Thursday, February 28, 2008

More surgery in the future

We saw Dr. Saito at the Children's surgery clinic today. Bilal does have a hernia that is going to need surgical repair, actually he has a 'communicating hydrocele'. The good thing is there's no hurry to have the repair done. She is fine with waiting until after he sees his cardiologist Dr. Colvin in July, as long as we keep an eye on it. We have to watch out for a tender lump in the groin, which could suggest that it is getting 'incarcerated', or trapped. The bad thing is that according to her the smaller hernias like Bilal's are more likely to get trapped. I really liked Dr. Saito, and the fact that she didn't urge us to have surgery very soon. She said that to reduce anesthesia risks it is better to wait, since Bilal has just had influenza, croup and an ear infection, all within less than a month. She did say that we shouldn't wait indefinitely, obviously there is a structural problem that is going to need repair eventually. And while we were there she remarked that she had spent 15 minutes reviewing Bilal's medical records, and she was amazed that such a healthy looking child could have gone through so much. Only his scar gives it away. Well, I'm sure the anesthesiologist wouldn't clear Bilal for surgery until he sees Dr. Colvin, and that's fine with me. I guess it's just a reminder that Bilal is a tet, even though he looks great, and seems healthy in every other way possible. This is one thing that will follow him throughout his life; he is a heart baby and always will be, no matter how good his heart looks anatomically. But I am so thankful for Bilal, and the way God made him is how he was meant to be. I remember the days after he was born, when I cried a lot, and often questioned, "why us, why our baby?" But nineteen months later I couldn't ask for him to be any different. And on top of that I have come away with a new compassion for other peoples' suffering. I believe Bilal's special heart has made me a better person. Of course I'm not thrilled that Bilal is again going to have to undergo anesthesia, but God will get us through this too, we just have to keep our faith.

On a less reflective note, Bilal did superbly at the clinic today. He stood on the big boy scales to get weighed, and stood up against the wall to have his height checked. While we waited for the surgeon in the exam room he went through all the photos in my purse several times over, and pointed out and named every family member, including 'Nano', my mother, who had passed away when Hamza was only one year old, seven years before Bilal was born. When Dr. Saito came in he sat in the chair next to me quiet as a mouse, while she listened to his heart and lungs. Then he let her check out his tummy and groin, and did not even whimper. On the way out he waved and said "Bye!" to everyone he saw, all the way to the parking garage, he just had to charm everyone. Of course from the picture above you can see that he's quite a daredevil too, he dragged the chair all the way from the dining room to the hall to switch on the light. I know, it looks pretty dangerous, but he has to be able to explore. I just make sure that I'm not too far away. How many chairs and stools am I going to keep him away from?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Surgery evaluation

I'm taking Bilal to peds surgery tomorrow for evaluation of a hernia in his groin, or what we think is a hernia. It's odd though, some days you don't notice anything, and other days you just can't miss the swelling. Well hopefully tomorrow we'll get to the bottom of it, and know how to proceed from there. The reason that hernias like this need to be repaired is to prevent bowel from getting trapped and strangulated which could obviously be very dangerous. I'm taking the whole day off work to take Bilal, so that means extra mama and baby time together, and Vicki gets a long weekend too.

As of today we have no plans for this weekend, yay! The past three weekends either Zakir or I have been on call, so this will be a nice break. I plan to get some serious time sleeping in at least one morning. I still long for the days when I could get a lie-in once in a while, maybe this will be my lucky weekend! The following weekend is JIKF's annual invitational tournament, so Safa and Hama will be competing for medals in Karate, against some local and some out of town competitors.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Little Entrepeneur..... and marathon runner

Hamza sold handmade guitar pick and beaded jewelry in the GATE merketplace at school today. He had made in excess of 40 necklaces, and sold all but three of them, making a net profit of $18.58 after expenses. All proceeds go to the school's GATE program. I'm really proud of my budding businessman. We are already talking about new products for next year's marketplace. Next year will be the last year that he will be participating. I'm rather relieved, less to stress about, but the kids enjoy it so much! Apparently guitar pick jewelry is 'in', but nobody had thought of making some, that's one reason why Hamza was able to sell so well: high demand with only one supply source.

I finally managed to get hold of a nice picture of Hamza running in the Mercedes Marathon one mile fun run, even though I had to order it online to get it. You can see the Auburn Tigers' mascot in the background, cheering people on.

And Safa got the much coveted wrestling belt for taking first position in the first semester of Birmingham region middle school debate. According to the president of Samford University debate, debate is exactly like wrestling, just without the contact. I thought that was a rather interesting analogy. Her team again won both debates today, but one was because the other team didn't show, so had to forfeit. I don't know how that's going to affect individual scores.

