Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Trouble in kindergarten

Bilal brought home his very first 'Oops' note from kindergarten today. He was devastated, cried for about 20 minutes straight, and was so distraught that it was even hard to understand what he was saying. He is always the best behaved child, who has never moved his pin in class, with more than half of the school year already over. In fact I met Safa's kindergarten teacher at the school today and she was telling me how she wished she had Bilal in her class, because he's always so well behaved. Mrs. E and Mrs. B's classes have a lot of activities together, so there is lots of interaction.

Anyway, back to the reason why Bilal got into trouble. According to him, his little friend 'J' pushed him, then told the lunchroom monitor that Bilal had pushed him. Mrs. B is not with the class at lunchtime. Of course I told him that there was no way that he would get into trouble if he hadn't done anything back to 'J'; I figured Bilal probably did the same. So I told him he was not allowed to push other kids, but also didn't make huge deal about the note, because he was already devastated. Yet he kept on saying, "I didn't want to get him in trouble, he's my friend. But he got me in trouble!" After a while he settled down.

Later in the evening I ask Bilal if 'J' got an oops note sent home too, but he didn't. That's when I realized that Bilal was probably telling the truth. He is not one to initiate anything physical like pushing or shoving. When I asked why he didn't tell the lunchroom teacher that 'J' was actually the one who pushed him and not the other way around, he insisted "He's my friend. I didn't want to get him in trouble!" Poor baby! I think he got sabotaged by his own friend! One tiny infraction is nothing in kindergarten. These are all five and six year old kids, learning discipline in school where it is often not taught at home. But it sure is a pity that Bilal got in trouble due to no fault of his own.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A tiring, but fulfilling day

Today Safa and I spent a few hours helping with debris removal at a home in Clay. The subdivision, Paradise Valley was hit particularly hard during the most rent line of tornadoes last week, with many homes completely destroyed and uninhabitable. The houses will have to be rebuilt from the foundation up, but this first requires the lots to be cleared of overturned trees and building debris. It's quite a labor intensive job; we joined about fifteen other volunteers, who cut the trees and branches into manageable parts, and carried them to the street side for the city to later remove.

It was sad to see the damage.




But it was amazing to see complete strangers work as a team, and rally together to help clear the neighborhood, paving the way for a new beginning.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweet sixteen!

On January 28, 1996, a little after 8pm, this little Miss came into our lives:

 And today she turned sixteen!

Time seems to have just flown by, but I know I have acquired more than a few hairs since then! And with Safa about to get her license next week it's probably going to get worse! But we have tried to prepare her the best we can.

In the morning Safa went to a math tournament, while I drove to Anniston for a baby shower. Then in the afternoon Farah and Adeel took the kids to the Ringling Brothers circus. In the evening we had hamburgers for dinner.

And as if we can't have enough cake, Safa got her own today.


And I managed to place sixteen candles on the cake. Including the alien candles she requested, along with Buzz Lightyear.


Cake and candle overload!

CHD Awareness week 2012

For CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Awareness week this year, I am participating in The Faces of CHD- Pinterest Awareness Challenge, created by heart moms, Ruth, Stefenie and Becca.

As I do every year, I'm sharing a little of my heart child's story. If you would like to read a more detailed account of our journey with CHD, you can go to this blog post, and with a follow up here.

In short, Bilal was diagnosed after birth with Tetralogy of Fallot, a complex congenital heart condition with four unique defects. We were anticipating surgery at 4-6 months of age, however because of signs of congestive heart failure and his growth rate slowing down, he underwent his full repair at 8 weeks of age, when he wasn't quite 9 pounds. He had a remarkable post operative course and we were home on day 4 post op. After a rather difficult 2 weeks at home, things started falling back into place and since then, Bilal has grown and thrived like any heart healthy child. He may require valve replacement surgery as an adult, but for him, this is 'possible', not 'probable'.

Bilal turned five this past July and has started kindergarten. He loves school, and has found a love for karate too, taking after his older siblings who are both second degree black belts.


We see the pediatric cardiologist every two years for a complete check-up, including echocardiogram, EKG and chest x-ray. And for the rest of the time we continue to enjoy our happy, crazy, wildly busy life.


Remember, congenital heart defects affect approximately 1 in every 100 children that are born. Bilal is one of them.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Celebrating another birthday

We're back in another busy birthday month for the Khan family. Zakir's birthday is today, and it was kind of low key, but we did go out to eat in the evening.

At Nothing but Noodles

Safa turns 16 tomorrow, and since we didn't have a party planned this year (and she has to go to a math tournament), I decided to surprise her by bringing a couple of her closest friends home with us after school. We were all able to keep a secret for a couple of weeks!





