Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Catching Up!

If I thought it had been along time between my previous two posts, it's got nothing on this. With school in full swing and then catching that doozie of a 'we're back to school cold' which knocked me for a loop for a few days, I'm afraid the garden has taken the back burner. I haven't taken out what's died from the summer, nor have I planted anything for fall yet. I'm not sure if I will or not, but I may try to throw some lettuce and carrots in before it's too late. I'm just honestly burned out and tired, but ignoring the garden doesn't help. I've got to get myself out there this weekend. Once I do, I know I'll be happy I did.

This is the basic harvest we've been getting for a while. The beans have died back to where I'm not picking them much anymore, but the tomatoes still keep coming.
The cherry and pear tomato plants look as dead as dead can be, but they're still putting out tomatoes day after day.

The Cherokee Purple tomatoes are really very small. They're not getting the size on them that they did earlier this year. These will find themselves in the school's mail room tomorrow.

Thank goodness the garden is comprised now of three sections - plants that haven't produced all year and don't show a desire to do so in the near future, those plants that can sustain themselves with little care, and the dead ones just waiting to be collected. I think a lot of the problems the garden is having is that it hasn't rained in I don't know how long and the temps haven't gone below 90+ since June. Today was 91 and people were actually talking about how cool it was - even with the high humidity. I'm ready for the fall!

I'll get some good pictures of the garden as a whole once I clean it up a bit. Maybe that's good incentive for me to get it done.

In other homefront news, we've got a new boyscout in our midst.

He's very cute in his uniform and wore it two days straight when he got it. We're also pretty proud of his den leader....look familiar?

They make a cute pair.

The girl started her first day of four year old pre-k Monday and you've got to love the outfit she chose to present herself in to her teacher for the first day of school.

Yes, tie-dye, patchwork and mismatched socks always scream first day of school to me! That, and you can't forget the goofy smile.

As for me, I'm doing a ton of reading. It's one of the main reasons I haven't blogged in a long time. I get so caught up that other things go by the wayside. A kid gave me a fantasy book today to read. Fantasy is not my thing at all, but the last book a student told me to read turned out pretty good so I'll give this one a chance.

In Keychains for a Cause land, these six bee keychains are shipping to Ohio tomorrow! The horse fob was free with her order of 5 or more.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Boy, nothing says I'm back at work than bi-weekly posts. I must tell you, I'm having a blast. We're knee deep into Anglo-Saxon literature and we're ripping Grendel's arm off tomorrow. You can't get better than this. We added two more books to our senior summer reading list this year - and after having read over 45 books this summer (yes, I'm addicted to reading), I totally forgot about them. So, I've torn through The House of the Scorpion and Wintergirls in the last week.

I liked House of the Scorpion a little bit. It's a very, very easy read and lacking the description and flowing sentence structure that I enjoy. It was more than"See, Spot. See Spot run." but very simplistic in style which although frustrating to me did match the style and audience of the book. If you're a fan of futuristic (without being blatant) cloning yet with the coming of age twist, this is an excellent book as told with the clone himself being the protagonist.

It's Wintergirls I'm afraid of. I didn't get the chance to read this before it appeared on our summer reading list, and I'm not sure if I would have agreed to put it on there. After reading the back flap, I didn't want to read it. I thought long and hard - litterally for days - about not reading it and just grading the assignments against each other, but I knew that would be unethical. I had to read it. I chose to block a lot of myself out as I read it and skim it at the most to just get the basics down. I failed. Within the first page I was sucked in - and I'm not sure if that was a good thing or not.

The book is a fantastic first person narrative centering around an anorexic senior in high school, her friend who has just died from complications from bulimia and her own relapse and guilt stemming from her friend's attempt to contact her 33 times the night of her death. It's powerfully told and I now have a sincere respect for people who struggle with both diseases, however it is SO well told that it's my fear that it can be used as a manual and support guide by girls who are desperate enough to overlook the overall encompassing themes. Fragile teens - possibly entertaining the notions or susceptible enough to be guided by them, would focus on the positive aspect of the main character, Lia's, progress in her weight loss and be numb to the rest. Honestly, in the days since I've completed the book, I've even caught myself becoming more aware of my food intake and have had to stop, pause, and re-evaluate before progressing.

