Heart and soul heart and soul
Mindless fury takes its toll
Live to please
just play my role
Heart and soul heart and soul
Mindless fury takes its toll
Live to please
just play my role
It has been awhile since I posted and I have missed my dear friends here! A whirlwind of cooking still continues and I am focusing on my project! I will try to post once a week and catch up as I go! Here is an update from Idaho:
In a room well-hidden
I stood inside a box
Corners of seclusion
Marked only by his thoughts
Bow down and own your choices
Senses meld to grey
Peace for one more day
These days have been spent; washing dishes, mixing meatballs, stirring sauce, whipping cream, adding spices, mixing dough, more dishes and quickly jotting more directions and fine tuning ingredients. My son purchased some items to make photography easier and so snapping pictures repeatedly has also been part of my daily routine. I am practicing and my kids are helping me out so for now more cooking, testing recipes and more snapping photos. I hope you are all well and I will be catching up this week.
I know my way around the kitchen but not so much around taking pictures of food! So I will take stacks of photos and in the end we will sort through them and start over if need be! Thanks for your patience while I work on this project!
I am back on track, working on my cookbook and on alternate days putting my real life story together. My goal is to test all recipes for the book during the month of January.
February will be the month of more testing by my family and friends and a constant effort of writing and editing recipes, taking pictures and deciding which dishes are truly suited for this book.
The other day as I chopped onions and garlic, peeled sweet potatoes and pulled together a fragrant red curry, Sumaya stood watching and listening to my back and forth reasoning regarding the cookbook. I told her that this seemed like part of my legacy and something that I wanted to complete. Thirty five years spent stirring sauces, adding spices, visiting neighbors to watch them cook and inviting people into my home for meals and to take part in my culinary adventures. Delivering trays lined with cream puffs, lemon bars and decadent chocolate tidbits. Taking informal lessons on Moroccan Couscous, Indian curries and Palestinian Maclube. Afterall it felt as if my children had been raised in the kitchen and had become amazing home cooks in their own right. She nodded her head, her shiny manicured nails gripping a mug of curry topped with a large spoon of yogurt. She smiled and clicked her fingertips on the glass counter and then asked me one simple question, “What would you give to have a book of your grandmother Elva’s recipes?” And with her words I gathered new motivation to work on my legacy.
As you may have noticed I basically took an unofficial winter break! We spent a merry holiday away from home for a few days where we enjoyed time with the little ones, their parents as well as my mom and dad.
We arrived on Sunday and got the girls settled in at my folks house, then headed to Osama and Jacki’s.
Aiden and Bennett opened their gifts and so did Alayna. The boys insisted on helping with construction of their tee-pee and Alayna showed more interest in helping than playing with her stuffed animal. Who can blame her?
Auntie Foof and Uncle Ben showed up with more gifts and soon after Great Grandma and Grandpa came with the girls. Siblings hung out and then it was time to cook. Fattima, Sumaya and Deeja all helped their brother with his food preparation while I took my place on the comfy couch playing with the precious little ones.
The meal was amazing; perfectly steamed chicken that was finished with a pan frying to crisp it up, topped with a light sauce, homemade pasta and a crisp flavorful salad, yumm! Of course Jacki was in the kitchen helping, watching her babies and interacting with this lively group!
I’d like to say identical twins are no match for Gaga but they do keep me on my toes! Meanwhile Alayna is in the thick of things making her presence known!
The next day we went out to grab donuts and coffee and the day of Christmas eve began!
After the babies were snugly tucked into bed, Santa came and delivered their gifts.
Santa and her helpers were quite good at their job and once again I relaxed and watched it all unfold.
When morning came I heard the boys talking, then Daddy and Mom went in to get them and the fun began!
Numerous photos were taken but it was obvious that this would be a challenging effort and we decided “real” was better anyway!
Gifts were both practical and fun, children were grateful and parents exhausted. The next stop was Great Grama and Grampa’s on our way out of town. Brunch was served along with more gifts.
As always it was a memorable event!
Happy new year!
Lights strung on trees illuminate the darkness of Christmas Eve morn. Stockings line the railing and all is surely calm. Moments are spent waiting for angelic voices to call out, prompting a rush up the stairs to gather and bundle.
This is an ongoing story recounting our first year back in America. There are three parts that can be found on my menu page.
