August 22, 2016

Summer Fun!

It has been a fun summer for us, though it will be coming to an end soon with school starting in the middle of next week. The boys went to summer came for 5 weeks at the Embassy and had a blast. Each week was a new theme, and they would do crafts, activities, and swim every day. During part of the swim time each day, the boys had swimming lessons. They gained a lot of confidence in the water and improved so much! This is one of the first days of camp :).
One week the Marines did a boot camp theme. Both boys got certificates, for completing a week of brutal yelling and abuse by the Marines - ok not really.  Another big thing the boys did this summer was learn the Pledge of Allegiance. Living abroad the past 3 years and going to local schools, the boys mostly learn the culture of the country where we are living. They know the Jordanian National Anthem, can identify the Jordanian and American flag, and know who is the King and Queen of Jordan. We are working on getting American history instilled in them, and this summer was some good learning about America.
Caleb floating in the pool with his swim instructor, Ali. Ali is so patient with the children, and I think he taught about 95% of the kids at the Embassy how to swim!
In the beginning of summer, Caleb would put his head under water, and started swimming underwater when Nathan's parents came to visit in late June. By the end of summer, he was able to swim from one lane line to the next, and can tread in the water and take breaths before going back under.  We are so proud of the big improvements he made! I know I have videos of Benjamin swimming, but for some reason I can't find them. He is a little fish and loves to swim underwater, and is practicing big arms. Both boys like to dive to the bottom for rings, and they are having fun with their new skills. Thankfully, the pool will be open until the end of October, so there will be more pool time in our future.
Boys on the last day of summer camp. We are thankful for the camp, and for the caring counselors that made it a fun experience for everyone.
Earlier in the summer, we babysat our neighbors pets - 4 guinea pigs and a kitten, Cozmo. We ended the summer with 2 guinea pigs and a bigger kitten. Thankfully we found out after their return that the two guineas that died were really old, and they said they go through guineas often, which I guess made us feel a little better about them dying on our watch. Benjamin and Cozmo became good buddies over the couple months. Caleb and Cozmo, not so much! We could only bring Cozmo over in the evenings when we were home and on the weekends because we had to separate Cozmo, Twix, and the guineas. Cozmo was all kitten and everyone that comes with one. It was an interesting couple of months with all the animals!
The boys went to a couple birthday parties this summer too. This past weekend they had two parties. One for a neighbor, and it was a dance party put on a man that teaches hip hop at the school the little boy attends. It was cute to see the kids up and dancing. Benjamin wanted to dance, but was a little shy. Caleb sat in my lap most the time and had fun watching.
 Another day they went to their good friend Mary's beach themed pool party at the Embassy pool. All their friends were there and it was a lot of fun for the kids and adults to all get together to swim and hang out.
This summer, I started running again, after a many month break. Our mornings are very mild and the weather is just getting nicer each week. One weekend, I went out for a run a little later than usual and it was hot. Towards the end, I ran into a shepherd and his sheep, and took the opportunity to stop (rest) and take a picture. This is only a block from our house. Love these unique things about where we live!
Summer has been fun, and the boys (I think) are ready for school to start next Wednesday. For now, I leave you with this sweetness...

August 16, 2016

Yellow belts!

This weekend the boys and a couple of their friends tested for the next level up karate belt. Caleb, Benjamin, and Mary tested for yellow belt, and Sean for green belt. The instructor comes to our house each week for the lesson, but the test was at her gym. We got to watch, and it was super cute!
For warm-up, they ran several laps around the gym.
Practicing some punching
Mary doing her kicks
Benjamin's turn
Caleb's turn
Benjamin and Mary double teaming the kicks and punches. Look at how serious he is.
And then Caleb and Sean did a little sparring.

Finished with the test!
Caleb being presented with his yellow belt.
Benjamin being presented with his yellow belt.
The kiddos with their new belts!
Ms. Irish is a great Tae Kwan Do instructor, and she is so patient with the kids.
We are so proud of their hard work, and it was a fun day for all of us! We finished the day enjoying brunch at the pancake house with our friends. Thankfully, we didn't get beat up that night by the boys ;). Stay tuned for videos soon!

August 12, 2016

Wadi al-Hidan

I've been on a blogging break and have a bit to catch up on. A couple of weeks ago, Nathan and some of our co-workers went on a hike to Wadi al-Hidan, which is a wadi (valley) south of the town of Madaba. It's a 4km canyon with narrow gorges, natural pools, and beautiful scenery. This is the view from the top of the hike.
To get down to the wadi, they had a rocky and hot 30 minute hike down.
Starting the hike through the wadi.

 Lots of water crossings and swimming through deep natural pools.

 And lots of opportunities to jump off rocks and slide down natural water slides.

 Floating through the narrow canyon.
 Most everyone had fun sliding down the water slide. Nathan's turn to slide and jump!
One last pool before heading out of the wadi.
 It was a fun time had by all!

August 4, 2016

Around Home and Town with Grandpa and Grandma P.

Over the weeks, we enjoyed spending time at home and around town. The day after they arrived, we visited one of the parks close to our house. The boys like to climb the trees here and ride their bikes around the sidewalk.
And I love the pomegranate trees that line the park!
See saw fun with grandma.
Grandpa must be telling Benjamin a good secret...
Then we visited our favorite Syrian bakery. They make delicious pita, breads, rolls, and all kinds of sweets. We brought home a few things that day :).

An another day, Nathan and the crew visited the Children's Museum - yes, the same chain we have in the US! We are thankful to have it close by and the boys always enjoy exploring there.

Thankfully, we got Caleb out of jail before we left!
Nathan gave them a tour of downtown while the boys napped that afternoon.
We spent a lot of time playing outside at home, and just being silly!
We got the boys a climbing harness when I was back in the states. We haven't made it to the rock gym yet, but the harness has been getting plenty of use.
Caleb loves making lego 'creations.' He has such a great imagination and we love hearing about all the things he imagines.
And Benjamin loves picking me flowers from the yard :).
Can you guess what this is?
Ta da. Not sure what they had in mind, but they were pretty proud of the bike, scooter, and plasma car pile.
One thing Caleb vividly remembers from Grandma Betty's trip to Kuwait a couple years ago was making sprite and gummy bear popsicles. We still make them :).
Lots of baseball and tee ball in the yard.
Another day, they went to a different park near our house, called the zig zag park. It got it's name because this sidewalk zig zags up a hill. It is a lot of fun for them to ride their scooters up and down the sidewalk, over and over and over.
Lots of flowers are in bloom.

And they have a nice playground at this park too.
You know its a good day when you wear your PJs all day long!

We were watching our neighbor's pets and plants for a couple of months while they were out of town. More on the pets another post. Caleb liked this plant a lot and called it outside Heather mommy!

We had an amazing couple of weeks with Mark and Betty, and are so thankful for the time we spent together. It is never easy to say 'see you soon,' give the final hug and kiss, and say I love you. But we look forward to the next time we can be together again, and always cherish the memories made. We love you and can't wait to 'see you soon' somewhere, sometime! Thank you for this wonderful visit!