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, January 28, 2009

Ready to Read

Our little Sawyer has become quite the bookworm lately. As anyone whose ever had a toddler will understand, we always start to worry if Sawyer gets too quiet. If he's gone more than a few minutes without running down the hall or karate chopping the furniture or knocking something over, it usually means that he's found some kind of quiet mischief to get into. I know it's hard to believe that our sweet, angelic son would ever smear diaper rash cream all over his face or completely unroll several rolls of toilet paper or get into my makeup and put mascara all over his lips, but apparently sometimes being two years old clouds your better judgement.

Lately, though, we've had some pleasant surprises. Sometimes, when we go to investigate why we're not hearing any sounds of toddlerhood in our house, we find our little angel curled up with one of his favorite books. If it's one that we've read frequently before, he's likely to be quietly "reading" it to himself. Otherwise, he'll just sit and slowly flip the pages and study each picture. It's precious to watch. And it doesn't ruin my makeup!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sugar and Spice

Allow us to introduce to you... our precious BABY GIRL!
(Sorry her hands are covering her face. I guess she's a little camera shy.)

We had our second ultrasound today, and the doctor confirmed that, just as Lee Anna predicted, the girls will soon be outnumbering the boys in our family. Everything looked wonderful, and we're still expecting her to make her grand entrance sometime around June 12.
She was VERY active during the ultrasound and kept the sonographer
chasing her around the whole time! I'm sure she won't do that to her
mother once she's born, though (right???).
She may not have given us a clear face shot, but she wasn't shy about letting us see that she's a "she." For those of you who don't look at ultrasound pics often, those are her two thigh bones and rear end, like a picture taken from underneath her looking up.

How incredible to see each little vertebrae. What an amazing Creator!

It won't be long before we're holding this sweet miracle in our arms.
We love you already, Baby Girl!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Twenty Down, Twenty To Go!

We're halfway there! Yesterday marked the midpoint for us in this pregnancy (not that we really know when this baby is going to decide to come, but for now, we're going to assume this child is punctual). Everything has gone beautifully so far, and as you can see, I am looking more and more pregnant as the weeks go by.

Tomorrow we have our second ultrasound, so we will hopefully be able to start calling this baby "he" or "she." Most people said they thought it was a boy after our last ultrasound, but recently everyone has been guessing that it's a girl. I'm just eager to know!

Assuming we have a cooperative baby, I'll be back tomorrow night with the big announcement, so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guess Who Got a Haircut!

Here he is before...and after.
Getting a haircut is not on Sawyer's list of favorite activities, but it helps that he gets to ride the "train" (metro) to get there. He and Daddy made a boys trip to the barber shop tonight, and Daddy managed to keep him in the chair long enough to get the job done. It's nice to have him not looking quite so shaggy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

We are just a few short months away from saying goodbye to our desert home for a while. In March we'll pack up and head back to the states for some time with family and friends and a little rest and relaxation before we welcome our newest Arabmusician in June!

This time of preparing to leave has caused us to think a lot about the home we have here. It has truly become home to all of us. In fact, it's the only place our kids would call home. Lee Anna laughed at me one day recently when I accidentally said we were going "home" in March. She thought I was just confused!

But, as much as this is home now, there are many things we're looking forward to about being in our other "home" for a few months. And, believe it or not, not all of those things are food-related (although I could easily make a whole list of the foods I'm looking forward to eating!).

So, in honor of our upcoming travels, here are my lists of the top ten things I'm looking forward to, and the top ten things I'm going to dearly miss. (Disclaimer to our dear friends and family: Of course I am looking forward to seeing all of you in the states, and am going to sorely miss all of you here. That goes without saying!)

Things I’m Looking Forward To:
1. Thunderstorms.
2. Washing a load of clothes in a half-hour.
3. A dishwasher.
4. Sonny’s BBQ.
5. A backyard. With grass.
6. Chick-Fil-A.
7. Watching fall football games on the TV instead of the computer.

8. Driving across town without once thinking we’re about to get hit.
9. Wearing shorts.
10. Being able to make a recipe using the actual ingredients it calls for, put it in the actual size dish it calls for, and cook it at the temperature it calls for—without having to recalculate anything!

Things I’m Going to Miss:
1. DELIVERY! (from the grocery store, the pharmacy, McDonald's, everywhere!)
2. My housekeeper.
3. Having all my ironing done.
4. Not having to worry about whether it’s “too late” to call someone—there’s no such thing!

