Saturday, July 31, 2010

Battle of the Dojos

Safa and Hamza participated in the JIKA 'Battle of the Dojos' karate tournament today. They both competed in the Kata and sparring categories. Hamza was awarded fourth place positions in both his events, and Safa won second place and one first place medal. Plus their efforts, along with all the other participants from the Trussville Dojo, helped re-claim the trophy back to its rightful place, in the Trussville Dojo. Great accomplishment!


Sensei Merri, Safa and Julie

Thursday, July 29, 2010

More vacation pics

There is still so much of our week long vacation in Chicago that I haven't shared. These are some sights of Navy Pier:


Getting ready to ride the 150 feet tall Ferris Wheel



The Carousel

Helping hoist the sails on the Tall Ship Windy, Lake Michigan

And they're up!


Nice view of the lighthouse


And the view by night

Fireworks!
More to come!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is summer over yet?

If Hamza ever needed some coaching in math I think we have a solution. While he was doing some math problems today Bilal sat down next to him. The conversation went something like this:

Bilal: Hamza, what's five by four?
Hamza: Twenty

Bilal: What's five by twenty?
Hamza: One hundred.

Bilal: OK, what's five by one hundred?
Hamza: Five hundred

Bilal: What's five by five hundred?
Hamza: Two thousand five hundred.

Bilal: What's five by two thousand five hundred?
Hamza: Twenty five thousand.

Bilal: Then what's five by twenty five thousand?
Hamza: One hundred twenty five thousand.

Bilal: So what's five by one hundred twenty five thousand?
Hamza: Six hundred twenty five thousand.

Bilal: And what's five by that? (I think the numbers were getting too big for him to say)
Hamza: (Finally) Why are you asking me? ASK THE CALCULATOR!

The boys have been fighting like cats and dogs today. I finally gave up on trying to separate them. Instead I made sure that neither of them had drawn blood, then shooed them out of my room, shut the door and took a five minute time-out myself. I couldn't get more than that; Bilal came into the room bawling because he hurt his head on the chair, and I had to switch back very rapidly into mommy mode. Hurt kids need attention. I have tried to enforce the 'no fighting in Mama's bedroom' rule for years, but it doesn't seem to work. The rule gets broken time and time again.

With the temperature outside going up to 98-99 degrees there's not a lot to do, except stay indoors. There are only so many places you can take the kids. I drag them around on every errand that needs to be run, but the rest of the time we are mostly hanging around the house. At least during the school year we have a routine, and it's easier to keep everyone busy. Hamza has already been registered for seventh grade, and Safa's registration is next week. School supplies have been purchased. Bottom line: I am ready for the school year to start!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Birthday

Bilal had a blast on his birthday. We didn't get to do a lot since I was on call and had to make rounds, but overall it was a good day. He was excited to get presents from his siblings. Unfortunately our gift to him will have to wait. We have ordered a new play set for the back yard, complete with a fireman's pole, but it might be a couple of week before it is installed. But the old swing set has been removed and taken to recycle for scrap metal. The surface has also been prepped, so we will be ready as soon as the new one is delivered.

Zakir made seared ahi tuna and fried tofu sticks for lunch (a healthier spin on the conventional fish 'n' chips). But then we had birthday cake for dessert, so that kind of defeats the purpose of a a healthy meal! This year we didn't order a cake; I baked one instead. Bilal of course, wanted to help with the entire process. It was his cake, so why not?




And the end result:


OK, so it wasn't the best decorated cake, but it did taste good!

In the evening we took the kids to Red Robin for dinner. always popular with the kids


Of course, Bilal isn't the only one who enjoyed his food. Freckled lemonade!


Hamza acted more elusive, as he has been doing a lot lately. You can't even see his handsome new haircut in this pic!


But then Bilal got to enjoy a birthday sundae.

That was after the servers sang to him. I think he was rather embarrased!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bilal is Four!

My baby is four years old today! It doesn't seem that long ago that we brought home a tiny little baby from the hospital; he was only 5 pounds and four ounces on the day of discharge. Now he is a lot bigger, though not huge; he weighs almost 35 pounds, and he's definitely a lot taller! He has been excited about his birthday for days. He can make the association that having a birthday means getting presents and having cake. What more does a little boy need?

No montage yet, this time. My laptop is refusing to communicate with our external hard drive, so right now I don't have access to photos of the past year, but I do have a couple of my favs that I can share from the last two or three months:

Snuggle time with Elephant

With the puppy, who's much bigger than Bilal!

Enjoying his first ferry ride

Always looking for something to climb on

Outdoors, where he loves to be

On an improptu beach trip to Dauphin Island

First dental check up. No cavities!

