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, December 27, 2009

Treasured Memories from Christmas 2009

1. Reading our Advent book together each night and hearing them quote the parts from previous days.

2. Making delicious Christmas goodies with my budding chef.
3. Hearing Sawyer call our nativity set the "activity set."

4. Teaching Sawyer that Lee Anna's new make up kit (and any other make up, for that matter!) is not for him.

5. Hearing unsolicited "thank you's" after they opened each gift on Christmas morning.

6. Rehearsing every time Daddy left the house for two weeks to give him his gift of a surprise Christmas Concert.
7. Splitting up at the mall so that Sawyer and Lee Anna could shop for each other.

8. Singing "O Come Let Us Adore Him" together to end our prayer time each night.
9. Hearing Sawyer sing Christmas carols nonstop all month long--until it was time for the concert!

10. Hearing Lee Anna recite the Christmas story on Christmas morning.

11. Watching Lee Anna decide on her own to give one of her dolls to a needy little girl.

12. Telling and retelling our new favorite Christmas joke: What Christmas carol do they sing in the desert? O Camel Ye Faithful!

We hope you had a wonderful, joy-filled celebration with lots of memories to treasure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

You Know You're the Third Child When...

it takes you six months to get included in the blog header!

I guess now Sarah Claire is an official Arab Musician. We're glad to finally have her join us. Thanks to
Nikki for doing another super job on our blog design! She is great to work with.

Check back soon to see what we've been up to!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Our Turn

Well, I finally did one of these cute videos. Lee Anna's friend Madison is very sick this week, so we decided to make this video to try to cheer her up. It's already been watched many times at our house, and we thought you might enjoy seeing it too. I'm pretty sure these are the only snowballs these kids will be throwing at each other, since they live in the desert and all!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Friday, December 11, 2009

All She Wants for Christmas

Daddy worked hard trying to get a good picture of Sarah Claire's new pearly whites, although she was a bit hesitant to show them off for the camera!

Believe me, they're in there! She cut her first two teeth in two days, and now Sawyer and Lee Anna are pretty sure she should be able to talk and eat whatever she wants. We'll be keeping a close eye on them. I don't think Sarah Claire's quite ready for apples and carrots yet!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again!

Sarah Claire's not sure what all the fuss is about, but she's enjoying it with the rest of us! We've had fun decorating our home for Christmas this week. While much of it looks the same as in years past, we've also added a few new decorations and traditions this year.
We had fun working together to decorate the tree.
The kids also love having this little tree (which I got a few years ago for $1 at Walmart) in their own room. This year it has this pretty tree skirt that GG got them, so it's even better.
GG also found this great Advent calendar for us, and we are enjoying that new tradition this year. Some days the calendar has candy in it, and some days it has other things. In the Day 2 pocket they found a coupon for a "Christmas Activity," so we worked together to make our annual Christmas chain.
In the past we've always just used plain paper strips for our chain, but they were ready to take it up a notch this year, so we decorated each strip.
Lee Anna was the leader of the strip-decorating efforts. Sawyer decorated a total of one, while she and I did the other 22. Maybe next year we can divide the work more evenly. Sawyer was much more interested in helping with the stapling part of the project (which I did not let him do, since I am not interested in visiting any ERs this holiday season).
They were both proud of the finished product!
And here is one more new tradition we've added this year. I read about this book last year and was able to order a copy while we were in the states. It has 24 pages with a door to be opened on each page. Behind each door is a beautiful illustration with a portion of the Christmas story. The idea is to read each door you've opened every night, up to the door for that day. It's a great, fun way for us to recount the story each night leading up to Christmas.

So this is what we see when we gather at the tree each night before bedtime. It's been a great beginning to a joyful season, and we're enjoying our traditions, old and new (although I may need an Excel document to keep track of whose turn it is to check the calendar, tear off the chain, open the door, and blow out the candle!). Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Where have we been, you ask?

Oh, you know, the usual places... hanging out around some really old rocks...
spending some quality time with Mr. Monkey for SC's 5-month photo shoot...
taking in gorgeous views during a cross-country drive...
sharing the road with camels...
and enjoying a relaxing weekend at the sea.

Just a bit of trivia: the mountains you see in the distance are not our country, but a neighboring one. We were just a stone's throw from three other countries at our vacation spot--pretty cool!

