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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Wall

These kids are ready to take on the world! Here they are proudly standing in front of their new world map, made into a wall hanging by Mimi. It really brightens up the room, and they love pointing out different countries on it for us.

Thank you, Mimi!

Check back soon for the kids' latest photo shoot and Beth's stories of late nights with the girls.

Kids & Candles

I don't remember where the idea came from, but a few nights ago Lee Anna decided that we should have our dinner by candlelight. The kids helped me gather candles from all over the house, and, after Sawyer promised repeatedly that he wouldn't blow them out, we lit them.

It wasn't quite the same atmosphere that you usually associate with a candlelight dinner, but it was a fun family time.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How Do You Say "Go Noles" in Chinese?

We made an exciting discovery tonight. Jason was able to find a website that's streaming almost-live coverage of the Florida State v. Colorado game. This is his first chance to see his beloved Seminoles play this year, and not something we were expecting at all today, so he's really enjoying it. Of course, the fact that they're winning doesn't hurt.

We don't know for sure exactly where this broadcast comes from, but the Chinese ads at the top lead us to believe that it's probably making a detour through East Asia before it makes its way to us. That might explain the three-or-four-minute delay we discovered when Jason talked to his parents a few minutes ago. But, I guess that's not too bad for a trip around the entire world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Pictures, Just Words from Daddy

I’m going to try to use my 1000 words to paint a picture for you of the funniest thing I’ve ever seen (or at least the funniest thing I saw yesterday). Sawyer has been “shooting” at everyone and everything for the past week or two. He points his finger and makes a cute little shooting sound. I usually lay my head down when he shoots me, and then he tells me to wake up. Sometimes he shoots me and then lays his own head down, and I have to tell him to wake up. He shoots his teachers at school and cars on the streets as well. He’s developing a pretty good sense of when something needs to be shot. If he doesn’t want to do something I tell him to, I’m likely to become a target!

Yesterday, he was “reading” through a little picture book with some animals in it. He saw a dog and said “How, how” (that’s Arabic for "woof, woof"). He saw a frog and said “ribbet.” He turned a page and showed me a lady bug and told me about it. But then he got the pages mixed up and turned back to the frog. “Ooooo Nooooooooooo!!, he yelled, obviously distraught at the prospect of seeing the frog image again. Then he looked at the frog and “Peeyoooww” shot him right between the eyes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

They All Smile in the Same Language

I took this sweet picture one day last week when a friend of mine brought her two girls over for a visit. The kids lined all the chairs up in the middle of the living room, and then all sat down, and the moment just begged to be captured on film...or...on file...or...whatever digital pictures are captured on. Look at those precious smiles!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Little Room to Grow

My sweet two-year-old just doesn't understand why the outfit his eight-year-old friend passed down to him doesn't fit.

Oh, well. He's a cute little baggy Spiderman.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Art of Parking in a City with Too Many Cars and Not Enough Parking Spots

We’ve told many of you that driving here is really different than in America. When we visited the States this time last year, we were really surprised at how much space there is around everyone on the roads and in parking lots. Living here you really do get used to having people (and vehicles) very close to you all the time.

Parking here is also a very different activity than parking in America. There’s not really enough space for all the cars that are on the road right now. When we go to friends’ homes, we settle for any spot within two blocks (sometimes more) of the destination. Here at home, our doorman keeps a big concrete block in our space and moves it when we come back.

Because of the overabundance of people here and under-abundance of jobs, almost every parking spot in town has an “attendant.” These are guys with lots of free time to hang around on the side of streets and watch your car for you while you’re parked. They also help guide you into parallel parking spots that are only inches longer than the car itself, and they frequently dust off the windshield when you get back. This service sets us back a pound or two each time we park. But a pound is only about 20 cents American, so it’s quite a bargain.

There are a couple of conventions that the locals have made in the parking realm that make things a little smoother. The first is that when you park, you (almost) always fold in your side-view mirrors. This gives several extra centimeters on either side of your car. If you add up all the cars with their mirrors folded, we’re talking about acres and acres of extra parking lots created, one mirror at a time.

The other thing we do to make room for more parking space is to leave the parked cars in neutral with the brake not set. Most of the town is very flat, so the cars aren't going anywhere by themselves. In some cities in America, (Miami, for instance) leaving your car in neutral would be an open invitation to gangs of car thieves to roll your car to their shop and cut it up for parts, but that’s not a problem when there are always lots of people walking by or sitting around watching everything that happens. By leaving your car in neutral, you can double-park behind or beside someone and not make them mad. If you come out to find yourself blocked in, just push the car behind you out of your way and off you go! The aforementioned parking attendants are also handy to have around when multiple cars have to be manually relocated. The above picture is of me (looking fat only because my shirt isn’t tucked in—not because I’ve been eating Oreos every day since Beth's parents brought them 3 weeks ago) pushing a car out of our way on Saturday night.

