About El Momma

Monday, June 30, 2014

Minivan Time!

A few of #theEls Picking up our #tourbus ! Aka the minivan! #escapetothelake2014

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Update and Our first "tour"

Update: no theme weeks this summer. Our weeks have been overflowing with activities and adventure. Perhaps, because we're all a little older. And, we have a few activities that were seasonal for us in the past that are currently year round. Ie. Baseball and swimming.
So, let's catch up. We started the summer with a bit of a birthday bonanza. El Dad and our niece were first with their shared birthdays. Then, Jiddy (El Dad's dad) and then Aunt Bea (El Dad's sister) and our nephew, Christian who also share a birthday. We went to a James Taylor concert (2 adults + 8 kids on 2 blankets = super fun chaotic goodness).
The Els have attended two great VBS weeks at churches that we know well. And, in between, Maddux has played in select league machine pitch and his team has won both tournaments he has played in. Go Bombers! Trinity also attended a dance class and Leeland took a two week intensive swim class and learned to swim. Seriously. He says "I can float on my back by myshelf!"
We've celebrated friend's birthdays too and we've kept up our YMCA routine. Moustapha enjoyed fathers day with the Els, my family and his. It's been a great summer so far. I even had a Momma-daughter date last night with Miss T to see the Little Mermaid presented by TUTS at the Hobby Center.
Our first "tour"
Now, we're about to embark on a new adventure. Escape to the Lake in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin sponsored by Under the Radar radio. I'm playing a show on July 4th on the Lake at 2pm. We'll be at the festival for three days. I'm also speaking about creative things to do with your kids and I'm part of a breakout session on songwriting. I'm totally excited. And, really excited about taking our tour bus (aka a rented minivan) across the country with 6 people (aka my crew). I will take lots of pictures and try to blog along the way. Pray for us. This is going to be a memory the Els have forever. Let's pray it's a great one!

Also, Moustapha asked me yesterday if I've been coaching the kids. I promise I haven't. But, I have been writing and singing a lot. So maybe that's why in the middle of an activity an El will stop, turn to me and say "I love your music" or "you're such a great artist." And, then another one will reply "I didn't know you were an artist, Momma. You can't draw." And, then I'm humbled. The end. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Confession: I work out every day and it's not about my body

What!? Yes, It's true. I work out. Every day. It's summer and my everyday workout is a given.
It's not because I need to look good for the beach. I have no plans to go to the beach. I wish I did. But, I don't.
However, I will work out tomorrow and every other week day of the summer. Why? Because, it's my break time.
I have a Y membership. It comes with childcare. CHILDCARE for 1.5 hours. For all four of my kids. All four. They take them. They smile at me. They smile at me when I drop them off and again when I pick them up. It's heaven.
And, even though I work out while we're apart, I'm still happy. I need time. I need space. I need a schedule. So, this is it. It's our routine and good gracious, if I get fit on this routine, then so be it.
That's just the way it is.
And, I'm super tired from all of this exercise. Like, really, really tired.
Here I am, tired!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lessons I learned from a summer day with the Els

Lesson 1: "There is a 5 second rule. Really. It exists."
This lesson needs no explanation. But, it was told to me by my oldest right after an organic, gluten-free fish stick fell on the floor and I quickly picked it up, (in less than five seconds, of course) blew on it and handed it back to my three year old who immediately ate it. Done.
Lesson 2: No matter how peaceful things are in my home, my children will always start a game of tag the instant I make a dash for a minute alone in the bathroom.
This one never ever fails. I have to attempt this every day and I can promise you, I leave the room, close the door and the pounding of little feet begins.
Lesson 3: Screaming to "STOP RUNNING!" has zero impact.
Zero. Especially when I've just left the room to go to the bathroom. Yelling doesn't work. The pounding sound of running continues all the same.
Lesson 4: Rewards work.
I'm not saying to bribe your children. Really, I'm not. But, if you want clothes put away and you're willing to have them play a game after or watch a show anyway, guess what? Ask your children to do it and let them know that when they are finished, we'll play a game. This works with my kids. At least it's working on day 17 of summer. I'm going to keep trying this one out.
Lesson 5: 50 minutes of pool time makes for some very grateful children.
I packed a small cooler of ice with 5 water bottles, 4 Apple sauce pouches and a tub of washed blueberries. The Els were ecstatic after this very easy adventure. It's hard to take four kids  anywhere. Honestly, it is. But, the reward; the happiness on their little sunscreened faces was totally worth it. This particular adventure wasn't even that hard and I even did yoga while they were in the Y Childwatch before we went swimming. Win win.
Lesson 6: Be flexible.
It's summer. We are on vacation. I'm not. My husband isn't. But, "we" the Els, are on vacation. And some people in this house like to sleep in until 11am. Crazy, right!? I think that was me like 20 years ago. I can't even remember those days clearly. Strict schedules and bedtime before dark is almost impossible. So, don't even try. It's summer. Just go with it.
I'm sure there are many more lessons I've learned from the Els. In. A. Day. But, honestly, I can't remember what I was just doing. So, I'll leave you with these six lessons. It's after 11am and the last El just woke up. I guess it's time for made-to-order breakfast for one. Bye for now.
-El Momma

