Thursday, April 30, 2009

Duncan, the Budding Photographer

I caught Miranda walking around with the brand new camera yesterday. I took it, and gave her something equally interesting (like a cute bear.) I didn't have to ask how she got it. Of course, she wouldn't have said, "Duncan." She may have said, "bubba" or "gujus" or "doggy!" I put two and two together when I found a chair pushed up to the computer armoire, and papers scattered everywhere.


What I didn't know was that Duncan used the couple of seconds between getting the camera, and getting the camera taken away (by Miranda. She's very grabby) to take a couple of pictures.

Miranda, always ready to strike a pose. She sees the camera, and starts saying, "Cheese!" When she sees Daddy with the camera, she starts walking over, and she's immediately hamming it up.

Duncan's attempt at art photography. What we're probably missing is Miranda's cheesy grin!

Weird Stuff

Anybody know what that is on my tree? Just little red dots. Only a few leaves have it. Should I do something about it?

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll see a snake skin on the upper left. I already knew there was a snake living in the creek area, but does it have to be a litter bug?!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In the Garden Today

Miranda checks out Evan's Zoo Garden!

I created this new path in my Woodland Garden recently.

Deutzia gracilis "Chardonnay Pearls"/Duncan, Japanese Roof Iris, Echinacea purpurea "Sundown"/Evan Saul, Hydrangea serrata "Miranda", and Hydrangea aborescens "Annabelle." And just a peak of my Sambucus nigra "Black Lace." Nice, huh?

The Veggie Garden - welcome, beans!

Clematis "Niobe"?

How Sweet!

Seconds before this photo was taken, Duncan and Miranda were holding hands.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Muffins with Mom

Duncan falling asleep and eating!

I'm going with Duncan to school today. We are going to sit down and eat muffins together. I guess. It's called "Muffins with Mom," so I'm guessing that Duncan is going to eat a muffin with me. Although, I have to say that I would probably prefer to be a part of "Doughnuts with Dad" on Thursday. Just for the doughnuts, you understand. Or better yet, "Cookies with your Cute Kid." Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Here's one you never hear: "Pie with your Parents." Or even "Gravy with Grandpa." And down South, "Grits with Grandma."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Join Hands Against Meningitis!

My son, Evan, who we lost to Bacterial Meningitis at the age of 2 years, 9 months, and 24 days. Still missing you, Evan.

Click here to join the worldwide joining of hands against Meningitis.

Today is World Meningitis Day. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of meningitis. Here's a link to the US Center for Disease Control's overview on meningitis.

Check out these other meningitis blogs:

My Son Tom

Dear Elena

Evan Verfurth (a Caringbridge site)

There will be a candle lighting tonight at 8PM Eastern Standard Time, if you'd like to join us in remembering Evan, and countless others effected by meningitis.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just Plain Cute

Here's Miranda in her fancy Poodle cloth diaper.

Doing some reading...

When the camera appears, the girl always knows how to strike a pose.

Primping...again. Such a girl!

Oh Hail No!

We had some more severe weather last night that resulted in pebble/marble sized hail. Thankfully, the hail didn't last too long. The plants looked a bit downcast this morning, but they've perked up now. So, it definitely could have been worse. Hail always scares me, because I've always associated hail with tornadoes.

I've been planting like a maniac, and I'm mostly done except for some annuals. I was afraid of a late freeze, but it's not looking like it's going to happen (crosses fingers), so I might as well get those going soon. I think I'll be going back to Crazy Eddie's Used Plants for more cheap stuff. I hate to spend much on annuals, since they're just here for the season. Ya know what I mean? I planted my Miranda hydrangeas in the same "Island" bed as my Duncan Deutzia, and also decided to put some Evan coneflower in, too. I sowed some seeds in the veggie garden--sunflowers, two kinds of beans, and carrots. I also sowed the Teddy Bear Sunflowers and Bunny Tail grass in Evan's Zoo Garden. We'll see how they do out there. If I just leave them alone, they'll probably be fine!

I've also been thinking about digging up (stop rolling your eyes, Mom!) my Beautyberry Bush (it's never bloomed and never put on a berry show), and replace it with a native Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) that I'll be getting at the plant trade next month. It's a cool, large specimen plant with bottlebrush flowers, and those neat buckeye things later on. And it would fit right in to the Zoo theme. I just am not sure about how much sun it will get there. That is my only hesitation.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Smiles

Lonicera X heckrottii "Gold Flame"

Welcome Spring! We had a couple of brushes with freezing weather, but for the most part, everything is coming in and looking great. I have my "Gold Flame" honeysuckle merrily welcoming the mail ma'am, visitors, and bees! Although, it typically will have some powdery mildew as the weather gets more humid. Small price to pay for such a beauty.

