Crockpot Jalapeño Popper Chicken Recipe — April 28, 2020

Crockpot Jalapeño Popper Chicken Recipe

Hey y’all! In this time of quarantine, I thought I’d try to share more recipes in case you’re in a cooking rut like I am.

Last night I made crockpot jalapeño popper chicken as a recipe popped up on Facebook. I glanced at it and then just winged it with what I have in the house so the recipe isn’t too specific. Here’s your first quarantine recipe that can be made quickly between homeschooling and all the other things you have going on right now.

Crockpot Jalapeño Popper Chicken

  • 3-4 chicken breasts (I used frozen)
  • half packet of taco seasoning
  • 8-12oz of cream cheese
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese
  • 1/4-1 cup of jalapeños (I used jarred)
  • 2-4 slices of cooked bacon

Place chicken in crockpot. Sprinkle with taco seasoning. Mix together softened cream cheese with 1 cup of shredded cheese and chopped jalapeños depending on how much much heat you want. Spread mixture over chicken. Cover and bake for 4-6 hours depending on size of chicken breasts. Once cooked, place remaining shredded cheese over chicken and cover until melted. Plate and serve topped with extra jalapeños and the chopped cooked bacon.

We served ours with tater tots to round out the unhealthy meal but after a 3.5 mile family jog, it was well deserved!! 🤘🏼

Enjoy!
~Mel

(forgot to take picture 🤦‍♀️)

Ear Tubes — November 19, 2019

Ear Tubes

Hey y’all. It’s been awhile. This summer/fall has been no joke. It’s flying by and we have holidays and birthdays that will continue to make this year a blur.

Today, I’m hoping to take a few moments to reflect on Jaxon’s speech journey. I do not plan on going into it too much as I think the kids should be able to decide what we discuss about them on social media (and Chris for that matter) but let me know if you have any questions.

One year ago today, Jaxon had his ear tubes placed. One year ago today, Jaxon could not say more than maybe 15 words. He had been in speech therapy since he was a baby to help with his feeding issues (wouldn’t drink anything from any bottles), but there weren’t any signs to point to hearing issues. 

We knew he was behind in speaking but that all kids develop differently.  I mean he was walking at 11 months; but there’s always something to point to.  Girls and boys are very different.  Boys speak later than girls.  He’s a physical boy and walking/running/climbing are easier for him.  He had a tongue tie.  His sister is chatty and won’t let him get any words in.  Oh wait, I added that last one only because it’s true. 

Obviously everyone’s lists are different. We are all going through something. But with Jaxon, we finally followed our gut and requested a hearing test once we moved to the PNW away from the typical military Doctor who we were accustomed to seeing. The Audiologist could not perform the hearing test because his ears were so blocked.  No “waves” could get through.  The ENT could not clear out the blockage as it was so backed up along with Jax’s general disdain for doctors. A surgery was scheduled to not only clean out his ears but place tubes because the ENT Doctor was 90% sure there was a fluid behind his ear drums. We consented because we knew something was up.

Jaxon had never had an ear infection. He didn’t rub at his ears.  No Doctors stated he had buildup or may have fluid behind his ear drums previously at his wellness appointments. His Speech Therapist never mentioned any potential issues with his hearing.  The signs for needing ear tubes were not present.  But we knew Jaxon was smart and were trying every avenue to find a solution.  

Today, Jaxon can speak in three to five word sentences. He knows thousand(s) of words. Family and friends understand the majority of what he’s saying now. He’s in preschool.  He’s the best snuggler you’ve ever met.  He will yell at his sister if she doesn’t let him speak.  He continues to attend speech therapy as he needs to work on his enunciation and a couple difficult sounds for him but we want him to be as successful as he can be.

I am so thankful for following our Mom and Dad guts. I am so thankful for speech therapists. What a cool profession!  He has gone from feeding help, to letter phonics to beginning sounds to final sounds to two words to sentences.  We’re still learning but seeing how much this crazy kid has grown this past year has been so wonderful.  

For anyone having any speech questions, please let me know.  We found a site called mommyspeechtherapy.com that has wonderful content to practice at home.  Since slowly talking more about his speech issues over the past few years with others I have learned so many of my friends/family have children in speech.  

