A Travellerspoint blog

THE YEAR OF A MILLION BLESSINGS

Everybody knows that time flies, and I was supposed to write this blog a long time ago but I am not the best person to manage my time really well, so I am finally here taking the time.

This year has been fabulous: full of blessings and happy occasions. Maya has been growing a lot, speaking like a little parrot, in both languages thank God. I can see she understands most of the words in Spanish but she speaks more in English. She has a strong personality and is a really independent person. It has taught me to be more relaxed and rely on her which has not been easy, as like all parents you never want the children to get hurt, and we want to choose the best for them.

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The terrible two stage that Maya is currently navigating and we hope finishes soon, has not been so bad. There have been some days – weeks which have been challenging, with some tears and tantrums because she does not get what she wants. Her love for food is impressive and grows every day, so most of the tantrums are to get more, hahaha. Sometimes the mornings are a struggle because she does not want to wear any clothes or she does not like what Simon has chosen for her.

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This year, Maya has been learning to swim, which she loves and she has been in soccer classes, which are so cute to watch, she has also learned to assist in the kitchen, which has been interesting because she needs to try everything before it goes into the pot, hahaha. She has had the opportunity to visit some farms and animals, which has been a highlight for her. She was invited to many birthday parties, where she learned how to hit a piñata and be an expert in tasting cakes. She has learned to ride a balance bike, which she rides really fast, and has showed her enjoyment for dancing which I try to encourage every day, hahaha. Maya has been blessed that she has had the opportunity to experience many new things this year!!!!

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Simon just recently changed his job. At the end he was having a great time in his previous job at the hospital which initially did not start very well but had a great ending, like a Cinderella story, hahaha. He is now working at the same University where I am, and he is happy learning many new things and having significant challenges. He continues to walk everywhere, and listens to music or his audio books.

For myself, the year has been really good, I still bike everywhere and I am very happy that Maya is now also learning to ride a bike. Soon the three of us will be going for some bike rides together, but for now I still have the little bike seat for Maya to carry her with me. I have been a busy lady as usual. Any opportunity I have to go on a course and I am there. If I do not learn anything at least I meet a lot of great people and I get to try a lot of good food. I had the opportunity to go for some training in Auckland last month, which was great, and I am now part of a number of mothers groups. These groups have been really interesting, it is so funny to hear other mums with similar feelings to mine, and in similar situations. As you know there are sometimes moments I think things happens ONLY to me or my family, hahaha. Also in my free time, I have continued working for the Takeme2theworld travel agency which has amazing plans to take some more tours to South America soon, so if you know of anybody with plans to visit South America let me know and maybe we can help.

Our family has had a lot of fun times this year, in summer we went for lots of bike rides, short trips, many walks, visited the ducks and had picnics. Now in winter, we have been going to the swimming pools regularly, having fun as a family and keeping warm. Winter is a really challenging season with the rain and windy days not being easy with Maya, however we have learnt to find activities to do inside on those days. We have also joined two Messy church groups, which meet once per month. These groups offer craft activities for the children and family, and we finish with shared lunches or dinner. Maya loves these groups and the other children she gets to play with.

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Also this year, there was a popular activity of painting rocks and hiding them in the parks around the city which has been a big success. Where we live, it is called Palmy rocks and this has been one of the highlights of this year. Sometimes Maya and I paint rocks and go to the parks to hide them for somebody else to find them, other times we only go to the parks to search for the rocks. The idea is to re-hide the rocks again however with Maya this is a little tricky as she wants to take all the Palmy rocks home, so we need to create in those moments a little distraction magic and some rocks manage to go into the bushes or under a tree for other children to find.

This has been the first half of this year for us so far, full of blessings and with many plans ahead. Hopefully all of you are fine and we can catch up with you soon

Love

Erika, Simon and Maya

Posted by erika_simon 15:28 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

The Law of CHANGE, the Law of CYCLES and the Law of CONSEQUE

Simon, Maya and I have had a really exceptional year. I read a while ago that everything in our life is part of the Law of Change, the Law of Cycles, or the Law of the Consequence. Meaning, things change fast and they change slowly, they change in cycles and everything that you do will have consequences. We certainly experienced these three separate stages over these last 12 months.

