Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy 2008!

Christmas and New Year has been very enjoyable here on Aruba, with plenty of presents, plenty of family time and plenty of crazy fireworks. Pretty much the oposite of the quiet Christmasses and New Years that we've had in Belize for the last 6 years.

In Belize we had to remind ourselves that it was New Year Eve, for instance, whilst in Aruba there's no escaping it. Everybody spends a small fortune on fireworks here and goes out on the street creating their own little (or not so little) fireworks show. So at midnight the whole sky above Aruba was alight with fireworks, you simply didn't know which way to turn, it was everywhere. Andy was really surprised to see it as even in the UK people don't do that, but I told him that it reminded me of my childhood in Holland as the Dutch do the same thing.

Something else that I really enjoyed here were the traditional Christmas singers. I forgot what they are called, there's a special name for them. Anyway, they are big groups of people (about 20 per band, with about 8 to 10 of them singing). The music that they make does not sound like Christmas music to me though, it just sounds Tropical and kinda salsa to me. It's really good fun. And these bands are everywhere around the Christmas period in Aruba. They play at the supermarkets, in the shopping streets, out at parking lots, etc.

The traditional Christmas lights on the islands were wonderful to see as well. The boys (of course) loved them.

And the other traditional thing that the Arubans do is scare away the bad spitits from the past year by letting off thousands of firecrakers outside virtually every store and business on the island around New Year's Eve. It's rediculously noisy, but I like the thought behind it.
The following pictures were from our Christmas Eve dinner, which was at a Lebanese restaurant. Which is of course not particularly traditional for Christmas, but we had great food and good fun too.

So there you go. That's what's been happening here. I hope you've all had plenty of good times and I wish you all good health, love and joy for 2008 and for the years that follow.

Blog on!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The clown doctors Aruba

The clowns sorting out the Christmas tree decorations. I didn't take any pictures of them 'in action' as I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take and/or post pictures with the residents of the old people's home or the children with special needs on it.

Before our move to Aruba I had already been thinking that I had wanted to do the following things here:
  1. Sing in a band
  2. Join the clown doctors

Well, it looks like I will be doing both those things. The band has already been formed. Currently it's just the 4 of us, with 2 Dutch guys (guitar & bass), one Aruban guy(drums) & we may still take on one more person (keyboards). They really are a nice bunch, so I'm very happy. We haven't got a name yet, so any suggestions would be welcomed ; )

And then there's the clown doctors...

I went to see them in action yesterday & loved what they did. They had invited some special needs kids to a retirement home-with mainly people with Alzheimer’s-to help them decorate their Christmas trees. It was a wonderful experience.

As I arrived, most of the residence were sitting motionless in the hallways. I was surprised at the lack of reactions from them. I would greet them as I walked by, but most would not acknowledge me at all. I guess its part of the Alzheimer’s? Anyway, what was interesting was the things that did make them react. For instance, I noticed the difference music made. As soon as the salsa music started to play many residents would start dancing and singing and you could see how they were transported into another space and time. Suddenly you could see how these people had once been, dancing the night away, celebrating life, feeling sexy and confident...I instantly realized that one day I (like any of us) could be just like them & that music would definitely do the same thing for me as it did for them (already, when I hear good dance music I get transported back to the nineties and I get a huge grin on my face; )

The other thing that made the residents react was the sight of children in the hallways. Most of them loved the kids. We tried to get the old people involved with the decorating of the trees by giving them some decorations to unpack-it was as much as most could contribute-and to hand the decorations back to the kids to hang in the tree.

The clowns were wonderful in how they would approach people and get them involved. It seems that their most important role is to be the icebreaker. It's not about tripping up over banana peels or squirting water out of plastic flowers (though they may do that at times?) It simply is about approaching people, it's about playing with them, holding them, smiling to them, it's about sharing love with them. At least, that's how I see it. That's my feeling of it.

So I would love to join the clown doctors. It's quite a commitment though. It's not something you can do once every few months. You have to commit to one or several 4-hour sessions a week. Still, I would love to do it. I'll first receive some training and after that I'd have to create my character and outfit. I'll keep you informed on it all. Just like the band, it won't really start until the New Year. But that suits me just fine. It gives me a few more weeks to settle in.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our 5-year-old and God

Lucas has started to have a bit of a spiritual life all of his own. He talks to God quite a lot these days and it's so sweet to listen to. He asked God the other day why people have 10 fingers and then continued to ask him to please, please, please give him 17 fingers. When he opened his eyes and I asked him what he was planning to do with his 17 fingers, he went quiet for a moment, closed his eyes again and said: "No please God just give me 10 fingers, just 10, that's all I want. Not 17 fingers. Please God, do not give me 17 fingers!"

