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, November 25, 2007

It's Christmas Time!

The day after our wonderful Thanksgiving feast, we pulled out the Christmas decorations and had lots of fun putting up the tree and setting up (and knocking down...and re-setting up...and knocking down...and re-setting up) the nativity sets. The kids were great helpers with the tree, and Lee Anna had some creative ideas for decorating that I wouldn't have come up with on my own. Like, let's put as many ornaments as possible on the same branch! Sawyer didn't really know what was going on, but after a while, he realized I was saying "thank you" every time he brought me a new ornament, so he started saying it with me each time!

I am so happy to have our tree and decorations up. We're having our family time around the tree every night before bed and letting the kids act out the story with their nativity set. I love seeing their little minds begin to understand this beautiful story. Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Eid El Shokr (Feast of Thanks)

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! We hope you had a great day giving thanks, enjoying delicious food, and being with people you love. We certainly did! We were reminded that we're not living in America when we had to explain to our housekeeper and doorman why we weren’t taking our kids to daycare on Thursday. They didn’t know it was a holiday (it wasn't for them!). It was also a little different having to fight rush hour traffic to get to our friends' house for the big meal. But once we got there, we had a wonderful time eating, laughing and celebrating His faithfulness together.

Here are the kids on Thanksgiving Day:

Have you ever seen a cuter pilgrim???

Here's Lee Anna concentrating intently to draw something she's thankful for. We are all so very blessed. It was nice to have a day to stop and dwell on some of those things. Stay tuned for pics from the day after Thanksgiving--getting out the Christmas decorations!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Global Children

Our kids celebrated International Children's Day at their school this week. The note we got said they wanted the children to dress in native costumes from their home country. Now as far as we can tell, most of the kids are from the country where we live, but maybe the teachers know something we don't know. Last year, we sent Lee Anna in blue jeans and a T-shirt, since that's what kids from her country wear, and the teacher said she didn't look "international" enough. Hmmm... So this year, we put Sawyer in his galabeya, since he was born here, and this little cap, and we dressed Lee Anna in her national colors. We had a hard time getting Sawyer to school because of the crowds of people who wanted to stop and see the little pale-faced, blue-eyed baby in a galabeya.
A good time was had by all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not to Be Outdone...

Sawyer is pretty sure he can do anything big sis can do, and since Lee Anna got to sing her ABCs on the blog, he thought he should get a chance to shine, too. Granted, he hasn't quite mastered all 26 letters yet, but he's getting there!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Three Random Things

Having a little fun with Sawyer's hair, pre-and-post-haircut.

And just in case anyone was wondering, my children are not fond of these big oversized characters. They are very common at children's parties here, so these guys were all at Hardee's when we went one night last week. I know they are there to bring joy and cheer, but those are not the emotions they evoke in my children. Maybe when they're older...
And finally, I just have to share this secret that I learned from a good friend of mine. To make cookie dough out of any cake mix, just add 2 eggs and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of oil. I usually add some chocolate chips or nuts or whatever I have handy. The white cake/white chocolate chip combination is AMAZING! For this particular batch I used a chocolate cake mix and Heath bar pieces. Mmmmm.
I realize that in America you can buy just-add-water cookie mixes (or pre-made cookie dough, for that matter!), but those haven't made it here yet, so this is the best shortcut to good cookies I know of!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Excuse Me, Mr. Sheep

We had a funny oh-yeah-we're-not-in-America moment this afternoon when we went to pick up the kids. When our taxi arrived at the preschool, neither Jason nor I could open our car door to get out because there was a flock of sheep running down the street--right next to our taxi. I would have literally bonked one of them in the head if I had opened my door. We have no idea where they came from or where they were headed, but we had to wait for them to pass before we could go inside and get our kids.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that we don't ever see livestock in the streets here. We see carts pulled by donkeys and horses on a daily basis, and we see plenty of sheep, goats, chickens, etc. when we walk or drive past certain areas, but there are still parts of town where we don't expect to see farm animals. This was one of those areas, so the little woolly guys took us by surprise. Too bad the kids weren't with us when the sheep came by--they would have loved it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sing it, Lee Anna!

