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.

My Birthday Post

Filed under: Abby Jo,Birthdays,Family,Friends,Hailey,Kids,Kyra,Logan,Love,Matthew,Me,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 1:34 pm on Sunday, July 13, 2014

My birthday this year turned out to be the best ever. Matthew worked really hard to make it special for me.

On the 2nd, Matt arranged to have our small group meet at Roane County Park to celebrate my birthday. We grilled burgers and hot dogs. The kids played at the splash pad. Matt made me an absolutely delicious triple chocolate cake, and even had candles for me to blow out. Everyone sang to me. It really is the simple things in life that make you feel so loved. After we ate cake, we went swimming in the lake. I had so much fun swimming with Matt, and jumping off the dock with him and the kiddos. It was a great day.

birthdaycake

 

On the 4th, my actual birthday, Matt had arranged a surprise party for me at our house with our families. I found out about the party a couple days before, but Matt took care of everything. It was the first time that me, my parents, and all five of my brothers have been at the same place at the same time in a very long time. I even got to see my brother, Aaron, who I hadn’t seen in over a year. Matt invited everyone, grilled the burgers and hot dogs, asked my mom to make me a cake, and made sure everyone was happy. My mom asked me what kind of cake or pie I wanted, so I requested the cake that she used to make for me when I was a kid. It is so good, and was very nostalgic.

flag cake

 

One thing that was very fun for me was that my little brothers, Lucas and Seth, brought their guitar and drum set to play. We had learned the basics of “Don’t Stop Believing” in the couple of days before the party, and we played it together…Luke on guitar, Seth on drums, and me on piano. I’m pretty sure we drove everyone else crazy, but we had so much fun. Before everyone got there, we even sang a bunch of old hymns together. It was nice.

After a couple hours of hanging out and eating, we all loaded up and went to Kingston Park to watch the fireworks. This is my one family tradition that has been the same nearly every year since I was a young teenager. Last year, the fireworks got rained out, and we didn’t go. Every other year, though, we have been down at the lake to watch the show. It was exciting for me this year to share that experience with Matt, Hailey, and Logan, as well as Matt’s parents.

I don’t know if it was just that I am generally happier right now than I have ever been in my life or if it was because it was the first birthday with Matt and he worked so hard to make it special for me, but I can honestly say this was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I felt loved and celebrated, and I got to spend it with all the people that mean the most to me.

me,matt,fourthofjuly rachmattlyingingrass abby,matt,grammy

Matt, Abby, and Alice (aka Grammy…Matt’s mom.)

mammy,kyra,haile

Mammy, Kyra, and Hailey waiting for the fireworks to start.

papaw,abby,owen,logan

This one is of Owen, Abby, and Logan climbing on Papaw John’s back.

 

Hello, Summer!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Family,Kids,Logan,Me,Photos,School — Rachel at 8:43 am on Monday, May 12, 2014

I did it! I finished my first year of Nursing School. I can’t quite express how happy I am about that. It’s such a relief to have passed, and it’s just as relieving to simply get a break. I am burned out, to say the least. I did manage to finish both classes this semester with a B. So, I’m pretty happy with that. I’m totally thrilled to not have to think about it too much again until August.

photo (1)

Me, with my last clinical group and our instructor.

Now, I’m trying to focus on the wedding. It’s only 12 days away now! We have almost everything taken care of. At this point, we just have to finish making a few small purchases for the reception and the ceremony. Other than that, we mostly just have to wait till the day of and the day before to set things up. We went the other day and got our marriage license. I’m getting awfully close to becoming Mrs. Holbrook!

marriagelicense

The kids still have two weeks of school left. They are ready for summer. I am, too. I am excited about getting to stay home with them this summer and for all the things we are going to get to do together. I went last week and registered Abby and Logan for kindergarten. That was definitely bittersweet. It’s exciting that they are growing and getting to do new things, but it’s sad that the littlest ones are going to be in school, too. It’s such a cliche’, but they just grow up way too fast.