Every student who has read the book that I've talked to has loved it. Perhaps I digested it more directly because I was hypersensitive of the subject before reading - having had a collegue whose daughter had been hospitalized and rightly should be dead from the disease just one year ago. It's not glamorized in the novel, far from it, but we all see what we want to see - which is a sad, but applicable fit. My colleague said she tried to read it, but could not descend into Hell again - even within the confines of fiction. She's bringing it to the attention of a psychologist she knows in the field to see his opinion of removing it from our list. Do I recommend it? YES - for those who know and understand what they're reading. It's the most powerful teen-fiction book I've ever come across.

Now, I've got to start reading Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist. I read it about four years ago, but kids are writing so much nonsense down on their data sheets that I'm starting to question whether or not the things they mention are accurate.

On the garden front- things are winding down fast. It would be better if I was watering regularly, but I'm ready to let go. The yard long beans are starting to die off, but the second planting of the boy's beans are coming on strong. I never got one bell pepper, but a few jalopenos are still out there. I chopped off the basil plants and dehydrated them for use this winter. The tomatoes are small and cracked, but still harvested every other day or so. I had 12 medium sized ones I pulled today which I put individually in tin foil and in the freezer for soups and stews this winter. Four tomato hornworms bit the dust today as well. I don't care how many you see or even if you expected to see one, those boogers are just disgusting.

Project for this week - take garden pictures to post!!! I'm catching up on your blogs - but they're a bit confusing read backwards like I'm doing. ;)

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lovin' it!

We're using up the positive energy here in the Ribbit household recently and I'm not looking that gift horse in the mouth. Things are plodding along quite nicely and while I remain the hopeless pessimist, I surely can't complain.

Today was the first day of school that included the students. I know I had a blast with pre-planning, but I must say, I just love, love, love my job. (Am I alowed to say that?) I belong in a classroom. Even though it was just the first day and everyone's well behaved and attentive the first day, I was in my element. I do have three 'super seniors,' two of which had me last year, but hopefully we can get them through this time. We've started mandatory tutoring the very first day of school to get these kids going in the right direction. The freshmen get smaller every year the seniors more entitiled, but we'll work that out soon enough.

I must say that the kids in that law class were even more excited than I was. If I can feed off of their energy and actually embody the fact that the class is an elective and the kids chose to be there because they wanted to be there and make my lessons reflect that, then we're going to do great. They seemed really geared up about the second semester contemporary issues class. Thinking now about adding some things about the credit rating and debt ceiling that have been going on.

So, being the first day of school for us all, I'm bowing to peer pressure and posting the obligatory first day of school pictures for the boy and the girl. Yes, they were both up at 5:30 this morning. The boy tried to get up at 2:30, but I convinced him he didn't need 3 hours to throw on a shirt and shorts.
The girl was booted from the state GA Pre-K program because of funding, so we're back to paying for private pre-k for one more year, but you saw in a previous post how much we love the place. My pocketbook is sad, but I know she'll do great there.

On to gardening- the other day I was caught off guard by dinner yet again and threw together a pasta dish that combined my pesto, tomato sauce, frozen zucchini, fresh tomatoes and some ravioli. I then got a wild hair and threw in some shrimp for good measure. Why? Why not?

It looked yummy when finished baking.

However, I think I poisoned the man. Unintentionally, of course.

In other good news, the deck for the pool is finished, negating the need for the fancy ghetto entry system.

It's made an incredible difference. The kids are so glad they can finally jump! It's apparently un-American to have a pool that you can't jump from. Completely unacceptable.

Always looking for ideas for the Law and Contemp Issues classes. I'm writing them all down. Thanks for sending the suggestions that you have!

The morning comes early - yea school, go team! Sweet gardening dreams.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to the Grind

I haven't gotten a lick done to prepare for the new school year, my room's a mess, I haven't fetched my textbooks from the second floor we've sat in meeting after meeting with most of the information not pertaining to us or receiving conflicting information. We're on day three of pre-planning and I'm happier than a dead hog in the sunshine. For the past two nights I've actually yawned while I was getting ready for bed. Yawned and stretched! It feels so good to be mentally drained by the end of the day as opposed to emotionally and physically. Tomorrow is open house - Wanna take bets on how many students haven't yet done their summer reading?