To be completely honest, Jaxon’s tubes are still in; however, he now gets ear infections more frequently.  If he’s anywhere near a pool or hot tub, he gets an infection (splashing or swimming are usually the causes here).  Chris checks them regularly and we have a lot of yucky drainage and pricey ear drops to help us along.  But we would do the ear tube surgery again in a heartbeat in order to have conversations with our son.  

Let’s end with listen to your gut. Love your kiddos just as they are but push them to be the best they can be!

Sunriver Resort review — August 26, 2019

Sunriver Resort review

Just popping in to say hi y’all. We just got back from a mini family vacation to the Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, OR (or 15 minutes from Bend, OR) and wanted to shout from the rooftops about how amazing this place was.

We had a few friends mention it in conversation as we were looking into ski resorts last winter but heard it’s best in the summer. And boy were they right!!

Sunriver resort is made up of a bunch of homes and condos which are available to rent. The resort has “four championship golf courses, a world class spa, skiing at nearby Mt. Bachelor, horseback riding, paddle boarding, canoeing, white water rafting, 40 miles of biking trails and the list just goes on” (per the Sunriver resort site).

The home we found that suited us and our budget was a 3 bedroom home with 2 bathrooms including a bunkbed room which the kids loved. It had a sufficient kitchen, laundry room, hot tub and adult bikes to use. We searched VRBO.com but ended up booking on Vacasa.com because the rates were better.

The resort area reminded me of going to a resort in the Caribbean as it had everything you needed right there. If we hadn’t wanted to leave the resort to check out Bend like we planned, we could have spent our entire vacation there. There were restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream stores, shopping, etc all at our disposal. One of our favorites was the Sunriver Brewing Company which comes to no surprise to anyone that knows us that we found a brewery. But it had great beer, food and even a kids play area. And the best part was their ability to text us when our table was ready so we could walk around the shops versus waiting in the lobby.

We booked the trip Sunday to Wednesday so it was a tad less busy. We brought our kids’ bikes as well so they were able to ride around the circle by our rental house. I think they did this 3 or 4 times a day just to get some energy out and not sit still too long.

On Sunday night after arriving, we hit the hot tub and then the Sunriver Brewing Company. Think I got their pad thai salad with salmon as recommended by our server and it was pretty good.

On Monday, our first full day there, we road our bikes to the cafe for breakfast and had a wonderful time as my son Jaxon even rode his balance bike the 2-mile round trip. It was his furthest ride yet! Kids loved the pancakes and yogurt with fruit at this cafe which counts as a success in our books. From there, we went to the pool which our rental home provided 8 Sunriver Homeowners Aquatics & Recreation Center (SHARC) free passes for it’s guests. The pool was wonderful. It had 2 slides though Olivia was just barely tall enough for one, a lazy river, a splash pad and a few fun pool areas. I would say it’s mostly directed towards children but we had fun because our kids were having fun. That is, until Jaxon got water in his ears and almost immediately had an ear infection from it (the joy of ear tubes). The rest of this day was mostly spent trying to ease Jax’s ear ache and trying for naps which was not a smooth process. We had hoped to make it to Bend, OR for dinner as there were a bunch of breweries I had my eye on; but with Jax’s ear ache, we decided to just head into the resort area and found a pub to eat in.

Tuesday, our second full day, was altered a bit with Jax’s ear infection but we made the most of it. We started off with some hot tubbing, drove around a bit, found a playground, bought passes to the bouncy house area which the kids played in until the sun made the material too hot for them. The kids and I rode the little train around and then we headed to Bend, OR to try out at least one of their breweries. We chose Deschutes Brewery because it’d been on our radar for awhile. We enjoyed our beers, food and the kids’ enjoyed coloring. Liv and I popped into the Patagonia store for some matching hats and then to the marina in an attempt to rent a canoe for an hour or so. Our plans were slightly altered when we realized that we couldn’t just tool around in the marina with a canoe but had to put in the canoe and paddle for 6 miles before the takeout. Thankfully, Chris and I love this kind of thing and had a blast. The kids were great! We stopped a couple times to let the kids swim and even fed some ducks that were swimming up to us. After they ate all of our animal crackers, one duck even bit Olivia when it realized she was out of food. It was so funny (and she’s fine). We knew we’d pushed it today with doing a bit too much with the kids so we ran to the little grocery store at the resort area to pick up a frozen pizza so we could have a movie night in.

