Thursday, July 31, 2014

Farah's Baby Shower

We are soon to have another nephew! Farah is expecting her third little boy within the next couple of weeks. Ramadan had delayed my plans for throwing her a baby shower, so I planned something for a few days after. We got some friends together and made reservations at Chuy's, a Tex Mex restaurant in Birmingham.

The table for sixteen wasn't ready for a while, so we all spent some time outside on the patio. It was a lovely evening.

And the table was finally ready, almost half an hour late.

Admittedly, the service was rather slow too, but at least the food was worth the wait! And after dinner? Cake, of course!

A great evening, with wonderful company.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bilal is eight!

Bilal is eight today! Another year has flown by! Where has the time gone? It seems as vivid as yesterday, when I brought my tiny 5 pounder home from the hospital. At that time there was so much uncertainty, not knowing how he would do medically, when he might need to go in for surgery, etc. But here we are, eight years later, and blessed! My little guy is a stinker. He still acts like the baby of the family for sure, but he has plenty of time to grown up. It has been very cute over the past several weeks, watching him count down the days. He's been very excited about his birthday. And even with a late night last night, he has been up and bouncing around since 6 am this morning!

The first thing he HAD to do, was open his presents. What did he get?

A set of Dr. Who sonic screwdrivers. Something he's been begging for, for the longest time! And, more Hot Wheels track, that he had picked out himself.

Next on the agenda: assemble the track.

Once he had the instructions figured out, it took him no time at all.

This afternoon Safa took him out to watch a movie, 'How to Train your Dragon 2'. So far it's been a great day!

Tonight, the plan is to go out to dinner. We don't typically go out on a weeknight, but of course, birthdays HAVE to be the exception. We'll be meeting Farah and the boys for dinner, because, even if there's no party planned, what's a birthday without cousins?! Unfortunately big brother will be missing out, because he is still in Orlando at a math convention, and won't be home until tomorrow morning. But he did call today, to wish Bilal a happy birthday.

And than, after dinner, we have ice cream cake. Red Velvet cake with sweet cream ice cream, chocolate ganache, and Oreo cookies on top. Just the way he wanted!

Happy eighth birthday, Bilal. Prayers for many, many more happy and healthy years.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ramadan update, and Day 4 of our cruise

The month of Ramadan has been flying by. We have been busy with early morning meals, late dinners, plus lots of prayers and visits to the mosque. It is hard to believe that in less than a week this blessed month will be coming to an end. I am hoping that some of the positive actions that we all have been practicing this month will translate into ongoing better lifestyle habits in general. After all, that is one of the purposes of this month. I myself, haven't turned on the TV a single time this month, and probably haven't watched more than 2-3 hours of TV in the past three weeks. That is quite a difference from the 2+ hours every evening that I have been used to. Honestly, I haven't really missed it, because my focus has been on other things. And that is also my looooong excuse for not keeping this blog up to date!

Day four of our Bahamas cruise was spent lazily sailing around some islands. A lot of just staring out at the ocean, lazing in the cabin, reading books and exploring the ship. There is definitely a lot going on on board all the time, if you just venture out.

We took the kids (minus Hamza, who always seemed to be off with friends), and went to the top deck to play mini golf.

You'd think Safa had one the US Open!

When we returned to the cabin for a short while, we saw the beds made up like this:

It's the small things that made the cruise so pleasant. The housekeeping staff were so considerate, they even took care of the stuffed critters! That is Bear and Duggles, having a little nap and enjoying the cruise.

In the evening, the kids wanted to dress up, for no particular reason, except that they wanted to dress up! I think Hamza is now at least 4 inches taller than his sister! Love their Fedoras!

And in the evening, another touch of hospitality greeted us in the room. Cute!

Safa and I spent a lot of time attending a variety of shows, from dancing, to game shows, to stand up comedy. Zakir and Bilal joined in when they wanted to. Hamza mostly stayed gone, often until after midnight. I know he had fun!

We sailed overnight and docked back in Port Canaveral the next morning.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 3 of our cruise: Nassau

Get ready for photo overload! On day 3 of our cruise, we were already in port at Nassau when we awoke in the morning.
Nassau is the national capital, and this is where the parliament is located. All the government buildings here are pink. And quite a bright shade of pink!

 The Government House, with a statue of Christopher Columbus up front:

 This is similar to a mask you would see people wearing during Junkanoo, a Bahamian festival:

We stopped for a brief visit at Fort Charlotte.

Then we headed to Ardastra Gardens and Zoo. This gardens are famous for their flamingos. Here is the gang waiting for the flamingo show:

And here they come, beautiful birds! And so well trained!

Zakir had the chance to come a little closer to them.

And his rather feeble flamingo impersonation:

Though they were the stars of the show, they definitely weren't the only visit worthy animals around. After the flamingo show we got up close and personal with some other brightly colored birds.

It was quite a delight to feed them thin slivers of apple.

It would have been much more pleasant if it wasn't so humid, but we were told that July and august tends to be worse!

On the way back we stopped in town to do some shopping and take in some more sights.

After that, we headed back to the ship for a break. I think the pace of the cruise was perfect for us; just enough structured activities, to allow for plenty of time to veg too! The evenings were filled with variety and stand up comedy shows. Hamza made more friends than I've ever seen him make; he was always off, swimming with other kids his age, eating pizza and ice cream late at night, and just hanging out. The key to him socializing: take away his internet, hah! Bilal enjoyed a lot of activities that were planned for his age group, and even ate at Camp Carnival a few evenings, but he did most of his activities with us. The ship left Nassau at 5pm, headed for a day of just cruising.

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