Monday, October 31, 2005

Bart is here!

“Wow, Lucas is just such a happy child,” Bart commented last night
“I noticed that when I met him as a baby & he still seems to be consistently happy. What a brilliant kid!”
I smiled just about the biggest smile my face was capable of holding. It means so much to me to hear that. People have always commented on Lucas’ happy nature, but like I said recently, he had not been himself since we tried to take him to pre-school. I had been worried that he would stay fearful and obnoxious for a long time, but he is pretty much back to how he’s always been. I guess this means that the dramas of pre-school have not left any permanent scars.

So Bart and his brother Mooch are going to be staying with us for a few weeks. They lived with us for a while in the past & we are delighted to have them back. Bart is a very talented chef and is here to train Tella and Nora. The women already make wonderful food, but could do with expanding their range of dishes. Also, we have to set up the resort’s new kitchen & wanted Bart’s help in that.

It was so funny to see Bart at work in our old kitchen last night. He was making a carrot cake for desert (perfect food for pregnancy cravings) & kept shouting out: “Simone, do you have…” and the answer was “no” every time. I couldn’t believe that he actually managed to make the cake, as we missed many of the main ingredients. The result wasn’t your usual carrot cake and it didn’t look the way it should have, but boy was it good! I’ve just gone out and bought tons of baking ingredients, as I want to encourage Bart to keep making these tasty deserts. I don’t normally have a sweet tooth, apart from when I’m pregnant. I definatelly am turning into a food monster & will probably be huge by the time Bart leaves again! But I’m loving it.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Horse riding in Belize

Just seen some guests off on a jungle horse riding trip. I would have loved to have joined them, but it just wouldn't have been safe with my big pregnant belly. It's crazy to think that during my last pregnancy I was still caring for our own horses (we had 3 at that time). My God, that was hard work. Especially as one of our mares kept trying to attack me. She had had a miscarriage & for a while had lost all will to live. She slowly recovered, but as soon as I got pregnant she turned on me. Horses are pretty incredible like that, the are very intuitive (I'm sure that anyone who has ever kept horses will agree with me on this)

Anyway, towards the end of my pregnancy with Lucas she kept trying to kick me in the stomach. That was when we decided to give our horses to the equestrian center next door. It would have been too much work to look after them once Lucas was born anyhow.

They still live hapily with our next door neighbors and wander over to the edge of our swimming pool every now and then to say "hi". And our jealous mare did end up having a foal after all. Although it was eventually stolen from the ranch before they had a chance to wean it. Poor girl, she has not been very lucky when it comes to her offspring.

Andy has just put a new all-inclusive horseback riding package together. Belize is a brilliant place to discover on horseback. You can ride through the jungle, the open farm land, to waterfalls, Mayan temples and ancient caves. All beautiful locations.

I'm looking forward to the day when I can go riding again. By that time, Lucas should be old enough to go on his own horse too. He will be our little cowboy. Yeeha!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cucumber beach, a new place to hang out in Belize. Whenever we have to go to Belize City these days we stop off for a swim, have a bite of lunch & talk about how wonderful our life is.

We had the whole beach (including the free canoes) for ourselves yesterday

Being a resort owner in the tropics is hard work!

Bouncing fun

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The best way to excel at something is to do it consistently.

I’ve been thinking about that quote over the last few days & realize that the only things that I consistently do are the following:

  1. Be a mum
  2. Do the day-to-day running of the resort
  3. Play/practice the piano
  4. Write

So surely, if I continue to write (and read) on a daily basis, I will eventually become good at it. So, instead of fretting about what to possibly do with the rest of my life, I’ll just continue to write. I enjoy doing it anyway. Maybe I can turn it into a profession eventually & even if that doesn’t happen, I will have created some entertainment for myself for when I’m old and gray. I’ll be at the old people’s home giggling as I re-read my stories, baffled by how little I knew and by the mistakes I made along the way.

So that’s it. You shouldn’t hear me thinking aloud again about “what to possibly do with my life”. I’m just going to get on with it. End of story! (or…beginning of it, depending on how you look at it)

Oh, and guess what? It turns out that, years ago, someone drew some pictures for my “City Head” poem. It’s just that I was never told about it. John’s brother Richie had shown the poem to a college friend, an illustrator called Till Lassmann. He made some very cool drawings, but Richie forgot to ever pass them on to me. So anyway, I was only given them yesterday. I emailed Till straight away to see if he’s still up for joining forces. I’ll let you know what he says.

