In my favorite poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay, he reminds us that like the seasons of nature, life is one season melting into another, and quickly fading away. This is my attempt to document each season in my life and my family.

Autumn Acres

Filed under: Abby Jo,Activities,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen — Rachel at 12:06 pm on Saturday, November 10, 2012

Last month, Amy and I, along with our friend, Janel, took all the kids to Autumn Acres, a cornfield maze and pumpkin patch in Crossville, TN. We had a lot of fun. It was a gorgeous day. It was so warm, in fact, that I managed to get a sunburn. We had a plethora of things to do there. We went through two separate corn mazes. The kids played in big bales of hay, swung on tire swings, went down giant slides, shot corn cannons, and Abby rode a little cow train. There was also a little petting zoo. Going to the cornfield maze in the fall is a tradition here, and I was so happy to introduce our family tradition to Amy and her kids. I look forward to next year….and all the years after that.

All of the kids with their pumpkins.

Abby riding the barrel train.

Elijah spent a long time jumping from off hay bales and from one bale to another.

Pretty little country girl.

Sarah was pushing Kyra on the swing.

Abby Jo

Back to School

Filed under: Abby Jo,Activities,Elijah,Family,Field Trips,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,School — Rachel at 8:16 pm on Saturday, August 20, 2011

Well, summer vacation is over at the Harmon house. Monday was our first day back to school, and I will call our first week back a major success. There’s nothing like brand new school supplies to get kids back in the mood for learning. This year, I have three in school. Kyra is in fourth grade, Elijah is in second grade, and Owen is in kindergarten. Abby Jo is the odd man out, so we have been doing some “preschool” activities, too.

We start our day with devotions. I’ve not always been faithful to do this in the past, but I’m going to try really hard to keep this a part of our school day this year. I read a devotion to the kids…something short and sweet with a daily Bible verse from a book of kids’ devotions. After that, we share prayer requests, and then we pray together. The kids each take one of the prayer requests and pray for it. After we pray, we sing a few songs together, and then we get down to business.

For those of you interested in such things, Kyra and Elijah are both using A.C.E. curriculum. This is Elijah’s first year doing PACEs (the name of the workbooks they do…it stands for Packet of Accelerated Christian Education). Kyra is not a huge fan of doing PACEs only, so, as a concession, we are trying something different this year. On Mondays, they do pacework for all five subjects (Math, English, Social Studies, Science, and Word Building…WB is similar to spelling). On Tuesday and Thursday, they do Math, English, and Word Building pacework, and do extra reading. Extra reading is usually a biography, but not always. Kyra is reading about Clara Barton right now, and Elijah is reading about King Tut. On Wednesday and Friday, they do Social Studies and Science pacework, and we do extra things related to these subjects. We are going to be watching the documentary, America: The Story of Us together, and, after that, we will watch other historical documentaries about subjects like US Presidents, the Trail of Tears, etc.  The extra reading and documentaries add a little extra entertainment factor to learning, and it breaks up the monotony of doing only PACEs.

We are pretty relaxed about kindergarten around here. Elijah was my first homeschooled kindergartener, and I feel like I did a pretty good job with him. He tested into third grade Math and Word Building this year, even though he is a second grader. He’s a whiz at addition and subtraction, and he will be learning multiplication this year. He’s also a great reader. I was rather surprised at how much he had improved his reading skills since last school year. The kids are avid readers, and he has been reading all summer. However, he has not read out loud to me. When we started school on Monday, I was shocked at how he was reading right over words I expected to be hard for him (words like “available” and “courageous”) without hesitation. I didn’t use any curriculum for him in kindergarten or first grade. I taught him to read using a book called “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. It was hghly recommended to me by several ladies at church. It worked great for us. For first grade, I just printed off math sheets from the internet, spelling words from the internet, used flash cards, and had him read lots of books. Math and Reading were my focus, and it has really paid off.

