Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I lost my widgets, I lost my widgets! I was trying to change the template of our blog, and transfer the widgets over to the new blog, obviously missed a step and am now widgetless. All that work, what a waste!!!! I will be working on manually restoring all that I had on it, but it will take a while. For now the columns will look bare, hopefully in a few days it will look better. I can't believe I did that. Somebody teach me HTML, please!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Safa does it again, nearly!

This afternoon was the last debate meet for the 2007-08 school year. The topic was universal health care, something I have also studied in some depth in the past. I didn't get to attend the actual debates, but made it there for the awards. Safa placed second in the Birmingham area middle school division, by only one point, a 348, to the winner's 349. Of course in our eyes she is a winner. This is her first year, and she came second to an 8th grade student who has been debating for 3 years, so that's awesome. Overall Hewitt won in both the high school and middle school levels, securing 33 out of 36 possible wins. We had a strong team this year, but among all Hewitt students participating, only Safa ranked among the top ten.

Safa's debate team

Members of the HTMS team outside Brooks Hall at Samford University

Monday, April 28, 2008

A worthy cause to support

Imagine you were a child admitted to the hospital with an illness, or in need of surgery. A foreign world, one full of strange noises such as beeps and alarms and strangers talking in whispers. A world full of IVs, and painful needle sticks, monitors and all kinds of medical tests. How would you feel? You probably wouldn't understand why you had to be there, what couldn't you go home to a place where life is predictable again? Miracles are performed in hospitals, but that is often more than a child can comprehend.

Now imagine if a friendly face walked into your room, with a cart full of books, and you were allowed to choose one to keep for yourself. Wouldn't that be a welcome surprise? Kate's Kart is making that a reality in one hospital. Check out the website and join me in supporting this budding charity. There is also a link in the sidebar that you can use to go to the website.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Iron Chef, Khan style, Episode 2

We are really trying to start a tradition here. As last Sunday afternoon, today the kids got their creative juices flowing and the pasta battle commenced. I helped them out by pre-cooking their choice of pasta. Safa picked shells for her creatively named 'beach blend', and Hamza chose spaghetti, (because we didn't have any fettuccini). Twenty five minutes later the judges sat down for two creatively plated pasta dishes. We had to give them a 10 on presentation, and Hamza's dish won on taste, by a hair, I must admit. So for this week Hamza gets the much coveted title of Iron Chef of the Khan household. As tradition dictates, next week's ingredient, ground beef has been announced, although I will pre-cook the beef, and then they will use it in their own recipe. It is, after all, a kid's contest!

Hamza's yummy, but not-so-creatively-named shrimp alfredo

Safa's beach blend (too much crushed red pepper)

Bilal helped out by getting in the way as often as possible:

Say Cheese!

Taken from Safa's camera in the car. Note Bilal's cookie mustache.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why we don't plant anything in our window box....

....Sammy loves to sit there!

And here's our little monkey out in the back yard with his dad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

January through April

Today it felt like summer for the first time. Temperatures hit the mid 80s, a sign of things to come. I thought I'd share a little montage of the family, pre-summer. It's been an eventful spring in many ways, and this collection of photos will help sum it up. According to Safa there's 20 days left until school is out, the kids are keeping a close count. Let's see what the summer brings for us!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Buckle Up!

I wanted to share something about Bilal, I think this deserves its own post. This morning while I was strapping him into his car seat a car tried to pull into the parking space next to ours at the bank. As always, I had both car doors open on the passenger side. I hopped out of the car to close the passnger door so the car could pull in, then got into the driver's seat to reverse out. Bilal freaked out in the back seat with a loud squeal. When I looked back only one of his straps was secured. For the first time ever, I had forgotten to fully buckle him in, and he didn't want me to drive off like that. So I got out and buckled him in properly, then we went our merry way on without any further mishaps. I am soooooo proud of my safety conscious little guy. All that consistency and obsessiveness is paying off!

Just lounging

Fourteen years together

We made it! It's our fourteenth wedding anniversary today. Last night we had a delicious seafood dinner without the kids. It was really strange though, we eat out a lot with the kids, but are always in a hurry to eat and get out of the restaurant while the baby's still in a good mood. Last night we had all the time in the world but we had a hard time pacing ourselves, so we didn't really have a leisurely meal. It never ceases to amaze me how kids change your life to a point when you can never go back to your old habits!

