Saturday, September 29, 2007

Eighteen years in the making

One week ago tomorrow was our eighteenth wedding anniversary. Five children, six pets, eleven transfers, six duty stations, seven congregations of the Lord's Body, five deployments....and we're not done yet!

And yep, we're still cute! This pic was taken last Sunday after we got home from church in Florida (in front of my parents' new place--my Mom's pride and joy), on our anniversary. You've gotta love the little pouty look on Dani's face! That look says, "Grandma, I'm tired of pictures, enough already!" Oh, and also take note of the fact that all of the kids except Jamie have the signature Harker eyebrows!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where did the last two weeks go?

I can't believe how fast two weeks can fly, but tomorrow we will be flying back to Germany after what has been a positively dizzying visit. I thank God for the opportunity to be able to say goodbye to my grandmother and to do a VERY quick catch-up with the rest of our family, but it all went so fast!

In two weeks' time, Dani has gone from crawling to walking all the time, she's erupted two new teeth (that makes SIX now!), Jamie has broken the family's all-time mosquito bite record and has her little body decorated with almost twenty band-aids, and the three little girls have managed to capture the attention of an entire nursing home! Jon got in about five hours driving time and is THRILLED to have "his" Nova back even if just for a little while. Kelsey has been completely overtaken by the retail bug and is newly re-addicted to shopping. Pete got the Nova registered, cleaned and organized my parents' garage, replaced light bulbs in unreachable places, transplanted plants, and realized how much he missed Lowe's! I have been able to spend precious time with my grandmother, who as I type this is still hanging on despite fears that she wouldn't make it long enough for us to even get home to see her. "Aunt" Jill was able to drive the six hours from Georgia to Florida to see "her" babies and the namesake she's never met, and we had a wonderful day toodling around Tallahassee with her while Pete, Jon, Morgan, and Jamie drove six hours in the other direction to visit his mother and also his father. Pete and I saw our 18th anniversary come and go, with us too caught up in life and the whirlwind that this visit has become to truly celebrate what God has built between us. Life has been exhausting, but it is good.

We're feeling incredibly blessed today. Tired and travel-weary, but blessed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Works for Us--reverse psychology or geometry?

My 'Works-For-Me' trick wouldn't work if we didn't homeschool. In fact, it'd have no purpose whatsoever. However, since we DO homeschool, and we DO have a problem with motivating our teens, devious little brain got to thinking and plotting ways to help them get excited about learning without actually believing they're learning at all!

Here's the background...Jon failed Algebra 2 last year. Kelsey is taking Algebra 2 this year. Jon is repeating it. I never took it, since my junior year ended abruptly two weeks into the Fall quarter. brilliant idea was to take Algebra 2 WITH my kids this year! I told them they could grade Mom's work, help me with problems, and hey, we'll all learn it together. Thankfully we do have a resident math geek in Pete, who is more than willing to be the authority on our "fuzzy" math logic, so there is a voice of reason in the house.
Thing is, I really didn't know if it would work. I was afraid the kids would go nuts holding my feet to the fire and forget that THEY need to do the work too...but lo and behold, our very first day of school, I ran into a speed bump that let me see exactly how well this is going to work! It seems that algebra isn't quite like riding a bike. When you don't use it in 17 years, you forget it. Not just a LITTLE of it, either. You forget MOST of it. I did. I needed a refresher course on negative integers, pi, and all those silly theorems that I detested so much. Guess who stepped up? Nope, not my knight in camouflage armor, but my KIDS! Who knew that Jon actually learned something during that course he failed? Certainly not his transcript...but go figure, he actually walked me and Kelsey through the bumps, and right there in our dining room, we had a little math study group going on! Oh, and a kids learned that you don't have to be an expert to "teach" someone something, you can learn just about anything as long as you can read!

So here we are on Day 3, and whaddaya know, but my little mathletes are working TOGETHER on their algebra...check it out...

