Sunday, February 26, 2012


This is one of the photos Safa printed for her photography class; she has been learning to use a manual camera and process black and white film. I think it's quite impressive.

For some reason, it reminded me of something out of Grease. What do you think?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lessons I am learning

Having a teenager isn't easy. Haven't two can be even harder at times, but thank goodness I am blessed with great children. We live fairly harmoniously in our household, with few serious, serious confrontations. When it comes to school, my teens are both quite self-motivated. Granted, my girl beats herself up over any less-than-perfect grade, while my boy just hopes that I will never find out if he bombed a test. But the balance is pretty good. That's the easy part.

The hard part is cutting the cord. My son has spent two weeks half way across the world without me, and I survived. It wasn't always pretty, but I did cope fairly well until he came back home. My daughter has gone on several three to four day field trips without me, and I have handled that with as much grace as I could muster. I would still rather be with them on each trip they make, but I know that's not practical. Plus my kids have gone from, "Mama, will you pleeeeeease come with me on the trip?" to, "Mama, I don't might if you want to come with me on the trip." Heck, I have my pride too, I know when I'm welcome!

But I don't think any of these smaller milestones have prepared me for my teenager beginning to drive independently. Today Safa is leaving school in a few minutes and headed about 10 miles down the road to a debate tournament. She will be driving home tonight, at the end of day 1, probably after 10pm. That is pushing teenager curfew in our city, but exceptions are made for school events and commuting back and forth from a job. I know I will be up waiting for her whenever she comes in. But I didn't realize how much her night time drive home has already been weighing on my mind. Early this morning I awoke with a sudden wrenching feeling in my stomach, and woke Zakir to ask him if he had heard Safa come in last night. His sleepy response, "No, was she supposed to?" Then I looked at the clock and realized it was 4am. So I said, "Oh, it's only Thursday." Zakir, now more awake, said, "No, it's Friday." And technically he was right. But for some reason I awoke thinking it was late Friday night and she hadn't come home; I was totally thrown off by almost 24 hours! Of course, after that night time scare it took me for ever to fall back asleep, and I awoke this morning feeling terrible. But for parents, that comes with the territory!

Admittedly, I am proud of her every new independence, every accomplishment, every step towards adulthood. But there is a part of me that wishes she were still just this little:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A little teaser....

..... of the Spring to come. Today the temperature reached 79 degrees. And with plenty of sunshine it was a perfect day to play outside in the back yard. Atlas was the lazy one today, he doesn't particularly care for warm weather, especially with his thick winter coat that won't start shedding for another couple of months. So ironic, the days when the boys want to go outside and play with the dog, he's no fun at all. Hamza kicked his favorite beaten up soccer ball right past his head, yet he just lay in the grass, gnawing on a bone. No desire to join in the sport!

That didn't stop Hamza from trying to harass him.

However, he got up and went to lie down somewhere else in peace.

Eventually the boys gave up on the puppy, and decided to create their own entertainment.

Nope, I don't know quite what to make of the last photo either!

Tomorrow's predicted high is 55 degrees, and Safa's hair is telling her that there is rain in the forecast. So, just a short-lived teaser before we end up with more seasonable weather again.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Not much happening

We have had a lazy weekend for a change. No debate tournaments, no math tournaments, just time at home. We did get out on Saturday afternoon and took the kids to the Home and Garden show, and bought a couple of interesting things. such as my new Yofo, a cool device to use with any smart phone. And we took the kids to dinner in the evening, but aside from that did pretty much nothing.

Sunday wasn't much different; today was actually one of those rare days when I didn't get out of my pyjamas. And neither did Safa! Zakir took the boys to Sunday School and then to lunch, while we stayed at home and ate leftovers. So just another lazy day. We have, however discovered a fun game to keep us busy. For the last two nights, Safa, Hamza and I have played a board game called Sequence. It's sort of a cross between Connect Four or tic tac toe and a card game, that is part a game of strategy, and part chance. Thanks to Vicki who gave it to Hamza as a present. I  can see that it will keep us occupied during many, many evenings, right up there with our other favorite game, Phase 10.

