Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mommy moments

I am starting to love bed times with Bilal. We have fallen into a very comfortable routine, that I wouldn't change for anything. After Bilal's bathtime, which he absolutely loves, we 'tuck in' Hamza and Safa. It has to be in that particular order. Bilal turns out the light in each of their rooms and pulls the doors shut after blowing them a quick kiss. Then, armed with his blankie, we go to his bedroom, where I sit with him in the rocker. After the bedtime prayer we rock quietly in the dark. That is the time when I really get to cuddle Bilal. Usually he's running around if he's awake, so I don't get to enjoy any laptime with him. After a couple of yawns I'll ask him if he's ready to go into his crib. He'll nod his head and after a few more kisses and hugs, he happily goes into the crib, and usually will sleep until morning. I know that as the kids get older things change, and they don't seem to need mama as much as they did when they were smaller, but mama always needs the kids. Why does it always seem that they are ready to let go sooner than mama?

It's been pouring this evening. The cats are cooped up in the house. I walked into the bedroom and they had totally taken over our bed. Even now as I'm typing this, Tiny is snuggled up against me. Well, maybe when the kids quit needing me the cats still will!

Here's Sammy curled up and tucked in for the night.

And Tiny curled up where I am supposed to sleep.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another debate meet

Safa went to Samford University yesterday for debate. I was the designated driver, so I drove the 4 girl team there, and hung around while they were presenting their speeches. What I didn't know was that yesterday was also the day that the first semester awards were to be given out, so I was glad that I got to go. Safa was presented with a certificate for first place in Middle School debate in the Birmingham region. The president of Samford Debate personally spoke to Safa and remarked on how rare it was to get perfect scores like she did during the last meet. He has promised her a 'wrestling belt'; it is presented to the first place winner each semester. She'll get it during the next meet. I think the girls did rather well yesterday too; we don't know individual scores yet, but her team won both affirmative and negative debates, and overall Hewitt won 8 of 12 debates. Hamza and Bilal got to hang out with Vicki in the afternoon while we were gone, so that was a bit of a treat.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Simple French Onion Soup

Delicious when it's cold outside. Quick and easy to make.

Serves 6

2 onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cubes beef boullion
5 cups water
6 slices French bread, toasted
6 slices swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F(220 degrees C). Separate sliced onion into single rings.
In a medium sauce pan saute onions in butter until soft, approximately 20 minutes. In another bowl dissolve beef boulllion cubes in 2 cups boiling water. Stir flour into sauteed onions and gradually add stock plus remaining water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast French bread slices.
Place toasted bread into soup bowls. Pour soup mixture over bread and top each bowl with a slice of Swiss cheese. Bake for 10 minutes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Safa's 12th birthday

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"I love my sister"

I had to share this little clip, but first of all, let me apologize for the poor quality of the video, due to events beyond my control. You'll also have to turn up the volume to listen to it. It might give you an idea of the day to day interactions between my youngest and oldest child.

Happy Birthday Zakir!

Wishing my hubby all the best this year. Here's to many many more healthy and happy years together. You're a great husband, dad, friend and business partner, what more could I ask for?

Myspace Graphics

Myspace Text -

Friday, January 25, 2008


Bilal has the flu. We took him to see the pediatrician this morning, and he tested positive. That would explain the high fever overnight and the vomiting this morning. I was already feeling bad that I didn't take my flu shot this year and got sick, now I feel like a terrible mama! I'm resposible for my child getting sick, he must have caught it from me! Last night when Bilal called for us just after midnight, I brought him downstairs to our bed. His temp was over 102 at that time. After taking Tylenol and a bit of milk he lay with us for a little while, then got fussy. When I asked him if he wanted to go back to bed, he responded with a familiar "Ta". So I put him back in his crib, and camped out in his room for the rest of the night. He is so used to sleeping and thrashing around in his own crib that he can't sleep with us very comfortably any more! When he woke his fever was just as high, and didn't go down even after more Tylenol. I'm glad I took him in to see his Pedi, so he got started on Tamiflu in time to make some difference. I've been pleasantly surprised that he hasn't acted too sick through it all, and has even been willing to eat some food, even though he did throw up all over the car seat and his high chair today. It was a 'Loads o laundry' day.

