When love and pain get physical 

I’ve started this post a hundred times and simply couldn’t get it out. It feels so vulnerable, but for others who need to learn these same lessons, I must share. 

My husband, our children, and my mission through the Sadie Rose Foundation are, without a doubt, the things I love most in life, secondary only to my love for God. Who knew my deep and unwavering love for them could cause physical pain?



The past few years have wreaked havoc on my health and after many tests, the underlying “diagnosis” was a real wake-up call. Nearly two years ago, I “lost” my voice and was diagnosed with a hemorrhagic nodule on my left vocal chord. I use my voice in many ways, including singing, public speaking, conducting meetings, conversation, and of course, “mommy voice,” so this was a big deal to me. 

My Ear, Nose, Throat specialist prescribed, even ordered, silence in order for the nodule to heal. With the addition of a foster placement during that time, and our family’s entire routine upended, the children needed mommy’s reassurance and stability more than ever. No talking and only whispering when words were absolutely necessary seemed an impossibility, but I took the orders very seriously. Nearly a year later my voice returned to its normal strength and range. 

That experience was my first indication that my body was trying to tell me something. 

This spring I began having pain in my left side and my right foot. After nearly two months, I went to the doctor. The nurse practitioner believed the pain to be muscular. I was also diagnosed with a common infection that cleared quickly with antibiotics, but the underlying pain persisted. 

Another visit to the doctor led them to believe I should have more tests, just to “rule out scary stuff.” In the meantime the pain became unbearable and warranted a trip to the ED. A CT scan showed a few areas of possible concern and I tested positive for strep. 

(A few weeks earlier I had a trip to the ED for a trout bone that had lodged in my throat.) 

In the meantime, I did all I could to keep up with my family, our non-profit, my church responsibilities, and helping care for a beloved family member.   

At some point I realized I had nothing left to give. I drove into the church parking lot for a meeting and the gas light in my vehicle came on. I realized at that moment that the gas light in my life was glaring at me. I was “on empty,” and without refueling, I could not continue. 

Tests were coming back normal and negative, which was great except that I needed answers. I set up a counseling appointment (my first ever) and began seeing a chiropractor. I started noticing improvement with my first visits to both. I have known for a long time that I needed to find a way to release the pain, grief, and concern I carry for others, but I didn’t realize that not doing so could ruin me. 

Where there is love, there is vulnerability to pain. Laura Ramirez

I had dubbed myself “a sacred painholder” somewhere in my journey of walking with those grieving the death of a child, but I needed to learn how to be a “pain-releaser.” Connecting with new families for me always means that their miracle never came, there was no happy ending, it means that a child has died

This is heavy stuff. I held their pain so closely, it became my own. I was imposing my anxieties on my family, frightened with every small pain or problem that they were going to die too, because “I knew someone who…” Besides the weight of grief growing ever-heavier, my daily life became ever-busier. I had over-extended every area of my life, and my body started paying the price. 

My Psoas muscle (termed by some as the “muscle of your soul,”) was the cause of the pain in my side and my other complications seemed to stem from that. Some would say the Psoas muscle is where we hold stress, tension, and anxiety, and I was holding plenty of all three. 

As of several weeks ago, the last remaining tests came back clear, I’m seeing significant improvement from counseling and chiropractic care, I’m deliberately saying “no” to many good opportunities so I can savor the most precious ones more fully, and I am returning to hobbies I have loved in the past and trying something totally new. 

Ballistics and Ballet

One of my favorite hobbies and stress relievers years ago was target and skeet shooting. My husband and I have bonded more in returning to that hobby then I could have dreamed. I also signed up for an adult ballet class! That stretches me (literally and figuratively) far out of my comfort zone, but it is helping me rebuild my core strength and is forcing me to confront a myriad of insecurities. 


I’m taking time out and time off from many “extracurricular things” to return to the those that refuel me. I am purposefully praying for myself, something I do well for others but have neglected on my own behalf. I am finding refuge and peace in the constant relentless love of God and in these words from His Word.  

Psalm 139:7-10 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.

Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 

Tattoos, Tributes, and the Harlow Family Seal

I’ve learned to ask for stories behind tattoos. Many are in tribute to a life or a belief, while others have no real thought behind them. In the child-loss community, some have initials, angel wings, or even actual pictures, foot prints or echocardiograms of their child.  