5. Starbucks four blocks from my house.
6. Not worrying about gas prices—they’re low and they don’t change from day to day or station to station.

7. Cheap, delicious fruits & veggies.
8. Hearing my kids get excited about passing sheep & donkeys on the street.
9. Making doctor's appointments for the same day.
10. Knowing everything's open late.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

We, the typical proud parents, are pretty impressed with our two-year-old boy and his perceptiveness. He just seems to notice things we don’t expect him to notice. When I took an unusual turn driving home from school yesterday, he asked, “Why we go this way?” But we’re his parents and we’re unabashedly biased (as are most American parents) to think our kid’s a genius.

This evening, however, we got undeniable proof that Sawyer is an exceptionally observant two-year-old (or at least that he's spent a lot of time around sound recording equipment in his two years). We were watching the Fox News coverage of the inauguration online, since we don’t have TV, and explaining to Lee Anna a little bit about the way Americans choose their president every four years. Sawyer saw the new president making his speech and asked, “Why he have two of ‘em?” His English isn’t perfect, but he did notice that on the Presidential Podium there are two microphones. WHAT??? I half expected him to ask if those were Shure SM-57 mics like all the other presidents have used for speeches, but he didn’t go that far.

So I explained to him, as best I could, that the sound techs probably put two mics there just as a back-up, fool-proof system with intentional redundancy so that if one of the mics or its cable had problems transmitting the speech, the other one would keep working and we’d still hear. I’m not sure he was still with me by the end of the sound engineering lesson, but we were impressed nonetheless with Sawyer’s mad observation skills.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More Fun with Grandpa

I had a few more pictures I wanted to share from Grandpa's time with us, so here they are! Grandpa's last day with us also happened to be his birthday, so while he and Jason spent the morning looking at old rocks and stuff at the museum, the kids and I went on a little birthday-goods-gathering trip. We got an ice cream cake and a few small gifts, and we also got this cute little Happy Birthday banner. Lee Anna really did not understand what it was when she saw it in the package, and kept asking me all the way home what we were going to do with it. When we got it unwrapped, though, it all finally made sense, and she very carefully helped me hang it around the table.

In the picture above, the kids are waiting for Grandpa to come in the door. They wanted to yell "Happy Birthday" when he came in. It was cute seeing them so excited, although Sawyer made me wonder more than once if the Happy Birthday banner was actually going to make it until Grandpa got there.
It did, thankfully, and Grandpa loved his birthday surprise. The kids even initiated him into the Stubblefield family tradition of playing Hot or Cold to find your presents. I've mentioned before that they don't really do it very well yet. They mostly just run to the place where the present is hidden and stand there until you "find" it. Sawyer even pulled a few of Grandpa's presents out himself!
The rest of these pics are not birthday-related, but I just wanted to post them for one reason or another. I love this one because it's such a good representation of so much of Grandpa's time here.
And I love this one because it's gorgeous! It was taken on his birthday, from a hill in the middle of the city.
And I love these last two just for the cuteness factor. We haven't taken the kids on several of our recent trips to the pyramids, but we wanted them to visit again before we head back to the states in a few months, so we thought this would be a good time to do that.

I loved this picture of Sawyer sitting on the pyramid. Finally, a rock too big for him to throw! (Although he did find many other smaller rocks to throw while we were out there.)

And this shot of Lee Anna makes me smile. That's my little princess!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Look Who Came To Town!

Grandpa's been here in the desert hanging out with us this week,
and we've had a great time...
once we got him over jet lag, that is!
He's read LOTS and LOTS of books,
played lots of games,

and even managed to see a site or two while he's been here!

It's been a blast, and we'll all hate to see him go. We love you, Grandpa!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Shock and Awe

That's what we felt yesterday when we went to Lee Anna's school for their annual Christmas program (remember Christmas here is celebrated on Jan. 7th). As you may remember from this post and this one, up to this point our daughter has not been one for public performances. She even told me once that they make her "feel sweaty."

So, with the running track record, we didn't have very high expectations for this year's Christmas program. We asked her several times leading up to it if she was going to sing the songs with her class, and she always just grinned, shrugged her shoulders, and said, "I don't know."