AbbyLogan

We are needing to start moving Matt’s stuff into the house, but we’ve hit a bit of a roadblock. We bought new carpet for the den and one of the upstairs bedrooms. The night before it was supposed to be installed, I found water damage in two corners. Turns out, the people who finished the basement (sometime before we bought the house thirteen years ago) didn’t seal the cement block wall before they installed paneling over it. The wood behind the paneling was rotted. So, Matt and I had to rip that out this weekend. We were going to try to just patch it back up with some new paneling, but we couldn’t find any that matched. We decided to put drywall up in the entire room, since we were wanting to do that eventually anyway. So, we’ve got the wainscoting and chair rail torn out, and we bought the drywall and supplies yesterday after church. We are going to start putting the drywall up tonight. It’s not ideal timing, but we are trying to get it done this week so we can get the carpet installed. I’m so thankful to have a man who says my problems are his problems and wants to help me. I don’t know what I would do without him.

It’s a hectic start to my summer break, but it will let up soon. A couple more weeks and the project will be finished and we will be married. My biggest concern will be getting all of Matt’s stuff moved to our house and keeping the kids busy and entertained. I have a long list of books to read and backyard, hammock naps to take. This is going to be a very good summer!

I’m Still Alive!

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Reading — Rachel at 10:36 pm on Saturday, April 5, 2014

I can’t believe how long it has been since I last blogged. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement. I’ve thought several times that I would like to blog, but I just never made the time to do it. Tonight’s the night, though.

Everyone loves an update post with bullet points, right? Right. Here goes…

  • Me: Life has been going very, very well for me. Almost seven months ago, I met a wonderful man. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, but it was awfully darn close. Matthew has been the most wonderful gift to me.MattRach He is my best friend, my confidant, my cheering section, and…in less than two months…he will be my husband.       I cannot express how thankful I am for his presence in my life. He has two beautiful children, Hailey and Logan, and I am very happy to add them to my little brood. We are looking forward to blending our families and finding out what God has in store for the whole lot of us.
    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    Kyra made this edit of the whole family.

    The kids all get along very well, and are happy to be step-siblings soon. Something that I think is really super cool: Abby and Logan were born on the same day. I always wanted twins. In fact, I prayed for them every time I was pregnant. So I think it’s really neat that I have pseudo-twins now! We call them step-twins.

    Ring

    The gorgeous ring Matthew gave me!

  • My relationship with Matthew has definitely been the highlight of my life recently, but I have also been doing nursing school. I’ve done really well so far this semester. All A’s and B’s. However, I have a Med/Surg test on Monday that has me shaking in my boots. I’m really nervous about it, but I’m studying like crazy. Hopefully, it will go ok. The high point of this semester was on my first day of my OB clinical rotation. I got to assist in the delivery of a baby. We were only supposed to observe, but this baby was born super fast, so I got to help. The doctor didn’t even make it until after the baby was born. It was really very cool. I was riding high for the rest of the day. I think, if I work in a hospital, I would enjoy Labor and Delivery.
  • Kyra: My eldest has had a great year so far. She’s 11 and in sixth grade, and has excelled in middle school. She is really coming into her own in a lot of ways. She makes all A’s and B’s at school, she played junior varsity basketball this school year, and she was asked to be the sixth grade representative for the Schoolwide Positive Behavior Committee (or something like that) by the principal. She has also discovered a hobby that she excels at. She is an Instagram addict. She is a little bit Disney obsessed, but she has turned her love of all things Disney into an Instagram account with over 2000 followers. She creates edits with Disney themes that there is apparently a niche fan base for who hang on her every post. If you (or more likely your kids) want to look her up, she is @epicdisneylover on Instagram. I am actually quite proud of her. We’ve talked about her someday using her talents in graphic design or something similar. Her teachers have taken note of her talent, as well. Her Social Studies teacher commissioned her to create posters that went along with the units he was teaching, and her principal asked her to design a tee shirt for the school’s annual Turkey Trot. It was really cool to see all of the middle schoolers wearing a t-shirt that my daughter designed. I’m very proud of my girl! She’s also a big time reader, and has really enjoyed the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, recently. Kyra
  • Elijah: My first March baby just had a birthday. He is ten now, and has grown so much. He, too, does very well in school. He is in the fourth grade, and he gets all A’s and B’s. He seems so much older to me over the last few months. He’s went from playing with toys and make believe to shooting a bow, building things, spending endless hours playing minecraft, and reading books that make this bibliophile mama very happy (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, etc.). He’s not quite all grown up yet, though. He is still a very silly and very hyper little boy that drives me batty sometimes. I have to admit, I kind of miss football season when they ran all his energy out of him three days a week at practice. I’ve really enjoyed watching him interact with Matt’s children over the last few months. Especially with Logan. I’ve witnessed some really sweet moments between the two of them. I think he’s going to like having a little brother who’s quite a bit (five years) younger than him. He’s a good boy, and I’m awfully proud of him. ElijahFootball

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

    Elijah with his cake his Mammy made him for his 10th birthday.

