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.

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

First Day of Public School

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,Owen,School — Rachel at 9:28 pm on Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today was the kids’ first day of public school. There should be a picture here of the three of them, but I forgot to take it. I intended to. I had thought about it. I just forgot because they were rushing me so much. They were so excited, and could not wait to get there!

I had been worried about Elijah not adjusting well. He is so very shy and quiet. Yesterday, though, I took them to be tested to make sure they were where they should be, and, after he finished his tests, he kept saying, “I hope we can start tomorrow! Do you think we can start tomorrow?” I told him I didn’t know, but I didn’t really think they would. They did, though, and the kids couldn’t have been happier about it.

I need to stop this narrative right here, though, and brag shamelessly. While the kids were testing, I was mentally biting my fingernails in nervousness. If they didn’t test well, it would be my fault for not being a better teacher. So, when Owen tested right where he should be, I breathed a sigh of relief. When Elijah tested right where he should be, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Then, when they told me that Kyra reads at an eighth grade level, I took a bow. My little smartypants tested into the accelerated reading AND math classes. I was so proud of her. Alright…end brag.

So, anyway, after their testing was over yesterday, we met their teachers and saw where their classrooms are. Then, we had to go to Walmart and spend a ton of money on school supplies, backpacks, and lunchboxes. While the kids were at Awana last night, Abby and I went back to Walmart and bought lunch stuff. Starting school minus back to school sales is expensive!

This morning, the kids practically leaped out of bed when I woke them up (two or three hours earlier than they woke up for homeschool). Elijah sleeps on the top bunk in the boy’s room, and he sat up and swung himself over the bed before he had really opened his eyes. He was grinning from the moment he woke up. They were dressed in about two minutes, and helped me pack their lunches. Then, they took turns saying, “Is it time to leave yet? Can we just go ahead and go?” for the next thirty minutes. Fun times.

When I picked them up from school today, they were all still happy. I was so glad. I worried off and on all day about how they were doing. At one point, I actually prayed that no one (not going to name any shy kids here) would pee their pants because they were too shy to ask to go to the restroom. I made each one of them give me a play by play of their day. Kyra loved everything and made a “favorite friend” first thing this morning. She was stoked because her and her friend, Cheyenne, are in every class together. Elijah loved math and said he already knew twelve boys from football. He also said he made a new friend, a boy who was funny but Elijah didn’t remember his name. Owen reported that his teacher got mad when he was too loud, he liked recess and technology lab, and that there were five pretty girls in his class.

So, all in all, a great day. The kids all went to bed tonight by nine with no protesting. They were anxious to go to bed so that it would be time for school again. We’ll see how long that lasts…

Tomorrow, I’ll try to get a picture. Thank you all for your prayers for their transition. So far, so good!

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. ย 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Kid Quote

Filed under: Elijah,Kid Quote — Rachel at 8:03 am on Saturday, July 16, 2011

Last night, we were eating at Red Robin, and I decided to have some meaningful conversation about church with our children.

I asked Elijah, “Lige, what is your favorite thing about church?”

Elijah thought for a minute and with an (almost) straight face, he said, “The part where they say ‘you are now dismissed’.”

A Trip to the Barber Shop

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Kids,Owen,Photos — Rachel at 2:35 pm on Friday, July 15, 2011

Owen got his hair cut first.

Elijah went next. He got a hairy tongue.

This is what happens when you say, “Put your arm around your brother for the picture.” Sigh. Boys.

Kid Quote

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Kid Quote,Kids,Owen — Rachel at 9:29 pm on Monday, July 11, 2011

A little snapshot from a day in the Harmon house:

Kids are eating snacks at the kitchen table, and I hear a scuffle, a yelp, and then Elijah quickly saying, “I’m sorry, Owen! Thank you for forgiving me!”

Owen quickly yelled back, “I DON’T FORGIVE YOU!”

I just laughed, and no one tattled. I guess they worked it out.

The Freedom Tour – Days 6-12

Filed under: Abby Jo,Elijah,Family,Freedom Tour,Friends,Kids,Kyra,Owen,Photos,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 1:27 am on Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dumas, Texas. What can I say about Dumas, Texas?

Dumas, Texas is a little town in the panhandle of Texas. Driving down Dumas Avenue is a little like visiting the United Nations. Somehow or another, Dumas, Texas has become the recipient of a number of refugees from places like Somalia and Burma. Along with that unusual addition to their small Texas town, Dumas is also home to it’s fair share of cowboys, rednecks, and teenage girls in pajama pants. They have a great Oriental Supermarket where you can get chicken and sticky rice, and a fabulous snow cone place that is open till ten p.m. Do you know about Texas snow cones? They are very different than what I’ve had in Tennessee. Far superior. Dumas has a fantastic park to visit with your kids, but, alas, none of the water fountains work. This is a real bummer when it’s a hundred degrees outside. However, if you have a more adventurous mother than my kids had, Dumas has a nice little waterpark next door where you can cool off.

Snow cones or waterparks or a backyard sprinkler, take your pick, but you’re going to have to cool off somehow. I wasn’t kidding about the one hundred degrees.

We spent most of our time in Dumas hanging around Amy’s parents house. Visits from Amy’s sisters, Jami Leigh and Julie, were the highlights of our days. Abby warmed up to Jami pretty quickly. I think it might have had something to do with Jami having the same face as her Aunt Amy.

As I mentioned before, one of the best ways for the kiddos to cool off in the Texas heat was by playing in the sprinkler.
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Over the weekend that we were there, we all loaded up and drove to Lavern, Oklahoma. The kids all wore there tie-dyed shirts that Jami helped them make.
Here are the boys in the “boy van”.And the three big girls in the “girl van”.

