Monday, April 28, 2014

Trussville Clean-up Day

Bilal and I spent a couple of hours on Saturday, near a neighborhood in Trussville, just next to the Cahaba River. Trussville Clean-up day coincides as close as possible with Earth Day every year, and this is the second year the two of us have participated. It was the perfect day to be outdoors, with a pair of floppy gloves and a garbage bag or two!

It is sad to see how many old food containers, potato chips bags and beverage cans get thrown around. but the group did a great job picking up whatever they could, and had some fun along the way.

As we walked towards the river the kids found some tires swings, and took a much deserved break to play for a while.

And after the area had been cleared, it was time to take a break for a snack and a cold fizzy drink!

That wasn't the only time spent outdoors on that lovely Saturday. In the afternoon Zakir and I worked hard in the yard, laying sod where needed, and weeding some areas. It was good that we accomplished as much as we did, because Sunday was a bit of a wash-out, with heavy rains. But we are happy with the way the yard looks now, although, a little more color would be nice.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's a busy year for our senior

Monday was yet another school activity for Safa. It was her senior year IB Awards Day. I took the morning off to attend. Took a quick pic of Safa before she headed to school. Then I dropped Hamza off and headed to her school.

The Awards program was long, since it also included presentations from the Department faculty, for foreign languages, and all the cores, of course. Along with the IB coordinator and the high school principal, there were many university representatives, who presented scholarship certificates personally to all the students who had applied and been awarded money for college. As of Awards Day, over $10.4 million dollars have been offered in scholarships to the graduating class of 65 students, and the actual amount might be quite higher. What a group of high achievers!

Safa received scholarships from both the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Of course, she has made the decision to go to Auburn University in the Fall, but it was great that she was offered the Presidential Scholarship (full academic for four years) from both places. Plus a $1,000 electronics stipend from Auburn too!

Next Tuesday is Safa's senior banquet, that Zakir and I will be attending along with her. She also has a picnic to attend, which has been planned for the seniors during school hours next week. And prom (Spring Formal), is coming up soon. All the fun activities will be followed by a couple of weeks of intense AP and IB exams. But graduation is in sight, and she is very excited about the prospect of being done with school, and receiving her diploma on May 29th.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A different kind of love story

Zakir and I met in medical school, a little over twenty five years ago. He was a bit of a loner, and I had a small circle of friends, quite shy, although you would never think it today. We never really spent much time interacting with each other for the first four years; although at times we would find ways to joke with and tease each other. In fact, 'friendly' insults were a bit of a sport for us.

Our final year of medical school is divided into three month blocks. One of those blocks is for electives. Most students choose to spend their electives in a different location from our medical school; some out of the country, and others in a different city in Pakistan. I chose to split my time between two hospitals, one in Lahore, and the other in Islamabad. Zakir spent his three months in Islamabad, the city where he grew up. But our time in Islamabad did not overlap. By the time he came back to Karachi to finish off the rest of the school year, I had already left for my electives. So we didn't see each other, or even talk for the better part of six months. That's when I realized that I sort of missed having him around. It was as subtle as that, and I'm sure it was something similar for him too. So when we were back in Karachi we started talking more. Started spending more time together. Started seeking each others' company. And one evening, which sitting in the hospital cafeteria, he (very awkwardly) asked me to marry him. A few days later, I said 'yes'. It was really only after that, that we started to take the time to get to know each other more. We learned that we have common goals and aspirations. Both wanted to move to the United States for further education. Both wanted to have kids. And even though our families originate from different parts of the Indian Subcontinent, we realized that there were a lot of common family values. And we both enjoyed each others' company, of course. That was the start of our love story. No 'love at first sight', but a relationship that grew on commonality. And we continued to nurture it.

We got married on April 22, 1994; about six months after we graduated from Medical School. Love grew, as it should, in a relationship. We lived with my in-laws for about one year, they are a wonderful family, and I loved the time I spent there. We moved to the United States a little over one year later. During our residency application process, Zakir and I were having a hard time finding programs in the same city, him in Internal Medicine, and me in Pediatrics, where we both would have a good chance of being accepted. And I couldn't imagine living apart, even for one year. So I opted out and Zakir found a position in the residency program of his choice. That was the perfect time to start a family. Just a couple of months before our second wedding anniversary, Safa was born. Almost three years after that we had Hamza. And then it was my turn to resume my training, while Zakir found a job. This brought us to the Birmingham area, where we have lived ever since.

