Saturday, December 29, 2012


After going back and forth, back and forth, for quite a while, we have decided to take the plunge. As of yesterday afternoon it's official, our house has been posted up for sale. As of this morning there is a 'for sale' sign in our front yard. The agent will come to collect a spare key for the lock box. Then the showings will begin, I hope. Still having mixed feelings about it all. The thought of moving on to a new place is exciting; this is the longest I have lived at any address my entire life. We are historically almost nomadic, moving from place to place over the years. But the actual 'selling' is what I'm not looking forward to. We don't exactly live in a dirty or very messy house, but I would call it pleasantly cluttered. Now I am constantly trying to de-clutter, to make the house look more appealing. The kids are very rapidly going to get tired of me telling them to pick up after themselves. The teenagers are already complaining that their rooms don't look like their rooms any more. And depending how long it takes to actually get a contract, it might go on for a while. Our previous house took seven months to sell. We had already found a home we wanted to move into (the one we live in now). Two months into the selling process I got tired of spending more time cleaning house and less time actually enjoying being home. So we packed up and moved out. By the time our first house sold we had been settled into our new home for five months.

But this time we really want to sell before we move. It's less complicated that way, although if we do end up building, we'd have to rent a house in transition. So we are waiting for the first bite, and to see what kind of responses we get. Safa makes a good point that we have spend so must time and effort (and money) customizing our home to its current condition, so it doesn't make sense to move and waste all that. She has a valid point, but in my books a home is always a work in progress. If we stay here, I'd still be looking for ways to modify, improve or personalize the place. It's not like you're ever really done. So why would it be any different if we moved?

The home selling market is improving; many houses in our area have recently sold, so this is a good time to put our house on the market too. We pray every day that God give us guidance. If this is what is best for our future, it will happen, otherwise we will continue to live where we are, and be happy about that too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More about our Gatlinburg vacation

After spending the morning on a scenic drive, we spent the afternoon doing touristy stuff in town. We took the kids to Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, where we spent some time walking through the exhibits.

With Optimus Prime

We had dinner with friends and called it a night.

Farah and the boys drove in on Saturday, and were so exhausted that they went straight to bed. But we met next morning at Pancake Pantry for breakfast.

Breakfast was delicious, and worth the wait outside in the chilly weather.

After breakfast we all went to the Aquarium.

We saw Frank the penguin and his other penguin buddies.

And the seahorses.
 By the time we were outside it had warmed up and we stopped for ice cream.

And later we walked down to the Sky Lift.

A lovely view, although it got cloudy and started to drizzle.

All in all we walked a lot for the couple of days we were there, but it was a steady, relaxing pace. And we drove home with one day to spare in our vacation before heading back to work on Wednesday.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My kids

I feel so blessed!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A long weekend in Gatlinburg

Bilal has been making a slow recovery from his sinusitis, still on antibiotics, of course, but complaining less and less about headaches. We were debating taking our planned vacation (our first trip to Gatlinburg in about 11 years) with him sick, but figured it was worth a shot. What we didn't plan for was Safa catching a stomach virus. The day we left she started throwing up. Thank goodness for Dramamine while we were traveling! We got to Gatlinburg by mid-afternoon on Friday, and checked into a condo we had rented. If you ever plan to take a vacation involving a hotel stay, it might be worth checking out VRBO first. We have used the website to find places to stay a few times, and have had nothing but great experiences. This time has been no different. A lovely 2 bedroom condo is much nicer than renting two hotel rooms.

Anyway, on Friday evening, Zakir, Hamza and I walked into town and roamed around for a while, and Safa and Bilal stayed in, to recuperate. We enjoyed the Christmassy sights and sounds of town. Thankfully, by Saturday morning, Safa was feeling fine. In fact it was as if she had never been sick! That meant we were able to proceed as planned.

First we took a scenic drive from Gatlinburg to Cades Cove. We took a route called Little River Road and made plenty of stops on the way.

The loop itself is a narrow, one way road, 11 miles long, and very picturesque.

It didn't take long for us to find some local wildlife. Deer!

And turkey!

We passed a quaint little church, among other buildings.

And the weather was perfect. A little chilly, hovering just above freezing, but with a bright clear sky. Not a cloud!

A deer, so close to our car!

Icicles hanging from the water wheel of the old mill:

The entire trip took about four hours. Th enwe had delicious Chinese food for lunch and in the afternoon we met up with another family who is also visiting from Birmingham. More on that later.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Some improvement?

Where are we now? Zakir took Bilal to see the pediatric ENT on Monday, after yet another sleepless night. He had a CT scan does that basically showed that all his sinuses are infected. It figures. He has been constantly complaining about his eyes hurting, his cheeks hurting, hurting behind his nose, and so on. The ENT recommended sinus surgery. We don't really want to subject him to that, since he just had adenoids removed earlier this year and the recovery wasn't easy. So he put him on steroids and a three week course of antibiotics. After the first dose of steroids he was starting to feel better, but then a day later he awoke at 3am (again) screaming with ear pain. And guess what? Now he has an ear infection, which developed after he started antibiotics! But we are pushing through, continuing the medications as prescribed. Last night he finally slept through most of the night, only awakening at 5am with his usual tummy ache and earache. That's more sleep than he (or his parents) have had in about ten days. We go back to see the ENT in 3 weeks.

Yesterday he checked out of school only an hour into the school day because he got sick, and today I figured it wasn't even worth trying to send him. This seems so much like a repeat of kindergarten! But today he is actually feeling much better. Appetite is still crummy, and he is still blowing out tons of junk, and his face looks puffy. But he has not complained about anything hurting since I gave him Tylenol at 5 in the morning. And he is playful, yay! So I am hoping that this is the turnaround we were hoping for. Just in time for our vacation to start tomorrow! More details on that soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A new color!

