Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas

Hello again, I figured with Christmas vastly approaching there was no better time to give an update on this poor neglected blog.  Time continues to fly in the Harper household; hard to believe that it has been almost 3 1/2 months since we moved to Atlanta.  We continue to inhabit the basement of my dad's house trying to help out with Chase and keep up with Eli (which turns out to be a full time job itself).  Mark is now working with Nabisco as a warehouse manager in Norcross, GA and I am working as a safety engineer for the Center of Disease Control in Chamblee, GA (near Atlanta).  We are both enjoying our jobs and still cannot believe how much we have been blessed.  It was less than a year ago that we sat in our kitchen in Warner Robins, GA thinking that it would be nearly impossible to coordinate a move to Atlanta without significantly decreasing our income or one of us becoming unemployed.  Little did we know at that time that God would lead the way and that all we had to do was take a little leap of faith...the best decision we have ever made after having Eli. 

And speaking of Eli, our little monster is now 18 months old and has decided that he wants to be completely independent (most of the time).  He tops the growth charts for his age and seems to have endless energy.  He is 30lbs of total destruction running around the house, but also the sweetest boy.  When caught in one of his cuddly moods, he will attack my face with his tiny hands as he pulls me into his face to cover my lips, nose and cheeks with kisses.  His vocabulary is growing everyday and he can repeat any word or small phrase you say to him (which means we all have to watch what we say now).  I still need to record his "I love you" phrase which sounds more like "ah owe you" melts my heart every time.

For Thanksgiving, I had Stacey come take some pictures of us after a short lesson on how to use my camera.  It is not very often that I get to be out in front of the camera lens so I was happy to finally get some pictures of all 3 of us.  What I hoped for was to get some sweet pictures of us together, but Eli had other plans.  He did not want to be held, have his hand held or stand still next to us and smiling for the camera was out of the question.  Stacey was able to capture a few sweet moments but the photo that represents our daily interaction the most is below. ;-)

I was trying to fix his shirt and have him stand next to me for a quick picture but as you can see he was having nothing of it.  I think I actually like this picture simply because it displays exactly what I grasping at straws to keep him little and in my arms and his desire to explore the world by himself.  I keep thinking that this is a stage he is going through but I have a feeling that this will probably be how I feel for the rest of my life....growing up WAY too fast! 

Merry Christmas from the Harper family (Mark, Crystal, Eli, Toby the dog and Saydee the kitty too)! 

One of the pictures that ended up in the x-mas card
One of my favorites, he was putting leaves on top of his head.
This picture makes me think of Godzilla stomping around the country side "Monster Baby"!
This is the full version of our x-mas card picture (we had to crop it down to fit in the card)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Controlling Your Happiness

It is now Friday of what I have been referring to as "The Worst Week Ever" here recently.  You know those times in life where a string of unfortunate events keep piling up?  It started with Eli getting some of the worst diaper rash he has ever had on Sunday night.  Then on Monday, I lost my keys at work and ended up stranded there for an additional 2.5 hours until Mark could make it back down to pick me up.  I have racked my brain and torn apart my office for 2 days and the keys have yet to show up.  My latest theory is that while on the phone with my grandmother during lunch, I accidentally threw them away.  Even better, we didn't have a spare set.  So after 2 consecutive days of leaving my van in the parking deck at work, we can now say that we own 2 brand new keys to our van.  xXsighXx

To make matters worse, our house in Warner Robins' (which has been under contract for almost a month) appraisal came back under the negotiated sale price.  UGH!  Thankfully, it wasn't much under the contract amount so we were able to renegotiate and continue with the closing process.  It was just one more shattered piece of my week.  Then there were the small things such as my computer crashing at work, not being able to workout since I was doing after work activities such as getting the van re-keyed, going to an early morning meeting at the other campus for work just to find out that it was actually scheduled for Monday (not Thursday) and then letting the stresses of all of these situations effect my relationship with Mark in small explosions.  I know, I know the last item mentioned is so completely out of character of me since I am so well composed and even-tempered (wink wink).

