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.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Adventures, Part I

Well, we're finally settled in one place for a few days, so we'll take the next few posts to try to catch you up on our Christmas adventures. Here we are sharing gifts as a family before we left for the states on Dec. 19th.
Lee Anna really got into the gift-giving this year. She helped pick out gifts for all three of us. Below is Sawyer opening the little soccer ball Lee Anna and Daddy got for him. He LOVES balls--or anything remotely shaped like a ball (Christmas ornaments, oranges, etc.). When he sees one, he usually yells out "Baaallll!" and then grabs it and throws it, whether it's a real ball or not.
The kids' big gift from us was this little table and chairs. They were excited to have something just their size.
And in this last picture is Lee Anna demonstrating her impressive multi-tasking skills. She's modeling one of her gifts while she plays with Sawyer's. She got an apron that is just her size, since she loves to help us in the kitchen. She's even started washing dishes! And Sawyer got the hammer and pegs set, just like the one Daddy had when he was a little boy. However, we quickly discovered that Daddy had forgotten how much noise a toy like that makes. The kids love it, but I'm not sure how long Mom & Dad will be able to handle that. We'll see.

Check back soon for Christmas Adventures, Part II: Fun Times in Jacksonville.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
كا سنه و انتو طيبين

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And a Happy New Year?

We went to Lee Anna and Sawyer's school last week for their Christmas program. It was awesome. Lee Anna's teacher led the class in singing several festive songs, while a young lady played on a small organ-like instrument. The accompaniment and the melody were only tangentially related to each other in the harmonic sense. Perhaps they couldn't hear each other? No, they were each way too loud to use that for an excuse. Maybe we just have more to learn about Arab Music. No, wait, "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Jingle Bells" are both Anglo-American melodies.

For the music theory geeks out there, I think they were trying to sing Jingle Bells in our traditional major-key setting, while the accompaniment was set in the relative minor. Try it at home: play in a-minor while you sing in C major. It works pretty well, but the three-year-old set just didn't quite grasp the depth of what they were trying to accomplish. It's not on this particular video clip, but they also sang "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" with an entirely new (though strikingly similar) melody. 1-3-3-4-3-2-1-1, 3-5-5-6-5-4-3-1

Lee Anna seems to be protesting this lack of harmonic concurrence. She didn't sing a lick the whole time. Perhaps it's just a young case of stage fright. Evidently, her classmates were not so stricken.

Alas, she's only three. Maybe next year she'll bust out and sing for everybody.

And a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Little Christmas Cheer

Here are the kids wishing you a very merry Christmas in their brand new Christmas PJs. How could you not get in the spirit with pajamas like that?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sheep Cow?

Each night when we talk about the Christmas story, we use the Fisher Price nativity set so the kids can move the characters around and act out the story. One night last week, we were talking about the shepherds, and we explained that the dog in the Fisher Price set was probably a sheep dog, and he helped the shepherds keep the sheep in line (we concluded this not because we know anything about sheep dogs, but simply because he came in the Little People Shepherds set). Lee Anna liked that idea, and brought the cow over and said he was a “sheep cow!” Then she introduced us to the sheep camel and the sheep donkey. Now the shepherds have plenty of helpers.

We have some real-live shepherds in our neighborhood this month. About a block away from here, there’s a make-shift pen with several dozen sheep getting ready for the big feast. If every family in a city of 15 million people is to sacrifice an animal next week, there have to be pens like this all over town. Wow.

On an unrelated, but moderately funny and culturally insightful note, our language helper showed up one day last week a few minutes before we expected her. It was a little after 1:00 (p.m.). We were eating bowls of taco soup when she got here, so we apologized and offered her some. She declined, since she had already eaten (and she probably wasn’t so sure about the spicy red stuff with corn in it), but insisted that we finish eating. As we hurriedly finished up, she asked, "Why in the world are you eating breakfast so late today?" We laughed and explained that the soup was actually our second meal of the day. On the local schedule, lunch doesn't happen until somewhere between 3 and 6 p.m., so in her mind there was no way we could be eating lunch already. What probably wasn't too strange for her was the idea of eating something taco-soup-like for breakfast. At her house they eat tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast every day, sometimes with cheese. Maybe we'll get there one day, but right now we're still holding on to our Cheerios and pancakes!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

They really do like it!

I just want to clarify that despite the kids' completely expressionless faces in the pictures from the previous post, they really do like their daycare. Sawyer cries if we take to long getting out of the house in the morning, and when the taxi gets to the school, he climbs out and walks in (pulling his little rolling backpack behind him) and never looks back. Lee Anna also loves it, and is learning Arabic at an impressive rate. We are confident the day is coming when she'll start saying things to us that we don't understand! I just didn't want any of you to get the false impression that our kids are as forlorn about being at daycare as they look in these pictures.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Children's Day Update

On International Children's Day, we dressed up our kids. See below to see how we sent them to school. But then a week or two later they had the pictures back from the professional photog who was there that day. It looks like Lee Anna was authentic enough, so they didn't really change her outfit too much. But Sawyer... If this guy doesn't look like he's from around here, I don't know who does. His little American ball cap didn't make the cut. Somehow the Crocs got by the fashion police, or it could be that they tried to take his shoes off, and he politely declined. He's great at politely declining stuff that doesn't interest him.