Sunday, May 31, 2009

This Just In...

Or just out. (Snicker snicker!) Duncan just went poo poo in the potty! Woohoo! It was probably a total fluke, but we'll take it. hopefully, this will get the potty business going in the right direction.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Birthday Boy!

Duncan just turned 3, so we had to celebrate! We decided to keep things small again this year, and just invite the family. We did the usual birthday activities...ordered pizza, got a cake, piled up presents for the special boy. Duncan wasn't very interested in the pizza. When asked if he'd like a slice, he politely refused. "No, thank you," he said. I call this behavior being politely belligerent. When it's time to cut the cake, it's traditional for the birthday boy to be in attendance. "Duncan, do you want some cake?" "No, thanks," he says. Finally, when his cousin Beau tells him it's a firetruck cake, Duncan seems interested. He climbed up on a chair to see the cake. He took the firetruck toy off, and climbed back down to play. He wasn't interested in the eating part.

Duncan and Beau

What finally brought the birthday boy back over was the lighting of the candle. When he sees a fire, whether it's a candle or the flame on our gas stove, he almost always says, "Fire! Emergency!" and starts trying to blow out the flame. And with a huff and a puff, he blew the big number 3 out. And went back to playing with his firetruck. "Do you want some cake, Duncan?" "No, thanks." He must have thought we were a hardheaded bunch!

Justin, Duncan and Beau

After the rest of us ate, we gathered to watch Duncan open up his presents. He opened up the biggest one first, naturally. It was a crane! The biggest, noisiest, most annoying thing his Pop and LaLa could have found. He threw the firetruck down, forgotten. And the rest of us and the rest of the presents were forgotten, too. I ended up unwrapping his presents and showing him all the cool stuff he got. he remained unfazed...

Duncan, Beau and Miranda

until I opened the jackhammer from Aunt Pookie and Uncle Wes. This was a little boy's fantasy! Noisy trucks! Noisy construction equipment! What could be better? Taking them outside!

Miranda enjoying outside!

Beau and Duncan and The Jackhammer

This gave everyone else a chance to play with the crane.

Carmella and Miranda and The Crane

We ended up taking the crane outside, too, where Duncan played with it for hours (on an empty stomach!) It was a wonderful birthday for my little guy!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Made a Mess!"

Breakfast time usually means a lot of running around getting waffles and bananas on plates, milk in cups, kids in seats, etc. I was pleased this morning that I had a little time to myself (no little girl underfoot), so I was able to get everything together beforehand, instead of once the kids were in their chairs. The thought did cross my mind when I called Miranda's name, that it was a little too quiet. The kind of quiet that means something is going on. She did finally come when she heard the toaster oven buzzer. And this is what I saw...

And this...

She led me back to the scene of the crime to show me how it all went down. (And where the camera happened to be!)

Mommy carelessly had not closed the lid on the diaper rash cream, and Miranda had to investigate. After weeks of getting slathered with sunscreen, she knew what to do with that stuff. It was all up her legs, her hands were covered. It even appears that she tipped the can up like a drink and gave it a try. Usually when she spills milk or food on the floor, she'll say, "Made a mess!" This time I guess she knew she didn't need to say anything.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

40 Days of Prayer

Evan Verfurth is a beautiful 4 year old boy. His life before meningitis was full of laughter and smiles. Since contracting Bacterial Meningitis in December 2007, Evan's future has become uncertain. He is re-learning everything, but the doctors still don't know what the final prognosis will be. Evan suffered brain damage from the disease, and brain injuries take a long time to heal. Evan's mom, Trish, is beginning a 40 Day Prayer Vigil on June 1 to ask God to heal Evan's brain. As another family touched by this awful disease, we will be participating in the prayer vigil (it's June 1- July 10.) Please join us in your prayers!

Check out Evan Verfurth's updates. Trish will have a prayer each day on the site during the vigil.

Miranda and Friends

Hydrangea serrata "Miranda"

I purchased a couple of Miranda hydrangeas this year for the Shrub Island-turned-plants-with-my-kids'-names-Garden. The pictures I saw online had blue flowers, so imagine my surprise when they came in pink! I'm guessing the ph to the nursery's soil was alkaline. And I'm also guessing that, unless I started amending for next year, I'll have blue blooms in future years. Where I live you never, ever see pink hydrangeas. I don't know if it's because people prefer the blue, or they just don't want to go through the hassle of altering the soil ph. Laziness, in other words. Thing is, I like the pink. I mean, it's my daughter's hydrangea, afterall.

