When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. Isaiah 43:2

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Giving our last bit...

Wednesdays are a challenge in this house. This is mostly because I have until now been poorly prepared for them...spiritually, emotionally and physically.

You see, Wednesday nights are church nights. And I have the honor of serving as the administrator of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade arena (known at VBF as "The Studio").

This may not sound like a big deal, but in a church our size (nearing 10,000 members), with a prolific congregation, the number of 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders can be astounding. My job, though, is "simply" to organize the teachers, make sure we have enough teachers, select the curriculum, and generally oversee the Studio's efficient administration. Still sounds pretty easy, right?

But every Wednesday, there are at least two, normally three or four, teachers (out of nine), who cannot show up for one reason or another, which leaves me the job of finding replacements, praying the remaining teachers will show up, and generally stressing out. With sometimes 110+ kids to teach, I cannot have only four teachers show up!

And so I make some phone calls, send out a few urgent text messages and emails, mutter around the house fretfully, and generally find myself complaining and anxious, all day long...

As I leave the house for church, with at least one child in tow, sometimes all three, I often think to myself, "I JUST CAN'T DO IT ANYMORE!" (Yes, sometimes, I yell to myself.)

Today was Wednesday, and like most Wednesdays, there were a handful of teachers who contacted me with valid reasons they couldn't teach...family reasons, illnesses, and my favorite, no excuse at all...and I handled it as usual--badly. I have an earache and my hubby and boys are sick too, so my patience was already thin.

I decided to make tonight's church excursion just Kya and I and hoped I could duck out early.

We stopped by McDonald's on the way, and we talked about what we would do when we got to church. Kya wore her light up Cinderella dress. Things were good. As I laid out her burger and apple slices on the table at church, I said, "Sorry mommy couldn't make you dinner tonight Kya." Her reply shook me..."It's OK mommy; you were just too stressed out to cook."

The teaching tonight was on the Good Samaritan...serving and loving...the widow's quiet offering which was of utmost value to God...

I had a moment of enlightenment. I have to write about these when they happen because they come so rarely these bleary-eyed days.

My job...my service and act of love for God...is to help organize the Studio teachers. That is my primary function. If no one ever called in sick or needed a sub, my job wouldn't exist. That is my service, so why do I spend an entire day every week stressing out about my service for the Lord? What a poor example I am settting for my children by being anxious about the very service God has called me to perform...and which God ALWAYS blesses.

See, there has never been a Wednesday that God didn't show up at the Studio. He covers us with His grace and mercy and provides for His children better than we ever could. Some weeks, there are only four or five teachers, and yet, the kids learn about God and are safe and happy when they leave. I always come home thankful and impressed that everything worked out despite me. And yet, each week, I still "stress out."

I think maybe next week, I'll rely a little more on God and be thankful when a teacher texts me that they can't make it--after all, that's my OPPORTUNITY to serve Him...to offer up myself, my time, and show our children that service for the Lord is always good, because He covers it with His blessings, grace, and mercy.

And, although bedtimes are a little later on Wednesdays, that usually means everyone might sleep in on Thursday and it definitely means everyone gets a nap on Thursday...even mommy.

I am still praying about my Wednesday night service because it does take quite a lot for our family to prepare, serve, and recover from it all, but tonight I realized, that is what service is about, and, like our tithes and offerings, God blesses us based on how much we give of ourselves.

It's not always easy or fun, but service is not about those things, it's about giving of ourselves, training ourselves, disciplining ourselves, and teaching our kids, to do the right thing, even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.

It probably wasn't convenient for the Samaritan to care for the injured man in the road or pay for his hotel stay. It probably was not fun for the widow to give up her last two cents as an offering to God. But those things God treasures most--when we give not from our excess, but from our very last bit...of energy, time, finances, etc.

I gave tonight, and it wasn't my last bit, but it wasn't comfortable. God knows, God sees. God smiles when we serve...especially from our last bit.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Truths

As I stood in the very hot water of my sister-in-law's beautiful stone-tiled shower, I had a few moments of peace this weekend. In those brief moments, I had an epiphany of sorts.

Every mom has certain truths about herself and her family that can make it or break it. For me, I realized, those two things are very simple:

1) If I have enough sleep, I am a better parent, wife, friend, and person; and

2) If I get up before my children, take a shower, get dressed, greenish grayish hair done and face made up (not like I'm going clubbin', but a little foundation, a little mascara and a swipe of bronzer and lip gloss), have some hot water, tea or coffee (pregnancy dependent), and some moments in Bible Study or other inspirational reading, I am a better wife, parent, friend and person for the rest of the day.

So, once I discovered these two truths, in that peaceful, beautiful hot hot shower, I thought to myelf, "These two things are simple and yet I have not made any effort to ensure that every day has these two things in it. That's not very smart...and I am a smart lady darn it!"

So i thought about what the common denominator is in making these things happen...

That's easy, and so I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before--maybe I did and wasn't disciplined enough to implement it. Maybe I've just been too lazy and tired the last few years to really commit to bedtime enforcement (my Achilles' heel as a parent.)

The simple answer is that both require me to put my children to bed consistently at 8:00PM so that I can go to bed by 9:00PM (9:30 at the latest). This will ensure enough sleep for me and the ability to get up when that alarm wakes me up at 5:00AM (maybe 5:15) for my own quiet time and self-preparation.

What are your truths? What are the things you KNOW will make you a better mom, wife, friend or parent each day? Have you implemented the simple changes you know would help? Well, maybe if you can pray for me to be strong enough to implement bedtime (and I really need help with this because I'm a big ol' softy) then I can pray for you to do something powerful and meaningful (and probably pretty simple) for you and your family!

Blessings fellow travelers!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Good Hair

Kya(4) said to Wyatt(2) at the breakfast table this morning:

"I like you Wyatt...you've got good hair."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And the Baby Leapt for Joy

Tonight, I truly felt the baby leap in my belly. It was magical, momentous and miraculous. You would think such an occurrence would get old for this brood mare, but it hasn't. I still love it. I love this baby...so much already it hurts.

I was reminded tonight of Luke 1:41 when Elizabeth's baby leapt for joy in her womb at the sound of Mary's voice.

I'm pretty sure our baby leapt for the ice water I was drinking, not so much for spirit-filled joy, but it is still so neat.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Grumpy that Holds On

Occasionally the past few days I have found myself a little crabby with my household. My husband is "off" for the holidays (quotations because he is still reffing at least one game every day for various high school basketball torunaments) so he has received some of the outpouring of crabbiness.

But, luckily, the crabbiness is only for like an hour a day and usually relates to getting a specific task or occurrence accomplished. For instance, before we left for Disneyland, I had to prepare the food and clothing and lists for my dad who was staying at our house with Caden.

