Monday, March 30, 2009

Oldie but cutie

I found this video on my work computer. I happened to be using it this evening since power supply on my personal laptop is broken and not charging my computer. Until I get a new one (hopefully tomorrow) I can't share any pics, so I thought I'd share the video instead. This is from our trip to Pakistan in December 2007, before Bilal started saying 'Mama' and 'Baba'. He is 17 months old in this.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A cute little birthday girl

We went to Bilal's heart buddy Janelle's first birthday party today. The kids had a blast running around chasing balloons, but the most important person at the party today had to be the birthday girl herself. Isn't she precious?



Look at those big bright eyes! Mmm, the cake was yummy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

McWane Center

I took the kids to McWane Center this morning while Zakir was working at the hospital. The kids had a great time as always, but we almost didn't get in to see the exhibits. As I was in the line to get our passes I realized I had driven into town without my purse. When I asked the lady at the desk if she could look up our membership she asked for ID. No purse, no ID, of course. So I started rummaging through the diaper bag, looking for a stray credit card, or something else. I actually found a spare Sam's Club membership card and yay! She gave us passes to go in. And I was extra cautious driving home since I didn't have my license (not that I'm not usually a cautious driver :))


At the Da Vinci exhibit, 'Machines in Motion'. The guy was a genius!

Itty Bitty Magic City, full of cranes, pulleys and building blocks. Bilal was in toddler heaven!

Building a racecar. I couldn't pry Hamza away from this exhibit



At the 'World of Water'. There is a mini aquarium, and the newest addition is soon to be a stingray and shark touch tank


Safa posing for the camera


Bilal got his last dose of antibiotic this morning; it was soooo gratifying to throw away the bottle. I, on the other hand, about one month later, still have a cough. Maybe it's something like the mechanic who spends his days working on and fixing other peoples' cars, but himself drives a car that is constantly breaking down. I just can't fix myself. All I have to do is yawn, and I just about cough up a lung. I wonder how long I can keep this up?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Snip snip

Well, I managed to trim a little hair off Bilal's head today. It didn't make a huge difference, but at least it wasn't a major disaster. He's so squirmy and uncooperative with haircuts I'd rather be a bit conservative. Personally I still think he looks cute. The thing that gets me is every time he gets a trim I realize how much more like a boy and less like a baby he is becoming. Oh why do our little ones grow up so fast???!!!

First attempt at taking a picture of the haircut

Second attempt

And finally he cooperates!

Can you see the boo-boo on Bilal's left cheek? It might be more obvious in this pic:



He ran into a barstool in the kitchen a few days ago. As it is healing, the bruise is almost starting to look like a black eye. Bilal is always running into something or the other. So is Hamza coming to think of it, and so is Safa. Maybe my kids are just more accident prone than most. That said, no broken bones yet, thank God!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CHD Blog Carnival

Steve at Adventures of a Funky Heart is hosting a blog carnival. This was quite a new concept to me, but the end result is very enlightening. It it basically where several bloggers write a post on a common topic and the posts are linked to the host's blog. The topic was 'The Gifts and Challenges of a Congenital Heart Defect'. It is a great way to read the stories of many heroes, linked through a common denominator, Congenital Heart Disease. If you have a chance, check it out. It's a worthwhile read, or several.

And here are a few pics of my own heart baby playing outside this evening:




I think he needs another haircut.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Goofy kids

Bilal's craze last week was to wear his bike helmet everywhere we went. I took Hamza and Bilal to JC Penney, and Bilal walked in with his helmet on. I didn't really think anything of it. Kids will be kids, and as long as it's not harmful (quite the contrary), let him wear what he wants. Of course halfway through the store he didn't want to wear it anymore, so I had to carry it for him, but that's part of being mom. If I started counting how many times a child of mine has spit a mouthful of food into my hand, I'd be counting for a long time. This was just carrying a helmet.