So, all that said, I am following the same path this year with Owen. We are using the same “Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” book, and he is doing great with it so far. We started on Monday, and he’s already reading some easy words, such as “ram”, “eat”, “me”, etc. I got a workbook from Walmart that has general “kindergarten basics” that he really enjoys doing, and I have flash cards that we are working on numbers and counting. He’s different from Elijah in that Elijah was counting to 400 when he started kindergarten, and Owen struggles to count to 20 without forgetting 12. Each kid is different, though, and I know that. Owen is happy and eager to learn. I have a feeling he will be reading pretty well before Christmas. He’s picking it up pretty effortlessly. Time will tell how he does with math, but I’m hoping he doesn’t take after Kyra. She can do math well when she doesn’t tell herself she can’t. Then we have lots of tears and drama. I much prefer he pattern himself after Elijah in the mathematics department.

So, that is our basic homeschooling plan. Chris is back in school this semester trying to get his M.Div. I am the only Harmon not currently pursuing my education, but I’m already considering cutting my “year off” down to a “semester off”. I’m not sure yet. I’m still deciding on what school to go to for my bachelors degree.

We’re not all work and no play, though. We have already had our first field trip. On Friday, after the kids did their Social Studies and Science, we took off for some more science fun at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I’ll leave you with a few photos from that.

Owen as a deep sea diver.

This was a neat exhibit. The kids had to stick their hands in to feel what was inside, then (I think) they pushed a button to illuminate the box while they peeked through a hole.

In case you have no idea what this picture is about, I am pointing up at the giant turtle skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

Kyra, Owen, and Abby Jo inside of an aquarium.

Elijah cracked me up!


The Penguins were my favorite!

At least my eldest has mastered the art of looking at the camera.

I like to cuddle penguins.

I never said he wasn’t crazy. But, at least he’s cute, too.

My sweet, silly girls chillin’ with the penguin.

He’s still working on boundaries. 😉

Belt Promotions for the Boys

Filed under: Activities,Elijah,Karate,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Videos — Rachel at 9:46 pm on Thursday, November 4, 2010

Our kids have been taking Isshinryu karate for the past couple of months, and our boys got promoted from a white belt to a white belt with a yellow stripe tonight. Kyra is in a class for older kids that doesn’t do things the same way. She will test for her yellow belt when she learns all of her kata.


My Family

Filed under: Abby Jo,Activities,Elijah,Family,Field Trips,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 11:14 pm on Thursday, June 10, 2010


This is most of my family (plus three friends) on a recent trip to the Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN.

Family Hiking Trip

Filed under: Abby Jo,Activities,Chris,Elijah,Family,Field Trips,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 11:11 pm on Thursday, June 10, 2010

A few weeks ago, we took a family trip to Frozen Head State Park. Chris, the kids, Toby (the dog) and I hiked up to two different waterfalls. It was a lot of fun, and great family bonding.


Kyra played the role of photographer at the beginning of our hike, and she took this photo of the rest of us.


Abby Jo enjoyed herself.


I climbed on top of the first waterfall we came to.


We know we are totally awesome on top of the falls.


Abby eats a rock.


Me and my progeny under the second waterfall, Emory Gap Falls.


(Please to notice how that when I take the picture, the waterfall is actually included.)


It was a beautiful day with beautiful scenery.


I couldn’t help but be amazed at God’s wonderful creation.

Visiting Daddy

Filed under: Abby Jo,Activities,Army,Chris,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 11:24 pm on Sunday, August 9, 2009

Since Chris has been gone to Fort Jackson since early July, the kids and I made the trip to South Carolina to see him this weekend. The drive wasn’t too bad. The kids were mostly good, and Abby never really cried…only fussed till her big sister put her paci in. I was making good time until Elijah needed an unplanned bathroom stop, and then all the kids had to go. Then, not longer after that stop, Kyra said, “Owen has something yucky on his shirt and pants.” I turned to look, and saw that Owen had thrown up on himself. I was on the phone with Chris at the time, and said, “Great! Owen threw up.” When he heard me say this, Owen immediately started crying. It was quite a ways to the next exit, and Owen fell asleep while I was driving. This prompted a phone discussion with Amy on whether or not it made me a bad mom if I kept on driving while Owen was covered in puke, since he went to sleep and it didn’t smell that bad. I drove a while, but then I started smelling it so I stopped and cleaned him up. (This retelling reminded me that his pukey clothes are still in the van tied up in a little, scented, blue, plastic bag. I think I’ll be tossing that!)

