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.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sawyer's New Tricks

Hi Everyone, this is Sawyer. It's about time Mom got this video on here of me doing all my newest tricks. I'm getting pretty good at this talking thing, if I do say so myself. I think you'll also like all the signs I can do. I love to look at my books and point out all the animals by doing their signs. If I see an animal I don't know, I always do the dog sign first, just in case.

Dad taught me the FSU war chant. I've been practicing for when he takes me to a game in 2009.

Enjoy the show!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Together Again

We got to see lots of dear friends while we were in the states. A whole group came to Jacksonville from Cleburne, Texas, where we spent four years prior to moving overseas. First we got to spend a day with the Williams family when they stopped by Jax on their way to Disneyworld. We ate some delicious Mexican food, then found a neat little place called the Hands On Children's Museum that had all kinds of fun things for the 5 kids to do. They had the most fun with the costumes and stage (see the photos below). That night we took them all back to Jason's parents' house for an authentic Arab meal (including Lee Anna's favorite, the slimy green sauce--see post below or click here). They all ate it and even liked most of it!

Then, when the conference started, we got to spend time with four other friends from Cleburne. Unfortunately, somehow we didn't get pictures of all of them. Barbara & Mattie are in our pictures, but Vern & Patti must have been dodging the camera. Oh well, we had lots of of fun with all of you!

On the Other Side of the Globe

Well, here are some photos from our trip--finally! I'll comment below each picture. Lee Anna and Ariel decided to share a seat belt for this particular take-off. The kids did a super, super job with all the flying. They were well-behaved on every flight (a total of 6), and managed to sleep a good bit, which meant Mom & Dad got to sleep some, too.
No, Sawyer didn't ride all the way upside down. He had his own seat, and even sat in it a good bit.
This may be part of the reason they slept so well on the flights over. This picture was taken at 1:42 a.m., while we waited for our first flight to board. Lee Anna never went to sleep until we took off. By then, she was so exhausted, she slept the whole 5-hour flight!
Nothing like a little "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" at 1:30 a.m.!Welcome to America, Sawyer! Here we are in Atlanta waiting for our last flight. We called Mimi from a pay phone and I told Lee Anna to tell her we were in America. She said, "Mimi, I'm going to the America!" She got it right on the second try. America is kind of an abstract concept for a 3-year-old to grasp.
And here she is smiling for the camera in her new dress from Mimi. Both kids racked up on handmade clothes on this trip--thanks Mimi, Aunt Stacy, and Aunt Belinda!
Yep, Sawyer got one, too.
Here's Sawyer that first afternoon, when he just didn't quite know what to think about that tall green stuff. I think I'll just stay here on the pavement, guys.
And here's the last pic for now--Sawyer demonstrating that his ability to make a complete mess at mealtime is not limited to one continent.

Stay tuned for shots of all the sweet friends who came to see us!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Proper Southern Speech

Okay, so there's more coming about the trip to the states, but I don't have time for all that tonight, and I have a more pressing matter to discuss. Tonight, we got to meet all the family members of one of our good friends here. His family just flew in today, and we had a big dinner to welcome and meet them. They even brought each family an enormous sack of goodies--way too kind!

When our family was getting ready to leave, I (Beth) told them, "It was nice to meet all y'all." And another friend of ours (who is, incidentally, NOT from the South) started laughing at me and said, "Isn't that redundant? All y'all? All you all?" I informed him that, redundant or not, it was perfectly acceptable to use the phrase "all y'all." He kept laughing, so I stuck my tongue out at him.

So now I need some support from our Southern constituency. Is it or is it not acceptable Southern English grammar to use the phrase "all y'all?" Please leave a comment and weigh in on this important matter.

This is all the stuff from the gift bag they brought us. We had to borrow a suitcase just to get it all home!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jet Lag Strikes the Family

It's 1:38 a.m. where I am, and I'm sitting on the couch with my computer writing a blog post. I'm not sitting here alone, however. My 16-month-old son has been sitting up with me. And Lee Anna has been asleep for only about a half-hour--but she's not in her bed yet. Sawyer's asleep now, here on the couch.

When we got back on Tuesday, we forgot to tell our bodies that we're six hours ahead of the East Coast. It's been a bit of an adjustment that's still in progress. The mornings are the hardest. When it's 8:00 a.m. and time to get going, it's only 2:00 in Jacksonville, and we all just want to stay asleep. At night it's not so painful, but we just aren't very sleepy at bed time. The past two nights, the kids have gone to bed around 9:00, then gotten back up again. Tonight we watched Lady and the Tramp at 11:30. That was right after Sawyer and I shared some ice cream.

