Friday, September 30, 2011

Dinner with the R family!

It is amazing to us that God has provided two families for us to get connected with as soon as we got into town through other friends! We are so thankful to Him and the wonderful ways he has provided for us through this move.
We had a wonderful time meeting the R family that the J, R, and D families had introduced us to through e-mail. Many of their younger kids are the same ages as our kids, which was encouraging to our children to come into town to new friends! They all had a great time playing together.
Some of our kids were very excited to get the chance to see some of the local wild life.
Our evening of fellowship was such a blessing to our whole family, we came away so encouraged and blessed!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

In town, and new friends

When we pulled into town the first thing we did was stop by our new house. We didn't have keys yet, but we all wanted to see the house in person and at least walk around it and look in the windows.

The next thing we did was head on over to meet the friends that helped us pick out the house. When I say we were going to "meet" them, what I mean is that though we had talked with them on the phone, we had never actually met this family that had actually picked out our house! We were introduced to them through some friends!
Our kids were thrilled to get to ride their pony and play in their pool. I was so happy to come into town knowing we already had some friends, AND a washing machine to use!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Harders big adventure

We were looking for a good place to stop for lunch while on the road when Rob spotted some dinosaurs by the side of the road.
We got to go inside the brachiosaurus, which turned out to be the gift shop.
The kids have all been doing very well on the drive, and it was fun to have a quick special stop for them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Road trip with 7 kids!

Our kids are used to spending a few hours at a time in the car, but three days of nearly all day driving is a whole other story. I've been so focused on preparing our home for the move and getting ready for the new baby (and then enjoying him, and recovering!) that I have not done much to prepare for a road trip with 7 kids. I have a few simple things that I've put together that should make the trip run smoothly.

This bin is always in the car, under the first bench in the van where I can easily reach it. It contains some "emergency" activities, extra diapers and a back up outfit that will fit either one of the little girls.

I'll be passing out the etch-a-sketchs, stickers, lacing activities, and activity books from time to time while we are on the road. These are all simple to keep on hand and since we don't pull them out regularly they are a treat for the kids when we truly need them!

My mom picked up metal water bottles for the whole family last year, and the kids all enjoy drinking out of them. I love that the little girls' bottles are sippy cup style so I don't have to worry about them spilling. I'll keep a couple of jugs of water in the van and ration out the water in reasonable amounts that will keep the kids hydrated without the need for constant bathroom stops.

Since I tend to do most diaper changes in the car when we are on trips (instead of public bathrooms, yuck!) I thought it may be wise to pack up a diaper caddy. This will keep everything I need for diaper changes (for a newborn and toddler) handy without having to dig through the diaper bag. I'll keep the diaper bag stocked for taking into our longer stops (like visits with family/friends and over night stops). I think I throw a small receiving blanket (to use as a changing pad) and a burp cloth or two in there as well.

Snacks can really help things go well on a trip with little ones (and not so little ones!). Having some healthy (and yummy) snacks on hand will help us keep from picking up junk when we stop for gas or hold us over when its just a little farther than we thought until the next stop for a meal.
I'm packing some cookies (made with whole wheat pastry flour, natural peanut butter, very little sugar, oatmeal and a few chocolate chips), string cheese, fresh fruit, and most likely some treats like fruit snacks and cereal.

Where you stop along the way can be very important. We try to stop at places where the kids will be able to stretch their legs. We love quick stops at rest stops for the kids to run around a bit. We always keep an eye out for a place with a play land to stop for lunch, its a nice treat for the kids (the food) AND they get to get some energy out (and then the little ones will nap for a while in the car!). On this trip we actually have family and friends to visit along the way so the kids will get to stretch their legs a bit at those stops. When we stay at a hotel we try to get one with a pool so that the kids can go swimming.

Matching clothes help us keep track of the kids and make it obvious to others that we belong together. It also makes the kids look extra cute! Making sure the kids look nice makes people in restaurants and hotels happier to see our large family. The matching outfits tend to put a smile on other people's faces; they see past the number of kids long enough to notice that these are well loved and well behaved children!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our little geek in the making

Mr. K received this shirt as a gift in honor of his Daddy's PhD. It was just too fitting for this time to pass up!

He is getting a head start on being a geek. Daddy is so proud! LOL!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Helping out on the farm

Along with exploring the ranch the kids have also had the chance to get a small taste of farm life. Rob took the kids, two at a time, to the morning milking of a cow in the area. While there the kids got to visit with the baby chicks and even help collect eggs.

This weekend it was time to slaughter chickens so Rob offered to help out with that. He got to take two kids with him and though it was a tough call as to who should go he decided that Miss E and Mr M were the best ones to go.

I hear they were very helpful. Mr. M stayed busy digging a hole that was needed for something. Doesn't he look like he belongs on a farm?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Doctor Dad

Congratulations to my dear husband! He graduated with his PhD! Yay! We are so proud of him!

The kids did a great job at graduation, sitting quietly through the whole thing.

