Evan's Garden

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


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!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

I'm actually participating in a Bloom Day! I can't remember the last time I did this (because I'm not a "real" garden blogger, I suppose.)

The weather in my area has been pretty typical. A tad warmer than average, and a tad drier. Hopefully, we'll start getting a little more rain. We are currently experiencing a deluge, so there's hope!

With the mostly average conditions, we've had a pretty nice showing of flowers this season. The daylilies are putting on a beautiful show!

The peachy colored daylilies with the ruby throat are called Wineberry Candy. I bought a bunch of these from one of my favorite local nurseries the summer after Evan died. It was the end of the season, and I'm guessing some of the pots were mis-marked, because...

These were also marked Hemerocallis "Wineberry Candy." The blooms are typically several inches taller, and clearly, the flowers are completely different! I actually like them better than the Wineberries. I've been thinking about moving them back to Evan's Garden, because his favorite color was red. 

The Coneflowers are starting to flower now. This is Echinacea purpurea "Kim's Mophead." It's a favorite with the bees and butterflies.

Here's a photo of one side of Evan's Garden.

I remember purchasing this daylily from a nursery that closed last year, but unfortunately, I don't know what it's called. She should be called, Glorious, though!

I'm really hoping this turns out to be Hemerocallis "Big Bird." I moved it from Evan's old garden to the new one last year. It's placed next to that Glorious red daylily. If they bloom together...wow! It will be pretty special!

I purchased a new Echinacea "Evan Saul" Coneflower this year. This newer variety seems to be short lived in this area. Too bad. They're pretty and have a nice scent.

I think the tag is next to this daylily, but I failed to look at it today (trying to get away from mosquitoes!) It seems like it's got Angel in its name. It's also in Evan's Garden.

Hydrangea aborescens "Annabelle" and a Hosta bloom together.

I pull up the Black and Blue Salvia Guaranitica every year, but they come back. I don't mind so much, because the hummingbirds love them!

My mom gave me this Lavender Bee Balm a year or so ago. It's a shorter (less than 2 feet), and less spready version. The height is great, but I do find that it's still pretty spready. The bees have been all over it. The flowers are pretty spectacular, so I think I can live with a bit of a spread!

My little Meyer Lemon tree my mom gave me for my birthday has a couple of tiny lemons! I'm very excited!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Birthday Boy!

Duncan turned the big 0-8 last month! (Gah! I have an 8 year old! Where did the time go?!) Duncan has been going through a space phase the last few months, and decided he wanted a space themed party. I got on Pinterest, and started pinning ideas like crazy.

I made our Throw Asteroids at the Solar System Game. The kids would throw the foil covered Styrofoam balls at the game board. It may have gone over better if I had offered prizes. Oh well!

I made little masks for a mock photo booth...which was a little bit of a dud. 

I did manage to get Miranda to give it a go.

"Roger that!"

And Duncan tried to blend in with the alien balloons. We used some of the alien balloons to play, "Whack the Alien." They used pool noodles to attack the balloons. This game was pretty popular. Once they popped all the balloons, they mostly hit each other with the noodles, which actually was the favorite game. Sigh... Not quite what I planned, but the kids did have fun.

My homemade Jupiter Chinese lantern.

Next, we had gift giving, and...


I found these edible image space cupcake toppers on Amazon! I was so pleased with how they looked. I didn't taste one, but some of the kids liked them.

And, finally, the goody bag.

I printed the totally awesome rocket from a free printable I found on Pinterest. It's wrapped around a roll of Lifesavers, with a Hershey's kiss on top! And the contents of the goody bag included: specially made lollipops I bought from Etsy, Starbursts, Milky Ways, and some space image magnets I had made here locally.

In the end it was just a fun time with a bunch of friends.