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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Mount Vernon Method and Frozen Milk

I have finally settled into a solid cleaning routine, which you wouldn't know if you visited right this moment because my boys have just dumped out every block, truck and car in the middle of the living room floor--well, actually they are starting to spread to the outer periphery now--BUT ANYWAY...

For clean ups, especially when I don't know where to start, I employ the Mount Vernon Method. This is the method the housekeepers used at George Washington's abode, and you can read about it more here. (Messies Anonymous, what a funny name...)

This method basically means you start at the front door and work your way around the house periphery until it is clean. The next day, you pick up where you left off.

My use of the method means I start at one point (usually the corner of my kitchen by the pantry (I don't know why)) and work my way clockwise around the kitchen. Then I go to the living room, starting at the corner by the window, I work my way around the room clockwise until everything is picked up.

Once everything at eye height is de-cluttered and cleared, I turn my eyes downward and clean the floors in, you guessed, clockwise fashion. That way I am not bopping around from hairball to dust bunny to smeary syrup smudge to sticky Sprite spill (oh no, we don't have those anymore now that we abolished soda (yeah right!).

My method does not extend to the bedrooms because they (in theory) have their own day assigned to them, when they will be addressed in clockwise fashion as well. So, I use this method only for quick clean ups before guests are arriving or at the end of our day.

It saves my wandering mind from the overwhelmedness of thinking, "THE WHOLE ROOM IS A WRECK SO I GIVE UP!" and keeps me focused on the next little area in the clockwise sweep instead...AND I can see immediate progress because everything immediately behind me is clean and clear.


Shopping with all my little lovelies is fine once a month, but I don't like to make extra trips (except to Murray Family Farms for produce where the kids can play after we shop) so I started freezing milk.

My husband researched and told me it would only work for fat free because the fat would separate in the whole (er) milks. Not so in my experience. So far, I have frozen every variety of milk (except raw) and I find that the fattier it is, the better it freezes (and thaws.) You do have to shake it up a bit after it thaws, to mix the fat back in, but it still tastes yummy!

The fat free milk I thawed on Monday still has a huge ice chunk in the middle and tastes mostly like water (more than usual) because the little fat that was in there thawed quickly and poured (poored?) off and now the high water content ice chunk is leaving behind mostly watery bleck.

My experience is therefore that fattier milk freezes great! So we can stock up in the chest freezer and never leave the dreaded, "we're out of milk," message for poor daddy. Well, almost never. ;)

Friday, May 28, 2010

At Other People's Houses

I don't want to be one of those moms where people have to worry what they feed my kids. My kids don't spend a lot of time away from our home, but when they do, and when someone is gracious enough to help care for my sweet cherubs, I don't want them to feel nervous or anxious about the Haner kids' diet or having to make something special for them.

I want my kids to eat cupcakes and cookies at Grandma's...

And juice boxes at their rich friends' houses...(like only rich kids drink juice boxes! LOL!)
And S'mores at the Ranch.

You know what I mean?

So, if my kid comes to your house, don't worry! They don't have to have carrot sticks and Fiber One (also a form of stick.)

I wanted to make a change to their diet at home so that I DON'T worry when they are eating four cupcakes at a party--because I know it's the EXCEPTION.

I would probably be more of a purist if my kid had an adverse reaction to sugar (like freaking out and running in circles for four hours.) Or if they had allergies...that made them have runny poo or something...

But they don't. In fact, after they have a bunch of sugar, they usually complain of a tummy ache and their blood sugar crashes shortly thereafter, making them take a great nap! Bonus! :)

Just keepin' it real.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The First Day

Notes from the first day of the drink chart:

1) Kids are very adaptable; Once they reached their limit on juice and milk today according to the chart, they were perfectly content with water~weirdos;

2) Adults (meaning me) are not so adaptable; I had one cup of coffee this morning and water and milk the rest of the day, BUT I broke down at two o'clock because without my Diet Pepsi to bail me out of the afternoon tired/hungries, my irrational mind went searching for a substitute and dragged my gigantic yielding pregnant body with it...

