The three things that stood out most for the boys were boating, building a tree house, and spending time with their cousins. They were able to spend a lot of quality time with loved ones, which is why going to Colorado is so important to us.
While in Colorado, Owen got to participate in a week long soccer camp, which he adored. He has a lot of passion for the sport, and we are happy to foster it. Then we went to a hot spring with some good friends for some quality no cell service time. We also got to go to a few Sky Sox games to enjoy some low key baseball. The boys each got a foul ball!
Ok. So maybe our Colorado Summer wasn't as mellow as I thought...
Now back to Abu Dhabi for our third year!
On our way to Colorado this summer, we decided to spend a few weeks touring around England. We started off with four days in London and spent a total of 17 glorious days exploring our way up to Edinburgh, hitting Portsmouth, Stonehenge, Bath, York and the Lake District on our way north.
As usual, we took hundreds of pictures. If you'd like to see some of them and read more about this trip, the blog entries are on the Great Britain 2017 page.
After the school year ended and friends started to depart, we decided to go to our second annual Iftar Buffet as it is still Ramadan. We went to the Ritz Carlton by the Grand Mosque this year, and it was incredible. We all ate so much delicious food. Owen even said he was full!!!
After an eventful year in Abu Dhabi, we are ready to visit our home state of Colorado. We haven't been "home" in 18 months, so it'll be fun to see how much things have changed in that time. Before we get to Colorado though, we are going to spend a couple weeks exploring the United Kingdom! I am very excited to see London for the first time. We'll make it up to Scotland, but we've decided to save Ireland for another time. Hopefully we will have a jolly good time!
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.