From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






Skype: "ericandjamie"



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014- Day 9

Driving, driving, and more driving.

Total time today was 12 hours as we left Ha'il at 7:30 am and arrived back in Khobar at 7:30 pm.

Our only hiccup of the trip was around 11:30 when my tire started going flat.  We pulled over and and noticed that the tire had a nail in it.  We tried to change the tire, but the directions on how to get the spare tire off wasn't clear.

We found a service station about 7 km from the exit in a small little town where the guys changed it in about 5 minutes.  10 riyal and an hour and a half later and we were back on the road.  One other small hiccup when we thought we had forgot our bags (AGAIN), but we discovered that another family had picked it up and put it in their car when we were messing with the bags.

A stop in Riyadh at McDonald's to let the kids play and the next stop was Al Khobar.

We had a quick toast to celebrate our long and successful journey and that was a wrap.

Overall, it was a great experience for us.  It was nice to see Saudi Arabia in its entirety and see different parts of the country.  We highly recommend the trip for any expats living in Saudi.  It isn't something that everyone can do.

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014- Day 8

Another long but very rewarding day.  We woke pretty early to get a start on touring Medain Saleh.  I'll let wikipedia tell you about this historic site:'in_Saleh

I'm getting lazy in my blogging days, but this will tell you about it.  The kids loved running in and out of the tombs.  Some great photo opportunities.  Perhaps the coolest thing about this place is that it's very new, and there is an entire city they haven't uncovered yet that has been buried.

Our tour guide was nice enough and was a bit unsettled about the fact that we didn't have 2 or 3 days in the area.  We tried to reassure him that we understood and that we only have a limited amount of time.

Medain Saleh was pretty cool.  For those that have been to Petra in Jordan, it apparently isn't as spectacular, but it is neat for Saudi.  We drove around and saw the main sites before heading out.

Our next stop was the old town in Al Ula.  Our kids were napping in the car, so Jamie and I split up for this.  She toured more of the lower part ruins that was the "town," while I climbed the steps of the tower.  It was interesting, and our guide told us that some of the ancestors were trying to claim back some of the houses by placing little plaques on top of the doors.  It'll take some time I'm sure for that to happen.

We cleaned up at the hotel and check out and headed back to Elephant Rock so we could see it during the day.  We then had a 4 hour drive before checking in to the Rest Inn in Ha'il.  Completely Saudi hotel that served its purpose for us to get some sleep before our long long drive home the next day.

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 7

Today was another driving day, but it ended quite spectacularly.  We said goodbye to our friends in Jeddah and set out early for a long drive to Al Ula, which is the closest city to Medain Salah.  Along the way, the landscape changed rather dramatically.  At some points, the terrain was very dark and rocky.  It was almost as if they had blasted and the remains were just small boulders everywhere.

We also were re-routed around the Islamic holy city of Medina.  Again, this is the closest that a non-Muslim can get to the city.

As we approached Al Ula, the land changed again as larger rocks turned to mountains as we increased in elevation.  Al Ula is nestled in a small valley and is a quite nice little town.  Our hotel was at the Al Ula Arac Resort which far exceeded our expectations.

Our tour guide met us at the resort; and after cleaning up a little, led us to Elephant Rock, a large rock formation that resembles an elephant.

We arrived there while it was dark, so the only light we had was the light of the full moon and a small little campfire he made for us as we ate our shawarmas.  The pictures just won't do this evening justice.  Even though there some cover, it was still an amazing sight and experience.

After the long drive, we were beat.  Jamie and the boys went straight to bed, while I relaxed and watched a the new Flash show.  Internet wasn't working well there, so I wasn't able to blog.

A long driving day, but well worth it in the end.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 6

We hit the beach again today at one of the private resorts on the Red Sea here in Jeddah.  This one was called the Silver Sands Beach Resort.  It was a bit difficult to find because it is literally behind a large white wall that just says "private residence" on the door; but once we asked, they let us in no problem.

