Fall Adventures

Our suitcases have gotten a work-out the past month.

With my niece’s wedding and our annual family reunion almost back to back – I didn’t even get the suitcases back in the attic before we needed them again.

As soon as we got back from the reunion – Angel Girl had just enough time to wash her clothes and repack them before leaving on an epic adventure with three cousins.

11999053_903684599725264_6864385375566096415_nTo Disney World.

Yes. My baby girl flew on an airplane and is spending a week exploring the Magic Kingdom far, far away.

And she’s having a wonderful time.

I do get a daily text.

“Magic Kingdom, lots of rides!”

“We’re in line to meet Anna and Elsa!”


Meanwhile – back at the farm – we were busy getting Buddy packed up for his week in South Dakota at Teen Pact Survival.

While his sister is hobnobbing with Mickey and Goofy, he will be in the Black Hills dressed in camo, sleeping in a sleeping bag and learning survival skills.

And loving it.

IMG_2931He obviously didn’t pack lightly.

But I’m just thankful he had something to pack!

Would you believe that he outgrew almost all of his jeans over the summer? Talk about a growth spurt!

So yes, I am that mother who ran to town the day before he left frantically buying her son new socks, undies, and jeans. 🙂

And now, with my children in different parts of the country – I am that mother with a very quiet house – temporarily, at least.

Am I feeling left out on this adventure thing? Oh no.

I didn’t put my suitcase away yet either.

Jan and I have a 25th anniversary trip in the works.

Our turn is coming – soon! And my suitcase is ready and waiting!

But for you – I’m enjoying the quiet – because I know it won’t last long!

Tender Transplants

I’ve spent a great deal of time digging in the dirt in the last few weeks.

I’ve divided African violets, re-potted house plants, and transplanted tender seedlings into larger containers.

Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, eggplants, cauliflower.

eggplant seedlingsIt’s a slow, meticulous and rather messy job,  but it does give one a great deal of time to think.

While my hands were covered in potting soil and I carefully moved the tender root systems from one container to a larger one, it suddenly came to me that I am in a transplanting season in life.

My kids are growing up fast and and leaving. They are being transplanting from our home to homes and apartments of their own.

They’ve outgrown their old lives just as my seedlings have outgrown their pots.

They need more room.

But, unlike my plants, I will not be the one to transplant my children. It’s time for them  to do it for themselves.

New jobs, new classes, new friends.

New problems, new responsibilities, new decisions.

On their own.

As I looked down at the tomato seedling in my hand and saw it’s fragile roots, I realized how vital a strong root system is to a plant.

How much more so for my children!

tomato seedlingsAnd my momma heart prayed, “Take care of the roots, children!”

Those precious roots that your dad and I have tried to build into your lives.

Roots that will anchor you in the bedrock of strong faith.

Roots that will help you stay strong when the world is storming around you.

Watch those roots!

Tend them carefully.

Water them.

Give them good soil.

Let them grow deep and strong.

Please children, hear your momma’s heart.

Take care of the roots.

Across the Pond

MattMatt’s heading to Oxford.

That’s in England.

Over 5000 miles away.

He leaves Monday.

Yes, Monday.

We’ve barely recovered from Dagmar’s graduation and now we’re packing Matt up for a month in jolly old England studying CS Lewis, Tolkien and the other Inklings.

He’ll be eating and sleeping and walking right where they did.

At Oxford.

Over the ocean.

In England.

5000 miles away.

On his own.

I’m okay with this, really I am. I think.

He’s beyond excited.

I’m excited for him. Really I am.

He’s on the adventure of a lifetime, arranged his own flight, bought his own ticket, researched phone options, and bought the needed electronic adapters.

All on his own.

He’s leaving on Monday.

For Oxford, England.

Across an ocean.


He’s ready.

But am I?


I don’t think CD players like me.

Maybe I’m jinxed or something – but this is getting kind of crazy.