And the other day there was a TV show on about religion when Lucas walked into the room. He said: "Is that show about God mommy?" I told him that it was. He then looked at the theologist talking on the screen and said: "You know mommy, God made that man". I said that that was right. He then continued: "And you know what else? God even made himself and that's a very tricky thing to do".

Andy and I may not be part of any kind of organized religion, but I do find it important that my children develop their own spirituality. Oh, and whenever Lucas asks God to help him not wee the bed at night, he doesn't wee the bed. So his prayers are being answered ; )

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Belize supermarkets versus Aruban supermarkets...I think we have a winner!

For those of you who've never lived in a developing country like Belize it may be hard to imagine, but I am in heaven every time I walk into a supermarket here in Aruba. In the supermarkets here you can get pretty much everything. Which isn't always the case in Belize. In Belize you can never get any kind of mushrooms, fresh asparagus, soy yoghurts, blueberries, veggie burgers, etc. But in Aruba you can! So I'm having a field day here. Not that I've really got into cooking properly yet. I'm still getting used to this kitchen and figuring out what things we still need to get for it.

And the other cool thing is that nothing on the supermarket shelves in Aruba is out of date. In Belize you have to check everything you buy. Sometimes things are more than a year out of date. I recently bought some children's vitamine C there that turned out to be from 2002! Five years out of date. Can you believe it?

Anyway, I better get ready and start my day. Have a good one, where ever you are!

Monday, December 03, 2007

We're here!

We arrived in Aruba last Tuesday night, but it feels like we've been here much longer than a week already. My dad and Ina had flown over to Aruba from Holland on a last-minute deal that they found, which was a wonderful surprise! We had some great family time with them (not long enough though)

Our house here is great, Andy is happy playing golf, I've found a band to sing with, the kids are settling in well at school...all is good, really.

It's so hard to imagine that the following pictures were taken just a week ago in Belize. Bart had come back over to spend some time at the Belize Jungle Dome to help out the ladies in the kitchen (congratulations Nora on the birth of your baby girl!!!!!)
It was great to spend some time with him, John and Silvia before we left. And of course with Karen. I will miss you her whilst we're here : (

Will blog more soon....

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The adventure that ended in the emergency room

I thought it would be nice idea to do some Belize daytrips before we leave the country at the end of the month so my sister Miriam and I decided to do the zip line tour at Jaguar Paw yesterday.

But guess what happened? On the first of the eight ziplines my shoulder popped out of its socket. So there I was, stuck on a platform high up in a tree in the jungle, seeing stars and being wobbly on my legs. The Jaguar Paw guides were amazing and within minutes the first aid guy was there with a full kit. By that point we had already been trying to get my shoulder back into its socket, I remembered how it was done many years before and gave our incredibly shocked guides instructions (nothing like this had ever happened before at the ziplines). After 3 painful failed attempts we had to give up.

So they put a sling on me and then I had to climb down some rocks to get off the platform and back to the ground.

The staff at Belmopan hospital were great too. They drugged me up good ; ) and I didn't even realize that they put my shoulder back. All in all it worked out well. Just been back to the hospital to bring the staff some 'thank you' donuts and I'll phone Jaguar Paw in a minute to thank them too for the good care.

But no more wild adventures for me for a while.

Oh, and this is a picture of the baby howler monkey that runs around at Jaguar Paw. Isn't he adorable? I wonder where his mum is though. Poor little guy. He must miss her : (

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The view from my kitchen window

Yep, views like these make doing the dishes a lot more pleasurable (aren't I the domestic blogger today?)
When I was a little girl I always dreamed of being able to see horses from my house. Well, I got it. Plenty of horses to see and a river view too.
If this is your idea of heaven too, please check out: Horse Lovers Dream Home for sale

My God, I hate sweeping!

I tried to be 'all Zen' about it today and imagined myself being some kind of Buddhist Monk as I was sweeping, trying to meditate as I went along, but I failed miserably. I just hate sweeping. Just like I hate repetitive exercise like running or cycling. It's all just so mind-numbingly dull. I'd rather clean toilets than sweep.

