going to the elevator of our hotel in the morning. You can't see it but he is wearing his backpack, even though it was quite heavy with all the supplies requested. He almost fell over in the elevator, but he wanted to carry it all on his own.

Here we are walking to the classroom. JJ was off that morning so he was able to share the day with us. We really thought it would be better for both of us to be there, since we thought it would be "hard" for our son...we were so WRONG....thank goodness. 

They showed him his hook and he was very eager to hang his backpack.

30 seconds after our arrival he was already playing. Don't you like his "lab coat." This is sort of their uniform so they don't dirty their clothes...GENIUS!

My view of Sam as I leave him there. As usual, it is always harder for the parents than the kids, but I am not complaining.
Sammy, once again we are very proud of you! Seems like you have adjusted better than your adult parents to our new home (except for a couple of hick-ups in your bedtime). 

Update: I am posting this a couple of days later and he did cry for about two minutes two days this week, but that is totally normal. He has received glowing reviews from his teachers about his demeanor and social skills in class with his new friends. Way to go Sam...the social butterfly! We will be having play dates before you know it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I want...

I really want to find a bunk bed like this for the boys' room....I don't even know where this picture is from in the states? But I love the railing, the shelves in the stairs. It is perfect!

Not sure of how the desk works over the bed, I would ax that part.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lessons Learned in a Hotel Room/Apartment

So today was a hectic day all around running around town to various activities, interviewing a potential nanny, buying uniforms and school supplies. We got home around 2:30 pm and I had to get ready for a meeting I had at 4 pm for Herbalife. We were all in the hotel room and the cleaning lady of the hotel was also here. I was sitting in the dining table of our 600 sq. foot room (very small) and the kids were going back and forth with the babysitter playing or doing I am not sure what. You know the things kids do when they are stuck in a very small space (play with cars, play pretend with stuffed animals, etc).

Just to note we have two bedrooms in that small space, both with doors that lock. Our bedroom also has a door to a small terrace. Well, I was sitting there preparing my outline and then I hear, "Sammy abrame la puerta (Sammy, open the door)." The babysitter didn't sound too worried...I thought he had just closed the door. Well I got up and realized that Sam had locked himself in my room, which had a sliding door to a terrace on a 21st floor with no protection for kids. I FREAKED OUT and was even more upset when the babysitter and the cleaning lady just told me calmly, "Just tell him to open the lock." Uh, ok...he is TWO and the lock is one of those locks that you have to turn the lock thing-a-ma jig twice for it to open. Then the cleaning lady told me that keys for the rooms didn't exist...I was like then why have a lock at all that can only be opened from the inside in a hotel that caters to families...HELLO!

After about 5-7 minutes of trying to get Sammy to open the door with no success and watching both of the ladies just stand there I yelled at the cleaning lady to please go find a key, crowbar or something to open this door. I had trie to push it open but that didn't work either and I was scared to really push hard because Sam was crying on the other side hysterically and I was really trying to have him stick close to the door and not venture to open the terrace, which WASN'T locked. I was freaking out!!!

Two men came from the hotel and said, "Just tell him to open it." Okay, HELLO I tried that in Spanish, English and Dutch...the boy is two and doesn't get the concept of turning the lock twice back the other way to open the door....just show me a key and all this will be solved. They were like, no..sorry no key. They tried with a credit card, a two-little Coke bottle that they cut and tried to use to pry it open (I knew that wasn't going to work).

Finally the hotel called a locksmith...hallelujah finally a good idea (I had no idea who to call in Chile or else I would have called myself) and we waited. I sang to Sammy as he cried. Thank goodness for Old McDonald and Barney...those were his favorites. Every time I heard him singing it was a reassurance he was staying close to the door. So 45 minutes (a lifetime) later the locksmith was able to break the lock and I was able to hold Sammy.

Really, it was horrible and the scary part is that I knew this would happen. Luka had been playing with the doors a couple of days ago and I realized it was so easy to lock and not so easy to open....I either jinxed it or I just knew.

