About El Momma

Monday, September 28, 2020

Best Ever ! Gluten Free Sausage Balls using only 3 Ingredients.

So good. No one will ever guess they are gluten free. 


El Momma’s Gluten Free Sausage Balls

By El Momma, Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 20 minutes 

Makes: approximately 45 sausage balls



Several years ago, my momma called me and asked if I could bring her famous sausage balls to our family thanksgiving lunch. I decided to make these and didn’t tell anyone they were gluten free. They were a huge hit. And, less tummies were aching after this experiment. Truthfully, these are so good. I would never make them any other way. We do have a very large family. So, if you would like to make a smaller batch, remember the ratio is 1-1-1. Enjoy! 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grated cheese blend 
  • 2 cups baking mix (suggest Gluten Free Bisquick)
  • 2 lbs of ground pork sausage




Directions

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine about half of the bisquick with 1 lb of sausage in a standing mixing bowl. Mix until combined (about 30 seconds)





 Add the remainder of the bisquick and sausage and mix until well-blended. *TIP You may want to have the shield on your mixer to start, as it can be a little messy when first mixing in the bisquick. Once the bisquick and sausage are blended, add half of the cheese, followed by the remaining cheese. 




We like this balance of meat, cheese and bread. However, you could always add more cheese! I am sure your family/guests would not complain! 


Next, use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to form the balls. These will be heaping scoops measuring about 2 tablespoons in all.




 Form into balls as you scoop and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving space in between the balls. I can safely fit 15 balls on each baking sheet. 





Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. When using parchment paper, I do not move the sausage balls during baking. I will check them at 18 minutes and leave for an additional 2 minutes, if needed. 






We serve them with mustard, jam, or maple syrup. Your family will love them! 




El Momma’s Gluten Free Sausage Balls

So good, No one will ever guess they are gluten free. 





Tuesday, September 22, 2020

How Do You Get Your Kids to do that?

If I’ve been asked once, I have been asked a thousand times. How do you get your kids to ...fill in the blank? Examples are: eat vegetables, eat a variety of foods, try new things, sleep in, talk early, be so verbal, perform in front of people, participate in activities they don’t want to do (at first), stay in an activity that they asked to sign up for, but now want to quit and so on?

Nearly ALL of the answers involve presenting options to our kids, being an example and talking, talking, talking. Many times the ultimate choice is theirs. For example, I will never force them to eat something which they have decided not to eat. However, I won’t let them quit an activity we have already committed to. 

I’m going to spend the next few posts diving in to our family culture and telling stories. These are not meant to be formulas for you to follow in order to get your kids to behave a certain way. Believe me when I say, I do not have this parenting thing figured out. I don't think I ever will. But, I do have a lot of kids (ages 16 months all the way to 15 years), with one special needs child and a lot of experience. I’m going to share more about our family and how our family experiences have shaped our kids. Right or wrong, we all have cultures in our families. It’s good to reflect on what those are and see where we can change or further explore the cultures we have developed as a family. 

Brussel Sprouts




Saturday, September 5, 2020

It has to be said, because it’s true

Every single time a friend of mine shares about their child starting middle school or ending elementary school, I bite my tongue. Every. Single. Time. 

Why? Because, I don’t want to break her heart. Usually, she’s emotional about her baby starting middle school and ending an era- If your child starts elementary at pre-k 4, that’s 7 years in elementary before moving on up. 

That’s also half way through your child’s primary and secondary education. 

What!? You haven’t thought about that? I can understand why. I didn’t either. Until, I felt slapped in the face with the end of middle school for our oldest son. And. now he’s starting his sophomore year in high school.

 In our school district, we have school choice, magnet schools, zoned schools, boundary schools, and more. Because your child doesn’t just automatically move up to the next neighborhood school- they can, but most people (at least) look into other options, at the beginning of fifth grade and again at the beginning of eighth grade, you apply for the next year/school.

 I think that process really speeds things up. Because, like when your child applies for college, they do that at the beginning of the year BEFORE they go. So, this year, for my eighth grader, we will choose his high school in the next couple of months. For my high schooler, we will be applying to college in two years. Aaaaaaaah!

Time, please slow down. 

