Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time?

Christmas is a pretty wonderful time of year, generally. The smell of our Christmas tree wafts around the house. The lights make everything a little prettier. I don't decorate for any other occasion, so it's nice to have the house look pretty once a year! There's always the hustle and bustle when going shopping. I know some people love that. They love being in the thick of things at dark thirty on Black Friday getting deals on...who knows?! We went to the park on Black Friday. It was chilly, but nice. I shop a bit before the holiday season starts, so that my credit card bill is not astronomical come January. I've tried in these past few years to shop small businesses and locally. It's fun and it's nice to think I'm helping out a neighbor. So, we're all decked out and we've got a couple of presents under the tree.

 But this year is a little different. Yes, I've been trying to find the perfect gift for family members, and yes I've tried to get my creative juices flowing (I made some of my own ornaments!), but this year we scheduled Duncan to have eye surgery. Eye muscle surgery, to be precise. His right eye drifts out. Not all the time, but even with patching, it didn't seem to be getting better. When the ophthalmologist mentioned surgery last year, I almost started hyperventilating! After patching his good eye (to strengthen the weak one) religiously, and seeing no results, AND hearing stories of people losing vision in the weak eye, we decided to schedule the surgery. I had a few times I thought I would hyperventilate just thinking about it in the weeks leading up to the surgery. Finally the day came this past Friday. Friday the 13th.

Duncan and I had talked about the surgery. Not in great detail, but I wanted him to have a pretty good idea about what would happen. The only time he seemed nervous about it was when he thought the doctor would go into his eyeball. I told him that she would be working on the muscles on the sides of the eye. He was chipper on Friday. He had family there to keep him smiling and calm. The doctor managed to skirt around his, "are you going to put sharp pointy things in my eyes" question. Duncan picked out a toy from the Toy Closet, and before too long I accompanied him to the OR. I held his hand as he went under the anesthesia. I was dismissed and went to the recovery area. And prayed. He was with us an hour and a half later, and he was hurting. It was so hard to see my little boy in pain. They'd given him medicine, we just had to wait till it kicked in, and try to help him stay calm. The nurse really was wonderful with him. In those difficult minutes, I thought I might throw up or pass out. Thankfully, I kept it together for my little guy.

We got home and Duncan felt pretty poorly. Thankfully, once he got the anesthesia meds out of his system, he started eating a little bit and feeling better. So, since then he's played A LOT of Minecraft, watched some robot movies, and snuggled with his Mommy and Daddy. He has several more days that he's supposed to not do vigorous activity, so we'll see how that goes. His eyes are very red and they have looked pretty crossed. I decided to keep him home from school today and limit his screen time to our normal limits. He's been in his room playing with Hero Factory characters and Transformers all day. Everything seems pretty normal. And the crossing seems better, too. So, hopefully he'll be back to school tomorrow. And I'm hoping to get back to a more normal Christmas feel around here, too!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Woohoo! I made it!

The last day of "thankful" posts as today is Thanksgiving. Today was a bit of a mixed bag. Miranda and I watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade for the first time together! I got some exercise in (I wanted to negate some of those calories I expected to be getting at the Feast later), and then dinner with Justin's family. It was a good day. I'm thankful for family, friends, good food and conversation, but I'm mostly thankful for my two little sweethearts.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stupid Movies

Justin and I are "enjoying" another stupid movie together. As awful as it is we chuckle and add our own dialogue. Inventing stupid dialogue is pretty easy. But it's something silly that makes us laugh and have some adult time together without the kiddies. So, as painful as it is to watch, I'm thankful for the stupid movies that bring us a little closer together.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snuggles

I am thankful for snuggles every day. I guess one of these days my littles won't want to hug on their mom anymore, so I get in as many hugs and kisses as I can now. Today I got all perturbed about some comments left on an article on Yahoo. I shouldn't read the comments section, because that's where the trolls come out and try to make people mad. I didn't say anything on there, but I was out of sorts for a bit. I played my flute, had a little wine, and then got Duncan ready for bed. We read a couple of books all snuggled up together. And then shared some hugs and kisses at bedtime. It was sweet and wonderful, and took my mind to a better place.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Curiosity

I'm thankful today for the curiosity of my children. They (you know, "them") say that children's minds are like sponges. I totally believe it. My kids ask questions all the time. All.The.Time. Duncan gets a little fixated on certain subjects and asks questions relating to that subject for weeks or months. The nuclear power plant phase was pretty long. The chicken phase, thankfully, didn't last. But he still asks every once in a while what I would do if I found a chicken (or sometimes it's a cat) on my head. I answer, "I'd probably freak out." Or sometimes, "I'd lift it off my head and place it on the ground." The cat would get a snuggle. Duncan has been asking how many of (fill in the blank with an animal of your choice) would measure a house/person/car/etc. Before bed he asked how many wolves would it take to be my height. I said I didn't know but could look it up. I kissed him goodnight, and Googled it. The gray wolf, which is the largest of the wolves, can reach from 4.5-6 feet long from the tip of the tail to the nose. I had no idea wolves could be that huge! And up to 175 pounds! That's massive! I went up and shared that info, and naturally, he wanted to know about smaller ones since the gray wolf is the largest. I'll look that up later, I suppose. I guess that old adage "You learn something new every day" is true. Especially with little curious kids in the house!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Good Day

