Saturday, June 30, 2007

I'm Such a Girl

What happened? I used to climb trees, go outside barefooted (still do, but I wasn't afraid of parasites then!), play in the creek, hold fireflies in my cupped hands. Now I look wistfully at the fireflies, but fall short of catching one. On purpose. I will occasionally kill a teeny bug with my bare hand, but if it's a roach, I find my shoes AND the biggest, heaviest book I can carry. Lord knows I don't want roach guts on my shoes. I was brave enough to touch a rolly polly bug with my finger the other day, after considering looking for a stick. Even the beautiful butterfly makes me nervous. There's a turtle that frequently hangs out in our backyard. Do I pick him up? Heck no! I figure having two boys will force me to go back to my tomboy ways eventually.
My neighbors gave Evan a net and a little firefly lantern last year. We never caught any fireflies, but we had fun with it inside...mostly catching little boys! One of these days Duncan is going to expect me to pick up that slimy frog, and I won't be able to disappoint him. Sigh. I'll just have to scream, "Ewwwwwwwww!" on the inside.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Baked Beans Anonymous

"Hi, my name is Duncan."

"Hi, Duncan," chorused the other addicts.

"My mom first introduced me to baked beans when I was just 1 year old," Duncan began. Some gasped, others shook their heads. "So young," cried a middle aged woman.

"We'd have chicken fingers and baked beans for lunch. Oh yes, Mom always joined me." Duncan's words were met with shocked silence. He went on, "Sometimes she'd alternate sweet peas and corn, but I just couldn't get enough of the baked beans. I enjoyed wearing them as much as I enjoyed eating them. I've had dreams where I'm chasing Duke trying to get the Bush's secret family recipe." He paused, "But look, I can quit anytime."

A sing song voice floated into the room, "Duncan, lunch."

"I gotta go," says Duncan. And he toddled out of the room.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Double O = "oo"?

Evan giving Duncan instructions on toddlerhood. Duncan is clearly bowled over.

The wonderful PBS program "Between the Lions" would have you believe that double O is always pronounced "oo." And I'm sure we've all had teachers throughout our years of study that insisted on this pronunciation. My son, Evan, would have disagreed. He tackled the alphabet with his own unique style and to me, it will never be the same.

Evan's double O pronunciation was something like "ew." He would run excitedly to the window to watch the "schewlbus" go by. He liked to pretend he was on the "schewlbus", too. I have a big folding piece of cardboard that is used for measuring and cutting fabric. Evan would stand it up so that is was in the shape of a tall U, and say, "Look Mommy, I'm riding the schewlbus!" He also exclaimed this as he was riding along in the shopping cart at Lowe's.

I've already mentioned that Evan referred to Duncan's poo as "teeny weeny big monster poo poo." Well, what he actually said was "teeny weeny big monster pew pew."

When I found a tape recording of my senior recital, I brought up an old boom box from the basement to listen to it. (I don't really recommend this. It's better to have the blissful memories of a flawless program, than to hear what really happened!) Evan was very excited to have the boom box in reach. He pressed the buttons, listened to music and wondered out loud, "Where's the bewm box?" when it suddenly disappeared.

I can only remember one double O word that Evan pronounced correctly, and that was tool (or toolbox.) When he talked about Norm Abram on the New Yankee Workshop, Evan called him "the guy with the tools." Evan loved tools. He would point at a picture of something and name it, and I would have to look at the caption to discover, yes, he's right.

You may think that Justin and I must pronounce words in such a way to get comic relief from our son, but that's just not true. This was Evan's own invention. When Duncan came along, it's like Evan knew that Duncan wasn't spelled with a double O, but a U. And he called him, "Dooncan."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Few More from the Garden

Echinacea "Evan Saul" (also known as Sundown Coneflower)

I reorganized my butterfly garden to include my Evan and Duncan cultivars.

Another shot of "Evan Saul"

Echinacea "Harvest Moon" in the foreground and Veronica "Sunny Border Blue" and Angelonia "Angel Mist" in the background.

I've discovered evidence of deer snacking on the hostas in Evan's garden. I like the deer, as long as they're not eating my plants! There was actually some damage on my black eyed susans, too. They're on the deer resistant list. And, as a fellow gardener has said, I guess the deer didn't read the book. Instead of buying deer repellent, I think I may just try to use more deer resistant plants in the future. They didn't stop to look at the ferns, and they don't like fragrant plants, so maybe I'll see what I can find. Any suggestions?

