Hit publish!

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Hi to all of my friends and new followers! You have been dearly missed these past few months. As many of my good friends know, the past year has been full of; baking, cooking, taking photos, testing, re-testing, editing and endless reviewing.  I finally had to say “enough” and am hoping to push the publish button on Monday! I have ordered numerous proofs, changed the cover about 7 times and have had plenty of testing and reviewing by my kids, their fantastic spouses and a special friend of the family.  So here is the final look and I hope to be back on here visiting and having fun on a regular basis as of today!

Thanks for the love and support,

Lynn

 

 

Big size family life

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.thumbnail_IMG_2987

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Big family life

Published!

Osama was scheduled to attend training in Vegas! It was a chance for Jacki to accompany him and get some much needed time away! When we went for the first birthday party last Saturday, we brought three special little ones back with us for the week. Yesterday, bags, bottles and toys were all stacked by the door and Mommy and Daddy arrived to take their babies home in the morning.

After goodbye waves, hugs and kisses, it was time to get back to real life and final touches on the book. I made a promise to myself a few months back that I would publish my poetry book and then get back to work on the big book about our life in Saudi and the struggle to be free! It has been a fun and challenging process to work on the book. This morning I received an email telling me that my book was now available!

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https://www.amazon.com/dp/1976800765/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1539945227&sr=8-2&keywords=Epic+epiphany

Any shares, likes, reviews and support are greatly appreciated!  Thanks for being on this journey with me! It’s time to get back to work on the other book.

Now that the babies are back home I will be visiting my friends here on wordpress and catching up with everyone.

Love,

Lynn

True story–No match

 

As we head towards the wedding I thought I would repost this story of Ben and Fattima’s romance!

2008

He continued with his lecture on marriage and travel until tears hung in the creases of her eyelids. No decent man would allow his daughter to travel unaccompanied, not even for educational purposes. Her tiny silhouette stood in the form of a young woman, unfortunately the feisty and willful girl who had roamed the compound streets was no longer visible. Tears slowly dripped down her cheeks and onto wistful lips that had once been playful. She struggled to eat meals and found every excuse to avoid food that seemed distasteful and at times repulsive. As an infant and toddler her weight had been low much like her oldest brother and was eventually chalked up to family genes and the transition from breastfeeding to solid food. But now a slow decline was obviously due to lack of appetite and low caloric intake. Visits to the ER were made when stomach pain and distress could not be controlled at home and this continued well into her twenties. The connection between stress, anxiety and mealtime had not been made while still in a state of frozen survival.

A raise in his voice became evident as he circled back to the topic of marriage,when he handed over his duties to a husband it would be up to him, but until then the answer was still squarely no. She would not be allowed to travel with her grandparents to Paris, it was out of the question. Her older sister had been tricked into taking this trip and there was no going back but he could still shield her from this fate. He finished by reminding her that she was not just any girl and a man of upstanding character, wealth and reputable familial lineage would be the only acceptable suitor. A silent laugh and grin emanated from curved lips as he shook his head back and forth.

2018

One last glance in the mirror produced a perfect figure but one that she was not accustomed to. In recent months bits and pieces, curves and a more voluptuous appearance had emerged leaving her both confused and frustrated. The dress fit nicely around her waist but somehow what had seemed delicate and flattering now stood as questionable. It was costly and she could not imagine spending so much for a garment that would be worn only once. A parade of dresses back and forth from dressing room to pedestal where she stood examining every detail were followed by discussion and finally a phone call to her betrothed. She giggled and smiled through a wisp of golden tinged hair until the conversation came to an end. There was no mistaking his feelings, it was up to her and she should be happy. The perfect ring of her choosing, a new home and now a dream wedding were all in her hands. It was clear that the past had faded and was no match for the sincerity of his blue and flawless eyes.

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Happy ending

Foof did get to travel with her sister and grandparents to Paris and then to the United States! A deal of sorts was struck, that they would agree to cover their hair and abide by certain rules and we were able to make it happen. They got to see Paris, stayed at my childhood home in the woods with my parents, played in the snow and went with their brothers to the Oregon coast! They were gone for two months!!

 

 

 

Countdown to love

 

 

IMG_8498As the days tick away the little workshop gets more and more crowded. The girls ask me if I am o.k. with “stuff” being everywhere as they know I am prone to picking up and discarding or storing little bits and pieces of things left lying around.

I reassure them that anything goes in the untidy department as they work daily on numerous bridal shower projects.

Their creativity amazes me as they carry on the family tradition of “making do”, bonding over projects and ultimately stepping up to help their sister while sharing in her joy!

Games are stacked near the work area and breaks are taken to challenge their brothers to tournaments and matches! Movies and shows play in the background and there is no shortage of laughter as the carefree days of summer pass by.

I am a planner so I check things off of my master list, add and take away until I feel everything is just so. Testing bridal shower food and planning activities is ongoing and much of the day is spent consumed with new ideas and more creativity.

Bridal shower games, food, tables and decorations are the topic of discussion for the next few weeks and bring joy and excitement.

The family unit is once again solid and any positive aspects of our past life and traditions are now evident in the younger kids as well. Working hard to help each other, respecting differing opinions and making sure everyone has a voice, these are all integral parts of our family structure. There is always hope and for us there are pieces of love, joy and undeniable happiness that we shared even in the darkest of times. IMG_E8491

 

My life story–Anything

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Al-Khobar Saudi Arabia 1995

Her pleasant yet unreserved demeanor abruptly took on a sharp and commanding tone. Hand gestures that included a wagging finger and pursed lips were now accompanied by a raise in volume. She gave one last sharp look his way as his leg and foot made a loud thud on the kitchen floor. Her once welcoming face now stood clouded in confusion and anger. Guilt and shame stacked neatly piece by piece and a feeling of embarrassment quickly replaced self respect as I backed up. I stared blankly into her eyes as she paced and raised her voice one last time. A mismatched array of  English forced its way out of tightened lips, “no no Um Osama, no”!

