Thursday, November 24, 2011

Evan - Day 24

Evan when he was brand new

Today and every day I'm thankful for my son, Evan, who we lost to Bacterial Meningitis five years ago today.

Of course, I thought he was beautiful.  He was my first baby!  But I was a little surprised when strangers came up to me in the store to tell me, "That is the purdiest baby!"  I couldn't help but agree.

We, just like every parent, thought every new little trick our son performed was the coolest thing ever!

Evan loved books and lap time with Mommy.

And he loved to play.  When Miss Stephanie (he called her Miss Stepanie) told me that Evan loved to play, my reaction was, "Don't they all?"  Apparently not!  Or, at least, when he played he didn't want to be disturbed and go and do something odious.  Like go outside to the playground.  Until he remembered, "Oh yeah, that's good too!"

Evan gave up naps a little earlier than I had hoped.  He really fought taking a nap after Duncan was born.  I really needed that quiet time, because Duncan wasn't the best sleeper (as a result, neither was I.)  But Justin was able to snuggle Evan and get him to sleep.

Evan wasn't sure about Duncan when he first arrived.  He was noisy and needy.

But Evan was sweet and patient...a good big brother.


More play time in the pool.

Having art time wasn't really Evan's favorite thing.  But I think he enjoyed his special time with his Mommy.

Self portrait


We love you and miss you, Evan!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Balloons - Day 23

I remember the morning of Evan's 2nd birthday party I was pretty grumpy.  I'd had an argument with Justin. I don't remember what it was about.  Probably something silly.  I went to church and was all upset.  I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple of things for the party.  I started off at the florist area to get some balloons.  They bumped into each other and into me as I continued shopping.  I noticed my mood had improved, and I thought to myself, "It's almost impossible to be upset when you're carrying balloons!"  I decided to get over it and go home to a good time with my little boy and our families.  And, of course, he loved his balloons.  (Somehow I didn't manage to get pictures of those balloons!)

In August of that year Evan got a green balloon at someone else's birthday party.  He chose the green one specially, and was disappointed when it flew away.  I promised him another balloon when he got his hair cut before starting school in September.  Balloons are about special occasions.  Birthdays and, um, haircuts.  Anyway, he was very pleased to get a new balloon.  I figured he'd go with his favorite color, red.  Nope.  He remembered that lost green balloon, and happily got a new green one to replace it.  There was no losing it this time.

Miranda and Duncan love balloons, too.  Who doesn't, really?  I don't know if it's the "boop, booping" the balloons make as they bump into each other.  Or maybe the mystery of how they float.  For Duncan I think part of it is popping them.  They elicit giggles and squeals of delight.  

And very happy faces.  We get them for birthdays and I even got a couple to decorate for Miranda's class Thanksgiving party last week.

We also get balloons on Evan's death anniversary.  Ever since the 2nd anniversary of Evan's death we've done a balloon release in his memory.  We typically gather with friends and family.  We write notes to Evan on the balloons, and even draw funny pictures.  Someone says a few words, and we let them go.  It's beautiful.  A lovely, colorful tribute to a sweet little boy.

Of course, I have to admit: unlike what I thought on the day of Evan's 2nd birthday party, I guess balloons don't always improve my mood.  I went today to get a couple of special balloons to release tomorrow, and almost cried.  One balloon has pictures from one of Evan's favorite shows: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

The other balloon, simply says, "I love you."  Tomorrow I think it will just be us.  No family or friends.  And just two balloons.  Of course, how many do we need to honor a little boy.  He would have been happy with just one.  So today I'm thankful for balloons.  They bring joy to the little ones and a feeling of being able to reach out to my lost little one.