Today we marked the 7th anniversary of Evan's death. It's hard to believe it's been that long. He would have been 9 years old...10 come February! Today could have been a day where I wallowed in self pity. It could have been a day of difficult memories. But it wasn't. I went to church this morning and after getting situated, I took a look at the flowers that I'd ordered to remember Evan. With the memory of the all white debacle last year, I had noted "colorful" next to my order. I didn't say what colors. When I finally looked I saw all of the red. Evan's favorite color! They were beautiful. So much red and orange. A very autumnal color combination. Just lovely. And even prettier up close. Later, we went to Moe's for lunch (one of Evan's favorite restaurants.) We had cookies in the afternoon, and then released colorful balloons with notes and drawings addressed to Evan. And all day long my friends on Facebook were writing nice little notes on my wall. It was a good day, and for that I'm thankful.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful for Memories

I've been looking up Advent calendar ideas on Pinterest lately. I feel like I try to do something new every year, because whatever we tried the previous year was a dud. We've had wooden things with doors and chocolate cardboard calendars. The kids never seem as excited about them as I was when I was little. When Evan was about to have his second Christmas (he was about two months shy of his 2nd birthday), I decided to find a special Advent truck calendar. He was all boy and loved trucks and trains. We looked on ebay and Amazon, and finally found something cute. It came in the mail and before too long it was time to stuff it with treats. I purchased a bag of Hershey's kisses. I put a kiss behind each door on the little wooden truck and presented it to Evan. He opened the first door with glee, and ate the kiss, foil and all (he did spit the foil out!) Then he started to open the other little doors, looking for more chocolate. I tried to explain the whole idea of having a chocolate for each day leading up to Christmas. I put the truck away. But Evan, being a little smarty-pants, found it and helped himself to some more chocolate. Needless to say, we ran out well before Christmas!

Friday, November 22, 2013

School's Out...

for Summer. No, that's not it. School's out for the Thanksgiving holiday! I'm so thankful to have a week of sleeping in getting up at the usual time! Oh yeah, not so excited about that, actually. We'll probably get up early every day. But at least I'll have a break from fixing lunchboxes and nagging at the kids to do their homework. Although, I have told Duncan if he wants to play Minecraft anymore he's going to have to read to me first. No more freebies. I'm looking forward to some down time with the kiddos. Hopefully, we'll do more than just sit around the house watching the Magic School Bus.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Haircuts and highlights

Yep, that's right. I'm thankful for getting out of the house to do something for me! I got my hair cut and colored (just a bit) tonight! So, I will look all dignified in any upcoming Thanksgiving/Christmas photos. Another thing about going to the salon tonight: they were sponsoring a Salvation Army program that helps get presents for kids whose parents are having a tough time financially. So, I picked up a name of a little 9 year old boy (the age Evan would be this year), and I look forward to doing a little shopping for him. I'm thankful I can do a little something nice for a little boy. (I hope he likes what I get for him!)

Prodigal's return

Today I'm thankful that my husband is FINALLY coming home from his business trip abroad. It's been a loooooong week+. He'll probably be pretty useless from jetlag for a few days, but that's ok. We'll make it work.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Twofer

I hurt my left foot over the summer. I took a while off vigorous exercise, but was still feeling pain, so I finally went to see a podiatrist. Nothing was broken (yay!), but he did think I had peroneal tendonitis. That's a tendon on the outside part of the foot that reaches from the calf, down past the ankle, and dives under the foot about halfway along. He told me to wear shoes ALL the time. Bummer. I was a total barefoot gal. I ordered the shoes he suggested: Orthaheels. They have what I decided to call an aggressive arch. I have high arches, but these made it feel like I was walking on baseballs! So, I was supposed to wear supportive shoes all the time. That meant getting rid of the flats, flip flops, and the like. I also picked up some orthotics to put in other shoes (running shoes, church shoes, etc.), so I wouldn't have to buy even more shoes! It's been a slow process, but with a combination of the awful Orthaheels and the orthotics, I seem to finally be making some progress with the pain! And, honestly, it seems more related to the orthotics. I was still having some pain before I added them in to my running shoes. Now, things are starting to feel pretty normal again. So, I'm thankful for finally getting some relief for my foot!



When I went to the podiatrist, he suggested I take time off running/walking. Although, I'm not sure any podiatrist loves running! So, I decided to explore some other exercise options. I wanted to avoid my usual holiday weight gain and depression. I decided to start going to a gym. I picked one where several friends go, so I felt like I'd always know someone there. I started attending Yoga twice a week. I saw all these friends that first week, and then they weren't there for a while. Turns out everyone went through a sick phase. I kept going anyway, and added a Spin class. So, I've been going to these classes regularly, and slowly added a bit to my walk/run. So, I feel like I'm getting in shape. The endorphins help keep me happier, and I'm feeling pretty good. I'm in enough of a routine that I think I can manage to go through the holidays. Although, I'll have to figure out things when the kids are out of school. But, overall, I'm pleased and thankful for joining a gym!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

I am in two minds about teaching kids about "stranger danger." The whole "Never talk to strangers" lesson falls short of what happens in real life situations. Sometimes, you need to depend on a stranger for help or information. I've talked to Duncan about different kinds of strangers who might be ok. Mommies, workers at a store, he always suggests police officers. Justin was in a situation over the weekend where he had to depend on the kindness of a stranger. He flew into his destination city at four o'clock in the morning. He got a cab to his hotel. Either it was closed or the cabbie was wrong. They tooled around for a while, looking. Justin asked to be taken back to the airport. The cabbie instead took him to the owner (I think?) of the company, who knew Justin's coworkers and put Justin up in his own home. In a little girl's room filled with Hello Kitty decorations. Justin must have felt right at home. Haha! I was worried about his safety, but the people were kind and he got to where he was supposed to be eventually. I am thankful he was taken in and not left somewhere where he could have been mugged

Let's see...Three Days Behind?