The following day, Wednesday, we had an 11:00am checkout but tried to have a bit of fun before leaving. We hit the hot tub and rode our bikes down to the cafe again. With the last hour or so we had before we had to leave, Chris and Olivia popped into the pool while I packed us up.

All in all, it was a wonderful family time. Moment like these are so precious to me with Chris’ work schedule, Olivia starting Kindergarten this week and just in general, time flying by. I appreciated the small moments with the kiddos and the conversations with Chris.

We are already discussing when we should go back so if any of y’all interested in a fun getaway, this is the place.

Thanks and happy back to school week!

~Mel

***As a side note, we did bring our pup too. It was easy enough with the drive, having a pet friendly rental as well as a big kennel to keep him in while we were away. Our sleep definitely suffered as he was wired at night from being mostly secluded during the day save for our quick potty walks, but it was worth it to all be together.

Last Few Weeks of Summer — August 10, 2019

Last Few Weeks of Summer

Hey y’all! It’s been forever I know but this summer has been flying by. And we haven’t really done anything so I’m not sure why it feels so busy! We have three weeks left or so until school starts back up so thought I’d hop on here to just let ya know what we’ve been up to.

It’s our first full summer up in the ‘Couve and we have made some wonderful friends! I’ve loved a neighbor before but having a neighborhood FULL of friends is so much fun! We started meeting neighbors last year and every month it seems we’re adding another awesome family to our mix. Our newest friends even have their own three-year old Jackson (ours is Jaxon but samesies)! Let’s just say we have a wild bunch of friends now and it’s wonderful after moving cross-country to have friends who make you laugh as well as have children to entertain my children. lol

We’ve had plenty of adventures too! Great hikes, camping, bike rides, swim lessons, visits with old friends and amazing family time.

This summer has had it’s hard moments with work stuff, kids bickering, house projects, carving out quiet time, etc but overall I just feel so grateful for my family. The other night Chris came home from work and we threw the kids in the trampoline, made some moscow mules and just sat outside and talked. Liv decided we should go to her favorite brewery to sit outside and who are we to say no to that so we just continued our fun.

Though we’re definitely starting a new chapter here with Olivia starting Kindergarten soon; and as much as I’ll miss her, I’m going to love hearing her stories about her new adventures. She is my social butterfly and I love seeing her meet new friends and watch as she grows from these experiences. And Jaxon will be at our new church’s Preschool4 class and continuing his speech therapy so he will be slammed too. Just seeing how much he has grown this past year with potty training and hearing him talk in sentences is so special. He can now keep up with us and tries to put one of us in our place with his new words (“No Ya-Ya, get out of my face!”).

Carpe Diem folks! Off to make more memories as soon as this darn drill weekend ends.

~Mel

PS. My new favorite sprinkler/Splash Pad is this in case y’all are interested. We may have borrowed it from friends, poked a hole in it and are still using it (and bought a new replacement one for our friends). Sorry Tara 😉 But the kids have been using it daily the past week or so!

Unwanted Visitors — June 17, 2019

Unwanted Visitors

Alright folks, this may make me sound uppity, but No Soliciting means NO SOLICITING! Am I right?

I’ve never been comfortable having unwanted visitors show up at my house, but especially with having small children and crazy dogs. It’s a no go for me.  

Growing up in Iowa, I do not recall strangers coming to our house to ask for us to buy things or listen to a religious spiel.  Every now and again, we’d get a girl scout or boy scout but that was the extent of it.  

From there, I was mostly in apartments so didn’t see if this type of soliciting was branching out until we were in Tucson, AZ where our home had a security or privacy door which was great.  I recall a few Omaha Steaks solicitors coming to the door and I felt safe because it was a door that they couldn’t see into the house as well as heavy enough to “protect” me.  But I still do not like this method of marketing.  I will not buy anything from you with the exception of neighborhood children selling school stuff.  

During our time in Georgia and with a little one, I started seeing the “Don’t Knock or Ring bell as I have a baby sleeping” type of signs.  I definitely jumped on this bandwagon as nap and bedtime are critical to the baby as well as my mental sanity.  And I’m a protective Mama bear who from time to time is home alone with my brood.  

