The TravELs’ Adventure Continues

Day three of Escape to the Lake! 

The Fourth of July in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. What could be better? It has been an amazing day. We started with our usual late arrival to the camp breakfast. We cannot get to breakfast at 815am. Not possible. And, that’s ok. Next, it’s Playground time. A walk around the grounds. Justin McRoberts ( pastor, singer, songwriter, artist) did the morning talk about being in community and how there are people in life that we choose to spend life with. An obvious one is our spouse, but we also have other friends that we don’t want to imagine doing life without. We don’t say it out loud like during a wedding ceremony, but no matter the distance or time or space that comes between us, we are never going to let that separate us. I loved this message. It was especially poignant for me, as I knew I was going to see one of those lifelong friends today. My friend, Holly is one of my college roommates and dearest friends. She, her husband and children are vacationing with friends 30 minutes from us. They live in Ohio now. So, to get to see them in Wisconsin was a real treasured treat! 

After lunch, I joined a discussion group about infusing creativity into families. It was great hearing the ideas and struggles of others as well as being encouraged to keep doing what we’re doing while being flexible. We may have grand plans with our kids, but sometimes you just have to let go! And, that’s okay.

I came to this year’s Escape to the Lake, traveling by minivan with my entire family, because I was invited as an artist to be included in the first ever ETTL Artists on the Rise Showcase. I was honored to be asked and really happy that my family wanted to make a vacation of it! So, the showcase was on July fourth with four other very talented artists: Son of Laughter, Tanya Godsey, Adam Whipple and Matthew Clark. And, it was emceed by the amazing Andrew Greer. I have to say that Andrew did a wonderful job telling a little about each artist when he introduced us and made us all feel special. I really appreciated it. Tanya said this in her set, but it is so true that as an artist, the best gift someone can give you is to listen/ see you and your work. Everyone who attended our show gave us that gift. Thank you! We each had about 27 minutes to play. I was missing playing with a band, but loved getting to share the music of my heart.

So, remember my friend Holly? Yep, she was there with her family. It was such a wonderful treat! After the show, we went into Williams Bay and grabbed a quick bite and some good conversation. 
And, our kids, especially our girls became fast friends!

We made it back to camp for the night concert: Andrew Greer, Caroline Cobb, Justin McRoberts, and Jason Gray. Caroline and I became twitter friends about a year ago. We’re both from Texas, we’re moms, believers and songwriters. Caroline’s last album was featured as “new and notable” on iTunes and I love supporting her and her gifts. I’m so glad we were able to finally meet! 
The concerts were great and then we all moved down to the beach for fireworks . 
It was a very full and lovely Fourth of July. My heart is full and happy. Hope yours is too. xo, El Momma 

You Are Enough

When you see me crying
I hope you feel encouraged and not sad
Encouraged that we are all in this together
Encouraged that every mom and dad have their struggles
that nobody has a perfect “social media” life
We’re real
We’re in this together
It takes a village
and I’ve got one
I’m lucky
Fortunate
Blessed
I have friends who know what it is like
Friends who have been there
Friends who will be there
Friends who walk this road with me
There are days, like today when I need a friend
When my children feel lost and I feel out of control
When I feel lost and my children feel out of my control
When all I can do is cry out to Jesus
“I am enough, because You say that I am enough”
Remember today and always- YOU, my friend, are enough, just the perfect mess that we all are
YOU ARE ENOUGH 

My newest blogpost on Kickstarter, a momma’s love

Update #3 from my kickstarter page: Thank you to each of you! Please share my page with your friends!

Posted about 1 hour ago


Dear Friends and Beloved Backers,
We are half way to our kickstarter goal with just 11 days left. We would not be this far without you, the album backers. So, THANK YOU! Thank you to my family, my friends (old and new), friends of friends and lovers of great music.  Your generosity and support early on, is what makes this process, a bit daunting at times, possible. My hope is in the Lord. He has opened the door and I’m faithful He will provide.

Please take a moment to share my page with your Facebook friends, put the link on your walls and email your friends. If each one of you had one additional friend pre-order my album at any of the levels, we would meet our goal. So, please share with others and ask them to pre-order the album. Oh- and comment on my main kickstarter page, please! You are amazing. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

All things are possible with God!

