Sunday, November 23, 2014

Naptime is for Suckers!



After Evan turned 2 he didn't really want to take naps anymore. He'd grab one here and there, but usually the afternoons got longer, and the evenings got crankier. I especially needed for us all to nap when Duncan got here. Duncan wasn't the best sleeper for those first few months. When Evan did get in a nap, I was always surprised about the location. It wasn't ever somewhere normal, like his bed. It was on the floor or at the kitchen table. In this particular picture he's in his little rocking chair. Just a few feet away (on the other side of the wall) Justin was making an awful racket with a reciprocating saw or some other tool. I don't know if it was just that Evan was super tired, or that tool sounds were like lullabies to him, but he did sleep really well that afternoon!

Seeing Red

I ordered the flowers for today's church service. And, silly me, I didn't leave a note about wanting the bouquet to be colorful. So, I ended up with a solid white bouquet. Again. If you don't know how I feel about solid white bouquets, you can read all about it here. I guess it's my own fault, since I'm the picky one. I suppose it's all about Evan's purity again. Blah blah blah! Well, here are a few pictures of Evan in his favorite color.



Evan may have been seeing red himself when Grandma pushed him over to see the new guy. 


By age two Evan was definitely all about red. If he had a clean red shirt, that was what he wanted to wear.


He didn't pack up and leave us behind when I produced a blue shirt for him to wear, but he definitely preferred red.



His jacket was even red! ("Look at these pumpkin patches!" he would say about individual pumpkins!)


He liked red sauce with his pasta!



He showed a preference for red early on. 



He looked adorable in any color he put on. If he had the choice? It was red.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Creature Comforts


After a long afternoon and a drive in the car, not even a chocolate chip cookie could keep Evan from a little nap. When he woke up the Winter Olympics were on, and we watched the Luge event. For the next two weeks that we watched The Games, Evan asked for more Luge! But, of course, for me the best part was snuggling with my favorite little boy.

Big Brother



I can't say that Evan understood when we told him a baby was coming, and he was going to be a big brother. He seemed excited, and possibly a little nervous. When Duncan got here Evan seemed even less sure about the whole baby thing. Duncan was a crier. He cried more like a 3 month old than a newborn. In other words, the boy had a good set of lungs! He was cranky and needed his Mommy a lot. This cut into Evan's Mommy Time, and that was hard on all of us. In spite of all this Evan was a good big brother. He was a good helper to me when I needed something for a diaper change for Duncan. He brought "Duncan's Briefcase," which was the changing pad. He'd sit close by to observe the proceedings, and announce the state of the diaper. If it was a monster pee or turdlets. When Duncan started to try to roll over from front to back, Evan cheered him on. "Roll over! Roll over!" And when Duncan cried his big brother patted him on the head and said, "It's ok, Duncan." Or sometimes, "Duncan, be happy!" He looked out for his little brother, and was ready to be his first playmate.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Buddies

Evan had other buddies besides Bear Bear. Before Evan was born we decided we wanted to decorate his room with a bear theme, so my in laws gave us a bunch of adorable bears to do just that. Except bears are more for playing with, snuggling, and toting around rather than sitting around looking cute. (Although, they're good at that, too.) 


A favorite bear with all of the kids is Snowbeary, aka "Mommy's Bear." Yes, that little polar bear is all mine! But I have had to be careful. We have kids with sticky fingers around here that sneak him into their rooms for snuggles.



Another favorite is "Gorilla" also known as "Monkey." Although, we did explain that he's not really a monkey. Gorilla (we're really clever with names here!) was a gift to Evan when he was just a few months old. Gorilla was bigger than he was! I thought for sure he would terrify Evan. Nope. He loved him from the start. I'm not sure if you can tell, but Gorilla's arms face forward, so he is permanently ready for a hug.



