Saturday, July 30, 2011

What did this puppy do last night?

No, he didn't try to escape our back yard. Nor did he tear up something of any significant value. Actually, he got his huge bushy tail stuck in our metal patio table, between the table top and the upper part of one of the legs! Zakir went out last night to put him in his crate for the night. Atlas came out of the bushes and walked between the table and chairs on the patio, getting his tail stuck in the process. So he ended up whimpering and dragging the table all around the place. Zakir tried to help him get it out, but he instinctively tried to bite him, so he couldn't do much. As we know, this is the pup who wouldn't hurt a fly. But when you are trapped and dragging a metal table around with only the tip of your tail it's gotta hurt! So Zakir called me outside to see if I could help dislodge his tail while he held him. But Atlas still wouldn't stop trying to snap every time I got close to his tail. Finally we managed to twist the table around to an angle where the poor pup's tail slipped out from its entrapment. And he was fine!

I would have taken a picture of his predicament, but it would have been too cruel, to stop and grab my camera instead of helping him out. So no photos of the crazy moment. But here's another one, of Bilal and our white 'Clifford', just because all words and no pics is too boring!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A mouthful!

There it is, right at the bottom of the list! Hamza made the 'board of fame' for getting his braces on today.

After almost 2 hours of work and much gagging (so I'm told), Hamza has a mouth full of hardware. He actually looks quite cute!

Pardon the crummy picture. He can't ever keep his eyes open if the camera flash goes off, and evidently his glasses have weeks worth of grubby paw prints he hasn't cleaned off. But you get the gist of it!

I hope he takes good care of those pearly whites!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

After five years of watchful waiting...

...several x-rays and molds, a few serial extractions, and over a year of wearing headgear, Hamza is finally going in for his braces tomorrow. The waiting was to let more of Hamza's primary teeth to come loose, then some extractions to help the permanent teeth drop in place. Then the headgear to slow down the growth of his upper jaw, and give time for the growth of his lower jaw to catch up, hence correcting his overbite. Now all his baby teeth are gone, and it is time for a full set of braces. He has a lot of crowding in his mouth, but hopefully with braces followed by a retainer we'll be able to get a good orthodontic result without having to extract any of his permanent teeth (well, except his wisdom teeth, or 3rd molars, which will probably have to be extracted when he is about 16; they are already growing in crooked). I suppose most of us end up with our 3rd molars extracted some time during our teen years, I did too! I love Hamza's smile, but I also think that it will be great for him to get braces, and help correct some of that crowding in his mouth. I just hope he grows up appreciating how much time, effort and money are going into his treatment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Five!

Happy Birthday to Bilal! Can you believe it? My last born is five years old today. And I have to stop and wonder in amazement when I think about what a crazy five years it has been. Crazy in a good way, well most of the time, although there are those moments when I want to pull my hair out. For example, do you know how many attempts it took to get a decent photo to share on the blog? I finally gave up after all the goofy faces, and asked Safa to try. This is the best he gave her:

And I think these are cute too, just not what I had in mind:




Such a silly boy!

Today was a Star Wars kind of day, just like every other day in Bilal's life. For birthday cake, he picked out Star Wars cupcakes.

As a birthday present he picked out yet another Star Wars Lego toy. And from all the places he may have chosen to go to for lunch he picked out McDonald's because the happy meal toy was (did you guess it?) Star Wars themed! Yes, the rest of the household wanted to veto the lunch venue, but I figured, his birthday only comes once a year, so he gets to choose.

May the force be with you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

All together again!

Tuesday night Zakir brought the kids back from Pakistan. Two weeks is plenty of time for us to be split as a family, in fact it's the longest we've ever been separate. It was my first experience ever, living alone for more than a weekend, and Bilal has never been without me, except for a rare evening when Zakir and I may have gone for dinner or a show and missed his bedtime. I was pleased that he did rather well. Of course Safa and Hamza were fine without me there, and that was to be expected. All the kids obviously got spoiled rotten by their grandparents, uncle and aunt, but I suppose that was to be expected too!