At the suggestion of someone who I love dearly, I am sharing a little bit about my family of origin and particularly my mother.
My love of music:
I grew up in a family surrounded by music. This was, for the most part because of my Momma. My mom started playing the piano when she was a young girl. She quickly learned how to play by ear. As an adult, she taught herself how to play the guitar. She wrote many songs in the sixties and seventies. Her songs are folk songs; beautifully written stories of family, struggles, life experiences and the hope we find in the Lord. My brother and sister’s lives were both very inspirational to my mother’s songwriting, as well as her family, heartache of a dear friend, her nephew going to war, and her relationship with her father. My sister has down syndrome. She was born eight years before me, when our brother was five years old. My Momma wrote a powerful song called “Please Bring Her to Me” expressing her desire to hold her new baby girl and just love her completely after the hospital hesitated to bring her to her. This song still touches on something so powerful that so many parents can connect with, that desire to have your children close, to protect them and make everything okay just by loving them unconditionally.

By the time I came along, there was less songwriting, but still plenty of music being made around the house. She was busy raising us, my dad was working two jobs and our family did a lot of activities and therapy to help my sister. Momma often sat on the fireplace as we gathered around and we would sing. I’m sure this is how harmonies became second nature to me. It was just what we did. We sang together, often the original songs my momma had written.

One day when I was in college I had a song stuck in my head. I called her to ask if it was hers because I was sure I had heard it on the radio. It was, in fact, one of her songs.

Growing up, when I asked to take violin lessons, she made it happen. She put me in piano lessons too. So many of the skills that I rely on now, I learned as a young girl.

I’m thankful to my Momma. I’m thankful that she had a gift that she shared with her family. That when money was sparse, music was everywhere. It lived through us, in us, carrying us through some of the most challenging times. 

Thanks for the music, Momma. It lives on and on. I love you. -Bekah

Friday, Girl day for Trinity and Haircut and movie for the Boys with Grandmother

We started this day with a playdate at home with one of Maddux’s bffs. He’s actually the son of one of my good friends. They’ve known each other through our weekly bible study childcare nearly all of their lives and they connect and get along really well. It was a fun morning.

Thank you to both sets of grandparents for helping us today. I know Trinity enjoyed having girl time with her cousin and the boys loved getting Maddux’s haircut and going to a movie with Grandmother. Thanks to the kids being out of the house.

Thanks to some free time at home, Momma  (that’s me!) did some very important things at home- cleaned toilets, vacuumed, moved furniture, put away clothes, did several loads of laundry, dusted, ate, fed Leeland several times, went through mail, cleaned the stairs, etc.

It was great! Now, I’ve caught up on blogging and tomorrow I will do final preparations for Leeland’s baptism and brunch.

love,
Rebekah

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 Christmas

Dinner with Friends

On Saturday night I hosted a dinner with 7 girlfriends at my house. Yes, I have 3 els and another on the way. “How did you do it?” you ask. Well, I just made the decision to do it and forged ahead with the planning. And, I worked it out, thanks to wonderful Grand Els, and to me only have 1 El with me that evening.
Here’s how it happened. My Mister El was scheduled to be on a Men’s Retreat with 40 other guys from our church. And, I always have this desire to entertain and have friends over. But, I rarely do it. I really enjoy having family celebrations here at our house- holidays, life celebrations, birthdays, etc. The only thing I feel like I am missing that I would like to do, is have friends over more often and just because.
I decided that having the Mister out of town made this weekend a good choice for a girls dinner. I only have a dining table that will seat 8. So, I sent a message to 6 of my mom girlfriends with only 1 saying she would be out of town and not able to come. I was so surprised that almost everyone was able to make it. Each one of these women has 1 or more (some 3) little children. So, I have to thank their husbands for agreeing to take over for the night! So, with 5 friends confirming, that meant I had room for 2 more friends. The very next day one of my best friends from High School left me a voice mail and said that she and another one of my best friends from college were talking about me and my fourth baby. (They both live in Austin, btw) They wanted to do something special as we anticipate the arrival of this new little El. She said they wanted to come to Houston and do something girlie- maybe manis and pedis, dinner, anything I needed done around the house, etc. And then she said, they could come the first weekend in May. As soon as I heard this on the message, I knew it was MEANT TO BE. I quickly returned the call and voila!- our dinner date for 8 was set!
Everything else just fell into place. My out of town friends arrived early to settle in and help. And, they definitely helped a lot. We had Mary’s Greek Salad and Shrimp & Grits for dinner. My girlfriend, Haley did all the hard work with preparing the shrimp- thanks, Haley! And, my dear friend, Jen, was the salad master- putting it all together perfectly and to my exact specifications. I only realized the next day, that I forgot the feta. Oh well! It was still very scrumptious. Julie and Haley also picked up Sugar Babys cupcakes- 4 of them were red velvet- my favorite, with crowns on top with the number 4. They were so cute and so yummy. All of my other friends brought wine and one brought me non-alcoholic champagne and made me a very tasty drink.
I even had help with Trinity and cleaning the kitchen and loading the dishwasher. I think I will invite everyone over more often! 
It was the perfect, relaxing, girls dinner. There was really nothing exciting, but it was just what I needed. Great food and great conversation. I can’t wait to do it again. One day, I hope to have a larger table and dining room so I can invite more friends. The great thing about this night was I had 1 friend from growing up, 3 from college, and 3 that I’ve met since returning to Houston. It was a great way to get to know newer friends better, reconnect with the old ones (which is always easy- like we’ve never been apart) and introduce everyone to one another. What a treat!
Here we are post dinner at the table.
Trinity was in love with Haley!
And, she was in love with Julie, too!

