Thursday, February 9, 2012

My baby's special heart.

For those of you who don't know, my oldest son, Khalil was born in 2005 with a Congenital Heart Defect.
He was diagnosed in-utero with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF), when I was about 24 weeks along in my pregnancy with him.
TOF is also known as 'blue baby' syndrome and is 4 separate defects of the heart.
To date, he has had 2 open heart surgeries, 2 cardiac catheterizations, several echo cardiograms/ekg's and treatments to relieve a pseudo aneurysm that he developed after his 2nd open heart surgery.
The surgeries and caths were all performed before he was 7 months old, and he now goes to his cardiologist annually for echo cardiograms/ekgs.

We are awaiting his 3rd (and GOD WILLING, final) open heart surgery to replace his Pulmonary Valve. His cardiologist is thinking it may be in about 3-4 years.
Aside from all of the above, Khalil is a perfectly healthy 6 year old who loves life!

So, after a lot of thought, I have decided to post this video that I made a few years ago, but with a lot of reservation, because the pictures in this video are extremely personal to me and I rarely ever show them to people, let alone look at them myself. They are very painful to look back on, but also bring so much gratitude and thankfulness that my little guy made it through those rough days. It's a good reminder of how precious life is, and sometimes even though it's hard or too painful to remember, it's better to look back and be humbled and thankful.

So please, watch the video and then help spread CHD awareness to others by going out in your community and telling someone you know just how common CHD's are, and how much more research and funding is needed to help these kids out!

(Please, please, please do not share this video! That is how horrible internet/Facebook hoaxes get started, and I really do not want that happening with my son! Thank you!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My awesome neighbor.

So, I pretty much like my neighborhood and don't really have problems with any of my neighbors. Well, my next door neighbor is sort of OCD, and at first he came off as pretty rude. He once yelled at my brother in law for accidentally mowing like 3 inches of HIS grass. My poor BIL was mowing our grass to help out right after we brought Ibrahim home from the hospital, and he got chewed out by Mr.OCD for actually doing him a favor unknowingly. Anyway, turns out he isn't so bad and actually waves and says hello to us now (big deal for him, trust me!).

But, he is not the neighbor that this post is about.
This goody is aaaaall about the cool-dude-obsessed-with-cars-from-the-90's-still-lives-at-home-and-needs-anger- management-classes-30-something-year-old neighbor from across the street.

Yes, that is a huge run-on sentence, but I honestly can't help it, because he is all of those things, plus more I'm sure.

So, this afternoon, Ibrahim and I were headed out to go to the store, and as I was maneuvering my mini-van out of my driveway, I accidentally backed into his 1996 little Honda car that was parked in the STREET, facing the wrong way.

In my defense, I was trying to get around my husband's huge 15 passenger van that was parked crookedly in the driveway (my hubby isn't the best at parking straight, LOOOL), and also the garbage can that was at the end of my driveway still from the morning. I was also answering Ibrahim's million questions about the water company workers down the street who were fixing a broken water main and re-paving the street.

So, I wasn't paying attention as much as I should have, and I bumped into his car that was parked in the street.

I knew someone was in their garage, because I heard moving around coming from that way when I was first getting in my van. And, their garage is usually open because 'cool dude' is typically working on a car pretty much everyday.

So, I did the right thing and got out, and went to the garage to let someone know what happened. Here is how the conversation went. No exaggeration, no changing words. This was pretty much word-for-word.

Me, as I walk up their driveway: 'Hello?' 'Hi, excuse me'
Cool dude sticks his head out from under a car and just stares at me.
Me: 'Hi, I'm so sorry, but I just accidentally backed into your car that is parked in the street.'
Cool dude: 'You've gotta be f-ing kidding me' (throws down wrench onto garage floor)
Cool dude: 'You all always F things up' 'mother f-ers'.
Me: 'Umm, it was an accident, I am really so sorry' (I was also starting to freak out, because this obviously was NOT the reaction that I was expecting.)
*I was also wondering what else I've done to him to make him say that? In the 4+yrs that we've lived here, I've barely seen this guy let alone talk or to do something to him?