This week, Jason was downloading some Arabic recordings of our language helper off of our voice recorder, and he came across this recording that Lee Anna made of herself a few months back. She's watched us use the voice recorder enough to know how to do it herself, so she just pushed the button and started singing away. She would never do this if we asked her to, but I guess since it was her idea, it was okay.

I added the pictures so you don't just have to stare at a blank screen while you listen. Enjoy!

P.S. No, we don't have a pteradactyl in our house. That was Sawyer making his contribution to the recording!

Friday, November 09, 2007

She Speaks English!

Today when we picked up the kids from school, Lee Anna's teacher was just raving about Lee Anna's test results. (Click on the picture of the test to make it big enough to read.) Since this is an "American" day care, they work every day on the kids' English vocabulary. Our two are the only American kids there, and the other parents really want their kids to get a good start in English, the international trade language of the world. Apparently, little Lee Anna speaks English almost like a native speaker! We spent about 10 minutes going over this test, with the teacher asking us if we've been working on these words with Lee Anna. "Did you teach her 'broccoli?'" "Did you work on 'plate and fork?'" "Did you teach her 'basketball' and 'baseball'?" No, we didn't sit down and work on them, but there's a good chance she heard about some ball games spending three years in our house. Now, Lee Anna's a sharp little girl, and I'm proud that she did well on her test, but I'm not sure it's all that amazing that this little American girl recognized a tree and an apple!!

That being said, there are some words on this test that we are pretty sure she has not heard in our home--like orangutan (we usually just stick with "monkey"), courgette (apparently it's something you eat since it's in the vegetable list), and papaya (I just can't think of a time when we would have talked about papayas). And I'm not sure I could have distinguished between all those birds and flowers! So we're glad to know she's enhancing her English vocabulary at school, too, although we tried to tell them we'd rather have her take tests like this in Arabic!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Back in Time

In a lot of ways, life here is a lot like life in America 50 years ago. Most everybody hangs their laundry out to dry. People know their neighbors and talk to them every day. Kids play ball in the streets without fear of being kidnapped (although they should probably fear the traffic around them a little more than they do.) I often see old army trucks full of young guys with really tight haircuts that look a lot like pictures of our grandparents in the WWII era. People use cash for everything, and don't buy anything on credit. The houses are different, but people sit out on their balconies and watch the people walk by, much like our grandparents might have sat on their front porches, back in the day. Teenage boys here generally go out with groups of boys. They like girls, but marrying one requires talking to her parents. Most moms generally stay home and take care of the home and the kids. Every time Beth leaves the house, she has on a floor-length skirt or pants. Ladies don't leave home without putting on their going-out clothes and fixing up their hair (or head-scarf), much like grandma would have done in the 50's when she was going grocery shopping.

So when Sawyer picked up a water gun and started making shooting sounds (see video above), we didn't call an anger management counselor to help him work through his aggression issues. This scene just reminded us that in a simpler time, little boys could play cowboys and indians without fear of the Political Correctness Police coming to tell them how wrong they were.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Halloween was a little different for our kids here. We couldn't just go from door to door, since most of the locals didn't know it was a holiday. And the houses here are all in big buildings, so it would be pretty strange to go door to door inside a big building. And we don't really know how to say "trick or treat" in Arabic, so nobody would understand why a small American kid was standing at his door saying something in English. SO, we improvised and had an indoor Trick-or-Treat party. Each of the parents got behind a door and the kids ran form door to door inside our friends' flat and collected candy. Our family costume theme was "Flying Things" so Lee Anna was a butterfly, and Sawyer was Batman. A good time was had by all. Here's Lee Anna avoiding the sting of bumblebee Lydia.
The Joker better watch out.