happy sunday | this week

this week

life was a little bit hard and a little bit frustrating. but, we made it to the weekend. hip hip hooray for the weekend. being a stay at home parent of a two year old and a two month old is hard folks – especially when you are also trying to run a business and keep your sanity.

but, it will get easier.

until next time.


and we’re back in business | knock on wood

you guys. january is gone. and, half of february is now gone as well. instead of dwelling on the fact that i have, thus far, spent 2012 in a complete fog (seriously, where did january go?), i plan on forging ahead with joy, determination, and hope that the rest of february and march will be filled with productivity and a little bit of fun.

we finally feel better around here. thanks be to god. just when i thought i couldn’t take another day of it, the clouds lifted. yes! thanks to everyone who kept checking in with us. and, an apology to everyone i have neglected. if you are still out there friends, be in touch! let’s reconnect.

another post will follow pretty close behind this one, but, for now, that’s it. there is a box of georgetown cupcakes sitting on my counter and at least three of them are calling to me. (yes, three…judge me if you will. it will not change how much i enjoy them ;)). i can ignore them no longer.

happy monday.

and that was me speaking too soon | the sick house


i am sicker than ever. lillian is still recovering. but, i feel cruddy. my doctor, while having much sympathy for my condition, basically said “tough it out.” yuck.

january – you kicked my butt in a million different ways. february – i had hope for you. high hopes. but, we are not off to a great start here. please, remedy this situation stat.

i hope that all of you are healthy.

still alive | whaa

but barely. this move – and lillian’s sickness (yes, she has been so sick for the duration of our move)- have been incredibly stressful. on friday, i was at my limit. today, i am feeling better. morale has been low, folks. i haven’t much felt like blogging (or doing anything really – other than burying myself in a deep dark hole and never coming out), which accounts for the lack of updates (that, and the fact that we just got internet up and running).

(goodness, i realize how pathetic i sound. bought a beautiful home – whaa. had to move – whaa. tired because i’m blessed with a second pregnancy – whaa. my problems are not even problems, but sometimes you need to throw a pity party).

anyway, things are looking up. i will give a full update in the next day or so.

2011 | happenings

2011 is gone.


the past few years have been filled with so much change – most of it truly marvelous. each year i think that my life can’t possibly get any better or be any fuller, and, yet, it does. i am thankful (but not thankful enough).

i took the past few days to reflect on 2011 and decided to put together a video of our personal photos from the past year. so many family and friends comment that they don’t see photos of lillian (or us) often enough. this is probably fair. to be honest, i admonish myself on a regular basis for failing to have my camera out to capture personal moments. you see, sometimes it just feels like work. i also feel a little left out of the action when i am the one behind the camera. i am there – but not. striking a balance here is something i am working on.

one of my New Year’s resolutions is to take more personal photos, to share more of them with family and friends (both in digital and print form), and to keep them more organized for my own purposes. wish me luck.

(i will say that, in putting together this video, i realized that i do take a fair number of photos. the problem is that i feel the need to edit them and to judge them with a professional photographer’s eye. this leads to them sitting on my computer – neglected. lame.)

while going through our photos, two things became obvious: (1) lillian is an extremely happy little girl; (2) we live a charmed life indeed.

