Gloria’s sugar-free twist on a summer favorite


We’re home again. It was a great vacation — or do you call it a vacation while you have a full-time job of caring for five little darlings?

For months, we had planned on going on a little trip with Daniel’s brother John, his family and a couple of our friends, Mary and Carolyn. Mary was Julia’s first-grade teacher, and Carolyn is a dear friend and next door neighbor. These two friends proved to be a tremendous blessing and asset in helping with the children.

The children thought the trip would never happen, now at last it became reality. A gentleman who lives a couple hours south, purchased furniture that Daniel and John had made. He used it to furnish rental cabins and invited us to use it at a smaller fee.

As planned, we spent five nights in this cozy cabin, nestled among the trees. Within walking distance was a nice pond where we spent time cooling off, swimming, splashing in the water. The children had a blast. Austin was especially impressed when Daddy taught him how to swim with his life jacket. I was quite impressed. Julia can swim like a fish with her safety vest. Rayni is a natural water lover and so is Jesse; they are both extraordinarily athletic for their age and love water play. Elijah preferred to walk at the very edge of the water, digging his plump little toes in the sand. I was fine not to get much swimming done myself; it was a treat to watch the children have a blast.

We took turns serving meals; that way, we all had a vacation with meal preparation and clean-up. We had decided on having brunch at 10:30 a.m. and an early supper at four o’clock. I had prepped some dishes at home then finished it at the cabin. Among the food we provided was chicken enchiladas, corn chip salad, grilled chicken, fruit pizza, and mountain pies, and of course, plenty of homemade chocolate.

How would vacation be without ample servings of healthy chocolate to eat with ice cream or any dessert, for that matter? Now, we’re talking about some deliciously healthy ice cream. My sister in-law had churned two gallons of sugar-free ice cream for the occasion. Yes, it was sugar-free, but I’m not talking about bland no-flavor stuff, Virginia knows how to make the most tasty sugar-free dishes I’ve ever had. Yes, there was plenty of ice cream for all of us. It even served well as a bedtime snack after everything else had quieted down!

One day, we had “Children’s Day.” This Spring, after Mother’s Day Julia had suggested that we also have Children’s Day. Daniel immediately latched onto it. What time could be better than the trip for this special occasion?

Children’s Day was centered around the children. In the forenoon, we went to a park where they spent time swinging, sliding, and the likes. They had me wore out in no time, playing tag. I’m just not up to running games like I used to. It also takes some practice, I discovered, to use monkey bars. John was offering anyone a dollar who use all eight monkeys bars and shuffle their way back, hand over hand, without letting go. I like trying new things, but imagine how silly I felt as I clung to the bars for dear life with everyone — but John — cheering me on, telling me I could do it. As I reached the very last bars on the way back I lost my grasp and jumped down. I wasn’t ready to give up just yet. Soon after everyone was busy in conversation, I whispered to Daniel, “I’m gonna try it again.” I did, and to my delight, I did it with much greater ease and hooted with delight as I hopped to the ground, and yes, I did get my dollar, sheepishly I stuck it into the pocket on the stroller.

Before leaving the park, Daniel and I randomly met up with a girl who spoke with the voice of experience on what life was like for her as a foster child all her childhood years. We listened with keen interest as she shared her insights. Hopefully we’ll have the chance to meet again some day.

After our return to the cabin most of us took brief naps. Next came the treasure hunt. I prepared a simple little treasure of juices, homemade party mix, and some candy. Daniel wrote and hid all the notes. To make it more special for the children, we parents accompanied them on their trek of searching for notes. Soon we were going from one end of the property to the other, following the bidding of the notes. The children all took turns finding notes. After trekking up hill and down, burning calories I guess, after all our good food, we came to the treasure on the picnic table where we enjoyed a relaxing time together followed by story time for the children.

Funny how it works, we had a nice time, but for mom and dad it felt like vacation to just be back home again and have normal nap schedules for the little ones and everyone sleeping in their own beds once more. For the foster children, it seemed to be especially disruptive to their routine, but it’s all coming back together again.

Check out this sugar-free homemade ice cream recipe:

8 ounes cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons vegetable glycerin

⅓ cup erythritol

2 teaspoons pure powdered stevia

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

5 cups milk

4 cups cream

Cream together cream cheese and glycerin. Add erythritol, stevia, vanilla, and salt, mix well, then slowly add milk and cream, blending together well. Freeze in a one-gallon ice cream freezer. Enjoy!

Note: If you prefer, you may substitute erythritol and stevia with sugar or any other sweeteners of your choice.

By Gloria Yoder

Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427

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