Fight flight or freeze were words we all knew well. There was never a place to seek refuge in Saudi and fighting might have meant dire circumstances and so the mode of coping was usually freeze. Fighting only ensued when the children were involved and a demeanor of reason, reminders of religious principles and finally a stance of locked rebellion meant that the worst would not come to pass. Battles were picked according to priority which meant safety, basic needs and issues regarding personal liberation but I held firm when it came to my children. I was well versed in the operation of pick and chose, making sure that every decision took its place, stacked upon years of training, seasoned with fear.
The first grade teacher’s voice was no longer sweet and calm but had taken a turn towards dry resolve. She remarked that my son was clearly not ready for school and that it would be better if he did not return. Her heels clicked on the patterned floor as she marched the other students to the door to line up. We walked to the brightly painted cubby and collected a single backpack, hoodie and lunch bag. No words were spoken and a sense of defeat hung heavy as we unlatched the wooden gate that lead to the apartment parking lot. My three other children who had attended the first day of school also remained silent and the unremarkable yet familiar feeling of dread lagged shortly behind us.
Fattima stood at the ready stirring homemade sauce that bubbled and spattered, leaving red dots on the yellow tinted 70’s stove. She started to ask how it had gone but stopped when she saw my face and instead plated meals and grabbed backpacks. Mom and Dad’s hand me down lake table was opened and chairs positioned near the slider so that the meal could begin. It was a tight fit but the table brought back cheery thoughts of carefree days spent in the paddle boat, laying on the dock and roasting marshmallows. As each one finished they trudged into the tiny living room and plopped onto the couch.
It was clear that Heme was not going back to school, there was no option given and it was not worth the fight. It was almost a relief to keep him with me as his name had been mentioned and the idea that he should be returned to his father where he belonged. No other child was discussed but a message was clearly sent through a mediator that my youngest child belonged back in Saudi.
Saturday afternoon a shiny, new stove arrived at my front door! The other stove was only nine years old but had seen much wear and tear, burners refused to turn off and heated up randomly and recently a buzzing noise from inside started catching the attention of my children. Still, I was so very grateful to have a stove as many people do not.
If you have followed my blog and life story then you already know that I cooked on a stove that was purchased from a flea market of sorts in downtown Riyadh. Two of the four burners functioned and both shocked me if I used any metal utensils. We lived with no beds, chairs, tables etc. for a couple of years and with the very bare necessities when we lived outside of compounds. My parents supplied any luxury items for our family (new towels, clothing, shoes, kitchen gadgets, toys) and we fought to hang on to those. We have all learned to be grateful for the smallest of things and realize material items cannot bring happiness, but they can make life very difficult when you do not have even the basics.
I was raised in a beautiful home on six sprawling acres of pine trees and never imagined living without the basics and also the many extras that I had become accustomed to. I was unaware of the insidious cycle of abuse until it swallowed me whole and spit me back out.
But now things are different and my children are allowed to make their own choices and to be who they were meant to be.
Meanwhile, I sit in my comfy recliner and sip coffee while visions of jelly roll, sugar cookies and fried rice dance in my head. Thoughts drift to concoctions that will be whipped up on a brand new stove!
Happy Holidays and remember that things can get better, there is always hope!
Almost two weeks ago I received the honor of having three special guests arrive!
I was confident that it would be quite easy to keep up with my friends in blogging world and of course there were many photos and stories to share!
After all, Grama had a special helper this time who agreed to spend her days changing diapers, playing games, chasing twins through the house and caring for a little princess.
Cooking, baking and crafts commenced as the three little babies were snug at Grama’s house. Meanwhile Mother and Father were off on a family adventure that had been planned for a year. They were now sad about leaving their babies but were assured that everything would be fine!
Days were spent laughing, cooking, baking and doing crafts, all with their aunts and uncles.
Days ticked by until the first little one got a stomach virus, followed by his brother, then his aunt (the helper) and eventually his youngest uncle. Grama tended to sick babies, scrubbing and wiping. Care was given in the form of hugs, fluids and watchful eyes. At last everyone seemed well and low and behold six days had quickly passed. Plans to go to the science center, play place and other Christmas events had been dashed. Auntie Fon Fon and her trusty helper Ben managed a trip to a local town hosting a Christmas extravaganza.
Mom and Dad sent photos of their out and about time
Grama and Alayna were home alone and so it was time for a photo shoot.