I’m not a tattoo person myself, but at our Sadie Rose Grief Retreat, hearing all the meaningful stories and seeing the unique expressions of tattooed tributes to their loved ones, I began to wonder if I was missing out. 

What I came up with instead of a tattoo is the Harlow Family Seal; a symbol that encompasses our story of life, death, adoption, and hope, that can be used as a stamp, a letterhead, on a t-shirt, or made into pins and buttons. 

De profundis is Latin and means, “from the depths. A heartfelt cry of appeal expressing deep feelings of sorrow or anguish.”

We knew de profundis when our daughter died. 

SEEK are the initials of our four children, Sadie, Eli, Elsie, and Korana. 

From the depths, SEEK joy!

Psalm 30 is a personal favorite that speaks of God rescuing from the depths, turning weeping into laughter and sorrow into joy. 

Psalm 30 NIV Translation



1 I will exalt you, Lord,

    for you lifted me out of the depths…

2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,

    and you healed me.

3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;

    you spared me from going down to the pit…

weeping may stay for the night,

    but rejoicing comes in the morning…

10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.”

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;

    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.

    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Read all of Psalm 30 here. 

From the depths, de profundis, from the anguish of the death of our sweet Sadie Rose, the joy of our beloved Eli, Elsie, and Korana is that much sweeter. We will always miss our first born, the one who made us parents. Our arms always ache for Sadie’s presence. Tears still slip from my eyes and there are days I still struggle to function, even ten years later. Yet we love more deeply, savoring moments more fully with each other and our living children, because we know all too well the frailty and brevity of life. Truly de profundis, from the depths, we SEEK (Sadie, Eli, Elsie, and Korana) and have found joy!

The cross in the middle of the seal symbolizes the faith that has carried us through it all. Only God in his great love and mercy could turn our weeping to laughter and our sorrow to joy. Bittersweet as it is, we are grateful for laughter and joy. 

The bottom of the symbol carries an H for Harlow and a c for Cyzick, weaving Lee and I into the circle and the story. 

When you see this symbol, we hope you’re also encouraged to seek joy de profundis. 

From our hearts to yours, 

The Harlows

Doughnuts, Dwarfism, Adoption, Celebration, Memorium

Ten years. That’s how long it has been since we’ve held and kissed our sweet Sadie Rose hello and good-bye. In memory of her 10th birthday, we are inviting all who wish, to celebrate with us in a unique way. Most who know us know our passion for our work through the Sadie Rose Foundation. Most know us know our passion for adoption. In memory of our sweet Sadie Rose and honor of our heart for adoption, read on to see how we invite you to celebrate her life with us.

While I talk and write about her often, few people remember or associate her as a Little Person (someone with dwarfism) and think of her more simply as a baby gone too soon. In the grand scheme of things, that is perfectly fine, but with her diagnosis of hypochondrogenesis, a rare form of skeletal dysplasia including dwarfism, she has always connected us to the Little People community.

Little People of America, is a non-profit organization that provides support and information to people of short stature and their families. Their mission statement is: “LPA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with dwarfism throughout their lives while celebrating with great pride Little People’s contribution to social diversity.  LPA strives to bring solutions and global awareness to the prominent issues affecting individuals of short stature and their families.”

One of the ways they support the Little People community is helping children of short stature find forever families through their adoption advocacy and grants. Here’s a link that explains specifically how they work to fulfill this mission. 

Here’s a link to view children of short stature waiting to find their forever families. I dare you to let it break your heart. It crushed mine.

Here’s a link from a familiy’s first-person experience with adopting children with dwarfism. 

Finally, here is a link to our ambitious goal of raising $1000 in Sadie’s memory to cover an adoption grant for one of these waiting children and their forever families. 

We are also taking orders locally for mom’s famous homemade doughnuts made fresh and ready for pick-up Friday, June 16, 8 am, at the Sadie Rose House, 195 Main Street Dayton. One hundred percent of money raised will go toward this adoption grant. In an effort to keep track of orders, please ONLY order through our Facebook event page, Celebrating Sadie’s 10th Heavenly Birthday. If you do not have Facebook, you can call or text your orders to Regina at 540-421-6458.


Whether or not you can make a financial contribution to this cause, we would love for you to consider a random act of kindness in memory of Sadie on June 20.

Your friendship, your love, your support has meant the world to us these past ten years. We will miss Sadie until the day we hold her again on the other side of eternity, and in the interim we will do everything we can to reduce the pain of others along the way. Thank you in advance for helping us accomplish this goal!

