Embracing the Chaos…Again

The kids working on our Summer Musical “Aladdin”

So, after my post about embracing the chaos and how crazy life with 3 little ones under the age of 4 can be, I really felt encouraged by all of you.

I know many of us are in the same boat, or we know someone in the same boat, or we captained that boat many years ago and survived. So, there are plenty of similar stories to tell.

Just thought I’d give you a glimpse into my day today….

Today, started off pretty normal for us. None of the three Els typically wake up at the same time. It is a staggering process. T was the first to rise this morning. She was awake 3 times last night and I was awake with her. She is 11 months old today and has 2 bottom teeth, 3 top teeth and another coming. So, I’ll blame her restlessness on the teething and move along.

Maddux was next. On most days, he’s our first to rise. We call him our early-riser, but it’s usually not before 7:30, so I consider myself pretty lucky in that department. Well, he was up. And looking for us. Normally we are in our bedroom in the morning, But, yesterday we moved out of our bedroom to remodel it and into our fourth bedroom (which we use as a multipurpose room- an office/ playroom/ laundry room.) That room has all sorts of fun things for kids to do. But, all Maddux wanted to know was where did I sleep? We moved a bed in there, so that was the obvious answer.

Maddux and Trinity and I went downstairs and made a big breakfast. Since Trinity has started eating scrambled eggs, her breakfasts have become a lot easier for me. So, everybody had scrambled eggs and avocado. Perfect! And, we’re done…oh, wait. The 3rd El was still asleep.

At 9:30, Bakri made his way down the stairs and announced “I’m hungry for breakfast. I want some bacon, please.” And, so I obliged. Bacon for breakfast and a pancake on a stick…

Get dressed, turn on Sesame Street…Mommy gets dressed…baby takes a quick nap….and, we’re out the door to the Y. I can’t ever seem to make it to Yoga class on time. No matter what I do. I am ALWAYS the last one in the door. I do have a million good excuses – had to put 3 kids in car seats, had to get 3 kids out of car seats, had to walk with 3 kids from the parking lot to the Y, had to check 3 kids into the Youth Activity Center, etc. It goes on and on! So, when I am five minutes late- I consider it an accomplishment. Way to go, me!

Finished my class and went back to get the kids. This is when I get a little nervous as I casually ask “how did they do?” The answer today was they did great. Middle El pushed Baby El down once….uggggghh….but, other than that, they were good. My goodness, is there any chance one of my big kids won’t push my baby as she is innocently walking around the room cute as a bug in her little tennis shoes and purple leggings??? Come on!

Ok, quick scolding session “don’t push your baby sister. You know better than that. Good job behaving the rest of the time. Don’t push your sister again…blah, blah, blah. Do you understand?” Answer: “Yes, Ma’am.” Alright, moving on.

Now, we have to make it back to the car safely. Everybody grab a hand and let’s go!

Home again. Time for lunch. The requests start pouring in.

Bakri: I want Sausage

Maddux: I want grilled cheese sandwich

Trinity: Num num

Turn on the griddle and get lunch started. Light the fire. Bakri breaks out into song ala Johnny Cash “Ring of Fire.” So, we turn on the music and everybody joins in as we make sausage and grilled cheese sandwiches on the griddle and steam some broccoli. It was a great lunch! Everybody gets a cookie or 2 for such good behavior at lunch! Way to go!

While eating cookies, we must all grunt like cookie monster. Have you ever thought about some of the not-so-positive habits that are reinforced on Sesame Street? Just a side note, but there is Cookie Monster (really bad table manners,) Baby Bear (mispronounces most words,) and Elmo (talks in a really high annoying voice.) I still love it, but seriously it is pretty funny when you think about it.

So, now it is naptime. 2 out of 3 are sleeping now and one is rolling around (aka fighting a nap) on the couch.

Hope you are all having a great day.

The Idea of the Day

It’s Summer. And It’s Hot. So, we’ve got to come up with things to do that

1. Keep us active
2. Keep us cool
3. Keep us alive 🙂

So, after a mis-hap this morning, Moustapha and I had the bright idea of me teaching the kids a show and then having them perform it for him and some other family members. So, I did (a little) research and settled on the musical Aladdin. The kids already know the movie and probably are familiar with most of the songs. And, I thought it would be perfect for our family. Bakri could be Aladdin and Maddux could be the genie & Abu. And they were both totally excited about it when I mentioned it this afternoon.

