EXCITING UPDATE! My Best Parenting and Marriage Strategies

On Thursday and Friday, January 19th and 20th I will be sharing my very best strategies.

Want to join me live?

You have probably heard by now, but I am very honored to be one of 11 experts sharing their very best strategies at the Ultimate Parenting & Marriage Virtual Summit.

If that isn’t reason enough for you to attend this amazing two day summit focused 100% on Parenting & Marriage, here are just a few of the other educational sessions you will be part of:

  • How to have healthy relationships with your partner, children and yourself.
  • Setting Healthy Expectations in Marriage & Parenting
  • Mindful Parenting
  • Resolving Family Conflict
  • Ways to Harmonize Your Marriage
  • Parenting Complex Kids (With ADHD, and beyond).
  • Managing Stress

And more…

Join us….

Dates: Thursday and Friday, January 19th and 20th, 2023

Time: 10AM EST / 7AM PST – 2PM EST / 11AM PST

Location: Zoom
Details: https://bit.ly/rebekahwhinysummit2

Momma and her baby
El Momma and Baby Jimmie

Grab your ticket now! 

https://bit.ly/rebekahwhinysummit2


Details: https://bit.ly/rebekahwhinysummit2

https://bit.ly/rebekahwhinysummit2

Easy Gluten Free Monkey Bread

When looking for simple and delicious recipes to make around the holidays, I found lots of recipes for Monkey Bread.

I’ve never actually made Monkey Bread before and I don’t know why!? It is so good. I’ve been gluten free for over 9 years. This reminds me of how I remember cinnamon rolls before cutting out gluten. I like to try to find ways to substitute and make recipes gluten free when possible. I decided to use premade pizza dough in place of canned biscuit dough. And it worked out perfectly. This recipe is so popular and now it’s gluten free! This is a family favorite that’s perfect for New Years Day Breakfast, or really any Breakfast or Brunch.

Ingredients:

2 14 oz bags of Wholly Gluten Free Pizza Dough or make your own GF dough

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

Glaze: 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 2

cups powdered sugar, splash of milk

Directions:

1. Cut pizza dough into 1/4 pieces

2. Mix together sugar and cinnamon. Toss into bag with the dough pieces and shake until evenly coated.

3. Pour into a spray baking pan.

4. Mix together melted butter and brown sugar. Pour over dough.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

6. While baking, whisk together glaze ingredients.

7. Flip over pan, let cool before drizzling on icing.

Reflecting on the last Year and Planning ahead.

At ELMOMMA.com, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on this past year. First, we would like to thank you for being here. You being here means a lot to us and helps us support our growing family. Since founding ELMOMMA.com in 2008, we have all grown and changed so much. We had 27,000 views on the blog this month, with this post topping them all. We shared a video of Jimmie watching Momma dance that topped 100k views on Instagram. We published beautiful gift guides focused on our brand and viewers.

Personally, we have experienced a lot of change this year. In July, Rebekah went back to work full-time after not working full-time outside of the home for nearly 4 years. In July, we also learned that we were expecting what we believed to be our last Baby El. All of the Els were over the moon excited about the baby. Sadly, we miscarried at home at 8 weeks and 4 days on August 29 after finding the baby had no heartbeat the week prior.

Rebekah’s new job has been a wonderful blessing. She is now employed at the largest Episcopal Church in North America, where she plans the contemporary worship services each week. She even gets to lead worship and sing with one of her favorite CCM artists from growing up-Wayne Watson. If you know, you know this is pretty awesome.

Bakri is 17 and applying to attend Universities majoring in Music Composition. The pandemic opened up a creative side of Bakri. He is an incredibly talented composer. We still can’t believe that college is right around the corner. He is planning to minor in piano performance.

Maddux will turn 16 this week. He has his drivers permit and will be ready for his official license in two months. We are very excited for this development. Bakri attends school downtown and hasn’t shown interest in learning to drive just yet. We are looking forward to Maddux driving the other Els around safely!

Trinity is also busy applying for schools-HIGH SCHOOLS! We don’t know how this is going to work out, so we are casting the net nice and wide and looking for the right fit. She hopes to study theatre in high school and all of the schools we are considering have top theatre programs.