On the Tall Ship Windy, at Navy Pier

Always that cheeky little smile

Unless he's dozed off, a few minutes after insisting, "I'm not sleepy!"

At Millennium Park in Chicago

Happy Birthday, Bilal!

And happy birthday to my brother Tahir and niece Aliyah. Their birthday was July 23rd.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eighteen to twenty-four months

It has been a little over one year since Bilal had his last cardiology evaluation by his PC, Dr. Colvin at UAB. He had repair of his Tetralogy of Fallot on September 18, 2006, when he was a mere eight weeks old. Since then we have been blessed that he has not required any further cardiac interventions. After the frequent cardiology visits of the pre-op and immediate post-op period the need for frequent follow ups went down, initially to every six months, then once a year. For the past two years Dr. C has suggested we bring Bilal back every 18-24 months since he has been doing so well. But I have been a bit leery about doing this; it seems so long to go between visits even though Bilal is doing fine. The routine is typically like this: I call to make an appointment for Bilal about 2 months before it is due, put it on the calendar and gradually build up stress little by little until his appointment time. Then we come back from seeing the PC, I relax, and things fall back into the usual mode. Then we’re good for several months until it comes around time for the next appointment. I don’t know why, but those appointments always make me anxious. I’m sure the peace of mind I get after the fact probably makes it all worthwhile, but if only I could overcome the pre-appointment anxiety!

Bilal has severe pulmonary regurgitation, so the need for a valve replacement in the future is highly probable, but not inevitable. The timing will depend on how well he tolerates the dynamics of what is going on in his heart post-repair. According to Dr. Colvin this is most likely several years down the road; we are hopefully looking into adulthood. That time frame should help improve the chances of a transcatheter procedure for pulmonary valve replacement, so maybe no more open heart surgery? It could be true! I am hoping for medical technology to hurry up and catch up!

Well, his last appointment was on 7/7/2009. That’s a year and a couple of weeks ago. And I haven’t made an appointment yet. Whew! This time I thought I’d be brave and try it differently. How about actually waiting the suggested 18-24 months before going back? That’s what the plan is. No appointment, no stress. Right? Actually that does seem to be true with me. The decision to wait longer until we go back has me more curious than anxious. Curious because I’m wondering if the physiology of Bilal’s heart has changed since last July, although I’d be surprised if there were a significant change. Also curious because I’d like to check out the Pediatric Cardiology group’s new home at the new UAB Women and Infants Center (note to self: remember to ask hubby to come to the next appointment with me, otherwise I'll surely get lost!). I’m not anxious, and that feels good.

These days my biggest challenge is keeping up with my energetic three year old; actually three for only a few more days, because his birthday is coming up this Saturday. Mama still begs for baby to take naps, baby still fights them; they’re actually for my benefit rather than his! Bilal may be able to wake up at 6:30am and run around wide open until 8:00pm, but I’m the one who needs a little quiet time in the middle of the day! But this energy itself is a wonderful blessing; it continues to remind me how strong my son really is, and that includes his body, his spirit and his heart.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Decisions, decisions........

When you're walking around on Michigan Avenue and your empty stomach beckons, where do you go to eat?


Or,

Hm...........


Or:


Which one did we settle on? This!



Zakir insisted he didn't have anything, while the kids and I enjoyed our sweet treats. Nope, he just sat there and watched us:

But Bilal helped prove him wrong!

That's a lot of ice cream and a lot of butterscotch!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

More sights around Chi-Town



The the above photos are from the set of the Transformers 3 movie that we just happened to be passing by on one of our trolley rides. The green Hummer is Ratchet, and the truck is Optimus Prime. And look at the road, it seems to be all torn up, thanks to a few strategically placed pieces of asphalt. Wow!


One evening we ate at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The food was typical fried seafood and fries, but the ambience made it fun.




Cheers!



It's not every day you get to see a pink stretch Hummer limo!


And during our many 'L' rides around town.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Colorful little bricks!

Who knew that the LEGO company's 'Automatic Binding Bricks' of 1949 would turn into this timeless phenomenon?

Our visit to the Legoland Discovery Center has to be one of the highlights of our trip to Chicago. It is actually located outside of the city, so it took a trip on the Blue line nearly all the way to O'Hare and then a bus ride from there to go to the Museum, but worth the trip for sure!

So much excitement! (And that's the 'before' picture!)


The boys loved to see the large models of Darth Vader and R2-D2. No, the Star Wars phase isn't over yet!

And Safa had to get a picture with a much smaller version of Harry Potter, and his Nimbus 2000


There was a little dragon ride

Insert Indiana Jones theme music here

Need I say more?

Oo Oo, Aa Aa!



The models of famous Chicago Buildings were very impressive

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