Right. I knew when I signed up to do this that I'm not organized. I knew that I had gotten out of being used to writing blog posts more than just every once in a while. I also knew that Justin would be out of town for part of this period, so I'd have my hands pretty full. So, with that in mind...

On Friday Duncan came home from school his usual happy self. He came in and sat down to play a little Minecraft before we hit the road for Grandma's house. Miranda got home a little later. I started gathering all of our things together. I was getting people to brush their teeth and put on their shoes, when I got close enough to Duncan to notice the heat radiating off him. I got him to come sit on the cool sofa for a few minutes and then checked his temperature. 100.4. I gave him a little time. 101. I paced around a bit. I texted Justin about the symptoms (just the fever) and wondered if it was a side effect from the Flumist Duncan got the previous Tuesday. I called Mom and said we probably weren't coming. I called the doctor's office and they said, "Sure, it could be related. Call back if it gets a lot higher or goes into/past Monday." So, we hung out at home, took some Tylenol (which worked), and went to bed. Thankfully, Duncan's temperature was down to pretty close to normal Saturday morning and better today. He never really acted sick, of which I am also thankful.


We did get to go to The Grandparents' House yesterday. We hit Trader Joe's (oh, I wish we had one close by!) and then Mom and I did a little shopping at a couple of stores in their Five Points area. I was pleased to find some locally and US made Christmas ornaments.It was fun to Shop Small even before Small Business Saturday. Then we went back to The House to eat BBQ and hang out. It was a very relaxing little trip. I'm thankful that my parents are close by, so we can just drive over for a visit. I'm also thankful that the kids love going to see the Grandparents and always have a good time. I enjoy the relationships that are building between them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scents from the garden

Yeah, I missed another day. And I'm feeling tired now and not feeling very thankful. So, I'll do the best I can.

I'm thankful for all the lovely scents that come from plants and flowers. I just purchased some Stock (Matthiola incana) for some fall color and fragrance. I sniffed around the various selections they had at the nursery (aka "plant store") and decided on the ones that smell like clove. They smell lovely and spicy. We've had a couple of sub-freezing nights this week, so hopefully I won't lose any blooms. (I did cover them.)

Everyone appreciates a scented rose. So many newer varieties are black spot resistant, bug resistant, humidity resistant, but they have no scent!

I enjoyed the Lavender in my new Evan's garden this summer. I moved it to be along the path, so I could smell it easily. I also have a few Agastaches (Anise hyssop) along the path. One smells like the traditional licorice and the others are more lemony. I love lemon scented anything. All citrus plants have incredible smelling flowers. Some people love Gardenias. One of my favorites, however, is Daphne odora. They seem to have a bit of a citrus scent. I know I've shared this before, but I always think of Evan when the Daphnes start to bloom. I had a Daphne in the Butterfly garden (which is now Evan's garden) years ago. I had a big, beautiful plant that bloomed in late January/early February, right around Evan's birthday. I remember going over to this Daphne, bending down, and taking a sniff. I beckoned to Evan to come over, too. He raised his eyebrows with a, "what's this all about?" expression. He came and took a little sniff. And looked at me with delight in his eyes, and went back for another sniff. Unfortunately I killed that Daphne. But I planted a new one on the first anniversary of Evan's death. It was a plant that reminded me of him, and it blooms around his birthday.



I'm thankful for the little treats that make the kids excited. I was talking to the dentist when he was about to put in a crown on my tooth. He was talking about how kids would do anything for just a sticker. They'd sit through a cleaning or a filling, just to get that sticker at the end. When it comes to school, sometimes a little treat is necessary to get the behavior back on track. When Miranda gets a green star at school, she proudly tells me as soon as she gets off the bus. It's clear that she's proud of herself. She also knows that when the green stars start to add up, she'll get a treat. A special snack or a small Lego toy makes her day. The special snack is earned when both kids have a good day at school (and only once a week, or else my waist line would grow!) So, they cheer each other on. Duncan says, "Miranda got a pink star? Way to go, Miranda!"

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Modern conveniences

Today I'm thankful for all the things in the modern home that make life a little bit easier and comfortable. I'm glad I have a room (actually 2.5) in my home that is for using the bathroom. With a handy sink for cleanup! It's nice not to have to trip out of the house on a blustery, cold night like tonight with an old phonebook in hand to use an outdoor potty.

I'm thankful that I don't have to wash all of our clothes by hand. The scrubbing boards are kinda neat and make a cool zip zip musical sound, but I bet my hands would be pretty rough if I had to scrub dirty laundry on it all day.

