Friday, July 31, 2009

Major Means

Sam taking the oath.

"Sealing" it with a kiss. Note the kids faces, what a nice moment.

Me fumbling to get the new rank on his hat.

Of our 13 year marriage Sam has been away from us about 3 1/2 years. It has been a way of life for us. We have forge incredible friendships that will last forever. Most recently Sam did a year long deployment to Iraq. We recently celebrated him being back a year. This December will mark the end of his military commitment. As one of his final milestones with the Army, Sam pinned on the rank of Major today. His boss that he served with in Iraq, Major Khatod, did the honors at the 40th Signal Battalion, Fort Huachuca, AZ. Major Khatod even passed down his rank that he wore in Iraq, as he will be promoting soon. Sam was excited to have the warriors he served with meet his family. It was a really neat day. Part of me misses the Army a lot and I know Sam misses it some. He was good at what he did. Congratulations, Babe, I'm proud of what you did then and what you do now.
Tomorrow we wake early and head south. Our trip to Jerez will take about 12 hours. I hope to blog while I am there, but we will have to wait and see. I am sure it will be a busy time, as last time we were there we barely had time to look up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The above picture are of the hike in the Coronado National Forest. I have lost the camera, so I can't post the pictures of the desert museum, but we had a blast. The kids loved seeing all the animals and vegetation. There were several guides with a wealth of information, Josiah got all his questions about eating cactus answered. FYI-they are toxic to our kidneys and should not be consumed raw. So, they are not good for desert survival as a water source. They also got to touch a snake. The boys really enjoyed getting park maps and navigating us through the exhibits.

I think it is an indication that your life is incredibly stressful if over the past 2 or 3 years, the calmest most peaceful time I can remember is the four weeks we spent in Mexico taking care of 23 additional children in a foreign language. I'm not complaining, it has all been necessary. We renovated a house, moved twice, Sam deployed for a year, I trained to be a midwife, and downsized to a 300 sq foot RV, just to name a few. I have been on call all of this year, up until the moment we left for AZ. Our schedule has been in constant flex. The trip out here took three days of driving.

I say all that to say we have needed a reprieve more than we could have ever imagined. As we look forward to the rest of the year, we see a packed schedule with many hours of driving and we buckled down ready to do it.

Then we arrived in AZ. Our friends the Elkins, friends from Army days in Germany, were waiting with open arms. They have fed us wonderful food until we can eat no more. They have given us space to rest and use the internet. They have planned fun things for us to do everyday. Never once have I even thought about feeling bad I have five children. God has blessed them with a beautiful house and they have opened it up to be a blessing to us. Even typing this I could cry at the amazing God we have, who knew exactly how much stress we could handle and exactly the rest we needed to be able to go forward.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Adventures in Fast Food

Seven burgers, 7 fries and 7 Cokes please---That is not happening! Maybe the real title is Nonadventures in Fast Food.

As you may have gathered we are pretty radical about what we eat. I really believe, and research backs me up, that eating at least 50% of your food raw is the way to stay healthy. Also we eat minimal processed foods. These include white sugar, white flour, anything in a package with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Seriously folks stay away from these foods. “Whole foods” is the trendy term. It mostly means “cooking from scratch” and I’m not talking about opening some cans and boxes and stirring them together either.
So, traveling makes this a little bit of a challenge. I am also a firm believer that with a little creativity most challenges can be met with success.

Last Monday we were traveling home and it was lunch time. I went over the fast food menus in my head. Most places charge an arm and a leg for a wilted stack of ice berg lettuce and a packet of sugar (high fructose corn syrup) filled dressing. Wendy’s has a side salad and baked potato on their dollar menu. That’s a decent option in a pinch. I decide we need to start keeping some EVOO (that’s extra virgin olive oil for those not Rachel Ray fans) and vinegar with us to avoid the packet of hydrogenated oil and sugar. So, if each of us gets 2 items, that is a minimum of $14 plus tax.

If you can find a subway, 3 subs at $5 each will feed our family, if we have an apple with it. It has lots of raw veggies and no sugar. The bread is basically white flour with a little brown coloring in it, I’m guessing, and the cost is $15 plus tax.
So I took my $14 and I went into the grocery store. I grabbed a jar of natural PB ($3.50), a bag of celery ($1), a head of cabbage ($1), a bag of radishes ($1.50), a bag of bananas ($1) and 4 avocados ($4). We cut up the celery and filled it with PB, passed around radishes, gave everyone a banana, and for those still hungry ½ an avocado with salt and pepper. Then we started a movie for them and they munched on cabbage. Lunch and snacks for 7 people, all for $12, very filling and completely raw!

