Friday, July 31, 2009

Prep for a party

We have Bilal's birthday party scheduled for noon tomorrow at McWane Center. Definitely one of Bilal's favorite places to visit, as you can tell from this post, and this, and this one too! Made perfect sense to have his birthday party there too.

Well, I was planning on getting a 3-D construction cake for his birthday, since he is still into trucks, probably even more than on his second birthday. But the bakery I was going to use left me high and dry, three days before we needed the cake. Evidently something changed in their store between last week and this, maybe they lost their pastry chef and were reluctant to admit it. Ugh! Not even enough time to get another bakery to do a custom cake! Well, I figured, maybe we could get a sheet cake and put some construction trucks on it, but I was really bummed out. Until one of our nurses suggested another lady in Oneonta who works out of her home, and her only advertising is word of mouth. And, she was willing to have a cake ready by Friday afternoon, if we got her either a model or several pictures of what we wanted. Well, our nurse Lisa ran by her grandson's house, picked up a caterpillar front loader toy, took it to the nice cake lady, and Voila! Today we have a 3-D construction cake!!! In time for the party tomorrow! I'll share pics tomorrow, since it is all nicely wrapped up right now. I am amazed at how much detail she was able to go into, only having a day or so to work on it. And it cost me one third of what the bakery in Birmingham would have charged, had they been able to do it in time. Woohoo!

Tomorrow morning before Bilal's party Hamza goes for Beginning Band tryouts at the school. He has no idea which instrument he wants to play, but he is leaning towards either the saxaphone or clarinet. I hope he does well and gets to play the instrument he wants!

Wednesday I cut Bilal's hair. You can actually see his face better now. He didn't do too badly, but it would have been neater if he were't such a wiggle worm. I have to take a picture and post it. Yesterday was Safa's and Hamza's turn. Hamza reverted back to the buzz cut he used to love to get, man, you could stuff a pillow with the amount of hair that came off his head! And Safa's hair is now barely down to her shoulders. She took her own picture with her laptop camera, so at least I can share one out of three of the new haircuts.

Cute, huh?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quick quips

We spent two hours this evening playing a very competitive game of Phase 10, and listening to the Beatles and Billy Joel, while we sang the songs at the top of our voices. It fascinated me to realize that the kids know the words of some of those songs better than I do! OK, so I have gotten over the fact that Hamza barely knew who Michael Jackson was. The Beatles are waaaaayyy cooler!

While we were playing, Hamza put on his new sunglasses and said, "Now no-one can see my thoughts!" After recovering from laughing our heads off, Safa responded by saying, "Yeah I can. I can see your cards in your glasses!"

Sometimes my kids crack me up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wanted to share this......

This is a very short video that helps dispel some myths about Islam. It is so simple and makes perfect sense, but I also think it uses humor in a very effective way.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun-packed weekend


It was Bilal's birthday of course. In the evening Safa and Hamza tested for their next black belt kyu. They impressed their instructors so much that they both got bumped up an extra rank! Double promotion is rare once you're a black belt. So we went to the local soda fountain, the Three Eared Rabbit to celebrate. The next time Hamza tests he will have to write an essay, and have the opportunity to move up to second degree black belt. Safa won't be far behind.

Three way sparring

The group photo

Celebrating at the soda fountain



In the morning I had to go make rounds, and came back around one to a yummy lunch, which included fresh salsa prepared with home grown tomatoes and jalapenos, compliments of my hubby. Delicious. Zakir also prepared a shrimp and avocado salad that was to die for, but my feelings changed into guilt when I realized how much table cream had been used in the recipe. But heck, it had greens in it too. How guilty can you really get eating a salad?

In the evening we were invited out to a post-wedding party, complete with a musical program. A nice opportunity to dress up a bit, we haven't done that in a while. Of course, we had to leave earlier than most guess, because the Baby (although he is officially 3, some things will never change), got tired and started to fuss. Although I had changed him into his PJs he stayed awake the entire drive home, and sang Wiggles songs at the top of his lungs.


