Sunday, January 31, 2016

Soup for Syria

Olivia and I participated in a fundraiser for Syrian Refugees. My friend, yoga teacher, and fellow Essential Oil user is from Syria. She has helped bring home the difficult situation of the Syrian Refugees and their needs. Sources vary, but it there are about 4.6 million refugees. There home is not what it was and will not likely be rebuilt in the near future. Although I know that is what most displaced Syrians want--to go back home and rebuild Syria. The Syrian conflict has brought so much violence and has collapsed the infrastructure of the country. So many deaths and so many needs. It breaks my heart. Most of the refugees have remained in the Middle East, living in near by countries or refugee camps, some have been resettled in Europe, and very few in the United States. A few months ago we donated coats and blankets toward an organization that was shipping them over to one of the Refugee Camps. In our area, Church World Services is the organization that helps to settle refugee families in our area. Mona found the book Soup for Syria last year. It, in itself, is a fundraiser in that the proceeds go toward food relief efforts by the United Nations. It was suggested to hold a local soup fundraiser and Mona got to work. Olivia and I joined forces in helping to hang up flyers, cook the soup and cookies, and attend this event to raise funds for the local Church World Services and the 2 upcoming Syrian families to be resettled in our area.

Olivia and Mona


Olivia and I spent all day the day before the event cooking soup. There were 4 soups: Pumpkin with Cardamom, Chicken Freekah, Zucchini Beef with Mint, and Lentil with Swiss Chard. They all had lemon and turmeric in the recipes as that made these Middle Eastern recipes specifically Syrian. Olivia was such a trooper. I had encouraged her to help where she could but to bring a book in case she wanted a break or there wasn't something for her to do. But she labeled containers, opened/held doors, kept up with Mona's phone, and many more things. Originally we were only supposed to help for half the day but Olivia wanted so much to stay and keep helping that we did. That pan of onions was one of 4 that I cooked. :) And I that is 56 pounds of zucchini there.
Quarts and Quarts of Soup

Some of the soup was presold for people to take home. There was also a sit down dinner where you could have a bowl of soup, bread from Nazareth Bread Company, Orange Blossom Water, and a Syrian cookie.

Mamoul and Ghrebe cookies. These are delicious. The dough is made in steps. And that "spoon" you see is a mold. It was hand carved and it is beautiful! There was a second one that has been in Mona's family for a 100 years. I didn't catch a picture of that one. But these are so cool. You fill them with the mixture and then *whack* the cookies out. They are typically filled with a date paste or nuts.

 Isn't the pattern on from the mold beautiful? 

Over $4000 dollars was raised and much awareness. Later that week Olivia and I went to a showing of Salam Neighbor. It is a documentary filmed in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. It left me just heartbroken. Olivia and I had some great discussions and I know that she knows that she is blessed with much and that there are others who do not have as much. We must pray for the conflict to end and for these precious people to go home and rebuild their country. In the meantime, if we can support the efforts to help meet their basic needs and for the children receive education, we should. For the ones that want to and are able to resettle here, we should help. These are our neighbors. They may seem so far away...but they aren't. God calls us to love our neighbor. He calls us to give. His heart is for justice and mercy. I will continue to pray for God's will to be done and for the hearts of mankind to be drawn to him. I am so thankful for a way to help with my hands. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

More Snow!

The big blizzard that hit a big chunk of the Mid-Atlantic managed to graze us a little. We woke up the first morning to snowflakes coming down, but that afternoon, it changed over to sleet. Still, it came down heavy and the kids wanted to go out in it. 

 This was Irene's first time getting to go out on her own in it and she had fun with it. :)

 Later, we went out across the street to try out the sledding hill.
 The sleet didn't pack, but it was still slick enough for us to have fun.

 Emma wasn't particularly happy about going down on her own.
 But she went!
 Irene wanted to go, too!

 The sleet continued throughout the day and into the night, eventually changing over to a little more snow the next morning.
It made the sledding that much more fun!

 Both Emma and Irene went down on their own again.

 But they needed help getting back up every time. They're getting awfully heavy. ;)
 Rebecca thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get out her snowshoes and go for a walk to Bestway for a few groceries. 
Even though it was more ice than snow, it was still great to get a little winter weather. We're hoping for more!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

First Snow 2016

The kids have been asking and asking when we would get some snow. I kept telling them we'd be lucky to get any this year, so it was ironic that only 2 days later, we woke up to the snow falling and sticking!
 It was above freezing, so the snow was pretty wet and easily packed. 
 They set right to work building a little snowman.

"Yay, snow!"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Happy Birthday Emma!

Our sweet little Emma Lee has turned 4! To celebrate, we had a party at the Little Gym, where she just loves to go. We invited a couple of her friends to come and go crazy for an hour. 

 The kids got to play on all the equipment


They had a couple of helpers there to organize a few fun games and do some special activities.

They ran and played with balls.  

They played with the parachute.
 They got to roll over the "big wheel"

and tumble down the wedge. 
 And they got to play on their favorite - "The bouncy bed" - as Emma calls it.

 Irene was the funniest. She would bounce down, 
 get to the end, 
 and "Superman" right off the end
 and onto her face.

We went with a smiley face for a cake after Emma picked out the big smiley face balloon for her birthday. Her Grandpa always gives them little toys with a smiley face and "Smile! God Loves You!" on them, so we think it reminded her of him. 
 Everyone had such a great time and we were so happy that we were able spend a wonderful afternoon with everyone celebrating my Pumpkin's big day!