For dinner Thursday night we ran into the grocery store and grabbed some guacamole and salsa. In the camper we had refried beans (our own healthy very yummy recipe) and tortilla chips. Beans, guac, salas and chips make a great dinner. Braum’s sales a very fresh raw salsa and guac is raw also. Beans can be made ahead and frozen, or put in a cooler, with the RV we have a fridge.

Breakfast was a big bowl of strawberries covered in homemade yogurt and drizzled with honey, oats and wheat germ. Then we munched on grapes and carrots while driving through Texas on our way to Albuquerque. We stopped in Tucumcarie, NM for lunch and had celery and raw almond butter Sam made earlier in the week.

I think we are on our way to meeting the challenge very nicely.

The Long Leg

Saturday we woke up in Albuquerque, NM at Bella Vista Baptist Church. Sam had a good conversation with the Pastor there and we headed down the road towards Arizona around 10:00 am with a full tank of gas, thanks to our nail biting adventure the day before. I put a load of clothes in the wash right before we left….mmmmm…I wonder how I did that since we don’t have washing machine in the RV, more on that in a later blog.

We rolled across NM, stopping along the road to pick up some Subway sandwiches with lots of raw veggies and some lava rocks. Adelina went on excitedly about rocks and minerals as she searched for just the right rock to take along. It was Sam’s idea to let the kids pick a rock which was highly unusual for him, he is always concerned with our limited space, but in the name of making memories we picked out some rocks and continued on.

We crossed over into Arizona and crossed the Continental Divide, or is it the other way around?

Somewhere around here I finished Sam’s never-ending cable design scarf I have been working on forever.

The highway we were on was going right through the middle of the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. I have always been fascinated by the Petrified Forest, so we stopped in to check about admission. Saturday National Parks were free, so that was just the right price for us. The children really enjoyed the park and we talked all about how there was a huge forest there at one point and how a huge flood could have changed things so drastically. It is really amazing to see.
From there we took a more scenic route. It was a little quicker and a really pretty drive. Amazing to go from desert and cactus to pine forest and back to desert and cactus. We arrived at Canyon Springs Baptist Church in the Phoenix, AZ area about 12 hours after we started. It was a long travel day.
When we arrived at the church, the wind was blowing up a storm—literally it looked like a storm was blowing in. Sam told the kids they could get out while he situated the RV. It was crazy! The kids leaped from the truck and ran for the playground, jumping and running and yelling. They had reached their limit. They jumped from the slide and the swings, all while this incredible wind was howling and threating to blow everything away. Lena literally ran circles yelling, as if she had lost her mind!
After letting off a little steam we all settled down and went to sleep. Sundays are big days for us, since we are usually at a church, trying to look presentable and missionary like. The kids always do a wonderful job of making a good impression, while being themselves. I forgot to take pictures of Sunday, so many wonderful Christians all over this great country, it was great to worship with Canyon Springs Baptist Church in Junction City, AZ.
Now it’s Monday and we are enjoying a down day. The kids got up at 7:00 am and played until 10:00am, then came in to cool off. Currently it is 107F here!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Nail Biter

The truck has not gotten very good gas mileage pulling the fifth wheel. Actually it has gotten alarmingly bad gas mileage. We changed the air filter last night, maybe that will help a little. We hope to get a chip to put in that will help with gas mileage and pulling at some point. God has been good to provide.

Yesterday as we approached Albuquerque, NM we didn’t realize that we were driving past the last gas station for 20 miles. Sam wanted to pull over, but I thought it would be fine to wait until Albuquerque not realizing that actually was Albuquerque. They have what they called a safety corridor which is a stretch of highway through a small mountain range where there is almost no were to pull over and in some areas, due to construction, one lane and no shoulder. About a mile into the “safety corridor” our fuel gauge, which had been holding at a little below ¼ tank, fell and the low fuel indicator came on.

Naturally we deducted we should stop at the next gas station. Then we watched mile after mile go by with no gas station. As we drove through the tight corridor with one lane and no shoulder we imagined running out of gas with fast moving traffic behind us. Finally we began to see exits with signs for food and shopping, but still no gas. Now we were in the heart of Albuquerque. We reached the exit for the church we would be parking the RV at that night and still could not find a gas station. Finally I spotted one and Sam took a right turn. Now he was driving in heavy city traffic and we were concerned about being able to pull into a gas station with the trailer. As we approached the station we saw they had no diesel! We were all stunned and unsure what to do next. We had no idea how to find a gas station, with diesel, that we could pull into with the RV and we were about to run out of gas at any moment.

