He can’t wait to run outside with the big kids. In the meanwhile, he climbs up on the couch and rests on the back of the sofa with some cold milk and watches the excitement play out on the patio. He giggles, he points, he tries to talk – he thinks he’s a part of the fun. Little does he know he’s in the best spot – an air conditioned home – while the kids bake out in the heat! I love watching him watch the kids, such curiosity and excitement.
Every year on this day, I can’t help but think of a special encounter I had 8 years ago.
I agreed to be the back-up photographer for my friend who was delivering a baby who wasn’t expected to live long. I was the back-up photographer and I never imagined that I would actually be called to help. Until I was – just a half hour after he was born. The photographer couldn’t make it and they needed me to shoot photos of their baby’s short mortality.
I had never been asked to be a part of something so special and sacred not to mention personal. I started to shoot the photos. I took some family photos and several baby close-ups – the mother never let go of him and grandparents from both sides were in the room offering their love and support. I thought to excuse myself several times, but they wanted every minute of his life documented and I continued to shoot.
Just a short while later – enveloped in his mothers arms, his dad’s hand on his chest, tears started rolling down his face as he quietly proclaimed the baby had stopped breathing.
The emotions in the room shifted immediately and I was overcome with grief for my friend and tears rolled down my face as I hid behind the camera and shot a few more photos at her request. I could see the hurt in her eyes and the pain she was feeling. I could feel the sadness and grief that hovered over the room.
The family grieved their loss. And then there was a change in the room. I’m not entirely sure what caused the movement but hope filled the room in a way that felt tangible. Yes, sadness existed as well, but hope won out – the hope of seeing their baby once again made everything bearable.
I learned a lot that afternoon in the hospital with my friend. I learned what strength looked like, I also learned what death looked like. Bennett Evans will forever be with me. It was a life-changing moment – happiness and grief and hope all etched in my heart. Happy 8th birthday Bennett.
This afternoon I took these little beauties to Feed My Starving Children, a christian charity that packs/provides nutritionally complete meals specifically formulated for malnourished children. These girls measured ingredients, poured them into bags, then weighed the bags. Then they handed them to me to heat seal the bags and one of them packed them into boxes. We did this until we had filled 16 boxes. Our boxes specifically we’re being sent to the Philippines. It was children feeding children and the girls were excited to be a part of it.
I had never worked with this organization before, but I was impressed with their product and efficient process. Even more, I loved that volunteers of all ages were able to participate. We had a young group – and we didn’t pack as many as some of the other groups, but I saw several kids younger than these girls doing their part to volunteer. I also saw older people, some unable to stand on their own, but they found service sitting, applying labels to the packages.
After our time was complete, they let all the volunteers know that the work we completed in this session would feed 90 children for an entire year. Our girls lit up with excitement knowing they’d played a small role in helping that many kids. It was humbling to say the least. It was a great way to spend our evening amidst the craziness of the school year ending. Looking forward to coming back with some of our family.
If I were to think of the food my childhood – it would be these: Handmade dough lovingly wrapped around hot dogs that somehow gained the name Hot Dog Diggities…or Hot diggity dogs…I’m not sure where the name came from and I’m not even actually sure what the real name was, but they were a favorite.
They were enough work that my mom didn’t make them all the time, but I remember a number of times requesting them on my birthday – they were the special meal because…well, fresh bread I suppose. Any meal with fresh bread is a treat. When we were first married, I started making them because I had more time than money and the leftovers fed us for days. They soon became Steve’s favorite as well.
I know a lot of people have variations of these – pigs in a blanket – wrapped in pre-made crescent dough but these will knock them out of the park. And as I’ve mentioned before – Costco all beef hot dogs are the only ones I use.
Here’s the recipe:
2 cups of lukewarm water
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp salt
7 cups of flour (1/2 all purpose, 1/2 bread flour)
Combine water, yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. In a larger mixing bowl, combine butter, salt, eggs and one cup of flour. Start mixer. Once yeast is bubbly, add to mixing bowl and add another cup of flour. Mix well. (Using the whisk attachment). Switch to the dough attachment and start adding the rest of the flour until the mixtures makes a soft dough. It may be more or less than 7 cups of flour. Cover and let rest until it doubles in bulk. Once dough has nearly doubled, cook the hot dogs in a pot of boiling water. Take a small ball of dough and pull it to the length of the hot dog and start to cover the entire dog. Place them on a greased sheet, not touching. Let them rise again. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
In the fall, this little guy starts preschool, which means our lazy, music pumping, pajama wearing mornings will come to an end. He prefers that I crank the soundtrack to Moana as he sits at the table with a puzzle and a bowl of cheerios. He doesn’t need help, but he likes me close. Which works until Briggs is crying at my side and tries pulling the pieces off the table.
I’ve tried to get him to try a new puzzle, but this is his favorite. He calls it “Cannon words puzzle” and he can do every word by himself which makes him pretty proud of himself. I think my favorite part about sitting across the table from him while he does his puzzle is his little conversations. He’ll start to tell a story and then get distracted once he finds the peace he’s looking for. In his excitement he forgets he was telling me a story and then moves on to another story. Most the time the story is associated with the word he’s working for and most of the time its a movie quote. “Member, member in Moana…” “Member, member in Zootopia.” Childhood is too short.
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