The TravELs’ Adventure Continues

Day three of Escape to the Lake! 

The Fourth of July in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. What could be better? It has been an amazing day. We started with our usual late arrival to the camp breakfast. We cannot get to breakfast at 815am. Not possible. And, that’s ok. Next, it’s Playground time. A walk around the grounds. Justin McRoberts ( pastor, singer, songwriter, artist) did the morning talk about being in community and how there are people in life that we choose to spend life with. An obvious one is our spouse, but we also have other friends that we don’t want to imagine doing life without. We don’t say it out loud like during a wedding ceremony, but no matter the distance or time or space that comes between us, we are never going to let that separate us. I loved this message. It was especially poignant for me, as I knew I was going to see one of those lifelong friends today. My friend, Holly is one of my college roommates and dearest friends. She, her husband and children are vacationing with friends 30 minutes from us. They live in Ohio now. So, to get to see them in Wisconsin was a real treasured treat! 

After lunch, I joined a discussion group about infusing creativity into families. It was great hearing the ideas and struggles of others as well as being encouraged to keep doing what we’re doing while being flexible. We may have grand plans with our kids, but sometimes you just have to let go! And, that’s okay.

I came to this year’s Escape to the Lake, traveling by minivan with my entire family, because I was invited as an artist to be included in the first ever ETTL Artists on the Rise Showcase. I was honored to be asked and really happy that my family wanted to make a vacation of it! So, the showcase was on July fourth with four other very talented artists: Son of Laughter, Tanya Godsey, Adam Whipple and Matthew Clark. And, it was emceed by the amazing Andrew Greer. I have to say that Andrew did a wonderful job telling a little about each artist when he introduced us and made us all feel special. I really appreciated it. Tanya said this in her set, but it is so true that as an artist, the best gift someone can give you is to listen/ see you and your work. Everyone who attended our show gave us that gift. Thank you! We each had about 27 minutes to play. I was missing playing with a band, but loved getting to share the music of my heart.

So, remember my friend Holly? Yep, she was there with her family. It was such a wonderful treat! After the show, we went into Williams Bay and grabbed a quick bite and some good conversation. 
And, our kids, especially our girls became fast friends!

We made it back to camp for the night concert: Andrew Greer, Caroline Cobb, Justin McRoberts, and Jason Gray. Caroline and I became twitter friends about a year ago. We’re both from Texas, we’re moms, believers and songwriters. Caroline’s last album was featured as “new and notable” on iTunes and I love supporting her and her gifts. I’m so glad we were able to finally meet! 
The concerts were great and then we all moved down to the beach for fireworks . 
It was a very full and lovely Fourth of July. My heart is full and happy. Hope yours is too. xo, El Momma 

The River with friends

New Braunfels, here we come! Here are pictures of the kids on our way to New Braunfels for the first weekend of Spring Break.

 By the time we arrived, it was time to go straight to bed. You would obey that hand, right!?

 And, here’s a view from upstairs. Our friends had a fajita y familias fiesta on Saturday with four families. We had a blast with all of the kids- all boys except for Trinity! And, the food and company was awesome!

 The girls at the party!

 Partying with Leeland!

 And, the girls are on the floor!

Here’s a family photo of the six of us before we headed home. We had a wonderful time and so appreciate having friends that welcome all SIX OF US into their home! It was a great way to start Spring Break. Thanks, friends!

Austin Mini-Holiday with Some Forever Friends

You know the kind of friend that when you see each other after being apart for a week, or a month, or a year, or five years, it’s like you were together yesterday. You just pick up right where you left off. Life has changed you. Circumstances have changed. Children have grown. Babies have been born. But, it’s like nothing has changed. Because, this is your forever friend. Someone you can always connect with, talk to, listen to and love unconditionally. I have been blessed beyond belief to have so many special friends like this. Many from my youth, from college, from my days in LA and now from my time in Houston.

At the end of July, we headed to Austin to have a mini-vacation with some very special. Some of my best friends from college, their husbands and kiddos all met in Austin and rented a little house. We had a wonderful time. There were 4 families all together 8 adults and 7 kids. It was such a refreshing weekend (even with 7 little ones.) It is always nice to be together. Here are a few pics.