Bilal's new favorite pastime is to hang out in the car. He loves being in the MINI, so as a result we are hanging out in the garage, a lot! When the weather is nice he loves for the sunroof to be open and the windows down, even though he can barely catch his breath. You can see the pure joy on his face when we're driving down the road.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Delicious Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

A little while I came across a recipe that became an instant hit with the kids. I have modified it according to our tastes, and the end result is a no-fail quiche, that brings a smile to everyone's face. I have rarely seen kids enjoy veggies this much. I use two regular frozen pie crusts, and will freeze one after filling it, for one of those many days when I just don't feel like cooking. I'll let it thaw a bit, pop it in the oven and we're good to go. For a colorful change you can substitute the mushrooms for a small jar of roasted red peppers, yummy!

Each quiche serves 5


1/4 cup butter
1 and 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (4.5 ounce) can mushrooms, drained
1 (5 ounce) tub herb and garlic feta, crumbled
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 (9 inch) unbaked regular pie crusts
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion in butter until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in spinach, mushrooms, feta and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon half of the mixture into each pie crust.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Pour half of the egg mixture into each pastry shell, allowing it to thoroughly combine with spinach mixture. At this point you can choose to freeze one of the prepared, unbaked pies.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with remaining Cheddar cheese, and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center. Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mama's little helper

Bilal loves to empty the dishwasher. Any time he hears the door open he drops everything and comes running, it's hard to explain to him that sometimes the dishes in there are actually dirty, so they have to stay! He loves to empty out the bottom rack, and then climb on the door to reach the top rack. It really slows me down, but the pleasure he gets out of helping me unload it is really worth it. Of course I remove all the sharps before I let him get anywhere near the dishes!

Earlier today I was sitting in our bedroom when Bilal came running out of our bathroom, sounding very excited, "Mama! Mama!". I looked up from what I was doing and this is what I saw:

Then for good measure he opened up the lipstick and showed me exactly how he put it on, just like mama. He was sooooo proud of himself. I am so glad I had the camera handy.

I can't recall Safa or Hamza ever having gotten into messes like that, but maybe that's just my selective memory.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dinner at Konomi

Friday night is almost always our night to eat out. Tonight we went to our local Japanese steakhouse; we'll splurge and go there a couple of times a year. Tonight was Bilal's first ever meal there.

He started off with a nice cold, appetizing cup of ice. It's become our no-fail way to keep him happy during our frequent meals out. We carry his booster seat, sure beats the icky restaurant high chairs, plus it has a tray, so he can play with his cup of ice and whatever else comes his way. At the end we just wipe it down and pop it back in the car. Bilal enjoyed the miso soup, and had a bit of tomato from the salad. Then he actually ate a good bit of rice and noodles, all the while being entertained by the chef cooking in front of us. It was funny to hear him to say "hot!" every time he saw steam or a flame go up. He finished off his meal with his first ever fortune cookie. His fortune read :

Now as far as Bilal goes that doesn't make any sense, today. However, who knows what the future holds? We already know that we have a bright little guy on our hands. Add to that his determination, and the sky's the limit! Hamza's fortune promised that he would make and keep a lot of money. Well, there might be a bit of a struggle as far as keeping money goes, he has to spend every dime he gets. We've had little money management talks here and there, hopefully it will sink in before he goes to college. He still is only 9 years old!

Next Tuesday is GATE (Gifted and talented Education)'s annual marketplace. The students make items and sell them, with the proceeds going to the GATE program, minus expenses. This year we have decided to steer away from selling edibles. Last year we were competing with at least 8 other teams who were selling cupcakes. This year Hamza is making necklaces out of beads and guitar picks. I think he's being pretty creative, he doesn't want any help, and all that Zakir did was drill the little holes in the picks for him. He is designing and making the necklaces himself. I think his business holds a lot of promise, but then I am a bit biased!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lunar eclipse

OK, so the photo's not all that great, it was really cloudy and we could hardly see the moon let alone get a good picture. But Safa got 5 extra points in science for taking a picture, and we're all about getting bonus points, helps her out in dire times. This was at 8:36pm last night, about an hour before the total eclipse. And basically you get the gist of it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Photo update

Bilal's really got into books, and doesn't care if they're upside down

Vroom vroom!

Turning into a monkey, or 'montee', as he likes to say

Trying to climb into the crib, I hope he doesn't start climbing out!