This is Evan with his buddies in the little bounce house we bought for him as a "Here's a cool toy, and guess what, you're a big brother to this loud, screamy guy!" present. You can see he's got Gorilla, Piggy (his real name is Hamlet), and Blue Bear. Evan would tuck all of these animals (and more!) in his arms, and walk them down the stairs, saying, "Got my buddies!" With all of his buddies at his side, he was ready for anything!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bear Bear


I would be remiss to not include Evan's favorite bear in a little compilation of Evan memories. Evan's bear was his bear before he was even born! We picked it up when I was a few months pregnant. We immediately fell in love with Cloud (that was the name on the label.) We couldn't help it. Sure, he was a cute little bear, but we are also Bear People. I can't say that the bear was an instant hit, but he definitely grew on Evan.


And before long Evan was toting his bear with him everywhere. We even got a back up bear in case the first one went missing. Around this time (or maybe shortly before), we discovered that Evan had named his bear. We had always just asked him, "Do you want your bear?" and never really called him anything. Apparently, when Evan was in the church nursery, he called his bear, "Bear Bear." And it stuck! Unfortunately, Evan discovered the back up bear and insisted on having both bears. When one of them went missing, we still had one, but he did miss his Bear Bear 2.


Evan played with Bear Bear constantly, and just had him around as his companion. He's showing him the cool vacuum cleaner here.



When it was time for bed, we always had to find Bear Bear first. There was no going to sleep without Evan's best buddy. There was one night when I couldn't find him. We were both upset. I told Evan to go on to bed and try to sleep, and I'd keep looking. I eventually found him, and tucked him into bed with my sleeping boy. In the morning Evan came running into my room all excited, "I found Bear Bear!"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sometimes a Boy Just Needs His Mommy


When Evan was about 5 months old, we took him to see one of my best friends and her family. He was scooped up immediately by the baby loving mamas there, and passed around aplenty. After 30 or 45 minutes of this, however, Evan had had enough. He wanted his Mommy, and he wanted me now! He was so upset, poor little guy. I tried to calm him down. I tried to nurse him. Nothing doing. He was inconsolable. He also had a vice like grip on my arm, as though he was telling me, "You're not doing that to me again, lady!" We managed to get him to the car and drive over to Grandma and Grandpa's house. He was back to his normal happy self after a little car ride.




Less than an hour after that traumatic experience, and Evan is ok again, and ready to be snuggled.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

There's More than One Way to Get from Here to There



Sometimes it seems like little boys (and little girls, for that matter!) are in a state of perpetual motion. And they don't saunter. They don't lollygag (unless Mommy really needs to be somewhere now! Then they're all, "Look at the pretty flowers! Let's stop and smell them, shall we?") The ordinary pace of a little kid is fast. They don't want to walk, they want to run! Every time the whistle blows at the swimming pool for a little speedster, I can't help thinking of telling the lifeguard, "They can't help it! Running is the only way for little people to get from here to there." Running is fun. Running away from someone (especially Mommy!) is even more fun! The look of glee as a toddler runs out into the parking lot! "Oh, the Thrill of the Chase," he seems to be thinking. With poor, terrified Mama desperately trying to catch up. Evan was a runner. He'd run off at the store. He gleefully ran from me at the park. Sometimes he just ran for fun, cheeks jiggling, wind in his hair. But there were times when he slowed it down, and kind of speed walked. This wasn't a situation where he was randomly running around (or escaping), he was on a mission. Evan walked with A Purpose. A purpose known only to him. Well, until he excitedly told me all about it. But when he did this power walk, he'd pump his arms up and down like in the picture. It was an exaggerated arm movement. When I saw him start to do this, I knew he meant business. Usually the business of getting to a special part of the playground. Sometimes I catch myself pumping my arms like this, and I always think of him with a smile.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Way We Said Goodnight




Before Duncan was born, as I mentioned previously, we had bedtime as a family. Well, when I say we had bedtime, I mean Justin and I read to Evan, and then Evan went to bed. Evan loved books, and even at other times of day, he could be found pretending to read. Of course, there were favorites. He loved Corduroy, and The Day the Babies Crawled Away. We had fun doing a Henry Builds a Cabin and Henry Climbs a Mountain mashup. I was able to do this relatively easily, because I had them memorized. We read the same books so often, that many of them were committed to memory. We got into the habit of reading Goodnight Moon at the end of each story time. And pretty soon, I was just reciting it to him. This picture is referencing Goodnight Moon. In the book there are "three little bears, sitting on chairs." In our version there are three little bears sitting on Mommy's head! Of course, Evan loved it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Speaking of Thomas..."