This place was really nice.  All it is missing is a pool, but the beach is long and wide and well maintained.  The lounge chairs and tables are shaded and the restaurant has some fantastic pizzas.  We spent about 4 hours mid day there before heading back for a little rest.

We then headed out to our friends' school to check it out.  They are putting on a HUGE production of Oz, and our friend is producing it.  It will be absolutely amazing, and we are hoping we might actually come back over here to see it.

After the school tour, we headed over to On the Border for some Mexican food.  Our boys were exhausted and didn't eat but the food was good.  We ran some errands on the way home and even stumbled upon The Fountain, the world's largest fountain.  It was pretty cool, and we were lucky we found it.

We'll pack up tonight and head toward Medain Saleh tomorrow.  Our hosts here have been marvelous and very helpful.  I can only hope we can repay them sometime.

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 5

We hung out today.  The kids were simply wiped out.  We had originally planned to have another beach day, but all the littles ones in our group were just pooped.

We went to the pool, went shopping for supplies, and even took a nap mid day.  In the evening, some other families on the compound met with all of us to cook out and play some yard games.  The food was delicious and the games were great.  The kids had a good time running around the yard.

The boys were down pretty early and had a much needed good night's sleep.

Not a fancy day on our vacation but just what we needed.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 4

Today was a nice relaxing day.  We all woke up on our own time.  The apartment we stayed in is perfect for us.  It actually reminds us of our apartment we used to live in China, so it was very welcoming.  We went over to our friends' house mid morning and had some breakfast before setting out to a beach resort.

Jamie and I didn't particularly plan well today, although the day worked out in the end.  The beach resort was very nice with a small beach, great sand, wonderful beach lounges and umbrellas as well as a nice pool setting and outdoor restaurant with couches and fans for eating.  We decided to leave at 2:30 after we ate lunch because the boys hadn't napped at all.  Some other members of our group stayed and snorkeled.  They said it was some of the best snorkeling they ever done which is saying a lot since they've been all over.

We rested in the afternoon before going over to our friends' house for a birthday celebration of shawarmas, ice cream, and cake.  Birthday boy was turning 36.

Again, a great day in Jeddah.  It is a pretty cool city; and after looking up some information, we discovered that it is quite a large city of about 4 million people.  We look forward to seeing more of the city in the next couple of days.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 3

Today, we planned on spending the day in Taif and driving to Jeddah.  We left the hotel at 9:15 and drove around trying to find the entrance to a cable car that would show us the heights of Taif and the rocky terrain of the mountains.  Since it is the first day of Hajj, everything was closed until about 1:00.  When we arrived at the entrance to the cable car, we just hung out for about 2.5 hours and let the kids play on the playground.   Interestingly enough, there was a Chicago’s Style Uno’s pizza place next to the Ramada Inn there, so we waited until it opened too. 

While we waited, we saw dozens of baboons that roamed the grounds. They were easy going enough, and the kids enjoyed seeing them.  Everyone got away unscathed or bitten, so all was well with the baboons.  Some went up to the gate and rode some camels with some very aggressive guys who would tug you and even take your kids and put them on the camel.  One guy kept pulling at me until I yelled at him to not touch me.  James was a little scared and certainly didn’t want to ride the camels, so we walked away.  As we were leaving, I saw one of the guys hitting a camel, so I’m glad I didn’t give them any money.

Uno’s was a nice treat and getting on the cable car was a breeze even though we had to wait forever.  The ride down the mountain was very interesting.  I wouldn’t say beautiful because it was just rocks and more rocks, but it was certainly not what you think about when it comes to Saudi Arabia.  When we arrived at the bottom of the mountain, there was a small little touristy area that had a pretty cool water park (kids and males only) where we ate some ice cream bought from some guys who were very surprised we were from America.