Bilal is up to the 10th percentile in weight. This is really big news, after having been at 5% for more than a year. And his height is still at 50%. Seems like the Periactin has helped stimulate his appetite enough to help him gain weight. His pediatrician seems to think that he should be articulating more by now, so she is going to set us up with speech therapy. She said it can sometimes take months to get in, so if his speech starts to improve before he gets evaluated we'll just call and cancel. He also has a hernia in the right groin, which is going to have to be repaired some time or the other. I don't like the idea of him having to be put to sleep for any procedure, and I'm hoping it can wait until after Bilal's PC appointment in July, so we can get it cleared by Dr. Colvin.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another eventful day in the Khan Household

I dragged myself through clinic this morning, with everyone telling me I needed to go home and go to bed. Yeah, right! (I promise to take a flu shot in 2008, I've learned my lesson; I even had to stay home from work yesterday, and that's rare). Anyway, in the middle of our lunch staff meeting I got a call from the school. Apparently Hamza ran into a pole whole playing football at recess, and had a gash in his head. The school nurse kept insisting that Hamza was doing fine, he didn't even cry, but his forehead needed "to be looked at". Needless to say, I flew down Hwy 75, driving more than a wee bit over the speed limit (the state troopers must have been very forgiving today), and picked Hamza up from the school. When I saw his forehead I was more concerned by the depth of the laceration than the size of it. It obviously needed to be sutured. Now I have sutured more lacerations than I could ever remember, but I was't about to take a needle to my son's temple. So I took him to an urgent care clinic and he got three stitches. He was such a big boy, he didn't even cry when he was getting that terrible numbing medicine lidocaine injected into his head. Now if this were Safa, well........ I'm really proud of how well Hamza did.

The kids still had to go to the Dojo this evening to polish a few skills before their test tomorrow. On the way back we were talking and joking about the unfortunate fate of the light pole that Hamza ran into, and Safa was teasing Hamza about losing some brain cells when he bumped his head. A bit of the dialogue:

Hamza: "My head hurts."

Mama: "Hon, it's going to hurt a bit, I'll give you some Tylenol when we get home"

Hamza: "It hurts when I think!"

(So much laughter in the car that I thought I would drive it off the road!!)

Hamza: "It hurts when I laugh too."

Tomorrow's post will include a video that I'm trying to transfer upstairs, so I can compress it for the web. It usually takes me a minute, but maybe it's my stuffy, influenza head, I just can't seem to accomplish it tonight. Tune in to watch a couple of minutes spent in our kitchen. Mundane, you may say, but precious memories for us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sneeze, sanitize, repeat

OK, so I'm officially sick, but life goes on. I'm used to pushing on if I get sick, but I'm so worried that one of the kiddos can catch something from me. I'm sure I've probably gone through half a box of Kleenex today. I have used so much hand sanitizer and washed my hands so many times today that the skin on my hands is about to peel off. Tomorrow I'll start 'Lysol-ing' all the doorknobs. (Is that a word?)

It started off as an unusual day today. Bilal woke up at 3am, I mean absolutely wide awake. Zakir tried to rock him, then brought him downstairs to our bed, but he lay there wide awake for an hour or so, until he finally got restless and Zakir got up with him about 5:30. Of course it probably didn't help that every time I would lie my head on the pillow I'd start coughing. How could the boys sleep with me hacking away next to them? Anyway, Bilal ended up falling asleep at about 8am, in the middle of breakfast, and slept for a good couple of hours. He did rather well with meals today, had a breakfast/lunch combo when he woke up (pasta shells chased down by a bowl of cereal with bananas). His late afternoon snack was vanilla pudding and half a cheesestick, and he had a decent portion of a cheese and beef quesadilla for supper. That's the best he's done in a while, and mostly REAL FOOD. Hopefully it's a sign of better things to come. Frankly I'm tired of dealing with him eating 1-2 bites and then spitting everything else out, which has become the norm. I've been debating taking him back to OT, but I'm not sure how that will help; we've already determined that he has all the skills he needs to eat regular table food, he just won't do it!

We have a busy calender this week:
January 19: Farah had her birthday (Zakir's sister)
January 24: Bilal's 18 month birthday (that's a milestone too!)
January 26: Zamir's birthday (Zakir's brother)
January 27: Zakir's birthday (He'll appreciate that I've decided not to disclose his age)
January 28: Safa turns 12

Bilal goes for his 18 month checkup with the pediatrician on the 29th, and his GI follow up is scheduled early Feb, I think on the 5th. We are having a birthday party for Safa on Feb 2nd. Basically there isn't much space for anything else on my new wall organizer/calender, AND despite trying so hard to jot everything down there has been 'double-booking' on Friday evening, so I'll have to call and cancel one of our commitments. Wow, life is going by at quite a fast pace. That's why I can't afford to be sick.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter fun


Finally, what the kids have been waiting for all winter, snow! It was only an inch or so, but it made their day. Hamza and Bilal got to play, but Safa, sadly, was cooped up in the Dojo, trying to get in the rest of her 50 hours of Karate before Friday. She made it home in time to make her 8 inch tall snowman on the deck. Most of the snow had melted within 2 hours, but it was fun, and very pretty, while it lasted. Even Tiny dared to venture out, and you could see her cute little pawprints in the lawn. You'll get a bit of an idea if you watch our video and slideshow. Well, if it only snows every seven years, we'll make a big deal about it!