I went to amazonmp3.com and downloaded the soundtrack from the movie and a couple of songs (karaoke style) without words so they can practice singing with just the accompaniment.

Our first rehearsal went pretty well. I taught them two songs “One Jump Ahead” and “A Whole New World.” The first song is a great song for boys- lots of jumping, punching and marching. That seemed to keep their interest. Now the biggest problem is- they are both Aladdin. So, we had to take turns practicing the song. Oh well. I hope our audience doesn’t mind watching everything twice. You don’t, do you, Moustapha???
I’ll keep you posted on how this idea works out. We’re having an issue with the camera. So, hopefully I’ll have a new- working- camera before the “show.”

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!

Yesterday’s Rodeo Adventure

On Wednesday we went to the rodeo…me, Bakri, Maddux and Trinity. What an adventure! Here is some pictures and one video of our day from start to finish…

Here is Miss Trinity in her rodeo best…this outfit belonged to our niece. Isn’t it cute? And the shoes were Bakri’s, then Maddux’s and now Trinity’s!

Maddux and Trinity ready for the rodeo!

Bakri, Maddux and Trinity getting ready to head to the rodeo.

Maddux, Trinity and Bakri….rodeo ready!

Amira gave the boys these adorable cowboy boots for Christmas. Maddux would wear his everyday if I let him!

The biggest challenge of the day was getting to the rodeo from the parking lot and back. We had to board a tram with a double stroller, one adult (me) an infant (trinity) and 2 kids (Bakri and Maddux.) Whoah! Thank God I had the help of kind strangers…

This was a big Longhorn we saw when we first got there. We also ran into some of our family there. We didn’t get to hang out with them much, because they had already done some of the things we were there to do. But, it was really fun seeing them!

I guess Mr. B. found these hens to be quite shocking! Maybe it was the fact that they were laying eggs.

My little cowboy, Bakri!

At one point T lost her patience with being in the Stroller, and she was much happier to be out enjoying the livestock show.
We waited in the line for the pony ride for 30 minutes. When I bought the tokens they told us it would be an hour or an hour and a half. Thankfully, the wait wasn’t nearly that long. But, since the kids look forward to this ponyride every year, its not something we could avoid…and they loved it as always!

Maddux riding the pony “gem.”
Bakri riding the pony and having a great time!
This is a video of the boys when the ride first started. Click on it and listen to Maddux as he goes by for the first time…he’s already asking to ride again. Kids are so funny!

Here comes Bakri! He’s looking at Maddux. Bakri’s pony was named “dolly.”
We were on our way out to have a snack before leaving and I asked somebody to take a picture of all of us just to prove the kids weren’t there by themselves.

We grabbed a snack before leaving. Here’s Maddux enjoying some gatorade.

This is as much of the corndog as Maddux ate.

Bakri, on the other hand, ate two corndogs! He was really hungry after that ponyride!
So, remember how I said getting from the car and back was the most challenging part? Well, thankfully there are no pictures of this. But, we go to get in line for the tram and Miss Trinity has a dirty diaper…like really dirty all over the place. So, I have to get out of the line and get her cleaned up before we can take the ride on the tram. Meanwhile, Maddux falls asleep in the stroller…which is not a good thing, because he’s about to have to get out and sit up on the tram ride. So, we finally get on the tram after 5 people try to help me. Then, we arrive to the parking lot and I have Trinity in the baby bjorn so Bakri can ride in the stroller out to the car. He was exhausted and already complaining about how tired he was. The only problem was, he wouldn’t let anyone help him get in the stroller. So, I end up carrying Trinity, pushing Maddux alone in the Stroller and walking holding Bakri’s hand as he complains and cries the whole time about how tired he is. By the time we get to the car, I was seriously having heart palpitations…either I’m anxious, out of shape, or something is wrong with me??? Anyway, I finally get everyone in the car and Bakri immediately falls asleep. Which meant, no baseball (tee-ball) practice for him that afternoon.
All’s well that ends well. And this one ended well. We had a great time at the Houston Rodeo. Until next year!

