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.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Papaw!

Here's a little video of Lee Anna and Sawyer celebrating Papaw's birthday. Don't get too excited. We probably won't do these videos very often, but we hope you enjoy this one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just some pictures

Here's Lee Anna showing off the things she bought with birthday money from Grandpa. Unfortunately, she was very, very tired when we took this picture and just could not smile. This is actually the best of the pictures we took that night! And here's how Mimi handled the fact that she couldn't put on her swimsuit to play with the kids in their swimming pool. There are buildings all around ours with windows that can see onto our porch, so Mimi had to keep some sleeves and pants on, but she got as close as she could (and usually ended up soaking wet!).
And I just like this picture. If only they acted this precious all the time!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lee Anna Belle!

Our little princess turned 3 last week, and, thanks to a visiting Mimi and Papaw from from the states, it was a Little Mermaid Birthday Extravaganza! Here she is sampling her birthday cupcakes (or muffins, as she calls them) the night before her party. She's wearing one of her gifts from Mimi--new Little Mermaid pajamas. Lee Anna got to open her gifts from Mimi and Papaw a few days early because Mimi wanted to get to see her using them before they left (which was just a few hours after her party). Here's Sawyer showing how excited he is about Lee Anna's birthday. He learned to say "Happy Birthday" for the occasion. Well, really it was more like, "Happy Ba-ba," but we knew what he meant. His hair has started doing this fairly frequently, especially after naptime or pooltime. Daddy thinks it's cool.
And here's Lee Anna blowing out her candles (with a little help). She's very proud to be 3. Last week one day we were showing her how to hold up 3 fingers for her age, but she just couldn't get that third finger to come up. So that night, about an hour after we had put her to bed, she came into our bedroom saying, "Look what I can do! Look what I can do!" and proudly holding up her 3 fingers.
Daddy has already decided that "age 3 is better than 2." We're hoping that we're moving out of the "terrible" stage and on to the "terrific" part. Lee Anna is lots of fun and always keeps us entertained. She surprises us all the time with the things she says, does, and remembers. We are so grateful for the joy she's brought us the last 3 years, and are looking forward to lots more!

Monday, June 04, 2007

McVideo Producer

Last night, I went to visit a friend who works at McDonald’s. We had planned to meet after she got off her shift around 9:00, but she called at 7:30 saying she had gotten off early and was ready to meet. So, I left Jason and my brother Andy (who’s visiting for the summer-yea!) bathing the kids, and set off for McDonald’s.

Riding in the taxi to McDonald’s, I reached in my purse to grab my cell phone and make a quick phone call before I got there. That’s when I realized I had left my phone at home. Little did I know that at that moment my friend was calling that phone to tell me that she wasn’t really off of work after all. She had changed clothes and left McDonald’s already when they called her back because some people had showed up for a birthday party that no one at McDonald’s knew anything about! Apparently, someone at McDonald’s forgot to write it down in their books, so a whole group of kids showed up in their fancy dresses and caught the staff by surprise. Since my friend is the hostess, it’s her job to give the birthday parties, so they called her back and told her she would have to work late after all! She tried to call and tell me, but she only got to tell Jason, since my phone was at home.

When I arrived, I found my friend plus several other staff members frantically blowing up balloons and setting out party decorations. Things were going well until the mother of the birthday girl asked my friend where the videographer was. I watched her very calmly assure her that he was on his way, then turn around and panic. She came over and told her co-hostess that the mom wanted video! I overheard them and asked what was going on. She explained that the mom wanted video and they didn’t have a videographer lined up. When I mentioned that we had a video camera and Jason could probably bring it up to McDonald’s, she looked so excited. I called him and told him we needed the camera ASAP!

We all just kind of hung around for the next 15 or 20 minutes until Jason arrived. Then I began my new job as official birthday party videographer. There was no one else that wasn’t busy working and knew how to work the camera, so I spent the next 2 hours videoing kids playing musical chairs and bursting a piƱata and dancing with the Hamburglar—and, of course, singing Happy Birthday and eating cake and eating Happy Meals (or, as they say it here, Habby Meals—there’s no “p” in Arabic).

A lot of the party was very similar to a McDonald’s birthday party in the states. Here are some of the differences that stood out to me:

1. The Volume—Everything was about 20 decibels higher than any party most American kids have been to. These people like their music loud!!!

2. The Presents—It’s traditional here not to open a present in the presence of the person who gave it to you. All the kids brought presents for the birthday girl and set them on a table next to the cake, but they just sat there all night, and when the family got ready to go home, they gathered up all the gift bags and fancily wrapped gifts and took them home just like that. (I guess one advantage of this is that you don’t have all the wrapping paper to clean up!)

3. The Time--When your kid turned 7, did you cut the birthday cake at 10:30 p.m. at McDonald's? I didn't think so. They have a party there several times a week that goes well past the 10:00 (P.M.!!) hour.

4. The Dancing--These kids were dancing like they knew what they were doing!

I got home about midnight, and by 2:00 a.m. we had it all copied to a DVD for the family to enjoy for years to come!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Thanks Greg!

...and After!
As you may have read before, the furniture in our new flat was not only very lovely, but it was also terribly uncomfortable. Do you know why? Because it was filled with straw. Straw! We know because we would find handfuls of it where the cushions came together. In case any of you were planning to stuff your next couch with straw, be warned--it feels like a whole lot like sitting on cardboard!

So, we found out from our friend Greg that we could have couches made here just like we want pretty cheaply, and Greg even volunteered to take care of everything for us. It was a tough decision, but we decided to say goodbye to the beauty that was our old couches and replace them with something a little more us. That is to say, not quite so gold and gaudy. When the new furniture arrived, the doorman for our building was helping move the old pieces out and commented in Arabic, "They're a little uncomfortable, but they sure are pretty." We just smiled.

Speaking of the doorman, he also brought us the tree you can see next to Sawyer in the photo above. We bought a small tree to go outside our front door, and we thought the doorman was offering to bring us some soil to plant it in, but apparently he was really offering to bring us lots more plants. He brought us 4 small outside plants, and 2 large trees for the inside! Luckily, they're pretty, and we like them all. I guess we'll have to try again on the soil.