Our eyes are on heaven, our hands stretched toward humanity.


 

Potpourri; food tricks, sin, and working together

I haven’t posted much about food recently, but among my kitchen concoctions this past week were delicious tuna cakes with a chipotle lime sauce. The following evening I made poor man’s Steak, crazy ranch potatoes, pistachio bundt cake, and coffee pudding for some friends, but made enough for our dinner, too. 

Today for our Cyzick/Sych reunion, I made periogis with sour cream, sautéed onions, and crispy bacon crumbles. Pepperoni rolls, double chocolate bundt cake and caramel pudding. 


The tricks? I bought a bag of frozen periogis at Costco and added the toppings. For the pepperoni rolls, I bought a bag of frozen Rhodes rolls, thawed them on a tray, tore them in half, flattened each piece into a small disc, laid a few slices of pepperoni into each one, rolled them and baked them. The recipe for the “shortcut” bundt cakes are at the bottom of this post. Both puddings were made completely from scratch and required much more attention. These shortcuts still make for delicious “heritage” food without as work. And those are just my contributions. There will be even more deliciousness at the reunion!

I’ve been experiencing increasing intense pain in my left side for two months. Initially I figured it had to do with carrying a twenty-six pound toddler on my left hip all the time. This past week though, the pain became unbearable and spread into my back making it hard to function, so I finally went to the doctor. Turns out, I had a severe infection! After a second dose of antibiotics I’m feeling significantly better.

Although the pain was excruciating, I truly didn’t know just how bad I felt until I started to feel significantly better. Sin can be that way too. One wrong choice here or there, unacknowledged, unrepented of, and justified by any number of reasons, will eventually take us to a place where we must address our pain and issues in order to function in a healthy way. When we repent and ask God for forgiveness, he who is rich in mercy, unfailing in love, and slow to anger, will always hear our cries and respond with heart-healing and soul-reawakening. Once we receive the beautiful gift of forgiveness and healing, only then do we start to glimpse how truly lost and pain-filled we were before. 

This morning, our children were playing “tug-of-war” clean up. They were holding on to opposite ends of the dog leash, pulling each other this way and that and seeing how much they could accomplish by pulling each other in opposite directions. As one might imagine, they accomplished little to nothing. Life is often that way. We are all running in our own directions trying to pull others with us instead of trying to find ways to work together. May we all do our part to work together and be the positive change we want to see in this world. 

As promised, here’s the simple bundt cake recipe. 

Fabulous Bundt Cake

1 cake mix, any flavor

1 (3.4 oz) package instant pudding, any flavor

1/2 cup oil

1 cup hot water

4 eggs

Method: Mix all ingredients together until well blended, then beat hard for two minutes. Pour into greased bundt cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. 

As suggested in the recipe, we LOVE using a yellow cake mix with pistachio pudding for the cake and serving it with homemade coffee pudding.


The cake I made for the reunion was a chocolate cake mix with chocolate pudding. This recipe is so simple, I actually let our 5-year-old daughter make it this morning. 

Let me know if you try any of these tricks or recipes and how you liked them. Have a great weekend. 

“I’ll see you in the sunrise, Mommy”

I wrote those piece more than a month ago, but am just finding the courage to share. Writing has always been my therapy, and this piece brought tremendous healing as I imagined what Sadie might say to me from heaven. 

“I’ll see you in the sunrise, Mommy”

By Regina Cyzick Harlow

April 2, 2017

As my body formed inside of yours, I was nurtured by your love. I knew my frame was not coming together as you expected, but I had to wait until a doctor could verify that for me. I wasn’t upset when you cried the day they told you “something was wrong.” I knew I wasn’t “wrong,” but I understood your tears. Your expectations were shattered. Yet I knew how deeply you loved me.

Daddy’s voice reassured me that through it all, we were going to be okay. You both referred to me as “Chickpea.” I still love that name.

I listened as you consulted with the geneticists and doctors about my diagnosis and was delighted that you chose life, when perhaps death “prepared and scheduled” might have seemed an easier option. I felt your body, tense from weeping, release tears into blankets, your hands, on the shoulders of loved ones, and sometimes even with strangers. I felt the hope you carried that, despite all odds, I was going to remain with you in physical form and not die.

I entered this world blue, without breath. Large hands of doctors and nurses cleared my airways so I could breathe. What was this thing called living, being alive? I went from the security and darkness of your womb into a sterile whirlwind of lights, medical staff, and other babies in the NICU, some alone, others with parents hovered attentively over them.