And of course, I can't help but toss in a picture of Kelsey, working ever so hard trying to outdo Mom and "beat" me to the answer yet again--

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tackle-It-Tuesday: The Home Management Binder

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

This Tackle actually started a while ago. In fact, I blogged about it two weeks ago. I'm a chronic organizer, but a hopeless noodle when it comes to actually implementing the greatest of plans. I get a wonderful master schedule planned out, and get tired of looking at the starkness of it all. I've gone through probably a dozen Day Planners, and while some of them seem to 'stick' better than others, I just get tired of seeing the boredom all on paper. So I made it my own. Inspired by prayzgod's blog Keeping the Home and her amazing Home Management Binder, I set out to create one for myself, one that I'd not only be proud to call my own, but one that would reflect my own personal tastes instead of the sterile, bland blahness (is that a word?) of other planners I've had.

First things first, I chose a binder I could live with. I didn't go with an incredibly large one, and I wanted one that would be decent to look at as well as sturdy...but I didn't want all those pointy edges that had poked me and gotten me annoyed in the past. So I found a plain, black, snap-front faux-leather three-ring binder hanging around the house, and I claimed it! Pete had used it as his leader's book while he was stationed at Fort Stewart and it still had a fair amount of (eww!) Iraqi sand in it, so it took a good scrubbing to get it nice and shiny, but it works great! The inside cover is perfect for postage stamps, half-size index cards for writing quick phone notes on, my mini-collection of post-it flags, and a magazine for devotional reading. Wanna see? Right now I've got Gospel Advocate's August issue in there, and I'm saving it for the plane trip we'll be taking this weekend. Here's the inside cover:

Adjacent to that is my title page. I decided that I really needed to go all-out on my dividers, to make them "mine". I settled on doing scrapbook-style pages that made me smile when I looked at them and reminded me of WHY I am striving toward organization. Life meets art:

Behind my title page, I have several printouts that I enjoy reading on a daily basis. These serve to keep me grounded. One was copied from Keeping the Home, her "Woman's Rules to Live By", and the other is a handout from church with 20 suggestions for raising your kids for Christ. I also have a copy of the thirteen virtues Benjamin Franklin developed for himself at age 20. Excellent list--it's blogworthy in and of itself, so you may read of that here at a later date!
Next is my calendar/schedule section--here's the cover page. The picture I used to make this layout/cover sheet reminds me so well why it is important to keep our days ordered--so we don't end up run down and worn out. It's also important to schedule time to just rest in the arms of our Heavenly Dani is resting in the arms of her earthly Daddy. The verses at the bottom edges of the picture are Ecclesiastes 3:1 ("To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.") and 1 Corinthians 14:40 ("Let all things be done decently and in order.")

In my calendar section, the first couple of pages are the planning calendars. I got both of these from; she's got a wealth of printouts there for the organizationally-challenged among us, and even for those who are addicted to this stuff! On one side is an 18-month calendar so I can see everything at a glance; the facing page is our school calendar, with August 2007 through July 2008 allon one page! I use the blocks to plan our intentional off-days and to record actual school days. I put the kids' first initials on each day that they have school, so I keep all that attendance stuff limited to one page. Works wonders for this ADD-challenged brain!

Behind this is twelve months of month-on-a-page calendars--the standard stuff--all (like all of my other pages) encased in protective sleeves to make this a jelly-proof (but not quite Jamie-proof) planner!
In that same section, I've got my basic weekly cleaning schedule. There's another copy of this on the refrigerator door--Pete is UBER proud that I've done this, and he's thrilled that he's now able to look and see what needs to be done on any given day and determine whether we've had a successful day schedule-wise. I'm loving all the color! OOH, look, variety!

I still don't have my master daily plan finalized yet; I'm tweeking it as we go along with this first week of school to be sure I have enough time allotted for each activity or too much on another. Sorry, I'm not up for showing works in progress! LOL

The next section is for meals. I foudn it a bit odd that while I was browsing through my stash of pictures to make a scrapbook-style cover page for this section, I wasn't able to find any pictures of Morgan stuffing her face like her brother and sisters, but oh well...Jamie more than made up for the deficit!

In this section, I've got a master shopping list and weekly menu planner (both from and a few recipes I've printed off from hither and yon. I'm eventually going to add some more stuff to this section, but it's another work in progress.

