Fall 2011 photo taken in field by Mrs. Altman's house.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Sound of Music

St. Louis here we come! We are on the road and headed to Grandma Jeanne and Grandpa Tom's house for a long overdue visit. Last night, we stopped at a Hampton Inn for a rest and stumbled upon Maria and the Von Trapps (on the tube of course). Lizzie and Nat were mesmerized (and Jeff and I couldn't stop grinning like fools over the fact that our children froze in their tracks when they heard this beautiful music).
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Odd Confession: Forty is Feeling Pretty Darn Good

Forty is feeling pretty darn good and how could it not?

I celebrated this milestone of a birthday with family and friends and capped it off with the kind of dinner that I dreamed about for my 40th: candlelight, fabulous friends, my loving husband, and wonderful food (I did have a nasty cold but, as Ruth would say, I "bucked up" for the big night). Life is good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zizzie's Tree

My husband has been generous in the tree department: he had terrible allergies as a child and grew up with the tradition of an artificial Christmas tree. Despite this, he has approved my annual pilgrimage for a real, formerly live, Christmas tree. In response, I have given up the notion that all four of us will set out together, merrily singing carols, to find the perfect tree. (I have yet to give up my romantic notions of a tree decorating party, but maybe next year.)
This year, Lizzie and I swung by a tree farm on the way home from our little friend Luke's birthday party. We didn't have a saw, a checkbook or cash, but that didn't stop us. After trekking to the back of the woods, identifying our tree and asking the kind gentleman to please cut our tree down, we proceeded to the farm's office. Uh oh. No credit cards. However, they had a W&L/UVA worthy honor system and we were able to take our tree home with us.
This year our Christmas tree is "the girls' tree". We may not be pioneers, but Lizzie and I still know how to get the job done. Wooohooo!
P.S. Although this is Zizzie's tree, I must admit that my smart and beautiful daughter has started to pronounce her name with the "L" sound. Darnit.

Deck the Hall with Advent Calendars

Like my friend Nora, I am of the belief that one cannot have too many Advent calendars. The Garnet Hill calendar that I have been coveting these past few years was marked down to a ridiculously low, "couldn't make it for less myself" price tag. So now we are enjoying both (a) placing a felt ornament on our Advent tree and (b) discovering a special note/activity of the day in our mini Advent buckets that line the balustrade (oooo, "balustrade", doesn't that sound grand? ;) )
Now, if I can just get Lizzie and Nat to stop trading stomach flus so we can enjoy Advent activities like hot cocoa, gingerbread and other baked goodies on a regular basis. Jeff, the laundry machine, the babysitters, and I are wiped out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010's a secret until the 25th

I've been having a blast, staying up late and making little toys for Lizzie and Nat for Christmas. Yes, my muscles are atrophying, but hey, it's winter and those cozy sweaters, tights and long pants will cover for me until the New Year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Away in a manger or a sleepover at Santa's house?

Today I noticed our new Nativity set and the fact that the whole manger crew - Mary, Joseph and all Three Wise Men - were staring down at an empty "no crib for a bed". Where was Baby Jesus?

I asked Lizzie about this and she told me that Baby Jesus was "in the house". Playmobil Santa's house that is.

Thankfully, I was able to talk Lizzielou into reuniting Baby Jesus with his crew. (I must admit that I am having an awful lot of fun watching my daughter play with the new Nativity set - call me irreverent, but it's a hoot!).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beatles, Wellies, Fall in the Country (English not Amish)

Some favorite Fall photos with a little bit of Brit in them (look closely...maybe it's just my wild imagination). Apropos today: best wishes to Prince William and Kate Middleton! Looking forward to a lovely Royal wedding!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Tea Party (the good kind)

Lizzie turned three on Oct. 30th and, in my opinion, three happens to be the perfect age to accompany me to high tea in support of the Pittsburgh Symphony! By coincidence, a new Hanna dress arrived by mail on this same day. It was a fancy dress - shiny taffeta with ribbon trim (and meant for Christmas) - but how could I say "no"?

And if anyone ever thinks of tea as "stuffy", they haven't met the fun bunch in these photos. Lizzie made some new friends and had an absolute ball with the big girls!

I love you Lizzielou.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Standoff

Lizzie will be three years old on October 30, 2010. Nevertheless, she has just now entered the stage known as the "terrible twos". Please keep reminding me that this is a short-lived stage....please.

The yorkie in the photos is Sparky, our friends' littlebigdog. We had the pleasure of dogsitting Sparky last week (or, as Lizzie liked to say, "Sparky babysit us."). Maybe Lizzie was right: Sparky seemed to have much more luck with standing his ground than I have been. Big Smile.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I hear you, Buddy! Love our Green Market, but these early Saturday mornings wear me out. Nap time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

With proceeds from the lemonade stand

Nat raked in $7.50 today as a result of his lemonade stand. He even took the time to list the ways that he might like to spend his earnings:
  • baseball cards
  • toy truck
  • flower seeds for Mom
  • cardinal card for Dad
  • toy doll for Lizzie

Many thanks to Leah, our friend and babysitter extraordinaire, for her loving and creative ways! You make the everyday an adventure for the Harpers!

I'm home!

What a beautiful thing to see as I arrive home from work today!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Rear Window"

Summer living in a small town suits my voyeuristic self just fine. I love sitting on the porch or taking a walk around town after sundown. The sights and sounds of so much living out in the open is reassuring to me.

