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! December 25, 2020

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

It has to be said, because it’s true

Every single time a friend of mine shares about their child starting middle school or ending elementary school, I bite my tongue. Every. Single. Time. 

Why? Because, I don’t want to break her heart. Usually, she’s emotional about her baby starting middle school and ending an era- If your child starts elementary at pre-k 4, that’s 7 years in elementary before moving on up. 
That’s also half way through your child’s primary and secondary education. 
What!? You haven’t thought about that? I can understand why. I didn’t either. Until, I felt slapped in the face with the end of middle school for our oldest son. And. now he’s starting his sophomore year in high school.
 In our school district, we have school choice, magnet schools, zoned schools, boundary schools, and more. Because your child doesn’t just automatically move up to the next neighborhood school- they can, but most people (at least) look into other options, at the beginning of fifth grade and again at the beginning of eighth grade, you apply for the next year/school.
 I think that process really speeds things up. Because, like when your child applies for college, they do that at the beginning of the year BEFORE they go. So, this year, for my eighth grader, we will choose his high school in the next couple of months. For my high schooler, we will be applying to college in two years. Aaaaaaaah!
Time, please slow down. 
My fifth grader will be applying to middle schools this fall. And, I guess my point is that we were just doing this for my now 10th grader. It has gone by so fast. Faster than any other period of his life. Those 3 years before prek. Slow. PreK 3? PreK 4? Kinder? Slow. Slow. Slow. 
Fifth grade? Lightning fast. For every single one of my fifth graders. I have had three so far. The fourth one starts tomorrow. Feels like yesterday that the second one was choosing his middle school. Btw, haven’t had a repeat middle school yet. We let the Els be their own people around here and try to make the best choice, based on their individual needs. 
So, I guess I’m feeling like I am about to blink and all of the Els, except for Jimmie, will be in and out of college. 
I’m going to take a breath and try to enjoy this year. It’s clear that this one is a bit different. Maybe that will help us all slow down a little?

Our oldest El, in sixth grade (4 years ago!) at Meyerland Middle School HISD 

CARRYING ON

Remember that time 2 years ago…I was in the middle of a chemical pregnancy loss (where the baby doesn’t implant in the uterus, but I had a positive pregnancy test), I was bleeding a lot, in Santa Fe on an already planned vacation, processing losing my job, celebrating a dear friend’s birthday and hoping to get pregnant again soon (it would happen with baby jimmie the very next month) and carrying on?

 🙏🏼🙏🏼 CARRYING. ON. YALL. 
Not like nothing was happening. But, more like, everything was happening at once. It was. Good things. Bad things. Amazing things. Hard things. All the things. 
A good lesson: we don’t know what other people are going through in their lives. Most people had NO IDEA what we were experiencing then. But, we are now on the other side of that time. Still experiencing stuff. Still hard. Still good. Still great. Still CARRYING ON! 
Let’s go, y’all. Keep carrying on and keep supporting your loved ones. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep going. And, if you need a listening ear or you have a specific prayer request, I will intercede for you. I will listen. I’ve learned to listen more than I speak. My inbox and DMs are always open. Sending you love.
Always, 
El Momma 
 #behindthescenes #reality #beingreal #elmomma #iamelmomma #realmoms #reallife #carryon 

Nothing is Normal in 2020

The Birth of Jimmie Josiah, May 2019



A mother’s journey to find normal after losing a child, adding to our family and living through 2020

 

In August of 2017, our family was the happiest we had ever been. Our four big kids were finding their way and thriving. Our two oldest boys were 13 and 11 years old. Our daughter was 9 years old and our youngest son had just turned seven. And, we were nearly halfway through what seemed to be a normal, healthy pregnancy with a baby girl, Mary-Linda, who we were expecting to arrive near the end of the year. Life was good! Until, it wasn’t.

 

In one moment, everything changed. It was still summertime and I left the kids at home with their dad so I could run to my 18 week appointment. I had been unable to find the baby’s heartbeat on the fetal heartbeat Doppler the night before, but I shook it off as user error and tried to put it out of my mind. At my appointment, my greatest fears were realized and I learned that our daughter’s heart had stopped beating. The next few days, months and even years have been a struggle to find a new normal for us. Our life after losing our daughter, Mary-Linda is so different from our life before.

 

We are still trying to figure out what normal looks like. For a year, I continued to work in the same capacity I had worked in before Mary-Linda’s death. I loved being busy and I loved my job. It seemed right at the time. We spent that entire year going to therapy, doctor appointments, and visiting with specialists. I wanted so badly to pinpoint what happened to Mary-Linda, so we could move forward with as much information as possible. And, as it turned out, there was a diagnosis and a cause of death. Mary-Linda had suffered a Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage (blood loss/severe anemia) and her heart had stopped beating. The medical professionals missed alarming red flags in my bloodwork and did not follow protocol to refer me to a specialist. I learned all of this, as I researched this condition and found the blood results from early in pregnancy. These “problems” were never discussed with me, but the specialists I met with to prepare for another pregnancy, assured me that Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage was not something that happened to the same mother twice. I worried that something was not right after I delivered Mary-Linda silently and that was making it more difficult for us to get pregnant again. For thirteen months we prayed, we waited and we kept hunting for answers.

