Cause for celebration

“But Mommy, Christmas is every day!” Mon Cœur told me matter of factly, as Mooma grabbed a Christmas votive holder and switched on the LED votive light.

And for five minutes, she sat mesmerized by the snow covered scene changing colors by the candle light.

It gave me pause…

Every day can feel like Christmas. We can celebrate or remember people, birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays any day of the year we choose. It just depends on our mindset. And honestly, I needed this reminder from MC.

Last Friday (October 15) was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. Of course I remembered Millie Bonheur on this day. My remembrance, love, and celebration of her short time with us is not relegated to the 15th, or even just the month of October. I remember her every day. I remember her in September, when I realized I was pregnant, in May for her birthday, every holiday, and then I remembered her today, in the aisle at Target, shopping for a baby shower gift.

And I try to find ways to celebrate her throughout the year, and to find positive outlets for the many emotions that I feel throughout a day, a week, or a season.

This weekend truly did feel like Christmas – I was able to spend much time with some of the people whom I love the most and I was gifted with a salon experience. I shared wonderful conversations with family, serendipitously caught up with an old high school friend, and met new friends.

We spent most of our days outside, taking advantage of the gorgeous fall weather. I watched MC meet new friends and run around playing hide and seek, and I watched Mon Amour learn to pedal around on a little car. They played together in the kitchen. And giggled. Oh, they’ve giggled and smiled. It’s done my heart good, just like the warm smiles and hot cocoa on a Christmas morning.


Remembering Millie

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Even as we approach a milestone birthday for Mon Amour, I am pausing to remember sweet Millie, and all mommas for whom this day is a day of remembrance for their little angels.

It has been a struggle for us- we all miss Millie and we all wish she were here with us.

We talk about events and date them in the context of Millie. “Oh, that wedding, it was after Millie.” “Oh, MC’s baptism? That was while I was pregnant with Millie.”

It is hard to believe that this coming May, she would be three. We have sat with this grief for almost two and a half years now, and in some ways it has become easier and in other ways it’s still difficult to navigate.

We continue to grieve differently. I find ways to try to celebrate and remember her every day. I am planning fall additions to and maintenance in her garden.

MC talks a lot about her and envisions heaven as a place where we can fly in a plane to visit her and Poopa. It breaks my heart to explain to her every time that heaven is a place not to visit, but to go and reunite with loved ones when it’s one’s time.

If you are remembering a little angel today, you are in my thoughts and heart.

Ode to a Monarch Caterpillar

Ode to a Monarch Caterpillar:

Oh, you’re a hungry little caterpillar,

We thought you were close to your chrysalis stage.

So we potted a little milkweed plant 

and brought you inside on it.

A small snack before your next stage…

We placed you in the butterfly hatchery,

placed some twigs for you to climb and build your cocoon.

And then oop…

we put you back out again because you ate all the leaves!

We couldn’t watch your metamorphosis inside-

we will just have to play “I Spy” outside.

Before | After: Peekaboo Rock

“You count. I hide. Go!’

Mon Cœur (MC)

While the original idea for our butterfly garden came from a great personal loss and tragedy for us, we have celebrated our lives and Millie just by being in the space, working, playing, eating, and meeting there.

It is so hard to believe that Millie would have been two this year. As I was looking back at pictures, I was amazed to see the changes we have made in the garden in less than two years.

I will be sharing these “before and afters” in a new series titled (ah-ha!) “Before | After”, although it’s not a before and after. Millie’s garden is a work in progress. There is definitely a before, although the after will always change. So I decided it would be best to label the pictures by the year they were taken.

Millie’s Garden has been a multitude of spaces – a place to find peace. A place to meander, listen to chimes, and be close to nature. A laboratory – experimenting with plantings, cuttings, and seedlings. Outdoor physical therapy – a place to dig, plant, water, and weed. An entertainment spot – a place for picnics, tea parties, and hide and seek games. A place to think, to laugh, to cry, to be.

I’m not sure when the hide and seek started, but as every great toddler “hider” does, MC found one spot. And she kept hiding there. So we started calling it her peek a boo rock. It has also served as a bank and a restaurant, where I would “order” and pay at the “counter.”

Fall of 2019 was the great granite set up. We were moving earth and stone to create the general landscape of Millie’s garden. Sometime shortly thereafter, MC claimed this as her rock, her peek a boo, hide out.

We planted daffodils, the petit kind (tête à tête) which bloomed early spring of 2020…We also planted a mum in the fall of 2019. Friends gave us a pretty purple petit butterfly bush on Millie’s first anniversary, which we added in Spring of 2020, and in Spring of 2021, when we split our rudbeckia, we added one next to the mum.

In Spring of 2021, we bedded in the rudbeckia, mums, daffodils, and butterfly bush around the rock, and we planted a spring blooming camellia “Professor Sargent” behind the rock.

As much as we want to keep adding, our current to-do for the garden is creating a new garden map, and evaluating each area for height and season needs. After re-evaluating the garden, we can revisit and edit our wishlist for the garden.

Before | After: Garden Entrance

“The garden is a love song, a duet between a human being and Mother Nature.”

Jeff Cox

As I was looking at pictures for this post, I realized that as I document, I need to take photos from a similar spot and zoom out to take larger scope pictures. (see below. oops!)

I have no image of the garden entrance from 2020, only this picture of a flower on the first hill near the entrance.

Seems like a metaphor for my life. Sometimes I focus so much on the smallest details (often negative!), that I lose sight of the big picture and all the other (often positive!) transformations that are happening in the corners. I get so caught up in doing that I don’t step back to see all the improvements that have been made.

With the rain we’ve received the past few days, I have been able to go out for a morning walk and look at the garden as a whole and then focus and marvel at the blooms, the wildlife, and the transformations happening right before our eyes.

Our garden has gone through some drastic changes since the beginning. I didn’t notice this until I started looking back at where we had begun. The pictures in this post are from Fall 2019 and Spring 2021. It is amazing how the small projects we have done over the seasons has accumulated to become what the garden is now.

The garden entrance was just a bleak set of granite pillars welcoming guests into a garden of dirt mounds. Then we added flowers throughout the blank slate. Mon Cœur and I transplanted some mint to surround to pillars. It has multiplied significantly in less than one year, and I want to transplant more because it spreads almost as quickly as a weed, only it is more fragrant and has blooms that will attract pollinators!

Chou Chou added a Japanese Maple to the left of the entrance, which as it grows over the years, he will train to arch over the entrance.