Maddux and Bakri playing on the playground at Zilker park.

Maddux in the house.

Me & T on the Zilker Train….toot toot!

Jonah and Michael.

playing in the very cold and very slippery water.

Maddux and his buddy Cypress. These boys are just 1 month a part in age.

M and C.

Maddux, the keeper of the door.

Meriwether- Trinity’s friend…Cypress’ sister. She is just 1 month younger than Miss T.

I was in charge of breakfast on Saturday and so….I made pancakes! Here is Owen patiently waiting to be served.

Bakri, Trinity and mommy on the train.

2 of the boys exploring outside.



more pancake pics!

huge stack of pancakes! yum

The girls! Yes, there were just 2. There is another on the way!

The boat.

In the pack n play.

The girls!

Hot and a little bothered.

The boys in the water.

Yes, We’ll Gather at the River!

It’s true. We know how to live well…on a shoestring budget! 🙂 Last weekend, we went on a mini-holiday to visit our friends Julie and Will at their place in New Braunfels. We had an AMAZING time. They live right on the guadalupe river. The boys loved playing in the water and we all enjoyed our time with friends. It was great.

This is their outdoor fireplace.

They have a sliding glass door that separates the outdoor-screened in porch from the inside of the house.

Part of our fun weekend included a party to celebrate Julie and Will’s wedding at the end of last year. We had a Couples’ Shower at Whitewater Amphitheater. We enjoyed food by Wahoo’s Fish Tacos (formerly one of our favorite LA hotspots), music by Seth Walker (very smooth style- check him out) and a fabulous atmosphere. After the party, Seth Walker opened for Jerry Jeff Walker. It was a super fun night! Thanks to Julie and Will!

Here’s Bakri and another view of the porch.

Angela and Moustapha enjoying the party.

Me, Miss Trinity, Julie and her baby bump!

Moustapha and Julie in the kitchen.

Me and Miss T on the porch.

Maddux playing by the river.

Trinity on the porch. Can you see her two bottom teeth?

Trinity, having a great time with Julie.

Julie with her Aunt, her momma and my momma. What a great looking group!

Moustapha and the boys had such a good time playing in the tubes in the river. The river and lakes are really low this year. So, that made for a less rowdy crowd on Saturday. That was good for us, but not so good for business. Hopefully we’ll get some rain soon.

Sweet Angela and Trinity. Angela has a baby daughter that is one month younger than Miss T. I think she was missing Meri that night!

Here is a view from Julie and Will’s porch. I’m not sure how they felt about a family of five moving in for the weekend. But, we had the best time and can’t wait to go back!

Luau Night

I can’t believe we’ve been home from Maui for 3 weeks AND I have not made the time to finish uploading our pictures. So, over the next few days, I’m going to TRY to catch up. We’ll see how I do.

Here we are on our way to our first luau (first for Trinity, Maddux, Bakri and Grandmother) and the second for me and Moustapha.

Here is a picture of some of us enjoying pina coladas (free of alcohol for the kiddos and the grandmother, of course!)

The boys had front row seats and were in awe of the musicians. They loved the singing and the ukelele, especially.
Me and miss Trinity under a blanket…having dinner. 🙂

The man on the rock…just before he dove into the water.

Moustapha, Bakri and Maddux went on stage and learned to hula. All of the boys- including Moustapha, really enjoyed the luau night!

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The Wind and Waves and our last 24 hours in Maui

Our last full day in Maui was so much fun. Here is a brief recap:
We had lunch on our way to the airport in Paia- the town we stayed in. This was our first time to actually walk in the town. We stayed just north of the town in a house that was literally a 2 minute walk from the beach.

We had lunch at Flatbread. It was really good organic pizza and other good organic stuff. I loved it. Thank you, Grandmother for treating us…YUMMY!

Bakri, Maddux and Moustapha in front of the pizza oven.
Walking down the main street in Paia (the Hana hwy) Just after this photo was taken, it started raining.