Well, Sammy is okay but now I don't want to leave them alone in this room and I don't trust the babysitter to stay with them. I know it can happen to anyone, but I had told her to watch out for this specifically and to not let Sammy be in the room alone with the door closed. But I have to get over it or else I will drive myself crazy.

So lessons learned here...tomorrow I am buying duck tape and putting it over the other locks we have in the apartment (bathroom and second bedroom). This way the doors can't lock and I don't have to worry...or next time ask if a key exists for that lock before something like this happens so I can put the duck tape on in the first place.

Today I thought about our best friends the Engelhards a lot. This same thing happened to them when we lived in Maputo with their son Max. In Maputo we all had safe havens in our house, meaning we had an iron door in front of the stairs that go to the 2nd floor so that in the case of an emergency we can lock ourselves upstairs, scary right? Well, Max locked himself in. I think he was three. It was horrible...these doors were like a fortress...it took MUCH longer than the 45 minutes today to open the door that day.

So parents make sure you have keys or a way to open doors if your toddlers lock themselves inside. Always leave keys in a kitchen drawer if it is to rooms in the house or with a neighbor if it is with the actual door of the house (some houses lock automatically).

Man, I really can't wait move into our real home. Moving day can't come soon enough!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Look what you are missing...



We are here waiting when you are ready! Please come.

On the video...cool to see what foreigners think of this country.

Update in an "Instagram"

Lately I have been posting photos on Instagram, but now I wanted to update you and tell you a little about what we have been up to and now you can enjoy the photos again in context. So when we got to Santiago I was doing a lot of walking (in my cool new boots of course) and taking way too many taxi rides. I was spending about $15 USD a ride every time we had to see a house...and riding with the kids is a mess with no seat or taking the seat is also complicated. So I decided enough was enough and I started to drive again. You see, I am not opposed to driving, but JJ rented a stick car and I hadn't driven stick in two years and now that I was in a city with highways and lots of traffic it was a little daunting. But JJ forced me (thank you baby) and I did it and what you do you know it was just like riding a bicycle...and now we are totally mobile and I can take the kids to the mall, the movies, parks and school scouting for Sammy. 

But we still love to take the Metro...so cool that we live in a city with an actual subway system that you can take many places, if you are in downtown. The kids love it and I think today we will take the Metro in the afternoon to the tallest building in South America...will tell you about it if we make it.
Here is a pic of our "hood" at the moment. See the Metro stop...super close and convenient. And did you see the snow capped mountains, Yes I get to see that every morning.Well, every morning that the smog is not covering it. Pollution is a slight problem in Santiago. Luckily we will live outside the city and won't suffer so much from the smog. 
I have also managed to escape once...or twice to the nearby mall...hee hee. By nearby I mean like a 60 second walk. Here I am with my newest purchase...my gold owl...I love it. Can I get a "hoot hoot"? Okay that was cheesy! 
Well, we have also been spending time in our teeny tiny apt. It is SUPER small, probably like 600 sq. ft and with JJ and I, the boys, the babysitter and all our stuff it is cramped. But it is clean so it could be worse. Did I mention it is also very COLD and we only have two heaters so we can only hang out in two rooms at a time...the place is small so that is not a big issue. They boys get super restless, especially Sammy. That boy needs to start a pre-school SOON. Luckily we found one and he starts on July 23rd! 
Here is Sam in the apartment enjoying his new favorite snack...SHREDDED WHEAT...I love it too!
4th of July was interesting. No fireworks, no hot dogs, no beach or pool. But Luka and Sam were very excited to see fireworks so we watched about 20 different firework displays on YouTube. After that Luka wanted to draw fireworks and send them to abuelo and abuela in the mail.
But I couldn't let the holiday pass without having a proper "American" meal in Chile. So my hubby and his boss joined me for burger, fries and apple pie...YES, I know not really part of my Herbalife plan, but hey it is a HOLIDAY. The food at Mr. Jack Burger Bar was insanely good. 
The apple pie was out of control and two scoops of ice cream. I could have done without the caramel but the pie was yummy and I will be back at some point to have it again! But hold the caramel please.
I have also been taking the kids to furniture stores looking for a bunk bed for the boys. Who knew it was so hard to find a modern white bunk bed with clean lines and a trundle bed....well, they have been good for the most part. Here is Sammy making tea with some of the props from the furniture store. Look at that devilish face! Luckily the cups didn't break.
More on shopping...JJ was looking high and low for a good option on a second car. After going to see used cars and many different models of new cars we decided on the new Chevy Spark GT. It is going to be JJ's car and it is perfect to get to and from work. We will have the Volvo as the main family car and this little speedster to whip around the city and use the extra seats when we have guests in town...hint hint. 
We picked the candy apple red...FUN! 
We have also spent a lot of time in the mall, but the malls here are so cool they have activities for kids all throughout the winter holiday break. So far we have made key chains, made a painting and here the boys are planting cucumber seeds. Still waiting for them to pop out! 