...to the cupboard...

...where I found...

...chocolate chips and peanut butter...

And then my tummy hurt the rest of the day.

Which is worse? Diet Pepsi or peanut butter and chocolate chips?

I don't know. It's a toss up. I may go back on the sauce tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our Drink (aka: sugar) Addiction

Have I mentioned that my kids are addicted to beverages?

Well, it's no wonder when we have juice boxes, soda, strawberry milk, lemonade, Crystal Light...my kids are addicts--to SUGAR!

And Crystal Light is no better. Did you know they ban NutraSweet (Aspartame) in other countries because of its toxicity to the human brain and body? EEK!

So, I made a drink chart today. Each child is entitled to three servings of milk a day, one serving of juice and the rest of their beverages for the day have to be ice water. Once the serving boxes have been checked off, they are done for the day with that beverage.

I am also officially (again) not drinking soda anymore. Oh I cringe to even write it...but, it's so bad for me and the baby. I'm going to give her a chance to be Nutrasweet free for these last few weeks.

Ripe, Extra Large, and a Little Anxious

This is how I feel:
I was looking at the label this morning in my favorite pregnant skirt (thank you Nancy!) and the tag said "Ripe-XL." And I thought, yes, that is exactly how I feel ripe and extra large.
In addition to these descriptive terms, I also feel like a time bomb. You know, normal women get a little heads up on their labor and delivery process. By their fourth baby, they may be looking at under ten hours from start to finish.
Not me.
Although this one could be different.
My first labor: 4 hours and 35 minutes.
My second: 2 hours and 45 minutes.
My third: 2 hours and 5 minutes.
You see the pattern here. They are getting faster. Even with the last one being 10 lbs 2 oz.
Soooooooo, then my doctor tells me last visit he doesn't think this baby is even going to be eight pounds (she obviously comes from the Scottish munchkin side of the family instead of the enormous German side.)
All these factors added together had me up for two hours last night, trying to figure out what the best plan is...because she is on the small side, I have to assume she could be even faster.
Our babysitter lives on the other side of town, but she will be here in a flash if we need her...'cause she rocks, and she's just THAT fantastic. (LOVE YOU DEB! Hope you're feeling better!)
But what if I'm here alone with the kids and Scott can't come home or I can't get hold of him?
What if...well, you know, there are like a thousand of these questions...
And then there's the due date issue...
First baby: 17 days early-water broke-8 lbs.
Second baby: 7 days early-water broke-8 lbs. 14 oz.
Third baby: on his due date-no water break until the dr. did it at the hospital-10 lbs. 2 oz.
So, this baby could be.....GASP....late...if the pattern holds. NO THANK YOU.
So, I prayed....and I am still praying...because I am a naturally anxious person, who wants everything planned and lots of psychological preparation...
And God said to me, "I will answer them before they even call to me..." Be at peace.
OK. But you know it sure would be nice to know when this little princess plans to arrive...maybe a heavenly memo or something?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Simple Dining

In my urge to purge and simplify, I told Scott (like months ago) that it would be nice to get rid of our hodge podge of cracked, chippped, unpleasant dinner plates and start over with a clean, simple set of white plates, bowls, etc.

I shared with him that I like my meals to be nutritious and yummy, but it would be nice to make a meal that presents well too, and part of that, for me, would be having simple, elegant, white dinnerware...so not essential, just sort of wishful better Homes and Gardens thinking.

So, my wonderful husband went to Salvation Army today and came home with a set of 1o perfect white porcelain (made in Poland NOT China) plates. How much did they cost? They were half price. Original price: $6.24 (FOR TEN PLATES!!!) so we got them for $3.12!

Hip hip hooray!!!!

