Seven Year Old, Bakri’s First Song

Our oldest son, Bakri had an assignment to do a family culture project for his second grade Fall project. He wrote a song about our family. He sang the lyrics. I jotted them down quickly. We made our way to the piano and he continued to sing. He wrote several verses and a really cute chorus. I worked on recording the music and then Bakri sang his part. We recorded it with garageband. Once Bakri’s lead vocals were recorded, the kids and I recorded our parts. Once the song was done, we recorded video for the music video. I am very proud of my Bakri and his brothers and sisters. What a fun project!

Happy 9 months, Leeland!

It’s hard to believe that just 9 short months ago we were anxiously awaiting your arrival. Wondering what you would be like. Who you would look like. If you would be okay. Would you be happy? Would you be content? Would you be everything we could ever hope and dream for? We didn’t know then what we know for certain now. You are an amazingly wonderful little boy with such a bright future ahead of you. Please don’t grow up too fast, Little Leeland. We love you! Happy 9 months!
Happy Leeland with his Daddy

Happiest of Birthdays to our six year old, Bakri!

Six years ago today, I could never have known how you would change my life.
Before you, I thought knew what it meant to be busy, what it meant to be tired, what it meant to be out of my mind with worry. Before you, I thought I knew what it meant to have a mother’s love, to love more than words could express, to be completely unselfish. Before you, I thought I knew how to cry, how to laugh, how to smile from my heart. But, it turns out that I didn’t know much of anything and I’m still learning every single day. I’m learning how to mother you in the way that you need to be mothered. I’m learning how to love you in the way that you need to be loved the most. I’m learning what an amazing boy you truly are. Your love of music, your love of bugs, your love of the astros, your love of fireworks! I love all of these things too, because I love you! You are more than I could have ever hoped for in a son. I wish the world for you, my sweet sweet Bakri. Happy sixth birthday, love!
Bakri!

With Leeland and Momma and Daddy at Leeland’s Baptism

Bakri, loving his baby brother, Leeland

Saturdays

I love Saturdays. It’s my favorite day of the week, if we don’t have any plans. I love making breakfast with the entire family running around at my feet and the occasional helper climbing on a chair to help me stir. I love making a fresh pot of coffee and smelling it in the entire house. I love “forcing” everyone to come downstairs to be near me. ūüôā
This Sunday morning was even better than most Saturdays, because not only was I in a kitchen with one of my bffs, but we cooked together. It was so much fun! She made the coffee, the egg casserole and I made pancakes from scratch. It doesn’t get much better. Then, we sat down on her porch with all of our families and ate breakfast together. Now that is a great way to start a spring break and a¬†fantastic way to start the day. Happy Spring Break, y’all!

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

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 6th anniversary. 6 years! Wow! That sounds so few considering all that has happened. It has been a wild ride. And, it has been so wonderful. We’ve been blessed with 3 beautiful, healthy children. We live in a beautiful home in the best part of Houston. And we have amazing friends and family. And, we have even more to celebrate. The little Els will share the news with you here:

The Happiest Day of My Life

Miss Trinity on her birthday in a sombrero!

Miss Trinity at her first birthday family dinner.

Our daughter turned one yesterday and I wrote on my facebook page that the day she was born was one of the “happiest days of my life.” And it was. That got me thinking,”what¬†are the happiest days of my life?”

1. the day I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life

2. the day Moustapha asked me to marry him

3. our wedding day

4. the birth of each of our children

I remember thinking how important each day was when I was growing up and throughout high school. I worried about so many things and struggled with dealing with the heartache of having people not like me. As a teenager, I felt like that was always going to be life. It’s strange how quickly the present becomes a distant memory in the past. I can barely remember the insecurities of the past and I am very thankful for that.

The day I decided to give my life to the Lord set my life on a path that I am very thankful for. No, life is not perfect. I still have struggles with insecurities and bad decisions. But, when I lean on the Lord, He gives me strength and guides my life.

Every other day that qualifies as a “best day of my life,” occurred in adulthood. What does that say about me? I think it gives me some insight to pass along to my children. Although my best days include days with my husband and my children, the best days of my childrens’ lives are yet to come. My job is to prepare them for their best¬†days. I get to be a part of all of the days in between now and then. What a responsibility and a blessing.

