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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bedouin DVDs?

We've been decorating our new place for two months now. Some of it is starting to take shape. In the room where I'm sitting now, we have a desk for the computer on one wall, the piano on another wall, and a play area for the kids in the remaining area. Around the kids play area, we got these cool pillows to sit on. They're great for reading books with the kids and playing on the floor. But they're also comfortable for grownups to sit and chat and drink tea. They're called Bedouin style--from the nomadic Bedouin people who live in the desert in this part of the world. As we were setting things up, Beth asked where we could put Lee Anna's DVD player in this new arrangement. So I told her we should go out to the desert and ask some Bedouins where they put their DVD players in their tents.

(Sorry the picture is blurry--the camera had some little tiny fingerprints on the lens!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Health Care Differences

In America, the healthcare industry is very different from what we find here. For example, when you need to have a blood test done in the States, your doctor has to request it, your insurance company has to approve it, and ONLY your doctor can obtain the results and discuss them with you, in person. Here, you just go to the lab, give them a sample, and then come back after a few days to pick up the results. If that's not convenient, you can call on the phone and they'll tell you the numbers. Then you can take those results to the doctor of your choice and discuss treatment options. If you already know what you have, you can go to the pharmacy and buy the medications (prescriptions are nice, but not necessary).

Beth recently had an X-ray done on her feet. She's got a strange infection in a toe, and the doctor wanted to see inside. But they took the X-rays after her visit with the doctor, so they just gave her the film to take home with her. Maybe the doc can see them next time. We frequently see people walking the streets or riding the Metro trains carrying X-rays and other lab results. We thought you might all like to see what beautiful foot bones (or is it feet bones?) she has.

A year ago last week, we went to the hospital to have Sawyer. That was a bit different, too. One of the most noticable differences was in the billing department. In America, a short visit to the hospital will find you carrying home enough papers to have signed a mortgage on your house. Not here. On the way in--regardless of the fact that Beth was in labor and already dilated 8 centimeters--I had to pay a 2000 pound deposit. When we got ready to check out, they had two sheets of paper to tally up our bill. The one you see here was accompanied by one other 4" Post-it note that totaled the doctor's expenses for us. I paid, they gave us the receipt, and we went home. No bills in the mail or calls from the collections office or anything! I challenged Beth's dad to get the hospitals in Pensacola down to one page billing, but they're not there yet.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fool Me Once, Shame on You...

Fool me twice, shame on me. So the proverb goes. But what about the third and fourth times? Who's to blame for those?

About a year ago we met a local couple at church. She's a musician too, and they have two little boys, the younger almost exactly Lee Anna's age. They're neat folks and we really enjoy spending time with them. The problem is that in order to spend time with them, we must first spend a lot of time waiting for them.

Last summer they invited us to dinner at their house. We were to meet them at church at 7:00, because the church kids were coming back from a week at camp, and their 5-year-old son was coming back with them. (Yes, they send their five-year-olds off to camp!) We got there at about 10 after 7, and lots of people were there waiting to be reunited with their children. But not our friends! They got their about 7:45...to pick up their little boy after a week away from home! Most all the other kids were gone already. So we hung around for another half hour as they socialized with the other folks there, then stopped by the grocery store on the way home, and got to their house about 8:30.

Then a few months later we had them to our house. 6:00 would be great. They got there at 7:30!! I had to keep reheating the spaghetti sauce for an hour and a half! Lesson learned, right?

Wrong. Just about a month ago she called again and invited us to go to McDonald's with them so the kids could play. She and Beth talked at 5:00 and said we'd be ready about 6. Then at 6 she called and said they were heading out (in a few minutes). So we waited until 6:10 and started toward Mickey D's. We got there first, and waited and waited... We were sitting in the second story window watching for them. Every 30-year-old silver-looking car made me think they were there. (There are a lot more 30-year-old silver-looking cars here than there are in the States!) They finally got there about 7:30. He ordered happy meals for the kids--with Coca Cola to drink! We usually favor something a little less caffeniated for our two-year-old. We stayed with them until about 9:45. That's over three hours of hanging out at McDonald's! Sawyer ate fries from every table in the place.