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Leo Roache, our very good friend unfortunately died earlier this year. Our lives definitely changed when he passed away and his cycle finished. We (or I) had the opportunity to know him for ten years and over all of those years, his support was exceptional, our meetings every Thursday and Sunday were full of wisdom and laughs with his unexpected comments, most of them with a double meaning, and showed us a different way to view things. Simon is a very strong person and seeing him really sad for Leo’s absence was hard for me and Maya. However, in a way we learnt to know each other more and Leo will always be in our hearts.

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Simon’s job as a project coordinator at the hospital put him in a very difficult situation for the last 18 months. He was working with a manager who was a bully which was affecting him a lot and even though he tried not to bring his problems home we could all feel the pressure he was under. He coped really well with things most of the time, until Leo passed away. Simon used to visit Leo and ask him for advice and talk about his job and this helped him to keep everything in perspective, but when Leo was gone Simon started to take a lot of things happening at work quite personally. We discussed things and he came very close to resigning, but instead he was very brave and made a formal complaint about his boss and was given some stress leave from work. While on leave he was advised he would be moved to a different area and would not have to work with his old boss anymore, then he was given a promotion and his own projects to manage, then he was given a raise, then he was made a permanent staff member, then his old boss’s contract was not renewed and was effectively fired. A lot of very positive changes that kept occurring, and Simon is now really enjoying work, the responsibilities, support, and friendly environment.

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Maya has changed a great deal over the last twelve months. This time last year she was starting to walk and now she does not stop running. The climbing and exploring around the house stages have slowed a little bit, and currently we are seeing dancing and singing stages, which I love. She is talking a lot, her Spanish improved significantly during our stay in Colombia, with her speaking mostly in Spanish but she can understand both languages. Her personality is similar to Simon’s and she loves to help people, and she will make sure everyone around her has everything they need before she thinks of herself. For instance, Maya knows which toys make her friends like, and if they are upset she runs to find that toy for them; Maya loves carrying the bags of her friends to their car; if any of them needs water she knows which is their bottle and she runs to bring it to them.
Maya has also closed many cycles in her life, ha ha ha. She was toilet trained in Colombia, so the cycle of nappies is now closed (this has to be one of my highlights of 2016). She has been learning to use cutlery, so the cycle of bibs is nearly over. She learnt the word “wait” (sometimes she does not hear it), the cycle of my running behind her has reduced a little bit. She learnt to imitate the movements of the people in her music classes, so the cycle of people moving Maya hands for her is over. She is learning to play by herself, so the cycle of us needing to entertain her “all the time” is finally finished. She has had most of her teeth come through, so the cycle of teething is closing. She is sleeping through the night, so the cycle of sleep deprivation for her parents is going. She has learnt to talk a lot, and the cycle of guessing what she is saying and dealing with her demands is starting. Simon appears to have gone deaf to most of this! So I am dealing with most of this stage.

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With me, my year was really busy with Maya, Simon, work, travelling, Avon, exercise, and enjoying life. As you know Maya keeps me busy busy busy ….. I love being with her and I feel absolutely blessed to have quality time to share with her. She has taught me so much about life. I start working early at 7am and finish at 3pm, meaning the afternoon is for me and Maya, and we enjoy this time together: we play, cook, she helps me clean (sometimes to make more mess while I am cleaning), we visit friends in the afternoon, and enjoy our time together. Maya and I travelled to Colombia in October and November, which was really fun, and she was amazing on the planes. On the way back I miscalculated the time between flights so once Maya and I had to run through an airport to catch a connecting flight. We always have angels to help us, and thank God we got there at the last minute to check in.

