Saturday, August 14, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Her name is Susanne and her blog is brilliant! And, unlike mine, hers gets regular updates. Go check it out: http://dutchinbelize.blogspot.com/
With interesting articles on the cost of living in Belize, how to set up a restaurant in 3 weeks and how to sing national anthem. It's everything you need to know about Belize and it is funny!
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I don't want to expose myself or my family to this any longer. Maybe at some point in the future I'll be back blogging somehow. But not for the time being, I don't think.
It's a shame, as so many of you have been fun sharing my life's adventures with.
I already blocked non-members from commenting on my blogs a while ago, but I can't shake the thought that these freaks might still be looking at me and my family.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Check out Lucas fighting a marine! Our cool dude! I'm having a problem embedding, but the clip can be seen here.
We had tons of fun last weekend at the 'Mariniers open dag'. And I filmed some bits there with Cool FM. It's been 7 years since I talked nonsense to a camera, but I still love it ; ) Here is some of what we filmed. The other clips should be on Video Aruba (Aruba's Utube) soon.
Friday, April 17, 2009
We were 'taken in' by the 'Macamba camp', which consisted of about 8 families in 11 tents, plus a big communal (party) tent. Throughout the day and in the evenings, there were things organized for the kids: a talent show, a kids' disco, a spooky night-time treasure hunt, a flea market, a 'survival dinner' (organized and presented by one of the campers, who is a Marine), plus a ride on the partybus. It was all spontaneously organized by the parents (many of which were teachers, which explains their organizing talents)
I just know that experiences like these will stay with our kids for ever! No money, toys or expensive vacations can top these simple pleasures. Lucas wanted us to live in our tent on the beach for ever.
See how close we were to the sea? And we were right next to the (cornered off) breading ground of Leatherback Sea Turtles. The night before we joined the camp, they saw a turtle checking on her eggs.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Life is so great. I would almost say that our life feels idyllic. The kids are settled and doing well at school. Andy and I are still very happy together after-what is it now- almost 13 years as a couple? I totally enjoy the work that I am doing. We get to spend lots of time as a family, doing fun things with the boys, hanging out on the beach, swimming at my mum's pool, meeting up with other families at the park, etc. My extended family is also doing well. And we are- for as far as we know-all healthy. What more can anyone want?
Now- of course- I know that life is ever changing. So at some point we will face problems again. That’s inevitable. But when those hurdles come, we will jump them and move on. Because at least life is very democratic and fair like that. 'This too shall pass' is true of every stage in life. Of the good parts and the bad. So all we can do is savour the good parts and remind ourselves to enjoy them and give thanks for them & have the courage to move straight through the difficult and painful parts, having faith in the fact that once we've moved through them, we will be- once again- back in the light.
It's funny as well; I see my life and my past as truly beautiful. Yet, if I wanted to, I could easily tell myself (and others) that I lived a hard and painful life. For an example, as a kid I witnessed both my parents go through 2 difficult and painful divorces/separations, my mum was a welfare mum for many years and we lived in a rather rough housing estate, one of my best friends killed himself with his dad's hunting gun when we were 14, my first boyfriend got killed too, I flew 'off the rails' for a few years when I was younger and got in and out of all kinds of potentially harrowing situations...etc.
But- as I said before- I think my life has been truly wonderful and I feel so blessed. Even the painful parts have, in their own sad ways, been beautiful. They have shown me the gift that every day is & they have shown me that all true love is eternal. Plus they have given me a certain amount of mental toughness. I know that I can deal with anything that comes my way in life. Of course, I hope that life keeps blessing me, the way it has done up too now. But I know that I won't seize to exist if something painful happens. Again, life is very democratic and fair that way. We all get to experience beauty and pain. We all get to experience loss and death.
And so much has already happened in everyone's past, good and bad. And we can choose which parts to focus on. If I want to prove to the world and to myself that I can never be happy now because of what has been done to me in the past, then I can find proof for that. But why would I want to do that? The only person I get to hurt that way is myself.
The same with everything that is happening in my life now. I get to choose which parts to focus on and I get to interpret everything that happens around me. I choose to look at the good and therefore my life is beautiful. I don't dwell or worry about what could go wrong in the future. I will deal with the hurdles when and if they arrive. And for now, I enjoy every moment of my amazing life & I make sure I feel the gratitude for all that I have with every fibre of my being!