We rode the cable car back up to the top of the mountain and loaded up for the 2.5 hour drive to Jeddah.  The most amazing part of this journey was the split when we arrived near Mecca or Makkah.  Even if it wasn’t Hajj, non Muslims aren’t allowed in the city of Mecca.  Instead, they route you around the entire city where there is a cool little sign that separates Muslims from non-Muslims on the road. 

We arrived at a compound in Jeddah where our friends and former co-workers had graciously offered to find some villas for us all to stay in. It was great to see them, and they were so helpful settling us in. 

A great day again.  The boys were dead tired when we finally put them to bed, but they again were so well behaved all day.  We are so fortune.  Plus, we didn’t leave our bag behind!

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 2

Crazy day!  11 hours total of driving time, but 2 hours of that was a mistake.  We left Riyahd at 8:05 and drove through some pretty cool scenery for about an hour.  Then, we received a call that we’d forgotten our black bag at the hotel.  It had our passports, iqamas, an iPad, 2 Macbook Airs, the kids’ medicine, and all of our charging cables.  We had left it on the curb when we were packing our car.  One of the workers found it and turned it in for us and the manager called us and told us to come back.  We were so lucky!

As bad as it was to add 2 hours onto our trip, we were glad to do it to have all of our important stuff back.  The 9-hour drive to Taif wasn’t bad at all.  Straight shot on one road, and we saw some interesting things on the way.  The checkpoints along the way had some cool gateways, there was a Ferris wheel out in the middle of nowhere.  There were all of these small little towns along the highway with these neat little parks.  The terrain started out very rocky and steep around Riyadh, then flattened out and became smoother terrain as we got closer to Taif. 

We arrived at 7:00 fairly refreshed at our hotel called Awaliv International Hotel.  It is the tallest building by far in the city at 30 stories.  The rooms were nice, and we let the boys play in the room to burn off as much steam as possible.  Even though the drive was 11 hours total, the boys did so great.  Alex just chilled in his car seat the whole time napping, and James watch some videos, played with his toys, read some books, napped, snacked, and sang some songs. 

Again, if our bag had not been found, we would’ve been dead in the water.  We were also lucky in that we’d only driven an hour outside the city. It is nice to know there are some good people still out there. 

Saudi Arabia Road Trip Eid 2014 - Day 1

Jamie and I hadn’t seen much of Saudi Arabia.  We have always spent our vacations getting out of the country whenever we could.  Some friends of ours were planning a road trip around the country and asked if we wanted to go.  It seemed like a good time to do it, so we agreed.  So, four families loaded up in four separate vehicles and set out for a 36+ hour 3600+ km road trip.  Our journey will take us from Al Khobar to Riyadh to Taif to Jeddah to Medain Saleh to Ha’il back to Al Khobar.  We will see the capital city, the resort town of Taif in the mountains, the Red Sea city of Jeddah, the pre-Islamic archeological site of Medain Saleh, and the drive through the deserts and terrain of Saudi Arabia. 

We left the parking lot at ISG in Khobar at 4:00 for the drive to Riyadh.  The drive to Riyadh was hectic.  There are 3 lanes, but a 4th lane is created on the far left as people pass going about 100 – 120 mph.  If you stay in the middle lane, you will be fine until you need to pass someone.  If that is the case, you’ll need to quickly pass the person on the left but get out of the way as someone will quickly be on your bumper flashing their lights. 

Nonetheless, we made it safely to Riyadh pretty easily and made it in about 5 hours.  We stayed at a pretty nice hotel called the Golden Tulip Andalusia.  I crashed in the room while Jamie went out to get something to eat with James.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Switzerland Study Trip

Check out the fog down the slope

A perk of teaching in some international schools is being able to offer the students a means by which to go on a study trip to a foreign country. If you've been following us, you have read about my trips to Korea and Prague/Budapest, and Jamie's trips to Kenya and Bali.  Basically, we sponsor a trip, plan the details with a student travel agent (or Habitat for Humanity), and sign kids up.  The students pay their costs as well as our costs, so we essentially get a free trip.  However, we are completely responsible for these students for 7 or 8 days. It is mostly a win/win, but some trips are more successful than others.  Fortunately, all of our trips have been very successful and enjoyable. 