Besides that and a homicidal truck driver who tried to run me off the road, it was an uneventful trip. We made it to Fort Jackson, and got to see Daddy. He was out in the parking lot of the hotel waiting on us. The kids were ecstatic to see him, and I think he felt the same about seeing us. We really miss him when he’s not home!


We went to Outback right away, and then came back to the hotel. Chris had to stay up late working on homework for CHBOLC. He didn’t get in bed till after midnight, and then had to get up at four for PT.

On Friday, we hung around the hotel until he got off, and then went to Applebees and to Walmart to buy swim stuff for the kids since I didn’t bring theirs. Chris went to sleep pretty early since he only got four hours sleep. On Saturday, we went to the zoo here in Columbia which was pretty fun. I’ll have to add pictures of that later, since they’re all on Chris’ computer. We ate at Maurice’s BBQ, which was kind of interesting but good, and then came back to the hotel. Chris took the three big kids swimming, and Abby Jo and I took a long nap. That was about it for Saturday. Today, we went to IHOP for breakfast, and then went to the Sesquintennial State Park and then to see G-Force at the movies. After the movie, we went to Rita’s Frozen Custard, and enjoyed some Italian ices and frozen custard. It was absolutely delicious! Today is the only day I took photos on my iPhone, so I can add the pics from today. Enjoy!


Waiting for IHOP is not much fun…but worth it!


This is at the park, where it was crazy hot…like around 98, I think. This isn’t the best photo, but I added it because I love Abby Jo’s expression. She looks like, “You call this fun?!?”


Elijah at the park.


Hot, little Abby Jo after having her diaper changed on a picnic table. She was still smiling, even though she was sooo over the whole thing.


Kyra sitting pretty in the shade.


Chris at the park, with Elijah in the background.


At Rita’s, they promised me happiness. I love the sign in the upper right that tells you where to order happiness. They came through. We were happy!


Kyra got some sort of strawberry flavor of Italian ice.


Owen and I had passion fruit.


After everyone ate their individual treats, Daddy went and ordered us all a large chocolate vanilla twist custard to share. We were very excited!


Ready? Set? Go!!!

This and That

Filed under: Activities,Chris,Family,Field Trips,Friends,General,Kids,Kyra,School — Rachel at 11:50 am on Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been busy…and sick. I have had a lot of fun over the last few days, though. 

Amy and her kids came for a short visit over the weekend. They got here early (early) in the morning on Thursday, and stayed through about noon yesterday. We didn’t do a whole lot because of how I am 32 weeks pregnant, and that translates to tired, sore, and swollen feet. We watched several movies, spent a lot of time on the couch with my feet up, and broke up a lot of kid fights. Turns out, nearly two years later, our kids still only like each other about half the time  a third of the time  thirty minutes a day. Okay, maybe a little more than that, but not much. We’ve decided that, in the future, we’re going to have to divide the Maxwell kids from the Harmon kids for a portion of each day. They just get too much of each other, and then we all go crazy. Anyway, we did do one fun thing while they were here. On Friday, we skipped Friday school at church, and took the kids on a field trip the Children’s Museum in Oak Ridge. That was a lot of fun. My camera battery was dead, so I didn’t get any pictures. Amy did, though, and I’ll have her send them to me so I can post a link to them later.

It was great to see my friend again, and it’s awesome to think that I’ll see her again in right around forty days…when she comes to be with me when my baby is born! Exciting days these are!