Cool dude: walks out to car 'Where did you F it up at?' (So, he didn't even see the dent as he was looking right at it, LOL)
Me, pointing at the dent: 'right here'
Cool dude: 'Well what the F are you gonna do about it?'
Me: 'Umm, do you want to exchange insurance information?'
Cool dude: cutting me off, he says 'F no, I want F-ing cash. This fender is gonna be $60 bucks to fix.'
Me: 'Ok, uh, do you want to discuss that with my husband?'
Cool dude: 'Is he home now?' as he starts walking towards my yard
Me: 'yes, I will go get him, let me get my son out of the car real quick'
Cool dude: ignores me and briskly walks to my door.
Cool dude: bangs on door.
Me: leaves Ibrahim in the car, follows cool dude, but by the time I get to him, he is already walking back.
Cool dude, literally 2 seconds after banging on the door: 'F this, I'm calling the F-ing FHP (florida highway patrol)

About a minute after this, my husband comes out and after I explain to him what happened, he tries to talk to cool dude, who is already on the phone with FHP.

Hubby argues with him a bit, tries to reason with him, he continues to use nasty language, even with the FHP operator.

So, he goes back into his garage, and me, hubby and Ibrahim wait in our garage for the trooper to show up.

While we are waiting, cool dude goes into his house (windows open), and I hear his mom yelling at him in Spanish. This is where I reaaally was wishing that I didn't forget all the spanish I used to know, LOL, but did manage understand her saying to leave us alone and not be so rude.
She ended up coming out about 20 mins later, just as the trooper arrived, and she was apologizing to us for his behavior and telling us how she was trying to get him to just work it out with us, because we are neighbors, etc etc. (yay, got my spanish right!)
And, as she is talking with us, he is over in his garage screaming at his OWN MOTHER to 'shut the F up'.
I felt SOO bad for her. The stressed look on her face was showing that he probably gives her so much trouble.

I know I probably grew up sheltered and probably still am a little, but I was absolutely FLOORED at how this guy acted, especially towards his own mom. It's really people like him that scare the crap out of me, because he has absolutely zero empathy it seems like. And those kind of people are the kind to hurt someone and not even feel remorse.

We actually put up with a lot from these neighbors too. About 3 or 4 times a week, at all hours of the day and especially night, there is always a big group of guys and their cars, and they always rev the engines over and over and over and over for houuuuurssss.
Also, a few weeks ago, two guys from over there were throwing some kind of ball at our big garage door, and EVERY 4th of July/New years, there are TONS of fireworks leftover in our yard from their annoying celebrations.

We have never ONCE said anything to them about, nor called to complain. So, that's why I was SHOCKED when he made that comment to me about 'always f-ing things up'????

Anyway, after the trooper came, he took one look at cool dude's car and asked why he didn't just exchange insurance info with me and why did he make him come out just for this. That made me feel better, until he finished processing our stuff and handed me a $160 ticket for improper backing.

Here's a picture of how he was parked in the street. The dent near the front tire is the damage from me.

I was really annoyed that I was even ticketed. I know, I backed into his car, but it really could have been handled differently on his part.

Seeing him and his behavior really make me want to raise my boys to be respectful, polite and NEVER speak to anyone like that.........and also makes me want to take all of their toy cars away. Yikes!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012


A good friend of mine recently had a baby, and we just visited them in the hospital.

After a lovely visit, and being high on the new-baby-smell, I was outside, in front of the hospital waiting for my husband to finish talking to my friend's husband. I went out to answer my phone, and was having a conversation with a friend and minding my own business.
When all of a sudden, I see this face walking towards me, very rapidly I might add, with a huge grin on it. This girl looked like she had one too many coffees (probably how I look after a cup of coffee and a good workout, LOL) and she came right up to me, not caring that I was on my phone and she might be interrupting my conversation. (red flag #1).

She starts rambling something at me, but I was in mid-conversation with my friend on the phone, so I didn't understand her at first. I politely told my friend to hang on a second, and then say hello to cooky lady staring at me like I'm Justin Beiber or something.

