About El Momma

Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Make New Year's Resolutions that You'll Actually Keep

My friend Jeff posted this on his facebook status and on twitter yesterday: "In 2011 I'll take life less seriously, make jokes & take lots of photos." I believe he posted this mostly in jest. I mean if you even know Jeff a little bit, you know that he already does all of these things and does them quite well and with consistency. But, his resolutions got me thinking about new year's resolutions and how we all should be so smart to make resolutions that we are sure to keep. How do we do that?

First, think about what you are good at. Is there anything that when you do it, people almost always compliment you, affirm you or ask you when you'll be doing that again? If something pops in to your mind, then you should resolve to do that more often in 2011! For me, it's song writing. I always keep myself super busy with so many other activities. In fact, in 2010, I was very involved in some important issues in our neighborhood. Some, that took up a lot of time. Maybe too much time. As much as I love our neighborhood. I am not going to resolve to spend more time on issues in the neighborhood this year. Instead, I am going to help where I am needed and do something I really love- write music. We completed work on seven songs this year and were blessed to be able to play them with the band and teach them to the congregation at our church. Many times, I was given the highest compliment I could imagine at this point in my songwriting career. And that is being told that "I love the new song you guys are doing. Who sings the new one you did today?"- meaning, who recorded it and made it famous? And, I get to say that I wrote it. That is super fun! I've even been told that some of the songs I've written are favorite songs. And, that's before they are surprised to learn that I've written them. I was telling my pastor that sometimes I feel a little strange even saying I wrote the songs that I've written. Because, I really feel that they are gifts. They really are. They are gifts and I resolve and hope to keep receiving the gift of songs in 2011! I promise to share if I do!


What is something that you do that makes you YOU? Let's talk about my friend Jeff again. He's funny. Not a comedian, necessarily, but a genuinely funny person. If I was going to describe him I would definitely include "doesn't take himself too seriously" in the description. It's funny, really. Jeff and I have been friends for over ten years now. And, I promise, I never would have thought that would have happened considering our first meeting. He drove me crazy. Constantly calling me a nickname that I hated and he pretty much seemed to obtain a lot of pleasure from driving me nuts. But, he was funny. He drove me crazy, but he was funny. And, once I got to know him, I really liked him...a lot. Now, I would say he's hilarious and super fun to be around. He's constantly smiling or making others smile and his energy is infectious. When Jeff says he's going to take life less seriously and make jokes, he's just saying that he is going to do something that he already enjoys doing and that he does well. The thing I heard about me a lot this year was how relaxed I am. I was not always like this. But, I also didn't have four kids and a totally fun life before either! So, as for me, I am going to be more relaxed in 2011. I'm going to go with the flow, be myself and embrace the chaos of my life. These are things I already do and I'm going to do better in 2011. My kids are going to keep surprising me. My house is going to almost always be a mess. There will still be a drumset in my living room. And, this momma WILL be relaxed and go with the flow in 2011!

Jeff is a photog. From the time we first met, he always took pictures of everything. He probably has a photo from that awful first meeting at the Farmer's Market! Every event, every party, every person, every detail, every thing! Now, he gets paid to take pictures. He's a professional and he's taken lots of headshot photos for up-and-coming artists and actors in Hollywood. He's turned something that he loves to do for fun into something that he can do as a career. That's amazing. And, while that works for some of us, most of us just get to have a hobby that we can do and keep doing this year. So, pick something that you love and know you will do all year long; for birthdays, events, parties and resolve to do it. Make it your "thing." Mine is hosting parties and baking. I resolve to bake more in 2011. I have four children. So, there will be at least four birthday parties, most likely at my house, this year. Plus, Leeland will be baptised this year, we'll have Easter to celebrate, Christmas, Moustapha's birthday, my birthday, holidays and I'd love to have party that we always do each year. I still haven't figured out which one that will be. I'm leaning toward an annual Christmas party. But, we're just not sure yet. But, with all of the guaranteed parties we'll have this year there is lots of opportunity to do my "thing!" I will bake cakes, cookies, cupcakes and more for these fun celebrations. Yesterday, I made cake balls for the first time. They were delicious! I will definitely find a special occasion to make these treats this year. I am thinking about eye balls for Halloween.

To conclude, my new year's resolutions are 1. to write more songs, 2. to be more relaxed and 3. to have more parties and bake a lot. In other words, I am going to be more like me in 2011. I am going to be myself and I'm going to share the things that I believe I am good at with others, which will only bring me more joy and happiness.

