Monthly Archives: February 2011

Birthday Blessings

I celebrated a birthday yesterday. 🙂

(But I won’t tell you which one! My husband keeps track of that for me – it involves numbers and you know I don’t like numbers – especially when you have to borrow in subtraction!)

The numbers don’t matter anyway – you know the saying, “Count your life by smiles not tears, count your age by friends, not years.”

If that’s true – then after the last few daysI must be very old – and blessed!

The surprises started on Sunday when a sweet friend walked into church carrying a chocolate almond cheesecake for me!

chocolate almond cheesecake

Dorothy – the amazing cheesecake fairy – left me speechless. Trust me – that doesn’t happen very often! It tasted just as wonderful as it looks! (And yes – I shared!)

That just got the ball rolling!

The birthday fun started at breakfast with hot, fresh chocolate strawberry scones. <contented sigh>

And continued with the e-cards and Facebook messages that kept flowing in all day- so many of them chocolate-covered! Including the one from my friend Cinnamon who informed me that all chocolate eaten on my birthday has NO calories.  Now that’s a true friend!

All though there were a few I questioned – like the one from my niece Mel who said,” Happy birthday Auntie M!!! Hope you have an exciting…wait, when you are – however old you are now – I suppose you prefer relaxing…second try! I hope you have relaxing, fun and chocolate filled birthday.”

So you think I’m old – huh, Mel?

Good thing she doesn’t know that I spent part of my birthday afternoon sitting on the couch reading.

Yes. Reading.

In the middle of the afternoon.

On a Tuesday.

It was wonderful!

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Dagmar was preparing a scrumptious Mexican feast for my party – including chimichangas with enough heat to burn out my sinus’s and enough fat to close up every artery. Fabulous!

And of course, Mommy’s traditional Chocolate Cheesecake Pie for dessert.

Mom's Birthday

(By the way – for those of you still trying to figure out my age – the candles are not a clue! The girls used up the only pink candles we had left because they knew it was my favorite color!)

After the birthday pie there were presents – all of which were surprises!

And you want to know the best gift of all? I went an entire day without doing any dishes at all! 🙂

My sister Becky wrote in her card to me, “Hope your love tank gets filled to overflowing!”

Oh – it did!

Pressed down, shaken together, and running over!

I feel so blessed.

Let’s Love Them While We Can

CookiesOn Saturday – like every year on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day – I took my kids in to the nursing home to help their 4H club host the February birthday party.

I will admit it wasn’t something I looked forward to. It was more like something I made the kids do because it was right and good.

But I walked away from that nursing home with tears in  my eyes and a full heart.

As we were arranging cookies and passing out the well-used bingo cards, I noticed a couple walk in. He was gently leading her – holding her arm while carrying on a quiet conversation, pointing out things of interest, asking her where she would like to sit.

She was silent, her head down, her eyes open, but vacant as she shuffled in beside him. I wondered if it was a sudden stroke, or the slow moving effects of Alzheimer’s that had robbed this man of his wife.

He gently seated her at a window table and continued the one sided conservation – all the while holding her hand.

I watched through-out the Bingo game as he played her card and his own, announcing her Bingo and choosing the prize he knew she would like.

She remained seated there staring into space – quiet and still  – except for the involuntary spasms her limbs made.

I lost sight of them for a few minutes while we passed out the frosted sugar cookies and punch. But later, as things calmed down, I looked over to see that he had gently tucked a napkin under her chin and was slowly, methodically, patiently feeding her a sugar cookie.

I wish you could have seen his eyes. They held no pity for her, no shame, only love. It was as if they were the only two people in the room.

That’s when my eyes filled with tears. I wanted to take a picture – but I couldn’t. It was such a private thing. That man was sharing his heart.

But if I had taken it – it would have been a perfect picture of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind… It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I wondered how many Valentine’s they had celebrated over the years? How many Mondays and Tuesdays and Wednesdays they had shared? How many times they had sat down and enjoyed a cookie and small talk together?

How many times she told him she loved him before her speech was gone?

How many times he had told he loved her before she couldn’t understand?

It made me want to go home and hug my husband, tell my children I loved them, and call my parents and siblings – with a heart full of gratitude because they are still here to love.

“We must love them while we can, we must love them while we can
For time just seems to hurry by, and the days slip into years
And the moments that we have will disappear
So love them while we can…”

from the Chris Christian song, “Love Them While We Can”


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!

Oldcowboypicture

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

influenza
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!

Deep Dark Chocolate Mousse

Ahh..February,  how I love you!

When you arrive it means that nasty cold and overcast January is history for another year.

You are the short little month that bridges the gap between the arctic wind of winter and the warmer breezes of spring. At least we hope so….

You bring us the legendary Groundhog’s Day and the holiday that celebrates romance – Valentine’s Day.

And you remind me of chocolate.

Well, all right – so everything reminds of chocolate!;)

Since we’re talking about chocolate anyway – how about something rich, and creamy and smooth?!

Something so decadent that it would chase away the winter doldrums!

Something that said “Chocolate” with every bite.

Enter the legendary Chocolate Mousse.

Made with a rich dark chocolate, this one will make you smile no matter what the thermometer says !

Deep Dark Chocolate Mousse

From the Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup milk
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cold whipping cream (1/2 pint)
Sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip (optional)

Stir together the sugar and gelatin in small saucepan. Stir in the milk. Let stand 2 minutes to soften the gelatin. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture just begins to boil.

Remove from heat and immediately add the chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Add the vanilla and cool to room temperature.

Beat whipping cream with electric mixture on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Add half of the chocolate mixture and gently fold until nearly combined.

Add the remaining chocolate mixture and fold until just blended.

Spoon into pretty bowl or individual serving dishes. Refrigerate.  Garnish with sweetened whipped cream just before serving.

Enjoy!