Monday, June 29, 2009

We are Back from Oklahoma-part 1

Wow, what a trip! Mission Trips are great and exhausting! The heat went with us to OK and didn't leave. The humidity was high and the flies were abundant. The people were great and the children were adorable.

A little history...Oklahoma is made up of 5 Indian Nations: Choctaw (the largest), Chickasaw, Cherokee, Seminole, and the 5th I can't remember right now. The Choctaw have the most land area and it is in the southeast section of the state. I asked how they got the most land and the answer was "they got there first". Makes sense to me! Oklahoma is not all plains like in the movie Oklahoma. This part was mountainous. Twisty roads up and down the mountains. I would have been nice if these mountains has afforded a little shade and respite from the heat but when the temp is 100, not much helps.

We did Vacation Bible Schools at 2 different churches. At Thessolonia, we did VBS from 9-noon, Monday through Friday. The church members were very involved in the VBS, helped in many of the classes, and served a lunch to the children and workers every day. They also planned special daily activities in addition to the vbs. To me, this was the friendliest of the churches. They talked to everyone, shared family stories, history of the Choctaw Indians, and were very grateful for our involvment with their children. It was not unusual for a family to have 3 generations attending VBS, everyone came. The 2nd VBS was from 6-8:30, Monday through Friday. We had more children and adults at this VBS, but many came and went and didn't attend the whole week. While these folks were very nice, to me, they did not have the warmth and friendliness of the other group. We led the VBS and they watched and didn't participate with alot of the team very much. They had a VBS blowout at the end of the week, for all the kids, workers, family members, etc. They grilled burgers and hot dogs and served chips and cookies. It was a nice ending to the week.

With the children I encountered, it was very common for them to be living with just one parent or to be raised by their grandparents or aunts/uncles. Many of the parents abandoned the kids to "do their own thing". 2 precious little boys in my class had fetal alcohol syndrome and I think one of them also had down's syndrome. They were ages 7 & 8. Daddy left the home, Mom was an alcoholic and family took the little boys to raise. On the first day, we all took note of the teenage girl with a baby. She was 15. She thought that having her boyfriend use a c*****, would prevent pregnancy and found out they are not 100% effective (she told me this), so now she is a single mommy of a one month old little boy (who by the way, is absolutely adorable). She was sexually abused by her stepfather starting when she was 11 (as was her little sister, starting at age 2). Dear old stepdad was found out (the mom knew the whole time) and went to jail for all of 8 1/2 months. Both of these girls are now living with their grandparents and are now being raised in a Christian home. The mommy will go back to school in the fall and the baby will be cared for by the grandparents, and 2 aunts during school.

Unemployment is the norm, not the exception. They recieve a government check each month and have free healthcare. They also have free college tuition if they keep a 2.0 grade point average. In Talihina, there was a Choctaw Nation Hospital that did employ Native Americans and some of the people we met did work there. The churches have a van that picked up kids for VBS, because the parents had no car. Not everyone that attended was Indian but many were. I got into a discussion Friday night with some of the 1st and 2nd graders in my class about being Indian (don't know how this started) some children claimed to be 1/2 or 1/4 Indian but one little girl proudly told me that she was ALL Indian. They are like all children, they loved affection...hugs, smiles, holding hands, etc., some of them were quite knowledgable about the bible and the new testament stories. They loved music time and crafts.

More to come later....................................

Friday, June 19, 2009

On The Road Again....

Greg, Katie, Will, Amy and I leave in the morning for Talahina, Oklahoma. We will be part of a 30 member mission team on a Choctaw Indian Reservation. We will all be involved in the Vacation Bible Schools at 2 different churches next week. The VBS's will be from 9-noon and 6-9, Monday through Friday. Katie, Amy and I will be with different age groups of kids for the teaching time and Greg & Will are doing the games for all of the age groups. This is Amy's 2nd mission trip (she went to Canada in 2004) and Katie & Will's 1st mission trip.

