Harmon's Haven

Meet amazing dad Robbie, mother-in-training Jesika, 7 year old best big sister Bree, 5 year old boy in every way Gabe, 3 year old who thinks he's 10 years old who makes us all laugh McKay,
and 9 month old sweetest Quinn Marie...the Harmon Family!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's a...

BOY!! We are SO excited! Bree of course since she knew I was pregnant has been very vocal about wanting a girl. But Robbie and I always say, "but it could be a boy" and have referred to the baby as he OR she. Last week when we found out Bree didn't have school today, and my appointment was in the morning, Robbie said we should all go together! So we have been talking about it all week long and this morning Bree informed us that she, "would be happy if it was a girl or a boy." And boy was she! It was the cutest when the doctor said, "Well it looks like it's a boy!" Bree started jumping up and down and squeeled with delight. I am so happy that Gabe will have a little brother and that hopefully we can get some more boy stuff around this house :)

And just to report, Bree had a successful soccer game last week! I was amazed actually at how into it I got though...there was this girl on the other team that was really good, super fast and scoring like crazy. Well, Bree is actually really fast (fastest on her team by far) and I was like, C'mon! You are faster than her, go take the ball away! Then I'm like, oh gee mom, she is 3 years old and hardly even has a grasp around the concepts of the game yet! Funny.

Fall is upon us and I am glad becaue most all of my maternity clothes are for winter! We can't wait for Thanksgiving in Provo and just hope there is some snow for Bree and Gabe to play in! We got out the winter hats and gloves today for our morning walk (I know we're in AZ but it was chilly!) and they were SO excited...Gabe wanted to wear his all day :) I'm so grateful for my beautiful children who make me laugh every day. Tonight at dinner Robbie asked them what their favorite boy name was for the baby and Bree said, "Kee" and Gabe said something even more weird. But as we were talking about names I felt my first kicks! Three in a row! It was like, "Hey I know you guys are talking about me!" We can't wait for this sweet baby to join our family!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where does the time go!

Has it really been over a month since I've been on here?! Crazy! It's been a full and fun month here at the Harmon home. Here are a few highlights:
On our way to Provo for Robbie's brother's wedding, we spent a week in St. George! We enjoyed a wonderful General Conference, got to cheer on my brother Taylor in the St. George marathon (Go Tay!) and wanted to watch Sarah's last soccer game...but it got rained out :( we were SO bummed. The kids had a BLAST playing in the play room, on the trampoline, playing with the cat, feeding Sarah's dog Chooky, and Opa Ralph even came down while we were there! It's always a treat to see him since we hardly ever get to. And at 92 we treasure every time! He just LOVES Robbie :) 

Then we went up to Provo where Robbie's brother Tanner married the wonderful Kassi Anderson. They were married in the Mt. Timpanogos temple by her grandfather. Everything turned out beautifully...after a week of rain, many prayers were answered when we had a clear sunny day for the pre-ception, and the day of the wedding was so nice too! We're so happy for Tanner!!
And then we got to spend the week after just playing! (Well, Robbie had to work every day, but could play in the evenings!) The highlight (as always) was the ranch... Gabe absolutely LOVED the horses. He couldn't get enough of feeding them...as you can see almost his entire hand is in the horses mouth, and he would squeel with joy!
He LOVED the four-wheeler, the scooter, and grandpa's truck. Such a boy! And it was so fun watching him. Bree loves it all too, but this was Gabe's first time being old enough to really enjoy the ranch.

Bree loved spending time with her cousins Grace and Summer, her grandparents and aunts and uncles...but for some reason, Uncle Adam just has a special place in her heart. And when he is around she only wants to be with him!
Bree loves being a princess at Grammy's. With so many fun dress ups and girly things, she is in heaven. (So fun...at Grammy's house :)
Gabe was a little bit of a stinker however...if I even left the room he would cry out, "Mommy! Mommy! And start crying if I didn't answer immediately. I don't know if he was afraid I was going to leave him or what, but it sure made it hard, especially since he wanted nothing to do with anyone else :( It comes with the age I guess, and living away...but boy was it hard! He was a little like that in St. George too. So sitting with Grammy to read a book was BIG! Hopefully Thanksgiving will be better!
Halloween was...halloween. We had fun and all, but after a ward party the weekend before, and then Bree's preschool halloween party, I was all halloweened out. I tried for a few days to just let the kids have candy when they asked so that it wouldn't be a big deal...but after six or seven peices and I said that was enough Gabe would lose it. It was like they never have candy or something! Well, ok, so at my house they don't. But they have other sweet things! So Friday all the candy suddenly was "gone" and we were done with Halloween :) On Sunday the kids didn't even know the difference :) But the best part about that weekend was a surprise visit from Grandma Carrie, Grandpa Lon and Sarah! They worked it out with Robbie and got in late Thursday night and he left the from door open and they just slipped in and slept in the guest room which is right by the front door. Friday morning about 6 we went out with the kids for breakfast, the kids were sitting on the bar stools and I went to get the cereal, I came around the corner and screamed when I saw them! It was the BEST surprise ever!! They hadn't been here since we've lived in Arizona and I had so been wanting them to come. And the best part was, Gabe was a completely different grandchild.  He sat on grandpa's lap, went with them places, let them help him...and didn't care about mommy :) It was the best.

I was so excited too because they got to come to Bree's first soccer game! Well, I was excited until we were there. As you can see, the lack of nap that day and all the excitement didn't prove helpful to her soccer skills...yes, my child cried the entire time. We tried everything. Don't you hate when you are the mom that people are feeling bad for!

It was so much fun having them here though. I decided it's totally different having family here than being there. Though just being around family is great, letting them be around the kids when they are in "their" element is ideal :) We can't wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas! More fun in Utah! 