I'm thankful that we have a dishwasher. I have joked that I'll be taking the 4th load of laundry down (and back up!) the two flights of stairs, and look over at the dishwasher with a, "I hate washing dishes" comment. I don't have to climb stairs to do it, it usually only takes a few minutes, but I guess the endless (boring) saga that is washing dishes is just one of those tasks that I find abhorrent. Thankfully, I don't have to hand wash all of my dishes. Then I really would hate it!

Vacuum cleaners are great for two reasons: they're good at cleaning up the floors (much better than a broom), and they scare the kids away, so I get a little peace.

It's been one of those days when it started off warm and got colder throughout the day. I am very thankful for our central heating tonight. And the central air is oh so nice in summer.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Garden projects

I've been awake since the little boy woke up coughing this morning around 4:45. I'm pretty beat. I considered going back to bed after getting the kids off to school, but I knew I had serious laundry to do (Mondays are always big!) And I also wanted to get a little gardening in before a cold front comes in Tuesday night. I got the laundry going and then went outside. I collected my gloves and tools and took a peak over into the neighbor's yard. Good. No dog. She barks at me and sometimes aggressively lunges at me through our hedge. She's tied up, but it's still alarming. I went to the Back 40 and got to work. I've slowly been digging up an area back there and installing raised beds. They're only slightly raised, so hopefully, any plants I put in won't be sitting in water if/when it floods. I dug up some ferns and Virginia Iris, divided them, and planted them in this newly disturbed area. Then decided, "That is too low. Water will pool there in a regular rain." So, I went to get some soil.  And came back with plants! And soil! I put down the soil and added some Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii). Now, all I have to do is put some weed cloth down and mulch, and hopefully it'll be ready for the cold air moving in tomorrow night. I have to admit that the last couple of years I've been pretty slack in the garden. I've just let things go. I decided this Fall to, at the very least, try to get things started. I guess it's just overwhelming when it gets so grown up. Once I get out there, though, I really enjoy digging in the dirt. I love being able to get a new plant out of an old one, and of course the feeling of accomplishment is always good! It's not perfect and wouldn't appear in any magazine, but today I'm thankful for my gardens and all of the ongoing gardening projects.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Good Read

I'm a reader. I always have a book going. If I finish something I have to start another book right away, or it just feels...weird. I enjoy finding a good book and really getting into it. I enjoy finding a good series even more! So then the story just keeps going. And the characters develop into something more like friends than just something written on a page.

Sometimes the best books (or series) come from recommendations from friends or family. I found Terry Pratchett's Discworld series through my sister. Some recommendations miss the mark, of course. "Oh you thought I'd like a romance novel? I see." Before starting a family, I worked at the public library. It was great helping people find books they needed for research or for pleasure. They shared their favorites with me, just as I shared with them. The suggestion that I read the Marcus Didius Falco series (by Lindsey Davis) came from a library customer. I read a few and thoroughly enjoyed them. I don't think I ever read them in order, so I was kind of messed up, story wise. After leaving the library to have Evan, I still read a lot, but some of those recommendations fell by the wayside. I continued with Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and more recently, P.G. Wodehouse and his wonderful Jeeves and Wooster books. Just recently my mom brought over a couple of Marcus Didius Falco books she'd found at the thrift store. I thought, "well, I don't remember much about these anymore, but I'll give them a shot." I started "Saturnalia," and have had a hard time putting it down! I'm upset with myself for letting this series get away from me! What a wonderful writer Ms. Davis is! I'll be digging in the next title soon. But for now I'm thankful for excellent books and that reminder to look at past favorites.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Music...again

I have this book of twelve sonatas by Georg Phillip Telemann. They are called the Methodical Sonatas. There is a score with the flute part and the continuo (just the bass line for the accompanist.) I've had this book for years. Probably since before Evan was born in 2004. So, it could be a decade old! The pieces are methodical, because on each Sonata one of the slow movements (usually the first movement) has the original part and an alternative much ornamented part. They are on the same score. Original on top, ornamented in the middle, continuo on the bottom. It gives the player an idea of how the composer would take that original, more simple melody and add trills, turns, runs, passing tones...you name it. It's fascinating, really. In earlier years I looked more at the original and was a little afraid of the ornamented. Not so now. I read both. I think the point of these exercises is to know what Telemann recommends, and do it in other movements, as the mood takes you. Anyway...I've had the book probably ten years. In all this time I thought I'd played everything in there. I mean, it's just twelve pieces. I probably played the ones in a minor key a little bit more often, too. So, when I opened the book to the Sonata in d minor, imagine my surprise when I didn't recognize it. I suppose it's possible I've played it, and just don't remember. I suppose. I looked at the original Andante in the first movement. Then I played the ornamented version. Oh.My.Goodness. I was blown away. I loved it. I played it (the ornamented version) again. I found bits to work on. And then other bits. I didn't even get out of the first movement last night. I loved it. When I pulled the book out again tonight, it was with a, "Heck yeah I'm playing the d minor!" I played the original, then the ornamented. Worked on bits and pieces again. And, with a sigh, decided to look over the rest of the sonata. Not quite up to the first movement, but good stuff. I love finding new pieces that make me want to play and play and play. Even when the "new" piece has been in my music library for a while. So, today I'm thankful for music that thrills me to my core and makes me want to play.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Oops, a day behind.

