Friday, September 30, 2011

Kona, Hawaii, Ironman 2011

David has been traveling for nearly 30 hours and is still enroute to Kona, Hawaii, for the 2011 Ironman Championship. I cannot believe how long it takes to travel half-way around the world! Fortunately, the race is not until 8 October, so he will have time to relax and rest after the exhaustive trip.

More details and updates will be posted as the race day nears. Gratefully, David has a good friend arriving in Kona in a few days to join him, support him, and help him hobble around post-race!

More soon! Jennifer

Friday, September 16, 2011

School Year #3

We have just completed the second week of our school year #3! We have a large new international school now, with much larger classes, a spacious foyer, a lovely lunchroom surrounded by windows to the outside, a pool which may open some day, a separate girls' wing for girls who choose the girls' section of our school, and a large auditorium where we can actually hear the person on stage. It's wonderful. The first two days of school included an activity we did in advisory groups called The Amazing Race where each group competed in a school-wide scavenger hunt game in an attempt to have fun and to learn the layout of the school. Now fewer students are lost getting on their way to class, but I am certain that each student - and each teacher - has been lost at least once. It's nice in a way because it was not just the 6th graders, new to our secondary school community, who were lost occasionally, but everyone!

I am pleased to be teaching grade 7 English and humanities again, though I miss my lovely grade 7 students from last year! I pop in to visit them when possible. There has been noticeable maturity among this year's grade 7 group, and we off to a good start. I also teach a grade 6 English section, which is fun as well. David teaches grade 6, grade 7, and a grade 9 section of math, and he, too, is greatly enjoying his classes so far.

Hayden is settling in to his classes and enjoying more independence as a middle school student in the secondary building. David and I see him little during the day in our big building, but I spot him occasionally in the lunchroom - or in my English class! Logan is loving grade 1. One of his good friends, also from the United States, is again in his class this year, and this has been fun for Logan since there are six sections of grade 1 in our school. Both boys will start soccer again this coming week, Hayden will be continuing with guitar soon, and Logan will begin piano lessons. Hayden is hoping to make the basketball team at the secondary school and has been practicing almost daily, but he's up against all interested boys under 16.

David is wrapping up the intensity of his Ironman training, beginning to shorten some of his workouts and tapering for his upcoming race in Hawaii on 8 October. He will be leaving here in two weeks for his long flight to Kona and the adjustment necessary for a worldwide championship Ironman triathlon. The boys are wondering why Dad takes so many naps!

We are grateful for our steady and fulfilling jobs, the many sports and increasing music options for the boys, the wonderful friendships we are making in this international community, and our continued opportunities for travel. We are also grateful how much time the boys have spent with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family members over the summer. We have many blessings.

Thanks for reading, Jennifer

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Together Again

Recently we took our Eid al Fitr holiday in Italy where we met up with Jennifer's parents and, after a long month apart, Hayden! Mom nearly leapt out of the car before it had come to a complete stop when she saw Hayden sitting on a bench with his grandmother, waiting in a small village in the Piedmont region of Italy. It was a joyous time and a wonderful place to meet up together.

We all first headed with our friends to our their newly purchased, partially renovated - and very liveable - farmhouse in a remote location in Piedmont, surrounded by hills, woods, and stone farmhouses. We helped work on pruning and trimming trees and bushes, Jennifer's dad and our friend Chris both eager to charge up the chainsaw and tractor. We enjoyed local pizza, fresh eggs and cheese, bread from the nearby bakery, fresh milk and yogurt, various meats. Wow. We went into Alba, explored some vineyards and wineries, and generally had a glorious three days. Logan and his friend Charlotte created an art studio in an unfinished part of the farmhouse, complete with painting, canvases, drop clothes, and messes.

Following that we drove to Cinque Terra where we stayed for three nights in an incredible - but hard to find - hotel in the northernmost village of Monterrosso. From there we hiked three kilometers to the next village of Vernazza, ate a lovely
lunch, wandered the shops and watched the boats coming in. A few hours later we hiked another four kilometers to the next village. Each village had narrow, cobblestone paths and streets, small shops, cafes, colorful laundry blowing in the breezes, vibrant umbrellas, and many-flavored gelato shops. From any of the villages, you can catch a train to another village so that you can hike just one way. Visually, Cinque Terra is one of the most appealing places I have ever seen, but the fragrant smells of the flowers, fish, and sea added greatly to the pleasure.We ate fresh seafood and pasta daily and enjoyed local olive oil and the best pesto we have ever had! We were also able to enjoy the sandy beaches open-water swimming in the late August Mediterranean Sea.

After one week in Italy, we boarded the Royal Jordanian flight, via Amman, back to Jeddah with the start of school in mind and wonderful memories of Italy to carry forward.

Thanks for reading. Ciao! Jennifer