Now, lately it's been easy. The resort has been closed (for maintenance, etc.) for the last two months, so we had to find work to keep the staff employed. So the women would come and sweep our house. Today was the first time that I had swept in weeks, which is pretty good going if you knew how much mess my two little boys make.

But instead of meditating as I was sweeping this morning, all I could think of was that maybe I should ask for one of those little robot vacuum cleaners for my birthday. You know, those things that look like flying saucers? Or I might even ask for one of those plus the other one that mops. That way I'll never have to clean the floors again. Or maybe I'll just strike a deal with Andy: He'll keep the floors clean in our house in Aruba (as we definitely won't have any staff there) and I'll do everything else as far as cleaning the house goes. Does that sound like a fair deal to you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Our almost 5-year-old boy Lucas is dealing with some difficult life questions at the moment, like: What do I want to be when I grow up and whom do I want to marry?

He said that he wants to marry me when he grows up because he likes the way I cut mangoes (my special ‘criss-cross’ system), but also would like to marry Emelda, the girl from next door.

And he also can’t decide whether he’d like to be a bug catcher when he grows up or a Princess, or whether Emelda should be the Princess and he would be a man with a tie, a black T-Shirt and jeans. Decisions, decisions, it must be hard being a kid sometimes ; )

Monday, October 22, 2007

My book reviews

I may not have been blogging that much lately, what I have been doing is reading, lots and lots of great books. Oddly enough, my favorites recently seem to have been either historical novels or memoirs of people growing up in highly dysfunctional families. I’m sure there are other great genres out there, but right now these are the only books that are doing it for me’.

My two favorite historical novels have been:
‘The other Boleyn girl’ by Philippa Gregory
& ‘The birth of Venus’ by Sarah Dunant

And my favorite dysfunctional family books have been:
‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls
& ‘Running with scissors’ by Augusten Burroughs

‘The other Boleyn girl’ is about the first few women in the life of Henry VIII, up to the point where he has married for the third time. The cool thing for me is that I know very little of English history, so I had no idea how things would end (I was aware that he chopped off the heads of some of his wives, so I did expect that somewhere along the line). The author, Philippa Gregory is a genius at weaving historical facts into imaginative novels and by the rave reviews I read about her on Amazon, her other books are meant to be just as good. I’ve already ordered some and can’t wait to get stuck into them. Trust me, this stuff is better then any soap opera! It’s totally addictive reading.

‘The birth of Venus’ is set in fifteenth-century Florence and the thing that fascinated me most was the story behind the story. Basically, as the leading character moves through her life, we get introduced to the vibrant art world of Florence of that time & later the emergence of an extremely fanatical form of Christianity, which brought with it the early stages of what would become the frantic Witch hunts of Europe.

‘The Glass Castle’ is the memoir of Jeannette Walls, who is a news anchor at MSNBC. She grew up in an extremely dysfunctional, yet at times brilliantly creative and funny, nomadic family. At some point in the story you wish you were part of the family yourself and at times you are fuming at the carelessness and cruelness of the parents towards the children, hoping that someone would just jump in and take these poor kids away from them.

The interesting thing that this books shows so well is that children, in most situations, seem to stick to their dysfunctional parents like glue. They protect them to the bitter end and seem to view the outside world (police, social workers, etc.) as the enemy. I saw this in some families as I was growing up, witnessing situations where social services probably should have jumped in, but where the children would hide the truth from the outside world, fearing that their parents would get into trouble or that they would be ‘taken away’. ‘The Glass Castle’ is a rolercoaster of a story; it’s funny, shocking, sad and beautiful and then back to being shocking and funny yet again.

‘Running with scissors’ by Augusten Burroughs is quite similar to the Glass Castle in some ways. Augusten’s memoir tells of him being ‘given away’ to an extremely bizarre psychiatrist and his unorthodox family by his psychotic poet mother & his is surely one of the weirdest childhoods I have ever heard of.

And reading about the ‘relationship’ he had with a pedophile from age 12 onwards was both shocking and fascinating to me. It shows the intricate mix of emotions that a child goes through in a situation like this & it’s the kind of stuff you don’t normally hear about. Society likes to keep that whole subject one-dimensional, when of course we all know that it can’t be (no relationship in life is). I guess that most of the time it’s just too shocking and distasteful a subject for us to look at, so we like to just scan the surface & simply say that all pedophiles should be shot, locked up, or whatever we think should happen to them. This memoir will not change your views on pedophilia (it didn’t change mine), but even so, it was interesting to actually hear the voice of someone who has been through this and to see the human aspect of it.

