Friday, October 31, 2008

Cute pic

Aren't they so cute in their PJs?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Georgia Aquarium

Bilal and I drove over to meet Tahir and the girls in Atlanta yesterday. We got there about 11:30am and after lunch we spent a few hours at the Georgia Aquarium. Of course we headed to my favorite exhibit first, the jellyfish. They're such fascinating creatures. Bilal had a good time getting to know his little cousins, they were so cute together!

After the Aquarium we went for ice cream, then hitched a bus ride back to the hotel, and drove back to Birmingham.

We all had a lazy morning today, then made a trip to Walmart to pick up a few supplies. After lunch I brought Bilal back home for a nap, and everyone else is out roaming around. We are going to try hard to squeeze in as much quality time we can while they are here, but I'm also trying to keep Bilal on some sort of a schedule, he does much better that way.

I'll be posting more photos of the aquarium soon.

Monday, October 27, 2008

They're here!

Well, Tahir, Amanda and the girls aren't here, here, but they have made it to Atlanta. Bilal and I will be driving over tomorrow to pick them up and bring them back to Birmingham. It's so exciting that they'll be visiting for a week.

Guess who else is here????

Baby Mobeen Adeel Rabbani made it into the world this morning around 10:45am. I'm an Aunty, again. Safa, Hamza and Bilal have a new first cousin. Farah and the baby are doing fine, but we're still waiting for the proud father to email us some pics so we can brag too. Hurry up, Adeel! And lots of congrats! We can't wait to drive to Mobile again to see the new addition to the family.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hanging out in Mobile

View from above

Checking out the baby's new toys, making sure they're soft and squishy enough

At Marble Slab Creamery

Yummy ice cream!

Hamza's new hat, a gift from Pakistan.


Playing cards

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Mobile

We drove down to Mobile last night, got here a little after 9:30pm. My mother in law arrived from Pakistan two days earlier, and we plan to take her back with us to Birmingham for a few days. Poor Farah is hanging in there, still working full time, but looks like she is about to pop. I remember being 39+ weeks pregnant, it's not the most comfortable feeling, especially when you can hardly eat without getting killer heartburn. Got to admit though, she looks really cute! We'll probably head back home tomorrow afternooon. We've had a lazy morning and right now the boys have gone to Circuit City to get XM radio installed in the bus (er, minivan), and then maybe we'll go out and roam around a bit. The trip down to Mobile was actually very comfy in the Sienna, the seats are roomy, and the kids didn't get on each other's nerves, becaue they weren't close enough to maske physical contact. I think I'll get used to the new car, eventually.

Tahir is still on track to be in Birmingham on the 28th of October, so for a few days we'll have a full house, that should be very nice. Pity that the kids have school, so they won't be able to spend a lot of time with them, but this was the best time for them to visit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three seconds of internet fame

Safa's class is participating in a project called Letters to the Next President and these letters on various topics will be published on this website within the next few days. The Birmingham News came to interview the class on this project, and Safa was one of the four students selected to be interviewed. She didn't get mentioned in the print version of the article, but she had her three seconds of internet fame on the online video that was posted about the project. I thought I'd share it with everyone, even though it's just a blurb.

Letters 2 The President

I'll share the link as soon as Safa's letter is up on the website. Her topic of choice was the benefits of having a day without driving. It's so cool that the school is using practical ways to get the kids interested in Civics, although this is actually an English project.

Lately we have the music to Schoolhouse Rock booming in our kitchen all the time, thanks to the fifth grade drama club. That's what they'll be performing this year, and Hamza has been working hard to familiarize himself with the music. He hasn't been assigned a part yet, but he's been eagerly auditioning for different roles. I don't think I've ever actually seen him dance since he was little, so this is going to be fun to watch!