The most astounding stat I’ve heard recently is that in America there are approximately 500 cars per 1000 people, but that here the ratio is more like 25 cars per 1000 people. That is one stat we're not really interested in raising any. If we get much closer to the American ratio, we'll have to start parking our cars on top of each other!

Friday, September 12, 2008

She's Got Talent!

Since we've been living overseas, Jason's sister Stacy has picked up a new hobby—one that Lee Anna has benefited greatly from. Stacy has learned to sew, and it seems like she's always sending Lee Anna a new outfit that she's made. I thought it was time to show off a little of my s-i-l's handiwork.
These two (above and below) were in the stash of goodies that my parents just brought. Too cute!
And this one (below) has a skirt and a pair of pants that go with it, but Lee Anna chose her shorts for this 110-plus degree day. This little top might be my favorite. So simple and pretty!
And here's the seamstress with her family. The girls are, of course, wearing more of Stacy's handiwork.

Good work, Aunt Stacy! We love you!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Great Clean Out of 2008

I don't usually post about things like this, but it was such a big part of my week that I thought I might as well write about it. The first few days after my parents left, I decided that it was finally time to tackle the ever-growing collections of stuff all around our house. I had let outgrown kids' clothes, not-yet-grown-into kids' clothes, assorted sizes of shoes, and lots of other assorted items pile up for way too long, and it was time to regain control and let some things go.

I sincerely wish I had thought to take some "Before" pictures for you, so you could fully appreciate the "After" shots, but at the time I wasn't thinking that I would be sharing all this excitement with anyone. This first picture is only a partial collection of the giveaway bags. I had already put several others in the car to take to a friend.
And the picture below is the new & improved shoe cabinet. Now you can actually find your shoes when you open it up! (Check out Sawyer's new Mater crocs on the bottom row!)
And....drumroll, please...the new & improved kids' closet! (at least it's our Middle Eastern version of a closet). It makes me happy to see empty space in there.
Now, we'll see how long it takes us to clutter it all up again! I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I had to show off this picture of the kids in one of the new outfits Mimi brought them. She found these outfits in a store that was going out of business just 2 days before she left to come see us. I'm glad she found it when she did, and Papaw's glad for his wallet's sake that she didn't find it sooner. If she had, they might not have gone out of business!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ocean Adventures

Mimi and Papaw came to visit us last week, and we had a great time. As you can see, Papaw didn't waste any time getting started playing with the grandkids. This was the first time that we've had our own car to drive to the airport, so the whole family got to go pick them up.
Mimi & Papaw just didn't quite get their fill of flying in the 20 hours it took to get here, so we decided to get on another airplane the next day! This time we all flew together, and the flight took less than an hour. We went to a beach resort on the Red Sea and spent about five days swimming, snorkeling, relaxing, and having lots of fun together.
Poor Sawyer was so worn out from the traveling and playing in the pool that he crashed in my arms at dinner the first night. It's hard work having that much fun!
The grown ups all took turns snorkeling at the beautiful coral reef. It was our (Jason's and my) first time to snorkel, and we were absolutely amazed! Everything was so beautiful.
The kids couldn't do that with us, of course, but they got to do the next best thing. We rode on a glass bottom boat that went right along the same reef where we had snorkeled.
They were as amazed as we were, and only a little disappointed that we didn't find Ariel, Flounder or Nemo under the sea. (I also feel compelled to note that Lee Anna--NOT her mother--chose her hairstyle for this day. I am not a fan of the three-pony-tail look, but she was quite insistent, and it didn't seem worth fighting over, especially since we were on vacation and all.)
Sawyer racked up on some quality Papaw time. I think here they're discussing the finer details of buying and selling hospitals. Sawyer says, "Papaw, as long as your hospital has ice cream, I don't care which side of town it's on!"
Our hotel had an amazing kiddie pool area, including this huge rainbow slide. In our five days of vacation, Lee Anna went down this slide approximately 783 times. She became quite the pro, and sometimes even succeeded in convincing one of the grown ups to go with her.

Mimi & Papaw, the kids are ready to go back when you are!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Back on the Homefront

I don't know if you missed us or not, but we're back home now after a week of fun in the sun with Mimi & Papaw. We'll post more pictures and stories from our vacation soon.