‘Running with scissors’ is actually a very funny book and a highly entertaining read. The part where, together with his adopted sister, Augusten spontaneously decides to knock the ceiling out of the family kitchen or where the family thought that God was sending messages to them through the shapes of the father’s turds/poos/number-two’s (they would actually fish them out of the toilet and dry them in the back garden) all made me laugh to no end.

This book made me realize yet again that there can be some kind of value in ‘disfunctionality’. Apart from the chance of becoming a complete lunatic, addict, drunk or criminal (or all of these together), there is also the chance of becoming a much more interesting person in the process with a tremendous amount of depth, insight, compassion & humor.

So anyway, if you have a spare moment…read these books. They are all total gems. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Jaden Foundation blog

Any of you who have supported the Jaden Foundation (my little charity) over the last few years, please check out the Jaden Foundation blog on what's been happening with it.

Just to get you up to date's the posting that I added to it today:

Tumul k'in sponsorship

As nowadays the children of Belize are getting their schoolbooks for free (paid for by the government of Belize), we decided to spend the bulk of this year's Jaden Foundation money on supporting the sponsorship program of the local Private school, the Belize Christian Academy & on supporting the Tumul k'in Center of Learning in Punta Gorda.

Tumul k'in is a Mayan school (not only for Mayan children, though most are) and it is a project that both Karen and I visited a few years ago and fell in love with. I wrote about Tumul k'in in the following blog postings:

Anyway, this year we have donated $3000 BZ to the school so they can finish building their 'multi-purpose' building. It will be a place where the children can eat their lunch, where the graduations will be held, where community meetings will be held as well as parties and music performances (my kind of place!)

At the last graduation most parents had to stand outside as they didn't have a building large enough to house everyone, so they are very happy with the Jaden Foundation donation.

The managing director of the school wrote me this lovely note today:

Hi Simone,
Just letting you know that we have received the transfer of funds for the construction of the community cultural center (aka kitchen). We will start the work in a week so so since we have to wait for a change in the moon to cut the bamboo to use for the walling. I will keep you informed on the advances of the project.

Isn't that great? They have to wait for the moon to start building. That's the kind of 'being at one with nature' that we as a society have lost. Part of the school's mission is to teach the Mayan kids to respect their Mayan heritage and to take pride in the ancient knowledge and traditions. They use ancient farming practices next to modern day ones, teach the kids about the medicinal properties of the jungle herbs, etc.

And the kids, staff and parents all work together on building the school & many of the buildings are build in the traditional Mayan way, as you can see in the following pictures. This is the start of the building that they will be finishing and furnishing with our donation:

So thank you again to all our sponsors. We hope that you agree with how we are spending the Jaden Foundation money this year. Personally we are delighted that apart from the children that we have sponsored over the years there now also is something tangible that has been build with the sponsorship money. Something that in years from now will still be there and enjoyed by many people.

My blogging dilema

I'm having a bit of a 'problem'. As you know, my blog is called 'Simone's Belize Blog', but we have decided not to live in Belize from this coming December until next summer.

For this coming tourist season we will be renting out our new house (next to the Jungle Dome) as part of the vacation packages that are offered through Green Dragon Adventure Travel and The Belize Jungle Dome. We are always turning away so much business as the Dome only has 4 Suites, so it makes sense to add our house to the rental pool for at least one season. And anyway, after 6 years of living in the jungle we are quite up for new experiences (which must have been getting obvious by the fact that we have been traveling so much). On top of all this our business is now at a point where, under Karen's amazing management, it is run without Andy and I needing to be there on a day-to-day basis, so we might as well be somewhere else.

Now initially we had planned to go back to the UK for these months, but we have recently decided to go to Aruba instead (where my mum and sister live) as it is so much nearer & therefor easier to travel backwards and forwards and to stay involved with what's happening at the Dome.

So anyway, we will be living in Aruba for the coming months & what am I supposed to do with my Belize Blog? Simply use it for our Aruba stories? That will be a bit weird, won't it? I mean, already it is an odd blog with tons of stories about our family life on there, stuff that has little to do with Belize. But to not even live in Belize and call my blog a Belize blog? Surely that's too much. Still, I don't think I can just change the name. And if I start a new blog it will take years before the search engines start to pick it up again. Hmmmm...what to do, what to do.