We got our new car yesterday, and so far the kids love it. It's nice but I do feel rather bad about trading in the 'X for a people mover. Today Safa remarked, "Mama, now our car looks like any other car on the road". I guess everyone is driving minivans! I really am going to miss the MDX. The Sienna isn't much bigger than that was, but for some reason today I even had a hard time parking it in the garage when Zakir's car was in its usual spot on the driveway. It's going to take some getting used to. I'll share some pics tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

You can't reason with a two year old

I have another toddler story to share:

Hamza asked me to come and eat lunch with him today, he eats in the lunchroom at 11:45am. I figured that by next year when he is in middle school my ten year old is probably not going to want to admit I exist, let alone ask me to eat lunch with him. So I thought we should make a special effort to go. I packed Bilal's lunch and started to put a jacket on him, since it's a bit cool outside today. Well, he didn't want to wear the jacket, so he threw a tantrum. It took me about ten minutes, but I finally coaxed him to put it on. (OK, I admit I bribed him with some candy. Heck, we were running late, desperate times call for desperate measures!) Anyway, once the jacket was on he asked for his candy, so I pulled a small lollipop out of the jar and handed it to him on the way out the door. Well, when he took the wrapper off there was a little hole in the side of the lollipop, probably where an air bubble had formed when the candy was being processed in the mold. Here it goes: he shows me the hole and then has another tantrum. "Dat woyipop boten, I want udder woyipop!" (That lollipop's broken, I want another lollipop). I can't imagine how a 26 month old toddler can figure that out. He's evidently smarter than we estimated!

Anyway, by then we were really late, and I was contemplating not taking Bilal to the school, but we headed there anyway. Incidentally he handed me the defective candy, which is still lying in a cup hold in the car. Talk about being stubborn, he didn't even eat his candy!

We made it to the lunchroom a little after 11:55 with only about 5 minutes of lunch to spare. Hamza pulled up a chair and I took out Bilal's lunch. But of course he wanted his brother's lunch. Poor Hamza would have probably let him have the whole thing too, but that's not fair, so I let him share a bit of corn and gave it back to Hamza. A third tantrum! So while Hamza went outside to play I picked Bilal up kicking and screaming, and put him in the car.

After coming home and eating lunch we went upstairs to read. We were less than half way through Bilal's favorite storybook when he asked to go in his crib. Evidently the tantrums wore him out. Now he is taking a much needed nap.

Look at that cute little face. Can you even imagine that he could ever get into trouble?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our weekend update

We had about 30 people over for a barbecue lunch on Saturday. With guests of course, comes the pre- house cleaning and the post- house cleaning, but it was worth it, we had a great time. After a rainy, dreary Friday the weather was perfect on Saturday for the kids to play outdoors, so they all hung out in the backyard. Perfect grilling weather too!

Bilal's new toy, a rubber mallet. Don't ask me, Zakir approved its use. Makes me nervous

Look at that shaggy hair. I think he's due for a another haircut soon

Sunday started off slower with kids mostly hanging out with their friends, but ended with a bit of excitement. We have been talking about trading in our MDX for a minivan for a while now, but keep changing our mind. Despite being more than eight years old and having nearly 130,000 miles on the car it still drives great. But we do run out of space once in a while, and frankly Safa and Hamza are both getting sick of Bilal reaching over from his car seat and whacking them with whatever he has in his hand. A minivan would mean more space, less riots (we hope). The negative side of course is that when we are all together one child will always be alone in the back. So we discussed this with the older kids, and they agreed that a compromise can be struck. We have decided on a Toyota Sienna, and found one on the internet. It is a very low mileage 2008 car, probably wiser than buying a brand new model. We went down to Hoover to reserve it, and it should be delivered within the next week. We will miss the 'X, and it will feel weird to drive a minivan (not a very sexy car), but the positive side is having more room and finally owning a car that doesn't demand premium gas.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nine Years ago today......

....... I lost my mother to colon cancer. Fifty-four years is too young. I always try and take this opportunity to remind my friends and readers that colon cancer can be detected in its early, curable stages, by routine medical care. The complexity of testing depends on your risk factors. If you have a brother, sister or parent who has been diagnosed with colon cancer you should have a colonoscopy by age 50, or about ten years earlier than when your family member was diagnosed, whichever comes first. For me it means I'll be having one when I turn 40. We don't know if my mother had any family members who had colon cancer, but do know that a couple of her close family members died young of uncertain causes, so there is a possibility. She had never been recommended to have a colonoscopy, or even a flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is a relatively simple office procedure, for which you don't even have to be sedated. Even simpler than that is a home test called a fecal occult blood test which if negative, may not have much significance, but if positive can suggest an underlying problem and the need for further testing. Many medical societies have made recommendations for everyone to have a colonoscopy by age 50, but it is still not a common practice.

October is breast cancer awareness month, we all hear about wearing pink for support, getting mammograms, etc. Colon cancer may not be as common, but is just as devastating for the patient, and the family, and it really can be detected early like breast cancer. You just have to understand your risks and talk to your doctor. Please.