See how pink "Miranda" is!

Spigelia marilandica has got to be one of my favorite native plants. Look at those vibrant red blooms. They really light up my woodland garden. I don't have much else blooming back there past early spring, so the Spigelia is a real standout. Hmmm...maybe I need some summer bloomers in there. Any ideas? Heuchera? I need to get some more Spigelia, too. One is just not enough!

Spigelia marilandica "Indian Pink"

I have a few things blooming in Evan's Garden: one Oakleaf Hydrangea (the other's not even in bud!), two Virginia Sweetspires (aka Itea), melampodium, bat faced cuphea (thanks to LaLa!), and this fabulous "red" Tiger Lily. It's kind of burnt orange to me. What do you think?

Red Tiger Lily with Itea "Saturnalia" in Evan's Garden

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Afters

As promised, here are a few pictures of some of the work I've been doing in the yard. The previous post had the before pictures. These are the Afters.

A closeup of the part of the creek that I'm de-weeding. Here's the before picture from last summer. I've transplanted daylilies from further down.

Here's a look of what still needs to be done. And what is making me feel like I took on too big of a project!

And the new and improved and smaller azaleas! Here's the before. After seeing my handiwork, Justin said, "That looks like it was a lot of work." It didn't really feel too bad at the time. maybe because of the pleasantly cool temperatures. However, when I moved all of the branches from the driveway to the back, the pile was big enough to be a whole azalea! Wow, did I give those things a pruning!

The Evolution of a Climber

Whenever Miranda gets it into her head that she needs to get from a low place to a high place, I tell her not so gently, "God only allows one climber per family, and that space is already filled. Sorry!"

Kids pretending to be interested in the potties, but only actually as step stools

Trouble is, she is either not listening or she's just following her climby brother's example.

She's started climbing up onto the small kid's chairs, the potty seat, onto the sofa (with help),

up and on ridiculously large riding toys. And yesterday she used the kid's chair to get to the top of...

the kiddie table. "Victory!" she must be thinking. Me? I'm thinking, "Not another one!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just Plain Lazy

About posting, that is. I went to the Plant Swap, as promised. And it was as fun as usual. Plant chatter, different kinds of plants to share, and a touch of hysteria when the trade began. I bagged the following (through pre-trades and the general trade): Hibiscus coccineus, Turk's Cap Lily, lots and lots of daylilies, including "Pardon me," Penstemon smallii, Cleome, Penstemon "Husker's Red," False Blue Indigo, Spanish Lavender, Epimedium, Sensitive Fern, "Spider Lily," Alstroemeria, a buckeye for Evan's Garden, a small native Azalea and fern for mom, and maybe more. I've gotten most stuff planted, except the dayliles, hibiscus and Turk's cap. But I know where I want to put them. And today I have a crick in the neck, so I may not get to them. Although, I did some pruning...

I pruned the enormous azaleas at the end of the driveway. As I clipped I remembered the last time I pruned them. I was 9 months pregnant with my second son, Duncan. I had just been taken off bed rest, because the doctor said it was ok to go into labor at this point. So, imagine a very pregnant mom pruning enormous shrubs! With her 2 year old, Evan, running around gleefully. Duncan just turned 3 the other day, so it's been over three years since I pruned those plants. And they looked it. Now, not so much. I can't say they look perfect, but they are no longer enormous! Of course, I should preface this whole pruning paragraph with the story of the lost bypass pruners. I've been needing to prune back the azaleas and the unruly mailbox honeysuckle for weeks, but I couldn't find any of my 3 bypass pruners. After weeks of looking, I finally went and bought some more, only to find another pair within a few minutes of breaking in my new ones. Typical! Over the weekend I got out the big loppers and the landscaping pole saw, and took down some privet branches. It really opened up the yard! It's great how nice a yard can look without those stupid weeds reaching in every corner. Stoopid privets. Unfortunately for my new Cardinal flower, when Justin and I dragged the branches back to stack at the back of the property, it got flattened. Not sure it will recover. I'm totally bummed, because I just got it this year, and was so purdy!

My other project (besides plant trade stuff and pruning) is de-weeding the creek banks. This is actually a major project. There are a few layers of sediment that have accumulated (seems especially so, since the drought) over the rocks that the previous owners installed. I've been digging out weeds (and hostas!), and scraping off dirt down to the rock layer. And digging up and transplanting daylilies from further down the bank. The idea is to have daylilies along the entire (or, at least, most of) the bank. It's quite an undertaking. We'll see how it goes. I need to take some "after" pictures, now that you've seen the befores.

