Harder Family

Harder Family

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A New School Year, a New Perspective

We have officially entered another year of school. There are days that I question why I am attempting to teach 4 different grade levels while raising two little ones. I feel like the woman above. My house is always a mess and I feel pulled in a million directions. I discovered that there is a local Christian School that offers Classical education. On difficult days I wonder why I didn't think about that option and think that maybe, just maybe, I should have looked into that option. Then I have one of those days that reminds me why we have made this choice. There is nothing better then being able to spend all day with your children as they learn new concepts and when they just want to give you hugs all day. We get to enjoy discovering new ideas together and reading stories that take us to places near and far.

Some days things go well, like today. We had a wonderful morning together learning about the Middle East, Egyptians and mummification. Tomorrow we are going to make our own mummy and mummify apples. Today we also did a basic science experiment. We took a cup of cold water and a cup of hot water and put a drop of food coloring in each cup. It was fun to see how the food coloring responded differently in each cup. Now we are enjoying an afternoon celebration of Grace's 8th birthday. We made cookies and we are watching the Lorax. Although there are definitely hard days, I would never trade the privilege of getting to see my children grow and learn first hand. I'll take a messy house and lack of "me" time to have all of these experiences with my children. Before I know it they will be leaving the house. I'll have plenty of time then to have my "perfect" house and "me" time. I know when that happens that I'll wish for my "perfect" house to be the way it was now, messy with lots of kids and love.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Organizing for Another Year of School...

This year we will have a 4th grader, a 3rd grader, a 2nd grader, and a Kindergarten student. On top of that, I will have a 22 month old and a 2 month old. I started organizing for our next school year in May.

The main "curriculum" that we will be using for our history and science is Classical Conversations. Our family is doing Classical Conversations again this year based on our experience with the program last year. I love how the kids learn a history timeline, history, science, geography, math, English, art, do weekly speeches, etc. It is a wonderful program!! One of the best parts of the program is that it enables me to do history and science with everyone that is on the same subject matter. I will have all four students in the Foundations class and this year A(9) will start Essentials. I have to be honest that Essentials is scaring me. As I was organizing everything, I was looking through her curriculum for the year. Let's just say that the teacher will be learning along side the student. :) The different parts of speech and diagramming sentences is just one facet of the class, one that was not my favorite subject in school (I hated diagramming sentences). She'll also be doing weekly essays along with many other things. Her classes will keep us both busy.

This year due to our situation (i.e. a 22 month old and a 2 month old), we decided to do Bob Jones Distance learning for G(7) and N(6). The girls will watch a DVD daily that has a teacher instructing them on that day's lesson. The length of the class is anywhere from 15-30 minutes. They will be doing English, math, Bible, and Spelling using the curriculum. They then do the book work on their own after watching the instructor. This will enable me to help them while also having the flexibility to deal with the little ones if I have to. A(9) is doing math using the distance learning program. S(4) will be doing Classical Conversations, Chinese, and learning the basic kindergarten subjects (letters, sounds, numbers, etc). Technically she wouldn't be starting in traditional school since her birthday falls after the cutoff by 13 days. We have opted to allow her to start since she has requested it. The nice thing about starting her "early" is that we have flexibility in the next year to adjust her level if we need to.

So how did I organize? Well, the Bob Jones material came in about 10 boxes...which was a little intimidating! I organized their material into binders and the dvds in to dvd containers. I may have to adjust some things as we begin to see if everything is working right. Each one has their own school bin in their given color...A(9) is orange, G(7) is yellow, N(6) is red, and S(4) is blue. We assigned each kid a color so that we can color coordinate things. For example, as they get older if they each have the same hair brush, we can color tag them so that they know which one belongs to them. Each day they will take their bin out and begin their work. I try to have a daily "to do" list for each of them. This allows them to know what they need to do each day.

The next thing that I organized (which I just finished this week) is their supply bins. The lady at the Bob Jones booth has 5 kids. She gave this great idea to mark each supply piece so that if you find something around the house, you know who it belongs to. I thought this was a great idea and I'm even taking it one step further. I will charge the girls $.05 per thing that I find. I want them to learn to clean up after themselves and keep things organized. Since we are involved in numerous classes both at home and outside the home, I created different bins. We have a Classical Conversations supply bin (in a metal lunch box), a Chinese supply bin (small plastic pencil box), and a homeschool supply bin. Each pencil, eraser, sharpener, crayon, etc is marked with their color tape. Below are some pictures of just how I have organized them. I don't know how long these will last or look nice, but at least we start the year out on a good foot. :) If you have any additional ideas that you think will help us out, just let me know.