She asks me in a high pitch voice and huge smile, 'Where are you frooooom?' I think to myself:  'Ohhhh here we goooooo'. (red flag #2)
I always want to mess with people, and usually have witty answers in my head, but I never get the guts to pull it off.
So, I just went with the usual. 'I'm American, blah blah.'
Cooky lady: 'Oh my GOSH. REALLY?  I am from Turkey! I am a Muslim too!'
Me: A temporary sigh of relief. Great, she just wants to say salaam alaikum and carry on! {notice the word temporary in 'sigh of relief'}

So, I say, oh cool, as salaamu alaikum. She cuts me off mid-sentence and asks me if I am 'really American' and asks me if she can take my picture because she's 'never seen an American dress like me'. (red, huge flag #3)

Let me remind you, I am outside of a HUGE hospital in downtown Orlando, there are probably hundreds of people ALONE in the lobby that are coming and going out of the door behind me. The group of 5 or 6 valet guys were a few feet away, and were listening to every word.

I very politely told her 'no, I'm so sorry, but I really don't feel comfortable with that'.

Right??? Was that rude?? Would any of you feel comfortable having a complete stranger take your picture? I realize that I was covered and you wouldn't even be able to tell it was me, but still. It's just creepy. Especially in front of all these people!!!

So, now there are even more gawkers and I'm starting to feel claustrophobic because this woman actually has her phone 2 feet away from my face, probably taking my picture anyway, as I am politely asking her not to. (a zillion red flags going off)

She goes on to argue and plead with me by saying the picture is for her mom 'cuz she covers too'. I continue to say no, and even go as far to put my hand up because I see her messing with her phone (probably trying to get a good shot) and holding it in my face!

I said no, one last time, and even apologized, and then she finally walked away..

You know, it's not knowing that she has a picture of me that bothers me. It's that she didn't listen to a word I said and did what she wanted to do anyway. I'm just glad my boys weren't with me, because if she had taken a photo with them in it, I probably would have taken her phone out of her hands. LOL

The other thing that bothers me, is that she is a MUSLIM! From a predominately MUSLIM COUNTRY! It's not like she's from some remote place in Alaska who has never seen a woman covering her body. I know Turkey isn't full of niqab-wearing women, but really? Can't her mom just go google 'american wearing niqab'?? I'm sure she could find a much better picture there!

Maybe I overreacted and should have just let her take her measly little photo. I don't know. Maybe I would have if it were someone else, and maybe I was just turned off by her attitude of not caring if she was invading my privacy or not.

Ugh....I was so annoyed. My friend on the phone said that I should have told her that I don't do photos, but autographs are no problem. LOL, maybe I'll do that next time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overeating and Keeping Fit in Islam

Lately, I have been turning to random motivational sayings for eating right and working out. They are mostly sayings from trainers, authors and others who have had success leading a healthy life. They are awesome, and really do inspire me.

But, then it occurred to me...whenever I have a problem or need an answer to any other lifestyle-related question, the first thing I turn to is the Qu'ran and hadiths.
So, why wouldn't I do the same for inspiration to lose weight and eat right?

(Not sure what a 'hadith' is? Click here to find out!)

I knew that we as Muslims are not supposed to overeat and that we are supposed to keep our bodies healthy and not harm them. I mean come on, we are the only religion that fasts (no food OR water during the day) for 30 days straight in Ramadan, mashaallah!
But, after reading the actual hadiths and verses from the Quran, I feel even MORE responsibility to keep myself healthy and fit.

This is a sahih (sound) hadith that was related by Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Ibn Majah and An-nasaa'i:
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Food for one is enough for two and food for two is enough for three and food for three is enough for four.”

It is SO true. I don't know how many times I have stretched one large plate of food between me and one of the boys, and even though at first it didn't seem like there would be enough, there turned out to be PLENTY, and we all had our bellies full.
Reminds me of the saying 'this is enough food to feed an army'. Because it probably could...a small army, anyway! :)

Another great hadith from our Prophet is this one. It's a great reminder for how much we should eat and drink.

On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” (sahih hadith- Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa'I, Ibn Majah)

It is SO hard in our society today to stop eating when we are full. Sometimes we even think about what we are going to eat next, while we STILL have food in our mouths. These hadiths teach us to eat to get rid of the hunger, and to give our bodies what they need, but don't go beyond that to the point of feeling extremely full.

Besides not over-doing it with the food, Muslims are also taught to eat GOOD and healthy foods, that do not harm our bodies.

“Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.” (Quran 2:173) “Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.” (Quran 2:168)

“And it is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date palms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen...” (Quran 6:141)

“It is He who sends down water from the sky with which He brings up corn, olives, dates and grapes and other fruit.” (Quran 16:11)

So, those are just a few of many verses in the Qu'ran that describe {generally} the good things that were put on this Earth for all of mankind to eat and take benefit from.

Not only do these scriptures and hadiths teach us to eat moderately and healthy, but also to keep our bodies fit and healthy.
Exercising and keeping active does not only improve your muscles and joints, it also improves your thinking and attitude. When you finish a workout, it's like a natural high, and you all of a sudden have new blood circulating all throughout your body. One good choice leads to another, and the next thing you know, you are making better choices in ALL aspects of your life, including prayer and worship.

If you have ever seen a Muslim pray, you know we don't just sit still and hang our heads low. Even our prayer is a precise motion that could really be considered a form of exercise. We go from a standing position, to putting our hands on our knees in bowing position, to prostrating on the ground, and coming back up. This is repeated anywhere from 2-4 times, depending on the prayer.

So, here are some examples of keeping fit in Islam:
A sahih hadith from at-Tabarani says:
 Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), said, “Any action without the remembrance of God is either a diversion or heedlessness excepting four acts: Walking from target to target [during archery practice], training a horse, playing with one’s family, and learning to swim.”

And this is one of my favorites, a hadith that is narrarated by Aisha, a wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
She said, “I raced with the Prophet and I beat him. Later when I had put on some weight, we raced again and he won. Then he said, ‘this cancels that (referring to the previous race)." (sahih, bukhari)

Some people probably ask themselves why Muslim women want to work out and look nice. I mean, we wear really loose clothing and cover from head to toe, so why bother to have a nice body? For those that don't know, we do not cover when we are at home, or when we are around our male family members. It's only when we are out in public, or among men whom we are not related to that we cover. So, we want to look nice not only for ourselves and our female friends, but also for our husbands. This is true for the man as well, as Islam encourages love between spouses, and having physical beauty and attraction is important in a Muslim marriage as well, for both the husband and the wife.

So, in closing, I hope this helped anyone who is looking to better themselves. Not only the outside, but the inside too. Remember to keep everything in moderation and not be extreme in anything (another lesson from Islam) and make sure it's for the sake of Allah alone.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kids in their own words-craft

I remember when my oldest son was a baby, and I would try to remember every single big hug he gave me, or every cute laugh he made. I can remember sitting for a few minutes and just trying to take in all of those moments as they happened. I can remember snuggling with him as a 2 or 3 yr old, but I can't remember what he was really like at those points in time. His likes, dislikes or what exactly he looked like. It's amazing how you think you will NEVER forget, but now that he is 6, it's getting harder and harder to really remember all those things.

So, with my littlest one, I was having one of those moments the other day where we were playing and giggling, and while I was trying to savore the moment, I had a thought.

I started asking him questions about what his favorite things were. It was like an interview, LOL, but he enjoyed answering in his own words, and was always looking forward to my next question. I started to jot down his answers, and then decided to make a 'Ibrahim in his own words' page. I imagine you could do this for a scrapbook, or even a wall hanging with a nice handprint to go along with it.
I wish I did this with Khalil, but we can always start now. :)
It's fun and cute, especially when it's their OWN answers. Hopefully this can help with remembering the sweet times in their fast, little lives.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pizza Balls

I made my own version of these the other night for my boys, thanks to the original recipe from Pinterest !

I made a few tweaks though, and they came out very yummy!

I made my mother in law's pizza dough recipe first:
1 1/2 cup warm water
a little bit less than 1 packet of yeast
2 tablespoons of warmed (not melted) or room temp cream cheese
1/2 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp oregano
3-4 cups of flour (not sure exactly, just until it looks dough-y?)
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add honey, salt, oregano and olive oil.
Add flour.
Knead by hand for about 7 minutes, let sit covered with a towel until it rises.

