At the top is a pretty little yellow cotton dress that was her mother's. Next in line is a satin pink with puffy sleeves complete and wide ribbon. Down the way is a coral one with polka dots followed by a little mint green one with a matching hat.
They hung on the open staircase creating a mini gallery that made our hearts smile as we passed them daily. Up and down the staircase we would carefully take our daughter, Lydia.
Before we knew it, one by one the dresses came down as she grew into them. Her first triumph was ascending the steps by herself nerve-wracking for her parents. In the blink of an eye, she was dancing on the steps in the coral dress.
Charles Repnow is a freelance writer who lives in Rugby. His column appears on alternate Wednesdays in The Minot Daily News.
This Sunday she will descend the stairs in a deep rose, two-piece dress which features a full skirt embellished with yards of pink and gold woven ribbon that swirls into circles and playful curving lines that flutter around delicate silver star flowers and tone-on-tone sequins. Enthroned at the waist is a queen of chiffon front bow whose streaming runners give way to a back bow.
Our baby daughter has become our little girl and with this transformation priceless memories. Sir H. Davy once said "Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort."
He might well have been thinking of a little girl coming down the stairs to greet her parents each morning. As they exchange the joys of being parents and daughter, the foundation for another day begins and each realizes their simple duty is to play them well.
As a parent, I have realized that much of Lydia's future has already been set by these very important first years. Can we say that we truly choose our parts in life? I think not so that is why when our roles are cast upon us, we do our best to play them well.
From the very start, we
took the time to "please and
thank you." We let them
know that the nesting of a
mourning dove is important,
and then we watch with won-
der as they see the egg hatch.
Taking time for others is a cornerstone for healthy living and little ones come to know this by our visits to neighbors and shut-ins. Our visits to church and Sunday school teach them life's way. These little steps and many others are what make our children who they are.
Be assured that children know when they are loved. As her little arms give that good night hug and the words "Daddy, I love you" come freely, the confirmation that life's little moments our daily habits are the solid foundation on which our children can cement their happiness and contentment.
We are planning a celebration in our home for this coming Sunday as Miss Lydia will be graduating from kindergarten. First Lutheran Church recognizes members who are graduating from kindergarten in a simple but precious ceremony. The mini graduates wear little white robes and mortar boards and are called to the front of the church where pastors Mike Pretzer and Sharon Baker present them a rhyme Bible. It is presented on behalf of the church with good wishes and for the encouragement of children learning to read the Bible.
The North American Dictionary describes "celebrate" to show happiness that something good or special has happened by doing such things as eating and drinking together or playing music.
Our celebration this weekend will involve cake, and I have a feeling the decorations will involve pink and a sweet homemade white mortar board.
Astonishing Carrot Cake
This cake uses mayonnaise is place of butter or shortening and the result is a wonderfully moist cake that keeps well.
2 cups cake flour
1 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained
2 cups finely shredded carrots
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350 F coat two-9-inch round cakes generously with shortening and flour. Combine cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and allspice in mixing bowl. Combine mayonnaise, orange marmalade, eggs and pineapple with juice in a large bowl. Add flour mixture; beat for 3 minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in carrots and pecans. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes, remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Gradually add powder sugar. Add lemon juice and add milk a by teaspoonful until frosting reaches desired spreading consistency.
Place one cake layer, topside down on your most attractive cake plate on to which a large dolly has been set. Spread with frosting. Top with remaining cake layer, this one topside up. Spread sides of cake with frosting and finish by frosting top. Garnish with a few chopped pecans.
Tips for cake baking
1. Read and understand the recipe before starting.
2. All cake ingredients should be at room temperature. By doing this, all of the elements will blend together successfully.
3. Cake flour is the best flour to use for most cake baking. It produces a light texture. Other flours have more gluten, which will toughen the cake.
4. When using round cake pans, use good metal pans and ones with straight sides, two inches deep. Disposable foil pans are not recommended for layer cake baking.
5. Prepare pans before you begin so that you can get the cakes in the oven as soon as they are mixed.
6. Cool cakes top side up as leaving a cake top down can split it. You can easily flip the cake bottom side down by using another wire rack to turn it.
7. Do not overbeat the batter as this will make your cake dry and tough. Blend just until smooth and pour into prepared pans.
8. Be precise when measuring ingredients. Cake baking is not as forgiving as cookie or bar baking where a little over or under does not matter as much.
9. When possible, freeze the cake before frosting as it is easier to frost and also adds moistness. It works well to place the layers in the wax bags from cereal boxes for freezing.