I was culling over the events of the week while sitting in a training course for work, determined that I had to have done something to deserve the crap I faced.  It was there that the instructor of the class (a 76 year old man whose eldest daughter had died of cancer, one of his 19 grandchildren never made it past infancy due to SIDS, and his investments had been lost during 9/11 because his investment company was located in one the twin towers and had no backups) got off on a tangent from the course material and stated,

 "An individual is only as happy as he lets himself be." 

This man who had endured much tragedy in his life still felt in control of his own happiness.   It was in that one sentence that I realized I was contributing to my own demise. 

Since the realization that I was the main contributing factor for my "worst week ever", I started thinking about how many of us get so wrapped up in the minor little details of life that we forget how precious life is and how blessed we really are.  Have you ever had a "friend" on facebook continually update his/her status to tell you and the rest of the world about the latest crappy thing that has happened to them?  I mean a status here and there out of frustrantion is ok (hence my earlier status update on facebook:

"Somehow managed to lose my keys while at work leaving me stranded is bad enough I have been ready to go home all day and now I get to be here another 2 hours!")

but the daily negative references are so miserable to read!  I have deleted a couple of "friends" due to this condition.  Reading their negative statuses made me feel negative as well.  Those are the type of people my instructor was talking about...the ones that will never allow themselves to be happy.  If they aren't worrying about one thing, they are worrying about another.  They blame others around them for making their lives so miserable but what it really boils down to is that they control how everything effects them.  I was becoming one of those people!  Taking a step back from my "worst week ever", I realize that while it may have been a series of unfortunate events; it wasn't my worst week ever. 

It is about to be the weekend and after all I have been through I still have my little family in my corner including a little boy that forgets as quickly as they come about, any of the negative things that happen to him (like not being able to ride the dog or color on the walls).  My life is not perfect and I wish more than anything that my mom was still here, but I am still blessed. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Mom Memories"

So I found a little treasure today while cleaning out the office at my parents' house.  As most, if not all, of you know my mom passed away on December 23rd last year from brain cancer.  What I have learned since then (after cleaning out rooms, closets, etc. trying to make room for Eli, Mark and I to move in temporarily) is that my mother did not throw away ANYTHING!!!  I have never before seen so much stuff.  It has been fun finding little pieces of her scattered throughout the house.  There is not a thing in the house that mother has not put her personal touch on.

Anyways, back to my "little treasure" I found.  While cleaning out the desk in the office I found a note pad with 3 pages of numbered memories in my mother's handwriting.  The title at the top of the list is "Mom Memories" obviously referring to my Grandma Taylor.  When I asked my dad if he knew what the list was from or when she wrote it, he said that he had never seen it before.  Since we were never able to get my mom to write anything down after she was diagnosed (that ability was affected by the tumor) we are pretty confident that these were written some time before her diagnosis but probably not too much before because they were found in the desk that my dad had made only a few years prior. Some of these memories I have never heard before, but I am sure my mom's side of the family will enjoy reminiscing with my mother.  One thing is abundantly clear, my mother learned how to be a wonderful mother because of HER wonderful mother!  Love you Grandma!  Enjoy!