I am hoping that the weather is a little cooler than the 100 + degree days we have had in Miss. for the past 2 days. But, it is probably just as hot there. Praying for some cooling breezes.

We are taking the RV to "camp" in instead of staying in the dorm style rooms with 15 or so other folks. We have packed plenty of water and juice to keep us hydrated! Plus sunscreen and bugspray for the outside times.

We will try to update the blog throughout the week, if we have internet service. Also hoping our cell phones will work. Gotta be able to check up on our older boys, especially since 3 of them will be staying at our house!

Happy Father's Day

Happy Fathers Day to 2 of the most wonderful men I have ever known, my daddy and my husband.

My Daddy, Bill Cash, was a great father! Us Cash girls adored him. He was loving, fun, generous, and liked to cut up with us. (OK, he was also strict but we are going to dwell on positive attributes here for the holiday). He liked hunting and he loved fishing. Since he was blessed with 2 daughters, we learned how bait a hook, fish, and clean them also (yuck to the cleaning). He liked sports and Saturday & Sunday could find him laying on the sofa or recliner watching the game through his eye lids. Now, that didn't happen all the time, but often enough for me to remember it. He loved the Atlanta Braves, the Falcons and GA Tech football. He was a Civil War buff and collector. He loved to read, play yahtzee and card games. He also told my sister and I to use him as the "bad daddy" if we wanted to get out of something with friends or not go out with someone. We could say "Daddy said no". I recall some guys that I didn't want to go out with calling and me asking him if I could go (while shaking my head no), if I asked, he looked at me and would respond with "no, we have plans". What a cool dad! After Brenda and I got married and started having kids, he was so excited that his 2 girls gave him 4 grandsons. James, Allen, Brian and Billy adored "Bill". They loved to spend time with him doing almost anything. Brenda and I worked in Daddy's State Farm office and we called him Bill at work, so the boys picked it up and started calling him Bill, which he thought was very funny. When they really wanted to wheddle him into doing something they called him Gran Bill or Grandaddy Bill. Daddy died when he was 59, 15 years ago, from lymphoma. He went through alot with the chemo and radiation because it was so important to Mom, Me and Brenda. But the Lord decided it was his time. Daddy's funeral was on Fathers Day 1994. We all miss him tremendously and the boys still talk about things they did with him. He would be very surprised to know that now he had 9 grandsons and 3 granddaughters. All of the other grandkids have heard stories about him and seen many pictures. I wish they could have known him, also.

For 9 years I prayed for the Lord to send me the perfect husband and father for my children. I even had a list of "requirements" that I would like this person to have. The Lord blessed my prayer with Greg. And every "requirement" that I had thought of and prayed about, he has! He is a great daddy to my kids. They all readily accepted him and were happy for me. James and Allen will call Greg and ask his advice before I even know there is a problem. OK, I will admit that is a little hard for me since I was the one they turned to for so long, but it is a great testiment to his relationship with these 2 grown boys. It took Amy a little longer to warm up but she doesn't remember ever having a dad. He loves to tease her and she gives it back! Its really funny to watch them together! He has gone from not understanding homeschooling to fully supporting it and planning field trips and lessons for the kids! What a blessing.

He is also perfect for me! We get along great and love spending time together. He is a generous person and shows up with gifts for me, just because! About a month ago, he came in with 2 cross stitch kits he knew I would like. I have been going through some different health issues and he wanted to cheer me up. He indulges my love of the beach even though he hates the sand. He is very skillfull in the "handyman" department. He built us a screened porch, deck and layed down wood floors. He has built square foot gardening boxes for our vegie gardens. He bought us an RV to travel in with Katie, Will and Amy. He can grill some wonderful meat and loves doing this on the weekends. He has a heart for Missions and has taken me to Honduras twice on mission trips. Tomorrow, we are leaving for Oklahoma and working with a group on a Choctaw Indian Reservation. He wanted a family mission trip that Katie, Will and Amy could participate in also. He has alot of responsibilities on his shoulders with 7 children but he handles it well. When the time comes, he will be a wonderful grandpa!!!!!

