Harder Family

Harder Family

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Getting Ready For Another School Year

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people."

It's that time again when we all get ready to send our kids off to school. Although we don't send our kids off to school, we still experience the anticipation and excitement of starting school. Wayne and I find it important to give our kids the summer off - okay, we find it important to give mom (aka the teacher) the summer off. Before we start another school year, I buy the girls new school supplies and we go to Once Upon a Child to buy a couple new outfits for winter. Let's get real...I use this as an excuse to get my winter clothes shopping in before life gets crazy chaotic. Regardless, the kids get excited about school. With all my new books waiting to be cracked open and my new supplies, I'm feeling excited for school as well. 

Before we hit the books, we decided to have one more day of fun. Our friends have season passes to Great America and yesterday was bring-a-friend-for-free day. We were blessed to spend the day with some of our good friends enjoying rides at Great America. The weather was perfect (70s, sunny, and very low humidity) for our day away. 

Joella was about an inch too short for many rides, so we ended up on a lot of spinning rides.

Naomi & Sophia's first time on the Giant Drop

In attempts to "outsmart" my kids, I have devised a new system for school. Since we lost our homeschool room to make room for the boys, we had to get creative with our house. Most of the time we did group work at the kitchen table anyway, so we came up with a way for me to stay organized and not have books take over my kitchen. We found this amazing roll cart at IKEA. It fits most of the books that I will need each day to teach the kids. After we are done with school, I roll it back into my bedroom.

The best system I came up with is workstation dividers. This will eliminate the whining, "She's looking at me weird!" "Tell her to stop looking at me." If you look closely in the picture, you will notice a bright pair of ear muffs. I bought each of the girls a pair of headphones to eliminate the sounds they hear around them. It should help avoid these conversations: "She's smacking her lips, so I can't do my math." "She's humming while doing work, so I can't do my schoolwork." You get the picture. I'm praying that this system works. Each one of them can be in their own workstation around the table (so I can keep an eye on them and help them as needed), but shouldn't be distracted by those around them. 

Work stations

Privacy boards/work stations & ear muffs

Micaela and Joella's workstation (they don't fight as much, so I didn't see a need for privacy dividers - watch, that will be the fight tomorrow!)

Tomorrow is our first day of school. We have outfits laid out, my white boards are covered with the material we will cover, our books are ready, and our work stations are all set up. Lord willing, we will have another great school year. Hopefully by the start of the second semester, I will add two students to my roster. It is crazy to think that we are starting our seventh year of homeschooling!! I feel blessed and honored to help educate my children at home. You can't beat having extra time with your children since they grow up so quickly. Remind me of this when winter rolls around and we all have cabin fever!!


Abigail and Grace have been working hard to put the final touches on the magazine they have been working on for months. Our first publication comes out in a few weeks. I have been working on last minute edits today so that I can get the magazine to the printer. If anyone is interested in a subscription, please visit: www.godgirlmagazine.com. The money from the magazine goes to support two girls in Africa: Dorothy, an orphan from Kenya; and Linda, a 5 year old from Burkina Faso. Here is a sample of the front of the magazine.

We are excited to see how God uses this magazine for His kingdom and His glory! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Saying Good-Bye is Hard

Job 6:8 "Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope"

Job 11:18 "And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security."

Today was a hard day. Although I didn't shed any tears until tonight, I felt sick to my stomach as we drove up 294 to O'Hare Airport. As hard as it was to say good-bye, we left Piano Man with the hope that, Lord willing, we will see him again in a few months. Other parents, like DJ's host mom, took their host children to the airport knowing that they have a family pursuing them, which helped a little with the sadness. These advocate families have loved on someone else's future child. It is an amazing thing to love on a child that you know will never be your own. I just want to thank Michelle and her family for loving on DJ this last month. When we Skyped, I could see that he was in a great environment, one that loved Jesus as much as we do and one that loved him deeply. Through the last month, I have received pictures and texts that demonstrated just how much DJ has blossomed in their home. Words cannot express our deepest gratitude to Michelle and her family for loving on DJ so well. 

Some of the other host parents were not as fortunate when they left their host children at the airport. They had to leave these sweet kids that they had fallen in love with not knowing if any family will ever step forward and make this child their own. Wayne and I helped at O'Hare today transferring children from the Atlanta flight to meet up with the main group at the international terminal. We were blessed to have a chance to spend a little time with DJ before his flight to China since he was in this group.