And after dinner we came home and enjoyed dessert. Lately Nutella has been quite a popular food item in our house. Zakir made Nutella flavored ice cream today, and I baked him a cake with Nutella filling and frosting. It didn't turn out looking very pretty.


But it was well received; everyone thought it was delicious. As you can see the single huge candle is making up for the fact that if I put the correct number of candles on the cake it would set the house on fire, hah! So, without divulging his actual age, let me just say, he's definitely getting older! Happy Birthday, hon!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aftermath

I've posted about Alabama weather several times on this blog, but this time the severe weather really hit close to home. It has been an unusually mild winter, even by Alabama standards, and that has made for a very early tornado season.

Early yesterday morning a band of storms swept through central Alabama, and with it came tornadoes. A strong EF3 tornado (up to 150mph winds) passed through Trussville and the neighboring city of Clay, leaving in its path immense destruction. One of the neighborhood hit hard was a mere 3-4 miles north of where we live, and on our route to work. So many roads were blocked that we couldn't make it to our office in the morning. But that was only a tiny inconvenience compared to what many people experienced.

These pictures, from the Trussville Tribune and Weather.com are from Trussville and Clay.




There were many other cities that were also hit hard. Sadly, two people died in the storm, one of them a sixteen year old girl who was a student at JCIB, where Safa goes to school. But the death toll could have been much higher if it weren't for the continuous coverage provided by the meteorologists at our local TV stations, who have made a commitment to staying on the air while there is a tornado warning in the viewing area. No doubt, this has saved many lives over the years. Most people receive warnings in sufficient time to get to their place of safety; a basement, a room without windows, or a storm shelter. During this set of tornadoes about 200 homes were destroyed. Yet many who lost their homes came out of this with very little physical injury. A testimony to the preparedness that Alabamians are used to, living in a region where tornadoes are the norm.

Our neighborhood looked quite unharmed yesterday morning, with a rare tree limb on the ground and no serious damage, and we thank God for that, considering the tornado was so close. You can see from the pictures what happened only a few miles from our house. Just another reminder to me to hug my kids extra tight.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Karate demo

The kids participated in JIKA's demonstration in Springville today, as part of St. Vincent's health fair. We were there for a couple of hours, and various students performed katas and sparred, off and on throughout the morning.

First of all, Bilal helped Safa stretch.




And after some good stretches the demo began.


After the katas the students sparred each other. Safa and Hamza actually had the chance to spar against each other; I don't think they've done that before. You just don't typically have siblings oppose each other.
But then Bilal obviously wanted in on the fun. I don't think he's even started sparring at the Dojo yet. But he had no qualms getting in there, to try and kick and punch Safa!


We took some time out to roam around the health fair and I put my name into a drawing for door prizes. Later in the afternoon after we had left, I got a phone call informing me that I had won a prize and that they would leave it in the office for me to pick up on Monday if I couldn't come back to claim it. A bit surprising, I'm the one who never wins anything!

So it was a productive morning, and the kids had a great time.



They will be back in the Dojo on Monday, training with Sensei Michele again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mismatched

This morning Hamza came down into the kitchen, took one look at Bilal's clothes and, in his best 'I'm your big brother and am about to give you some very important advice' voice said, "Bilal, that's very tacky." Hm, I wonder why he'd say that?

What Hamza didn't realize, is that today happens to be Tacky Day at Paine Primary School. So, success! We managed to put together a tacky outfit! And to finish off the outfit Bilal decided to wear mismatched shoes to school too. And did I mention that he is tying his own shoelaces now too? Mr. Independent!

And can you tell that his hair line is rather crooked and missing a tuft of hair?

Bilal decided to give himself a haircut because "hair was getting in my eyes". There was a huge clump of hair missing with the rest of his bangs looking rather long. So I cut some more to try and salvage his new 'do', but we're just going to have to wait for it to grow out, and then get it cut neater again. Silly boy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A pleasant evening

It's so rare that Zakir and I have the chance to go out for dinner without the kids, so we decided it was due. We tucked the kids in (well, Bilal was tucked in while Safa and Hamza were up reading) for the night and headed up to the Pinnacle this evening. We had to pick up the tuxedo that Zakir has rented for a fancy dinner we are going to on Saturday night, and then we headed to the Olive Garden. Nothing fancy, but a nice meal. The restaurant just opened in our town a few months ago, and is always packed, even on weekday evenings. Fortunately it was easy enough to get a table for two, since by the time we got there the crowds had started to taper off.

We haven't eaten at any Olive Garden in at least 9-10 years, so didn't really know what to expect regarding the food. Fortunately the dishes we selected were actually quite good. And we even ordered dessert! Heck why not? Who knows when we'll do this again!