Man, I love being back at work. It makes me appreciate everything from my family to my garden just that much more. This guy welcomed me home yesterday. I don't know if he's a good guy or a bad guy, but he was beautiful and hung around for quite a long time.
This pal's on my tomatoes on the side yard.

The basil in the other corner yard never really branched much and the stems are turning woody. The basil over here is going gang busters. It's interesting how the same plants do so differently in different parts of the garden - even though they get the same amount of sun. Very cool.

Harvests have been good. Monday before I went to school I picked all of this from the garden and put it in the work room. Tuesday I made a flat egg pie for a meeting. That's Quiche in lay terms. The boy likes hard boiled eggs and the girl likes scrambled or as she calls them 'flat eggs' as opposed to the boy's round eggs, so this was, according to her, a flat egg pie. I put some of the dehydrated tomatoes in it. Very yummy.

This is today's harvest. Tomatoes just keep on coming!
The men were here today to start to build the deck around the pool. It will be nice not to use the shakey ladder anymore. The kids had a blast jumping off the deck tonight. Do you comprehend how completely unacceptable it is for kids to see a pool and not be able to jump in it?

The most awesome thing about construction is there's always a ton of wood left over!!

The guys are leaving it for me. They're small boards, but I can stack them. I have so many beds that are just falling apart and instead of continuing to struggle with them, I'm just going to rebuild them with this material here. Very nice not to have to go out and buy additional wood.

Summer is flexing her muscles; she's grueling and intimidating and one mean, interminable season. We've got football players and coaches dropping out all over the state. Two players and one coach have already died this summer from heat related complications. It's just terrible. Walking outside is akin to taking on a blast furnace while hog tied. Your breath is honestly sucked from your body and you feel the pressure of the humidity in your chest. Parks are empty and tempers are short. Hopefully after this month things will improve. Although, Thomas did make me think when he mentioned the unrelenting darkness of the winters up north. We've all got something. If we have to have one bad season regardless of where we live - I vote we all move to Fiji.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening dreams.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And This is What Morning Looks Like

When we were in Chicago, it started getting light at 5:00 AM. 5:30 greeted you with birds and enough sun light to make you feel like you've slept a good long night, no matter when you went to bed. 5:00 AM in Georgia is about as welcoming as a tomb and just as dark. 5:30 AM isn't much better. It doesn't get decently light here until closer to 7 and even later sometimes during the year.

I usually sign off with something like "The morning comes early..." for it usually does for us. 5:00 AM is early. Even when the kids sleep in, 6:00-6:30 is still considered "early." It's taken them until the last week of summer vacation to sleep past 7:30 AM. Mornings, early mornings, are something we are cursed to see.

Oddly enough, as the summer wears on and the mornings do inch later day by day, I start pining for those early mornings. Those really early mornings.

I truly admire stay-at-home-moms. There's no way I could do it. During the summer I feel my sanity leak out of me like a hole bitten into a zip-lock bag transformed into an ice pack given for some fictitious malady with the distinct instructions to NOT bite a hole in the bag.

Each year I try and this year camps made it a whole lot easier for the boy, but the girl's still too young and even she felt the strain. It's certainly a character flaw of sorts to wish away the summer, not so that the kids go back to school, but you do. I wish I could do it. I wish I could be the stay-at home-mom, but I can't and they truly have my respect.

So here I present to you, The Morning, for my friends, this is what 5:00 AM looks like again because I've finally reset my bedroom clock after the power knocked it out almost two months ago. School starts again for me this morning. I may be going to the restroom with five other women, but I will be going by myself with no one on my lap, no one offering suggestions, tips or pointers that I haven't solicited and no one passing me notes under the door. Bring on the endless meetings of nonsense, dress codes and ever changing school policies and procedures. Bureaucracy, save me a seat. Yes, I'll happily lug textbooks from the fourth floor when the elevator is broken.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the summer is over. I am going back to work.
(Before your northerners freak out - we did get out of school before Memorial Day.)

The morning comes early again. Sweet gardening dreams.