A day later I had all three kids with me when we went to Publix, and of course, Bilal was wearing his bicycle helmet (it's a dangerous world out there!) Well, Safa reacted a bit differently. She kept begging him to take off the helmet, even tried to walk as far away as possible from us. Evidently baby brother wearing a helmet in a grocery store embarrasses her. I guess that's being a teenager! Since that day the helmet has been in the trunk of our car, and Bilal has conveniently (for Safa's sake) forgotten about it. It will come out tomorrow when he rides his trike, and I wonder what will happen then......

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A few pics from the weekend

We spent a lot of the weekend outdoors. Can't go wrong being outside with 6 kids (and five of them boys). Yesterday we picnicked at Aldridge Gardens, after going to the mosque for Friday prayers. We spent most of today at Oak Mountain State Park (picnicking, 'minnowing', riding pedal boats, riding horses on a trail and just doing a lot of walking around. The weather couldn't be nicer, low 70s with plenty of sun, but a bit cooler by the lake.


Bilal and Adil hit it off really well

The boys

Anjum and Saqib

The picnic at Oak Mountain Fishing Center

'Minnowing' at the lake

The pedal boats


Our guests are leaving this morning after breakfast; they have a 7-8 hour road trip back to St. Louis. We wish we had a few more days with them, but we all have to go back to work/school on Monday, sigh.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring Break


Monday, as expected, was a complete washout. Then the weather got better. Tuesday was our much-awaited trip to the zoo, the one that didn't materialize. Actually we were planning on going Monday, but I had to take Bilal to see his new pediatrician. Anyway, it is half-price admission every Tuesday. Add Spring Break to the equation, and it was just impossible to get in. I tried to drive the Sienna up the gravel driveway to the overflow parking lot, but the car got stuck. Luckily the driver behind me backed out and I was able to reverse the car out of that predicament. One more trip around the main parking lot and it was obviously pointless to try any further. People were parking illegally, and the line on the road was getting longer too, as well as the ticket line. So we turned around, and went to the Botanical Gardens instead. Hamza wasn't thrilled, but Safa was fine with it, and all Bilal needed was a place to run around. He didn't really care.

Traffic at the zoo

We spent a while at the Gardens, taking pictures and enjoying the spring blooms. We actually made our way to the Japanese Gardens after many years of not having visited there. The kids got to see turtles, koi and swans.

Places to climb

Nature to explore

Wednesday I had to go back to work, ugh! It is hard enough having to go with just Bilal at home. But with all three of the kids home it was a drag to even get out the door. I'd much rather be home playing mommy! Hamza had a dental appointment in the afternoon; he needed two extractions that the orthodontist had recommended. So Bilal and I took him, while Safa went to watch a movie with a friend of hers. Hamza alwys does remarkably well with his extractions, even without the 'happy gas'. My tough one.

In the evening I tried to take the boys to the carnival, the rides are set up once a year during Spring Break, just a short walk from our house. But by the time we got there, they were already wrapped up for the day. I have promised to (try and) take them this evening. We are also expecting some guests this evening, Zakir's cousin and his family from St. Louis are visiting for the weekend, we hope to have a good time with them. Three more kids soon to be in the house! We haven't decided what to do tomorrow, but have some ideas.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Thought I'd wish everyone Happy St. Patrick's Day, especially since I'm Irish myself. Sort of. Well, Irish-ish. Granted, I don't have the red hair, fair skin and freckles, but I was born in Ireland. Actually, Northern Ireland, so that has to count. Question is, am I more Irish than people actually born in the States, whose parents or grandparents came from Ireland, but have never stepped foot on the Emerald Isle? I actually spent nearly 10 years there before my family decided to move on.

By the time you're nine or ten you have fairly concrete memories. In my mind I can still make the one mile+ walk to school, from our bungalow at 13 Rathmoyle Park. We lived in a little city called Carrickfergus. Its claim to fame was a square keep Norman castle, built in the late 1100s. It's probably not the most well preserved castle in the British Isles, but still, it was very impressive, especially to a child.

We used to take trips up the Coast Road, along the rocky, limestone beaches to places like Giant's Causeway, and Whitehead. Whitehead was a village with a lighthouse; we spent many weekends walking along the path that lead up to it from the beach, rarely making it all the way to the top of the cliff, at most times turning around only a short way up.