Bilal tested for his next karate belt today. Tested, and got promoted! Now he has an orange/black belt to replace his solid orange one. He continues to move up the ranks with each test.

Today was one of those great test days when everyone who participated was promoted. Congrats to all!

Bilal is still not feeling great, although he has been back at school. This morning I actually thought we might have to hold off on him testing, because he woke up quite puny. But he wanted to go, and he had no fever, so I let him go, armed with a box of Kleenex.

By the time we came back home, he was feeling cold, complaining of an achy back, and then ran a low grade fever. So he climbed into our bed (still gave me a grin), and actually took a nap, which is very rare for him.

He only had some milk for breakfast, had a few snacks at the Dojo Christmas party (which he threw up after he came home), and we could only persuade him to have a little bit of milk at dinner time. Definitely not usual for him! This evening he has asked to sleep in out room (sacked out on the floor) and I have no problem with that. He doesn't usually ask to, and I just feel like keeping him closer to me. It has been an emotional couple of days, after learning about the senseless loss of lives in Newtown, Connecticut, yesterday morning. I just feel I need to hug my kids tighter. It reminds us of the fragility of life, for sure!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Caregiver

When the kids are sick,

Tiny offers extra snuggles. She's such a sweet little kitty (when she wants to be).

Fortunately Bilal's sickness was very brief. He didn't run a fever after when it was checked by the school nurse. I kept him out of school the next day and took him to work with me. And today he went back to school with no problems. His appetite isn't the greatest, but I know that will pick up as soon. Thankfully, it always does. And I'm glad he's well, in time for his next karate test this weekend.

This evening Safa had her choir winter concert (sorry, no pics). And now she is in full study mode for her midterm exams, starting tomorrow. As we speak she is sitting in the kitchen, lecturing an empty chair about Macbeth and some of Shakespeare's other tragedies. English exam tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A bit unplanned

Today didn't quite go as planned. I had only a few patients on my schedule today so at the last minute I decided to block my schedule and transferred those patients on to Zakir's schedule. So it freed up my day, since I had a meeting planned at 12:30. Zakir and I just happened to drive into a lovely neighborhood recently, previously unknown to us. A small subdivision, with sidewalks, which are quite a luxury in our little city. And since we have been vacillating about possibly moving, we decided to contact the agent who had some lots for sale. That meeting with the agent led to another meeting today, this time with the builder too. Yes, we are seriously considering (still just considering) building a house. Exciting!

Anyway, about 10 minutes into the meeting, I got a call from the school nurse. Bilal came to the clinic with a tummy ache, a headache, and a fever of 101. Ugh! So I had to go pick up the puny little guy from school, and bring him back with me. Fortunately I had a Tylenol in the car, and little guy has learned to swallow pills, so I was able to give him some meds and bring him to the meeting. He kept himself occupied playing with my phone while we talked about various plans. With the location of the headache (over his temple and behind his eyes), I think we're dealing with more sinusitis. Although, with so many viruses going around, who knows? I had already called yesterday and scheduled him to see the ENT, so we just have to wait until his appointment next week. I'm thinking I'll be taking him to work with me tomorrow. Hoping tomorrow is better! And hoping that everyone else in the house stays well. Next week is exam week, and winter break after that!

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's been quiet

Quiet here on my blog for sure, but also at home. There really hasn't been much going on, except school, work and the usual. This past weekend Safa took the ACT (let's see how she does on her first attempt) and Hamza went to a math tournament. No individual awards for him, but his team did win 3rd in the first (large school) division. Bilal and I spent most of the day with his cousins while Zakir had to go make rounds. So I suppose we were all busy, in a mundane kind of way.

After the boys ran around for about 2 hours they finally crashed on the sofa and this is what I saw:

Two little guys playing with their gadgets!

And what do we have planned for this week? More work and school of course, not much else. Safa's choir winter concert is this week. Next week is busier, with mid term exams, Christmas parties and yay, we're getting a new carpet in the bedroom. Looking forward to getting rid of our grungy 18 year old carpet, it's about time for a change!

Monday, December 3, 2012

In my kitchen?

What's cooking?

Spinach on the stove, looks benign enough. But wait, this setup looks more like a science experiment than preparation for a meal:

A small saucepan, a food scale, measuring cup, chopper and pasta drainer. All seem to be fine in the kitchen. But what's in the little white tube? They are actually reagent strips that measure nutrients. I don't want to give anything more away, because the mad scientist is at work!

It really is a science experiment!

The only other reason Safa would be using the stove or oven would be to prepare the few recipes she actually has mastered. Those would be instant mashed potatoes, boxed brownies, or as she herself pointed out, tzaziki, which actually, does not require either a stove or oven for preparation!

Think she's ready for college?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Screening for congenital heart defects

In some cases a simple, inexpensive, painless and non-invasive test called a pulse oximetry can detect a potentially fatal congenital heart defect in a newborn. Head over to the Baby Heart Screening website to learn more.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fall fun

Our yard, with it's thick trees, is coated with leaves these days, with more to still fall. Not sure if it's even worth raking them yet. But it sure is fun to be out there!

Hamza thought it was great fun to flip Atlas over into the leaves, and Atlas put up with it, as long as he could.

He doesn't look as patient in this pic:

And Bilal was thrilled with the feather he found.

The pup does love a good ear rub!

Snuggles. He's the warmest, squishiest pillow!


Atlas really doesn't like that, he never puts up with it for more than a few seconds.

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