I love you Greg! Happy Fathers Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rooster Sauce

I found this post on Life hacker talking about "rooster sauce" and adding some Worcestershire sauce for a great steak marinade. Down in the responses, vlatro provided this home made hot sauce recipe. (I hope they don't mind that I blatantly copied it!) But it looks really good to me and worth a try. I've got to do something with all of the peppers Will and I are growing this year.

vlatro 7:08 AM

Not much to work with comment-wise. The Article's pretty solid. So I'll just wander off on a tangent here...

I've been making my own hot sauce for a few years now. It's unbelievably easy and can save you a ton if you go through a lot of it.

A $7 (8oz) jar of decent hot sauce lasts about a week in my house. Doing the math, that's $354 a year just in one condiment. So I decided to find a cheaper alternative.

I grow my own hot peppers (they'll grow pretty much anywhere in the Continental US, and many other places as well). That'll be the bulk of your cost.

I prefer Jalapenos and Habeneros, along with the hot Thai chili and Cayenne.

The recipe is simple. Put your preferred peppers (1lb) in a blender along with one cup vinegar. Puree the mix and move it to a sauce pan. Add any dry spices and seasonings (Mustard powder, Turmeric, Garlic, Salt, Onion powder, whatever you want). Add in 5 more cups of vinegar. Boil until you've reduced it by half, stirring occasionally. Strain the mix through a cheese cloth into bottles. Makes 1 quart.

If you want to get fancy, try smoking some of the peppers, add white wine or Bourbon in place of some of the vinegar. Citric acid will kick up the heat quite a bit. Experiment. My exact recipe makes the sauce deadly hot. Many people prefer a milder taste. Start with a small batch, get it just the way you want it and then expand it to fill the quantity you need.

Remember, there's no such thing as a real sauce recipe. The fruit, in this case the peppers, will vary in flavor dramatically from one pepper to the next, so taste it constantly and season and cook to desired taste and consistency.

1 Gallon = 16 8oz bottles. My cost per gallon was about $4.00. That compared to $112.00 for the same amount purchased in the grocery store. Not to mention the home made stuff is way better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Weekend

Whew! What a weekend...hummmmm...where to start.
Allen got bit by a spider (or something nasty) and it has caused a horrible infection and swelling. Our regular doctor was out of town, so he went to a medical clinic on Friday afternoon. They put him on medication, told him not to work for the weekend, and sent him home. Home meaning my house, the boy has slept for 3 days. He wakes up to eat, take the medicine watch a little tv and then he is back asleep. But, it still looks just as nasty as it did on Friday. So, this morning, I took him to our regular dr. He gave Allen the choice of letting him lance it and drain the infection or going to the hospital for 2 days and letting them take care of it. Allen choose the dr (good choice). I am not normally a squemish person and have sat through lots with my kids, but this almost pushed the mom limit! It was nasty (no I didn't take pictures and if I did, you would not want to see them). But the swelling is diminished greatly but not completely. He will have to go back in a couple of days to have it rechecked. Yuck!!!!

Katie took her ACT on Saturday morning. She will be a senior next school year, so we have to start looking at her after high school options and are hoping for good scholarships. She would like to teach in elementary school and then homeschool her own children. We are also going to step up the driving lessons, so that she can be a little more independent.

We finished the floor in the living room and have the furniture moved back in. It is gorgeous. James, Will, Allen and Greg did an outstanding job. We also rearranged the furniture and it gave us more space in the room. When all 7 kids are here and us, we need all the room we can get! Next is the kitchen but we haven't decided what to do in there yet. We are thinking about either large tiles (12" square) or the wood flooring. We just don't want puddles on the wood from the kids coming in from the pool. We will have to figure all this out and compare the costs of the 2 different floorings.

Sunday afternoon found us floating, swimming, lounging in our pool. Ahhhhh, how relaxing! With the 95 degree heat we had in the last week and no rain the water temp. is almost cool bathwater now. But, it is wet and we are enjoying it.

