My Christmas


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.

dsc_0341We arrived on Sunday and got the girls settled in at my folks house, then headed to Osama and Jacki’s.img_3608

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.img_3409 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!dsc_0438

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.img_3554

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!dsc_0500

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!dsc_0515

Happy new year!

Baking, cooking and sugar plum fairies


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.


Stove from Osama and Jacki!

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.


My nine children

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!

Blogging put on hold



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! img_8643

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.IMG_3229

Happy holidays everyone!IMG_20181202_101320

The weekend before Thanksgiving





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.

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!img_0998-1


Is it Christmas yet?




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.img_0966 (1) (1) 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.56348612827__0EA27CD5-37D6-4C80-A8A3-D3C195956F25

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!

Happy holidays

Happy holidays to everyone!

I have been away for the past week, taking care of Mude and spending Christmas with my parents!

On Friday we went to Foof’s house where she presented us with gifts and made a great dinner! She and B were excited to host this very nice evening.


Saturday morning Saleeha came over to exchange stockings before she left for Seattle.


We missed Yusuf and Alicia but were very happy that they were able to spend Christmas with Alicia’s family.


On Sunday we headed to my folks to spend the holidays with them. Sunday night we were surprised by cute little faces peering in through the half opened door! Osama, Jacki and the three special babies spent an hour with us. It was so sweet that they popped over!


Christmas morning Osama, Jacki and the kids came over for breakfast at Great grandparents house adding to the joy of this special day!


Today we will work on taking down our decorations and tomorrow we will be taking care of the babies while their regular helper is away. My children and parents spoiled me and this is the first year in a long time that I did not feel upset and unworthy accepting everything!

Grateful for the tiny things


It seems simple to drift away and forget all of the things that I have to be grateful for. It is too easy to focus on the things that I want to happen such as losing weight, finishing my book and feeling totally back to the old me! At this point in my life it is the tiny things that bring me joy and the reminder of where I was last year, 5 years ago and even 10 years back. 

It finally snowed on Friday and it is still snowing here and there. Saturday my son went to start the van and it would not start. Snow kept falling, gloomy weather brought wind and more snow and yet I sat snuggled warm under my blanket, not caring much! I have a spare truck that is old and has its own little issues but I was happy and content to have an extra vehicle. The thought of getting to the next little town for Mude’s wisdom tooth extraction on Monday (today) did loom overhead but no panic! I called the free service that my parents gift to me each year and they came and towed the van to a local mechanic shop. It sounds silly but it was fun to interact with the female tow truck driver and to watch how she got my van hauled away! IMG_E5738

I was up at 4 a.m. this morning; I sat on my comfy couch, listened to Christmas music and watched the gently glowing lights. I thought of last year at this time and many years before that. It reminded me to be grateful for everything, even the tiny blessings that sometimes go unnoticed. I want to be as real as possible because I know other people struggle as well! This list is a hard one in many ways but here it is!


  1. I am grateful to have a good relationship with my children, to have their love and acceptance. It has been a long road and has not been easy, there have been ups and downs but they have always stuck by me even in the worst of times! They are truly amazing and are my heroes! I love each and every one of them with all that I have!
  2. I am grateful to be part of my grandkids lives, they are unique, kind, smart and a total joy! I never thought it would be like this but I have fallen in love again three times over! I thank their parents for involving me in special moments and for making sure I am a part of their lives.
  3. I am grateful to have daughter-in-laws who love my sons, who value our family and who have stuck with me through thick and thin!! They are truly part of our large loud family and bring their own special flare! Love you
  4. I am grateful to have my mom and dad who have always been there for me and for my kids. They are the best parents!
  5. I am grateful to have an extra vehicle.
  6. I am grateful to have the free towing service.
  7. I am grateful that my son can have his wisdom teeth taken care of. Two of my kids had this procedure done in Saudi and it was very difficult!!
  8. I am grateful for the snow and the gloomy weather, it is gorgeous.
  9. I am grateful for being able to cook! I made manicotti yesterday, Apricot chicken the day before and so on! Yeah!
  10. I am grateful that I can wear my winter coat each and every time I go out!!Last year I got my winter coat dirty by a simple daily action and then would not wear it. I bundled up in multiple shirts and sweaters to go out and grab a coffee with Foof. She would pick me up and inquire about my coat,  I made excuses and felt guilt, shame. I was unable to take my daily walks outside with no warm coat! Now each day I grab my coat and put it on.
  11. I am grateful that I can take a walk around the block without ever looking back.
  12. I am grateful that I can play with my grandkids and not worry about possibly giving them some illness.
  13. I am grateful that I am back to blogging!
  14. Little things have fallen, broken such as a lightbulb, a plate and it did not bring hours of cleanup. I swept and disposed of the broken pieces. So grateful for this!
  15. I dream of him often which is hard but I try to put it into perspective and not let it ruin my day.
  16. I am grateful for the holidays, lights, our tree and decorations.
  17. I am grateful that I can make my own coffee even if it is hard some days.
  18. I am grateful that I can calm myself down when I get nervous.
  19. I am grateful that I am starting to gain self-worth.
  20. I am grateful that I can take medication for a headache if needed, before this was very difficult and involved endless worry and often panic. I would not take anything and spent hours with a pounding headache.
  21. I am grateful that I am able to help myself!
  22. I am grateful that while I still have issues with eating properly, I no longer have a more serious eating disorder!!! This is hard to admit!
  23. Finally I am grateful that I can celebrate any holiday I choose to and not feel that I am doomed for doing so. I am so grateful for each and every friend I have made here, thank you for your support and kindness!

It’s a Jolly day



Last year we had our first Christmas tree ever! I purchased one from the store, it was small and cute and artificial. It felt a bit scary to have a tree but I just did it! This year we decorated downstairs as well as upstairs and today we will head to a local tree farm to get a real tree. I want this to be a joyful day full of love and happiness. We will decorate the tree, make some Holiday cookie dough for baking and watch a new Christmas movie.

Have a Jolly day full of the giving spirit we carry all year through!