Iris & Miriam. My beautiful sisters are both in Aruba right now, I wish I was there with them. They are just the greatest!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My love

When I first met Andy I instantly liked and trusted him. He seemed like a no-nonsense man, wholesome and healthy, like a loaf of home baked bread, an all-round nice guy. We decided to see each other again and each time we did, I would go back to my friends afterwards and say “You know, he’s a really nice guy,” and the next time I’d come back saying “He’s a really, really nice guy”. I kept placing more “really, really, really’s” in front of the “nice guy”. And that’s how I slowly fell in love with him.

Up to that point, I had always thought what most people think and what the media constantly tells us, namely that love followed lust. This whole notion of “love at first sight” and butterflies in your stomach when you meet someone. Yes, I’m sure that you can have those butterflies and end up loving that person in the long run too, but quite often the love flutters off as soon as the butterflies do.

My butterflies for Andy crept in slowly, but have never stopped creeping in. I love him more now than last year and more today than yesterday. Over the years he has become the person that I always knew he could be, strong, courageous, incredibly intelligent and with a fiercely independent mind.

When we first met we were both young and often stupid. He reminded me of a puppy dog, bouncing all over the place, getting drunk and silly & often just not acting “cool”. Being “cool” was something that was very important to me at the time (I told you we were both young and rather stupid), but for some reason I always turned a blind eye to Andy’s silly behaviour, because I could see what was underneath it all. He must have been able to look through my silliness too or we wouldn’t have stuck together all this time.

I once read a quote by a woman who’d been married for over 70 years. When she was asked how they did it, she said: “The trick is to never fall out of love at the same time.” What a wonderful piece of advise and how true it is. Andy and I have been together for nearly ten years now and I have to admit, I don’t always love him. There are days, even weeks when I’m not in love at all. It’s not that I don’t like him during those times, but I’m just not “in love”. Still, like the ebb and the flow and the waxing and the waning of the moon, the loving feelings always come back, stronger and deeper than before.

Oh, and next to loving him, can I just say how proud I am of him too? In this last year, he has taught himself how to do search engine optimization. And he is now, without a doubt, one of the best Webmasters in the world. Our site has become front page (generally top 5) on Google, MSN & Yahoo. Just type in “Family Adventure travel” or “Belize Vacation” or “Belize Holidays” etc. and you’ll see how well we’ve done. For instance, for the search “All-inclusive family travel” there are more than 102,000,000 pages on the web & our site is ranked at number 4.

I guess I’m just lucky, the man that I have fallen in love with over the years has managed to find his own genius yet again. He was a genius on the football field and now he is a genius computer geek (You know that geeks rule the world these days, right?) And on top of all this, he is a great dad too.

So girls, don’t overlook the nice guys out there. They really are the ones to go for. Don’t believe the hype of the media. True love grows slowly and lasts. At least ours has for almost a decade and I expect it to continue to do so.

happy family at Niagara Falls

Andy and Lucas on San Pedro

Monday, October 24, 2005

Belize, Belize, Belize

I just realized that I hardly ever write about Belize these days, which probably seems strange as my blog is called Simone’s Belize Blog. I guess it’s because life here is becoming more and more easy and comfortable as time goes by. This is good for us, but doesn’t make for interesting stories. Also, I’m getting so used to seeing snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, monkey, iguanas, toucans, etc. that I forget to report on them. Anyway, I’ll try and add more tropical jungle stories over the coming months.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The mistakes we make

Last night was a nice enough evening, but I have to say that performing does not excite me anymore the way it used to do.

So I'm getting more and more confused as to what to do with the rest my life. How bloody annoying! Even the one thing that I always loved to do, I don't love anymore.

The irony is that I have always hated people who couldn't make their minds up & now I am one of them.

Maybe I'll look at some online study courses today. I should use my time at home with the kid(s) to learn more skills than just changing nappies. Actually, that's a bit unfair. It's incredibly difficult to be a parent. You constantly agonize about what decisions to make for your kids & sometimes you make the wrong ones.

For instance, starting pre-school so early (Lucas will be 3 in November) was a miscalculation on our behalf. Lucas has always been so confident around other people and so quick to pick up new concepts, so we assumed he would be ready for pre-school. I now realize that his confidence came from the fact that he felt so secure in us as a family. He always knew that we were nearby when needed us. That confidence has now been a lost.