Since our marriage, we have lived at eight different addresses, seven of those in the United States. Our current zip code has stuck with us; we have lived here for almost eleven years. Our third child Bilal was born here. We have started a medical practice together. We recently built and moved into a gorgeous new home. We have a great circle of friends. Our times as a couple have been interesting, to say the least. Not all smooth sailing, I admit, as it is with many (or most) couples. But we love each other passionately now, and we continue to learn more about each other every day. And that makes for a wonderful marriage.

Today we celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. We are so blessed to have reached this milestone. Still together, and stronger than ever.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good citizen, second time around!

Bilal was nominated again by his teacher as Good citizen of the Week. It means a trip to the principal's office for a certificate that states why he was nominated and a ribbon to wear all day. The little boy that he is, his certificate never made it home! But he did come off the bus, proudly wearing his ribbon.

These past couple of weeks have been full of fun activities and filed trips for Bilal. First, he had the Boosterthon fun run, which is a fundraising activity for thr school. This was followed by a trip to the Southern Museum of Flight and a local College, where the kids learned about recycling and the environment. This past week the class went to see a play at the Children's Theater (too much music according to Bilal!), and the Birmingham Museum of Art (not enough art, and too much talking!). I think we'll take him back to the Museum of Art this summer, so that he can really enjoy the exhibits.

He spent the past twenty four hours with his cousins, enjoying a sleepover, followed by a trip to the zoo. It's so cute to see how well they get along together. Mama was ready to have him home, but evidently he was having too much fun! But I'm glad that he is back home, and sleeping in his own bed tonight. Last weekend we went over to Farah's house to spend some time with the boys, and give their Mama a break, so that she could go and get her hair done. As always, it was a blast. The boys are so precious!

The lovely weather meant that we had plenty of opportunity to play outdoors. First we drew chalk pictures, followed by a race down the driveway to the cars.

Of course, Mohsin marches to the beat of his own drum. As the older two boys ran down the driveway, he had to run in the opposite direction!

And ended his solo race with an enthusiastic "I won!"

Then, as the others retreated indoors in favor of quiet play, Mohsin and I spent time in the back yard, on the swings.

I am ready to do this again some day soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baby shower for a friend

Our friend Saema is expecting her third next month. A great group of gals got together to host her baby shower. The mom-to-be looked lovely in her red outfit. I don't think I looked good in anything when I was that pregnant!

The fruit displays looked too pretty to eat!

Great company, delicious food!

Congrats, Saema!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring 2014

After a long, cold winter, it's lovely to have weekends like this:

We expect another pleasant weekend this time too. It looks like spring might finally be here to stay for a while!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Famous Americans Day!

Bilal's class recently finished a module about famous American personalities. As a conclusion to the subject the kids all wrote reports on a famous American of their choice, then had the opportunity to dress up as the personality and present their reports to the class. as a plus, parents were invited to come and listen too! Since it was a Friday, Zakir and I both went.

Bilal's choice of famous American was John F. Kennedy. He read a few books about him, and I helped him put a report together. Add a shirt and tie, and his brother's (slightly oversized) jacket, and he had a costume too!

Waiting patiently for his turn
And the presentation:

I think he did a great job. All the kids were a joy to watch!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Creativity strikes again!

Safa is ready for high school graduation for sure! Her newest pair of shoes is inspired by a Dr. Seuss book, popular among graduates.

A pair of black canvas shoes, a few acrylic paints and brushes, and a little creativity:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own.
And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”

Quite inspiring!

Safa recently opened up a shop on Etsy, Walk With Flair, to showcase, and hopefully start selling some of her creations. Check it out if you have a chance. She can customize any pair of canvas shoes and in any size desired. Not sure where she got her talent from, definitely not from her Mama!

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