Monday, May 31, 2010

Nap time

You know Bilal needs a nap when he starts whining and crying for no particular reason. So Zakir persuaded him to lie down for a little while next to him to see if he might fall asleep. His condition was that he wanted to read his Star Wars book. A few minutes later this is what I saw:

What a sweet little face!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mission Accomplished

OK, it may have taken a lot longer then the couple of weeks I anticipated, but the master bathroom is now officially painted and ready to accessorize. Still some cleaning up to do, though, and I'm even tempted to scrub the grout in the white tile floor. The last time I did that was many, many moons ago. Can't wait to put back up the towel racks and mount some stuff on the walls. It is an interesting color; it ended up a lot brighter than the seaside-esque blue I was going for, but it is a nice happy color for sure. The problem is that now our white doors look dull and very dirty. But I refuse to do any more painting, so I'll try and restore them to a bit of their former glory with a Magic eraser. I'll post some pics soon.

Safa and I went to her school today to attend a parent meeting, followed by the Board of Trustees meeting. There are some major curriculum changes planned for the coming school year, regarding the AP course offerings, and needless to say, the Math/Science parents are not happy. I am hoping it won't affect Safa's education to much, but at present morale is rather low and some students are actually contemplating leaving. Sad; ASFA is such a great and diverse school, I wish the Executive Director has the M/S students' interests in mind. We are going to sit tight and see what happens over the coming school year.

It was Hamza's last official day before the summer, and surprisingly he actually chose to go to school today, but I checked him out a little early. Safa is going to make some money over the summer, hopefully designing our business website and doing other odd jobs around the office, and we have also discussed a couple of community service ideas that might be interesting for her. Gotta keep them busy! All Hamza can think about right now is his upcoming trip to Australia. He is sooooo ready!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer starts

Our veggie patch is finally starting to bear fruit (veggie - fruit, get it? haha!) Yesterday the first thing Bilal ate when he woke up was a tomato from one of our vines (the first ripe one of the season). And the last thing he ate before he brushed his teeth at bed time was a carrot from our veggie patch. So hopefully more fresh home grown vegetables in the weeks to come.

Bilal and I drove Safa down to school today; she had her history final. Since she only needed to be at school for a couple of hours we decided not to go back home, rather I took Bilal to Barnes and Noble for an hour or so. Where we read many books but didn't settle on a single one. And then we played with the trains.

Then a trip to Panera (Yum!) for a mango smoothie and a muffin. They also have these new strawberries and cream scones that are delicious. But while browsing their website I just realized I consumed a whopping 19 grams of fat in a single scone (minus the few bites Bilal had). What fortune that I opted for the LOW FAT smoothie (ha!) OK, maybe I'll have a very rare, very indulgent strawberry scone from now on!

'Muffin face'

Goofy face!

Safa has two more finals left tomorrow (Computer applications and English) and then she's off for the rest of the summer. I still have to think up some activities to keep her busy, so that I don't have to keep prying her away from the computer or TV. Hamza's last day is officially Thursday, but he's been begging me to skip that day. Since he's only missed a couple of days the entire year when he was sick I think I might just let him away with it.

We have been eating some food left over from our barbecue on Saturday. I haven't cooked in several days, and I know the kids are going to want something fresh cooked today. So even though I'm not really much in the mood to cook I think I'll actually have to turn on the stove today, sigh.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Five hundred, million things to do

We're getting ready for another action packed weekend. Tomorrow Zakir will take Hamza to his last meeting before his trip to Australia. He has packed his suitcase and backpack, and will be taking it with him to the meeting, where he will practice rolling it around and going up and down elevators. Last prep before the big trip! His passport has been renewed and he has a debit card in his own name too. I just hope he learns to use it wisely!

And tomorrow evening we have about 50 people coming over for dinner. There are so many friends I have wanted to have over so long, but haven't found the time. Since this weekend is the only one in the month of May that either Zakir or I are not on call we decided this would be a good one for the party. I have lots of chicken marinating in the fridge, the hamburger patties are ready and the shrimp will be skewered first thing in the morning. After that it's mostly preparing the salads, and some dessert. And of course, the dreaded last minute cleaning! My house is always the cleanest right before I host a party. Maybe that should be a reason for me to invite people over more often!

