Still Makes My Heart Happy! Age to Age

450px-trio_of_handsI thought of this post as we walked the four blocks to the nursing home yesterday to once again perform our Christmas program for the residents.

I saw the connections happen again this year – just like last year and the year before that and the year before that. 

And my heart was happy.

From December 17th, 2015

Age to Age 

Directing our church’s Christmas program is one of the highlights of my Christmas season.

And one of my favorite parts of directing is taking the program on the road to our local nursing home.

Every year I give the kids the same talk.

“I don’t care if you mess up a song or forget a line. I just want you to smile and have fun. If you have fun on stage, your audience will enjoy it. And when we are done, I want each of you to go around the room, take the hand of each and every resident and say Merry Christmas.”

This year was no different.

My older kids knew the drill, but I had some younger kids who had never done a program. They looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted reindeer antlers. Touch old people? Weird.

After church, we had a potluck, put on costumes, packed up props and walked the kids the four blocks to the nursing home where the staff had the residents ready and waiting.

When we had finished presenting the program – which was adorable in it’s imperfections – I prompted the kids to start their “Merry Christmas’ing”.

As my older kids started the rounds, the younger followed.

Small hands, sticky from the potluck dinner, reached out and touched older hands – hands that had seen hard work, loved babies, clapped in joy, and wiped away tears.

Work worn hands that are now so smooth the skin is almost translucent.

I heard the sweet “Merry Twistmas” and saw young eyes full of imp and mischief looking into eyes that had seen much of life.

I saw the hand squeeze. The tentative smiles.

And it happened.

A connection was made.

And then another.

And another.

Those kids started to see beyond the wheelchairs and wrinkles and discovered real people.

Those residents looked into sweet young faces and remembered.

Both the young and the old were blessed.

And there was joy in my heart.

Deep Woods and Grand Adventures!

It was just what we needed.

A few days with the kids on the North Shore in Minnesota.

Epic adventures through the deep woods.

On and off the trail.

Smelling the pine woods.

Climbing rocks.

Bonfires every night.

S’mores.

Picnics.

Waterfalls.

Swinging bridges.

Rock cliffs.

Warm days.

Cool nights.

 

 

Lake Superior in all it’s beauty and power.

And quiet.

Hammocks.

Loons.

A cabin in the woods.

Games.

Snacks.

Late nights.

Photo shoots.

Silliness.

Laughter.

The whole family together.

Perfect.

 

 

My Visit to the Farm

My two year old great nephew came to visit this week with his parents and baby brother. Here’s a look at his visit from his eyes…

My Visit to the Farm

By Dawson

I liked to go to Aunt Melinda’s farm.

I got to pet the baby kitties and touch a chicken.

I got to feed them, too! They really like muskmelon seeds and watermelon rinds!

Did you know that chickens run around in circles?

And they laid an egg in the coop.

Uncle Jan has many, many cows. And they really do say moo!

They are big. But I am brave when daddy carries me.

Uncle Jan has real tractors that I could sit on and pretend to plant corn and peas and spaghetti!

I like to sit on the mower, too.

And the 4 wheeler.

We took a walk to the big pond and saw lots of cows.

Bullfrogs made a funny sound and some jumped in the water and made big splashes!

I threw lots of rocks in the water. They made big splashes, too!

 

I liked to swing on the swing and chase the soccer ball all over the yard and slide down the slide.

i really liked playing with Aunt Melinda’s toys!

Especially the barn and the tractor and the Fisher Price toys.

We played and played until we heard another Amish buggy drive by on the road.

Then I would remember all the fun things outside and we put my shoes on and went back out to do it all over again!

My little brother had lots of fun, too!

We had so much fun at Uncle Jan and Aunt Melinda’s that I cried and cried when we had to go home.

I can’t wait to come back!

Mom’s Birthday

“What do you want for your birthday?,” they asked.

“That’s easy,” I responded.

“I want all my children home at the same time.

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I want to play games – lots of games  – and snack all afternoon.

I want an easy supper – like smoked turkey sandwiches.

And a beautiful big salad with berries and pecans and feta cheese.

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And queso dip with chips.

And ice cream – with chocolate – lots of chocolate.

And I want to eat on paper plates so we don’t have dirty dishes.

Yes, that’s what I want.”

 

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And they came – all of them.

And we played games and laughed.

We ate turkey sandwiches and lots of queso on paper plates.

We snacked on puppy chow and popcorn.

We stayed up late and savored every minute.

It was perfect.

Absolutely perfect.

Yes. That’s exactly what I wanted for my birthday.

Cake Wars Drop-Out

Buddy had a birthday this week.

This is the kid who is known for his over-the-top birthday cakes. (Who could forget his infamous M & M shooting catapult cake or his royal pika family surrounded by torches cake!) But this year he left the whole thing in my hands. He had no ideas, no requests, it was all up to me.

But don’t worry – I was ready! After all, I have watched every episode of Cake Wars. I’ve seen every mistakes ever made on cakes and besides, I had an idea.

I was going to make him an electric guitar cake!

Isn’t that an epic idea?! Mind-blowingly amazing!

This cake was going to be so awesome it would probably break Pinterest!

I started by mixing up my cake mix (yes – I cheated and used a cake mix!) but to bump up the flavor and keep it moist, I added sour cream. That was my first mistake.

There will be more.

While the cake baked, I measured Buddy’s guitar, sketched out my design so that everything would be proportional, and cut out a template. This was an amazing template – seriously – I even did fractions to make sure my sides were correct!

I actually thought to myself that I really should mass produce these things and sell them – because honestly – doesn’t every one need to make an electric guitar cake at some point in their life!

When the cake was cooled, I laid my template on top – anxious to get started on my masterpiece!

But the template was too big. What!! Wait, how could that have happened?! I even did the math!

My cake must have shrunk! In a panic I started to whittle sides off, then the top and the bottom. Cake was flying! Forget the proportions of neck to guitar – I barely had enough cake to make a neck!img_0251

Not only that – it was such a moist cake that it kept breaking when I tried to move it from the cooling rack to the serving tray.

I finally had it positioned – a guitar with a neck – and started spreading my buttercream as a crumb coat.

Crumb coat is right. I just kept pulling up cake with each swipe of frosting. This guitar was getting smaller and more messy with each knife stroke. I used up my entire batch of buttercream.

What a disaster! There were cake crumbs and frosting and powdered sugar all over my kitchen and myself.

img_0253I had to mix up another batch of buttercream to hide all the crumbs. More powdered sugar everywhere. My kitchen looked like a winter storm.

So did I.

At this point his amazing electric guitar cake looked more like a fuzzy dwarf electric ukulele.

This did not look Cake Wars worthy. Then I remembered that all the cakes on Cake Wars look so smooth because they are covered with fondant. Yeah – that wasn’t happening.

I considered briefly going with the fuzzy theme and just throwing coconut all over it and calling it a day – but Buddy doesn’t like coconut. So I kept working until my frosting was somewhat smooth – abandoning all thoughts of a piping bag and details.

Instead I turned to an old birthday cake stand-by, a friend that has never failed me, my go-to birthday cake rescue – M & M’s!

img_0255We now had a rainbow dwarf electric ukulele.

And Buddy loved it!

We put 16 re-lighting candles on it, sang Happy Birthday, and watched him try to blow them out over and over again!

It was awesome!

Another birthday cake done.

I’m hanging up my apron now. My dreams of ever winning Cake Wars completely destroyed.

Trust me people – they make it look easy on TV.

But boy was that cake moist!