A semester abroad

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Sam’s studying abroad this semester, so he’s missing out on all of the growing up changes we are seeing with Oliver (and Jack). He’ll be back home in the states just in time for his birthday in May, but in the meantime, we’ve been making do with Skype sessions to keep in touch. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… the ability to use your phone/computer to video call with someone halfway around the world in real time… that’s quite sci-fi and very Star Trek like.

He’s a Government and Economics major at Bowdoin College here in Maine, so the time spent in Europe studying and visiting many of the important political institutions will give him a better understanding of how part of the world’s economy works. He’s based in Freiburg, Germany, but what’s especially cool about his semester abroad is that he travels to a lot of places as part of his study program.

So far he’s been to Brussels, Berlin, Prague, Frankfurt, Basel and Paris… and in the next few weeks he’ll be visiting Paris (again), Barcelona, Geneva, London, Tallinn and Munich. He has seen places like the Bundestag, the Louvre, Cath├ędrale Notre Dame de Paris, the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the European Central Bank – now that’s pretty cool. Here are a couple of photographs from his travels…

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The birthday boy!

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Jack doesn’t read the blog, so I think it’s safe to talk a little bit about his special day coming up this Friday when he turns 7 years old… where does the time go?

He has been counting down the days for a while now, and it is fun to hear him get so excited about his big day. I think maybe because his birthday is relatively late in the school year – and he gets to see all his friends already celebrate turning seven – that the anticipation and excitement has steadily built for him to the point where he can hardly wait for Friday!

Our little April Fool’s birthday boy hasn’t once talked about presents yet – I think he is so focused on the big day actually arriving that he has all but forgotten he is due some goodies. Among other things, a shiny new green (his favorite color) big-boy bike with gears, brakes, and a water bottle is hiding down in the basement, and I can’t wait to see his face when he sees it!

The other thing he asks about constantly is whether or not Sam will be here for his birthday. We’re working on that, especially since he broke down sobbing the other day when we told him Sam would probably still be at college. He was having a rough go of it with homework that day (don’t get me started on the value of homework), and maybe he was tired… but I’ve never seen the kid cry like he did when he found out that Sam might not be here. So… if the forecasted 6-12 inches of snow can be avoided, a midnight run to Brunswick might be in order to bring the big boy home for the night… and what a great surprise that would be for Jack.

In the meantime, in lieu of some big brother time, he has been settling for iChatting back and forth on the computer. It isn’t quite the same as them being together in person, but who would have believed ten years ago that something like this would even be possible? We will probably have Granny and Grandpa live from New York with us virtually when we sing happy birthday to Jack and help him blow out the candles on his cake. Skyping or iChatting has already become “normal” as a standard communication method… jeez, and I can still remember hand-writing letters!