Any suggestions? Apart from staying in Belize to continue my blogging? ; )

Let me know.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Belize Dolphin Encounter pictures

Here are two more pictures of last week's dolphin encounter. I never did collect the underwater pictures of my scuba dive though as it started raining badly on San Pedro and the dive shop was quite far from the hotel.

Oh well.....

Aidan with his 'babysitter'. The people on Spanish Lookout Caye were really helpful & when Aidan couldn't join in at the dolphin encounter they made sure that he was being watched at all times. Doesn't he look funny with his floppy sunhat on?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Scuba diving in Belize

Can you believe that I have managed to live in Belize for 6 years, without having been scuba diving once? I do have my PADI advanced Open Water certificate & love diving, but I just haven’t had a chance to do so whilst living here. For all this time, we were either too busy building our business or I was pregnant or nursing. So I’ve never been on more than a short snorkeling trip (which are great trips too, by the way)

Anyhow, yesterday I finally went on a proper scuba dive. And it was brilliant! My dive master Marcos was just amazing. The sea life we encountered on the two different dive sites were acting like they were all his personal pets. I’ve never seen anything like it. He didn’t even feed any of them, but he just seemed to communicate with them by touch.

Through Marcos’ help, we were able to pet a giant eel and tickle a nurse shark. The eel was actually a ‘friend’ of his. He calls her Esmerelda and he had been looking for her for over a month. He was so excited when he found her again. I have never seen a man beam over the sight of an eel before, but Marcos surely did when we got back to the boat and he told us about how Esmerelda had been hiding since Hurricane Dean had come near.

We also swam right beside a turtle, tons of other nurse sharks, a stingray, a parrotfish and we got kind of ‘attacked’ by a Moreno fish? I forgot the actual name of the fish, but it was a fish that normally attaches itself to a shark or a whale & had obviously lost its host. It then tried to attach itself to us as we were hovering around waiting for our ears to equalize on our way back to the surface. It kept trying to nibble at my hair and in the end the dive master had to punch it to get it to move away from us.

All in all, it was a fantastic first diving session. And I definitely won’t wait another 6 years to dive again.

Oh, and I will try and get hold of the pictures that were taken by the dive master later today

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Spiderman, spiderman

Oh, my boys do crack me up. Aidan is quite a handful these days. His favorite thing is playing in mud and grabbing things he shouldn't grab. He also lifts up your shirt to blow raspberries on your tummy (laughing hysterically as he does so). And he has started to talk a bit too. Just a few words so far: mommy, daddy, night-night and juice & in Dutch: koekje en vissen. He's attempting other words, but can't make them sound right yet.

And Lucas? Well, what can I say about Lucas. He actually believes that he's Spiderman. On some days he thinks that he's the boy from the Incredibles (the one who can run on water), but most days he's Spiderman. To be honest, I even think he's Spiderman sometimes. Just look at this clip and you'll understand what I mean.

Oh, and before I are some more funny comments from Lucas: "Oh mom, you should have seen these little baby rabbits. They were so cute, I almost cried"

And a while ago he came home from school to tell me that he has a girlfriend. "Wow" I said, "That's nice. What's her name?"

"Er...I forgot"

"Well, do you want to invite her over for a play date soon?"

"Oh, no!" He answered mortified "I don't talk to her. I'm scared of her"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Belize Dolphin Encounter

Days out with the family don’t come much better than this! We went to Spanish Lookout Caye yesterday, which is a 20-minute boat ride from Belize City and experienced the Dolphin Encounter there. It was amazing!!!!

We’d been meaning to check the dolphin encounter out for ages now, but never got round to it before. We wanted to see first hand if the place was exploitative in any way. If it was, we would make sure never to send any of our guests there. But after having been there, I’m happy to say though that the place is run in a very responsible manner & that it is highly educative, with an emphasis on conservation.

Before you go into the water with the dolphins, the trainers teach you a thing or two about the animals. About their physiology, their behavior and about ways that we can all protect their habitat. You are then taught how to behave in the water with the animals. The 4 dolphins at Spanish Lookout Caye are bottlenose dolphins, bred in captivity & they are all relatively young, about 4 to 6 years old, so they are still learning a lot and don’t always behave perfectly (but then, which 4-year-old does?)

Still, the two dolphins we met did wonderful. They were so bright and so excited about everything. It was really cute to see how much they loved their trainers and how they loved all the positive reinforcement they got. When one dolphin was a bit naughty, the trainer just blanked him for a moment. Which is the dolphin equivalent to a ‘time-out’.