On Sunday morning, Chris had the opportunity to preach at our church. He did really well, and I was extremely proud of him. It’s cool for me to see how he’s evolving as a preacher since he’s been in Seminary. He preached on “Have You Been With Jesus”, and it really ministered to me. It’s exciting to get a little taste of what Chris will be doing as a Chaplain. We also had Awana Sunday night, which is always fun. Chris led a discussion in our Journey class with the teenagers, and it was good to hear them discussing how they could do more for God. We really enjoy working with the young people at our church.

Yesterday, we got to go out and enjoy some of the great weather we’ve had for the last few days. It has been unseasonably warm. We played outside yesterday in short sleeves! Chris had to go to the range yesterday, so, even though he didn’t get the whole day off, he was off by three, so we took the kids and went to the park. His mom met us there, and then ordered pizza for all of us while we played. It was awesome.  A great day with our family. Here’s a link to my Facebook photos from yesterday. I’m still having trouble uploading photos directly to my blog. I’ll get Chris or Amy to help me update my wordpress sometime soon, so that I can do that again. For now, I’ll just have to link you to Facebook.

Kyra just finished taking her last couple of first grade tests, and she is now…drum roll please…a second grader! I’m awfully proud of her. She’s made a lot of progress academically since the beginning of the school year. When we started the school year, she really struggled with reading. She spent half of her school days crying over how her words were too hard and she didn’t like reading. She has made tremendous gains in reading, and does quite well now. It’s been an interesting adjustment for me. I have to make sure she’s not standing behind me while having a private instant message conversation, or it’s not so private anymore.

So, that’s a bit of an update on us, for those who are interested. 

Donut Party!

Filed under: Activities,Elijah,Family,Friends,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 10:53 pm on Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Owen and Jer sharing a chair while they enjoyed their Krispy Kremes.


Sweet Sarah


“Me love donuts.” (Said in a deadpan Cookie Monster voice, of course.)


The anticipation!

Army Strong

Filed under: Activities,Family,Kids,Random Thoughts — Rachel at 9:05 am on Monday, June 18, 2007

Sorry for the unannounced leave of absence. I just realized this morning that I have not posted in five days. I have been busy and gone. Saturday morning, I got up and drove to Fort Jackson, alone, with three kids. Yep. I am crazy. The night before, as I was talking to Amy about being nervous and asking her to pray for me while I drive, she reminded me (for the upteenth time) that I am now an Army Wife…and they are Army Strong, too. Now, I don’t usually feel so much like an Army Wife, but I guess, with Chris gone for a while, it counts. Apparently, Army Wives do things like packing up three little kids and driving five hours to see their soldier for a day and a half, and then turn around and drive back. After two weeks of talking to Amy (who is both an Army Wife and a soldier), I feel like a well placed “Hooah!” goes here. 🙂

Really, it was an uneventful drive down there. I had never driven past Pigeon Forge before, so it was mostly a new experience for me. I had to stop once in North Carolina for a bathroom stop. We stopped at a rest area, and I got the kids out and we trooped to the bathroom. Me, Kyra, and Elijah all had to go. Once in there, I assigned each kid a stall, and told them not to leave it until I told them. It was then that I realized my propensity for never putting shoes on Owen backfired. He can stand up now, but, without shoes, there was no way he was standing on the floor of a public bathroom. So, I had to hold him. It was tricky. I feel I deserve some sort of medal. After that stop, I didn’t have to stop again until I was almost in Columbia, and Elijah had to go again. We got back on the interstate after that stop, and drove three exits down and met Chris at a McDonald’s. It was a really, really happy reunion. The kids and I were playfully arguing, before he got there, about who got the first kiss. When Chris pulled up, Kyra took off running and claimed the first kiss. She wouldn’t hardly share. It was very good to kiss my man again. It took a while to get used to him being completely bald. That was definitely a change. After we ate, I followed him to Fort Jackson.