He was in distress several times at school and we did not come to help him. On some days we sneaked off and on other days we let the teachers rip him off us when he clung on hysterically. In hindsight, I regret going against our own principles. We have never been the kind of parents who would let him "cry it out". But I guess that society often presurizes us into attitudes like that.

"It's normal. They all cry on the first day. Just walk away" The teacher would say to us. I didn't want to seem pathetic, so I left my little boy behind, whilst he screamed and begged "Don't go mummy, don't go!" It was absolutely heart breaking.

But often when we picked him up, he seemed happy enough. So we would take him again the next morning and the whole scenario would start all over.

Lucas has become a lot more fearful now. He doesn't want to go anywhere without me. Even when his good friends are over to play, he stays very close to me. I am not going to fight it anymore. I want him to start trusting me again, which I am sure will take a little time. I just want our confident and happy little boy back & expect that to happen once he feels secure in us again.

Next week I'll try to take him to a playgroup where the parents stay with their children. That should be a much gentler transition for him.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bunny is a Bonnie

It turns out that my piano teacher’s name is Miss Bonnie and not Miss Bunny, like I always thought (Such a shame, I enjoyed calling her Miss Bunny. It’s such a funny name).

In most of the Caribbean including Belize, people like to put Miss or Mister in front of everyone’s first name. Calling people by their first name is not polite enough and using their last name is often considered too formal. So they’ve come up with an in-between version, you simply add Miss or Mister to any first name. I think it’s rather cute.

Anyway, tonight I’ll be singing at the George Price Center in Belmopan with Miss Bonnie. There is some kind of variety show on and we were asked to perform a song as well. Should be fun. I haven’t been on a stage for over 4 years now, so I’m looking forward to it. Sadly no one can come with me. Andy has to work, Karen is in Canada, John is San Ignacio & Lynwen has gone to Mexico with the Belize rescue team (I hope there won’t be too many casualties of the hurricane). So it will just be Miss Bonnie and me tonight.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Making my mind up

The downside of having spent most of my working life in television is that I never developed skills that can be used in other professions.

See, I was 16 years old I packed my bags and left for the UK in the hope of getting into “showbiz”. I never finished school. And after two years of humiliating rejections, I finally succeeded in my quest. I was given a record deal and a job as an MTV Veejay (in that order).

The skills that I did learn along the way were the following:

Presenting/hosting TV shows
Writing and recording music
Interviewing people (I especially enjoyed asking questions that I was told not to ask)
Talking to large crowds (this included silly things like quickly finding out where the feedback was on stage, insanely fast costume changes, coming up with time fillers whilst the stage was being rebuild, talking my way out of little disasters like parts of the stage collapsing, etc.)

So does anyone have any suggestions as to where these skills can come in handy? Apart from going back to what I did before? I can’t think of what to do next.

See, Andy and I are at a point in our lives where we may face another “retirement” soon. This will be our second “retirement”, with the first being the time we left our old careers and settled in the Belizean jungle.

Soon Tom & Marge are joining us in our Jungle Dome venture (if all goes according to plan). And of course Karen is part of the resort’s management too, so there will be 5 of us running this place. Such a large team is not needed for a small resort, so Andy and I will need to find other passions again and maybe even consider new “careers”.

Andy already knows what he’ll be doing; he’ll be spending even more time on the computer. He loves being a Webmaster and has an incredibly talent for it.

I feel blinded by the millions of options that are out there. Shall I go back to school? If so, what would I like to study? What am I passionate about?

If I were to start a business online, Andy’s Webmaster skills would move my site up to the top ranks of the Search engines in no time. But what business, if any, would I like to have? I keep looking back at what I have done before and try to figure out if I can use my old skills for anything, but I keep drawing blanks.

It seems that I am not the only woman who faces this problem. According to Oprah Magazine, many women in their thirties share this confusion with me. They want to reinvent themselves, but are unsure of what direction to take next. They want a career, but don’t want to make big sacrifices when it comes to their family. Their career has to fit around their home life and not the other way round.

And that’s where I am at right now. Confused, but also excited by what may come next. I’ll just continue with my piano and music theory lessons for the time being (loving it!) & will keep looking for that flash of inspiration and direction.

Latest on Wilma

Still no landfall for hurricane Wilma, but her winds and rain are already battering the Cancun area. Here in Belize (Belmopan) we feel nothing of it. We keep expecting bad weather, but apart from a short rain burst yesterday, it has been lovely here.