And I apologize for the lack of current photos recently, I have to locate my camera, which is hiding somewhere in the house. I'm sure I'll find it as soon as I actually start looking for it!

Tomorrow the kids are out of school for a weather day, and Zakir and I head to work as usual.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


And finally, Bilal is back at school. After a failed attempt yesterday, resulting in checking out barely 2 hours after getting to school, he was happy to go to school this morning. I did tell him I'd check him out early, so that we could ease him back into the routine, and that worked great. Tomorrow he is planning to go for a full day of school, and then there is a three day weekend to recuperate. He is still struggling to get his voice out, he has to strain a lot to talk and often we can't even understand what he is saying. But this should be temporary, while he is healing. When I took him to the ENT on Monday they repeated a nasal culture, and we should know tomorrow what antibiotic to put him on for his persistent sinus infection. I'm sure that will make him feel better too. It's been frustrating that we've felt he needed to be on an antibiotic, but his ENT did not want to start one post-operatively. Well, he's the specialist, but I also know my child. This, coming from a mom who typically treats her kids' and her own sinus infections with nasal saline and honey, rather than starting antibiotics! The good thing is, he's requiring less and less Tylenol or Ibuprofen, and had got a lot of his energy back. Still rather cranky and gets upset over the slightest thing, but I think he's just regressed a bit since his surgery, and hopefully this should get better with time.

And with him sleeping comfortably in his own room, Mama and Baba are actually getting some sleep too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14

It would be terribly amiss of me if I didn't post at least something about Congenital Heart Defects awareness Day. It just happens to share the date with Valentine's Day. I honestly don't have a lot of energy to post much today; it's been a stressful, sleep deprived week for various reasons, and a few hours ago I just drove back from an overnight trip to Atlanta. But enough about that, Bilal is finally starting to make a turn around and today went to bed in his own room, instead of sacked out on the floor in ours! And if the night goes well we are thinking about school tomorrow. He still has a raspy voice and lots of snot, but has been in much better spirits. He actually went to karate this evening and was excited about the thought of school tomorrow. Sadly, he missed his Valentine's Day party at school today, but he really needed to continue to get some rest.

When we talk about CHD awareness we are aiming for earlier detection of congenital heart defects. Early detection can help prevent significant morbidity and mortality. Plus awareness of the condition can help channel funding towards research into prevention, and better treatment. There are many advocates working towards these goals, and I have a list of some of these on the right sidebar of this blog. Honorable mentions go to Cora's mommy, Kristine and Eve's mommy Annamarie who have been particularly constructive in introducing mandatory post-natal pulse oximetry screening. There are many other hard working advocates who are working at the federal and state level to promote this easy, non-invasive test that may help detect heart defects at birth. And the word is getting out. This year, in particular, many families have been interviewed by local TV stations and newspapers, and given an opportunity to share their personal experiences as parents of children born with heart defects. Considering approximately 1 in 100 children are born with a CHD, it is not an uncommon condition. If you are interested in learning more, you can check out this informative site.

I have already shared the details about the Pinterest CHD project. Go check out the board if you haven't already. Go ahead, who doesn't love Pinterest?

And here is my 1 in 100:

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Slow progress

Three days post-op and Bilal is making slow, but steady progress. Last night was actually pretty bad, with more fever, crying with a sore throat and neck pain, and this morning wasn't much better. But after much fussing and fretting and whining and crying, he reluctantly took a nap, and actually woke up feeling a lot better. He is still blowing out gobs of snot, has a terrible cough that comes and goes, but his mood is a little better. Otherwise he's been Mr. Crankypants. I don't really blame the little guy; I know it still hurts, but he has really been milking it for all it's worth! I am thinking that if we get through tonight with a solid several hours of sleep, things will be looking up. Right know we're rather sleep deprived.

