It’s always been hard for me to imagine how my babies will look and who they will look like, when I am pregnant. It was the same when we were expecting our second daughter in the summer of 2017. I knew she would look like an El. But, would her eyes be hazel like mine and Bakri’s? Would her hair be curly like Maddux and Leeland? Would she have olive skin like Trinity and Leeland? Or would her eyes be blue and her hair be blonde like Maddux?
When she died at 18 weeks gestation, I held her tiny little body in my arms. I remember that day so vividly. I never ever wanted to let her go and yet, I knew that her little body would not keep. And, I could not hold her like this forever. As the days passed, I would imagine her. I would have day dreams of her in heaven. I could see her. I could touch her. She wasn’t a baby at all. In my mind she was a little girl. She was three.
She was the age she would be now, had she not had an undetected fetal maternal when I was 4.5 months pregnant with her. She would have a sweet nature, because, well the Els all have sweet natures as babies. 💗 She would have had a distinct way of speaking. They all do. Each one had their own special way. She is so loved. I wish I knew more of her. But, I know there is someday. And, we are one day closer to that day.
I often read about vacations being different than taking “trips” with kids. I personally love being on “vacation” with my kids. I especially love it when we have an extra *adult* family member with us to balance out the kid to adult ratio. This year, it was just me, dad and the 4 Els and for their ages (12,10,8 and 7) it was perfect. Next year, with baby in tow, I will definitely want another adult helper along with us to help keep the older kiddos occupied. But, this year, with these four kids, we were happy and chill.
We like driving vacations. It’s nice to pack up the SUV with everything you need and get to where you are wanting to land in one day. White sandy beaches and blue water? Yes, please! We’ve found ourselves in or near Destin, Florida four different summers. I highly recommend this vacation. Later in the summer you will find the best deals, but given our schedules gearing back up for school, we had to go a little earlier this year.
We also both lived in Southern California after college, so traveling back to California feels like home. It’s probably my favorite vacation spot. 1. We found some great round trip ticket prices last summer. And, we tend to book a timeshare week with redweek.com and have found some really great places to stay that way. We love to have accommodations with full kitchens and separate bedrooms. This is a must with our big, growing family.
We love beach days, Disneyland, pool time, playing cards, completing puzzles, watching movies, trying out restaurants with great YELP reviews and just being together. It’s a break from my normal routine and for me, it’s a wonderful “vacation!”
We did it! This is my final post of my self-given challenge to blog every day for the month of July. We went on a few random thought trails, but for the most part it was a great experience. I enjoyed sharing a part of my life with you every day this month. If you missed a post or two, feel free to look around. Every post was tagged with the hashtag #elmomma31 , so that should help or you can just scroll back through time or start on July 1 and scroll up until you end on July 31.
Welcome to August. I’m sure you will hear from me again soon as we gear up to go BACK TO SCHOOL!
Day 30 of blogging for 31 days in July is my birthday and I’d like to share a story.
My story begins a little something like this:
Once upon a time there was a family of four living in the outskirts of Houston, Texas in the late 70s. Momma, Dad, Michael (age 12) and Melinda (age 7). They were a happy little family of four. Michael played baseball and basketball. Melinda was an active runner, involved in the Glenn Doman method and attending the Institutes with her family as well as she was a poster child for the March of Dimes. Momma stayed home with Melinda and Dad worked two jobs.
It must have been just after Christmas one year when Mom found out she was expecting a baby.
What a surprise. Nearly eight years had gone by since Melinda’s birth. And, although they had hoped and prayed for more children, enough time passed to where they just didn’t think it would happen.
Momma saw many doctors. One story she told me stuck out in particular. This doctor, who did not know Momma well, but knew of her family situation and that she had one child with Down’s Syndrome gave her unsolicited advice.
First of all, he told her that there was an increased likelihood that the baby she was carrying would have Down’s because she already had a child with Down’s and because she was older. He then proceeded to tell her that it would be too much to handle.
She didn’t believe that. She believed that if she was given (blessed) with another child with special needs, it would be part of God’s plan for her as a mother. And, if God gave her another special needs child, He would give her the strength to handle it just fine.