It was great to get away from it all for a few days. However, we realized at the end of our trip that we might need to try to stay in one place for a while. When I told Sawyer that we were going home, he said, "Mommy, which one is our house?" We've moved so much this summer and fall that the poor child doesn't know where he lives!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! We're so thankful for the chance to have adventures like these, and for all of you who are on this journey with us.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Is it Nov. 1 yet?

I am happy to report that our furniture has arrived!It has been an ordeal, but we are thrilled to be finally unpacking all of our suitcases, 34 days after we got here.

Here's a little rundown of our last few days:

Saturday afternoon: Jason calls the furniture company to ask what time they'll be delivering it on Sunday (which he had been told to do). The person on the phone tells him "after 3 p.m."

Sunday, 3:00 p.m.: Nothing.

Sunday, 5:00 p.m.: Jason calls again to see when they will bring the furniture. He is told that the delivery people work till midnight, so it won't be after that.

Sunday, 7:00 p.m.: Jason receives a call from the delivery people saying they will be here at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning.

Sunday, 11:00 p.m.: We go to bed, still furniture-less.

Monday, 6:00 a.m.: Nothing.

Monday, 7:15 a.m.: They show up with the furniture! This is great, but they bring everything in pieces and it's obvious they don't plan on assembling it. Jason asks about this, and they tell him the assembly guy will come later. "When would you like him to come?" Jason tells them 5:00 would be good.

Monday, 5:00 p.m.: Nothing.

Monday, 6:00 p.m.: Jason calls the company, and is told that the assembly guy also works till midnight. Great.

Monday, 9:00 p.m.: Jason decides to go ahead and put our bed together.

Monday, 11:00 p.m.: We go to bed, feeling pretty confident the assembly guy is not coming. We're glad to be on a mattress that's not on the floor for the first time in 3 weeks.

Tuesday, 10:30 a.m.: The assembly guy calls! He says he'll be there at 11:30 or 12. Sure you will, buddy.

Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.: He shows up! Two of them, actually, and they put it all together in an hour and a half. They cannot understand why Jason couldn't wait for them to put the bed together.
As you can see in the pictures, the furniture they brought included all of our bedroom furniture, our dining room table and chairs, and a guest bed. We are pleased with all of it.

You can also see in the first picture why my friend affectionately calls this the "Barney Building." I'm not sure what reason he could have possibly had, but some unknown force compelled the designer of this white building to paint all the window and door frames bright purple. ALL of the windows and doors are that attractive color. However, you'll be glad to know that we do have paint stores here, so we should be able to take care of that once it moves high enough up the priority list. Things are coming together, shwaya shwaya (little by little).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Last Few Days

Here's a little of what we've been up to: We're still waiting on our furniture, but we needed to go ahead and get rid of the patio table we've been eating on, so for the last two days we've eaten our meals at the kids' table. Tomorrow is Furniture Day, so we should get to start sitting in big-people chairs again soon.
And Sarah Claire got so excited about finally getting to be in her crib that she rolled over! I had left her lying on her back, and came back to find her on her tummy examining her crib bumper. She will soon be mobile, which is going to change things for all of us!
And tonight we had a little Halloween fun. Our Ladybug, Care Bear, and Superman were joined tonight by another friend for a little trick-or-treating fun inside our flat. They had a great time, as usual, and will be enjoying their candy for a while. It's hard to believe they've grown so much since this Halloween post last year, or this one the year before that, or this one before that.
And I just had to include a few more pics of Sarah Claire because, well, I'm her mom and this is my blog. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a little Care Bear this precious...at least not since her sister wore this outfit five years ago.

Her other new trick is putting anything and everything she gets her hands on in her mouth. She's just gained enough coordination to actually pull this off consistently, and if I remember correctly, she's going to keep practicing this one for a while. Tonight she spent quite some time trying in vain to get her mouth around the toys on the swing.

And that's what we've been up to.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four Months

Sarah Claire wanted you all to know that even with all the chaos of moving to our new flat, we did manage to get the "Monkey Picture" taken on her four-month birthday. Here she is smiling her best little Princess smile.

And here's a close-up...

And here's what happens if you try to leave a four-month-old in a sitting-up position for more than a few minutes...
She's been sleeping on a mattress on the floor (like the rest of us) since we got to our new place, but today Lee Anna and I got her crib set up (Okay, just to clarify, Daddy actually put the crib together. We just made it cute.) Then Lee Anna entertained her with a puppet show. It was cute.