Monday, July 9, 2012

#6 Has Arrived...

J (2 weeks old) arrived into our lives!! Here is her birth story...this is more for me so that I do not forget her story. Once you have had so many children, each story starts to blend over the years.

I was past my due date and I was getting desperate. I had been induced for my first four pregnancies. M(20 months) came on her own and that labor was so much better then being induced. I went to the doctor on my due date and they did a NST. Everything looked good so I was given the A-OK to not be induced until 41 weeks. My doctor doesn't feel comfortable letting me go longer then that given that #3 (N6) was a big baby and got stuck. So, I had a deadline in my head. Monday I was going to be induced. I started formulating a plan of things to try to get me to go into labor. My dear husband kept reminding me that I couldn't go into labor on Friday because he had a very important meeting at work that he needed to go to. So, I didn't take any drastic measures to try to help nature along until Friday night. My friend from church was due two weeks after me and we had been going to the mall every day that week and walking. It was wonderful to get some exercise and fellowship in at the same time, especially given that it was a nice air conditioned environment.

Friday night I decided to try a few different "natural" methods that are supposed to help induce labor. Although I had tried almost everything before with previous pregnancies, with #5 I did a few different things in one night. I was willing to try that again to hopefully get labor going. I scheduled a reflexology massage (a glorified 1/2 hour foot massage). I also got Mexican food for us to eat that night (covers the spicy category). I tried a few other methods listed on-line and then I tried Castor Oil. I had never done this method before and to be honest, I would tell any one never to try it. Castor oil is just a thick oil that is hard to swallow, even in a drink. It floated to the surface so once my drink was "done" all I had was this huge glob of "oil". I couldn't drink it and I'm sure I didn't take the whole dose. Whatever I took "worked". I was sick that night not feeling good from the Castor Oil. Even eating spicy salsa didn't cover the nasty aftertaste that Castor Oil left in my mouth.

On Saturday morning at 1:00am, I woke up thinking that the Castor Oil was still making me feel miserable. I got up and I was still out of it. I realized that the "pain" stopped and then started again a few minutes later. I went back to bed wondering if I was in labor. Another "pain" hit and I started thinking this is it!! That contraction woke up my husband. With #5, we stayed at home from 4-7am. We were only at the hospital a half hour when M(20months) made her appearance. So, once my husband realized that this was it, he packed up everything and told me to call the neighbor. A lady at church had offered to watch the kids, but my husband figured that we needed to leave NOW. He didn't want to deliver the baby at home or in the car. My wonderful neighbor, who is also a great friend, came over and we left for the hospital.

We got to the hospital around 1:30. We had to go in through the ER due to the time of day. I had to wait in line to tell "check in". At this time I was panicking a little because the contractions were close together and were pretty intense. I finally was called to the counter and I told them that I was in labor with #6. They stuck me in a wheelchair and told me to wait in the hall for the L&D nurse to get me. After about 5 minutes, my water broke. I have never had my water break on its own. It was crazy. If you ever want to get the attention of the whole ER (besides getting shot or something more serious like that), have your water break with #6. All of a sudden I was rushed and they wanted to check me to see if the baby was coming right there in the ER. Luckily I was only 5cm. The L&D nurse started wheeling me upstairs. Between the ER and my room, I went from 5 to 6cm. It was crazy and very intense, not to mention that I was still kind of out of it. It felt like I was in a movie.

It was now around 2am and I had my IV in with medicine since I was GBS+. My doctor showed up and told me that he'd come back and check me around 3:30. For an hour I had intense crazy labor pains. I had decided after #2 to never have an epidural again, so I was doing this without any pain medication. Now, God does something really "nice" for us ladies. He lets us remember that it was painful, but you don't remember just how horrible it is until you are in the midst of it. I do have to say that I was in transition with #6 a LOT longer then I had with my previous pregnancies. Around 3:15, I told my husband that he needed to get the nurse now because it was getting really bad and the baby would be coming. My doctor showed up and by 3:28, J was born. My total labor was just under 2 1/2 hours. It was an amazing and crazy experience. When the doctor was delivering the placenta, he showed the intern something in the umbilical cord. J had a true knot. My doctor looked at me and said that someone was watching over her. I had never heard of a true knot, but I heard him tell the intern that these are very rare. Later in my room I googled it and found out that most babies that have true knots do not make it. A lot of them die in the womb when the cord is pulled tight and some have died during delivery when the cord is pulled tight. I am so thankful for all the people at church who prayed for all of us and that God was watching over our little J.

