Friday, August 12, 2011

Common Language, Optional

A Korean man came to our door yesterday looking for basic tools to borrow by way of explaining that he and his family were our new neighbors. We were immediately excited! After all, we'd returned from summer vacation a bit despondent over having lost two of our former neighbors to larger houses elsewhere on campus. So this man's unexpected visit, along with his news that he had two kids, a boy 7 and a girl 4, was a breath of fresh air, especially for our soon-to-be 7 year-old son. When our new neighbor returned the tools later in the day, he brought his kids with him; unfortunately, Logan was next door (the other way!) with yet another boy his age.

News of the new boy next door proved too much for our amazingly sociable Logan and so, without any introductions or prompting, after breakfast this morning he summarily mentioned that he'd be heading next door to play with the new boy, John. Things must have gone well between them since Logan was gone for awhile. And when he returned, with John now in tow, it was now his chance to share his toys and make the fun.

And that was when I realized that neither boy had a common spoken language, not even a word of one, apparently, but instead were communicating in the universal language of 6 and 7 year-old boys. Which by now meant the two had headed up to Logan's room and its huge tub of legos, had begun assembling the latest in inter-galactic weaponry, and had clearly engineered superb machines given the "boy sounds" (as Jennifer calls them) emanating from the room.
But never a word did I hear, not even a peep, just the familiar engine-like and weapon-ish sounds of our son, peppered with the less familiar but equally impressive utterances of his new friend. After a while, it was time for lunch - only how to communicate this to John? Undeterred, Logan motioned to John to follow him, which he dutifully did, taking him next door to his new home and explaining to his father that it was time for him, Logan, to have lunch, but that maybe next time John could join us. I'm guessing next time will come soon!

Thanks for reading! David

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Colorado. Seattle. London.

We were so busy during our trip to the United States that we didn't have time to update our blog, but we are intent on more frequent updates from now on since many people mentioned reading our blog. Thank you.

After we left Michigan, we headed to Colorado for a just a couple of days, left the boys with Jennifer's parents, flew to Seattle and drove to Vancouver for an IB workshop. We took advantage of the glorious weather and the city of Vancouver by cycling and running in Stanley Park and eating at a variety of amazing restaurants. Upon our return to Seattle, we met the boys at the airport and went to our

Ballard neighborhood to stay in the guest room at our friends' house. Their house is just down the street from our own house and, though it was odd not to be living in our house, we were able to see that it has been very well-cared for both inside and out. Though the Seattle weather was disappointing, we still managed Greenlake runs, bike rides, and some backpacking (cut short due to the rain) in the Cascades where our boys, two of their closest friends, andus parents played Sardines in the boulder field at Lake Dorothy. It was definitely a highlight to return to one of our favorite mountain spots and breathe in the incredibly fragrant smells of the Pacific Northwest woods. We had dinner with friends, enjoyed pizza with many people in Gasworks Park (despite rain and cool temperatures), kayaked on Lake Union, took our kids and their friends to the awesome St. Edwards park where we had a picnic and played frisbee on one of

the first real summer days of Seattle. That day essentially doubled the number of minutes of sunshine for the city's summer 2011!

Next we went to Denver where we celebrated two milestone birthdays - my mom's and David's - which have or will occur this year. Again we reconnected with family and friends, including Jennifer's brother and nephew. One highlight was hiking to the top of Grays Peak at 14,270 feet with my brother, my nephew, Logan, David, and my dad. It was a typically crystal clear day in Colorado and we made it to the car just as the afternoon hail began! Logan was so proud of himself for hiking to the top, even with a broken arm. Finally, we enjoyed real summer weather and lots of outdoor time, running or biking. We relaxed, ate good food, enjoyed the amazing Colorado summer, and saw friends.

Hayden was not with us

because he was blessed with two weeks at Interlochen Center for the Arts where he attended summer camp and spent time with his Michigan grandparents once again. Today he will fly from Michigan to Colorado for the second time this summer and spend the next two and a half weeks with his
Colorado grandparents until we meet up in Italy for the Eid al Fitr holiday. Though we miss him and the house feels empty without him, he will enjoy his time in the States more than the heat and lack of activities here for the moment.

We made one final stop in London on our way back to Saudi Arabia. We hoped four days in one of our favorite
cities would help ease the time transition, but we also saw my English "family" and David's friend from the South Africa Ironman. We visited Covent Garden where David was, once again, roped into a street performer's show, and we finally experienced the London Eye.

We are now back in Saudi Arabia, preparing for a third school
year for KAUST, meeting new faculty, working on the new school building, and reconnecting once again with our amazing colleagues!

Thank you so much to all of our who made the effort to see us during our whirlwind tour of the US. We appreciated the beds, guestrooms, meals, and time offered by so many, and we were so grateful to see so many friends and family members.
Thanks for reading, Jennifer