Hamza reading Harry Potter 3 again, sporting his new buzz cut

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No more fever

Bilal has been fever free for a little over 36 hours, that's great. His cough is a bit better today, but it seems like 'Mr. Cranky' has become a long-term houseguest. I really want my baby back! He has just whined and cried since he woke up this morning, until he fell asleep in the car while were getting a (rather overdue) oil change. So now he's down for a nap. Maybe he'll wake up happier?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slow progress

We're very, very slowly getting better. Today Bilal's fever peaked at 101, that's better than yesterday. He is still coughing a lot, and we have reluctantly resorted to giving him low doses of cough medicine. You can tell the difference when his medicine wears off. This afternoon Safa and Hamza were at a birthday party and we took Bilal to the mall. Well, we were walking around Children's Place when he started coughing, and coughing, and coughing, until he threw up all over himself. Aha, we were in Children's Place! I bought a new outfit, took him to the bathroom for a quick clean up and change, and we were all set to go. I really was hoping that more than 48 hours of antibiotics would have him feeling all better, but this is going to take some time. Thank goodness he is good about taking his meds. Seems like he is taking more medicine than he is eating or drinking!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Our Trip to McWane Center

We had to get out of the house today, thought it would cheer up the kids, so we headed off to the McWane Science Center.

The morning didn't start so great, although our night was more peaceful. Bilal woke up with a fever of 103, puffy eyed and kind of lethargic. Made me think it's better when he's irritable, at least he puts up a fight! Well, watch when you ask for, because after he got Advil and his fever came down he was 'Mr. Cranky' for the rest of the day. He did better at McWane, until the Advil wore off. He's down for the night now, and I'm hoping he'll wake up better, with 48 hours of antibiotics in him. Next thing we have to work on is his appetite.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Back from the pediatrician

Bilal's been running a fever up to nearly 103 degrees since yesterday evening every 4 hours after his Tylenol would wear off, so I took him to see his ped, thought he'd need a chest x-ray. Well, no pneumonia, thank God, but over the past 24 hours he has developed an infection in the left ear. Wow, yesterday his eardrums were crystal clear! Thank goodness we have an explanation for his sickness, and it's something pretty easy to treat. He's on Biaxin for 10 days. Hopefully we both will get some much needed sleep tonight.

Enough about yuckies, I thought I'd post some fun photos of the kids.

Halfway through a somersault, my little gymnast

Who knew a cardboard box could be this much fun?

He won't let me in!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day, CHD Awareness Day

It's Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day. In my books that has rather more significance than the commercially driven Valentine's Day, but still, the heart link between the two is quite appropriate.

As I was driving to work this morning, one of the local radio stations was airing a St. Jude's Hospital 'radiothon', a fundraiser for the Memphis based cancer research hospital that has provided free medical care to many patients suffering from childhood cancers. A worthy cause, no doubt, one that I support myself. Cancer causes death and disease, not only affecting the patients, but their family members too. Now think about congenital heart disease. The number one birth defect related killer of children, and causing almost twice as many deaths in kids compared to all childhood cancers combined. But it gets nowhere near the same support for research into causes and treatment as cancer. These are facts that I was not aware of until CHD affected our family personally. It is definitely a cause worth supporting. You can find very useful CHD links in the sidebar.

All is not great on the home front. Hamza doesn't feel sick but he still has buckets of snot. Safa checked out from school early with the yuckies and might have the makings of a sinus infection. And Bilal is still sick. After a slightly better day yesterday this evening he has been miserable. He is terribly congested, has a harsh cough, and is starting to sound hoarse and stridorous again. He went to bed at 7:30 and has been up 3 times since then, just really irritable and wanting to be held. I have spent most of the evening with him in the rocking chair. Every time I would try and put him in his crib he would whimper and moan. It just breaks my heart that there's not much I can do to make him feel better. I wish I could get sick in his place, but that's just not how things work, otherwise I'd be the one with battle scars on my chest. A little while ago he wanted to be in his crib, but he wanted me holding him too. Now you can't reason with an 18 month old on a good day. and when they're sick, well......... Bottom line, I lay him in his crib, and leaned over holding him tight until he stopped whimpering, not a comfortable position to be in, ouch my ribs! He has hardly been eating either. All he wants is clear liquids, probably because he is having to mouth breathe so much. I'm sure he's lost weight over the past 4 days, after all that effort to gain! I've reluctantly had to take on the doctor role and try and diagnose what's going on. I was mostly concerned about an ear infection or even RSV; as of this morning his ears are fine and his lungs sound clear.

Taking an afternoon nap, holding on to blankie

Safa's sick too, she just crashed after coming home from school

I'm just hoping that tomorrow will be better, I'm headed upstairs to camp out in Bilal's room on the floor again tonight, it sure beats running upstairs every time I hear him fuss, which I predict will probably happen again tonight.