Rob's parents came down to help us celebrate.

Some friends of ours were able to join us. It was great to have the "B boys" there and Mrs. B was a great help with Mr. K, he slept through the whole ceremony thanks to her!

G'ma and Grandad took us out to lunch after, the kids sure had fun sitting by the window watching all that was going on in the water.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Enjoying the Ranch

Now that our house is all packed up we have been able to settle in and enjoy some quiet, fun days at the ranch.

Miss E has spent hours outside devouring every book of interest she has found in the house (which has been many) and reading books that Rob loaded on her Kobo.

All of the kids have enjoyed the swing hanging from the mighty oak that seems to cover nearly the entire back yard.

The boys (and to some extent, Miss E as well) have been having a grand time hunting for, and catching, lizards and crawdads.

The little girls have been catching up on some much needed rest, but have also been enjoying the extra space.

Mr K has been settling into life and has been noticing his siblings a bit. We've enjoyed the few smiles he has been giving out, and are looking forward to seeing them more regularly. He is also sleeping very well, which I like!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My reading list

I've had a stack of books in my night stand for over a year now, its only getting bigger....

Most of the reading I do is either to little ones, read aloud school books to the older kids, or reading for the purpose of learning more about nutrition, homeschooling, medical information etc. I don't do much reading for myself, and as you'll see even my "fun" reading still centers around my passions of being the wife and mother God has called me to be.

Since I should have more down time for a while during the move both on this end (while we are staying at the ranch) and the other end while we are waiting to get into our home/have our household goods delivered I'll be trying to catch up on my reading stack.

Here are some of the books I'll be working my way through.

Large Family Logistics - I've been working my way through this one very slowly since I got it at Christmas, but setting up a new home, new schedule, and new school year has given me a renewed interest in digging into this book!

Fit and Fabulous in 15 Minutes - I've known for a while that I need to get a better exercise routine going. I've been hearing about T-Tap for years from other moms of many. What seems to make it so popular is that it does not take any special equipment, can be done in as little as 15 minutes, and seems to be very effective. I'll be reading the book and hope to start getting back in shape in the next few months!

Voices of American Homemakers - Just an interesting look into the lives of homemakers in the past. I've been working on this book off and on since Mr. K was born and I'm enjoying getting a better look into the lives of women in the past, how far we've come (good and bad) and learning from the wisdom shared in this collection of thoughts and memories.

A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work - The newest book by the Duggars. Miss E has already read it, and I've been looking forward to reading it too! Mr. and Mrs. Duggar always have such wonderful words of wisdom to share, I've enjoyed reading their other book and one of our kids' favorite shows is their "19 kids and counting" show about their life in general.

Be Your Own Doctor by Rachel Weaver- I took a quick look at this book and liked what I saw. It lists treatments for simple and not so simple medical problems and injuries. I'm looking forward to taking a deeper look at this book.

The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace- I'd love to be an "excellent" wife! I've started reading this one too, and I'm looking forward to making some progress on this one as well.

Want to add to my reading list? I'd love to hear what books are your favorites. What are you reading now, and whats on your reading list? Maybe I'll add to my reading list... I'll get to those after we settle in, get school going, make it through the holidays....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A faithful worker

Our movers have been here for the last two days, today they are loading up all of our stuff onto the truck. The kids have been great and even helping the movers a bit. Mostly they have been enjoying some play time though.
Mr. R has been a VERY faithful worker through the whole three days. Each and every one the the movers have commented on what a great help he has been to them. He is truly a faithful worker and we are so happy to see him blessing these men so!

Mr. K has been a great baby through these days too. He has spent much of his time sleeping in his car seat. He has been the perfect baby through these busy days allowing me to focus on the little girls that are a bit confused with all that is going on.

Cousin A stops in for a quick visit!

My cousin A is on a road trip and was able to stop in for a very quick visit! I think she just wanted to be able to go home and have bragging rights, she got to see the new baby!
Thanks for stopping by, it was great to see you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

off to the Ranch!

When its time for the movers to come we always clear out of the house the day before. It just works out better for us to have everything we need to take on our trip out of the house, so we go stay in a hotel. It is usually a fun time for all of us. A hotel stay of about two weeks with seven kids including a newborn was not sounding that fun this time though.

Ah, but we have some wonderful friends who happen to live on a ranch. That ranch used to be a working ranch. It has extra houses for the ranch hands that used to be needed there. One of the houses is furnished. It's for missionaries and friends in need of a place to stay. It has a large fenced in yard for kids to play an explore in. Yea, we get to stay in that house!
It's a bit hard to see, but the house is on top of the hill. The area fenced in by the white fence is "our" yard.

