Happy St Patrick’s Day with kids and easy Crafts

Jimmie enjoying St Paddy’s Day!

Okay parents. How many of you get a little frustrated with the whole Elf on the Shelf craze at Christmas time? Me too! And, with a toddler at home, I wanted to do something extra special. Last year, I decided to get help with our elf on the shelf and I bought a kit from an account I found on Instagram. (www.Instagram.com/craftyholidayhelper ) CraftyHolidayHelper, Jaime has a small business focused on holiday crafts for families. I am so thankful to have found Jaime! Her craft kits are amazing!

I love having holiday parties for our littles. Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Fourth of July are holidays we don’t miss celebrating! In addition to adding Mardi Gras, we also added St Patrick’s Day with a party box and scavenger hunt from CraftyHolidayHelper to kick us off!

St Patrick’s Day Party in a Box

Jimmie is in awe of everything. He loves the rainbow centerpiece and all of the tiny details. My older kids said it’s not a party if other people don’t come. I disagree! I think Jimmie does too. It’s a party if you say it’s a party! Happy St Patrick’s Day, everyone!

Table-scape View from above
St Patrick’s Day Party in a Box

El Momma, Rebekahmemusic and CraftyHolidayHelper collaborated on this post. Thank you for your support!

Family Favorite: Lebanese Cauliflower, ground beef & Rice

Here’s another Lebanese inspired dish that we make once every week or so. My kids request this one. They absolutely love it. We all do. They literally want this dish at least once a week.

At this point, you may be wondering, “how do you get your kids to eat these amazing meals with vegetables?” The answer is pretty simple. I never made separate meals. From the time the older Els were little and currently with our toddler, we make a family meal and eat it together. Of course we have nights where people make their own dinner and eat whatever they want. But, as a practice, I make a meal for the family and offer it to everyone. I don’t like to make an issue out of food. So, we’ve never told our kids they had to clean their plates. We do encourage them to try new foods and at this point we’ve built up a good level of trust- I ((mostly)) serve them delicious dishes. There was that one time I made chick pea noodles in 2020. (Gross!) See below for the Lebanese Cauliflower, ground beef and rice directions and quick video. Please comment and let me know if you make this delicious dish!

Quick Video “How to make Lebanese cauliflower, ground beef and rice by El Momma”

Video: How to make this awesome dish in 90 seconds!

Lebanese Cauliflower & ground beef Ingredients

Makes approximately 8 servings

  • 2-3 large whole cauliflowers. Cut to florets
  • Your choice of cooked white rice
  • [1] TB extra virgin olive oil
  • [1] chopped white onion
  • [1] pound ground beef
  • [1] TB 7 spices (recipe for seven spices included below)
  • [1] tsp kosher salt
  • [1] tsp ground pepper
  • 1 jar 24 Oz of diced tomatoes (I prefer roasted garlic)
  • 14 Oz crushed Tomatoes (I use Italian variety)
  • plain yogurt (optional) for garnish

*A very important ingredient of many lebanese dishes is 7 spices. 7 Spices are made with a mix of the following spices: all spice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, caraway and nutmeg. I buy this through our local grocer, Phoenicia. I’ve also purchased on Amazon. * Recipe for my homemade seven spices blend is included at the bottom of this post.


Step 1: Rinse and cut the cauliflower into florets. Set aside.

Step 2: In a separate pot, cook the rice per directions on rice bag/box.

Step 3: Using a 2 1/2 – 3 inch deep skillet that has a fitted glass lid, cook the chopped onion and ground beef at medium heat in the olive oil. Add the 7 spices, pepper and salt and mix well. Careful not to over cook the meat.

Step 4: fold in the cauliflower, crushed and diced tomatoes. Mix well. Cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally at medium low to medium heat.

Step 5: serve hot over a bed of rice. Add a dollop of plain yogurt when serving.

7 Spices Ingredients

7 Spices

Makes approximately 3 1/2 tablespoons of 7 spices

  • 1T allspice,
  • 1T cinnamon,
  • 1t ground cloves,
  • 1t cumin,
  • 1t coriander,
  • 1/2 t caraway
  • 1/2 t nutmeg

Pimiento Cheese Recipe- Southern Style

When I moved back to Texas and got married and started a family and started cooking…a lot more, I started on a quest to learn how to cook new things. This wasn’t hard. I didn’t have much experience. So, nearly  everything was new to me. But, I know how to follow a recipe and with the internet, I can figure out how to do (almost) anything!
Pimiento Cheese is a staple at southern showers, parties, teas, etc. When a local sandwich shop stopped making them for cater orders, I started thinking about learning how to make it myself. Then, Zoe’s Kitchen moved in down the street with a fabulous, but a bit pricey pimiento cheese. I did a quick search and found a great recipe on npr.org. It’s at the bottom if you follow the link http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6877304

It’s basically like this: You’ll need a food processor and 6 ingredients: cheese ( I use a cheddar and monterey jack mix) , 2 medium size kosher dill pickles, 3 garlic cloves mashed, kosher salt, (I put a little salt with the garlic and mash them together) 1 jar of pimientos, duke’s mayonnaise. This recipe calls for  Duke’s and I highly recommend it. It really is a better mayonnaise and it makes all the difference!