Well, from the time her class walked out on the stage yesterday, she was grinning ear to ear, and when they started singing, she sang her little heart out (which is certainly the appropriate way to sing in these parts, as you'll hear in the video!). She even did the motions! Here's a sampling of just one of the many Christmas classics they sang for us yesterday.

I use the term "sang" loosely. Some might classify it as rhythmic yelling. You'll be glad to know that this school is not the primary source for Lee Anna's musical training, nor her English training. In case you can't understand, the words they're singing are:

Once there was a snowman, snowman, snowman,
Once there was a snowman, tall, tall, tall.
In the sun he melted, melted, melted,
In the sun he melted, small, s
mall, small.

When I looked up last year's post to link to it, I noticed that her Daddy wrote, "Alas, she's only three. Maybe next year she'll bust out and sing for everybody."

We just never dreamed she really would.

Merry Christmas Again, Everyone!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Ringing in the New Year Desert-Style

Happy New Year!
We started off our New Year's Day with these fun strawberry pancakes. They were absolutely delicious! Of course, the whole concept of a new year is a bit too abstract for a two- or four-year-old to grasp, much less a year having a number, not to mention a number WAY higher than either of them can count, but funny-shaped pancakes are always exciting, so they loved it!

After our delicious breakfast, we headed out on a little New Year's excursion. Lee Anna has been saying for a long time now that she wants to go out to the desert and run. She saw a video of some friends of hers running in a desert race last spring, and since then she has wanted to do it herself—and mentioned it frequently. So we decided to use this New Year's Day to fulfill a dream for Lee Anna. The kids and Daddy suited up in their Seminole jogging suits (aren't they cute?), and we headed out.
This desert, just at the edge of our part of town, is not the typical sandy-duned area you might picture when you hear "desert." It's full of rocks, which is pretty much as good as gold if you're a two-year-old boy.
I bet he threw hundreds of rocks during our two hours out in the desert. I'm not sure what the appeal is, but it sure made him happy.
Here are Daddy & Lee Anna just starting out on our climb. This desert area is basically two cliffs with a valley winding through them. There's a road carved out through the valley, so you can drive through the area. We parked our car and then decided to try hiking up one of the cliffs. There are paths beaten out, so it's not too difficult a climb, although it did get a little steep and slippery at times.
Here (above) are the kids after we made it to the top. It's hard to tell in the picture just how high up we were, but if you click on it to see the larger version, you might be able to see the little bitty people walking on the road below. We were pretty high!

We had brought a kite with us, thinking that might be a fun desert activity, but the wind was not very cooperative. Lee Anna kept saying that we just must not be very good at flying kites, but we assured her that without wind, no one can fly a kite. We did have a few brief windy spells where the kite took off for a minute or two, but it always ended up diving into the rocks. It was still fun to try.
Here's another shot to show how high up we were. That little spot in the middle of the picture is our car!
When Sawyer got bored with our kite-flying attempts, he just sat down on a little hill and got back to throwing rocks. And yes, Lee Anna did get to have her race. :)
Anybody looking for a granite countertop? It looks like this slab has had a few counters cut out of it. You could get them for considerably cheaper here on this side of the ocean, but fitting one into your luggage might be a little tricky.

We ended our outing by teaching our kids about an indispensible part of American life and culture—the fast food drive-thru. These are almost unheard of where we are, but there is a new Burger King with a drive-thru not too far from the desert where we had been playing. This particular Burger King only has three tables inside (I'm not exaggerating!), so it's pointless to try to go inside and sit down. We opted for the drive-thru, but we were not about to actually let our kids (our ourselves, for that matter) eat their food in the car while we drove down busy streets with too much traffic and too many bumps. So we found a spot right across from Burger King, parked, and had the kids climb in the back of the car for a little picnic. It was a lot of fun, and my Whopper with cheese was delicious!

It was somewhat amusing to us that our kids really did not know how the drive-thru worked. We pulled up to the first window to order, and they both wanted to know who was in that window, what she was doing, and why Daddy was giving her money. Then we pulled up to the second window, and they had a thousand questions about the people inside, how they knew what food to bring us, and when they were going to give it to us.

Just a reminder of how very different their childhoods are from our own. They may not know the finer points of purchasing a drive-thru meal, but they know about North African countries I had never heard of until I was an adult, speak a second language impressively well, and almost daily pass historical sites that people travel from all over the world to see. I'd say they're doing just fine.