AND...I guess I haven't posted anything about being pregnant yet?! I won't say much, but we're 18 weeks along and we find out next week what we are having! So expect another post soon!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Sweet Little Girl~

I have gotten better at my journal writing lately, and maybe that is why I haven't thought of blogging much. But Bree and I had the sweetest conversation yesterday that I just had to share (and I'll do a real update soon!). I had gotten Gabe up from his nap and we went in to wake up Bree, only to find her sitting down next to the bed by the iHome on my nightstand. I said, "Oh you're already awake!" She said, "Yes, I was just listening to songs." (For the past few days she has asked for music while she does her quiet time (that usually turns into a nap) so I always turn on a playlist of spiritual music. It has several hymns on the piano and then several EFY songs.) The song that was on at the moment was a song that reminded me of a city I served in on my mission in Hungary. I told her about when I first heard that song I was in a city called Gyor. We were trying to teach a family of a father, mother, and their five year old daughter about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While they would let us come over and listen to what we were teaching, they were never willing to go to church or do anything else. It made me so sad that they were missing out on the blessings they would receive from following Jesus, and when I heard this song it gave me hope that maybe someday they would want to listen. Bree thought for a minute and then replied, "Mom, when I am older I am going to go to that city too and that little girl will be bigger and she'll be my friend and I'll teach them about the Gospel. I think they will listen to me." I kind of just looked at her and smiled and said, "Oh that would be so neat Bree. I really hope so." And then she said, "Mom, I think they'll like me better than they liked you." :) "I think so too Bree. I think so too..." Oh I love my sweet little girl.

Monday, August 30, 2010


So as some of you know I participated in and have stayed involved with the Distinguished Young Women program (formerly America’s Junior Miss...it was that thing I won my senior year). Since the city and county in Mobile, AL have had to cut their funding, this very important event for the Gulf Coast area is in jeopardy. This event has an economic impact of more than $2.5 million for the Gulf Coast area each year! This month Pepsi is giving away $250,000 grants to programs in the gulf and we are in the running! All we have to do is get the most votes! We have gone from 10th place earlier in the month to now 4th place!! The voting ends August 31st...so would you please vote? We are two spots away from winning! You must be my friend if you are reading this on my blog :) and I would be especially grateful if you could vote and forward this message to your friends as well (you can count it as my Christmas gift!). Just click: http://gulf.refresheverything.com/distinguishedyw
Be sure to click vote for this idea AFTER you log in for your vote to count.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our first visitors!

We love our new house. Plenty of room for the kids to run, a back yard to play in, and best of all, a guest room! And we had our first guests this month!! First came our dear friend the Lopez family. They lived downstairs in our building back at Baity Hill (grad-school days...oh so long ago :) and I loved Nicole from the second we hung out. She is just an amazing mom and just a real woman. Amazing. We were SO honored to have them in our home! Bree talked about Maddox every day from the time we heard they were coming. We had a blast at the pool, the train park, and just hanging out at the house. It was going to be Nicole's birthday the following week, so one night we got the kids in bed and made home-made Cafe Rio and celebrated early! I had been working on her birthday gift for the previous month and was so grateful she loved it (she made me feel like she loved it so much...it made me feel so good :) especially since it took a lot more work than I thought! (Thank you for the help Heather!) We really had such a great time and are so grateful they took time out of their San Diego vacation to come visit us!! We love you guys!!
THEN, last weekend one of my friends from Dancers' Company at BYU got married (Horray Alisa!). Oh she was such a beautiful bride. So two other friends also from company came down and stayed with me! Lisa and Amy were an instant hit with Bree. Bree had to wear her pink dress to the temple to match Amy, and she wanted Amy to "babysit" instead of me :) These girls are both amazing dancers and amazing women. I loved getting to talk with them and learn from them. We had such a wonderful time and I was blessed to get to spend time with these beautiful women!
So, now our guest room is available for anyone else who wants! (Hint hint family!!) You even get your own bathroom!

4th of July!!

It seems like the 4th of July was ages ago, but I have to do a little recap because it was simply the best week of the year so far! The most special part about it was that my sweet 92 year old Grandpa Ralph was chosen with his three brothers and one brother-in-law to be honored as one of the Freedom Award Recipients. Every year they choose three or four people who have "Demonstrated unusual or extraordinary devotion to the cause of freedom and America’s traditional values" and honor them all through the week. They hold a beautiful awards gala where the recipients get their awards, give a little speech and they show a video recaping the reason they were chosen for the award. We got to go last year and this year too and it has been one of the most inspiring events I have ever attended. Then they get to ride in the parade (he's the one on the left), and they honor them at the Stadium of Fire (he got to meet Carrie Underwood...but after he shook her hand he leaned over to my dad and said, "Who is she?"). He was SO excited about everything, SO cute in his tux, and I was SO proud to be his granddaughter. I was priviledged to help him put his WWII journal into a book (with lots of historical context, maps, etc...) as my Honors Thesis in college so I have spent a lot of time with him talking about his WWII years. I have an amazing grandpa. And Carrie Underwood was amazing by the way. Probably my favorite perfomer! During "Jesus Take the Wheel" she broke out in "How Great Thou Art"... I get chills again just thinking about it. And since my grandpa was being honored we had lots of cousins in town whom I haven't seen forever! We had a breakfast at the park and a big game of baseball. As we were finishing my grandpa came over and said, "Well I want to hit!" Robbie was pitching and was so relieved when grandpa hit it after like 10 swings :) He didn't want to be the grandson-in-law who struck out the 92 year old grandpa!!
Also that weekend we had our first ever Henderson Family Reunion, with just my siblings and parents. We stayed together in a cabin at Sundance and oh how gorgeous. One morning the guys went golfing and us girls went for a run and then did yoga/toning exercises on the patio...it was so fun :) We had a family "talent show" which was hilarious, did family pictures, played games (Ya Big Booty!), and of course had delicious food. My parents put so much time and effort into making it a memorable weekend and boy was it. We all just can't wait to be together again for Thanksgiving when my brother Kurt will be home from serving in Finland! The first time our family will all be together in EIGHT years!! (All of our missions have overlapped!) I love my siblings (and their spouses) so much and can't believe how blessed we are to have eachother! It was truly a wonderful weekend. Thank you mom and dad!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To be that kind of mother...