So, I went to a concert last night with my gig buddy, and was too wiped out when I got home to be thankful. Well, in writing, at least. But that means I have to have enough creativity to think of two things today. The horror! With the gig in mind, I would say that I'm thankful for having gig buddies. I would probably never attend concerts if I had to go alone. I wouldn't want to drive into the Big City, or another state if I didn't have a friend along for the ride. And jumping up and down to our favorite bands is so much more fun with a friend. So, thanks Gig Buddies!


The band we went to see last night was Young the Giant. They are coming out with a new album next year, and they are doing these mini preview concerts to get fans excited. It worked! I liked the new songs they played and look forward to more music! I call Young the Giant one of my Happy Bands. Their music is often in major keys and, well, happy. For me it conjures up images of the beach. Maybe because they're from California. It's nice. Another Happy Band is The Vaccines. Completely different sound. They also play a lot of music in major keys. There's just a lot of feelgoodness to both bands. And if I'm upset, angry, sad, whatever, both these groups can help turn that around. Today I'm thankful for my Happy Bands!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Good health

Last week I was a bit under the weather. I got my workout in on Tuesday, and started feeling poorly that afternoon. It was a mild bug, but I still wasn't up to my usual activity level or my usual fun self (ha!) This week I'm feeling much better and back to the gym/outdoors for my workouts. So, today I'm thankful for being healthy, and having good health in general.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home ownership!

Justin and I moved into our home in 2001. We beat the big housing bubble, although we did pay more than the house is currently "worth." But not a lot more. We refinanced a couple of times in those early years while the rates were low. So now, 12 years later, our house is paid off! Of course, there are many things that need to be fixed, but it's a great feeling to have a little more financial flexibility, and for that I am thankful.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fall Back

I'm not usually thankful for the time change. Oh sure, we get an extra hour of sleep...allegedly. It's hard to get an extra 5 minutes of sleep when you have two little kids in the house! This year, however, the kids slept in a bit. So, yeah, that was pretty nice. It was also nice that we have gotten the kids to bed earlier the last couple of nights. We started at the usual "old time," so we're starting to get ready a whole hour earlier by the clock. So, when morning comes, I feel like maybe, just maybe they're well rested. Unfortunately, I woke up at my usual time on Daylight Savings, so I've been awake since 5 this morning. So tired. We'll see how long we can make this earlier bedtime work for the kids. Then I really will be thankful! And for more than just one weekend!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Green space

Today I took the kiddies to a new park. Well, it was new to us. I'm not sure how long it's been there. It was a lovely small park with a pretty, wooded walking trail, a huge pavilion (with bench swings!) and, of course, a playground. It wasn't the usual big, flat, rectangular sort of play area. It was on a hill, so each section of play area was tiered. It was small, but really pretty. And the kids were pretty stoked about the rope pyramid (or spider web) climbing feature. This was not the closest park, but Duncan requested going someplace different.

When Justin and I first moved to our home, the closest park was several miles away. Since living here, however, the county has added two new parks that are just a few miles away. We were very excited for the first small park to open. Evan was brand new, so that became our regular park. We walked there, played there, and picnicked there.  Even at Evan's young age (just 2), he was starting to ask to go to "The Different Park." And when I took him somewhere new, he exclaimed, "Yay, the different park!" Of course, he meant any park besides the one we always went to. Since then, a closer (and bigger!) one has been built and become our regular park. Today I'm thankful to live in an area with so many wonderful parks!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thankfully flutey

Today I'm thankful for the gift of music. I will mention music more than once during this 28 day torture, cough, I mean adventure. Today I am thankful for the ability to play a musical instrument. I've played the flute for 30 years! It's hard to believe it's been so long! I have loved playing from the beginning. I'd practice in those early years because I wanted to. Nowadays, I don't practice like I should, but I still enjoy it. Playing can turn a bad mood into a good one. Sometimes my session doesn't go well, and I end up frustrated. But usually within one or two days, I am back to my happy place. (That perseverance thing again!) I don't perform as often as I like (and I sure miss playing in a woodwind quintet and recorder group!), but I am fortunate to attend a church that has a wonderful music program with a choir director who chooses several flute pieces a year.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Season of Thankfulness

This year has been somewhat difficult. Not for any particular reason. I've just had a rougher time than expected dealing with the ongoing emotions from having lost a child almost seven years ago. I come into the Thanksgiving season since Evan's death with more of a sneer than a smile. This year is no different. Perhaps even more of a sneer than usual. Two years ago, when Evan's death anniversary fell on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to do that thing where I share one thing I'm thankful (or grateful) for each day leading up to Turkey Day. It was hard. I wanted to make it personal and share things that really mattered, rather than talking about being thankful for something kind of silly. Because I took it so seriously, it wasn't fun. It was a bit of a chore. It was hard! I said to myself last time, "I'm never doing that again!" Well, here I am, two years later. I keep thinking of all the things I hate about November. So, I decided that I may not want to do another list of Thanks, but I need to. I need to remember what makes me grateful. The little things in day to day life (yes, even chocolate!) that make me smile and feel content. So, with that in mind...