With the uncertainty of our current situation (hubs is getting laid off next month), we've talked a lot about fixes for inside and outside the house. I kind of suggested that I could just take on the outside, and would he care. Nope. He basically gave me free reign...within a budget, of course! It's kind of exciting. Although, I keep making the mistake of asking him what he thinks, and what he thinks usually involves putting in grass seed. I should remind him how much he hates to mow. I'm thinking a checkerboard pattern with paver squares, and groundcover squares for the area that's too wet for most things. I figure I might as well put something there that won't mind it, right? And the kids will love jumping from square to square. Shoot, I think I would love that, too! So, we'll see what actually takes place.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Turd in the Hand is Not Better Than Two in the Diaper!

What a week! Justin found out recently that his company will be laying off 130 people or so next month. Unfortunately, he's one of them. So, he's been brushing up the resume, purchased some new shoes, and contacted a recruiter. He had a phone interview last week that resulted in an in person interview this week. It was one of those all day affairs where the victim, I mean, candidate has to talk with several different people throughout an entire workday. There's breakfast and lunch. He thought he might get a break and try to call me. Didn't happen. I didn't get the call until almost 5. And it went ok. We'll find out the results sometime next week.

I usually talk to Justin on the phone a couple times a day just to check in, and give him the scoop on what's going on at home. Usually it's something like, "Miranda just said guitar!" Or lately, "Duncan mixed up another strange concoction with the sugar." This week Justin was home most of Monday and Tuesday, because I had jury duty. He was able to go to Duncan's End of the School Year Picnic on Tuesday. So, the kids got some good Daddy time.

We decided that the period between the end of school, and the beginning of Summer PMO would be a good time to try to do some potty training with Duncan. He will be turning 3 on Sunday (wow!), so I kind of feel like I've put it off long enough. When asked about whether or not he would like to learn to go pee pee in the potty, Duncan responds with polite belligerence, "No, Thank You!" with a little hand wave that basically means, "Go away." However, Duncan made it clear by his actions that something needs to happen with that poo poo in his pants. Unfortunately, he chose to pull it out and roll it around in his hands. He does this with food (not at the same time!) He sits there, crumbling his bread with the 1,000 mile stare.... This week, however, he pulled out the poop, handled it, Mommy finds him, puts poo in the proper place (the potty), and washes hands like crazy. This happened a couple of times earlier in the week. Duncan got the Poo-Poo-Is-Dirty-We-Do-Not-Touch-It-We-Put-it-in-the-Toilet speech. "Do you understand?" "Yes, I understand."

And then came Thursday. The day that I was unable to reach Justin by phone, because he was being harassed, I mean, interviewed by some folks. And honestly, I'm sure Justin's family (if they read my blog anymore) are chuckling, because Justin doesn't talk. He's a quiet guy. So, the fact that I'm getting all weird, because I don't have contact with him is probably amusing. And I suppose I could have called someone else, but I wasn't sure I wanted to talk about it. "Oh hello, Insert Friend's Name, yes, we're having Poo issues."

With all of the potty training business in mind, I've been letting Duncan tool around the house in the buff. Yes, I know, I'm asking for trouble. But Thursday, after starting the day with a pee pee on the floor (Duncan's, not mine!), I told myself, "I just don't think I'm up for this today." And suited my naked guy up in a diaper. And he played, and all was right with the world. Miranda went down for a nap, and Duncan played some more. I walked through the playroom. Sniff Sniff. "Duncan, we need to change your dia...what the...!" He had the poo out and smeared all over his hands, and on some toys. I did all the "Ugh. Gross." and "That's Disgusting" that was appropriate for the occasion (in other words, the whole time!), and cleaned him up. Gave him The Speech, and asked if it was understood. Understood. We do not play with poo poo. Unfortunately (I seem to be saying that a lot in this post!), I didn't see some of the little turds wedged in between some boxes. So, a little while later, I hear: spitting sound, "yutty." He came running up to me, poo all over his hands again, and said, "Brush teeth?" He had decided to sample something of his own creation. And found it lacking! I cleaned him up...again. I found poo smeared all over the boxes, wedged in between boxes, smeared all over some other stuff. This time Duncan got a Time Out. And I cleaned the mess. And called the Pediatrician to ask, "I think my son ate some poo, do I need to expect profuse vomiting in a few hours?" Thankfully, no. In fact, the first question to me was, "Who's poo was it?" So, I brushed his teeth, gave him some water, washed his hands again and again and again. And decided, "After all this crap, we need a cookie break."

