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A busy weekend full of family, food, fun for Yoders

9/2/2014

On Sunday evening, Daniel, Julia and I, along with some other relatives, visited my grandparents. We laughed and cheered as we watched the children try out their "train." With their imagination at its best, they constructed a train. It consisted of two three-wheeled bicycles as the engineers, with a nephew sitting in one of the carriers, followed by a little wagon with Julia and two other cousins. Next came a bike cart carrying a child, then after that were three small two-wheeled carts, each escorting someone. Each train car was tied to the one in front of it, making a unique yet hilarious caravan. The first attempts to get started were a bit jerky and definitely a challenge for the engineers who did their best in pulling the heavy load. After several attempts, it went more smoothly.

On Sunday evening, Daniel, Julia and I, along with some other relatives, visited my grandparents. We laughed and cheered as we watched the children try out their "train." With their imagination at its best, they constructed a train. It consisted of two three-wheeled bicycles as the engineers, with a nephew sitting in one of the carriers, followed by a little wagon with Julia and two other cousins. Next came a bike cart carrying a child, then after that were three small two-wheeled carts, each escorting someone. Each train car was tied to the one in front of it, making a unique yet hilarious caravan. The first attempts to get started were a bit jerky and definitely a challenge for the engineers who did their best in pulling the heavy load. After several attempts, it went more smoothly.

Recently, we had the opportunity of attending a family reunion on my dad's side. Quite some time had passed since I last saw my 49 Raber cousins. With a lot of us cousins being young and married, the number of little children and babies is skyrocketing. It's hard to keep track of them all.

The meals were well-organized. Two aunts or uncles, along with their married children, were in charge of planning, preparing and serving one meal. That way each of us got a turn.

We arrived Friday evening in time for supper. Two uncles, who are cooks at heart, grilled delicious hamburgers over a fire while the rest of us visited and tried to wait patiently for them to complete their task. It took some time with there being a total of 107 people. Besides the hamburger sandwiches, potato casseroles, pie and soft-serve ice cream also were on the menu. Everything tasted top-notch.

After dark, some of us gathered around the fire once more. A crackling fire at night is so cozy and inviting. We chatted awhile and then joined the others, who were enjoying a scrumptious snack, including huge, moist donuts.

On Saturday morning at 7:30, the large, old-fashioned dinner bell was rung, indicating to all breakfast soon would be ready. Breakfast stacks had been prepared.

The stacks started off with biscuits, eggs, potatoes, and ended with onions, cucumbers, sausage gravy and a cheese sauce. It was yummy.

The day was spent visiting and playing games such as volleyball, corn hole, etc. Several of the ladies filled a bunch of water balloons, which were used for water-balloon volleyball. The players paired up by twos, each holding two corners of a large bath towel. Placing a water balloon in the towel, they would give it a quick fling and send it flying across the net where an opposing team member tried to catch it with one of their towels and send it back again. It definitely added a different twist to a regular volleyball game. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, so most of the time was spent outdoors.

I helped Julia and her little cousins blow bubbles. They made quite the mess, but enjoyed it all the same. Don't children have more fun if they can make a mess with whatever they're doing?

My family was among the ones responsible for lunch. We made a "mush" taco (in Dutch) or mashed potato taco. It was a first for me to be making it, or even having tasted it. It also consisted of different foods, put on a stack. Each person fixed his or her own stack as he pleased. Mashed potatoes were topped with fried venison with taco seasoning. Next was lettuce, onions, cucumbers, cheese sauce and taco chips.

Most of us stayed until Sunday afternoon. We had our own services Sunday morning, which was something different for us, yet also interesting. We sang a while, then Uncle Vernon, who is a bishop, shared about God's plan for mankind, and how He sent Jesus, a perfect example. We now are called to walk in his steps: to love as he loved "others" and to serve as he served those around him. Living for the Lord truly is a blessed life.

This week, I'll share a recipe of one of the most scrumptious foods we had at the reunion. My cousin's wife from Pennsylvania made these heavenly oatmeal bars. I told her I'll have to get a copy of her recipe to share.

Heavenly oatmeal bars

2 cups oatmeal

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1.5 cups flour

1.5 teaspoons salt

1 cup butter

1âÑ2 cup coconut (optional)

Mix until crumbly. Reserve 1.5 cups crumbs. Press remaining crumbs into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

1âÑ2 cup peanut butter

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Mix together. Spread on baked crust.

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup M&M's

Sprinkle on top of peanut butter mixture. Spread reserved crumbs on top. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Gloria Yoder, 24, lives in a traditional Amish community outside Flat Rock, Ill.