We stayed in the hospital all of Saturday and then Sunday morning, I was told that I could go home. J tested negative for GBS, so that again was an answer to prayer. The nurses loved it when all of J's sisters showed up to visit. They came three times to visit us in the hospital...my husband was a brave man!!

We are now at home adjusting to our new life as a family of 8!! It is wild and crazy to think that we have six girls. We feel so blessed though with each daughter we have!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Homeschool Field Trip: Amish Visit

We were able to take a once in a lifetime field trip in October. All summer we would go to our local farmer's market. There was a booth with Amish homemade goods. We would go there every week and buy some fresh bread and rolls. We got to know the ladies really well and they loved the girls. I finally got up the courage to ask if I would be able to take the girls to Indiana and see their bake shop. The lady at the market wasn't actually the one making all the baked goods, it was her sister. She gave me a phone number and I called. I was able to schedule a visit to their home and bake shop. It was such an amazing experience. We got to see how they worked, with the limits of no electricity. They were some of the nicest people I've ever met. Her daughter took the girls to the barn where they got to see all the animals, even some new kittens. They had fresh cookies for the girls and sent us home with bread. She also took us next door to her husband's wood working shop. It was amazing to see the Amish furniture and the skilled hands that make it. After we left their farm, we went to meet up with our "tour" guide. He took us to his son's farm where we learned about how the Amish build their barns, got to see their milking facilities, bottle feed calves, rode in a real family buggy, and then we got to visit an Amish one room school. It as a long day, but a very fun day. On the way home, we also stopped at an Amish cheese making facility.

The family barn and buggy.

Road to their house. It was more suitable for a horse and buggy then a car.

Some buggies in the "parking lot".

The family buggy we got to ride in.

We went on laundry day. All the Amish homes had laundry drying outside.

G7 bottle feeding a calf.

A8, G7, N6, S4 learning about how the Amish build their barns.

All of us having fun learning about Amish life.

N6 bottle feeding a calf.

A8 bottle feeding her calf.

S4 bottle feeding her calf.

We got to visit an Amish school. I had to be careful taking pictures so I wouldn't offend our hosts.

The Amish home we visited first. The room on the left side of the house is the bakery.

 Learning all about how cows are milked. It was interesting to see how they used equipment without electricity. This Amish community allowed them to use a propane generator to milk their cows and process the milk. 


Monday, April 16, 2012

Last Baby...

Knowing that this will be our last baby, I have some mixed emotions. Although I know six is more then enough kids for us at this point, it is still a sad time to think that I'll never be pregnant again. I thought that I'd write down some of the things that I'll miss about being pregnant. None of these are meant to complain or sound ungrateful. I am very thankful that God has blessed us with six daughters and six pregnancies. This is meant more for fun and just for me to remember all the good and "bad" of being pregnant.

I have been blessed with rather easy pregnancies. I do not get morning sickness and I have never had gestational diabetes or swelling. I love feeling the baby kick and move inside of me. It still boggles my mind, even after having 5 kids, how there is another baby in me. I don't know how anyone can call them anything but a baby. I love reading about how the baby is developing each week. At this point, 31+ weeks along, it is fun to know that the baby is listening to what we are saying and is growing and growing. I'll miss a few of my maternity clothes and I'll for sure miss the excuse not to worry about my size. No one cares what size you are when you are pregnant. :) I'll miss hearing the baby's heart beat at the doctor appointments. I will miss the last few weeks of being pregnant and the nesting stage that comes with all the wonderful organization and cleaning.

There are also some things that I won't miss. The first thing that comes to mind is acid reflux. I won't miss making multiple trips to the OB and trying to find a sitter. I won't miss the uncomfortable sleep at night, frequent trips to the bathroom, waddling, having a hard time picking things up, gaining weight even when I am eating good, and many others. :) All of these are so worth having a baby, but they aren't things that I'll miss. I won't miss worrying or thinking about delivering another baby and trying to remember how much it didn't hurt to convince myself it won't be that bad to go without meds again. I won't miss working hard for the next 9 months to try to lose the baby weight and get back in shape. I won't miss the lack of energy that I don't have some days.

Of all the things that I'll miss and won't miss, the worst part is knowing that I won't have a newborn infant to cuddle and nurse. Infants are so precious and I love their little cries, they are so cute. Once you have a toddler, you realize that their little cries are so innocent and cute, until they really find their voice. :) What a blessing children are!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

One of THOSE days...