Today, we started potty training more seriously. I'm just waiting to see what happens when he poos in the potty or, more probably, on the floor. What a joyous day that will be. At least, then I can call Justin to commiserate!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

So, I'm cheating again. I actually took these photos the other day with the not fancy camera. But those things pictured are still in bloom. So, it's only kinda cheating, right?

Here's the latest Veggie Garden Photo (yes, Mom, I still need to mulch!) I've been bugging my neighbor about coming over to pick lettuce. Justin and I are letting it go to waste, and my neighbor is interested, but she keeps forgetting. I noticed the green lettuce was looking a little picked over the last couple of mornings. I asked Rebecca today if she had come over. Nope, she had forgotten again. I think the bunnies have found my garden! Oh no! They don't like purple lettuce, at least!

This is the unnamed Clematis that has had wonky flowers for the past couple of years. And after a spring pruning this year, it seems to be back to its usual gorgeous self.

And here's my surprise Foxglove hanging out with what I believe is an Apothecary Rose. They look really lovely together in person, even if this photo doesn't show it.

I'll be attending the plant swap tomorrow! I lined up all my trades in the driveway. I didn't see any snake activity, so hopefully it's gone! I'll pack everything up in the car in the morning, and look forward to plant talk and food and fun. What's better than free plants, chit chatting about plants, and yummy food? Well, there are probably better things, but free plants are always good. I'll post my booty (my plant trades!) when I get home.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Duncan loves all things to do with tools and the workshop. He loves his toy tools, his book about tools, and especially any of Daddy's real tools that get mistakenly left lying around.

Duncan brought these ear muffs over and said, "Put on ears!" I put them on, and as you can see, he was thrilled. He loved the altered sense of hearing. Of course, I had to put them on, too (sorry, no pictures!)

Then he went running around singing and yelling and making all kinds of racket just to hear how weird he sounded. And he proclaimed that it was, "Fun!"

May Beauties

April showers really have produced May flowers this year! We've been experiencing wet weather for the first time in a few years. It's actually pretty much what we average, but it seems a lot wetter, since the drought years were so tough.

I took a walk around the yard with the not fancy camera (I really need to get some batteries for it!), and got some good pics of a few things (and bad pics of a lot of things!) Here are some of the decent ones:

Clematis "Niobe"?

I read in the spring about the different types of Clematis, and the different times one should prune them. I cut one (or both maybe?) back in the spring, and they are both coming in beautifully. Last year I had strange blooms on the unnamed pink Clematis. The one or two flowers that have bloomed this year have looked perfect!

My Plant Swap Stash

Here are all the plants I plan to take to the swap this weekend! It's always fun to get together and talk plants and family and everything else. The other day when watering my stash, I saw a snake slither out of one of the pots. I'll definitely have to take care when packing them into my car! I certainly don't want to have a snake in there, or give one to a friend, either!

Apothecary Rose?

Speaking of plant trades...this little rose appeared in my box one year. It's still pretty small, but loaded with blooms this year! A surprise plant showed up right next to this rose...a foxglove! I dug them up (along with many other plants) during my "dig up the toxic plants" period. Since they are biennial, I am guessing this plant had the rest period last year, is now up and looking lovely this year.

Wave Petunia

I bought a bunch of annuals from Crazy Eddie's recently. I bought a hanging basket of Wave petunias for something like $4. I brought it home, and divided it into three pieces. Three plants for $4! As Clark Howard would say, "What a savings!"