I just sat on the couch, working on a project for one of my dear friend's birthdays, crying at the movie "National Velvet." I saw that movie as a child and we were looking for movies at the library last week for a family movie night and I grabbed this one along with a few others. The kids haven't seen it yet, but since I didn't remember anything about it I thought it would be nice to have something on since I had to sit down to work on my project anyway. (My sweet angels were napping :) I wasn't crying because Velvet wins (she has a horse and the movie is about her racing) or because it was sad or anything, but I got emotional because I want so badly to be like Velvet's mother! I think after a morning like this one it hit me extra hard (a little more crying and fighting over toys than usual...I lost my patience a couple of times :( unfortunately). In the movie Velvet's mother, Mrs. Brown they call her, speaks in calm tones. Velvet has two sisters and a funny little brother and her mother always seems in control and calmly reacts to whatever was going on. Mr. Brown is a funny character who thinks he knows everything and is against the horse racing. But Mrs. Brown in her calm way makes funny comments that make him laugh and see things the way they should be. She sees what is in her childrens' best interest. Her face is always pleasant, kind and loving. And her relationship with Velvet is so strong, and Velvet even wants to win the race for her mother. Mrs. Brown was once famous for swimming the English Channel and as Velvet is getting ready to enter the race her mother says, "Win or lose it's all the same, it's how you take it that counts. And knowing when to let go. Knowing when it's over and time to go on to the next thing. Things come suitable to the time Velvet. Enjoy each thing then forget it and go on the next. There's a time for everything. A time for having a horse in the Grand National, being in love, having children, yes, even for dying. All in the proper order at the proper time." I feel like she got it. Life that is. She understood that her life was about using her gifts and talents for whatever was in front of her. At this point it was about creating a home with peace and laughter. Thank you Mrs. Brown. When the kids wake up I'm starting over. "Mrs. Brown" is my under cover name :)

And really my next post will be about our awesome 4th of July weekend :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Fun!

Phew! What do you think the number 62 stands for? If you said the amount of hours my children and I have been in the car this past month you are right! Seriously. I think that moving "closer" to family doesn't mean as close as we thought :) But my sweet children have been troopers and we have had some great fun! First trip was to St. George for my 10 year reunion...for anyone who didn't go to theirs (or hasn't had it yet for you younguns) what a BLAST! Maybe we just have the coolest class, but it was seriously so fun! Starting with a 5k, some family fun at the park, and then an evening with a yummy dinner and some funny entertainment (thank you Micah, Shawn, Julie (great stacking!), Chelsa, Abby, Matt, Melissa (awesome tissue pulling!) and many others!).  It was way more fun than I thought it would be and so fun seeing everyone and reminiscing a little. There are so many girls that I wish I could hang out with more (like my beautiful friends in this picture). As we were setting up for the evening event I seriously felt like I was back in high school for a minute. We had an awesome student council and everything turned out great!
The next week my family was supposed to go to Lake Powell...but things weren't coming together for that and so the plans changed to Rexburg, Idaho. (Ya quite the change!) While the extra 16 hours in the car didn't sound enticing, the extra time with family did. So the kids and I went along! This trip made me want to move to Idaho! The weather was cool and beautiful and it was SO fun spending time with some cousins we hadn't seen in a while! It's neat how time can change so many things. My cute cousin who twenty years ago I had nothing in common with (I was 8 and she was 2), is now a wife and mother like I am and we have so much in common! It was so fun talking and catching up with her. I love you Ash! It made me miss all of my other cousins I hardly ever see! We played some fun games (Uncle Ron I never knew you were so good at Big Booty!) and made some fun memories. The new temple there is just beautiful. Bree, Gabe and I went and walked around it one morning and I noticed that my children could sense they were somewhere special. We don't have a temple here real close to our house that my children see very regularly, but when we were in Provo every time we drove passed the temple (Robbie's family lives close to it) Bree would start singing, "I Love To See the Temple" and we would all join in and finish the song. I love the temple.
The next week we did get our Lake Powell trip...with the wonderful Harmon family! Though it was quick, we had such a blast with Robbie's family! Can I just say I LOVE Lake Powell! And Bree and Gabe had a blast! Though the huge lake was a big overwhelming for Bree, after she got used to being in "the biggest swimming pool ever" (thanks Markell)  she loved it. The sand dune was also a big hit. Gabe was the cutest, we climbed to the top and were playing around, when he laid down and Robbie and Tanner starting putting sand on him...he was so funny! He starting closing his eyes and just relaxed like he was going to go to sleep! It was so funny! The kids loved tubing and the Sea-Doo. Gabe actually fell asleep on the Sea-do our last day! Family is just the best and I am SO BLESSED that I married into such an amazing one!
Next post will be about our 4th of July fun!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ode to Trader Joes

