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 21, 2010

Don't Play with Matches

Almost every weekend, our neighbor across the street rakes up the leaves from his yard and burns them off. Well, evidently, he let one get away from him a couple of weeks ago. It started for us when we heard some shouting out in the street. I walked out on the balcony to see if there was a fight or someone selling something that was worth buying, or some other excitement.

From my balcony I could feel the heat of the fire. We're five stories up, and the flames were almost at eye level! A friend had left his car parked outside our house while he was traveling, so I ran down to move it away from the action. After I did, the fire truck came and parked right where that car had been and the firemen started unrolling hoses.

The truck is parked behind the trees to the left in this picture.

They unrolled the hose, and one of the firemen held the end of the hose up and got ready to spray. They opened the valve on the truck and… Do you see what’s happening here? The truck is to the left, still, and the water is gushing out on the ground. Seems someone forgot the all-important step of connecting the hose to the truck before opening the valve!

They did eventually get it all hooked together and got the fire under control. The protective layer of water also kept the street from burning up, I guess. The neighbor has erected a bamboo fence to replace the big arbor hedge he burned up. Two weeks later, every time we ride by that fence, Sawyer still says, “Look! That’s where the fire was!!”

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Don't Be a Lazy Cow!

(a guest post by Jason)
I am blissfully ignorant of the processes involved in dairy farming and milk production. I know it involves cows and…well, that’s all I really know. I’ve often wondered what the skimming process is like. I’m picturing a big screen-type device that you run across the top of the fresh milk and gather up big chunks of creamy stuff. The problem with this theory is that in our “full cream” or “whole” milk, there aren’t any big chunks of creamy stuff to skim off the top. You can imagine me sitting at breakfast every morning for the past 30 years or so, wondering how that works.

Well, thanks to a local milk producer, I have finally figured it out! Skim milk comes from healthy, skinny cows, and full cream milk comes from fat, lazy cows! Look at the pictures that greet us every morning from the newly-designed milk bottles!
I just wonder if these cows look anything like the fat cows and skinny cows that Pharaoh dreamed about.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Have Scalpel, Will Travel

You know those get-to-know-you games you play in a new group where you have to tell a strange, unknown fact about yourself? Well, I have a new one: I've had surgery in a hotel room!

It all started about three weeks ago. I chipped off part of my big toenail, and within a week it was ingrown and red and really hurt to walk on. So I called our local medical clinic and explained what I needed. The receptionist told me she didn't understand the phrase "ingrown toenail," so I explained in my best Arabic--my toenail is growing into my toe. "Oh, you need a dermatologist." No ma’am, I think I need a podiatrist. “Okay, you can see the dermatologist tomorrow at 5:00.”

Meanwhile, we had heard about a medical group visiting our town to do some volunteer clinics. So we made a phone call and found that there was an experienced, American surgeon in town who would be happy to look at my toe. Just meet him at their hotel at 12:30. They’d be having an early lunch, but needed to leave at 1:00 for their first clinic.

We met Dr. Bill Bailey at about 12:15. He was kind and friendly, and said he’d done a bunch of toes like this. I lay down on a twin bed, and he started taking medical stuff out of a suitcase!

I have a low threshold for pain. A very low threshold, I think. I generally just try to avoid anything that might hurt. But my toe had been hurting enough already that I was willing to lie down and let him stick the needle into my foot.

In the next picture, you might notice a camera phone really close to the action. A good friend of mine volunteered to hold my hand so that Beth could be free to hold Lee Anna, who was in the room but a little shaken up to see Daddy getting hurt. I think he wanted to be there to hold my hand just so he could be close enough to get a good video!

When it was all over, Dr. Bill wrapped it up real good, and we hobbled on home. It’s pretty well healed up now, though I did enjoy a couple of recovery days in the recliner.

So it wasn’t open-heart surgery or even removing my appendix, but I really have had surgery in a hotel room. Thanks Dr. Bill!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hittin' the Books

School Season has begun for our little Arab Musicians, and we've had a fun first week of learning together! Sawyer is still going to his local preschool every day, but we're also doing some other activities and lots of reading together when he gets home. So far he really loves that he has his own school time with me. We'll see if the novelty wears off!
And Lee Anna is now a first grader! Here we are all ready to go on our first morning.
She's had a great time with her first grade work this week, although she did observe that it's "a little bit harder than kindergarten." I think she's up for the challenge.
One of the fun things she's doing this year is learning to type. I was a little older than six when I took typing, but it's a different world now. She'll be typing better than her Papaw before long!
This last picture has nothing to do with school, but I couldn't resist putting it up. Sarah Claire has got some serious peach fuzz hair these days, and on the day we took this photo it was particularly fuzzy. I am confident that one day it will start laying down like regular hair, but there's no indication it's going to change any time soon.
We've also had some medical adventures this week, which I will try to post sometime soon. Stay tuned!