The kids, Jefe and I had a late dinner and watched "Air Bud: World Pup" on the porch by candlelight. After the kids went to bed, I lingered and enjoyed the beautiful night, the crickets, and the sounds of our neighbor's house sitter playing the piano (possibly a treat that she doesn't have the chance to enjoy at her own home). It was beautiful.

And since my Jefe teaches film studies and loves, loves, loves his Hitchcock class, I couldn't help but think of "Rear Window" tonight.

Soaking up every moment of this summer. I don't complain much about N.W. winters, but I love, love, love my summers.

Cousins! Much to do in just a bit of time.

Aunt Katie, Mack & Hap dropped by on their way from Denver to Harrisburg. We had less than 24 hours with the Mayers, but we packed in a ton of fun: A birthday party to celebrate all the kids' birthdays throughout the year; a plant-watering/water play adventure in the backyard; a walk to the creek out back to skip stones and gather apples; dinner with Uncle Jefe at the Springfield Grille; sleep (zzzzzzzs at last for the little ones. Oh heck, at last for all); and last but not least, early to rise and blueberry pancakes before the Mayers hit the road and I set up for the Saturday morning Market.

I love this cat, but...

I think he peed on our porch.

There's an "S.P." for everyone! (Subtitle: Spain wins the World Cup)

Thank God that Iniesta scored for Spain & ended an otherwise frustrating and uneventful World Cup! We heart you Iniesta. You are our favorite player. And see, Jefe: there is indeed a Special Person for everyone!

NW Green Market + Mariah = A More Colorful Life

The New Wilmington Green Market debuted this June and has brought a burst of creativity and community to our little town! Who knew that this staid, conservative Presbyterian town had a bit of hippie in it! With our dedicated friend Val leading the way, we have been working hard to attract good faith organic farmers (including a few pioneering Amish), green artisans and musicians (for a few weeks anyway: the Amish Community's bishop said it was either "no music" or "no Amish" and we couldn't imagine giving up Dan Miller's yummy veggies and natural cheeses!).

Since we are a fledgling market, many of us have decided to jump right in and become vendors ourselves. My contribution has been "Simple Pleasures" (aka "S.P."). Jeff jokes that the "S.P." stands for "Special People". Well, since Mariah is indeed a special person and dear friend, I created this little mermaid cake topper set for her 4th birthday. Happy Birthday Mariah Bonita Swanson! I have watched you grow since the day that your mommy called to tell me that she just might be pregnant. How lucky we all were that Maureen's hunch was correct!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Life Imitating Daddy

Let the photos speak! Lizzie stole Jeff's spot at the table when he momentarily left his crossword puzzle to run and errand. Too funny!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

"How was your week?"

"Crummy." "The pits." "Making me wish and pray for a super early retirement."

These would have been likely answers had someone asked me this question at 3:15 today. Or the day before. Or the day before that. It's just been that kind of week.

But here are the answers as of 9:27 p.m.: "magical." "beautiful". "A gift."

Our kids can drive us crazy at times, but man oh man, even on the worst of days, they make us thankful.

While my "work week" was not so hot, there were a few moments that made up for all of the ick:

Lizzie enjoying the cool breeze, groovy music and good company at North Country Brewery; Nat drawing an amazing picture from his favorite book; Greeting my favorite Amish family after a long, cold winter and having them place their precious 4-month-old baby in my arms; Nat, Lizzie, Buddy and I roasting marshmallows over a hurricane candle on the porch this evening and hearing Nat say, "Mama, this is my favorite part of the day".

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lizzie & my adventures at the Field Station

Yesterday the girls checked out the bluebird house while the boys practiced for t-ball. (A few weeks ago, Nat & I participated in a bluebird house project and must check on "our house" once a week & collect data for the project.) While our house didn't have eggs, a friend's house had 5 beautiful blue eggs! While at the Field Station, Lizzie and I also checked out the labyrinth and enjoyed the gorgeous (but cold & windy - brrrr) day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Whistle While You Work

The temperature rose above 60 degrees farenheit today and I decided that the Christmas greenery (er, brownery) needed to come down and the porch needed to be cleaned. Lizzie made sure that I was properly entertained and even scrubbed down a rocking chair because she wanted to help her "mama".

We are thrilled to have sun, warm weather and the start of blooms after a long Winter. New discovery: tiny bunches of Snow Drops blooming beside the porch. They're beautiful! (And no, you can't see them in the videos. Other side of porch.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March 1st, 2010: A Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood

Mr. McFeeley came to town and we all got to spend time with him (and each other) on the morning of March 1st.

While Lizzie seemed immune to Mr. McFeeley's charm, she was thrilled to see her friend Mariah and run in circles in the humongous Witherspoon Room at Westminster College.

Jefe had the chance to lunch with Mr. McF and discovered that he quite liked the last Quentin Tarantino movie. Who would've guessed?

(Later in the day, an attorney and a financial planner stomped out of the room when I asked them for $50K. I was thankful that I had the warm, fuzzy memories of this sweet beginning of a day to buffer this crazy end.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Two Squirrels on a Bench

Tonight my babies are pretending to be squirrels, foraging for nuts and making "nut pies" together. Adorable, creative games like this one make it impossible for me to throw out all those random, itty bitty toy pieces that drive me crazy. In the Harpers' eyes, those crazy-making toys are the perfect nuts to forage!

The photo above was taken at Washington University in St. Louis (my partner-in-crime's alma mater) during the summer of 2008. Nat, age 3, was doing his darnedest to keep Lizzie, 8 months, from sliding off of his lap.