While we were there, we saw where Chris is living, played on the playground behind his apartment, drove around the base looking at different things, visited the PX, had ice cream, and then we went to our hotel. After getting settled in the hotel, we went swimming in their indoor pool, which the kids loved. After swimming, we went to eat at The Lizard’s Thicket. Good food. 🙂 We all collapsed in utter exhaustion that night. Sunday morning, we got up and went to church. We went to a service on base. It was actually in the Chaplain School. It was called Chapel Next, and was a contemporary protestant service. It was really cool. I enjoyed it. It was very, VERY different than what I am used to, though. But I am of the opinion that different is not synonymous of bad. It was very cool to be in a service with the military families. There were a few basic training or AIT soldiers there in their ACUs. We sat among a bunch of Chaplains and Chaplain Candidates. After the service, I got to meet the Chaplain who preached at that service and his wife. I enjoyed meeting my first Chaplain’s Wife. She seemed very nice, and I look forward to meeting many more. Amy is all the time bragging making me jealous telling me what I have to look forward to in meeting Chaplain’s wives, and now I am very excited about that.

I can’t wait to live on an Army base. It is just so cool. I am constantly teary-eyed while there, because I find everything so moving. My favorite moment there (of the non-in-my-husband’s-arms moments) was an hour or so before we left to come home. We were watching the kids play on the playground behind Chris’ apartment, and there were four little girls, ages 4-9, playing there also. As we were sitting there, the bugles came sounding through the air, as they took the flag down for the day. Chris stood up, and all the little girls hurriedly jumped down from the playground equipment. I could barely keep from crying as I watched those little girls stand straight up, hands over their hearts, one little girl saluting (which was adorable), and not making a sound until the bugles ceased. The respect and reverence was touching. I love Army Kids. If Chris had of been in uniform, I probably would have cried big time, because he would have faced the flag, stood at attention, and saluted. I love Soldiers. Shortly after that, Chris took Elijah inside, and, as soon as he left, all the little girls came over and started talking to me. They asked me if we had moved there, and told me how cute Owen was. They told me about all of the various places they had lived, and how it was being an Army Kid. One little girl said her daddy was a Chaplain and had just came home from Korea. Which prompted another girl to tell about when her daddy was in Iraq. It was like getting a crystal ball view of what my kids’ lives are going to be. I liked these kids. I think that Army Kids are good people.

So, then, I drove home. Leaving for the trip home was not as exciting as leaving for the trip there. I think the difference, besides being tired, was that, on the way there, I had Chris to look forward to, and, on the way home, I had the messy house I left to look forward to. The trip was mostly uneventful, other than the two stops and the screaming, teething baby. The first stop was highlighted with a weird, scary guy parked in the car beside of me demanding to know where my husband was and trying to talk to me, which prompted me to slam the door, run around the van, jump in, and drive to the other side of the building. 🙂 The highlight of the second stop would be Elijah dumping an entire sprite on him and his car-seat which sparked Elijah squalling at the top of his lungs, Owen squalling at the top of his lungs, and Kyra frantically singing “Hush Little Baby” at the top of her lungs, while I contemplated sitting on the curb to cry. I didn’t, though. I dealt with it. Then, I got back on the road, and made it safely home. Cause I’m an Army Wife, and, apparently, this is just par for the course.

Fun Day

Filed under: Activities,Family,Kids,Random Thoughts — Rachel at 11:37 pm on Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chris and I took the kids to Dollywood today. Kind of a “last hoorah” before Chris leaves. It was hot, but not unbearably so. They rode some rides, played in the water, and we all ate a lot of junk. Owen had so much fun playing in the little playground at Dreamland Forest. It’s made specifically for little bitty kids. He was so happy. All smiles. He is learning to walk, and he was doing so well there at the playground. He was taking ten plus steps at a time.

We came home, put the kids to bed, and Chris and I just finished watching a movie. We watched Flyboys. It was really good. If you haven’t seen it, you ought to. While I’m on the subject of moives, we watched The Last Sin Eater a couple of nights ago, and it was pretty good, too. I liked it a lot, but Chris didn’t like it as much. So, if you do watch either of those two, let me know what you think. If you all hate them, I might have to keep my movie recommendations to myself.

Anyway, I’m headed to bed now. I just couldn’t go to bed without blogging today. Be good, people!

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