Leeland is in 7th grade and seems to be really coming into his own. He has participated in football and cross country this year. He plans to tryout for the middle school baseball team after the winter break. He’s also joining a new select baseball team.

Jimmie went to preschool for the first time this November. Check out our post about the first week here. He is loving school. We are very proud of how well he has transitioned. He’s singing songs he is learning at school and he’s already made so many friends.

Moustapha and me are doing well. It’s definitely a stressful time with all of the changes. I will have some time off at the end of this year and the beginning of the new year, so I’m starting to dream and plan that. Would love your suggestions on where we should travel to. We will most likely drive, because there are 7 of us and plane trips are expensive and we need a vehicle most places we would travel to. We like the idea of taking the Els to the mountains, but neither of us have been skiing with kids, so we don’t really know what to expect or how to manage that.

As we close this update post, let me remind you of a few important philosophies we hold tight to. Take the vacation. Dream the dream. Follow your heart. Be in the photo. Life is too short to stop now. Just keep going.

Parents: Easy Mom Hack for your Elf on the Shelf, Link to order in post

Here’s the link to The Ultimate 2022 Christmas Elf Kit! Save this. And read on for more info. I found Jaime, the founder of Crafty Holiday Helper, on Instagram prior to last Christmas season. Jaime creates holiday kits to help those of us who want the cute but don’t have the time. I ordered the 2021 Christmas Elf Kit and I was hooked!

Unboxing the 2022 Ultimate Christmas Elf Kit by CraftyHolidayHelper

Be advised that the Elf is not included in the kit. Our elf arrived around 10 years ago and our oldest named him Alvin. I think we started with Elvin, but he’s now just Alvin. Admittedly, I was never very good at this. I would forget to move him and never had much time to come up with cute scenarios to put him in. Eventually our big Els outgrew this practice and I was honestly relieved.

Now that we have a 3 year old, I wanted to give it another go, but this time with help! The 2022 Christmas Elf Kit is very organized. There is an introduction letter for a returning elf and one for a new elf. It also includes a goodbye letter to be used just before Christmas.

Every week has a card with all of the scenes for the week pictured on it. And everything you need each week is in its own bag!

Click here for the 2022 Christmas Elf Kit!

Just a note: The Elf Door is sold separately. You can add it on once you’ve put the Elf Kit in your cart. I think it’s a really cute idea to have the door so your elf can have a way to travel back and forth between your house and the North Pole each night. 😍

When visiting the site here, you can get up to 25% off if you enter your email address!

Our Rainbow Baby Goes to School

There are a million reasons why our fifth living child wasn’t in school already. He’s three years old. When the pandemic hit, he was attending a program where I was working at the time. He was in the baby class and doing quite well. At 9 months old, we all went home and Jimmie stayed home from that point on.

Fast forward to the Summer of 2022. All the Els are busy and out of school for the summer. Jimmie is enjoying the stay-at-home life with his siblings coming and going. Suddenly, and without much warning, Momma starts working full time outside of the home.

Jimmie did well during the remaining days of summer. He loved having his siblings take care of him and enjoyed all of the attention. By the end of the summer, we still didn’t have a school solidified for him.

After 8 seasons, Leeland has his last little league game

When they say the years fly by, they aren’t kidding. Hard to believe this young man is now in 7th grade. We are extremely proud of you, Leeland. We are proud of the way you try new things. We are proud of how you keep going, even when experiencing adversity. We love you and have enjoyed watching you grow as a baseball player and as a person. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for your life.

Congratulations on completing 8 years of Little League play!

Children’s Baptism including why we chose to baptize our babies and what to wear

Baptizing Jimmie on April 24, 2022

Jimmie is wearing a short set by Strasburg Children. Linked here.

Infant baptism in the Church

As is tradition in the Episcopal church, most families baptize their children when they are still babies. The sacrament of holy baptism is considered “full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church.” Furthermore, The Book of Common Prayer contains the liturgy for a baptismal service, and stipulates when and how an infant should receive this sacrament.

