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, June 30, 2008

Time for a Little Pop Quiz!

I read recently that the average American can identify only 18 of the world's 195 countries on a map. When I told Jason about it, we decided we should find out if we're above average or not. We felt fairly confident that, seeing as how we live overseas and all, we could probably get more than 18, but we honestly weren't sure how many we would know.

So today I found this website and printed off two blank world maps. We each filled in all that we could, and then pulled out the cool world map quilt that Aunt Stacy made us to check our answers. (Yes, this probably qualifies us as just a little bit nerdy.)

We're happy to report that we are above average! We each named about 60 countries correctly. Of course, we guessed incorrectly at lots of others. We both did much better on the North Africa/Middle East region than we would have done a few years ago. I'm pretty sure I didn't know where Djibouti was before we got here! However, we've got some work to do learning Eastern Europe and the other parts of Africa. I had lots of blanks in those two areas.

So now it's your turn. Go print out the map (no studying beforehand!), and see how you do. Just think, you could have the great satisfaction of knowing that you are smarter than the average American. (If you do it, be sure to come back and leave a comment telling us how you did!)

Here's Sawyer hanging out on the map quilt I mentioned above. I can't believe I don't have a more recent photo of it. We use it all the time!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Playing Around

I came across this picture that I took a few weeks ago and just wanted to share it. I'm so grateful that, so far, anyway, these two play so well together. Of course, it helps that Sawyer is almost as tall and as big as Lee Anna, despite the fact that he's 2 years younger. He really can keep up with her most of the time!

We've taught them how to play "Charades" lately, and it is always a hoot. Sawyer and Lee Anna usually act out the same three things over and over: Basketball (pretending to dribble and shoot), ice cream (pretending to eat something and then shivering like it's cold), and playing the piano (moving their fingers like they're playing). Actually, Sawyer usually watches Lee Anna and then immediately acts out the same thing that she just did. Lee Anna got creative on us tonight and said she was typing on a computer instead of playing the piano! She's pretty sneaky. :)

I also recently taught her how to play Crazy Eights, but she was having trouble holding all 8 cards, so I told her we would just start with five cards. She said, "So now is it Crazy Fives?"

With these two around, I don't think we'll be starved for entertainment any time soon!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Double Take

I don't think there's any mistaking whose daughter Lee Anna is! I would tell you to guess which ones are Lee Anna and which ones are me, but I think it's quite obvious from the photo quality which ones were taken 25 years ago.

And if this trend continues, this is what Lee Anna
will look like this time next year, when she turns five.

What a gift to see a little bit of me walking around in another person!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Desperate Times

Earlier this month, we wrote about the various modes of transport available to us here, and pointed out that the family on a donkey cart was something we just didn't see in the Greater Dallas area.

But apparently some things have changed. It seems we've been gone from the States too long and weren't aware that, while our gas prices on this side of the ocean have gone up from 75 cents per gallon to about a buck-twenty-five, the slightly more dramatic rise back on the home front has caused some people to take some pretty drastic measures. Just check out these pictures, shot recently in the DFW metroplex, to see how at least one Texan is dealing with the insanity of current gas prices.
Thanks, Sean, for bringing this new trend to our attention. It's great to know we'll feel right at home when we get back to the big D! ;)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Our New Look

Well, what do you think?

Nikki at blogs for a cause just gave us a blog makeover! It is such a cool deal. We help her go to the Dominican Republic to help children living in poverty, and she greatly improves our blog. If you have a blog that needs a little pick-me-up, you should definitely check her out!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We Love Our De-addy

Dear Jason,
It's been four years now since you held our one-week-old Lee Anna for this picture on your first Father's Day. Thank you for being the most amazing husband and father we could ever ask for. I love the way you love us. Enjoy this ride down memory lane. It's been a fun ride so far. I can't wait to see what else is in store.


("De-addy" is the way Sawyer says the word "Daddy" right now. It's precious.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lee Anna Day!

Our little princess turned 4 today! We started the day with Daddy's delicious chocolate chip pancakes. Can you guess which one is for the Birthday Girl?
Here's the proud princess with her birthday breakfast. And no, that's not another son we forgot to tell you about. We had two friends of Lee Anna's spend the night last night, so they got to join in on the celebration today.
Our guests helped hide Lee Anna's gifts so she could hunt for them, and they helped open them too. Here she is with her very own red-eyed tree frog, thanks to the new Rainforest Cafe that recently opened here. We're hoping this will be an adequate substitute for that real live pet tree frog she's been asking for.
She loved all her gifts, and the kids all had fun getting into as many of them as possible. There's just something about new crayons and coloring books that just can't wait.
While the kids were playing, I made a batch of cupcakes that we were going to decorate and eat after lunch. However, a certain little kitchen bandit snuck into the kitchen when our backs were turned, and left his mark on four--count them, four--of Lee Anna's birthday cupcakes! They were on the kitchen counter and he couldn't see them very well, so apparently he thought he should just stick his grubby paws up there and see what he could get.
I'm not saying who did it, but his name rhymes with "lawyer," and if he keeps pulling stuff like this, he's probably going to need one one day! Thankfully, all but one of the cupcakes were salvageable with icing (and who's going to complain about a little extra icing?).
Lee Anna managed to extinguish her four candles with ease, and they all enjoyed their cupcakes immensely. And yes, we let Sawyer have one even though he had already had an early sample.
Believe it or not, he did manage to get some in his mouth!
Happy Birthday, Lee Anna Belle! We love you and can't believe you are growing up so fast. We're so glad to have day to remember what a sweet gift you are to us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A little hard to believe