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During my time in South America, I worked as a travel companion for an amazing kiwi family in Chile and Peru. One of my good friends owns a travel agency and asked me if I wanted to help with this trip some people he knew had planned. It was so much fun to help put it all together. I had the responsibility of organising their entire trip, talking to the people at the hotels, tours, drivers, etc. and making sure their trip was enjoyable. During our time travelling with Jocelyn, Chris, Sophie, Adam and James I learnt a great deal about being prepared for the unexpected, and breathing, smiling and trying my best to solve any problems that arose. I felt privileged to have the opportunity to show them South America, parts of our culture, and create a long-lasting friendship with them. It was a great experience and I hope many more opportunities like this will come up. If you want to travel please contact me and/or Takeme2theworld to help organise things for you.

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2016 was an eventful year in general. We said goodbye to our great friend Leo, we moved houses, Simon now has a great job, Maya is healthy and growing, I started a new career as a travel companion, we were surrounded by family and friends, Maya and I travelled, I could be with my Colombian family for a month, Maya and I are still selling Avon and we have many new customers, and we are still a loving and happy family.

We wish you all a happy Christmas and a great 2017. Hope next year I have the discipline to write more blogs to let you know how we are.

All our love and best wishes,
Erika, Simon, and Maya

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Posted by erika_simon 17:56 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

THE SEED OF LOVE, PEACE AND LIFE

Maya and I have had the opportunity to travel to Colombia in October once more to visit family. Maya is a great traveller and she behaved wonderfully our way there and coming back as well.

On most of the planes she was in love with the small TV screens and this distraction helped her to go to sleep, obviously after an hour or so of playing with the screens and the remote controls. I prepared a number of activities for the planes with craft materials, some toys, puzzles, bubbles, etc. and all of them worked really well. Plus Maya is such a sociable person and made friends on each plane.

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This time we decided to make our arrival a surprise, so we told our family our flight came in on Saturday at night, but our arrival was actually Friday. I planned the surprise with my sister who invited everybody for lunch on Saturday and we were already there. It was beautiful to see the reactions of my family when they saw us. My sister with her two children - my niece and nephew, created a small performance and the ending was our entry. I enjoyed this surprise a lot, but I don’t know if anyone is going to believe us again when I say when we are coming for a visit, they may have learned from this experience.

From the first day, Maya really enjoyed the company of her cousins, Anny and Nicolas. It has been the major highlight of this trip seeing them play together. It is amazing to see how happy they are, and obviously how happy Maya is. She woke up every morning asking for them and before she went to bed we had to call the cousins to have a chat about the day. I was a little concerned she was going to miss her Dad, but he called her every day and sang good-night songs to her so she never had time to miss him, but she still misses her cousins because she cannot talk to them regularly or play with them anymore.

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On a number of days we sent Maya to her cousin’s childcare. It was a great experience for her and also for me, and she had Anny and Nico there to look after her. Maya also kept asking about her teacher and her friends in New Zealand, because she missed spending time with them. I could not believe the difference in price for a day of childcare in Colombia which is equivalent to the price of one hour of childcare in New Zealand. I should bring Maya to Colombia more often. Hahaha.

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Maya was always actively playing with her cousins and she loved showing them her dancing skills. Definitely the music and dancing classes in New Zealand paid off. It was so cute to see her dancing at the parties we went to and she didn’t have a problem with standing in the middle of the room and shaking her hips and making everybody laugh. I am very happy with these skills because I am 100% sure they come from her Latino-American genes hahaha. Actually the name of this blog comes from a person who saw Maya dancing at a party, and afterwards she told me “your daughter is a Seed of Love, Peace and Life”. What beautiful words.

Her vocabulary in Spanish has gone through the roof and her pronunciation has improved a lot. The last few weeks she was talking more and more each day, and almost only in Spanish. There are a number of words she continues to say in English like hot, push, here, and phone. I knew our family and friends in New Zealand would have a little problem understating her the first week or two after our return.