Crib Bedding and Dream Houses

So I guess it must be hormones, because I have literally spent months looking at 1) Houses; and 2) crib bedding for the new baby girl; and I just never really fell in love with any of it--though I have always known the main style I wanted in both.
And then, today, I found both my dream house and perfect bedding (thanks Jennifer Kennedy (Bakersfield version)) for the bedding link!
So, if anyone finds this bedding for me at like 78% off, let me know!!! LOL! I have super high hopes of making it myself, but I'm just not sure that much time and effort away from my little ones (or not sleeping) can be justified.
As for the house, you know, I was beginning to feel like I shouldn't care so much about the house situation, but I have come around to another point of view. I feel like my job, more than anything, is to make our house a home--spiritually, emotionally, and also physically.
And part of that is passionately creating an environment that is welcoming, peaceful, and beautiful.
Part of that is being happy with my own surroundings so that I can focus all my joy and happiness on my husband and little ones.
Part of that is allowing the passion God has put inside me to create, decorate, and reconstruct, to be put to good use.
So here is my creative passion flowing forth...in dreamy house photos and crib bedding. Not spiritually deep, but an undeniable part of who I am and what I do.

My Dream Home

I don't know where this is, but I love it. My new favorite blog (mentioned and linked many times below) had a post today with tons of beautiful homes, but this is my favorite. It's simple, clean, traditional, and small with lots of room around it to roam and big trees.
Did I mention small? Yes, I am convinced I never want to live in a huge sprawling house, because I like to spend my time playing, gardening and tending to the outside (which I WOULD like to be sprawling) and creating beautiful memories and crafts with my kids, not cleaning. :) What does your dream home look like?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm Inspired to Be a GREAT Mommy and Housekeeper Again!

Sometimes I just need someone to copy.

You know what I mean?

I don't want to be creative or reinvent the wheel of mothering a larger-than-average family or housekeeping or laundry systems, I just want a mentor...to hold up in front of me and trace the outline--instead of freeform drawing my own image every day.

Do you have one? If so, who is it?

I haven't for a while...at least not one where I kind of want to just copy her entire life down to the color of her carpet.

But I think I may have found something close at
this blog. I'm inspired again, and I needed a little re-inspiration the past few weeks!

What inspires you to be the best at what you do?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Decluttering and the Thrashed Baby Doll

Today, inspired by my new favorite blog, I started throwing stuff out. Big black garbage bags filled with stuff. I was merciless, going room to room. If we don't love it, it has to go. Our house is simply too small to be hoarding all this "maybe we'll use this someday" stuff!

One of the items that got garbage bagged was this totally sad looking baby dolly that Kya inherited from some well-meaning friend. Its head is beat up, only one eyeball closes when you put her down (creepy), her body is all dirty and stained, a few fingers have been chewed...in the bag it went.

Tonight, Kya (4) went looking for said baby doll and oh deary me, what a sad state her little self was in over it. I figured she'd forget about it. Three hours later, do you believe she was still crying about the ugly thrashed dolly!?

So, I said, "Kya, that dolly is thrashed. We will get you a brand new clean baby doll to love." Her response was, "No mommy, I love that baby even if she is thrashed. Please rescue her from wherever you have hidden her right away!"

So, I rescued her...from the big black garbage bag...that I swore I would not re-open. Because how can you argue with that kind of love?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why do I do that???

Well, tonight, I ate THREE peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Why do I do that?

I have been doing so great on my fitness and diet and then I go and have THREE peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when all my children are asleep, my hubby is at a BBQ competition, and I should be folding laundry.

How do you recover from that?

Well, my normal instinct would be to go look for some ice cream because I've already blown it so badly! But, instead, I'm going to get busy with housework, which has been sorely neglected this week. I just wasn't feelin' it. Does that ever happen to you? I can have the house spotless (well close) one week and then I just sort of get bored and we make a big mess the next week and then I get fed up and get back on the wagon...I think I have housework ADD. Must be all those pesticides. (Did you see that CNN article linking pesticides and ADD? Interesting stuff!)
Anyway, it's hard for me to want to clean because I just can't really bend over with the baby getting bigger and so, I know there are things that I can't do...my perfectionism then limits me by saying, "Tara, you can't REALLY get this place clean, so why even bother?" Stupid perfectionism.

