Harder Family

Harder Family

Friday, March 31, 2017

Two Weeks Home (Almost)

1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

On Sunday, we will have been home from China for two weeks. I cannot believe it has been that long. It probably doesn't seem that long because we have been super busy the last two weeks. We have been spending time as a family bonding and building relationships. As we learned in our training, we have had a few moments where the boys have struggled with being homesick and with seeing how committed we are to them. Overall, they have done a great job adjusting to life in America and have bonded great with Wayne and the girls. 

We started school again this week after taking a week off for spring break. It has taken us a few days to find our new normal, but we are getting there. I'm glad we only have 8 more weeks of school though. The boys are very diligent students. I write down their work on the white board and they get straight to work. I'm hoping that they wear off on my girls.

Working on their English

I purchased books in China in Chinese so that the boys can keep learning in Mandarin. I am going to do my best to make sure that they retain their language while learning English.

Monday we were gone all day (literally from 7:50am-7pm) at doctor appointments. In the morning, Shan Chen and DJ were seen by Dr. Ochs, a doctor in the north side of Chicago that sees a lot of adopted children. He also adopted four girls from China! He is super sweet and was great with the boys. After that long appointment, we headed to Chinatown for lunch. I knew that it would be a long day, and I wanted to make sure that the boy's basic needs were met. What better way to feed them then to let them choose their favorite dishes? The loved their meal and we had a ton to take home for dinner and lunch the next day. After our meal, we headed to Lurie Children's Hospital for Shan Chen's MRI. They told us to expect about an hour MRI. When I finally emerged with Shan Chen, I asked Wayne how long we were in there. It felt like the longest hour of my life. I found out we had been in there almost 3 hours!! Hopefully we find out some answers from the doctor soon as to what they can do for Shan Chen.

Tuesday morning, I woke the boys up at 6:00am to take them in for blood draws. They had to fast and I knew that the only way we could avoid food for 8 hours was to go first thing in the morning. I learned an invaluable lesson Tuesday morning. Shan Chen asked me if he would have lots of boo-boos, and I told him only one. On Monday, they had to poke two arms to put his IV in. Unfortunately, his blood vessels weren't cooperative Tuesday morning either, so they have to poke him twice. He looked at me with the saddest eyes like I had broken his heart over "lying" to him. He literally sobbed in my arms for 15 minutes after that. Thankfully I was able to communicate to him what happened and all was well. After that ordeal, we headed to our homeschool co-op. The boys had a blast there doing AWANA games, physics, and art appreciation.

After co-op, DJ found our cotton candy maker. He asked so politely, "Mama, please cotton candy!" So, I told everyone they could make a little cotton candy. His smile and excitement for the little things makes my day!

Wednesday morning I received a call from Shriner's Hospital. They informed me that if I wanted to register DJ to be seen, I had to have a MRSA screening done for him. Our local pediatrician didn't have any openings, so I called Dr. Ochs. They could take him right in and have the screening done. So, I packed everyone up and all their homework, and drove to the north side of Chicago for literally a one minute screening (they had to swab his nose). We had originally planned on meeting Ting Ting, a sweet lady from church, in Chinatown for lunch so after the appointment, we headed to Chinatown. The kids had a blast. It was our first official big outing that included everyone. I felt slightly outnumbered and kept counting kids. Thankfully, my older girls each took on a buddy and helped them cross busy streets. We had a great time with Ting Ting and her daughters eating dim sum. 

Thursday and Friday (today), we have just focused on doing school and not going anywhere. it has been nice to try to recuperate after a long week. DJ loves to help me cook. The boys got to experience Chicago weather last week. On Friday we went to the park wearing shorts (85) and Saturday, during the girls soccer games, it was 40 and raining!! We did have a fun experience on Friday. After we played at the park for three hours, I took the kids to Chick-fil-a for ice cream cones. I pulled up and ordered 9 ice cream cones. The lady hesitantly said, "9 cones???" LOL! 

DJ loved feeling the whiskers on Wayne's face. Wayne decided to grow a beard for DJ.

God is doing amazing things in their lives already. I am so blessed to be a mom to 8 wonderful kids and an amazing, godly husband. God is good!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

First 48 Hours Home

Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."

On Sunday, our plane arrived around 1pm. It was a LONG flight home. We decided to stay up the entire flight (except two short cat naps which lasted about 10-15 minutes). I had read from previous travelers that it helped them adjust to the time zone they were entering. It made sense to me since we adjusted quickly to China's time when we flew into Beijing, after being up over 24 hours (except a cat nap). So, we decided to try it again. This time, I stayed up over 27 hours!!! It felt so good to sleep that night...and in a bed that wasn't as hard as a rock. 