A day in the life of the El-Hakam Five

Well, we are finally getting into a routine, sort of. I don’t know how one calls it a routine. But, let’s just say, we are finally getting into what is our normal life. Normal? now that is a funnier word than routine. Things are definitely not normal around here. But, they are our version of normal. So, here is what a normal day around here consists of. Bakri is usually the first to wake up in the morning. My hope is that he’ll wake up at 7:30, but he usually gets up before then. We try to convince him to lay down and be quiet until 7:30, but that also doesn’t work. By the time 7:30 hits, everyone is awake. Maddux wakes up happy and ready to get dressed and get downstairs for breakfast. We still don’t have a fully functioning kitchen, so breakfast is usually a cup of milk, a kolache and/or a pancake on a stick. By the time we convince Bakri to go to the potty and get dressed it is usually after 8. We then make our way downstairs as a family and the boys eat their breakfast.
Moustapha takes Bakri to school (school is a 2 minute drive and 12 minute walk from our house) on his way to work. Currently, Moustapha is working out of his dad’s office at MEECO which is about a 12 minute drive from our house. He does all of his law office work out of there. And he also does other work for his dad’s company. He has been approached recently about a couple of different attorney position opening up at companies that are downtown (which is really close to our house.)
So, when Moustapha takes Bakri to school, that leaves me, Maddux and Trinity to enjoy the rest of the morning together. Trinity usually has her morning meal and then heads back to sleep after some “awake” time. Maddux enjoys singing to her, talking to her and giving her lots of kisses. Then, its just me and Maddux. He loves what he calls his “lessons.” We have flashcards that he likes to look at while I tell him what everything is. Now, he actually tells me what things are. His favorites are air vehicles- like Flyer I, Space Shuttle Columbia and Montgolfier Brothers Balloon. You should hear him say Montgolfier Brothers…it is very cute! After we finish with Maddux’s lesson time, it is usually time for baby sister to wake up. Lately, my mom will pick up Bakri from school- his school only lasts for 3 hours. So, it is a very quick turnaround. My mom doesn’t live that close, but she comes into town to do her physical therapy as part of her recovery from heart surgery and she’ll pick Bakri up or help me out for a little while afterwards. Once Bakri gets home, it is time for lunch, naps and fun time when we wake up. Nap time has become more of a challenge since Bakri and Maddux started sharing a room. So, Maddux naps in their room and Bakri naps in my room. As long as everybody is napping, I don’t really think its important where they are napping. 🙂 I just desperately need all of the kids to take a nap. It is my time to try and get SOMETHING done around here.
Once we wake up from naptime, we do something fun. Bakri likes to watch Sesame Street as a reward and yesterday we walked down to the baseball park and ran the bases and then played on the playground for an hour. By the time we finished, it was time to go home and prepare dinner. My sweet friends from Tapestry have been bringing us meals since we brought Trinity home. So, I usually just need to heat dinner up. By the time we sit down for dinner, Moustapha is usually home to join us. After dinner, we play, read, work on puzzles. Bakri has a 50 piece dinosaur puzzle with 14 different dinosaurs pictured on it, that he has completely mastered. He takes it a part and puts it together completely on his own. It is pretty impressive.

Our bedtime routine consists of baths, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, reading one book, singing “hush little baby” along with the book by Sylvia Long and getting into bed. Once the boys are in their bed we recite “good night moon,” turn off the light, say The Lord’s Prayer and pray together, say good night and close the door. And that is the end of the day! At that point, I’ve been going to sleep too…its only 8:30 or 9, but I am exhausted!

Here is Trinity after her first Sunday at church. We went to St. Andrews Presbyterian Church this week. We have been visiting there since Bakri went to their vacation bible school in July. I’ve also been talking with them about the contemporary worship service and possibly leading worship. So, I am going to be leading for the next 5 sundays as they begin their search for a worship leader. I am totally excited about this opportunity. I just hope I can get the players together soon. I still need a bass guitar player and lead guitar player. It’s difficult finding christian players that are available on sundays at such short notice.
Trinity wore my cherry dress for her first sunday at church. My mom saved this dress along with a few other things that I wore as a baby. Doesn’t she look beautiful? She is 3 weeks old in this photo.