I'm going to pull a Duncan. Well, kind of. We'll be talking about something, topics from school or other items of interest when he'll say, "Speaking of Frederick Douglass (or insert other recently covered topic), can I play Minecraft?" I ask him what does Minecraft have to do with Frederick Douglass. "Nothing." I ask him if he's built an Underground Railroad in Minecraft (because that would be awesome!) "Nope." So, I explain to him that usually when people say, "Speaking of Frederick Douglass..." that usually means they're going to say something else related to Frederick Douglass. Or how that topic reminded him of something similar. Not sure that it's sinking in just yet. So, in that frame of mind (and the fact that I wasn't just discussing Thomas), "Speaking of Thomas...."


We were somewhat strict with Evan. He had definite boundaries and rules. And we took those recommendations of two hours or less screen time very seriously. Evan didn't even watch TV until he was 18 months old. Most of his friends were Elmo fans by then. So, we started with a little Sesame Street and added other shows on Public Television. But never more than that two hours. Then I got pregnant with Duncan and put on bed rest at 32 weeks.



The Thomas movies that Grandma had given Evan for his birthday suddenly became a Thing. I didn't like them at first. Why didn't their mouths move when they talked? Are they communicating by telepathy? Why in the world would they send a sentient machine to scrap, even if he was no longer useful. It seemed so cruel! And what was with that music?! But the stories were cute and not beating you over the head educational (shows can be educational and entertaining, ya know!) We started having special Mommy and Evan Thomas time. I began to learn all of the train names along with Evan. After Duncan came we bought some of the movies on DVD. When we were visiting the grandparents, we got him his very first set of plastic tracks and a couple of engines. I think he may have already had a Thomas by then. Usually at Grandma and Grandpa's house, Evan would wait for permission to leave his room in the morning. But the morning after he got that set, he was up with the sun pushing his little engines around the track. He was over the moon! In October I secretly went and purchased a used set of wooden tracks and buildings and a train table. I was so excited to give Evan his first wooden train set for Christmas! But it was not to be. He never got to play with any of it. It still breaks my heart. I did pull the set out of the garage several months later for Duncan. And then when Miranda came along, I had another Thomas fan. Of course, now the show is a cartoon instead of a train set. The engines mouths move when they speak (which now strikes me as odd!) And the stories are terrible. It's like they fired the writers when they spent all that money on the graphics. Miranda is even growing out of Thomas now, but I told her how much Evan loved Thomas and trains. I think he would have loved playing trains with his little brother and sister!

Sleepyhead

Last night before Duncan settled down to go to sleep, he appeared at the top of the stairs. He should have been in bed. It was late already, but he said he was scared. My thought was, "What is it this time?" After watching some space show a while back, he appeared at the top of the stairs and said, "I'm afraid of the sun becoming a red giant." I told him we probably have 5 billion more years till that happens, but he really did seem upset, so I went with him to his room to snuggle and help him get to sleep. Last night he said he was scared because of The Dark. He has double windows onto the dark back yard. I always close the curtains, but he knows it's still back there. He doesn't seem terribly upset, but I go anyway. He may be taking advantage of his pushover mommy. But I don't mind hanging out with my little guy. Sometimes I fall asleep, too. One time I went in there after giving up on sleeping in my own bed because Justin was snoring like a bear using a chainsaw. That time every time Duncan turned over he hugged me and said, "I love you, Mommeh!"