My fifth grader will be applying to middle schools this fall. And, I guess my point is that we were just doing this for my now 10th grader. It has gone by so fast. Faster than any other period of his life. Those 3 years before prek. Slow. PreK 3? PreK 4? Kinder? Slow. Slow. Slow. 

Fifth grade? Lightning fast. For every single one of my fifth graders. I have had three so far. The fourth one starts tomorrow. Feels like yesterday that the second one was choosing his middle school. Btw, haven’t had a repeat middle school yet. We let the Els be their own people around here and try to make the best choice, based on their individual needs. 

So, I guess I’m feeling like I am about to blink and all of the Els, except for Jimmie, will be in and out of college. 

I’m going to take a breath and try to enjoy this year. It’s clear that this one is a bit different. Maybe that will help us all slow down a little?


Our oldest El, in sixth grade (4 years ago!) at Meyerland Middle School HISD 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

CARRYING ON





Remember that time 2 years ago...I was in the middle of a chemical pregnancy loss (where the baby doesn’t implant in the uterus, but I had a positive pregnancy test), I was bleeding a lot, in Santa Fe on an already planned vacation, processing losing my job, celebrating a dear friend’s birthday and hoping to get pregnant again soon (it would happen with baby jimmie the very next month) and carrying on?
 πŸ™πŸΌπŸ™πŸΌ CARRYING. ON. YALL. 

Not like nothing was happening. But, more like, everything was happening at once. It was. Good things. Bad things. Amazing things. Hard things. All the things. 

A good lesson: we don’t know what other people are going through in their lives. Most people had NO IDEA what we were experiencing then. But, we are now on the other side of that time. Still experiencing stuff. Still hard. Still good. Still great. Still CARRYING ON! 

Let’s go, y’all. Keep carrying on and keep supporting your loved ones. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep going. And, if you need a listening ear or you have a specific prayer request, I will intercede for you. I will listen. I’ve learned to listen more than I speak. My inbox and DMs are always open. Sending you love.

Always, 

El Momma 

 #behindthescenes #reality #beingreal #elmomma #iamelmomma #realmoms #reallife #carryon 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Nothing is Normal in 2020

The Birth of Jimmie Josiah, May 2019


A mother’s journey to find normal after losing a child, adding to our family and living through 2020

 

In August of 2017, our family was the happiest we had ever been. Our four big kids were finding their way and thriving. Our two oldest boys were 13 and 11 years old. Our daughter was 9 years old and our youngest son had just turned seven. And, we were nearly halfway through what seemed to be a normal, healthy pregnancy with a baby girl, Mary-Linda, who we were expecting to arrive near the end of the year. Life was good! Until, it wasn’t.

 

In one moment, everything changed. It was still summertime and I left the kids at home with their dad so I could run to my 18 week appointment. I had been unable to find the baby’s heartbeat on the fetal heartbeat Doppler the night before, but I shook it off as user error and tried to put it out of my mind. At my appointment, my greatest fears were realized and I learned that our daughter’s heart had stopped beating. The next few days, months and even years have been a struggle to find a new normal for us. Our life after losing our daughter, Mary-Linda is so different from our life before.

 

We are still trying to figure out what normal looks like. For a year, I continued to work in the same capacity I had worked in before Mary-Linda’s death. I loved being busy and I loved my job. It seemed right at the time. We spent that entire year going to therapy, doctor appointments, and visiting with specialists. I wanted so badly to pinpoint what happened to Mary-Linda, so we could move forward with as much information as possible. And, as it turned out, there was a diagnosis and a cause of death. Mary-Linda had suffered a Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage (blood loss/severe anemia) and her heart had stopped beating. The medical professionals missed alarming red flags in my bloodwork and did not follow protocol to refer me to a specialist. I learned all of this, as I researched this condition and found the blood results from early in pregnancy. These “problems” were never discussed with me, but the specialists I met with to prepare for another pregnancy, assured me that Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage was not something that happened to the same mother twice. I worried that something was not right after I delivered Mary-Linda silently and that was making it more difficult for us to get pregnant again. For thirteen months we prayed, we waited and we kept hunting for answers.