We found a park nearby...it took us a couple of days, it was sort of hidden. But now we have a playground only three blocks away...HOORAY! Luka especially likes the spiderman web thingy he can climb.

It is so cold here in July. Look at Sammy all bundled up in the swing.
Yesterday we managed to find the local kid's museum - Museo Interactivo Mirado. I will post more pics on that later (they are still in my camera). 
So that is all I have for now. For the most part Santiago is great but the four of us are just getting used to what it means to live in a big city...traffic, being super careful walking around the streets, spending money like water (everything is so expensive), making new friends...or trying too. And it is COLD!

But we also love the fact that we need something and we can find a store to get it in...new for us. And having places to go...many options...all new for us. Maputo and La Paz were limited in that aspect but rich in many other areas. 

For now we like it here but don't have an actual reading on the city, people or life here in general. Once the boys start at school, we move into our house and have our routine down I will be in a better place to evaluate our new assignment.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Han the Tiger

On the last day of school Luka's "besty" at school gave him the cutest and most thoughtful gift. Nicholas is five years old like Luka and they became close friends this year since they were in the same class. Sandra, Nicholas' mom, told us that he was going to miss Luka so much, but wanted to give him something, or someone, special to keep him company on the plane and his long journey...isn't that the best!

Well, meet Han the Tiger (he decided on the name Han because his other friend Simon has a beagle named Han Solo). Han is Luka's newest adopted son. He is a Webkinz - a cute little furry friend that has his own website. You can print out the adoption certificate (see below) and play all sorts of personalized games, like feeding your pet and other fun things.

We miss Nicholas very much, but Luka always remembers him when he plays with Han. He has been a permanent fixture with us in Holland, Spain and now Chile. Sam also loves him too. Luka loves the fact that he "adopted" him...now that he is starting to understand what being adopted means.

Just wanted to introduce you to Han the Tiger (Luka always says his FULL name when he refers to him) and thank Nicholas and Sandra for our new friend.

This would make a great gift for any child making some type of transition (moving, school change, new  brother/sister). I love a gift with an interactive component.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

More Father's Day Fun

Yes, yes...I know Father's Day was a while ago, but I just got around to looking at the photos. Sorry about that.

This was a very special father's day for many reasons. Both of our dads (JJ and I) were sick and have survived some serious health scares during the past year. Life can change in an instant and we were really lucky to be able to celebrate this year's Father's Day with Jan Erik in Holland. Papi, I know we missed you this year, but we will celebrate this special day again when we see you in January.

We planned a special day in Amersfoort (the city in Holland where JJ's older sister lives). I will give you a glimpse of our day through photos.

We started the day with lunch at Marielle & Rick's house. Here is Opa Jan Erik opening his present. He loves to cook so we all pitched in and gave me a Tajine for him to use his excellent culinary talents and get cooking. All of the kids, especially Sam, wanted to get into the present opening action.

