Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Sometimes you just have to find the most uncomfortable place, have a snack, and catch a few zzz's.

Evan's Garden Update

I crossed back over to the back 40 yesterday to have a better look at individual plants in Evan's Garden. It was disheartening. One Oakleaf Hydrangea was flattened, and had lost leaves. Many leaves are dying, too. I tried to prop it up with a stick. It just looks sad. I also propped up my Itea "Saturnalia." It too was flat on the ground with some dying foliage. It looks like a fighter, though. There are definitely coneflowers still there. I may be missing a fern or two (Christmas fern), and I really don't know about my Tiger lilies. I didn't see any trace of them, but there's a lot of silt, so they may be buried. Other bulb plants lay there with their bulbs exposed completely. I don't know why my second trip back there was harder than the first. Maybe this time, because I was thinking about what all I am going to have to do, I became overwhelmed. One thing is clear for the short term: I'm going to have to get some proper stakes for my shrubs! We still have pools of standing water here and there in the back. Some are pretty big. It looks like some spots were dug out by the fast moving water. I thought that the puddles would have dried up by now. It's been 4 days since the last rain. I'm afraid the mosquitos are going to take advantage. wah!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Say What?

You hear it all the time, "Children are like sponges." It's usually said with excitement and news of a child's latest incredible achievement. Just yesterday I was bragging about how Miranda started counting to 10 along with her Daddy. It was a pretty impressive accomplishment for an 18 month old child. (And proof positive that girls rule and boys drool. Well, girls drool, too.)

When a kid starts talking, instead of a sponge, they're called parrots. "Watch what you say, or she may repeat it!" This usually covers curse words, but also those unsavory comments made "in private" about friends and family. You know what I'm talking about. The one time you let slip that cousin Cheryl is a total nutjob. And it's like the kid knows it's ammo, and uses it with relish.

But sometimes in their innocence, kids just say crazy, sweet, and silly stuff that's worth remembering. Here are some of our favorites.

Evan was an excellent talker from an early age. He did have a habit, though, of getting so excited about something that the words would come out too fast, and trip up over each other. But the excitement made it fun for all of us. He was so proud to tell Justin that he had named his little plastic toy dog. He was excited and giggling, and could barely contain himself as he said, "This is Barky!" Just before he got sick, I asked Evan what the he was going to call the smaller dog that came with Barky. He paused and thought about it, "That's Teeny Weeny Barky!" Of course, Evan was also a good eater. He spent more time eating his food than talking about it. But one day he just couldn't help himself. Justin had brought home a rotisserie chicken and sides from the store for lunch. He started to cut it up so each person would have the appropriate size portions. Evan came into the kitchen, observed his Daddy with knife in hand, and exclaimed, "What are you doin' to my chicken?!"

Duncan has taken his time with the whole speech thing, but now he seems to be catching up. Although, it seems like most of what Duncan says these days is, "Mine" or "It's Duncan's!" We talk about sharing with Miranda, but he hasn't quite grasped the idea. On Saturday she was playing with a toy, he ran up and grabbed it. Instead of the usual, "It's mine," he said, "I sharing!" We've got some work to do there. Duncan has kind of a running monologue about what he's doing, what's his, and the sound effects appropriate for the occasion. Aside from his firefighter duties mentioned in the previous post, he also invents robots, and what he and Evan both called "sheens" (machines.) But emergencies do crop up in his day to day chit chat. As we were driving to school one day, Miranda said something like "emergency" as we passed the firestation. Duncan chimed in, "That's right, Miranda, an emergency!"