Another day of making rounds, but this time it didn't take as long, and I was home by about 11 am. After that we went out for more school supply shopping and to replace the power adaptor on my laptop once and for all. I bought a couple of cheapo ones over the internet, but they were evidently really, really cheapo, because neither of them worked for more than a couple of weeks until the wires came loose. You can pretty much buy anything you're looking for on the web, it doesn't mean it has to work! Our purchase at Staples added up to almost $180, but after using coupons, rebates, etc, we walked out of there having paid just over $90. Smart shopping! It really does pay to sign up for a rewards card at these office supply stores. Safa has her eye on a desk there, and we figured after buying a few of cases of paper and toner we will have earned enough of a rebate to get it for free.

In the afternoon the boys (actually, Zakir and Bilal) had a loooong siesta, and then we went to a community picnic at the Oak Mountain fishing center . Wow, it was hot, even by the lake! But it was nice to meet up with some friends. We ended the day with a nice walk around the neighborhood (but still pretty hot).

Here's Bilal at the end of the day, after a nice refreshing bath last night.

Of course, today it's back to work as usual. Now I remember why I don't love Mondays.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy birthday Bilal!

My baby is three today! Where did the year go???!!! So many positive things have happened in Bilal's past year, and before our very eyes he has gone from baby to toddler, to almost little boy! He has graduated from diapers to Big Boy underwear, speech has taken off with a blast, and he has moved out of his crib into a big bed! Makes me wonder what is in store for his fourth year.

Every morning he calls for Mama to pick him out of his bed, although he is perfectly capable of climbing off his bed and coming downstairs. I don't mind going to his room to get him, it's just like it was when he was in his crib. But today he knew something special was going to happen. He was downstairs and in our room even before Mama and Baba were up. Of course he knew he had a new digger toy and a new transformer gift to unwrap. So he and his siblings have spent the morning playing construction. It was also nice that his little heart buddy Janelle came to play.

After lunch everyone got a slice of birthday ice cream cake. What a treat! This evening the kids go to test for their next black belt rank, and I have still to take Bilal to pick out a nice balloon.

Yummy ice cream!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Snack of the Day

A big, juicy, SMAYTO!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Snips and snails and Puppy-dog tails

The kids have been going crazy today. One minute Safa and Bilal were fighting like cats and dogs, the next minute she accused him of using his 'cute' powers on her, where he smiled at her. She still succumbs to his charms, poor thing, and I think he actually manipulates her by using them! Overall I've discovered they get along better if Mama's not around. In fact, I have to (gasp) admit that Bilal even respects Safa if she's not competing with him for Mama's attention.

This afternoon Safa and Hamza went to the library for the end of summer reading program party, while I battled Bilal at home, trying to persuade him to take a nap. When he left me lying in his bed and climbed out, opened the door and walked downstairs, I decided it wasn't worth the effort. So we gave up on the nap idea. The older siblings tried to sneak out of the house on their bikes, but Bilal saw they were leaving, and became completely hysterical. It was actually quite comical; I watched him hurriedly put on his sandals, get out his tricycle and pedal frantically down the driveway almost to the street, until I caught up with him. If I had let him go maybe he would have pedaled that trike all the way to the library! I picked him up and brought him in, kicking and screaming.

We spent the rest of the afternoon watching Wiggles videos and catching flies (literally). With the kids running in and out of the house we tend to end up with a bit of a fly problem, and Bilal has got quite good at catching them. He is fearless when it comes to bugs, if he ever sees a dead one he'll pick it up and put it in my hand (which I'll promptly drop with a girly squeal). This afternoon he caught a fly in his fist, that had been buzzing around my bedroom. I told him to throw it into the garbage can. But his response? "I want to keep him. I wuv him!" But in the end Mama's will prevailed, and he did throw away the (hugged to death) fly, with a bit of disappointment. I'm personally not afraid of bugs (well, except spiders, I do have a morbid fear of those), but to actually pick them up with your bare hands, with such pride???!!! That has to be a 'little boy' thing.

Three more days until my baby turns three! I have been working on plans for his birthday, the party is scheduled for the following weekend (August 1st), but we'll probably have a mini party at home on his actual birthday, just the five of us. I have started shopping for a birthday cake, I wanted to do something a bit unique this time, and I have found a place that does 3-D cakes of virtually anything you ask for. I'm thinking, um, how about an excavator? He is just as crazy about construction trucks now as he was 1 year ago, on his second birthday, when his cake looked like this.