Significantly, when we choose to have our child baptized, we are demonstrating our intention to adhere to the Baptismal Covenant and raise our child as an active participant of our local church. We baptized our older children in the Presbyterian church when they were each less than one year old. (Leeland’s baptism and Trinity’s baptism)

Easter at home, April 2020

Delayed because of Co¥!d

Jimmie was 9 months old when the pandemic began. We were in between churches at the time. I served at an Anglican Church as the worship pastor up until we were expecting baby Jimmie.

At the time of Jimmie’s birth, we were basically without a church home. We went back to our church where we attended from 2008-2014 and where I had previously been employed as a worship leader. Our church family and pastor were welcoming, but it was strange and we didn’t feel like we belonged anymore. So, when the time came to baptize Jimmie, we talked with our pastor (at the time) about it and began to look for a date.

Easter 2021, Our first Sunday visiting The Church of St John the Divine as a family

Our new (post pandemic) church home

Once the pandemic hit, attending church moved completely away from in person and exclusively to online. Fast forward to early 2021 and I was hired by The Church of St John the Divine as a worship leader and keys player for the contemporary worship band. We officially joined the church after attending for seven months in November.

We wanted to baptize Jimmie before he turned three. Moustapha and I are eternally grateful for our church community at The Church of St John the Divine, as we commit to fully support Jimmie’s walk with Christ.

Easter Sunday 2022

Jimmie gets baptized

Jimmie was baptized during the Children’s 915am service which is called Awesome Worship. He was so nervous. This was a completely different experience compared to our other babies who were all much younger. Jimmie knew what was coming and he had some anxiety over it. We talked him through it and showed him videos, but he was still anxious.

Watch how Jimmie responds to being prayed over. We love him so much!
Jimmie’s baptism with a few tears
Jimmie’s baptism candle

Top 10 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Meaningful and Unique Gifts for Her

We are grateful to present ELMOMMA’s 2022 Mother’s Day gift guide.

Momma is like no other. We want to celebrate her today and always. We’ve put together lots of options for you to pick the perfect one for your moms and grandmas and grandmothers. We think the most important part of gift giving is putting in the thought and effort, so mom really knows how appreciated and loved she is. We recently did a gift guide for Valentine’s Day featuring different gift ideas. Many of those would be perfect for Mother’s Day too. Click here to view the Valentine’s Day gift guide. Now, let’s get to it!

1. For the Mom who loves flowers

Personally, I love bouquets of flowers and can never get enough around my home. You can often find flowers locally and most places will have beautiful selections available on Mother’s Day, although they may be a little pricey. If you want to have your flowers delivered, we found these gorgeous bouquets by Urban Stems. Please note- they do not come with the vase. Click here to order. For first time orders, you will receive 15% off. The “wow” bouquet I selected at the top of the photo is actually a double bouquet of my favorite flowers, peonies. It’s stunning! I would be one happy momma with any of these bouquets.

Mother’s Day Bouquets: https://liketk.it/3Envr

2. For the Mom who loves to read

I love you, Mom! is a cherished book of beautiful words written by Mother Daughter duo, Blythe Daniel & Helen McIntosh. I love you, Mom! includes devotions and highlights scriptures specifically for Mommas, meant to encourage her as a mother and lift her up to be the woman God made her to be. There is space near the beginning of the book, where you can write a note to your mom.

“You are…a treasure…I am grateful to you for always making me feel like I am a treasure to you. You have lovingly taught me to find value in others and to care for my family and friends. I thank you for holding out the treasure of a mother’s love for me.” – I love you, Mom!

This book is for the momma-to-be and the new mom. In fact, the author recommends the expectant mom read the book and that she reread the book once baby is in her arms. Powerful Postpartum by Kelly Van Zandt and Powerful is an appropriate word. For the Mom-to-be and new mom postpartum can be a very strange time. As Kelly talks about, we mostly associate this time with either the word “depression” or the word “fine.” That definitely doesn’t tell anywhere near the story of postpartum life. Kelly is a spiritual person and refers to God throughout the book by different names. As a believer, this doesn’t bother me, but I do want you to know in case this would bother you or, more importantly, your mom.