I have been working on some handmade ornaments I hope to trade with friends for the Christmas season. I've added patterns to Pinterest and bought supplies. I got busy a few weeks ago. This was a new craft for me, so I knew I needed to practice. Things kept going wrong. I kept needing to head back to the craft store for something slightly different. I was feeling pretty inept over this "simple" pattern. Well, this week I finally, finally had success! I was getting a bit frustrated for a while, but I was chalking things up to "the learning experience." I'm pleased I kept at it, because the results are very pretty. So, today I'm thankful for the "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" adage. And the successful results! In other words: perseverance.

Monday, September 30, 2013

SssNicessssTossssSeeYou!

Back in May and June we had a slithery visitor on the bridge that crosses our little creek. It would sun itself there every day for a while. I went down a few times to take pictures, and it always slithered off. We didn't see it for a while until it decided to show up almost at our door!
 
 
 
The basement door, that is! It hung out in the driveway for a couple of days all snuggled up next to the house. It made going somewhere in the car a little more nerve racking. 

 
Finally, Justin scooped the snake up with a shovel and tossed it into the back. It wasn't scared of the shovel. In fact, Justin says the snake bit at it.



A month or so went by. No snake. I did some weeding in Evan's Garden over the weekend. I stacked up the weeds next to the deck stairs. Justin went to get weed bags the next day, so that I could pack up the weeds. He said as he set the bags down, he saw a tail slithering away...just leaving its little stacked weed nest. Just imagine had I gone out there to pick up those weeds. Shudder.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pronouns...Let's get Personal!

 
Even though most kids start doing some talking in the first couple of years of life, language is something that they continue to learn over time. It's pretty cute, actually. All of the silly things kids say, I mean. They are figuring out sentence structure, adding vocabulary all.the.time.  Just learning what works. I imagine it's fairly common for little kids to get mixed up about many things in the English language. Oh sure, punkin is an acceptable substitute for pumpkin. Pronunciation differences are cute. But changing a person's personal pronoun can be a tad embarrassing! 
 
When Duncan was four or five, he started tagging all people with male personal pronouns. For example, "There's Mommy! What's he doing? Playing his flute?" And I say, "Um, Duncan? I'm a girl. 'There's Mommy. What's she doing?'" He did this for a long time. He gets it right now, but sometimes he inserts that italicized she to make sure we know he's making that extra effort and emphasis.
 
Miranda really likes to mix things up. Instead of referring to everything as a male, she does tend to lean towards using the feminine. We've tried the same repetition with her that worked so well with Duncan. Miranda will say, "Grandpa has her hat on!" And we respond, "Grandpa has his hat on." Miranda likes to keep us on our toes, though. Just tonight Duncan was having a pain in his eyes. Miranda was very concerned. She said, "Is Duncan ok? Did he get something in her eyes?!" That Miranda! Always has to do things her way!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

August? Wait...what now?

So, apparently August happened! We just got busy trying to "do all the things" before summer was over, and then summer was over! School started. People posted their first day of school pics all over Facebook. Me? I forgot my camera. Well, in the morning I did. I took the "I'm getting off the bus on the first day of school" pics. Maybe I'll start a new tradition.
 
 
 
 
Here's Duncan getting off the bus on the first day of Second Grade. He's been in school for a month now and doing fairly well. He's progressing on the things that gave him trouble last year. His handwriting is MUCH better, but he still hates it. I'm already getting little notes about that. Apparently the boy has a stubborn streak (she says as though this is news.) Fun, fun!
 
 

 
Here is Miranda getting off the school bus on her first day of Kindergarten! As adorable as she is, Miranda is my little troublemaker. I get notes almost daily about her behavior. She seems to be taking Naughtiness to the next level.



An effort to get a First Day of School and here's Mommy picture. Maybe we'll try this again when it's cooler out. I've got parent-teacher conferences coming up soon. So, um, yay? 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

 
Every year in the winter months, my mom and I start talking about plants. Once the new year has begun, it's time to start planning. We talk about what did well last year and what we hope to add this year. It seems like every year when talking about perennials, my mom will say, "Well, if it comes back." This strikes me as rather odd. Well, why wouldn't it come back, I ask. It's a perennial! Maybe I just have high expectations.
 
 
Last year was one of the hottest (if not the hottest!) years on record! It was truly a scorcher. We had 90 degree temps (and higher!) from April through August. It was miserable. It was also dry. I wasn't surprised to lose a few things by the end of that summer. Even so, the roses looked marvelous! This year we've had copious amounts of rain and the temperature has been much milder than average. A little weird, honestly. The weather has been wet since January. After last year I may, like my mom, have wondered what would come back this year. I had hoped that the moisture would help.
 

 
But the moisture didn't bring this guy back. Looks like Penstemon. I think they like dry weather. But did I lose it because of the heat or the wet?

 
Sadly, my yellow Corydalis did not return. They're supposed to be prolific at reseeding. I got a few volunteers in the past. Not this year!

 
Virginia Sweetspire Itea 'Henry's Garnet' are native plants for my region. They like the heat and can handle some flooding. Yep, they're dropping like flies.

 
My coneflowers (and Rudbeckias) came back, but they look no where near this pretty. They are really chewed up. More rain, more bugs? I don't know. Even though we've had incredibly lush growth this year, there were still some plants that just couldn't cut it.
 