I also could not leave the house in the state it would usually be in for my sweet father because he most certainly would have tripped and fallen into a large pile of laundry/trash/toys, never to be heard from again.

I also had to prepare snacks, clothing, diapers, etc. for those of us going to Disneyland (which included Wyatt, Kya, Scott, myself and...my mother.) Now I love my mother so very much, but

I just wasn't sure if this journey with two small children all the way to L.A., with the inevitable whining and meltdowns, and poopy diapers, and potty stops, was going to be her cup of tea...and the walking...and the annoying people...and the possibility that the van might be too hot, or too cold, or...I don't know, I was just nervous that she wouldn't be comfortable, and I wanted everything to be just right.

I also needed to make sure we didn't have to purchase anything while at Disneyland. I vowed we would not have to purchase food, drink, or weather resistant clothing at their astronomical prices!!! Which meant packing smartly and efficiently.

And if I didn't get to all of these things, in addition to styling my grayish green hair, I was going to have a bit of a meltdown, because I wanted this trip to BE PERFECT DARNIT!!! (I was close to saying something less appropriate there, so you would really understand my feelings of crabbiness, but I refrained.)

So, the morning was kind of miserable for anyone in my path. My poor husband was privy to the biggest meltdown, complete with tears and a big "I'm just sooooooooo tired of having to plan everything for this family!!!" climax.

He was very quiet the rest of the morning. I was sad I said that.

As everything got completed and we headed down to the Magic Kingdom, my mood lifted and I was ready to chat, laugh, and enjoy the scenery. After all, there was nothing left to be crabby about and I had gotten my crabbiness out. My mom was in a fabulous mood and so we just had a grand time.


As I often forget, my major meltdowns always have a lasting impact on my husband. I snap out of it and he is left reeling. I am laughing and he is still bleary-eyed and hurt from words I said in the heat of my selfish miserable moment.

He is never rude and never argues. He is just hurt and very quiet, for a time. And I don't blame him. My crabbiness fallout is lasting and as I look at his sweet, loyal, gorgeous face, I just wish I could take it all back and start over, but I know I can't.

I know there will be more meltdowns, because that's what happens when you are nauseous all the time and don't get enough sleep, and have a lot of very (yah, right) important tasks to accomplish, but I know I can be better, and I know I can stop throwing blame where it doesn't belong. And I need to remember that the whole reason I want all those other things to be perfect is FOR my family, not in spite of them.

I love you husband, and I'm sorry I ruined the Magic Kingdom for you!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disneyland Craziness

Drove for four loooong hours, parked for 45 minutes (at the very tip top of the Disney parking structure in the last available row), went on three short rides, saw one fabulous Christmas parade, Fantasmic and fireworks.
Spent the entire rest of the day surrounded by, impeded by, astonished by, thousands and thousands and thousands of PEOPLE!!!
Got home at 1am. Disneyland on the first day of the holiday break? WHAT was I thinking??????
Despite all this, it was still beautiful, magical, and inspiring. The highlight? Ariel stopped during the parade, came right up to Kya and blew her a kiss. OH MY!!! You would have thought my little princess (dressed completely in Cinderella light-up garb) had met the President! She's still takling about it this morning.
Sidenote: Fantasmic is very scary for preschoolers...and mommies. So we ate ice cream. And we felt much better.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not Dolce and Gabana


...who has been wearing the same tired Billabong sweatshirt since eighth grade and cares NOTHING for brand names--except Polo Chinos, and I'm convinced that is only because he got a pair at Ross eight years ago and they fit him really well...

...just informed me that my new jeans are not Dolce and Gabana, they are some skater brand that is abbreviated DC or DG or some such (see above.)

I have truly been out of the fashion marketplace (and skater parks apparently) for too long...

He also pointed out that the lowered truck down the street has the same emblem in its window.

Nice. I am a gangsta skater now...whateva! They fit really well and were only $4!!! Holla!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thrift Store Elation

I got brand new (for me) jeans (Dolce and Gabana), two sweaters (one that is kind of granny-style, but oh so cozy), four shirts (GAP, O'Neil, and Target brands), an old chair to refinish for our newly refurbished desk, and some really nice shoes (Nine West) today--all for $43. I am so incredibly beyond happy to have some lovely new winter attire and a new chair without breaking the family piggy bank. Ahhhhhhh...(That's me singing a very high operatic note of happiness.)

DSNFS Friday=Haner Blessing Day

image taken from thejoeglovertrust website

OK, I am OVER the long abbreviation for this day, so now we are just calling it Haner Blessing Day...HBD. (DSFNS stood for Do Something Nice For Someone.)

I knew when I woke up that it was Friday. This is the day we GET to bless someone. Our activity of the day is blessing...but I am not a morning person. And even after a hot shower this morning, I was in no mood for blessing. Fridays are the end of the work week for my sweet husband, and the end of my patience (probably because I know help is on the horizon.)

P.S. Basketball referee assignors, could you please never ever ask my husband to ref on a Friday night ever ever again?

...so I prayed...

"Lord, oh Lord, could you please help my heart?! Why is it that the LAST thing I want to do is go out into this cold weather and take somebody something...that means I have to get everybody dressed--in lots of layers, including myself--and parade around in my grayish greenish brown hair..."

Nice prayer, huh?

So, I finally got out the bowl of names during breakfast. If you don't know about the bowl, basically, I asked the kids to name every single person they could think of that we know, are related to (ignore preposition misplacement throughout this post please), have ever met, etc. Plus there is an "anonymous" in there for a random person we see during the day. They came up with over a hundred names! I cut them up, stuck them in a bowl, and every Friday, we pick two names (Kya picks one and Wyatt picks one.) Then we decide what we can do (on a modest budget) to bless those people.

Today, I was thinking, "Oh, maybe it will be grandma or Raquel..." That will be so fun (and easy...and close to home...)

God had other plans.

We prayed over the names and the two people we drew, I had no idea either where to find them during the day or what to do for them...I tracked down one of them through his wife (who I wanted to contact anyway because HELLO, that would be weird for me to bring a married man a special treat at his workplace when we don't even know each other that well) and the other I tracked down through good old Facebook.

We ended up delivering plates of cookies and blueberry muffins that the kids helped make and it was so fun! (Although I got more, "Are you done?" "Your hands sure are FULL!" type comments today than I think I have ever had in one day!) But, they all seemed well-intentioned.