Auntie Fon Fon took the boys to a local play place that proved to be total fun and will be a destination in the future.
Meals were eaten at their new table
Babies were tucked into bed
And finally day nine arrived and it was time to say goodbye. Mommy and Daddy finished their adventure.
Bags were packed, wash was done and final moments were shared.
Blogging had long since been given up on and Grama was sure that everyone would understand. Special moments like these don’t come around all the time.
Happy holidays everyone!
I like to sit and listen
to watch the world go round
no movement or emotion
just silence falling down
see one stolen moment
and then I capture two
nothing but enchantment
my sacred rendezvous
This weekend was spent playing catch up on household work, scheduling as well as cooking. I am a list type of person and if you don’t know what that means I will enlighten you. There are menus, daily lists, hourly schedules, agendas and an assortment of variations in between. My mother has always been organized and everything is planned to the letter while I am more of a loose planner. Having spent the past 32 years keeping a household of nine children in order there have been numerous concessions with my obsessive planning and I have learned that nothing is written in stone, concrete or even sand. Lists serve more as a reminder of important things that need my attention and they keep our world in fairly good order. So this weekend and even today I am tweaking my schedule, knowing full well that it is always “tentative at best”.
For Black Friday my oldest children gave me some money to go shopping and I ended up purchasing a new camera. It has a zoom lens and I have always wanted one! I am excited to start watching tutorial videos so that I can be familiar with my new camera and learn the details of how to take truly amazing photos.
As I mentioned last week, I am embarking on a new journey and one that means a great deal to me. I have started testing my recipes and will add tips, adjust ingredients and measurements where needed and of course, shoot new photos. The book will be in color and will have a picture of each dish after preparation is complete. My middle child has encouraged this project and cooks from my blog often, so he has offered to test each recipe and add suggestions for tips and directions. I loved working on the poetry book and now am excited for this new adventure.
Yesterday I made sambusa or cheese pillows as my mother nicknamed them years ago on her annual trips to Saudi. They are a delicious pastry, filled with a mix of ricotta, feta and mozzarella cheese. I posted my recipe on the blog a couple of years ago and instead of the traditional deep frying we opted to bake these delectable little morsels. The kids have been asking for them for months and so yesterday I rolled up my sleeves and made a double batch. This time I fried them much to everyone’s delight.
We also decorated the tree that Mom and Dad gave us as they have now chosen to scale down once again. We removed the lights, added our decorations from last year and placed our smaller tree downstairs.
Overall it was a quiet and relaxing weekend spent around the house reviewing pictures from Thanksgiving and preparing for the month ahead!
Thanks to everyone who participated in my giveaway and those of you who purchased, liked and reviewed my book. The final drawing was done and the last winner is Brigid of Watching the Daisies
Please send me your mailing address so that I can get this book off to you Brigid!
I am currently working on a cookbook and trying to keep editing my real life story as well. I go back and forth with the real life story and kind of give up but then hear of other people who are suffering and as I have been told by many I do have a voice and can speak out. So, hopefully I will be able to complete it and maybe switch back and forth between these two ideas taking the pressure off.
Have a great Saturday and I had to share these photos of little princess Alayna. She has a great deal of hair that is long and curly and in the morning it can be quite wild. Mom and Dad put a cute bow or make a little ponytail on top of her precious head but early one morning when I woke up with her it was natural and untamed! She is such a doll!
Bad hair day?
