Teamwork At A Family Gathering

Last week I wrote about teamwork within your own neighborhood. But how about family teamwork? Well, I found out pretty quickly when Marnell and I hosted my family at a gathering last weekend. We didn’t put a rocket in the tree. But we forgot an important tool.

We arrived at the eight bedroom home in northeast Iowa last Friday evening. I was in a bit of a tizzy, let’s just say, trying to figure out how to divide the bedrooms and make everyone comfortable in a location none of us had ever visited before.

However, as soon as people started rolling in, I began to feel relaxed.

Family Teamwork Starts with Loving Your Tribe

Did you ever notice how FUN it is to see people arrive at a family gathering? Especially if it’s just a once-a-year event, as it is for us. And everyone loved the screened-in porch, the basement game room, and the rambling wings of bedrooms.

“Well, where are YOU sleeping?” someone asked me, eyes wide after a partial tour of the enormous house.

“You haven’t seen that wing yet,” I said.

It was a strange-looking house, because, while it looks big on the outside, it doesn’t look HUGE. Then you get inside and get lost, and you realize they somehow packed in more than meets the eye.

Well, everything was moving along. I mixed the ingredients to our special homemade ice cream that we serve almost every Wednesday night. The only difference is I use the easy countertop ice cream maker at home, but Marnell is good with our standard ice cream maker too, this lovely antique appearing machine. The burgers thawed on the screened-in porch. I cut tomatoes and lettuce and started a pot of baked beans and another pot of spicy black beans. People I haven’t seen since Christmas kept popping into the entrance of the huge house.

Everything was lovely.

Then Marnell came walking toward me with an ominous question.

“Where’s the plastic paddle that goes inside the ice cream maker?”

Oh no, I thought.

“Oh no!” I said.

If Everything Went Well, Teamwork Would Be Unnecessary

This set off a cascade of frantic phone calls. Not everyone had arrived yet, so we tried to contact people who might be just passing a Walmart somewhere and could stop and get an ice cream maker. This wasn’t a terrible idea, because my sister and her husband wanted a new one anyway, and said they could buy it.

Well, Dad and Jeanie kindly stopped at a Walmart in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Hurray, this Walmart carries six quart ice cream makers! But – ugh – after Dad and Jeanie made the long trek into the store, they discovered the shelves were empty.

Well, we had two watermelon to eat. That’s kind of like dessert. But as I put the burger condiments together, my sister Kelsie whirled around the kitchen googling ways to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. She and Marnell put the creamy mix into a large pan and set it in the freezer. After supper, she started whipping it with a mixer. The going was slow. She also had researched the technique of putting the ice cream mix in plastic bags and putting those bags into larger bags filled with ice and salt.

“Let’s just try it,” I said. “It will probably be an enormous mess, but, hey.”

I couldn’t find a dipper. Using a plastic cup, I dipped into the mixture and began pouring cream into Ziploc bags. The cream poured into the bags, but somehow a big drip almost always ran down the outside of the bag too. My fingers dripped with cream.

The bags oozed with cream. Occasionally one fell over, spilling sugary cream into the pan to soak the bottoms of the other plastic bags. It was one of the world’s worst manufacturing lines.

But we passed out the bags and let various members of the family work on mixing it. And lo-and-behold. After about ten minutes, reports from the campfire and around the kitchen trickled back.

Teamwork Makes Even Sticky Things Possible

Let’s be clear. Our family is chaotic. There are 19 small children. The oldest is 11, and he has an arm in a cast right now. At one point, I heard one mom say to another mom in disbelief, “You lost an entire child?”

That’s the way our family gatherings roll! (And all children were accounted for at the end.)

But lots of chaos also can churn bags of ice cream.

“It’s getting hard!” The triumphant cries echoed.

At first, I rationed it into little cups, not convinced that enough would get hard. But by the end of 20 minutes, the bags full of hard ice cream kept coming. In the end, there were even a few cups left to put in the freezer.

“Does it taste like salt?” someone asked.

“Yes!” Jeanie said. “Just enough for extra flavor.”

Oops. So maybe those sticky seals weren’t all that great! But it worked, and everyone applauded the ice cream’s lovely taste.

Perhaps the best contributor to the effort? Our nephew Brad, the one with an arm in a cast from his recent fall off a four wheeler.

“Mine is getting hard!” he hollered from his position on the butcher block beside the stove.

He whipped out a huge crop of ice cream.

So, we had a lovely ice cream party, despite our big mistake. That’s what family teamwork does! It redeems unpleasant situations.

Bedtime Adventures with Uncle Jay!

Wondering why I don’t have photos of this ice cream making? Are you kidding? It was out of the question!

Note: The vote last week was clear – blog will post Saturday mornings! I apologize to those who tried to vote and couldn’t. I was too cheap to use a paid service so it ran out of votes after awhile. Also, this post contains an affiliate link for our favorite Nostalgia ice cream maker.

10 thoughts on “Teamwork At A Family Gathering”

  1. When our kids were younger we made ice cream that way often, just for fun! But I have a tiny sized recipe where each person mixes their own in their bag. This is a fun story. You are blessed to have a family that is able to get together like this, even if it’s only once a year!

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      Sure! It’s so easy –
      2 cups heavy whipping cream
      2 cups half and half
      1 cup white sugar
      2 tsp. vanilla
      Mix until the sugar dissolves. Ready to pour in the ice cream maker!

  2. Ah…that makes for some interesting memories to be recalled many times in the future! Just like in our recent family retreat in the Smokies – a bear swiped a ten pound log of ground beef with the cooler, taking it down the mountain a ways. Inconvenient but you learn to be resourceful. Good story. I loved it.

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      Oh, that sounds a bit challenging! Almost makes you feel like having bear meat instead. 🙂

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