Sunday, September 30, 2012

Silly boy

Silly hat!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

This is why....

.... the boys keep running to Best Buy at every opportunity they get:

Hooked on video games!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Favorite Fish :)

This week I have homework along with Bilal. He, if course, has some reading to do and some spelling words to learn (he pretty much learns them during the week in school, actually), but it is his turn to be 'Favorite Fish' in class. Each student rotates in that role. Today I sent in some photos for him to share with the class. They will be on display for the week. And tomorrow he is taking in a favorite book to share. His choice is 'Pie in the Sky'. We both have great memories of reading that book together, and trying to find all the little things mentioned, in the pretty, colorful pictures, so I'm glad it's a book he chose.

On Wednesday he will take in a ziploc bag full of similar items, and the class will estimate how many of that item are in the bag. And on Thursday we will be sending in a letter to him, written by his parents, to be read in class. What a great opportunity to share what is so special about our little guy, and also send in some words of encouragement.

His special week will end on Friday with Bilal picking a joke to tell his class. He hasn't decided on that yet, but I'm sure we'll have a fun time choosing one.

Anyway, as I was browsing through some old photos, trying to pick some to send to school, I came across this cute pic of the boys with Atlas, and I thought I should share it again. The color of the trees in the background is reminding me if what is to come in the next few weeks. We are already starting to have some cool, crisp mornings, and drier weather. Fall has officially started and you can really feel it in the air!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

3rd annual health fair

Wow, it's been a busy weekend! This Saturday I drove up to Oneonta to make rounds at the hospital for Zakir, since he had to be at the mosque by 8 am for the health fair. I joined him at the mosque by 10:30 am. This is the third year that the Association of Pakistani Physicians of Alabama and the Birmingham Islamic Society have collaborated to offer free health screenings to anyone in the community, and also offered free flu vaccines to adults and older children. Zakir was the principal coordinator, and Safa brought a number of students from the Beta Club at her school to volunteer their time. Many physicians also volunteered their time; discussing results of cholesterol and blood glucose tests, and counseling one on one with attendees at the health fair. It was a large collaborative effort which led to a very successful health fair. We had approximately fifty people come through for blood work and flu vaccines. There was also a time motion study conducted, which will hopefully help better plan similar programs in the future.

Our volunteers

The nurses

More volunteers at work at intake. An electronic medical records program was used to input patients

One on one couseling

Br. Ashfaq being interviewed by one of our local TV stations, CBS 42

An iPad app was especially created to conduct the time motion study

The team of volunteers

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Time Flies!

Today marks six years since Bilal had his tetralogy repaired. And the time seems to have gone by in a flash. Today we are blessed with a bright, energetic and spunky six year old. As he has become older he has started asking more questions about his heart. And we try to answer them as best as we can. But since he is more aware we though it would be nice to celebrate the day. Something we have not done consistently over the years. Nothing big, just a cake to enjoy after dinner. His cousins came over to play and they had a blast. I have been taking care of Farah's aquarium since they were in Pakistan, and today they came to re-claim it and eat dinner with us. I make coconut shrimp curry on Hamza's request. He has been sick with a cold for the past few days and he knows that Mama is a softie when the kids are sick, and would do anything to make them feel better. Including allowing Hamza to have a large slice of cake when he had already eaten one!

Earlier in the day I went to Bilal's school to volunteer at the book fair. While I was there I pulled him out of class for a little while, to join me in the library so we could shop for books together. And this evening, before bedtime, we read those books together. Bonding times!

Monday, September 17, 2012

An impromptu playdate

I drove to Atlanta on Sunday morning to pick up the nephews from the airport. It's so good to see them back, after their month long vacation in Pakistan. And today their babysitter called in sick. So Farah had the option of a) sending them to school and keeping them in after care until she came home or, b) Letting their doting aunt play hooky from work for an hour and drive to their house to receive them when Adeel brought them home after lunch. And of course, we chose option b.

So I spent a few hours with the babies this afternoon. I was wondering if they might be jet lagged, and not so interested in playing with me. On the contrary, they were full of energy, and kept me on my toes the whole time I was there. We played with almost every toy they owned, and had a blast doing it. Cars, of course, are their favorite!

And after a stretch of playing, we took a break for snacks.

And then we played some more, until their Mommy came home and I had to leave.It's great to have the kiddos back!

And after I came back home Christina and I went to drop off my car and a set of tires to the local garage, to have the flat repaired. Hoping to have it back some time tomorrow morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Or, it was more like the sound of a shotgun. I was driving down the road headed home from work; Hefty and I were enjoying the weather with the top down and some of my favorite music playing, when I was startled by a very loud and explosive noise very close to the car. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach as the flat tire monitor immediately went on and my car swerved a bit to the right. I immediately pulled over on to the shoulder and step out of the car. As I had suspected, my front passenger tire was flat. Thanks to the fact that I have run flat tires and I was not far from home, I decided to cautiously drive home at a low speed, frequently pulling over to let the other cars pass. I pulled into the garage and took a good look, it looks like the wheel rim is fine, but the tire is undoubtedly gone. Forever. Such is the nature of run flats. Of course, with the explosive sound that the tire made, even a regular tire wouldn't have survived.

