Ready to Socialize!

It was as if they realized that they were all connected, worked as a team, and found a sense of belonging.

Happy Friday, RISERS! I hope this week has been good to you. Happy first weekend of 2024! I started this new year by returning to a familiar job: special education teaching assistant. Though I loved being the secretary for my church, I needed more interaction with people. I learned that I definitely do not enjoy working by myself. I hope you had the chance to relax a bit before getting back to school or your full-time work schedule, now that the holidays are over. While I long ago stopped making New Year’s resolutions, I hope to help as many people as I can this year, in whatever capacity I’m needed. Thank you for being you, and have a great weekend.

Quote of the Week: “Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful.” –Roy T. Bennett

Movie of the Week: Because my son, Jacob, is a Willy Wonka aficionado, we took him to see the new Wonka movie last weekend. I had heard that it was a bit harsh to children from adoptive backgrounds, so I worried a little about what his reaction would be. We were all pleasantly surprised with the content. It is the backstory of Willy Wonka, who traveled with his mother as she constantly refined her chocolate recipe, setting up Willy’s future. After she passed away, he had to brave the world alone, spending seven years on the high seas.

He jumps off ship in London, where he immediately gets suckered into staying at a hotel with very fine print…hence the reason he adds it to his contract in the first Chocolate Factory film. From there, he meets other Londoners who have fallen prey to the hotel owner and must work in the laundry in the basement of the hotel. One character, Noodle, is a girl presumed to be an orphan who was dropped down the laundry chute as a baby.

While interacting with other people in the laundry—an accountant, a telephone operator, and two other characters whose occupations I cannot remember—Willy is determined to sneak out and sell his fabulous chocolates to earn money to pay off his debt. Unfortunately, he encounters the “big three” (a sort of candy mafia: Fickelgruber, Prodnose, and Slugworth), who block Willy’s attempts at selling his chocolate.

The overarching theme that endeared this movie to me was how Willy wanted to help Noodle and the rest of the crew in the laundry. It was as if they realized that they were all connected, worked as a team, and found a sense of belonging. I won’t spoil how the movie ends, but it was filled with original music that drew you in and made you experience all of the emotions the characters on the screen experienced. I hope you will like it as much as I did.

Joke of the Week: What was the snowman’s New Year’s resolution? To chill out more…

Organizational Tip of the Week: Well, the Christmas holidays are over, which means taking down your decorations and returning to normal. My daughter had a bit of anxious energy on Wednesday and took down the tree while I was at school. I must admit that I was not ready for the bare-looking living room when I walked into the house. Putting away all of the wreaths, trees, ornaments, and Santa figurines (I have 18) is a strategic time to throw away any broken items, such as old salt dough ornaments that are cracked and need to be tossed. If your tinsel is all tangled up, consider getting new tinsel later this year. If you have reached the end of fuses for the stringed lights, now is an excellent time to send them on their way, too. Burned-out candles, ripped gift bags that cannot be salvaged, and anything unnecessary should go to the trash.

Another thing you can do is organize the new items you received for Christmas. Place your new books or DVDs on shelves, and put any puzzles or games in the cabinet with your other ones. If you have games that never get played, consider donating them to an assisted living facility or a foster care closet so that a family can use them for their bonus loves. This can also be done for any new clothes, shoes, or other accessories that you acquire. Any item you donate could mean the world to someone in need.


Recipe of the Week: This week, I want to introduce you to a great meal guaranteed to make any football gathering fun: the Taco Ring.

What you’ll need:

1 can of crescent rolls

1 pound of ground beef or turkey

1 package of taco seasoning

Shredded lettuce

Shredded cheese


Sour cream

Cook ground beef or turkey until done. Drain fat. Add the taco seasoning and stir until thoroughly mixed. On a baking pan, unroll crescent triangles and place in a circle with the larger ends touching. Place a scoop of taco meat on the thick part of the triangles. Once all of the meat is distributed, fold the triangles over the middle until it looks like a wreath. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until it reaches the desired bread texture. Cut in slices and garnish with the shredded cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Shout Out of the Week: This week, I want to give a shout out to the people who work in school cafeterias all over Tennessee (and, well, everywhere). Thank you for spending time serving breakfasts and lunches to the students and faculty. Our cafeteria ladies always decorate the room, making it a fun place to eat and socialize. Thank you for all you do!

Have a great weekend. Remember, you are most awesome, and YOU ROCK!

Marion Rhines is a foster-turned-adoptive parent. She lives in Knoxville, Tenn., with her husband and five children. She has written and published two children’s books as well as two foster-care-themed novels. She has a Facebook blog, Tips from the FLIP Side, and enjoys working with children of all ages.


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