Mom Memories

1.) I remember standing in the bathroom while you put my hair in a ponytail & wrapping my hair around a wire "bun".
2.) I remember walking outside buck naked complaining my bath water was too hot.
3.) I remember playing with Snoopy when I had chicken pox.  Then Snoopy ended up with chicken pox.
4.) I remember bringing in a bunch of "cute" white worms in the house to show you and they ended up being magets.
5.) I remember you getting me all dressed up to go to a country music show on vacation and falling in the pool.
6.) I remember Carol cutting her eye open while in Branson.
7.) I remember if we knocked you off your raft in the pool on vacation we would be in "BIG" trouble.
8.) I remember sneaking olives down to the playroom in the basement.
9.) I remember watching you take laundry out of the freezer and ironing it.
10.) I remember you humming loudly when I would ask to do something and you said No.
11.) I remember being a flower girl in Aunt Bonnie's wedding & not dropping very many petals.  I just dumped my whole basket when I reached the front of the church.
12.) I remember when Tonja and I would have matching Easter dresses.
13.) I remember having a little purse covered in plastic with a flower and bee inside.
14.) I remember your face when I was crowned Homecoming Queen.
15.) I remember Tommy telling dad that the wheel on the back of the van was going round and round.
16.) I remember staying at Mrs. Chambers house.
17.) I remember visiting Grandpa and Grandma Peterson's house.
18.) I remember spending summers with Grandma and Grandpa Shoffner.
19.) I remember dressing Grandma and Grandpa Shoffner's barn cats in doll clothes & pushing them around in a carriage.
20.) I remember riding on the tractor with Grandpa Shoffner.
21.) I remember fishing with Grandpa Shoffner in the "strip pits".  We usually had to sneak in.
22.) I remember playing on Grandpa's school bus with Tonja and Teresa.
23.) I remember riding with Grandma when she pretended to be running out of gas.
24.) I remember putting on Christmas shows with Tonja and Teresa.
25.) I remember an Easter bunny cake Grandma made covered with cocunut.
26.) I remember going to cheer leading camp & coming home to a "brand new" bedroom.
27.) I remember sitting on a tall stool and counting "red-wigglers".
28.) I remember freaking out my class when I brought a two-headed worm to school.
29.) I remember getting bucked off "Sugar" and her stepping on my back.
30.) I remember helping you and grandma make plaster plaques with images from cards. 
31.) I remember watching you getting Grandma so tickled she would wet her pants.
32.) I remember when you used to use me when you had to go to the bathroom while shopping.
33.) I remember how beautiful you looked on my wedding day.
34.) I remember feeding giraffes marshmallows at the zoo.
35.) I remember spending our summers on the farm.
36.) I remember when a pig peed in Randy's boot.  Also, when Sugar stole his handkerchief out of his back pocket.
37.) I remember how you were always a mother to all of my friends.  They really appreciated it.  I was proud.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Checking back in...

Hello out there!!!  Yes, we are still alive.  Many of you know this simply because, although I have a dreadful time keeping this blog updated here recently, I do manage to post one or two several hundred pictures on Facebook.  And as many of you may have figured out from my Facebook updates, we have lots of changes going on here in the Harper household.

First off, we are MOVING back to ATLANTA baby!!!  Mark got a new job working for Nabisco (Kraft) in Norcross, GA and we decided to bite the bullet and make the move.  He is super excited about the new job opportunity and officially began work July 30th.  He is really liking his new job.  We have been wanting to move back up towards our parents since basically the day we moved to Warner Robins (not because we don't love it here....just because we both miss our families and friends), but have never been able to figure out the logistics of how to make it work.  We decided to put out a few applications here recently and see what happens.  When Mark was given an opportunity that he could not refuse we knew it was now or never.  So as of now (which will hopefully be VERY temporary) Mark is living with my dad, Chase, Stacey and JT in Atlanta while Eli and I stay down here in Warner Robins trying to sell our house.  My working plans are still being arranged but I hope to be able to move up to Atlanta and live under one roof again VERY soon.  Can you tell that I am anxious to get out of our temporary living arrangements away from Mark by my over use of the word "VERY"?  ha  Well I am....single mom with baby and trying to keep house "show" ready at all times is HARD!  I definitely miss him.

Eli has been keeping us on our toes and has really developed into a little boy instead of a little baby.  He is learning and doing something new everyday which keeps our phone calls with daddy during the week pretty entertaining.  We have really been getting our money's worth in Face time phone calls here recently.  The other day I set the phone up so that Mark and Eli could watch each other and eat dinner together.  It was so cute to watch Mark act crazy on the screen and Eli to belly laugh at the funny things daddy was doing.  Eli has mastered his use of waving and telling people "bu-bye".  That is his most clear word that he says besides "Dada".  I can get him to say "Mama" as well but it is usually only when he is in tears and wants me to come save the day.  He has said several other words but getting him to repeat them is a different story.  He, on multiple occasions, has handed me something and said "thank you" but does not do this consistently.  He has mastered kissing and blowing kisses.  When I go to pick him up from daycare, he runs to me and I pick him up and immediately he turns to all of his classmates and starts blowing them all kisses and then waves at them.  It is the cutest thing I have ever seen.  He has also really started getting into giving all his friends at school high fives.  It is hilarious to watch two one-year olds give high fives to each other and then immediately start giggling.

There is so much more to share but if I don't go to bed soon I will be a very unhappy camper when Eli wakes me up at 6:30 in the morning (apparently toddlers don't understand the concept of sleeping in on the weekends).  And just for some entertainment, here are a couple of the shots that ended up on the cutting room floor for Eli's Photo Project plus, of course, the finished product.