Evan had his little night time rituals and needs, too. After bath time with Daddy, they'd go to Evan's room for story time and some snuggles. I came up later, because I was usually in charge of feeding Duncan and trying to get him to bed. Before Duncan was born we had family story time, and a snack. It was fun, and Evan was never ready to go to sleep. He'd fuss for a while, and then eventually settle down. Once little brother was in the picture, Evan had to share. It was hard on him. But Evan always insisted that I come see him at bed time. My job was to sing what he called, "Our Father." Also known as The Lord's Prayer. I'd pick him up and snuggle with him, and sing. After the song we'd snuggle some more and talk. He was never ready for bed then, either. But didn't fuss as much. There was one time I remember watching TV downstairs. I heard footsteps on the stairs. I turned to see Evan coming down with the look on his face like, "Yep, it's me!" It was 11 pm! Kind of late for a 2 year old! It seemed like he just came down stairs to see what we were doing! We got him back to bed, and he slept the rest of the night.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Memories that are Not Their Own

I'm sitting here watching Miranda play with a piece of wooden toy railroad track. She's kind of fondling it and saying how sad she is about Evan. "I love him and I miss him. He's in heaven." And, "He's my little brudder." I say that I miss him, too. I tell her that I'm also sad that he's gone. Sometimes I remind her that Evan was her big brother, and that he would be 10 years old now. But that never seems to sink in. She sees pictures of a 2 year old boy who never grew up. He'll forever be her little brother, because he is forever a little boy. She never met Evan, of course. She was born a year and a half after he died. So, really, the only memories she has of Evan are from what we've told her, and pictures we've shared. I know of parents who never tell siblings about the brother or sister that died. My dental hygienist told me that she never knew she had a brother until she was an adult. And then it wasn't her parents that told her, but an aunt. Her parents had decided that their way of facing their grief was to put the loss in their pasts. Yeah, this seldom works. We've shared little memories with the kids about their big brother. They know he was sick and died, and how it still hurts us sometimes. I think it's wonderful to hear Miranda and Duncan talk about Evan. Their memories may not really be their own, but they feel like they knew him. And, in a way, they really do!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Evan Cleans the Mess


"Look at this Mess!"

 When you're a messy boy and point out your own messes with surprise ("Look at this mess!" Evan would say after creating said mess), you might also be interested in cleaning up that mess. Or not. If it involved the Vacuum Cleaner, chances are pretty good that the clean up might get interesting. What with the noise and the fact that all that stuff disappears. Vacuums must be pretty neat to a little kid. Evan was obsessed with vacuums from early on. I think the noise scared him a little (it still does scare Miranda!) But the Noise! The Power! And above all the fact that it was a Machine (or 'chine, as he would call it) made it desirable. I'd have it in the corner beyond the child safety gates, and Evan would go and look at it. He'd point and say, "'Cu Cweaner!"

When we shopped at Target, it was a treat to go look at the vacuum cleaners. Seriously! As Evan got a little older, and his vocabulary and his pronunciation got better, he started calling it a "Dacuum Cleaner." He also got to try out the real one! He'd get one spot on the rug and go over it and over it and over it. That must have been the cleanest spot in the house! I thought it was so funny that kids can make fun out of what adults see as the biggest chores. Just a matter of perspective, I guess!




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bath Time!


Justin was responsible for Evan's bath time most days. He got the bath tub filled with loads of bubbles, and the two boys would play! Evan ended up with bubble beards, bubble hats, bubble clothes. It was all pretty adorable. Justin would end up as wet as Evan, because Evan was a splasher. He came up with some games to try to keep the water in the tub. We bought some cute animal bath mitts and squirters, foam animals that would stick to the side of the tub, and suction cup fish. The fish seemed to be the favorite. Justin would give Evan a fish, and say, "One, two, three...FISH!" And Evan would throw his fish at the wall to see if they would stick. It was hilarious and good fun. When it was my turn to give Evan a bath, I had to learn the ropes. It was fun, but I'm not sure how successful it was at keeping the water in the tub! I distinctly remember getting pretty wet!

