We're Jason, Beth, Lee Anna, Sawyer, and Sarah Claire, a family of five living, learning, and laughing lots in Northern Africa.
We hope you can learn a little (and maybe laugh a little too) as you read about our latest adventures.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

This morning, we took a little trip we’ve been meaning to take for three months. Our friend Mohammed drove us to Giza to see the Pyramids. When we got pretty close, a guy stopped us and offered to take us around the site by horse and carriage. We’re not sure we got a great deal, but we got to see the sights. First, we paid the carriage people for our little carriage and for a horse for Mohammed to ride. Then we had to buy tickets from the ticket booth to get into the Pyramid area. Then the carriage driver stopped to let us ride his friend’s camel for a minute or two, so we got to pay that guy, too. Lee Anna wasn't too sure about being up on top of that big old camel. He was a little tall for her liking!
Then they let me ride Mohammed’s horse with the other guide, so we paid that guy a little. Oh, and we had to tip our guide when we got back.
The Pyramids are really huge. Until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was built, they were were the oldest man-made structure on earth. All in all, it was fun to go act like tourists for a few hours. All the people out there seemed surprised to hear us speaking Arabic to them. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

She's a Natural!
Lee Anna participated in her first school program today. Tuesday was Mother's Day, so that was the theme of the program. She and her classmates, who are all under the age of 2, stood on the stage for about 20 minutes while their teachers sang songs about how much they love their mothers. None of the kids sang one word, but of course we parents videoed the whole thing and took 43 pictures to make sure we didn't miss anything cute! We were proud of Lee Anna because she stayed on stage the whole time, didn't cry, and even clapped her hands a few times. The balloons you see some kids holding came off of the ceiling. They were part of the Mother's Day decorations, but some of the kids were upset, so the teachers started pulling them off the ceiling to pacify the crying children. For the record, Lee Anna was not crying; she just wanted a balloon when she saw that other kids were holding balloons. The songs that they sang were all in English. Most had familiar tunes with new lyrics about mothers. Our favorite was one that went to the tune of the Chicken Dance. The part I remember said, "Give a very big hug and a very big kiss to Mommy Dear (clap, clap, clap, clap)." Jason thought it would have been much better if they could have gotten the kids to actually do the chicken dance. Maybe in a year or two . . .

You might also notice the children's clothing. It would be easy to think from all the sweaters and long pants that we're still having cold weather, but don't be fooled. The high today was 94! If Lee Anna were dressed like them, she would be dripping with sweat. We're afraid it's going to be a long summer for our little hot-natured Texan. Luckily, she's got a few years before she has to worry about keeping her arms and legs covered. Until then, we'll do our part to keep the sunscreen companies in business. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 20, 2006

Good Night, Little Hairbrush . . .
These pictures illustrate Lee Anna's favorite new pastime. She spends a great deal of time putting objects around our house to sleep--everything from toy animals to hairbrushes to cell phones. First, she covers them up with a blanket or washcloth. This usually takes at least 15 tries to get it just right.

Then, she pats them on the back and sometimes says "Night, night."
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Then she tells us to "shhh" in case we were thinking of waking up the object. Then she waits about two seconds before she takes off the blanket and starts over. It's definitely a win-win activity. We're happy because she's not yelling at us or begging to watch Mother Goose again, she's happy because she can tell the animals to go to sleep and they do, and our cell phones are happy to be so well cared-for.

Here are the promised pictures of the girls. They spent a good portion of the evening playing peek-a-boo behind the brown chair. In the second picture, Lee Anna is most likely trying to avoid being kissed for the 82nd time. She was okay with the first 50, but after that, she decided she'd had enough! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Cultural Experience
Lee Anna and I (Beth) had a new experience last week. We got to visit the home of my new friend and eat a meal with her and her daughter. Rania and Lee Anna are about the same age, and they had a good time playing together. My friend told us to come at 6:00, so we left our house around 6:30 and got there at 6:45 (very culturally appropriate). When we got there, she was still snapping the green beans for our meal. It was after 8:00 before we ate anything! Lee Anna and I both liked the food, although Lee Anna didn't really like waiting that late to eat. My friend promised to teach me how to make some of the national dishes sometime soon. We'll see how that goes. I'm not very good at cooking American dishes, much less North African ones!