I wondered where you were, but they told me you had been through some pretty hard times and needed rest. After all, we would get to spend the rest of our lives together. We expected a lifetime of years, not hours.

I was so happy to see you during the day. I was comforted by the scent of your nearness when you were finally allowed to come close. The doctors and nurses were very good to me, but nothing could soothe me like your’s and daddy’s voices floating into my incubator. Those were familiar. Those were mine.

Later that day though, I could feel my little body struggling to breathe. You held me, your tears falling warm on my face. I wish I would have had the strength to wipe them for you. I felt myself slipping into another place, but I was reluctant to go. It was as if I could feel your heart shattering inside as you held me so desperately.

The doctors told you it was time to say good-bye. You gave me permission to move into the next place where I could sense I was being beckoned. You saw my body turn blue again. You heard the monitor switch to a gut-wrenching monotone beep, alerting the medical staff I was dead. You fell into daddy’s arms, weeping uncontrollably.

But mommy, what you saw was only part of the story. When I died I simply left my bars of bone and my house of flesh to transition into eternity. You saw my body stop breathing, but I was more fully alive than ever, breathing in the purest air of love and warmth and light. To go back to my little earthly body would feel clumsy and suffocating. My death certificate says I died because of “respiratory insufficiency,” but that was only earthly air for my earthly body. Here there is no lack of oxygen. Here my lungs breathe deep the air of angels.


The mountains and streams and wildflowers, the sunrises and sunsets and stars that help you feel so connected to me, I’m there, opening your eyes to the beauty beyond the veil of your flesh, the reality that the best is yet to come.

You’re still needed there, mommy. I’m safe and free here, but my brother and sisters and daddy need you, and many others who need to hear your story, our story, to know they’re not alone. I wish you knew how many children I play with here while you meet with their parents and siblings there. We have “Sadie Rose” meetings too, but the tears are absent because God himself has wiped them from our eyes.

Hold on mommy, because yet for a little while we are separated in body. But the day will come when you hold me again, and on that day I will take you to meet the One who has given you the hope and promise of our reunion. Until then, I’ll see you in the sunrise, in the faces of my siblings, and in the hearts and lives of others who know what it’s like to lose a child.  

 

Potpourri 

I use this title repeatedly for posts that contain snippets and snapshots of my life at the moment. 


I tried to take the day off today since I haven’t had one in quite a while. This afternoon the children and I weeded the garden until I broke the hoe. Then we raked and swept the bare dirt under our big maple tree for summer play time. I started a fire in the pit and called a family circle time with the children. (The husband wasn’t home from work yet.) We talked about our day; what we liked and didn’t like and about how we could better support each other. I wondered what the world would be like if we took more time for circles like these. My heart is most at home in the mountains (or even our backyard) around a campfire, so for me it seems such an easy solution for everyone to get along. 🙂


As we were weeding, one of the children exclaimed, “You mean weeds have roots?!” I explained that weeds and good plants all have roots, so we need to be careful what we allow to grow in our garden. I couldn’t help but mentally relate that to our lives. Whatever seeds we allow to take root will be what flourishes. Roots of bitterness can grow deep. So can roots of gratitude. What seeds are we nurturing?


I had other plans for supper, but the baby refused to let me put her down. (A combination of how busy I’ve been and having to come indoors.) Last evening I deboned BBQ chicken from church, added brown rice and corn and cooked it in my new electric pressure cooker. It was fabulous. This evening I simply “creamed” the leftovers with milk and sour cream and added some smoked paprika. I wanted to make Indian Fry Bread, but I couldn’t with one hand so I separated leftover hotdog buns from a party we’d had, spread about a half teaspoon of mayo on each one, sprinkled some garlic powder, topped with shredded cheese and broiled to toast. I felt guilty at first. I’ve never done something like that with hotdog buns before, but it was a huge hit with the children. Certainly not the most nutritious meal to grace our table, but it was tasty, our tummies were sufficiently full, we used a number of leftovers, and the baby didn’t have to cry while I cooked. #simplesupperscore


I posted this photo on my Facebook page earlier, but it bears repeating. Really folks, a little kindness goes a long way. As I said on the post, it is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us. The real test is being kind to those who are not. I’ve prayed for special grace from others as I’ve gone through difficult times and perhaps responded or acted in ways that were less than stellar and I need to remember to extend that same grace to others. We truly seldom know the battles others are facing and a random act of kindness and a simple gesture of grace can give someone a boost when they most need it. 