Peony "Sarah Bernhardt"

Peonies are just plain gorgeous. I also got this from Crazy Eddie's. Sarah Bernhardt is supposed to be fragrant, and this plant has had a nice scent before, but not this bloom. Or maybe I should take another whiff first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Exploring is Messy Business

Today I spent a fair amount of time cleaning up messes. Actually, I do that everyday. And with two spilly little ones around, there's no wonder why we have ants. After a couple of weeks of trying to get rid of them by being cleaner, we finally decided on setting out those ant bait things. And there seemed to be a little less activity today. Until Duncan decided to dump out half the sugar. It was everywhere (like sand, Amy!) It took a good hour to sweep, vacuum, mop, mop again, wipe, wipe some more, and then give up. And there was clearly more there, because I saw little ant gatherings here and there. I'm sure it was like they found the smorgasbord. Later, we had lunch and went outside. I wanted Duncan to burn off some of that energy before the rain came. And I secretly hoped that it would burn enough off that he wouldn't get into any more trouble. We had been inside for just a few minutes, when I heard the distinct sound of something liquid being poured. I yelled, "Stop what you're doing!" But it was too late. A whole gallon of milk was poured in the fridge and seeping out onto the floor. Duncan had already been admonished for pouring out the sugar. So, he got the time out chair. I cleaned up most of the mikl. When he got out from time out, I gave him some paper towels to help. He did for about 10 seconds, and the just stood there. I told him help or back to time out. So, it was back to time out. So, I'm hoping that Duncan will be really schmoozing it up for Mother's Day. I've got it coming, dangit!

Evan did his fair share of spilling, too. I don't remember Evan pouring things out as much as Duncan (Duncan is our little scientist.) But, like all toddlers, Evan was a bit messy. He was a really good eater, but he wore a lot of what missed his mouth!

Once I walked in on Evan trying to administer children's Tylenol to himself. Lucky for us, he'd observed Mommy or Daddy pouring the medicine into the little cup. It didn't occur to him to just upend the bottle. We caught him very carefully trying to pour it into the little cup! That's how it's done, afterall! (And so much for childproof caps, right?)

All of our children seem to think that what is on Mommy and Daddy's plate (or in our cups) tastes better. We'll have the exact same meal for all of us, but Duncan leans over to take a bite off my plate.

When I left a little bit of chocolate milk in a glass, Evan eagerly climbed into my chair, and started gulping it down. Unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell, breaking the glass and giving himself a nasty cup shaped bruise on in face.

My House is Kinda Dirty...

Because I'm spending all my time gardening! Yeah! I don't like having a dirty house, of course, but I figure I'll catch up soon enough. I've been digging up and dividing things for the plant swap on the 16th. The seeds that I sowed outside are all (or mostly) up and looking great. The only exception is the Bunny Tail grass. The little leaves that were up appear to have disappeared. So, I may just put something else there. I'm a little bummed about it. The sunflowers I sowed are looking great. I've got three kinds of beans coming in (including black beans!), carrots. hopefully everything will continue looking good and bear lots of food for us. I'm starting to feel like I should have prepared a bigger space. My mom tells me, "Four plants. That won't be enough." Well, where do you learn how many are enough? I'm also thinking about making a small bed over by the hedge that separates my yard from the neighbor's. This is where I had originally wanted the bigger bed, but I'm thinking a small bed would be great there. We'd have a grass path between it and the veggie garden down to the lower part of the yard.

I think I mentioned before that I found a picture online of a front yard garden that inspired me for my front yard garden. I have a traditional style house, and always tried to go for symmetrical beds, but my combination of plants or colors was always off. It doesn't help that the foundation shrubs I have are still pretty small (always buy big for your foundation plantings! Lesson learned!) I got my Rudbeckia fulgida "Early Bird Gold" in the mail. I planted them and the Echinacea purpurea "Kim's Mop Head" for summer color. And now I have purple Salvia splendens (annual salvia) in front, with melampodiom on the edges for some bright yellow. My color and plant selections are somewhat different from the original picture, but I'm hoping that my take on the other gardener's idea will look as good as his! Fingers crossed.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

So Sneaky

Duncan and I went to the grocery store today. Sometimes he helps put things in the cart for me. And sometimes he'll toss an item or two (or five!) in of his own choosing. Occasionally, it's something we were getting anyway, so it stays, but mostly they are returned to the shelf. Today Duncan was content to ride in the cart. Except when he wanted to be carried. He didn't really do any exploring. And I'm ok with that. I neglected to get him a cookie from the bakery counter, but I thought we could eat one at home later (I know, I'm weak.) We finally went to the checkout. I wedged the enormous car-cart up next to the conveyor area, and began to unload. I had my back to Duncan, but would turn to check on him periodically. I heard a splat. I thought maybe Duncan had dropped something on the floor. I turned. Nothing on the floor. Ahhh...there was a bag of M&M's on the conveyor belt that I hadn't put there. I glanced at Duncan, and he was looking slightly sheepish. He knew I'd get them, because, like I said. I'm weak.