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.

Happily Married – The Reception

Filed under: Photos — Rachel at 3:14 pm on Friday, June 20, 2014
Table of contents for Happily Married
  1. Happily Married – The Ceremony
  2. Happily Married – The Portraits
  3. Happily Married – The Reception

We had a completely lovely reception, thanks largely in part to my mom, Matt’s dad, John, and his girlfriend Isabelle,  Matt’s Uncle Chuck, Matt’s sister-in-law, Katie, and my sister in law, Misty. They all helped us so much with the decorations. Matt’s mom, Alice, and his sister, Whitney, also helped us out with making desserts and watching kids. It was definitely a group effort.

I had this vision for what I wanted the reception area to look like, and these wonderful people made it happen for me. We were trying to set the area up the night before, and nothing was working right. John told me to go home and get some rest, and when I came back the next morning, it would be done and I would be happy with it. I have to admit, I was skeptical. I decided to trust him, though, and not worry about it. When I got there the next morning, it looked exactly like I had imagined it. My father-in-law is awesome! They all worked so hard and dealt with so many headaches with all of the lights and stuff, and all I did was show up the next day.

We had a bbq reception, catered by Famous Dave’s. Instead of a wedding cake, we had a dessert bar and s’more’s bar. The area we were using had a fire pit in the middle, so we made use of it. I think the kids liked the s’mores. We had a small dance floor, and my favorite part of the whole reception was dancing with my husband and dancing with Abby. It was all just like  I wanted.

I hope you enjoy the photos!

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Happily Married – The Portraits

Filed under: General,Photos — Rachel at 11:16 pm on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Table of contents for Happily Married
  1. Happily Married – The Ceremony
  2. Happily Married – The Portraits
  3. Happily Married – The Reception

When Matthew and I were discussing wedding plans early on, we agreed that one thing we didn’t want to skimp on was a good photographer. Matt took care of finding one, and I couldn’t be happier with the photographer he chose. Cherish Bickel operates out of Sevierville, and she turned out to be perfect for us. Her prices were reasonable, and her work was fantastic. You can check out her website here. As an added benefit, her husband is a hair stylist, and he did mine and the girls’ hair on site. It was the perfect arrangment! She worked perfectly with our family, and she did such a lovely job of capturing our wedding day for us.

This post is just sharing some of my favorite portraits she took of us. You can click on any of the photos to see it bigger.  Enjoy!

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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!


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.


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!

A Long Overdue Update

Filed under: Family,Kids,Photos,School — Rachel at 12:16 pm on Sunday, June 9, 2013

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged here since November! I have been incredibly, overwhelmingly busy, but, now that summer vacation is here, I have time to breathe (and blog) again. With so much time that has passed since my last blog post, I thought I would just write an update blog to start with and then go from there.

  • The kids are all doing fantastic. They are out of school for the summer, and everyone finished the school year with good grades and good memories. Kyra completed her last year of elementary school, and will be heading off to the middle school with Jeremiah next year. My kids go back and forth between me and Chris this summer, just like during the school year, but Amy’s kids are spending the majority of the summer with their dad in Kentucky. My kids are looking forward to going to Disneyworld next month with their dad. Amy and I were hoping to take all the kids to the beach this summer for a vacation, but I’m not sure, at this point, that finances are going to allow it. We will try to do lots of smaller scale, fun things closer to home, though.
  • Three of the kids had birthdays recently. Elijah and Abby had birthdays in March. They turned 9 and 4, respectively. Jeremiah turned 12 a few days later on April 1. We celebrated with a birthday party for the three of them at the skating rink. It was a lot of fun. In a couple of weeks, Kyra and Owen will be having birthdays. We are having a pool party for them at the Kingston pool. Kyra is turning 11 (that blows my mind!), and Owen is turning 7. Sarah is the lone child who doesn’t have a birthday close to someone else. She won’t turn 11 until September.
  • After an absolutely exhausting Fall semester, where I took Anatomy & Physiology II and Microbiology in the same semester, I had an easy Spring semester, taking four classes that I thought sounded interesting. I finished last month with four A’s and a huge sigh of relief. I get the summer off of school, and go back in the fall to start…dun duh dunnn…Nursing School! I was so excited and relieved to find out a few weeks ago that I got into the nursing program at Roane State. I was so worried that I wouldn’t get in. It is a very competitive program, and about half of the applicants don’t get in. Shortly after finding out I had been accepted to the program, I found out that I was being awarded a $1,500 scholarship from Altrusa International in Oak Ridge.  I already had one scholarship through the Roane State Foundation. These scholarships are such a blessing to me, and make the financial burden of going to Nursing School much less.
  • I am still working in the Business & Finance office at Roane State. I started working there as a work study job, but, after my hours ran out, they decided to give me a temporary contract to work there as a temporary employee. I will continue working there through the end of the summer, but probably won’t be able to continue to work there after school starts. My schedule will be very demanding then. Along with working at the college, I have also been mowing yards again this season. I have four yards that I do regularly. I was saving all the money I made from mowing toward taking a vacation, but I think that money may have to be used for my school expenses. Either way, it’s exhausting work, but I’m thankful for it. I admit, though, that I look forward to the day when I no longer need to do such physically hard work. It takes a toll on me.