We've got some pictures of the girls to show you, but our browser doesn't seem to want to share them tonight, so we'll try again tomorrow.
Say What?? (2)
Just to show that we're all human, Beth read a sentence in our Arabic book and said "the girl put on her milk" when it should have said "she put on her clothes." In her defense, liban (milk) and libis (clothes) do look a lot alike in Arabic letters.

Not to be outdone, when the teacher asked us to tell what we had done the day before, I said "I got up early and travelled (safirit) a little" when I meant to say "I got up early and had a little breakfast (fitirit)". She asked (in Arabic) where I had travelled to, and I--thinking she was asking what I had for breakfast--said Corn Flakes! So now there's a new country in North Africa called Corn Flakes. Maybe that's where the milk and honey flow?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Some of you heard that I got invited to play football with the guys from the grocery store this week. I was a little nervous, since I have no soccer skills at all, but I went anyway. My friend said that we'd start at 7, so I went out about 7 this morning and found no one on the field. I knew they'd be later, so I just walked the neighborhood and watched the field periodically. By 7:25, there was a group gathered in the dusty field getting ready to play. On the way onto the field, Husseim asked me what position I played. I laughed and told him I played in the band!! Our team was made of guys who work in the little grocery store, plus one out-of-shape American who can't play.
I played defense timidly for half an hour, then got substituted for and became the ball boy after that. I'm proud to say I didn't get hurt--except for some extremely sore leg muscles. Just before the end of the match, they made me be the goal-keeper. So I'm sorry to report that I gave up the winning goal. As we were walking off the field, my friend Husseim told me in English that "we losted today, but another Friday we will win!"

Thursday, March 09, 2006

So that's why they call them "Bumpers"

Today, Beth and I were having lunch in a quaint little local restaurant (McDonald's) when we saw from our seats in the second-floor windows that three cars were parallel parked really close together. The one in the middle had about 3 inches of space in front and behind him. Of course, the middle one was the first to come out to his car. The driver surveyed the situation and then got in and started the process. He backed up and bumped the car behind him, then pulled forward and bumped the one in front. He did this 8 or 10 times, bumping each car on every move, and gradually wiggled his way out. When he finally got free from the two cars, there was a delivery moped parked beside the car in front, so he bumped it a little, too. On many streets in our city, people just leave their cars in neutral so people can move them when they need go get out, but this street was too slanted for that. I'm glad we're still riding taxis!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mealtime with a Toddler
Our mealtimes have become more exciting lately as Lee Anna has decided she is capable of feeding herself. She now spends most of the meal saying, "A-ho, a-ho" which means "I want to hold the spoon myself." She needs a little work on accuracy, but she's getting there. I told Jason yesterday that we get to spend our mealtimes the next 3 years reminding her to keep eating, and then we get to do it again with #2.

Another funny Lee Anna story: Last night, after we had put her to bed, she started yelling from her crib for milk, which she pronounces "mil-Kah." After several minutes of this, Jason got her up and took her to the kitchen. When they got to the fridge, she said "wa-wa." When we asked her if she wanted milk or water, she said, "juice." I guess she thought she should try out all the options in case one didn't work out!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We took our first trip out of town this weekend! It was nice to get a little fresh air. Went about two hours away, to a place out in the desert. The place was nice, but we ate meals on the local schedule, which is a little different from our American schedule. They served breakfast at 9:00, lunch about 2, and supper at 8 or 8:30! And for breakfast, we had rice pudding and kidney beans--looks like the British lady was in charge. We also noticed that many of the locals didn't have drinks with their meals, so we had to go without or bring bottles of water to the cafeteria.
Speaking of bottled water...Tim and I were walking out of the cafeteria after dinner Thursday night and saw two guys filling water bottles with tap water! We were a little nervous about what we'd been drinking, but our bottles were sealed when we got them, and we're pretty sure we didn't get any critters in our water.

At the camp, Lee Anna got her first shower! They didn't have a bathtub, and she was VERY dirty after playing in a big mountain of sand for an hour, so we had to wash her off somehow. We just stood her in the shower and hosed her down with the handheld sprayer. She loved it!