The next few months were an exciting time for this soon-to-be-family of five as they anticipated the birth of their little baby boy, Matthew.
Yes, Matthew. A baby boy. I’m not sure as to why they were so sure that the baby was a boy. But, they were. Matthew had blue clothes and even a beautiful baby blue handmade blanket. Matthew was due to be born on his dad’s birthday. Five days later, Matthew still hadn’t arrived and Michael needed school clothes. So, momma took him school clothes shopping at Wieners Department Store. He was thirteen at the time and shopping for jeans. Probably not that exciting…until his Mom asked him to time her contractions. She was in labor! I’m not sure if they made a purchase or not. I will have to follow up on that part. But, I know they went to the hospital and baby Matthew was born that evening. Except, Baby Matthew was a girl and they named her “Rebekah Anne.” Surprise! It’s a Rebekah!
Thank the Lord they never thought for a second that I would be too much to handle. I’m sure I was too much to handle at times, but that’s called being a growing human. Happy birthday to me!
I’ve heard this question a lot from other parents.
“What does the tooth fairy bring for a tooth?” I’ll tell you what she brings at our house. If she remembers to visit. (She has forgotten a couple of times in the past, but she always remembers and visits…eventually) So, for the very first tooth it’s a whopping $2. 2 whole dollar bills. Nothing super exciting. And, yet we are always really excited to see that she has delivered. For the second tooth and every tooth thereafter, she pays $1 per tooth. For 4 kids that comes to roughly $22 per child or $88 total. That’s plenty, in my opinion and these kids couldn’t be happier with the tooth fairy (at least when she shows up) 🙂
Lucky for us, she will make an appearance tonight as Trinity lost her second front tooth today. I think she looks adorable and can’t wait for her to sing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!”
What does the tooth fairy bring to your house? is the 20th post this month from El Momma .com where I am blogging every day for the month of July. Follow with the hashtag #elmomma31 Thanks!
Update: no theme weeks this summer. Our weeks have been overflowing with activities and adventure. Perhaps, because we’re all a little older. And, we have a few activities that were seasonal for us in the past that are currently year round. Ie. Baseball and swimming. So, let’s catch up. We started the summer with a bit of a birthday bonanza. El Dad and our niece were first with their shared birthdays. Then, Jiddy (El Dad’s dad) and then Aunt Bea (El Dad’s sister) and our nephew, Christian who also share a birthday. We went to a James Taylor concert (2 adults + 8 kids on 2 blankets = super fun chaotic goodness). The Els have attended two great VBS weeks at churches that we know well. And, in between, Maddux has played in select league machine pitch and his team has won both tournaments he has played in. Go Bombers! Trinity also attended a dance class and Leeland took a two week intensive swim class and learned to swim. Seriously. He says “I can float on my back by myshelf!” We’ve celebrated friend’s birthdays too and we’ve kept up our YMCA routine. Moustapha enjoyed fathers day with the Els, my family and his. It’s been a great summer so far. I even had a Momma-daughter date last night with Miss T to see the Little Mermaid presented by TUTS at the Hobby Center. Our first “tour” Now, we’re about to embark on a new adventure. Escape to the Lake in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin sponsored by Under the Radar radio. I’m playing a show on July 4th on the Lake at 2pm. We’ll be at the festival for three days. I’m also speaking about creative things to do with your kids and I’m part of a breakout session on songwriting. I’m totally excited. And, really excited about taking our tour bus (aka a rented minivan) across the country with 6 people (aka my crew). I will take lots of pictures and try to blog along the way. Pray for us. This is going to be a memory the Els have forever. Let’s pray it’s a great one!