In the Valley


Yesterday we marked Veterans Day here in the United States. Many people on Facebook shared images of their loved ones who had served (or are serving) in the Military. I joined in with a picture of my Grandpa. I really enjoyed seeing everyone's photos, thankful that those loved ones made it back when so many didn't. I shared a video of "Soldier's Poem" by the band Muse where the poster had added footage from the movie Band of Brothers. It's tough to watch. It reminded me of the time when Evan was probably not even six months old. Justin and I rented the movie "Saving Private Ryan." We generally skip Academy Award winners and nominees, because they always seem to be depressing. Somehow, this one made it through. We watched as the band of soldiers went to find this Private. All of his brothers had been killed in the war, and he was the only one left, and would be sent home. It takes place in those early days after D-Day invasion. It never occurred to me how dangerous and chaotic it must have been for the Allies. The little band lost one after another soldier. I am tender hearted in general, so this was tough for me. But the one that hurt the most was the dying soldier that was calling for his mom with his last breaths. "Mama, Mama, Mama," he cried. I muffled my sobs into a pillow so Justin wouldn't think I was nuts. After the movie I went upstairs to our bedroom. Evan was in the little cradle right next to the bed. I looked at that sweet face and cried and cried. I prayed that he would never have to go to war. I prayed that he would grow up and be a Daddy one day and a Grandpa. I prayed for a long life of happiness and joy. I prayed. And hoped. And kissed my son.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Big Kid

Evan loved being outdoors. He wanted to run around and play, and outside was The Place to be. He'd drag me out if it was 100 degrees, run around (chubby cheeks jiggling), and then when I'd say I needed a drink of water, he'd look at me like, "I know what you're doing, lady. You're trying to trick me to go back Inside! Well, it won't work!" I wasn't trying to trick him. Although, I did resort to bribing him with some nice, cold orange juice to get back into the blessed air conditioning. Sometimes when we were out some of the other kids on the street were out, too. We did our own thing, but I think Evan enjoyed watching the big kids play. He'd ask what they were doing. There was one boy that took an interest in Evan. He was probably 8 or 10 years older. He clearly was missing out on the little brother experience, and kind of adopted Evan. Sometimes after the other big kids dispersed, this kid would come over to play with Evan. It didn't matter what Evan was doing, the big kid played along. He was always really sweet (although, he did call Evan "Big Ears" once.) When the other kids came back outside, the big kid was always sure to say bye to his little buddy. One time after saying bye to Evan, Evan turned to me and asked, "Where's the little boy going?" I told him, "The big boy (he's much bigger than you! You are the little boy!) is going back to play with the big kids." When the big kid learned about Evan's death, he came to the house with his condolences and a special poem he had printed out.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Evan the Tool Guy




Evan was one of those kids that liked all things construction.  It just so happened there was a large construction area on the way to our favorite playground. Every time we passed by the construction area, Evan would name all the trucks. "I see a Digger! There's a Front End Loader! Look! A Cwane!" He knew what everything was called because he had a book all about construction vehicles. He also enjoyed the smaller jobs that construction workers do. He liked the hard hats and jack hammers. But most of all he loved the tools. Whenever there was a project that we were doing around the house, Evan was right there as helper. He's helping his Daddy with some bead board in the picture. He would take the boards in and place them on his little toy workbench. He pretended to cut it to size with his chainsaw (that's what he was calling his table saw!), and then bring it in for placement. He mostly pretended, but he actually did get some work in. He was an excellent helper. He learned what some of the tools were called by watching Bob the Builder and Handy Manny. When he first started to get sick, I went and got him a little tool box and toy tools. He named them after all of the tool characters from Handy Manny. After the bead board was installed on this project (or projet, as he would say!) and painted, Evan went in there, put his hands on his hips, and nodded, saying, "We did a good job!"

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Selfie!



Evan loved taking pictures with Mommy's camera. He took pictures of me. He took pictures of his buddies. There are even some artsy pictures of the ceiling fan. (Seriously!) But my favorites are his selfies. He turned the camera on himself, and took a picture of his happy little face. I don't know if he always meant to make it a self portrait, or if some of them were just kind of, "Hey, I'm going to press that button" accidents. Whatever his subject, like all kids, he would turn the camera around to take a look at his work. I really think he got a big kick out of it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Who me?

Little kids are messy. It just comes with the territory. If you give them a moment to themselves, they fully take advantage of it. In my experience they don't sit around coloring on paper. They sit around coloring on the walls! They don't pour themselves a bowl of cereal. They dump out the entire box onto the floor! Go big or go home, right? So, when you look at this sweet little face, you may think, "What could that sweet little boy possibly ever do that could be even the teensiest bit naughty?"