Bakri playing with the Pizza dough.
Maddux hanging out in his room before we left the house. This was his first time to sleep in a big boy bed. He was awesome. The only funny thing that happened was the first night. I guess he wanted to sleep in the bed that we originally put Bakri in. So, when they were checked on in the night, Maddux had gotten out of his bed and was sleeping soundly in Bakri’s bed. And Bakri was close to falling off the bed. We moved Bakri and Maddux stayed in the other bed for the rest of the vacation.
The day before we left a wind storm came in. The waves were so beautiful. This was taken on the northshore of Maui, just north of Mama’s beach.
We were at this lookout point with hundreds of other people.

Our House- Hale O Ke Kai had a guestbook. This was our entry after staying the week.
The day after we returned home, Trinity and I hosted a Sip N See for our friend and her new baby girl. This is T relaxing in her party dress AFTER the party. 🙂

Humpback Whales and Important things on our Trip

This is the tail of a whale.
Here is one close to the boat. Look at the glow under the water. That was something we did not see when we were here before. None of the whales ever got close enough to the boat to see them glow under the water. It is such an incredible sight.
Here is one heading toward us.

Here are 2 whales. Supposedly, these are males and they are after the same female. So, that was what all of the activity centered around.

Our Fifth Anniversary

Yes, our Fifth Anniversary. Only Five years and we already have 3 children all age 3 and under (currently.) We have been unbelievably blessed.

Moustapha’s parents were so generous to give us miles to take all of the kids with us. We traveled to Maui with our three beautiful children and my mom to celebrate. Thank you Grandma and Jiddy! When we were here for our honeymoon we talked about and dreamed about coming back for our fifth anniversary. I personally never dreamed that we would also have 3 kids with us at the 5 year mark. It is amazing and wonderful AND such a different experience being here with our children.

We set out on an anniversary evening adventure that was to include a special dinner at our favorite restaurant from our honeymoon trip. Unfortunately, things did not work out as we planned.

I made the reservation through I made the reservation for 8:30 so that we could put the kids to bed and then go out for dinner and leave the kids at the house with my mom.

We looked up directions on how to get there from our house. Google maps did not come through for us this time. We were supposed to be on the coast, but instead took a tiny road “upcountry” in the dark. It was not fun! At 8:30 I called the restaurant to tell them of our dilema. It turns out there is pretty much one way to get places around here. So, we had to turn around. We added approximately an hour to our trip, which made us an hour late. But, we let the restaurant know and we weren’t too worried since they were supposed to be open and seating tables until 10. Luckily, we arrived at 9:40 and checked in with the hostess. Moustapha, being the realist that he is, was concerned when they did not seat us right away.

I, on the other hand, thought it would be nuts if they were closing early. Especially since we made a reservation, had called and made our trip from the other side of the island to visit their restaurant.
This is a picture of me while we were waiting for the hostess. Obviously, I thought everything was going to be fine. Well, initially, it was not fine. After waiting for a couple of minutes, a manager came out and told us we could be seated, but the kitchen was closed, so we could only have salads. After a somewhat heated exchange he went back inside and returned shortly to seat us. We were also able to order entrees. I told him I could not believe he tried to turn us away after reading our reservation- which said it was our anniversary and Nick’s was our favorite restaurant from our honeymoon. And guess what???- he didn’t read our reservation. He was totally clueless about our evening. He was just turning us away thinking we had just come downstairs to eat and could come back tomorrow. I was so mad. I didn’t even cry…not in front of him anyway. 🙂 We decided to still eat there- by then, it was 10. So, we wanted to make the most of our dinner. It will probably be our last visit to Nick’s. They are no longer on a pedestal for us.
Here is a photo of Moustapha thimking about dinner. After dinner, we enjoyed hanging out in the lobby waiting for our valet. We were so exhausted. But, it was fun.

Even though things didn’t work out perfectly, we still had a wonderful anniversary. We are so grateful for each other, our children, our families and friends. We have a wonderful life together. God has truly blessed us beyond measure.