Now, why couldn't the weeds suffer the same fate?!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"I'm Sweaty!"

This summer, and well, every summer, I find myself wiping the perspiration off my brow. This summer has been pretty mild, but we've had days that are sticky, as we say in The South. That means it's humid. So, you sweat even though it's not technically all that hot out. And when I start to glow (because ladies don't sweat, right?), I say to myself, "I'm sweaty" (ok, ladies do sweat!) But I say it in Evan's voice...
 
 
 
 
Evan had beautiful skin. Everyone talked about his jowls and his jiggly cheeks and how he was "a chunk." Yeah, well, he may have been a chunk, but that skin was gorgeous! Like a rose petal. Soft, clear. With a hint of rosy cheeks. He was one of those little kids whose skin really did glow when he got warm.
 
 
 
 
You've seen those kids. They have pale skin and then they start running around and get hot, and their little cheeks start to get pink or red.
 
 
 
And Evan did love to run around and play. I remember his preschool teacher commenting on how much he loved to play. I thought to myself, "Well, don't they all?"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Evan especially loved to play outdoors. It didn't matter if it was 100 degrees outside, he wanted to be O-U-T! In fact, I was telling Justin that Evan wants to go o-u-t-s-i-d-e, and Evan cut in and said, "I want to go o-u-t...outside, I wanna go outside!" We'd go out and play until his little cheeks were red and sweat was pouring down and I'd still have to bribe him with orange juice to go back into the blessed air conditioning. And sometimes he'd want to go inside for a quick drink of water, but come right back out. He'd insist that I stay outside while he went in. I don't think he believed me when I said that we would come right back out. If Mommy comes inside, she wants to stay in! While that's true, I tried to keep my word and take him back out (if he let me in in the first place!)
 

 
He probably mentioned at times like this that he was sweaty. He seemed more preoccupied with fun than with the heat. I do distinctly remember him running around in the front yard on a cool day. No pink cheeks, no sweat. He turned to me and proclaimed, "I'm sweaty!" Ummm...no you're not. But it's that proclamation to the world at large that sticks in my mind. The way he said those two little words always comes to mind when I get hot and start to sweat.
Always.
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Color in the Memorial Garden?

 
Azaleas
 
I know when I've ordered the flowers in memory of Evan for a Sunday morning service at church, that some people think white is the most appropriate color for a memorial.

 
Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' bloomed for the first time this year!
 
Sometimes I put requests in about the colors I would like to see used in the display. Sometimes, I just let the professionals make the decisions. The last time I let them choose? They chose white. All white.

 
Baptisia alba
 
I didn't take the white ones home. The Music Minister asked me later if I'd like to have them, and I said no, I didn't like the white. Why do they do all white, I asked. He said he always thought it was for purity.

 
Deutzia gracilis, 'Chardonnay Pearls'/Duncan
 
That makes sense, I suppose. I suppose some people want to do their memorial gardens in all white. For purity, maybe. Or maybe because white stands out well against the green foliage and looks luminescent at night.
 
But my little boy, although pure, was not an "all white" kind of kid. His favorite color was red. We knew this from early on. He always chose the one (shirt, shorts, plate, ball, you name it) that was red. Always. Evan's short life was full of color. He made sure that our lives were colorful, too. So, I think it's only right that his memorial garden be colorful.

 
Columbine caerulea Swan pink-yellow
 
While those white flowered plants are in Evan's New Garden, there's color everywhere!

 
Iris 'Duncan's Smiling Eyes'

 
Unknown trade Iris

 
Stylophorum diphyllum 'Celandine Poppy'
 
I'm glad I chose a colorful garden to remember my son. Aren't you?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Growing up!

 
So, one little person around here has been busy losing teeth! Duncan didn't lose his first tooth until he was six and a half or so. Miranda is ahead of the curve losing her first tooth at a little over five. She pulled it out (June 20) after weeks of letting it wiggle horribly. I don't know how she could stand it! And even the apples that I sneakily fed her didn't make it come out any sooner.

 
Who me?

 
She lost her second tooth on July 7. This one also wiggled for weeks. I asked her numerous times if she wanted help pulling it out. Nope. She didn't want to pull it out. In fact, she talked about sending the Tooth Fairy a note after Tooth #1. She said she would tell the Tooth Fairy she wanted her tooth back. I'm not sure if she understood that she would have to give back her shiny coin, though. And I'm not sure what she would have done with the tooth had it been returned. A baby tooth necklace? A little creepy, I think! She finally pulled out Tooth #2 when I told her she could have an ice cream cup if, and only if, she pulled the tooth out. Thirty seconds later we had ice cream!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Stroll through Evan's New Garden!

 
It's gotten to the part of the summer when I just start to get lazy. You know, the part when summer begins and then it continues till, I don't know, September! I'm from the South, so you'd think I'd be accustomed to the heat and humidity. And maybe I am, but that doesn't mean I like it! I took these photos a week or more ago. They are all from Evan's new garden. The flower in the picture above is Stokesia laevis, commonly called Stoke's Aster. They are native to this area. In some years the foliage gets a little droopy, because of low humidity, or drought. Not this year! We've have humidity and enough rain to make everything lush and beautiful!