Embrace the Chaos

Well, she didn’t say it today. But, she said it last week and I am really trying to listen. Kelly Chapman, founder of Royal Purpose Ministries, Princess Prep School & Warrior Prince Academy spoke at the graduation ceremony this week. I was the music teacher for the school all week at the camp at First Presbyterian Church. Today the children performed and they were amazing! Seriously, they did a great job. Kelly said it was the best she had seen…and I don’t think she was just trying to be nice! We had so much fun and the girls and boys learned everything so quickly. They were great.

One of the things that Kelly talked about in the graduation ceremony last week was embracing the chaos. I think that should be my mantra for a while, “Embrace the chaos!” Embrace the moment when my 2 year old is saying “I don’t want milk….I do want milk” and I say “here you go” and he responds with “I DON’T WANT MILK!…..I DO WANT MILK” Okay, I’ll embrace that moment!

And, embrace the moment when we arrive to the pool and we’re just about to get in and I have to put my four year old in time out and he screams at me in front of lots of strangers. I say to myself “I am not embarrassed. I will be strong. I will be strong. I will be strong.” He screams again. I repeat “I am strong.” Again, he screams and tells me he doesn’t like me. Okay, that hurt. “Mommy knows you don’t mean that. Now, finish your timeout.” And, in four minutes, it is finally over. We all happily get in the pool to hear the whistle blow and the lifeguards yell “break, adult swim.” And, now we’re getting out of the pool. I’ll embrace this moment!

And, embrace the moment when all three of my children are playing happily together on the floor. And there is peace for a moment. Next thing I know, someone is crying, someone is running and someone is chasing. Embrace this moment!
And on another thought, take a moment to pause, and say a prayer. Pray for the child who can’t walk or run around the house. Pray for the child who is malnourished and has no milk to want or not want. And pray for the child who has no water to swim in or drink. When I have these “moments of chaos” and I pray for things that are outside of these moments, God really speaks to me.

So, embrace the chaos! I know I will. I promise, I will!

To Pacify or not Pacify

To say that every child is different is an understatement. They definitely are different. From the moment you first hold your baby in your arms and every day that comes after. They are unique and special. It’s amazing that from the very beginning there are different things that make them tick.
Our first son, loved the pacifier when he was a baby. He only used it for sleeping. But, it seemed to make my life really easy. He found comfort in the pacifier. From the time he was a tiny baby I could lay him down in his cradle wide awake, pray over him, place the pacifier in his mouth and he would literally turn his gaze away from me and fall asleep. He LOVED his pacifier. When he learned to talk, he gave the pacifier a name and called it “Ba Ba.”
Our second son never took to the pacifier. He just didn’t care for it. So, he didn’t use one. And, it was fine. He still slept great. We just found other ways to comfort him. He really loved stuffed animals. So, once he was big enough, we gave him a lovey to sleep with.
Our third child, our daughter, finds comfort in the pacifier when she is going to sleep by herself. She doesn’t use it at other times throughout the day. When I’m laying her down at night or naptime, I place 3 or 4 pacifiers in her bed. She falls asleep with one and then in the night it makes it easier for her to find another. It works well.
For our first son, who loved his “ba ba,” I was nervous about giving up the pacifier. But, it turns out, it was a much bigger deal to me than it was to him. Between age 1 and 2, he only slept with his pacifier. When he turned 2, we took the pacifier away. We put him to bed that night and there was no “ba ba” and that was it. He asked for it, but when we told him “ba ba” was gone, he was fine. I couldn’t believe it.
Why do I always seem to worry about the outcome so much more than necessary? Things always work out. I just need to have a little more faith sometimes.

Miss Trinity Speaks!

Our baby girl said her first word at Bakri’s baseball practice this week. I was totally in shock that she said it…and I pulled out the camera and she said it again. It was really windy, so don’t have your speakers up too loud. But, check it out if you can. I think she said it 50 times in the car on the way home. The boys were in shock too. They couldn’t believe there was a word actually coming out of her mouth. This is fun!!!!