Last week, I was able to take a group of 13 students to Switzerland for a skiing and science study trip. We stayed in Veriber at the Les Elfes camp. They have been in business for over 25 years operating ski camps and summer camps for students from ages 8 - 18. It was a great place because the students would be able to learn how to ski from certified instructors as well as have a variety of different other activities in the evening. 

We left on the evening of February 28 and arrived in Switzerland on March 1.  The students skied for the first 3 days and we took excursions for the last 3 days.  Most of the students had never been on skis before, so they were placed in the beginner class with an instructor.  If students knew how to ski, they were given a more advanced level and an instructor led them through the lifts and pistes (slopes/runs).

Once we arrived, the other trip sponsor and myself had few responsibilities.  During the day, the students skied, so we could ski or just hang out at the hotel.  I chose to ski all day and one of those days, the resort manager gave us private lessons and a wonderful lunch on top of the mountain. After 3 days of skiing, the students were pretty tired.  This worked out well because we had schedule 3 days of touring to wrap up the trip.

Each afternoon, the students had some optional activity time. They could choose to go into town and shop, go swimming, or stay for games and other activities.  After dinner, there were also group events like ice skating, music video making, music trivia, movie night, clubs, and a final prize giving awards show. 

First, we went to the Cailler chocolate factory.  The kids learned about the history of chocolate by following a guided tour of animation and design.  It was quite interesting.  They were citing facts as we were leaving the building.  The next part of the tour disappointed me a bit as they just had us walk through the factory part without really explaining anything.  Then came the tasting room, where you get to sample as much as you want from their many different varieties.  The kids were in heaven! Finally, they were able to buy up half of the gift shop and some left with several pounds of chocolate.

Next, we were able to do a small tour of the CERN facility.  For those that don't know, this is where scientists from many different countries work with atomic particles. In what is the most advanced technology on earth, they use a 27 km long, -270 celcius electromagnetic tube to speed up the protons of atoms to nearly the speed of light (350 millions mph) and smash them into one another.  This recreated the conditions to a millionth of a millionth of a second just after the Big Bang essentially creating new matter and energy that last for a few minutes.  You can read more about it HERE and HERE.

We were able to see the actual Hadron collider because it takes 3 months reservation and only if it is not operating that day to see it.  The globe across the street that has an amazing Imax type video was also closed.  We were able to go through their museum that had interactive displays and quite a bit of information concerning what they do at CERN.

The next day, we went to see a hydroelectric power plant and learn a little about Switzerland's extensive hydroelectric power grid.  It was s decent tour but the guide's English was limited, and he mostly spoke with one our our instructors.  The kids learned some and the tour itself wasn't bad, but it could have been better. After our tour, we had lunch and went to the Le Bains de Levay hot springs spa.  It was wonderful sitting the hot pools of water and staring out at the snow capped mountains. 

Our last day was spent on the mountain again but not skiing.  The fitted us with snowboard boots and took us up the top of the mountain using several ski lifts. Because it was so crowded with long lines, it took nearly 2.5 hours to reach the highest peak on the mountain at 3300 meters.  Beautiful view from the top where we could see some of the highest peaks in all of Europe, including Mt. Blanc which is over 4800 meters.

After lunch, we had some avalanche training where the students learned how to use beacons, probes, and transceivers to find a body that had been buried by an avalanche.  The kids were getting tired and not really into it, but it was informative for them.  When we said a person had died just 2 weeks ago on the back side of the mountain and 18 people in Europe this year, they seemed to understand the importance.

