Friday, January 29, 2010

Some old photographs

A few days ago I was trying to sort through our box of old prints (we hardly ever print out photos anymore), and came across these. They are weathered and faded, but I thought I'd share them anyway.

Me with my brother, I was two or three in this photo, I think. Notice the navy blue socks with brown shoes and pink/white dress? Teeny bit mismatched, maybe?

Another one of me and Tahir. I still remember this fireplace in our bungalow in Ireland. We lived here until I was ten.

Zakir and his sister Farah. Farah was sooooo cute, and I have never seen my hubby with this much hair!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's Safa's birthday!

My baby girl is fourteen! It just blows me away how time seems to fly, and before you know it your kids are grown up! I compiled a montage of some photos taken over the past year, since her last birthday. When I completed the montage and previewed it, I got teary eyed just watching it. No matter how you strive to raise your children as independent individuals who are confident and mature, when you actually see it happen it creates mixed emotions. Moms and dads, cherish every moment with your kids; from the sleepless nights of having an infant, the tantrums of a toddler, and all the happy times filled with hugs and kisses. Because these are just transient times, and before you know it you'll have a young man or lady standing in front of you, and the baby years will be behind you for ever.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Zakir

Happy Birthday to my hubby! The sensitive person that I am, I will not divulge his true age, except to say, "Hon, what's in a number anyway?"

We have spent fifteen amazing years together, and I hope to be able to celebrate many more birthdays with you. And enjoy your birthday present ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

CHD awareness project

I thought it was time I used my ramblings to some purpose, so I joined this site:

It is a growing community of bloggers who write for CHD awareness, and I hope to be able to make some useful contributions. It's the least I can do for my little hero.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Some toys never go out of style

Bilal and I have had a lot of fun playing indoors lately. As everyone knows he loves to build. So this toy that he got on his last birthday is perfect for him.

But much as he loves building, he enjoys watching our creations turn into nothing but rubble.

Then we build them up again.

Lincoln logs are so much fun! And here's a little bit of trivia; did you know that they were initially invented in 1916? That's an ageless toy for you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

I am a heart mom

I am very proud and blessed to have three wonderful children, each with their own unique personalities and characters. I hold them dear to my heart; they mean the world to me. But I the day my youngest child was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD) life changed for me.

Although I was running a busy family practice, I knew of only one child in my practice that had a heart defect, and even that child did not eventually require surgery for his VSD. I had no friends, or family members who had children with CHD. This was something that happened to 'other people', not someone I would ever personally know. Boy, was I wrong! Now I am a heart parent, and I can rattle off a lot of statistics without even looking them up.

  1. Congenital heart disease is the number one type of birth defect
  2. Almost 1 in every 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect. That's about 35-40,000 births per year.
  3. Nearly twice as many children die from Congenital Heart Defects in the United States each year as from all forms of childhood cancers combined
  4. Congenital Heart Defects are the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths
  5. At least 35 types of CHDs have been identified to date
  6. Approximately 1,000,000 Americans are living with some form of congenital heart defect
Bilal has tetralogy of fallot. His diagnosis was missed prenatally. Sometimes these defects can be missed during routine ultrasounds. Since my pregnancy was not high risk I did not have a specialized ultrasound, or fetal echocardiogram. Everything progressed well, until about 36 weeks gestation, when we realized that he had intrauterine growth retardation. That means he was not gaining weight as he was supposed to. So I underwent weekly contraction stress tests for the next 2 weeks, which he passed with flying colors. I had an induction at 38.6 weeks, and he was born weighing only 5 and 1/2 pounds, but pink and screaming. The next day the neonatologist heard a heart murmur, and that murmur was still there the following morning. So a cardiology consult was requested. When Dr. Colvin walked in to my room and told me about Bilal's diagnosis the first feeling was that it had to be a mistake. Not my baby! But the reality gradually sunk in, as our lives began to change. In the beginning there was a lot of guilt, what did I do wrong? What should I have done differently during my pregnancy? But eventually I was able to convince myself that I was not responsible for my child's broken heart.