(By the way...I believe that, on an energetic level, gratitude is like a great magnet. If you truly feel it and allow yourself to be humbled by it, more good things get attracted to you. Just like we enjoy giving gifts to those who are truly grateful and excited about what we give, so it is in life. If we are ungrateful for the beauty that life bestows upon us, why would it give us more?)
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
He makes my heart melt whenever he looks me straight in the eyes and tells me that he loves me, or when he says 'Mamma, ik vind jou lief'. And no one gives cuddles the way Aidan does, he doesn't hold back (like Lucas often does), but just melts into you. I hope he'll never stop hugging us like that.
Now that he's started to talk, he comes out with some funny stuff. Especially as he is bi-lingual. He mashes up English and Dutch and says things like 'Ka-broken' (broken in English & kapot in Dutch) and 'Sea-paartje' (Seahorse in English & Zeepaardje in Dutch).
So yes...he's a joy. Having said that, he's a pain too. He is incredibly headstrong and can be unfaced by something like a time-out. This is what they've started to realize at school too. They send him to time-out and he goes 'Okay, I'll just go and sit there for a moment'. It doesn't bother him in the slightest. So we've all had to become a bit more creative in disciplining him. I have come to realize that I have to be quite strickt with both my boys, as otherwise they walk all over me in no time. It's annoying to have to be like that, but they leave me no choice (and I won't allow them to become disrespecting brats).
Anyway, so far so good. They're doing okay. I have started practicing 'self-control' with them now. It's a tip I picked up from a TV show, called 18 kids and counting. It isn't a time-out or punishment, but at some point in the day I call the boys over and they are given the task of sitting totally still for a few minutes. Which is really hard for energetic boys like them. When they do well, they get a sticker (and when they are really bad, they lose one). Once they both have 10 stickers we will go on a special outing. So far, Lucas has 6 stickers and Aidan has 4 (he keeps losing some for being naughty)
We are truly blessed with 'little monsters' like these. Both so different. Yet both so lovable.
Monday, March 16, 2009
That is late in my books (these days)....still...I was able to 'sleep in' until 8 o'clock whilst Andy took the boys to the beach. My kids usually get me up at 6.00 AM, so sleeping in that 'late' was wonderful.
The reactions to the show were great & we definately had a giggle on stage, so all was well. Now we just have to decide how soon we'll be playing again...
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Saturday, February 28, 2009
These days, everybody mainly sends emails & cards are becoming an 'old-fashioned luxury'. But it is a shame. Receiving a card with a powerful message has much more of an impact than an email or e-card could ever have. Not only does it touch you when you first receive it, but also when you hang it up and look at it over and over again.
I therefore think that everyone should have some cards at home to send whenever one feels that a message needs to passed on to a loved one (And I am as guilty as everyone else here...I haven't sent many cards over the last few years either. But I now aim to change this)
Shona has recently created her own collection of postcards & I think they are beautiful. Some may be too esoteric for the general public, but I believe that within the collection, there is something for everyone. Check out her website for the full range.
The inside text:
...and how my hair dances while my face sits silent...smiling inside......
The past is over.
Quietly, I celebrate...
The inside text:
I want you to be the ‘lucky one’ blessed by all the wonders and miracles of a glorious world.
...To Be the one life gives magic to...every day...
I want you to let life love you - like I love you...With stars and wings and roses...
...To be the one so completely in love with being alive...
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
All of it is so enjoyable. I have just never been able to find that kind of satisfaction in anything I have been doing in life that has not been connected to music and/or media. It just feels so ‘right’ to be doing this. It’s like coming home to me.
The band performance went pretty good. Of course, we messed up here and there and we realized that we need to make a few changes before our next show. But then, that’s what a live performance is all about. And we couldn’t have figured these things out had we not stood in front of an audience.
The crowd reacted really well to the show though. There were a lot of smiling faces, people singing along, many people shouting ‘Yes!’ as they heard us start certain songs & applause at the end of each one (something you can’t take for granted on an island like Aruba, so inundated with live music that- at times- the audience hardly reacts). And there also was lots a dancing towards the end of the show, which is just the most satisfying thing to see when you’re onstage.
There were pictures taken that night by some of my Cool FM colleagues, I just need to find out where they’ve been posted, so I can add them later.
The owner of the bar came up to us after the show and basically offered us as many gigs as we’d like at that same venue or at a new bar that he has opened recently. So we just have to put our diaries together and see when we’d want to play again.
I have to say though...I wouldn’t want to do this once or twice a week, like some performers do on the island. It needs to stay fun. For us, but for the audience too. So maybe we’ll play once or twice a month...something like that.