So I'm not a big shopper, I don't get excited to shop (maybe because I don't have money?) or think that is the most fun thing I could do with girlfriends...nothing wrong with it, I've just never been into it (and I think my husband is grateful :). BUT... I never knew that a store could make me so happy. This morning was crazy. Gabe is getting over the croup and yesterday I thought he was getting better but then this morning he still wouldn't eat hardly anything (he hasn't for three days!) and if I set him down he would cry (and he's almost 30 lbs!). Then the past week or so Bree has been extremely defiant. Like out of no where our usually happy and obedient child is yelling, "NO!" and "I DON'T WANT TO!" Another testing stage I guess. But today the combination of the two had me pretty stressed out. So I took Bree to preschool at 12 and then I had to go to the DMV. Earlier I had looked up Trader Joe locations and had been bummed that the nearest one was clear across town, at least 30 minutes away. But when I looked up directions to the DMV I noticed that it wasn't too far from Trader Joes and got excited. So Gabe and I did the DMV and then headed to Trader Joes. We pulled into the parking lot and from the moment I saw the shopping carts I was perma-smile. I walked into the produce section... fresh Spinach for $1.99...giant pile of bananas...the whole wheat bread with 5 grams of fiber for $2.50... around the corner for a taster of quinoa cucumber salad, mmmm yum! Gabe do you want some? No, good I'll eat yours too...oh my favorite whole wheat pasta! Three bags, different varieties...and the frozen section with shelves of treats above...just fun to look at...oooo another taster! Organic peanut butter cookies (like two cookies with the peanut butter inside!) so good! Oh Gabe you really don't want it? I'll take it sweet boy...around the corner...my FAVORITE fig cereal bars!! I'll take two boxes of those...oh the cereal how I have missed you! Where else can you get healthy cereal, packed with fiber, for under $2?! NOWHERE! Better get five or six boxes to last us a while...should I go back and get another cookie taster? Ok, no...Go through each aisle again just for fun...ooooo the yellow curry sauce I love! (easiest meal ever...just cut up veggies like you're doing stir-fry, but use this sauce instead, eat it with rice or noodles...delicioso!) then up to check out...Cashier: "Hi, how are you today?" Me: "Oh I am so happy to be at Trader Joes right now!"
I'm not even joking. I think people may have thought I was on something. I was almost skipping down the aisles. The food, glorious, healthy, fresh food that I didn't realize I missed so much. And I think too the familiar feeling...almost like I was back in North Carolina...made it even better. It was like Christmas. It totally made my day. Probably my week. Thank you Trader Joes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Costa Rica Family Visits

Our beautiful Costa Rica trip now seems like a dream...when people ask us how Costa Rica was it's really hard to answer with just one adjective. It was awesome, crazy, harder than we thought, gorgeous, super fun, challenging, stressful, relaxing...probably every adjective you could use, it was! The last month of our time there, April, was filled with LOTS of family fun. Robbie had finished classes and we had some wonderful visitors. It started off with Grandma Carrie, Grandpa Lon and Aunt Sarah. We had a blast!! Robbie drove us all around in a 12 passenger van (cause it was cheaper to rent than a mini van!) and it was hilarious :) We stayed at our place for a few days, showing them the city and the people we love so much. We took them to my favorite place, the Market, and my dad went crazy. So he's been a vegetarian for the past few years (not by choice really, trying to lower his cholesterol) and thinks that the more vegetables at the meal the better. So he wanted to buy everything! I had my favorite vendors that I would go to for certain things and so we went to my tomato guy and my parents were at another stand. They had insisted on buying everything since they were going to be the ones consuming it, but since they were at another stand I thought, Oh I'll just get the tomatoes. Well my dad saw me just as I was paying and he ran over and said to the guy, "No no, I pay. I Papa!" I looked at my tomato guy who speaks no English and just smiled thinking there was no way he would give me my money back and let my dad pay. But he did! He looked at my dad, then at me and shrugged his shoulders as he gave me my money back and took my dad's as if to say, "He's the boss, he's the Papa." Oh it was funny. 
So Grandpa had been telling Bree to save a box because he wanted to make her a "car" when he came...and boy was it a hit! And my mom even brought fun stuff to throw a little graduation party for Robbie :) since he was officially finished with graduate school!!
Then it was up to the Arenal Volcano (a few hours away) for some fun on the zip lines, repelling, hiking and enjoying the cool mountain air. Our hotel was amazing and had a warm pool perfect for the kids. It was so fun being all together in a big suite, so there was a room for my parents and sister, then a room for us. But for some reason Bree wet the bed THREE TIMES in two nights! Oh boy. Too much fun = too tired. It made for some fun nights :) But it was still awesome and the flowers and foliage there was amazing! Then we drove down to Manuel Antonio, famous for beautiful beaches and lots of wildlife viewing! We thought we had booked a great hotel, but got there and it was an "intimate adult hotel" ...what?! They didn't allow children and though they were going to make an exception it just felt dark and not like a place we wanted to stay. So at 9:00 PM we went looking for another hotel and found the lovely little "Hotel Mandarin" - a super cute hotel that ended up being great! We had an awesome time boogie boarding, swimming and playing at the beach. Then we went through the national park to see some wild life...but didn't see anything! Except for one monkey that started eating out of the diaper bag when we were in the water, but that was it! My poor mom wanted to see monkeys so badly and even waited at a spot for an hour where they said monkeys would come...but nothing! And then we went back to our hotel and saw four cute little monkeys in the trees above us :) It was such a blast and we were sad when my family had to leave, but were SO grateful they could even come!
 But we couldn't be sad for long because that SAME afternoon, my sister Lizzy came! (They literally missed each other by a couple hours!) Oh the joys of sisterhood! I am so blessed to have the sisters I do. And was oh so excited for Lizzy to come for a whole week!! (THANK YOU DAVE!!) It was like Christmas. We had a blast. And one thing's for sure...Bree ADORES her Aunt Lizzy. 
We had a ton of fun: went to the Market (of course...and Lizzy loved it as much as I do :), got to go on a river rafting trip just the two of us (such great talking time!!), went to church (Bree wanted Lizzy to go to her class with her...and Lizzy doesn't speak a lick of Spanish, except for counting to 10. When I went in to check on them Lizzy had them all playing this hiding game where she counts to 10 and they hide :) They would have never known she doesn't speak their language! Yup, that's my sister.), went to the pool (a welcomed activity when she was coming from cold Connecticut!), tried to take some family pictures (Gabe wanted nothing to do with it all!)  
went to a fair that was in town (Bree was so excited about this ride she's pointing to. But by the second time around she wasn't quite as thrilled! :).
And we went down to Manuel Antonio for a couple days and had a blast on the beach (Lizzy was a HIT with the vendors...one of the vendor guys said she looks like a model and another guy even said that if he wasn't gay she would be his woman! And when we went back with my in-laws the week after three guys asked me where my "twin" was!). We even got to go running together on the beach (I love exercising with my sister!). Overall it was just amazing having her all to ourselves for a whole week. THANK YOU my dear sister! And thank you Robbie for doing extra daddy duty so I could have more time with my sis :)   
Then again, we couldn't be sad for too long because though Lizzy left in the morning, Robbie's parents, as well as his brother Adam and his wife Sami came that night! The fun just didn't stop! We all stayed for four days down at Los Suenos, a resort only an hour away from where we lived. Oh it was gorgeous! Grandpa Mark LOVES boats, and so he was in heaven since we were right by a marina with huge yachts to look at. 
We had fun swimming, playing at the beach, kayaking, looking at fun lizards, going to Manuel Antonio (yes our third time...but this time we saw TONS of monkeys, sloths, and iguanas!), and just enjoying Robbie's wonderful family. Bree absolutely LOVED Aunt Sami and Uncle Adam. 
Oh and Bree loved flying a kite for the first time. Yes, this is Robbie and I trying to get it out of the tree it was stuck in :) And Gabe just loved all the attention. We were so blessed to have so much family come and visit. And honestly we wouldn't have gotten to see so much of that beautiful country had our families not come! What a fun time!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Beautiful Mother