We were blessed to be able to be in Colombia for Halloween where this is an enormous tradition and a big celebration. This year the Halloween celebration took up the entire weekend from Friday to Monday, so Maya had the opportunity to wear a number of different costumes. Thanks to her aunty Mimin (my sister Jazmin), who thinks about everything ahead of time, she had already prepared Maya's main costume, and Maya looked absolutely gorgeous on the 31st of October. A lot of people wanted to take photos of her and alongside her, so she was a celebrity for a few hours, hahaha. Maya’s cousin Anny dressed up as Elsa and Maya was Anna from the movie Frozen. Both of them looked adorable, and Nicolas was very handsome as Kristoff. The three of them stole the show and it was a memorable day

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For the last two weeks of our stay in South America Maya was with my family while I was working as a personal guide for a travel company in Chile and Peru. Just another exciting adventure in my life. I was very excited to go on this trip, but I knew I was going to miss my little one. I was sure she was going to have a wonderful time with my family and obviously with her cousins. In my next blog I will let you know how this amazing adventure went.

We definitely had a wonderful time with my family and visiting South America, and I feel blessed to have had this opportunity to be in Colombia and share a few weeks with my family. The time flew by very quickly, and too soon Maya and I had to pack our bags and make the return trip. It was always hard to leave my family, but we had my wonderful husband Simon waiting at home to greet us, and New Zealand is always a nice change of pace after how busy Colombia can be.

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Posted by erika_simon 15:05 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

CHANGE OF SCENARIO

Over the last four months a number of things have changed. We have move house, Simon has gotten a promotion at work and started a new project, and Maya does not seem to ever stop growing!!!!!!!!

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We moved house at the end of June, and it was an enormous challenge. We sold our previous place, which happened really fast and we got a great price. The real estate market in New Zealand is crazy, the price of houses are high and selling so fast. To organise the house for the photos for the advertising, and for the open home was hard work. It was really difficult for us to find the balance of what to show in the house and what not to spend too much time and money on. We had one open home and got five good offers. At the end everything went smoothly and was relatively easy. We had enough time to move everything and it made things much more manageable for us I actually enjoyed discovering lots of things we had never used and was able to give them away. Maya enjoyed the packing, the boxes were great toys for her and obviously many of the things I put into the boxes she was pulling out soon . It was a fun game for her.

Simon has had a difficult time at work the last couple of months. He was involved in a bullying situation with his boss and it was starting to affect his health and temperament. He has been really blessed that after he made an official complaint with HR he was moved to another department and has started managing a new project. Maya and I are glad for him as we have not seen him looking happy when he is heading off to work for a long time

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Maya continues to get bigger. It is amazing to see how much she has changed and how her personality is showing. We have a lot fun with her but she is currently going through the ‘tantrum’ stage and sometimes I want to disappear when they are in public, hahaha. She loves climbing, and running everywhere and has been learning how to jump. I cannot believe how hard is for a toddler to jump. I thought it would be really easy, but Maya has been practicing for more than one month and she has not been able to get both of her feet off the ground. It seems to be like learning to roll over or walk. Her language has improved significantly, and she is repeating everything like a parrot, but she is still talking more in English but she understands everything is Spanish. Sometimes we have our discussions in two languages, she says nose and I say nariz, she says bye I say adios, … it is funny to hear us talking sometimes.

I love the age she is right now. It is exhausting but a lot fun. I have to run around after her all the time, but sometimes the things she says or does are absolutely amazing. She is now (usually) following instructions really well, she has learned to wait (for short a time) for things - apart from food. Food needs to be on the table on time or Simon and I are in trouble, haha. She has been taking swimming classes for a couple of months, which she loves. She enjoys the water and has learned a number of safety habits that are regularly taught at the classes.

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Maya was blessed to be in the right place at the right time and a nice photo of her appeared in the Guardian newspaper. Her educator just happened to take them to the Toy library and this was the day there was a photographer there to take photos for the newspaper to advertise the library. Maya’s photo was one of the main photos and she looks gorgeous.

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Maya and I are going to Colombia next month, which will be her second international trip. I am looking forward to this holiday, but unfortunately Simon can’t come with us (again). I am sure Maya will not stop asking for papa (daddy daddy) but we are going to have so much fun with my family and travelling on the planes.