This is the story of our first year back in America, other installments can be found here:
A sharp buzzing pressed in my ear waking me from a restless sleep. It was time to rouse one of the girls, spoon coffee into a filter and pour a pot of water into the reservoir. Thoughts of school and the day before held a nagging place in my gutt. The sad little figure that lay sprawled in the grass amongst students and helpers remained fixed in my memory. I had overlooked the possibility that this was my youngest child and instead a mask of denial coated my brain leaving it in an unrealistic fog. But after his sister sat beside him taking her place in a stance of not so much concern but possibly comfort, it was clear that things would not be as easy as I had hoped. My focus turned to the thought that there were only two more weeks of the paper route and then a new routine would take shape; no more nights spent wrapping bundles, sorting orders and jumping out to deliver to each and every home. Cooking for the co-op, cleaning once a week at a building and the odd sub job assured me that we could keep afloat and each time mom and dad visited they unloaded boxes of bread, croissants, peanut butter, canned vegetables and chicken, candy, school snacks and staples. Provisions were hauled into the apartment, stacked on the kitchen floor and put into cupboards. I watched as hot coffee dripped into the carafe and pushed away the idea that I was truly at fault but still I couldn’t help but wonder if leaving Saudi was for the best. I heard his words ring through my ears triggering shooting pangs of guilt to my core. “You are torturing me and the children with your stubborn and unhappy ways, you have become one of those women that I hate”
I walk the road of no regrets
Dirt scuffed shoes and poplar leaves
Fallen heroes grieve for me
Womankind stacked at my feet
Her voice calls out in unison
I sing in tandem heart bereaved
The chime says no regrets for me
A wasted form of liberty
This past week was somewhat of a blur and flurry, guests arriving, shifting, cooking, cleaning and finally everyone packed up and made their way back to their homes. Yesterday afternoon the last of my children headed back home and now the house is relatively empty. The house is still a bit messy and today will be my big weekly clean up which means an all day effort of moving furniture, sweeping, scrubbing and finally everything will be back in place, shiny and routine.
Last Tuesday morning I cleaned the house, made guest beds, moved furniture around to accommodate our large family and stocked the pantry with basics.
Wednesday was spent baking and waiting for my kids to arrive. I worked on my contribution to the dessert table with a turtle cheesecake.
I did my last minute jobs to ensure that our house was once again ready to be bursting with the usual antics, and soon after Yusuf and Alicia came driving up in their brand new electric car. I am assuming in years from now the grandkids will look back and laugh at us oldies who were amazed by a car that needed to be plugged in and charged at few and far between supercharger stations!! The next order of business was a spin in the vehicle and a return home to get settled in.
My middle child flew into Spokane late Monday and insisted on chauffeuring Grama and Grampa to our home on Wednesday. Meanwhile Saleeha and Edison would arrive around midnight, Osama, Jacki and kids made their way to Fattima and Ben’s that day around 3 and eventually everyone ended up at the family home for pizza and of course this included, home repairs, playing games, wrestling matches and some time for chatting.
That night my middle child picked up the engaged couple at our tiny local airport and everyone settled in.
After a good night’s sleep it was time to head over to Fattima and Ben’s for breakfast and precious moments were spent with the whole family. All nine of my children were in one place and it was just like old/new times.
Babies were put down for naps, cars were loaded and it was time for the days festivities to begin. This year I took charge and made sure things stayed on a loose schedule and it went fairly well. The family picture was scheduled for 12:30 and although everyone hemmed and hawed they knew I would not take no for an answer! I started with a picture of my parents and all of my children.
Jacki and I switched places as photographer
Eventually Heme’s friend came over and took a photo of the whole group
Cooking commenced and a whirlwind of pans, dishwashers and dryers, oven overloaded with food, turkey and stuffing, shepherd’s pie and sweet potato au gratin, spinach salad, smashed potatoes and rolls were all served promptly at 3:00 p.m.
After dinner everyone pitched in and cleaned up following the jobs list to the letter. Dessert was the only thing that occurred out of order and a line that formed behind the cheesecake was inevitable. I really liked the recipe and only made a few changes, some of the batter for the cheesecake was mixed with caramel sauce and a portion was mixed with chocolate, marbling it with the plain cheesecake. I chose to make a chocolate ganache and topped that with caramel sauce and pecans.
Our white elephant was the best ever and my gifts were stolen numerous times, specialty candy and a puzzle of Seattle, a stack of scratch tickets, VR headset and a holiday tin of popcorn and finally I ended up with outdoor led light torches for the yard. The other gifts included; a tortilla press, a digital cooking thermometer, gift basket from the World market, snowman cookie jar, tiny pool table and candy and too many others to list.
Games, cards and movies were watched, babies carted around and general family time shared.
Cars were packed, bags loaded and slowly each family and individual went back to their place of residence leaving our cozy little household of only 4. I think Alayna expresses our sentiment in splendid fashion with no words!
This Thanksgiving I was encouraged to take charge once again and so I found my rhythm and my place as the head of household.
Blessings to all and thankfulness for every day!
Our house is still hopping with activity but wanted to say hi and let you know the name of the third winner of the book giveaway. I will keep everyone in the drawing please let me know if you have interest and I will put your name in for the fourth and final week. My book arrived safely to Clive Cliveblogs and this week I will mail the second copy to Annika https://annikaperry.com/
This weeks winner is:
Lynn from Lynn thaler
Thank you for entering!