Have you ever had a day that you just want to crawl back in bed and wish that it would start over? Or a day that gets so crazy that you just have to laugh at what a ridiculous day it is? That probably sums up my day today. Where do you start with a day like this? Well, we'll start at the beginning...

First let me give you some background to understand my state of mind. My husband is a tax accountant and this is the fun time of year when they have to work six days a week and about 10-12 hours a day. Today I finally feel like the stress of the past few months, the husband's surgery, his tax busy season, being 7 months pregnant, and homeschooling finally, caught up with me. I was feeling slightly warn down and not very energetic. It was gloomy outside today, although warm. I had to wear glasses all day because I scratched my eye last night, which always makes me feel off because I'm used to wearing contacts. Okay, now that you have a little background, we'll start with the day.

The day started out normal. The kids got up on Saturday and were watching some cartoons on tv. My husband was getting ready to leave for another long day at work. He left and I started to clean up a little since the kids were preoccupied with the tv show they were watching. I finally decided that I should get them breakfast when the phone rang. My husband had driven all the way to work (downtown Chicago) and realized that he left his laptop at home. So, I ran around trying to get the kids ready to meet him with his laptop. Most of the time they are really good about getting dressed all by themselves. Today was a different story. S4 decided that she didn't want to get dressed and was upstairs sulking on her bed because she didn't want to get out of her pjs and didn't want to find socks. So, I sent up A8 to help her out as I was getting the baby ready. Then N6 couldn't find her shoes and G7 decided to walk outside to the car carrying her shoes instead of putting them on. I am already frazzles at this point trying to "rush" out the door to help my husband out by getting him his computer. Remember, he has to work 10 hours today so every minute he is not at the office, is a minute he is not at home tonight. It takes us so long to get ready that we only save him about 10 minutes (5 minutes each way). That's right. He was able to drive almost 25 minutes home by the time I got the kids out the door.

So, we rush home and finish breakfast and the day seems to be going along fine. It gets chaotic like most days with 5 girls running around. Then the neighbor kids start coming around. Now, I love all of our neighbor kids, but some days it just is stressful to have all the extra kids around. I told everyone that they needed to play outside. So, all the kids went outside to play. When I looked around the house, I realized that it looked like a tornado had hit the house. There were blankets on the couch from Saturday morning cartoons, playdoh on the table with all the cookie cutters from N6 and M4 playing together, empty cereal bowls, cereal on the floor, etc. The baby was preoccupied walking around the house exploring. So, I set off to clean up the mess and make my home look presentable. Meanwhile, I was also running up and down the stairs starting loads of laundry because somehow in 2 days, our family is able to create about 6 loads of laundry (which I'm staring at now that needs to be folded).

The day is going along fine and I even take about an hour while the baby is sleeping to read part of a book on my ipad. I don't know if your house is like this, but my house tends to have a revolving door of kids coming in and out. The girls were changing from their regular clothes into swimsuits, back into regular clothes. It was starting to get chaotic and I was feeling a little stressed. I decided to call my mom and just talk about feeling stressed and overwhelmed. As we were talking, the M16months was walking around the room and playing with the blocks I brought out for her. I was telling my mom how excited we were that she was walking finally. We talked about how she will soon be adding to the "liveliness" of our home. M16months asked me for milk and I poured her a sippy cup with milk as I was still talking to my mom. Side-note: Aren't moms great? I love being able to just call and just talk through things with her. Anyway, I heard M16 crawl away from the kitchen with her milk into her room. About 3 minutes passed and I went to go check on her since she was being so quiet. I thought maybe she had fallen asleep, or was getting into something.

Well, she wasn't sleeping. She had managed to pull crackers from her closet (which we use as a pantry). She somehow opened a brand new box of crackers, ripped open the plastic packaging and had about 6 crackers in her hand that she was nibbling on. There were smashed crackers all around her. I told my mom I had to go and I went about cleaning up the mess.

At this time, I also called the girls in to eat dinner. S4 told me that she couldn't eat yet because of her toe. About 5 days ago she was playing outside without her shoes on and she messed up her toe. Well, she decided that since her toe "hurt", that she wasn't going to wear shoes today and she re-injured her toe. It was bleeding everywhere and I found a trail of blood through my house and all over the bathroom. I had just finished cleaning up her toe when all of a sudden she told me that she wasn't feeling so well. She just missed throwing up on me, since I was at her feet working on her toe. I went to get a towel to start to clean it up and she did it again. Now she is crying because she wants milk, but I'm not going to give her anything at this point not knowing what made her throw up.