I’ve been reading lots of books while I write my own. Now that our annual Sadie Rose 5K is behind us for another year, I am devoted to finishing my book. 

Screen free week activities and insights 

From Monday morning to last evening, Friday, our family participated in a mostly screen free week; no TV, iPad, video games, etc, with the exception of what my husband and I had to use for work. While we monitor our children’s screen time to what we feel like is a fair amount, we still felt like going screen free for a week would be a good experiment. 

I couldn’t wait until the end of the week to share with you our warm glowing stories of family domestication perfection. While some of that most definitely occurred, I realized quickly that screen time can also diffuse sibling rivalry. I found myself diffusing them instead, which of course is part of mom’s job description. 🙂

I didn’t take many pictures because I didn’t want my phone in my own hand while reminding the children we were “screen free.” 

Some of our activities this week included newspaper reading, story telling contests that included real-life accounts from mine and Lee’s childhood and hilarious home-spun tales from the littles. Most of the stories were told in our basement with only oil lamps and candles to set the aura. 

We shared multiple kitchen adventures which included two “hit” nights where all five of us absolutely loved the meals! Both were simple and inexpensive. The one was using pancetta I’d bought at Aldi’s (a wonderful discount grocery store) tossed with cooked whole wheat spaghetti, peas, and a cream sauce with half and half and stone ground mustard. 


The second was this copycat Panera Bread broccoli cheese soup. The only things I did differently was decrease the amount of butter significantly and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. We literally devoured this soup!

I’ve been allowing the two older children to help with supervised peeling and chopping, mixing and stirring. Through this, our 5-year-old daughter found that she loves cooked beets! If I would have just put them in her plate and told her to try them, she would have wrinkles her nose. 

The children also made chocolate-dipped goodies all on their own. 


A lot of sugar here, I recognize that, but with limited sweets overall we still allow them to enjoy these treats occasionally. 

Between our two school-aged children, they were recognized in their school for Character Counts, Kids for Kindness, and ten stars on their “caught being good” fish! We don’t always get it right, but those moments sure do encourage us! 

We played instruments and learned new songs and chords on the guitar, mandolin, and ukulele. They drew lots of pictures and folded multiple paper airplanes. We practiced running for our annual Sadie Rose 5K this weekend. 


Unfortunately I’m dealing with some serious heel pain and this run put me out of commission for an entire evening. I went to bed to read about 7:30 and stayed there until 6 the next morning. I don’t know the last time that had happened!

We had delightful clouds for picture imagination. 


Our son took this picture of Papaw’s dog leaping through the air. 🙂

Overall, it was definitely a good decision for our family and something we will do more often perhaps by day or weekend. It’s good to be back in touch, though, too. 

Have a great weekend!

Happy Adoption Day

It is with unspeakable joy that we officially introduce our daughter, Korana (CORE-ahna) Sky Harlow.


We are not naive to the sorrow that brought her to us, and we are especially mindful of our own sorrow that opened our hearts to receive her as our own. Our first-born daughter, Sadie Rose, would be 10 this year. She died less than twenty-four hours after she was born. Korana and her birth family have had their own sadness that is not ours to tell, but Korana has truly come “By Way of Sorrow.” (Song references and words used by permission of the writer, Julie Miller.)

The nights joy slept for us have finally awakened to days of laughter. The healing addition of two more rockstar biological children, a non-profit in our daughter’s memory, and this sweet babe complete our family. 

We are eternally grateful to all who supported us on this incredible journey of preparation to become foster parents, caring for us upon her arrival, and walking with us on the uncertain road of fostering through the social services system. Thank you for those who prayed for us as our own hearts were torn between genuinely believing for a fully restored birth family and the unimaginable reality that until now she wasn’t ours to keep.

Many times I fell to my knees, unable on my own to support, pray, and accept all the twists and turns of this journey. Many times I re-lived the hours after Sadie’s birth as life and loss hung in the balance. Many times I could hardly catch my breath as fear and hope tangoed in my heart. Many times I surrendered it all to God. Many times I took it back, scared to hold on, terrified to release.

Much more about this journey in my forthcoming book, “By Way of Sorrow – a story of life, death, adoption, and hope.”

With genuine compassion for all who are part of this story, her story, our story, we celebrate our “gotcha day,” April 24, 2017.