For the next 48 hours my paperback book will be on a special black friday sale!
I hope this helps for those who want to purchase it as a holiday gift! In addition to this sale, my ebook will still be free for the next few days.
Happy holidays from our family to yours!
From my dear friend Gail, thanks so much!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Appetizers to Desserts: Nigella Seed Cheesies! One of the benefits of making friends in the blogosphere is meeting other foodies who share the same love of cooking….and eating! This recipe comes directly to you courtesy of Lyn at https://lynzrealcooking.com/2015/10/28
She posted this wonderfully cheesy snack and it went viral! Because it is called “Cheesies”, you can use a wide variety of cheese options, including your own personal favorites. Thanks, Lyn!
NIGELLA SEED CHEESE BITES
Ingredients for Dough:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter, softened
1-8 ounce Neufchâtel cheese, room temperature
Ingredients for Filling:
2 cups Nigella seed string cheese
1/2 cup Colby cheese, finely shredded
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine Neufchâtel cheese and butter. Mix well. Add flour and stir until smooth. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for one hour. Remove and divide into four equal-sized balls. Roll one ball at a time…
View original post 80 more words
It is the day before Thanksgiving and as I sit under the red blanket from mom, lights from our first small Christmas tree cast a shimmer on the window. Thoughts of previous years run through my mind, children, grand babies, turkey, game tournaments and also anxiety.No one is up yet and as usual my 3:30 wake up comes and goes without notice. Hot steaming coffee is enjoyed from a large Christmas mug and a calm silence once again highlights the living room and kitchen clocks that keep time with a back and forth ticking pattern.
This has become my time, early morning starlight, fog, frost and glory. Some days I wonder what progress has really been made and then in quiet moments like this I remember and remind myself it is the little things that can ultimately turn out to be the quite large things.
I was once a valiant fighter and keeper of household peace and at times a stone monument unwavering and bold. Diapers, school trips, no electricity, no beds, mix batter, fold laundry, smile and breathe. In what seemed like a mere blink, I found myself reduced to a child like state, unable to manage the tiniest of tasks. But now a rebuilding and knowledge that I can move on and begin again has truly taken hold and for that and so many other things I am grateful.
I am thankful for:
1. My faith
2. My family; children and their partners, my parents, my three grand babies, my sister, nieces and nephews, my special cousin/sister, brother in laws, extended family.
3. Each child of mine and their heroic efforts to live and breathe in freedom. To love me without conditions or expectations. My heart and soul!
4. My mother and mentor who taught me to be my best no matter what.
5. My father who gave me courage and the strength to be me.
6. My sweet grand babies who have helped me to heal and have brought a new sense of purpose to my life and their amazing mommy who accepts me for the Grama that I am.
7. My friends who have encouraged and supported me
8. The ability to cook meals unhindered by anxiety for the most part.
9. Gorgeous nature God has put before me on a daily basis.
10. Being able to walk and exercise.
11. A significant reduction in anxiety and panic, good physical and mental health.
12. Overcoming an eating disorder that was part of the abuse cycle.
13. Having a home.
14. Having food, clean water and medical care.
15. Realizing I cannot be and am not perfect and neither are my family and friends.
16. publishing a book.
17. For my daughter’s marriage and her very special husband.
18. An engagement and upcoming wedding for my eldest daughter and her wonderful beloved.
19. Last but certainly not least, getting to spend special time with my lovely sister, mom and dad again as a little family unit!
One foot and then the next builds a path to freedom.
The last day of school was Friday and now the kids have a week long break. This makes them happy and also brings me great joy as well. A menu has been posted, clean up jobs listed and the traditional family photo is scheduled.
Everyone will trickle into town over the next few days and guests will be divided between the newlyweds home and my house.
A competition over who has the best white elephant gift will inevitably continue from last year and a trophy that was fashioned for only one winner will be held in the highest regard! Meanwhile I will fawn over grandbabies, take the family picture and try to keep things on track in a loose but firm fashion. In other words, I am ready!
This weekend I made chocolate zucchini bread/cake and it was delicious! Moist, rich and decadent are the words I would use to best describe this cake. I am thinking of ways to change it so it is healthier and when I do, you will be the first to know!