Oh, and to everybody, Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Heart Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More appointments!

When will they ever end????? Just got the package in the mail from the surgery office, Bilal is scheduled for evaluation of his hernia on February 28th. We were thinking of deferring it, but our GI though it was a good idea to get it checked out sooner due to risk of incarceration. Right now some days it isn't even obvious, but we're going to go ahead and get the evaluation done.

Bilal is slowly recovering from croup. No more fever, but he has a nasty cough, and sounds terribly hoarse when he cries. He's still pretty irritable at times, and has been giving his older siblings a hard time, not letting them get anywhere near me! Hopefully some day soon he'll learn there's plenty of mama to go around. Right now every time he cries it sounds like he is going to throw up again, so I'm trying to keep him as calm as possible. Appetite's still poor too, just when he was starting to do well with his weight gain!

Speech wise he seems to be getting a bit better every day. He is starting to make a little more sense, although he's still not putting words together in a comprehensible way. Maybe by the time his speech eval. comes around we won't need it any more? That would be pretty good. And since we're bilingual, maybe that's why he's taking his time, although I'm still the only person who speaks Urdu with him, everyone else is determined to teach him English only.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sick babies and sleepless nights

I wonder why kids always seem to get sick at night? Yesterday Bilal was a bit puny, he hardly ate or drank anything all day and ran a low grade temperature. but overall he wasn't too bad. The main thing I did notice was that he had a raspy cough. Well, he went to bed a bit earlier than usual, and woke up briefly several times over the next couple of hours, falling back asleep before I even went to his room. Then at 11:30pm I heard a hoarse wail. When I went up to his room he was crouping. Well, I picked him up and he threw up, all over the both of us, including his blanket. So we went through the familiar act of cleaning him up and both of us changing clothes; we're pros at doing this in the dark. I sat in the rocking chair with him, holding a substitute blanket and a cup of water. I don't know how long we rocked, but when I put him in the crib he started asking for "ban-dint", a.k.a. his usual blanket. Luckily Zakir had the presence of mind to throw the blanket in the washing machine before he went back to bed, so it was clean, but obviously wet. Bilal and I proceeded to go down to the kitchen to put his blanket in the dryer, and paced around until it was dry enough to cuddle with. Now Bilal doesn't love his blanket like his big brother does (Hamza's old blankie with the faded balloons is still his lovie, napkin, make-believe prop, drool catcher, pillow, superhero cape and friend), but he has gotten into the habit of sleeping with it all the time. Back upstairs we tried the rocking chair, crib, floor, rocking chair, crib, and finally he fell asleep cuddled up next to me on a comforter on the floor, at about 3am, both of us still smelling faintly of puked up Pediasure. Man, that stuff really stinks when it comes up the wrong way!

Sleep deprived and cranky

After a bath and a haircut, feeling a bit better

So here we are today, Bilal is still coughing, still hoarse, has a crummy appetite and his temperature has peaked at 100.6, not enough to be concerned, but just enough to make him feel puny. On top of that I have that fuzzy sleep-deprived feeling too. Gosh, I hate those darn viruses that just have to 'run their course'.

Up from a too short nap, and grumpy again

Sunday, February 10, 2008

CHD awareness week Feb 7-14

View this montage created at One True Media
CHD Awareness 2008

I hope you take the time to view this montage. It's rather long but has a lot of useful CHD facts. Thanks, Anna-Maria!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ice Cream for Dinner

OK, so we were all a bit naughty yesterday. We went out shopping, and when it was time for dinner everyone voted for ice cream. Well, it's not like we do it every day. Gotta admit, it sure was delicious! Sure beats leftovers any day.

Well, that was the start to our weekend. We've been pretty busy so far. This morning I had to go make rounds, and because I had some sick ones in the hospital, I didn't make it back in time to go into Birmingham with Hamza. Today was the Mercedes Marathon annual one mile run, which benefits Children's Health Systems. Safa opted out this year (she was home catching up with homework), so Zakir took the boys down and Hamza ran the mile. Temperatures were much milder than this time last year, so they really enjoyed the run.

We spent the rest of today out and about too, except for a couple of hours when Zakir and Bilal were catching up on some much needed sleep, and I wrapped up some office work. Tomorrow while the kids are in Sunday School I have to go round at the hospital, and then meet a few friends for lunch at PF Changs. That's something we gals rarely do, so I'm really looking forward to that. The whole family has a dinner to go to in the evening, so we won't be spending much time at home again. At least it's not doctor's visits this time! Speaking of which, Hamza has been sneezing up a storm today, I sure hope it's just allergies, not the start of the flu! So far he doesn't seem to be sick, just very sniffly.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ooh, Carousel rides!

