Thursday, August 27, 2009

Care Tags

Most plants come with tags containing instructions on how to care for them. Life would be a whole lot simpler if people had tags, too.

Overly Sensitive: Requires extreme amount of empathy and agreement, Does not respond well to opposing view points
Rule Breaker: Requires constant flexibility
Rule Follower: Requires unwavering consistency
Know it all: Thrives as the center of attention

Balancing personalities and egos is not fun but it sure makes life interesting and dramatic. As a people pleaser I need to find my balance and my voice. I need to remember that people may not always like the decisions I make, but if I believe I am making them for the right reasons and can articulate those reasons, it's OK. I need to stop taking it so personally.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Beginnings

August is such a funny month. Everything outside is winding down. The sweet corn is done. The zucchini plants look tired. The beans have been decimated by Japanese beetles. The flowers are beginning to look leggy and spent. But things on the inside are just starting.

Kiddo 1 started school yesterday. We love his teacher and are excited about the new year.

Kiddo 2 started her second season of soccer yesterday, too. I don't know where my brave little girl disappeared to. She would not go out on the field unless I went with her. Definitely not what I expected. If I had, I wouldn't have worn flip flops.

Today I helped welcome the 1,900 students in the freshman class to Northern Illinois University. A team of students in the program I work with were chosen as one of two in the entire university to be featured at our academic convocation. They presented a project they completed for McDonald's last fall and did such an amazing job! Watching the university leaders and faculty present and singing 'Forward, Together Forward' in the NIU fight song gave me chills. 'Forward, Together Forward' became the university mantra after the 2/14 tragedy and the last time I saw the university leadership in that kind of context was for the memorial service.

Tomorrow I will run my first fall 10K. I challenged my 26 year old male colleague to the race. I know he's going to win and I'll have to reward him with his Monster Energy drink. My real challenge is to beat my own time. Hopefully all my training will pay off.

Monday my students will return and I'll start my last semester working closely with students. It will be bittersweet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My CSA Project

For a long time I have been trying to figure out how to make money from my garden. Eventually my plan was to have the kids help and earn money for college. My first though was to do farmer's markets. After researching a bit I decided that I did not want to deal with all the regulations and have to spend a day sitting there each week. My next thought was to do a road side stand. After all, we plant way more sweet corn then we will ever use. Then I looked around. There are people selling sweet corn and other veggies up and down our road. There is too much competition and little that can be done to differentiate our corn from the neighbors.

Then, last summer I stumbled upon the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). CSAs are designed to ensure a local food source and connections between people who grow and buy food. This concept guarantees a market before the crop is planted and each customer receives a half bushel basket to a bushel basket of fresh fruits and/ or vegetables every week or every other week according to the subscription. This was perfect!

I decided to start small this year. I donated an every other week subscription to my sister's foster parent organization's auction fundraiser. So far it has gone better than I could have ever expected. My recipient has gotten baskets with lettuce, spinach, radishes, green onions, onions, red potatoes, Yukon potatoes, cabbage, green beans, yellow wax beans, jalapeno peppers, mixed hot peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, herbs, and sweet corn. When they are ready, she will also receive Roma tomatoes, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, and pie pumpkins.

Along with the basket, my customer also takes on some of the risk of unpredictable weather, pest damage and disease . For example, this summer has been extremely cool. Without the warm weather to push them toward maturity, the melons are very far behind. If we experience a frost in early September, my customer may not enjoy melons this season.

Also, not using pesticides to control insects or diseases means some of the produce will have visible insect damage. In most cases, the ‘nibbles’ are just cosmetic and do not harm the plant. You can eat the scarring or eat around it. Sometimes this damage is an entry point for diseases that can kill the entire plant.

This test has been so successful that I now have five people wanting information for next season. As I look at my priorities, my increase in hours at my 'real job', and all the running around I do for the kiddos, I'm a bit terrified. How much more can I take on before I reach a breaking point?

I'm definitely getting a housekeeper.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away My Lawn Needs to be Mowed Today!

I just finished mowing half of our three acre yard, in the rain. It may look a bit 'clumpy' but clumpy is better than knee high. I'm praying the weather forecast is wrong and I will be able to finish mowing the back half tomorrow or Tuesday night.

As much as I love summer, I'm always happy to put the lawn mower away in the fall. That's when I get to reclaim the three plus hours I had spent mowing each week. As a self proclaimed type A personality I thrive on my 'to do' list and those three hours are quickly used up on other tasks. Since my college kids come back next week, kiddo 1 starts school this week, and my 10K throw down is this weekend my list seems a mile long. I don't even know where to start.

No more wandering around. What a difference a week makes!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Lazy Days of August

I'm getting lazy. I have lots I should be doing: weeding, watering, mulching, picking and freezing sweet corn, making cherry jam, labeling the jam I've already made. I've been off this week so I really have no excuse for not doing any of this, except that I've been lazy.

Here's what I've been up to:

8:30-9 a.m. - Wake up. I love waking up when my body tells me its time rather than to my annoying alarm clock.

9-11 a.m. - Watch the Today show in bed. Drink coffee. Wander around my house thinking about all that I should be doing. Tinker with my leaky hot tub.

12:30 p.m. - Make lunch for the kiddos. Wonder why kiddo 2 is still in her nightgown.

1:30 p.m. - Tinker some more with the hot tub. Wander around my gardens thinking about all I should be doing. Read. Sit in the sun.

4 p.m - Get kiddo 2 dressed. Get kiddo 1 ready for football practice. They really need a class for first time football moms. Lots of pad in strange places. And, who knew that you had to wear shirts under and over the pads? And that you were suppose to boil the mouth piece to shape it? They need a class.

5-6:30 p.m. - Run while kiddo 1 is at football practice. Nicole, Thanks for the advice on embracing the hills because they're good for me. It's all about perspective. I am now thinking about the my soon to be nice bottom because of the hills rather than dreading them on approach!

7 p.m. - Get all the pads off kiddo 1. Run to Wal-Mart to pick up last minute things I might need should I choose to cook dinner this week.

8 p.m. - Return home and wander around.

10 p.m. - Put the kids to bed.

11 p.m. - Shower. Go to bed.

Not such a bad way to spend my week off after all.