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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Family Outings

We've had some fun family excursions the last few evenings. Since the weather gets so hot during the day this time of year, most locals wait until 9 p.m. or later to go out and run errands, do things for fun, etc. It's not uncommon for them to be out with their kids until midnight or later. We're not quite ready to inculturate that much, but we have been delaying bathtime and bedtime a bit so that we can go out and do some fun things after dinner.

So, a few days ago we discovered that the Starbucks that has been "Coming Soon" since January to an area near our house has finally opened. It's right across the street from the river, and within walking distance for us, so we decided to take a little after-dinner stroll. The kids did great with the walking (translation: didn't ask to be carried), and they enjoyed their frappucinno almost as much as we enjoyed ours.
We had so much fun with that outing that we decided to head out for some more fun last night. This time we walked to another place near our house that has all kind of play stuff for kids. It was a week night, and a bit early for the locals (we left to come home around 8:30 p.m.), so it wasn't crowded at all. The kids had a blast. They got to climb in a huge McDonalds-style play area (including the ball pit you see above), swing on swings, slide down slides, and sit in a bunch of cars and trains and planes like the one in the picture below. (I say "sit in" because right now they are just as happy sitting in them as they would be if they were moving, so we don't pay the extra money to make them go. I'm sure the days of our getting away with that are numbered!)
Lee Anna climbed up in this airplane and said, "Bye-bye! I'm going to America!" While I'm sure the grandparents would have loved it, she had no token to make it go, so she had to stay here with us. Maybe next time...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

At least it rhymes

Where we live, we have access to a lot of American stuff--and there's more coming in all the time. I mean, when we were planning to move overseas, we never dreamed that we would be able to order Papa John's Pizza, eat On the Border chimichangas, or drink a Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino, but now we can--and do, often!

However, one thing that we cannot get just yet (for a decent price, anyway) is Oreo cookies. At some import stores, we can buy a bag of actual Oreos made in Europe, but they cost a ton and don't taste quite the same. But fortunately, we have several substitutes from around the world.
First, you can buy the local classic, Borios. As long as you're not looking for anything that tastes, looks, or feels like an Oreo, this is a great choice. It doesn't taste bad, really, just nothing like an Oreo.
Recently, we've discovered that there are some closer substitutes from other parts of the world also available here. Cameos come from South Korea and are closer to the real thing in taste and texture. Stereos, from Malaysia, also come pretty close both in look and taste. Both of these options work great crushed up in the bottom of our favorite coffee ice cream/oreo dessert, and we can still actually enjoy the dessert knowing we didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the cookies!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here Come the Tomatoes!

If you took all the people in the state of Florida and put them between downtown Pensacola and Milton, (about 20 miles) that’s what the population of our city is like. 20 million or so, in a very small area next to the River. Now, if all those people in Florida thought they had to eat tomatoes in every dish at every meal, you would need all the tomatoes in Georgia and Alabama combined. Every Day.
This weekend we took a little trip to the coast, and on the way back we started noticing tomato trucks. Lots of tomato trucks. I’m not sure if this is just high season for tomato growers or what, but there were just tons of tomatoes coming to town yesterday. I’m guessing it’s that way all summer, and maybe the winter, too. We counted the baskets on a typical truck to be about 275.
In America, I’m sure there are lots of fruits and veggies being hauled around in big trucks, but they’re mostly enclosed so you don’t see them. I’d bet that this is due in part to the fact that in the States, you’re likely to run through a rain storm on any lengthy trip. Here, not so much. We saw furniture and appliances on the backs of open trucks, with no fear of them getting wet. We probably didn’t see a half-dozen enclosed trailers in the whole four-hour trip. In that time, however, we saw well over 200 tomato trucks.
After four hours of following the tomatoes in from the delta, we had spaghetti with lots of red sauce for supper last night. And I kinda wanted some for breakfast this morning, but I just couldn’t make it work with my corn flakes and coffee.