This morning I feel particularly grateful for the many ways Jesika exemplifies true womanhood and motherhood. She is patient, kind at her very core, always finding ways to nourish others physically and spiritually, deliberate in the way she teaches, and in all of this...truly loving others and helping them FEEL her love! I am a blessed man to have her by my side...to face the challenges of life...and to be my eternal companion. Bree and Gabe are blessed beyond measure to have her influencing and shaping who they will become. She embodies and exemplifies the very essence of womanhood and motherhood! She has and is making the world a better place...one person at a time!

Happy Mother's Day Jesika!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

God is so good...

So tonight as I was sitting on my couch, alone on our anniversary, trying to plan meals for the week my dad calls. My mother's surprise 50th birthday party that I helped plan was a success! Horray! But, we had failed to invite a couple that have been dear friends for years. My dad hadn't been real involved in the planning since his life is so busy, and I had tried so hard to think of everyone I could to invite and had given him the list, but he hadn't had time to really look over it. And they were forgotten. I felt awful. Then I tried to continue my meal planning for the week and was getting really excited because I could actually cook (unlike in Costa Rica where my supplies were limited), until I remembered that I didn't have any kitchen stuff to cook with (no bread pans, cookie sheets, 9x13, etc...) cause all our stuff is still in storage. Then all the feelings of wanting to find a house soon so that we can finally be permanent and have our own place came flooding in. I really started feeling down. I needed to call someone...but because of the time difference it was too late. I felt so alone. Then I remembered an email my husband sent to me earlier with this video clipI just bawled. I thought back to my beautiful children earlier today laughing as they played in our rock and cactus backyard, scooping up those rocks as if they were sand. The amazing bouquet of flowers my husband sent me for our anniversary. Bree running to answer my phone when she heard it was "daddy's song" and telling him everything we did today and me having to beg her to give me the phone. Gabe saying, "Mom" every time you say, "Gabe say Dad." Bree being so excited about learning to ride her bike and the look on her face when she realized she could do the brakes....go, brake, smile, go, brake, smile... Gabe wanting to do EVERYTHING that Bree does, even when he wants on a turn on her bike he won't go unless he has on the flower helmet. Looking forward to seeing my husband after four days (way too long if you ask me!). But if life was always sweet and easy would I feel like I needed God? Elder Holland's comment from at the end of the clip, in "suffering we may in fact be nearer to God than we have been in our entire lives..." hit me so hard. My suffering is nothing compared to so many. Especially that sweet woman in the video clip. BUT, the stresses and trials of life do help me see the bigger picture, what life is really about. And if I'm learning what I am supposed to be learning, and becoming who God knows I can become, then through my trials I will grow closer to my Savior and my Father in Heaven. My new scripture for the month: "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." (Doctrine and Covenants 88:84) Thank you Stephanie Nielson for reminding me.    

And don't worry. I will do a good update with pictures soon :) 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Costa Rican Adventure