 
Another moisture lover, Astilbe, also tends to suffer in the Southern heat. This year they are taking it in stride (probably because it just hasn't been all that hot. Just average temperatures. I'm not complaining!)

 
My mom gave me this little purple Bee Balm last year. It has already doubled its size. I have my eye on it, because I'm wary of spreaders. Thus far, I've not had any powdery mildew issues, and I love the low height. It's approximately 12" tall. I think this must be "Pardon My Purple." I love the traditional red of Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), but that stuff spreads like crazy and was 3-4 feet tall! And the whole powdery mildew thing. So, this is a nice compromise.

 
I picked up a couple of little Hydrangeas at church one Easter. Two plants in honor of my kiddies. I went out of town without watering them. I called my husband to bring them in (they were still potted and small), to avoid the heat wave that was predicted. I came home and they looked pitiful. Like they hadn't been watered or something. Ahem. Well, they've done very nicely since they've been put in the ground.

 
The pathway in Evan's new garden. It leads to...

 
An arbor with this gorgeous little double Clematis! I have no clue what it's called, but I love it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Studies?

I had thought we'd try to hit the books over the summer months to get the kids ready for the upcoming school year. Not all day or anything, but some nice, organized learning with breaks for fun. Well, it's been more like nice, unorganized fun with bits of learning. Little, tiny bits.
 
 
Miranda's been doing a lot of creative play time. She is a wonderful pretender, just like both her brothers. I will often find her playing with her engines and princesses. One day Sleeping Beauty was giving a talk to her engine friends. She had to scold Queen James a few times, though!

 
When it's too hot to go outside, we have a small bounce house we can inflate indoors. It was the perfect size when they were little. Now, they are so big that they have toppled it over onto its side a couple of times.

 
 
The kids participated in Music Camp again this year. Miranda (like last year) hung out in the Narthex during the performance. Duncan sang, played a drum, and played a hand chime! It was a lot of fun!
 
 
Miranda also enjoys taking pictures of anything and everything. She loves taking pictures of herself almost as much as she loves gazing in the mirror. She spends time admiring herself, not really primping so much as making faces. If she's crying and upset, she's got to go to the mirror to check out how sad that little face is.
 
 
A shot of a beloved mermaid's tail!

 
She also enjoys sneaking up on big brother. She likes to scare him, tickle him, tease him, and yes, take pictures of him!

 
"How close can I get to Duncan before he gets mad," she wonders. Duncan plays a video game and tries to ignore her.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Red Flowered Step Child

 
My front gardens are filled with pink! I have a pink Mandavilla trailing up the mailbox and Pink Drift Roses nearby.
 

 
 
These Pink Drift Roses help make my boring sidewalk more beautiful!
 

 
 
I have "Wineberry Candy" Daylilies edging the grass and some "Paper Butterfly" Daylilies in the front beds. They are both peach with a deep pink (am I stretching it?) throat.
 
I have some lovely pink Vinca serving as my summer annuals in the beds.
 
 
 
I bought some annual pink Geraniums (Pelargoniums!) to throw in alongside the Vinca to get some height and a different leaf. I bought them from a place we like to call Crazy Eddies. We call this respectable nursery CE's, because the plants are at rock bottom prices, and it feels like any ads would say things like, "EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!" Maybe it was because I trusted the labels at Crazy Eddie's. Maybe I should have purchased plants in bloom. But, I ended up with...
 
 
 
 
This red flowered step child. And she's a beaut. And my daughter Miranda thinks it's, "So pretty!" But the bright red blooms look a little, uh, garish? next to the soft pink hues. So, what to do? I may transplant her back to Evan's Garden (he loved the color red!)


 
 
Of course, I can't say that everything in the front gardens is pink, because these lovely Daylilies have had a spot there for years. A bigger spot now, because I've divided one plant into six. I don't know what they are. I picked one up at a fancier nursery (no loud annoying ads for them!) at the end of the summer season one year. I don't remember if it was labelled "Wineberry Candy" or not, but it seems like it was.
 
 
 
 
Here is a bloom with "Wineberry Candy" in the background. Pretty different. But, oh so lovely! I love them! But I am considering moving them to a different spot. And maybe adding a nice dark pink (burgundy!) daylily to replace them.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Birthday Boy!

 
Duncan just turned 7 recently! He decided he wanted a Minecraft themed party. Minecraft is a video game where the player builds his/her own little world. Pretty much everything is cube shaped. I looked high and low for pre-made Minecraft party supplies, but found very little, despite Minecraft being very popular. So, I headed over to Pinterest to get some ideas.

 
The lady at the bounce house had the party room decked out in green. I added the homemade Creeper boxes.
 
 
 
I decided to just decorate with our favor bags instead of fancy cupcakes or a cake.


 
I printed out a Creeper template and colored in the faces on the party favor bags. I ordered clear plastic cubes for candy inspired by Minecraft. The Twizzlers look like the TNT cubes. The Hershey's Silver Nuggets resemble the Iron Ingot, and the M&Ms are just a rainbow assortment. I had wanted to do all brown and green M&M's like the grass blocks, but there weren't enough of those colors in the regular M&M bag.

 
Duncan loved all the Minecraft touches. But mostly he loved running around and jumping with his friends. So, I would call it a success!