How are the ELS!?

Summer 2012 is almost here and we have been super busy this Spring. The kids are all doing really well. We had a spell with a couple of them struggling with respiratory issues, but all seems to be much better now. Here is an update on all of the ELS.
Trinity is 3 and a half years old. She is just finishing preschool. And, she had her dance recital last week. She is a wonderful dancer, full of energy and ideas. She loves to make new friends, tell stories and learn about family history. She still has a very low and unique sounding speaking voice. It’s fun to hear her talk. And, she talks with those big brown eyes too.

Leeland will turn 2 this Summer. He is so much fun. He loves his siblings so very much and enjoys doing everything that they do. He really loves baseball and has mastered his swing along with sound effects. He’ll also say “homerun” or “strike” when he (pretend) hits the ball. He was on breathing treatments for several weeks and as I would hold him in my lap he would point to the television with the remote control saying “baseball, baseball, baseball.” I would (sometimes) let him watch part of a game if I could find one on tv. He is a joy!

Trinity’s dance recital

Moustapha and I attended a friend’s wedding at the Hyatt Lost Pines. This is a pic from the golf cart ride to the wedding ceremony.

Listening to my album mixes has become a regular occurance for all of us. Luckily, the kids all really like the music. I’m hoping they are a good test market for the target audience. ūüôā If so, we’re making a really popular cd.

Bakri is nearly finished with first grade. It has been a wonderful year of growth for him. He has made some great friends. And, his reading abilities have amazed us. He loves to read big books and will spend hours reading. He is also great at spelling and art. Here he is on “all art day” doing a chalk painting on the sidewalk of his interpretation of Boats at Saintes-Marie. He still loves baseball and he and Maddux have enjoyed another year of playing on the same team.

Maddux, second from the left, is five and a half years old. He is graduating from pre-k soon and he will officially be a kindergartener. He loves his school and friends. Maddux learned to read and write this year. It helps to have an older child working along side other children. So, while Bakri was working on reading, Maddux was picking it up too. Now he can read everything. He will tell me when I’m in a left turn only lane or that I’m not supposed to cross a double white line¬†or read any sign on the side of the road. He keeps me on my toes and remembers everything!

Trinity at the water park

Leeland, Maddux and Bakri

We are looking forward to a fun Summer. My album will be finished soon, so I will have lots of work to do as far as marketing and delivering all the products to those that pre-ordered it. It’s an exciting time. We’ll try to swim a lot and play a lot this Summer too. Enjoy your Summer. Enjoy your life. It’s a gift. “Give thanks to the Lord. For He is good, so good to us!”

Many blessings,
-Rebekah

Home with the Els for Easter!

I returned home from Nashville for the weekend on Good Friday. I had the best weekend with my sweet husband and lovely babies. I put a few pictures here. But, basically my relaxing weekend went like this:
Landed in Houston on Good Friday
Husband and 2 children picked me up from the airport
Met Grandmother (my momma) and 2 youngest children to pick them up
Went to Minute Maid Park for Opening Day of the Astros
Stayed for Friday Night Fireworks!
Put all the tired ones to bed…
Saturday morning I cooked a giant breakfast- homemade pancakes, eggs, bacon, the works
Then, oldest Els had a tee-ball game with their dad and I had Easter worship rehearsal with the youngest Els.
After rehearsal and the game, we had a family lunch at Pappadeaux.
Then, playtime and family time at home mixed in with all the laundry for the week…which kind of piles up for 6 people. And, my in-laws came by to see the kids for Easter with baskets of Easter presents.
That evening, we had a wedding celebration dinner for our friends who were in town from Hawaii
The next morning was EASTER morning! So, the Easter bunny visited Saturday night and Trinity and I headed off to church at 730am, while the other children slept a little more.
Our church service started at 845. It was a beautiful celebration of Easter. He is risen! He is risen indeed! My parents- grandfather and grandmother and my sister, Aunt Melinda, joined us for the service and celebration.
Afterwards, there was a church family brunch, butterfly release in the courtyard and an Easter egg hunt.
We’ve hosted Easter for both of our families for the last three years. This year, because of my recording schedule, we couldn’t host. I didn’t have time to roll grape leaves on Saturday or make my house presentable for our large family. But, I feel really passionately about having Lebanese Lamb and Rice filled Grape Leaves on Easter. I also feel really passionate about tradition. Grape leaves are a middle eastern dish. The vine is a very significant point of imagery in the bible. Jesus said “I am the vine and You are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” I just love this verse. Knowing that we are called to be the branches, bearing fruit, reaching out, making a difference.
So, while we were still with our church family, I started hearing this voice that said ,”Go to Phoencia and make grape leaves today.” I’m not sure who was speaking, but I answered. As we left church, I leaned over to Moustapha and said ,”I want to make grape leaves today.” So, we left church and he drove me to Phoenicia (which is now conveniently located downtown). I picked up everything I needed- ground lamb, lamb shanks, 2 16 oz. jars of grape leaves, lemons, green onion (I forgot mint), rice and I grabbed Labneh, fresh arabic bread and chick peas (to make fresh hummus for the week).
The kids had lunch at home and I spent the next 3 hours doing more laundry and rolling grape leaves. Our small family of 6 gathered around the table at 7pm that evening and we had the most amazing dinner. We celebrated, we prayed, we thanked God for Jesus and we loved on each other. ¬†The truth is, I felt completely recharged when I returned to Nashville on Monday. Being with my husband and children and family and keeping busy all weekend didn’t leave me feeling drained, but rejuvenated and excited to sing my heart out this week. So, that is what I am doing now. I am singing my heart out. I am Praising God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all week. What a blessed way to celebrate Easter!