 

In September of 2018, after having a chemical pregnancy the month before, we found out we were expecting again. It was exciting and terrifying. We had a fertility doctor, a primary ob-gyn and high risk doctor all working with us. After the initial visits to confirm pregnancy, we would alternate seeing the ob-gyn and high risk doctor every couple of weeks. Each visit with the high risk doctor they would check for fetal anemia. I also stopped working outside the home around the same time I became pregnant. It wasn’t my intention to make this my new normal, but it sure was a huge blessing. I was surrounded with people, family and friends who loved me and supported me. I ended up really enjoying my pregnancy and soon found out we were pregnant with a boy. My father passed early in the spring and we named our baby boy after him. In May of 2019, baby Jimmie Josiah El-Hakam joined our family earth-side. 

 

This last year has been anything but normal. We had a baby. We moved to a different home. I started a new job, was laid off from that job because of COVID-19. Our oldest son, who is on the autism spectrum, started high school. We spent most of the last year experiencing firsts with our new baby. And, we spent another year missing our Mary-Linda. 

 

By the time March came around, we were in a pretty good rhythm. And then, the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe and we went into strict lockdown with my mom, who is 78 years old and has some health problems. My older sister, Melinda had Down Syndrome and lived with my parents her entire life. She passed away suddenly on Valentine’s Day this year at the age of 50. 

 

Our new normal really isn’t normal at all. My mom has lived with us for the last several months. Our kids are home- which the baby loves, by the way! My husband and I are both working from home. It’s intense.

 

For now, there’s no getting back to “normal.” We’ve lost so much. If we focus on that, it becomes too overwhelming. So, instead we just try to focus on finding some joy and happiness in each day. My big kids are older, so chores have become a part of our new normal. We also eat so many meals together. We enjoy that. But, honestly, I am very nervous about our potential to be successful in distance learning this Fall. Creating space for school work and work at home and space for baby to flourish is proving to be very difficult. 

 

As a practice, we pray together and attend online church as a family each Sunday. But, even that has begun to feel difficult to engage in as a family. We talk about our Mary-Linda. And, we recently celebrated 3 years since she was with us. We mixed that celebration in with happy, socially-distanced birthday parties for myself, my husband and 2 of our other living children. She’s a part of our family. She’s just not on earth with us. In our new house, her ashes sit on a shelf in my closet. It’s actually a very pretty place. I have a Mary-Linda bear sitting nearby and I look at it every single day. Sometimes, I hold the urn and completely lose it. Because, sometimes I just miss her so much that I can’t catch my breath. Having other loved ones in heaven with her does give me peace. Her Aunt Melinda. Her grandfather. Her great-grandparents. I know she’s well cared for and she’s in heaven. It doesn’t make us miss her any less. 

 

As I close, I want to encourage others who are feeling stressed by grief, depression and the heartaches of being lonely in this pandemic: Please, do not put too much pressure on yourselves to “get back to” anything that you are not ready for. Losing a child is a devastating, often traumatic experience. Being in a pandemic and isolated from your family and your friends is challenging on so many levels. We are not going to come out of this unscathed and unchanged. But, you are not alone. Allow yourself time. Give yourself grace to be okay doing things differently. 

 

For me, personally, I find comfort in knowing that we will see our Mary-Linda again when we all get to heaven. I also find comfort in knowing that we will get through this moment in time. Things will get better again. We have to believe. Until then, we will keep on remembering and keep on living our (not so) normal lives.



 I just published Nothing is Normal in 2020 on medium link.medium.com/PhDyKxLZg9 #infantloss #medium #stillbirth #mommaof6 #nonewnormal #elmomma

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Life After Loss. 3 years in.

I recently read a description of grief. It illustrated grief in the beginning as a giant ball bouncing around in a very small square. Something we can't get away from. Every time we move or even breathe, the grief hits us. I've also read grief described like furniture in the middle of a dark room, where you can't see anything, but everywhere you move, you bump into it and you can't get around it. In both scenarios, the grief changes. In the first, the ball eventually becomes very small, but it is always in the room. It still hurts deeply when it hits you, but it isn't a constant. In the second scenario, the furniture eventually moves to where you can see it and get around it, finally settling as a painting on the wall- always there, but not something you are constantly bumping into. 

I can relate with both of these descriptions. I know they aren't meant to be that simple. Grief is complex. But, I think it can give others imagery to relate to and understand our grief. Grief is always there. In our case, as is the case for many, we don't get over losing a child. It's not that simple. But, we learn to move forward, and find a way to live while being in the room with the grief. We still bump into it all the time, but it's not all consuming everything we do. But, it's there, like that huge painting on the wall. And, maybe it's beautiful now. Maybe, it's like our Mary-Linda, bringing light and hope to others in their time of grief. Maybe, just maybe? 