It turned out that getting out of the house and presenting ourselves and our HBD explanation at two different workplaces, in hopes of teaching the kids the importance of giving, really changed my attitude today and I am so glad for the people my kids chose because it got me out of my comfort zone. I just hope the HBD recipients' day is a little brighter because of our chaotic visits and less than perfect baked goods. :) Ours is!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Blog Reflections on a Day

Sometimes I feel like I am really funny when I am blogging. I laugh at myself, which is awesome because my husband reminds me daily that I am really not as funny as I think I am. He is a great humbling force in my life...for which I am truly thankful. :)

Sometimes I feel serious and contemplative when I am blogging, which leads me to find irony or deep meaning in daily events.

Today, I am tired. My sweet kiddos did not sleep much the past two nights (and mommy stayed out waaaay too late at Christmas Bunco on Monday night (and drank caffeinated iced tea there like a BIG dope so I couldn't even sleep when I did get home)).

So, here are some reflections from this tired mommy on this day of sick kids in no particular order (list format stolen from Jennifer at "
for the praise of his name"):

  • "Light ash blond" on the box can actually mean grayish light greeny brown;

  • One year olds cannot be left alone, ever;

  • Brothers and sisters who are close in age CAN be great friends and comrades;

  • Husbands who smile at you even after a hard day and even when you have grayish green brown hair are priceless;

  • Facebook is not for the undisciplined;

  • Wash poopy clothes in hot water to kill germs;

  • If you know you are going to be nauseous and tired from noon on, get all the things that require standing done BEFORE 11:30;

  • A nice clean cuddly child can erase hours of grumpiness;

  • Friends who are honest about themselves and their struggles are a treasure;

  • God is with us even when we don't feel Him or acknowledge Him, but He'd rather we acknowledge Him.

  • When I go through the day without acknowledging Him, I have a hard time snapping out of a grumpy mood; and

  • I am so thankful for other blogging moms who provide endless encouragement, advice, ideas, and research, to challenge me to make my mommyhood exceptional rather than just tolerable.

That's all for now. All our children are sleeping, which means early to rise. Blessings from this preggo sleepy thankful mommy.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My House is a Toy Graveyard

Is it me or do toys just suddenly get out of hand one day?

I looked around today and sighed, "I just simply have to throw them all away..."

A missing piece to this puzzle, missing clothes for this doll, missing wheel to that truck, the ring stacker with just one sad yellow ring, tooooooooo many blocks to have to pick up ONE MORE TIME, just one ball left for the ball popper. Where did all the stuff go? We never leave the house with any of it!

I am not a naturally organized person, though I LOVE organization. Strange, I know. It's the getting it organized and keeping it organized I have failed to hone. I really do like it once it's done though, and if someone else keeps it that way, all the better...but it's just me here with lots of little people who are even WORSE at it.

I digress.

The toys...what to do about the piles of ineffectual toys. Is a puzzle missing a piece really good to anyone? Dare I take it to Goodwill? What kind of good will am I really sharing?...I'll tell you, the same frustrating, annoying, AAAAGH! kind of feeling I have right now is what I'd be sharing...and that's just not nice. To the trash it all goes then...tomorrow!

So, I guess it's dirt and rocks for my kids to play with then.

Oh and look out, I'm starting to feel this way about the piles and piles of mismatched clothes and socks around here too.

Naked children playing with dirt and rocks. Look for us on the 10 o'clock news. I'm sure Jose Gaspar will get the story. (Only my husband is in on the Jose Gaspar-gets-the-sorriest-excuses-for-stories-in-Bakersfield joke, but now you too can be privy to it.)

(And to my old boss, who hated when I ended my sentences in "it," "it" is still not a preposition, "it" is a pronoun, and I don't work for you anymore, I work for little people who poo in their pants so, "Ha!")

What are you reading?

I am ready for a great book to read. I am looking for something old-fashioned and/or well written. I am also interested in homeschooling books. If you have read one you loved, please let me know. What is everyone else reading these days?

This is AWESOME!

You HAVE to listen to this! (and not just because I was honored to be a background vocalist!) Tim Drisdelle--the next big Christian recording artist!!!! Download here for only a $1. It will be one of the best dollars you ever spent!!! www.myspace.com/timdrisdelle

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baby Violet and the Blankie Hat

This is my baby niece, Violet Rosemary, born to my awesomely wonderful and FUNNY sister-in-law, Julie, and her fabulously smart and handy husband, Sean. This baby always brings a big smile to my face as does her mama. I believe there was no hat to cover her baby head this day, so Julie improvised. LOVE IT!!! Who needs hats?! Just throw a blankie over your baby's head!
Can't wait to see this little princess at Christmas and give her lots of (germ-free) hugs and kisses!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dear Baby

Dear Baby:

I thought we had an agreement. 12 weeks of nausea, then you would let mommy enjoy her food again. Today, you have inhabited my body for 12 weeks and one day and are officially reneging on our agreement.


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Friday, December 11, 2009

The New OB Visit

This is totally not my belly and I do not claim any sort of connection to this woman or her perfectly tanned stretch mark-less life.

After much research, and surveying, and prayer, I chose a new OB. This was a big decision for me since I have had the same doctor for all of our three babies. But, some significant changes in his office, and a general feeling of discomfort, caused me to seek out someone new.

When I entered Dr. Owens' office, I was at first concerned. After the glitzy marble-filled previous office, this one was...different. The decor was dated, the nurses not...plastic. This office was less than perfect in appearance. "Hmmph," was my first thought.
I was asked by the pleasant staff for my insurance card and after scrounging in my wallet, it was no where to be found. My insurance card has not left my wallet for years. This was odd. So I took a deep breath and had a little talk with God. "If this less than perfectly decorated office is not where I am supposed to be for the care of this baby, show me."

I told the staff I would go look in the car, but in my heart and prayers, I knew there was no reason it would be there. As I walked to the car, I said, "If this is where I am supposed to be Lord, I will find my card in the car. If not, I will take it as a sign."

I opened the van door and my insurance card was right there in plain view. "Ok God, this is what you want for us."

I found the staff to be friendly and genuine, and most had been there for years, some even for decades. This was a major difference from the previous office which had lost and gained an entire staff yearly it seemed. This doctor must be pretty awesome to keep this loyal staff.

As it turned out, Dr. Owens IS wonderful. He was genuine, personal and gentle. He seemed authenticaly interested in the fact that our last baby weighed 10 lbs 2 oz., and came into the world in a dramatic, painful, and swift two hours of labor. He wanted to make sure I was feeling well, that I drank plenty of water and ate a balanced diet. I'm sure he says that to everyone, but no one had really ever directly said that to me before and I liked it.

