Monday, December 17, 2012

Sam Takes Us on a Trip Around the World

Last week Sam had his End of the Year Show at his pre-school. It was so much fun! They took us on a trip around the world. One of the teachers was even dressed up at as stewardess and she would signal all of our stops...very creative. Sam was very excited about representing Africa...probably the only one actually born in Africa (specifically Nelspruit, South Africa).

Above you can see him with half of his costume (still missing paint and wig...wait till you see that). And here you can see the three of us before the show started. They had a photographer taking photos of the families outside. Sam was so proud that his big brother was coming to see him and not the other way around.
Okay, so let the traveling begin. Here is Luka waiting for Sam to get on stage...he saw the Africa sign and thought..they are not really from Africa Mom!
Our first stop OCEANIA...love the native dancers! 
Then we were off to Europe...specifically Italy.
Viva Brazil! 
Here we go...our little Africans are about to perform and Sam can't wait. The wigs were hilarious! 
But they did present a problem for some of his classmates...she couldn't see for the entire performance.
Look at our little Sammy. He did a pretty good job with the performing and trying to follow along. 
Performance completed...he likes his prize lollipop. 
"Even Daddy came. I am so happy he was able to leave work." 
Sam we are very proud of you. You did a great job! 

If you want to see the rest of the photos from that day click here.

Sam's Santa

You can see our Family Holiday Card here, but Sam also came home from school with his own version of a Christmas Card. This was the front.

I love Sammy, but is it me or is this Santa a little creepy...looks like he is trying to scare the cardholder. It did make me laugh...did you see that he has two arms and three legs (ha ha ha). Not sure if the hand thing works as well as it does with a turkey for example. But "A" for effort.

Oh, in Spanish Santa says "Jo, Jo, Jo"

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rumor Has It...Luka's Book is DONE


Luka's 2012 Brag Book from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.

Before you hit play...yes, I know the song really has nothing to do with a five year old boy BUT Luka loves this song and he discovered Adele this year and fell in love with her. When he first heard her album 21 I think he memorized about three of the songs from it. It is particularly fun to watch him sing Rumor Has It...he tries to make all the percussion sound effects just with his voice and body. I love it. So that is why it is the soundtrack to this year's book. Enjoy!

To see Sam's book click here.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sam's 2012 Brag Book Video

Sam's 2012 Brag Book Video from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.
We have now have a well established tradition in our home of creating these brag books of the kiddos every year at Christmas. Both of our boys came into our lives and were living on a different continent from our immediate families. I wanted to come up with a way to document their growth and milestones for that calendar year to share with grandparents. I wanted it to be portable and something they could whip out of their pocket or purses when they had the urge to brag about their grand kids.

I came across these mini photo books on iPhoto and I have been using them ever since. They are about the size of a business card and are VERY portable. I also like the idea of keeping one for Luka and Sam and my wish is on some birthday in the far future...maybe their 18th I can give them a little box with a collection of the mini photo books. Let's see if I really keep it up. I have the slight suspicion that their pre-teen books won't be as cute as these...ha ha ha...but I am confident I can keep it up.

Really with iPhoto, it doesn't have to be iPhoto, they are so easy. It is just photos, no text...except on the first page. The hardest part is picking out the photos. Making the book takes about 15 minutes.

If you are curious you can see previous photo books here, here and here.

So this is Sam's...Luka's is coming soon. This was tonight's project.

PS I must warn you that this year the soundtrack for the video is the boy's favorite song this past year. Sam sang this song for the better half of 2012...so although it is not very child appropriate he did love it.

Happy Holidays from Santiago

Hello Everyone...to all of our friends and family around the globe. We want to wish you a very HAPPY, HEALTHY & MERRY holiday season & 2013. We will be celebrating Christmas in Santiago this year, then heading to Miami for the new year. While mostly everyone reading this post is getting cozy by the fire or playing outside in the snow we are starting to spend our days by the pool and hitting the beach...summer is starting here in Santiago! Still very strange celebrating the holidays in the summer. You think we would be used to it by now...this is our 7th year in the southern hemisphere...but no matter how many years go by with summer in December I still hope to wake up one morning with frosted windows and weather to light up the fire place.