On August 16th, 2020, we marked 3 years since our Mary-Linda was with us. It feels so surreal. These last 3 years have been brutal and beautiful. I don't know how to explain it any other way. So much heartache. But, again, I know that God was with us and is with us. So, we will keep on keeping on. 

much love, 

El Momma

Below are photos from our celebration of Mary-Linda's life, 3 years in. And, photos from the day we all got to hold her. We will all forever hold her in our hearts until we can hold her in our arms again. 
















Friday, August 14, 2020

Celebrating my sister in heaven



On Wednesday night we celebrated my older sister’s 51st birthday. It was her first birthday since she went to heaven. My momma, brother, and all of our families gathered in the front yard and had a “socially distanced” gathering with 🎈,πŸ• and πŸŽ‚ as we talked about our Melinda. It’s really hard to lose a sibling. We talked about this with our families that night. Your sister/ whom you’ve known and loved your entire life. Your family. Your first best friend. Your biggest fan. Your everything. Your comedic relief. Your demanding sidekick. Your love.  It’s hard. We know she’s happy and she’s with so many loved ones. I never met another soul who would tell you they wanted to go to heaven more than Melinda. She had some of her favorite people go before her. I sometimes wonder about the effects of losing my dad 11 months before she died. They were so close. And her grief was deep. It took her a long time to admit that my dad had gone to heaven. But, she finally did and I know she wanted to go and be with him. On Valentine’s Day, after having a stroke, Melinda went to heaven πŸ’—πŸ’— she was literally surrounded by some of the people on earth that she loved most πŸ’—πŸ’— And, she went to be with Jesus. It was Incredibly peaceful. We know know know that she is in a better place. BUT, it sure is hard to be without her here.














Wednesday, August 5, 2020

The Yellow Rose of Texas Birthday Tradition Continues...

Many years ago, the tradition began. The story has been told many times. It almost feels like a legendary tale at this point. And, so it goes. 
I was the baby of the block. My mother had many dear friends in our neighborhood- but, two families in particular, who were more like family than friends and who lived only a couple of houses down from us. These were the kind of friends that we would see every single day. My mom would be in their home when they arrived home from school having her coffee break and she, especially, was a sounding board and mentor for their daughters. My mom is still dear friends with the daughters in these families to this day- in fact, they were there with us at the hospital this year after my sister, Melinda unexpectedly suffered a stroke and passed away at 50 years old on Valentine's Day. And, the families were intricately involved in my sister's physical therapy as a child. (pull-hold-release)
So, all of the other kids on the block were a little older than me. Some, in high school when I was born. Some, in college. One, in particular, Ste-bo (nickname for Steven) was in college, I believe, when I was born. I remember, yes, remember being 3 years old and believing that I would grow up one day and marry Ste-bo. The tradition of the yellow roses began with Ste-bo. He passed away before I turned 4 years old, after an accident. My mom was there at the hospital. She was there when their momma would talk about heaven and how she wanted to know everything she could about heaven because Ste-bo now lived there. Their momma (affectionately called "Place" by my sister) drove my momma over railroad tracks when my due date had passed and my momma was still pregnant with me. Ste-bo was studying to be a doctor. His life was just getting started. It was a tragic loss for all of us. 
If my mom can locate it, I will add a picture of us. I think there is one somewhere with me wearing a yellow rose of Texas t-shirt. He called me the yellow rose of Texas and his momma continued giving me yellow roses on my birthday long after Ste-bo had passed away. My momma and daddy picked up the tradition at some point when I was in high school, I believe. There hasn't been a year go by, whether I was in Texas, living in California, or on vacation that my momma didn't find me with the yellow roses. 
It's a pretty special tradition and has made for lasting memories and beautiful photos through the years. 
Love you, Momma. Thank you for continuing this tradition started by the Place family many years ago. 