Maybe dump out the entire bag of flour?




The look on his face says to me: No regrets!

Looks Can Be Deceiving

I volunteered at a couple of events at Duncan's school today. The first event was a party for the top sellers/donors for the fundraiser. I chatted with another mom about Halloween before the kids got there. Her son was out late and got cold. I told her my kids generally give up pretty early. We got busy passing out goodies. When our sons entered the cafeteria, we pointed them out. She looked at Duncan and said, "Yes, he does kind of look like you." Yeah. Kind of. It's probably because I no longer have the cute chubby cheeks that all of my kids have had. My face is decidedly skinny. It's been described as chiseled. (That's a compliment, right?) I didn't say anything. I just kind of inwardly sighed, and recalled another occasion where my child "didn't look like me."

I walked down to the cul-de-sac at the end of our block, pushing Evan in a stroller. This was the summer block party, so it was probably early June, making Evan a whopping four months old. I proudly showed off my firstborn to anyone who would take a look. He was perfect and beautiful, and I was a beaming, proud mama! I was introduced to a neighbor's elderly mother. The old bat dear took a look at Evan, then at me, and said, "Well, I guess he must look like his father." Granted, most babies don't look much like anyone other than Winston Churchill in those first few months, but still. I was hurt. I didn't say anything then, either, but I couldn't help thinking, "I just carried this baby 9 months, and dang it he does look like me!"






Me as a toddler


Evan

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Some Like it Hot! And Spicy!


I look at a lot of these pictures of Evan, and I notice a smudge on his face. It happens regularly. And it all goes back to the food. He was a good eater, as I already have said, but he also ate all. the. time. He loved to eat. And, I thought I was pretty lucky having a kid who ate a variety. There wasn't any coercion with Evan. He would try something new. If he liked it he kept on eating. If not, he'd spit it right out! Usually in my hand! (Gross!)

I know many people suggest that a pregnant woman's cravings mean that she needs more of what she's craving. If she's craving fruit, then she needs those nutrients that fruits can provide. If she's craving meat, she needs protein. So, what does it mean when she craves chips and salsa? That's what I craved when I was pregnant with Evan. And it turns out he loved Mexican food! We'd take him to Moe's restaurant, and he'd eat his Moo Moo Mr. Cow burrito like a big kid. And, he'd eat the whole thing. He also loved to dip his chips in the salsa. He might only get a tiny little bit of salsa on there, but the dipping was the thing. Justin and I took Evan to a Mexican restaurant when Evan was pretty small (maybe 18 months.) He dug right in to the chips and salsa. Our drinks weren't there, yet, so Justin and I hadn't started the chips. Evan had a look of determination on his face. Kind of one of those, "Less Talking. More Eating" sort of looks. I decided to join him. That salsa was HOT! He was eating it, but clearly needing something to cool his mouth down. We asked to have a milk for him right away. He didn't cry. Didn't pout. But he did chug that milk as soon as it reached the table!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mine, All Mine!

I have mentioned before that Evan was a good eater. He ate a good variety of fruits and vegetables, and seemed willing to try new things. Of course, he liked "the old stand by" meals, too. We are one of those families that will pick up a rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store most Sundays. Chicken, baked beans, potatoes or cole slaw. Tastes good, and better still, I didn't have to cook! On one of these occasions, I was cutting up the chicken into bite size pieces for Evan, and serving sizes for Justin and me. Evan walked in to see what I was doing. He looked affronted. With shock in his voice, he said, "What are you doin' to my chicken?!"

Monday, November 3, 2014

Twenty Four Days of Memories

I've been thinking about that gratitude challenge that people do every year on Facebook. The one where you say something you're thankful for each day in November until Thanksgiving Day. Some people do the whole month. I even did the challenge a couple of years ago when Evan's death anniversary (November 24th) ended up being on Thanksgiving Day. It was hard. I don't really like this time of year all that much now. I mean, I like Autumn and the changing colors, the cooler weather, pumpkins, and all that. I just don't like that it's basically a countdown to another year without my son. I try not to think of it that way, but alas, it can't be helped. Anyhow, this year I decided instead of doing a month of gratitude, I'm going to have twenty four days of memories of Evan. They may be little snippets, but I'm going to go for it. Also, I always appreciate memories of those who knew him, so chime in in the comments section, if you like. As today is already November 3rd, I have some catching up to do.