Then we saw on the right a station with diesel, big enough for us to pull into and the pump easiest to assess was open. As we pulled in and breathed a huge sigh of relief the church we were staying at called to see if we had found a gas station. Sam said, “You have never been in a more praying vehicle!”

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Dep`u*ta"tion (?), n. [Cf. F. d├ęputation. See Depute.]

1. The act of deputing, or of appointing or commissioning a deputy or representative; office of a deputy or delegate; vicegerency.

2. The person or persons deputed or commissioned by another person, party, or public body to act in his or its behalf; delegation; as, the general sent a deputation to the enemy to propose a truce. By deputation, or In deputation, by delegated authority; as substitute; through the medium of a deputy. [Obs.]

“…..they are the messengers of the church…..” 2 Corinthians 8:23

Lord willing, Sam and I hope to be permanently in Mexico sometime early next year (2010). The first year or two in Mexico we will be working with already established missionaries, helping with their church plant and children’s home. Our goals for the first year are to learn Spanish, learn the culture, gain wisdom in church planting on a foreign field and relieve the Benedicts at the children’s home some.
We would love to turn the truck south and head to Mexico today, but before we can go we need to raise some support. We call this deputation. Part of gaining support is to visit churches and present our ministry. We have been doing this since mid-March. So far all the churches have been fairly close. We can go and come back in one weekend.
Yesterday (07.16.09) we began to venture out further. We left about 4:30 pm and made good time all the way to OKC. After dinner we headed towards Amarillo, TX and stopped about 2:00 am at a really cool rest stop. The kids were excited to wake up in TX. We had breakfast and were back on the road….

Monday, July 13, 2009

HeeHaw Flash Back

Carie: "I found a whole field of wild blackberries today."

--That's Good

Carie: "No, that's bad."

--That's Bad?

Carie: "Yes, because we are only going to be in town for two more days."

--Oh that's bad!

Carie: "No that's good, because we gathered enough to make a blackberry cobbler."

--Oh! That's good!

Carie: "No that's bad, my children and husband are going to want me to share it with them."

--Oh, that's bad.

Carie: "No, that's good because I am going to stay up and eat the whole thing all by myself, with a whole bucket of vanilla ice cream."

--Oh! That's Good!

Carie: "No that's bad, because I am going to have such a terrible stomach ache, I won't be able to sleep and everyone will be terribly unhappy with me in the morning."


The kids have been into this, that's good, that's bad thing. It's hilarious! Guess I got caught up in it a little too. The cobbler filling simmering on the stove smells heavenly. It really does make me want to eat it all tonight.

Happy Blackberry Season! :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Depression Cooking with Clara....How Sweet!

I am a bit of a You Tube fan. Whatever you want to know how to do, you can find someone on youtube demonstrating it. I found a bunch of videos of people demonstrating how to use the netti pot. Sam and I spent some time on failblog a while back laughing until we cried. Check out, we must have watched in three or four times. I'm not sure how I happened upon Clara, but she is so cute and no nonsense. I wanted to share because I think you will all enjoy her and it would really add to a homeschool study of the depression.
"91 year old cook and great grandmother, Clara, recounts her childhood during the Great Depression as she prepares meals from the era. Learn how to make simple yet delicious dishes while listening to stories from the Depression."
I introduced her to the kids by getting the ingredents for "Poor Man's Meal". We watched the video, which got raving reviews of how good they thought the meal would be. Then I whip out the ingredents so we could make it together. I am such a cool mom! It was extra awesome, because it had hotdogs, which we never have. No they weren't tufu dogs, they were turkey dogs. We had so much fun.

Samuel chopping potatoes and Adelina peeling.

Haden didn't feel well and needed some extra cuddles. This is one of the last times he will go in the wrap. :(

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Adventures in Character Building: Day Two

Responsibility Experiment: Day Two: Tuesday

Sam and I stay in bed a little longer than normal. Around 7:00 am, my children, whom have all gotten a good nights sleep (Tehehe!) are up and around.

Carie: Is that dishes being done?

Sam: Is someone sweeping?

Carie: It sounds like the dog is being fed. Note: This is Adelina's chore. Everyday as the children are going out to play, all the mouths fed, dishes done and house in order, I asked Lena if the dog has been fed. It's hard to say yes, when the empty bowls are telling on you. To which she grins and confesses she has forgotten. Miracle of all miracles! It's the first thing she thinks of when she wakes today!

At around 7:15 am Sam and I meandor downstairs (all three of them) and wonder at all the productivity going on. By midmorning everything is done and the children are searching for more chores. My bathroom gets cleaned that day!