And now in the PNW, the majority of our neighbors had personal “No Soliciting” signs on their homes instead of one sign at front of neighborhood. After the first few weeks, we understood why.  Jehovah’s Witnesses, Big churches, Bug companies, Painting services, Yard maintenance, kids selling stuff, etc all walking door to door to offer services or a religious discussion.  It’s weekly if not more.  So, we installed (aka used a sticker) to put up a No Soliciting sign as well hoping that we would be over and done with all this.  But nope.  They just ignore it.  And when I ignore them or are not home, they shove a flyer in the door jam.  (Just try to ignore them with a barking dog and two kids shouting that there may be a friend or a package outside the door!)

So, then we get the Nest Hello Doorbell trying to further deter them.  But instead, these folks just knock on the door and ignore our doorbell and No Soliciting sign all together.  But at least we have them on camera so I do feel some safer!!  (Though I think we’ll end up with a privacy door of some kind even if it’s just a glass door as an extra layer up with kids opening doors and such.)  

Our Nest Doorbell even caught the thieves who broke into our mailbox cluster.  No kidding.  We were able to see the vehicle back into the road, get out, break into the mailboxes and drive off.  Chris sent this to the police and we understand they may have been apprehended because of this.  

Who knows!  Maybe I’m just extra protective due to hearing these types of briefs during my stint at the National Laboratories and/or having Chris be in the military.  But one thing is for sure, I will do anything and everything to protect my family.  

Thanks for listening to my rant! lol.  Friends and neighbors always welcome at my house though.  Just don’t try to sell me anything 😉

~Mel

(ignore the bugs and dirt on siding please)

Potty Training — May 20, 2019

Potty Training

OK folks, I’m going there. The place no one wants to talk about. Potty training. Ugh. Just typing it makes me hate it more.

Not everyone wants to talk about it because some kids get the hang of it very quickly, and some take much longer.  And it’s usually the parents of the kids who’s kids are potty trained first who want to bring it up.  But it doesn’t matter. It will happen. And if it doesn’t for some reason, it’s no big deal either. You’ve got this!

Potty training for us has been a journey. With Olivia, we started her very young and just made it a fun thing. Sit on the potty before bath time and go.  Oh, and here’s a jellybean. Around two-two and a half, she figured out how to go number two in the potty and never looked back on that particular number.  But we were still working on catching every pee in the potty when she started Preschool3.  We had a wonderful program and teachers in Georgia who helped with potty training during the three mornings a week she went to school. The teachers had even stated “all children will be potty trained by Christmas”.  By November, the teachers were telling me I could send her to school in underwear because she got it.  And that was that.  Or at least how I remember it as we’re working with Jaxon now.

With Jax, potty training has not gone as smoothly.  Really, life has not gone as smoothly if I’m being real.  First off, Jaxon doesn’t talk as much as Olivia did/does.  He’s my happy lazy snuggly boy.  We started him off the same way with sitting on the potty before bath time.  Followed by said jellybean.  But oh boy, is having a little boy different than a little girl.  lol.  Jaxon liked to sit on the potty but only if we took him.  He never wanted to initiate going to the potty. (And yes, I say potty and not bathroom, restroom, toilet, etc as it’s easier for kids to say so get used to it.)  We got so that every time we took him to the potty, he would go potty.  But he never initiated.

Once we moved to the PNW, we enrolled him into a Preschool3 class as well but this one stated he had to be potty trained.  WHAT?!  Where are my helpers at?!  So, we pushed Jaxon harder to try to meet this deadline.  I tried the three day potty training method after we moved into our new house.  And Chris was on TDY (travel or away for any non-military folks).  I set a timer.  We went to potty.  He peed in potty.  Another timer.  More pee.  An occasional poop.  But never once did he initiate having to go potty.  Not once over these three days.  While he did get better at holding it a tad longer and actually going to potty when I said it’s potty time, this method did not work for us.  So, Mommy told a little white lie and he was in Preschool3 as a “mostly” potty trained boy who still needed pull-ups.  Oh, and help going potty sometimes because he was nervous.  lol.