Our garden is kind of wilty (is that a word?). Its so hot and dry but we are trying to keep everything watered. The corn is now about 6 1/2 feet tall and the watermelon plant is climbing everywhere. Greg's peppers are producing also. the cucumbers and squash has blossoms and the green beans are trying to hang on in the heat. I think the tomatoes are going to give up, so we will be getting them from the farm stand.

We are getting ready for our Mission Trip to Oklahoma. We leave on Sat. morning. We are taking the RV to stay in at the camp. We will be doing bible schools at 2 different churches next week. One from 9-noon every morning and the other from 6-9 everynight. Katie, Amy and Will are going with us. This will be K & W's first trip and A's second one. We are going with the group that we have gone to Honduras with.

Time for more laundry!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Prize

Amy's prize was a Cricut Machine and Cricut Jukebox. This is an electronic diecut machine (about the size of a computer printer). It came with one diecut cartridge. The Jukebox of a machine you can plug up to 6 cartridges into and it connects to the diecut machine. Then you can pick which cartridge you want to use and not to to plug and unplug each cartridge. Each diecut cartridge has about 50 different shapes, letters, or sayings on it. The cartridge that came with it was an alphabet, numbers and some sayings.

We were going to buy another cartridge but they would not let us use a % off coupon for it (one of those small print exclusions).

We went across the street to Hobby Lobby to check on the price of their cartridges. The regular prices are $10 to $20 lower than Michaels regular prices. But Hobby Lobby was having a sale and we got 2 for the price of 1. Katie picked out another alphabet set and Amy picked out a Disney set.

The Disney set is cool because it makes separate cuts for each item and then you put them together. So Mickeys face, pants/shirt, head, arms/legs, etc. can all be cut out of different color paper. This is one cool toy!

We caved into Peer Pressure

OK, we have done it now. Greg and I are both on Facebook. This could cause big problems....why didn't anybody warn me how addictive it was? Oh well, the deed is done. Maybe I should set a timer for computer time like I have the kids do!

Last week was "Ballet Week". The girls had practice on Monday (1 hour), Thursday (2 hours), Friday (2 hours) and Recital was Sat. We got there Sat. at about 5 and got home about 8:30. the recital was great. All the dancers were beautiful and the costumes were gorgeous. The theme was Noah's Ark and the little girls were the animals, their costumes were so cutesy! Katie did not get to dance (maybe I should clarify that and say she & I chose for her not to dance, her ankle swells alot). She was in the recital but not a dancer. She will be dancing next year. During the recital, Miss Abigail had a slide show of all the classes, one of the last slides is Katie stretching on the floor with the boot on her foot. Greg, Mom and I laughed when we saw the slide....everyone else groaned! At least now they know why she didn't dance!

The kids had fun all week playing with my neice and nephew and Granny. Bethany is 7 and Ben is almost 11 (gasp!) Lots of Guitar Hero and swimming. Last Christmas, Mom gave my 3 youngest, inflatable whale floats for the pool. They got blown up last week and now I have Shamu's floating in the pool. It evidentally takes practice to stay on the floats and they easily become unbalanced. But the kids had a great time with them.

During the visit, we also started demolition on the dining room floor. It is now finished and looks beautiful. Greg, Will, James, Andy, and Allen did a great job. We moved all the furniture in yesterday. We now have to get pads to put on the bottom of the chair legs so they don't scratch the floor.

Sat. was our homeschool group used book sale. I went with $187 worth of books to sell and sold $132. of them. All of the big stuff is gone! Amy was thrilled that her math book sold.

Greg cooked us yummy ribs for lunch on Sat. He cooked 4 racks and we had some leftovers. Mack and Hershey love the bones and we had plenty of them.

Amy just got a call from our new Michaels Store and she won one of the prizes from the grand opening last week. She is bouncing off the walls with excitement, we will be driving up there today to get it. Its a scrapbooking prize worth $400. Can't wait to see what all it is! Will update later with prize details!