I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks of very minimal house work. The big kids are excited about getting to play in the big yard and are hoping to be able to help out with chores around the ranch (horses, chickens etc.). We are all looking forward to some extra fellowship with these dear friends before we head out of town!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

lots of good-byes

This past week and the coming weeks are full of good-byes. We're saying good-bye to places that have become home for the last three years. We are even saying good-bye to a season in our lives as a family. Rob has had more flexibility in his schedule than he ever has before, and will likely ever have again.
*There were tears and lots of hugs as we said good-bye to this sweet, dear family. We only managed to get pictures of all of our kids together though. Next time we are together we will have to get the parents too!

More importantly we've been saying good-bye to many friends that are truly dear to us. This is the hardest part of moving so often. Each time we move we leave dear friends behind. However, this is also one of the most exciting parts of military life. God allows us to meet so many wonderful people and many of those dear friends have had a huge impact on our lives in different ways. We spend holidays with them, we share new experiences with them, we learn from them, we share each others joys and pains. In this way we get just the smallest taste of how big and amazing the body of Christ is! In this way we are truly blessed, and we are looking forward to meeting the people that God has planned for us to meet at this next assignment. We've also seen how God allows our paths to cross with these dear loved ones and look forward to seeing how he will do that again!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Packing up

Our movers are coming starting tomorrow. We are so blessed not to have to pack up all of our stuff. However, we still have plenty to do. I'm packing up thinking that we will not have access to our household goods (stuff movers packed up) for about a month (most likely not that long, but its best to plan ahead). So I still have plenty to get into our van and trailer for our family of 9.

We've packed our trailer with things that we want to get moved, but movers will not take (propaine tanks for BBQ, some liquids etc). We've also packed things that we know we will want right away on the other end. We've found that shelving seems to be one of the last things off of the moving truck, and by the time they are off the truck the wall that we want to put the shelves on is filled with boxes (boxes that could have been emptied onto the shelves). So we bring some of our shelving with us to help the process along.

Some other things we are bringing along to make the first days in a new place go smoothly-

Sleeping bags- so that we can sleep in our house if we want to before our things are delivered.

Bedding for each bed- There is nothing worse than being in a new home and having all of the beds set up but not being able to find the bedding! It is easy to just pack a set for each bed in the trailer so we can all sleep comfortably in our beds.

Towels- Also something you don't want to be digging through boxes for. It also helps to have these incase our things will not be delivered right away but we decide to stay in the house anyways.

A phone- Not as important anymore now that we have cell phones, but still we like to grab one corded phone and bring it with us.

Cooking supplies- I made up a basic list of recipes and the kitchen equipment I would need to make those meals. I'll bring these items with us so that I can cook healthy meals for my family; this will save us money too by not having to go out! Again, this is useful if our things are not delivered right away, but is also helpful to have the basics on hand while we are trying to unpack the rest of the kitchen stuff. Crockpots are helpful during this time since after a long day of unpacking I'm most likely not going to feel like doing much cooking.

Toys- I bring a selection of toys I know my kids enjoy that have been set aside (they have not seen in a while) to play with once we get to the new house. These are all in a bin that will keep things nice and tidy.

Table and chair(s)- We are bringing a couple of folding tables with us. This is something that is easy to put in the trailer and makes eating in our new home easier. We will be bringing a folding chair and one of those baby chairs that hang on the edge of the table too. Keeping Miss C contained while eating will keep her from getting distracted and spreading her mess around our new home.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Little Mommy

Miss C has been playing with her baby dolls even more than usual. It has been so sweet to watch her taking such good care of her babies! This morning she was sure her baby needed to join us for breakfast. She ate her entire meal with one hand while holding her baby!

Like all good mommies, she made sure her baby was fed too.

I love that she wants to be just like her mommy! It reminds me what a big responsibility motherhood is, I must set a good example. Little eyes are always watching!

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
Titus 2: 3-5

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oh right, we're moving!

I've been enjoying our quiet days, and this time of rest and recovery. It dawned on me at the end of last week though, that we're moving in about a week! YIKES! Our movers will show up about a week from now to pack us up.

*look at those sweet cheeks! He is getting little rolls on his arms and legs too! Mr. K is already over 10 pounds and almost sleeping through the night!

I'm so glad I planned ahead and accomplished so much in the months leading up to this time. I needed the time of rest, but now there is work to be done. I'll still be taking it easy, since there is not too much left to be done, and most of that can be done by kids with some supervision.
*Hey mom, take MY picture with Mr. K!

I'm so blessed to have older children that are so very helpful. The boys have been so excited to have an excuse to pull out daddy's drill and screwdrivers. They've been taking down valances and other things from the walls and taking things apart too!

*Cleaning off the front porch. His little sisters had left quite a bit of chalk marks that needed to be cleaned up.

All three of the older kids have been checking the running list I have going on the white board to see what jobs they can do. When possible they have been involving the younger kids too.

*Dusting things off of the shelf Mr. R was taking down.

I have to pack up our clothes and go through a few things still, but even those jobs will be done with the aid of the kids.

Rob is slaving away finishing up his dissertation, he should be done just about the time the movers arrive. We will be celebrating the day he turns in the finalized copy! Yippee!