But after visiting one of my favorite blogs, Clover Lane, and reading about her penchant for organization and the fact that she subs in organizing and cleaning for stuffing her face with chocolate (well, she would never do that, because she's much too perfect, but you know what I mean), I decided to try cleaning instead of ice cream (which I think my hubby is hiding in the chest freezer in the garage.)

You know, I think if I lived in her house, with that gorgeous kitchen, I'd be so much more likely to clean and stay organized... nah...I'd still be a mess. :)


Thursday, May 20, 2010

It's OK to Cry

Sometimes we moms have a lot on our minds and we don't even realize it. Are they really sick? Are they having an appendicitis? Or do they need to poop? Should I try to go to the gym and stay in shape or should I rest and put up my varicose vein laden leg (I say leg because I only have them on the right! Weird.) Should I make a big dinner and will I have energy to clean up the dishes? What if I don't get around to vacuuming...ever? Will _____, who dropped by today, judge me forever as a bad housekeeper because I hadn't been able to get past the medicine droppers/hug me mommy/poopy diapers to do some chores today? It's funny how all these almost subconscious thoughts can really take a toll...so today when my doctor told me to take some Sudafed for what I thought was a potentially hearing impairing ear infection, I cried...because it had been building up. And now I feel better...It's OK to cry sometimes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dear Diet Pepsi

Dear Diet Pepsi: I love you. I hate you. Love, Tara...

Having Babies

Having babies is the most miraculous thing God has ever let me be a part of. I can't believe that a small person grows inside me and then bloop! There it is, a living child, part of our lives forever...

The whole experience is the most intense, exciting, anxiety-producing, joy-filled, wonderful, painful, focused endeavor...it's just indescribable really.

And soon, I will be part of that for the last time. I have many friends going through this final triumph as well. It is the end of an era, the beginning of something new, but the knowledge that this amazing experience will never happen again...well, it causes me to pause.

It causes me to take account of the miraculousness...and stop worrying so much about laundry, dishes, vacuuming, mopping (and my oh my has that built up the past few days!)...because there is something bigger here. There is the presence of life creation. There is an almost-ready-to-meet-the-world little girl brewing.

The excitement of her arrival sometimes takes my breath away.

The realization that the breathlessness of this process will not happen again...causes me to want to make time stop.

As my body continues on as a ticking time bomb (I always feel this way as the grand entrance approaches), I am hesitant to even nest...this is the last time I will do it and once it begins, my mind will be focused on tasks instead of on being. I want everything to be perfect...and yet, I know it doesn't matter one iota where the changing table is or what outfits she is wearing when she comes home.

New life...that is something bigger than all of us, something none of us fully comprehend. I am going to try to breathe it in, feel every kick and wriggle, appreciate every pain and discomfort...for this is new life...inside me.

She could go anywhere and do anything in the next 80+ years and it all begins right here...in this lowly unworthy, PBJ eating, Diet Pepsi-drinking body...

Having babies has been the most cherished thing I have ever done. Raising babies will be one of the hardest. Cheers to us all who are moving on from baby-makers to baby-raisers, and all those who are in between! It's been such an amazing ride...