Hey, wait...I am from Miami...so we never really had a white Christmas, but at least there was the possibility of sweater weather and you could always feel the crisp of the holidays in the air!

Now I guess we look forward to bathing suits and building sand castles!

But no matter where you are reading this we hope you are happy and celebrating with those you love. The four of us are very blessed to have wonderful families back in our respective "homes" but you know what...we also have surrogate families in every country we have lived in and we are very lucky to have these extended families in various corners of this beautiful world.

So to our families in Miami, Holland, Maputo, La Paz (and those that have moved to other places) we love you and miss you all very much! Have a great 2013 and I am sure our paths will cross soon.

JJ, Melissa, Luka & Sam


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Random Videos

Okay, I know I am really bad about documenting our life with videos. I don't know...it just doesn't come naturally...then I am all thumbs when it comes to editing videos on the computer. It is truly a painful experience for me. But I know that you can't really appreciate how much the boys are growing and some things are just better for video...so I am going to make an effort to keep our Vimeo channel up to date.

There is a link to all of our Vimeo videos on the right hand side of the blog...do you see it? If you don't you can click here and it will take you there. I am warning you..the videos aren't great and they are certainly not meant to be artistic...but more to give you a sneak peak into our everyday and a way to document how much the boys are changing.

Well, here are two random videos for your pleasure.
Sliding with Sammy from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.

Yes, enough said...It is pretty funny and I think I squeezed Sam so tight that he will NEVER go down a slide with Mommy again. Our Dutch family knows how much Luka loves big slides. He is obsessed with the slide at Nienoord - a family park in Holland. So he was ecstatic when he saw this one. Sam really wanted to follow in his brother's footsteps and go down the slide too, but he couldn't go alone so I volunteered. You can't tell from this vantage point but the drop at the top is almost vertical...really I was scared.

My Kids Love Pasta from Melissa van Herksen on Vimeo.
Yes, Sam and Luka love pasta. I just think this video was cute. Sam has grown up so fast!!! I can't believe it sometimes. I also think because Sam has lived in three continents in his young 2.5 years of life that it makes me feel like I can't keep up with it...does that make any sense?

Stay tuned for more videos on the Vimeo Channel soon....

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Celebrating Our 5 Year Adoption Anniversary

This year was a BIG milestone for our family with your 5 year celebration. Has it really been five years since we took Luka home from the orphanage in Maputo, Mozambique. Five years, three countries later, our family is stronger than ever. I think traveling like nomads from place to place does that.  

And now we have Sammy in this crazy crew of ours. Two little boys...who would have thought? They are both miracle babies in their own right, Luka, well you know his story and Sam...well he was a labor of love that took many tries, shots and a couple of scientists in a lab to create our little Sammy Whammy. Wow, that scientist part makes him sound a little Frankensteinish (it was IVF), but actually the one who turned into something a little scary during this time was Mommy, with all the shots and drugs, but in the end sooooo worth the work and mood swings.

But here we are 5 years and I am not sure what the next 5 years will hold for us, but I do know one thing is that it will be an adventure. This adventure is full of many ordinary and mundane days like everyone else...but once in a while we get to do something fun like climb a mountain, see the snow, take a safari, drive to the beach, learn a new language, ....and we know that every once in a while our adventure will change location and then (at least in the beginning) even the normal things are out of the ordinary when you live in a new country or city. Our life might be chaotic but never boring.

This year we celebrated our 5 Year Adoption Anniversary in Chile...and we had to celebrate it for two days...of course.

First we celebrated with Luka's class at school. The kids are always asking questions about the color of Luka's skin, when they look at me. Sometimes they ask about where he is from, or what "adoption" means...so this was the perfect opportunity to share our experience with the class. And most importantly a great excuse for cupcakes!