My Inlaws - Day 22

Yes, that's right.  I'm thankful for my inlaws.  It all began before Justin and I got married.  I dated a guy a long time ago, and his mom was coldly polite.  I guess she didn't like me much.  I didn't really like her that much, either.  In fact I called her The Ice Queen.  After that  experience I told myself that I could never marry a man if I didn't like his mom.  Flash forward a few years later.  I met Justin's parents at their house and thought to myself, "Well, that was easy."  So, thanks Sally and Beau (and Sarah and Nat)!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Parents - Day 21

I guess being thankful for my parents is kind of a no brainer.  Most people are thankful for the gift of life given to them by their parents.  And, yep, I'm grateful for that.  I'm pleased to have a close relationship with my folks.  We've grown closer since Evan's death.  The death of their first grandson was a terrible blow.  It still hurts them.  I can tell.  But just as I do with Justin, we lean on each other for support.  It's been fun having more of a friendship than just a parent-child relationship.  I enjoy talking plants with Mom and having a laugh with Dad.  I'm at their house right now.  They are playing with the grand kids while I sneakily type here.  I love that they have a close relationship with my kids.  And they're always willing to help.  I have a gimpy foot right now, so Mom has been taking good care of me, allowing me the opportunity to put my feet up!

So, thanks Mom and Dad for all the love and support!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Husband - Day 20

Justin and I met through mutual friends when we were in college. He was pretty weird. But in a charming sort of way. It took us a few years to get together, but we finally did. We did a lot of goofy things together, becoming closer and closer along the way.  He proposed and we got married.  (Just like that!)  It was just us for a few years.

One never really knows what sort of parent one will be until it happens.  I didn't know what sort of father Justin would be, but I had high hopes.  We both knew we wanted a family eventually.

We were fortunate enough to have our first baby, Evan, in February 2004.  He was a sweet, snuggly little fellow, and we fell in love with him instantly.  I was pleased to see that Justin was a natural "Daddy."  He changed Evan's first poopy diapers in the hospital!

Duncan came along a couple of years later.  As I previously mentioned he was a bit cranky.  But Justin always had hugs to spare for his second little boy.  And he was pretty understanding of me when I'd had enough of the tears and tantrums of the little ones.  When we lost Evan, Justin and I leaned on each other like never before.  And we held onto little Duncan like a life raft.

When we were ready, we decided that we would try one more time.  And after a few scares during the pregnancy, I had Miranda in 2008.  She started off in the NICU, but she came home soon.  And it didn't take long to have Daddy wrapped around her tiny little fingers.  Justin is a kind and loving father and supportive husband.  I'm very blessed and thankful to have him in my life.  Thanks, Justy!  I love you!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Days 18 & 19

I mentioned my regular ol' run-of-the-mill friends a few days ago in another gratitude post.  That makes them sound not so special, but it's quite the reverse.  I have friends I've known since Kindergarten.  Kindergarten!  These few people understand me.  They know my quirks and love me anyway.  I have friends that I've known since high school and college.  Other friends that I only know because their kids were in the same playgroup with Evan.  And new friends that I've met through a mom's group.  You are all very special to me.  It's been difficult to have the openness and closeness with other people since the death of my son.  Sometimes it's hard to let down that hard, prickly shell.  I thank you for making the effort in spite of me.  Thanks, friends!


I'm also thankful to my neighbors.  They are some of the nicest people around.  They love our kids and they are so supportive.  I feel very blessed to know them and can call them friends.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Duncan - Day 17

 Duncan was a needy baby.  I called him my rocket baby, because the whole labor and delivery process was fast.  We barely made it to the hospital in time.  We got him home just fine, but he was a little bit cranky, which meant I was a little bit cranky, too.  He wasn't a good sleeper.  He fussed a lot.  He needed to be held a lot.  It was tough on Evan.  He had to share his mommy with this really cranky, loud newcomer.  We made it through the first few months somehow.  I was so thankful for Evan.  He kept me sane.  So sweet and patient, even when I was not.  He loved being a big brother and looked forward to playing with Duncan as he got more and more active.  When Duncan cried, Evan would pat him on the head and say, "It's okay, Duncan."  When his little brother started rolling over, and rocking back and forth on his hands and knees, Evan was on the sidelines cheering him on.  "Roll over, Duncan!"  Then when Duncan was six months old, we lost Evan.  And Duncan was cranky again.  He looked for his big brother.