As a mother- by the way- I am very happy with the move from being basically a stay-at-home mom, to being a (part-time) ‘working mom’. I gave my all to my kids for the last 6 years, which has been exactly what I had wanted to do. But as they were getting older I craved striking a balance between being a mom with being an individual, with her own wants and needs. So now that’s what I’ve got.
The juggling takes a little getting used to, but it isn’t too hard. Of course, my hours are great...I go to the radio station at about 9am or 9.30 & then I stay until I pick up the boys from school (12.30 & 1pm). So I have all afternoon to spend with them, apart from the few things I need to do online or the bits of practicing I need to do. And band practice is just one evening a week.
I feel so blessed to be doing exactly what I want to do. Yes....life is brilliant!
Monday, February 02, 2009
So instead of doing my Saturday afternoon show for the station, I now broadcast every mon-fri, 10.30 am- 12.00 pm, Aruban time (-4 GMT)
You can watch and listen to me live on the Cool FM website: http://www.coolaruba.com/
I have to admit though, watching a radio DJ at work is generally bit boring (definitely not the same as watching a VJ ; ) but still....
And you can chat with me whilst I'm on-air. Either by Messenger (firstname.lastname@example.org ) or just send me a text on Aruba phone number: (297)-747 3562
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Most people get stressed when a flight is delayed, I just get myself something nice to eat and drink, make myself comfortable (I usually have some sort of pillow or blanket with me) and read my book. Airports don’t stress me out. I’ve just spent too much time in them to get like that.
Back in my MTV days I used to travel to, on average, 2 foreign countries a week. So I was constantly on the go. I basically came home to wash my clothes, repack my bags and off I was again. It felt like the most normal thing in the world.
And I would turn each hotel room into my home, even if I was only there for one or two nights. I brought cloths of material that I would drape over unsightly furniture, I put out some pictures, crystals & candles, I would bring my own music and even travel with a blender, to make smoothies. My collegues often laughed at me as I transformed each hotel room into my own little sanctuary, but they also enjoyed hanging out in my room as it was so much more cozy and colourful than a standard hotel room. Plus, they loved my smoothies, especially after some heavy partying the night before.
It must be the gypsie blood (from my mother’s side) in me that makes me love this lifestyle so much.
I have to admit though, it is only now that I am travelling without my children again that I realize that I still love being on the go like this. Travelling with kids is quite a different story. When I travel by myself I have this real sense of freedom that I just don’t have when my kids are demanding my attention non-stop. Now that I am travelling by myself I can choose to watch a movie, read a book, sleep...do whatever I feel like. When I travel with my kids I have a job to do. And that job is to keep my kids happy, so they don’t bother the other travellers. We normally succeed in this and get many compliments as to our kids’ behaviour. But it does come at a price. At the end of our travels, Andy and I are usually exhausted beyond measure.
But not so this time, as it is just me travelling. Andy is still in Belize and will come back to Aruba in two weeks. So I am enjoying my last few hours of self-indulgence (which, as a mum, is as simple as reading a book) before I give my all to my kids again.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Our two boys are with my mum and sister in Aruba. And I have to admit, travelling without the kids has been very enjoyable so far (only 3 more nights and I am back home again). Of course, we always have a great time when we travel as a family, but it is also nice, for once, to not be responsible for anyone but myself. It feels rather good to have a break from being ‘mum’. As a mother, it’s so easy to lose your sense of self. Because you put everyone else’s needs before your own (generally) & you feel like you are only nurturing yourself with the scraps (of time) that have ‘fallen off the table’. But for now, my time is my own. And, as long as I know that my boys are happy (which they are), I can continue to enjoy myself and enjoy spending time with my husband. So to us, this is in part a working-holiday and part honeymoon (which we’ve never had before).
And being back in Belize has been great. It’s like I had almost forgotten what a beautiful country this is. It’s an absolute paradise! In a way, it’s much more beautiful than Aruba. It’s just so lush. Aruba has better beaches, that’s true, but apart from that, it’s a rock. It’s a rock with some cacti, some donkeys and some goats. Oh, and with a lot of mega hotels and resorts (these, obviously, do not make the landscape any prettier)
The Belize inland (which is where we are) consists of jungle, amazing birds and wildlife, rivers, small villages and character-filled lodges, like our own (much nicer than those gigantic monstrosities of the Aruban time-share hotels)
Still, each country has its own charm. Aruba is such a comfortable place to live (and, unlike what the US press says about the island, it must be one of the safest and most peaceful places on earth), Aruba truly is ‘one happy island’, where everything has to be celebrated excessively and abundantly, it has great bars and restaurants, good schools and facilities for families and the different cultures on the island seem to blend well together.