While Zakir was gone I had a lot of early mornings, and long walks with Atlas. I had to walk him every day before going to work and before it got too hot for him to be out. And then every evening before I tucked him in for the night. I have to admit the walks were very pleasant (well, except for the scooping poop part), but I am very glad to not have to get up at the crack of dawn knowing that the dog has to be walked. I'll leave that to Zakir now, he's the morning person!

While we were in Pakistan Atlas spent two weeks at the vet's. He was very happy to be back home, but obviously unsettled, probably partly because of the intense heat and partly because of his owner not being home. So he ate very little in the first week he was home with me; maybe about as much in one week as he typically would have in one day. But he remained energetic, and continued to enjoy his walks, so I chalked it down to changes in routine and didn't worry too much about it. IT didn't help much that there was always a rumble or two of thunder in the air, and he is still terrified of storms. One day I came went out for a couple of hours in the evening and the weather got stormt before I got back. While I was driving home I got a call from our business answering service.

"Dr. Mina, I'm so sorry to call you, I know you're not on call, but your neighbor has your dog and doesn't know what to do with him because he's a very big dog!" So I called and talked to my dear neighbor and got the story, reassuring her I'd be there in less than ten minutes. Apparently she'd called my home number and I wasn't home but she didn't have my cell number. So she googled our office and found a telephone number. Since there was no-one in the office she got the answering service number off the machine, and contacted me through them. I wondered how Atlas had managed to get out from the back yard, but figured it was something to do with the temporary fix we had created to prevent him from jumping over the gate. I came home to find my neighbors' kids in the back yard with Atlas, and this:





While I was standing there he showed me what he could do with the hole he punched out:


It put me in a dilemma, I couldn't keep him in the back yard any longer, wasn't quite sure how I could close the hole, and there was no way I wanted to leave him in the crate for ten hours at a time while I was at work. Didn't really want to board him at the vet's again either!

So I called Vicki and asked her if her husband wouldn't mind coming over and covering up the hole temporarily until Zakir came back and replaced the gate. I didn't expect to come home to this the next evening!

I love those guys! Donnie went out of his way to build us a great new gate!


Anyway, by week two Atlas was probably resigned to the fact that it was just me and him from then on. It probably also helped that the weather cooled down several degrees. So he started eating better and was more settled while at home. No more attempts to break down the fence! What he hasn't realized is that if he got a running start he could probably jump over any part of the fence! Let's hope he doesn't read this blog post, ha!

And that's only one of the crazy things that happened while Zakir and the kids were gone. Needless to say, we've figured that I'm the one member of the household that attracts all the drama, we don't have to have a full house for something bizarre to occur!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do you know where this is?

It's in Abbotabad, Pakistan, only a couple of miles from where Osama Bin Laden was in hiding, and eventually got taken down. It seems like such a benign, ordinary place!

Especially when you see sights like this in the same vicinity:


I love this photo that Zakir took of the fruit vendors on the roadside. Doesn't it make you want to try one of each? Delicious!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

So grown up!

Thanks, Nadia for taking these photos.


Doesn't Safa look so grown up? It's been creeping up on me, and sometimes I wish I could resist the reality that she's no longer a little girl. We are blessed with a beautiful, intelligent young lady who is blossoming a little more every day. You spend years trying to nurture your children, raise them to become responsible and independent. Then they grow up and you want to turn back time! I love this stage, we can go shopping together, get the occasional pedicures together, and ask each other's opinion about the important, and the mundane. But I also loved it when this:

was my baby girl!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lulusar Lake

While we were visiting the Kaghan Valley in the Pakistani Himalayas, on of our trips was to Lake Lulusar, that feeds the Kunhar River. Possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It is at 11,190ft, a pretty high altitude to be at if you're not used to it. We noticed that Bilal was quite fatigued and fussy while we were there, maybe it was just too high for him to adjust. As soon as we came back down to 7,000ft he was fine, and we didn't stay long at the lake anyway. But perhaps the next time we venture to such heights we should talk to his cardiologist first!

The road up to the lake looked like this:

And this:

Yes, we actually went over this bridge! And this:

But this


And this:

Made the trip worth it!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why not improvise?

When you think about chilling bottles or cans of soda, you probably think of using something like this:

But there are other, less known and definitely less conventional ways to do the same thing. The trick is to 'think outside the box'.

For example, if you just happen to have a glacier handy, like this one...