 He was small, but I think he could tell things weren't right.  And in that moment I was thankful for my needy baby, because I really needed him.  I just held him close and loved him.  And soon his little smiles got bigger and his hugs got more snuggly.  It's like he knew what we needed, and just gave and gave.  And he still gives us so much love.  He's such a little sweetheart.  Always (well, almost always) willing to give hugs and kisses.  Easy to smile.  A joy to be around.  I'm so thankful for my sweet, sweet Duncan.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Duncan's Teacher - Day 16

Last year we had Duncan evaluated for speech and other delays by the county.  I went in hoping they'd tell me he was perfect and didn't need any help.  We left with recommendations for speech and occupational or behavioral therapy.  He got the extra help all last year in preschool.  His speech improved, and he started to learn to be a good friend and student.  I had hoped at the end of the year that they would recommend regular Kindergarten with maybe a little help with speech.  Instead, they suggested a "special" Kindergarten class in the public school, because he might lose all that he'd learned in a private setting (he wouldn't benefit from the free special needs program into Kindergarten if, say, he attended a church Kindergarten.)  I agonized over the decision.  I just kind of felt under attack.  But after talking with some moms who had kids who'd gone through the program, I felt better about the class, and I decided to enroll him.  We met his teacher over the summer and he started Big Kid school in August.  He rides a "short bus" to school every day.  Those buses, when I was growing up, were for the severely handicapped kids.  Not anymore!  They are all over the place.  Turns out, the small bus was a good thing for Duncan.  Fewer older kids to worry about, seat belts, and the driver knows Duncan by name.  But what I'm most thankful for about this whole process is his teacher.  She's wonderful!  It's a great setting.  Just eight kids, a teacher, and a teacher's helper.  They get hands on learning that wouldn't be possible in a larger class.  There's no chance Duncan will get left behind.  After helping at the school a couple months ago, I wished all of the Kindergartners had this kind of setting.

Thanks, Mrs. B!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gardening - Day 15

A gorgeous daylily!

I enjoyed gardening (although I wasn't very good at it) before we lost Evan.  

 Echinacea purpurea "Purple Cone Flower"

After we lost Evan gardening turned into a sort of therapy for me.

Deutzia gracilis "Duncan"

I created a garden in memory of Evan.  It went from a little garden with interesting plant names to an animal garden after suffering flooding of epic proportions in 2009.

A pretty white Hydrangea I picked up in honor of all of my children at Easter last year.

Dahlia "Evan Matthew"

In that first year after Evan's death, I read a comment on a gardening forum about how one could honor a deceased loved one by planting something with the cultivar name of that loved one.  I started with Echinacea "Sundown" which is also called "Evan Saul."  Then I also purchased Dahlia "Evan Matthew."

Hydrangea serrata "Miranda"

I decided I had to represent the other kiddies in the garden, so I also found Deutzia gracilis "Chardonnay Pearls" also called "Duncan."  And I lucked on a beared Iris called "Duncan's Smiling Eyes."  And last, but not least I found Hydrangea serrata "Miranda."  Gardening hasn't just been therapy (and good exercise), it's also been fun.  And a great way to get closer to my mom and sister.  So, today I am thankful for having been bitten by the gardening bug.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Seeester - Day 14

I'm blessed to have a sister.  I might not have thought so when she was scratching me with her long, shapely nails when we were kids.  But now I look at those scars with love.  Alright, I don't, but she turned out to be a pretty wonderful person.  We don't like the same music (Can is one of her faves.)  Our food choices can be pretty different.  But we share gardening and being silly.  She has been there for me through the last few years like no one else.  I can call her and talk about anything, and I don't have to worry about rolling eyes and sighs of impatience.  I can call her sobbing my heart out, and she cries with me and helps me laugh again.

Thank you, thank you Sherrie!  I love you!

Thanks for the Memories - Day 13

I'm behind yet again.  I kind of wish I hadn't started this Thankful business.  Sure, it's easy to come on here and say, "I'm thankful for pizza," because I am thankful for pizza.  But that seems kind of silly.  If you asked me back in July what I was thankful for, I would have said Central Air Conditioning.  I didn't want this almost month of gratitude to be about "things."  But trying to dig deeper is tough.  Especially because this is a difficult time of year for us.  Evan's death anniversary is next week.  Five years.  It's unbelievable.