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1YmDo1ZrgilgzTVovdfcAaXSzlC9QE0u2
clockwise from top left: 1982, 1984 (??), 2016, 1998 (??)
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=10jmFX3e6XGK6fqp77yYgRHrJ5pt3n-Sv
2017 with Moustapha and pregnant with Mary-Linda
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1d9NPsufU9fpggq5rio05-hjx_T4aWLTK
2020
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1u99slsPQ76QvpdP4nbm5KmnabEJ1PRwY

2020 with Baby Jimmie, 14 months

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Free Mrs Meyer’s Set with $30 purchase from Grove Collaborative

**This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Click Here to receive a Free Mrs Meyer's Gift Set w/ $30 purchase


It may be Summer, but at our house, we are just getting around to Spring cleaning. I am so excited to be partnering with Grove Collaborative to get everything I need to keep my home clean- delivered directly to my doorstep. I have loved Mrs Meyer's products for a long time and I had a regular delivery of their dish soaps, hand soaps and cleaning spray delivered to my house. But, I wanted more. I wanted to partner with others who share the same values as we have in our household. That’s how I discovered Grove. I also found that they are committed to reducing plastic packaging and increasing plastic-free products. There are so many more brands they work with that we love as well, including Caldrea, Seventh Generation, Earth Mama, BabyGanics....to name a few. 

From Grove Collaborative:

“One simple belief started Grove - that safer, environmentally-friendly products should be easily available, for everyone. That's why every product we sell has been rigorously tested by industry experts for health, effectiveness, and environmental impact. It's our mission to get the best products on the market into the homes of conscientious consumers around the country.

As a certified B Corporation, we value safety, transparency, and social welfare and exclusively work with partners who do, too. 

Here's what we expect of the products we carry:

  • Non-toxic
  • Ingredient transparency
  • Plant-based formulas
  • 100% cruelty-free
  • Ethical supply chains
  • Sustainable materials
**Bonus** You will receive a free set of products with your first purchase of $30. Let me know if you decide to try out Grove. I hope you will love it as much as we do! 

PS. they currently have hand sanitizer in stock! 




xo,
Rebekah/ El Momma

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

One Year

Sometimes I feel like it’s all too much. It’s all too real. It’s all so overwhelming. As I stared up at Jimmie’s first birthday banner, proudly displayed in our unfinished kitchen, my eyes began to well up with tears. Because on that banner there are images of Jimmie from each month of his life. 15 images total that give a glimpse into his amazing, big, bright personality. 
We’ve been through so much in this little guy’s first year of life. 
Being able to celebrate him is such a gift and we are not going to let this pandemic stop us. Jimmie is delighted to celebrate with a social distancing walking “parade” down the street and birthday cake in the driveway. Jimmie won’t grow up thinking he missed out on the usual El baby first birthday experience. And, he won’t be missing out. In fact, of all the Els, Jimmie has had the easiest adjustment to quarantine life. He loves having his siblings, parents and grandmother around all the time. And we sure to love having baby JJ around. 
Love you! 
Happy 1st birthday to our sweet Jimmie Josiah!












Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Be Still and Know His Peace

It’s hard to believe that it's been a year since my dad, Jimmie left this world behind. On this morning, one year ago, we were standing at his bedside singing softly "Be still and know that I'm with you...Be still and know that I am here...," as he lifted his head and closed his mouth and peacefully went to be with the Lord. I was right there. I felt the peace fill the room. I felt the presence of the Lord almighty, there to bring my dad home and there to comfort us. Just over two months later, we would welcome our baby Jimmie earth-side, as we were again filled with the peace of the Holy Spirit. Two very different, but very similar experiences, knowing the Lord was with us, in the room, moving through us, comforting us and giving us peace.




Less than three weeks ago, on Valentine's Day, my sister, Melinda peacefully went to be with the Lord. We surrounded her bedside and as my mom spoke The Lord’s Prayer over her, she took her last breath on earth. She was so beautiful and peaceful. God is good. It may not seem as though we would believe that, as we have suffered a lot these last few years and there have been many trials. But, we have not traveled here alone. The God who is and was and is to come loves us with an unconditional, forever, agape love and is right there with us ...in every heartbeat, every breath, every song, every moment. How I am thankful for the peace of the Lord. 
Yesterday, I felt as though I was walking through mud. Such a sense of heaviness. That is grief some days. Today, the Lord is carrying some of that heaviness and I feel a little lighter. 
I’m thankful for these two beautiful souls. Thankful they are together. And, I’m sad that we are apart. 





Matthew 6:8 ...for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.