About El Momma

Monday, December 17, 2012

a letter to the Els

We love you. With everything that we are. We love you.
After the tragic events that took place in Newtown, CT last Friday. The taking of so many innocent and vulnerable lives. I am without understanding. I am without compassion. I am without caring for political agendas and opinionated facebook posts and blog rants. But, one thing that I am not without is LOVE. I have so much love. Love for you. Love for your screaming fits and passionate fights over toys. Love for your inability to be rational when you are just too tired. Love for your smiles in the morning and the way you wipe your eyes to try to wake yourself up. Love for the way you move too slowly before school that we are almost always late. Love for your little toes with sock fuzz between them. Love for the way you tie your shoes. The way you won't let me brush your hair. The way you have to negotiate your every move and I let you, because I love you. Love for you. Love for your morning hugs and afternoon "how was your day, momma?" Love for your eyes. Love for your smile. Love for your sweet sweet kisses. Love for you. Just you. I love you. Never ever forget how much I love you. I will always always love you. 1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
love,
Momma

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seven Year Old, Bakri's First Song

Our oldest son, Bakri had an assignment to do a family culture project for his second grade Fall project. He wrote a song about our family. He sang the lyrics. I jotted them down quickly. We made our way to the piano and he continued to sing. He wrote several verses and a really cute chorus. I worked on recording the music and then Bakri sang his part. We recorded it with garageband. Once Bakri's lead vocals were recorded, the kids and I recorded our parts. Once the song was done, we recorded video for the music video. I am very proud of my Bakri and his brothers and sisters. What a fun project!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Standing up for Melinda- added link to song YOUR PROMISES on YouTube

Sisters
The first time I remember doing it, I was just a kid. We were in a Summer track program. And, somebody was making fun of her. Laughing at her and calling her "retarded." And, I was spitting mad. I mean, furious. I remember wanting to physically fight for her. Instead, I yelled at them and told them she was my sister and to "shut up!" And, if you know me now or if you knew me as a child, rather, you would know, I was as mild-mannered as they come. But, those were fighting words and for her I would fight. Her name is Melinda.

She is my big sister. I didn't know she was different. I didn't know that expectations would be different for her than me. That she would always live with our parents. That she would grow up and be more childlike than not. That she would always be my biggest fan. All I knew was that she was my older sister, my best friend, my entertainment and my family. I don't remember ever being told that Melinda had Down syndrome. It was just a part of her and totally normal for our family. She was eight years old when I was born. In some ways, she thinks of me as hers. And, I think of her as mine.

 Her response to hearing the r-word, either said around her or, on the rare occasion, about her, is always the same,"I'm not retarded. I'm a brain-injured woman!" She would say this when she was twelve. She's forty-two years old now and this is still her response. It definitely gets a laugh, but I also think it teaches a lesson. If someone like Melinda hears the word and is offended, why do we use it?

 I've always felt passionate about the issue. When I was in college I started hearing it more and more in pop culture. It was used in movies and by young stars. At that time, if I was around someone who used the r-word, I would say something. It's not like I expected them to feel the same way I did. But, I thought that I could educate people one-by-one and make a difference. I think it worked. I never wanted to make people feel guilty, so I would try to be happy and casual in my response. For example, I might say "oh, I'm totally not a fan of that word. My sister has Down's." Or, "that is one of my least favorite words. It's one of the few words still being said that should be on the 'not politically correct' list." Or, "you know, that is the one word that I hope people will stop saying." Usually, it would lead to a nice discussion. And, most of the time, I would never hear that person use the word again. Or, if I did they would tell me they were trying to get out of the habit.

 When I lived in Los Angeles, it was the same experience. My friends were mostly professionals, college-educated, and many were in the music business or movie business. It was easy to share my story with them and to talk about Melinda. Most people when they think about it, really think about it, understand why the word shouldn't be used to describe something that doesn't work or in a self-deprecating way to call yourself stupid. It's hurtful to a group of our population that can't easily defend themselves. But, it is also hurtful to those who love them. And, it is unnecessary. There are so many other words that we can use instead. 

Melinda has always made friends with my friends. She's hilarious. She's witty. She's loving and she's never met a stranger in her life. My high school friends were her friends. My college friends adore her and her them. My Los Angeles friends and co-workers are the same way. One time Melinda came by herself to visit me in LA. We all did karaoke together, went to Disneyland and the beach and had the best time. My boss, a well-know Public Relations Exec in Beverly Hills, even hired her to "clean the office" for a couple of hours. She loved it! She's awesome. She deserves better than the people of the world using the r-word incessantly with no thought whatsoever of who they are hurting.