Fattima and Ben popped over to share our special Cougar gold cheese from Ferdinands on the W.S.U. campus. She made cheesies and I made chicken strips. https://lynzrealcooking.com/recipes-2/appetizers/cheesies/
After getting a few groceries I had the pleasure of being waited on by my gorgeous daughter. What could be better? She also made peppermint bark which turned out well.
More decorations were placed around the house and finally I just threw up my hands and announced that is was time for Christmas!
This is the second week of my poetry book giveaway! I stopped by the local post office on Tuesday and sent my first book winner his autographed copy and now this week we have a new winner! Last week the winner was Clive from Take It Easy.
After rummaging around in my hat for a few seconds, I picked out the second name and the winner of my new poetry book. Congratulations to dear friend, Annika from
Please message me with your mailing address and I will get the book off next week! All of the names that have been put in the hat will remain there for the next two drawings. If you have interest in entering, please let me know in the comments section!
My book is available on Amazon
I edged closer to the tiny parking spot that stood above Frat row. It was a cement slab just big enough to accomodate a large vehicle but still unnerved me each time I navigated onto the platform. Plastic bags were grabbed in batches and hauled over the rugged path and into the door of the old brick building. It was grocery day and that meant unloading and preparing a “fast food” meal including plenty of variety for those with dietary restrictions. I stuffed bags inside of each other forming a large ball of sacks that would be used for trash bags at a later time. Several packs of ground beef were placed into a large skillet and stirred, smashing them into smaller bits. The familiar sound of sizzling and the smell of taco meat would soon bring girls into the kitchen. Soos, Heme and Deeja made themselves busy with coloring books and crayons, cards and stickers. They placed themselves at a wooden table just outside the kitchen where residents would soon sit after dishing up their last meal for the day. Sullen faces stared blankly at my workstation and I knew that our discussion regarding school had still left them confused and fearful.
That day we had walked through the rickety wooden gate and into the school yard that lead to a side door. I kissed each one goodbye and delivered them to their respective classrooms, leaving my youngest for last. We had been to see the teacher days before and although she was inexperienced, she was also bubbly, kind and understanding. I was sure that everything would go as planned and so I walked with an air of confidence and pride. We reached a brightly colored door that said Welcome to first grade. Other students sat at standard desks and tables, hanging hoodies and jackets on a coat rack, backpacks were shoved into cubbies and parents waved their goodbyes. The teacher nodded her head as if to tell me that it would be fine and it was time to leave. I gave a quick wave and returned the same way I had entered, leaving the wooden gate and parking lot behind.
From the upstairs window I scanned the school playground hoping to catch a glimpse of at least one of my four children. The recess bell rang and with it a massive exit from the side door of the one story school. Children carried balls and toys and quickly started in with their mid day break from books and lessons. A tiny figure stood alone in the large grass area, a hood tightly wrapped around the shiny hair of what appeared to be a small child. A stark contrast became unsettling as he crouched near the brightly colored playground equipment looking from side to side and finally giving in to tears. Classmates ran, laughing and giving chase, engaging in childish games that only youngsters play. Their smiles and shrieks of glee only heightened as activities progressed into throwing, catching and eventually climbing onto a metal structure. I watched him cover his face, firmly placing it into the school yard grass until a familiar figure with dark brown hair placed herself next to him and gave him the company he longed for.
Can I be me
Am I that free
Answer to no one
Live in the moment
Smile while you’re laughing
Stand running forward
Chair near the wall
Rug in a corner
Walk through a puddle
Not get in trouble
Joy now reflected
Talk at the table
Say words that matter
No mindless clatter
Dust covered shelf
Volumes of life
Marked with a pen
Climb to the top
Stand on the mountain
Having a large family means keeping busy at all times. There are very few moments when the phone isn’t ringing or someone isn’t asking for food, socks or just advice. I love being a mom, it has been the best career ever and lasts a life time. Five of my kids still live near me or with me in the house, three live several hours away and of course Osama, Jacki and babies are near enough to pop over easily.
This weekend was spent putting up decorations, taking walks and cooking. I tried a couple of new recipes and unfortunately forgot to take pictures. I have slowly set out little Holiday bits and pieces over the past few weeks. The kids know how I feel about Christmas and notice these small changes. They grin, possibly mutter or maybe even humm a bit of seasonal music, knowing that there is much more to come. It is clear that once the leaves start their annual turn, holiday season is upon us.