After two nights of Bilal sleeping in Mama's bed and Baba sleeping in his, last night we made him a bed on the floor in our room, so that Zakir could come back where he belongs. He'll be sleeping downstairs tonight too, but we are all ready for him to get back into the routine of sleeping in his own bed. Maybe tomorrow, I hope?

We have had our good moments though, yesterday we actually saw more smiles earlier in the day.

We have played too numerous to count games of Too Many Monkeys, and I think Bilal has won all but one of them. We've also had a chance to read some library books, although he would still rather I read to him, than the other way around. Lazy boy!

You might be able to tell from today's pics that his face is a little more puffy and he has dark circles under his eyes, but his smile (when I can convince him) is as bright as ever:

His elephant companion, Fuzzy and his blankie haven't left his side for days!

And he needs another hair cut!

Hamza spent the morning at Simmons Middle School, for a math tournament. I took Safa down to Hoover when we went to pick him up and we made a stop at one of our favorite music and book stores, 2nd and Charles. We ended up getting four great music CDs for $10.62, thanks to the cool selection of pre-owned music and my handy dandy Groupon. Yay, Groupon! Best creation ever, $10 for $20 of merchandise.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


After a fairly good day at home, Bilal has been feeling puny this evening. Running a low grade fever, and complaining of neck and throat pain. That's to be expected, of course. But it's so hard to see him in pain and not be able to do much about it. After he came home he did fine with one dose of Tylenol, but this evening we had to get the prescription for Tylenol with codeine filled, and I gave him a dose of that instead. I hope it does the trick. Christina was such a great help today, since Bilal basically didn't want me to leave him for any reason. I did manage to cook supper with him sitting at the island next to me, but it's been downhill since then.

In post-op recovery

Right now Bilal is dozing next to me in our bed; he'll be sleeping downstairs with me today so I can keep and eye on him. Tomorrow I am going to work and Baba will stay at home and play nurse. I hope that goes well. Bilal is already insisting that he wants me to stay home with him.

Surgery update

Just a quick update while I wait here, waiting for Bilal to be released to go home. We got to the surgery center at 5:45, signed in, and we're almost immediately taken back for pre-op, vital signs and such. I briefly met with the anesthesiologist and then Bilal was taken to the OR. Turns out he was first case of the day. So I met with Dr. L just after 7am, and the procedure was already over. Everything went well; he found a lot of infection in the adenoid region. So adenoids are out and the nasal passages were thoroughly flushed. I wasn't allowed to see Bilal immediately after surgery, I had to wait for about 20-25 minutes until I was allowed to go back. But he was awake, with his cup of Sprite and sounding rather croupy. The nurses had already given him some liquid Lortab to help with the cough and sore throat. After they brought a humidifier into the room and Bilal settled down a bit the coughing improved. So we have read a book, and Bilal dozed off just as I was downloading another one to my iPad. We have received discharge instructions, and he has had a little more than half a cup of Sprite to drink. That's a great sign. We will be out of here and headed home as soon as we are permitted. Thankfully it has all gone smoothly. We will give him a few days at home to recover, they play it by ear about sending him back to school. If recovery from his other surgeries is any indication I have faith that he will be back to himself in no time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A little unexpected

So you're probably tired of hearing about how often Bilal has been sick since he started school. But I'm hoping that we're nearing the end of it. As I mentioned before, over the weekend he started to get the junky nasal discharge again. And the hacky cough. I spoke to Dr. L, our ENT, yesterday; he suggested that we go ahead with the adenoidectomy. Apparently the recovery is not too bad, and kids will miss anywhere from 3 to 10 days of school. some bounce back quickly, others might be rather puny for up to 10 days. He suggested to go ahead this week, but I figured we'd need some time to adjust our schedules, make my necessary trip to Atlanta next Tuesday, etc, and then go for it on next Wednesday.