Between all the preparations today I did manage to take some time out and read books with Bilal. We read several, although not the 'five hundred million' he wanted to read. Which incidentally, is his favorite number;

"You can have two little pieces of candy"
"No, I want five hundred million!"

"How many books do you want to check out from the library?"
"Five hundred million!"

"You can take only one toy in the car with you"

"But I want to take five hundred million!"

You get the drift.

And in honor of Hamza's big trip without his parents I felt like reminiscing a bit. This is one of my favorite photos of Hamza when he was little. Can't believe that he's old enough now to travel to the opposite side of the world without us! My baby!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'Night to Remember'

Sunday night was awesome. Zakir and I attended a concert in Birmingham which was part of Bryan Adams' Bare Bones acoustic tour. Just the singer with an acoustic guitar and a pianist. That was the entire band. And his performance reminded me why I have enjoyed listening to this singer/ songwriter over the years. He is so talented, and during the concert he also proved his ability to engage the audience. And it's always fun if you know almost all the words of about 90% of the songs.

And it didn't hurt that we could almost touch the stage if we stood up where we were seated. It pays to buy tickets almost as soon as they go on sale. Although, there wasn't really a bad seat in the entire theater!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Should've named him Houdini

Ugly, but a necessity!

Atlas has been all trouble since we brought him home. OK maybe not all trouble, but a lot. After his escape fiasco that cost us a whole nights' sleep and a lot of stress Zakir brought some wire mesh fencing to temporarily raise the gate. That didn't work, he's so strong and heavy that he just jumped up and bent it over. And it didn't seem to be that flexible! Next attempt, plywood sheets. He hammered some on to the fence, while we had someone come and take measurements to replace the low wooden fence with a higher metal one. Hopefully that will solve the escape problem without obscuring the view from our sunroom too much. So far Atlas has thrown himself against the plywood, and almost snapped it off. So it had to be reinforced. When that problem seemed to be solved he learned that if he shoved the gate hard enough the latch would give way, so Vicki found a way to temporarily reinforce that too. Now we can't use the gate to get into our back yard. We need to get some lessons from him in the art of escapology, might come in handy some day!

Interestingly he gets rather antsy when he has free roam of the yard. But the minute you leash him or tie him up for a while he calms right down, almost as if he feels more secure when he's restrained. But today I've let him roam in the yard while we were home and tied him up when we were gone for a while and he's actually done remarkably well. Maybe he's finally settling down. And we've nearly mastered the 'sit' command, so that's a little bit of progress. Training our puppy is going to be a long process!

He was adorably sweet and good natured when we walked him down to Trussville's annual Dog Daze festival over the weekend. He didn't mind the crowds or the other dogs, while Zakir paraded him around with all the pride of a new father!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


So here's a little sneak preview of our new addition, Atlas the Giant. The dog that got spooked by fireworks last night and escaped from our back yard. The dog we spent hours looking for last night and early this morning. And thank goodness he is back home. Because luckily Zakir took him to the vet yesterday, got his shots done and put the rabies tag on his collar (it has not only the tag number but the telephone number of the vet on it). So when Atlas ended up and spent the night at the house of a person in the neighborhood behind us (along with their Russell Terriers), they were able to call the vet early in the morning and locate us. Man, what a sleepless night we had! Now we have to find a solution to the gate in the back yard that is too low. The one Zakir was convinced that Atlas would not jump over. Well, that wasn't true! Now that our pet is home I can gloat over the fact that I warned Zakir about the gate and he didn't listen, and I suggested we tie him to a long rope for a few days at night while he gets settled, but he didn't listen to that either. So there's my 'I told you so!' moment. But honestly I'm just as relieved as he is that Atlas is home. He is so gentle and we haven't even heard him bark yet. He doesn't mind the cats at all, although the cats are rather stressed out and preferring to stay indoors most of the time. I guess they'll have to get over it, just like I'm having to get over it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm not absolutely thrilled but......

