Sunday, August 30, 2015

School in session

School isn't really fully in session until the kids are back in Sunday School! Today was the first day of the 2015-16 school year at the Birmingham Islamic Society's Weekend Islamic School, and the boys were thrilled to be back. Even more exciting was that Mohsin joined this year too!

Bilal loves Sunday School; he enjoys the learning and instruction, but he loves the social aspect of it. He gets to spend time with friends that he only sees on the weekends, and very rarely at all over the summer. Today was a great start to the school year, hopefully it is a sign of how things will go for the rest of the year too!

Outside of both schools, Bilal is on a great reading kick right now. He started reading Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan over the summer, as one of the fourth grade recommended books, and now he is on to book three of the series already. He is determined to become a member of the school's millionaire club (having read one million words during the school year) as soon as he possibly can. So he is making use of his typical early morning awakenings by squeezing in some quality reading time. And it gives Mama a bit of a chance for a lie in on the weekends too. Win-win for both of us!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

All about Lego

Bilal's birthday was 1 month ago, but he hadn't got around to getting his gift yet (even though he did have a great party). The item on his wish list was not within an acceptable budget, so he was still trying to decide what else he wanted from his parents. He finally decided that, for his birthday, he wanted somewhere that he could store his Lego creations, well within reach, since he enjoys playing with them a lot. So I hit up Pinterest to try and figure out a good solution, then came up with the simplest one: deep shelving along one wall of his room. So we measured out the area, and re-located his bookcase to another wall, leaving a generous space for 4 feet of shelves. Then, Zakir and I headed out to Lowe's and found just what we needed, in the closet hardware section. We were rather pleased with the finished result:

Simple, yet very functional. With a designated area for his Lego characters.

Then Bilal decided that Puppet would be very happy on the shelf, instead of cramped up on top of his armoire, with many other stuffed animals. So he, along with his fire hat, joined the globe on the top shelf.

Since we put the shelves up yesterday, the characters have been arranged, and rearranged several times. There are now many completed Lego models filling some of the shelf space (I just don't have an updated photo), and Bilal is thrilled to have a location well within reach for him to play. There is also plenty of space underneath, if we decide to re-locate the bricks from the loft closet, into bins. That isn't the plan at the moment.

Today, the nephews came over to spend the day, and we all headed down to the Mall for lunch, and for the Americana Lego exhibit. Here are the boys in front of a huge model of the US Capitol:

After browsing the shops, we took a break for lunch, and then checked out the other exhibits. Some of these models took over 800 hours to build, with several people working on them simultaneously.

The Lincoln Memorial, observed from the upper level:

Aren't the boys so cute together? Can't wait until we have another weekend with my cuties!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Night out with friends

Some of my friends managed to get together last night for dinner. Between kids and jobs, these events are rare, and to be able to coordinate a dinner out with 8 busy ladies was quite an accomplishment. Thanks to Eima for planning it!

We met at Brio; it was actually my first time to eat there, and the food was delicious. I think we'll be going back soon, this time with the family. We had a great time catching up, pretty much carefree, knowing that the dads were taking care of everyone's little ones. There was a lot of laughter, even over the mundane.

We parted with the promise to do this again some time. But realistically, not before November, or maybe even as late as January! Either way, it's always great to catch up with friends.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

College, again

Lesson learned: Dropping your child off at college for their second year isn't really much easier on a mama than it was the first year. and the thought that your second child will be heading to college within a year, makes it even harder.

Yesterday, Safa, Hamza and I drove down to Auburn, to help her move into her new apartment. She has moved to a complex slightly farther away from campus, and her new roommate is someone she had met during Camp War Eagle, her summer orientation before freshman year. I have got a feeling that they'll get along very well. She had wonderful roommates last year too, but everyone has chosen different accommodations this year.

Lola the chinchilla traveled down in the minivan with me, dozing all the way, while the siblings rode together in Safa's car. Hamza's first task, as soon as Safa got possession of the room, was to set up Lola's cage in her new location.

Obviously Safa won't be doing any studying on her desk!

Lola warmed up to her familiar home, but her new location, very well. After spending a long time running around, exploring her cage, she fell asleep in her favorite spot, with her tail hanging out of the cage.

After unloading both cars, we headed for lunch. Pizza at Little Italy was the obvious choice!

Then Safa took us to campus for Hamza's 3rd 'unofficial' campus tour. I have a pleasant feeling that he is seriously considering Auburn as an option for school too!

Before wrapping up in the apartment, we made a (not so) quick run to the grocery store, to stock up Safa's pantry and fridge. I don't want her worrying about groceries for a couple of weeks;  classes start tomorrow, and she will need to focus on her studies.

This is her wall, highly personalized with everything from postcards and her personal paintings and drawings, to paintings, drawings and doodles by her friends from high school and college. Plus a couple of photographs and posters added in the mix.

It really was hard, saying goodbye to her, but she is great about staying touch with text and telephone. And I'm sure she'll be visiting within the next month or two, after she is settled in for the semester.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Back to school!

Today was Bilal's first day of fourth grade. He was bouncing around super early, making sure that his backpack was packed just right, and that everything was in its place. Glasses on his face (not worn all summer), as well as a huge grin. He headed out the door almost fifteen minutes before the bus was due to come to our bus stop. The kid loves school!

According to the report I received, it was a great first day, although he didn't look as peppy in the picture I took when he got off the bus.

No homework today, although I'm sure it it soon to come. By his usual school night bedtime he was exhausted! It never fails to amuse me how school can tire him out so much. I think for now, it is more about getting back into the routine after a long, lazy summer, and he should adjust in a few days. I think it also bothered him that his siblings are still at home, lazing around, and not headed back to school until next week.

He likes his new teacher, although I was rather shocked to hear that there are twenty-five students in his class! I hope it doesn't interfere with learning; he's never had so many classmates. Next year there will be three elementary schools instead of one, so that should help with class sizes. I guess the Paine Huskies will just have to tough it out for one more year. Hoping it's a good one!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer 2015 winds down

It truly is coming close to the end of this long summer break. With a family vacation behind us, Bilal has been squeezing in as much play time as possible, while his older siblings continue to try and squeeze in more sleep!

This evening I took Bilal to school to meet his new teacher. Mrs. McK has just joined the Husky school system, having moved from a different school system. This year Bilal will have three switch teachers, but with all the chaos in the halls, we didn't have the opportunity to stop by and meet his other teachers. It has been a great summer, but I think we are all ready to get back into our school year routines.

On our way out of the school, we paused to admire the GaTE pizza garden, that the students will be working on this year again.

Bilal's official first day of school is this Wednesday. Safa and Hamza start back on Monday. The next big step will be moving Safa into her new apartment this weekend. Then it will really feel like 'back to school' time!

Monday, August 3, 2015

A very 'wild' birthday party

We celebrated Bilal's birthday with a party about a week after he turned nine. We wanted to do something different than the typical bouncing/bowling type of event, so we asked these folks to come help us out instead:

And I think it was a very good decision! Who doesn't love animals? All our guests certainly did, some more than others. The party started off with a corn snake around Bilal's neck, and it only got better from there!

And how about a hissing cockroach?

Insects like that don't bother me, but I'm still glad it was Bilal holding it and not me! Then, an itty bitty porcupine.

The highlight may surely have been the pythons, though. It took the entire party to hold the larger one!

A much slower, but equally cool animal to end the show, even Atlas was fascinated with this one:

The kids had a blast.

Then everyone headed indoors for some serious hand washing, followed by pizza, hamburgers and of course, cake!

Happy birthday, Bilal!

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