This weekend I saw via snapchat that Jacki had already put up an artificial tree soon to be followed by a second real one. Therefore, I felt that permission was given for me to also bring out my first little tree from three years ago or that was my justification to the kids!
Mom and Dad’s village houses went up.
As well as my Christmas angel
And other decorations from years gone by
A walk in 23 degree weather was definitely brisk and although no snow has fallen it is in our forecast! Meanwhile the lavender that I cut back two months ago, is once again blooming! It is always amazing to me that plants show such resilience.
Fattima and Ben came over for a visit Saturday evening and joined us for dinner, cards and the usual loud antics. Fattima went to the bathroom and her brother pushed everyone on the couch, into the hall, blocking her exit. She climbed over and placed herself directly over her younger siblings! This is quite typical of our household.
Four youngest kids sitting nicely before they were pushed down the hall!
I sat in the comfy recliner that my middle child purchased for me on his last visit! I decided I was much too settled and relaxed to remove myself to take a picture! Yes it is that soft and comfortable!
It was a nice, calm weekend spent around our little University town. Frost covered fields and our deck railing, sunsets melded into a frigid sky and thoughts of this year’s festivities surely danced in our heads!
My prayers and thoughts go out to those affected by recent tragedies. I pray for peace!
Last week I started a four week book giveaway. I put the names of those who entered into a hat and drew one name. Those who entered and have not been chosen will be in the drawing for the remaining weeks of the contest. If you have interest in this giveaway just let me know in the comments section.
The first winner of my new book is, Clive from Take It Easy
Congratulations Clive, please contact me with your mailing address!
Any review of my book on amazon would be greatly appreciated!
Several of my friends as well as acquaintances in Riyadh had departed without their children in tow, returning to various locations around the globe. While the choice to leave appeared to be voluntary none of us knew the circumstances that had lead to their decision. Marriages that had fallen apart, abuse and the inability to legally remove youngsters from the country resulted in little ones who were left behind. Memories of dear friends separated from their toddlers as well as teenagers were still fresh in my mind and so the tiny window that gave a view from the walkway into our apartment had been spray painted and covered by a piece of printer paper. Although we had made it back home, the idea of losing my children kept anxiety out of control for years to come.
Summer faded into Fall and a routine that was oddly familiar took shape. The tiny townhouse had come together with furniture that had been procured from the Union Gospel mission as well as odds and ends from mom and dad’s wood house. An alarm buzzed and prodded until we climbed out of bed and readied ourselves for the first day of school. There were no more long trips with a driver and the past few years of homeschooling had been exchanged for a public school that could be seen from the upstairs apartment window. We were together and no one had been left behind in Saudi, making it seem as if somehow all would be well.
Documents and papers were shuffled and stacked until everything was finally in order. A quick trip to the school meant walking out of the apartment door, into the parking lot and through a rickety wooden fence. Vaccination records were not available and birth certificates had taken weeks to arrive, being classified as a Birth abroad report from the consulate. I had met with the principal, teachers and office personnel but still felt that this was somehow wrong and I was at the center of upheaval and a leap into uncertainty. Mother reminded me that it was for the better good and school was part of a new freedom.
Many of you already know that I am a mom to nine fantastic children. But maybe you don’t know that I have five sons and four daughters. Recently Foof got married and a month before the ceremony my eldest daughter Saleeha, got engaged! As I have written in many of my true life stories, it was hard to ever imagine this joy and the idea that my girls would be able to pick their own careers, daily habits and most importantly their love interest. But here we are, two of my girls have found amazing partners and now for the second time I am overjoyed to witness them blossom, find love and build a future.
Saleeha met her intended through a friend and they share many similarities including their love for literature and writing. It has been a long road for my girl, building that trust and learning to relax and accept love and a warm and endearing heart but she is there and I couldn’t be happier.
Edison is a soft spoken Phd in Chemistry, a poet and he loves to cook! The ring he picked has a vintage look and is just what Saleeha wanted.
They have not picked a wedding date and both of them are not really into having a big bash so they will find what suits them. I am all about being yourself and doing what works for you, so whatever they chose will make me happy for them.
Edison proposed at their special place, deception pass. I posted pictures last year after they shared a romantic day there.
Recently wedding dress shopping commenced and she found the perfect fit for her! It is gorgeous. I will only show a bit of the dress so that Edison isn’t disappointed!