3. For the Proverbs 31 Woman-

personalized woodwork-art

The Proverbs 31 woman is described in scriptures as a woman who “loves the Lord with all her heart and soul. There is peace and joy there and fearlessness about the future. She is ready to face anything with God, unafraid of the future. She also reflects God’s glory in her daily actions. Her reverence for God directs her thoughts and actions, bringing honor and praise.” Quoted from Agape Woodwork’s website. The woodwork pieces are absolutely beautiful in person. I also love this as a reminder of who God made us to be as momma’s. We are strong. We are clothed in strength and dignity. We do not fear the future. I especially need a reminder not to fear and to put my trust in the Lord.

Agape Woodwork Proverbs 31 art

4. For the mom who loves to cook

I am definitely this mom. I love to cook and love to try new recipes. Y’all know I have my favorite recipes which you can see right here. But, as a Texas gal, I definitely get excited when I find new salsas and double bonus if I can cook with it. These two items are from KYVAN foods: Honey Apple Butter and Honey Apple Hot Salsa hit the mark for me. You can access recipes from their site here. Let me know which ones you make!

KYVAN Honey Apple Salsa
KYVAN Honey Apple Salsa

5. For the mom who deserves to wake up refreshed with glowing skin and hair

I just discovered these nightly beauty products by Blissy. I love them!! There’s the Blissy pillow, Blissy pillowcase and sleep set. Mom can treat her hair and skin…while sleeping. Who wouldn’t want to wake up with gorgeous skin and hair?

6. Mom is aging backwards? Yes, please!

We have a few favorites for this one. First, Intensive Anti-aging treatment by BEL Essence. It’s basically magic wrinkle reducing cream. We also love the Skin restoring body butter cream also by BEL Essence. Body butter is just like you would imagine it would be. Click on the image for BEL Essence on Amazon.

7. For the Momma who loves Essential oils

Organic Aromas Opulence diffuser in white and grey marble. This was my first time using a diffuser. This diffuser is lovely. We’ve never used essential oils before, but we were able to pick this one that matches our decor and we chose three oils. Link to a similar style on Amazon here and to the Organic Aromas site here.

8. Mom’s Life Story

Have you heard of Storyworth? We have actually been talking about giving this gift to our moms for years and never have.

How it works. First of all, the initial gift is digital. So, there are no worries about shipping and making sure the item arrives on time. You will provide your loved one’s email and the date you would like the initial email to arrive. Storyworth will give prompts every week and your loved one will provide the answer in their own words. They will tell the story.

Storyworth also will help you, the gift-giver with story prompting ideas. They can make suggestions and you can also come up with your own questions about stories you may already know, but want preserved for your family.

Once the year concludes, they will receive a beautiful, hardbound book full of their stories. It’s truly a lovely idea and I can’t wait to share how it turns out. We are giving this to both of our Mommas this year.

For more info and to order, click here. The subscription is currently $10 off through Mother’s Day.

9. Jewelry for Mom

I’ve been a momma for nearly 18 years and some of my most treasured items are personalized keepsakes which include all of my babies. Clockwise from top left, https://www.jalpapandit.com/shop features lovely mother-daughter pieces, including this “Piece of Me” necklace. Please look at Jalpa Pandit’s site to see the amazing work she does in restoring and repurposing heirloom jewelry. The next image is of personalized stacking rings. I personalized mine with the first names of my babies. I ordered 6 of them and love mixing and matching, as wearing 6 stacked rings on one finger is a little much. Shop link is here *The mother-daughter photo includes mother-daughter bracelets by Feather and Rose, accessible here. Another absolute beauty by Jalpa Pandit is the Mini Love Letters Mother’s necklace. Jalpa’s work is definitely something momma will treasure always and keep in the family forever.

*Photo credit Iris + Honey Photography and Jesslan Lee Photography

10. For the mom who loves simplicity

Let’s remind mom how much we love her! We recently came across ZOX wristbands. Let your mom know she’s loved with special wristbands. ZOX bracelets are $12, made from recycled water bottles, and are available on zox.la and through Amazon! We are featuring the She Is and I Love You Mom wristbands perfect for Mother’s Day to remind her who she is and that she is loved! I believe these two featured items are only available on the zox site. Love them!