Put all of the ingredients, except for the duke’s mayo, in the food processor and briefly process it.

When it is easy to work with, move it to a bowl and add in 3 tablespoons of Mayo. That’s it! This is the easiest time to make sandwiches, because the pimiento cheese will be really easy to spread. But, if you can’t do that, place the bowl in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, remove from the fridge at least 1 hour prior to bring to room temperature. It is easier to work with and tastier to eat at room temp.


Another busy day!

Hello, friends!
I spent the entire day preparing for Leeland’s Baptism and brunch tomorrow. Whew! I am exhausted! I did take pictures, but I am afraid to remove the card from the camera, just in case I forget to load it before tomorrow. So, I’ll wait and update this post with pictures soon. Let’s just say, I spent almost the entire day in the kitchen! All of the special clothes are laid out for each child, the table is set, the flower arrangements look beautiful, the food is prepared and now it is time for me to email tomorrow’s music to the media team and go to bed! Good night!

A Special Day- Trinity’s Baptism

Trinity was baptized at our church on Sunday. It was such a special day for all of us. The children were all invited to the front for Worship as a Child- their normal children’s message time. Which probably confused our boys a little. So, they ended up sitting on the stairs (for like a second) before getting up to entertain. Our friend Eliza, who is also an Elder at the church and she sings with me too, introduced us and Trinity.

Then, it was time for the entertainment to begin….”hit it, Bakri!” Oh wait, maybe now isn’t the time to jump from the stairs and do a little baptism dance. But, his little show did get quite a few laughs…And then, Daddy took the boys by the hand. Notice perfect Trinity in all of the photos. She didn’t cry or make a peep. And it’s funny how happy Moustapha and I look. I guess we’re just enjoying it. You know, kids will be kids. And life is too short to worry about the little things. I am really glad we are at this point and that we got there together. It is a great thing!
Moustapha read Isaiah 40:28-31 to Trinity and became emotional, which of course made all of us emotional. It was very touching. What a sweet daddy.

Trinity went to Pastor Jeff with ease. Here he is preparing the water.

He placed the water on her head and she immediately put his hand in her mouth. She is getting her first two teeth, so why not find something to chew on? That was another moment that got a lot of laughter from the congregation.
After the baptism, Pastor Jeff walked Trinity down the aisle and we all followed. The entire congregation moved to the center and extended their hands to pray for her and our family. What an incredible experience.
Grandma and her sweet Granddaughter, Trinity.

Looking quite serious.

After the service, she was really ready for her nap. So, it was almost impossible to get a happy look from her.

Here are her 2 granddads (Jiddy and Grandfather) looking at her with such adoration. Can’t you see it?Our family of five. Everybody was cooperating in this picture except Daddy!

The whole family! (at least all the family that was in town) Another picture of the family.

Our angel girl.
We were still trying to get a smile. It just didn’t work. So, she thought she would chew on her bible.

On our way out, she gave a quick smile to Michael and Patricia and their family.

And then, she fell asleep. She’s just about to close her eyes in this next photo.
At home, we had a little lunch to celebrate. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the table. But, here is the menu on our kitchen chalkboard. Moustapha gave me new chalk pens and I am in love with changing out the messages. It is so fun!
Me and Miss T. Check out the double holophane light in the kitchen. I’ll post an update about that soon with before and after pics. But, I’ll just say quickly that Moustapha did an AMAZING job restoring it, wiring it and hanging it. He can seriously do ANYTHING!

Trinity’s cake, which matched her invitation.
Trinity and Grandmother. Trinity has just started putting her thumb in her mouth. She isn’t sucking it, but I think she may be feeling her top gums for some new teeth.
Happy Trinity with Grandfather.

Our friends Jamil and Carter came to the lunch with their 2 girls. Here’s a picture of us with the babies. I love how each baby is looking at the other baby’s mommy. So sweet.

Jiddy on an international call and somehow baby Trinity stayed asleep.

Trinity smiling with Grandmother.The boys all love Trinity.

Christian came over to give her a hug and a kiss and tell her “goodbye.” He is such a sweet little boy.

Thank you for looking at our pictures and story from T’s baptism day. It means a lot to be able to share these special times with you our family and friends. God bless you.

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.

1-2-3 Go!

