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!

the start of summer and a plan

Summer is a crazy, wonderful time for us. The kids are getting older and have more specialized interests. My hope and goal for the summer is typically to keep them happy, busy and friendly with others and especially each other. I also want/need to get work done, have time for myself, spend lots of time with them and have a plan. I am so not a type-A personality. My co-workers may disagree. But, it’s true. I’ve found my type-A side through work, because it allows me to be more creative, more free, and more fun. So, type-A, “Miss Organized Self” emerges to plan worship services, direct bands, manage children, etc. I think “Miss Organized Self” is a good persona to have for the summer as well. She’ll keep my kids in line, give them fun things to do and also give me free time to not go crazy. 🙂

So, we have jobs. These will be weekly jobs to keep us from fighting about who brings plates to the table or who gets out of the car first (that’s a big one). We’ve already ventured out of the house and had breakfast since giving out the jobs for the first week and not one fight broke out. Whew! I’ll let you know if it works past day one. 

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






EL SUMMER – WEEK 1 of 12

 Our first week of Summer is complete. And, woah! It was a busy and fun one. I have a plan…to keep the Els busy all week and all Summer.
The basic plan is this…take them places, play, explore, learn and base the week’s activities (loosely) on a theme.
We live super close to the Museum District in Houston and to so many wonderful resources. Honestly, it is too hot to spend a ton of time outdoors. As much as I would LOVE having a pool and being outside swimming much of the day, we don’t have one and getting to a pool is always a bit of a big chore. Being outside and not being in a pool is just too much for me to handle! Seriously, we have to limit our outdoor time. And, when we head outdoors we have to drink lots of lots of water.

One of the favorite museums of the Els is the Health Museum. It is one of the lesser known museums (meaning it is not crowded) and they have great activities for all ages. This seemed like a good choice for week one. So, we began “Health Week!”

We studied about “organs of the body.” And the Els drew their favorite organ and wrote facts about it.

We built things together. We believe being with family is a super healthy way for us to live!

 We went to the Health Museum and spent the day there!



being silly…

exercising our minds…

and our hearts…

and our bodies…

and being super cute…

we counted teeth….

Keeping cool, we headed outside on another day to a spray park!

Being happy and joyful is healthy!

Day four, we reviewed what we learned about health. Everything I wrote on the board is their words. My favorite quote was from Trinity- “The stomach. It takes food into the system.” 

We found out our friends were coming to visit, so we went to the Zoo on Friday. It’s healthy to go to the zoo, learn about animals, ride the train and play with friends! We drank plenty of water, because it was super hot. But, we had a great time and it was a great ending to HEALTH WEEK!

Not sure about the dinosaur exhibit


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. 🙂

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 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.”