I still miss my mom, a lot, everyday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Presidential debate

Did anybody happen to hear the presidential debate last night? A lot of time was devoted to the candidates complaining about each other's campaigning techniques. Something like:
"Your ads are negative",
"No your ads are more negative"
"No yours are"
"No yours"

And so on. Reminded me a bit of playground name calling going on between two kindergartners. You'd think that at this point in the election campaigning process there would be more to discuss. Sadly last night's debate did not teach us much more about the candidates, except their petty differences.

Joe the plumber was the real celebrity last night!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


A little blurb from my conversation with Bilal this evening while I was folding laundry.

Bilal: Baji fish name Bubbles

Mama: What's Baji's (your sister's) name?

Sappa (well it's close enough to Safa!)

Mama: What's Bhai's (your brother's) name?

Bilal: Hamza

Mama: What's Mama's name?

Bilal: Mama

Mama: What's Baba's name?

Bilal: Baba

Mama: What's your name?

Bilal: Me!

Mama: So who's Bilal?

Bilal: (patting his tummy), Me!

Mama: But what's your name?

Bilal: Me!

OK, I give up!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Pump it Up party

Yesterday I took the kids to Pump it Up for Saim's birthday party. Safa and Hamza love those inflatable sides, but Bilal is still leery. It took him about an hour to take his shoes of. He was happier playing with a balloon and in the Little Tikes cars, but you can't say he didn't enjoy himself. Here's a little video of Bilal entertaining himself.

And eating cake:

Adeela, me, Rabiya, Mehreen and Saema. The only way we can all get together is at one of our kids' birthday parties!

After the party we dropped Safa off at a friend's house for another birthday party. Between rounding in the hospital, Sunday School and all these parties either Zakir or I were on the road for most of the day, shuttling back and forth.

It was back to work for us today, but the kids had a long weekend for Fall Break, so Vicki stayed with them at home today. I have been working for more than a week straight (except for my last Tuesday off), so here I am already looking forward to the weekend, which is still 5 days away. I am so glad we have no call for the next three weekends. We plan to invite some friends for a barbecue next Saturday, and then maybe visit Mobile the weekend after that. No down time, what a busy life we live!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The day ended well

It's been a tiring day. I got up this morning at 5:30am, so that I could go make rounds early, and maximize how much time I could spend with the family. By the time I got home it was 10am, and one look at the house made me realize what I had to do next. I immediately went into cleaning mode: mopping, sweeping, vacuuming and even cleaning off the much neglected blinds. It took me quite a while to get the downstairs part of the house completed, and I didn't even think of starting on the upper story. Safa had a friend over for most of the day, and we all went to Dairy Queen for lunch. That's when the phone calls started coming from the hospital, and then they kept coming all afternoon. I had a very sick elderly lady in the hospital, one who as of this morning seemed to be getting better. Then suddenly she started to deteriorate, with her heart rate and blood pressure dropping. Based on her wishes the family had decided not to take aggressive measures if she went into cardiac arrest. Well within an hour of this starting the 85 year old lady passed away. She had been sick for no more than 5 days, but with pancreatitis, a disease that has a high mortality rate even in otherwise healthy people. She also had pneumonia, which really worsened her odds. Still, it's so hard to lose a patient under any circumstances. So basically the rest of the day was rather depressing; in my mind I kept wondering if there was anything I would have done differently in her care, but I believe there wasn't.

Days like this are hard on me, then I think about how many blessings I have. I had a solid 2 hours of quality time with the kids before they went to bed. I can't even count how many books Bilal and I read together, and then as soon as he went to bed Safa, Hamza and I played a highly competitive game of Scrabble. Now they are in bed, and I'm think of doing the same, but first I have to share some photos of the kids from today and yesterday.

Hamza, the birthday boy

Bilal ready for bed

My princess Safa, with her new haircut

Bilal sporting his new 'doddy' jammas

And the cloud with the silver lining, photo taken by Hamza.

Tahir's trip has been delayed a bit, he will be coming with his family on October 28th instead of the 16th. It's hard to have to wait another 12 days, but we are really excited about their visit. I am planning to take some time off while they are here, so we can see as much of each other as possible.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Hamza's 10th birthday!

