Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The baby is seven!

Happy birthday to my (not so) little guy! Bilal turns seven years old today! What an interesting seven years it's been too! Safa was remarking yesterday that she remebers so well when he was born. Of course, she was ten at the time. But she said it made her feel old. Hey, what does that make me?! I don't even want to think about it.

We have a busy day today; his swim lesson from yesterday got rescheduled until today because of the weather.Zakir has a dental appointment in the morning, and then we both have full days at work. So we decided to do the gift giving an evening early, so that he'd actually get to play with his presents on his birthday.

He was already all giggles after reading big sister's 'Silly Monkey' card that she made for him. 'Monkey' is her nickname for him. Her gift for him was a huge set of art supplies. And a real artist's sketch pad. He's going to have a lot of fun with that!

And a Hot Wheels coloring book.

Yesterday we had been roaming around Hobby Lobby while waiting to meet a friend, and he was complaining that he needed more paint (and other art supplies). I had a hard time trying to tell him that we weren't buying paint today, because I didn't want to let him know his big sister had thought of it all already!

A huge box of crayons with a built in sharpener! 96 colors, wow!

Look at all that loot!

And a special hug for his sweetest big sister. She thought of everything! Bilal really loves his art.

And then it was time to open Mama and Baba's gift. Hmm, what could it be?

Wait, another layer of wrapping paper?

And another one? By then Bilal could hardly contain himself!

So may giggles, and one last layer!

Huh? What's this? "But I don't even have an iPad Mini. Why would I need a case?" He was more than a little bit confused. Zakir teased him and told him he needed to start saving up for one.

But then he got the real gift!

Wow, he was so overwhelmed!

I didn't get a picture of him rolling on the ground, you'll just have to trust me though, it was priceless. He was so overcome that he had to run upstairs, and decided to go change into his pajamas. I think he was having a hard time knowing what to say or do. We set it up in his new case for him.

And finally managed to grab him for a hug. Our sweet boy!

And last thing before bedtime, a birthday cupcake.

The only thing missing was that Big Brother wasn't home. But it's funny, he hasn't really mentioned missing Hamza. I thought he would be upset with him gone, but it hasn't really fazed him. And anyway, he'll be back in a couple of days! I think I'm the one who's really missing him, although I have been told that he and I need a break from each other once in a while. Sometimes moms and 14 year olds can really butt heads, and that happens at our house too, probably more than I ever mention!

We are going to try and make today, his actually birthday, a little special too, although the gifts have already been presented, and we are headed to work in an hour or two. Happy, happy birthday, precious boy!

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's a bit quiet around here

I dropped Hamza off at the airport yesterday morning, bright and early, headed to San Diego, for the Mu Alpha Theta math convention. He will be gone for six days, and should be returning on Friday evening. I have spoken to him a couple of times, sounds like he is having a lot of fun with his classmates and other students. But it is just too quiet here. No arguing between the boys, no laughing at videos on Hamza's PC. And less opening of the fridge and pantry!

I am really missing him, even though he's not typically the most interactive of family members. I'll be glad when he's back. Interestingly Safa and Bilal have been doing more together since Hamza hasn't been around. It's cute to see them snuggled up on the sofa together, even if it's just playing the newest game on the iPad.

This morning Bilal started his second session of swimming lessons. And this time he has an experienced instructor who is pushing him a little bit more. He probably ended up swallowing and sniffing more pool water than ever before, but he really enjoyed himself. All smiles at the end of his lesson, although he said he needed a towel for his throat! I am encouraged that by lesson six he will be much closer to becoming an independent swimmer, if not already doing it.

Tomorrow is my brother Tahir, and his baby girl Aliyah's birthday. And the day after is Bilal's turn. We'll be having a party in August, but probably have a mini celebration with cupcakes on his actual birthday. It's a pity that big brother won't be here to join in the fun.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Some very special visitors

Goodness! There's so much catch up to do on my recently neglected blog!

Last week we had a visit from some special guests, all the way from Minneapolis. Megan and her two adorable little boys came to spend a day and a couple of nights with us, en route to Dallas. This brave Mama has driven all the way from home with her boys, making some stops on the way to visit other special friends (most she had never met in person until this trip). Elijah is six, just a few months younger than Bilal, and little Sammy is 3. Elijah has the same primary congenital heart diagnosis as Bilal, although he has a more severe form and has undergone many more procedures and open heart surgeries. But he is a trooper, you'd never think it looking at this spunky little guy!

There was a hiccup; such as a burst radiator that had to be replaced, but thankfully it happened just as they were pulling into our driveway. And because the one day stop was already on the schedule, they were able to make the rest of the trip as planned while the car was getting repaired.