Friday, July 18, 2008

More Ice in the Desert

Some of you will remember that last year about this time, Lee Anna & Mom had a special Girls' Night Out to see the Disney Princesses on Ice. Well, we were excited to learn that Disney was bringing another ice show to our city this summer, and this time, since it wasn't just a princess show, we decided to invite the boys to join us.As we drove up and parked, there were signs everywhere with different characters on them. I don't think Sawyer had any idea where we were going or what we were doing, but he was excited to see Pluto on a poster. We also discovered as they shouted out all the characters' names that Lee Anna thinks that the mice's names are "Meeky and Meeny." Since there's no short i sound in Arabic (Okay, upon further review--and after a gentle correction from my husband--there actually is a short i sound in Arabic. However, it would be way too complicated to try to explain why Arabic speakers try to pronounce those words with an "ee" sound, so just suffice it to know that...) that's how it comes out when her daycare teachers talk about Mickey and Minnie.
The show we saw this year was called "Disneyland Adventure," and it tells a story about the Incredibles Family visiting the Disneyland theme park. Luckily, we found some friends here who let us borrow The Incredibles to watch. Otherwise, it might have been a little hard to follow.
We shared a snow cone in a cup shaped like Dash's head.
And the kids ate cotton candy for the first time. We've offered it to Lee Anna once before, but I think the texture surprised her, and she wouldn't eat any. This time, though, she informed me that she was four years old, so she could eat cotton candy now. Sawyer decided he didn't need to wait until he was four to start eating something that sweet and sugary!

Here's a little clip of the ice skating superheroes. It was a fun family night!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Here are a few more pictures from our beach vacation. As you can see, we spent a great deal of time at/in/beside the pool. Lee Anna is becoming quite the little swimmer, and Sawyer had a blast with his sliding and jumping games. We also made it out to the beach several times, and even got to spend half an hour on a jet ski (even Sawyer rode!). It was a fun time with good friends, and Lee Anna's already talking about "next time."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

8 Roses, 8 Years

My sweet husband brought me these roses today, one for each year we've been married. Aren't they beautiful?I wish I had a wedding picture to post, but our wedding was back in the pre-digital photography days, so this is the best I can do. Here we are on our second (above) and third (below) anniversaries.

We tried last night to remember where we were on this date each year. Here's what we could recall:
1st Anniversary: Slept on the floor in a church in Uvalde, TX, on a service trip with our church.
2nd Anniversary: Ate at Saltgrass Steak House in Fort Worth. Mmmmmm!
3rd Anniversary: Niagara Falls. So beautiful! (That trip also included a visit to the home of the original Buffalo Wings--a sacred moment for Jason)
4th Anniversary: This one's kind of a blur. We were the thrilled, amazed, and exhausted parents of our first little bundle of joy, and we think we probably remembered to say "Happy Anniversary" to each other that day!
5th Anniversary: We spent this one at Harmony Bay Youth Music Camp--a dream come true for Jason to be back there as the camp clinician.
6th Anniversary: Our first anniversary overseas. Jason's mom was visiting and bravely offered to keep them both so we could have a night away. We spent the night in a beautiful hotel overlooking the Nile.
7th Anniversary: No visiting grandparents this year, but we did have a lovely dinner overlooking the Nile.

And that brings us to 2008. This year our anniversary is wedged tightly between two out-of-town trips, so we decided the most appealing thing to both of us was just to stay home for the evening. We don't have any extravagant plans, but we've had fun today remembering the highlights of our journey so far.
Happy Anniversary, Jason! Looking forward to many, many more. I love you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Slippin' & Slidin'

We're back from a week of vacation, and are all exhausted, which, according to Stubblefield family vacation philosophy, means it must have been a good one. It's not that we did anything super strenuous on this particular trip, but we're still worn out in a good, relaxed kind of way.

Therefore, I'm not going to post pictures from the whole trip tonight, but I do have a short video so that you can see how Sawyer spent at least 50% of his time in the pool. He invented this little run-and-slide game, and then did it over and over and over and over and over and over and over. Then he invented another jumping game that I'll hopefully have a video of tomorrow. He also did it many, many times. Little ones are fond of repetition.

We had a really good time. Check back soon for more.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Everybody Sing Along!

We wanted you all to see Lee Anna's latest musical composition. Of course, it's also her first musical composition, but we're hoping it won't be the last! She did this all on her own a few mornings ago when she got up before anyone else was quite ready to join her.

Looks like she's going to wear the ArabMusician name well!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Better than a Cruise

Well, they didn't have any Grand Prizes with our names on them this year, but they did have GRASS, which in our minds, is almost as exciting! Technically, it was astro-turf, but our kids aren't familiar enough with the real stuff to know the difference. It sure didn't keep them from enjoying it.
Hooray for a barefoot Fourth of July!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Fourth!

Here are the kids wishing you all a Happy Fourth of July! We're headed to the annual Fourth of July Party sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in a little while, and we're counting on our little grand prize-winner to do it again! Actually, if we want our friends to keep speaking to us, we should probably hope we don't win the grand prize this year.