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Posted by erika_simon 17:07 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

AN AMAZING LIBRARY HAS BEEN LOST

Dedicated to Leo Roache

On the second of April, when I mentioned to our Rwandan flatmate that our best friend Leo had passed away he told me “in my country we believe that when an elderly person dies a big library is lost; all his knowledge is gone”. I thought it was the most beautiful expression to relate to losing Leo.

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I met Leo on the 22nd of October 2006, and from that moment he was interested in knowing more about Colombia, and it is going to sound ironic, but if someone had asked him about Colombia he would have known more than me and would have been able to answer almost any question. For nearly ten years he wanted to learn about my family, about my culture, about my traditions, about my crazy country, about our politics, about our corruption, about our food, music, books, and even TV. Because I came from Colombia he wanted to know more.

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The almost ten years of friendship we shared were wonderful. We had a larger number of tintos (coffee in a little cup), went to many cultural events: movies, concerts, exhibitions, conferences, etc, cooked together, drank wine, and enjoyed each other’s company. My knowledge grew with each conversation with Leo, each meeting was like an academic lecture for me, an educational interchange of information. As a teacher and philosopher he was always concerned about teaching our younger generations to learn, to teach them to give their own opinion and think critically about the ‘facts’ they were given.

I always admired Leo’s love of learning. He always wants to know more and more. He mentioned a number of times that his most prized possession was his mind. He didn’t want his body to keep going if his mind failed him. As it happened, his body began failing him twelve months ago, but his mind remained sharp right up until the end.

His wife Shannon, passed away almost exactly twenty years ago, was always mentioned in our conversations with Leo. He would talk about her like she had just left the room and was a regular feature of our conversations. I never had the blessing of meeting her, but I really felt like I knew her from how Leo described her. I have read in the Bible the following passage: “There are three things that amaze me— no, four things that I don’t understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman (Proverbs30:18-19)”. The last part of this verse reflects the love between Leo and Shannon, an example of pure and real love. When we saw Leo on his last day I remember that he still had on his wedding ring – he was a devoted husband for 65 years.

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This time has been very hard for us, but we are so grateful to God for the time we had to spend with Leo and the wonderful moments we shared. He will always be in our hearts and we are sure another great angel is looking after us from now on. Knowing Leo, he did not like to be made a fuss about. He would say “Stop it Erika, I’m a simple person”. So I will stop there and share with all of you a few things about Maya.

I am now calling Maya “our little earthquake”. She has grown so much, and is now walking and running. Her love for climbing has certainly developed, any table, chair, cabinet, steps, box, ... she looks, plans how start, and goes…no hesitation. Her determination to do things is unbelievable, there is very little that can stop her when she wants something, it scares me sometimes how focused she can be. Simon says she has my focus sand his grip-strength. When she has a hold of something she is NOT giving it back!

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It has also been lovely hear how much she is talking, and I am impressed that most of her current words are in Spanish. I have an ongoing bet with Simon about how many words Maya is going to speak in Spanish or in English, and currently I am winning (I hope this trend continues).
Maya’s ability to run has really improved thanks to Simon, who scares her every night before bed-time and she runs through the house looking for me to save her. She loves this game, and laughs hysterically as she runs. It’s really funny seeing Maya running around the house trying to find me. Sometimes Simon uses this game to distract Maya from doing naughty things, or to burn off a little excess energy before we try and put her into bed.

On another hand, Maya has won special prizes in March. A photo that was taken by me was chosen by a children magazine. She was famous for a month and won two gorgeous toys. I felt so proud that I was who took the photo, hahaha

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Maya is now at the stage where she wants to tests our boundaries all the time. She knows (most of the time) what she should NOT do, but we can see in her gorgeous little face that has an expression that says “look mum and dad I am doing this thing that will upset you” (drawing on the walls, dancing on the coffee table, throwing the cutlery, etc). Simon and I are definitely still having fun with her and we are not expecting things to change any time soon. There are more challenges just around the corner.

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I will finish this blog here, otherwise you are all going to get tired of reading.

Many thanks and all our love,

Simon, Maya and Erika.

Posted by erika_simon 15:53 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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