Overall, an excellent trip with some amazing students.  I was not going to sponsor a study trip next year, but I am seriously considering doing the exact same trip next year.  We will see. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Vienna Day 3

Beethoven's Final Resting Place
After another great night's sleep, we again ate a yummy breakfast downstairs.

Our first stop today was the Zentralfriedhof cemetery, the 2nd largest cemetery in Europe.  I have a thing for cemeteries and always want to go to a major city's largest.  The large on in Paris was pretty neat, the one in downtown Hong Kong was cool too.  Of course there is Arlington, perhaps my favorite in many ways.  Even small town cemeteries I find fascinating because you can learn so much about the population.

Zentralfriedhof didn't disappoint.  It may be my new favorite cemetery.  We didn't have a map but knew there were some famous people interned here.  We actually stumbled upon the headstones of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss.  All of these men were actually buried somewhere else, exhumed for research purposes, then reburied in this cemetery all next to one another.  There were some also some of the strangest headstones you'll ever see.  Some indescribable as you'll just have to look at the photos.

We took the tram and metro back to the city center and ate lunch at a busy sandwich shop.  Next up was the Rathaus city hall; however it was closed because it was sunday.  An impressive building but what came next was a highlight of the trip.  Just outside the building, they had built a winter carnival, complete with food stands, an ice skating rink, a separate one for toddlers and young ones, and a "track."  Music was playing, food was eaten, and beverages were consumed.  Very fun!  It apparently only runs during the last week of January through the 1st week of March, so we caught it perfectly.

We then headed over to check out the fine arts museum which is located in the Museum Quarter, a several block area that has the Natural History Museum as well as others.  The kids were exhausted, so we didn't spend too much time there but was delighted at the architecture.

We quickly made it back to the hotel because it had started to rain.  Luckily, we used the metro to stay out of the rain and then walk was only a few blocks in drizzle.  We were back snuggly at 6:00 where everyone was asleep by 8:00.  Jamie was able to finish her Baileys and I worked on my Jack.

I'm placing Vienna at the top of the list for my favorite European city.  I love the architecture, history, and city planning.  Everything seems to run smoothly here.  I would love to live here.

Vienna Day 2

After a great night's sleep, we went down to the hotel breakfast.  They had a great assortment of cheeses, hams, yoghurts, jams, teas, and breads.  Great start and I would stay at this hotel again for just this reason.

Traveling with both James and Alex has been pretty easy, but we couldn't decide on whether or not to take our double stroller.  We knew the hotel rooms in Europe would be small. We didn't even know if the elevator would even fit the double stroller.  We opted instead of taking the singer travel stroller we have taken everywhere with us and the Mobi wrap.  If you young couples with little ones or little ones to be don't know about a Mobi wrap, they are awesome.  Light weight, easy to use, versatile, and great for traveling.  So, James mainly stayed in the stroller or walked while Alex stayed in the Mobi wrap and sometimes the stroller.  It worked out well.  Now that we are here, we wish we had decided to bring the double stroller.  Live and learn.

We walked up the main pedestrian street by St. Stephen's Cathedral looking for some gloves for James.  We did find some, but he wouldn't even try to wear them.  He also would not put a blanket on top of him.  We did convince him to at least put his hands in his pockets.  He figured out that helped with the cold.  Traveling with Alex means Jamie is stopping to feed him every few hours.  This is pretty easily done, but slows you down. Luckily, this trip to Vienna is the perfect opportunity to take things slow.  We will no doubt be back in this wonderful city again, so we don't mind missing some things. 

Our first stop was to the old Hapsburg Palace, which they have converted into several museums.  The palace itself if large, taking up several city blocks.  We hadn't done much research on what to see, so we were up for anything.  We decided to check out the National Library, and we are very glad we did.  The library itself used to be the entrance hall for the royal family.  Now, it houses several thousand books in what is easily the most beautiful library I've seen.  It is like walking into a cathedral except the walls are lined with volumes and volumes of books with those cool rolling wooden ladders.