Bilal apparently had no issues about us not being at home at his bedtime. He went through the routine with Vicki as if this was always the way we had been dong it. That's reassuring, maybe we won't wait two more years this time before Zakir and I go out again.
The kids presented us with gifts they had made themselves. Safa made us a beautiful anniversary book, made with photos that bring back great memories. Hamza made a card that flies, and we even got a colorful card from Bilal, made with help from his big sister. We have wonderful children, this is just another reminder.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cooking, and the Car Wash

Safa came up with the idea of a cook-off between her and Hamza today, a sort of 'Iron Chef' Khan family style, so to speak. Zakir picked the secret ingredient, strawberries, and our budding chefs got to work. The judging was based on creativity, taste, presentation and how clean their workspace was at the end of it all. Safa's dessert was a trifle of sorts, vanilla pudding layers with fresh strawberries, and topped with flavored sugar crystals. Definitely a 10 for taste, but lacking a bit in clean-up and presentation. Hamza's drink ranked high in presentation (OK, the sugar coated glass rims were actually my idea!), but his strawberry, banana, peanut butter smoothie wasn't quite perfect in taste. I have to admit I just don't like peanut butter, but I give him credit for the effort. Plus he actually found the recipe online, so the points he would have lost in creativity, he earned in resourcefulness. The 'secret ingredient' for next Sunday has already been revealed, we thought we'd give them a head start. I wonder what they'll do with noodles? I think this could be the start of a fun trend in our home!

Today was car-wash day, the MINI and Zakir's Audi got a thorough cleaning, and the process was great fun for the kids. Bilal came in the house soaking wet and very happy; apparently he enjoyed soaking everyone with the garden hose, so Zakir gave him a squirt, or two, or three also.

Hard at work, and enjoying it

I'm wet!

I also started working on Safa's room this weekend, as promised, well, about 6 months ago. That was when I finished painting and furnishing Bilal's room and had promised Safa that her room was next. OK, I'm a procrastinator, I admit it, but at least work has commenced. Zakir repaired the broken shelf in her closet and I steamed off the cloud decals that she inherited when she moved into that room. We aren't going to paint the walls; they're a pretty blue color, instead we are going to apply some wall art, and finally get her some drapes to cover those ugly white blinds. This will probably take several weekends, since I don't see much happening during the week. I still haven't finished last Thursday's office work, that's just not what weekends are for!

Tuesday is our fourteenth wedding anniversary, and I think we're finally ready to 'cut the cord'. Monday night (Vicki couldn't come Tuesday) Zakir and I are going out to dinner. We haven't gone out without the kids since before Bilal was born, so this is waaayyyyy overdue. The hardest thing is knowing that neither Zakir nor I will be there at Bilal's bedtime. It's probably not such a big deal, but it's never happened. Even when he was in the hospital after open heart surgery I spent every night sitting next to him, reluctant to travel the twenty minutes to our house where I could have slept in my own bed. And now we have a bedtime routine that helps our little wildman unwind and get ready to go into his crib, and I won't be there for him! We know that he doesn't like the slightest deviation from his usual schedule, so I don't know how this will go! The positive side is that he adores Vicki, and she has been caring for him for more than a year, we're not leaving him with an unfamiliar person. Plus Safa and Hamza will be home so he can 'tuck them in' as he usually does before he goes to bed. Still, I'm a bit nervous.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's going on....

We've got a dinner to go to tonight, a gathering of doctors and their families, in Montgomery. That should quite a colorful social event. Safa's been working on what to wear. This process includes calling or texting her friends, and polling them, getting ideas, so none of her posse look overdressed or underdressed. I didn't realize how delicate this process actually is, and I don't think I had the faintest idea about dressing up for parties when I was 12. Even now, I'll just pull out an outfit in the my closet and hope that it doesn't clash too drastically with the oversized diaper bag we still carry around. Kids these days!

Hamza has a friend's birthday party to go to at noon, and his teacher is having her class over for a party this evening, of course he'll miss this, and is quite bummed about it. His teacher's plans include a twilight walk in the woods by her house and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows on an open fire. I can see how that would be more fun for a nine year old than meeting a bunch of doctors' kids in a hotel. Still, we do plan on seeing a lot of his friends tonight.

Tomorrow we plan to go bowling with a big group from Sunday School, and today the morning will be devoted to yard work. Safa and Hamza got selected to be on the National Geographic Kids advisory board this year, and as a gift each got trees in the mail, teeny spruce trees that came in bubble mailing bags. They are planting them outside today. If they establish themselves in our back year they apparently have the potential to grow up to 150 feet. Wow! I'll add some photos when the trees are secured planted in the ground. Right now I have a little herb garden growing in a pot, basically rosemary, cilantro and spearmint, which are the fresh herbs we use the most in cooking. Zakir has a few varieties of tomatoes growing in our veggie patch, which is the one vegetable (well, fruit) we have consistently grown very successfully every year since living in this house. We are also planting some cukes, and peppers. The kids love getting involved and it's a great way to peel them away from the TV.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Eat your veggies!