That’s basically what’s been going on with us. Just taking care of business. School and work and church and family. Amy and I have also been involved in some community service type work, but I’ll blog about that another time. For now, I’ll leave you with some pictures from the last few months and a promise to blog again soon. If you’re still reading my blog, I’d love for you to leave a comment so I’ll know you stopped by.

Me and Kids

Me and my kiddos.


Owen Surgery

In May, Owen had surgery to put tubes in his ears.

Lady Vols Game

Amy and I went to our first Lady Vols game in January.


Free Donuts 2  Free Donuts

Free donut day at Krispy Kreme!

Abby with Goat

Abby Jo holding a baby goat at Papaw’s farm.


Abby on Birthday

Abby Jo on the day she turned 4! Birthday lunch with Mommy at McDonald’s.


Well, Crap!

Filed under: Family,Photos — Rachel at 10:13 pm on Monday, May 7, 2012

I texted my father (via my mother) today to wish him a happy birthday and ask if I could have his rabbit poop. Yes, I know it’s a weird request, but I want it for my gardening. Fertilizer, you know.

So he replied, “Malachi (my brother) is the rabbit boss. I’m the pig boss. You can have all the pig poop you want.”

I replied, “I don’t want pig poop. It stinks and has parasites. Who’s the goat boss?”

He answered, “Malachi’s the goat boss. Micah (Malachi’s two year old son) is second goat boss.”

I replied that I would just ask Micah then. Mom said, “I already asked him. He said nuh uh.”

Micah…Goat Boss #2

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. 😉

Princess Photos

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








Disneyworld! Photo Overload

Filed under: Family,Kids,Photos,Trips — Rachel at 8:38 pm on Monday, August 8, 2011

I am finally getting around to posting photos from our vacation. Chris had Army orders to go to a chaplain conference in Orlando, so we went with him. We hung around his hotel for the first three days, and then we moved to a Disney resort for the next four. We had a great time, and took quite a few pictures. Here are a few:






















The Freedom Tour – Going Home

Filed under: Freedom Tour,Photos,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 10:25 am on Thursday, August 4, 2011

And so our stay in Texas was over…

We traveled from Dumas, TX to Springfield, MO on the first day of the return trip. It was a mostly uneventful day, but we did have a delightful highlight just before we stopped for the night at our hotel.

Andy’s Frozen Custard! A Springfield tradition.

(Owen was asleep in the van. He wouldn’t wake up. Not even for Andy’s.)

The next morning, we began our final leg of the shared journey…from Springfield, MO to Fort Knox, KY. (The kids and I spent another night with Amy before we drove our final four hours from Fort Knox to Harriman, TN.)

We went through St Louis, and saw the Gateway Arch that we had visited on our road trip from the previous year.

It’s always exciting to cross the Mississippi River, no matter which direction we are headed.

We snapped a quick picture of another state sign. There is always lots of clapping and cheering each time we cross into a new state.

After this point, we were too tired and sick of each other’s company to chronicle anything else from the trip. We dragged our tired, sore, travel-worn bodies onto Fort Knox that evening, and bid a fond farewell to The Freedom Tour – Summer Road Trip of 2011.

The Freedom Tour: How to Have Fun in Dumas, Texas

Filed under: Freedom Tour,Photos,Road Trips,Trips — Rachel at 9:28 pm on Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This post is LONG overdue, but, as promised, I am returning to tell you about the last day of the Texas portion of our Road Trip. Amy was with her family at the hospital for her little sister, Julie’s, surgery. Since Amy was at the hospital, I was on my own with all six of our kids in a town I wasn’t super familiar with. So, we decided to find out how to have fun in Dumas, Texas.

First of all, you go to Pizza Hut.

After going to Pizza Hut and getting your belly full, you can go geocaching. There are several to be found in and around Dumas. One of them will lead you to a delightful park, where you will find this awesome plane.

There are lots of other fun things at that park, too.

Some dangerous things:

And since it’s a bajillion degrees in Dumas, Texas,  you should end your adventure with sno-cones from this fabulous little sno-cone shop.

I suggest the Cherry Cream Cheese flavor. It’s delicious!

And that, my friends, is how to have fun in Dumas, Texas!

There is one more post coming in this Road Trip series. Coming soon!

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