.... by tonight we will have become 'The Khan Family of Five (and two cats and one dog)'. Yes, I have finally caved in and Zakir is getting the dog he always wanted. And not just any dog, but a big, bushy Great Pyrenees! I got tired of always being the 'bad guy', saying NO! to another kitten, NO! to a hamster, NO! to a guinea pig, NO! to a sugar glider (I'm not insane), and NO! to a dog. So this time it's a yes. Not an emphatic one, but at least it has come without bribing, blackmail or coercion, rather out of resignation. So far most of my research suggests that they are rather good with cats (one of my biggest concerns) and although they are quite hard to train they are gentle and very loyal. Now this dog may be good with cats but I wonder how things will be on the cats' end. Sammy is nine years old and Tiny is six. They have had little interaction with dogs, except the ones that run around our neighborhood, and they try to stay away from those. Sammy has been known and seen to attack dogs about his size, and once even drew blood from a little dog that came wandering into our garage. He is very territorial. I wonder how he'll do around a dog that will be about 10 times his size fully grown? He was resentful for the longest time when we brought another cat into the household, and acted ornery while giving his owners the cold shoulder for months. Finally he got over it. This time I just can't imagine what will happen. This will be the 'make or break' though, since Zakir is bringing the dog home on the condition that if things don't fall into place within the first few days he will be returned to his current owner who will then find an alternative home for it. That has already been settled.

I can definitely think of one positive fact about having a large dog to take care of. It will have to change my hubby's sedentary ways. Large dogs need to be walked regularly. Time has to be taken out to train them. So maybe Zakir will get more fresh air. That is a good thing. As far as other family members' opinions, Safa is not very excited (but that's only because she wants another kitten), Hamza is overjoyed and Bilal has announced that he won't 'clean up poo'. The cats? I guess we'll know how they feel by this evening.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I don't get it

You'd think that after having lived in Alabama for almost 11 years I'd get used to this. But it still gets rather confusing. We've gone from 90 degrees, hot and humid, to 70 degrees, breezy, dry and warm, to 50 degrees, wet and chilly in a span of 3 days. Yesterday it poured most of the day. Where are those hot summers we're used to? Not that I am keen on having triple digit temperatures, but this unpredictability is going a little too far. A few days ago it was so hot that the air conditioner was staying on in the house almost constantly, and this morning I was labeled mean momma because I didn't let Safa put the central heating on upstairs. She was grumbling that it was 65 degrees in the house. That is pretty cool for our house, we usually keep the heat set around seventy degrees and the air closer to seventy-five. Today skies are overcast, and it still feels rather cool, although we are supposed to reach 70 again. It's hard to decide how to dress.

We have a shorter than usual Tuesday to-do list today, so hopefully that means Bilal and I will take it easy most of the day. We do plan to make our usual library trip to check out more books and then we're headed to Lowe's to buy paint. Yup, the day has finally come. I am done scraping off the wallpaper, and sanding the walls in our bathroom. The walls have been primed and the surface looks smooth to my satisfaction. So the final thing left is to put some color on those walls. Then we can accessorize. And only a few months behind schedule! I think when it comes to painting the rest of the house I'll hire a painter. Even though there won't be any more scraping wallpaper involved the ceilings are high and that means up and down with the ladder. Too much for me to do! We've lived in this house for almost 8 years, and we've painted the kitchen, hired someone to install hardwood and new counters, had a new sunroom built (major construction project), and I have painted the kids' rooms upstairs. There is still more that needs to be done, but if we've lived like this for so many years, what's a few more months?

