Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Chef

Hamza kept me company in the kitchen today while I made Philly cheese steak sandwiches for dinner. And not only was he there, he also made dessert.

Banana pudding to be precise. With lots of fresh bananas, vanilla wafer cookies and a yummy meringue topping.


So glad that at least one of my children enjoys cooking along with me. I admit, he needs to learn how to clean up too, but I suppose I can't have it all!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Finally! The weather is perfect to drive to work with the top down on my car.

Hefty and I are just loving this!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A little incentive

We started teaching Bilal to ride his bike several months ago. He started to balance and could ride a little in a straight line, but would topple off and refuse to get back on his bike, usually for days or sometimes even weeks. So we decided he really needs to learn properly this summer. Considering yesterday he insisted we just need to sell his bike, I figured it was a bit of a long shot.

This morning the three kids were sitting with me in the back yard, and the bike riding discussion started up again. I promised either Safa or Hamza $25 to teach their baby brother to ride a bicycle confidently. When there were no takers I suggested $30. Safa said $50, so I figured, heck, why not? And since the summer has just started I needed something to persuade to start the endeavor immediately. I pledged an additional ten dollars if Bilal was riding independently by the end of the first week in June. But the one thing that prompted Hamza to jump up and get started on the task was my offer of another $5 if they started today. I could see my fourteen year old quickly doing the addition in his head. A lot of money at stake!

Not long after, I was on the phone chatting with a friend. About half an hour after Hamza and Bilal had left the back yard, I got called to come out and take a look at what was going on.

There he was, on his bike, riding out of the garage, turning around the corner on to the driveway, making a turn in the lawn and riding back to the garage, followed by a graceful stop inside. He didn't falter a single time! And Hamza was feeling rather smug, as he told me I owed him $65.

I later learned that Hamza had given him a little incentive of his own, he offered to forgive his debt (he claimed baby brother owed him $10 for breaking a piece off his computer case), and also offered him one of his Nerf guns if he would try to ride. But no promise to share the booty!

That was probably the quickest and easiest $65 Hamza has ever earned. But I have to admit it was worth it!

Now only if we could get Bilal to learn to swim the same way. That's the next challenging project!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Exciting plans

After months of looking for a new house, listing ours for sale, removing the listing and the plan to soon re-list, we have finally made a decision. We are building a new home. Still love the city we live in, so the move isn't going to be far from where we already live. But this lot of brush and weeds, though it looks rather uninteresting...

... is soon to become a new home site for us. We signed the contract with the builder today, and hope to see some progress at this location in as little as three weeks, as long as all goes according to plan.

So exciting!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A week full of fun

The older siblings have been having exams, but Bilal really hasn't had much instruction t school this week, except some review. Monday was camping day, and the kids brought books to read, a flashlight and all the ingredients for S'mores. Tuesday was the end of school party, and character dress-up day. Bilal's costume was a simple one, but very cute, I think, made with just a few pieces of felt stitched together, plus some eyeliner for a nose and puppy freckles. And here is the end result:

It would have been better with a brown T-shirt, but we couldn't find one! But still, I think it was cute. Today was basically clean-up day at school, and I let him check out early since his siblings were going to be home early too.

So summer vacation has officially begun!

And I have to go to work tomorrow :(

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Valley Singers Banquet

It's a great event every year; awards are distributed, scholarships are announced and gifts are presented to the seniors. This is Safa's third year doing choir, and her first, but last performing with Valley Singers, Shades Valley's advanced choir. She has forged a lot of friendships over these couple of years, a lot of them with fellow singers in the choir.

Last year their beloved choir teacher, Mrs. G went on maternity leave, and made the decision to be a full time stay at home mom. It was hard on the students to have a substitute, but they have got through the school year. Mrs. G came today, presented some awards and spoke to the students. I think it meant a lot to them.

Safa sat at the farthest table with her friends.

They came up to the front to accept their certificates.

 Great evening!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Weekend events

Another round of sickies in our house! This time it's Hamza, the one who hardly ever gets sick. Thursday evening he complained about a sore throat and went to take a nap. He was supposed to study for a quiz the following day, but he looked so pitiful curled up in our bed that I sent him upstairs to his room with some medicine and promised to wake him up around 5:30 so that he could squeeze an hour of studying in before school. So Friday morning I got him up to take a shower and told him to come down to study. Instead, he started throwing up while still in the shower, and just a slight touch of his forehead made me realize he was probably running a pretty high fever. So some Tylenol, and straight back to bed. This is probably the first day of school he's missed in a couple of years!

Around mid morning we realized all his books were in his locker at school (he has finals for the next three days), so I drove him down to pick them up from school, so he could study over the weekend. And later in the day he learned that the quiz had been cancelled anyway. Phew! He was already feeling much better by Saturday, and now he's pretty much only dealing with a little cold. Hopefully he'll get through his exams well.