  • Owen: Owen is seven, in second grade, and has very few teeth left in his little, blond head. He is such a sweetheart. He’s still young enough that he comes to snuggle with me, insists on being tucked in every night with extra hugs and kisses, and wants to be loved on when he gets hurt. He’s also very, very rotten! He is my little comedian. Everything is a joke to Owen, and he is getting funnier and funnier all the time. The more sophisticated his vocabulary becomes, the more amusing he gets. I’ve laughed at his one-liners so much lately. He’s a gift. Like his older siblings, he does very well in school. He especially excels at reading. He’s pretty advanced in his reading ability, and he has burned through The Magic Treehouse books this year. His teacher has had nothing but praise for him in the reading category. Owen is loving having Logan around. I think the idea of having a little brother has made him pretty happy. It helps that Logan thinks Owen is all that. Owen
  • Abby Jo: Abby is still my little ray of sunshine. She is so obviously my baby. She just turned five, and she is a joy. She is incredibly intelligent, extremely precocious, and she keeps us on our toes. She has decided she wants to be an engineer when she grows up, but just until she is “a big enough age to be the president”. She told that to my aunt the other day, and then followed it by asking “will you vote for me?” and then “and will you ask all your friends to vote for me?” She’s a mess!  I’ve loved encouraging her to explore and create. She’s really enjoyed some toys called Goldieblox, which are engineering toys for girls. She builds little machines with them. She’s been kind of accident prone lately. She may or may not have gotten that trait from her mother.
    Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

        Abby fell off a chair and cut her eye.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    Abby was playing with Matt and tripped over my foot and cut her head on the corner of the wall.

    She has been quite taken with Matt’s dad. I’ve tried to convince her to call him “Papaw John”, but she insists on calling him “Santa Claus”, because he was wearing a Santa hat when she first met him at Christmas. She adores him.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    You can tell how much Abby loves her new Papaw.

    She’s looking forward to starting school next Fall. Part of me is sad that it seems like she’s growing up so quickly, but the other part of me is just thrilled with how awesome she is. And it just gets better the older she gets!

In other news, Amy and her kids recently moved out and got their own place in Knoxville. So, now I’m in the process of getting the house ready for Matt and his kids to move in with us after we get married. This involves a lot of sorting and purging. That will be followed by painting and remodeling and moving children around. And, of course, moving all of his stuff. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I am just thrilled at the prospect. Matt and his dad have been building a swingset for the kids in the backyard. He and I have been dreaming of lots of projects that we want to do. I’m excited!

Brothers playing at the park.

Brothers playing at the park.

My four monkeys!

My four monkeys!

Wedding plans have kept me busy, and, the closer we get to the big day…May 24…the more excited I get. I’m just so happy. I can’t wait for the semester to be over so I can concentrate on the little details of our wedding day. And after that comes…summer! I honestly haven’t looked forward to anything like I’m looking forward to this summer in a very long time. I am not going to work this summer, so I get to stay home with all the kids. I’ve been having a good time thinking of all the stuff we can do. I can’t wait to be Matthew’s wife and have all eight of us under the same roof!

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Me and Hailey on a snow day.

Matt and the Step-Twins. :)

Matt and the Step-Twins. 🙂

So, we’re still alive and well. Just plugging along through our school year. I don’t know if it will be another four months before I blog again, but I’ll eventually be back with another update, at least. Because, even when I don’t blog often, I like to at least update with the highlights. It’s nice to have this record to be able to go back and see what we were doing at a certain point in time. That is, after all, the reason I started this blog. Until next time!

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

Family Updates

Filed under: Abby Jo,Chris,Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,School — Rachel at 9:02 am on Tuesday, November 15, 2011

We’ve had a lot of busy days around here lately. I thought I’d give a little update.