this year, we took full advantage of living in the dc metro area. we frequented local tourist attractions (the air and space museum, the museum of natural history, the building museum, and the zoo being among some of our favorites) and took day trips to places like cumberland, ocean city, annapolis, and harper’s ferry. we enrolled lillian in an art class, which she really enjoyed and which sparked a creative fire under our butts – much paint and many crafts followed. we welcomed visits from family and friends (thanks to all who made the trip. we love your visits.) lillian attended del fest for the first time. del yeah. needless to say, she fit right in! we potty-trained (as you will no doubt notice in the slideshow). we vacationed with bradford’s side of the family in july on tybee island, which turned out to be eventful in many ways and a trip we won’t soon forget. lillian fell in love with her cousin hardin during this trip (a love that time and distance could not fade – she was over the moon when we visited mobile in december . . . they never missed a beat). i had skin cancer removed later that month, which was tough. but, it reminded me of how precious life is and served as a catalyst for a lot of soul-searching on my part. more on this later. on august 5, we found out we were expecting baby number 2. shock. awe. excitement. love. joy. (terror? yes, a little). later that month, i witnessed (and photographed) the birth of june elizabeth denson. (if i were making a top 10 list of experiences in 2011, this would be on it.) in september, our little baby lillian started preschool at beth el jewish preschool. i cried. she was overjoyed at her new found freedom. you can read more about that here. in october, lillian turned 2. we celebrated at our house with friends and family (and a thomas the train theme). the two years of her life have been the best two years of mine. she is growing into an intelligent, funny, charismatic, beautiful, adventurous child (if i do say so myself). so far, the twos are treating us nicely. we occupied lee street (in old town, alexandria) for halloween. lillian dressed up as a monster and courageously walked the block (and braved the crowd!) for treats. needless to say, her first trick-or-treating experience was an amazing one. the first home we visited went all out. lillian walked right in without us (we, of course, could see her at all times) and took a picture with the woman giving out candy (who was dressed to the nines). before the night was over, she was very loudly shouting “THANK YOU” to everyone who handed her candy. she loved halloween. she now talks non-stop about witches, skeletons, ghosts, and the like (she even insisted on calling christmas lights “halloween decorations” for a while). what’s next? oh yes, november. on november 17, we found out that “it’s a girl!”. exciting stuff. we spent a quiet thanksgiving at home in anticipation of our christmas travel. i made a great meal, and we enjoyed each other’s company immensely. we also committed to living in the dc metro area for the long haul and bought a home! more on this later – because this is big news. we wrapped up the year with a whirlwind of activities – getting things prepared for closing on our new home, travel to enterprise and mobile (where we fit in a baby shower (which was awesome – thanks everyone!!!)), long overdue visits with friends and family, a date night and an exploreum visit), and travel back to dc. a few days before new year, we closed on our first family home. i can’t wait to share pictures and updates on renovations and things.

so, there is our year in a nutshell. i could never mention all of the significant things that happened this year (or even those insignificant things that are truly what daily life is made of), but i thought i would give a summary of events a go.

before this post becomes one of the longest in all my history of blogging, let me cut myself off. but, not without saying first how truly thankful i am for every single piece of my life on this earth.

farewell 2011.

enjoy the video (just press play).

the hardin family | 2011 from Crystal Hardin on Vimeo.

he works hard while i stuff my face | round one

this weekend was almost completely business-free for me (which is totally not normal). so, after i put lillian to bed last night, i gorged on williams-sonoma peppermint bark while watching harry potter. towards the end of this slightly pathetic laziness fest, bradford – who went into work earlier in the day – texts:

“on my way home in cab”

i keep right on eating and pondering what my life would be like if i could wake up one day and find myself at hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry.

then, i think to myself, didn’t he drive the car into work? after confirming that he did, indeed, drive himself into work in our family car, i call him to break the news.

me “hey. you in a cab?” him “yeah. on the way.” me “you drove the car to work today.” him to cabbie “sir, can you take me back to work.”

poor bradford. he works hard. but, someone has to keep the pantry stocked with peppermint bark – right?


could my life be any more full? i think not.

today i thankful for my life and its many blessings – small and large.

my family of three is growing into a family of four. i will have another baby girl in a few short months!!

my marriage is a strong one. my husband is hard-working, supportive, caring, respectful, loving and, in all things, a partner.

my daughter is a constant source of sheer joy. i am thankful for her laughter, her wit, her independence, and her wisdom. at two, she has taught me so much.

i am thankful for my extended family – their health and happiness mean the world to me.

i am thankful for friendship – old and new.

i am thankful for my business – for what it brings to my life and allows me to give back to my family.

i am thankful for our new home (we just had our offer accepted yesterday!!).

i am thankful for all of the small moments that happen everyday that make me laugh, make me wonder, make me respect, make me breathe deeply – make me truly live!!!

i am filled with thanks. my life is so full. i am blessed with more than i probably deserve – but, i will take it.

happy to-furkey day.


don’t let the pigeon drive the bus! | mo willems obsession

recently, littles received “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale” as a gift (thanks Brittany!), and we have been completely obsessed with author Mo Willems ever since. in short, this book is true to life and pretty hilarious. normally, i am not a huge fan of the “daddy knows nothing/man is stupid” angle in books, commercials, tv shows, etc. (another post for another day) but, for some reason, this book doesn’t bother me a bit (although it does play that card). the illustrations are expressive and captivating. i just love it.

apparently, there is a whole series of Knuffle Bunny books that documents the trials and tribulations of Trixie and her special stuffed animal. i am certain that we will end up with most, if not all, of them after the holidays.

Mo writes more than just Knuffle Bunny books. we have also fallen head over heels for his Pigeon series. we checked “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” out from the library a few weeks ago, and Lillian has read it every night since. the Pigeon is a completely loony and adorable character and the books are just so cute. we heart them.