Hanermom's Thoughts for the Day

  • I eat too much peanut butter and jelly;
  • Caden is sticking the jelly side of his peanut butter and jelly on his forehead regularly, should I worry?;
  • I am 35 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty darn good;
  • Scott is almost finished with this school year, which is good for everyone, except his students, most of whom are failing, because they simply refuse to do homework or take one ounce of interest in the FREE education they are provided...ugh, I could dwell here, but I'm going to choose to move on;
  • I find myself thinking a lot about not putting others out with our rambunctious, joyful family of almost six; I make a lot of decisions about our activities and company based on these thoughts;
  • Caden likes to use my lip gloss as a pen;
  • Kya constantly amazes me with her insight and sensitivity; she is really one of my best friends and I enjoy her company and conversation a lot;
  • I looooooove the gym; it is a sacrifice financially, but one that I'm so glad we made;
  • I find myself thinking a little more about the fact that this little baby is going to be our last;
  • I am a little nervous about finding a new identity other than the pregnant/nursing mother I have been the past five years;
  • I find myself liking Newt Gingrich more and more;
  • I worry when I use that many "I" statement in a row;
  • We, as a family, have moved into a really wonderful time of service and enjoyment of God's little miracles in our lives; we notice that strange "coincidences" line up directly with prayers and that God is more in charge of our lives than we ever before acknowledged;
  • Wyatt has me worried...he seems sick a lot, and tired. I truly do not like going to the doctor, but may take him in for a once over to ease my mind;
  • We can't decide on a name, but one thing's for sure, we are not sharing our ideas with anybody anymore (except those of you who are supportive no matter what) because people...well...they just don't know how to react to the baby name issue properly in my opinion. If you ask me what we're thinking about, and I tell you, do NOT respond, "well, have you considered________ (fill in the blank with alternate name)?" UNLESS I specifically ask for your input; :) Baby names are so precious and close to the heart of the parents. Don't shoot down love and dreams with your unwelcome opinion! It's mean;
  • Do you think it's possible that God gave me the gift of wanting to be a hermit for a reason or that it's something I need to overcome?
  • I love my new pink cell phone;
  • I am thankful for text messaging--because I'm a hermit and don't really like to talk to people that much;
  • There is not one tiny part of my being that wants to go back to being a lawyer;
  • There is a tiny part of my being that wants to honor my mom and the fact that she really thinks I SHOULD go back to work (my mom doesn't read this blog and knows my feelings on the subject);
  • I wonder if I should stop telling people we are going to homeschool to protect my heart and commitment;
  • Sometimes, I just eat way too much;
  • I love watching Nature on PBS on Sunday nights;
  • I love date night with my husband and wonder how we ever sustained our marriage without it;
  • I adore our babysitter, Debbie. She balances out the rest of the world by her loving, giving nature;
  • I know I seem a little bitter today, but I'm not. I am very happy in our little Haner bubble;
  • Our schedule is reversed from what it used to be, with fun time in the morning, then rest, then chores and I like it sooooo much better--although the chores don't get done quite as well, the fun time we do great at now!
  • Chickens drink a lot of water;
  • No amount of frogs could ever eat the amount of earwigs we have;
  • I worry about the insanity of hormonal fluctuation returning after I give birth; this pregnancy has been such a welcome rest for my family from mommy insanity;
  • I do not miss cable TV;
  • I like to read something inspiring every morning to get me motivated for the day;
  • I am not the funny blogger I once was; I feel more serious and intense these days than I'd like, but it is what it is;
  • God really created my husband just for me; He is the perfect balance for me and I love him so very much;
  • We will never find another dog as great as Jake.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I'm not altogether sure this isn't some form of unauthorized child labor, but for the past few weeks, during rest time, I lie down with Kya and Wyatt in our bed and we read and then watch a movie. The kids trade off picking the movie so it's always special to them on "their day."

Well, it has become REALLY special to me because Kya has decided to practice for a future career in massage during this time! She rubs my feet, or my arms, or my hands. I think it's just an excuse for her to get messy with my lotion, but I don't care. I am in heaven for those few minutes until she gets bored.
It's sad, but I have really started to look forward to my daily massages from my four year old! Today, Caden never fell back to sleep after we got home from the ranch and so I didn't get my massage. I think I'm having withdrawals...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Praying for Frogs

I am regaining my love for gardening these days.

As we resign ourselves once again to staying in our little home, we are making plans to improve our small plot. Some of these improvements include terracing the slope, adding more fruit trees, continuing to maintain and add to our gardens, and adding a second chicken coop for our quickly maturing new flock of chickens.

What does this have to do with frogs you may ask (referring to the title of this blog post)?

Well, part of our desire to raise natural produce has been to keep our little plot chemical free. We have had a "bug man" in the past, but since reading that the best way to control pests is by fostering a naturally beneficial environment for the good pests, we have tried to avoid chemical warfare. Nature has a way of balancing itself and will control pests in a more effective way if we humans will just let it be.


