Friday, April 17, 2009

Camping

It's tradition in Aruba that families go camping on the beaches at Easter. We joined the happy campers this year and, my goodness, did we had a blast!

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.

My mum and Lucas in our borrowed tent, which- on the last night- slowly started to collaps on us. It really was time to pack up!

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.

The 'party tent'...the place where everything happened. This was just before the scary treasure hunt. On this picture you can still see Andy in normal clothes. An hour later he was turned into a scary knight who had to protect treasures. Other parents were turned into witches, pirates, a green monster and more.


View from the light house, where we drove with the partybus. Towards the right on the coast, you can just see our camp.

Lemar (the birthday boy). It was his birthday that we were celebrating on the partybus.


A beer and some pumping music and a cut-up toe was quickly forgotten ; )





Friday, April 10, 2009

Happiness is just a state of mind

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

Aidan

It's a bit unfair, but when you're a second child (or a third or a fourth) no one makes as much of a hooha about you, as they did about child number one. So in our case that means that there have been tons of stories about Lucas growing up on this blog, but very little about Aidan. So now it's his turn....

Aidan is just about the most fun child you could imagine. He gets on with everyone & loves performing to a crowd (wonder who he got that from? ; )

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).

His rendition of Jingle bells is pretty original too. He is convinced that the song goes: 'Chicken bells, chicken bells, chicken all the way. Hey!' It is one of his favorite songs and he seems set on singing it year-round. Which we don't mind, as it continues to crack us up. He even grabbed the mic at a karaoke and sung 'Chicken bells' to a crowd of grown-ups (who were all doubled up laughing)

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)

Oh, and one more thing about the both of them...they share a bedroom and they often tell each other stories before bedtime. They even make up songs for each other. It is just the cutest. And regardless of where they are when I bring them to bed, when I check up on them later, they are curled up together. I have even heard Lucas say to Aidan when he was afraid at bed time: 'Don't worry Aidan. Lucas is here. I will keep you safe. If a monster comes, I'll punch him'.

We are truly blessed with 'little monsters' like these. Both so different. Yet both so lovable.