Editor’s note: Gloria is taking a week off to focus on family. In the meantime, enjoy this column from September 2016, where Julia helps decorate her own birthday cake.
My day today looks like an interesting one. I never know what to expect out of my days, or what may come up that wasn’t on my schedule.
Yesterday, for example, I was making my daughter Julia’s birthday supper and had the last-minute notion to invite my parents and siblings. Five-year-old Julia was delighted to have them present at her party, 90 minutes later. Julia had chosen a chicken supper, so that is what we settled for. Along with the chicken, we had homemade bread with butter and honey, macaronis, applesauce, pumpkin smoothies and birthday cake.
Julia had been all excited about having a birthday cake and wanted to help me decorate it. As little children, we also got to help frost and or decorate our own cakes, which was an absolute highlight of our special day.
Julia chose pink frosting for her chocolate bean cake that had been baked in a round pan. I’m not a food coloring fan at all, so I experimented with using my red beet powder, which proved to be a success. As Julia whipped the beet powder into the white cream cheese frosting, it swirled into a girlish pink-purple color.
Next, we were ready for the wording on her cake. We asked her if she wanted: “Happy Birthday, Julia” or “We Love Julia.” She chose the latter. A little smiley face, hearts and flowers were added next . Now the cake only needed some sprinkles and five candles. It didn’t look like a professional cake at all, but Julia was delighted with it and it was, of course, filled with love.
While not all Amish celebrate birthdays equally, it is an occasion of celebration for us, especially so for the children. A birthday cake is always a special part of their birthday meals. After the main course was eaten, I lit the candles and took them over to where Julia was sitting as we all sang happy birthday.
All too soon, supper was past and it was time for everyone to disperse and tackle the duties that awaited them. My dad headed for our little schoolhouse next door, where he needed to finish some of his teacher duties of checking and grading the students’ workbooks. Mom had been substituting for the lower grades that day, so as soon as the supper dishes had been washed, she joined Dad at school to finish her end-of-day duties.
Soon my sister-in-law, Regina, and her little boys stopped in for a few minutes. We sat on the front porch swing, leafing through several herb catalogs until her 2-year-old announced his need of going potty. They dashed off to the bathroom but, alas, they did not get there in time. Not everything that happens is on the schedule, right? In the meantime, Austin had emptied contents from a kitchen drawer and strewn them all over the floor.
By then, Regina and her boys needed to be moving on. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful fall evening to cut my apples into chunks that I then planned to juice, which is always my favorite way of eating apples. Thanks to the Weaver family who shared their bounty of apples from their orchard. Apple season is a favorite at the Yoder household. Whether eating fresh, crisp slices with almond or peanut butter or in apple dumplings or a pie, they are an autumn specialty.
I had not come too far on my apples when I began noticing that Austin really was not feeling well. He seemed to be starting with a cold and on top of that, his nap hadn’t been nearly half as long as it is on a normal day (although, really, what is a normal day?)
The apples were put on hold while I held Austin and read Julia’s new book, “Hermie,” by Max Lucado, that a friend had given her earlier that day for her birthday. Julia was completely enthralled by the story and I, too, was blessed by it. It is a simple little story with enriching inspiration.
At 8:15, Daniel returned home from where he was helping someone in our community build a fence. We were happy to have him home once more. He rocked Austin while I sliced up some more apples before refrigerating them overnight in lemon water.
The night looked quite unpredictable and a bit challenging since Austin was starting with a cold. It felt a bit overwhelming at first but then I reminded myself that in the quietness of night I can also have special time with God as I care for my little son. As it turned out I did spend quite a bit of time with Austin during the night, but I did get enough sleep that I actually beat him out of bed this morning and managed to get at least half my writing done before he woke up. As I write this, he is playing with a toy frog that is perched on a bicycle. He is constantly telling me to look at his froggy as he does little stunts with it.
I love my children and thoroughly enjoy spending time with them, yet obviously, my life is unpredictable, and I do feel tried at times. But then I realize that they do grow up ever so fast before you even know what is happening. My aim and goal is to give each of my moments back to God and trust Him to show us the way a step at a time.
My day ahead does look interesting. What will it hold? I don’t know what twists and turns it will bring, although I would like to do the laundry and some cleaning and then take the children with me on a pony cart ride to take lunch to Daddy where he is working on a remodeling job.
GLORIA’S HONEY SESAME CHICKEN
3 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dip chicken into cornstarch mixed with salt and pepper, then in beaten eggs, a piece at a time. Fry each piece in oil until light brown. Place in a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan and pour sauce all over. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Stir several times while baking.