As we heard the heartbeat together, I was thankful for this comfortable Christian man sharing the moment with me. He said the risks of miscarriage are significantly less after you hear the baby's heartbeat. I was thankful for that, and for the fact that he looked at my chart, which indicated a miscarriage in between Kya and Wyatt's briths.
I also found out that he is a member of a barber shop quartet! I mentioned to the nurses, who feigned interest, that I had also been a barber shop quartet singer. Why do I share stupid information about myself with perfect strangers? I think I just need more adult interraction.

Anyhow, when I left, I glanced around the less than perfect office and realized that this genuine, caring and authentic doctor and his staff knew that the important thing was their patient care, not their decor. I realized that this was another in the series of recent lessons I have learned.
Decoration is just that. Appearances can be terribly deceiving. And great people are not defined by their clothing, possessions, or decor. The heart is not reflected in marble countertops or travertine tile, but in behavior and attitude.

What a blessing...I got a great life lesson, a precious opportunity to bond with the little beating heart in my womb, and a great doctor all in one visit. Thanks God.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Wonderful Wednesday

Today was wonderful. It was a fairly normal day, punctuated by moments of madness, as usual. But, my perspective on our house was different. As we have explored "different" Christmas traditions this year, I have experienced renewal, relief, and freedom...especially today...

"Why Tara?" you may ask.

Well, let me tell you! Every year, the sparkly lights and Christmas decorations at all our friends' and neighbors' houses beckon me..."Buy more! Shop more! It's not Christmas without sparkly bright stuff everywhere!" It is also this time of year when I think, "I really could use a house makeover and I can't possibly have family and friends over with this old, worn, tattered decor."

In the past, our home has embarassed me at times. I am ashamed to say that I have ever seen our 1600 square foot home as anything other than a blessing. But, this year especially, there have been times I secretly (and not so secretly) cursed this house and its lack of storage, lack of space, poor paint job, clutter, and sad landscaping (we have converted most of our "landscape" to productive, but not pretty, fruit, herb and veggie gardens...and let's not forget the chicken coop!)

And then...a new friend mentioned an author to me who talks about these materialistic ideas and how we Christians might live differently, and perhaps should live differently...

I began reading and reading and reading...about the way Christians are living in third worlds (and non-Christians for that matter.) I began seeing our lives, our excesses, my own personal "buy more" obsession, in a different light. I began to realize today that our lifestyle is more than enough. It is more than most people in the world could ever hope for. I am so happy today with our home. And I feel free, like I can breathe again, after this major realization.

And I actually smiled tonight when I saw the hole in the side of our red love seat...because I was sitting in a warm house, clothed in warm jammies, with a freshly bathed little boy on my lap, books to read, light by which to read, and a wonderful spirit of thankfulness enveloped me once again and I wept. I wept because I am pregnant, but I also wept because I was so so so thankful that God did this work in my heart today.

I think this Christmas is going to be different around the Haner home. The Joneses be darned.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I'm exhausted. I got approximately three point two hours of sleep last night. About once every half hour, someone woke up whining or crying. I think the McDonald's was having a hard time digesting...no other obvious explanation.

Anyway, if there had been people in the stands watching my mothering this afternoon, they would have booed...especially during the part when I cried and told Kya her behavior was making me so frustrated, I had no choice but to sit in the corner and cry. I'm sure she will spend hours in therapy as a result of that little meltdown.

But, the kitchen is clean. And I apologized, and we did learn a little about Jesus today. And I have one tiny tree up in the kitchen and Christmas placemats and towels out.

I am glad tomorrow's mercies are new.

Prayer: Lord please help me renew a right spirit toward my children tonight while I sleep. Thank you. Amen.

Nighty night.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Heart Mondays and McDonald's Iced Lattes

I always have high hopes for Mondays...the fresh new beginning to the week. It is supposed to be laundry day and it is my kitchen zone clean week, so I was to start by washing out the trash can...

But, it was a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Monday. So that means starting the day getting actually dressed with makeup and deodorant on, and getting all three children dressed and ready for the day by 8 AM. That includes making lunch for Wyatt's preschool, and usually changing two sets of diapers, the first diaper change of the day, plus the inevitable first poop of the day (which my boys save for their fresh morning diapers.) It means breakfast and breakfast dishes. It means thinking about all the things I have to take back to MOPS people today that I have borrowed.
It also means a two and a half hour break from my little blessings, a fun craft, and the BEST food EVER! Oh how I love that my Biggest Loser weigh in is BEFORE MOPS. I could have eaten twelve servings of egg casserole--I am not exaggerating. Unfortunately, the other MOPS ladies seemed to like it equally well, so I only got two servings. :( Booooo.

All went well, but by the time I had thought about and then done these things and got my brood safely back from MOPS and preschool (thanks dad for taking care of Wyatt's transport and morning care today), I was tired and not all that inspired to do my chores. And a little nauseous from baby and egg casserole.

So, with the boys down for a nap, Kya and I cuddled on the couch for the afternoon and watched Charlotte's Web. We worked on vowel sounds during the long boring songs and she recognized that Caden has the most vowels in his whole name of anyone in our family, which reminded me that I have a really smart four year old on my hands...and I should probably do more to maximize her potential than lying on the couch all afternoon watching TV, but...cuddling was nice too.

Dinners have been lots of fast food lately, which is always true during my first trimester. I told the kids after next week (12 weeks FINALLY), mommy is not going to McDonald's any more! For now though, I cannot bring myself to cook in the evenings. And with Scott refereeing nightly basketball games, there is no one to whom I can delegate cooking duties, so McDonald's it is! I love the dollar menu. Snack sized fruit and yogurt parfaits and a burger surely won't kill my children a couple times a week until next week, right?
Anyhoo, we got our Christmas shopping almost finished and I have big plans to make my kitchen over into a Christmasy wonderland tomorrow. Kya picked blue and white for this year's colors, so I'll post the finished product tomorrow.

On a sidenote, Kya's MOPPETS group today discussed for what they were thankful to Jesus. I guess many of the children said, "toys" or "family." Kya apparently said she was thankful that Jesus came to this earth and died for us. Wow! What a very special thing for a mommy to hear.

On a final final note, I did absolutely no laundry today and did not address the clutter in my kitchen as I intended. But tomorrow is looking promising for these tasks, since there ain't gonna be no gardening goin' on in this cold windy rainy weather. (Tuesdays are usually my gardening days.)

I am very thankful today for McDonald's Iced Latte with sugar free vanilla. You have to try it if you haven't. It's cheaper than Starbuck's and just as good.
Nighty night!
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Today's Sermon Notes: Margins, Goals, and Values

The following is a summary of my personal notes
from Pastor Ron Vietti's sermon today at Valley Bible Fellowship. This is not intended in any way to reproduce the message in its entirety and may be a verbatim account in some instances rather than exact quotes from the message. To download complete podcasts, please visit the VBF website linked above or visit VBF's "tape room" to obtain recordings of any message from VBF's pastors.

