Monday, June 29, 2009

Ghost Stories

Toddlers are known for having irrational fears. I remember our niece being afraid of an alligator in her Daddy's truck. Evan started talking about monsters when he was two and a half. Not really out of fear, but seemingly out of the need to explain everything to us simpletons.

We'd ask, "Is Daddy a monster?"
"No, Daddy's not a monster!" he would say, exasperated.
Or, "Is your bear a monster?"
"That's not a monster. That's Bear Bear!"

I made these cute ghosts for Halloween 2007 after seeing some pictured in a parenting magazine. They didn't seem to make much of an impression that first year, but Duncan was only 18 months old. Last Halloween, however, Duncan noticed the ghosts, and every time he saw them he would do a quavery "Ghost! Woooooooo!" (And, somehow, Justin managed to get Duncan to start saying in the same quavery voice, "Toast! Mmmm!") Duncan found our little wispy friends fascinating, and he even gave one a kiss! I packed the ghosts away after Halloween, much to my son's dismay. And not much has been said about them since.

When Duncan visited his Grandma and Grandpa recently, Grandma led Duncan down to The Basement to get something out of the freezer. It just so happens that they have their artificial Christmas trees down there. They have to keep them covered most of the year to keep them clean. I'm guessing they have them covered in white plastic or some other material. And naturally, to the overactive imagination of a little boy, those trees had a certain familiar look. Duncan tugged on Grandma's hand and whispered, "Ghosts!" I'm not sure if Grandma showed him the trees or not.

And maybe this trip to Grandma's inspired the latest round of ghost talk. We've started having some little talks that remind us of Evan and his monsters.

"Is that a ghost, Duncan?"
"That's not a ghost." (Or sometimes, it is!) But my favorite so far was when looking at a reflection in the mirror, I asked Duncan if the boy in the mirror was a ghost. And he said, "That's not a ghost!" He pointed to himself, and said, "That's Duncan!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009


It all began when I got Justin Guitar Hero III for Christmas 2007. He played the game and loved it. And I just didn't get it. Finally, after some coercion, I tried it out, and found out that, yes, it is fun! It was cool to play along with Ozzy on "Crazy Train," find out that ZZ Top has a song called "LaGrange" that can only be described as badass. After months of playing old, familiar tunes, I branched out. I saw some song called "Knights of Cydonia" by Muse. "Hmmm...that's a weird song title, " I thought to myself, "Never heard of Muse." I tried it, and thought the guitar part was challenging (I always played on the Easy setting, so nothing was ever really challenging!) But I thought the song was kind of cool. It reminded me of The Ventures, a guitar heavy band from the 1960's that makes me think of the beach (surf music) plus Queen. You know, one of the greatest (if not the greatest!) rock bands in history. I looked up Knights of Cydonia on youtube. And found a goofy video that was made for the MTV type channels, and lots and lots of live concert footage. I checked the concerts out, too. Awesome. And pretty soon I was listening to everything I could get my hands on by Muse. And Justin was hooked, too.

And pretty soon Duncan was pretending to rock with his own guitar while listening or just singing the bits that he could remember. Then Miranda came along. It's taken her a little while to become a fan, but now if we have Muse playing, she comes up to watch the video. Every. Time. And they're like lullabies. If either child is fussy, Muse is their, well, muse. Both Duncan and Miranda sing along to the songs that they remember. It's a little early for Miranda to ask for particular tunes by name, but Duncan is. Of course, he uses his own title for his favorites, like he calls Knights of Cydonia "Fiyiyi" (with a long i sound.) You can listen to the first 60 seconds to figure out why.

And oh yeah, we're seeing them (and a little band called U2) when they come to the US in the fall! Woohoo!

Knights Of Cydonia: Live At Wembley Stadium 2007

And the song that got it all started - Knights of Cydonia here in a live concert recording. You can listen to the first 60 seconds or so for Duncan' title - "Fiyiyi." (Incidentally, Miranda is peeking over my shoulder right now, singing along while we watch the vid!)


Duncan calls this video of "Invincible" the "Robot video." Because there are robots, naturally. He's also all about the robots recently.

Muse Bliss

Duncan calls this one "Fall Down the Hole"! He's obsessed with falling down the hole lately, so this video is really exciting for him!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Weeds and Things

Ivy Like Weed

Got this awful stuff everywhere. At least it pulls up easily. More so today, because we're getting rain! Woohoo! We haven't had any more than some sprinkles in more than a couple of weeks. And with the heat wave on, my poor little plants are wilty. Except the weeds. I can admire their tenacity in that regard, but I still don't like 'em!