On Tuesday night, we arrived at our house about 8:30. At 9:30, we put the kids to bed. I lay down with Lee Anna, and Beth with Sawyer, to help them get to sleep. Well, I fell asleep hard but woke up about 10:00 (just 30 minutes later). When I woke up, I had absolutely no idea where I was. I walked around the house for several minutes, looking for my parents. I didn't recognize this house at all, but after a few minutes I decided that I must live here, and maybe Mom and Dad were here visiting us. I walked around some more, still looking for them, and slowly it all came together. That was fun.

This is a blog, so I'm allowed to chase rabbits a little, right? Beth's mom brought us some pecans when we saw her in Florida. Lee Anna saw the bag and said "Hey, those are for ice cream and pancakes!" That's my girl.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

People Without a Country, Part I

Water Fountains, Rain, and St. Augustine Grass

We just got back from our first trip to the Land of Plenty. Wow. For the past year and a half we’ve had this feeling that we’re outsiders here, but that we’d really fit in fine if we lived in America again. Well, it seems we were wrong. We were all really surprised at how it felt to be in America. Here, we live in a really big, really crowded city. When we got to Jacksonville, we found that it is a pretty big, really spread-out city. There’s lots of space around all the houses, lots of space around the cars on the highway, big parking lots in front of big spacious stores. And there were no people on the streets at all. When you walk down our street here, you find men sitting out in front of every building—smoking cigarettes and drinking tea—and lots more people walking everywhere. But when we drove (not walked) down the residential streets in Jax, we saw no one. Everybody’s either inside or driving. We were really tired from traveling, so we went to bed early that first night. I couldn’t believe how dark and quiet the house was at 9:30 at night—no car horns, train brakes, people yelling, elevator noises, just quiet.

Sunday morning, we were at church with my Mom, and Lee Anna and I were walking down a hallway in the children’s area. Lee Anna saw a water fountain and asked, “What’s that for, Daddy?” So I explained that in America people drink water from fountains without cups. (Here, the water coolers have a community cup attached.) She drank a little and got a lot on her face playing with the water, and subsequently insisted on drinking from every water fountain she saw the rest of the trip.

The first day we got there Sawyer and Lee Anna were playing with a ball in my parents’ driveway. The ball rolled out into the grass, so Sawyer started to go get it. He got to the edge of the cement and stopped. He reached out for the ball and fretted a little, but wouldn’t take a step in that tall lush St. Augustine grass. He was fine crawling and running on the concrete, but hadn’t ever seen grass like that. It took a few days and lots of coaxing and hand-holding before he would venture out into it.

One morning I woke up and discovered we had left an almost-empty Dr. Pepper can sitting out all night (only one of many DPs consumed during our week in the LoP). When Beth and I saw it, both of us immediately thought, "Oh, no, it's going to be covered in ants," since in our flat the ants are so bad during the summer that we keep our Cheerios in the fridge. But there weren’t any.

It rained more in the 10 days we were in Jacksonville than it has rained in the twenty months we’ve lived here. A lot more. G.G. took the kids out to play in it, and they loved it! Average rainfall here is less than one inch per year, while in Jacksonville, it’s closer to 60 inches a year. Everything looks real green there. Anywhere people haven’t done anything to the ground there, something is growing. Here, if people aren’t watering everyday, we just have dirt.

Pictures and more stories coming soon...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dinner with the Davises

Before every meal, we bow our heads and give thanks for our food. We always hold hands around the table. Apparently Sawyer has been paying attention during his 15 months in our home. Every time we sit down and hold hands, he makes a terrible face like he's concentrating really, really hard, then bows his little head all the way down to his tray. One morning we were saying a prayer standing up, and he laid down on the floor so his head could be touching something. Why didn't we think of this sooner? Lee Anna is a typical three-year-old (except the part about speaking two languages and living on a different continent than the one where she was born.) As such, she frequently politely refuses to eat the food we lovingly prepare for her supper. One night last week we made a local vegetable dish called molokheya (imagine finely chopped spinach, boiled in chicken broth--but much slimier, like boiled okra) and served it with rice and chicken. Earlier in the week, she wouldn't eat her chicken or rice, but this time she insisted on dipping the pieces of fried chicken into the slimy green stuff as well as having it poured all over her rice. She ate more that night than any other night that week. Do all three-year-olds like to have slimy green chicken and rice?
And doesn't this look appetizing?
We head out for America later tonight, so watch for our next post from the good ol' US of A!