Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Love this!

Taking advantage of our family visiting us we decided to have some portraits done, with our favorite photographer, Samantha, of His Hands Photographs. As always we were really happy with the results. It is so hard to pick which ones I like best, and there are lots I want to share. but if I had to, absolutely had to choose one, it would probably be this one. It perfectly reflects the tender relationship between my oldest and youngest child. Safa is like a little mommy to Bilal. And thankfully Bilal has grown to appreciate it; they actually rarely fight any more.

What I can't decide is if I like it better in black and white or color. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Loving this spring weather!

Ah, the life of a cat!

Tiny's getting to be a big chunk, isn't she? Maybe some running around in this mild weather will do her good. Right now it's more lazing around!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dauphin Island, part 2

I shared part 1 of this trip several days ago, now finally to part 2. After visiting the Estuarium we walked around the Fort Gaines area, and stopped for a view of the Gulf. And to take some pictures.


It was a perfect day to be walking around the island.

After roaming around the island for a bit we headed to the bird sanctuary. Funny, we didn't actually see any birds, except one solitary hawk, flying high in the distance. Maybe it was because we had a rowdy bunch of kids with us! Not the best sort of mood for serious bird watching. Did Hamza actually walk all the way across the fallen log?

No, he gave up after a few steps; he wasn't really in the mood to fall into the creek fully dressed!

And our walk around one of the paths accidentally led us to the beach. Shoes and socks off, pants rolled up, and the kids dove right in! Even Bilal had no hesitation, he had a blast on the sand, and was even happy getting his feet wet! That's another first for him.

And made a sand angel.

Tariq Bhai

The girls made it back to the parking lot before we did, mostly because Bilal did not enjoy the thought of walking back with soaking wet jeans and sand in every crevice of his body. We hadn't really come prepared for the beach. He was pitiful!

So I had to carry him. And he's not that light anyone. As you can see from my thrilled expression I really enjoyed the walk back (not!).

But overall we had a wonderful day with our cousins.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another one under the belt

As of this past Friday Hamza is officially a second degree (Nidon) black belt. And Safa is a 1st kyu Shodan after her successful testing. That means she can test for her second degree belt as early as this July. So proud of my kiddos! Here are a few pics from testing night:

Hamza during his kata

Safa with Sensei Larry

Some sparring action

Back row L to R: Sensei Michele, Senpai Tom, Senpai Michael, Sensei Pope, Sensei Larry
Front row L to R: Safa, Hamza, Sensei Merri and Tommy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Organ donation and my faith

For years I was an avid blood donor; I would donate as often as I could. Occasionally I would be declined as a donor because I was anemic or underweight (hah, those were the days!), and at other times I would be declined because I had been vacationing in a Malaria endemic area (Pakistan). But still, I donated frequently. Then the guidelines changed, and now I am no longer able to donate blood in the United States. Ever. Why am I not eligible? Because I resided in the UK for greater than 3 months between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1996. Apparently I could put my blood recipients at risk for developing variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD), a.k.a. Mad Cow disease. Ugh! It's disappointing; especially when you hear about the shortage of donors. I was not aware that I could have donated before Bilal had his surgery, because apparently eligibility criteria for family members are less rigorous. He received blood on two occasions after his open heart surgery.

Until recently I had never thought that I would choose to be an organ donor. But since I have become more involved with the Congenital Heart community I have seen so much good come from organ donation and transplant that I had to stop and think. Being Muslim there are certain things we believe in regarding the sanctity of the human body, even in death, which has often made me wonder if this is acceptable. or it would cause conflict with my faith. We believe that the Quran guides us, and we can find answers to all such dilemmas within. I am not even remotely a scholar of the Quran though I try and read it with translation when I can. The issue of human organ donation and transplantation is a modern one; obviously in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) when the Quran was revealed to us such procedures were not being performed. In such instances consensus opinions are expressed by scholars of the Book to interpret the Word in a modern context. These opinions are called 'Fatwas'.

So I started to do some research online, and came across several interesting sites that presented opinions in the light of teachings from the Quran. For example this site presents both pros and cons in the light of Quranic teachings. And you can find a Fatwa from an Islamic scholar here. The salient points of this latter one state:

Conditions associated with a living donor:

1. He/she must be a person who is in full possession of his/her faculties so that he/she is able to make a sound decision by himself/herself;

2. He/she must be an adult and, preferably, at least twenty-one years old;

3. It should be done on his/her own free will without any external pressure exerted on him/ her;

4. The organ he/she is donating must not be a vital organ on which his/her survival or sound health is dependent upon;

5. No transplantation of sexual organs is allowed.

Conditions associated with deceased donors:

1. It must be done after having ascertained the free consent of the donor prior to his /her death. It can be through a will to that effect, or signing the donor card, etc.

2. In a case where organ donation consent was not given prior to a donor’s death, the consent may be granted by the deceased’s closest relatives who are in a position to make such decisions on his/her behalf.

3. It must be an organ or tissue that is medically determined to be able to save the life or maintain the quality of life of another human being.

4. The organ must be removed only from the deceased person after the death has been ascertained through reliable medical procedures.

I also found several other similar references, that essentially permit organ donation and consider it not a violation of the human body, but an act to save another human's life. And "whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind" (Al-Ma'idah 5:32)".

So I have set my mind at ease and made my decision. I choose to be an organ donor. Most importantly my family is aware of my decision. And next time I renew my driver's license I will answer "yes" to the question, "do you wish to be an organ donor?" My decision is a very personal one, and I would not fault anyone for choosing to be or not to be a donor.

Do you want to share how you feel about organ donation?

Monday, March 22, 2010

More from Mobile

Actually, this trip was to Dauphin Island. As we left the dull, dreary Birmingham weather behind we encountered sunny skies and warm temperatures at the Gulf Coast. First stop, the Estuarium at Dauphin Island. We got a chance to observe some of the local sea life.

Talk about some serious claws on the turtle!

And some great camouflage. You can see one in the foreground, but can you see the other fishing hiding behind?

And the kids got to check out some ancient deep sea diving equipment:

More about our day trip in the next post!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

See tree, will climb

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Gulf Coast Exploreum in Mobile

We have one more day in Mobile before we head home to Birmingham. It has become quieter now; Tariq and his family have left to drive back to St. Louis, Zamir and Nadia left early this morning to fly to Las Vegas, so that just leaves Ten of us in the house. The cousins had a blast playing together, we are already looking forward to the next time we can get everyone together. We spent a couple of hours at the Exploreum on Wednesday; it's a science museum a good deal smaller than McWane Center, but there was still plenty to keep the kids occupied for a couple of hours.

Safa made a wish........

..........And tossed a penny into the pond

The dino exhibit was pretty cool

Nadia trying to out-roar the dinosaur

Whoops! Didn't expect that response! Do you see the dino spitting at her? She ducked in time not to get wet
Hehehe. The dinosaur had a good chuckle over that one!

We actually managed to get the cousins to sit together nicely in order to take a photo. These nice peaceful moments were rare:

And Bilal had a great time in the area built for kids under five years of age

While the other boys had a nice competitive game of tug-of-war:

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