Maddux and Bakri took 10 rides on these pretend roller coasters. It’s not nearly the same as the real deal. But, they liked them a lot.

Christian loves cake!Yes, Maddux has his hand in his mouth in this picture. And yes, there is clearly cake icing missing from his side of the cake. What can you expect when you put a cake so close to a 2 year old?…he only has so much restraint!
James on his 4th birthday. The whole family was feeling a little under the weather that day. Michael was really sick that week and my dad found out a few days later that he was suffering from pneumonia. Luckily, everyone is doing much better now.

My dear friend, Holly came to town with her son, Owen. And we met up at another friend of ours- Jordan’s home. My boys and Holly’s little boy are like a stairstep. Each one a little bit smaller than the next. And they had the best time together, just running up and down the driveway. Luckily noone got hurt. They only collided a couple of times! 🙂 Boys will be boys. I wish we could all hang out a lot more. But, when you don’t live in the same city or state, you take what you can get.

Jordan also has a baby boy. But, he is too little to run on the driveway just yet. Speaking of, last night I was asking Bakri about a boy from his school I mentioned the child’s name and he said no- not him, Baby (blank- I don’t want to put his name and offend the older one!) But, it was interesting that he knew just how to differentiate and let me know which child of the same name that he wanted to spend time with- and it was Baby. So, I guess we need another playdate at Jordan’s soon!

We celebrated our nephew’s 4th birthday last month. He and Bakri are just a couple of months a part in age. And they get along great. They love a lot of the same things- music, baseball, the astros and Chuck E. Cheese. This was a Chuck E. Cheese party with a guitar birthday cake. Fun!

Trinity was sporting a holiday party dress for the occasion. She likes to dress up!

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Enjoying Our Day

Life is good around here. I’m not kidding myself- I know that times have been hard for us…we’ve been without a working kitchen for nearly a year! And living in the middle of an unplanned remodel for most of that time. But, we have a beautiful angel of a daughter and the best boys in the world. So, what is there to complain about?? We are immensely blessed.
Trinity is getting SO BIG! Here she is relaxing with one eye open! She doesn’t want to miss any of the action around here. She will be 8 weeks old on Sunday. I really can’t believe how much faster the time seems to go by with each child. She has been sleeping through the night for nearly a month and has been wearing size 3-6 months for nearly as long. She’ll visit her pediatrician this week for her first set of shots. I expect she’ll get a great report otherwise. She seems to be growing like a weed!

Here she is sporting a “hand me down” from her favorite girl cousin- ATHENA! This outfit looked brand new. Of course, we made a mess in it! We tend to do that. Oh well! I still got her photo in it before I had to change her. Speaking of her favorite girl cousin- that is because she is her only girl cousin so far! We find out this week if Michael and Patricia’s new baby will be a boy or a girl. As of now, there are 6 boys and 2 girls on the El-Hakam side and 4 boys and 1 girl on the Maddux side. So, we’ll either have a Maddux basketball team with 5 boys or Trinity will have a girlfriend her age! Either way, we are very excited about the newest Maddux baby. He or she is due to arrive in early May!Bakri is getting better and better at helping with Trinity. I think he is trying to burp her in this picture. He loves her so much! The difference between 3 and 4 seems to be huge. I am seeing so many changes in Bakri this year. We’ve always heard about the terrible 2s and we are learning more about those with Maddux (at least with the fits he throws) than we did with Bakri. With Bakri, 3 has been more challenging. But, now as he gets a little older- we notice him listening more, talking more and asking “why?” And when he asks “why,” he really wants to know. It kind of makes the parent have to think about the answer and decide if it’s important. It is really an interesting stage of development. Reasoning with our son is becoming easier. He is great at sitting at the table, eating with his fork and then asking to be excused from the table before washing his hands. This has been quite a treat for all of us and Maddux has followed suit. He now sits at the table with Bakri, eats with a fork or spoon and asks “may I be excused from the table?” before he gets up. Maddux usually answers to by saying “yes, you may!” 🙂 I sometimes think that Bakri growing up, forces Maddux to grow up faster than he would otherwise. I guess it’s related to having a big brother close in age. He wants to do everything Bakri does.
Bakri really enjoys his school- PoeCo. I sometimes have a difficult time convincing him that it is time to leave the playground. He does like to check on Trinity or as he sometimes calls her “baby sister.” He is the puzzle master. The child is seriously advanced at puzzles. Right now he has 4 wooden puzzles- each with 50 pieces. All of which he can put together very quickly and he will do it over and over again. He definitely needs more puzzles. I’m afraid he’ll be bored of his puzzles soon.
After church on Sunday we went with some friends to Hermann Park for a picnic lunch. The boys love the train at Hermann Park so much! We live very close by. So, we rode the train on the last day before the old train closed and have really enjoyed the new train. It is SO MUCH BETTER than the old train. The new ride around the park takes about 10 minutes. They are also building a new train station and there will be a couple of additional stops around the park. I think it is scheduled to be complete in March. Maybe we’ll have Bakri’s birthday party at the zoo. It would be fun to ride the train around and visit the carousel. First, we have Maddux’s birthday to plan. We plan to have a small party at home…depending on our house being ready!