I like to have a CD player in the kitchen so I can listen to music while I work. Sounds simple – right? Ha!

Things started to go wrong when we were still living in the hovel. I had left my windows open one Sunday when we went to church and a freak rain storm blew in.

Of course my CD player was sitting right under the open window.  It was history.

My wonderful sister Sandy got me a new one for Christmas and I greatly enjoyed having music to work by – for a while – until one of the kids ran through the kitchen really fast and knocked it down.  It, too, was history.

Things didn’t get any better in the new house. My sweet husband got me a wonderful new one. It was all silver with a sleek modern design – really nice! It worked pretty well, too.

Well – at least most of the time.

But then one day I went to switch on the radio and it wasn’t there. The whole player had simply vanished. I found it later in one of the kid’s rooms. Their CD player had broken and they just couldn’t go to sleep without listening to Adventures in Odyssey or Jonathon Parks – so they borrowed mine. Long term.

My dear husband felt sorry for me  and offered to share one of the CD players he had in the shop. I don’t even want to know how many layers of dust he had to remove to make it presentable!  I took one look at that behemoth and said, “We’ve got us a Boom Box!”

This thing is old it still has a cassette player. Remember cassettes? They’re those square plastic things that you have to rewind to listen to. Oh yeah – it’s old.

It’s also a monster. The speakers alone as a big as dinner plates!

I smiled.  This thing wasn’t just gonna play music – no – it was going to blast music!

There was just one problem. It didn’t like me.

Jan put a CD in and it played beautifully. A few nights later I put a CD in and that monstrosity wouldn’t even turn on. So I asked Dagmar to fix it for me. She simple walks in the room and the silly thing lights up.

She laughing says, “Wow, all I have to do is walk in the room and it works!”

I laughed too. But it wasn’t really funny.

I push the buttons to start the first song – nothing.

Jan walks in the room – pushes the same button and the room is full of music.

He walks out of the room and it stops.

Seriously people. It stopped. I am not kidding.

It doesn’t like me. It seems the only way I can listen to music is if Dagmar or Jan are standing in the room beside it!

This just isn’t fair.

So – if any of my dear and wonderful children are actually reading Mommy’s blog post – please know that all I really want for Christmas is a new CD player for my kitchen. With a radio. And  a clock.  Maybe an under counter model. And if it could remind me to water the plants or put sugar on the grocery list that would be even better! 🙂

Okay – who am I kidding.   With my luck the whole thing will explode – or not pick up any radio stations unless you stand in a certain way with one foot touching the south window and the other one over your head.

Maybe all I really want is my fancy silver CD player back. At least it played music on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Sunday.

I’m jinxed – I tell you. Jinxed.

(Did I ever tell you about the set of three cordless phones I got for Christmas that got zapped in a freak  lightening storm? It was about 2 AM…)

Of Fence Rows & Character Building

We have some very overgrown fence rows.

I guess that’s the downside to buying a run down farm.

beforeThe quick and easy way to clean a fence row is to hire a bulldozer to push it down. The problem with that is  1. We would lose the mature trees. 2. It leaves a huge mound of fence posts, dirt, trees, and barbed wire that is both an eyesore and impossible to do anything with and 3. It’s expensive.

Good thing we have lots of cheap labor. 🙂

The children and I spent hours in the fence rows in the last weeks.

It was a huge job that seemed daunting when we started out.  I wish I could say that Jan and I were confident that we could finish – but we weren’t.

Neither were the kids. They gave us one of those “Are you kidding me?!” looks when we gave them clippers and told them to get started.

"To find the little woodsmen.. in me"We cut wild raspberry thickets, gooseberry bushes, small trees and an unnamed green vine that is covered with the biggest nastiest red thorns ever.

We raked and piled and hauled off trees and branches.

Little by little we made progress.

You could look back and see what we’d done. Our paths were marked by piles of brush.


We were hot, sweaty, sore and scratched up. But proud of what we had done.