Tomorrow the office is closed, but there is a lot of catching up to do. We both had a busy week and there is still a lot of (virtual) paperwork to finish off. And then you know we won't even have a minute to spare this weekend. As always!

And after almost two weeks of antibiotics Bilal was starting to get better, with no more snotty nose and much less cough. Well, this morning he woke up coughing a lot again, and this afternoon he just wasn't himself even after coming home from school. He didn't seem to have a fever, but kept on complaining about feeling cold, and had that puny look on his face as he does when he gets sick. And the snot has started back again. This has to be one nasty bug! We have one more week of antibiotics left and then we go back for a repeat nasal culture. Let's see what the verdict will be, but it is a bit disappointing to see that he has taken a few steps back again. Sigh...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hello, my name is mina and I'm addicted to...

... Pinterest.

There, I've said it. My new guilty pleasure is this amazing website, a virtual bulletin board you can use to share a variety of design ideas, crafts, recipes, DIY projects, do some vacation or even wedding planning... the list is endless. Oh, and it's also a great place to find an assortment of gifts, categorized by price.

Maybe it's not too bad an indulgence; the family has been enjoying all the new recipes I've been finding and actually trying out. And it's made me feel so crafty! Anyone who knows me personally will be able to vouch for the fact that craftiness is not one of my natural traits. At the most, I'll find a project that looks interesting, and fairly straightforward, consider it, and file it away in my mind as something I might try out - some day.

But this time it's stuck... a bit, at least. And besides finding and sharing some delicious recipes, I have actually tried out my handiwork. My first creation is (in my books) a success. It might not be perfectly neat; the lines are crooked, and I still haven't mounted it anywhere so that I can actually put it to use, but....

Ta da!

It's a ribbon memo board! And so colorful, in an extremely tacky way! The inspiration is this blog/website, which shows a picture of a much less gaudy, yet just as colorful memo board made of ribbons and fabric. The link shows a nice how-to tutorial, complete with photographs of each step.

And best of all, it only cost me a few bucks. I picked up a couple of fabric remnants and assorted ribbon on sale at the nearest fabric store. I bought a foam board, and of course, had packing tape and regular sticky tape already in the house. How long did it take me to make this? No more than fifteen minutes flat! Yes! Even I have fifteen minutes to spare, some time during my crazy busy day. (Of course, I admit, today just happens to be my day off work, and this time, for a change, I did not have a mile long list of errands to run.)

With my first no-sew, extremely easy project under my belt, I might just try and get a little more creative. Who knows what it will be next?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Second time's a charm

This weekend was the second debate tournament Safa has participated in since she started debating at the Varsity level this year. There aren't many sophomores who debate at that level. So it was a wonderful surprise when she was awarded with this...

... when she least expected it. She didn't actually make it into the semi finals, but obviously performed well enough to earn a lot of speaker points. In fact, of the six top speakers in the Varsity tournament, three of them were from JCIB. That's quite an accomplishment!

We are so proud of Safa and her teammates!



Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lego!

Zakir wasn't supposed to be on call this weekend, but there have been some mishaps among other doctors in the call group, so he agreed to cover, and instead will have a weekend off in March. But it wasn't too bad, he only had to round on one person, and was back home pretty soon. Hamza spent most of the day at his school, helping out with the math tournament.

The nephews drove up from Mobile last night; Farah and Adeel are looking at potential houses to rent in Birmingham, for their move up here within the next couple of months. We are so excited that we should be able to see them much more often! This morning Bilal rode with them to meet a homeowner who is renting out a house, and Zakir and I spent the rest of the morning at home by ourselves. It's always odd when it's just the two of us, it seems far too quiet! Safa, of course, was still in Tuscaloosa, and didn't make it back home until after 8 this evening. More on that later.

After the house hunting was over we all met at Zoe's Kitchen for lunch. Then we headed over to the BJCC for the Lego festival. That's when I realized that I had my camera with me, but had left the SD card at home. So pardon the poor quality of some of these pics, cellphone cameras don't always cooperate.

This creation particularly amused me:


And there were many other creations, by Lego builders of all ages, and from all over the country.





There was a ginormous chess set:


And several stations where kids could build their own, with a variety of Lego bricks.

After they were done building, the boys had a go at the Lego Batman video game

It was all fun until Hamza's character intentionally killed off Bilal's character in the video game, although they were supposed to be on the same team. After that tears were shed, peace was made, and we moved on.

After a couple of hours at home we all got dressed and headed out to a friend's house for a dinner invite. Just got back from there a short while ago. Tomorrow is Sunday School, and I have agreed to go to Oneonta to make rounds since Zakir has to meet someone at the mosque. So my work week is starting one day early. Ah well, hopefully it won't be too bad!

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