I can't believe it, my second baby is growing up, in double digits now! And to think next year Hamza will be starting middle school next year. Time flies!

I put together a montage of some photos of my young man. It's kind of long, but how on earth can you squeeze ten years of fun into one small slideshow??!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Aaargh, math!

Safa and I just got over another somewhat tense session with Pre-algebra. She came home with another not-so-great grade in her most recent math test. We sat down together, and she solved all the previously incorrect questions correctly without any help! Now why couldn't she do it during her test???!!! For some reason she has this mental block every time she takes a math test, it's almost like she convinces herself that she can't do well. If you don't know something you can learn it, or it can be taught with some help. But what do you do when you know the concepts but just freeze up in the middle of a test, or subtract 9 from 48 and write the answer as 37 instead of 39? It gets frustrating because I know she can do it, but she's the only one that can convince herself that she can too. She has just joined the Math team, maybe that will give her the confidence she lacks. I know it's another extracurricular activity, and she's already got a lot going on, but it's a choice she made herself; she is already thinking about her future and what educational prospects she might have next year onwards.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The picnic, and other news

The picnic was fun yesterday. The kids ate hotdogs and cupcakes, well, Hamza had a cupcake and Bilal had the frosting! There was a moonwalk and some other rides for the kids. Bilal went on a little carousel, that went round and round in a pretty tight circle. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to stand next to him; within a minute or two he was getting so dizzy that he couldn't even sit upright on the horse anymore. Needless to say he didn't want to go for another ride. He did have a fun time watching kids playing in the ball pit although he didn't want to get in himself.

My broken car window has been taken care of, I got it repaired today. This evening I realized that the garage door opener which was clipped on my visor is also missing. That means that whoever took the GPS has our home address (programmed into it), and our garage opener! I have that nervous sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach now. I have emailed the manufacturer; I'm sure we can find a way to deactivate the door opener. I am also going to call the Birmingham police tomorrow to let them know.

Life with Bilal has been getting rough. I have had so many moments when I could pull my hair out lately. I am sure this wasn't my life when Safa and Hamza were toddlers. He is getting more dramatic by the day, and today hurled himself down on to the ground in a supermarket parking lot. I had given him the option of holding hands or being carried. Well he opted for running away from me so I had to pick him up kicking, and screaming and pinching. I have almost mastered the skill of carrying him just far enough away from the rest of my body that I mostly escape his attacks, but it's not easy. I firmly put him in his car seat, buckled him in and in a moment he was all smiles, singing 'Old MacDonald had a farm' at the top of his lungs. So wild, yet so cute. It is amazing how he can switch between his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personalities in less than a heartbeat. He had another meltdown at the dinner table when he insisted he wanted an ice cube from the pitcher. The one I gave him directly from the freezer just wasn't good enough for him.

After his bath he was a sweetheart all the way until bedtime. We had a little cuddle in the rocker and he asked to go into the crib. So I put him in the crib and less than five minutes later he was calling for me, asking for a "tuddow" (cuddle). So I picked him up and we rocked for a little while longer, then he went back down. This is becoming a habit. He insists on lying in the crib, I kiss him goodnight and leave and he calls me back because he's changed his mind and wants a longer cuddle after all. Keeps me on my toes, and running up and down the stairs gives me a pretty good workout.

Snuggling with his bears before bedtime. Note 'Aloha Pooh', dressed up by Safa

Hamza ready for bed too, holding his tattered white blankie. This is the one he has snuggled with, slept with, drooled on and wiped his face on since he was a baby.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Friday afternoon

Even with the trauma of my car being broken in to yesterday the weekend hasn't been all bad. I got to babysit Amanda's little doll on Friday for a few hours while she and her husband went out for lunch and a movie. She fussed a bit when they left her, and for the rest of the time was all smiles. She didn't even nap for the 4 hours I had her, so we got to play tons. But on cue, barely one minute before her mom and dad walked in to pick her up she started to cry. Hmm, just makes me look bad! But aha, I had proof of how happy she had been while they were gone. Janelle had a great time posing for the camera while we played, and she particularly loved the flash going off in her face!

Isn't she such a cutie? I can't wait until we get to have another playdate!