And now even little Miranda is joining in on the fun. Of course, everything she says is cute, because she's such a charmer (what is it about girls?!) One of my personal favorites happens pretty much every day. Pretty much any time she's disrobed. That's right, naked. And it's completely my fault. Whenever my little Panda Bear is naked, I joyfully proclaim, "Yer nekkid!" And she runs around, giggling madly saying, "I nekkid, I nekkid!" Whenever she spots Duncan she'll say, "It's Duncan!" She's always so excited to see her big brother. If he's not in sight she wants to know where he is. With recent Evan postings, she started pointing at his pictures, and saying Duncan. I told her, "No, that's Evan. He's your big brother in heaven." And now when she sees a picture of Evan she says, "Eban!" or "Ebop!"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Evan's Zoo Garden

I went through the garden taking pictures a few days before Garden Blogger's Bloom Day this month with the intention of posting the pics, well, on Garden Blogger's Bloom Day (the 15th of each month.) I posted some pictures of my not very tasty carrots instead. I took several, but I just noticed some of the cool animal plants that were in bloom at the time. So, I decided to post them all together.

Spider Lily Lycoris radiata

Spider Lily at its peak. This is one of my fall favorites!

Toad Lily

Toad lily flowers are small and very orchid-like. The plant has been a bit of a slow spreader, but not invasive. For me, they are best enjoyed up close.

Turtle Head, Chelone lyonii

Turtlehead is a wonderful native. It has lush, dark green foliage, and strange turtle head shaped flowers. They don't mind a bit of moisture.

"White Swan" Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea

Coneflowers have been showstoppers all summer. And my White Swans and Kim's mophead (also white) are still blooming.

"Cat's Whisker's" Orthosiphon aristatus

Cat's whiskers is an annual in this region. They have bloomed their little hearts out. And grown to an impressive size.

We were hit with a week of rain, and then devastating flooding earlier this week. Evan's Zoo Garden took quite a beating. All of these lovely plants were under what was basically a river for hours (thankfully not days!) But the raging current took its toll on my son's memorial garden.

Our backyard during the flooding.

Evan's garden

Everything is covered in silt and flattened and partially defoliated. I suspect with some TLC, everything will come back. I haven't done any work yet. I have felt a little defeated about the whole thing, honestly. And the bridge giving us access to the back 40 floated away. I can still get back there from the neighbor's yard, when I want to begin the cleanup process. It's pretty overwhelming. I have a "where do I go from here" sort of feeling. I have to say, however, that we were extremely fortunate not to have any flooding in the house, other than a small amount in the garage. And gardens can be re-planted. So, when all of the puddles dry up and I get that gardening itch again, I'll be back out there.

Fireman Duncan

Duncan has been interested in firetrucks and firefighters for awhile. Every time a firetruck passes, we all get excited, point, and exclaim, "Firetruck!" For awhile there whenever Justin went out on the deck to grill, Duncan would run to the window to watch and say, "Fire Emergency!" I told Justin about this, and he said, "I hope it's not going to be an emergency!"

But I think Duncan's firefighter interest went to the next level when he started watching a show called "Fireman Sam." It's a children's show about a little Welsh town that has more than their fair share of fire emergencies. They seem to always be caused by the naughty boy, Norman, or the bumbling dad, Mike. When we're not watching the show, Duncan asks me to sing the song, "Sing Fireman Sam, Mommy!" And then, "faster, Mommy, faster!" It's especially fun when he tries to sing along. When Justin or I help him, Duncan says, "Thanks Fireman Sam Mommy (or Daddy)." He's even insisted on using the jaws of life when he gets "stuck" around the house.

I thought that it would be a good time to check out some firetrucks up close. I scheduled a visit to a local fire station, and Duncan and I took the tour. The firefighters showed a video about fire safety. Then we watched a firefighter suit up. They let the kids come up and touch the firefighter's helmet, gloves, mask, whatever, so the child won't be afraid in a real emergency. I think it's a really great idea.

Then they showed us the truck. There were more compartments than I could have imagined!

Duncan wasn't so sure about the firefighter in all that gear at first, but he warmed up. All in all it was a fun and educational visit.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


We had a little rain around here lately, and we didn't come through it unscathed. We were lucky compared to many people who lost their homes. It's just our yard that tells the story.