Echinacea looking a little peeky

I know there are some funky green Coneflowers out there, but I'm pretty sure this one didn't start off that way. I'm pretty sure this was a "Razzmatazz," with pink mum like blooms. I'll have to look through my photos to be sure. Any chance one of the newer Coneflower hybrids could wack out like that? I figured if anything, it would revert to the regular Purple Coneflower. But green?!

More Stone!

I bought this stone to do a border around the playground area in back. Now, I'm think I'll use it for a path by Evan's garden. I'm thinking pavers around the playground instead. What do you think?

The World Through Duncan's Lens

The Thing

The Ceiling

The Sofa

The Kids Camera

The Photographer

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Summer Sillies

We're not spending as much time outdoors right now, because it's scorching hot! So, we've tried to have some indoor fun instead.

The kids have missed their outside explorations, but they seem to make due with all the cool toys in the playroom. Duncan creates new objects out of a couple of familiar toys each day. People keep telling me he's a budding engineer. I'm pretty sure they're not talkin' about trains. Harhar.

Our little Panda Bear in her panda bear jammies. Unfortunately, Miranda has decided to take this opportunity to hone in on her climbing abilities. That table she's leaning on? She climbs up on it and dances. Yeah, I know.

Duncan got some silly sun glasses in a birthday goody bag yesterday. We decided to try them on when we got home. (Well, I decided to forcibly try them on Duncan. He wasn't so crazy about it.)

But I was! yep, that's crazy ole me. I was feelin' the love, because I played flute for Duncan's schoolmates. They were learning about Ireland this week, so I played them a few Irish ditties. I was nervous that they would throw things at me (like crazy sunglasses or something), because 3 year olds are notorious for being a tough crowd. I got a lot of "We have a guitar at home" or "I like the flute" or "No, that didn't sound like a bird." But the highest praise I got was from Aidan, who said my playing was "cool awesome!" and another kid said seriously, "My mommy can't do that."

The Fruits of my Labor

Another Beautiful Nameless Red Daylily

I got this red daylily at the plant trade. It's planted in a small grouping of daylilies, a Turk's cap lily and Swamp Hibiscus. All trade plants! How cool is that? And free! (My inner cheapskate just sighed happily.)

Hymenocallis festalis "Spider Lily"

This is the one Spider lily that looked fantastic that I also got at the trade. The three others I picked up at Crazy Eddie's are looking much healthier. So, hopefully I'll get blooms out of all of them this year!

Sarracenia purpurea "Pitcher Plant"

Pitcher plants are cool little insect eating plants. I placed this one back in the backyard where we have a mosquito problem. hopefully, this plant will get plenty to eat!

Echinacea "Evan Saul"

I moved my Evan Saul Coneflowers from the Butterfly Garden to Evan's Garden last fall. I crossed my fingers, but didn't hold my breath. You know, just in case. They didn't look all that great when I moved them, but now, they look super happy and healthy. And I think the blooms are more orange this year. Helps to have some rain, I guess!

Daylily "Big Bird"

My new centerpiece in Evan's Garden is Big Bird Daylily! A fabulous, tall (I'd say probably 3 feet?) daylily with bright yellow blooms. I placed it in front of my Buckeye, which will eventually be 10 feet tall by 10 feet wide. now? It's just a baby, and looks dwarfed by Big Bird.

Echinacea purpurea "White Swan"

I planted all of these White Swan Coneflowers in the fall after we were put on a watering ban. I had a lot of lugging around buckets from my rainbarrel. I ran out of water, and waited (not so patiently) for either rain or the AC drain to fill it back up again. We got through the dry period, and this year's rains have everything up and beautiful. Although, we haven't had any rain around here for a couple of weeks. And the temperatures are in the 90's. Not cool! Literally!

Orange Crocosmia

A hot orange color for the hot summer garden. I've got lots of Crocosmia in my Butterfly Garden. It looks just like strappy foliage until mid June, and then, Wow! It's like fireworks on the ground!


Our first little mini harvest! I'm so excited that we actually have enough of a couple of things in the Veg Garden to eat! Woohoo!