On Wednesday my car gets washed!

On Thursday we are still headed in the right direction, but I am not ready to declare it a total success. Adelina and Samuel earn enough time to stay up until 8:00 pm. I think they are tired, because they are happy to go to bed and Hannah and Josiah enjoy and extra 45 minutes together. They sit outside enjoying a warm foot soak and the sunset.

Friday everyone makes it to 9:00pm.

It seems our experiment is having positive results.....or is it?

Adventures in Character Building

RESPONSIBIL'ITY, n. [from responsible.]
1. The state of being accountable or answerable, as for a trust or office, or for a debt.

The Build Up:
On the way home from Summersville, MO Sunday night Sam and I (mostly me) discuss the children. It seems they are very compliant when it comes to doing chores they are asked to do, but have no motivation to do anything until ask. This has been frustrating for me. When I am trying to get the day started they have to be reminded to make their beds, get dressed, do their chores. Two or three times a day I look around and see a sink full of dishes, a dirty house and someone goes over to the trash to throw something away and proceeds to stuffing it into an already overflowing bin. At which time I begin issuing orders. "You! (which ever unlucky kid is closest), do the dishes, You! (choose another child at random), dry and put away, You!, floor, You! pick up and when your done report to me, I have more!" After some discussion and a few periods of silence, we come upon the idea that this is a responsibility issue (big light bulb moment). After a bit I began to develop the responsibility experiment.

The Experiment:
We decide that bed time will be promptly at 7:00 pm each night. No books, no books on tape, lights out, you go to bed. If you would like to stay up until 9:00 pm, you must show you are responsible without being ask. Time is given for chores and other various acts of responsibility, such as; playing with your little brother.

Day #1, Responsibility Experiment: Monday:
Thought I would play not so nice and inform them of the rules as I put them to bed promptly at 7:00pm and make a big impression. Wisdom (in the form of Sam gentle suggestion) somehow won and I pulled the children aside and explained the new "system". They seemed agreeable, and with the potential to stay up until 9:00 pm we all started our day. Since I was not giving any verbal reminders, I washed all the dishes that day, cleaned the house, fed the dog and took care of lil' britches. I think they all earned 15 minutes and went to bed at 7:15 pm with the exception of Hannah. Hannah is my responsible one and she had earned all her time and was able to stay up until 9:00 pm. Samuel actually cried, he asked for a spanking in order to fore go the early bed time. I declined and sent him and his sibling promptly to bed, feeling very sorry for themselves. So far I have sulcky kids and one exausted mom. As Sam and I went to bed, I ask him, "Do you think we will have responsible kids tomorrow?". To which he replied, "NO!".

Will we have responsible kids on Tuesday? Tune in next time to find out!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Fluid Life

There are some things I miss terribly. I miss afternoon coffee and cake with my friend Manuela. I miss feeling at home together-like family.

I miss walks together in our German village with my friend Suzette. Sharing our passion about birth and motherhood and God.

I miss morning walks with my friend Aimee. As I liesurely brought my one little girl and and she graciously wrangled her three boys. Obviously making great effort to spend the time with me.

I miss Sunday afternoon lunches at my sisters house, when she let a newly married couple come and share thier home and children and wisdom.

When moving is part of your life, you jump into a community with both feet. You get involved. You accept others and you form strong friendships, far away from family.

This is the short list. So many people along the journey have made our lives so much richer and we are wiser and better for it.

Some friendships are for a season and you loose touch naturally. Some are for a lifetime and you miss them as you miss your own family.

To all the friends that have taken time out of their lives to make our lives more meaningful....Thank You so much.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tinkering, Adjusting an Triumph

Part 3: Getting the thing to work

Just sitting in the direction of the sun, the oven would heat up somewhere near, but never above 150F. I was sure we had contructed it properly and was unsure what to do to fix it. We had not made a reflector yet, but I was not confident the reflector alone was going to get us to the 225F needed to bake bread. Baking bread, I had decided, was the gold standard. Then we had a week of cloudy, overcast weather. We turned our attention other directions, but I did a little research.
The next week brought clear skies. From my research I decided the oven needed to be sealed better, so we got a sealant strip to put around the door, then we constructed the reflector. The oven also had to be propped up during the morning to angle towards the sun better. Then BINGO we did it. It has gotten as high as 270F and easily reaches 175F, which is the low setting of a crock pot.
The reflector still needs some work as it is lite and we have problems with it blowing off on a breezy day. It is constructed from a sheet of foam insulation. We were able to insulate the box and make the reflectors from one sheet.