We are looking forward to a hot summer week. I declared no more school this month and we don't do school in July, so the scholars are happy (Katie does have the ACT this week). We are going to work on the floors, rearrange stuff, organize our belongings, and swim in our pool. And get ready for our Mission Trip to Oklahoma in 2 weeks. This will also give us time to get all our new curriculum and organize our next school year. Katie will be a Senior, Will in 9th and Amy in 8th. In 5 years, I will have worked myself out of a job. All the kids will be through highschool. Hummmmm, wonder if I will be any smarter?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Facing Pressure

I am now under pressure....I know you are not supposed to give into peer pressure...but good grief whats a girl to do. My MOM is now on Facebook. Whats up with that? This is the woman who just got a computer a little over a year ago and had to learn how to send emails. And she is on Facebook. Last night she, Allen, Katie, Amy, Ben, Will and Bethany were huddled around the computer on her facebook page for about 1 1/2 hours or more.

I will have to get on Facebook now, like I need something else to do. But Mom assures me that she will accept me as her friend, Amy and Katie too. Allen doesn't want any of us near his, hummmmm wonder what he is hiding. (I probably don't want to know!)

We are off to paint pottery!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Update on our crazy life & Happy June

We are back from Virginia. It was a great trip and we had fun visiting with family. Greg's sister and I decided it was a really good thing we didn't live closer together....we ate way too much junk food last week and we are both paying for it now. Its just easier to eat trash with a friend! Our van was full to overflowing on the way home. We brought home an antique double bed that Greg had loaned them and they are done using it. Then on the way home, we stopped at Costco in Birmingham and loaded up more stuff. Unfortunately, I left my shopping list in VA, so there was stuff we forgot. Or, maybe that was a fortunate mistake, since we were so crammed in the car. We listen to books on tape as we travel to pass the miles away. 2 we got from the library this time were 1776 (history documentary about the year) and Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was good and we learned stuff we didn't know...his neice Eleanore married his godson and cousin Franklin Delano. Actually FDR was his cousins son, so I guess that makes him Teddy's 2nd cousin. We also listened to a James Patterson mystery which was really good but a couple of the story lines, we had to fast forward through. The story lines were not appropriate for my younguns.

Monday was spent doing laundry and cleaning up. We also cleaned out the sewing/computer/office room for the floor to get busted up. Thats the next demolision project. James and Will worked in there last night. We are going to rearrange our downstairs and repurpose some spaces. That room will now be our dining room. We will be able to put Greg's grandmothers dining room table, all the chairs, china cabinet and buffet in there, as well as the piano. We would also like to put bookshelves against one wall in there to hold our hundreds and hundreds of books but we will have to check on the available space when everthing else is done. (Homeschoolers have alot of books) The girls had ballet also. This is recital week, so we will also have rehersals on Thursday, Friday and recital on Sat. Katies foot was swollen after class, you could see where the straps from her shoes cross her foot. Ouch! After dinner last night, Greg and the kiddies went swimming.

When we left for VA the weather was warm and the garden was growing. Now the weather is hot (97 yesterday) and the garden is huge. Gregs watermelon is taking over the corn. The peppers are growing and the squash has blossoms all over it. We picked 2 1/4 lb. of green beans!
Yummy fresh produce. We may have to replace our tomato plants cause they look kind of spindly. but they do have little tomatoes on them. Grass is taking over the lantana bed at the end of the really looks like a nice green groundcover! I hate to pull weeds and especially in this heat and humidity.

Granny is on her way to Miss. and she is bringing my neice and nephew with her. They came last year and spent recital week with us, so we are starting a tradition. There will be lots of swimming, some shopping, and pottery painting. Our new Michaels Craft Store just opened and they sent us some 50% off coupons. and yes, during their visit will be floor destruction.

This month will be busy...Granny, Ben and Bethany's visit, Katie takes the ACT, Fathers Day and our Oklahoma Mission Trip. We are glad summer is here! The pool will be used lots and lots!