Since Thursday is the end of our week, every Thursday afternoon Sawyer brings home a big stack of the papers he's finished at school that week. More often than not, he also brings home a terribly impressive art project that, try as we may, we just can't bring ourselves to believe that a two-year-old has actually created. Below is what he brought home last week.We love our son, but we're just fairly certain that he did not a) cut out a letter S, b) clue those tiny little balls perfectly around the letter S, c) write the words "Tom & Jerry" (the name of their school) or d) put lots of cute little dots and heart flowers all over the paper. If he did, then he is really holding back on us at home!

No, we're pretty sure that this was made for us proud parents not by our son, but by one of his precious teachers. We've found that the general thinking in this part of the world is that it's more important for it to be right and pretty than for the child to have actually had any part in creating it. So we'll ask Lee Anna about her beautiful projects, and she'll say, "No, my teacher made it."
Maybe we should let you all decide for yourselves. Does this look like the face of a child prodigy to you?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Round, Round, Get Around, I Get Around...

While you sit there thinking about Beach Boys songs, I'm going to give you a primer on the various modes of transportation availabe to us here. For the first two years we lived here, we relied almost exclusively on the "black and whites," also known in Arabic as "taksee." Or, if you're hailing one on the street, it can be abbreviated to "Taks." Sawyer could do this when he was a year and a half old.

Taxis here are awesome. Where else can you ride in a 1979 Fiat with a Hyundai steering wheel, Pianosonic stereo, Jaguar hood ornament, Peugeot motor and absolutely no air conditioning?? Taxis are almost always available when you need one, and they'll drive you around town really cheap. Most of the drivers are friendly and enjoy helping foreigners learn the language. And if you have a large, unwieldy package or piece of furniture to transport, the taxi fleet here is all equipped with handy roof racks. Only once did my guitar fly off the roof. (It was fine). An even cheaper option is the city bus. I rode one once. (Once). It was really inexpensive, but took two or three times longer to get where I was going than the Metro (subway train, not pictured) for the same price.
The most popular option for the locals is the "Microbus." These omnipresent blue and white vans will hold 14 passengers. More than 14 if some guys want to hold on to the side and leave the door open. They're even cheaper than the busses. The ride isn't bad, but most of the drivers are either recently escaped from the state mental hospital, or are preparing for a role on the Dukes of Hazzard: Urban Middle East Edition.
A closer look at the next pic (just click on it to make it bigger) will reveal a family of 4 riding in the back of a small pickup. They have some blankets and other stuff with them like they might be moving. (This takes me back to a time in 1989 when my family took a vacation around Christmas time in a 2-seat Ford Ranger. Stacy and I started in the back, but it got way too cold. But that's a different story for a different time.) We frequently see large extended families in small compact cars, or small nuclear families sharing a moped. The beauty of this last pic is not that there's a pretty big flat-bed on the highway. The real genius of this particular truck is that someone in the proof-reading department wasn't so sure about how to spell Chevrolet. Maybe they should have tried "CHEVY". Or they could have called it "Ford." It probably wasn't really built anywhere near Detroit anyway.
Seeing a family ride a donkey cart is a pretty typical sight here. You might expect to see this out in the country, or in farm land. We see these rigs in our neighborhood daily, and if we're driving you just have to slow down until you can go around. This particular cart, however, is on a big, busy highway with big trucks and a jillion cars. Imagine riding on I-35 through Dallas and seeing a donkey pull a cart. We enjoy seeing all the various modes of transportation. And with the slow pace of congested traffic here, we get to see them all up close and personal every day.
I was explaining to a friend here once that part of my last job in America was to give money to people who came by our office looking for handouts. Most of the time, what they wanted was gas for their cars. My friend stopped me and laughed and asked, "So in America, even the poor people who are begging for money are driving their own cars!?!?!"

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Gimme a D...

Continuing the Show-and-Tell theme, here's a picture of our latest little craft project. Well, it's also probably our first little craft project. I have always been very not crafty, and really sort of scared of anything too artsy. But I've recently started doing something in the scrapbooking realm that I might blog about another time (I'm sure most of you are thrilled to hear that!), and it's given me enough confidence to try something like this. We just recently bought the mirror/coat rack, but we've already got another coat rack on a nearby wall, so I wanted to do something different with these hooks. And there happened to be five hooks, which lends itself nicely to a last name like ours.

I also recently acquired a stash of fun, pretty, artsy stuff from some wonderful ladies in Jacksonville, Florida. I would never have attempted this if I hadn't had such fun papers and buttons and stuff to start with, so thanks girls!

Lee Anna helped me put on the finishing touches today, and then insisted on hanging each letter herself. She's a great little helper, and so proud that her last name is hanging on the wall now. Our dinner conversation went like this.

Me: Our last name is Davis. Sawyer's name is Sawyer Davis, and Lee Anna's name is Lee Anna Davis. And what's my name?

Lee Anna: Mama Davis!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Bed Head

I think it's time for a haircut. What do you think?