Five years ago today the weather, much like today, was mild.  Instead of meeting up with friends inside, I decided to meet with friends at a playground.  Enjoy that last little bit of fall weather before winter decided to come barging in.  I loaded the boys up in the van and we went to the "different" park.  Evan begged to go to The Different Park.  I asked him, "Which park is that?"  "The different one."  Ooookay.  Luckily for us his little friend Kennan liked what he called the Rubber Park (because it has rubber flooring.)  When we passed the usual park, I'm sure Evan was pleased.  And, sure enough, when we pulled into the Rubber Park parking lot, he said, "Yeah!  The Different Park!"  The boys played together.  Duncan was just 6 months old, so he mostly hung out in the stroller.  I left him with my friend while I slid down the slide with Evan several times.  It was a lot of fun.  We laughed and laughed.  It was to be colder and wet the next day.  We went to get Evan's hair cut in preparation for Thanksgiving the following week.  Just over a week after this memory he was dead.  Even though I sit here crying, I'm thankful to have this memory and others of my sweet little boy, Evan.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 12

I'm thankful for "death metal" versions of songs, because it makes the ABC song and "Rise and Shine" very, very amusing here for metal head Miranda!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Days 10 & 11

I'm thankful for new innovations that make it seem like "it's a small world after all."  I can skype with someone on the other side of the planet.  And it's because of the internet that I know someone of the other side of the planet!  Science helps make friends.  Who knew?


And because it's Veteran's Day today I would like to say thank you to all the men and women who have served in our nation's military.  Thank you for your courage and sacrifice in protecting our country.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Days 8 & 9

Yeah, I'm slacking here...

Justin got let go from his job in August.  He had a month or so where he didn't have much going on.  He sent out resumes, and checked the job listings daily, but the only work he was doing involved destroying zombie armies in some video game.  However, he did get in contact with an old colleague, and that friend has been able to get Justin some contracting work.  So, very thankful for friends that can help out in a crunch.


I'm grateful for smiley little faces first thing in the morning.  It possibly makes me a little less grumpy.  Possibly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Easy For You to Say!" - Day 7

I had the absolute pleasure to go see the Foo Fighters (and The Joy Formidable and Social Distortion) last night.  Fantastic show.  Go see them!  Anyhow, Dave Grohl said the song "These Days" was his favorite song that he's ever written.  I listened to the words (and belted out along), and thought how true they are for those of us who's hearts have been broken.  I'm thankful that there's music out there that expresses pretty much every feeling that I have.  I have songs I listen to when I'm angry or sad.  I can listen to just about anything when I'm happy.  The refrain in this song is talking about how someone is saying, "It's alright."  Everything will be ok.  And the brokenhearted Grohl screams, "It's easy for you to say!  Your heart has never been broken."  I have had people tell me they "understand" and how "it'll be ok."  Well, it's easy for you to say!  If you haven't lost a child (or had a significant loss), you don't understand.  You just don't.  Maybe this is a backhanded thing to being thankful for.  But, really, it's nice to have tunes I can crank up when things aren't ok.  And when I'm feeling misunderstood.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanks for the Prayers - Day 6

I remember one Sunday in October 2006 my pastor asked us to pray for a little girl who was very sick.  She is the granddaughter of fellow church members.  She had bacterial meningitis and was in one of the local children's hospitals.  I remember coming home and shooing away Evan and Duncan, because Mommy had something important to do.  I sat at the computer and typed up an email sending off the prayer request for this little girl to my friends and family, so that even more prayers could be said.  The next month Evan was in the hospital with the same disease.  He didn't make it.  I've often wondered if anyone had heard about Evan from a friend and prayed for him, like I did for that little girl, who was a stranger to me.  Today I'm thankful for all of the prayers and good vibes friends, family and strangers send my way.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pwoper Fwiends - Day 5

Pwoper Fwiends are not the same as just the ol' regular run of the mill friends.  My pwoper fwiends are all people I met through a little English band called Muse.  I met them online through Muse's website fan forum.  We're all hopeless Musers.  But this group of people is very special.  We are there for each other.  There's no judging, just support.  It doesn't matter what the drama, whether it's a bad hair day or marital problems.  I know when I go there I have a sympathetic ear.  We also share the good times.  Tonight a bunch of us were being silly and cutting up about, of all things, banjos.  So today I'm thankful for my Muser friends.  I'm not going to quote "Butterflies and Hurricanes" and say, "You've got to be the best," because you already are the best!