Vicki took Bilal to the mall yesterday. Apparently they didn't get to meet the playgroup they were looking for, but Bilal had a blast going round and round on the carousel. We have to take him back.

Ready to go

Hold on tight!

This morning Zakir and I had a meeting with our financial advisor at the bank. We decided not to ask Vicki to come in, and took Bilal with us. Hmmm, how bad can it be to take a toddler to an office and keep him in that confined space for an hour and a half? Well, Bilal got bored of the box of toys in record time, and proceeded to pull down books from the shelf. Then he reached for some rather nice looking awards and plaques sitting on the shelves. I managed to get him away from those, and he directed his attention to papers sitting on the desk. Well Zakir gave him some paper and he entertained himself for a little while drawing. We had a couple of conference calls with other companies, and evidently the agents on the other side were rather amused hearing a baby piping in while we were on speaker phone. In between we had to rush to the car to change a ripe diaper. Anyway the last part of the meeting was rather rushed, but we pretty much got our work completed. After that we took Bilal for breakfast and he was a little doll, eating eggs and bits of pancake, while waving and saying "Hi" or "bye" to everyone who walked by us. He fell asleep very content on the way back in the car, and is taking a nice, long nap, so he'll be supercharged for the afternoon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Backyard Fun

Hamza's apparently not too big for the slide

A rare truce

The weather was lovely yesterday, so the kids got to play outside. Tonight it's predicted that the temperature is going to dip down into the low 30s, just a reminder that it really is still winter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Back from the GI clinic

We're back with a game plan. First of all, Bilal weighed 23 pounds today, that's a hefty half pound gain in 2 weeks, keeping him very comfortably on the 10th percentile for weight! I'm sure the Periactin is stimulating his appetite, but admittedly he's taking in more Pediasure, not more food. I don't want him to be on mushy and liquid food for the rest of his life, but it's great that he's gained all that weight. We'll be thinking about possibly weaning him off Prevacid some time over the summer, and maybe stepping back down to Axid for a while. We'll be keeping him on Periactin for about a year. well, as long as he's tolerating it without side effects, why not? It does seem to be helping. As far as going back to OT the consensus is that here at Children's they are not as skilled with specific feeding issues, so there's probably no point. We do know that Bilal is fully capable of chewing and swallowing when its suits him, so there's nothing much to learn. If we need to go more in depth with feeding issues there is a great program in Atlanta that might be useful. I don't think we're at that point quite yet, but it might be a thought in the future. Meanwhile we're just going to keep working on his mealtimes. Lately Bilal has gotten into dropping unwanted food off his tray onto the floor, ugh! I noice that if there is less food on his tray he seems to be less intimidated with the meal, so I add on food incrementally. Of course it makes for a long drawn out meal, but the end point is to get him to eat more. He loves his Pediasure, and it is very filling, so I have to resist giving it to him when it's time to eat.

Waiting for the doctor and reading his new Airplane Book

The temperature is a very balmy mid 70's here today and there is a possibility of breaking the 76 degree record. Basically it is weather very conducive to the formation of tornados and thunderstorms. I know there is rain in the forecast, but I haven't heard about any severe weather alerts yet, let's see how things go.

As I am typing this Bilal is watching his favorite Classical Baby DVD. He can turn on the DVD player/TV in our bedroom whenever he pleases, he's gotten to be so resourceful. I also have to keep re-locating the kitchen stool, because whenever he wants to get to something, he picks up and positions the stool, climbs on it and Voila! he can reach anything he wants. Disaster! He is also saying "Mama" all the time now. It did take 18 months, but now he has a new favorite word, I love it! He is also identifying things all over the place. We saw a billboard for a new seafood place with a fish as its logo and he immediately shouted out "Tish!" Later he pointed out to a little burn I have on my wrist, said "boo-boo" and gave it a kiss. How sweet!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Safa's birthday party

The gals had a great time today!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Karate Kids

Well the kids have both moved up a rank in Karate. I'm sharing some pics of the test.

Safa came home today and announced that there were only 18 kids in her class. Usually there's 32. Everybody (including her homeroom teacher Mrs. Booker) is out with the flu. Flu's been late to start this year, but it's sure catching up with everyone. I'm just relieved and thankful that Zakir, Safa and Hamza disn't get sick when Bilal and I did. We're pretty much over it now, but between the two of us we're still going through about half a box of Kleenex every day.

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