First we read this book - I Wished For You: An Adoption Story. We have a few books on adoption, but this storybook is great. It talks about many of the issues: What did the birth mother think? Why do we have different fur skin color? Etc. It is a great book and I highly recommend it. I usually can't get through the book without crying, but I took deep breaths and I was able to stay cool calm and collected for Luka's class.
The book was followed by a question and answer session. I was really nervous, but it was great and Luka helped me answer the questions. The only bad part was that Luka kept interrupting me and in front of the whole class was asking me if Jake was invited to his adoption party. Would not have been so bad, but I had only invited three of the kids and their families...que pena!!! But the whole class will get an invite to his birthday.

Then came the cupcakes.....YUMMY!
We sang "HAPPY ADOPTION DAY" and he was so proud...just look at his face.
Then there was a whole lot of Gangnam Style dancing and general craziness in the class. Boy, does that kindergarten class like to dance?!?!?!
To see more photos from the party at school click here.

After school we told Luka he could take one friend and his brother any place he wanted. He chose Aventura and Burger King. Aventura is a Chuck E. Cheese style arcade...and you know how much I love those places...but it was his day to pick so the whole family and Emilio went and they actually behaved really good.

Here he is with Emilio...they are such best buds.
One thing that Luka wanted to MAKE SURE we did was ride the little roller coaster. He loves thrill rides...he will ride anything he is tall enough for. Sam, being the little brother, wants to do everything his big brother does...so we convinced the employee at Aventura to let Sam ride with me next to him. Even though he was CLEARLY too small. What was I thinking??? He had a big smile and 30 seconds into the ride I heard a scream of terror and I saw his little face...I think he thought he was going to die. I signaled the guy to stop the ride...poor baby. I really thought since it was a kiddie roller coaster it would be okay. Mommies makes mistakes too...he is ok now and I don't think he is scarred for life. Look how happy and excited he looks in this photo...that joy didn't last...sorry Sammy.
After a good night's sleep it was time for the P-A-R-T-Y! It was such a perfect afternoon. The weather was great. The kids didn't stop playing. There were no fights and everyone, even mommies and daddies, were able to sit down and enjoy themselves.
Here are all of the kiddos...well most of them.
Now I will take you on a little photo tour of the party...

What better way to honor your family than by a beautiful drawing. All the kids were asked to draw a photo of thier family as a way to remind them that we were celebrating our FAMILY DAY. We hung them up on the fence and it was the perfect way to decorate the backyard. When the party was over the families took the drawings home (or they got them with the thank you card if they forgot it).
We started off the party with some appetizers...a mini sandwich bar and come veggies. But I think the BIG hit of the party was the authentic Mexican guacamole that my friend Pamela brought...still dreaming about it.
Lunch was a Burger Bar, where you could build your own burger with tons of toppings and a fresh green salad with my famous Soy/Honey/Maple Dressing...okay not so famous, but really good.

Here are some of the mini-cakes we ordered for dessert. They were beautiful and delicious. 
Look at us...so happy...well except for Sammy that was rudely awakened from his nap with everyone having FUN at the party.
Luka we love you...look at our cake - a stack of pancakes (ripped off this idea and the colors from Sam's 2nd Birthday party, which I think I never posted about...we were leaving Bolivia at the time).
After we sang the kids were able to concoct the yummiest pancake they could with various toppings and things with way too much sugar.
Luka is putting his hand because it was so sunny, not because I always have a camera in his face. Honestly, not sure about that one.  Here they are making their creations.
Okay, the water was FREEZING, but our friends from Alaska never think the water is too cold so Luka decided to join his friend Gaby...this Miami girl was not going anywhere near the water. I have yet to take the plunge in out pool.
Sam needs to come up with a new face when I say "cheese,." But this is his camera face.
After Sam shook off his "I just woke up" bad mood he decided to be a bartender. He loves to pour drinks. I better be careful with that one.
In lieu of gifts for Luka we asked friends to bring items to donate to a local orphanage. We managed to collect 554 diapers and a box full of great clothes for the kids. That is awesome. We were very grateful for the generosity of our friends. THANK YOU!!!
After the party the van Herksens passed out from a very fun packed two day celebration...until next year!

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