So many hurricanes have brushed past our little family this season. We have been on storm watch whilst in Miami, Aruba, on our way to Houston & twice in Belize, yet none of these places ended up getting hit. We must have a guardian angel traveling with us.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hurricane Wilma

The air is surprisingly calm here. At this point, we are only expecting to get the tail-end of Hurricane Wilma & are awaiting its arrival. A direct hit on Belize doesn't seem that likely anymore, She is already too far North for that. Although, according to the Wunderground storm watch website, there still is a 10% chance. So we're not in the clear just yet.

Let's just hope that this erratic hurricane is going to fizzle out, because the last thing this world needs right now is another disaster.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pregnancy annoyances

I tell you, we women get the weirdest physical problems when we're pregnant. I won't go into too many details, as it might frighten those of you who've never had a baby into never wanting one. But I can say that it could possibly cause things like losing our hair, getting weird pigment on your face (called a birthmask), spider veins, cracked nipples, etc. All very unpleasant.

Anyway, I'm dealing with my own pregnancy annoyances at the moment. No, I do not look like a rackoon and my nipples do not resemble the sahara desert. But whatever my problems are....they really are a pest. First I am told not to exercise, but to sit and lie down as much as possible. Now it turns out that I should not be sitting down or standing still, but that I should be doing light exercise after all. Anyway, whatever I do these days I'm uncomfortable. That's all I will share about that for now. Just wanted you to know that I'm rather fed up at the moment.

What else is going on here? Well, Lucas has been changing his mind about pre-school rather frequently these days. He's now at the point where he hates it when he has to go by himself (up to the point where we are unable to leave him there, as he cries the whole morning), but loves it when he goes with his little friend Emelda. That could prove to be a problem in itself as Emelda was crying like hell today at pre-school and was hitting the head teacher. So God knows if she still wants to continue going. Oh well.... we will see. Toddlers are simply unpredictable creatures.

By the way, if any of you out there are parents.....check out the book "How to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk". It is brilliant! I read it once before and thought that the authors came up with some interesting ideas and suggestions about parenting. But now that Lucas is getting older, I have been able to read it again and put some of those "interesting" suggestions actually into practice. And it is amazing how effective they are.

For instance, when Lucas goes on and on about something that he wants (and that he can't have), I used to tell him why he couldn't have it. If he then started whining and/or started throwing a tantrum, I would fight with him and put him on "the naughty chair". The whole thing was one big struggle and we would both end up feeling angry and annoyed. The new technique that I have learned from this book is strangely simple (and surprisingly effective). We simply write a list of the things that Lucas wants and stick it on the fridge. The bizare thing is that that is all we need to do. Once the list is up there, he is happy. It's the same with sweets that he can't have right now. We simply write his name on the packaging so no one will take it and that's it. He'll then be happy to eat an apple instead (knowing that he can eat the sweets tomorrow, for instance). Anyway, that's just one example. The book is full with little suggestions like that.
Enough rammbling for today (sorry if I have bored non-parents with this posting)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Business meetings jungle style

Well, it’s been a while…..but then I sometimes enjoy a little procrastination.

Actually, we’ve had quite a full week last week. Tom & Marge (who are planning to become our new Belize Jungle Dome business partners) were here so we were doing all kinds of meetings, with lawyers, banks, shipping companies to help with their move, etc. And the four of us did quite a few board meetings in the pool (Obviously, the best place to do board meetings in the tropics)

Next to this we also had our rooms rented out for much of the week, John’s brothers are still over from Scotland and have been hanging out with us quite a bit, plus yesterday we hosted a football tournament on the football pitch next to our property. It's funny, this Slow season is turning out to not be so slow after all.

But anyhow, I’m trying to blog, even though Lucas has other plans for me. He really wants my attention. So I guess I’ll try again tomorrow…..

We went for a little swim at the mini-waterfalls at Gonzo's house the other day.

Our friend's little boy TJ is getting too old for many of his old toys so he's decided that they should all go to Lucas. This is Lucas in his new (hand-me-down) car. He really enjoyed playing in it with the children (Hanna & Alex) of some of our guests.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Current TV

The last week or so, we’ve been getting into watching a news channel called Current TV. It’s a station run by Al Gore of all people! With heavy links to Google (they run a show every half an hour, called Google Current). Current has got the same philosophy as the Internet. Basically, anybody can contribute to this station. People send in clips from all around the world.

