Summer Week 5 Theme Week- performance week

Our youngest turned 3 this summer. One month before his birthday he asked (completely unprompted) for a Willy Wonka birthday party. It was a perfect idea, so we got to work. We asked our family to join us for the fun and even dress as characters from the book…anyone, but Willy Wonka. Leeland, our birthday boy, would be the only Willy Wonka.

Last year the Els had a performance week and did a song from Aladdin at a family Disney night at our church. This year, the kids picked out their characters and we spent the week rehearsing and preparing for them to perform a few songs from the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie.

He already had a blue velvet jacket (hand-me-down originally purchased by his grandmother for his oldest brother) I found this hat on ebay. And ordered him a size small.

Pajamas, velvet jacket and top hat…normal for rehearsals!

 Practicing for the big performance. Our stage.

 Tickets…I purchased a set of Willy Wonka graphics from Etsy. Everything was customized.

 The party table. Cake, candy, chocolate and more candy. We’ve never served so much sugar at a party!

Our handsome birthday boy. We found the vest material online. It is the same fabric print as the Gene Wilder vest. Our little Leeland, Willy Wonka was so very happy!

Summer Week 4- Theme Weeks- Water Week

Last week, while the Nation celebrated our Freedom on the 4th of July, we prepared for a week long celebration with Water as our theme. The first objective of water week: learn to swim!
 Swim lessons
 With a bird’s eye view

Swimmers must be hydrated and fed well. Here is a photo of us at lunch at the Kolache Factory.

 For the 4th of July, we celebrated with family at the Els’ Aunt and Uncle’s pool party! The Els practiced swimming.

Ate yummy dinner by the pool!

 Leeland even sported his Willy Wonka top hat in his swim trunks. Can you guess what next week’s theme is? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s performance, birthday and chocolate related)

After the family pool party, we headed home to watch the fireworks! Leeland asked nervously “Are they coming closer?” 

 Me and Miss T- July 4th 2013

 And, for the weekend, we made a waterpark in the backyard…just dad and the water hose is pretty much all it takes!

 After all of the water park fun in the backyard, we had a picnic. – Leeland
 -Maddux
 -Daddy and Trinity
 -Maddux and Bakri
 -El Momma and Trinity
-The Els
 -The Els
Daddy’s hat on Trinity

Hope you are enjoying your summer. What do you do with your little ones to keep them cool, happy, occupied and engaged in the summer months? Comment below.

El Momma is a blog chronicling the adventures of El Momma (singer/songwriter Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam), her husband and 4 children- the Els. To download a free 6 song sampler from Rebekah’s critically acclaimed debut album, Radiant You, visit www.noisetrade.com/rebekahme/radiant-you 

Summer Week 3- Theme Weeks- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Regift!) Week

Last year we went to the big recycling center in West U for Recycle week. This year we decided to do things a little differently. We have 2 bins of recycling that get picked up bi-weekly at our house. We are really good at recycling. However, we needed to go through clothes we can’t wear and have a few things fixed so we can reuse them. We also decided to stop (or at least cut down- I’m not sure how to stop because of bacon in the microwave) using paper towels. We are going to use cloth instead. I will let you know how that goes. We do throw a lot of paper towels away. So, hopefully not using paper towels will make a positive difference. 

 We took donations here. Clothes, toys, shoes, etc.

We filled the back of the truck with donations. Bakri and Maddux were excited. 

 We took special clothes to our baby niece (she’s 2) and ready for everything Trinity picked out for her!

We even took El Momma’s last year’s summer shoes to the Shoe Hospital for repair. I spent $12 on repairing them instead of $45+ on new ones. 🙂 Win Win!

Summer Week 2- Theme Weeks- Weather Week

Summer Week 2:

We studied about weather. We learned about weather events and visited the Weather Museum right here in Houston. It’s basically an old house (very large house) that has been restored and is now the Weather Museum. It is small in comparison to other museums in the Museum District. However, for what we were looking for and need (simple, no line, interesting, fun and not crowded) it was perfect. The Els even did weather reports in front of a green screen. 2 blizzards and 1 hurricane. Leeland, our 2 year old was terrified of the tornado machine, which was harmless, but very loud. Other than that, weather week was a huge success. 

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.
First:
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. 

How to plan an (easy) Kid Birthday Party in the Park


Our oldest son is turning eight tomorrow. He wanted to celebrate with his entire class. I don’t know about you, but birthday parties can get really expensive. And, with at least four parties a year for our children’s birthdays (one each!) that can get pricey really fast. Birthdays are important. My family always made our birthdays special growing up and my husband and I both feel it’s really important for our children to have this special day each year. Does it have to break the bank? No.

Let’s look at options. 

  • We have tons of kid friendly birthday themed places to choose from in our city- Houston. But, again, price is an issue. Most places charge per child and inviting an entire class full of kids is a lot. We also like to include siblings, mainly because our kids have so many siblings and it’s always nice (but not necessary) when they are included too.
  • How about a party at home? They are fun and the kids always really have a great time. I opted “no” on this option this time, because it is a lot of work for me personally and I kind of have a lot already on my plate at the moment. 
  • So, we thought about the park down the street from our house and our son’s school. We could have a party right after school on a Friday afternoon. We went for this option. 

Here are the details:
Invite all of the class via evite.com or other web service
Our class list is posted for our class only on our own website run by our classroom mom
I just retrieved the emails from there and pasted them into the evite
Party time: immediately after school on a Friday for 1.5 hours
Serve Pizza (kid choices and parent options) – I ordered locally and asked that it be delivered to the park 15 minutes after the party start time
Pick up cupcakes (we purchased ours from Sam’s Club 30 total -15 vanilla and 15 chocolate)

What to bring:

  1. paper towels (in case it is windy, napkins will fly)
  2. one cooler filled with ice, water bottles & juice bags/boxes
  3. lighter
  4. birthday candle
  5. pizza cutter to make the pieces smaller if necessary
  6. wipes
  7. sanitizer
  8. trash bags (I had these, but they weren’t necessary)
FUN! This was a really fun party for the kids and it was super simple for the parents. 
Happy birthday to our very great eight year old boy! We love you!