But did we learn yet? NO!! On this past Sunday night, she asked if we'd like to meet them again under the Golden Arches, and we agreed. They had something at 7:00, so she asked if 9:00 (p.m.!) would be too late for us. Well, in America we probably would have said it was, but we decided to try it. So Beth called her on Thursday about 9:00, and she didn't answer. She called back about 9:30 and said they'd be leaving in "10 minutes or so." Well, we knew that wasn't true, so we waited until about 10:00 and headed out. We got there about 10:15 and looked around...no, not yet. So we went back upstairs so the kids could play and we could watch for the 30-year-old silver-looking sedan to pull up. We visited with some of the staff, whom we've gotten to know pretty well this year.

Living in a big, metropolitan city I fully expected McDonald's to be busy at 10:00 on the night before the weekend starts. I didn't, however, expect to find an 8-year-old having a birthday party. This party was in full swing, too. There were boys popping balloons and chasing one another around and climbing on the tables.

At 10:30 we decided to just wait a little longer. We knew they'd be arriving any minute. Well, my watch said 10:55 when we finally saw them. We had a great visit, and the kids got to play and had a really fun time. Sawyer visited all the tables again, and had his picture made with lots of groups of little kids. Finally about 12:20 everybody got enough. So we, with our two babies under three years of age, got home at 12:35 from a 9:00 meeting for french fries!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy Birthday, Saw!

" Well, I'm a year old now. What should I do with the rest of my life?"

Sawyer got to celebrate his birthday twice this first year. Yesterday with one group and today with another. Yesterday he ate cake and icecream for lunch, and he was really hungry when we got home! Mimi sent a box full of party decorations and this really cool hat for the birthday boy. He had fun in his new swimming pool, and ate a little more cake today, too.

Happy Birthday, little boy. We love you!!

Friday, May 04, 2007

One on Two, Day 41

Okay, it only seems like 41 days since Mommy left for the other side of the river. She is currently in a big airplane coming back to see her precious babies. They are still alive and happy (unlike the Mavericks and Mark Cuban). Today was hard on the kids. This morning, we went to Aunt Roxanna's house for our regular Friday gathering. (Yes, I got to take a shower before they got up today!) We ordered lunch there from the brand-new, first-time-in-the-country Papa John's Pizza (with real live pepperoni!). Sawyer ate a good bit of his birthday cake and icecream for lunch.

After lunch we went to Elijah's house so Lee Anna and Sawyer could play for a while and Daddy could finally get his haircut (from my Monday list of things to do.) When we got home from there, it was 5:00 and the kids were just beat. They were both asleep within 15 minutes.

The hardest part of the day was leaving Elijah's house with a baby backpack, a guitar backpack-case, a 1-year-old in my left arm, a piece of birthday cake in my right hand (thanks Aunt Rox), and a screaming almost-three-year-old walking along behind me not wanting to go home and getting sand in her sandals. We had to walk two or three blocks to find a taxi, and it was not a pretty sight. But we all got home.

After their naps, everybody was pretty sweet. We ate some spaghetti and yogurt and bananas and baby cereal and... (Wow! Sawyer just kept eating whatever I'd give him and crying when that ran out).

I was greatly relieved when the yellow taxi company called and said they were going to get Beth. You see, the whole time I was talking to them (around 5:00) Lee Anna was screaming at me that she wanted the BLUE MARKER to color with. Not the pink one! So I wasn't really sure what I told the taxi guy. Immediately after that conversation, I took Lee Anna to her room so she could calm down and quit crying, and she promptly fell asleep.

"Plan B" for this week's trip would have been for us to pay my airfare and hotel out of personal monies and go with Beth so she could be with the kids in the evening. We'll refer to that as "Plan A" next time. :)

It's been an interesting, insightful week getting to spend lots and lots of quality time with my beautiful children. I'd love to do it again with them when they're both a little older. Like 25 and 27.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

One on Two, Day Four (I think)

It's 9:00 and they're both asleep. That probably means Sawyer is taking a nap and will be up again soon. We'll see.