I've got lots of beans on my bean trellis. And there are actually some beans coming in on a couple of my black bean plants! It's funny, but I'm so excited because I guess I didn't think anything would come in for me. I realize that I will have small yields, because I didn't plant a lot of stuff, but hopefully I'll have enough for our little family. And I will definitely have the learning experience, right? If we are still in this house next year, I will definitely add at least one new veg bed (two, if I can.) And and arbor, and....:)

My Bounty!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New 'Do

Evan around the time of his first haircut

Duncan has a lot of hair. He always has. He was born with a thick head of dark, dark hair. It all fell out, and came back in a lighter shade, but still thick. And it seems to grow quickly. Maybe it's just because I hate taking him to get his hair cut. Evan's hair was so light and fine, I could wait a while between cuts. In fact, Evan didn't get his first cut until he was 15 or 16 months, because I had trimmed it myself (around the ears and bangs) for that long. And honestly, Evan had that Charlie Brown almost no hair thing for a long time. Duncan had his first haircut well before his first birthday. We did all of the M&M bribing, and chocolate chip cookie feeding necessary to get him through the ordeal, preferably without tears. He seems to do better nowadays, thankfully, but it still seems too frequent!


I've been thinking that Duncan was looking a little shaggy since before his 3rd birthday in mid May. I finally took him in a week and a half or so ago. He did great till the very end, and by that point he was done! He wanted that cookie, by grannies.


And he got it, and a cute new 'do to boot. I love little boy haircuts. I know moms that let their little guys have longish hair, because they have some curl. That's never been an issue for our boys. Straight as a stick! I thought Miranda needed a cut, too, but the place was packed, and I thought to myself, "I'll just snip her bangs. No biggie." And then I did this to my poor little girl:


I butchered her bangs. Sure, she looked cute. But those bangs were really crooked, and the OCD in me could not take it! So, I took Miranda in for her first haircut, like big brother Evan, at 15 months.


And it was a good decision. She was not happy AT ALL during the appointment. She cried, she wriggled, but a miracle occurred, and she got a cute little bob.

Super Cute Profile

So sweet!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

We're experiencing a heatwave here, and I'm more inclined to stay inside in the air conditioning than to go outside and do work in the yard. Although, I did get out there last Friday after purchasing some new plants while visiting my parents. I went back over to Crazy Eddie's and found a few Spider lilies (hymenocallis festalis) for Evan's garden. They looked horrible. But I decided to shell out the $1 per plant, and baby them. I also planted a Big Bird Daylily (same color yellow as Big Bird on Sesame Street! Thanks, Mom!), a pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) , some annuals, a replacement Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) for the one I killed, and a new Turtlehead (Chelone)! So, some really cool plants for Evan's Garden, and the Woodland Garden. I sprayed myself with bug spray, and got to work, telling my husband to check on me periodically. When I got back inside, I took a shower, and was really starting to feel weak. I think I really pushed my limits that day. Thankfully, after chugging some water, and getting some peanut butter crackers (thanks, Justin!), I was ok.

I didn't take any photos of my new stuff, but here's some of what's in bloom and of interest right now:

Dahlia "Alpen Diamond"

This Dahlia was a freebie when I purchased 3 "Evan Matthew" Dahlias from J&C Dahlias. Alpen Diamond has been a robust plant, with pretty pink blooms summer and into fall. I haven't staked her in the two years (going on three) I've had her, but I may this year.


I've been very excited about all the little tomatoes coming in. Until Duncan, aka Mini Godzilla plowed through the veggie garden the other day. He spotted a tomato, and said, "apple!" and dropped it to the ground.

Fallen tomato

Naturally, it was one of the biggest ones!

Black bean bushes

He also uprooted at least 2 black bean plants. I obviously need to get the boy a garden of his own to destroy, so maybe mine will be safe(r).

Echinacea purpurea "Kim's Mophead"

I've got blooms on almost all of my Coneflowers! What a great plant! So many colors to choose from now, and different heights. There's a Coneflower for everyone! My Echinacea purpurea "Evan Saul's" are flowering, as are my White Swans. I'll try to get some pictures of them soon. I wish I had a telephoto lens, so I wouldn't have to go out in the heat to get pics!

Rudbeckia fulgida "Early Bird Gold"

And these little Rudbeckias are really lighting up my front beds. When they arrived in the mail (from Santa Rosa Gardens), they were small and rootbound. I put them in the ground right away, and they've really taken off. I'm very pleased with how happy and healthy they look. My "regular" Black eyed Susans still haven't bloomed. They have buds, but "Early Bird Gold" is definitely living up to its name!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Say, "Cheese!"

