Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Park

Whenever I need a push in my blogging, I find Five Minute Fridays a good place to get them.

Five minutes on: Park


I'm a mom, so I feel like when I hear the work "park" my thoughts should immediately go to a green space; possibly filled with play structures where my kids can run and around and make as much noise as they'd like. And I do go there in my mind, but only briefly.

Quickly, though, my brain turns to the verb form of the word and the settled-ness it brings to mind. With housing issues up in the air, I think my brain is constantly yearning for a permanent place to park. A place to think about the future and to celebrate the past. We're coming up on a holiday season that I already know will be unique because we will only celebrate these holidays once in our current living space. Next year we'll be somewhere completely different. Will we be parked in a forever home at that point? Watching the current market really makes me wonder.

I don't like this feeling of unease. I will admit that it's gotten better since we've gotten used to our current home. Last night was the first night since we've moved in that all the dishes were done! I celebrated with a bowl of ice cream! In a disposable bowl, of course. It was nice to wake up to a clean sink this morning and I was proud of the kids for washing their own breakfast dishes.

I've got plans for a good cleaning spree tomorrow and then I'll be parking my rear end on the couch for a Sunday day of rest! Do you have any exciting plans for the weekend?


Join in with your own five minutes of free writing by linking up here!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Make Your Kitchen Boo-tiful for Halloween

It's time for another edition of Blog with Friends! Our theme this month is Tricks and Treats. Here's a sneak preview of our posts. You'll find mine here and links to the others down below.

We're getting settled in our new house! There are boxes everywhere. The weather turned cool and I can't find everyone's jackets. So of course, what am I doing? Decorating the kitchen for Halloween!

First I tackled the refrigerator. I found this cool spider web tulle at Michael's and some fake spiders to go along with. I wrapped the fridge door top to bottom and secured both ends with tape. Then I added the spiders.  The best thing about these spiders is that they keep reaching out and grabbing Ken every time he scoots too close to the fridge!

The next thing I decorated were the kitchen cabinets. These were fairly easy to do as well. I cut a length of ribbon about four inches longer than the height of the cabinets. I secured the ends of the ribbon on the inside with tape (you could use push pins, but we're renting, so tape seemed safer and it's held just fine). I made bows by wrapping several layers of ribbon around itself, pinching the middle and tying another small piece of ribbon around it. I used wire-rimmed ribbon, so they hold their shape well and attach easily to the ribbon on the cabinets.

The last thing I decorated wash the dish washer. Like it?? She's the cutest dish washer I've ever had. And I'm so proud of her stepping up to help out while we don't have the actual appliance in our rental.

Want some other spooky Halloween ideas? Check these out!

Karen at Baking in a Tornado has these adorable incredibly spooky individual mummy pies.

Dawn at Spatulas on Parade shares Cow Tails and Nuts cookies

Lydia at Cluttered Genius shares some tips for a spooky (and kid friendly) front porch.

Sarah at Not That Sarah Michelle has some ideas for playing dress up.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Meet my Friend Solomon

You have to pick one person to write a biography about. Who will it be about and why?

I have a new friend. His name is Solomon. He comes to my building for English classes. As many of the students in that program do, he then comes down to my area to use the computers. I first met Solomon when he asked, in his heavily accented English, for some computing help. None of the students were out at the desk, so I went over to see what he needed.

After a series of gestures and stilted questions, I figured out that he wanted to change his Facebook profile picture. I then realized that he didn't have any pictures available to him, so I did the most natural thing I could think of and invited him up to the front desk so I could take his picture.

He smiled awkwardly while I clicked and then I helped him upload his picture. Then he showed me the pictures of his family and friends. He also wanted some help learning to video chat with his family, but he was running out of time because he had to get to work. He told me he would be back the next day.

Sure enough, Solomon has been back almost every day since then. Some days he just asks to borrow a pair of headphones. He likes to listen to Orthodox Christian videos on YouTube so that he can hear about God in his own language again; something I'm sure he doesn't get much of here. I've also helped him get set up to video chat with his family, showed him how to unfriend people on Facebook ("Just for practice!" he says), and apologized for my ignorance of the US Immigration website.

Solomon is from Eritrea. He's been here for four years. He has two of his kids here with him. His wife and other two children are in Ethiopia. He is trying to make arrangements for their Green Cards so that the family can be reunited.