There is hope after the storm, there is peace and you can make it, whatever your struggle might be it can be part of your life and can make you stronger, not break you. Never would I have imagined that we would be here, back home, together and thriving. Don’t ever give up and stay true to being the best you!
And if I sing
It is for Springtime
Flowers envy deep in soil
Absolute firm roots
They hold me
Toes dig into brown and gold
And when I walk
It is in freedom
Permeation skin and soul
A faded portrait
Stride of warrior uncontrolled
Now dance with me
In cloak of purple
Stardust moonlight indigo
This past weekend was spent traveling to Spokane, celebrating my youngest daughter’s birthday and babysitting. Osama and Jacki took a little trip that had been planned months before and then forgotten. With their busy life I can see where it would easily be brushed aside! Foof decided she would babysit and I agreed to help her for part of the time. My younger children went with their oldest sister out shopping, to dinner for the birthday girl and in the end they stayed in a comfy hotel. Meanwhile we did crafts, made a fort and watched the usual movies.
Later that night Ben arrived to help and I retired to my room where the boys both tucked me in and Aiden showed me his Halloween costume.
The next morning the kids came from the hotel, bringing coffee and some breakfast sweets. We decided to leave soon after so that the kids could get home at nap time. We drove in to see Great Grama and Grampa who had purchased a cake for the birthday girl. Both of my parents and my sister, were excited that the kids made a surprise visit.
Gifts were opened and then cake was served, all of which the kids enjoyed taking part in.
We discovered that Alayna does like carrot cake and insists on feeding herself! She has also become a strong little girl even at this age. Watching her deal with her brothers gives me insight into my own daughters. None of them will let their brothers, from the oldest to the youngest, get away with anything!
I wondered where this sweet little baby would fit in among identical twins, but it is easy to see she truly is the boss!
I hope you had a fun and relaxing weekend as well. Here’s to a great week ahead!
One of my real life super heroes! Tucks me in at night, turns off the lamp and kisses my cheek. Nigh nigh and the door gently shuts. Life doesn’t get any better than this!
Saturday morning we took a walk through campus. Leaves had turned the usual red, brown and yellow and a slight breeze that picked up intermittently showered the landscape with a variety of shades, adding to the colorful display.
I crunched and kicked leaves all the while taking in the smell of autumn air, a crisp and familiar sensation.
Trees stood tall and proud offering up their vibrant and best show.
At that moment I felt there could be nothing more beautiful than the turn of leaves, fluttering at times in flurries and then calming to a trickle. Each time I tried to capture trees shedding what was left of their Autumnal attire I was quickly disappointed as everything came to a stop! Finally Soos jokingly offered to throw a leaf up in the air, but I declined.
She wandered nearby while I stared at trees, hoping to see just one more leaf fall.
One single leaf and then two until I had three photos. The blue sky white clouds and Fall trees had me mesmerized until I heard footsteps rustling behind me and realized it was time to go.
A child once more if only for a moment in time and enough to remind me that we need to live in the here and now, especially if it’s spent waiting for leaves to fall.
I grew up in a family of four, in the valley of a mid sized city. My sister was two and a half years older than me. We had one small dog and one cat. We sat at the family table at 5 p.m and politely asked to be excused before removing our supper dish. We were not a rambunctious group but a quiet, happy little family. We camped in the summer, went clothes shopping at the turn of each new season and we celebrated holidays in a joyful but calm manner. It was a nice, idyllic childhood that prepared me for whatever the future would bring.
We did not argue over card/ game tournaments nor did we prank, carry or wrestle each other through the house.
We never pulled our mom into the kitchen on her exercise bike insisting that she instruct us on cooking meals! And we most certainly did not carry the recliner upstairs hauling it through the kitchen and into the living room, plopping it down in just the right spot for mom! The boat was never full and there was plenty of room at the table.
Large family life is fun, unexpected and warm. I loved growing up in our little family unit but I adore being part of this big crazy family. Homemade cards and gifts, possibly a song production or two are thrown in there for birthdays and graduations.
Personal projects often end up being group efforts
And most certainly the younger kids never forget that they are definitely not the oldest!
Even in the quietest of times, there is never really a dull moment. There is no shortage of opinions, love, noise and support.
We have learned through the years to stand together, catching each other if we fall.
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Author: The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481
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