Next was the Imperial Palace apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the national Silverware collection.  The silverware collection was impressive as it was the collection of all the silverware throughout the centuries of the Hapsburgs.  The most impressive part was a gilded mirrored bottomed candle place setting that spanned the entire length of a 20 person plus table.  

The Sisi Museum was in memory of the last Empress of the Hapsburgs, Elizabeth, a dark and lonely woman of whom they have created dark and gloomy exhibition for her.  She was eventually assassinated but was the longest running Empress of the dynasty.  They had her collection of just about everything you could think of, even her dentist's records.  

The Imperial Palace apartments were interesting and rivaled those of Versailles, except not as elaborate or outlandish.  We skimmed through there and then went back to find a place for lunch.  We were originally searching for this little finger food sandwich place, but after finding out it was "family friendly" opted for a restaurant called, interestingly enough, The Chattanooga.  It was good enough food to get us through the rest of the afternoon.

Next up was the papyrus museum, a collection of Egyptian, Greek, and Arabic papyrus documents.  Most of it wasn't in English, but what was was interesting as they were primary source documents of land deeds, debts settled, some dating back to the ancient Egyptians.  Our last stop was to the Esperanto and Globe Museum.  

We didn't even know what Esperanto was, but according to wikipedia, Esparanto is the:

"most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language.[3] Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto ("Esperanto" translates as "one who hopes"), the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, on July 26, 1887. Zamenhof's goal was to create an easy-to-learn, politically neutral language that would transcend nationality and foster peace and international understanding between people with different languages.
Estimates of Esperanto speakers range from 100,000 to 2,000,000 active or fluent speakers worldwide, including perhaps a thousand native speakerswho learned Esperanto from birth as one of their native languages., the most popular online learning platform of Esperanto, reported 150,000 registered users in 2013, and has between 150,000 and 200,000 monthly visitors.[4] Esperanto has a notable presence in over a hundred countries. Usage is highest in Europe, East Asia, and South America.[5]"
They had a nice little video that was informative too that even James enjoyed.
The globe museum was what you would expect and was pretty neat to see the terrestrial, celestial, and lunar globes from the ages.  
A busy day concluded with some pretty bad Austrian fast food.  Seemed yummy at the time, but we barely ate half of it.  
James literally put himself to bed after his bath and didn't even want a story or a song.  A first for him! We were all in bed by 8:00 pm.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Vienna Day 1

James in the streets of Vienna

Jamie and I had originally scheduled a trip to Germany for winter break 2013.  My parents and niece were going to meet us in Germany for the break.  We booked our tickets in March 2013, way in advance which got us a better deal.

About 3 weeks later, we found out Jamie was pregnant and the due date was very close to our winter break.  With the baby to be born in Saudi, the paperwork for birth certificates, passport, and exiting and re-entering the country would take too long, so there was simply no way to go to Germany.

Mom and Dad switched their tickets and came here instead.  I frantically searched for a new location to use our tickets.  Turkish Airlines said that we could use our tickets, but had to travel before March.

So we decided to go to Vienna, Austria for this 4 day weekend in February.

It is the first time Alex was out of the country and his first flight.

We packed pretty much the night before, but we had a 2:55 am flight.  We left for the airport and had some trouble issuing an infant ticket for Alex.  Dammam airport has to be the worst airport in the world.  No other airport comes close.  The man running the counter simply just did not want to issue the infant ticket.  He had to go take care of something else and said it was his choice to "refuse" us.  While we did arrive a little later than usual for check in, this is something that they could have done quite easily.  Plus, none of their other check in agents were trained in how to issue an infant ticket. I finally convinced the guy to do it, but he would only give Alex and I a boarding pass for the trip to Istanbul.  Extremely frustrating.  That airport has become progressively worse and worse each year we have been here.

