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.....