Below is a seven minute video summarizing the past eighteen months. The first accompaniment song is “By Way of Sorrow,” written by Julie Miller and recorded by the Wailin Jennys. The second song is “Happy Adoption Day,” written and performed by John McCutcheon.

 

 

Grieving and healing together, as individuals

Often there are people around us who are also impacted by the source of our grief. Certainly our family and friends grieved in their own way for the death of our daughter. Looking back, I can see more clearly how each of them expressed their grief and love in their unique ways. I am so grateful for everyone who has walked this road with us.

I flung myself to the floor, weeping, alone for the first time since Sadie died

The doorbell rang, our neighbor an awkward witness to my uninhibited grief

She brought a beautiful hanging basket and said, “I’m so sorry”

Family cleaned, weeded flower beds, and snapped buckets of green beans and shucked copious amounts of corn on the cob to feed those gathered

Their presence comforted me

Daddy went grocery shopping

I still have the green bottle of Gain laundry detergent, empty now, but a reminder of their coming together and of my sweet Sadie Rose

Not all of them came together for the happiest day of my life, but they did for the saddest

That laundry detergent bottle reminds me so

Two sisters with small infants shied away at first, but upon my request brought their babies for me to hold

They cried survivor’s guilt tears as I held their little ones and wept for my Sadie

They didn’t want to know the pain of empty arms, but they also didn’t understand why they were so blessed

I marveled at the perfection of their tiny infants and knew Sadie was perfect in her own little way

My niece, then 12 years old, brought a red balloon and asked us to write notes to Sadie

We released it in our backyard, our younger nieces and nephews intrigued by the tears but delighted by the floating red heart carried away into the sunset

We sat around her grave on a beautiful Saturday afternoon

Nieces and nephews laid stuffed toys on her tiny white casket

We sang Jesus loves me

My father-in-law coughed and rubbed his eyes, grief had snuck up on his stoic composed form

My husband looked off into the distance, always far away, I wondered if he would ever come back

But he did, he would come back for a while to find me

Crumpled in a heap on the shower floor or staring out the window into the night

We fluctuated back and forth, being strong while the other was weak and vice versa

Another sister came after her farm chores

We dunked chocolate-dipped biscotti into our coffee until our stomachs hurt, mostly silent, with occasional bursts of detail accompanied by grunts and nods

Together we grieved, as individuals

Together we remember and heal

Best ever doughnut recipe with secret ingredient 

We had an unfortunate failure of a snow here overnight. What was forecasted as 4-8 inches in our area barely squeaked out 2 in our yard. As is tradition here for snow days, and sunny days, and cloudy days, and just about any combination of days you can imagine, I turned it into a baking day. On my Facebook post I wrote, “When weather disappoints or delights, just bake.”

My mom uses the best homemade doughnut recipe ever. We have made them frequently for Sadie Rose fundraisers, often making as many as 1,000 at a time. When you mix, roll, fry, glaze all by hand, that takes a tremendous amount of team work! 

For the first time ever, I made one batch all by myself. 134 doughnuts, to be exact! I mixed, rolled, fried, glazed, every blessed one. But the real delight was delivering them to unsuspecting neighbors, surprising the maintenance guys who had been out in their snow plows all night, stopping the mail truck in the street, and running some out to the UPS delivery man who looked a little worried when I yelled, “Wait up! I’ve got something for you,” and our 100-pound Anatolian/Chocolate lab mix was at the door barking like he was going to eat the poor guy. He was happy it was doughnuts I handed him, instead of unleashing a barking dog. 


Here’s the big scary boy. 😁

Our 8-year-old son learned the same lesson I did when I was about his age. Too many of mom’s homemade doughnuts on an empty stomach doesn’t sit well. 🤢😷

Several people asked me for the recipe so I will include it here. Several things first though, usually I encourage people to try new things in their baking endeavors, but honestly, I’ve been baking since I was a little girl and this was one of the hardest things I’ve done on my own. Try to get at least one other adult to help with the process. Also, if you are not familiar with yeast dough, this is not a recipe to start with. 

Something else to consider; there is absolutely no redeeming value to the nutrition quality of the pastries. Not one. If you are a clean-eating purist these are not for you. For having them only once or twice a year, I don’t worry too much about it, but these certainly wouldn’t be on the healthy incentives poster. 