But this morning he woke up sicker that ever. Cough was worse, he kept on complaining that his throat hurt and he kept gagging and blowing out green gunk. So we had to keep him home from school. That's when we decided we'd have to go ahead with the surgery sooner rather than later. He can't just keep missing school!

So after a few phone calls Bilal has been scheduled for adenoidectomy tomorrow, at the out-patient center in Birmingham. We played around with the clinic schedule as much as possible, so that I can take off tomorrow, but Zakir will still have to work. He won't be able to come with us, at such short notice. Then I will work all day on Thursday and Zakir will be off with the baby. After that we'll take it day by day.

We would rather deal with a few days of yuckies than recurrent infections. We have explained some to Bilal, but naturally he is scared. We have to be at the out-patient center at 5:45am. I hope that means his turn will be early in the morning. Hoping all goes well with the procedure tomorrow.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Another award and a pleasant Sunday afternoon

Safa was at Mountain Brook this weekend for another debate tournament. She drove herself for the first time. Her drive back was quite stressful for us, since it had started to rain a lot. And Zakir remembered that the wipers needed to be changed. Plus he was concerned about the tread on the tires. Oh, great! Not only does she have to drive after sunset, she also gets rain on her very first day alone on the road! Possibly with dodgy tires and wipers?! Thankfully she had no problems making the 20 minute drive home. The wipers and tires probably could do with being changed soon, but it's not an imminent concern. But I don't know how I'm going to handle all this stress. When will I stop worrying about her being by herself on the road? One day and I'm already starting to feel like I'm getting an ulcer!

And as for the results of the debate, she qualified for the quarter finals. Unfortunately the judges put her up against another student on her team, so she didn't compete, in order for her team mate to able to advance. But she did earn a medal for qualifying, and placed 7th by speaker points. Not too bad!

Bilal came home on Friday with the 'Good Citizen of the week' award for his class. He was very proud of the ribbon he wore, especially after the 'oops' from earlier in the week. But all is forgiven and he is happy again. Incidentally, a little over a week after finishing his antibiotics, the yuckies are back. Thick, green, nasty stuff, ugh! We are going to see how he does otherwise might have to talk to the ENT again. I hope it gets better by itself! The post-antibiotic nasal culture did not grow any further bacteria, so we were hopeful that it had completely cleared.

Hamza potentially had a math tournament this weekend, but he opted out from going; he hasn't missed a single one this year and has a few more to attend, so it wasn't really a big deal. We were invited out to dinner yesterday evening, and today was Sunday School as usual. This afternoon we were outside for a while, and I actually got on my bike after a very long time. After a couple of little races against Hamza I realized how deconditioned I really am. I think I'm going to be sore tomorrow! I really need to get back into the exercise groove and work on becoming healthier.

Hamza trying to hula hoop

And Bilal is learning to jump rope. I think he needs to start with a smaller rope!

Even Zakir got on his bike today! It didn't last very long, though


Friday, February 3, 2012


It's been a physically and somewhat emotionally tiring week, but I can't end the week without sharing what's new.

I took Safa to Oneonta this morning to get her driver's license. Since she didn't take a driver's ed course in school she had to take the road test. We got to the basement office at 8am, and did the necessary paperwork, plus Safa had her photo taken. Then we hung around until 10:30 when the road tests are offered. She was the first of three to take her test. She had an idea regarding what skills would be tested, but it surprised me that the entire driving test only lasted five minutes. Then back to the dungeon basement office in the courthouse one more time to get a temporary license printed, and we were done. Just like that!

This is the first picture of Safa driving after getting her official driver's license. The actual ID picture on her license is not really that flattering. But not many ID pictures are!

It's another bittersweet moment; she is growing up and becoming so independent, and I am very proud of that. Yet, part of me still wants her to be the little baby she used to be.

Today she spent the afternoon at a debate tournament, and I brought her home at about 8:30pm. Tomorrow she will be going back to the tournament, and she will be driving herself. Sigh.

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