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!

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 :)