I’m not trying to put Jaxon on blast or anything because like I said, every kid is different.  He just wasn’t ready and I’m not sure pushing him didn’t make it harder on us.  The teachers would somewhat help him into the bathroom at school but if he ever had a number two accident, I had to go change him.  I think this happened two or three times in almost five months; and by Christmas, the school told us we needed to step up our potty training game.  And by the way folks, by potty training, this school means fully going to the bathroom all by yourself.  Initiate it, shut door, pants down, go potty, WIPE and pants up all by himself.  I’m sorry, that’s just a bit much for any three year old in my opinion.  I know six year olds who still don’t wipe after number twos.

So, we refocused on potty training.  First off, I started by waking him up by 6:45am so he could eat and drink and run around before school or errands to ensure I could get him to go number two on the potty before leaving the house.  This worked great for most school mornings. But, we had to find something else that would work for Jax.  For us, and him, it was the beloved iPad.  We started with poop accidents.  If he had a poop accident, he didn’t get his five to ten minutes of iPad time like he normally does before bed.    And then I think he may have had one or two poop accidents resulting in no iPad time before bed that had him initiating going to the potty more.  And maybe a meltdown or two.  And then bam, it sunk in.  This worked amazingly well for us.

Now, I’m not saying we haven’t had blips on our radars from time to time whether it be sickness or forgetfulness, but he’s been doing great.  After he grasped initiating going potty (we had him say potty as well as grab the privates/bottom areas to ensure others understood his meaning), we started the no iPad time before bed for pee accidents.  And again, it took a few sobbing night time routines after having an accident that day for it to sink in for him.

And now, I’m knocking on wood before saying we are nearing the end. Jaxon still uses a pull-up at nights but has been dry the last two weeks. He’s even been waking up crying at night because he has to go potty and is a bit confused in his tired state.  But we manage to make it to the potty during these middle of the night wakes as well as first thing in the morning.  I do still send him in a pull-up to school just as precautionary as his teachers don’t always seem very responsive to him.  And hello, he’s not there with wiping yet so that’s safer than the skid mark tundies.  I also help him fix his tundies and pants as he just yanks them on up with no regard for the waistband being folded in and pants twisted.  But in my eyes, he’s potty trained.

To close, hang in there on your potty training journey. We’ve hit both ends of the spectrum and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Jaxon is almost three and a half and we are close to being diaper/pull-up free.  And if you’re like me, don’t feel embarrassed or bad for Jax as he’s doing the best he can.  We’re rocking life the best we can!!  And next year in Preschool4, Jaxon will continue to grow and learn and be his best self!! As I will.  (and Chris and Olivia too for that matter)

As I always say about life, “Everything is temporary”.  So if you’re in the diaper phase or the potty training phase or the up all night phase or whatever your baby/kid phase is right now, it’s temporary and will pass soon before you’r on to the next phase.

Adios.

~Mel

I don’t get what the deal with Sonic is — May 2, 2019

I don’t get what the deal with Sonic is

Over the course of my 30 some years, I have been to Sonic less than 5 times. And besides the ice cream, because how can one go wrong with ice cream, I just do not understand Sonic. No offense. God bless it. Not personal. Etc. But last night was my 4th time I believe. I thought I’d take the kids to get a slushee after Olivia’s tball practice.

First off, I’m confused just pulling into the lot. Do I park? Is there a drive thru? Oh, there is. Why would I park and sit in my car to eat? Personally, I’d much rather drive thru and either bring the food to the next location which is usually home for me. Or eat while driving. Or even get out and eat at any table. What are the folks doing sitting in there cars eating? Can they not pick up and go home to eat it? Or get out and sit at the picnic tables? I’m just baffled by this.

Second of all, I did not think there was anything spectacular about the food.  I think I’ve tried a hamburger, slushee, breakfast sandwich, grilled cheese, tots and ice cream.  Tots and ice cream are hard to mess up so they were fine. But the cherry limeade and blue raspberry slushee did not even come close to what we were thinking it’d taste like? ☹️ So yeah, I’d much rather stop at Chick Fil A (best ever), McD’s, Wendy’s etc.

Am I missing something? Can someone enlighten me or is just OK fast food with a weird park’n’eat concept?

That is all. Guess I’ll make dinner and smoothies tonight.

~Mel

Two kids. Will they be besties? Or will they bicker? — April 26, 2019

Two kids. Will they be besties? Or will they bicker?

Hey y’all! Just a quick post because I’m actually alone. Wait, scratch that. Jaxon is taking a forced nap and Olivia is out riding bikes to the park with my awesome neighbors.