Now it's time to wake up our sleeping baby, I'm taking the kids to a picnic at Oak Mountain State Park. Lately Bilal has been skipping more naps (groan!) and being a particularly trying two year old, so I'm not looking forward to cutting his nap short today, but I'm sure we'll all have fun at the picnic. We don't want to leave too late!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Not a good day

Today hasn't been a great day so far; although the open house at ASFA was interesting and very informative. Safa and I parked my MINI street-side for one hour between 9 and 10am. This is a busy street, and of course it was broad daylight. When we returned this is what we saw:

While we were inside the school someone had shattered the passenger side window and stolen the GPS. Yes, I feel bad about not having taken it off the windshield and stashing it in the glove compartment, but it's not something we'd have thought of doing. I think it's probably the first time I've ever parked on the street in downtown Birmingham in my MINI, but we've done it in our other car many times, with the GPS usually in full view! Normally it wouldn't have been in my car, but I didn't know how to get to the school, and I didn't want to risk getting lost and getting there late. I called the police, who came and gave me a claim number. They said that if we can give them a serial number they might be able to find the stolen GPS. So we have to track down the serial number. Hopefully we'll find it, since Zakir registered it online. Anyway I came home and called the insurance company. Unfortunately the car damage and the theft are covered under two separate policies, our homeowner's and our auto insurance, although the company is the same. So that means two deductibles. We've already determined that the cost of the GPS is below our deductible, so no help there! Our only hope is if we can get that serial number and the slim chance that it will show up in some pawn shop and get reported as stolen property. Being realistic, I'm not too hopeful about that. As far as the car damage goes, we have decided to get an estimate before we submit a claim, to see if it's even worth our while to file one.

On top of the actual damage and monetary losses, it's so traumatic when you realize your property has been violated like that. I feel really crummy right now. I can't even imagine ever parking my car downtown again, thinking that something else could happen, although I know there will be times when I'll have to drive and park there.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Girls' Night Out

Yesterday Mehreen suggested we go out to eat, just four of us friends, just on a whim. Those of you who are parents of young children must know that spontaneity just isn't a part of our lives. Well, surprisingly last night worked out great. Zakir was gracious enough to keep Bilal, so the four of us, and Mehreen's sweet little baby girl Aaliya went to PF Changs for dinner. Thankfully Bilal obliged us all by going to sleep without a fuss, even though Mama wasn't home. So while Zakir sat at home and watched the VP debate, we drove to Barnes and Noble nearby, to pick up some coffee and desserts (decaf for me, of course). It's been a long time since we had so much fun. Mehreen is leaving for a 2 and 1/2 month trip in a few days, and we haven't got to see Ayesha much at all because of her daughter Khadija being sick, so there was a lot to catch up on. The families are meeting up one more time tonight at Adeela's house for dinner, then it will be a while before we can all get together.

There is so much going on this weekend, starting with the ASFA open house Saturday morning, then a community dinner tomorrow evening. Sunday there are two prospective picnics that we want to go to, and this is the weekend of the Homestead Hollow Harvest Festival but I doubt we're going to be able to squeeze in all these activities! We'll just have to prioritize. Zakir's on call too, so he'll be making rounds at the hospital every morning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A busy, busy day

I had too many photos to share this time, so I just popped them into a montage. We had a busy day yesterday, starting off with Eid prayers at the Alabama State Fairgrounds at 8am. After prayers we came back home, and took some pics, before everyone changed their clothes. Then we took the kids shopping for presents; Hamza got a Rubiks cube he didn't put down all day, Safa got yet another board game and Bilal got a big bucket of sidewalk chalk. He just loves to draw, and loves chalk! These were in addition to the gifts and money we already had given them. We stopped home for Bilal's lunch break, then headed to the Pelham mosque for the carnival, where we ate heaps of yummy food, and kids got to play with their friends. We then drove all the way back home, in an effort to let Bilal take a nap. That didn't work out, but Zakir did get to take a long nap! In the evening I made my famous spinach and strawberry salad, and we went to Hoover for a pot-luck dinner. We didn't make it home until after 10pm, and we're back to our usual schedule today, school and work. These last two days have deprived Bilal of 8 hours of sleep he otherwise would have had, but thankfully he is taking his usual nap today. Hamza had to be woken up for school this morning, he's had two late nights back to back, and he really needs his sleep! Maybe we'll all get back on track over the next few days.

I was not looking forward to going to work today after all of yesterday's festivities, so I was rather glad that my schedule was lighter than usual. Of course my schedule is already packed for tomorrow! I'm really looking forward to the weekend.

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