This appetizer is perfect for holiday “get togethers,” parties, or to whip up for unexpected guests! I found this recipe on Instagram and instantly saved it to make it this Winter. I finally got around to it on Christmas Day and it turned out so cute!
Heads up, don’t eat the whole peppercorns. Those are for decoration. My husband learned this the hard way as he asked me “what is the really hard thing in this?” Lol
The recipe called for Saran Wrap when placing in the fridge, but we used ziploc bags instead and they worked great. Other than that, this was the easiest dish I made all break. It was also the cutest dish!
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.
Okay parents. How many of you get a little frustrated with the whole Elf on the Shelf craze at Christmas time? Me too! And, with a toddler at home, I wanted to do something extra special. Last year, I decided to get help with our elf on the shelf and I bought a kit from an account I found on Instagram. (www.Instagram.com/craftyholidayhelper) CraftyHolidayHelper, Jaime has a small business focused on holiday crafts for families. I am so thankful to have found Jaime! Her craft kits are amazing!
I love having holiday parties for our littles. Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Fourth of July are holidays we don’t miss celebrating! In addition to adding Mardi Gras, we also added St Patrick’s Day with a party box and scavenger hunt from CraftyHolidayHelper to kick us off!
Jimmie is in awe of everything. He loves the rainbow centerpiece and all of the tiny details. My older kids said it’s not a party if other people don’t come. I disagree! I think Jimmie does too. It’s a party if you say it’s a party! Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone!
El Momma, Rebekahmemusic and CraftyHolidayHelper collaborated on this post. Thank you for your support!
We are thrilled to present the 2022 Valentine’s Day gift guide. Please note that, although we have loosely categorized “who” the gift is for, many of the gift ideas we share can work for multiple recipients. We love giving more than receiving and know that your loved ones will feel loved, if you put that extra thought and effort into their gift.
Happy Valentine’s Day! May you give and receive love this year.
Rebekah, El Momma
At FindItGirl, she has gifts for every occasion. FIND IT GIRL We especially love the curated items for the home with the love theme. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t need a little more reminders of love around the home throughout every season? The velvet hearts and heart dough bowls are just a few of our favorite finds from FindItGirl this Valentine’s season.
Glow Like A Mother set of 3 beauty items for mom. https://gorgeousconfidence.com/ Momma deserves to be pampered! The GLAM set includes Cleanse, Hydralux Serum and rich Hydration cream. This has become my go to beauty routine day and night. My husband says I already look younger.
The Pink Enamel Heart Twist Cuff in gold by Isabelle Grace is one of my favorite gifts. https://www.isabellegracejewelry.com/products/enamel-heart-twist-cuff A portion of the proceeds from this cuff are donated to the fight against breast cancer. PS. everything from this line is handmade in the USA. Order soon for Valentine’s Day delivery. Click here to see more options “for her” this Valentine’s.
If your girl (or your guy) is a chocolate lover, let me introduce you to Blissfully Better. Made in small batches and handcrafted in copper kettles, Blissfully Better’s Almond Toffee, Crunchy Quinoa Toffee, Caramel, Coconut, and Mint Thins are the perfect indulgence. (I am gluten free and although not certified gluten free, there is no gluten used) Certified Organic and sweetened only with low glycemic coconut nectar, Blissfully Better is better for you and you will definitely taste the difference!
I love LOVE and I especially love ♥️ 💗 💕. These jewelry pieces are of good quality and are reasonably priced. I’m also pretty loyal to Nordstrom as they accept returns with no cost to the customer and no questions asked. If there ever is an issue, as long as they can find a record of your purchase, they will stand by the products they sell. I love that!
Barrel and Oak Hair Thickening Shampoo. Does your guy worry about the appearance of hair loss? I got this product for my husband. According to Barrel and Oak’s website “Coffee is nutrient & antioxidant-rich, which is good for scalp & hair health. Our Caffeinated Thickening Shampoo helps rebalance pH levels, which reduces dry damaged hair & breakage. Invigorating for all hair types.” He loves it so far!
For the Pet Owner
For anyone concerned with leaving the house covered in lint, the De Novo Deluxe Self Cleaning Lint Brush is the gift for them! The De Novo™ Deluxe Self-Cleaning Lint Brush is a revolutionary way to keep your clothes lint-free and in tip-top condition. The magical bristles on this brush attract the pet hair and lint directly to it, making it so much easier for you to clean.