MARGINS: the space between your load and your limit.

If you have no margins in your life, you end up speeding through life (on the freeway for instance.) You try to cram more into less time and you forget things (like keys, purse, etc.) You become edgy, moody and grouchy.

Too much on the calendar: If you pack too much into your life, you begin to endanger your health, constantly on the move, on edge, stressed out. (Don't live life like Emmet Smith plays football--picture Pastor Ron wide-eyed, juking through a defensive line, always looking for the next hole to run through.)

How to Get Margins in Your Life:
1. Recognize your limits: Everyone has limits: physical, emotional, marital. When the limit is reached, something breaks. The key is to recognize and acknowledge your limits.

Matthew 26:41 Pray that you don't enter into temptation

Note this does not say pray that you don't enter into sin. If you are around enough temptation for long enough, you will reach your limit and sin. So pray to avoid the temptation altogether.

2. Set Boundaries: Recognize that we all like to live on the edge sometimes, but you have to set boundaries for yourself and let those living on the edge things be for the kingdom of God. And don't go near the thing that tempts you. Set boundaries so that you don't get tempted.
Alternate Definition of "Living with Margins:" Living that you always have energy to focus on your purpose in life.

Side note: For married couples, know that God provides verse after verse encouraging us to be drunk with love for our spouses. Lev 18, Prov 5, 18.

Jesus Withdrew: Mat 13:1, 36, 14:13, 23, 15:21, 29, 17:1 all give us examples of Jesus withdrawing to seclusion. We will hear things from God we can't otherwise when we withdraw to seclusion like Jesus did.

*Jesus was never in a hurry, but always busy. Never too busy though to hold a child or sit with friends. Jesus had margins.


*Set goals, have vision, and purpose. VISION is just a goal on steroids.

*Setting Goals: Without vision, we perish. Vision preserves us.


1. Pray and ask God for His goals for your life.
(three short term and three long term--pray until He gives them to you.)

2. Think in categories as you pray. (i.e., spiritual, financial, family, etc.)

SIDE NOTE: Marriages need three things to ensure success: emotional connection, spiritual connection and physical connection. For single people, make sure all three are present or you are going to have a very challenging time.

3. Keep your motives in check. (Your motives need to be pure for getting that RV or vacation home!

4. Write down your goals. (Habakkuk 2:2-tablets reference)

5. Don't be afraid to think big. We have a big God.

6. Start today pursuing your goals--before the day is over.
"It's never too late to be what you might have been."

7. Celebrate along the way. Throw parties, get a t-shirt, take pictures of your successes to keep you motivated.


1. Recognize what drains you...
For Pastor Ron, there are certain activities like church business that drain him...but he knows he is filled back up with energy by other activities like shopping, hunting, sports events, etc. Minimize your drains and maximize your fillers.

2. When you add something to your schedule, take something out.
3. Get rid of clutter. It weighs you down. Pastor Ron is getting rid of all his paper clutter before the new year.

4. Learn to say no.

5. Shop early for Christmas this year. Finish your shopping by Thursday.

6. Make a budget and stick to it. (Draw names instead of going into debt buying useless things for everybody.)
7. Do away with trivial stuff if it is stressing you out. There is nothing saying you have to send out Christmas cards. Make it about Jesus! Adopt a poor family. Think outside the box.


Make sure you put your big rocks in first. (Pastor Ron did the illustration where you put big rocks in a jar, then small rocks, then sand, then water.) The moral: You can't get the big rocks in unless you put them in first.

WHAT ARE THE BIG ROCKS? Time with God, loving and spending quality time with your FAMILY, then add in the other things...

FINAL NOTE: Time passes quickly, so focus on the important stuff (and leave yourself time and margins to be able to do that!)

There are 168 hours in a week. The average taken up by sleep is 56 hours, the average worked is 50 hours, leaving us on average, 35 discretionary hours a week, or five hours a day. What do you do with your discretionary hours?
The University of Michigan reports that among working moms, the average spends only eleven minutes a day one on one with her children and only 30 minutes a day on weekends with her kids.
For more information about Valley Bible Fellowship or Pastor Ron Vietti, or to download podcasts and learn about Pastor Ron's radio broadcasts, please visit www.vbf.org (click on "media" for information relating to broadcasts.)
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Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Worries About One Year Olds

I promised my sweet friend many weeks ago that I would watch her one year old today--for six hours. At the time of my promise, I felt great. I had energy. I was not nauseous. I thought my husband would be home to help. I had a spirit of giving. The last few weeks leading up to the babysitting commitment, all that has changed. Being eleven weeks pregnant has brought with it feelings of less than greatness, very little energy, and nausea...every day from 3-9pm like clockwork I want to throw up pretty much nonstop. My husband accepted a refereeing assignment at a basketball tournament for the whole day. I have not felt the giving spirit much.

Another worry I had was the age...one year olds need constant attention and supervision. And I have one already! This would be like double duty! My one year old, Caden, is a blur of motion when awake (see expression above for example.) He makes me tired just watching his 26 pounds of stocky physicality move through the world. Caden loves his mommy a lot--he loves for me to carry him around, he loves to tug on me and whine when I am not paying attention to him, he loves to eat small things from my less than tidy floor that have no nutritional value and questionable sanitation, and recently he loves to run out into the middle of the street when I am not watching him and laugh hysterically as I scold him, "No street!" and return him to the sidewalk. He also poops like six times a day and seems to secretly enjoy making me cringe and turn away from the wafting effluvium of stinky smells.

(Side note: Thank you Lord for your protection from oncoming traffic on this quiet street of ours.)

I assumed that my friend's daughter had many, if not all, of these same one year old traits, which frankly worried me. I had visions of twin pack n plays, with crying trapped babies in them as I ran back and forth to the bathroom.

Not so! She arrived today happily seated in her car seat stroller. There she sat watching my children run around like crazy people until we went on a walk. Still in her stroller, she smiled at us and laughed at Kya as she pushed her (with my help) up the sidewalk. (I had Caden strapped to me in the Bjorn for safety...and a good workout!)

When she got out and wandered around our living room, she calmly focused on our fishy game for half an hour--without dumping the fishies out! She sat with our older kids and read books without banging them out of their hands or trying to rip the pages. After four hours of this perfection, she pointed to her car seat and grabbed her blankie. So, I put her in the stroller, put her blankie and stuffed turtle on her chest, pushed her back and forth about 10 times and she fell asleep!!!