The earwigs have returned this Spring with a vengeance. First, it was one here and there. Now, the backyard is literally dripping with them. We moved one of our push toys today to sweep and at least 50 of them came crawling out from underneath. Same with the sit 'n spin we keep on the back porch...and the rocking horse...

As I added to the strawberry patch in the front yard today, I only found a few of the little creatures, but I know it is only a matter of time before they overrun the front too.

As I walked through the house last night, answering one of our children's cries, I caught two crawling up the walls of the living room. I found one under my razor in the shower. I saw one scuttle out from one of the couch cushions this morning. I saw one scurry out from under my pen when I went to do my Bible study.

They have eaten about half of our carefully grown seedlings, though they seem to avoid the tomatoes and sunflower seedlings. It could be a very tomato heavy harvest this summer.

So, you may be wondering what the natural predator of these beasties is? Well, pretty much only frogs...and chickens...though our girls are so well fed with table scraps and their regular feed, they sometimes forego the scrumptious earwig feast laid out before them.

Last year, I reached my tolerance level before the frogs came and we had Cesar (the "bug man") come spray. When the frogs came a few weeks later, they had little to eat, and what they could eat was poisoned. And I worried and fretted about the chemical damage to the soil.

So, I vowed this year would be different. We would wait patiently for the frogs.


If I find one in the bassinet, I will scream, and the bug man will be called...

If I find one anywhere near my bed or pillow, same goes...

I am praying for frogs.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

This is a picture of my mom and me at my shower. My GIGANTIC belly and swollen ankles were thankfully left out of the photo (thanks Raquel!) Speaking of which, did I tell you my doctor prescribed SUPPORT HOSE for me? Nice. Four babies in five years has definitely taken a toll on my body, but the sacrifice for motherhood is totally worth it. Happy Mother's Day friends!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Our Leader is Out

Well, daddy finally caught the tummy part of the bug. Now he understands...

You simply can't move...

You can't eat...

You don't want to throw up, but you have permanent reflux as though nothing in your entire digestive system will move south...

You're a little thirsty, but not enough to move toward anything hydrating...

You're freezing cold and burning hot all at once...he got out the WOOL blanket for goodness sake! It's 70 degrees today.

You hope and pray that it will be over soon...

Hang in there daddy. We're a bit lost without you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things I am Thankful for Today...

Somewhat shallow, but today I took a long hard look at our kitchen and our dog, Jake, and thought to myself, "I like these..."
I feel extra blessed today to get to stay home with my kids and make meals in a nice kitchen with a trusty faithful canine companion.

Sick Day

Today, the kids are super sick and we are homebound for the week I foresee. So, without the gym, church, preschool, etc., I am really thankful for routine and chore charts. Otherwise, I think I would be saying, "What do I do with myself and all these sick kids?"

Today, after taking Caden to the doctor for another bout with croup--steroids and breathing treatments, here we go again!-- we came home and everyone slept--well, except me.

I am still seeking out our next residence through prayer and internet research. My soul just will not rest about this for some reason (although I thought last week perhaps it would.) I just have a dream and it won't die...

Here is my latest hopeful property: http://www.coldwellbanker.com/servlet/PropertyListing?action=detail&ComColdwellbankerDataProperty_id=115584261&page=property

Yes, I know it's far from town, but it is so nice and I really like the idea of planning our "trips to town" and making sure we utilize our "car time" for the best. Right now, we pick up and go whenever we please, and it's pretty wasteful. I suppose I could change that without moving an hour out of town...

Anyway, I did a little research, put out a few feelers, and then tackled the kids' room and laundry (my chores of the day.)

I deep cleaned Kya and Wyatt's room and even steam cleaned the carpet. I figured with all this illness, they at least need to sleep in a clean room. I have done five loads of laundry so far and have lots more to do (and fold and put away.) But, it's nice to have accomplished something.

Our child focus of the day is the sickest of the day today, though normally, today would be Kya's learning day.

Off to pick up some prescriptions and make the most of our homebound evening. :) Chicken soup anyone?