Unlike any other lint brush on the market, the De Novo™ Deluxe Self-Cleaning Lint Brush comes completely apart, designed to make it easier for you to rinse the inside bristles so that the self-cleaning component lasts longer. Did I mention they offer a 100% money back guarantee?
For Family (kids-adults-anyone)
Send a stuffed animal package! https://sendafriend.co/ Through Send a Friend, you can send a care package with an adorable stuffed animal. Not only will you spread smiles and joy, but when you send a friend, they donate 10% of your total purchase to nonprofit organizations. See a list of recent donations here made through SendAFriend.co
You can customize a gift on collage.com. We chose to create a custom family calendar at https://collage.com In 10 minutes, I uploaded pictures from last year and placed them in the design in the appropriate month. We love how it turned out. Plus, we now have wonderful memories to look back on and hope for in the future.
We recently discovered QUOTEBOOK. https://quotebookjournal.com/ Quotebook is a notebook for recording the things people say to each other. When I read about Quotebook, we had to try it. Our kids, especially, and sometimes Mom and Dad are always saying the funniest things that I hope we remember, but we sometimes forget. This is a great way to keep the whole family involved, as we say those funny things that we never want to forget. Our very first quote written in this book was by baby Jimmie and it’s the cutest memory ever. We can’t wait to fill this QUOTEBOOK!
Here we have curated several Valentine’s Day themed items for most of our family members. The heart print lounge set for our teen daughter plus the grey heart sleep pants or shorts with a scrunchy are her favorites. We also have a couple of pajama options for Mom. My top choice right now are the navy pajamas. They are incredibly soft. Moustapha picked out these leopard print pajama pants for him. I must say, he looks so hot in them! In addition, we found this super soft Little Giraffe Luxe baby blanket also available in pink and so many adorable outfits for your little girl.
Feltman Brothers makes clothes for little ones that you will never want to give away. This Scalloped Contrast Trim Knit set is perfect for your baby girl on Valentine’s Day.
We also love this color block knit set in baby blue for our Jimmie. It comes in blue shades (pictured) and pink shades. We have always loved Feltman Brothers and have many keepsake outfits our children can hand down to their children one day. I love getting gifts that last for years and generations to come.
Mabel’s Labels are perfect to label all of your kids items. Mabel’s Labels are laundry and dishwasher safe. We got heart shaped labels with the kid’s names on them. I also got some personalized for me too.
Mabel’s Labels are also a great teacher gift. Mabel’s Labels are custom made and a thoughtful gift for that teacher that seems to have everything, but loves to be organized. Plus, they are super cute.
One month subscription to MyYogaTeacher yoga platform as a wellness gift for teachers. MyYogaTeacher provides LIVE (not pre-recorded) yoga lessons (private and group) with expert Indian yoga teachers. I’ve really enjoyed the two-way interaction which has helped me practice safely and stay motivated.
It’s February, which means it’s the month of love, at least around here. We love to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This year, we took it a step further and transformed our Christmas tree into a Valentine’s Tree.
When the Els were little, we would host parties and decorate cookies and eat pizza or some other yummy dish. As they’ve gotten older, we often have conflicting activities on Valentine’s Day. So, I like to make the whole month about love with a focus on our love for family and each other.
While working on our Valentine’s Day gift guide, I wanted to get into the spirit early with these adorable Valentine’s Day themed tops. You can shop these looks at this commissionable link.
Our Valentine’s Day gift guide is launching next week and I have a confession to make. I’ve been this way for years. Pajamas are my love language. Some may say they are a gift. Others may say they are an act of service. Some may even call them physical touch or quality time. Maybe pajamas are the five love languages put together?!
Pajamas are my love language.
El Momma 2022
As we prepare for our first ever VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT GUIDE launching next week, I am going to be sharing my work outfits. And, since I work from home, and I’m trying to get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day, what better to work in than adorable, super soft and stretchy V-Day PJs?
For those moms or dads looking at ideas for the classroom, here’s an adorable craft we did in Trinity’s classroom when she was little. I LOVE old school crafts. If you are able to volunteer in your child’s classroom this year, this is a great idea.
This is our fifth Christmas without our daughter, Mary-Linda. This reality shocks my system. I can’t believe it. Five Christmases. How? We actually never had a Christmas with her alive on earth. We were pregnant with her in April of 2017, she passed in Mid August and was due to be born at the end of December, beginning of January 2018.