All in all it's been a busy weekend. I went to make rounds at the hospital Saturday and Sunday, and we were invited out to dinner Friday night, and to a big party on Saturday night at the Hoover Met, for Amal who recently finished reading the Quran. Today I took Safa and Hamza to the Hoover Crescent open house; the mosque is a beautiful addition to the community. On top of that I think I'm getting sick.......again! As Safa said today, mama can't get sick! Between home, work and the kids I don't have time to get sick. But I feel the familiar wheeze of bronchitis coming on, and that burning sensation in my chest. I'm just hoping that I wake up feeling better tomorrow; that's my cue to wrap up this update and call it a night.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Guitar and such

We're back at guitar lessons today. Safa was rather unprepared; she had no recollection of what song she had been learning before we went on vacation, and she forgot her book, so she's started another new song instead. Hopefully she'll be better prepared new week! Basically as Mr. Jeff put it today, “nothing's changed”.

Lela likes to sit in on the lessons.......

The kids are testing for their next rank in Karate next week. Hamza has comfortably put in more than the 50 hours required to test, but Safa is still struggling to complete her 50 hours. The test is on Friday, and she should have her hours in by Thursday evening, cutting it rather close! Sixth grade homework has been keeping her from a lot of her extra curricular activities. But I admit she is finally getting a grasp on it, and doing well; she managed to get all A's at the end of the last nine weeks, as did Hamza. And I admit it's nice not to have to prompt them to do their homework, well most of the time anyway.

For anyone who's missed an opportunity to see our photos from Pakistan, you can check out the later few posts of December 2007, or click on the label 'slideshow' in the sidebar to the right. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another child lost to CHD

Yesterday I heard about a precious child named Kate who lost her year and a half battle with CHD. She was probably only a few weeks older than Bilal, and had the same primary diagnosis, in addition to some other complex defects. It reminds you just how fragile life can be. Even though I don't 'dwell' on Bilal's heart issues, you can't ignore the scar on his chest, and the fact that he was born with a broken heart. With the miracle of medicine and God's grace he is one of the fortunate ones; he has had one surgery to repair the defects associated with Tetralogy of Fallot, and we do not anticipate any more. My heart goes out to Kate's family, and all others who are struggling with, or have lost a child to congenital heart disease. Just a reminder, February 7-14th 2008 is congenital heart disease awareness week. Increased awareness of this common birth defect could lead to earlier diagnosis, and more research into its causes, which may subsequently lead to less precious lives lost. I am compiling a list of resources which can provide more knowledge of CHD; feel free to check out the sites listed to the right.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Both Safa and Hamza came home to today with homework. Safa has a lot of it. Plus she has to write her own debate for this month's meet. Talk about a lot to do. She has been upstairs doing some research on the computer ever since she got home and Hamza is solving math sheets in the kitchen. Bilal is running around like a little maniac. I took my eyes of him for less than a minute and he sneaked a cookie sheet out of the cabinet, and poured his milk into the middle of the sitting room. Luckily I don't give him more than a sip or two unless it's in a cup with a lid. Now he's sitting ripping up the mail, little busybody! When he is caught doing something naughty he puts on his "who me?" innocent face.

Here is Hamza with the class pet, Milo.

And Bilal happy to be back in his own bathtub.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Mama" at last!

I've finally got to hear Bilal say "Mama"! He just wouldn't say it before, although he'd call Zakir Tata instead of Baba (stubborn about that one), and he distinctly calls Safa "Baji" (urdu for big sister). Yesterday we were looking at pictures of Pakistan, and he pointed to his grandfather and said "Dada Abbu" very clearly. He was also naming all our other relatives in Pakistan, but not mama. This morning he woke up and I heard a very unfamiliar "mama, mama, mama" over the baby monitor. What a wonderful sound! Since we've been back home Bilal wants to be with me more and he has quit freaking out when Zakir's not around. It's great to feel needed once more.