Since Bilal hasn't gained any weight in the past 4 months I made one change, I switched him back to whole milk, instead of the 1% that everyone else in the house drinks. I figured he could do with the extra calories. I know he's growing though, his shorts from early in the summer are already starting to look small on him. But this time last year he was quite a chunky monkey:

Although he still looks really healthy now too:

And you can tell he's lost his baby cheeks. He looks like a little boy now, not so much a toddler or baby. and he actually has a neck! So he's sort of re-distributed his weight, and gotten taller in the process. His pants are constantly falling down now, since we no longer have a big round tummy, nor a diaper to keep them up! He wears 4T clothes for the length, although 24 month clothes would still fit him comfortably around the tummy. He's not going to be a baby for long!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Been slacking off lately

Well, I've been back from vacation since Saturday evening, yet no blog post until today. I have a million (or so), pretty valid excuses, but I'll spare everyone those. I couldn't blog while at the Gulf, there is only so much a little mobile modem connection can do (thanks, Verizon!). Still, better than not being wired at all! I was able to check my email and FB a bit. Man, talk about a relaxing vacation! We really took it easy, spent a lot of leisurely time on the beach, just lying around on the sofa, playing board games, card games and chowing down on some local seafood. Tuna and shrimp taste that much better having been caught the very same day. I only wish I could have caught up on some much needed sleep, but I guess I'm high maintenance in that department, have a hard time getting much sleep in a bed other than my own. Unlike Zakir, who woke up after 9am on a couple of days, and still managed to get in about 3 hours of sleep in the afternoon, and be back in bed by 10pm! Admittedly, I did spend more time actually in my bed, even though a lot of it wasn't sleep. With Bilal being the ever early riser Zakir and I tried to alternate lying in in the mornings.

Here's a few pics from our trip, I'll share more in my next post.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hey from the Beach!

Can't post................ internet connection is patchy.......... will....... update....... later....... when we're back in town.........

Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One more day!

Tomorrow is the big day of my boards. I do not plan to do any studying today, there is nothing like last minute cramming to stress you out. In fact I am focusing on something else more positive, and that is packing. For the beach. Which we are leaving for in about a day. And that is something I am looking much more forward to. Last minute details are being smoothed out, and our dear, sweet Christina is going to cat-sit for us, so we won't have to board them with the vet. And Hamza's fish Vader will be taken care of too.

Hamza went in for a quick orthodontic check and minor adjustment of his headgear today; all the serial extractions seem to be helping his permanent teeth to fall into place more aligned, so that's good news. I saw the dentist Monday and found out I need a couple of cavities filled. Ugh! The last time I had a filling was about 15 years ago. I And I get my teeth cleaned religiously every six months. So, WHY DO I HAVE CAVITIES?????!!!! Apparently I don't floss enough. So I'll start flossing more regularly too. Meanwhile I am getting ready to give our life savings away to the dentist. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it will cost more than I'd like it too. I am soooooooo flossing several times a day from here on. Maybe it will save me in the long run!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Annual cardiology appointment

Today was Bilal's cardiology appointment. Such a blessing that it went so well. He was more anxious than he usually is, probably because he understood more in some ways, but didn't know what to expect in others. He reluctantly stood on the scales, but we did manage to get a weight. He was 30 pounds, so he hasn't gained any weight at all in the past 4 months, but that's OK; he had gained so rapidly in the few months before that, it was inevitably going to slow down. I think it coincides with stopping his Pediasure and switching him to low fat milk as everyone else at home drinks. I suppose we could switch him to whole milk for more calories if we needed to.

Bilal loving the trucks in the waiting area

Anyway, since he fussed some with his height and weight the nurse didn't attempt an EKG, but the cardiologist was OK with that. The most important thing is that he sat through the exam and echo with Dr. Colvin, without any protest at all. He managed to hear his heart and lungs and said everything sounded great. Bilal sat through the echo in my arms as usual, but Dr. C got a great view of everything, and told us that there were no significant changes since last year. Most of all, the right ventricle is not enlarged despite the leaky pulmonary valve. The size of the ventricle is one of the factors that determines when or if Bilal would need a valve replacement, so that was great news. He anticipates starting treadmill stress tests around the time Bilal is in Junior High, so nothing for a while. He did again suggest 18-24 month visits, and I again suggested 12 months (which Dr. C is fine with), but I might get brave and see if we can go 18 months between visits this time. Ask me next July!