Life has been a bit crazy lately. But isn’t it always?! We’re in that weird in between stage with Jaxon right now where he doesn’t need naps but by the fourth or fifth days, he’s a hot mess and needs one. That’s where we are today. He’s normally such a happy kid. But lately, he’s trying to establish his dominance all over the place. So forced naps is what it’s come to. Oh, and lots of timeouts.

I’m not sure about y’all, but our two kids started out as the sweetest display of sibling love I’d ever seen. I grew up with a brother and would say we fought a lot growing up; but as soon as we were in high school, we were very close and remain so to this day.  I want that for my kids.  To have that someone that you know in school, to have a “friend” to run into at a party/college, to hang out when visiting grandparents, to ask important questions to, to buy beer for you.  Oh wait, my kids…not me. Lol.

But Olivia is the best big sister. So sweet and loving and helpful. And Jaxon looks up to her and gives her hugs and snuggles all day long. Until the last few months. They still have their loving moments, but Jaxon is wanting what he wants and won’t take no for an answer. Hence, all the timeouts. And during this transition as he tries to communicate with us better (hopefully), Olivia takes this time to then tease or throw things in Jax’s face.

I know it’s a phase. Everything is a phase. But boy, it can be exhausting in the rough moments. And then a sweet moment comes along and almost erases the bad ones.

Hang in there folks! Hope your day ends with a sweet moment instead of a rough one! Cheers!
~Mel

Fitness After Fun — April 23, 2019

Fitness After Fun

It’s one of those mornings. I had big plans to workout and even got dressed appropriately. But then I didn’t just couldn’t bring myself to start. I know we all have these days, and as a stay at home mom, there are only so many hours that I get all to myself lately.  But after the weekend we’ve had, I knew my body needed to move.   

We had some besties in town from Iowa who wanted some adventure. From the coast to the mountain, we got in some hikes and saw some snow, but mostly we ate and drank. So now, Chris and I are trying to get back on track. We went for a 5k jog yesterday while pushing Jaxon. And today he’s back to work so he’ll get in his 2 hour gym time. But me, I got the kids ready for school, planned dinner, ran to the store, walked the dog and wanted to clean up the house a bit. I had planned to run or do some weights in the 3 hours the kids both have school today, but just couldn’t push myself to do it.

SO, I decided to just make myself at least do this 15 minute HIIT (high intensity interval training) YouTube video my brother introduced me to from The Body Coach (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI9xtXoaNv0).  First of all, I love his accent. Second, he makes me laugh because he gets tired (or acts like he is) during the workout HE is instructing. But it doesn’t require any equipment and is quick and easy.  It’s good for when you’re in a pinch, traveling or just enjoy have a few minutes to sweat. [Warning, some pain in the rear dogs may not like the Tabata timers and whine and bark and bother you through the entire workouts.]

But, try it out and let me know if you find him as entertaining as I do. I’m off to pound some meat! LOL.  Had to say it.  But yuck! Making big Cobb salads tonight and really want the chicken to cook fast.  How many hardboiled Easter eggs can one throw onto this thing and make it edible and still clean out the refrigerator?!

Peace out and take it easy on yourselves if you have a few bad eating days and hop back on the wagon.
~Mel

Pesto Chicken Salad — April 18, 2019

Pesto Chicken Salad

Another random recipe being thrown your way! I’ve been trying to eat healthy around my pizza and Easter candy obsession. But my current fave is this pesto chicken salad. I’m a huge pesto fan!

For the last month or so, I’ve been throwing some chicken into the crockpot with some chicken broth and salt&pepper. Then I keep it shredded in the fridge for easy lunches and dinners.

The last three days I’ve had this pesto chicken salad for lunch. There isn’t really a recipe but here goes an attempt at what I use:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 C of chicken, shredded
  • 1 heaping T pesto (I use Costco’s because it’s the best)
  • 1 T mayonaise
  • 1/2 T Everything But The… Seasoning (Trader Joe’s brand)

STEPS

  1. Combine all ingredients and enjoy!

That’s all y’all! I’m super fancy. And I’ll try to add a picture when I make it again next week as I snarfed it today between school pickups, speech, errands and cleaning.

Adios!

~Mel