After the meal section comes the title page I really love. It doesn't have much behind it, just a few generic address/phone number sheets and a business card holder, but the cover sheet....I'm loving it. I almost didn't want to use it for a planner--it is just really scrapbook-y!

Then comes the final section--the one for my homeschool planning forms. Inside this, I've transplanted the schedule and dividers for nine weeks from my Sonlight Instructor Guide. I really didn't need to add much more, except I did...I added a sheet for the non-Sonlight subjects. I managed to keep lesson plans for both kids on one sheet. Very much better than the binder full of sheets I got tired of looking at in years past. The cover sheet was FUN to do too. I've been looking for something to use that silly picture of Pete in jammies and pink Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars for eons, and now I've got it! I also used little snips of the bookmarks that Sonlight sent with our books this year.
Overall, I'm really satisfied with how things turned out, and I'm excited to keep adding to it...that's a first for me! Surprisingly, the master grocery list worked really well. I thought it would be a hindrance having a big binder along with me instead of a little sheet of paper, but it was just something to get "used to" instead of a true problem. No biggie. I just need to get a wet erase marker that works. Right now I only have blue!
I really benefitted from all the information I found in the Home Management Binder University. It was great, and was excellent in training my thoughts as well as my organizational skills. This was a GREAT Tackle!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Today I'm just in awe of everything God has done in the little world around me. My daughter is home, SAFE, and the evidence of God's protection is just too great to even begin to enumerate on. So many dangerous situations, yet she is here with us, unscathed and hopefully a little wiser. Ok, hopefully a LOT wiser.

Then there is the fence full of plastic cups in view outside of my dining room window. An odd thought, except those red, white, blue, and yellow cups are arranged to form flags, yellow ribbons, and the words "WELCOME HOME 596th"! This evening, even though our soldier has been home with us the last year, we will stand with the family members we've supported over the last year as their soldiers are welcomed home. It's a surreal feeling. I've been through this five other times with my own soldier, but I've still looked forward to this day for far too long, holding my breath a little in anticipation of seeing that convoy of buses drive up and seeing the sea of camouflage descend on a crowd of tearful family members.

More than 150 soldiers in our company, and not a single combat injury. A teenager home safe and cognizant of what she took for granted. There is MUCH to be thankful for today!

The Daily Snippet today is SO timely: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.(Romans 8:28)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My hero...

See this guy? The cute one behind the computer with all that weirdo camouflage on? He's my hero.

Why, you ask? Well, on a very stressful day, he did something that really eased my mind (about a little thing, but it was just "one of the many") and made my life easier. What'd he do? After hearing how long I'd spent online trying to figure out how to fix my expired Texas drivers' license problem, he spent FIVE minutes piddling and renewed it for me.
I'm speechless.
And I think my computer hates me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

She can't possibly know...

...that I found her "goodbye" letter within half an hour of when she left, and that I laid awake the rest of the night unable to get a single moment's rest because the face on the milk carton now belonged to MY child. much it breaks our hearts to know that she would rather turn to the company of people who aren't the least bit concerned with her soul--only in her temporary happiness. She just can't know how much we want to believe she did this to "get things straight with God", but that her actions SCREAM out that above all else, she just wants her freedom from accountability and rules.
...that she has no fewer than 600 people praying for her return both to her home and to the Lord, but that the prayers offered up by me and her father have not ceased, nor did they begin only when she ran away.
...that no one else on this earth cares more for her future and loves her more than the two she wants the most to get away from.
...that, even though we have the God-given responsibility of doing everything in our power to help her LEARN from her mistakes instead of just acting like they never happened, that we above anyone else would love to move on with a clean slate.
...that our family isn't the same without her.

Kelsey, it's time to come home. Whatever it is, we can (with God's help) work through it. Nothing is too big for God, but the ones you're turning to aren't the help you need. God can't help you when you're choosing to remain in the company of the ones who led you away in the first place. That life has to be left behind--forever. No one else loves you like your father and I do, and no one else is as committed to seeing you through this. No one except God Himself. He is waiting, as are we.
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