We saw the cardiologist every 2 weeks until Dr. C decided it was time to consult the surgeon for repair. By then he wasn't quite 2 months old, weighed less than 9 pounds and we were talking surgery already??!! Not at 4-6 month of age as we had been previously told. So I met with Dr. Knott-Craig, and instantly knew that he would be the right one, the one to entrust to repair my baby's heart. It was obvious that God had intended it; Dr. K-C, with his 20 year experience performing CHD repair had moved to Birmingham just a couple of months earlier. He came across as a very compassionate, soft spoken person and I took a liking to him immediately. So on September 18th, 2006, at 8 weeks of age Bilal had The Repair. My baby turned out to be a true fighter. His hospital course was miraculously short; we were home by Day 4. And we have been going strong ever since.

I admit there are many days that I don't think about Bilal's heart defect, in fact sometimes I don't even glance at his sternotomy scar when I am bathing him. It has become a part of him that I am used to seeing. But there are other days when I see his scar just peeking out of his pyjama top and my own heart skips a beat. I still wish it wasn't my child who was born with a broken heart; knowing that he is 'repaired', not 'cured', and his heart will never be 'normal'. Also knowing that he will most likely face another surgery later on in life, to replace a severely leaky pulmonary valve.

The type of defect Bilal has has the potential to be very severe, especially if associated with other heart/lung abnormalities. We are blessed that he is on the milder side of the spectrum. But tell that to a mom who has to hand over her child to a surgeon, understanding that the child's chest has to be opened, his heart artificially stopped, in order to create a new anatomy, ideally as close to 'normal' as possible. Any defect is far too severe. In a perfect world there would be no such thing as CHD; no child would have to undergo the pain and difficulty of heart surgery. But this is not a perfect world.

Feb 7th-14th is CHD awareness week. There are many people out there who do not understand the impact of congenital heart defects. Until three and a half years ago I was one of them. This week many local and national organizations will be involved in a campaign to educate the public about this issue. Let's all join hands in raising awareness. Our kids wear their scars with pride and heroism. We should show the world that we are proud of them too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not a baby anymore!

Since December 2002 when we first brought it home, my MINI Cooper has been fondly known as 'The Baby'. This is a car that has been dear to me; I actually had to pause for a wee bit when Zakir suggested that having a third child would mean I'd have to give up the MINI. We just wouldn't be able to fit a family of five into the car! But we decided to have our third child, and the MINI stayed. It's just not our family car. We also have a minivan, to take care of the weekends (the only time when we consistently travel as a family of five). I drive my car to work 3-4 days a week, and around town with the kids whenever possible. So obviously I pack on a good bit of mileage.

Today my car hit a historic milestone, that had to be captured on camera.

Getting there............

Ta da!

Sigh, my baby's all grown up now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gorgeous Jewelry AND CHD Awareness

I wanted to share the link to a great business page. We have a little heart friend Cassidy, (tetralogy of fallot with PA/MAPCAS, DiGeorge syndrome) whose parents have recently started a business on Etsy called Lucky 10 Awareness pendants. They are offering handmade jewelry designed to promote congenital heart disease awareness. Check out their site, there are some awesome products to choose from.

Here is a sample of some of the pins and pendants they have to offer:

And remember, February 7th through the 14th is CHD awareness week. Let's spread the word in style!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A birthday party

It was great to get to attend Tressie and Reagan's birthday party at Chuck-e-Cheese. As I have admitted several times it's definitely NOT my favorite place to go, but who wouldn't have fun celebrating the girls' birthdays? Tressie turned 6 and Reagan 3; their birthdays are only 2 days apart. Wow, the place was packed! I think there were at least 5 birthday parties being celebrated simultaneously, not to mention the fact that the entire city of Birmingham had the same idea of fun on a rainy Saturday. So amidst some bumping elbows and backing into people the kids managed to play some games and have a lot of fun.

Tressie has grown up from the tiny seven week old baby we saw for the first time, to a delightful, outgoing six year old. Too cute!

