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Precious Family Times

August 22, 2020

Another Way for week of August 21, 2020

Precious Family Times + Homemade Ice Cream Recipe

The children learn about making ice cream the old fashioned way.

Back in July I was checking out a a scad of groceries at Walmart. An older employee helping people having issues noticed I accidentally scanned something twice. She came over and took the extra charge off my register. I thanked her profusely and then I felt a need to share my pending joy at my grandchildren coming for a visit.

“I bought so much stuff because our grandchildren and their parents are coming for a visit for the first time in six months,” I blubbered. I could barely get the words out without choking up.

“Gotta stock up on snacks and stuff,” she agreed, even though I had not really purchased snacky things.

Celebrating a birthday.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only grandparent this summer feeling emotional. On Facebook I’ve watched others who’ve been lucky enough to finally see their grandchildren. Our daughters and their loved ones held their breath and decided a careful visit might be safe out here on our eight acres, far from any city and most people. There would be no pool, no playgrounds or children’s museum, just old-fashioned fun we could find fishing at a secluded pond, hiking to a brother’s cabin in the woods, and enjoying a tent and playhouse on our own land.

It was a combination of the second Cousin Camp at our house (I wrote about last year) and replacement for a hoped-for lake vacation at a large cabin in western Maryland for the whole crew. We had to cancel those plans when the owners pulled their cabin off the rental market. Just one of many disappointments for millions this year.

Some watch others catch fish.

I can’t even bear to look now at the schedule my daughter sent on February 21 for her kids’ summer. She had carefully lined up weeks of daycamps with various activities for the oldest. This was to be his “daycare” while she and her husband worked—including a week at our house and with their other grandmother.

By mid-March, all of those plans were upended, as the initial close downs of schools, restaurants, churches and more began to go into effect. I’m sure many of you could say the same thing, and feel similar anguish.

Tears have been just under my smile so often in the last six months. I’ve cried more in this half year than I have for many years. And we’ve had it good, comparatively speaking—and knocking on wood with both fists. But I think it is a sign of the times—and very normal—to have our emotions so thin as we read and hear about so many deaths, so many older folks suffering alone in nursing homes not able to see their loved ones, so many funerals that haven’t even been held, so much bad news.

Making a birthday card to send to Great Grandma.
Blowing bubbles the Grandpa way.
Hike in a cool woods.

But back to the good stuff, what we have been able to enjoy and savor in these sometimes somber but precious days where we maybe have learned to appreciate family and friends more than ever. I will remember grandsons eagerly cranking the old ice cream freezer, which we had not used in years. I scoured the city for our usual ice cream mix, which made making ice cream so easy. The store that used to carry it has now closed. When I asked at other stores, no one seems to carry it anymore, or maybe shortages?

Then I rediscovered my friend Sheri Hartzler’s recipe for homemade ice cream right in my own book, Whatever Happened to Dinner. I got the ingredients and all of us luxuriated in the most delicious ice cream we’d had in a long time, pumped by eager five and six-year-olds until they couldn’t go anymore. What fun. Blowing bubbles. Playing in a sprinkler. Putting puzzles together. Coloring. Learning to cast a fishing line. Sleeping in a tent with your family (not me, but one of our visiting families) and hearing night howls. “What’s that?” my daughter whispered to her husband. “I … don’t … know,” her husband responded uneasily, before they both slipped back to sleep.

A quiet summer mostly at home filled with love and yes some stolen side hugs, mouths turned carefully the other direction. Precious times.


What has been your favorite thing, event, happening, or blessing this summer?

Bonus: Here is Sheri’s super easy ice cream recipe!

Homemade Ice Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1 8 0z container of Cool Whip
1 pint half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put all ingredients in 2 quart ice cream freezer. Fill to 2/3 full or the fill line. Then make ice cream according to your freezer’s directions.

Reprinted from Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime, Herald Press, 2010, p. 107. Available for purchase here.

I’m also happy to send this by email or mail. Request from or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication. 

  1. You have quite a crew there. Amazing!

    I cringed when I read these words: “Tears have been just under my smile so often in the last six months.” But still you have found joy amidst the changes and multitude of adjustments the pandemic has caused along with your husband’s hip replacement.

    My grandchildren are all teens now. The biggest event of the summer was the youngest, being accepted into the Jacksonville Youth Symphony Orchestra. He couldn’t seem to find his footing in the world, sort of an oddball, but now he has a chance to shine. If you recall, he was in the NICU for 3 months, born at 2 lbs., 5 ounces. One of his handicaps at birth was breathing. He was on a breathing machine in the hospital and then at home. Now God has miraculously given him enough wind to play the TUBA. I believe God delights in making our struggles become BUBBLES of joy.

    This is grand, Melodie. You have documented precious memories here. 😉

    • Congratulations for your youngest grandchild. Way to go. I know how getting into drama for another relative of mind was a place to find a footing for him. Good to hear. I of course had forgotten his NICU beginning, wow. How very hard. Wind for the tuba. That is just awesome.

      I’m glad you enjoy these memories as well–I find that if I don’t write stuff down, things get way lost. Glad to have a medium where we can share such things. And of course there was much more that could be said. 🙂

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