(i should mention that we lucked up and got a signed copy of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late” the other day at our favorite toy store in Arlington – hip hip hooray (you know how i am about signed copies!)).

maybe part of the reason we love them so much – each has a “screaming” line that is to be read loudly. lillian memorizes most of her books and reads them to herself at night in bed. bradford and i both usually work a bit at night. things are quiet, we are working away, and, all of a sudden, Lillian screams –  “DONT LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!!!!!”  Hilarious.

anyway, if you have a kid, and you don’t know about Mo Willems yet (or, you don’t have any of these books yet), you need to remedy that pronto. trust me on this.


today is veteran’s day.

i will be the first to admit that i rarely think about our service members and their families unless it is in the context of how i feel about the war, politics, or some other matter that avoids (or is fueled in part by) my true feelings about their sacrifice. our sacrifice. this is shameful. i’ll be the first to admit it. and, i beg you to not judge me. truth be told, i don’t like to think about the sacrifice that many choose to make for this country. i appreciate it. i truly truly do. but, it’s difficult to think about.

2003 feels like a lifetime ago that only happened yesterday. it was the day mark died. he made the ultimate sacrifice, and i feel like our family did as well. because he was not my father – heck, he wasn’t even my step-father anymore – the loss i felt was confusing. it burdened me. it still burdens me. i don’t like it when anyone dies. it reminds me that those i love will, eventually, die. and, that i will die. but, this isn’t the point. the point is, i was confused about how to properly mourn him. my heart wasn’t sure of where it stood in relation to all of the other hearts that mourned him. does this make sense? it probably doesn’t.

brittany lost her father that day. her only father. she was his only daughter. she sacrificed for his service. for this country. for me.

things would have been a lot different for our family had he lived. i believe that. although i will never know the true extent to which his death set our family on a different course, i believe it did. when i think about that, i am so frustrated and sad and confused. but, it reminds me that i do not know the end of the story yet. i only know the beginning and small parts of the middle. i cannot know the overall narrative, but only put my trust in the writer – that he (or she) will bring balance and hope and comfort and, throughout, love.

” The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts. ” – Bertrand Russell

Of course, I would be doing a disservice to myself and life’s narrator if I forgot the above-quoted words. There is something valuable in our suffering, in our sadness, in our frustration, in our loss. Sometimes, it is just difficult to remember that.

The purpose behind this post is merely to reflect on the loss of CW3 Mark O’steen, who died when the blackhawk he was piloting fell from the sky in Afghanistan on January 30, 2003. I think of him often, but I honor him especially today. He is missed and still very much loved. And, to my sister, I offer my love and comfort. I often fall short in this offering, and for this I apologize. But, dear sister, I love you so very much. I am so sorry for your loss and, for your sacrifice, the world rightfully honors you today.

hello there

for a moment, let’s pretend that i have the time and the energy to update this new blog regularly. (i hear the collective snickers).

blogging used to be something that i enjoyed – once upon a time. i blogged through law school. i blogged through first-parenthood. but then something happened. life? lack of interest? lack of direction? better things to do? more interesting endeavors to pursue? business? excuses? all of the above? check.

but, now i find myself wanting to blog again. wanting to throw myself into the mix. to comment on world-happenings. to wax poetic. oh, and of course, to share pregnancy stories, parenting stories, and, soon enough, stories of life as a mother of two. (after all, that’s what most of you will be tuning in for). unlike the blog i started for lillian a few years back, this blog will, hopefully, be a bit more about me. because, i am, after all, a person still. yes, that’s right. i am a mother. but, I AM A PERSON too. (I put that in all caps to remind myself!). i have thoughts, opinions, and needs, and i’d like a place to share them. so, get ready for a bit of crazy.

in the past, i kept my personal thoughts private from my family blog, because i don’t like to talk politics, beliefs, etc., with family and friends. of course, i do on occasion (with both good and bad results). but, blogging about these things can be a bit tricky. there is a lack of discussion. instead, there is just what can be perceived as pontification, which can quickly lead to misunderstanding. i never want that.

but, this is life. correction, this is my life. and, its high time i felt more like me and worried less about how what i say and do will be taken by others. this means sharing more of myself, staying better connected to my world, modeling advocacy for my child(ren) and setting the example that a person can, indeed, have self-esteem and strong beliefs and still interact in the world in a respectful way (while sharing their beliefs – even among non-believers). this probably doesn’t make sense at all. but, it is what it is.

as i said, enjoy the crazy that is to come. and, always feel free to chime in, dear readers. do i have any?