Tonight is Hamza's Spring Concert at the High School, we're really looking forward to that. This morning I dropped him off early so that he could go to the Student Council informational meeting. He stays late until 4 for the Math Team introductory meeting. And then the concert at 6pm. Busy, busy! But then that seems to be the theme of the Khan household. The next two weekends are already planned out; we are invited to a dinner on Saturday, and on Sunday the kids have Graduation at Sunday School. then Zakir and I are going to the Bryan Adams concert in the evening. It's been years since we've been to any concert, so that will be exciting. Then next week we are hosting a dinner for almost 50 people on Saturday evening. While I prepare for that Zakir will be taking Hamza to Bessemer for the final People to People meeting before he leaves for Australia. Have I mentioned that Hamza is going to Australia for 15 days, with a group of students and a few adult chaperones? Big step for all of us!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Picnic at the Park

On Saturday I took the kids to meet some other folks from the karate dojo for a picnic in the field behind the library. The temperature was a very pleasant 68 degrees, more than 20 degrees cooler than the 90 with humidity the day before.

It was also pretty windy as you can tell from this delightful photo of Safa (she'll hate me for posting this one!).

The group had a very competitive game of kick ball.

And Bilal just hung around....

Then out came the water balloons, and all the kids used Sensei Michele as target practice.

And after a while she just gave up trying to dodge the balloons. You can see that even Bilal got in on the fun on this one, even though he came running to me, complaining when Hamza got him the slightest bit wet.

Perfect day for a picnic!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fun in the sun

Bilal loves to be outdoors. Can you see the look of pure joy on his face when he rides his bike? On my last day off we spent more time outside than we did in. After a little bike riding session he created some art with some sidewalk chalk. Then out came the buckets and a little water, and the fun continued. Who said having fun has to be complicated? Messy, maybe, but not complicated!

We are getting ready for picnic weekend. I have to work tomorrow, but Saturday morning is the karate picnic at the park, and then on Sunday the Muslim Community of Birmingham is hosting another one at the lakeside park in Pell City. And with the promising weather forecast we hope to be in for some more outdoor fun! Zakir is on call, but we don't expect this to interfere with the activities too much.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Its going to be a busy school year!

I took Hamza to the Course selection meeting on Monday night at the middle school. Lots of information to assimilate. The GaTE program is now offering some new electives, besides the usual seventh grade electives that were available last year. Hamza really, really wanted to continue Band this year, which would be one elective, the new 21st Century exploratory sounds like a great opportunity (gearing instruction to what the student is really interested in, with a choice of various modules in various subjects), but he also needs to take a Computer apps and keyboarding course before he starts High School. So that is three electives he wants or needs, and only two that he can actually select. Bit of a dilemma! Also he has qualified for all advanced classes, that's Pre-Algebra, Advanced English, Advanced Science and Advanced Social Studies. So he will probably will have his hands full this year.

On top of cores and electives we also got a chance to browse what extra curricular activities will be available to him. And as of right now Hamza is interested in too many. He wants to continue Scholar's Bowl, join the Math team, possibly be an ambassador, or a member of student council, or join the yearbook staff. Plus he hopes to be able to join the jazz band, which is another extra curricular activity. I might even be missing one out. Recently he has also been asking to get tennis lessons. Hm, I think he is going to have to prioritize and decide which ones he really wants to join. I don't mind shuttling him back a forth (the school is only 3 miles from our house). But how do you remind a very enthusiastic upcoming seventh grader that there are only five days in the school week?

Regardless of what he decides, I think he should prepare for a rather hectic school year.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trip to the zoo

This post shows how far behind I am on blogging, I took the boys to the zoo with a group of friends two weeks ago, and I am just now sharing the photos. But in my defense life has been goig on at my our usual crazy busy pace.

After the picnic, waiting for tickets into the zoo:

I thought these made such a cute pair, too bad the picture was a bit blurry:

Waiting to ride the train,

The girls were really excited about the train ride

Still waiting at the train station............

Do you think that maybe the adults were more eager to ride the train than the kids?

And the best part of the train station, getting to ring the bell:

Monday, May 3, 2010

The birthday girls

We went to a birthday party at Birmingham's newest inflatable play place, iJump on Saturday. Maryam just turned 2 a few weeks ago, and Khadija is 7. The cutest little girls! After playing for a while we all went to their house for dinner and cake. We had a good time!

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