Orthosiphon aristatus "Cat's Whiskers"

Mom and I just picked up the tropical "Cat's Whiskers" last week. What a great addition to Evan's Zoo Garden! I dug up the sickly gardenias, and put these in in their place. I looked Orthosiphon up on Dave's Garden, and there were nothing but rave reviews. My only fear is that I won't be able to find it again next year. However, from what I've read it's easy to propagate, so maybe I'll take a few cuttings before our first freeze in the fall.

Dahlia "Evan Matthew"

I was completely stoked to find that my Evan Matthew Dahlia is back! I didn't kill it. Hooray! I moved it from the butterfly garden to Evan's Zoo Garden back in the fall. I figured that I'd be replacing it. I'm hoping this year for what I didn't get from this Dahlia last year: blooms.

Deutzia gracilis "Chardonnay Pearls" or "Duncan"

I tried to get some closeup shots of the Duncan Deutzia with no luck. It's a great little plant. The chartreuse foliage really stands out in the more wooded garden, the bell shaped flowers are sweet (I haven't noticed a fragrance, unfortunately), and the size is good 2-3' tall and wide (at present). I decided to place my Miranda Hydrangeas and some more Evan Saul Coneflowers in the same bed. So that all of my children's named plants will be together.

Iris "Duncan's Smiling Eyes"

My first blooms from "Duncan's Smiling Eye's" Iris! Oh so lovely. And the name is such a perfect description of my happy, little Duncan!

Iris "Duncan's Smiling Eyes"


We practically live outdoors this time of year. The weather is beautiful, and the mosquitoes aren't out. Well, not in droves. The only thing that drives us back indoors is rain. We've been droughty the last couple of years, but this year is starting off nice and rainy. Of course, that means finding stuff to do inside!

Duncan, our resident Guitar hero, also "makes music" on his homemade drum set.

Thankfully, once the rain stops, we can get our little noise makers back outside, where it doesn't hurt my ears if they yell. Ha Ha--I said if!

Miranda loves to swing. She sits in that little seat, while I bebop around doing stuff in the yard. I go back and push her, and then run around digging, planting, whatever. When she's done, she sometimes says, "All done!" I let her down to run around. Unfortunately, she usually makes a beeline towards the creek.

At times like this it's good to have another pair of hands (and feet!) to keep up. Surprisingly, Duncan doesn't get into too much trouble, beyond throwing toys in the creek. So, I can run around after Miranda fairly freely.

After a little time away from the swing (oh, about 2 minutes!), Miranda wants to swing some more. And that's ok. That means I get some rest! Unless, of course, Duncan chooses this moment to run around to the front. Then we all go.

The only thing better than swinging is playing with Big Brother. She watches Duncan play while she swings. She peeks around me to see what he's doing. When he comes over to play near us, Miranda is "all done" and has to get down. She runs over to play with Duncan in the Sand/Pebble Box. They load and dump rocks and sand into Duncan's little dump truck. Outside is the Best. But Big Brother is Better!

So Disappointed!

The kids and I were out of town most of the week, spending some quality time with the grandparents. I watered my seedlings on Monday, thinking we would return Friday morning at the latest. Well, while we were away, I learned of the death of a longtime friend. She lived in the same area as my folks, so I decided to stay one more day to be able to attend the visitation of someone special. We got home Saturday morning, and many of my seedlings were toast! I'm so upset! And these were my do-overs from the last failed attempt. So, now I'm thinking I will just sow the seeds directly into the ground, and let Mother Nature take care of it (she has much more experience!) So, fingers crossed, I'll still have my Teddy Bear Sunflower, Bunny tail Grass, and veg. And another thing...I finally called Wayside Gardens to check on my Panther Lily that they were supposed to send in the spring. The lady on the line said the order had been canceled, and a coupon sent (it was in the mail yesterday), and a 15% off coupon. And I feel the same way she did, "They should have let you know." So, she canceled it off my credit card. I can't say the Wayside experience was all negative, I did get the other bulbs I ordered in good time last fall, and they're coming up now. So, I may use that coupon for something in the new catalog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feelin' the Love

Duncan is a sweet boy. Yes, he's rambunctious. Yes, he's wild. But he's also very, very sweet. All those hugs I was missing from Evan, I'm starting to get from Duncan. And sometimes kisses, too! When he wakes up in the morning, he'll give Justin a kiss on the nose, and say, "I wuv you!"

When Duncan accidentally shut the car door on me yesterday, I said, "Mommy's going to need a kiss for that!" Unfortunately for Duncan, he opted not to kiss Mommy, and chose to run away full tilt, instead. And he crashed. Now he has a skinned knee to show for it. If only he had just kissed his mama!