Also, Moustapha asked me yesterday if I’ve been coaching the kids. I promise I haven’t. But, I have been writing and singing a lot. So maybe that’s why in the middle of an activity an El will stop, turn to me and say “I love your music” or “you’re such a great artist.” And, then another one will reply “I didn’t know you were an artist, Momma. You can’t draw.” And, then I’m humbled. The end. 🙂 xoxo, Rebekah
Lesson 1: “There is a 5 second rule. Really. It exists.” This lesson needs no explanation. But, it was told to me by my oldest right after an organic, gluten-free fish stick fell on the floor and I quickly picked it up, (in less than five seconds, of course) blew on it and handed it back to my three year old who immediately ate it. Done. Lesson 2: No matter how peaceful things are in my home, my children will always start a game of tag the instant I make a dash for a minute alone in the bathroom. This one never ever fails. I have to attempt this every day and I can promise you, I leave the room, close the door and the pounding of little feet begins. Lesson 3: Screaming to “STOP RUNNING!” has zero impact. Zero. Especially when I’ve just left the room to go to the bathroom. Yelling doesn’t work. The pounding sound of running continues all the same. Lesson 4: Rewards work. I’m not saying to bribe your children. Really, I’m not. But, if you want clothes put away and you’re willing to have them play a game after or watch a show anyway, guess what? Ask your children to do it and let them know that when they are finished, we’ll play a game. This works with my kids. At least it’s working on day 17 of summer. I’m going to keep trying this one out. Lesson 5: 50 minutes of pool time makes for some very grateful children. I packed a small cooler of ice with 5 water bottles, 4 Apple sauce pouches and a tub of washed blueberries. The Els were ecstatic after this very easy adventure. It’s hard to take four kids anywhere. Honestly, it is. But, the reward; the happiness on their little sunscreened faces was totally worth it. This particular adventure wasn’t even that hard and I even did yoga while they were in the Y Childwatch before we went swimming. Win win. Lesson 6: Be flexible. It’s summer. We are on vacation. I’m not. My husband isn’t. But, “we” the Els, are on vacation. And some people in this house like to sleep in until 11am. Crazy, right!? I think that was me like 20 years ago. I can’t even remember those days clearly. Strict schedules and bedtime before dark is almost impossible. So, don’t even try. It’s summer. Just go with it. I’m sure there are many more lessons I’ve learned from the Els. In. A. Day. But, honestly, I can’t remember what I was just doing. So, I’ll leave you with these six lessons. It’s after 11am and the last El just woke up. I guess it’s time for made-to-order breakfast for one. Bye for now. -El Momma
My peaceful den (confession: it rarely looks like this and only after all of the Els are in bed)
I can’t help but sing “in Sum-merrrrrr” ala Olaf from Frozen. If you haven’t seen the movie, then the songs are probably not stuck in your head or being sung over and over again by your housemates. Great songs, but any song can get annoying after the hundredth time you hear it being belted out by your five year old daughter. Gotta love “Sum-merrrrrr!”
So, we’re off and the first week of summer is already behind us. I counted and I believe we have 93 days of summer. Meaning, we only have 81 days left! Aack! We better get to livin…
The first weekend of summer was filled with birthday fun. First, the hubs grilled burgers and hotdogs at his parents’ home on his birthday.
We had cake, of course and the theme is one that will probably be with us all summer long: B-A-S-E-B-A-L-L! So long 38 and hello, 39. Happy happy birthday to Moustapha!
We decorated with Moustapha’s vintage pennants. Here’s his beautiful momma with one from 1984! “Mo-stapha!”
A little attention needed for our little guy and then…
Time for a song and cake!
We all put up our Longhorns and little Leeland sported his peace sign proudly.
With my dear parents and sister.
Moustapha’s sweet Aunt Mary Louise even joined in for the party. She was visiting from out of town!
Our newest family member was also part of the celebration. We love all of our nephews!
We’ve had cake, and now let’s have some chocolate fudgecicles. Why not!?
Me and the birthday boy!
With his proud daddy.
And, then…we celebrated another very special birthday. Our sweet niece, Grace shares a birthday with Moustapha. She turned 3. Isn’t she lovely?
After the birthday celebrations, we had an adventure of our own at the El House. One afternoon, I went in to our daughter’s room only to discover the noise of a small critter coming from the wall. Something was stuck and not happy about it. That night, the oldest boys slept in a different room (they share a wall with their sister) in sleeping bags on the floor and our two youngest also slept in different beds then their usual spots. All to get away from whatever was nervous and clawing at the wall. The next day, Moustapha cut a hole in the wall, only to discover this little face looking back at him. A baby raccoon. We called the Texas Wildlife Center. They believed that the mom might come back for the baby. So, we placed the baby in this little bin and the baby stayed there all night. By the next morning, Moustapha was really worried about the baby, so he took the baby raccoon – the kids named him Racky- to the Wildlife Center. They said he was dehydrated, but otherwise doing well. We are allowed to check on Racky’s progress twice over the next 6 months. We will try to be patient!
