A new year, a new decade lies before us. What does it hold for us? Only God knows.

A new year always seems like a fresh start or a new beginning to break some old habits or make new resolutions. It doesn’t take a new year to start fresh, though.

Baby Allison is 12 days old today. She is back to her birth weight now, 6 pounds and 1 ounce. She went down to 5 pounds and 10 ounces. She is doing good, but daughter Elizabeth is still a little anemic and feeling as well as can be expected.

Daughter Lovina is helping Elizabeth and Tim with household duties this week. Little T.J. is a busybody and keeps them on their feet.

Daughters Verena and Lovina stayed with them last week, assisting them with their work and children. I spent a day there, too, helping with the work and spoiling the grandbabies.

Last week we washed their bedding and, since it was a nice sunshiny day in the upper 40s, I hung the quilts and sheets out on the line to dry and then put them back on their beds. Daughter Susan and children also came in the afternoon. With five children younger than 3, it takes a lot of care with the little ones, but is so much fun.

On Sunday, our family and Mose, Susan and children went to Tim and Elizabeth’s house and took in dinner. We had barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, lettuce salad, blueberry pie and Jell-O cake. Sisters Verena and Susan also came and stayed to eat dinner with us.

Jan. 6 was "Old Christmas" (Epiphany), a holiday that the Amish in this community honor. Those who gathered at my sisters Verena and Susan’s house for the noon meal were brother Albert, Sarah Irene and their children, Leanna, Andrew, Susan and Sylvia; sister Emma, Jacob, and their sons, Jacob Jr., Benjamin and Steven; niece Elizabeth and Manuel; niece Emma, Menno and Jessica; Mose, Susan, Jennifer and Ryan; my husband, Joe, and I, and children Verena, Benjamin, Loretta, Joseph, Lovina and Kevin, and Loretta’s special friend Dustin.

With everyone bringing food, we had a good dinner of mashed potatoes, gravy, meatballs, corn, potato salad, cheese, hot peppers, bread, butter, jelly, a variety of pies, peach dessert, brownies, cookies and so on. A variety of snacks were also set out, such as party mix, deer jerky and Christmas candy.

The afternoon was spent playing games. Brother Albert, brother-in-law Jacob, and my husband, Joe, teamed up against their wives in Aggravation. The game’s name proved true for the women’s team. We lost almost every game, but it was still fun. Other Aggravation games were also being played, as well as Ten Thousand with dice. The house was a bit noisy from all the games being played in the same room.

The Aggravation boards were made by nephew Jacob. He makes them to earn money; his muscular dystrophy limits what he can do. He still has both legs and feet in casts up to his knees. He seems to be doing OK with the surgery. He will need lots of therapy after he’s out of the casts.

Daughter Verena has been going to the eye doctor about a scratch on her cornea that flared up. She has already made two trips to the eye doctor and needs to go back again tomorrow to remove a contact lens the doctor put in. They want to check if it’s doing better.

2 cups sugar

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick margarine

4 tablespoons cocoa

1 cup water

½ cup shortening

2 eggs

½ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 stick margarine, melted

4 teaspoons cocoa

1 box powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons milk

Mix sugar, flour and salt; set aside. Bring to a boil the margarine, cocoa, water and shortening and pour it over the sugar, flour and salt mixture. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, soda, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour into a greased cookie sheet pan with edges. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.


Mix the frosting ingredients well and pour over brownies while hot.