Here's a before and after of the dough:

Then, I just used the original recipe as a guide, and took about 1 inch size dough balls, rolled them out one by one, put some mozzarella cheese in the middle, and folded them up like burritos and pinched the sides closed. When they were all rolled up, I crimped the edges to make them look hot-pocket like.
Then, I popped them in the oven (400F) for about 12 minutes. When they were done, I brushed them with the olive oil topping.
A few tblspoons of olive oil
Parm cheese
Salt and oregano

Then, I let the boys dip them in some warmed up pizza sauce! They were a hit!

Running and Food!

Eeeee! I am so excited to post this! I made my running goal today! I actually ran for 15 minutes straight. Which, I know doesn't sound like a lot, especially to people who have been running for a long time. But, this is a huge feat for me, because back in May, I honestly could not run for 2 minutes (probably less than that) straight, let alone 15!
It was also after I just finished The Shred workout, so my quads were already worked to the max. Inshaallah (God willing), tomorrow I think I will skip the video and just do treadmill, and see if I can beat my 15 minute record.

Also, I always get asked about how I eat, and what I have done to be successful so far, so I have been working on a post that records what I've been eating these past few months. And, since it's usually the same thing since I'm a creature of habit, the list has been easy to compile. :)

So, here is a rough list of what I typically eat in a week:

100-110 calorie bagel thin or sandwich thin
about 1/4-1/2 c. liquid egg whites (or the white of 2 eggs. I actually prefer the taste of the liquid whites for some reason)
chopped green pepper or spinach (I don't know how much, about 1.5-2 tblsp cut up)
1/2 of a roma tomato, seeded and cut up
about a tsp of chopped up onion

I mix the whites and the veggies with salt and pepper in a bowl, and then I pour it into my saute pan, into an egg corral (my FAVE kitchen gadget EVER-thanks, mom!!!!) and let it cook on med low until it's ready to be flipped.

Meanwhile, I toast the bagel/bread and then spread a very tiny amount of cream cheese on it. Like, no more than a tblsp.

Then, I assemble the sandwich and have it with coffee!

If I don't have this sandwich for breakfast (which is not often, LOL), then I will have a bowl of oatmeal or cereal, or a whole wheat waffle with peanut butter. And always coffee. :)

I am very ashamed to admit that I am still eating a lot of 'Smart Ones' for lunch. My plan when I first started this journey, was that I would only eat them until I lost a significant amount of weight, and then 'wean' myself off of them and eat more clean and healthy lunches. But, here I am, 60 lbs later, and I am finding it harder than I thought to not eat them. They are just so perfectly packaged and counted out, they actually taste good (the 2 kinds I buy, anyway), and are super convenient.
BUT, When the budget allows, I do LOOOVE to buy Amy's Light and Lean meals. The spinach lasagna is awesome and is under 300 calories, so you can't beat it. Plus it has NO preservatives and it is packaged in a paper package, rather than plastic.

So, pretty much, my lunches are still frozen meals, but sometimes I will make a salad or have a small portion of whatever my husband or kids are having.

This is what I have the hardest time with, still. I usually have a small portion of whatever the guys are eating. In the beginning, I would have sauted veggies and grilled chicken. Sometimes I would add a small amount of pasta to the veggies, and put some spaghetti sauce in it, and eat it with the chicken. That was always very satisfying and still low-cal. But, lately, I've just been eating small portions of whatever is for dinner.
I also like Morning Star black bean burgers. They not only make great meat-free (and low calorie) burgers, but they also make great taco 'meat' and are awesome in low carb/high fiber wraps.

SNACKS: My usual after-breakfast-before-lunch snack is a sliced apple or peach, about 1/4 c cottage cheese and 16 quaker rice chips. I also have a huge glass of water with lemon, and this sometimes ends up being my lunch because it is so filling.

I try to not snack after dinner, but if I do, it is either fruit, homemade popcorn, a handful of dry cereal, a cheese stick, a skinny cow treat or coffee.

I also depend soooo much on this raspberry flavored seltzer water made by Canada Dry. Depending on the person, it might require and aquired taste, but if you are realllly jonesing for something bubbly or soda-ey, it does the trick. Aside from having no calories or sodium, it also has no artificial coloring. Just the water and the raspberry flavor.

So....that's pretty much it. I still have about 20 more pounds to go until my original goal, so I am far from done and am no expert, by far. But, I hope this helps whoever is reading this and wants to start eating better!