Review and edit old stories– The first day of school

As the summer months drug on, the sweltering heat proved to be unyielding. The a/c chug and thud signaled the end to electricity and a day ahead with no relief, no t.v. or cooking. The children added Grama’s box to their pad house which served as a car, train and boat. Obstacles were to be avoided by launching onto a pad, skipping past pitfalls, lava and water. Quick trips to a nearby park during evening prayer time were a nice break in our mundane routine. See See and Foof played on the swings and little Abude crawled through patches of grass and dirt. He took the big boys to prayer and then returned to sit for a few minutes before carting us back to the apartment. This occurred twice a week until we were approached by children who stood, staring and chanting ABC, 123 Abc.”  They gawked, taunted and pointed, while their mothers sat sipping tea, glancing our way. I smiled, reminding myself that they were children, but one group was replaced by the next until there was a constant barrage of onlookers. When he came back he shooed them away, sputtering harsh words in Arabic, and with a wave of his hands they were gone. From that time forward I declined these little excursions giving a list of excuses. It was the beginning of years feeling displaced, branded as outsiders and misfits.

The first day of school had finally arrived and although we were nervous, it became a long over due break from the stagnant heat and days that stretched on without basic essentials. The previous year had been a disheartening experience, no supervision, children throwing rocks, and teachers hitting students. I was sure that this was not an accurate representation of the Saudi school system. This must have been an exception, nothing at all like the school that stood next to our apartment. I packed the boys lunches, kissed them, and reassured them that I would be at home cooking their favorite meal, waiting for their return. My oldest reeled off his ritualistic goodbye, “I love you, you won’t leave the apartment, you promise? I love you,  goodbye” and then they followed their father out the door.  This routine pledge began the year before when he was left repeatedly outside the rusty metal gates of the villa. They suspected he had chicken pox and so they put him on the bus, dropped him at our gate and left. He had no idea why he was leaving school, where he was going or his whereabouts. A 6 year old boy standing outside of the gate in a city of five million people, buzzing frantically, hoping this was his home. In an attempt to control this situation he insisted that I never leave home and I readily complied.

He had been told that this new school was well organized, did not allow corporal punishment, was famous for it’s kindly religious atmosphere and in general, a reputable institution. I ran through the apartment cleaning and cooking in an attempt to finish my routine before power was cut. Nervous anticipation filled the air as I stirred sauces, whipped up cookie dough and made my way through the first day of school. I knew that this year would be different, teachers would see the inner beauty of my special little boys, they would help them learn Arabic, be patient and embrace them, providing security and warmth.

The door swung open and he sauntered in, followed by two glum faces and a look, reminiscent of the year before. I smiled, hugged the boys and started to ask how their day had been, this was met with a standard warning glance, one that was well known and understood. I carried on about the food, their favorites and the special cookies, complete with forbidden ingredients from the list.  One day at a neighborhood Bukala (mini mart) I had nervously shoved m and m’s up to the cashier, a  last minute purchase when I saw his watchful eyes were not in sync with mine. These were mixed in with peanut butter and chocolate chips, to make large, warm cookies, waiting on a swap meet plate. The boys drug their backpacks into the empty bedroom and dropped them onto the floor. I served lunch and watched them pick at their meal, exchanging small stories of their first day.

He eventually wandered to the bedroom to take his afternoon nap and at that time I sat next to the boys hoping to extract any small details about their treatment at school. I put my arm around them and told them about my day, how See See and Foof made a pad fort, how little Abude pushed it down and how the box had now become an airplane. They laughed and sighed snuggling in for hugs, devouring warm cookies and milk. My oldest son then pronounced that in the first class a teacher asked every student to place their hand, palm upward in front of them. He then hit them with a ruler several times and followed it with a lecture. Their Arabic was not fluent but they got the message that this would be the result for any lessons missed,  incorrect answers or bad behavior.

Jacki update

As you all know I am waiting to be a Grama! My oldest son, Osama and his wife, Jacki, are expecting twin boys! From the beginning this pregnancy was labeled high risk,  which meant close monitoring, visits to specialists, ultrasounds and the usual tests.

This is a very exciting time, but also full of stress for both mother and father to be. The past couple of weeks Jacki’s blood pressure has been creeping up but luckily she is being monitored very closely. She was in the ER on Sunday because her blood pressure was high. They kept a careful eye on her and sent her home with a list of instructions. I hurried around the house, cleaning up, making cookie dough (don’t ask why?) and getting groceries. It hit me that I was really going to be a Grama and needed to be ready at a moments notice.

We are all confident that she can make it through the next two weeks and into week 35. Meanwhile, my bag is packed and I am ready to jump in my van and make my way over there. Prayers and good thoughts for Jacki, Osama and our two precious boys!


My week in review

Just in case you missed something, here was my week.







Spring at my house and thanks!

Everything is in bloom! It is amazing and brings hope and good feelings. This is usually the time of year when he pops over into our lives. So far, no word, no problems and now time to relax!  So, a tense time in ways, but with the help of many of you, I feel hope and security. I want to say thank you for being there, caring and having a supportive, kind word!  God has truly blessed me with my kids, parents and now my blogging friends! Thank you!


lilac mom and dad gave me, it’s been three years and has grown and bloomed many times!


Periwinkle or Vinca that mom and dad supplied when I wanted to have a large ground cover area.


Patio that my son Abdullah planned and worked hard on, then son Yusuf came and helped build with him. All of the kids pitched in to make this patio! The birdhouse Yusuf made for me, the lawn swing the kids bought me when we first moved here and a cover that good friend Abigail designed and sewed for me! Roses transplanted from the lake house and brought here, once brown and brittle (everyone said throw them out)  now I have to cut them back three times in the summer!


_DSC2014He planted this plum tree a few years back, it ended up being bare and brittle. Abdullah moved it up by our home and now it flourishes.

Life is full of possibilities, and I am so blessed to have all that I have! I guess this post is about turning things around! From worn and tired to full and beautiful!