They arrived here Wednesday afternoon and the boys mostly played outside. The fact that it was 93 degrees and very humid did not deter then in the least. And on Thursday we braved the zoo. Maybe the heat had something to do with it, but it was not busy at all. So the kids were able to spend a lot of time up close to the animals, who interestingly, were mostly awake despite the midday heat. A good visit!

Bilal and his heart buddy Elijah
Little Sammy was a little camera shy
The kids were able to feed the elephant apple quarters. It was interesting watching the elephant slowly swing its trunk around to retrieve the apple slices from the ground and pop them into its mouth.

And the giraffe feeding encounter was a lot of fun!

Look at that super long tongue!

And there was more to do at the zoo. We took a nice break and rode the train too.

And the boys all had to ring the very loud bell!

But that's not where the fun ended! After a small break for the kids to have lunch there was the carousel.

Sheer joy on that precious face!
Which Sammy, Bilal and I had to do again!

The zoo also has a traveling exhibit right now; there are several animatronic dinosaurs, with loud roars. Some even squirted water! But we managed to stay dry.

Look at that T. Rex!
"Will you hold my hand?" This little guy just melted my heart!
We walked through the farm animal enclosure. The animals were more elusive here, but Sammy managed to pet a sheep.
"It's so soft!"

And while the younger kids rode the carousel for the third or fourth time, I ran the older two to the other side of the zoo to check out the lorikeet aviary. Safa had really wanted to feed the lorikeets, probably because she can really relate to them, they all like shiny stuff, hah! Do you see the red one on Safa's shoulder? It kept trying to peck at her sparkly nose ring!

Greedy little birds, for sure!
It was a great day, but the kids were exhausted by the end of it. We were home around 3, just in time to run Hamza over to the orthodontist to pick up yet another pair of retainers. Yes, he lost his previous ones!
After one more night we had to say goodbye. The visit was too short, but I'm glad we were at least able to pack in some fun!
Elijah with his favorite 'Lamby'. Doesn't Sammy look ready to leave?!

Maybe we'll be able to meet again some time on the future. Thank you, Megan, for visiting us, and sharing your precious boys with us!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In the pool

Bilal's swim lessons are in full swing. He is making a tiny bit of progress every day he goes to the pool. Baby steps, of course, but it seems a lot for my little guy who is leery about trying anything new like that. Today was lesson number five, and he is now holding his breath under water for a brief period, so that he can retrieve something from the bottom of the pool. Considering on day one of lessons he came out of the pool with his hair still partly dry, that's pretty good progress!

He is also excited about going for lessons, and is perfectly happy that it's as early as 8am. That's because he's not a teenager yet; big brother has to be dragged out of bed at noon or later!

Yesterday, when I suggested (not for the first time) that we sign him up for another six lessons (over a two week period), he actually said yes! So I promptly did so. Group lessons a couple of years ago weren't all that successful, so this time we're doing private. They are shorter (only half an hour each), but he is learning. I still think he is quite far from becoming an independent swimmer, but he's definitely getting more confident. In fact he has become very comfortable around his instructor, and seems to want to chat more than actually swim! I have seen the instructors in the pool, they really have a lot of patience with the kids. Some kids might need to be pushed harder, but not my boy! He has to do everything at his own pace. And as long as he continues to make baby steps (or strokes) it's fine with me!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

You might not see it...

... but to us this is already beautiful.

Our new home site has been cleared of brush. We are already envisioning how our new home will look. We have met with the builder and finalized the plans.

Beautiful already!

As of sunset this evening, the holy month of Ramadan has begun. A month of fasting and prayer, full of blessings of all sorts. Tomorrow morning we will be up before sunrise to have our Sehar, or breakfast. Then no food or drink until sunset, when we break our fast at Iftaar. There will hopefully be more visits to the mosque than during a typical month; we often share Iftaar as a community. And this will continue for a whole month (29 or 30 days, based on the lunar calendar). At the end of the month we will celebrate Eid, which is typically a day that starts with another prayer service, and the day is full of festivities, and of course, lots of food! And we pray that the self control and charity that we practice during the month will continue to manifest itself throughout the rest of the year. To make us better Muslims.

Monday, July 8, 2013

St. Louis Science Museum

We visited the Science Museum while in St. Louis this past week.

The dinosaur exhibit was very cool, with the robotic T. Rex. And there were puzzles to build.

And footprints to compare. Big Foot!

The kids learned about erosion.

And about generating energy.

It was cool to watch cars race by on the interstate below us.

 And time for a reluctant hug!

More about our visit soon!

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