After years of trial and error with different foods I have finally mastered the art of feeding my kids (basically Hamza) vegetables. Safa has always been an eating champ, at least willing to try anything new, and Bilal loves veggies, well except eggplant (that's the only one I've found so far that he absolutely refused to eat). But Hamza has always been a bit of a challenge. Well, no longer! I thought I'd share my very simple modifications on the steamed veggie for those moms who struggle with the issue: "If it's green I ain't gonna eat it!"

1. Green beans seasoned with chicken boullion

2. Green cabbage sauteed in a teaspoon of oil, softened and slightly browned. Before removing from the skillet I add Moore's marinade for additional flavor. That's actually a locally distributed marinade, but is nothing more than soy sauce, smoke flavoring, garlic and a few other spices.

3. Thinly sliced yellow squash and thinly sliced onions, layered with freshly grated parmesan cheese and baked in the oven for about 20 minutes (a favorite with my kids, they'll eat this as a snack)

4. Eggplant coated in a mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, but baked instead of fried, and served as a typical egglant parmesan dish. Hamza wolfed this down, but I couldn't even get Bilal to chew a single bite!

5. Sliced mushrooms sauteed in butter and sprinkled with dill seed while in the pan (OK, this isn't as healthy as the preceding options, but it sure is yummy!)

I make several curries with veggies, but that is more time consuming; I'm all for shortcuts!

Of course, kids will be kids, and they love their ice cream!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Update on our heart buddies

I have acquired this awesome network of heart families and friends through carepages, caringbridge and blogger. It's time to put it to good use. I mentioned Emma in an earlier post. She is at the hospital, recovering from heart surgery. Aside from some tube feeding issues she's doing well. Ashcer had an awesome recovery, and is doing well back at home with his family. Another precious little one Addisyn has made it home and is recovering from open heart surgery as we speak. If you get a chance, drop by their sites and read their awe-inspiring stories. I just learned about another little guy, Elijah who is going in for his full repair tomorrow. Wow, I know I'll be following the courses of all these wonderful children through surgery and post-op. For those of you who have a Carepages login, you can check in on Jackson (cp: JLFries) and Cassidy (cp: cassidylisa), who have recently had open heart surgery and the list goes on. For some of these children, a single OHS means a full repair of their CHD, and for others it's just the start of a series of many procedures. Little Karly (cp: Karlybug) is having her second open heart surgery very soon, and I know her family is going through the same anxiety we all do when we have to hand our child over to a doctor for heart surgery. There are many other children and families dealing with similar struggles every day. I had never fathomed that CHD is such a widespread disease!

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention Nevaeh who will be having her OHS some time in May too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bilal meets Elmo

We had a chance meeting with Elmo today when we went to get Hamza's glasses re-adjusted. Bilal was fascinated, and a bit freaked out at the same time. He shook hands, but didn't really want much more to do with the furry monster. Luckily I had with me my handy dandy camera, so Safa snapped a picture while we were in the store. He talked about Elmo all the way until bedtime. The funny thing is, Bilal doesn't really watch Sesame Street, his exposure to Elmo is mostly limited to the little cartoons on his diapers! What he does enjoy watching is 'Blue's Clues', and he has recently become fascinated with 'Monsters, Inc.' Of course his attention span is that of a twenty month old toddler, so he doesn't really watch a lot of any show before he is on the run again.

He is still taking nice long naps, and sleeping pretty well at night. Today he didn't nap until 2pm since we were out and about, and at 4:45pm we woke him up. He looks so cute with that fuzzy look on his face and bed head when he first wakes up (man, he needs a haircut again!) Even after sleeping nearly three hours today he was ready for bed by 8:30pm, and usually sleeps until about 7 in the morning.

All three of the kids had some rare brother/sister moments today. It is not every day that they hold hands or even treat each other nicely. Bilal still exercises his jealousy especially towards Safa, and can be pretty mean to her when he's in the mood. Today, fortunately was not one of those days.

My kids, getting along well for a change

Friday, April 11, 2008

Predictably unpredictable.....

...........That's the weather in Alabama. Today there were reports of baseball size hail in the area, and this little hail stone in Safa's hand was by no means the biggest that fell in our yard. The storm was fast and furious, completely destroying a tree in our next door neighbor's front yard (we just just had three of ours cut down so that we could try and grow a lawn this year).