Little Fingerprints on the Door

fingerprints on the door….prior to cleaning ūüôā

As I made my way up the stairs and into the hallway, I noticed them. They were on the door at three distinct levels. One set representing the oldest el, a first grader. Most likely, his are from the dirt outside, last night’s dinner or a special dessert. Then, there are the middle set, belonging to our second oldest el. His are probably from tooth paste, which he wastes as he tries to apply some to everybody’s brush. And, from peanut butter on his favorite lunch sandwich. And, then there are the ones belonging to tiny t. Hers are probably a mixture of food, markers, paint and anything she can get her little hands on. As I look at them, I contemplate whether or not to wipe them away.

As I head back downstairs to grab my magic eraser, wet it, and head back upstairs, I’m still trying to decide if it’s okay to leave them there. They definitely make the door look dirty. It is the door to the boys’ room that they share along with Baby L. But, I don’t want to forget what those little fingerprints¬†represent. I know there will come a day when I will wipe the¬† last little fingerprint off of the door and they will be too big to return. I want to appreciate the fingerprints, the children that leave their mark everywhere in our house and the season of life we are in. I know I’m going to miss this.

I decided to clean the door. It only took a few seconds to wipe away the fingerprints. I know they will be back soon, this time.

Monday Rain and Rest

After a beautiful and busy start to our Spring Break, we returned home and needed a break! So, we took our rainy day Monday and we slept in, thanks to daylight savings. And, we enjoyed a relaxed day. When the rain stopped, we made our way out to catch up on grocery shopping. Not so bad, considering Moustapha went with us and Trinity and I were able to shop very quickly by ourselves. We are hoping for a wonderful week….Momma has lots of plans!

The River with friends

New Braunfels, here we come! Here are pictures of the kids on our way to New Braunfels for the first weekend of Spring Break.

 By the time we arrived, it was time to go straight to bed. You would obey that hand, right!?

¬†And, here’s a view from upstairs. Our friends had a fajita y familias fiesta on Saturday with four families. We had a blast with all of the kids- all boys except for Trinity! And, the food and company was awesome!

 The girls at the party!

 Partying with Leeland!

 And, the girls are on the floor!

Here’s a family photo of the six of us before we headed home. We had a wonderful time and so appreciate having friends that welcome all SIX OF US into their home! It was a great way to start Spring Break. Thanks, friends!

Spring Break!

It’s the start of Spring Break this afternoon. Basically, we have no school next week. That impacts 3 of the Els directly and of course impacts all of the rest of us as well. We¬† are excited to have extra time together. We’re hoping for good weather so we can do some fun Houston activities next week. Happy Spring Break, everyone!

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions that You’ll Actually Keep

My friend Jeff posted this on his facebook¬†status and on twitter¬†yesterday: “In 2011 I’ll take life less seriously, make jokes & take lots of photos.” I believe he posted this mostly in jest. I mean if you even know Jeff a little bit, you know that he already does all of these things and does them quite well and with consistency. But, his resolutions got me thinking about new year’s resolutions and how we all should be so smart to make resolutions that we are sure to keep. How do we do that?