As a grieving person, I’ve learned that we can be both- we can be thankful for what and who we have in our lives and grieve those who are no longer with us. That’s okay. And, as far as I know, it’s normal. The happy and joy-filled times come a little easier for me now. But, I’m still sad. I’m happy and I’m sad. I’m thankful for all I have and devastated that I don’t have two daughters on earth.
I am also very aware that there are people who long to be mothers and don’t have any living children with them. I promise you, I do not take my living children for granted. But, just as each person has unique characteristics and DNA, so do our children. Our living children are not replacement children for our baby in heaven.
Our living children are not replacement children for our baby in heaven.
El Momma Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam
Years ago, in the space between losing Mary-Linda and expecting Jimmie, I would attend a support group with a non profit org called MEND. There I met mothers who had also experienced the loss of their babies in pregnancy, through stillbirth or in the first year of life. These women became dear friends who I love very much. One thing that was always said before the start of each meeting was that we don’t compare our losses. We look at every loss as devastating for that precious momma and daddy. And each baby matters, whether or not they were an early loss or late term loss. They matter. That has impacted me so much as we have faced more grief in the following years.
Our grief is unique to our story and our experiences. We can share our grief and our burdens with others without comparing our grief.
El Momma Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam
The space between is different for me now. I am constantly in the space between celebrating the wins and accomplishments of my living children and wishing Mary-Linda was here sharing a room with Trinity and loving on Baby Jimmie. I am also in the space between the struggles with raising three teenagers and a tween and trying not to compare them to a daughter in heaven, who can do no wrong.
And then there come the holidays in the middle of the crazy of the last several years. As author, Ashley LeMieux stated last week, I find myself using the word AND a lot. For example, I am incredible grateful to spend the holidays with my husband and five living children AND I’m deeply saddened and heartbroken to have our fifth Christmas without Mary-Linda on earth!
I honestly don’t know any other way to be. I believe it’s acceptable and should be encouraged that we feel all of our feelings. It’s valid to be happy AND sad. Angry AND grateful. Depressed AND hopeful.
As a grieving mother AND a celebrating mother, I wanted to share with you that it’s okay. I am comforted knowing that the Lord meets me exactly where I am and gives me comfort and strength that is not my own. I pray you find comfort and peace this year, friends. Time just seems to move faster and faster. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
When we started out on this grief journey, it was unexpected, as grief and pain often are. We were, in many ways, unprepared. You know how people say “I can’t imagine” what you are going through? What they mean is they don’t have any life experiences that relate directly to what you are going through. Because, of course we can imagine. We don’t want to imagine.
But, today I want to focus on how we unknowingly prepared for this and what I believe we did that has helped us as we process and heal.
Number 1- we prayed and planned for our baby girl. We heard God very clearly and we knew it was the right decision for our family to try for one more baby. We continued to pray and seek the Lord throughout our pregnancy and loss.
In Matthew 6:33-34 the Bible says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
We also cling to the scriptures and knowledge that God is near to us. Psalm 34 says the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Number 2- we celebrated every milestone. We had never done a gender reveal for our older babies, but wanted to do a gender reveal this time for our four older kids. It was absolutely the right decision for our family. The moment we learned, as a family that our baby was a girl will be a memory we all can take with us always. We don’t have a lot of memories with Mary-Linda, so this one stands out as one of the most joyful moments of our time together as a family.
Number 3- we created memories. Did we know that our time with her was going to be short? No. We had no idea. But, we enjoyed the time when we were expecting her. We went on vacation, celebrated birthdays, spent time with family and friends and soaked up those precious moments.
Grief is not easy, nor is there a formula to move through it. My advice for you whether you are grieving or not, is to live your life to the fullest. Love on your family and friends a little extra. We can all use a little more love.
“You will rarely regret celebrating life too much, but will likely regret celebrating life too little.”
Our lives and my birthday changed forever in 2017. In 2017, I was the happiest I had ever been in my 40 years on earth. I wasn’t the least bit upset to be turning forty. I was pregnant with our second daughter and fifth child. Life for us was in the highest of highs.
The following month, at my 18 week appointment I learned that our daughter had unexpectedly suffered a fetal maternal hemorrhage and her heart had stopped beating. We would go on to deliver her and hold her and deeply grieve and be changed F O R E V E R.