It reminds me of a passage from the classic book Where the Red Fern Grows. Billy is honor bound to cut down a very, very large tree.  It takes him days and he is tired, sore and discouraged.

Then his Grandpa starting talking, “‘You know Billy’, he said, ‘about this tree-chopping of yours, I think it’s all right. In fact, I think it would be a good thing if all young boys had to cut down a big tree like that once in their life. It does something for them. It gives them determination and will power. That’s a good thing for a man to have. It goes a long way in his life.’

Determination and will power. Smart Grandpa.

We not only cleaned fence rows – we built character.


Ode to a Wood Shed

When we moved onto the farm almost 13 years ago – there wasn’t much here. The old house (or hovel as we dubbed it), an ugly cinder block building that became our chicken coop and half of an old hog house that had seen better days.

None of it looked very nice – but that hog house was an eyesore.

My first thought was to take it down – but my husband saw it’s potential as a wood shed – at least temporarily.

CousinsThe children saw even more potential.

It was the perfect height for little explorers to climb – tall enough to be daring – yet low enough that a fall would most likely need a band-aid rather than a trip to the ER.

It became the perfect place for an adventure and the kids loved it!

It’s roof saw many a battle waged, damsels in distress rescued, and the enemy slain in the name of justice!

It was a pirate ship, a covered wagon, a fort in Indian country,  a movie prop and so much more.

It was fun!

Tearing Down the Woodshed

Until now.

Too many strong winds and too much snow left the shed leaning dangerously. If it wasn’t for the wood inside it would have been leveled.

It was time to take it down and the roof was the first to go.

No more epic sword battles.

No more arrows will be shot at the Indians.

No more muskets will be fired at the Red Coats.

The cries of “land ho” will never again echo from it’s heights.


It’s gone now. All we have left are the memories.

You know, as ugly as it was – I think we’re all gonna miss it a little bit.

It’s the end of an era.

Random Snapshots

Photo memoriesWe’ve been looking through the photo albums in the last few weeks searching for pictures of Matt to use in a video for his graduation party in May.

Talk about a trip down memory lane!

I haven’t taken the time to look at photos in years!

Boy, did Jan and I look young – and skinny – and tired! 🙂

My how fast life changes!

I can now understand why people who have lost everything in a disaster will mourn the loss of the photographs the most.

You can trace our history through the  long line of birthday cakes, family Christmas pictures, and summer vacations.

The birthday parties, the Christmas pictures, the family gatherings are all so fun to remember, but looking at them now – the pictures I appreciate the most are the ones of our every day life.

You know – the random shots. The ones where the kids are sitting – happy as clams – in the middle of a floor strewn with toys.

Or the one of the family sitting around the table for meal on a weekday.

Those pictures captured the “everydayness” of life – the everyday dishes, the everyday clothes, the everyday moments that we often overlook.

I think it’s those every day moments  –

the house messy with toys,

every chair around the table full at a mealtime,

the swing set filled with laughter,

the little helper doing chores with daddy – that we miss the most when they are gone.

Which makes those pictures even more precious – they are an irreplaceable reminder of who we were and where we’ve been.


Cowboy Night

Okay – raise your hands here – who is tired of winter?

It was during this long spell between Christmas and Spring several years ago that a Shervheim family tradition was born.

It had been a very long and cold winter. They kids had been inside more than out and we were all a little stir crazy. We needed something different – something to break the monotony.

I had been looking for something in the back of one of my cupboards and discovered my cast iron pans.  In the other room I heard one of the little ones whooping it up on the wonder horse while his siblings chased each other around the room shooting their tinker toy guns.

That was it! We would have a Cowboy Night!


The kids enthusiastically jumped into the planning.  We made a special supper using the cast iron pans – just like a chuck wagon – and ate it by the light of our kerosene lamp dressed for supper in our cowboy best.

Then we watched The Lone Ranger before bed.