And Reagan is the shy, quiet sort, but look at those gorgeous big brown eyes! Try as I might, I couldn't get her to smile for the camera:

As you can see, Reagan wanted nothing to do with the crown that Tressie wanted to wear everywhere. She just wanted that thing as far way from her as possible!

Safa and Tressie posing for a picture together

Our dear, sweet Christina. She took care of Safa and Hamza for over two years

As you can see I don't have photos of the boys. Hamza was just running around having too much fun, while Bilal acted like a little stinker and hid every time I took the camera out. But they had a blast at home, posing with the Rock Star glasses they got in their goody bags!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's back!

Bilal woke up at a decent 7:30am today, thanks to the overcast skies that probably made him sleep in some. Doesn't matter that his curtains are dark, he's usually up at the crack of dawn (or earlier). Being the caring wife I am (yeah Zakir, don't laugh!) I decided to be the one to sacrifice a nice lazy morning in bed, and let my hubby lie in. So I got up with Bilal. Of course Zakir was up barely half an hour later; he's really not one to lie in bed in the mornings, so that sort defeated the purpose! He prefers his afternoon siestas on the weekend, and I'm the lazy morning one.

After a long cold and dry spell it's raining this morning. Apparently it's going to be like this all weekend. But yesterday was a lovely sixty degrees, with clear blue skies and plenty of sun. So Zakir and Bilal spent much of the morning outdoors, while I toiled away at the clinic, ugh! Did I mention that our intruder is back? At least that's what we think it is. There has been a lot more noise in the attic lately, late in the evenings and overnight, although we haven't been able to locate the critter. After surveying the outside of the house Zakir figured it is probably coming in and out through the slats of our exhaust fan, and climbing up and down the small tree that abuts the side of the house. So he did some serious tree trimming yesterday, so that it wouldn't be able to access the attic from there. He also got a trap and placed cat food in it so that when it ventured out of hiding we could ensnare it and drive it as far away from our home as possible (twenty five miles or so sounds good). A couple of hundred feet down the road was obviously not enough. It's one of those humane traps that closes behind the animal once activated, and it is deep, so it can't get hurt, just trapped. The intention is NOT to cause any harm to it, just re-claim what is rightfully ours. Interestingly last night we didn't hear a single sound; so we are wondering if it had ventured out and stayed out since it was warmer. That would make the trap pointless, but maybe cutting down all those branches will prevent it from climbing back up into the house. I don't not look forward to ever again being greeted by this creature in the master bedroom:

Once is definitely enough!

We have a birthday party to go to today; and the kids are very excited about the opportunity to be going back to Chuck-e-Cheese. Probably because they only get to go there on someone's birthday. I do NOT like the place, aptly nicknamed 'Chuck-e-Disease'. But we do get to see two cute little sisters celebrating their 6th and 3rd birthdays, and that, I'm excited about. I'm sure I'll have some pics to share later. Zakir is on call, so he's headed out to the hospital, and lucky man, gets to avoid having to go.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guess who got a hair cut?

It's still a bit chilly outside, so Bilal and I are trying to make the most of our time indoors. Did you notice his haircut? Granted it's obviously not a professional job, but what do you get when you are trying to tackle a three year old who is wailing and cringing, trying to cut hair, and not injure him in he process? Still, you can see more of his face now, and I like that. Some day, maybe someday he'll actually go to the hair salon willingly, and it won't be a constant battle.

Cheesy smile

This is what Bilal calls his 'funny face'

Dig it!

Dump it!

A pause to make an important phone call

Apparently he was talking to John in Africa. When I asked him where Africa is, he replied, "It's very far away". Not quite sure who John is!


The forecast predicts 58 degrees tomorrow. Now that is definitely outdoor weather!

Monday, January 11, 2010

So I crawled out of bed early this morning after a sleepless night, and glanced at the outside thermometer. It read 11 degrees. Eleven degrees! Just doesn't seem like Alabama! Thankfully by the time I actually had to leave the house to go to work it had gone up to a balmy 18 degrees fahrenheit. Ah, much better! But after what seems an eternity it actually went up to 45 degrees today. Makes me look forward to spring.