Was very close to using this one for the monthly picture...but ultimately had to go with that mischievous look below!

Friday, April 20, 2012

It's that time again

Yep, it is that time again for my monthly update.  I have been wanting to post for awhile but haven't gotten my self to sit down and write up a post till now.  Mark is out of town for business and Eli is already in bed, so I have some ME time!!

There are a couple of items I have been wanting to this may be kind of random but oh well.  Here you go...

 Eli loves playing this game where he chases the kitty.  It is pretty funny to watch but I never seem to be able to capture it on camera since it happens so fast.  That was until the other day when I was sitting on the floor with Eli and he spotted kitty in the corner...

"Well hello there kitty, let me come and get you"

"Oh that tail is so close!!!!"

"Come back here kitty!!"

"PLEASE, I am begging you!!!"
 Sorry for the blurry pictures taken with the iPhone but like I said it happens so fast and they are both on the MOVE!  haha

Over St. Patrick's day we went up to Suwanee and Dad, Chase, Eli and I all ran in the local Suwanee 5k.  Yes, you saw that right...Eli was included in this adventure.  It was my first 5k pushing Eli and although we got rained on a bit, it was very successful.  Chase ran this 5k in 23 minutes....he does awesome running long distance.

The weather in Georgia has been heating up and we got the opportunity to take Eli to the park for the first time.  He loved the swings!

Eli has become VERY mobile.  He is gone in a flash so I sometimes wish I had a leash connected to him at all times...haha.  He is even getting the hang of being on his two feet and I see walking on the horizon.  The two videos below are of his latest walking attempts.  (Be warned these videos may not be entertaining if you are not a grandma or grandpa of Eli...haha)

**UPDATE**  Please disregard the messiness of the shelf Eli is playing next used to be well organized and cute but then a little booger got to it and destroyed everything.  I think the shelf is actually going to have to be taken down as I am afraid Eli is going to pull it down on himself.  Also...yes I do have the habit of calling my child like a dog...but it is a hard habit to break when it works!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Warp Speed

I feel like life is going warp speed right now.  I can remember being in grade school and parts of high school thinking time could not possibly be moving any slower and now in the blink of an eye my baby goes from being this tiny beautiful creature in my arms to a crawling, teething, and moving disaster!  I still think he is a beautiful creature but he sure has me on the go these days.  Hence the fact that my blogs are no longer a journal of day to day activities but rather a brief “here’s what has been going on for the past month”….oh well, you take what you can get at this point.  My fear (which I am positive will come true) is that this will only intensify in the next few weeks, months and years.  So here goes my much overdue post on life at the Harper’s for the past month or so.

Eli is now 9 months old.  Here is a listing of his new found capabilities and habits:

-Crawling (his first attempt can be seen in this post)- he is now MUCH MUCH faster
-Pulling up on pretty much anything (not cruising furniture quite yet but I see that on the horizon)
-Two bottom teeth and 2 top teeth have started to peak through
-Currently going to bed while still awake and does not cry when put to bed (this took some training though)
-Has recently decided that he does not like naps and instead would rather be the crankiest baby from about 4pm until he goes to bed
-Giggles and laughs at all kinds of things especially when mommy is tickling him or giving him “the look” (basically I give him this look that I can’t believe he just did whatever it was that he did…usually when he toots or as we like to call it “makes a noise” and he just starts cracking up…it is quite humorous)
-Beginning to dabble in real solid food- latest solid meal consisted of roast beef, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms
-Favorite past time….going after the kitty (poor Saydee, good thing she is faster than him)
-Blows constant raspberries when he doesn't have a pacifier in his mouth
-Waves "bye bye" when saying bye to daddy in the morning and again when saying bye to the daycare on the way home
-Gives high five when you put your hand up 

We have also been staying busy with projects around the house.  We recently painted the living room, foyer, and all the hallways.  That is pretty much the only project that we have completely finished.  In the works we also have a picture frame collage wall, homemade ottoman (constructed by my dad) waiting for me to upholster, hanging of a new painting we just bought, and making curtains for the living room.  If it wasn’t for my pure indecisiveness these projects would be much further along...wish I could just make a decision and go with it!  Anyways, there will be pictures coming once I get on it and finish this stuff up!