Back in the day we actually made our own pizza. Justin toyed with different combinations of herbs and spices to try to get a nice tasting dough. He'd add toppings, bake it, and boom! Pizza! Evan was a good helper, and an even better eater. He was curious about what his daddy was doing. He observed Justin and said that he was "makin' the dough!" He'd gladly polish off any olives and red peppers (which Evan called "poppers!") while watching the process. Sometimes Justin let Evan in on the dough makin' process. He'd push and pull on the dough, eat his poppers, and then wait along with the rest of us for the pizza to be done.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Catching Up

 Over the summer the kids did some swimming and some camps (Lego for Duncan, Princess for Miranda.)


As the summer began to wind down, we started the traditional mad dash to the first day of school.



We added in extra workout sessions.



Oh wait now! That's cheating!




We did some special science projects.




It's more fun if it glows! (And makes "worms.")



But alas, summer finally came to an end, and the first day of school arrived. Miranda started the day clutching one of her favorite bears, "The Professor."




Duncan and his favorite husky pups.



They started the day all happy and excited, and (shocker!) playing nicely!




After a long day at school they came home and got down to the usual business of terrorizing each other. Have a great year, guys!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Concessions

I just recently joined an online group for grieving parents. I'm almost 8 years out from Evan's untimely death, and one would think that might be plenty of time for a parent to "get over" the loss of a child. It makes me think of something I discussed with a psychologist in those early days: you don't get over the loss, you get through it. It never goes away, although for me at least, the burden has become easier to bear. After reading some of the writings of those who have just recently lost their child, I see how far I've come. It's easy to think that I "should" be further along in my grief journey, but reading the anguish, the anger, the need for understanding in those posts makes me remember how hard that first year was, and how far I've truly come. It also makes me think of the times where I felt like I had to make concessions. People don't get it. They don't understand how it feels to lose a child. They compare it to someone they lost in an effort to sympathize. They are trying, at least! I think many people want to help explain a death that seems so unnatural. They feel like they need to answer the question, "Why?" "Everything happens for a reason" seems to be a favorite. "God needed him for something special" Oh, are you that tight with God that He's telling you His plans for me? I had a friend feel that it was necessary to remind me of what Evan was like when I guess I made things seem a little too perfect one day. Yes, I remember things weren't perfect. I remember far better than you! Did I respond to any of these comments? No. I didn't really "grin and bear it," but I did feel like I was making a concession in a way. You can't possibly understand what I'm going through and I really can't explain it. The only way for you to "get it" is for you to lose your child, and I would never wish that on anyone! So, what's a person supposed to say to a grieving parent? That's difficult, because we're all different, of course. Just being there is huge! Not running off, because you are uncomfortable. Listen. Say, "I'm sorry this has happened to you." Don't be afraid to talk about the child. Everyone is so afraid that it will hurt us. It does! But it would hurt more for him not to be remembered. The one comment that really stands out for me came from a friend (who is not a parent.) She said that she hoped that I would find comfort in my many wonderful memories of Evan. For me, this was perfect.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grief Doesn't Define You...

I read (or listened to, actually) the book "The Fault in Our Stars" earlier this summer. It's a tragic love story about teens with cancer. I decided to listen to it after a few friends raved about it. I don't typically read things that I know will tug on my heartstrings. I fall apart too easily, and don't really feel like my fiction should be depressing. I guess knowing what it was about going in helped me enjoy it more than those difficult "surprises" that some authors throw in (you know, when a character dies and the reader is totally unprepared?) 