I don't have any photos of my early childhood in Ireland. I wish I did. My father has many, as far as I can remember. It would be great to show some to my kids. Even better, maybe some day I can take them there. I wonder if they'd appreciate it, there aren't huge theme parks and beautiful golden sandy beaches. But there are so many hidden wonders to be found. Hopefully we'll go back. Some day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Busy weekend, and the yuckies

We had a pretty good weekend, despite the fact that it hasn't stopped raining since early Saturday morning, and there's still no end in sight. We met some friends for lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, and then went to their house later that day for dinner. The kids had a good time, at least Bilal and Hamza did (Safa didn't really have anyone her age to hang out with, so she alternated between her iPod and a book she's been reading). By 9:30pm Bilal was overtired, overheated and congested. He's had a harsh cough and gobs of snot for several days. No fever, appetite pretty good, but not quite himself, and looking puffy-eyed and flushed. Anyway, to add to the equation he bumped his head. He got so upset and worked up that he threw up, right after I had changed him into his PJs. So we brought him home in a T-shirt and a diaper. By the morning he was fine, although still pretty congested.

Sunday we took a road trip to Ikea in Atlanta. That store is awesome. It goes on and on for ever, with so much to see and do. We are scoping out furniture for our new clinic that should be complete (if things go according to plan) by November or December. It is more cost effective to buy modular cabinets, countdertops and desks from Ikea than to have them custom built in to the clinic. and they have good quality stuff. Zakir and I had a great time, going through aisles and aisles of furniture, but the kids, of course, got a bit bored by the whole experience. They have a novel approach: you walk through the showroom and pick out what you like, write down the item number and where it is located in the marketplace downstairs. Then you go to the corresponding aisle and bin, pick up the boxes you need and even self-checkout if you want. I could have spent a coupple more hours there, but that would have been just too unfair for the kids.

Hamza in front of one of the kitchen displays at Ikea. Can you tell how thrilled he was to be there?

Today I finally decided enough was enough, and took Bilal to see his new pediatrician in Oneonta. Our former one has left the practice she was in, and went back to the Health Department. It's hard to switch doctors; I really trusted Dr. Faust, and I had even trained with her during my residency. But Dr. Malek is great, and he works just upstairs from our present office. So after Bilal's appointment we managed to go to lunch with Zakir. Anyway, we figured Bilal has a sinus infection. He is also wheezing. I have been checkng his ears (which still aren't infected), but hadn't listened to his lungs. Honestly, I don't really like playing doctor with my own kids. I don't even have a stethoscope at home. So we just filled scripts for Amoxil and Albuterol (like we need anything else to make Bilal hyper!)

We are ready for the rain to stop now. This is our spring break week, and we are housebound. The kids would much rather be outdoors hanging out with their friends. Instead, they are in the house, and in Hamza's case, watching a Spongebob Squarepants marathon. I have the day off with the kids tomorrow too. If it is still raining we'll probably go to McWane Center. They have the new Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit, as well as the usual hands-on fun stuff for the kids. We were thinking about the zoo, but I don't think that's going to materialize.

Who are We?

Thanks to Kelli on FB I came across a very entertaining and informative blog. I contacted the author and am posting this note with his permission. Steve is a 42 year old survivor of a CHD, namely Tricuspid Atresia, and is raising awareness for Congenital Heart Disease.

Who are we?

Start counting… we’re roughly 8 out of every 1,000 people (or 1 out of every 125, if you want a number you can get your head around.) We represent both genders and we are all ages. A million of us are adults, and about 800,000 of us are children.

We’ve made it through surgeries, hospital stays, infections, Endocarditis, pacemakers, and heaven know what else. We’ve given gallons of blood, one vial at a time. We’ve fought back against tremendous odds. We’ve been so sick that we’ve scared the world’s best doctors witless… and then amazed them even more when we’ve fought back.

We’ve celebrated our victories and we’ve mourned our losses. We know that most of those who came before us died, including 14 of the first 70 to have the Blalock-Taussig Shunt. We know that most of us shouldn’t even be here and so we live every moment as if it is our last - because it could be.

