the Start of summer… theme weeks second year

 We started summer. We continued a tradition from last summer- theme weeks and we started a new tradition- summer jobs.
summer jobs:
there are 4.
one for each El.
Line leader- to keep them from fighting when they are getting out of the car
Kitchen helper- helping El Momma in the kitchen
Tablesetter- sets the table at every meal
Bathroom monitor- main job is to help with teeth brushing, putting toothpaste on each tooth brush and calling kids in when ready

 Pictured are the jobs on the wall posted below our family mission which I love so very much… starting with “we love God and each other! We follow family rules. We’re a happy family. We stay healthy. We don’t fight. We vacation together every year”

When thinking about Theme Weeks this year, I had my ideas…
Mine basically involved cleaning and organizing. So, we compromised and came up with themes that made El Momma and the Els happy. First up, Arts and Crafts week!

Four canvases in solid colors, four paints, one paint brush and four handprints. 

 The end result now hanging in our den. Makes me happy. Thankful for theme week 1: Arts and Crafts week. Up next, weather week!

How to plan an (easy) Kid Birthday Party in the Park

Our oldest son is turning eight tomorrow. He wanted to celebrate with his entire class. I don’t know about you, but birthday parties can get really expensive. And, with at least four parties a year for our children’s birthdays (one each!) that can get pricey really fast. Birthdays are important. My family always made our birthdays special growing up and my husband and I both feel it’s really important for our children to have this special day each year. Does it have to break the bank? No.

Let’s look at options. 

  • We have tons of kid friendly birthday themed places to choose from in our city- Houston. But, again, price is an issue. Most places charge per child and inviting an entire class full of kids is a lot. We also like to include siblings, mainly because our kids have so many siblings and it’s always nice (but not necessary) when they are included too.
  • How about a party at home? They are fun and the kids always really have a great time. I opted “no” on this option this time, because it is a lot of work for me personally and I kind of have a lot already on my plate at the moment. 
  • So, we thought about the park down the street from our house and our son’s school. We could have a party right after school on a Friday afternoon. We went for this option. 

Here are the details:
Invite all of the class via or other web service
Our class list is posted for our class only on our own website run by our classroom mom
I just retrieved the emails from there and pasted them into the evite
Party time: immediately after school on a Friday for 1.5 hours
Serve Pizza (kid choices and parent options) – I ordered locally and asked that it be delivered to the park 15 minutes after the party start time
Pick up cupcakes (we purchased ours from Sam’s Club 30 total -15 vanilla and 15 chocolate)

What to bring:

  1. paper towels (in case it is windy, napkins will fly)
  2. one cooler filled with ice, water bottles & juice bags/boxes
  3. lighter
  4. birthday candle
  5. pizza cutter to make the pieces smaller if necessary
  6. wipes
  7. sanitizer
  8. trash bags (I had these, but they weren’t necessary)
FUN! This was a really fun party for the kids and it was super simple for the parents. 
Happy birthday to our very great eight year old boy! We love you!

Week 2 of 12. Summer Fun continues with Fine Arts Week.

The plan to keep the kids occupied this Summer and to keep their momma sane is working so far. Here are some pics and some info from our second week. This week’s theme was “FINE ARTS.” With the big event being a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (a whopping 1 mile from our house.) But, who says you have to go far to have fun and to learn a lot?


This week’s agenda: Art. Drawing. Artists. Inspiration. Create. And, Spanish words. Yes, we like Spanish. So, we’re learning some new words. 






We looked at masterpieces and we worked on our own inspired by our favorites. 



Here are our pieces inspired by Van Gogh. left to right from the top and clockwise: Bakri, age 7. Maddux, age 5. Leeland, age 21 months. Trinity, age 3.

 On Thursday, we went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. We have no pictures inside. However, we had a great time. They have activities at the Museum. So, we picked up backpacks and went on a scavenger hunt for art pieces. That was really fun. The kids enjoyed seeing everything and talking about it. We also sketched things that inspired us. We were all inspired by different things.


 We had lunch at Cafe Express inside the Museum after traveling through an underground tunnel. The tunnel was a highlight of our day.




We ended up spending about 5 hours at the Museum. It was a wonderful day. 


 The five of us on our way home…


 What’s a fine arts week without a superhero birthday party? Here are the Els celebrating with their superhero five year old cousin!

We needed another trip to the spray park to cool off…


We are so silly!




And, for our final project of Fine Arts week, we went to Michael’s. We bought a canvas and some paint and new brushes. My oldest son said to the others “We have to all agree on this.” “We are painting a “Starry Night”” I guess they all agreed, because we painted a painting for their dad’s father’s day gift inspired by “A Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. Here are some pictures of that process:


















 And, we’re done. We hope daddy likes his present. The Els are sure proud of the work they did together. And, their momma is super proud of them. They shared, they learned, they tried, they created something together that I know their dad will cherish and display forever. At least I think he will. We had a great week. We learned a lot about art and we enjoyed learning together and being together.

 May you all have a blessed weekend. Soon we will start week 3! Happy Summer!



El Momma






Rodeo Houston 2010- A lot of Effort for a Day of Fun

Well, it turns out that going to the rodeo with three kids under the age of 5 is a challenge whether you venture out alone or with your husband.