Monday, June 25, 2007

In the Garden

Hydrangea aborescens "Annabelle"

This is a picture from Evan's Garden. I wanted to include some hydrangeas, because I thought the big pom pom flowers would be fun for kids.

Here's Duncan hanging out with his favorite backyard toy: the hose. It's like an electrical cord, but he doesn't get in trouble when he plays with it AND it squirts water. What could be cooler?

Annabelle, closeup

This one's for you, Jane.

Duncan enjoys some common dayliles.

Here's a Bearded Iris I received from a Gardenweb pal. Unfortunately, I don't know the cultivar. She's a beauty, tho.

I have two Clematis vines climbing a trellis in my herb garden. It's just a nice ornamental centerpiece.

Evan's Garden
In this picture we have Annabelle Hydrangea, dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea, Astilbe, Louisiana Iris, Christmas fern, and Forget-Me-Nots.

Peony "Karl Rosenfield"
This was quite a showstopper for a few days. What's my secret for such a lovely peony bloom? I bought the plant this year...with a bud already on it! The real test will be if I can get it to bloom next year.

Clematis, closeup

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"I told Mommy"

Evan was our little chatterbox. He got up talking and he'd go to bed talking (complaining about the door being open or shut or the light being on or off, etc.) Last year while I was still desperately trying to hold on to an afternoon naptime, Evan was decidedly not in bed. He was in his bathroom messing around. Duncan was still nursing in the night, so I was trying to catch up on some shuteye, but I got up to see what in the world Evan was doing and take him back to his room. As I walked out of my room, I heard Evan start to cry. And it wasn't the fake cry that you just shrug off, but the real thing. I went to check out the situation. I brought him to my room and asked him what happened. He wouldn't say. I took him downstairs, and gave him a cookie and milk, because he was still really upset. I thought, "Cookies always do the trick." I noticed he was favoring a certain finger, and he continued to whimper. I called the doctor and got an appointment. I asked again what happened. No answer from my usually loquatious boy. I got Duncan up, and took them both to the pediatrician's office. Evan fell asleep in my lap while we waited. We got back to the office, and Daddy arrives. Evan had started to perk up after his brief nap, and started talking about his doctor, Dr. Tim. "Where's Dr. Tim? Will he have his stethyscope?" I told Justin that I thought Evan had squished his finger in the drawer, but he wouldn't tell me, so I wasn't sure. Then Evan turns to his Daddy, "Daddy, I squished my finger in the drawer. I told Mommy." I said, "No, you didn't!" But he was already off on another tangent.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Odds and Ends

Justin and I were married on July 31, 1999. In honor of eight pretty darn great years together, Justin is taking me here And yes, I'm excited. We're flying out on July 21. The same day that the 7th and final book of the Harry Potter series is released. Our flight is at 9:30am, so it's looking like I'm going to a midnight Harry Potter party! My mom thinks I should wait until we get back to get the book. I'm going to the beach, no baby, just loads of free time. When would there be a better time to read a book? Besides, I've waited two years for this book, and I HAVE to know if Voldemort gets Harry in the end. So, anyway...we are going to the beach and leaving Duncan with Grandma and Grandpa. I have officially weaned him as of this week! It's gone pretty smoothly. He seems very pleased with his new bedtime snack--milk and graham crackers. It's kind of like he said, "Oh, so this is what we're doing now. Cool." He's finally decided that he wants to walk, and there's no stopping him now. Well, only falling and being chicken to take too many steps at once. Oh well. He'll get there eventually. Duncan's supposed to have a practice run staying with Grandma and Grandpa this weekend without Mommy and Daddy. Justin and I are planning on working on the house, but maybe we'll make time for a date night.

Our computer died, so I won't be able to post pictures until our new one comes. Early July!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"Daddy, Don't Sing!" - A Tribute to a Great Dad

When you choose a husband you don't really know what kind of a dad he will be. The question lurks somewhere at the back of your mind. Then one day you get pregnant. You're both ecstatic...and terrified! You go to the birthing classes together, read the books, and wonder dreamily what the little one will look like. The big day arrives. He holds your hand, trying to be strong for you, even though he's scared to death. The baby arrives, and true Daddyhood begins. Some dads find reasons to be "busy" whenever diapers need changing. Some just flat refuse. But the good ones jump right in and get peed on and pooped on, spit up on, and more. Justin is this kind of a dad.