 I got the shock of my life after interviewing for public relations jobs in Houston, accepting a position and starting my new job. As soon as the interview process was done and I was officially an employee, it started...the endless and continuous use of the r-word by nearly everyone in the office. They used it to describe themselves when they were unhappy with their performances. And, they used it to describe their laptop when it didn't work as it should. They used it to describe their driving when driving like a bat-out-of-hell. And, they used the word regularly in front of clients. All of these were work settings. And, to me, at least, all of these circumstances were extremely inappropriate times to use this word. I had heard it said before. But, never in professional settings. And, never by anyone in the PR industry in Los Angeles/ Beverly Hills. I was appalled and completely shocked. But, it is the next part of the story that shocked me more than anything. I believed that once I met with my boss(es) and told them about Melinda and told them how I found the word to be extremely offensive, they would realize the error of their ways and institute a new "no r-word policy" at work. Yes, I was nervous to meet with them and I tried my very best to present it in a way so they wouldn't feel judgment from me. I just wanted to further educate them and I thought, especially in the public relations industry, they would be sensitive to words that are not politically correct and not socially acceptable. Even if society is still catching up, I believed people in the PR business would want to present themselves and their clients in the best light. Excessive use of the r-word, in my opinion, is not the best light. It's nowhere near the best light.

 I met with my female boss first, and then the male boss. I had heard them both use the word too many times to count. But, they weren't my friends, they were my bosses, my "new" bosses. And, I was extremely thoughtful in my approach, knowing I should talk with them privately and not in front of any of my co-workers. That is what I did. It was awful. I originally thought that I would talk to her first and that I would never need to talk to anyone else at the company about it. But, since she didn't offer a resolution that involved banning the use of the r-word in the work place or even toning the use of the word down, I couldn't let it lie. The next morning I met with the boss of the company. He was already aware of my concern, as she had filled him in the evening before. He had time to think it over and prepare a response before we met. His response was unbelievable to me at the time and it still is. He was defiant and defensive of the right of all of the employees and our superiors to use the r-word freely and as often as they would like. What!?!? Seriously? This was a company that specialized in public relations and who proudly wanted to alienate a large part of our public by using a word that is offensive to them and their loved ones. We continued to discuss the matter. But, in the end, I was left with a choice, stay and work in this environment which I believed was now hostile toward me or stand up for Melinda and no longer work there.

 I chose Melinda and every other mentally-challenged person I knew and everyone who loves them. I chose to stand up and to move on. This choice meant that I wouldn't have a conventional job for the next seven years and counting. It changed the entire course of my life, freeing me up to do what I'm meant to do, as I prepare now to record my first full-length Christian worship album. Who knows what would have happened had I stayed there? But, I know I did the right thing. And, I have no regrets.

 For more information and to pledge not to use the R-Word visit: R-Word, Spread the Word to End the Word http://r-word.org/
Rebekah and Melinda
A song I wrote inspired by Melinda, my Momma and all who have struggles in life where holding tight to God's promises is the only way we can breathe. This is for you. Photos and videos and home videos from my grandmother, now in heaven. The song is "Your Promises" from the album, Radiant You by Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam. smarturl.it/radiantyou

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Good afternoon, friends!
We hope you are doing well and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, taking the time to pause and give thanks for the important things in life. My husband started his "what I'm thankful for" speech with "This year I am thankful for the finer things in life...my family, my children, my wife...my savior" It's true. These are the finer things and the things that we often take for granted and forget to be really truly thankful for.

So, today, I am cleaning. My finer things (the Els) are watching movies. I have to clean in order to decorate for Christmas. Somehow decorating a dusty window seems wrong. But, as I am cleaning and they are watching, I am counting my blessings. Thankful I have a home to clean and mouths to feed and family to irritate me and excite me beyond words.

Happy thanksgiving, friends.
love,
El Momma






Monday, October 15, 2012

It's Fall...here's our EL Update


It's (a little) cooler this morning in Houston, Texas. Almost feels like it could be October, but not quite. We're doing great. 

Leeland is two and happier than ever. 

Maddux started Kindergarten and Bakri is in second grade. I am spending more time at both of their schools. So far, we are having a great school year. 

My debut album was released on September 18. 

It's really exciting and stressful just to try to get the music out there. But, when people hear it, they are moved and they tell me about it. I am very blessed. 

If you know what to search (ie. my name), you can find me almost anywhere....iTunes, amazon, cdbaby, zune, bandcamp, noisetrade, etc. And, even next to Sandi Patty, at times. :-)

This was my look of shock and relief the day the album was released....ah

And, now, me and the family are headed to churches and events on my off weeks to spread the music to more churches and communities. Last week, we went to Crosspoint Church in Bellaire and I had the joy of leading along side of my friend and amazing talent, Aaron Senseman and the great worship team at Crosspoint. I am very grateful to be able to share the music in this way. Could I come to your church? Contact rebekahmemusic@gmail.com for booking information. 