... all you have to do is carve out a few shelves, and you have yourself a refrigerator!


Or if you are a few miles away from a useful block of ice you can always fall back on a waterfall:

Works just as well.

That's not to say that people in Northern Pakistan have not embraced modern technology. In fact, they have taken convenience to a whole new level.

Yup, a freezer, just conveniently sitting at the side of the road. Filled with some cool, sweet treats. Ice cream, anyone?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fried

Ironically, that's our microwave oven. The last built-in appliance in our kitchen to die. We moved into our house eight years ago, and it was built eight years prior to that. Assuming that all kitchen appliances were the original ones (and we're pretty sure they were) when we moved in, it was about time for the microwave to go. According to Appliance.net the average life span of kitchen electronics is this:

Dishwasher: 9-12 years. Our lasted about 14, so that's pretty good.

Electric stove: 16 years. We replaced our after about 14 years, but had one expensive repair a couple of years prior to that.

Central air: 10-20 years. We've had a couple of quite pricey repairs over the past few years, but paid much less that it would have cost to replace the units, so we're good there. Problem is, our type of unit is no longer manufactured, so whenever something goes wrong parts have to be custom built to fix it. It has actually been doing a lot better lately since we actually remember to replace the filters!

Washer: 12 years. We had one major repair many years ago when the house got struck by lightning, but our washer is about 12 years old and still seems to be doing its job!

Dryer: 14 years. Ours is as old as the washer. We have been blessed with a dryer that I think, will never die! Anyone remember this?

Microwave: 5-8 years. Now it seems that our built-in Whirlpool has done a lot better than anticipated. I know for sure that it is the original one installed when the house was built, because it was manufactured in 1994. The house was built in 1995. Two days ago I tried to nuke something, and the microwave made an odd buzzing sound. Then 20 seconds into the process I started to smell something that might have been burning wiring. So I turned it off and went hunting for a replacement. Fortunately Lowe's has one, only one alternative that can fit in the same spot without adjusting the cabinetry. So it has been ordered and hopefully will be installed next week. Meanwhile I am making do with an old counter top one that I hauled in from the clinic. Can't live without one. What ever did we do prior to 1980? Drink cold tea??!! I usually microwave a mug of tea about three times before I manage to drink it all.

Monday, July 4, 2011

River Rafting on the Kunhar

Well, I've scrapped the idea of chronicling our vacation within a vacation day by day. Over the next few posts I'll be sharing various parts of the trip, and the places we visited.

We had our first ever family experience river rafting in the Kunhar river, in the beautiful Kaghan Valley area. We didn't take many photos during the trip as we were attempting to protect the camera from the water. But trust me, it was a lot of fun, and the views were gorgeous.

Getting ready to board the raft:


Bilal was extremely hesitant at first, he actually managed to squeeze out a few tears, with his eyes screwed tightly shut. That's not surprising, he typically doesn't do well with new experiences.

He finally did open up his eyes.

But it took him about fifteen or twenty minutes into the trip to start looking around, and it was only about half an hour later that he started hoping that we would go over more of the small rapids that got his siblings wet, leaving him almost completely dry!

Our rafting guide, Bashir (in the orange life jacket) has twenty-six years experience with white water rafting, and had been rafting down this particular river for about three years. That alone set our mind at ease, since this was a first for us.




Definitely something the kids would like to try again some day.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wheels

Buckle up, you're in for a fun ride with this blog post!

Public transportation:


Rickshaws. It's amazing how many people you can pack into one of these!



The famous family of four on a bike:

Colorful truck:

East meets West. A car overtaking a donkey cart?


Tiny Suzuki pickup trucks converted into another form of public transportation. No space inside? No problem! You can just hang from the outside. I wonder if the guys riding outside get charged full fare?


This is the road we're traveling on. If the van is overtaking the tractor, where do we pass from ?!

Colorful:


Pedal power!

Cheap entertainment. Rather dangerous playing that close to the road, though:


Portable fresh fruit!


Not really wheels, but it gets you where you're going!


Lots of wheels, in pretty close proximity!


The van we took from Islamabad to Kaghan Valley:


And a couple of the rather dodgy bridges we crossed over:


I hope to chronicle our five day trip a day at a time. But it might take more than five days to post it all!

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