Before we knew it the storm had passed and we had a beautiful rainbow to show for it. This is a part of the complete rainbow that engulfed our neighborhood. Just a reminder that God is at work, showing us small miracles every day.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

All better

Enjoying a snack outdoors

Bilal's bizarre 36 hour illness is over, thankfully, and he had a good supper this evening. Safa's been complaining about a sore throat now, but I'm hoping it's just allergies, everything is yellow with pollen! We need a good rain to help settle some of that stuff now.

Swinging and enjoying ice creams at the park

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fever again??

I don't know what it is with Bilal and weekends. Appetite down again, puny, saying 'hurt', wouldn't elaborate any more (what can you expect from a 20 month old?) and fever, up to 101.5 this time. Not really any other symptoms, except a little more retching again. That was our night. I, of course had to go to work this morning, but Bilal slept in until 10am! Now why can't he do that on the weekends? He spent most of the afternoon playing, but was a bit more clingy, and he didn't eat much today. Since he didn't nap after waking up he was really ready for bedtime tonight.

Hamza saw the orthodontist this afternoon. This time he's not going to need more extractions until the next visit in 6 months. Poor guy has a small jaw, that is crowded even with his primary teeth, so he's been getting serial extractions of his baby teeth to make way for the permanent ones. We have been seeing the orthodontist for about 2 years, and haven't even started treatment yet! The extractions are supposed to simplify the actual course of wearing braces. I have to admit he doesn't cry even with all the shots he gets for extractions, whereas if it were Safa, well....... Hamza still has 8 primary teeth that are nowhere near ready to come out.

We have finalized the plans for our sunroom expansion project, and are waiting for the drawings to be prepared so that we can get the permits and start construction. We are optomistic that it should be ready by mid-June, as long as the city approves everything.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weekend Plans

This week has been pretty uneventful, Safa and Hamza are finished with half of their standardized testing at school, and have Monday through Wednesday next week left. This morning we have a second appointment with the contractor to talk in more detail about our sunroom addition. We have narrowed it down and are excited to start as soon as we can. First the plans have to be submitted to the city so we can get our permits. Trussville is historically very strict about codes, but with the amount of remodeling going on in our neighborhood right now, it can't be that bad. The only issue is that we have been told by two different contractors that it will take about 2 months. That's a long time to have workers in our home, especially since it involves knocking down an exterior wall. I thought people could build an entire home in 2-3 months, we just want to expand our sunroom!

Our friend Ashcer is doing great post-Fontan. He finally got all his chest tubes out and may be heading home in the next day or two. Our little heart buddy Emma is scheduled for her second open heart surgery on April 11th. Let's all pray that she doesn't get sick, the poor family has already dealt with re-scheduling twice before! They really need to be able to get through this. I remember Bilal's surgery date was just moved (for good reason) by 3 days, and that was enough to throw us all off.

Bilal's speech really taking off! He tends to get really frustrated when we don't know exactly what he's talking about, because he sure does, but his words are definitely getting easier to understand, as a general rule. He remains fascinated by planes and helicopters (he knows that a 'hopter' is different that an 'ai yai'), and can differentiate various types of trucks, pretty impressive. He loves bath time, and could stay in the water forever if I would let him. Also, going 'i-tide' (outside) is his favorite pastime. Yesterday it was 'waining' (raining) a lot. I speak to him in Urdu, but he seems determined to use English words, probably because everone else does. Well, at least he understands Urdu. I'll keep trying!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Back at the Park

Another beautiful spring day, hoping this weather lasts!

We love being at the park


Bilal at home, pretending to be a kitty cat. Note those pudgy little feet!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Bilal and I went to visit our friends Mehreen and baby Aliyah today. The kids interacted a lot better than I expected, in fact Aliyah was the perfect host, sharing her toys and snacks with him. It was so cute to see them interact. Of course, they were more interested in palying with the big empty water reservoir than Aliyah's toys! We hung out for a couple of hours, then took the kids to Jason's Deli for lunch. It threw Bilal's nap schedule way off, but it was a fun day. Every time Mehreen and I get together (every few months), we say that we should do this more often, but we rarely get a chance to meet. Next plan: Mehreen and I are going to dress up and go to a nice restaurant for dinner one evening, a girls' night out. Let's see how many months that takes to materialize!

With the weather improving the kids are starting to spend more and more time outdoors. Our basketball net is a little over 8 feet high, this is Hamza holding on to the rim, and rather proud of himself.

Of course, he didn't do it without a bit of help:

And then Bilal has to do everything that his big brother does!

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