Belize, on the other hand, is an oddball country. It's a country steeped in contradictions. Many people have no running water at their houses, but they do have a cellphone and cable television. Many call themselves Christians, but they believe in witches, ghosts and shape shifters. It's a country of many cultures, each with their own traditions, yet they all feel Belizean.
Belizeans are generally polite and quite shy. They don’t party the way the Arubans do. When the Belizeans go swimming, they keep all their clothes on and the women refuse to dance when the men can see them. The country is steeped in religion. Any office you go in will have biblical versus stuck to the walls & church is often people’s only form of entertainment (I am now mainly talking of local rural communities and not the ex-pats) Many of the local Mayan women here seem to go to church so they can show off their new clothes, to join in what can only be called karaoke, to sway to the music and to enjoy the BBQ. Some will be genuine believers, but quite a few seem to go for ‘just a bit of fun’.
I have found living in both countries very enjoyable. Aruba because of it’s so ‘normal’ and ‘easy’. If you can live in Europe, you can live in Aruba. It isn’t all that different from each other. But living in Belize has been enjoyable especially because it is ‘not normal’. Nothing is like it is in Europe. It’s like a different world all together. How often have Andy and I not looked at each other over the years, laughed and said: ‘only in Belize’ (meaning, something as weird as this could never happen anywhere else). Every day is a surprise waiting to happen. And the more flexible your attitude is, the more you are able to ‘go with the flow’, the better your experience will be in this country. You may have planned to go from A to B on a certain day, yet you end up at X for some bizarre reason. And all you can do is laugh, which, by the way, is something the Belizeans do a lot. They laugh easily and heartily. It puts us, those from wealthy Western nations, to shame.
In countries like Belize, people seem to generally be more content and happy. Even when they live in a wooden shack, have no electricity or running water, no shoes for the kids and the women spend much of their time collecting wood for their open fires to cook on.
And it’s amazing how many people can live in one wooden shack here. The logistics of it are baffling. You wonder how on earth it all fits. Yet, when more family members or friends show up from Guatemala, everyone bumps up even more and that family is taken in too.
But in Europe we complain when we only have one flat-screen TV (the one in the bedroom is broke and we have no money to buy another) or we say that our house is too small because two of our children have to share a bedroom...I mean, what are we on about? It is embarrassing to hear everyone complain these days.
Recession or no recession...we are the fortunate ones. You are sitting behind a computer right now, you can explore the world (even if only online), you obviously can read and have been educated, you have a roof over your head, you have eaten and you have clean drinking water. So let’s stop complaining & start being thankful. That’s what I’ll do today. I will say my thanks for the rich life that I am living and have lived so far.
As Moby and I always used to shout out at each other (and what will be my mantra for today): ‘Life is nice!’
Monday, November 17, 2008
What I did forget- having been in the tropics for so long- is how cold your ears get outside, how horrible it is to sit on a cold toilet seat and how long you delay getting out of the shower or bath as you just can't stand the idea of drying yourself off in the cold.
Still, I like the seasons and all that comes with it. Of course, no one would choose rainy days or cold winds over a blue skies. But I enjoy the changing scenery throughout the year in Europe and it is something that I have always missed in Belize and Aruba. So I am enjoying myself.
Today we'll be meeting some family that we haven't seen since we were kids. Should be interesting.
I just wish that Aruba and Europe were less far apart, so we could hop backwards and forwards a bit more often.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I won't go into all the details. But instead I will just share a few pictures (more to come). Lucas dressed up as Harry Potter, Aidan dressed up as Batman and Andy playing in the Plaza football tournament.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
For the last day and a half now, it’s been raining on Aruba & there have been quite strong winds. Nothing too extreme, as Aruba is one of the islands located below the point where the hurricanes usually form in the Caribbean. In Dutch these islands are called ‘De onderwindse eilanden’.
But still, this island can’t deal with the amount of rainfall we’ve been getting off the tail end off the Tropical Storm Omar.
Straight away the roads turn into rivers, roofs and windows leak, trees and cacti fall down, the power is out, the schools close, the shops close, everything simply stops.
So- whilst I’m typing this- we are out of power (relying on my computer’s rather weak battery), the boys are home from school and climbing up the walls, our house is leaking like crazy and the toilets won’t flush.