He comes in every day with a black and white composition notebook. When he asks me a question, he takes diligent notes during the process. Then he closes out his web browsers and goes through the process again himself. Sometimes he picks it up after one or two tries. Sometimes he asks again a day or a week later. He says "thank you" repeatedly throughout this process.

Most days he's only here for about an hour in between his classes and walking to his job. He used to have a car, but he told me he had to "pick food or car. Car is expensive. Food is more important." He works in the poultry industry, which is a common position for many immigrants and refugees here.

Solomon and I have talked about how difficult English is. I can see him sounding out words to take his notes, and he has a hard time picking the correct vowel. I asked him the other day and he told me he speaks 4 languages. Two of them were Amharic and Arabic. The other two I don't remember. I smiled because he didn't include English in that count. I told him I only speak one language. He seemed surprised.

Each day that I interact with Solomon is a day to remind myself that even with all my housing issues, at least my whole family is together. I don't know all of the reasons that Solomon came to America and I don't know the circumstances for his family being split up. I'm not sure that it's really my business and I don't know that it's a story that could overcome our language barrier.

When I see Solomon I see a man who left his homeland to make a better life for himself and his family. I see his dedication to education and hard work. I see that it is difficult to not have regular contact with his family, his friends, or his culture. I can only imagine what life was like before to make this choice the better choice.

When I turn on the news and see a man threatening to deport foreigners, to build a wall, to unilaterally restrict immigration to our country, I think of Solomon. I think that if more people could have a Solomon in their lives they might have a better understanding of the humanity behind being a refugee. I think we all have many of the same goals: to see ourselves and our families safe, healthy, and prosperous.

Solomon does not make my goals less likely to be accomplished. He is no threat to me. Solomon is just a man, doing the best he can to make progress with the hand he's been dealt in life. He didn't ask to be born into a country of wars and limited freedoms, any more than I asked to be born into a country as well off as the United States. Aside from skin color, language, culture, age, and gender, Solomon isn't really all that different from me.

If I could write Solomon's biography I would hope that it would personalize the refugee crisis in our world. It's easy for lots of people to criminalize and dehumanize refugees when we talk about them as a large, anonymous group. It's much harder to think that way when a nice elderly gentleman asks you to take his picture for his Facebook profile. Solomon is one refugee among many. His story is his own, but also universal. I wish you could all have a Solomon to spend time with.

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. My subject is “You have to pick one person to write a biography about. Who will it be about and why?”. It was submitted by The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado 
Not That Sarah Michelle 
The Bergham Chronicles 
Spatulas on Parade
The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver 
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy 
Southern Belle Charm 
Confessions of a part time working mom 
Never Ever Give Up Hope
A Little Piece of Peace 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

VeggieTales: Every Day With God

This is a sponsored post. I was provided with a product in exchange for sharing it with my readers. This post also contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission.

There has been nothing normal about most of our routines lately. In all the chaos of packing, moving, unpacking, etc. we haven't been doing things the ways we're used to. Part of that is good. I think we've managed to break the kids' addiction to TV and other electronic devices. They have mostly quit asking at this point, mostly because they know I'll just invite them to unpack a box if there's something they can't find!

We are forming a new pattern for after-school activities because of new routes to and from home and work and because all the activities are now underway. We've got violin, dance, choir, Orff, Young Women's Leadership, and soccer for various combinations of the kids.

The good news is that we are still sitting down to dinner together most nights, and the kids won't let me forget their dinner prayers. One things they've been sad about is our evening prayer routine. We had a nice pattern laid out last year, but it took close to 30 minutes and lately we've needed sleep more than we've needed extended prayer time.

That comfortable bedtime routine is something they've been asking to get back into. They go to sleep more easily, they stay in bed, and they sleep more peacefully when we go through our comfort routines together. Lately their favorite part of that comfort routine is the VeggieTales" Every Day with God devotional that I got to try out.

"Every Day with God is the latest 365-day devotional (one for boys and another for girls) from VeggieTales. The updated content and art offer the perfect opportunity for parent and child to share time together each day. Each entry includes a Bible verse, short devotion, Thought of the Day, and prayer. The content will help children learn more about God and develop a daily practice to keep Him close in their lives. The book is perfect for bedtime reading, family devotion time, or as a fresh way to start each day!"

You can purchase this book on Amazon here. There's a version for boys and one for girls.

You can also enter below to win a copy for your own family.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
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