I wheeled her into a bedroom, closed the door and set the monitor up, and that was it! Her mom came 45 minutes later! And her mommy arrived precisely 15 minutes before my afternoon nausea set in!

Again, I really think when we help others as God has instructed, we are able to benefit and prosper in ways we cannot when we are turned inward. My time today with this little princess of happiness reminded me that perhaps I do hope our new baby will be a girl after all! :) I forgot how very much less girls desire to destroy everything in their paths. It also reminded that I worry too much...about everything!

What a delightful day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do Something Nice For Someone Friday

I'm sure that most busy moms have certain days scheduled for certain things. For instance, we have Car Wash Thursday, Errands Wednesday, Gardening/Outdoor Chores/Pets Tuesday, Laundry Monday (seldom really happens.) Please don't criticize my inability to put that previous sentence in sequential daily order...I just typed what I was thinking--and it happened to be backwards.

So today, I dubbed the Haner's Fridays, "Do Something Nice for Someone Friday."

The thought here is that this is the only day all of us are home together all day. We have no outside activities, no preschool, and usually by the end of the day, no sanity. So, we needed a focus. Conveniently, my friend Dani had a baby last week, making it the perfect opportunity to start DSNFS Friday. Thanks Dani! Next week, I intend to have the kids brainstorm all the people in our lives and write them on slips of paper; then we will pull one out each Friday and decide what nice thing we could do for that person. I think we'll add one slip for "Random Person We Don't Know" just for fun.

So, the kids and I prepared a list of grocery items we needed to make fruit pizza and tortilla soup for Dani. We grocery shopped and then made the food--enough for both families. (The kids helped with OUR family's food--it's not really nice to have preschoolers help fix food for other families what with the constant taste testing and finger usage for stirring.) I took lots of pictures...none of which I have energy to download/upload right now.

We also had an exciting morning prior to going grocery shopping for DSNFS Friday. After breakfast, I made the very sillly decision to talk on the phone to my dad...with all three children awake and activity-less. As a result, Wyatt (2) and Kya (4) took to playing with the kitchen blinds, and as I tried to negotiate with them and not be rude to my dad (this involved lots of angry gesturing), I finally just turned around and, like the proverbial ostrich, buried my head in the sand to the whole ordeal.


I turned to find that the entire water cooler (newly filled by my frugal husband with fresh-from-the-tap water) had been completely knocked over. Wyatt, obviously struck with grief and horror, looked at me as though perhaps his little life might end right then and there. I was so proud of myself though. I was filled with DSNFS spirit and even this two inches of water flooding my ENTIRE kitchen and entryway could not set me off on a bad parenting tirade today.

Calmly, I said, "Please go get some towels and then get out of the kitchen," and then I leaped to save the new laptop cord from immersion. I hung up on my dad. I explained why it is important to be careful and how to be polite and courteous while mommy is on the phone. I also mentioned calmly that when mommy gestures like THIS (waving arms madly and shaking finger back and forth) it means to STOP the activity in which you are currently engaged...for future reference. I don't think they were following me at that point.

And now the kitchen floor is clean...and I believe in the power of doing something nice for others, because for me not to scream bloody murder in response to the water cooler incident is truly miraculous. Thus sayeth the Lord, "Love one another." Pretty smart God. Pretty smart.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Haner Baby Number Four

And so another baby Haner will be entering the world some time in June. This will be the fourth (and probably final) such child to join our family. We have received what I can only call mixed responses to this news. But we are overjoyed and can't wait to meet this little bundle.

Because I know you want to ask, here are answers to the three most commonly (and often rudely) asked questions we have received since breaking the news:

1. Yes, we have a TV, but no cable.

2. Yes, we know how this happens.

3. Yes this was planned.

We have been so blessed by the lives of each of our children. They teach us daily to be more patient, more innocent, more faithful, more hopeful, more diligent, more consistent, and more loving. They have served to strengthen our bond as a couple too. Scott's provision for our family has taught me to be humble and thankful in a way I have never previously known. His commitment to raising our children to be kind, caring, God-loving people only makes my love for him stronger.

We love our chaotic, unorganized, loud, and very joyful life--and it's OK if everyone thinks we're crazy. We are getting used to it and take it as a compliment! :)

More to post tomorrow. I have a rare night to myself and the bubble bath is calling.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Time Management Tips for Busy Mommies!

I've been gone for a while. Well, not gone so much as absent, from Cyberspace. Our computer crashed in a most devastating slow painful way and we just got our new beautiful laptop. Ahhhhhh (me singing operatically.)

I sit here researching uplifting things, reading blogs of old friends I feel I haven't heard from in ages, and smiling inwardly at the silence of my sleeping family! Yes, all of them are currently sleeping! Even daddy! And it's 2:37 pm on a beautiful Fall Sunday. NFL football is on in the background. What could be better?

I just had to share these tips from the Above Rubies website, which I desperately love. These are things we all know, but often forget in the daily grind. Between getting everyone dressed in the morning, chores, meals, meal clean up, doctors' appointments, playdates, MOPS, Bible Studies, kids activities and laundry, I find myself wanting often times to put off until tomorrow what I have taken on daily...the task of bringing up these kids. Bringing up...not just tolerating, managing, or keeping reasonably well fed and clothed...but really bringing them up, teaching them, and training them to be powerfully good people in this scary world.

I am going to read these reminders daily and try to incorporate them into my life. I know I need some help remembering to be an excellent mother, not just a mom who reacts to situations that arise...sometimes reacting with impatience and bitterness.

If you missed the hyperlink above, go to Aboverubies.org, under the heading, "Articles," then the subheading, "Projects for Children," then the sub subheading, "Time Management Tips for Busy Moms."

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Ours will be happier for sure now that we have a working computer! :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Up and up In the Haner Home

I love the Target brand Up and Up. I have been buying their baby soap, baby wipes, and a myriad of other things and been very very satisfied. Anyone else love the Up and Up Target brand?

Anyway, "up and up" is fitting to describe the latest additions to the Haner home. First, we finally gave in and got bunk beds (well, they were actually given to us by the Reyniers-THANKS FRIENDS!!!) and they are ever so fabulous. The kids always fight over who will sleep on top, but otherwise, it is a great space saver, and fun new way to maximize our shrinking house.
Also, on one of the 100 degree days last week, I brought the play structure inside (given to us by the neighbors--THANKS SMITHS!!) and the kids had a blast. Note Kya's favorite new "shirt," given to us by the Schneiders--I keep trying to explain, "this is not appropriate attire for everyday wear..." But it's pink and shiny, so my words mean nothing.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Olive Oil Banana Bread

I am a hoarder of food. I don't like to waste and I can't stand to throw things away that could be used later. Thus the 7,000 (or so) frozen overripe bananas in our chest freezer chillin' alongside our half a steer's worth of beef, and several bags of bread from the bread store (for those days mommy is too lazy (or unprepared) to make her own bread.)