So my wonderful husband has officially finished school!! CONGRATULATIONS MY LOVE!! Oh such a happy thing! He has worked SO hard and been so amazing through it all. Boy are we glad to be done! So to celebrate I decided to throw him a surprise graduation party :) It was way harder than I thought keeping it a secret...but it was so worth it cause he was totally surprised! I spent all week getting things ready and then hiding thing at my friend's house and in the cabinets (which I had to tie closed so Gabe wouldn't get into stuff...but praying Robbie wouldn't notice!). One night I got up after we had gone to bed so that I could work on a little presentation "Top Ten Things Robbie Has Learned in Graduate School" (we usually always go to bed together) and fortunately Robbie was so tired that he didn't notice! So by Friday morning plans were going well. I just had to work on the food all day. The menu included: home-made bread and a veggie/meat marinara sauce (Robbie's favorite thing!), chicken cheese dip and tortilla chips (made by my friend Gretchen), fresh pineapple and cantelope, grilled zuchinni, a veggie tray, and brownie sundays. By mid-day I was feeling good, the kids were napping, the bread was baked and cooling (like six loaves!), the fruit was cut (and in my friend's fridge), the veggies and meat were browning for the sauce, the zuchinni and veggies were cut, and the balloons were blown up and stored in my closet (which was Gabe proofed like the cupboards). But before I could feel too happy Bree woke up crying. She had only been asleep for about a 1/2 hour and so I ran to take her to the bathroom (which is usually why she wakes up crying). She had been complaining about a stomach ache before lunch, but I was convinced that she was just hungry since she hadn't had a good mid-morning snack, so of course I made her eat most of her lunch. Bad move mom. She didn't go at all on the toilet, but had some gas so I thought, oh she must be having gas pains! (I get those all the time, eat a few prunes and they go right away...sorry, too much information!) So I took her out on the hammock (ah, the joys of Costa Rica) to calm her down and tried to get her to eat a couple of prunes, saying the whole time that it would help her tummy feel better. Little did I know that her little stomach was about to revolt. Yes, all over me, all over her and the hammock. I knew this day was going too well :) But I had a sweet feeling that everything was going to be ok...my preparation were pretty much done, and Gabe was sleeping so we could clean this up much more easily. We changed, bathed, and I set her up on the couch with a movie. I wish I could say that was all the throw-up fun we had, but no, she threw up FOUR MORE times over the course of the next three hours. Poor thing. I thought about cancelling the party, but a couple friends whom I consulted (one of whom is a nurse) said that if she doesn't have a fever (which she didn't) and is feeling a little better than we should still do it. The hard part was convincing Robbie that we should still "go on our date" even with Bree so sick. I had told him that I was planning a surprise date and that our neighbor who was babysitting was ok with Bree being sick. He was reluctant, but agreed to go. (He told me after that he thought it was so weird we were going, but because I had planned it he decided to go. Really though, if our daughter was throwing up of course we wouldn't leave! But, glad he didn't ruin it :) So he went up to a friends house who was "going to let us borrow his car for our date" and everyone came over and then SURPRISE! Well, he was surprised until he walked up to the house and the curtains were closed and the lights were out. So he really opened the door and said "Surprise!" to us - stinker. But it was a blast! And I was just so happy it all worked out!! (And then of course Gabe woke up two nights later throwing up, I had it the next day. And Robbie had it the day after that. Oh man. It was awful.) But we were grateful to get it over with before our month of visitors! More on that later!!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mi Amor

I just saw this most recent post from Jesika. In response, I just want to say that the fact she sees the good in me (and sometimes needs a microscope to find it) is a testament to her Christlike character. She always overlooks faults and helps bring out the good. She always examines her own life for solutions to problems rather than pointing fingers and waiting for others to change. Just as Christ saw powerful leaders in humble fishermen, Jesika sees people not alone for what they are, but for what they have the potential to become. I am so grateful she is mine...and so grateful she helps me become a better me every day!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Wonderful Valentine

Robbie Harmon,

I can't believe you're mine!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The cake of death

(Ok. When we first got here Robbie told me about the "culture shock chart"...basically that when you get to a new country there is the initial high and excitement, then things start to get hard and you get down for a little bit, but then you get used to things and start to climb up. Well, I thought that once you were going up you were going up for good...I didn't know that it was like a roller coaster! No seriously though, though I took a little plunge down again, I'm heading up for good now :)
So rewind to Bree's birthday weekend, the 23rd of January. Here's how it went. The week of her birthday we made cute invitations and took them to all our friends and neighbors (like six families). I was so excited to throw a fun party and show everyone that even though I can't speak Spanish I can throw a good party! (I know, I know, wrong intentions from the beginning...) Friday night before her birthday I was up super late baking two cakes and making these super cute balloon flowers (Martha Stewart.com) to hang up outside above where the tables were going to be set up. The next morning I went with a friend to the market (my favorite place with rows and rows of fresh fruits and vegetables! Like a farmers market times 20!), then came home to decorate the cakes and get stuff set up. While I was gone my sweet husband hung up the balloon flowers and was setting out the tables and chairs. Gabe was napping and Bree was out playing so I had plenty of time for the cakes. I had done a chocolate cake that I was going to turn out of the 9x13 pan onto tinfoil covered cardboard and put some yummy chocolate frosting on, then I had made some pink cake (per Bree's request) and done heart cut outs that I was going to place in a circle on top of the chocolate cake to look like a flower. So cute. Well, as I started trying to get out the chocolate cake I noticed it was stuck a tad bit on the bottom...no problem, grab another spatula and call for Robbie. He comes in to help and says, "Why don't you just leave it in the pan?" Well, I would, but then it wouldn't be as cute to present while we sing Happy Birthday. (Yet again, wrong intentions!) So he tells me he'll try and get it out and then if it doesn't work I can blame him :) Yes I have the sweetest husband. As you may already have guessed it didn't work so well. The sides and top were pretty crumbly once it was out (because it was so moist of course :), but I thought, no big deal, it will cover with frosting! I start spreading the frosting...and it took the cake right along with it. Awesome. Ok, it's ok. Plan B. I'll make cake balls! Robbie was like, cake balls? What the heck? My friend made these super yummy little cake balls that if I remember correctly were just made from mixing the cake with frosting! So I turn the cake into a big bowl and start to stir... but it doesn't seem like enough frosting. So I add almost another whole entire tub of frosting and continue mixing. Still feeling optimistic. But as I mix I start noticing that it's pretty moist. Um, WAY too moist. I grab some with my hands to roll into balls and... it's a sticky mess that won't even form into balls. At this point Robbie came in and told me that the balloons he had so sweetly put up three hours before the party were now popping and shriviling from the heat. He looked at my "cake" and said, "Do you want me to run ("run" in this case means find someone to take him or get a taxi since we don't have a car) and buy a cake?" BUY a cake?! I don't buy cakes. I make cakes! Forgetting about the ballons I say, "it's ok, I'll just go to Plan C." I turn to the pink hearts and start arranging them on the tinfoil covered cardboard. Ya, it's going to be cute and may still be enough for all the people we invited if we serve it with a lot of icecream. I had put them into the fridge overnight so they would be easier to frost... or so I thought. The sides weren't frosting very well, so I had the great idea of putting lots of frosting on top and then letting it ooze down the sides to cover them. While the sides were oozing I had another great idea to stack three hearts at the center (I know, what was I thinking?!), then put tons of frosting on top so it would ooze all the way down. But did it ooze, no. It plopped right down to the bottom on top of the other hearts. At this point panic set in. I looked at my disaster, then at the clock (11:25), then remembered the balloons, and almost started crying. I hadn't even gotten ready. Bree was a mess from playing outside. Gabe was up and had been outside with Robbie but was needing attention. At that moment a friend from church called. "Jesika, I'm at stopping at the store on the way to the party, do you need anything?" Yes. Please. I need a cake.
She brought a beautiful pink cake with, "Happy Birthday Bree" written on it. Bree loved it. A little miracle... one that I didn't really deserve.
Go ahead and laugh. When I talked to my sister the next day I was bawling and laughing at the same time. Do you ever look back and wonder how you were so dumb? But what is crazy, is that as I was writing about this experience did I come to some realizations about myself. It wasn't about making an awesome cake and cool decorations for my sweet daughter, it was that I was trying to prove something, to impress people... PRIDE! So lame that I haven't seen this until now! Crazy how the Lord always helps you when you ask him. Like when you pray for patience he gives you experiences to learn and practice your patience and then you wonder why you even asked for help :) Well this year my theme is "It's not about me." (Every year I always try and set goals around a bigger goal that I am working towards, kind of a theme for the year.) So it took me until now to realize that Heavenly Father is giving me all these challenging experiences here in Costa Rica to help me see that it really isn't about me!! I've got to get rid of my lame pride and really truly focus on what is most important. I listened to a great BYU devotional talk yesterday by Kim B. Clark called, "Are Ye Stripped of Pride" which led me to want to re-read President Benson's talk "Beware of Pride" today. I have read this talk several times, but SO many things are popping out in new ways. I LOVE that as you have different experiences in life the scriptures are opened anew. I've just got to remember what is most important and keep my priorities straight, and then everything works out :) Since "the birthday party" things have been SO great and I am so grateful for a Father in Heaven who guides us and teaches us if we only let him!
But seriously, what was I thinking with that cake!

