You Had Me at Howdy

A blog? I begin this not even really knowing what a blog is. I am 52 years old and very content to stay in my own space. Creating a blog that would let you in on the life of Howdy Homemade Ice Cream in Salt Lake City, Utah is not something I ever planned on.

So, why a blog then? To open a world that will allow many of our Instagram followers who have special needs or those who just love Howdy a look into our world. Some of you reading this are wondering what is Howdy? Howdy Homemade is a delicious ice cream store that employs individuals with special needs. We will get to the store and its mission later.

While thinking and dreaming about this blog—yes, the idea came to me in the middle of the night—I couldn’t shake the feeling that a blog about inclusiveness, including posts by our employees, would be a worthwhile endeavor. My hope is that you will get to know the amazing employees of Howdy Homemade, their likes, their dreams and their hopes.

Hang in there with me as I introduce each employee, our managers and also my family who has been dragged into a passion of my husband and mine. Along the way, I hope Howdy Homemade will change your life like it has our family’s life. You will experience the days and lives of all those involved with this magical ice cream store and my hope is you can become part of the Howdy family. Maybe you will be a future scooper or maybe your family member will become one or maybe you will just love to find out what is happening as the ice cream scoop turns and the ice cream machine churns.

Pause.....Ok I’m back.

Jack wanted a bath! Oh you don’t know who Jack is? Maybe you do know him and if you do you also know he is by far the coolest Nielson. Jack is my son with multiple disabilities and is one of our employees you will get to know.

I also have this strong feeling to start by introducing my family as privately as possible for they did not ask to be part of this blog.

My husband and I met in high school, unless you ask him…he is convinced he fell in love with me when we were 8. Another story for a different blog! He went on to serve an LDS mission and I continued my schooling, which tells you we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Why does this have any relation to this blog? Again, hang in there and you will understand. 

We married and before we knew it we were parents of 4 healthy boys and one on the way. This is where Jack comes in. Our fifth son was born on a Sunday morning and with much drama! He came to a family so excited for another brother but Jack was pretty sick from the get go. We believed Jack would fully heal and be good…not so. And thus began our life raising a special boy.

I will get back to Jack, but first I want to give you a brief overview of Jack’s siblings. Jack could not ask for better brothers and a sister. Each of their unique characteristics have been a blessing in Jack’s life. He is so blessed and lucky to have them all.

Like I mentioned earlier, my beliefs align with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, specifically the gospel of Jesus Christ. My kids’ lives have been shaped by their own beliefs and convictions. Just like many of you, I am amazed at the people my children have become. Their good lives are not all attributed to having a brother with special needs, but I believe because of Jack they have learned empathy and inclusiveness.

So here they are:

Our oldest son will be marrying his partner in May or June (decisions, decisions). We are so happy for them and the life they plan to build together. Any child would be lucky to have these two as parents. Although they both have full-time jobs, we get to spend every Sunday dinner with them. The highlight of my week is my family all gathered around the Sunday dinner table.

Our second son came into the world running and wandering. You can find him somewhere between Salt Lake and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been fortunate enough to find a beautiful Kiwi girl who may be faster at running and better at wandering than he is. He has often been called the “pied piper” because more often than not there is a trail of kids following him around in both hemispheres.

The third son came with a soft heart and tender soul. After a battle with alcohol addiction and seeking recovery, he is learning to live with what life has given him. It has given him a beautiful woman and an amazing five year old boy who lives with autism who has melted our hearts. They are also expecting a baby girl in February. Recovery has become a huge part of our family and life, in fact it has saved our family in more ways than just addiction.

The fourth son, our hard-working manager at Howdy Homemade, along with his beautiful wife who is also a manager at Howdy, are the light of Howdy. They treat the store and their employees with love and tender care. If you get a chance to go to Howdy, you will be in for a treat when you meet these two.

Jack, the fifth. His story will be a later post as we introduce our employees.

Our only daughter is currently serving her church in the Barcelona Spain Mission. She, being the youngest, has been tutored and taught by her amazing brothers and is now stepping out on her own so she can grow and serve in ways that touch her heart. We can’t wait to experience this next phase of her life with her.

This is the Nielson family, all unique and individual. We have found peace in each other’s journeys. We have learned that judging only hurts us. We are working towards a family unit that loves and belongs together.

Just as a side note, these are not the only members of the Nielson family. We count many others as family who did not come through me birthing them. Some have lived with us, some join our crazy group on Sunday and some have been forced to be part of us. Well, actually most have been forced to be part of our family but hopefully they love us like we love them.

Now, our Howdy family! The story of Howdy and how it came to be. This ride has been fast and furious and worth every minute. I hope you will enjoy the story of Howdy Homemade and its family members. I, more than anyone, know that family does not mean only those born into your family and thankfully ours continues to grow every day.

Follow us on our journey and I truly believe you will look at everyone differently. I believe that inclusiveness will be part of your life. I also believe that the word disability will lose its common meaning and will become a beautiful word in your life.

Thank you for indulging me and supporting our store. This community is why we are still open today. You are Howdy Family. 

Posts will hopefully become part of our daily and weekly life. I promise you will laugh and cry and cheer for those defying all odds. And, if you feel the need to tell your story of love and inclusiveness we would be honored to post it. Your stories only enhance the mission of Howdy Homemade.

Heidi NielsonComment