My peaceful den (confession: it rarely looks like this and only after all of the Els are in bed)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

And We're Off to a Running Start- First Week of Summer is Done!

I can't help but sing "in Sum-merrrrrr" ala Olaf from Frozen. If you haven't seen the movie, then the songs are probably not stuck in your head or being sung over and over again by your housemates. Great songs, but any song can get annoying after the hundredth time you hear it being belted out by your five year old daughter. Gotta love "Sum-merrrrrr!"
So, we're off and the first week of summer is already behind us. I counted and I believe we have 93 days of summer. Meaning, we only have 81 days left! Aack! We better get to livin...
The first weekend of summer was filled with birthday fun. First, the hubs grilled burgers and hotdogs at his parents' home on his birthday. 

We had cake, of course and the theme is one that will probably be with us all summer long: B-A-S-E-B-A-L-L! So long 38 and hello, 39. Happy happy birthday to Moustapha!
We decorated with Moustapha's vintage pennants. Here's his beautiful momma with one from 1984! "Mo-stapha!"
A little attention needed for our little guy and then...
Time for a song and cake!

We all put up our Longhorns and little Leeland sported his peace sign proudly.
With my dear parents and sister.
Moustapha's sweet Aunt Mary Louise even joined in for the party. She was visiting from out of town!
Our newest family member was also part of the celebration. We love all of our nephews!
We've had cake, and now let's have some chocolate fudgecicles. Why not!?
Me and the birthday boy!
With his proud daddy.
And, then...we celebrated another very special birthday. Our sweet niece, Grace shares a birthday with Moustapha. She turned 3. Isn't she lovely?

After the birthday celebrations, we had an adventure of our own at the El House. One afternoon, I went in to our daughter's room only to discover the noise of a small critter coming from the wall. Something was stuck and not happy about it. That night, the oldest boys slept in a different room (they share a wall with their sister) in sleeping bags on the floor and our two youngest also slept in different beds then their usual spots. All to get away from whatever was nervous and clawing at the wall. The next day, Moustapha cut a hole in the wall, only to discover this little face looking back at him. A baby raccoon. We called the Texas Wildlife Center. They believed that the mom might come back for the baby. So, we placed the baby in this little bin and the baby stayed there all night. By the next morning, Moustapha was really worried about the baby, so he took the baby raccoon - the kids named him Racky- to the Wildlife Center. They said he was dehydrated, but otherwise doing well. We are allowed to check on Racky's progress twice over the next 6 months. We will try to be patient!
Throughout the week, Maddux played in a tournament on a 7U select league team. His team, The Bellaire Bombers, won every game and they won the entire tournament on Saturday. Moustapha, Bakri and I enjoyed cheering them on to victory. Did I mention that baseball is going to be a big theme this summer? This is part of the reason for that. It's our first time having anyone play select league. It could get interesting!
Maddux, getting his team first place trophy!
With me.
With Dad.
And, brothers celebrating at dinner!
I think that about sums up the first week of summer. It was a fun doozy! We've already celebrated another birthday this week- my father-in-law and we have more coming this week. I can't complain. Summer, baseball, birthdays, family, music...these are a few of my favorite things....

Hope your summer is off to a great start too. The last few summers, we've had theme weeks at our house to give us purpose each week and to really help me stay organized and keep the Els active. Several of my friends shared this blog post from City Moms Blog with a bucket list of things to do with your kids this summer in Houston. Check it out here: http://citymomsblog.com/houston/summer-2014-bucket-list/ This is specific to Houston, but many of the activities would work in any town. I did have one child request the theme weeks again yesterday. I'm still contemplating that. I will update here if we decide to go that route or if we have our own bucket list this summer. I will definitely post our activities here. Keep busy, keep calm and keep cool!

- El Momma