ZOX wristbands

For my Momma, who is with me every second of every day, in my heart and in my spirit.

Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

Early Christmas Morning

Not unlike previous Christmases, I am the last one awake in my home. It’s Christmas Eve, after midnight, so technically it’s Christmas morning. I’ve just completed wrapping and placing all of the “momma and dad” and santa presents under the tree. I ate the gluten free Oreos and drank the lactose free milk. I actually dunked the cookies in the milk before eating them. That was my reward for playing santa tonight. Honestly, I was kind of feeling down on myself. It’s not as though My husband doesn’t offer to help me. He shopped a lot last year when Jimmie was 7 months old. But, this year I did most of the shopping and planning and thinking alone. And, tonight I thought to myself “I’m not that good at this.” Rather, I must not be that good at this, or I would get more of this done sooner. Bear in mind, today I picked up groceries, a Christmas present for my nephew, attended rehearsal, picked up Trinity, sang in two Christmas Eve services and came home to make dinner. So, when I get down on myself it’s usually not related to what I accomplished, but it’s attached to what I didn’t accomplish. Really not a fair way to look at things. But sometimes I am not fair with myself. Somehow I let those negative thoughts go and when I finished I turned on the tree lights to take a photo. I felt compelled to sit for a few minutes. So, I did. I soaked in the beauty and the stillness. This moment was mine alone. I enjoyed these early hours of Christmas. I thanked God for this day. This moment. This night. This family. I love being in this wild family. I hope you will have time today to slow down and reflect on what you are grateful for today. I am grateful that I get to share my heart and life with each of you. Merry Christmas, friends!

Love, Rebekah (El Momma )

Best Ever ! Gluten Free Sausage Balls using only 3 Ingredients.

So good. No one will ever guess they are gluten free. 

 *Update! November, 2022*
This is my most popular post on the ELMOMMA blog and I know why…These are still amazing, still easy to make and still delicious. I would never ever make them with gluten flour after making them gluten free like this. Before I went gluten free, the regular sausage balls were good but made my tummy ache. Now, my tummy is happy and so are all of my guests! Pin it, save it and try it! I promise you will love it!

Sub gluten free pancake mix for a perfect sweet and savory breakfast! Follow the recipe exactly as listed below, except use pancake mix instead of biscuit mix. (I used krusteaz gluten free pancake mix today and they were the perfect Christmas morning breakfast.) One of the Els ate 9 of them before we stopped him! Lol

El Momma’s Gluten Free Sausage Balls

By El Momma, Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 20 minutes 

Makes: approximately 2 dozen sausage balls

Several years ago, my momma called me and asked if I could bring her famous sausage balls to our family thanksgiving lunch. I decided to make these and didn’t tell anyone they were gluten free. They were a huge hit. And, less tummies were aching after this experiment. Truthfully, these are so good. I would never make them any other way. We do have a very large family and I make a double batch. Remember, the ratio is 1-1-1. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup grated cheese blend 
  • 1 cup baking mix (suggest Gluten Free Bisquick)
  • 1 lb of ground pork sausage

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slowly add in the bisquick with 1 lb of sausage in a standing mixing bowl. Mix until combined (about 30 seconds)

 

*TIP You may want to have the shield on your mixer to start, as it can be a little messy when first mixing in the bisquick. Once the bisquick and sausage are blended, add half of the cheese, mix for a few seconds, followed by the remaining cheese. Mix until well combined. 

We like this balance of meat, cheese and bread. However, you could always add more cheese! I am sure your family/guests would not complain! 

Next, use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to form the balls. These will be heaping scoops measuring about 2 tablespoons in all.

 Form into balls as you scoop and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving space in between the balls. I can safely fit 15 balls on each baking sheet. 

 

Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. When using parchment paper, I do not move the sausage balls during baking. I will check them at 18 minutes and leave for an additional 2 minutes, if needed. 

 

We serve them with mustard, jam, or maple syrup. Your family will love them! 

 

El Momma’s Gluten Free Sausage Balls

The Best Gluten Free Sausage Balls ever! only three ingredients