The group of kids we transported we great. Let me tell you, if we could adopt more kids, we would quickly adopt these kids. They were amazing!!! I cannot believe that many of these boys have been sitting waiting for a family to choose them for 10, 12, or 13 years. Their special needs seem to insignificant to their amazing, friendly, happy, persevering personalities. For almost 11 years DJ has waited for a family because he is missing some fingers. To me, that is just wrong. Two other boys we met today, that were unbelievable, have cleft lip. Tell me why a repaired cleft lip is worth a child sitting in an orphanage for 12 years?? These kids waiting have so much to offer. My heart just breaks for all of those waiting in China, and around the world, for parents to call their own.

As heartbreaking as it was for each of us to leave the kids, I know that those with unmatched kids have even worse broken hearts. Please check out these amazing kids that are waiting. Maybe you have room in your heart and your home (you can always make room!!), for these amazing kids! For more information about each of these kids, you can see my previous post: Summer Hosting 2016

Leo: age 12. SN - PKU (needs a special diet)

Micah: age 13 (ages out soon!!). SN - Cleft lip/Cleft Pallet 

Ming: 13 (ages out soon!!!). SN-prosthetic limb

Shu: 8 years old; SN-eyes

Please contact Meredith Chambers at meredith@gwca.org or 512.323.9595 ext. 3032 if you have questions.

We are praying that every child we saw today will end up with a family. They are amazing children who just want a family to call their own. 

Monday, August 15, 2016


Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

We are all trying to enjoy every minute of our last few days together. Thursday morning, we will pack the van and drive Piano Man to the airport. This sweet boy who has captured all of our hearts and affections, will fly away to China with a part of each of our hearts. 

Please pray that God protects him during this time of transition. He told me yesterday that where he lives there are lots and lots of children. He doesn't want to go back, but he has to go back. This strong, resilient boy has had to live 9 years in an orphanage without a family to call his own. He has endured surgeries and injuries without a mom or dad to hold and comfort him. We have been amazed at his willingness to open up his heart to love us, complete strangers. My heart soared when he was showering and I heard him sing "Jesus Loves Me". Yes sweet boy, Jesus loves you so much! As much as we love you, He loves you even more. We are praying that God protects his heart and reminds him of this sweet song while he remains in China. 

Please also pray for the trip to the airport. Piano Man informed me that he thinks that I will cry. I asked him if he will cry, and he stoically told me last night that he won't cry (even though he has been telling me that he is going to cry). Thursday is going to be a hard day on all of us. I know that we aren't the only host family that have fallen in love with our host children. Pray for all of the children, especially those still waiting to have a family pursue them.

Here are some pictures from the last few days:

I found a recipe for Wonton Soup and I nailed it. This kid ate the entire pot (I double the recipe so I'd have leftovers), in just two meals. I had to run out and get more supplies to make another batch.

We met with some more friends at the park. They brought their dog, which Piano Man loved.

Piano Man surprised us with some additional skills. This kid knows how to sew! He fixed his Buzz Lightyear's arm that had fallen off. He was so proud.

Thursday we had some additional kids over. A lady at church had a doctor's appointment, so I told her to bring her 3 little ones over. With two double strollers and an ergo, we managed to walk to the science center near us since the oldest 4 girls had a science class. Thankfully, I bought some ice cream as a bribe. It was super hot out and I kept telling everyone (especially Micaela who had to walk), that we had ice cream at home. The bribe worked and we stayed inside to cool off.

It was fun holding a baby again. It was also nice to hand him back to his parents after having some cuddle time. 

Saturday, we headed to Lake Michigan to hit the beach. The kids loved playing in the water and the sand, and I enjoyed reading a book. 

Sunday we went to church, came home a took a nap, and then took the family on a bike ride to a local park where we played basketball. I'm sure we looked like a big group. We had two in a trailer, 5 kids riding bikes, and two adults. On our way home from the park, we stopped by 7-11 to get slurpies. After we got back from the park, Piano Man kept working on Micaela's bike. He told me that he could "ride" a bike (which he couldn't). His idea of riding a bike was to keep his legs up in the air and let the momentum of the slopped driveway take him. After about an hour, Wayne came in to tell me that with a little help, he had learned how to ride a bike. Sure enough, this tough, persistent kid taught himself how to ride a bike. He was so excited!! What an accomplishment before he leaves. Now we just need to get him a bike that isn't pink. :)