He rode his own bike through the streets of Paris, drove a boat through the canals of Amsterdam, taken a sleeper train from Munich to Amsterdam, kayaked in Croatia, picked strawberries in Bavaria, ran around on an ancient chariot track in Rome, went to the top of the world's tallest building in Dubai, and zip-lined while camping in the desert of Abu Dhabi. He has been on trains, planes, boats, bikes, cars, and buses. And through it all, he remains one of the most kind-hearted, empathetic people I have ever met. He even used some of his birthday money to buy something for his little brother because Oliver was feeling left out.
Owen has developed more and more of a sense of humor this last year. He has a pretty good grasp on sarcasm now, which is beneficial in a home where both parents are high school teachers. He makes puns on a regular basis now and laughs and more and more of Derek's "dad" jokes. Owen has a great smile, and we are lucky that he shows it off so willingly.
Derek and I are incredibly proud of the young man Owen is becoming. He is a great big brother and a wonderful son. We are all so lucky to have him in our lives.
1. How old are you? Eight
2. What is your favorite color? Blue.
3. What do you want to be when you grow up? A policeman and soccer player.
4. What is your favorite thing about school? Math.
5. What do you like best about Mom? That she cuddles me a lot.
6. What do you like best about Dad? That he cuddles me a lot.
7. What is something you are really good at? Legos and soccer.
8. What is your favorite animal? Meerkats.
9. What was the best thing you did when you were seven? I joined Thistle.
10. What is your favorite show? Star Wars
11. Where is your favorite place to go on vacation? Europe
12. Which has been your favorite vacation we've taken? This summer break in Europe.
13. Who do you look up to? My family.
14. What is something you want to learn before you turn nine? How a computer works.
15. If you could have any wish, what would it be? To live in some place that has snow.
16. What is your favorite food? Quesadilla
17. What do you like to do at recess? Play soccer
18. What is your favorite sport? Soccer
19. What are your favorite teams? Packers, Rockies, Broncos
20. What is your favorite vegetable? Carrot Least favorite? Artichoke
21. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas
22. If you could visit any place in the world, where would you like to go? Europe. I just want to travel around in Europe more.
23. If you had $1 million dollars, what would you do with it? Give it to poor people.
What a year 2016 has been. During the year, we have been in eight different countries and seen some stunning sights around the world. Our boys have grown so much, and we have all learned new and wonderful things about this world we live in.
Here for his annual post, Derek has the Swanson Family's Year in Review for 2016.
2016 has been a great year for the Swanson family. We added 6 new countries to our family map, moved to a new apartment, adopted a kitten, and watched as the boys grew.
We turned our focus to moving apartments in May, leaving the KFC Building for Al Shaheen Towers, above the Choithrams Grocery Store. The new apartment included parking, and was equally close to the Corniche, while providing us with nearly twice as much space. The move was able to happen about six weeks early, which meant that we were not moving in before the end of the school year. Prior to moving in, the apartment was painted, cleaned, and had general maintenance, so it was very comfortable to get situated.
In June we were finishing the school year, and left for our European summer adventure, which lasted to the end of July. It was Ramadan at the end of the school year, which meant that we had to make some minor changes, such as making sure that we didn't eat or drink in public, made sure to keep the car stereo off, and dressed a bit more conservatively than usual. One of the highlights of Ramadan was getting to go to an Iftar buffet, which is where the fast is broken. The variety of food, and the ambiance was unlike anything that we had previously experienced. Soon after school finished, we boarded a plane to Munich, Germany, to begin the summer fun. In Germany, we hit Legoland, checked out the Neuschwanstein Castle, and toured downtown Munich. Then we rode a sleeper train to Amsterdam where we saw the canals, the Resistance Museum, and met lots of our extended family. After a week in The Netherlands, we took a train to Paris, France where we enjoyed a remarkable bike tour of the city. We spent the remainder of our summer spending more time in Croatia and a little time in Rome. We fell in love with the Mediterranean lifestyle and are already plotting ways to get back to the area. After a flight back to Munich, we returned to Abu Dhabi to settle a bit more into the new apartment before the school year started.
Before the summer was up, we adopted a new kitten, an orange Arabian Mau, that we named Sandy, went to the Emirates Palace for a golden cappuccino, and made sure that we were ready for the start of school.
For the Eid holiday, we decided to make our way to Muscat, Oman. Muscat is about a six hour drive from Abu Dhabi, so we packed the kids into the car and drove through the desert for a five day stay. We saw dolphins, explored some new cities, and spent lots of time swimming! Later in October, the hockey season started, where Derek was playing for a new team, the Yas Island Bananas. We also attended the Fall Festival at school, where Owen and Oliver were part of a parade, had snacks, and played games. Oliver continued swimming lessons, Owen played basketball, and Becca coached Owen's team. Additionally, Owen started playing soccer for a local club, with one game a week, and one practice a week.
In November we camped near the Omani border, including S'mores, a zip line, and dune bashing. Becca continued her graduate work, Owen was playing soccer with passion weekly, Oliver built the Burj Khalifa out of boxes at school, and I helped to compete in the robotics nationals.
Oliver's birthday started off December, with him turning five years old. Oliver is obsessed orange, Star Wars, and reading. It's great see his imagination come to life. We were able to have a great set of family photos captured, then we welcomed Oma and Opa, Scott and Mary, to Abu Dhabi. Every day with them has been an adventure, with fishing, a tour of the Grand Mosque, a trip to the Burj Khalifa, and more, we had a great time finishing out 2016.
Although every month finds us with loads of activities, have dinner as a family nearly every night, we make time for play with the boys, and read together frequently. Family is important, and we make sure to treasure each other often. We are proud of how much the boys changed for the better over the last 12 months, and we look forward to how 2017 will be better.