 

In September of 2018, after having a chemical pregnancy the month before, we found out we were expecting again. It was exciting and terrifying. We had a fertility doctor, a primary ob-gyn and high risk doctor all working with us. After the initial visits to confirm pregnancy, we would alternate seeing the ob-gyn and high risk doctor every couple of weeks. Each visit with the high risk doctor they would check for fetal anemia. I also stopped working outside the home around the same time I became pregnant. It wasn’t my intention to make this my new normal, but it sure was a huge blessing. I was surrounded with people, family and friends who loved me and supported me. I ended up really enjoying my pregnancy and soon found out we were pregnant with a boy. My father passed early in the spring and we named our baby boy after him. In May of 2019, baby Jimmie Josiah El-Hakam joined our family earth-side. 

 

This last year has been anything but normal. We had a baby. We moved to a different home. I started a new job, was laid off from that job because of COVID-19. Our oldest son, who is on the autism spectrum, started high school. We spent most of the last year experiencing firsts with our new baby. And, we spent another year missing our Mary-Linda. 

 

By the time March came around, we were in a pretty good rhythm. And then, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe and we went into strict lockdown with my mom, who is 78 years old and has some health problems. My older sister, Melinda had Down Syndrome and lived with my parents her entire life. She passed away suddenly on Valentine’s Day this year at the age of 50. 

 

Our new normal really isn’t normal at all. My mom has lived with us for the last several months. Our kids are home- which the baby loves, by the way! My husband and I are both working from home. It’s intense.

 

For now, there’s no getting back to “normal.” We’ve lost so much. If we focus on that, it becomes too overwhelming. So, instead we just try to focus on finding some joy and happiness in each day. My big kids are older, so chores have become a part of our new normal. We also eat so many meals together. We enjoy that. But, honestly, I am very nervous about our potential to be successful in distance learning this Fall. Creating space for school work and work at home and space for baby to flourish is proving to be very difficult. 

 

As a practice, we pray together and attend online church as a family each Sunday. But, even that has begun to feel difficult to engage in as a family. We talk about our Mary-Linda. And, we recently celebrated 3 years since she was with us. We mixed that celebration in with happy, socially-distanced birthday parties for myself, my husband and 2 of our other living children. She’s a part of our family. She’s just not on earth with us. In our new house, her ashes sit on a shelf in my closet. It’s actually a very pretty place. I have a Mary-Linda bear sitting nearby and I look at it every single day. Sometimes, I hold the urn and completely lose it. Because, sometimes I just miss her so much that I can’t catch my breath. Having other loved ones in heaven with her does give me peace. Her Aunt Melinda. Her grandfather. Her great-grandparents. I know she’s well cared for and she’s in heaven. It doesn’t make us miss her any less. 

 

As I close, I want to encourage others who are feeling stressed by grief, depression and the heartaches of being lonely in this pandemic: Please, do not put too much pressure on yourselves to “get back to” anything that you are not ready for. Losing a child is a devastating, often traumatic experience. Being in a pandemic and isolated from your family and your friends is challenging on so many levels. We are not going to come out of this unscathed and unchanged. But, you are not alone. Allow yourself time. Give yourself grace to be okay doing things differently. 

 

For me, personally, I find comfort in knowing that we will see our Mary-Linda again when we all get to heaven. I also find comfort in knowing that we will get through this moment in time. Things will get better again. We have to believe. Until then, we will keep on remembering and keep on living our (not so) normal lives.



 I just published Nothing is Normal in 2020 on medium link.medium.com/PhDyKxLZg9 #infantloss #medium #stillbirth #mommaof6 #nonewnormal #elmomma

Life After Loss. 3 years in.

I recently read a description of grief. It illustrated grief in the beginning as a giant ball bouncing around in a very small square. Something we can’t get away from. Every time we move or even breathe, the grief hits us. I’ve also read grief described like furniture in the middle of a dark room, where you can’t see anything, but everywhere you move, you bump into it and you can’t get around it. In both scenarios, the grief changes. In the first, the ball eventually becomes very small, but it is always in the room. It still hurts deeply when it hits you, but it isn’t a constant. In the second scenario, the furniture eventually moves to where you can see it and get around it, finally settling as a painting on the wall- always there, but not something you are constantly bumping into. 