Hubby: Everything in the freezer smells like bananas. Can't we just get rid of them? They've been in there forever.

Me: Don't worry honey. All the beef in there is vacuum sealed and I will just make a big batch of banana bread here one of these days...

This conversation repeats weekly.

In comes Pastor Jim with his, "Get out there and demonstrate God's Love" message this morning...and...Ah ha! I can show people God's love and make my husband happy too! Banana bread for everyone!

And so we get home from church today and I get the kids all suited up for mixing time with mommy. We pray about who we should give banana bread to. We are all ready to go. Until, I realize, I have no butter. No butter, no margarine, no Crisco, nothing creamy whatsoever to bake into our banana bread...

Now, I have one of the most fabulous banana bread recipes on the planet. It calls for A WHOLE LOT OF BUTTER. So, what to do, what to do...

Hubby: Go borrow from the neighbors!

Me: I CANNOT borrow one of the ingredients to my bread that I am supposed to be GIVING to others as a sign of God's love. That's like saying, "excuse me, can I help you fix your car? Oh and can I borrow the money to get it done?"

No. I am not borrowing. And I do not want to go to the store on a Sunday with three children in tow. And we have like $10 left in the bank this month anyway. Soooo.

I look in the pantry one more time and what I have a WHOLE lot of is...Kirkland olive oil! Olive oil? Could that work? It might. It is actually probably healthier than butter I think to myself.

First step, "cream butter and sugar together in the bowl." OK, so the kids add the sugar and the olive oil to the bowl and we start mixing, and mixing, and mixing. There is nothing creamy about this mixture. It looks like oil and sugar, mixed together...I could build small oily sugar castles out of it, but surely no good bread could come from such a base.

At this point, I have to consider whether to go on. Do I waste the flour, baking soda, salt, eggs, and bananas (well, we know "wasting" the bananas was not a big consideration, but you know what I'm getting at)? Or do I stop here, count our losses and get some butter on the 1st.


Well, let's just give it a try.

We mix, mix, stir, stir, squish the thawed bananas into the bowl (like "poop" the kids say! Gross.) Happy kids, muffin tins covered in batter, loaf pans half full and ready to go into the oven...and then we put them in the oven to bake. A sad anthem rolled around in my head as I put the mixture into the oven--like I was putting the sad, sad olive oily batter to rest once and for all.

I checked on our concoction a few times as it baked...and it started to turn much browner (more brown?) than I had ever seen my beloved buttery banana bread turn--stupid olive oil. So I took them out to cool and sadly sighed...what a waste. Did I mention I hate to waste?

Well, as I got my trusty knife out to pry them from the sides of their tins, something strange happened. I didn't have to pry. They just slipped right out. And they were so soft and fluffy...what was going on here?

And then I tasted them...and they tasted awesome! Even my hubby said so...well, he ate it. He didn't say anything really. But he ate the whole thing, and for him, that's a big compliment.

And that's the story of the olive oil banana bread and muffins. I'll post the recipe soon and you won't think I'm quite so crazy when you see 2 1/2 cups of olive oil listed as the second ingredient! :)

Image taken from addicted to costco.com

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Friday, September 18, 2009

It's not Their Fault

I've spent most of this week PMS-ing. And when I say PMS-ing, I must say it is more like that description of the woman on that commercial who has a hard time with daily functioning due to PMDD. I am a mess. I yell, I moan, I whine, I am irrational, nothing fits or is comfortable on my whole body; I am slightly crazy. I am also unorganized and flaky. I cry in the closet sometimes.

And you know what??? My kids deserve better than that.

It is not their fault that they were in trouble all week. I wasn't organized or motivated enough to get some organized activities together for them. It is not their fault that they were whiny and in each other's space all week. I failed to redirect their energy in healthy ways.

So, no more. I am not going to let my own little hormonal fluctuations interfere with my family's well-being. Starting tomorrow, I have two new goals. One, get up before the kids and have quiet time with God. Two, get showered, dressed and ready for the day before everyone is up. Oh and three, I am not going to drink Diet Pepsi any more. It's not good for me and it doesn't help my moodiness any. There I said it. Now I have to do it, right?

Starting Monday, we will be on a strict family schedule that even the most PMS-y mom can follow and that will keep things from getting so haywire even when mom's having a down swing in her moods.
Thank you husband and family for grace, but enough is enough!

To sleep now and no more Facebook for a week! I'm grounding myself.

EASY Pepsi Chocolate Chip Cake

My latest quick dessert (because my hubby loves a nice dessert at the end of his meals and I seldom have time to make one with dinner cookin' in the oven) is this super easy (and not at all good for you) cake that the kids can make FOR YOU!

Add one can of Pepsi (I use caffeine free because that's what we have, and I am quite sure any soda would do just fine) to one box of yellow cake mix and add some chocolate chips. (The amount depends on your child; she may choose to add an entire bag when you tell her, "just a few," and it really doesn't matter...more chocolate, happier husband!)

Mix well with a big spoon (or stick or small craft dowel--whatever you can find!). Bake in a lightly greased cake pan (all I could find was my big tub of margarine that I never use for anything else, so I smeared some of that around in there with a paper towel) at 350 until it is golden brown and firm to the touch on the top (no jigglies--if you take it out before this hardening occurs, you might as well just eat the batter--which is good too...call it pudding!) Cut into squares and enjoy with a nice glass of milk after dinner.

So easy, a four year old can do it! (That's our gigantic cat, "Cliff," on the floor hoping for some batter drips.)

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I Have Blog Brain

For those of you who blog, I'm sure this is nothing new to you. But, I find it odd that I see the entire world these days in terms of blog titles and Facebook status updates. What do I mean? Well, if you have to ask, you don't blog. But, here's a little explanation (because you asked.)

My world is consumed with mommyhood and wifelihood. (Yes, you're right. I don't want to look it up, but I'm pretty sure it's not a word. Thank God I don't have an editor for this thing.)
I watch my children playing outside and instead of thinking, "Oh, how nice that I'm playing outside with my kids," I think, "How can I blog about this?" Or, "Gosh, I hope something funny happens so I can blog it." I find myself searching for my camera, trying to catch the right angle when something painful, interesting, ironic, or intriguing occurs, because after all, my readers need a visual! Worse yet, I occasionally find myself thinking, "Oh, I better update my Facebook status about this because it's pretty funny and I bet I'll get a lot of comments."

It's a sad existence when your main feedback from a day's work comes through the computer from "readers" and "friends." FB users, you know why that's in quotes.