Here's Evan's Garden before The Flood:

White Swan Coneflowers

Evan's Garden with Stone Path

Evan's Garden in the Spring

The Backyard showcasing Duncan's Playfort and Bridge over the usually tranquil creek


We had over a foot of rain late Sunday into Monday. The lightning and thunder woke us up in the night, so we got up to watch the creek as the heavy rains continued hour after hour.

This was taken Monday afternoon just before the second flood! The creek is rising here. It took no more than 30 minutes of heavy (but not as heavy as the previous night) rain for the creek to spill over its banks.

Evan's Pitiful Garden

Where the playfort used to be. The bridge is also gone.

The creek becomes a river!

Where the playfort ended up!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


When I was a kid I used to wish on the first star in the night sky. If I saw a shooting star, I wished on that, too. They were generally pretty silly wishes. I clearly remember wishing for a Henrietta dog to match my Henry, an all time favorite stuffed animal. As I got older I started feeling guilty over the wishes for objects, and started wishing for things like world peace. Although, honestly, my heart wasn't completely in it. Maybe because I never did get that Henrietta dog. And as an adult I can't remember the last time I wished on a star. I don't even think I've made birthday wishes, either.

However, since Evan's death I've caught myself making wishes again. In the first several months I wished that it was all just a nightmare, and I would wake up, and my little boy would be there. I remember pouring over grief books in those early days, and thinking to myself that the Bargaining phase sounded like a lot of hooey, and I knew Evan was dead, and I couldn't ask for him back. But as the shock wore off, I found myself wishing. I asked God to undo history. I swore I would be a better person, if only I could have my son back.

Even then I knew my wish wouldn't come true. But still I wished. Some nights I just said, "I wish, I wish, I wish..." never completing my request. The wishes became qualified. "I wish I had Evan back, but never touched by meningitis." And more recently, "I wish I had Evan back with no meningitis history, and I wish we had decided to have a third child, and had Miranda."

Because really, Miranda is Evan's gift to us. When Duncan came screaming (loudly) into the world, we thought we were done. I told my doctor, "I never want to be pregnant again." When we lost Evan just six months after Duncan's arrival, Justin and I both decided for one more. And when I get around to getting Miranda's opening page done in her scrapbook, I have a stamp that I believe fits the occasion: "I made a wish and you came true."

I'm not sure that I'll ever stop wishing to have Evan back. Maybe the wishes will turn into hopes that I will one day see him again.

Death Is Nothing At All
by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other,
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day

"Dirt Makes Me Cuter" shirt. I need one of those.

Instead of blooms I'm sharing my recent carrot bounty. I dug up lots of these little suckers, cooked them up, and...was a little disappointed. They weren't nice and sweet. They were kind of earthy. If you know what I mean. I wonder if I may have left them in the ground too long.

I'll try to actually get some blooms up soon. I've mostly been a weeding machine lately. I haven't stopped to smell the roses, or even admired the dahlias. Oh, I did stop and smell the Ginger, tho. Very nice!

Monday, September 14, 2009

18 Months

People are always telling me how much Duncan and Miranda look alike. I can definitely see it, too. I've even been asked if they're twins. Usually when they're sitting down, so the person can't see that Duncan is a head taller! Duncan and Miranda have a lot of hair, unlike big brother Evan. But if you look at these photos all taken near the 18 month mark, whether they have blond hair or brown, you too can see the similarities.

Pretend Gardening

I have a pretend garden on Facebook. I play the game Farm Town (my husband calls it Crack Town for some reason.) The player plows, plants seeds, harvests, and then starts all over again. Some things earn the player coins and some things cost coins (like buying seeds, plowing, etc.) Raspberry seeds grow into plants, then bear fruit in just 2 hours! Of course, if the player doesn't harvest in a timely manner, the fruit goes to waste. The virtual seeds have a 100% success rate. There are no weeds, there's no drought, no floods, no scorching heat, no mosquitoes!