So Zakir went online and ordered me another set of tires tonight. Boo! Another unanticipated expense! And meanwhile I'll be drive the ol' minivan again. At least we have a backup plan!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Buster's visit

Bilal's teacher has a great way to incentivize good behavior. Each child gets to punch a card at the end of day as long as they have not misbehaved. After five holes they have a choice to either pick a small toy or piece of candy from the teacher's treasure chest, or they may bring home a fuzzy class pet for two days. Bilal chose to bring home Buster, the class puppy.

They posed for some pics and just hung out together. Bilal found Buster's favorite spot to be scratched behind the ears. At bed time he read to Buster.

They both thought that 'Curious George and the Firefighters' was thoroughly entertaining.

After two days of hanging out together Buster went back to school today. So glad that the toys get a bath every week!

And Bilal was back in the Dojo today, excited about attending the sword class.

See that grin?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cooler weather

Today we finally had the first hint of Fall, 2012. It was a cool morning, and drier than it's been in weeks. After the monsoon-like humidity and rain that accompanied Hurricane Isaac (even though it never came anywhere near us) it was quite a refreshing change. The sky was clear, and a gorgeous shade of blue, and it was finally dry enough for Hamza to mow the back yard. And that is basically the forecast for the entire next week. Mornings in the low 60s, and low humidity with highs in the mid 80s. Lovely! I'm thinking it's about to be convertible weather.

Sunday School has started, so that means we'll be spending most of our Sundays at the mosque for the rest of the school year. No more lazy weekends! And the next few weekends are booked up with one activity or the other. Next weekend is the Red Crescent Clinic's third annual health fair. We will be offering free health screenings, one on one physician consultations and flu shots at the mosque. The last two years were a huge success, and we are looking forward to another good event this year. Zakir is the primary coordinator, and Safa will be volunteering her time. I will be headed to Atlanta to bring our nephews back; they have been visiting Pakistan for the past month, and I am sooo ready to see the little guys again!

School is busy as usual, not a lot to report there; Hamza was at an overnight retreat on Thursday and Friday, and next week is a regular five day school week for everyone. Bilal had his first spelling test last week, now it feels like real school. We have got back into the routine of reading together every night, and I'm really enjoying that. I can tell that his reading fluency has really improved. He has also made a friend; a new family recently moved into the house exactly across from us, and they have a second grader who has become great friends with Bilal. They have been spending a lot of time at each other's houses after school and over the weekends. It is so cute to see them playing together, and I'm thrilled to see that Bilal finally has a playmate close in age to him, just as Safa and Hamza did when we moved into this neighborhood nine years ago.

And on a totally unrelated note, here are my kitties:

They are getting old; Tiny is eight and Sammy is eleven, but still the same source of joy as always.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


This is what Safa looked like when she came home around noon on Labor Day:

Smothered with blue! Some if it (on her face) was self induced, her 'war paint' so to speak, but the rest was the result of participating in the Color Run at Barber Motor Sports. It is a 5K run, but no, my athletically challenged daughter did not run the 5K. She had the honor of throwing blue colored powder on the runners. Add to it a lot of rain, and the stuff was caked on her! A few days, and several showers later, she is still trying to get the stuff off her. But she did have a blast! As did the rest of her classmates who were at the event with her.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A trip to Hunstville

This weekend we took the kids to the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. We haven't been there since before Bilal was born, and it has changed quite a bit since then. We didn't realize there was so much to see, and that a few hours would just fly by so fast.

Saturn V
We bought our tickets and proceeded to the exhibits.

Good point!
Hamza wants a model like this to hang from the ceiling in his bedroom:

The International Space Station
There were some actual space suits on display.

And after roaming around the rocket park, looking at the rockets and missiles that were on display, we headed to the cool indoor Saturn V exhibit.

There were a lot of hands on activities. Unfortunately my camera battery decided to die....again. (Note to self: buy a spare camera battery!)

After spend a few hours at the Space and Rocket Center, we headed to PF Changs for lunch/ dinner. It was 4:30pm by then, I'm not sure what meal we actually had. But it was a good one! Yummy orange peel shrimp, my favorite!

Unfortunately we got caught in a rather bad storm on the way home and that slowed us down quite a bit. But by the time we got home our area looked like it had never rained!

Today we are home and enjoying Labor Day off. We spent a couple of hours this morning, tackling a closet upstairs, that was full of boxes (mostly papers) and had not been sorted through in a long time. After splitting papers up into 'shreddables', 'recyclables' and 'to be filed' I could actually see the floor of the closet. Not bad, if I might say so myself! And now if Zakir needs a specific paper, either tax, work or home related, I actually know where to find it (well, mostly!)

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