First, think about what you are good at. Is there anything that when you do it, people almost always compliment you, affirm you or ask you when you’ll be doing that again? If something pops in to your mind, then you should resolve to do that more often in 2011! For me, it’s song writing. I always¬†keep myself super busy with so many other activities. In fact, in¬†2010, I was very involved in some important issues in our neighborhood. Some, that took up a lot of time. Maybe too much time. As much as I love our neighborhood. I am not going to resolve to spend more time on issues in the neighborhood this year. Instead, I am going to help where I am needed and do something I really love- write music. We completed work on¬†seven songs this year and were blessed to be able to play them with the band and teach them to the congregation at our church. Many times, I was given the highest compliment I could imagine at this point in my songwriting career. And that is being told that “I love the new song you guys are doing. Who sings the new one you did today?”- meaning, who recorded it and made it famous? And, I get to say that I wrote it. That is super fun! I’ve even been told that some of the songs I’ve written are favorite songs. And, that’s before they are surprised to learn that I’ve written them. I was telling my pastor that sometimes I feel a little strange even saying I wrote the songs that I’ve written. Because, I really feel that they are gifts. They really are. They are gifts and I resolve and hope to keep receiving the gift of songs in 2011! I promise to share if I do!

What is something that you do that makes you YOU? Let’s talk about my friend Jeff again. He’s funny. Not a comedian, necessarily, but a genuinely funny person. If I was going to describe him I would definitely include “doesn’t take himself too seriously” in the description. It’s funny, really. Jeff and I have been friends for over ten years now. And, I promise, I never would have thought that would have happened considering our first meeting. He drove me crazy. Constantly calling me a nickname that I hated and he pretty much seemed to obtain a lot of pleasure from driving me nuts. But, he was funny. He drove me crazy, but he was funny. And, once I got to know him, I really liked him…a lot. Now, I would say he’s hilarious and super fun to be around. He’s constantly smiling or making others smile and his energy is infectious. When Jeff says he’s going to take life less seriously and make jokes, he’s just saying that he is going to do something that he already enjoys doing and that he does well. The thing I heard about me a lot this year was how relaxed I am. I was not always like this. But, I also didn’t have four kids and a totally fun life before either! So, as for me, I am going to be more relaxed in 2011. I’m going to go with the flow, be myself and embrace the chaos of my life. These are things I already do and I’m going to do better in 2011. My kids are going to keep surprising me. My house is going to almost always be a mess. There will still be a drumset in my living room. And, this momma¬†WILL be relaxed and go with the flow in 2011!

Jeff is a photog. From the time we first met, he always took pictures of everything. He probably has a photo from that awful first meeting at the Farmer’s Market! Every event, every party, every person, every detail, every thing! Now, he gets paid to take pictures. He’s a professional and he’s taken lots of headshot photos for up-and-coming artists and actors in Hollywood. He’s turned something that he loves to do for fun into something that he can do as a career. That’s amazing. And, while that works for some of us,¬†most of¬†us¬†just get to have a hobby that we can do and keep doing this year. So, pick something that you love and know you will do all year long; for birthdays, events, parties and resolve to do it. Make it your “thing.” Mine is hosting parties and baking. I resolve to bake more in 2011. I have four children. So, there will be at least four birthday parties, most likely at my house, this year. Plus, Leeland will be baptised this year, we’ll have Easter to celebrate, Christmas, Moustapha’s birthday, my birthday, holidays and I’d love to have party that we always do each year. I still haven’t figured out which one that will be. I’m leaning toward an annual Christmas party. But, we’re just not sure yet.¬†But, with all of the guaranteed parties we’ll have this year there is¬†lots of opportunity to do my “thing!” I will bake cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more¬†for these fun celebrations. Yesterday, I made cake balls for the first time. They were delicious! I will definitely find a special occasion to make these treats this year. I am thinking about eye balls for Halloween.

To conclude, my new year’s resolutions are 1. to write more songs, 2. to be more relaxed and 3. to have more parties and bake¬†a lot. In other words, I am going to be more like me in 2011. I am going to be myself and I’m going to share the things that I believe I am good at with others, which will only bring me more joy and happiness.

Looking forward to a wonderful 2011. Happy New Year, Everyone!

me & my two youngest Els celebrating ChristmasÔĽŅ

A Blessed Christmas Day by El Momma

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas day. We definitely did. It was one of those days where it could have been a complete chaotic mess and that would have been okay. Because, what can you really expect from a family with four kids, age five and under!? But, by the end of the day when my husband and I were sitting alone in our living room by the soft glowing lights of the Christmas tree reflecting on the day, we knew our Christmas day was just as it should be. Perfect.

Our day started with 3 very excited little Els. They were anxious to get downstairs and see if Santa left them a present under the Christmas tree. I think this picture captures them in the middle of¬†saying “happy birthday, Jesus!”