Last year I went alone and nearly had a heart attack…walking, cleaning up a messy diaper just before boarding a tram, controlling 2 boys, orchestrating a pony ride for both of them and keeping the baby happy. It was tough! But, the kids had a great time. Me?- not so much. But, it’s not about me, right? So, this year, at the request of many family members and friends, I recruited my husband for El Rodeo Day! I figured this would be more enjoyable for all. It definitely was more enjoyable for the kids. But, at the end of it all, after being exhausted from all of the things we did last year and did again this year (minus the near heart attack- thankfully!) I looked at Moustapha and asked him “At what age do you think our kids have to be for the rodeo to be fun for us again?”

Fast forward to 1 hour later when all of the kids are asleep in their beds at 6pm. The boys were so exhausted, they slept the entire night. Trinity will not miss a meal, so she woke up for that and quickly returned to a restful sleep. I would say that is the payoff for all of the work. We had a really quiet night. 🙂

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to have fun!

Bakri with Tiki the pony
Bakri, Maddux & Miss Moo
Maddux and Tiki the pony

Moustapha and Baby Trinity
A little smile from Miss Trinity
Trinity and Linda the Pony (no, we didn’t plan that) 🙂 But, pretty cute that Little Linda is riding Linda the pony!
Trinity, not so sure about the Bunny

A Whole New World- A Night of Theatre at Our House

So, you may have heard. We had a star-studded performance of Aladdin performed exclusively at our home this Summer. You didn’t hear about it? Well, here is the press coverage to prove it. Now that you know about it, you won’t want to miss what we are doing next Summer. It’s gonna be off the hook!

Here is the story of how this came to be:

Houston offers amazing Summer activities for kids: camps, events at the zoo, museums, theatres, etc. One of the things I was really interested in getting Bakri involved in (our four year old) was musical theatre. He loves music and loves acting things out. But, he is a four year old boy and his attention span is not yet cut out for intensive 3 hour rehearsals. So, my very bright husband said, why don’t you just do your own musical? hey. That is a great idea. I’ll teach the kids a musical that we can do at the house. It will give us something fun to do on those hot Texas Summer days and the kids will love it.

And, they did. It was super easy. First, I had to pick the musical. I chose Aladdin, because the kids were familiar with the movie and liked it AND when I did a quick google search, I was able to find the script right away online.

Through I was able to download all of the music from the soundtrack and a few of the songs in the karaoke style(without voices.) It was perfect. We picked the most energetic song first and got to work…uhhhh….play. The first song we learned was “One Jump Ahead.” I choreographed it. Which basically means when the song says “Jump” I had the kids jump! And when it said “swing” I had them swing their arm. It was so simple, and so easy.

After we learned the first song, we moved on to the rest. The kids had their favorites, but we would practice them all.

The costumes were super easy too. I used white baseball pants and stitched patches on them. And I cut the vests out of felt. The Prince Ali costume was the most fun to make. I used a child size straw hat that I found at Goodwill and covered it with a white puffy silk material. I then placed a feather and jewel on it. It really looked nice.

The backdrop was also made of felt. I drew the castle and cut that out of posterboard. We had pottery barn outdoor lights which I used to make the stage more lit up. Over all, our house served as a very good location for a theatrical production.

So, if you are up for something to do next Summer with your kiddos, I would highly recommend this activity. It’s a ton of fun and very rewarding. Here are some photos of our Summer Musical 2009!

Dress rehearsal….what’s in this lamp?
Trying on his costume. Maddux played the part of Abu (the monkey) and the genie. Really both of the boys did most everything together.
Here is Bakri in his Aladdin costume.
The boys together.
The backdrop.
Last minute touches before opening night!
The show begins….

The audience (our family came to the house for my birthday and the Aladdin performance!)
Prince Ali!

Singing “A Whole New World” on the magic carpet ride!

The end!
Some after photos!

Actors can be so dramatic. 🙂

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.



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.

Butterfly Garden and Bug Party- a great idea!

We went to one of the best AND most age appropriate birthday parties for one of Bakri’s friends a couple of weeks ago. She turned four and had a bug themed birthday party in her back yard. If you are ever throwing a birthday party for a four year old and need an idea, this is a great one! Trinity in her flower headband given to her by the birthday girl and her mom.

The kids were hunting for bugs in this photo. The parents went to a local nursery and bought bags of ladybugs for the party. They are supposed to be great for your yard. And they released them for the kids to catch. Look at all of the kids actively engaged in this activity. It was so cool!

Ooh!!! I think I got one!

The boys on their way to the party.

The birthday girl and her ladybug cake. So cute! And yummy!

We were given nets, bug houses, lady bugs, bags, etc. and the girls were given butterfly wings. One of the other party favors we received were seeds to plant a butterfly garden- which I think is just basically a wildflower garden. We started with our cups, some soil and the seeds and left them in the kitchen window to grow. The boys were amazed by this and just how quickly they grew. Even I was amazed. It was really neat. So, today we planted them in the backyard- Our very own butterfly garden. Trinity was supposed to be taking a nap- I left her in her crib and turned on the monitor. The next thing you know, the child is screaming at the top of her lungs. So, I go to grab her and she is standing in her crib crying. Yes, she is 7 months old and standing in her crib. I think she was crying because she didn’t know how to get down. So, anyway, she ended up in the jumpy thingy watching us plant. No nap for that active girlie!

This is Maddux with the cups before we planted the flowers.

Here are my happy boys after accomplishing our mission- to transplant the flowers into the garden.