Trinity turned four and we celebrated with a family party at our church. We made homemade pizzas, danced and enjoyed celebrating Miss Trinity. She is becoming quite the little lady. 

Leeland had his first haircut. Momma cut off the longest curls in the back, but I'm not ready to go short yet. He still has some baby curls.

Grandma (Moustapha's mom) loves to buy the kids halloween costumes. This year the Els had requests: Mario themed costumes! Toad! Princess Peach! Luigi! and Mario! We are waiting until Halloween to put on the mustaches. 

Happy October, y'all!

love,
El Momma and the Els

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK and PREORDERS are IMPORTANT

So, it's Back to School week with the Els! Summer is coming to a close and we're busy this week doing things that we meant to do all Summer and preparing for next week. It's going to be a quite a change for all of us. Daily routines. Getting up early. Going to bed early. Momma packing tons of lunches. (not my favorite part) Homework. Dance class. Swimming class. Piano lessons. Preschool. Pre-K3. Kindergarten. Second grade. Oh my!

And, meanwhile, I have a ton of preparations to get ready for my cd to release on iTunes and beyond on September 18th. And, a CD release concert on the 15th. And, I'm still talking about pre-orders. Why? Because, pre-orders are really important in this process. Everything that is pre-ordered gets reported on release date. And, if an independent artist, like myself, can sell enough pre-orders, it's possible to chart, even regionally. And, if an artist charts, the artist will be heard by more people and that is the point of the music. So, if you would like to order the album, please consider pre-ordering. It helps!

Album options


Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy end of Summer and a great start to the school year.

lots of love,
Rebekah

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer theme weeks continue! Weeks 5-9!

Well, somebody forgot to update my blog!

Okay, it was me. But, I've been busy.

I'm sure you are all eager to know what our themes have been the last few weeks. Right? Maybe not. But, we have been keeping busy, as usual and we have actually stayed on target with theme weeks. It's an El Miracle!
 Where we left off:
Week 4. Musical performance week. The Els performed a song from Aladdin at our church Disney Night. Quite the fun experience. Including some really thoughtful notes and messages from members of our church community. God really does use us to encourage each other! Check out the video here: http://youtu.be/_IRAAQWXSvY 

 Week 5. Tradition and history week. This was the week of the fourth of July. So, we learned about the Presidents of the United States. We ate barbeque and spent time with our family and friends. We went to lots of family parties and had a really great week. And, we went to the site where the busts of the Presidents of the US are kept in Houston.











Next up, week 6. Vacation Bible School week! This week all of us participated in VBS at our home church. I volunteered to help with the music for the 3-5 year olds. Leeland went to the church nursery. Maddux and Trinity went to VBS each morning and Bakri had a part in the Sunday production and participated in VBS all day every day from 9-3! We ended the week with a celebration for Leeland's second birthday and the Els enjoyed singing in the Sunday morning service.








Week 7. Family vacation week!
This was my favorite week thus far. Why? Because, we went on a mini-vacay! To San Antonio and we had a blast. We even took a family friend with us. We're too big of a family to stay in one room. So, we had 7 people in 2 adjoining rooms. We floated on the lazy river, sat by the pool, swam in the pool, played ping pong, played baseball, watched movies, ate smores, went out to eat, celebrated Leeland's birthday (on the actual day) and enjoyed being together. Who could ask for more?
The birthday boy with his VBS brothers and sister arriving in San Antonio!























We even had time for a quick drive-by visit with some special SA friends on the way home!




Terrified of.......the kitty cat


Trinity, kind enough to invite us all to her tea party

Week 8. Dinosaurs!
We have a dinosaur exhibit at the Houston Zoo and a new Paleontology Hall at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We studied about dinosaurs this week, watched Dino Dan, did Dinosaur puzzles, colored Dinosaur pictures and visited the Zoo and HMNS. We all learned a lot and enjoyed getting to see the amazing exhibit at the HMNS the most. 









 Reading books about dinosaurs


Ummmm. That's a huge mouth of a shark and Maddux

The Hermann Park Train- we took it between the Zoo and Museum

Week 9. Earth week.
This week, it's all about the earth. This wonderful, amazing planet we are blessed to live on. So, we're watching the Olympics, where the earth's greatest athletes compete on the world stage. And, we're learning more about taking care of the earth and the importance of recycling. We have lots of recycling to do this week. I will post pictures after the week is complete. And, since we are in Hurricane Season on the gulf coast, we're also learning about weather this week. It's an eclectic week- earth week, but it leaves room to learn a lot about things the Els are interested in and honestly, that is the best part. 

Hope you are all having a great Summer. Only 3 weeks remain. I can hardly believe it. Enjoy them. Love your kiddos and if you are in Houston, let us know if you want to play. We're always available for play dates with friends!

love,
El Momma and the Els