It's a sweet picture to see a Daddy napping with his little one in his arms. This has been a favorite past time of Justin's. Evan slept better on his daddy than in his bed. Duncan is more of a crib baby. But Justin is working on that! Both boys enjoy playing with Daddy. Justin reads stories, sings songs, stacks blocks, plays chase. They both enjoy it immensely, except Justin's singing doesn't always please everyone. Evan told Justin one day, "Daddy, don't sing" after a rousing rendition of one of Evan's favorites. Justin soothes Duncan when he wakes up crying and in need of snuggles. He takes pleasure in all of the milestones and just the everyday grins and giggles. He loves being a dad. Being a participant in his boys' lives makes him a great one. He stayed by Evan's bedside while he spent his last days in the hospital. He's been a loving and happy father to Duncan, in spite of his grief. I'm proud of him. He is everything I could have ever hoped for in a daddy for my children. Happy Father's Day, Justin!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Good Morning Sunshine!

Duncan is our early riser. If it's 7am Duncan is awake. He will wake up between 6:30 and 7 regularly. Sometimes he'll wake a little earlier, but it seems like his body hits his biological snooze button, and he'll fall asleep again until 6:30. At bedtime (around 8pm) he'll put up a little fuss, I call it the obligatory cry ("I gotta cry a little to make them think I'm mad, ah, who cares....zzzz"), and then settle down to, usually, sleep through the night.

Evan didn't want to go to bed early. If Evan didn't have to sleep, he wouldn't. He went to bed fighting, and would sleep when he just couldn't keep his eyes open for one more second. He would go to bed anywhere between 9-10pm, with lots of stories, songs, pleading, hugging, scolding, etc. He slept in to a more reasonable 8am. Every morning Evan would get up and come to our room first thing. If he was ready to go downstairs, he'd stand outside our door and open and close the door just a crack to see if we had gotten up, yet. He'd check often. Like, once every 2 -3 seconds. We'd try to coax him to come in to our room and hang out, but usually he was ready to start the day.

One morning I heard him come in. I kept my head down and pretended to be asleep. Evan was usually a noisy, rambunctious toddler, so I was surprised when he tiptoed into the room and up to my side of the bed. He was whispering quietly about mommy being asleep. I opened my eyes and grinned. Evan was about two inches from my face! We both had a good giggle about waking mommy up, and he became his usual chatty self at once.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Like Father Like Son

Evan would fight taking naps and going to bed at bedtime, but when he was really tired he would sleep in any position, in any place, and under any circumstances (just like his Daddy.) Justin can sleep sitting up, lying on the sofa, on a plane, etc. I have a hard enough time turning my mind off in the bed, let alone trying to get comfy in some weird position.

Last summer (2006) Justin replaced the siding on the chimney. It made an awful racket, so I had given up any idea of getting either of the boys to nap. On this particular day we settled down in our chairs to watch a "Thomas" DVD for some nice family time. And before you know it they were both sound asleep. Notice the hearth in the background. Justin was outside hammering just a few feet away.

Chairs and cribs are ok for naps, but everybody knows that Daddies make the best beds.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Evan's Garden

After Evan died I decided that I had to do something. Anything! I've always had an interest in gardening. So, the natural way for me to pay tribute to a special little boy was to plant a garden in his memory. I drew out a plan in January, and got to work in March. My parents, who instilled the gardening bug in me, came over and helped with the tilling and initial planting. We planted native Hydrangeas (H. aborescens "Annabelle" and H. quercifolia "Sike's Dwarf"), Christmas Ferns, white Astilbe, Hostas, and some Calla lilies I received after Evan's funeral. I went to a plant trade in April and received more goodies from my GardenWeb pals: Forget Me Nots, Daffodils, Louisiana Iris, Fairywand (Chamaelirium luteum), and Turk's Cap Lily. I also received some great garden art. I hoped to include some fun flowers and plants with interesting common names. Plants that I think Evan would have liked, but it was important that they be fun for Duncan, too.