She's not rolling over yet, but she does roll way over on her side from her back. It won't be long before she makes it all the way over. She's able to reach and grab for things in front of her, and she loves to lie on her play mat and talk to the animals hanging above her. She makes the sweetest little gurgling sounds when she's happy, which is most of the time. She also learned to stick out her tongue this week. Our friend was over and noticed that when she stuck out her tongue, Sarah Claire would stick hers out, too. They did it over and over!

We're so grateful for our precious little princess. We love you , Sarah Claire!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A New Chapter

Today is the beginning of a new chapter for our family--the Home School Chapter! Lee Anna officially began kindergarten today, and we had a great time reading and learning together. I realize it's a little late in the fall to just be starting, but we just got our books unpacked! We're counting on her to be able to catch up.

This was also the beginning of a new chapter for Sawyer--the Going-To-School-Without-Lee-Anna Chapter. This would have been really traumatic for him, I'm sure, if it weren't for the fact that one of his good friends is also at his preschool. He had a good day (at least until the last 15 minutes when his friend left!). Despite the drama at the end of the day, he said he wants to go back tomorrow, so we're grateful!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I am happy to report that we are no longer living in a hotel, and even happier to report that our new living room no longer looks like this...

This is how it looked on Thursday, after the movers delivered all of our stored furniture and belongings---at 4 in the morning!!! My sweet husband had to leave his warm bed at 3:45 a.m. when the mover called to say they would be there in half an hour. He met them at the flat, and they unloaded everything off the truck. So this is what we found when we got there Thursday afternoon. We've had some wonderful helpers and have made much progress, but I don't have any updated pictures yet. This flat was completely unfurnished, so we've also been busily shopping for furniture in the midst of everything else. They delivered our mattresses tonight, so this will be our first night to sleep on something besides an air mattress. The other furniture we've bought should be here in about ten days.

We are exhausted, but relieved to be finally settling somewhere. Tomorrow we might even try to fix a meal here! I'll try to get back soon with more pictures.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The End Is In Sight

As much fun as we have had living in a hotel for two weeks, we are delighted to report that it is almost over! We have found a flat to live in, and we should be able to move in by the end of the week. We had hoped we might be able to move even sooner, but it's going to take a few more days. We had a very productive afternoon today finding furniture for our new home. We still have a few more big holes to fill, but things are coming together, and we are all looking forward to finally settling somewhere.

Keep checking back. Hopefully we'll have some pictures of the new place before too long...and you can find out why our friend calls it "The Barney Building."

Friday, October 09, 2009

Starting Over

Plans have changed a bit since I posted last night. We went to bed thinking we had decided on a flat, but neither of us slept well, and we both got up this morning feeling like that just isn't the right place. It's a nice flat, but not in the area we'd like to live in, so we're going to keep looking. This is an exhausting, discouraging process, so we would appreciate your prayers. Thanks!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Back in the Swing

Well, we made it!

We are safe and sound and almost over our jet lag, six days after arriving in our desert home again. We hit the ground running this time, with lots of people to see, places to go, friends to catch up with, weddings to attend (sort of--more on that later), and oh yeah, a new flat to find.

It's been a long, exhausting week, but we think that we've found a flat! We have a few more things to check on, but hopefully we'll know in a day or two whether this place will work. We hope to be moving in early next week.

Tonight for dinner we decided to order from one of the four restaurants located underneath our hotel. Lee Anna really wanted to have a picnic, but we talked her into just eating on the coffee table instead (see photo above). We finally sat down to eat this meal around 8:45 p.m., and it wasn't even the latest dinner we've eaten this week! We are definitely getting inculturated again.

We've already had some fun "cultural" experiences this week. I'll do my best to get them posted soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Girl on the Go

Somehow, another month has passed already, which means our sweet Sarah Claire is now a three-month-old! She may have had a short life so far, but it's been packed full. She's already been to nine different states (FL, MS, AL, LA, AR, GA, SC, NC, and TX). Not bad for someone who's only been alive for 93 days!
However, she's not content to spend her whole life on this side of the ocean, so we're going to take her on her first transatlantic flight in just a few weeks. Sarah Claire, just don't ever say that we didn't take you anywhere!