Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Screen!

We have really enjoyed being able to make use of the newly improved broadband in Beirut to enable us to have video calls with family members in other countries.  Routing these calls through to the television brings on a rather Star Trek-ish impression of the process.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


If my daughter doesn't want her picture taken, asking her to smile will not produce the results I had in mind...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daylight savings time

This morning, my wife dreamed the alarm clock had already gone off and got the whole house out of bed half an hour early.  Good practice for daylight savings time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kids Quote

Last night, Star came up to me while I was watching sports, scooted up next to me and said:

"I like watching Rugby.  It's like roughhousing, but as a game!"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I'm not sure it works like that...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Best Activity Box EVER!

A new book, Beirut's awesomeness and the kindness of strangers all came together into the best activity box we have ever had. At a book launch for the hilarious Lebanese Driving Manual, I was able to pick up the newly-available in English "Excavating Beirut" (I only have an image of the English cover). We enjoyed reading it so much, that I decided to create an activity box lesson around the idea.

One of the fortunate things about Beirut is the easy access to loads of history. Phoenician, Canaanite, Egyptian colonial, Hellenistic and Roman are all easily available. As is my habit, the themes of the activity tend to get thrown together about five minutes before departure. In this case, my inspiration was that I could take one of our terracotta pots, decorate it with period markings and hide it in the destination site... I grabbed a Phoenician alphabet lexicon and quickly wrote my best approximation of the word "Beirut" in Phoenician.

I later found out that Phoenician is a right-to-left language, so I got it backwards. Oh well =)  A dishtowel and hammer later, and our genuine imitation artifact was ready. I also grabbed some modern coins as accessory items.

Thanks to google maps, you can see our destination here:

This is right next to the modern constructions of downtown Beirut, and makes quite a contrast.

We started out looking at the sarcphoagi, pillars, stones and carvings that are stored in a kind of staging area at the entrance of the site. My goal was to take the kids through the different time periods at the site to help them recognize what criteria can be used to date the artifacts.

It was such a surprise to stumble upon an actual digg taking place. Apparently, at this part of the site, an outstanding example of Phonecian relics has been discovered. Of course, there were layers on top of it going all the way back up to Byzantine so there was quite a lot of work to be done. We could get rather close to the edge of the site, so I used it as an opportunity to show the girls how the digg matched the pages in their book. They were really excited to see how it matched up to real life.



Apparently, the girls had their charm levels on high, because we attracted the attention of the archaeologists at the site. They were so kind to us! They took us around the dig, explained what they were doing and really made it come alive for the kids. They were so professional and courteous.  At the end they offered to take a family picture of us. Of course, the kids have perfected their tactical looking-away-at-the-wrong-moment technique.

After this experience, MA distracted them for a few moments, while I snuck back to the main site and hid our artifacts under the gravel path. This made for a fun moment of discovery when the kids realized that they had a dig of their own to explore. We tried laying out a grid and using proper procedures, but that didn't work as well as I would have liked. In any case, it was loads of fun.

After we finished our dig, the kids were very excited to '...follow the directions in the book..." and reconstruct our pot. On the way back, we visited a Roman bath site so the kids had the full time period flow for the last 4,000 years or so.

After that, a bit of refreshment to emphasize the important of having a properly equipped expedition.

After arriving back home, we set about restoring our find. I handled the glue and the kids decided where the pieces should go. Because Dandelion is very good at puzzles, this worked out quite well.


For the final stage, we translated the Phoenician letters back to Beirut to date our artifact and put it in context.

 Star wrapped it up well with her declaration : "This was the best activity box ever!"