Anyway, there was some really good stuff in that book. A quote that I thought was a good one is, "Grief doesn't define you...it reveals you." I thought about how grief has impacted my life. Sometimes it really feels like I Am Grief. A walking, talking example of a grieving parent. When I talked to my counselor (about 2-3 years after Evan's death) about how I was having a tough time, she told me to look back and see how far I've come, instead of focusing so much on how much more I have to go. 

So, having read this quote, I wonder to myself, what has grief revealed about me. I guess I'm still figuring that out. 

What has grief revealed about you?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

I was lazy and didn't actually take these pictures on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (which is the 15th of each month.) I took them a few days earlier. I could have added a few more pictures of other things blooming (Echinacea, Rudbekia), but there again, lazy.

This summer has been pretty dry, but most of my plants still look pretty happy. Well, anyway, here are a couple of things that were in bloom on the 15th.




Crape Myrtle, aka Evan's Tree. I think this is "Acoma." It stands a good 10 feet tall. When my parents gave us this little tree after Evan was born in 2004, it was less than 2 feet tall! It's grown into a lovely specimen!


I think I usually manage to kill/chop back this Gladiolus each year. It's something the previous owners planted. It's beautiful and TALL! It's probably 5 or 6 feet tall...and right in front of our front windows. So, a little too tall. But still very pretty!



Monday, July 14, 2014

Swim Team!

After hearing the glowing reviews of the neighborhood swim team by some mom friends, I decided to sign my kids up this year. They had had swim lessons these last few years, but just a few, and only to learn the basics. Being on the swim team meant daily (during the week) practices, and learning the strokes. Both kids started the season as coach assisted swimmers. That means they both had a coach in the pool with them as they swam down the length of the pool. 

We didn't realize that for the 7 and 8 year old age group, Duncan would not be allowed to have a coach with him at the meets. So, that first meet was a little scary for him. He got in the pool (after much discussion with his coach) for backstroke, and when the horn sounded, he turned over and did freestyle to the end of the pool! He got out and hugged me and cried. Poor boy! The next week, however, he was ready! 

Those first few meets he would swim a couple of strokes, then hold onto the rope, then swim a bit, then rest. The meet at the pool where the young swimmers finished in the deep end (12 feet deep!) was especially challenging. It all started at the starting block. Even though I'd avoided any mention of The Deep End, he is an observant little boy. He knew it was Deep! He got on the block to start the race, the horn blew, and he stood there. I saw the coaches talking to him. He got down. I thought he was going to scratch. Then, all of a sudden, one of the coaches picked Duncan up, and tossed him in! The crowd gasped! I was all, "What the...???!!!" Once he was in the pool he swam a bit, rested a bit...until he got to the abyss (because, seriously! I think it really looked like that to him!) He paused there for a while. The crowd for both teams started cheering him on. He swam, he rested...he made it! Everyone cheered! He got out and fell into my arms, crying. He was so scared. I was so proud! He didn't give up. The coach that threw him in hastened to tell me that she had his permission to do that! 

By the last few meets Duncan was swimming freestyle and a respectable backstroke without stopping at all! 

Miranda was part of the 6 and under age group. The little ones are allowed a coach with them, but the race is automatically disqualified. Not a big deal for newbies. She has improved a great deal, too. But, honestly, I think she appreciates swim team more for the social aspect.




On your mark, get set...


Go! Miranda was known as "The Girl that Doesn't Get Her Hair Wet." When Miranda and her coach got to the end of the pool, Miranda said, "We won!"


Duncan swimming the backstroke.


And, he finishes!


Miranda loved the young coaches!





There are a lot of pictures of Miranda, looking like a turtle with her head out, but with a huge smile on her face! When she did stick her little face in the water to blow bubbles, she concentrated so hard on the bubble blowing, that her arms and legs stopped the stroke!


Duncan jumps in for freestyle.


I know it's blurry, but it's still cool to have an action pic!


And, he's done!


Both kids earned a trophy for participating on the swim team this year. I used to be one of those parents that didn't think kids should get trophies for participation, but these kids were so proud of their awards, that I saw that it was worth it, and that their efforts were worth awarding!


Duncan also received the coaches award for Most Improved Swimmer for the 7/8 Boys. We couldn't be prouder of this little guy!