I went out to work in my real garden yesterday. I pulled up the peas that I haven't touched since The Attack. I dug them down into the soil in hopes that they'll decay and give the soil some good nutrients. I'll probably be yanking out the rest of the veggie garden this week. It's been a somewhat successful venture, this vegetable garden. I got lots of tomatoes, and perhaps enough peas and beans to do a three bean soup, a handful of carrots (that didn't taste all that great), some tiny onions, cukes, and herbs. It's funny. The bed that I just deconstructed looks an awful lot like the "harvested" virtual bed (although, less cartoony.)

We're still in the dark about what the future holds...where will Justin be working this time next year? Will we still be living in this house?, etc. It's hard to make plans for next year's garden when I just don't know where I'll be next year. But I hope that I will learn from this year's gardening experience and become a better gardener next year. (unless we end up broke and have to live in an apartment with no yard. Then I'll just be pissed.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fall is in the Air

August was hot and sticky. I think this time of year is often called the Dog Days of Summer. And after doing a fair amount of work outside keeping everything watered and pruned, etc. in June and July, I pretty much give up in August. Maybe it's called the Dog Days, because gardeners are as tired as dogs. It's just too hot, too weedy, perennials start to look leggy. I look out the window, and I say, "Meh." I did do a little bit of weeding. And that's pretty much it. There are still things blooming. Interesting things. But have I lugged the camera out to get a picture? nope.

But now that it's September, and there's a little bit of Fall in the air (although, it'll probably be short lived around here), I'm thinking about getting out there again. I did some mulching and yanking annuals over the weekend. I have plans to hit my favorite perennial place (where things are 50% off! Woohoo!) I don't want to go crazy, because we may have to move. I just want the beds to look neat. Not that crazy end of summer look they currently have.

Come on Fall, I'm ready.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Crystal Ball Gazing

Duncan, Future Inventor

Miranda, Future: Chillin'

Duncan, Future Frat Boy

Miranda, Future (and current!) Willing Accomplice

Miranda, Future Heart breaker

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not? or Is It a Full Moon?!

After a week at Grandma and Grandpa's house, I finally brought the kids home today. The ride home was fairly quiet, except for the necessity to pull over when Duncan pulled part of his seatbelt off. (Note to self: Buy new carseat.) We got takeout for lunch, and settled in for a nice afternoon of playing and silliness. Duncan wanted to go upstairs, so I let him. No biggie. Although, after not hearing any noise coming from upstairs for a little while, I started to get suspicious. And sure enough, Duncan had gotten into some mischief. He'd unwound most of a new container (one of the big cylindrical kind) of dental floss, used up the rest of the packing tape, squirted out a new tube of cream, emptied out a bottle of toner into a new container of interdental flosser thingies, and gotten toner on the rest of the roll of TP. I was not a happy camper. I banished him from upstairs while I cleaned up. When I took everything down, I showed Duncan all of the things that now had to be trashed because of his wasteful behavior. I asked him not to wind things anymore (this has been a big problem for a couple of months.) I was hoping for a cleanup break. At least until tomorrow. But while I sat with Miranda, Duncan was at it again. Perhaps he thought he needed to bring home the point of wastefulness to his mommy. Perhaps he was just mad that I yelled at him, and smacked his hand. I do know that in this silence he poured out 2 gallons of milk and a whole bottle of maple syrup. It had "negative attention" written all over it. And I guess that's what he got. Two gallons of milk covers a lot of territory. And, ya know, maple syrup is sticky. I cleaned it up, and tried to get him to help me. He was not very helpful. My yelling at him was not very persuasive. But I wasn't feeling all puppy dogs and kittens. I was pissed. I told him that he's lost my trust. I don't know if he knows what I'm talking about. I also took some toys away until tomorrow. I know my reaction wasn't the greatest, but I'm not perfect. I just hope that tomorrow goes a little more smoothly.