Thank you!

Miranda - Day 4

Usually when Miranda looks into the mirror, she practices making faces.  She grins.  She sticks out her tongue. She wrinkles up her little nose.  All very silly and cute. 


Today she had a dialogue with the Little Girl in the Mirror.  She had what she thought was a stern look on her face and a raspy voice when she said things like, "No hitting, Miranda" or "You're in trouble!"


And when the Little Girl not in the mirror responded it was with a sweet expression and voice, "But I don't want to go to the park."  And who could say no to that sweet little face?

Even though Miranda obviously feels wronged (ahem, could I be the stern raspy voiced person?!), I know she loves me.  And even though she is a handful and a half, I love her and I'm thankful for her every day.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thanks for the Laughs - Day 3

I was trying to get a couple of funny clips in one post, but I'm lame and can't figure out how to do it.  So, I'll just share the comedy stylings of the late Mitch Hedberg.  I'm thankful for people who can make me laugh, because laughter really is the best medicine.  RIP Mitch.

Just For Laughs - Bruce Bruce

Here's the other comedian I wanted to post.  I LOVE Bruce Bruce!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Don't waste your time...searching for those wasted years." - Day 2

Duncan brought home a book from school this week called, "The Three Questions" by Jon J Muth.  It's based on a Leo Tolstoy story of the same name.  The three questions are: When is the best time to do things?  Who is the most important one? and What is the right thing to do?  The main character asks his friends, but to no avail.  The boy sets out on a journey to ask a learned turtle (it's a kid's book, so there are animal characters!)  After helping the turtle and some drama with a hurt panda, the boy finally asks again for the answers to his questions.  And summed up: 
"There is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side." One may or may not agree with these answers, but they got me thinking.  It's so easy to get stuck looking back at my "wasted years."  Missing Evan is one thing, but obsessing about it is quite another.  It's good to remember that now is what Iron Maiden calls the golden years, the most important people are with me: my family, and the important thing is to do good for them.  So, I am thankful for these reminders (yes, even from Iron Maiden!) to live in the moment instead of the past.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"I would still lay down my life for you." - Day 1

I've decided to do the month of gratitude that seems popular this time of year.  Although, my version will also include thoughts and reflections.  And musical selections.  My grouping will probably be just 24 days, and end on Thanksgiving Day, which is also the 5th anniversary of my son, Evan's, death.

My first debt of gratitude goes to the men and women who fight and die for my country.

Thank you.


This post is picture heavy, so I'll go easy on the text!

We hit the Pumpkin Patch in search of pumpkins and fun!

I had no luck finding a white pumpkin this year, so I had to settle for orange.  They still turned out great.

The kids liked the pumpkins, but the bounce houses were the main draw!

And the huge slide!

Duncan, peeking out of the giant Pumpkin bounce house!

We decided to make our own scarecrow this year.  Except, Miranda ran off with the hat!

And the head!


Here she is dismantling our pumpkin scarecrow!

Jumping in the neighbor's big leaf pile!

We went to see the annual Kindergarten Pretend Parade at Duncan's school.

It was so much fun!  The older kids lined up along the bus dropoff and cheered for the Kindergarteners as they paraded by.

Duncan in his skeleton costume and the homemade mask.  (I couldn't find the one that came with the "Bone Suit," as he called it last year.)

And finally, trick or treating!  Miranda was a witch.  When I got the hat the previous day, she put it on and ran around saying, "I'm a witch, I'm a witch."  And then cackled!

Duncan in his costume with the store bought mask.  We just went down our little cul-de-sac street and came back, and the kids were ready to go in.

Here's Miranda with her Nimbus 2011 handmade by Justin!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!