The boys did great traveling!! One of the hardest things is going through all the customs and lines after sitting on a plane for almost 15 hours. Because we were adopting, I had to take the boys to another section after customs for them to go over our paperwork. The boys were restless wanting to see their family and get home. I tried to hold it together, but I was as restless as they were. Thankfully we had some nice agents that scanned our bags after this paperwork. I had forgotten to remove 2 apples from our snack bag, and DJ had packed his corn processed snack, which I found out from them had meat!! They were very gracious and nice to us. Maybe they saw an exhausted Mama to two boys and had some compassion. 

When we finally emerged from the customs department, we were greeted by our family, the Oakley family, and the Hagey Family (who decided to meet us at the airport and take photos for our family). It was so good to see my kids!! The boys were thrilled to hug Wayne and the girls. The boys had been asking for hours on the plane, "how many more hours until we got home?" We were now one step closer to being home. 

Daniela made it out of customs way before we did. I'm so thankful that she was able to go on the trip with me!!

Leaving for home as a family of 10!! Our 12 passenger van is almost filled to capacity.

DJ showing his dad his transformers. 

Playing outside in the fresh air to help keep them awake until bed time. 

Being silly!! That was the bride for taking a few nice photos.

Monday we spent time bonding as a family. We also drove to our church to play in the gym, since it was too cold and raining to go to the park as I had told them we could. That afternoon, I took Shan Chen to the doctor to check out his ear. She told me that it looked like he had some time of growth in his ear. She told me that I needed to take him to an ENT. Thankfully, we were able to make him an appointment for Tuesday. At the ENT, we discovered that it wasn't a growth, but just some residual stuff in his ear. He was diagnosed with a blown ear drum, that looks like it has been blown and bad for a while. His ear was perfectly fine this summer, so during the time he was waiting for us, he got an ear infection and it blew his ear drum. We have to have a follow up appointment in three weeks where they will do a hearing test. The ENT is concerned that he won't have hearing in that ear because this has been going on for some time and it didn't look good. Will you join me in praying that he doesn't have any long term hearing loss? We do know that he told our pediatrician that he can't hear as well in that ear, so we are prepared for anything. We just want the best for him!

Playing gomoku (aka 5 in a row). This is the one game I wanted to bring home from China. We played it with friends from China and it was a blast. I looked high and low all over China for this game. I finally found it in Guangzhou at a bookstore. This board weighed a ton and didn't fit in any of our luggage, so I got to lug it all over China in a big bag. Now that we are home playing the game, it is so worth it.  

Our table is full!! I am so thankful for our Amish friends that were able to make us custom benches for our table. The legs actually tuck under for storage. He made them like the benches they use for their church services. The two benches were half the price of one bench at the store, and they are much better quality. 

Tuesday we have homeschool co-op. The boys were able to go for part of the time, since we had the ENT appointment for Shan Chen. They had a blast playing AWANA games, doing art, and learning about physics. Later that day, we took our first family outing. We ventured to Costco as a family of 10! That was an adventure!! Halfway through the store, Wayne had to leave me to take a call for work. Let's just say that I play on going shopping alone in the future. The kids weren't bad, there is just so many of us that we take up whole aisles and it starts to get loud with 8 kids talking. I texted a friend of 11 and she said the same thing. She joked that she tells her kids, "When I single file, that doesn't mean shoulder to shoulder blocking the whole aisle!" I love it that other large families totally understand and get what you are going through.

The great thing about Costco is there cheap food in the food court. We were able to feed our whole clan for $13!! 

We ran into Mrs. Curran, Abigail and Grace's kindergarten teacher while we were eating lunch. She graciously offered to take a picture of all of us eating lunch together. Wayne was still on his phone call, which ended up lasting over 2 hours!!

We thought that Wayne's call might end faster, so I took kids into Target to get them out of the car. I made it to the kitchen aisle and then decided this was too crazy and took them all back to the car and we went home. They did great being quiet in the car for Wayne's call. Once we got home, they all celebrated by being really loud outside.

We are adjusting well to all of these changes - adding two new kids and adjusting to the time zone. This morning the boys woke up at 4:30, but the other days they have woken up around 6:30. It was cute to hear them in their bedroom chatting away in Chinese. We had to shut their door and our door though because they are LOUD. I wanted at least to sleep until 5:30 before getting up for the day. Shan Chen decided at 6 to wake all the other girls up!!! That didn't go over too well. We will have to work on that since I don't need 8 crabby kids up at 6 in the morning. Thank you again for all of your prayers!!