Looking forward to a wonderful 2011. Happy New Year, Everyone!


me & my two youngest Els celebrating Christmas

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Blessed Christmas Day by El Momma

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas day. We definitely did. It was one of those days where it could have been a complete chaotic mess and that would have been okay. Because, what can you really expect from a family with four kids, age five and under!? But, by the end of the day when my husband and I were sitting alone in our living room by the soft glowing lights of the Christmas tree reflecting on the day, we knew our Christmas day was just as it should be. Perfect.

Our day started with 3 very excited little Els. They were anxious to get downstairs and see if Santa left them a present under the Christmas tree. I think this picture captures them in the middle of saying "happy birthday, Jesus!"



Santa was good to all of the Els. He brought an engraved rocking horse snow globe for the baby, a collector's baby doll for Trinity, an electric guitar for Maddux and Magic School Bus science kits for Bakri. They were very very excited!





Our day continued with the arrival of my parents to celebrate Christmas with my mom and dad, sister, brother, sister-in-law and three of our nephews. Not leaving our house on Christmas day was such a blessing. I can't even begin to explain how amazing this made our Christmas. My parents arrived with lots of food and I made a couple of really simple dishes- baked brie, a turducken, and green bean casserole. We just relaxed and prepared the table for food and the kids played with some of their new toys.
My brother and his family arrived and the fun really began! They have 3 boys and another baby on the way. So, we will soon have 8 grandchildren at all of our gatherings. It is a lot of fun. After a casual lunch, we had a birthday party for Jesus.


We gathered at the table for the birthday party!



 
 

 We sang the "happy birthday" song three times. One time the candle went out on its own. Then my sister blew it out the second time. Finally, the third time (the charm) the grands blew out the birthday candle. Whew!



Soon it was time to open presents. We gathered in areas of the living room...separated in to family groups! And, actually, it wasn't that crazy after all. The wildest time was when the boys opened their "pillow pets," a gift from their Aunt Melinda. It was hilarious. They all screamed and cheered about their pillow pets. So fun!
Leeland got a new blanket with his name and birthday monogrammed on it. He loves it.




 Maddux is a sharp dresser. So, he really loved his new winter sweater and wanted to put it on right away. He did. No big deal that it is on backwards!
 Leeland, Trinity and Anthony got rocking chairs from Grandmother and Grandfather. The older boys got rocking chairs for Christmas a few years ago. These rocking chairs are so nice. They are solid cherry and have their names and birthdays on them. I hope they will keep them forever and someday their children will rock in them.











 After all of the partying, opening of presents, eating, singing and laughing, the kids napped and then watched a movie and I folded clothes and made dinner. Yes, folded clothes. It was glorious! Seriously, with a family of six and all of the rehearsals, preparing for church services, Christmas parties and family events, I managed to keep our clothes clean, but not put away. It took me nearly two hours to complete this task! But, I did it and I felt amazing when it was done! For dinner, I asked the Els what they wanted and the answer was "pancakes." So, I whipped up a fresh batch of homemade pancakes and they each ate at least three. I think Bakri had five. And then, with full tummies, we put them all to bed, with their pillow pets, of course!


There was still plenty of work to be done in the house, but instead we decided to sit together in the quiet, downstairs. The Christmas tree was lit and we just talked. We talked about Christmas. We talked about our children. We talked about how special the  day turned out to be. We talked about the blessing of Christmas. How do we make it about Jesus when the world says it's about presents? I don't know the answer to that. But, I do know that we showed our children a lot of love on Christmas. We didn't give them a lot of presents, but I know they felt the love and hopefully they will learn that is the most precious gift you can give and receive.

May your days be Merry and Bright.

Lots of love,
El Momma

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!


Christmas Eve with the Els! What a day! It turned out great, but it was one busy, hectic day, especially for El Momma!