Since I've been using a side by side stroller, Duncan and Miranda have been interacting more. They rock forward and back to get the stroller moving faster, they tickle and slap at each other. And the giggles just warm the heart. But the sweetest thing I think I ever saw was Duncan leaning towards his sister. I wasn't sure what was coming...a hit? A tickle? He gave Miranda a hug, and a smooch, and said, "I wuv you baby!" I almost melted on the spot!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good Night, Sleep Tight

Storytime is a big part of our bedtime ritual. In true toddler fashion, Duncan always wants to read the same books. And he begs for more, when he knows it's time for bed. It's fun to see how his interests change from month to month, when it comes to reading and play. About a month ago, we were reading, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David Shannon. Lately, he's not so interested in the pirates. We've been reading The Boy Who Wouldn't Go To Bed by Helen Cooper. And also, The Toolbox by Anne and Harlow Rockwell. When reading The Toolbox, Duncan shouts out the particular tool or phrase that comes next. The book says that there are screws and a... "screwdriver!" he shouts with glee. And there's a wrench with big fat... "naughty bolts!" he yells. It's actually nuts and bolts, but naughty bolts are much more fun! Then, we'll pull out one of our many dinosaur books. He seems to like How Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague best. I love this series, because the artwork is fantastic and just plain silly. The dinosaurs have human parents, for one! Duncan likes to say what's going on on the page "pink ball bouncing down stairs!" and "orange backpack!" But then he leans over, and pretends to nibble the orange backpack, and says, "num num!" He even leaned over to "eat" a dinosaur last night. I asked if it tasted like chicken.

Once in the bed, Duncan shoos us out of the room (he has more playing to do, afterall), and says "Bye bye. See you soon!" If we linger too long, he may even say, "That way!" As in, "leave already!" If we're really lucky, he'll repeat our nightly mantra: "Good night, sleep tight. Sweet dreams!"

Give Peas a Chance

I took the kids outside to play this afternoon. After two days of unseasonably cold weather, it was so nice to be outside and be warm! I took a look around the gardens to see if I had any damage from the freeze. And, for the most part, covering up stuff seems to have worked. I covered up my Hydrangeas, Japanese maples, and some tender perennials. There were only a couple of things that got nipped. The one thing I was most disappointed about was my Persicaria. The foliage looked so beautiful yesterday! Alas, no more. The Texas Tarragon looked like it may have suffered some damage, too. Everything else in the veggie garden looked pretty good, albeit a little wind blown. I was righting the pea plants, so they'd be back on my homemade tents, and I noticed I had several little peas coming in! I was so excited! These are my very first peas. I said, "Look Duncan, peas!" He got all excited, because I was excited. He kept saying, "Peas!" I was afraid with his rough handling, we may have pulled them all off, but they remain intact. There is probably only enough for one serving! Hopefully, we'll have more coming in soon.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What's up part 2

More plants are coming up each day. I'm pleased to say that my Hepatica and Bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata), and my Spigelia marilandica are all coming up in my woodland garden! These are all woodland natives. I'll try to get some pictures once they are all up more. However, Mother Nature is throwing a curve ball at us. They're currently calling for a couple nights of freezing temperatures. I have so many tender things with leaves now, not to mention the buds, and the fantastic flowers! Agh! It's so disheartening! It's not unheard of, of course. In fact, the last two years in my area, we've had late freezes. I didn't bother to cover stuff up either year, and then wished I had. There are so many plants up now that I really care about (things in Evan's Zoo Garden, and my Duncan Deutzia, my Duncan's Smiling Eyes Iris has a huge bud!), that I will definitely be pulling out the sheets and blankets this time.

In the's beautiful this weekend. We spent most of the afternoon outside. I planted some daylilies my neighbor gave me (they're called "By Myself!") on either side of my veggie garden. I'm thinking about planting sunflowers in the back. I dug up a bunch of liriope. And my seedlings are so so.

Always on my Mind, Forever in my Heart

Duncan is approaching his third birthday next month. He is as much a handful as ever. But he is growing up. His language skills are improving, and he's always sharing the new and interesting things he learns every day. Duncan's also quite a little character. Miss Stephanie at school even calls him a rascal! He knows when he is about to get into trouble, and starts to put on the charm. "Hi!" he'll say with a sweet grin. Or even better, "I wuv you." He knows, instinctively, that it melts my heart. Yep, he's a rascal.

Miss Stephanie also called Evan a rascal. When they were about to go outside, the children were told to finish what they were doing, because it was time for recess. Evan would give Miss Stephanie a Look.

But once he got outside, he was happy again. And secretly, when she told me this 2 and a half years ago, I was pleased that I wasn't the only one getting The Look.

Evan was 2 years, 9 months, and 24 days old when he died. It feels like we had him longer than that. And he seemed older, what with his monstrous vocabulary. Last month Duncan passed the 2 year, 9 month, and 24 day mark. Now Duncan has outlived his older brother. Yet, Duncan still seems younger to me. I guess it's because he is still working out the language thing. Now that he's talking non-stop, Duncan is reminding us of Evan more and more.

Oh, how I miss that little boy.