Here are some are a few pics from this past weekend.  Eli loves riding in this backpack (was actually used for Chase 11 years ago!)  Dad used to do this exact same thing with Chase.  Eli loved it, but it must have been exhausting! ;-)

Well that is a look at the Harper household at a glance… I will try to get things rolling and give updates as soon as I get the chance!  

Anyone else feel like life is flying by or anyone else have decision making problems??  Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On the MOVE

After 2 months of getting up on all fours and rocking and scooting backwards, Eli FINALLY took his first steps forward!!  Here is the video of his first crawl!  Ignore the lack of furniture and paint supplies on the floor, we are in the middle of some cha-cha-changes...more to come on that later! ;-)

Monday, January 9, 2012


Well I am easing my way back into the blogging world.  For those of you who know me, you know I recently lost my mom to brain cancer on December 23rd.  A misconception I had about terminal illnesses and deaths that were expected was that it would be easier to deal with knowing that it was coming.  Well I am here to tell you that it is NOT any easier because for those months, days, hours leading up to it you really can't grasp the reality of it.  It has been a rough few months but these last couple of weeks without her have by far been the hardest.  To be honest, the past 18 months have been rough but there was a pretty long stretch there in the middle where things seemed to be almost back to normal.  We were able to spend some real quality time together after her diagnosis back in June 2010, unfortunately any amount of time seems insignificantly too short right now.  The thing I am most grateful for is that she was there when Eli was born and got to spend 6 months with him.  I do not know how I would have made it through the labor without her…she stayed by my side throughout the night without any sleep, rubbing my shoulders, getting me drinks of water and then emphatically telling me “NOT TO PUSH” when I was begging that I was ready but the doctors were telling me to wait.  She did all of this while on chemo and did not complain a single bit…but that is how she was…everyone else came first. 
I will never forget lying in the bed at the hospital after Eli was born with her in the chair next to me holding Eli as he slept on his first day of life.  I remember jokingly telling her to get it all in now because Debbie (my mother in law) would be there shortly and she may never get to hold the baby again (those that know my mother in law, know how excited she was and still is to get her hands on Eli).  My mother just sat there and slowly rocked Eli staring upon his sweet little face and began to cry as she told him that she may only get to hold him for a short amount of time…my joking comment was all too real to her. 
The thing about my mother is that those sad moments were very rare…even when the future was very grim.  She didn’t want us to sit around and be sad all the time; she wanted life to continue and not to be focused around her being sick.  This was very apparent when my mother was told that the tumor was growing again back in April of 2011; the weekend before my baby shower at her house.  She was devastated when she found out and the next day she made a phone call to me that I will never forget.  She was positive she would not live 2 more months (she ended up making it 8 more months) and she cried on the phone with me as she told me she didn’t think she would make it to Stacey’s wedding and that she was so grateful to have spent 10 wonderful years with Chase but that she was very worried about how difficult this was going to be on him.  I reassured her that this was the reason that God put Chase in our lives with Stacey and me so much older…so we could help take care of him after she was gone.  We talked on the phone for almost an hour and at the end of the conversation she said “Ok, well we aren’t going to talk about this again and we are going to spend this weekend at your baby shower as if nothing were wrong.  This baby shower is about you and I want everyone to have a good time.”  I halfheartedly agreed and the moment I got home shared an extra long hug with her but never spoke of it again.  That weekend will always be etched into my memory as a great weekend.
So now that she is gone, there are times when I feel like I will always be sad.  Every object around me reminds me of something about her and at any given moment I can burst into tears. There is this huge disconnect for me.  In my mind I picture her in perfect health, beauty and youth and in reality she is gone.  What I try to remember though, is that my mother wanted life to go on.  She did not want us to sit around and be sad the weekend of my baby shower and she does not want us to sit around and be sad now.  She would want us to come together and support each other as a family and to keep moving forward.  I know that she is in heaven looking down on us, guiding us in every step that we take.  I am still struggling to not be sad when I think of her but it helps to think of how she handled everything.  She would not want us to miss what is going on around us now because we were too caught up thinking about how it used to be. 
 And on that note, here are some pictures from Eli’s first Christmas…