From left to right: Ethan, Miah, Joshua, Jeremiah, Elijah, Owen, Kaleb, Sarah, Charleigh, Emileigh, Abby Jo, and Kyra

The evening that we arrived, we checked into our (surprisingly nice) motel rooms, and then went to a small family get together. The next morning, which was the day before Memorial Day, we went to several cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of some of their family members. It was pretty sad at times, because this family had lost three children. A sixteen year old, a fourteen year old, and a baby. Watching their parents decorate their graves made me hold my babies a little closer. While at one of the cemeteries, I snapped a couple of pictures of the Oklahoma scenery.

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Later in the afternoon, we went to Amy’s great aunt’s house for a bbq dinner. The food was fantastic. Seriously, it was so good.

We went back home that evening, and started getting ready for the festivities of the coming day…Julie’s thirtieth birthday party.

Julie’s birthday was one of two important reasons that Amy was making the long trek to Texas. She really wanted to attend her baby sister’s birthday party. The other reason that two days after the party, Julie was having brain surgery. For that reason, everyone really wanted Julie to have a fantastic birthday. She had a great party, and I enjoyed getting to know some of the characters in Amy’s stories.

This is a picture of me and Julie. I’m glad we like each other. As the next picture indicates, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Julie and I could share grandkids some day.

This is, of course, my son, Owen, and the little girl is Julie’s daughter, Miah. They first met last year when the kids and I went with Amy to Dumas the first time. Apparently, they still have their spark. (I LOVE this picture!)

Amy Jo and I before Julie’s party.

Me and my Kyra Joy at the party.

Amy Jo, Jami Leigh, Amy G., me, and Janae….Jami said it was a picture with all of their mom’s adopted daughters.

The day after the party was very low key. We mostly just sat around the house relaxing. Here are some random pictures I thought I would share:

Abby Jo and Emmy-Kai-Kai, as she calls her. They were pretty good friends.

Kyra Joy and Jami’s daughter, Charleigh. They were delighted that everyone agreed that they could pass for sisters.

We were using our hands to block the sun. Jami was trying to take our picture, but the sunlight behind us was too bright. Turns out, I LOVE this picture of us. It’s so happy!

Me and my Elijah

Love it!



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The heat was getting to us.

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Our trip was drawing to a close, but, before we headed home, we had one day left. The day of Julie’s surgery. Amy Jo was going to go to Amarillo with her family for the surgery, and I was staying at her parents house with the kids. We had too full of a day to include it in this already too long post. So, until next time…

Diagnostic Day

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Kids,Kyra,School — Rachel at 6:44 am on Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today, instead of their normal schoolwork, I had the kids do some diagnostic tests online to check their progress in school. I was both surprised and delighted to see where they were. I tested them in Math, English, and Word Building (spelling). The results are in…my kids are smart. Apple…tree….’nuff said.

Kyra is eight, and she is a 3rd grader. Kyra tested exactly where she should be in Math…a little over midway through third grade. In English, she tested about a quarter of the way through fourth grade. In Word Building, she tested at the beginning of fifth grade. This was very encouraging to me, as a homeschool mom. It lets me know that I’m doing a good job, and my daughter is learning what she’s supposed to be learning.

Elijah is six, and he is a 1st grader, and I tested him in the same subjects. He tested at the beginning of third grade. This means he can skip second grade math. He already knows it. So, he’s going to be starting third grade curriculum next year at age seven. In English, he tested right where he should be…ready to start second grade. In Word Building, he tested at the beginning of third grade. So, like Math, he will be skipping second grade and going straight to third grade Word Building (spelling) curriculum. I was even more excited over his progress than Kyra’s, because I’ve had more involvement in his early education. I taught him to read and do addition and subtraction. Kyra learned that at school before we were homeschooling.

Knowing that my kids are either right where they should be or ahead of where they should be makes me feel really good. I’m not sure how to find out what reading level Kyra reads at, but I know it is much higher than a third grade reading level. She is an avid reader, and she is quite good at it. She retains what she reads, and understands it. She’s a very bright kid, and I’m super proud of her. Elijah has progressed by leaps and bounds in his reading over the last month or two. I’m really feeling good today. It also gives me an extra boost of confidence about starting kindergarten with Owen in the fall.

All in all, a good day on the homeschooling front!

Oh, The Beautiful Cross!

Filed under: Elijah,Family,Kids — Rachel at 12:29 am on Monday, January 3, 2011

Today, Elijah took communion for the first time. He was saved on Thanksgiving Day this year, and I can’t thank God enough for that. Today was very special to me, as his mother. I sat beside of him in church, and when we were preparing to take communion I whispered to him, “You can take communion today, Elijah.”

His eyes lit up. “I can?” he asked me.

I told him, yes, that now that he was saved, he was commanded to remember the Lord’s death by taking communion.

While the pastor addressed the congregation, I whispered to Elijah reminding him why we take communion. I told him how Jesus Himself told us to remember His death until He comes by eating the bread and drinking from the cup. I told him how the bread represented Jesus’ body. I told him that when he ate it, He was to remember how Jesus gave His body as a sacrifice for our sins. I told him that when we drink the grape juice, it represents Jesus’ blood. I told him when he drinks it, He should remember that Jesus shed his blood for him. I told him that we take communion to remember Jesus’ death on the cross.

During our whispered consultation, he looked solemnly at me with big blue-green eyes. I knew that he got it. He really understood, as best as a six year old boy can, why we were doing this.

This mother’s heart was bursting, just as it was the day that I held the same whispered conversation with Kyra when she took communion for the first time. There really is no greater joy than seeing your children embrace your faith, and accept Jesus for themselves.

Yes. Today was a special day for me. A day when an ordinary Sunday morning slipped into the sacred and my firstborn son’s childish eyes locked with mine and he smiled at me, bursting with joy.

We are children of God!

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.

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