I can relate with both of these descriptions. I know they aren’t meant to be that simple. Grief is complex. But, I think it can give others imagery to relate to and understand our grief. Grief is always there. In our case, as is the case for many, we don’t get over losing a child. It’s not that simple. But, we learn to move forward, and find a way to live while being in the room with the grief. We still bump into it all the time, but it’s not all consuming everything we do. But, it’s there, like that huge painting on the wall. And, maybe it’s beautiful now. Maybe, it’s like our Mary-Linda, bringing light and hope to others in their time of grief. Maybe, just maybe? 

On August 16th, 2020, we marked 3 years since our Mary-Linda was with us. It feels so surreal. These last 3 years have been brutal and beautiful. I don’t know how to explain it any other way. So much heartache. But, again, I know that God was with us and is with us. So, we will keep on keeping on. 

much love, 

El Momma

Below are photos from our celebration of Mary-Linda’s life, 3 years in. And, photos from the day we all got to hold her. We will all forever hold her in our hearts until we can hold her in our arms again. 

Celebrating my sister in heaven

On Wednesday night we celebrated my older sister’s 51st birthday. It was her first birthday since she went to heaven. My momma, brother, and all of our families gathered in the front yard and had a “socially distanced” gathering with 🎈,🍕 and 🎂 as we talked about our Melinda. It’s really hard to lose a sibling. We talked about this with our families that night. Your sister/ whom you’ve known and loved your entire life. Your family. Your first best friend. Your biggest fan. Your everything. Your comedic relief. Your demanding sidekick. Your love.  It’s hard. We know she’s happy and she’s with so many loved ones. I never met another soul who would tell you they wanted to go to heaven more than Melinda. She had some of her favorite people go before her. I sometimes wonder about the effects of losing my dad 11 months before she died. They were so close. And her grief was deep. It took her a long time to admit that my dad had gone to heaven. But, she finally did and I know she wanted to go and be with him. On Valentine’s Day, after having a stroke, Melinda went to heaven 💗💗 she was literally surrounded by some of the people on earth that she loved most 💗💗 And, she went to be with Jesus. It was Incredibly peaceful. We know know know that she is in a better place. BUT, it sure is hard to be without her here.

The Yellow Rose of Texas Birthday Tradition Continues…

Many years ago, the tradition began. The story has been told many times. It almost feels like a legendary tale at this point. And, so it goes. 
I was the baby of the block. My mother had many dear friends in our neighborhood- but, two families in particular, who were more like family than friends and who lived only a couple of houses down from us. These were the kind of friends that we would see every single day. My mom would be in their home when they arrived home from school having her coffee break and she, especially, was a sounding board and mentor for their daughters. My mom is still dear friends with the daughters in these families to this day- in fact, they were there with us at the hospital this year after my sister, Melinda unexpectedly suffered a stroke and passed away at 50 years old on Valentine’s Day. And, the families were intricately involved in my sister’s physical therapy as a child. (pull-hold-release)
So, all of the other kids on the block were a little older than me. Some, in high school when I was born. Some, in college. One, in particular, Ste-bo (nickname for Steven) was in college, I believe, when I was born. I remember, yes, remember being 3 years old and believing that I would grow up one day and marry Ste-bo. The tradition of the yellow roses began with Ste-bo. He passed away before I turned 4 years old, after an accident. My mom was there at the hospital. She was there when their momma would talk about heaven and how she wanted to know everything she could about heaven because Ste-bo now lived there. Their momma (affectionately called “Place” by my sister) drove my momma over railroad tracks when my due date had passed and my momma was still pregnant with me. Ste-bo was studying to be a doctor. His life was just getting started. It was a tragic loss for all of us. 
If my mom can locate it, I will add a picture of us. I think there is one somewhere with me wearing a yellow rose of Texas t-shirt. He called me the yellow rose of Texas and his momma continued giving me yellow roses on my birthday long after Ste-bo had passed away. My momma and daddy picked up the tradition at some point when I was in high school, I believe. There hasn’t been a year go by, whether I was in Texas, living in California, or on vacation that my momma didn’t find me with the yellow roses. 
It’s a pretty special tradition and has made for lasting memories and beautiful photos through the years. 
Love you, Momma. Thank you for continuing this tradition started by the Place family many years ago. 
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1YmDo1ZrgilgzTVovdfcAaXSzlC9QE0u2
clockwise from top left: 1982, 1984 (??), 2016, 1998 (??)
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=10jmFX3e6XGK6fqp77yYgRHrJ5pt3n-Sv
2017 with Moustapha and pregnant with Mary-Linda
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1d9NPsufU9fpggq5rio05-hjx_T4aWLTK
2020
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1u99slsPQ76QvpdP4nbm5KmnabEJ1PRwY
2020 with Baby Jimmie, 14 months