Duncan got one of those kid's digital cameras (you know, the kind you can drop a hundred times, and it doesn't matter?) for his 3rd birthday. And he's been quite the little photographer. Well, he already was quite the photographer, but now he doesn't have to pretend to take pictures. Because he really is taking them! He took, oh, only about 200 pictures that first day! I think the last total I saw on there (and this doesn't include the ones I've deleted that were just too bright or too dark) was around 700! I don't think I could take 700 pictures in two weeks time. Although, I generally don't take photos of my feet, my toys, the ceiling, the floor, the floor, the get the idea. Unfortunately, we haven't downloaded any of his pictures for me to show you. Something else I need to do is to videotape Duncan "at work."

He picks up the camera (or whatever he's pretending is the camera), says, "Say Cheesity Cheese!", waits for me (or Justin) to say "Cheesity cheese," then takes the picture with a "psst" sort of spitty sound effect.

And then he says, "Good job!"

One of These Things is Not like the Other

There used to be a patch of lawn up by the edge of the road that really suffered. I think it was just too hot there by all that asphalt. It was (and is) a sunny spot, but needed something a little tougher than fescue. Because the fescue? It couldn't take the heat, and was letting weeds infiltrate. Tsk tsk. So, I took shovel in hand, and dug out an area probably about 3 feet deep by 20 feet wide. I amended the rock hard soil (which might have been part of the problem, ya think?) and decided to plant one of nature's toughies: the daylily. Daylilies can take drought, they can take moisture, they can take heat, they can take sun, they can take part sun. Shoot, they may be able to take shade, but just not bloom so much. I thought to myself, "If anything can make it up there by the road, it's daylilies."

Hemerocallis "Wineberry Candy"

This was back in the Fall of 2007. I went to a local nursery and looked for what was left over from the summer. I wanted a bunch of one kind of daylily, so I had my work cut out for me. I ended up choosing "Wineberry Candy," because they had several plants, and I figured I could divide them out to make up the rest of the area. My internal cheapskate was happy.

And when Summer 2008 rolled around, I had lots of pretty blooms in a once difficult spot. Not all of the plants bloomed, but I figured they would, too, in time.

Summer 2009 is here, and the daylilies are looking spectacular. And this year, almost all of them are blooming. "See," I said to myself, "all they needed was a little more time." I drive or walk by them each day, and smile. Until I discovered something was amiss.

There was (and is) a single red nameless daylily in there with my peachy-purple throated "Wineberry Candies"! Who is this beautiful stranger? And why couldn't more have been just like her? That's right. I love the red one. In fact, I've been thinking about buying some red and yellow daylilies to put in raised beds around the playset in the backyard. This means I don't have to buy the red ones! My inner cheapskate is very happy!

Now, if only some yellow ones could show up for free. Hmmm.... Anybody wanna trade?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cut Down and Puffed Up

Echinacea purpurea "Evan Saul" after being mowed down

Garden beds that lie too near the weeds, I mean, lawn, can sometimes fall victim to The Lawnmower. Unfortunately, the Shrub Island-turned-plants-with-my-kids'-names-Garden is not clearly marked, and my Evan Saul Coneflower was sheared. When I saw what was left of what had been a big, healthy plant, I almost cried. Not to mention the fact that this is one of the plants named with the same name as my son who died. It was a tough blow, but it is coming back.


I think I picked this Astilbe up at Crazy Eddie's Used plants last year. Maybe Mom remembers. I'm sure it was called something. Too bad I don't remember. They look beautiful, and they're blooming later than most Astilbes in this area (Zone 7b or 8. They've changed it a bit.)

Daylily "Paper Butterfly"

I suffered the disappointment of losing my "Teddy Bear" sunflowers in Evan's garden recently. They were tiny (about an inch), in spite of the fact that they had been in the ground for weeks and weeks. I think I may have inadvertently disturbed them when planting my new Bat Faced Cupheas. So, now I have a place in the very center of Evan's garden, the place for a showy plant, that is absolutely empty. I'm so disappointed and frustrated. I'm not sure what to put there.

I was considering dividing and moving these Paper Butterfly Daylilies there. They are big and beautiful. I had hoped for color for a longer period, though. There is a new yellow Knockout Rose. What do you think?

And as promised, Annabelles!

Hydrangea aborescens "Annabelle"

The Annabelle hydrangeas in my yard have been fantastic this year. I have no regrets about moving them out of Evan's Garden to the Shrub Island. They seem very happy there. I also have two more in the butterfly garden (one newbie as of this weekend!) Can you believe they are native hydrangeas?! I don't know if any other hydrangea has the puffed up balloon like flowers, which are a favorite with the kids. A hit for the whole family.

I had to get a shot of Annabelle's big blooms.

Me and Annabelle!