First of all, things have really improved between Chris and I, and we have taken divorce off of the table. I thank you all for your prayers, and I hope you will continue to pray for us. God has really worked in my heart and has changed my mind, and, I can assure you, that took an act of divine intervention. We are still living separately right now while we work on our issues, but we are definitely staying married. Again, my heartfelt thanks for your prayers on our behalf!

Okay, on with the family updates…

The boys’ football season ended on Saturday. They both won their bowl games…Owen’s team won the Silver Bowl, and Elijah’s team won the Bronze Bowl. They both got nice looking medals. The boys had completely opposite feelings about the end of the season. Owen was not into the whole thing since about the second week. After his game was over Saturday, he told me, “I finally got out of it!” I think he may be more cut out to be a mascot than a football player. He is only five, though. Hopefully, he will be more into it later on. Elijah, on the other hand, has steadily progressed in his playing abilities all season, and has developed a deep love for playing football. His coaches couldn’t get him to talk to them at all, but they told Chris and I several times how impressed they were with his improvements, his listening, and his heart. He went from playing about four or five plays a game at the beginning of the season to playing the entire game on offense and a good portion of the game on defense. His team didn’t win a lot of games this season, so, when they won their bowl game and got a huge trophy and individual medals, I was expecting Elijah to be all smiles. He didn’t look happy at all, though. I was confused at first, but then I realized what was wrong. He told me that he was sad that football season was over. He spent the rest of the afternoon breaking my heart. Every time I looked at him, he had tears in his eyes. I felt so sorry for him! So…two totally different reactions to it, but the boys are finished for the year. I can’t say that I’m not totally relieved. I was not a fan of practices three times a week and games on Saturday.

The kids are all loving school. They have all adjusted nicely, and have all made friends. Owen had been on a field trip, and won the highly esteemed “first to ride on a real school bus” distinction. Kyra won first place in a speech competition, sang in a Veteran’s Day program, and has a field trip to the Cumberland County Playhouse coming up next week. Elijah is the only one with anything negative to say about school, and that is because he is convinced they are holding him back. He was a grade ahead in math in homeschool, and was learning multiplication. He is in second grade, though, and they aren’t doing multiplication in second grade in public school. This rubs him the wrong way. Other than that, he likes school.

Kyra has had a horrible cough for about a week. I took her to the doctor yesterday. He said he didn’t think she had pneumonia but that her lungs sounded “junky”. He put her on some medicine, and told us to bring her back if she gets worse. She sounds just terrible. Hopefully, the medicine will get it under control. I always get nervous with her, because she’s prone to respiratory problems (croup, pneumonia, etc.). Chris was at the doctor yesterday, as well. He has cellulitis in his leg. It’s causing him a lot of pain and discomfort and keeping him from work right now, but it should get better soon.

Abby Jo and I are enjoying all our free time while the kids are in school. She misses the kids and often gets mad at me when I bring her home after dropping them off. She thinks she should get to go somewhere every day, too. Apparently, home is boring. I am enjoying the boring, though. I’ve been going to the gym, taking Abby to storytime at the library, and going out for lunch. It’s nice.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Kid Quote

Filed under: Abby Jo,Kid Quote,Kids — Rachel at 9:33 pm on Thursday, October 27, 2011

Abby Jo, to me, on the kids’ first day of school: “We’re going to miss our children, Mommy.”

Yes, indeed.

Kid Quote

Filed under: Abby Jo,Kid Quote,Kids — Rachel at 6:43 pm on Sunday, October 23, 2011

I asked Abby, “Do you know you’re pretty?”
Abby: “Yeah.”
Me: “How do you know?”
Abby: “I just jumped…and then I was pretty.”

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!

Penguins!

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. 😉

Kid Quote

Filed under: Abby Jo,Kid Quote,Kids — Rachel at 10:13 am on Friday, August 12, 2011

Leaving Kroger, I opened a soda that I had just purchased, took a drink, and then passed it back to Kyra. She said, “Ugh. I don’t want this chewing gum anymore.”
“Well, I don’t want it.” I told her. “Find something to do with it.”

In a moment, I heard, “Thanks, Abby. I can always count on you. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve chewed it!”

Princess Photos

Filed under: Abby Jo,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 8:48 pm on Monday, August 8, 2011

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