Another backyard project was in my Butterfly/Hummingbird garden. I was disappointed in how wild it looked by the end of summer. Tall plants in back and short plants in front. I dug up most of this garden and took alot to trade in April. I watched a video that Evan liked called the "Monkeydoos." It looks like it was filmed at a Botanical garden. I loved the was the only way I could sit and watch the video with Evan and be entertained myself. So, I got some ideas from the movie and moved some stuff around and bought new stuff. The most important new acquisitions are the plants with the names Evan and Duncan in them. I purchased and planted Echinacea "Evan Saul" and Dahlia "Evan Matthew." I also ordered Bearded Iris "Duncan's Smiling Eyes." All of these (I haven't received the iris, yet) are up and looking beautiful. The Echs have buds, so flowers in the near future!

Gardening has truly been my therapy. If I go outside in tears, I work through the emotions while digging, planting, transplanting, mulching, whatever. I seldom come in upset after working. It's good physical work, but it's also creative. It's been a wonderful feeling of accomplishment to have completed my goal - a new garden for my boys. Although, gardens always need care and freshening up with dividing and even new plants, so it will never really be "complete." I know if we move that it will be tough to leave the memorial garden behind, but I can plant a new garden wherever we go. And start the whole therapeutic/creative process again.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Teeny Weeny Big Monster Poo Poo

Part of the joy of having a toddler around is all of the amusing things he says. Somtimes it sounds like gobbledy gook, but when you can make out what was said, it's rather amusing.

Evan often wanted to be involved in Duncan's diaper changes. First he would look for the changing pad, which was known as "Duncan's Briefcase." He'd walk around asking the Universe, "Where's Duncan's briefcase?" He'd find it, hand it over (although, he really wanted his own briefcase!) and we'd get down to the business at hand. No matter how big or small the poo poo was (or even if there was no poo poo), Evan would say that Duncan had a Teeny Weeny Big Monster Poo Poo. Once I made the mistake of calling some of Duncan's poo turdlits, and of course, Evan hooked right on to that charming term. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

You Are Our Sunshine

You are too young to realize that you've already changed the world. You are a little boy whose parents really needed him. You're the only one that could make us laugh real laughs and smile real smiles. We should have known that your fondness of sunbeams would lead to a sunny disposition. I always tell people that you are our life preserver. But you do more than keep us afloat. You're helping us enjoy life again. Thank you, Duncan. You are our sunshine.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Little Boy Lost

I sit here trying to think of what to say. My subject matter is heavy, yet I look over at this picture of Evan, and I can't help but smile. It's bittersweet. My son Evan died on November 24, 2006, just 20 days after this picture was taken. I typed the Title : "Little Boy Lost," but maybe it should be Mommy Lost. I do feel lost without my little guy. While we have incredible memories of this wonderful little boy, it's still too soon to forget the pain. I don't know that we'll ever forget the pain. I imagine we'll just learn to live with it.

Evan contracted Bacterial Meningitis (Streptococcus pneumoniae) after having an undiagnosed ear infection. He didn't start acting sick until it was too late. He was admitted to Scottish Rite Children's Hospital on Tuesday, November 21. We were confident we had caught it in time, but each day brought grim news, and on Friday the doctors removed Evan from life support. He died in our arms.

One difficult thing for me was that life goes on after a loved one dies. We got home from the hospital or later after the funeral and the world had moved on. I thought, "Why isn't everyone else grieving? How dare they not stop and mourn this little boy!" But now, six months later, our lives have gone on, too. We haven't forgotten Evan, because the pain is so real, so fresh. But I have gotten used to the quiet. I've gotten used to having one child instead of two. I don't like it. In fact, I hate it.

One thing, or I should say, one person who is helping me get through the grief process is Duncan, my 1 year old son. Duncan is a happy, smiley little boy. He's really a joy. Justin, my husband, has also been great. We lean on each other quite a bit.
Gardening has been my therapy. I created Evan's Garden in memory of Evan, and I also have a butterfly/hummingbird garden. I found a neat idea to incorporate plant cultivars named after your deceased loved one and plant them in your garden. For example: I have planted Evan Saul Echinacea and Evan Matthew Dahlia. I have also purchased Duncan's Smiling Eyes Bearded Iris. Maybe I'll get a Pam and Justin plant one day, and make it a family affair.