Friday, February 5, 2010

My little man

My baby is no longer a little baby! Gabe turned 1 on January 26th; two parties in one week, that's how we roll at the Harmon home :) We just had a little family party and I'm pretty sure Bree enjoyed it more than anyone. She was so excited to "help" Gabe open his presents and was so sweet as she would open it up and exclaim, "Look what you got Gabe!" even though she helped wrap them and knew what they were :) He is such a sweet boy and I am loving seeing the differences between him and Bree.

Things Gabe is doing at 1 year old:
-He LOVES to cuddle and wrestle. The hardest part about having tile here is that we can't just get on the floor at wrestle! (We have to be on the bed where I am worried the whole time about someone falling off!) Seriously, it is so cute, if you are even sitting on the floor he comes over and throws his head on your chest and begs to be tickled :)
-He can do the signs for: food, water, milk, dog, bird, cereal, more, all done, and please. And he knows these words in Spanish because when I say them in Spanish he does the sign!
-There isn't anything he gets more excited about than going outside. And he is so sweet and patient when you are putting on his socks and shoes because he knows that it means he gets to go out!
-He has some strong vocal chords...and tends to raise his voice higher than ears need to hear when he wants or doesn't want something...which we are working on!
-He is such a good eater...as if you can't tell :) But he especially loves veggies. Funny though, when I give him a bowl of mixed veggies he is all about ones that Bree didn't like much at his age...carrots and beans are his favorite, when Bree was all about the peas and corn?! He LOVES frozen blueberries and has already tasted way more sweets than Bree at his age :(
-He LOVES animals.
-He always wants to be doing what Bree is doing. The other day he figured out how to pull himself up on the bed so that he could jump with her. (Tile floors and a 1 year old up on the bed, a mom's worst nightmare right!)
He is such a sweet boy, full of love for everyone! I love being Gabe's mama!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

3 years old!

On Saturday, January 23rd, my sweet Bree turned 3 years old! The whole two weeks previous she was soooooo excited....every morning she would ask, "Is today my birthday?" After saying no several days in a row we made a countdown chain. Then every morning she couldn't wait to cut off a link! Saturday morning she woke up at 5:45! It was like Christmas :) Daddy made a special birthday breakfast and then she opening the presents from us. Gabe "gave her" a new dress, which was her favorite gift :) Then we had a party at 11:30 with many neighbors and friends (the details of getting ready for the party will be another post...lets just say it was another memory that was depressing at the time, but can be laughed about now!). We grilled hotdogs and had watermelon (Robbie was SOOOO excited for the hotdogs :) and a veggie tray, and of course cake and icecream. Two neighbors let us use their little pools which we had set up for the kids which they had a blast with. Then Bree opened fun gifts (oh people were so nice!) and we finished off the fiesta with a pinata! All the kids loved it and Bree had such a wonderful time. She is such a sweet sweet girl and I am so blessed to be her mother!

Things Bree is doing at 3:
-She always wants to help me make dinner...and is getting better at pouring the measuring cup into the bowl without spilling :)
-She loves to draw, color, and read together.
-She speaks so well. But now the fun part is all of the Spanish she is picking up on. Not only is she saying the things I say in Spanish has also started saying things that the other kids and parents say, like "come here" and "watch me"...! It's SO cute and I hope when we get to Arizona we can both just keep learning. I would love if she could do a Spanish/English pre-school!
-She can recognize all of her letters and write many of them, including her name (even though she writes it BrEE with a lower case r...it's just so much easier :)
-She loves to sing and dance and has recently started doing "performances" for us (and grandparents via skype) on the coffee table...this includes a song and dancing.
-She can pump herself on the swings and loves it.
-She is really sweet with Gabe and is so willing to help him when he needs. When he is crying or I am changing a diaper and he doesn't like it she will run over with a toy and say, "Here you go Gabe!" And, since she has gotten really into sticks, after finding herself a big one she always finds one for him to (I'm not so thrilled about that as Gabe is :) He loves it!).
-Her new thing is coming into a room and asking, "Are you ok guys?" When we respond yes she says, "ok" and goes with whatever she was doing :)
-She is learning how to earn money and save it to buy something at the store.
-She has been successfully sleeping without a diaper at nap time and has gone almost two weeks at night without a diaper too! (With only one accident!)