Santa was good to all of the Els. He brought an engraved¬†rocking horse snow globe for the baby, a collector’s baby doll for Trinity, an electric guitar for Maddux and Magic School Bus science kits for Bakri. They were very very excited!

Our day continued with the arrival of my parents to celebrate Christmas with my mom and dad, sister, brother, sister-in-law and three of our nephews. Not leaving our house on Christmas day was such a blessing. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing this made our Christmas. My parents arrived with lots of food and I made a couple of really simple dishes- baked brie, a turducken, and green bean casserole. We just relaxed and prepared the table for food and the kids played with some of their new toys.
My brother and his family arrived and the fun really began! They have 3 boys and another baby on the way. So, we will soon have 8 grandchildren at all of our gatherings. It is a lot of fun. After a casual lunch, we had a birthday party for Jesus.

We gathered at the table for the birthday party!

 

 

¬†We sang¬†the “happy birthday” song three times. One time the candle went out on its own. Then my sister blew it out the second time. Finally, the third time (the charm) the grands blew out the birthday candle. Whew!

Soon it was time to open presents. We gathered in areas of the living room…separated in to family groups! And, actually, it wasn’t that crazy after all. The wildest time was when the boys opened their “pillow pets,” a gift from their Aunt Melinda. It was hilarious. They all screamed and cheered about their pillow pets. So fun!
Leeland got a new blanket with his name and birthday monogrammed on it. He loves it.

 Maddux is a sharp dresser. So, he really loved his new winter sweater and wanted to put it on right away. He did. No big deal that it is on backwards!

 Leeland, Trinity and Anthony got rocking chairs from Grandmother and Grandfather. The older boys got rocking chairs for Christmas a few years ago. These rocking chairs are so nice. They are solid cherry and have their names and birthdays on them. I hope they will keep them forever and someday their children will rock in them.

¬†After all of the partying, opening of presents, eating, singing and laughing, the kids napped and then watched a movie and I folded clothes and made dinner. Yes, folded clothes. It was glorious! Seriously, with a family of six and all of the rehearsals, preparing for church services, Christmas parties and family events, I managed to keep our clothes clean, but not put away. It took me nearly two hours to complete this task! But, I did it and I felt amazing when it was done! For dinner, I asked the Els what they wanted and the answer was “pancakes.” So, I whipped up a fresh batch of homemade pancakes and they each ate at least three. I think Bakri had five. And then, with full tummies, we put them all to bed, with their pillow pets, of course!

There was still plenty¬†of work to be done in the house, but instead we decided to sit together in the quiet, downstairs. The Christmas tree was lit and we just talked. We talked about Christmas. We talked about our children. We talked about how special the¬† day turned out to be. We talked about the blessing of Christmas. How do we make it about Jesus when the world¬†says it’s about presents? I don’t know the answer to that. But, I do know that we showed our children a lot of love on Christmas. We didn’t give them a lot of presents, but I know they felt the love and hopefully they will learn that is the most precious gift you can give and receive.

May your days be Merry and Bright.

Lots of love,
El Momma

In the full swing of Advent and the Christmas Season with the ELs

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Happy Holidays, everyone! Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season as much as we are. We’ve been so busy. It’s been crazy. And, believe me, it has been chaotic at times. But, it is crazy fun!¬†
Leeland is ¬†5 months old and happier than ever. He’s had some breathing issues this month, but we’re hoping his breathing treatments with a nebulizer will help that. I’ve noticed an improvement over the last day, so hopefully we are on the right track. Two of the other Els also had breathing issues when they were little and they’ve outgrown them. Hopefully, he’ll do the same. For now, he’s smiley and happy.¬†

Bakri has been growing and changing so much over the last few months. He’s in kindergarten and is really enjoying his school. It’s been amazing seeing him mature. He’s a wonderful little boy.

We visited with Santa at our friends’ Christmas party. So fun!

We celebrated Maddux’s fourth birthday this month with a “thankful for Maddux” party. Maddux really enjoyed meeting Santa. None of the kids have even asked for anything for Christmas. They are just happy celebrating the season. Maddux loves talking to us and is constantly thinking about the next plan. He even has plans for when he’s “a man.” He’s going to have a “woman” and let her sleep in his bed. I’m hoping this “woman” is his wife. ūüôā

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Moustapha, Leeland and I were Joseph, baby Jesus and Mary in our church’s children’s musical.¬†

Trinity is such a joy most of the time. She’s two, so she occasionally lives up to the “terrible twos!” She knows how to assert herself, is so smart and she loves to talk. She really enjoys dressing up and going to holiday parties.¬†