We’re Cardiac Kids and Heart Warriors. We have an amazing inner strength, but we are terribly fragile at the same time. We refer to our parents as Heart Dad and Heart Mom, and we use those titles as Badges of Honor. Why? Because they deserve it. They were the first ones to discover that a heart defect doesn’t just break one heart, it breaks three.

We work, we play, we pay our taxes and we live our lives. We’re in your community, in your church, in your school, in your office, and quite possibly in your home. We move a little slower, do some things a little differently, but we usually get along without causing a fuss.

We are people living with Congenital Heart Defects.

If you have some time, go check out Adventures of a Funky Heart! It is a worthwhile read.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

We got the letter!

The mail carrier just dropped it off as we were pulling into our driveway. SAFA GOT ACCEPTED INTO ASFA!!!!! We are so, so proud of her, and very thankful to God. So she will start 8th grade in a new school. ASFA has a more specialized Math and Science program, which is exactly what Safa needs and wants, to challenge herself more. We have been telling her it would be fine whether she got in or not, but I know how badly she wanted to be accepted. Thankfully we found out at the start of Spring Break, so now she will be able to enjoy her week off without stressing about the acceptance letter.

Now the logistics of getting to school won't be that straightforward. In order to be at school by 7:55am every morning we will have to leave home by 7am. It's only about 18 miles, but traffic is terrible heading into downtown Birmingham in the mornings. Vicki has to drop Anna off at school before she comes here, so the earliest she could make it would be 7:30am. If I take Bilal with me I can't got straight to work. So it will involve a lot of shuffling and shuttling so that I can still get in a decent schedule at work too. Ah well, we've got the whole summer to figure things out, hopefully something will materialize. Maybe we'll find someone to carpool with? Something has to work out. It always does.

Friday, March 13, 2009

School house Rock

Yesterday evening was the 5th grade Drama club's performance for the parents. With my star, Hamza, performing in the play, we had to go, of course. The kids have been working hard for months, and their efforts really paid off.
But before the play Hamza enjoyed, on my insistence, some 'chilling out' time. Here are some of the 'before' pics.





And of course Safa wanted to join in the fun........



And Bilal didn't.........




Head shots of the cast. There's my handsome boy!

And here's a bit of one of the songs, Interjections. Zakir taped the whole show, so we have a complete DVD for posterity, but I took this one with our little Canon.



What a fun evening!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

'Me' Day

Once every month or two I try and take a day off from work for myself. Vicki comes on her usual schedule, so I can do whatever I want without having to worry about Bilal's schedule. Often though, like today, it ends up being just another day to run errands. This is what I accomplished today:

1. Paid some bills.
2. Called and canceled our long distance service with AT&T. We're going Skype!
3. Called and canceled a credit card I thought had been missing for about two weeks. I hadn't been too worried, because I was sure it was somewhere at home, just misplaced.
4. Dropped Zakir's shirts off at the laundry.
5. Went to the mall and got a haircut (A REAL 'me' thing). I thought it had been 5 months since I last got my hair cut, but my hairdresser pointed out it had actually been 8 months. Guess it's just not been priority.
6. Went to the ATM for some cash.
7. Went to Sam's Club to pick up some groceries and supplies from the office. And while I was at Sam's I found the credit card that I just canceled this morning (in my purse). Go figure, that's Murphy's law in action.
8. Filled the car with gas (they had just reduced the price by 10c per gallon a minute or two before I filled my tank, yay!)
9. Dropped off Safa's book at the library.
10. Came home, made lunch and Bilal woke up while I was eating. Back into 'mommy mode'.

So not a big 'me' day, but I sure got a lot done.
And here are a few photos of Bilal on our Tuesday together. We spent some time at the library; this is becoming a fun routine for us.

All the books we bring home are either construction books or Curious George stories. Bilal can really relate to Curious George (or Monkey George as he prefers to call him).

Later we went in the back yard and Bilal dug with his little shovel (his favorite thing to do outside these days).

We're back into long sleeves and pants, it's been overcast for the past 2 days with very little rain, but I hear it's coming. So Spring isn't here to stay, yet, but it's not too cold to be outdoors, which is where Bilal and I are headed now!

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