I am SO happy to be a mother of sweet 3 year old Bree!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

All we needed was a little whip cream :)

We realized last week that we were deprived of sugar. I had bought some whipping cream for Bree's birthday party, but last week Robbie opened it and exclaimed he needed it now! I looked over and he was doing this! Bree got right in line and loved it :) We really haven't had many sweets since we got here...but thank heavens for Bree having a birthday and packages from Grandmas! So we have successfully made it through two weeks without daddy! He's back in school and though he is SO ready to be finished, he is enjoying his classes. I'm not going to say that being without a car, not knowing the language, and not knowing the area hasn't presented any challenges...but, we have had some fun! Some happenings from these two weeks:

~Gabe is walking!
Seriously, he hadn't taken more than two steps by himself and then suddenly last Wednesday night he just walked across the room! It's so cute watching him!
~Bree is the lone girl in the neighborhood with her new friends Ricardo (who is 5) and Andres (who is almost 4).
It has been weird realizing that my little girl is getting big enough to just "go play" at her friend's house! But I will admit it is wonderful if it's during Gabe's morning nap and I have a little time to myself! Cute Ricardo just comes over all the time. In the morning, afternoon, and often right when we are eating dinner (he usually ends up eating some of what we are eating even if he's already had dinner :) I realized that perhaps my best Spanish practice is with him, because he doesn't care how I speak! And if he understands I feel so good!
~Gabe had his first hair cut (Robbie did a good job, I was just sad to see his curls go. :( It makes him look too old!


~Fun with boxes and chairs and making forts with dad (who needs toys!).

~Craft projects (when Gabe is sleeping).

~A trip with our friends Diana and Vivi to INBOparque (we knew Diana from UNC where her husband did his MBA!) This was a kind of a zoo/playground/petting farm type of place. There were tons of neat plants with HUGE leaves, big iguanas, a sloth, turtles...but the best part was the butterfly room! It wasn't really a room, but an outside area that had netting on the top and sides with butterflies flying all around! I couldn't believe how much I loved it! Bright beautiful flowers and bright beautiful butterflies surrounding me...I felt like I was in a room in heaven or something! It was such an interesting, wonderful feeling. I hope there really is a butterfly room in heaven! But the best part was, I saw this amazing blue butterfly on the fence and I sat there for five minutes trying to get a good picture of it but every time it would open it would shut it's wings before I could get a picture.
Next thing I know one landed on Gabe's shoulder!
He didn't notice, but the girls were laughing and Bree was trying to tell Gabe to look. It stayed there for a long time actually, then Gabe turned his head and the butterfly brushed his cheek and gave him a real butterfly kiss! He turned again trying to reach for it and then he grabbed it! He had it in his hand and I was thinking, "OH NO HE'S GOING TO CRUSH IT!!" But then he suddenly let go. Oh I was so grateful :) They also had goats and sheep and rabbits...but it wasn't like in America where you look from outside the pen, here you just walk right in and they are all around you! Bree and Gabe loved it :)
When we were leaving Gabe was so cute pointing to the animals, when a goat poked his head out. I thought 'oh so cute I'll take a picture'...right as I did it nipped Gabe's finger!! Seriously! It wasn't bad or anything, but definitely scared Gabe! The kids had a blast and were exhausted on the way home :) Poor Vivi didn't have the most comfortable ride home :)
~And of course, the week couldn't end without another Costa Rica accident! Last Friday I had my first Spanish lesson. Our first Sunday here a lady in our ward told me her sister was a Spanish teacher for English speakers and offered to watch Bree and Gabe while I had lessons. Great! So we met at Olga's house (the teacher) and Bree was so excited because she had two hammocks (everyone here has a hammock and Bree loves them!). I left Bree and Gabe out there with Lillianna (the lady from my ward) and her 10 year old daughter (who Gabe loves) and went in fr my lesson. It couldn't have been ten minutes when I heard a scream. I ran out there to find Bree flat on the ground...with blood all over her mouth.
Fortunately this time I didn't start crying :) but once Gabe saw that his sister was crying and I was holding her of course he started crying. Oh boy. They distracted him while I cleaned Bree up a bit but she was hysterical so I just needed to get them home. I explain to Bree that Gabe is too little to understand that I can't hold him so she needs to be tough while we get in the car and they take us home. She was so good as we walked out and Gabe of course sees us and starts crying and wants me, I grab him and we gather our things and they take us home...the whole time apologizing and making sure we have medicine. They were so sweet. Once we got home we could see that her teeth punctured her lip. We debated taking her in to to get stitches, but after Robbie gave her a blessing we felt good about it healing on it's own.
Which was a huge blessing because taking her to the hospital here would have been quite the experience, and I'm sure would have traumatized her even more! Wow. I am grateful this time I was calm and collected...but gee whiz what is it with me going out with the kids and Costa Ricans?! Poor Bree. Her lip was HUGE the next morning, above her eye was scrapped up and bruised, and her head too. Then on Saturday Gabe fell outside and got a good bruise on his head! I'm sure these aren't the last of the accidents my children will have...but I pray that accidents won't continue to be a part of our outings with Costa Ricans! It did make her feel better though to come home to hugs from daddy and a little whipped cream :) Pura Vida!