Saturday evening we were invited out to dinner at a friend's housewarming party, and today was Sunday School graduation. The kids got their certificates of completion and Bilal also got an outstanding achievement award. So proud of my kids! Zakir had the honor of being guest speaker at graduation today. Anyone who knows him well, knows that he is not a public speaker! But I think he did a fairly good job speaking today.

So it's a short week for the kids, then summer officially begins! I wonder how long it will be before the kids complain about being bored?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bilal's field trip

Bilal went on his first grade field trip, one of the few that did not accommodate chaperones, otherwise this is one that I really would have volunteered to go on, hah! He went to the cookie factory, Bud's Bes Cookies. And after that, the local park for lunch and play time. First grade really rocks! Mrs. G emailed us some photos of the day.

Looks like a lot of fun!

The school year is winding down and in first grade there's more fun going on than learning. But the kids have learned a lot this year, so the slower pace is fine for them now. On the contrary, Safa is cramming for exams this week, and Hamza is working on his take-home English project/ final exam. Next week he has the rest of his finals. And then summer break. It's going to be a long one!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day.... and some memories

It's been a lovely Mother's Day today. I awoke to Zakir making me a nice breakfast (very rare occurrence in our house!) and when the kids came down I was presented with some delightful gifts. A bag of milk chocolate truffles, which the kids assured me I didn't have to share with anyone, and a board game I had never played before.

But after one game with the kids this morning, I know it's sure to become a favorite in our house! Bilal even caught on to the game surprisingly fast.

You can see, everyone was still in their PJs, and as usual, Hamza was trying to hide his face. We sure had some crazy moments too!

Later we went out to lunch, and came back to quite a lazy afternoon at home, although we did work outside some. The day turned out to be a little bigger cooler, but gloriously sunny. In the evening we made a light dinner and Farah and the boys came over for a little while.

And now at the end of the day I am sitting and reflecting over all the blessings I have been given, a lovely family with a great husband and three wonderful children, who make it so worth being a mom every day. And even though we live a crazy, crazy life, there is (oddly) a certain peaceful balance to it. I don't really think I'd have it any other way.

One thing I wish were different, though. I still miss my mother every day. Thirteen years later. Last night I was reading a book aloud to Bilal at bedtime. It was about a girl and her mother, and the mother was very upset about something she had done. I just choked up reading it. So many years later I still can't read anything about a mother and her children without crying. So I shed some tears, and told Bilal why I was upset. And the sensitive little guy that he is, he started crying too! Which was sad and funny, all at the same time! Anyway, we ended up just laughing and hugging each other. My sweet, sweet baby boy!

So Mother's Day is a bittersweet day for me. Being a mom is actually a little bittersweet, every day. But we dwell on the happiness, the time I have loved with my kids since the day they were born. I pray that I have the opportunity to watch them grow up and become into independent adults. And hopefully, some day, become parents themselves, so that they can experience the same blessings that I experience every day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day picnic

After a week or so of feeling crummy with a flu-like virus I am finally starting to feel like myself. No more fatigue, although it's been a tiring week and I still feel a little washed out.

This afternoon we went to Oak Mountain State Park for the Muslim community's annual Mother's Day picnic. It was a little humid and it kept feeling like it was about to rain, but the rain held out for the couple of hours that we spent there. Atlas got to come along too.

It started drizzling when we were leaving the park, and by the time we were on the Interstate it was virtually impossible to see the car ahead. But then, as soon as it started, it disappeared. We have a slightly cooler, drier day in the forecast for Mother's Day tomorrow. Looking forward to have a relaxing day, probably at home.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

First Tournament

Bilal participated in his first mini karate tournament yesterday. It was basically just the kids who train at the elementary school, but for Bilal it was a big deal because he's never participated in a tournament. The students were divided into small groups of three or four, and they did their kata and sparred against them. The event was in the lunchroom, where the class is usually held, twice a week.

Getting ready to spar:

Everyone got a medal (or two). Bilal got second place and kata and third in kumite (sparring). He was so proud of his medals!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring concert 2013

Safa performed in her choir concert last night, one of several events planned for the end of the year.

Pardon the blurry pics, it is the best I could do from my phone at such a distance!

This is the last year she will be taking choir as an elective. Next year she plans to take a more 'literary' route, and work on the school's magazine, Counterpane.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Good Samaritans

Thankfully, they really do exist! Safa, my (usually) responsible teenager drove off from a gas station this afternoon with her wallet sitting on top of her car. Obviously, it flew out into the road, and someone (who happens to work nearby) saw it and picked it up. He contacted an associate, who tracked down our telephone number from her driver's license, and that person called me at home. Thankfully I was able to meet him later in the afternoon, and retrieve her wallet, with all its contents intact. Not only that, but the stranger even volunteered to meet me halfway in the pouring rain so that I wouldn't have to drive down 40 minutes to meet him during rush hour.

Thank you, Mr. Good Samaritan, I hope that some day I will be able to pay it forward. Meanwhile, my daughter will get into the habit of putting her wallet immediately back in the car when pumping gas.... I hope!

I have been a little under the weather lately, so haven't really been up to posting on the blog. Hopefully I'll play catch up soon!

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