Throughout the week, Maddux played in a tournament on a 7U select league team. His team, The Bellaire Bombers, won every game and they won the entire tournament on Saturday. Moustapha, Bakri and I enjoyed cheering them on to victory. Did I mention that baseball is going to be a big theme this summer? This is part of the reason for that. It’s our first time having anyone play select league. It could get interesting!
Maddux, getting his team first place trophy!
And, brothers celebrating at dinner!
I think that about sums up the first week of summer. It was a fun doozy! We’ve already celebrated another birthday this week- my father-in-law and we have more coming this week. I can’t complain. Summer, baseball, birthdays, family, music…these are a few of my favorite things….
Hope your summer is off to a great start too. The last few summers, we’ve had theme weeks at our house to give us purpose each week and to really help me stay organized and keep the Els active. Several of my friends shared this blog post from City Moms Blog with a bucket list of things to do with your kids this summer in Houston. Check it out here: http://citymomsblog.com/houston/summer-2014-bucket-list/ This is specific to Houston, but many of the activities would work in any town. I did have one child request the theme weeks again yesterday. I’m still contemplating that. I will update here if we decide to go that route or if we have our own bucket list this summer. I will definitely post our activities here. Keep busy, keep calm and keep cool!
This is the third entry in a series I call “El Real Momma”
The purpose is just to be completely “Real” with you all and real with myself. The internet can be a place of fear and sometimes I am afraid of the consequences and the negative results that could come from over-sharing.
Three field trips in the last three weeks. How in the world can anyone work, manage a house, take care of children well and get anything done for yourself with such a crazy schedule? Impossible. But, it must be done. So, I’ll try and in the meantime I will stop and attempt to do yoga in the middle of homework hour.
And, my littlest guy will crawl underneath my warrior two or downward dog and maybe, just maybe, these little ones will learn a little bit about determination. I don’t believe that I have to workout to feel good or do yoga to feel like I’ve had a successful day. But, for me, personally, reading scripture and having quiet time in the morning and finding time to do some kind of exercise during the day are two ways that make my days feel a whole lot more complete and happy no matter how little I may check off my list.
Perhaps there will be another field trip or two before the year is finished. Maybe I’ll be able to go or maybe I won’t. I’ll make every effort to not feel guilty either way. We do what we can.
This is the second entry in a series I call “El Real Momma”
The purpose is just to be completely “Real” with you all and real with myself. The internet can be a place of fear and sometimes I am afraid of the consequences and the negative results that could come from over-sharing. Don’t worry, I am not going to intentionally over-share. But, I am going to share. So here goes:
Making lunches. Morning or night. The battle is on every single day. Do I stay up, downstairs after everyone is tucked snuggly in their beds and make lunches that need to be put back in the fridge until morning? Or, do I head to my cozy bed and lay down? I usually choose laying down and opt for a 20 minute earlier wake up call in the morning. I know it’s probably not the best choice. Making lunches at night would probably save me time because I wouldn’t be a morning zombie.
But, honestly, I am just too tired. Too too tired for words. In fact, as I write this I am too tired to finish the thought I started with at the beginning of this post. But, I digress. My point is this: we’re all worn out. We probably work too hard, some of us may play too hard, maybe we spend too much time volunteering, or make every dinner from scratch or rush to get to the drive thru for breakfast, because we are too late for any other option or maybe we’re just tired from every day life. Whatever it is that is wearing us out, remember to let the guilt go (if I just said “Let it Go” then, the ELs break out into song) and take time for yourself. This week, I will get a mani-pedi. That’s an almost promise. What will you do for yourself this week? The end result? A better you. And, isn’t that better for all of us!
much love! -R
Tonight, in spite of all odds, I made lunches. This is just the part that isn’t currently being refrigerated. Now, I can rest peacefully. Good night!