I go into the basement to get the mop bucket to mop the bathroom floors. While I'm down there, I switch out the clothes because why waste energy making another trip downstairs when I'm down here and can switch out the laundry?? I go upstairs and clean up after her. I then have to calm her down and remind her that if she is fine overnight, that she'll get milk in the morning.

By this time, the other girls have finished their dinner and are "getting ready for bed" (aka are supposed to be getting ready for bed but have managed to get distracted doing other things). I clean up the dishes on the table and sweep the floor. They are now done brushing their teeth and are heading up to bed. Now it is time to get M16months out of her highchair and clean her up and dress her for bed. She has left me a present in her diaper and I'm trying to keep her still as I'm changing her on the couch. She wiggles just a little too much and the diaper starts to fall. I'm able to grab the diaper, but the extra little present in the diaper rolls onto the floor. After cleaning yet another mess up, I finally manage to finish changing her and get her into bed.

The messes are for the most part cleaned up, laundry still needs to be folded, I still need to eat dinner...yet, I decided to sit and write down this post because I know that soon I will forget this day. I want to remember all the chaotic days like today, along with the really good/normal days. I know that they grow up fast and that although the individual day feels like a year, the days and months pass all too quick and they are growing up. Soon they will all be gone and my house will be clean, but it will also be quiet and there will be no more chaos. I wouldn't trade days like today for a life without kids, but these type of days are definitely a challenge. I just thank God for the ability to laugh about my day when it is all over and celebrate the life that we have in our house. Children are a blessing from the Lord!! Days like this just reminds me that I have to keep my eyes focused on Him. Without God's help, I don't know how I would survive days like this.
Last of all, here is a clip that makes me laugh. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCbPqi3virQ

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Funny Sayings...

A8 was in the car yesterday with her dad and she rolled her eyes. She looked at her dad and said, "How did I roll my eyes? I've been practicing to see how good I can roll my eyes." Great, just what we need to be practicing. Her dad told her to watch me because I'm great at rolling my eyes.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012

Easter 2012 was an exciting time in our house. We spent some fun and relaxing time celebrating Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. On Good Friday, the girls had a fun, but busy day. The girls had two friends over for the morning. We spent time reading the Easter story, making a Resurrection craft, a baby chick craft with our hand prints, dying eggs, and then we made homemade cookies. The kids helped me roll our the dough and then decorate the shapes they cut out. It was a fun morning just spending time together in the kitchen. Although we were learning, we didn't have to do "real" school work on Friday. The funny moment of the day was when S4 asked me to do her hair because her friend Caleb was coming over. She was very specific about how she wanted her hair done. She didn't want it all up in a ponytail, she wanted at least part of it down since that is how her friend likes her pretty hair.

On Sunday morning, we all got dressed up for church. Who can pass up an excuse to dress up 5 little girls in Easter dresses? After church, we came home and hunted for eggs. Then we took a 6 mile family bike ride. I was very thankful for the break half-way when we stopped to play at a park for about 40 minutes! When we got home, we made NY steak, vegetables and twice baked potatoes. It was a very relaxing day spent as a family. I love days that we can just enjoy each others company.

M16months and her dad. Her first Easter egg hunt.

S4 was having fun looking for eggs!

N6 enjoying the beautiful day in Chicago!

A8 (left) and G7 (right): having fun looking for Easter eggs.

M16moths exploring all the "goodies" in her Easter Eggs. She figured out really quickly how to open them and how to eat jelly beans.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Starting Our Family Blog...Again

I have been wanting to blog again for some time. It seems like just posting everything on Facebook is so much faster and easier. I saw on Kelly's Korner that she was doing a Show Us Your Life on all girls. Well I figured now was as good of a time as any to get back in the saddle. I want to capture some fun moments though of our girls. They grow up too fast and I need to write down things that they are doing and saying.

Let me introduce you to our family. My husband and I have been married for 13 years. We have 5 daughters (A8, G7, N6, S4, M17 months) and another daughter on the way. Yes, that makes half a dozen girls in our family!! I love having girls. I have to admit that as much as I would have liked a boy, the thought of having one scares and intimidates me. :) I guess God knew better and gave me all girls. We have lots of pink in our house! You are welcome to follow our adventure as we continue down this road of raising 6 future women. My prayer is that they grow up to first of all love the Lord with all their heart. My next goal is to raise women who know how to manage a household and raise kids (even though God may not call all of them to marriage). We hope to have lots of grandchildren. We figure if each one has 3 kids, we are up to 18 grandchildren. :)

Welcome to our fun, but crazy adventure!!