We're all still a bit jet lagged, everyone is crawling into bed around 7pm or so each night, and it'll probably take a few more days to adjust to being back in the States. I have so much unpacking to do, but can't seem to get round to it yet. As a result the house is messier than ever. We finally managed to get through all the mail that had been held at the post office for about 2 weeks, and we're pretty much caught up at work too! The thing about vacations is that your work is still there when you come home, you just have to work extra hard to catch up. I have to admit though, it was great to spend some time in Pakistan with family, and the kids are already talking about going back. Maybe when Bilal is a couple of years older we'll dare to make the trip over the summer, so that we can spend more time there, not having to worry about missing school. I've managed to upload all our photos to the mac, and will start editing some over the next few days so that I can get a couple of slideshows together. There is still so much of our trip we haven't shared.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back in Birmingham

We're back home, made it in yesterday at about 5pm. It was a good trip, and the kids really didn't want to return, but here we are. Most of the trip was uneventful, except for the first leg when Bilal got furious and threw up all over me. Basically I felt that I smelled like throw up for the remaining 30 hours of travel time, although I did manage to change clothes and clean up the best I could. It was wonderful to come home and take a shower inmy bathroom, and sleep in my bed. The kids were in bed by 7pm last night, and I haven't heard from Safa or Hamza yet this morning, unlike Zakir, Bilal and myself who have been up since about 4am. It's back to work and school as usual today.

Here are a few more photos from Pakistan, including one of Hamza playing cricket. He enjoyed cricket so much that his uncle bought him a cricket bat and ball and a set of wickets to bring back home. Luckily they are smaller than regulation size so we managed to fit them in a suitcase. Speaking of which, we have 5 partially unpacked cases lying in the dining room, which I'll be picking through over the next few days.

And here are some from the trip to the Pakistan monument in Islamabad:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Breakfast, lunch or dinner

We've got used to someone else cooking for us since we've been in Pakistan, so I've started a bit of cooking myself, to get back into the flow of things. So far I've baked date bread and banana bread, both successful recipes, but I learned after making the date bread that it's worth a trip to the store to buy baking soda, since baking powder alone doesn't cut it. Go figure, I always wondered why recipes call for both baking powder and soda. The other night I made chinese; the kids' favorite orange chicken, and sweet and sour shrimp. This morning I admit I outdid myself. We have just polished off a breakfast of crepes with warm apple compote and hash browns. Definitely a keeper. Add a bit of meat and you've got a real southern breakfast. I thought I'd share my recipe for the date bread, the rest are to follow later. It's a no-fail recipe, even for novice bakers like me. Try it out and let me know how it turned out. I didn't use walnuts, but they're a great addition if you want.

Serves 8-12

2 1/2 cups chopped dates
1/4 cup butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees F). Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the dates and butter. Pour boiling water over them, and let stand until cool.
When the dates have cooled, stir the mixture to break up any clumps. Mix in the brown sugar and egg until well blended. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir into the date mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

It's pouring today, but a couple of days ago the kids got to spend some time outside with the dogs. Meet Moti (the dog with Zakir), part lab, part mutt. Hamza and Moti have taken a particular liking to each other. Other members of the family include Cleo, rescued by Zakir about 12 years ago, when she was tied up to a tree and abandoned outside our gate, and Robin (100% mutt). I'll be posting a few more photos soon.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Just a few days left

I woke up this morning and realized that our vacation is almost over. We've been here for about 10 days, and they've just flown by. We haven't gone many places in the past couple of days, but I can't say everyone isn't having a lot of fun. We're just about all shopped out, two days ago I vowed to buy no more clothes for either myself or Safa, and so far I'm sticking to it. It takes a brave person to resist, when you see so many beautiful traditional Pakistani outfits, the shalwar kameez, in every store window you walk by.

Last night Safa, Nadia and I went to get our hair cut. All three of us have come back looking quite different, but we're happy with our new looks. This is Safa with her hair clipped back before the new 'do':


........and after

We were invited out to dinner yesterday evening. Bilal was very well behaved, right up to his bedtime, then his mood deteriorated and I brought him home a little early. Zakir stayed behind, and Bilal kept calling for him, up until the moment he fell asleep. Since we've been in Pakistan he can't stand being parted from Baba (Tata) for even a moment. Quite a daddy's boy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

We are in the middle of a bit of a cold spell here in Islamabad, the houses are built of concrete, so they feel so much cooler than the wood houses in the US. We are managing to stay safe and thankfully, no tummy bugs for anyone yet. I'm still battling a sinus infection, just hoping that it will be better before we have to travel again, no fun flying in an airplane with sinusitis! The days are flying by, we will be headed home exactly one week from today. The kids are having a blast with their uncle Zamir and their grandparents, and getting spoiled rotten in the process. It's also a lot better now that we have our stroller back; every morning Bilal bundles up and goes for a walk with one of his grandparents. Also he loves the dogs and cats in the house, so stays entertained.

Well, Happy New Year and hoping that 2008 is a wonderful year for all our friends and family.

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