These captive dolphins get regular visits from their wild counterparts & the two boys seem to be doing very well with the ‘wild’ ladies out there. So there is a lot of flirting going on between the dolphins at the lagoon and those just outside the barrier.

Of course, there is nothing as great as dolphins in the wild. But these captive dolphins seemed very happy (something that can not be faked) & I am sure that they enjoy this highly interactive lifestyle to being stuck in a tank at a zoo somewhere.

I definitely recommend this encounter to those visiting or living in Belize and we’ll start adding this day trip to our own packages soon too.

So if any of you want to go on this daytrip or any other Belize daytrip/vacation, contact us at Green Dragon Adventure Travel.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A few more pictures from our travels that I hadn't posted yet

Here's Aidan hanging out with my cousin Lida. We had a lovely day with my two cousins and my cousin's little boy Meldy at a local playground/fairground/crazy golf place. Lucas was even saying that he wanted to move to Holland as there are more playgrounds there than in Belize (which is easy as there really aren't any good playgrounds in Belize) and also because he gets more presents whenever we are in Holland.

Our easy rider Aidan. Doesn't he look cool?

Lucas and his new best friend Meldy. Lucas had been asking me for ages why he hasn't got any cousins (Andy and I are the first of our siblings to have kids), so he was delighted when I told him that Meldy was actually a real cousin of his. I just didn't tell him that he is his cousin third removed, or whatever it's called. After meeting Meldy Lucas kept talking proudly about 'my cousin this' and 'my cousin that'. Meldy is a really great kid, so it was nice to see how well they got on.

Here I am trying to take a picture on the timer with my cousins Lida and Esther. I just figured out how to use the timer on my new camera and using it brought back all those memories of my father taking timed pictures when we were growing up. The camera would never go off when we expected it to, but wait until my dad got up and check the camera. So most pictures would be of his worried face right in front of the camera, with us in the background trying to pull him back. I always found it hilarious.
Anyway, it was great spending time with Lida, Esther and Meldy. I hope we can do it again real soon!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

High school reunion

Yesterday I went to see my 2 old school friends Marloes and Wendy. We had all grown up together and kind of lost touch with each other after finishing school, mainly becaues I moved away to London when I was 18. Our little 'reunion' was brilliant. They haven't changed a bit and they said the same of me. It is astounding to think that you can be away from people for 17 years and then simply pick up the threat where you left it, but that's how it felt. I guess it helps that we are all in similar phase of life again as all 3 of us have young children. Here is Lucas with Wendy's little boy Djoy and Marloes' little girl Tess. I definately intent to stay in touch this time and to visit them again next time we're back in Holland.

Oh, and we drove past my old house, my old school, etc. It was funny seeing it all back again and seeing how much things have changed.

Wendy talked to me about why she never left the town that we all grew up in & she was quite right when she said to me: "I see it like this, regardless of where you live, once you've been there for a while it will become mundane and regardless of where you are in the world, you need to work for a living. So why move half-way across the world to end up the same situation you would be in right here? At least here I have the support of my friends and family"

Yep, she sure has a point.

Anyway, here's a picture of Lucas with Wendy's little boy Djoy and Marloes' little girl Tess. And a picture of the 3 of us together with Tess and Lucas.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Can I just keep updating you on our travels with photographs?

I'm enjoying being a lazy blogger right now. So I'll just keep telling the story of our travels by showing the pictures.
In the kitchen with my dad, his wife Ina and my little sister Iris. It's been lovely hanging out with family. I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful family. I love each and every one of them. If only everyone could live closer to each other.

In this picture for instance are my brothers Vincent and Floris and my sister Iris, but Miriam and JP are missing. It's been too long since we've had all the brothers and sisters together.

Floris (our little actor) looking rather silly with Iris' glasses...

Crazy Iris showing off her tongue piercing....

Family picture with my aunt Jola and uncle Jose. My other aunt and uncle and grandma had to leave unexpectantly early that day as they suddenly received a phonecall from the hospital. My cousin had an accident and had broken his arm. Yes, the boys in the Engeln family have been a bit unfortunate recently. My little brother Floris broke his toe a few days earlier too. Let's hope the family clumsiness/bad luck stops soon.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Some more pictures of our travels

Lucas is very much stuck in his role of Spiderman. But then, aren't all 4-year-old boys? This outfit is actually a swimsuit. Isn't it fun?