When you are the momma you are expected to do certain things. At least, in this house. And, I'm okay with that. I am considered a "stay at home" momma. And, I'm good with that title too. In addition to the many jobs that title brings with it, I am blessed to have another job as a worship leader at a loving church in West U and with that job comes a lot of work around the holidays. Great work! But, work, none-the-less. Leading up to the days before Christmas, I led worship the first 2 Sundays of Advent, participated in two  Lessons and Carols Services on the 4th Sunday of Advent, led worship Christmas Eve during our 5pm Family Service, led worship the first Sunday after Christmas AND my husband sang a song "Manger Throne" as part of the sermon series throughout all of Advent. And, we had a sit-down dinner party for the band at our house plus a ton of rehearsals to prepare for all of the services. The Els were amazing through it all. They almost always have to come early with me to services. And, for the most part, they were great! So, back one of the things I am "expected" to do: shopping, that's the big one for Christmas. I think a lot about gifts. I like to get people things they will really like and use. I don't know if I'm totally successful with that. But, my heart is in the right place. Somehow, some way, we managed to get all of the gifts for family in time for Christmas, except for one that was guaranteed for Christmas Eve delivery to Sugar Land and is still floating around somewhere in Stafford. But, other than that, I did my job! I don't even know how I did it. In fact at 1:40pm Christmas Eve, just 1 hour and 20 minutes before I was supposed to arrive with my entire family to church for sound check and rehearsal, I was still inside Mega Marshalls. This was right when they announced over the load speaker that they were "probably going to lose power at 2pm for about 30 minutes." Aaaaah! That is one way to cause panic and make everyone in the store rush to the front. What a nightmare. And, really, I was just trying to grab a new dress or something that would actually fit my "I have a 5 month old baby" body. So, after that, I managed to get home, help get everyone dressed for church and get myself dressed and then we made it to church only 15 minutes after sound check was supposed to begin. Luckily, the Youth Band (which I am lucky enough to direct) started their sound check without me. The service was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. And, it was nearly perfect. I was a little stressed during Silent Night when no one came to light the candles of the band members and the lights didn't go out in the sanctuary. But, in the great scheme of things, that really is not a big deal. And, I believe that wasn't important to God at the time, or it would have happened. So, I've had to let that little imperfection go and know that our praises to Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit were perfect on Christmas Eve, even without candles in the dark!

After the service, we made our way to Moustapha's parents' house to have Christmas Eve dinner and a celebration with the family. We didn't make it in time for dinner. We probably would have been closer to dinner time, if it wasn't for the horrific rain storm we traveled through. We're lucky to have made it at all. And, after we finally made it inside, somehow I didn't burst into tears. But, I promise, I came very close!
Moustapha and I enjoyed dinner and soon everyone gathered in the living room to open presents: Moustapha's parents, all three of his sisters, their families including five more children and all of us found a place to sit. Two of our nephews had ear infections and were running fever. Thankfully, they are all better now. But, that was really hard on them and their parents. We spent the rest of the night opening gifts, relaxing and talking with family.

 The Els in front of the Christmas tree.


 Leeland and his new froggy!

 Aunt Leila with Leeland at dinner.
 Maddux with Toy Story toys!

 Oooooooooooooooooh, a tricycle!
 Grandma and Jiddy

 Christopher and Aunt Amira
 My first Christmas




 Princesses


By the time we arrived home, Trinity was asleep and Bakri and Maddux stayed up to put cookies and milk out for Santa. It wasn't long before they were dreaming too. Mommy and Daddy's work was still not done. We had to really get ready for Santa! But, soon, we were fast asleep and before we knew it, the Els were waking us up ready to start Christmas Day!


Monday, December 20, 2010

In the full swing of Advent and the Christmas Season with the ELs

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Happy Holidays, everyone! Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season as much as we are. We've been so busy. It's been crazy. And, believe me, it has been chaotic at times. But, it is crazy fun! 

Leeland is  5 months old and happier than ever. He's had some breathing issues this month, but we're hoping his breathing treatments with a nebulizer will help that. I've noticed an improvement over the last day, so hopefully we are on the right track. Two of the other Els also had breathing issues when they were little and they've outgrown them. Hopefully, he'll do the same. For now, he's smiley and happy. 

Bakri has been growing and changing so much over the last few months. He's in kindergarten and is really enjoying his school. It's been amazing seeing him mature. He's a wonderful little boy.

We visited with Santa at our friends' Christmas party. So fun!

We celebrated Maddux's fourth birthday this month with a "thankful for Maddux" party. Maddux really enjoyed meeting Santa. None of the kids have even asked for anything for Christmas. They are just happy celebrating the season. Maddux loves talking to us and is constantly thinking about the next plan. He even has plans for when he's "a man." He's going to have a "woman" and let her sleep in his bed. I'm hoping this "woman" is his wife. :-)


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Moustapha, Leeland and I were Joseph, baby Jesus and Mary in our church's children's musical. 



Trinity is such a joy most of the time. She's two, so she occasionally lives up to the "terrible twos!" She knows how to assert herself, is so smart and she loves to talk. She really enjoys dressing up and going to holiday parties.