My personality thrives on feedback, so the sporadic, "thank you for my juice mommy," or, "thank you for wiping my poopy behind..." Oh wait, that never happens. Why don't we make our kids thank us for changing their stinky messy sometimes explosive poopy diapers? I guess that's a blog for another day...

Anyway, does anyone else find themselves thinking in terms of blog entries and Facebook statuses? If not, perhaps I should take an e-break until I can think outside the social networking box again.

Try not to laugh!

There are some things so pure and beautiful that you can't help but smile. I'm going to try to watch this anytime I am feeling sad or frustrated because it is so wonderfully uplifting...and really, the idea of four babies the same age gives me a little perspective as well. :) Thanks Stacy for posting this. If you are reading this on Facebook, and cannot see the video, please go to our family blog at: http://hanerhome.blogspot.com/

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bedtime Rituals

We have done lots of things to put our kids to sleep over the years, none of them "recommended." Nursing, bottles, long car rides, rocking, bouncing, etc...But, the latest for Caden is taking a little stroll around the neighborhood. It is foolproof in getting him to sleep and also gives mom a little workout. Here's Caden before the walk and after about a block and a half. He then transfers quite well to his crib for a good two hour nap! Yippee! Finally a bedtime ritual that doesn't rot anyone's teeth or increase ozone depletion.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


So I have been trying to really focus on the positive lately (shock to all you who know me.) And I think that staying at home and being a mom and a wife may not be as bad as I felt last week during the dirty house of madness, PMS, laundry debacle, preparing for school, putting the house up for sale week of misery.

For instance, during my walk last night, I pushed a stroller with only two small children who were relatively peaceful (Kya was home wrestling with her daddy about not going to sleep.)

Sidenote: When I came home, Kya had won, and was wet-cheeked, but happily out of her room and sitting on the floor of the living room hoping for some "mommy time." Ahhh...

Anyway, while I walked, I thought about comparisons between my former job (civil litigator) and my current job (stay at home mom/wife):


10. I can decide to do anything I want all day long. Nobody tells me or expects me to do anything in particular save the State of California and CPS looming in the background in case I completely ignore my children all day long.

9. I have no dress code. If I want to stay in my jammies all day long (I have chosen against this due to unannounced embarrassing visits from friends and family lately who are definitely thinking I am a slob about now), I can.

8. No pantyhose (Kind of the same as aforementioned lack of dress code, but worth its own entirely separate enumeration).

7. Messy craft-time is better than writing MSJs.

6. Cleaning the house is better than summarizing medical documents.

5. No billable hours.

4. I can play in the dirt and on the floor physically instead of metaphorically.

3. Naptime...every day.

2. I can actually have and maintain a garden and pets.

1. I get to make meals for, help, and spend time loving and being with my family every day 24 hours a day...which is usually a good thing.

Now the paycheck...oh wait, focusing on the positive...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Ranch

Wyatt participating in water wars.
Wyatt masterfully moving the puck in hockey.

Wyatt loving touching his face despite numerous warnings from mom regarding germs!

Daddy having fun during water wars.

Good pal and Hospice staffer, Chris, helping Kya master the game of hockey.

Kya and friend Makayla after water wars at camp.

Wyatt passes out after a long day playing in the lake.

Wyatt after water wars strutting his stuff.

Wyatt and a Winco muffin (Jake catching crumbs.) Muffin wins.

"Isn't it my turn to climb the wall mom?"

Kya with the Chik Fil A cow--Chik Fil A donated $5000 to the camp and provided an entire meal for the donors, campers and staff. I LOVE CHK FIL A!!!

Kya and her hockey stick flying across the court.

Kya on the lake trampoline with new found friends. Mommy loves life jackets.

Wyatt after a long fun day cannot stay awake, even for a Chik Fil A brownie.

Wyatt on the ranch toys. This rusty old thing just proved to me that new shiny toys are not necessary to keep a kid entertained.

Our time at "The Ranch" this year was filled with surprises and adventures. It was both exhilarating and one of the most peaceful weeks I have had in a long time. I was blessed to have Jenna Ricks with us all week, whose sole responsibility was to help with our kids. What an amazing thing to have another person whose sole purpose was to help me!!! Her sunshiny personality and fantastic attitude made the week even better than it usually is.

Let me back track because some of you don't know what I am talking about.

Every year, Scott directs a camp at the ranch formerly known as Thompson Ski Ranch (now Gergen ski ranch) for bereaved children who have lost a loved one in the past year. Scott was a water ski instructor at the ranch for years and has since been directing camps at the ranch for the Gergens, who are based in Huntington Beach and need a trustworthy supervisor for the property. (That's my honey, oh so trustworthy--I love that!) Anyway, I cook for the campers and enjoy helping out in other ways when I am able.
This year, we decided to spend the whole week out there as a family instead of me trying to come home every evening with the kids and then going back at 4:30 AM to start cooking breakfast for the campers. That was AWESOME. We slept in a small cabin near the main ranch house. Kya and Wyatt slept on the floor of the living room. Scott slept in a small bedroom and I slept in the other small bedroom with Caden in his playpen. The house could not be more than 750 square feet. But it was glorious. We truly learned to enjoy being close. I learned that it's a lot easier to clean up 750 sq. ft. than 1600. I also learned we need a lot less "stuff" when our kids just spend the whole day in the great outdoors playing, running, getting dirty, dropping down on a lounge chair somewhere in the middle of the day to rest or nap...oh goodness, it was just so nice.

Best of all, we were all together. Scott was there running the camp for Hospice, directing activities, setting up and organizing each game, supervising the water slide, etc. etc. And while he worked and passionately devoted himself to the camp activity, we, his family, were able to share in his work, watch his discipline and commitment, and smile with him at the successes of his labors. What a nice thing.

I was also able to cook for the campers, usually making meals to feed about 30-35 people. This year, as an extra bonus, the Gergens had replaced the ranch house kitchen with a new commercial stove, beautiful granite counter tops, new cabinets, etc. etc. If you had seen the old kitchen, cooked on the previously unpredictable stove, experienced the overheating microwave that just shuts itself off when it decides it has had enough...you would feel my elation as I walked into this glorious new shiny kitchen. Ahhhhhh! (that's me singing operatically.)
Anyway, we also got to commune with some old friends (it was great to talk with one of our regular counselors, Laura ODell, in particular, who is always a trooper, even with a terrible cold and locking her keys in the car!) and new friends (Johnny Ward joined us this year all the way from Texas! What a blessing he was to the campers and to our family! We love you Johnny!), swim in the lake, and just generally experience the great outdoors like one of the kids. I cannot say enough, so I will stop now.

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