Aidan trying to stand on Lucas' new skateboard with assistance from Ina.

My dad and Ina....aren't they sweet?

Going on another daytrip with the boys. They've been in playgrounds, petting zoos, etc. virtually every day. Not a bad life!

Monday, August 13, 2007

This gypsie family is back on the road again!

Well, I have no real excuse for my recent lack of blogging apart from the fact that we have been- and still are-traveling yet again. We're in the UK and have been spending time in Brighton with Jody, Amber, Rich and Mooch & have now landed in Hunstanton. The weather-as you can see-is beautiful. We've even burned a tat whilst walking on the beach. But apparently that's all going to change tomorrow as major rain will hit the British Isles, accompanied by gale force winds!!!! Not looking forward to being on the coast in a flimsy log cabin for that (they call them log cabins, but they really are luxury caravans). But we'll see how things work out. Hopefully we won't blow away.

By the way, aren't these photographs stunning? I am so delighted to have a Fujifilm Finepix camera back. My old one died a while ago and I had replaced it with a Canon Powershot. But no camera seem to be able to do what Fujifilm cameras can, so I decided to get my broken camera sent off and to spend some more on a new Fujifilm replacement camera (a great service they provide)

Most these pictures were taken against a bright background with forced flash. You also can edit and chop pictures in the camera. If you are thinking of buying a new digital a fujifilm (unless you want to buy my old Canon Powershot of me. It's for sale ; )

Lucas and Aidan are having a blast. Playing on the beach, going to the funfair, hanging out in the playground, riding around on scooters. It's great to see them having so much fun.

Of course, Lucas had to catch disgusting creatures again. If he isn't digging out worms, he's catching frogs and here he is on Hunstanton beach with some crabs. Nice!

This last weekend we spent with Russel, Sarah and their two boys Jack and Sam. It was lovely. It's so great to spent time with old friends.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nice Jungle Dome reviews

It's always great to hear how much people enjoy staying at the Jungle Dome. The atmosphere at the lodge is rather unique, unless you've been there it's hard to explain in words. I guess you could say that it's like a luxury bed & breakfast experience (even though we feed everyone fantastic dinners there too). Our guests usually end up becoming good friends with everyone else at the lodge and they all love our staff! Some guests are virtually in tears when they leave the place and tell us that they feel like they've been visiting family, instead of feeling like they were guests at a hotel.

Just have a read of the Carrie's blog, a newly-wed who recently stayed at the Jungle Dome:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Our all-inclusive resort experience

It's so funny, just over a month ago I wrote 'No more travels please!' and what have we been doing lately? Yep, travel, travel and travel some more.

Last week we drove to Playacar, Mexico and we stayed at one of those big all-inclusive resorts. We've never stayed at one of those before and had never had felt attracted to them, but thought it was a good idea now because of the kids. All the reviews on Tripadvisor go on about how great these places are for children, with kids clubs and activities for them, etc. So we tried it out.

Well, what can I order to decide who and what you are in life, you sometimes have to experience that which you are not. And people for large all-inclusive resorts we are not. Don't get me wrong, we had a nice enough time. The food was over-flowing and good, we were right on the beach and by the pool, there was nightly entertainment that was good fun and it was an easy vacation/holiday for parents like us with young kids.

One of the down-sides was that Lucas, our jungle boy, was totally intimidated by the size of it all and refused to go to the kids club or take part in any of the organized activities (he liked watching the evening shows though), it was hard to make any friends, even for us, in a place that was that big. The activities around the pool were incredibly embarrassing, with the aqua fit sessions looking more like something from an 18-30's holiday (a cheap excuse to touch up members of the opposite sex). And I found it hard to admire the beauty of the sea and the beach as it was so full of 'stuff' (palapas, beach chairs, hammocks, etc.)

On our last day we drove to Tulum for the morning and as soon as we arrived there I realized that that is where I would want to stay again next time. Tulum is so unspoiled, with cute character-filled little hotels, restaurants and gift shops. It's got a slight 'hippie' feel to it & I find the whole place rather magical. I can't exactly explain why I feel like that.

The only down-side to Tulum is that it hasn't got a golf course nearby. And Andy, of course, is totally into playing golf. It would therefore be a shame to go to Mexico without making use of the incredible golf courses that are there. Oh well, we will figure out where to stay next time we go back to Mexico. Maybe we'll go again when Andy's mum is with us in September?