The customary kiss kiss was given first on the right cheek and then the left. Two female cousins greeted me and hugged little ones that trailed behind. A trip from Riyadh to Al-Khobar had lasted 4 hours and with it a scenic view of red and brown desert that slowly transitioned into sand dotted with shrubs and tents. I was ushered into the sitting room and motioned to sit on the customary pad arrangement.

I took my place and folded legs close to my buttocks, knowing that it was deemed disrespectful to place a foot pointing at others on purpose. Tea, coffee, fruit and sweets were all brought in rounds one after the other. Chatter and talk of school, family and memories of time spent in Damascus kept us communicating while the men attended prayer. My language skills were not perfect but I had put together a list of phrases and understood very basic Arabic that helped but also brought confusion when trying to keep up a conversation. The ladies were limited in their English and so hand gestures and assistance from the boys who had now attended almost two years of schooling made the visit easier this time around.

A family environment that paired duty and service with vigorous expectations and standards was obviously in place. Children were to be respectful to adults, women served men and they in turn worked hard to provide. Wives raised voices and insisted on men returning to the store for items missed, discussions regarding child care were numerous until little ones were eventually handed off to fathers and taken outside for walks to the park. Women requested accessories that were well beyond the meager family budget and husbands were required to comply. A happy mix of loud voices, arguments that ended in laughter, endless amounts of food and finally the last cup of tea, all offered a warm and unusual atmosphere.

I felt at home within these walls and was treated as a guest as well as an immediate part of the family. The female cousins insisted I eat more, drink tea and even urged me to nap wherever I felt comfortable. The message was clear, I was being asked to join this tight knit part of his extended family and no language or cultural barrier would stand between us.

The visit came to a close and we stood talking in the kitchen where the oldest of the two females relished the last bits of a chocolate cake we had thrown together. She joked and laughed with him inquiring about our lifestyle and how he was able to keep up with my American standards. A smug grin crossed his lips as he spoke words that fueled a raging fury and caused his cousin to raise her hands in anger, and with that his foot was placed inches from my mouth “Watch she will do anything I say even kiss my foot

A dress for Foof

This weekend was spent doing several things including the usual Sunday cooking, purchasing groceries and daily walks. The most important event involved traveling to my hometown for shopping early Saturday morning.  It was a blessed day and one that I had never envisioned would come to pass. It was one of those times where you stop and take account of everything that has transpired and wonder how you ended up where you are!

The 90 minute drive was one of blue skies and billowing clouds, green pastures and land dotted with barns and the occasional farmhouse. The focus was on joy, support and happiness! We met Fattima just before the shops opened and started our day!

We watched and commented, made our views known as requested and finally ended the day feeling even more confused!! We decided it was time for a break and of course lunch,  but the topic of conversation still centered around dresses, veils and shoes.

As with most events that we experience in our family, we try to keep the focus on happiness, fun and support. If this is somehow mixed up within the chaos, we refocus and regroup. I am grateful that we are able to be together and it shows how far we have come. It was nine years ago this month that we attended my son’s University graduation and then decided to stay. Thank you for joining us on this journey!

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Weekly review

Dear friends, We arrived back home late yesterday afternoon. I will be lazy today and then start catching up with my routine tomorrow. It was such a lovely week full of new beginnings. Thanks for your patience while I was away.

https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/16/family-time-5/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/17/the-little-princess/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/18/waiting-for-alayna/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/19/blessings-3/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/20/great-grama/

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https://lynzrealcooking.com/2017/10/21/big-brothers/

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Have a wonderful Sunday!

The visit-7

It’s been almost 2 years since he was here last. His visit brought renewed fear, anxiety and physical violence. This is an on going series and part 1-6 can be found at the top of the blog. This scene is set in my oldest daughter’s apartment in the state of Washington. 

Soup bubbled on the stove, a hot and vibrant red left a trail of oats, a wave that scooped in and then surfaced again.  Low fat crackers, licorice and chocolate were stacked on the tiny table, making a cheery welcome basket of sorts.  An array of drinks stood neatly in the apartment refrigerator marking the emptiness of it all. Who would have thought this move to a tiny, run- down apartment would represent asylum and security, a safe and secret place. It was only 10 miles down the road, but in a different town and state, away from degredation and fear. Somehow this place remained untouched by his far- reaching foresight and what at times appeared to be clairvoyance.

Saleeha had prepared meals that provided comfort as well as sustenance in an attempt to stop our transient lifestyle. Her guilt at being free and able to avoid his wrath percolated beneath the surface as she contemplated coming home. Wrappers piled each day, coffees and sandwiches, depression set in as I scanned the remnants of our newly acquired routine.  A lifestyle of fruit, vegetables and low fat meals had forced my lab tests down to a reasonable level. Now I shuddered to think of what the consequences would be, but in truthfulness I did not care.  I woke each morning reevaluating the life that had been abandoned several years before, not knowing that it had just been put on hold.

The phone continued to ring throughout the day, a reminder that we were expected home to keep up the façade that had been so easily returned to. Our roles were scripted and ingrained, not easily forsaken after years of disciplined rehearsal.