To stay in the same "cooking theme" the boys and I bought JJ a Jamie Oliver cookbook. While in Holland JJ's father cooked for us almost every night and JJ made it a point to say that he wanted to "be more like his dad" and make it a habit to cook at home...so we thought "30 Minute Meals" by the Naked Chef was a good and realistic start. I am typing this in July and today he made lasagna in our hotel in Santiago...good job baby!

Luka & Benthe are like two peas in a pod. They are so cute together!

Marielle, JJ's sister, is the "Toasty Queen." She makes the best toasted sandwiches in Holland! Here she is with her serious sandwich maker. It seals the bread and all its yummy contents perfectly. Actually today we were looking to buy one here in Santiago. For years we have been using our George Foreman Grill to toast sandwiches...but nothing works as good as this one.
After lunch and some lounging at the Lablans home we headed to the Amersfoort Dierenpark (Zoo). The kids just love the zoo and all of us adults love seeing them love it. We were a BIG group..you can see our group photo at the end of the post.

Here they are parading around the zoo...Best Cousins = Best Friends.
Okay, nothing to do with Father's Day, but don't you love my new navy blue ballerina flats. I just had to post a photo. It has taken me two years to find ballerina flats in that color is a size 12 (or 43 European size)....ha ha ha.
This zoo wasn't huge but it was quite nice. I especially loved the area with the baboons. There was a crystal clear glass separating us from these interesting creatures and this one particularly was fond of Sam and the fascination was mutual. Sammy loves "aps" as he calls them in Dutch.

I couldn't resist...here I am trying to fake him out with Sammy's sippy cup. Pretty mean, huh, but a good photo op if I do say so myself. ha ha ha.
So, yes it was Father's Day, but I have tons of photos with JJ and the boys. I had to take advantage of this instant that Luka actually wanted to take a photo with me.
Sam loves to ride the Rhino!!!!
What a beautiful family...from left to right: Coby (JJ's step mom), Anniek (sister), Opa Jan Erik (dad), Marlotte (sister), Thomas (Anniek's boyfriend, but definitely family).
Here is the entire van Herksen family at the end of our Zoo Day!

Father's Day Revisited

Wow, I am really behind! I wanted to share some of the Father's Day Cards I created this year. I managed to find a nice card for JJ at the store, but I wasn't happy with the ones I found for some of the other "daddies" in our lives. 

Here is the card I made for JJ's father. He loves going to Nienoord with the boys, so I thought this photo was perfect. All of the cards were printed on a plain white postcard and we personalized each on the back with a note from the four of us.
Here is a card we made for Uncle Rick...Benthe & Olin's Dad.
For my dad we had to include a photo with all of his grand kids. I hope he liked it. As I look at this photo I realize how much they all have grown in the last couple of months since we took this photo in Miami Beach.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

My Dad is the BEST

I think I mentioned in a previous post that Sam currently has an obsession with Bumba. His aunt Marielle gave him a costume while we were in Holland and he NEVER wants to take it off. This photo above was taken in Holland, but he continues to wear it now in Santiago. Here is works out great because it is an extra layer of warmth and coziness. It is freaking cold here.

He loves wearing his Bumba dress, I mean costume. It is kind of funny because in Santiago no one has even heard of Bumba, so everyone probably thinks he is wearing a yellow dress under his winter coat...oops. In Holland he was always recognized as Bumba...that clown is kind of famous in Dutch circles.

Well my dad heard he liked Bumba and this popped in my inbox...isn't he funny. He calls it "Sambumba." Dad I love you!



Look what I found...What to do in Santiago!

(Photo: Courtesy of the NY Times)This morning I woke up with the urge to file & purge countless emails in my inbox. Yes, I am weird (OCD) that way. After one month and almost two weeks of being homeless, bouncing around between continents, I haven't really been diligent about clearing out emails as they come in. Okay, I have been horrible. I know there are people I haven't responded to and I am so embarrassed but between posts everything is a bit of a blur and time disappears into thin air.But I woke up at 6 am with my best intentions of doing just this. In the process I found this email I had been saving...totally forgotten. But look  now I know what to do if I have an extra 36 hours to spare in Santiago de Chile.Be sure to read this article so you can see what our new hometown has to offer -"36 Hours in Santiago, Chile."I know I am especially excited about the "Fashion Temple." Well, have to keep clearing my inbox. Have a great day!PS By the way if don't already make sure to sign up for the NY Times Travel Dispatch email newsletter. If you aren't a frequent flyer it gives you so many ideas on places to see around the world. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