I’ve heard people make comments and say “she should be over it.” “At least she has living children.” “She didn’t even know that baby.” And there are people who are so uncomfortable with me sharing about our walk through grief that they question my mental health. Do you really think that I share everything on social media? No. No, I don’t. But, by me sharing my heart and my experience, I have helped a lot of women who have lost their babies in pregnancy through miscarriage and stillbirth and others who have experienced early infant loss. And, by God’s Grace we have a safe space for all, no matter where you may be in your grief journey, your fertility or infertility journey or your mental health condition. This is and always will be a safe space for you. I am here to listen, to share and to be there for other mommas and hopeful mommas.
That brings me to this year. This year, I am turning 44. There is a different level of joy from my 40th birthday, as we have waded the depths of grief and celebrated on the highest mountain tops since that day. One of our greatest joys came in May of 2019, when God blessed us earth side with our son, Jimmie.
This year, at my birthday dinner, Jimmie was so much fun. He’s learning to keep his cup down when he is drinking from a straw. And in between sips and telling me how he’s supposed to hold his cup, he would remind me of why we were at dinner, sweetly saying “happy birthday, momma.”
I cried. Our lives look so different than what we would have anticipated them looking like just four years ago. We’ve experienced the loss of our daughter, who would be 3 years old right now. We’ve experienced the joy of having our precious Jimmie (age 2). Expecting him, being together for his birth and being home together for much of his first year and second year of life. We are incredibly blessed and thankful. Our big Els wanted to know why I was crying and Moustapha said this “God didn’t have to give us Jimmie.”
That is so true. Jimmie doesn’t replace our baby who died. But, we know we would be in a very different place right now, if we were still waiting on baby Jimmie. Thankfully, God made a way where we did not see the way. It was not easy and we are incredibly thankful.
My birthday will always be a reminder that we are missing Mary-Linda and that we are blessed with our Jimmie, Leeland, Trinity, Maddux and Bakri. A reminder that we are not promised tomorrow and to be grateful for our blessings today.
One of the lessons I learned this past year, is that I can accomplish so much more from home than I ever thought possible…BUT, I absolutely can’t do it alone!
If I ever thought that we don’t need community or one another, I certainly wouldn’t think that now. I’ve always been one who thrives in small groups and one-on-one interactions. That makes a year like 2020 and some of 2021 particularly challenging. I desire to be close with my loved ones and don’t want to be in big crowds. I never liked big crowds to begin with. Sporting events- especially outdoors are a whole different ballgame. Love those and never stopped going to those. My favorite sports were the ones that kept going, especially kid sports that involved the Els!
Back to what I’ve learned and how sharing deals and finds on the blog is a part of this. When everything shut down in Texas in March of 2020, my part time job also ended. I was working at a preschool and Jimmie was attending. Once all the Els were sent home from public elementary, middle and high school I had no choice but to stay home with all five of them. Like most people, our life rhythm completely changed. It was just us all the time and I no longer contributed to any income for our family of seven (eight with my momma staying with us part of the time.)
I started focusing on growing my Instagram account, as it looked like there was potential there to have brands pay what they call “influencers,” but as a SAG-AFTRA card holding member for 20 years, I think of it as a spokesperson type model. Less acting, and more storytelling. Love it? Like it? Hate it? Honest feedback on a product or experience. That’s what people want. And if you can do that and get paid, even better!
On Black Friday, I found a deal for liquid collagen and decided to give that a try. I was blown away by the results. I see myself every day and it was not overnight! This was a huge difference in a month and a half, and more as time as gone on. The liquid Biocell is the product I use and love. If you use this link, it will show Moustapha as the one who referred you and I will receive credit for your purchase. You will also receive $10 off your purchase too! Win! Win!
So, that brings me to my most recent sharing of my @rebekahmemusic like to know it account!And, my Amazon influencer account. These are places where I can share things I find and love and if you shop my links, I will receive a small commission. So, if you are thinking of buying something I have shared, would you consider buying through my links?
When I say “small commission,” it’s completely dependent on the company. Some pay much better percentages than others. But, for now, I am sharing the best links and products I find. And I’m sharing things I use and believe in.
If you don’t want to purchase something, that’s fine too. Another way you can support me is by sharing my posts, commenting on Instagram and here. Pinterest is also a great place where your views and saves help posts be seen by others.
If you’ve read this far, thank you! I’m still figuring this whole thing out. But, I do love being able to create and write and stay home with Jimmie. Thank you for your support. From the bottom of my El Momma heart, “Thank you!”