It is by far the most exiting thing I have seen on television for ages. It reminds me of the early MTV Europe years. Back in the days when the station was still groundbreaking, young, political and had a slight feel of anarchy to it. Back then I loved working for MTV and was proud of working for them. Later, when it all became corporate, I lost much of my love for the station & was often even embarrassed of my work as a Veejay (guess I’m just not much of a corporate person).

Current TV is the kind of station that I would love to work for! They are so groundbreaking and funky. I love it.

The clips I’ve seen on Current so far range from Tokyo nightlife, Bodybuilding in Kabul, women running for parliament in Afghanistan, Graffiti artists turning into fashion designers, displaced students after hurricane Katrina, anti-war demonstrations, etc.

Whenever I watch these clips, I feel like I learn something genuine about a specific culture, country, ideology, etc. These clips do not always fit the stereotypes that we are fed by mainstream media.

Now, don’t get me wrong, not all these clips are fantastic. A lot are quite average. But they are real life & some times real life is just that, average. At least they are showing the truth.

So, big up to everyone at Current TV for being at the forefront of television! This is democracy at its best. You guys are rocking!!!!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Children's picture books

How funny....I was just looking at some old stuff on my computer when I noticed all these little rhymes that I wrote a while back. I was thinking about writing children's stories, especially ones for picture books. But I don't know anyone who could do the illustrations. Anyone out there happen to know anyone? Let me give you some examples of some of the bits and pieces that I wrote (obviously, you need to use your imagination and imagine the pictures to go with it) :

Wrong-way-round world

In a wrong-way-round world:
Up would be down
Left would be right
and a square would be round

People would walk backwards
and grow smaller all the time
I'd bottle-feed my nanna
and what's yours would be mine

So let's just pretend
everything is wrong-way-round
Try to stand on your head
whilst your feet still touch the ground

Put your socks on your hands
and your trousers on your head
whistle whilst you're breathing in
point to blue and shout "That's red"

Brush your teeth before your dinner
shower whilst you're fully dressed
sit underneath your chair
point to east and say "That's west"

Eat your soup with a fork
and wear flip-flops in the snow
When I ask "How does a plant grow?"
Say "You reap, then grow, then sow"

Don't you think it's funny
to do things wrong-way-round?
Of all the funniest funny things it's the funniest thing I've found.

City head

Little Jimmy Brett
had a city on his head
It started as a village,
but grew and grew and grew
And though he tried to pull it off
it stuck to him like glue

The other children teased him
and called him City head
And it was really very tricky
to get comfortable in bed

One morning at the barber’s
he said, "Oh, could you please
rid me off this city?
Just the buildings, not the trees"

The barber tried his hardest
but his scissors were too small
He managed just to scrape the side of the city hall

So Jim went to a doctor
and asked for surgery
"Please take off as much you can,
city life just aint for me"

But the doctor said he couldn't
“Jimmy, you’re in perfect health”
The doc then even said
“I'd like a head like that myself”

Next up he tried the zoo
and offered them his head
Well, not the whole thing, of course
'cause then he would be dead

They were happy with his offer
and put him in a box
With the city sticking out on top
The kids came in for yuks

The children, how they loved it
to see a city, oh so small
But little Jimmy in his box
didn't like it much at all

That night at home, back in bed
he was sad as he'd ever been
Because the battle against this city
was one he couldn't win

But then the music started
Sweetest voices ever heard
On his head a giant party
what a rocking little world!

Oh yes, it was a grand fiesta!
And Jimmy felt so glad
To hear little people dancing
and laughing on his head

And so, our little Jimmy
did feel happy after all
Even when the city build a
brand new shopping mall.


What's been happening here? Well, nothing too earth shattering. Our new kitchen arrived, so did John's brother David, Karen emailed to say that all is well (but cold) in Prince Rupert and Lucas hates school these days! I think we rushed him in too soon after all our traveling and his operation, so I'm keeping him home for a few days to settle back into normal life again. Anyway, he may still be a bit too young for pre-school. I mean, he's not even 3 yet. But I'll discuss it with the teacher tonight at the first Parent/Teacher meeting.

Special picture for Ann Simpson: Your boys are doing well. I assume that David is as useless as John with regards to letting you know how he is. So here you are.....they are healthy and happy. Although, they are off the islands today, so they may be a bit less healthy for a few days, with a few more hangovers (still, I'm sure they've dealt with them before, right?)

Our new kitchen being delivered by the Mennonites. The idea is that Tella and Nora will cook for our guests in here instead of using our personal kitchen.