With Dr. Colvin

I left the visit much more relaxed and reassured than this time last year. This had been one thing weighing on my mind a bit lately, even though deep down I believed that Bilal was doing fine. You can see how healthy and happy he is, my little wild man!

I posted this on Bilal's carepage too today.

Now one more thing to accomplish this week (my Boards), and then it's vacation time! As far as I know our beach house doesn't have internet access, so we'll be taking our mobile access with us. I don't know how much blogging I'll get done there, but I sure plan to do a lot of relaxing!! And it will be nice to read for pleasure instead of cramming; I'm picking out a selection of books to take with me.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cardiology Appointment

Tomorrow is Bilal's much anticipated cardiology appointment with Dr. Colvin. Gotta get Bilal fed and clothed early so we can be out of the house by 7:30am, to give plenty of time for potentially getting lost on the road on the way to UAB, finding parking in the huge and almost un-navigable 6th Avenue parking deck, getting lost after walking out of the deck en route to the cardiology office, and still making it there before 8:30am. It doesn't matter that I've been there many times before, it's just a stressful trip. I just hope that Bilal does as well with the doc as he usually does. It's the EKG and chest x-ray that are the hardest on him, but after that he's usually great. I am hoping and praying for no surprises, and no significant changes since last year. I'll update after the appointment.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July in Trussville

Today was the second annual Trussville Freedom Celebration, on the Mall, just a short walk away from our house. Why battle traffic downtown when you can walk less than a mile down the road, and enjoy a fireworks display lounging in your own chairs on a grassy field, among many other people you know? I was interested to see how Bilal would react to the fireworks this year; last year he was in his father's arms, with little hands covering both ears. But this year he actually enjoyed it, not once complaining about the noise, and actually relaxing in his stroller during the display. Before the show though, he was getting rather sleepy (remember, bedtime is 8pm or earlier, and the fireworks were at nine).

But he did perk up to give me one of his signature smiles, just for the camera:

Hamza roamed around, and had a chance to enjoy some of the free entertainment

And Safa found a friend of hers to hang out with. So she didn't even sit with us during the fireworks display.

It was a good evening, and on the walk back we appreciated even more the fact that we had walked to the Mall instead of driving. Considering there were cars parked up and down the streets of the neighborhood, almost up to our house!

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Numerous countdowns

Bilal's cardiology appointment: T minus 6 days. We'll be seeing Dr. Colvin on July 7th for his annual appointment. I'm not really worried about the appointment, but there's always that little bit of hesitation......... The biggest accomplishment this time will be navigating UAB by myself again. I always wish that Zakir would come to these appointments with us, but for some reason we haven't been able to work it out that way for the last several appointments.

The other stressful (in a different way) deadline is for my recertification exam: 9 days left. I will be answering (or attempting to answer) 370 multiple choice questions on July 10th. Ugh! I just hope I pass!

And finally, the one we've all been looking forward to, the beach: We depart July 11th for one whole week of sea, sand and an extra long Mobeen fix! Farah will be vacationing with us too.

Hamza had his first orthodontic incident yesterday. Enticed by none other than his baby brother. Hamza was lying around, minding his own business when Bilal pushed down (rather forcefully) on his headgear. The safety mechanism didn't quite pop open, but one of the brackets cemented to his teeth popped out. So he had to go in today to get the bracket reinserted. Thankfully there's no additional charge for first offences.

And do you see the colorful T-shirt Bilal is wearing? My talented and creative toddler designed it all by himself, thanks to a handful of permanent markers and some rubbing alcohol. His older siblings were making their own, so of course he didn't want to be left behind. He picked out the colors, drew his own design and helped drip the alcohol on it. Then we let it air dry, ran it through the hot dryer and it was good to wear. Right now he's the only one of the three that wants to be seen wearing their t-shirt in public.

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