Austin Mini-Holiday with Some Forever Friends

You know the kind of friend that when you see each other after being apart for a week, or a month, or a year, or five years, it’s like you were together yesterday. You just pick up right where you left off. Life has changed you. Circumstances have changed. Children have grown. Babies have been born. But, it’s like nothing has changed. Because, this is your forever friend. Someone you can always connect with, talk to, listen to and love unconditionally. I have been blessed beyond belief to have so many special friends like this. Many from my youth, from college, from my days in LA and now from my time in Houston.

At the end of July, we headed to Austin to have a mini-vacation with some very special. Some of my best friends from college, their husbands and kiddos all met in Austin and rented a little house. We had a wonderful time. There were 4 families all together 8 adults and 7 kids. It was such a refreshing weekend (even with 7 little ones.) It is always nice to be together. Here are a few pics.

Maddux and Bakri playing on the playground at Zilker park.


Maddux in the house.

Me & T on the Zilker Train….toot toot!


Jonah and Michael.

playing in the very cold and very slippery water.

Maddux and his buddy Cypress. These boys are just 1 month a part in age.

M and C.

Maddux, the keeper of the door.

Meriwether- Trinity’s friend…Cypress’ sister. She is just 1 month younger than Miss T.

I was in charge of breakfast on Saturday and so….I made pancakes! Here is Owen patiently waiting to be served.

Bakri, Trinity and mommy on the train.

2 of the boys exploring outside.

pancakes!

exploring.

more pancake pics!

huge stack of pancakes! yum

The girls! Yes, there were just 2. There is another on the way!

The boat.

In the pack n play.

The girls!

Hot and a little bothered.

The boys in the water.




Bakri turns Four!

Our first son, Bakri was born on March 24, 2005. Unfortunately, my disk driver is not working on this computer, so when I went to put in a picture from the day he was born, it wouldn’t upload. So, I’ll just add that later. For now, we can look at this cute one from when he was 19 months old.

I would like to say a few things about our Bakri. He is an incredible kid. He is talented. He loves music, drums, guitar, piano, dinosaurs, insects, memorizing things, spelling and baseball. He has a vivid imagination and loves to act out scenes from books, movies, songs, or episodes from sesame street. And he is really good at it. He has filled the last 4 years of our lives full of surprises, firsts, laughs, and so much joy. It is amazing how much he has changed and developed in the last year. There is such a huge difference between a 3 year old boy and a 4 year old boy!- Thank you, Lord! I know there will be many more challenges and many more blessings ahead. We look forward to them and to a life of growing with Bakri as he grows into the man God intends for him to be. We are so thankful that God blessed us with Bakri. Our hearts overflow with love for our beautiful boy! Happy Birthday, Bakri. We love you!

We recently celebrated Bakri’s fourth birthday with one of his most favorite activities- a baseball game! We live down the street from Rice University and are now fans of Rice Owls Baseball. And why not? They are a great team. The ballpark is really nice and its an inexpensive way to see good baseball.

Grandfather and Bakri!

Grandma and Jiddy!

Bakri hanging out with the Rice Baseball players.

Aunt Patricia, Maddux, Christian, James and Uncle Michael having fun at the game.

The birthday crowd! We were quite a crowd!

The kids lined up in front of the field at the birthday party.
Baseball cookies courtesy of el-hakam momma’s kitchen.

The party under the tents…it was a windy day, but it only barely sprinkled once. We were thankful to have no rain!

The birthday boy! Jiddy, Bakri and Maddux (in Jiddy’s hat)

Singing and cake!

Arriving to the game and party with Trinity.

Group cousin hug!

Bakri’s friend Janie! Isn’t she adorable!?!?!

After Bakri blew the candles out (and spit on the cake, oops) he enjoyed removing the evidence. Every kid got a cute baseball ring from the cake. I thought that was a clever idea. I wasn’t in charge of the cake, so I’m not sure who thought of it.