The kids loved it – and started asking for it about mid-January every year.

The menu has changed from year to year – but it always includes baking powder biscuits, some sort of beef cooked in the cast iron dutch oven, and a fruit crisp or cobbler in a cast iron skillet.

We’ve added some authentic Cowboy music with a Sons of the San Joaquin CD.

And the cowboy costumes are no longer mandatory – usually only worn by Buddy.

But the feel and the memories are still there.

It took just a few minutes on a miserably cold winter day to create a tradition that  binds us together.

Years from now – in the cold of late winter –  as my kids are scattered with their own homes and families – maybe, just maybe – they’ll remember the cast iron pans, the tinker toy guns, and The Lone Ranger.

And they call each other up and say “Hey – you remember Cowboy Night?”

The Infirmary

The Dreaded Influenza has struck.

My living room is now an infirmary.

Four of the five kids are down – two on the couch, one in the recliner and one on the window seat.

Our particular strain isn’t awful – just miserable with low grade fevers, sore throats, aches and stuffy heads.

Since 80% of my students are down sick, I have canceled school until the outbreak has passed. That means hours of Food Network, Martha Speaks and Word Girl.

At least they’re too miserable to fight over the remote – they just sit and stare at whatever is on the screen, dozing off and on.

I can always tell who has the remote by what is playing. You know Angel Girl doesn’t feel good when she sits through hours of car shows!

Pedro was the first to fall victim over the weekend. I made him a pot of chicken soup on Saturday. I’ve been adding more broth, chicken and noodles every day since.  I have no idea where the original soup started and where it ends!

I spend my days keeping kids comfortable – refilling glasses of orange juice and hot apple cider, taking temperatures, and fluffing pillows – while the influenza runs it’s course. I’m very thankful we have a relatively mild strain – some of the stories I’ve heard are scary!

And at least they are all sick at once – or almost.  If everyone had waited for his/her own week – we would be sick till the spring thaw!

It sounds like Word Girl is playing now – so Buddy must have the remote. I guess it’s time to make my rounds, take some temperatures, and check the condition of my patients.

Stay healthy!

It’s All in the Name

Cow There’s a new kid on our block.

He has 4 legs, a cheesy smile and is black and white all over.

Cute little fella ain’t he!

But don’t get attached. This little guy will end up being supper in a few months.

Because of that I started calling him “Hamburger”.

The kids weren’t impressed with that name – so I suggested T-bone. That didn’t fly either.

They reminded me of our last cow. We had named him Mud Puddle –  because – well – he just looked like a Mud Puddle!

The kids are sure that Mud Puddle took offense at his name and caused trouble just to get even. He would wait until we were all packed and in the car ready to head somewhere – and then he would get out of his pen and lead us on a merry chase.

I think he got out every holiday and every time we had company.

Believe me – he tasted really good.

They kids wanted to avoid a repeat of that unfortunate situation – so they began sharing their ideas –





Brown Cow. (But he’s black and white?!)

Optimist. (And yes – I’m a little concerned about what this child will name my future grandchildren!)

Shakespeare. (That’s kind of cute!)

The ideas got wilder and sillier until Jan finally said that we would just sleep on it.

That evening as we watching TV, I kept hearing the little guy mooing.  It sounded like it was right outside the window.

It was.

The little stinker had gotten out already. (For the record – Jan had the boys build the pen themselves.  After they got the little guy back in, they fixed the flaw in their construction!)

When they finally got him settled again – Matt suggested the name “Moo-dini”.

But there was something about his face that just didn’t look like a famous escape artist, or – for that matter –  an English writer that uses high brow words.

No – his expression looked more Barney Fife when he wanted Andy’s approval. You know the look – it says “Hey Ang – did I do good? Did I do good? Huh, huh? ”

Hmm… maybe he does look a little like a Barney.

Surely he wouldn’t object to that name?

You don’t think he’s ever seen the Andy Griffith Show – do you?