What is better than an ordinary everyday life? Since I’m grown and have children of my own, I can better identify with what my mother used to say. Before going away on a trip, she’d say, “I almost can’t wait to come back home again.” In my young mind, that concept didn’t make any sense at all. Now as a mom of five young children there are few things I enjoy more than a simple common life at home. Last night may be a good example of that. I don’t know who was having the most fun as Julia, Austin, Rayni, and I darted here and there, playing tag.
Julia introduced us to “animal tag” which she learned in preschool. Sometimes I carried Rayni with me, while other times, her and Austin both clung to my hands as we tried to run away from Julia. As you can imagine it didn’t take too long until I was ready for a break, that is until daddy joined us and someone had the idea of having a race and seeing who can run the fastest.
The “little girl” in me came out as I told Daniel I’ll race him out to the driveway. Of course, he beat, but I comforted myself that I did give him a good chase. The children watched with delight and wanted to join in for the next one.
Talking about ordinary life, yes, we do have our rough spots with squabbles to settle over a new tricycle or two babies needing mom at one time or mealtimes where you wonder what happened to all your ideas of quiet, mannerly meals. I have found that the more of a routine we can have the better. Okay, I’m not the type that likes to be too picky about having everything done just right, yet the children do better if they know what is expected of them.
Recently we assigned simple morning jobs for Julia and Austin, such as making their bed, clearing the table, washing dishes, and filling the water jug with ice water. Since we have found a system that works for everyone they feel like a very vital part of family life, knowing that their role is important. Daniel has been an inspiration to me when it comes to making sacrifices to keep things flowing smoothly. Take, for instance, he started coming in for lunch at 11 a.m., so I could get Rayni down for her nap before she gets too tired and cranky. His motto, since we have the foster children, has been, “Life is not about me (or us).” What is more motivating than just that? Life really is about serving God in the midst of where we are called and not about what I would so much like to have changed or how happy I would be if I only had this or that.
One of the best things about everyday life around here is all the grins and giggles we get from 10-month-old Jesse and 6-month-old Elijah. Children really do add a fantastic dimension to one’s life. Jesse is just full of life and love, continually trying new things such as climbing up the steps, standing by himself, exploring all sorts of things throughout the house, climbing out of his sassy seat and onto the kitchen table (uh-oh, that’s a “no-no” of course). Elijah is following right behind and thrives on all the attention that’s showered on him. He sits by himself but doesn’t crawl yet.
Another positive dimension that has been added to our routine is that I have a maud (maid) who comes to help me a day a week, thanks to Daniel’s family who has been generously looking out for us. Let me explain, Daniel’s brother, Samuel, who lives in Danville, Ohio, came up with the idea that since they can’t be here to help me on regular bases they could pay someone to come and help once a week, then also watch the children while Daniel and I go for a little date. Wow, amazing indeed!
The rest of the family said they would like to join and help pay my maud, that way it’s from all of them. I do feel deeply blessed and unworthy. Now besides my family and other church friends who are here to help as needed, I have Rhoda, an Amish woman in this community, coming once a week to do laundry, help with sewing or do whatever happens to be on the list. Guess what she is doing right at the moment? Rhoda is watching the children so I can write to all of you without so many interruptions.
Now as I think of a typical everyday recipe to fit in with this letter I have to think of grandma’s graham cracker cookie recipe. I used this recipe countless times before I was married and I have it by memory. While it is a straightforward recipe it produces cookies tasty enough to take to a coffee break with friends. If you happen to be in a hurry, just press the dough in a rimmed cookie sheet, about 3/4 inch thick, and bake until done and you’ll have delicious cookie bars.
GRANDMA’S GRAHAM CRACKER COOKIES
2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 cups flour
4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Cream softened butter with sugars, then add eggs, whisk well and add dry ingredients. Mix, then drop on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, don’t overbake. They are delicious just like this or if desired, use your favorite frosting or filling recipe, frost under side of cookie and stick together sandwich style. For a different twist add some chocolate chips to your dough. We love these straight from the oven with a glass of milk.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write Gloria directly at Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish go to www.amish365.com.