We had a pretty rough night last night. I'll try to piece together the timeline from my foggy memories:
8:30, Lee Anna goes to sleep peacefully.
10:00 I lay down with Sawyer, who plays on the bed for an hour while I drift in and out of sleep.
11:00 Sawyer has a dirty diaper; gets mad about changing it; goes to sleep
11:45 Sawyer sits up and cries some more.
12:00 Lee Anna cries out for Mommy. I console her and she stays asleep.
12:30 Lee Anna cries out for milk. I take her a cup, twice, telling her no more after that.
12:45 I fall asleep on Lee Anna's bed.
2:30 I wake up and go to my own bed.
6:15 Lee Anna gets up and comes to my room. Immediately goes to sleep there.
6:30 Sawyer wakes up. I bring him to my room where he falls asleep next to his sister.
8:30 I try to sneak out of bed to get a shower, but Sawyer sees me and wakes up. Shower waits until 2:30 this afternoon.

After all that, it was a pretty good day. The kids were sweet getting ready for school. After school we came home and played on the floor and ordered supper from Chili's.

This morning, I was giving Sawyer his medicine (he's still on an antibiotic from last week's infection) and he had his pacifier in his mouth. Several times lately I've grabbed the back of the passy with my teeth to take it from him so I could give him the medicine. The medicine's in one hand and the baby is in the other, so... Well, this morning, I got the medicine out and ready, and he leaned over and put the pacifier against my mouth, and just grinned and grinned when I took it from him.

I'm feeling a lot better today. Thanks for Thinking of me today.

One day more. Beth should be landing about this time tomorrow night. We'll all be really glad to see her.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

1 On 2, Day Three

Day three isn't quite in the books yet, but I've got a little break while Sawyer entertains himself. This is the first time he's been content by himself since they got home. Well, I guess he was pretty happy when we were playing on the back porch for a while. But mostly he's either been screaming or being carried. Maybe he's teething, or his tummy was hurting?

After I wrote last night's post, I started feeling feverish. I took some tylenol or ibuprofen and went to bed. So I didn't sleep well, then I got up and got the kids ready and took them to school--Sawyer's First Day!

I asked Lee Anna about Sawyer on the way home, and she said, "He cried a lot. He wants you or my Mommy." Hopefully he'll do better tomorrow.

Before Beth left, I had imagined having four days with the kids in school and plenty of time to get things fixed up in the new flat, or go shopping for stuff we need. But then Monday Sawyer stayed home sick, and Tuesday the daycare was closed, and now on Wednesday I was sick and ended up in bed most of the day. Oh well. Maybe next week.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

One on Two, Day 2

Day two started about 7:00 this morning when Sawyer woke up crying. I took him to bed with me and we both headed back to sleep. Then twenty minutes later, Lee Anna sat up in her bed and started screaming "Mommy." Well, I took her to our bed, too, and the three of us rested peacefully for another hour. I got up a little before they did. Since we didn't have school today, I just let them sleep until they woke up. Generally, however, that just means they slept until Lee Anna woke up. She seldom wakes up quietly.

All in all, it was a pretty quiet day. Sawyer napped from noon to 2:00, and we all played out on the back porch until Lee Anna decided she'd rather climb the fence--even when I told her we'd have to go inside if she didn't come down.

The most exciting hour was from 5:00 to 6:00. I wanted to go out to eat, since we'd all been at home all day. So about five, I started telling Lee Anna that it was time to get ready and go. First, she didn't want to put her shoes on, then I decided she really needed to wear some cleaner clothes. So we went to the closet, and she didn't want to wear anything I picked. She really wanted to wear the new pink skirt with the new orange floral print shirt. Now I don't know it all, but I knew that wouldn't work. She also wanted me to braid her hair, but i couldn't even make a decent-looking pony tail! She found this headband in a giveaway box, but I didn't actually let her wear it out to eat!

We made it to McDonald's and back, and even stopped by to visit with Keith and the boys. Their Mommy is gone off with ours.

Now Daddy is really sleepy, so this is all he's going to write.