My Latest "Craft" Project

JJ's father has this awesome collage of Holland in his office. It is done by a local artist and it is mighty pricey. JJ's sister sort of borrowed the idea and made a similar collage as a present for her boyfriend's graduation. I promise to try and get photos of those collages...They are pretty amazing!

Well, I was inspired and I decided to try it out on a small scale. You can't really tell from the photos, but each of the individual pictures have a special effect from photoshop, such as "posterize, watercolor, texture, etc." This was my first attempt...now that I am in Chile I will create one for Sam's room (once we have a house of course.

What do you think? I spent $5 USD on the canvas, $2 USD on the wire/dividers I used and lastly a couple of bucks on glue. Pretty cheap, right?

Thank you to Opa Jan Erik for helping me saw the wire and giving me pointers on the best way to glue it. And a BIG thank you to Anniek (my sister in law) for the step by step tutorial. 

I can't wait to put up in his new room along with one for Sam.

PS By the way I did this while on holiday in Holland...just didn't get around to posting it until now.


Monday, July 02, 2012

House Hunting in Santiago


House hunting in Santiago has not been what I expected. I very soon realized that I was spoiled in our 300+ sq. meter apartment in La Paz with five bedrooms was HUGE compared to what we could afford here. We don't pay for our rent but the embassy gives us a very STRICT budget of about $3,500 USD for rent. We can't go a penny over and we are not allowed to pay the difference...let's say that we find a house for $38 more a month...which happened to us with this house above. This house is very roomy with TONS of closet space, but the ownder wanted $38 USD more than our budget and the deal fell through. It was also in a gated community with trails and playgrounds close by, oh and did  I mention the short 10 minute commute to Luka and Sam's schools...so I am very sad.

Our second choice is great...this house here...but the house is not available until August 5th or so. As you can see the style of the house is more our cup of tea...high ceilings, concrete finish...way cool! My Eames chairs will look fabulous. One of the downsides is that you need to go down a flight of stairs when you go home (the house is built on a hill) and there are steps EVERYWHERE in the house. I am a little apprehensive with Sam, but the current renter that has three small daughters assures me that he will get used to it. I just wonder how many falls before that....Also it doesn't have a lot of storage space, but that will give me an excuse to purge and organize!

So that is where we are at. We have a couple of other houses that are also modern, that we like but not sold on. But they are good backups. I thought that our "generous" housing budget would get us a mansion...or at least enough space to fit all our stuff that we had in La Paz...but reality check...Santiago is WAY more expensive than La Paz or Maputo. Yesterday at Subway JJ and I spent $20 USD on two subs!!! But hey not being negative. I am sure this city has MUCH to offer but being a new, a little lost and homeless has be a little negative.

Santiago was sunny the day we arrived but since then it has been a permanent shade of grey and I have not been in the best mood, but that also has to do with our current hotel/apartment accommodations. With JJ, the two kids, the nanny*, nine suitcases and our big FEET we don't have much space to move around. We are also on the 21st floor and the windows and terrance don't lock properly so I am on constant watch with the boys. But the good news is that this is only temporary...thank goodness.

That is my update for now and i hope to have more permanent news about a house in the next couple of days.

* We flew our weekend babysitter from Bolivia to Santiago to help us with the kids. The idea was that she would be here for one month and help us take care of the kids while we moved and got the house ready. We didn't know anyone and hiring a nanny is a bit more completed in Santiago so we wanted to make sure we had someone to help while we "set up house" but that is not going to happen since she leaves July 29th and we won't get a house until August. Sam is very active these days and needs an eye on him at all times. Not having any family close by means we need someone to help. This week I will start calling and interviewing potential candidates.