Last night- when we still had power- I used the washing machine and heard a loud ‘Whoosh!’ It almost sounded like water was shooting out of something. I looked around and found nothing. Only that somehow the washing machine has leaked a bit. But later on, when I walked into the guest bathroom, I saw what the loud ‘Whoosh’ had really been. The septic tank had somehow backfired and the shower cubicle was filled with nasty blown slush. It was disgusting! Andy cleaned it as well as he could. But I will have to bleach it like crazy today (if I can manage to get to the local supermarket somehow and if it is open). And we will have to hope that the septic can be emptied today.
It really is a muddy, wet, windy mess on the island at the moment. And the sad part is that my little sister Iris is here from Holland with a friend. Yesterday we had wanted to celebrate Iris’ birthday on the beach, but of course that was impossible. Even the cinema (our plan B) was closed. And now they are stuck in this mess just like the rest of us.
Let’s hope that in a few days things clear up again (not much chance of that today). And let’s hope the power comes back on before our hyperactive kids drive my husband and myself insane!
P.S. Aha…help is near. My sister Miriam is coming to evacuate us to my mum’s house, where they still have power. Miriam’s car is high enough off the ground to get us through the flooded roads. Now we just have to hope that our house doesn’t flood completely whilst we’re out.
Monday, September 22, 2008
We had a joined pizza baking session at my mum's house. Hans (my mum's partner) had heard a while ago that I knew how to make pizzas from scratch and decided that I had to teach the family how to do it. I only made pizza dough ones though and really wasn't sure I could do it again. But hey...it was a fun idea anyhow. So Hans, my brother-in-law Laurence and I did the cooking whilst everyone else sat in and around the pool.
We laughed so much! It was the messiest cooking session ever! The three of us were covered in flour, we couldn't get the dough of our hands, we were in a right state.
And, even though after two hours the dough still hadn't 'doubled in size' like the recipe had promised us, we just whacked it into the oven and...surprise, surprise....it all came out brilliantly (apart from the one pizza that I dropped face-down on to the floor)
We had such a great time that we decided that 'family cooking sessions' should become a monthly occurrence. Next month we will attempt to make the perfect curry.
Enjoy your own family and friends too. Do something fun with them! It's worth the effort.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books
I will upload some new pictures on this family travel blog later today though.
And for those of you who want to see specific Aruba pictures, Aruba real estate & Aruba Hotels, then you're better off checking out my sister's blog: http://arubaconnections.blogspot.com/
Thanks & happy family travels everyone...
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Having done it ourselves, I can definitely recommend it. And starting a lodge or B&B with your family is something else that I can recommend. My two boys were born in Belize as we were building up our jungle lodge, The Belize Jungle Dome. And it was a wonderful lifestyle for us as new parents. We were always together as a family as the lodge was also our home (we later build a house at the edge of the land to have some more privacy). And, as a new mom, I didn't get the feeling that I was just 'sitting at home with the kids'. We really had the best of both worlds. Building a successful business and being full-time parents.
Starting this project as a couple also brought my husband and myself closer, as we don't have many of the same interests in life, and having something like this to share has been great for us.
So why have we moved away from Belize and our lodge after all these years? Because we felt like our job was done there. We did what we said we were going to do and created a great business. We didn't want to expand anymore and our staff had become so good at running the lodge that there wasn't much left for us to do.
Also, I wanted to do something in the creative field again and didn't see any opportunities for that in Belize. So now we are living in Aruba and I have joined a local radio station, Cool FM. And I sing in a band here on the island, called RetroMatic.
The lodge still runs wonderfully well without us and provides us with a nice income so-again-we have the best of both worlds.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
We had to get used again to the fact that in Belize you create your own fun. Nothing gets handed on a plate to you. Especially with the kids...I missed the many playgrounds, the tennis club, the summer camps, all the things that Aruba has in abundance. Lucky enough, the Brazilian Ambassador's wife has set up arts & crafts mornings at their residence. The boys go there most mornings and it breaks up the day perfectly.
Back at the house, they play with the local kids, catch bugs, swim, etc. And at 7 o'clock they are ready for sleep.
We also went for a short break to the golf island, Caye Chappel, which is always fantastic. So, all in all, we are doing great. Here's a few pics of the boys in action with several of their friends.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
And here is picture of a us with our neighbours, who we'd invited over for dinner by the pool. We served them chicken, rice & beans, to show them what people eat in Belize (there's not much chicken, rice and beans being served in Aruba)