What have the boys been up to? I found a bunch of these on my SD card when I saved my photos to the desktop:

Hamza has been snapping away, and Bilal has also been thoroughly enjoying his new camera. Zakir gave him his old Kodak, and even though it works quite differently from our Canons, he caught on pretty fast. Some day he'll actually figure out how to frame a photo!

And there's a nice little date stamp right over my face :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bye bye, little birdie!

For the past six and a half years we have been living with this little character on the walls of the master bathroom:

Not too bad? Well, definitely not our taste. On or two birds, I could handle. But when the entire bathroom looks like this..........

........ you might know why I finally decided to do something about it. So yesterday I started stripping wallpaper. Very tenacious stuff; it's taking a lot of time and effort. I figure the entire stripping process may take up to 2 weeks. Then we have to prepare the walls (which are in pretty bad shape underneath), prime and paint. A brighter color, of course. I'm thinking a pale shade of yellow or green. Can you imagine? We haven't even picked out the wall color yet. But it might be weeks until it actually comes to painting the walls. I'm sure we'll have it picked out be then. Right now it's spraying and scraping, spraying and scraping............ Ow, my aching back!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bit of an anti-climax

So it's another chilly day in the South. Highs today were close to 22 degrees. Brrrrrr! It did snow yesterday, but very few places had any accumulation at all. This is about the best we got:

Not very impressive, eh? Well it was enough to have the kids' schools close early; Safa's at 1:30 and Hamza's at 11:30. Actually it was more the concern about ice on the roads than snow that prompted the early school closings. Today Hamza's started 2 hours late (wouldn't have made much of a difference since the temperature never did go high enough to melt ice), and Safa's was cancelled completely. So she'll have a day to make up later in the year. The roads have been quite empty, seems like the ill-equipped decided to stay home after all, and that's a good thing. Bilal has been begging to go out and play, but I just didn't want to go out with temperatures in the low twenties and wind chill in the teens. There is news that it might warm up a bit tomorrow. 'Bout time! We did have flurries through most of the day today, but again, no accumulation. It would be nice to have just enough for the kids to have a bit of fun, maybe something like we got in March of this past year.

We've scheduled out office Christmas party tomorrow evening. I know, I know, it's so far out from Christmas already! But we just couldn't seem to coordinate a date in December. This year we are having it at the office, where there will be plenty of space for the kids to run around, instead of at our house. Plus it will be closer to where all of our staff lives, so less driving for them. We have a nice lady who goes by 'Meme' catering for us; all we have to do is show up on time! No other big plans for this weekend, just braving the cold!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This IS Alabama, y'all!

Well, we didn't really expect the cold Arctic air to come all the way down to Alabama, but we too, are not immune this year. The general consensus among us Alabamians is that if we wanted to live in cold weather we'd be living up North! Not that I really want the several feet of snow they've been facing, but these temperatures are not typical for Alabama. As a general rule the temps will dip into the teens for a day or two during the winter, then bounce back into the upper forties, and sometimes fifties fahrenheit. This year it has been below or close to freezing for a couple of weeks straight, and I really can't remember how many days it's been since the thermometer actually read even forty degrees.

A scene in our neighborhood at 8 am this morning. And just to prove this was indeed taken in Alabama, note that the Christmas lights around the frozen fountain are up, almost into the middle of January. Only in the South!

Tomorrow we are expecting an inch or two of snow. Not bad, eh? Nothing compared to what you'd expect in the North. But icy conditions are a big deal here. People are not equipped, and their cars are not equipped. Sadly I am sure there will be many crazies on the road tomorrow driving their rear wheel drive cars and putting others' lives in danger. Most schools in the area have announced closings already, in fact Safa's school (state administered) and Hamza's (a city school) are two of the few that are to remain open as far as we know. I'm sure the kids wouldn't have minded a snow day (can remember when the last one was), even though they just went back today for the first time after winter break. But if the schools are open, and the kids are not sick, off they go. No exceptions.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

For our little heart friend

Be sure to say a little prayer for this little cutie. She is one of our heart buddies, and has her cardiology check-up on January 8th. We as heart moms always know how stressful these appointments can be; let's hope for a good one for Janelle!

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