This recipe is not original to my mom, but she is well-known in our small community for turning out the best doughnuts around. She made these for Country Village Bakeshop for a number of years. The mashed potatoes are the secret key ingredient and the spices and flavorings all marry with them to make the most moist, spongy, dreamy, delights you could ever imagine. Many have asked our family if we would start a doughnut shop, but we’ve never felt that to be our calling. 

All that being said. Here’s the recipe in one of my Mennonite family cookbooks. I’d love to know if you try these and how they turn out for you! 


In this book, they are titled “Doughnuts  II” and submitted by Janet Showalter. I will list the ingredients in steps so be sure to read and prepare well before starting the recipe. I will add pictures of the steps at the bottom of this post. This recipe will make anywhere from 120-135 doughnuts so cutting it in half or even fourths is a good idea if you don’t have plans to share. 🙂 Also, I personally don’t think they keep well. These are absolutely at their very best the day they are made. 

Doughnuts

5 Tablespoons dry yeast (not instant)

1&1/2 cup warm water

1 Tablespoon sugar

Step 1: Mix these three ingredients together  in a very large mixing bowl. The yeast will rise quickly while you prepare the following steps and you can use the same bowl you will combine the rest of the ingredients in. 

Instant mashed potatoes

2 cups crisco

6 eggs

Step 2: Prepare instant mashed potatoes by using 3 cups water. Heat in microwave or on stove until hot. Add 2 cups instant potato flakes. Stir until well blended. Add the crisco and stir until melted and well blended. Add the eggs and stir well. 
2 cups sugar

3 cups water (yes, this is additional from the yeast water above)

4&1/2 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons nutmeg

1 Tablespoon lemon flavoring

1&1/2 Tablespoon vanilla flavoring

Step 3: Combine the yeast mixture from step one and the mashed potato mixture from step 2. Be sure your mixing bowl is very large! Add the sugar, additional water, nutmeg, and flavorings and stir well. 

21 cups flour

Step 4: Add half of the flour and beat with a hand mixer as long as possible or mix well with hands. Continue to add flour and knead well until dough is smooth and elastic. 

Step 5: Cover and let rise for 1&1/2 hours. 

Step 6: At this point, pour a gallon of canola oil into a very deep electric skillet and turn on high to heat oil for frying. 

Step 7: Punch down dough and tear off a manageably-sized piece to roll out. Roll dough about 3/8 inch thick. 

Step 8: I’m making this it’s own step because it is so vital! Once you’ve rolled the dough, pick up the edges and let it relax back into place. Otherwise your doughnuts will be stretched out and oddly shaped. 

Step 9: Cut out the doughnuts and let rise for 1/2 hour. 

Pay close attention to how you arrange the cut doughnuts on your surface to rise again. You will want to start frying the first ones you cut and move through to the last so they al have adequate time to rise. 

Step 10: Make glaze by placing 2 pounds of confectioners sugar in a bowl. It is best to have a bowl that a wooden spoon can rest across the top. Add just enough water to the sugar to melt and make into a semi-thick glaze. Add your choice of flavoring, lemon, vanilla, or maple. Then add 2-3 Tablespoons corn syrup. Stir well and set aside until time to glaze. (I had to make this twice today for one batch of doughnuts so be sure to have 4 pounds of confectioners sugar on hand!) 

Step 11: Test one doughnut in the grease first, to make sure it is the right temperature. If not hot enough, the doughnut will soak up too much grease. If too hot, the outsides will brown before the inside is done. Each skillet is different, but I had mine between high and sear the whole time to maintain the right temp. 

Also! When you place the doughnut in the grease, drop it in the skillet with the puffy side down. The side that was against the table while rising should be up to start the frying process. This will allow the other side to puff up too. 

Step 12: Fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping with a narrow fork. 

Step 13:  Place fried doughnuts in a metal colander. 

Step 14: Immediately take doughnuts one at a time from the colander and drop into glaze. Cover well all over and place on the handle of the wooden spoon across the glazing bowl. Repeat with as many doughnuts as fits on the handle and leave until the glaze stops dripping. Place onto a cookie sheet. 

Repeat the frying and glazing until finished. 

Enjoy! 

Ingredients gathered and ready. 


Dough rising well above the top of the bowl.


I gave the kids each a piece of dough to play with. 


All rolled out. 



Don’t fill the skillet too full so the doughnuts have room to puff out in the skillet. 




Wow. This feels huge. Sharing this is as personal as some of the most intimate and tender details of my heart; a piece of my childhood.