We made it to Istanbul and only had about an hour or so layover before continuing to Vienna at 10:00 am.  We took a bus straight to city center and walked a few blocks to our hotel, Hotel Austria.  It had great reviews on Tripadvisor, and we are very pleased.  It is very close to everything downtown.

We checked in quickly and headed out to a quick Austrian lunch of wienerschnitzel. We headed back to the hotel and refreshed and napped a bit before heading out.  We finally walked around about 3:00 and headed toward St. Stephen's Cathedral, the most popular attraction in Vienna.  After roaming around a little more, we decided to try to find this little Italian restaurant that had great reviews.  It was early, so they place hadn't opened yet.  Nonetheless, they were full for the evening. We decided to eat at this little pizza place we had passed and it was pretty decent.

Everyone crashed that night and we all received about 10 hours of sleep.  Yes!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Eric and Jamie's Last 2 years!!!

James and Alex January 31, 2014

We're Back!

It has been almost 2 years since our last post which was about my study trip to Korea with a group of students.

Quite a bit has changed since then, including the birth of our 2nd son, Alexander.  With a toddler and a newborn, it has been difficult to blog.  I have written a few articles for TIEOnline, but nothing for this blog site.  We have received numerous emails from people inquiring about our jobs in Saudi Arabia or just teaching positions internationally.  Most of these people stumbled on our blog and just want some questions answered.  I ran into one particular woman on a 2 day conference in Oman I had been corresponding with 2 years before about a job in Saudi Arabia.  Her family had taken jobs at Aramco.  We hope that this blog has been a way for teachers in the US or abroad to gain a better understanding of living overseas.

With that said, being so busy as of late has not provided us with the opportunity to post any information concerning life abroad or about ourselves personally.  Our blog was a way for us to keep in touch with people back home.  Sure, we've done so through Facebook and email, but the blog seemed more personal.

Lastly, living in Saudi Arabia isn't exactly as exciting as living in China.  There simply isn't as much to do or blog about on a day to day basis.  However, Jamie and I both have taken active roles in our schools.  I have coordinated the switch to a standards based grading and reporting system by chair our grading and reporting committee, taken 2 study trips with students to Korea, Prague/Budapest, with an upcoming one in Switzerland, helped with basketball at school, and switched from chairing the listening committee to helping with professional development.

Jamie has been very active in her school by teaching two AP classes, Psychology and Economics, leading as social studies department head, helping IB students as an extended essay advisor, and AFG coordinator.  She also has helped with MUN leading a couple of trips to Istanbul.

Jamie also graduated with her PdD last August, so we have been working very hard to pay off student loans.  Because of that and the birth of Alex, we aren't traveling much this year, with the exception of our quick 4 day trip to Vienna.

Here is a list of places we've been in the last 2 years since our last posting:

Spring Break Italy 2012: Italy
Summer 2012: Visiting family in US and a trip to Tampa for Jamie's AP training
October 2012: Jamie's leadership conference in Dubai
Fall Break 2012: Paris for James' 1st birthday!
November 2012: Eric's conference in Dubai
December 2012: Jamie's MUN trip to Istanbul
Winter Break 2012: USA for Christmas
February 2013: Jamie's student study trip to Bali, Indonesia
March 2013: Eric's student study trip to Prague/Budapest
Spring Break 2013: Thailand for Phuket and Bangkok (Jamie's conference)
Summer 2013: USA visiting family, Dallas for Jamie's conference, Minneapolis for Jamie's graduation
November 2014: Eric's conference in Dubai
December 18, 2013: Alexander Laith Brown born!
January 2014: Eric's conference in Muscat, Oman
February 2014: 4 day trip to Vienna, Austria

Whew!  That's it and it took some time remembering.  We haven't included our trips to Bahrain periodically throughout the year and 4 of those for a training for Jamie.

I'm hoping to start posting on a regular basis and discuss a little more detail about life in Saudi and our roles at our respective schools.

Glad to be back!  Hope everyone has been well!

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