One of the great things about our visit to the park last Sunday was the discovery of Maddux and Bakri’s shadows. I love this picture! My little boys are growing up so fast. I can’t believe Maddux is already turning 2. He is such an amazing little boy. We went to a music class at St. Andrews Fine Arts School on Thursday and Maddux was such a star. At first he was hesitant, but it didn’t take long for him to warm up. He ended up being a very active participant. He tried everything and was really great at keeping rhythm. It is probably attributed to the drum set in our living room, piano in the den and guitars we keep in the red wagon. I told his teacher that we could probably host a music class at our own house! We have all of the supplies. In fact we also have a keyboard in the den. The kids have figured out how to get it to play jingle bells. It is this really upbeat version of jingle bells with a jazzy intro. They love to make it play and sing along.

I am really excited to start this week. Painters are scheduled to start on Tuesday. So, if everything works out, our house will be like new very soon. I can’t wait! Lots of love to you all!

Our Weekend Adventures- All Saints Day Party & Cesar’s Baptism

On Saturday, we went to 2 parties: The first was a Baby Halloween Party at Jordan and Brian’s house. They have an adorable 5 month old baby boy- Charlie and they live in a beautiful home in a really great part of Houston- the Heights. Several old friends from College were there that also live just down the street or around the corner in the same neighborhood. There were probably 15-20 babies/ kiddos at this party AND they had chick-fil-A, which was a huge hit with my boys!

The same afternoon we went to another party in Magnolia at the home of James and Patricia Clark to celebrate All Saints Day. This was quite the party. Their home is on a big piece of property with tons of room for the kids to run around. There was lots of great food and drinks and so many of our friends from church at First Pres were there. Most of the children were in costume and most of the parents weren’t. I had a really great time. I spent about 20 minutes enjoying dinner on the back porch. I decided to come in when the mosquitos starting eating me alive! So, I sat inside with some of my girlfriends. I was nursing Trinity (which is my excuse for why I couldn’t be the one outside with the boys) Anyway, I had some really nice adult conversations! I loved it. And then, we had to go, because the boys were driving Moustapha crazy! Bakri found the pool…and we were not there to do any swimming. Maddux was content on the swing for a while, but once they were both loose, the party was over for us!

On Sunday, I led worship at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in West U. This was my 3rd Sunday leading worship there. I will be there for 2 more Sundays this month. It has been an amazing experience for me and our family. Every week things have gotten better and better. The band and I rehearsed tonight. I am really excited about the worship music this week. It is going to be really fun!

On Sunday afternoon, we attended our nephew Cesar Ignatius’ baptism. Moustapha was honored to be Cesar’s godfather. It was a really special ceremony. And the priest called our entire family to the water to witness the baptism upclose. That was really nice for all of us, including the kids. We could actually see!

Cesar’s brother, Matias- we call him Mati and Bakri were somewhat well behaved at the baptism. They have a great time together.

Matias’ sister, Soledad is Cesar’s godmother.

Amira just returned home from spending a couple of weeks with Beatrice helping her with her twin sons. As soon as she got back she started her job with a law firm here in Houston. So, we haven’t seen her much. She enjoyed getting to hold and feed Trinity during the baptism.

Trinity wore one of my dresses. Doesn’t she look sweet? She is doing so well and getting so big so fast. We go for her check up with her pediatrician next week. Once she has her shots, she will be able to go into the nursery at church. That will be helpful.

I got really sick the evening after the baptism. We were out all day, and I was in a dress, so I had to pump- which went well. But, for reasons I won’t discuss in this forum, I still ended up with mastitis. And now I am back on an antibiotic. So, I am NOT going to be doing that again. I thought it would be nice to let some of our family members feed Trinity while we were out. So I prepared bottles of breastmilk and had them with me. But, this is the second time I’ve gotten mastitis and I really don’t like being on an antibiotic. Not to mention, I have not felt well at all. Hopefully, this won’t happen again!

Cesar and Trinity had the same due date. Cesar was born at 36 weeks and 6 days and Trinity was born at 40 weeks and 3 days- so even though they were due at the same time, their birthdays are almost one month apart.

Grandma enjoyed feeding Trinity while Athena gave her kisses. Leila and Matias hosted a dinner at the Sweetwater Country Club to celebrate the baptism. We had yummy fajitas and enjoyed some fun family time.