Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Taking Advantage of some cooler weather

We're having some lovely cool nights this week (and somewhat cooler days, only low 90s not mid to upper 90s).  So, with the lovely new attic fan, we've been cooling the house down quite nicely.  This morning the house was nice and cool at 68 degrees!

So, while the outdoors was a cool 67 (but rising) I decided to get cracking.  First up was blackberry picking at the elementary school.  My mom and I headed over there and picked probably 3 cups each.  Not a lot, but they are good - and the big ones are still ripening, so we should be able to pick a few more times still.

Then it was home for breakfast and since it was still relatively cool, I mowed the front lawn.  Meanwhile D had attacked the back yard with round-up.  Again.  We've let our back yard turn into somewhat of a jungle, helped by all the rain we've gotten this spring.  It is time to take it back.  Due to generous helpings of poison ivy mixed in, we have to take it a bit slow - and much of the vegetation requires 2 sprayings of round-up.  But already we can see a bit more ground and we have a wide path to the wood pile again.

It's supposed to be cool again tonight, getting down to 65 they say.  We've already had the attic fan on for almost 3 hours and the house is delightfully cool.  And, the house stayed pleasant today without needing the AC.  Yay!


Saturday, June 27, 2009

County Meet

It's the end of the swim team season for another year.  This season seems like it has flown by!  I know that part of that is that they didn't practice the last week of school (they usually do) and then that both kids missed practice for a week during robotics camp.  Then there was also the fact that the pool has been closed for most of this week due to some sort of pump problem.  So, really the season was shorter and there was a lot less practice, especially for M.  I counted up and realized that M only went to 5 days of practice this year.  So much for swim team being good exercise for him...

This year D and I wised up and split up with the kids for the county meet.  I went with A in the morning and then D came with M in the afternoon.  Made for a much more reasonable day.  A complained that we were there sooo long, but really, from the time we got there for warm-ups until we passed the cooler and chairs to D and M, it was just under 4 hours.  D and M were there for about another 4 hours in the afternoon.  4 hours is much better than 8 hours (or the roughly 11 hours we were there 2 years ago! - due to computer issues and such).  I missed being able to see M swim, but it was worth it not to have to stick around for so long.  Luckily next year, both kids will be swimming in the same session (and will be attending the same practice), so it will be less time consuming all around.

No pictures as the bigger pool and being indoor was not conducive to photos.  I know A got a best time in his breast stroke.  No clue about anything else.  I guess we'll find out tomorrow at the end of season party.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flowers in my yard

The new gerbera daisy I planted this spring.  It lives out by the mailbox so I see it every time I come home.

I really like these day lilies.  I don't even remember where I got them from.

This patch of daylilies is very interesting.  I would have sworn that last year it was all one color, the darker yellow in the front (that M says should be gold lilies).  But when they started blooming this year at first it was the gold lilies and the lemon lilies, then all of a sudden the orange ones started blooming too.  I guess the orange ones migrated around the corner (I have a patch of them 10-15 feet away, on the other side of a large azalea).  I thought I might not like a mix of colors, but these look really pretty together to me.  It convinced me to go ahead and transplant a bunch of day lilies to near the mailbox, without worrying about whether they are all the same color.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009


Our blueberries are starting to come in.  Yay!  and yummy!
I picked this many yesterday (we ate them all just out of hand) and then I picked a few more, but still just a handful today.  Those we'll have on cereal tomorrow.
Also, my mom says that the sign was up at our U-pick blueberry place on Saturday and there were quite a few people there.  I can't wait, but I think I must - if there were a bunch of people, it usually means that they have picked over the berries, picking too many of the almost ripe ones.  I think I'll wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to go pick my bucket full.  In the meantime, I'll get a handful each day from our bushes.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Today's Harvest

Before it got too hot out this morning, we all headed over to the garden to do some harvesting. We finally pulled the last of the red onions - this is about 1/3 of the total onions we got this year. None of them are very big, probably due to planting them a bit late.

A cucumber (and we left another about this size on the vine for my mom to pick when she's ready for it), 3 cherry tomatoes (A wanted to know if the tiny one would get any bigger - no, not if its already red!), and a sprig of parsley (just because).
Some Swiss Chard. D thinks maybe we are picking it too early, that it isn't getting as big as it could (and he's probably right that it would get bigger), but he wanted chard with dinner and I think its tastier when its smaller/younger.
A few green beans. These are about half from the first planting of beans we did (10 weeks ago) and half from the second planting (7 weeks ago). The first set of plants is about done producing. There are still a few more small beans on them, but very few - as soon as we get some more bean seeds, we are going to rip up those plants and compost them and plant some more beans. The first packet says we can plant beans through July in this area, so we'll plant more and hopefully harvest beans at least through August. I don't know how they handle the heat in August, but I guess we'll see.

We had to buy about this many more beans to really have enough to enjoy beans for dinner. Luckily the beans at the grocery store looked decent enough, unlike last week when they looked old and wizened.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Heat and Swim meets

It's been hot, hot, hot here.  85 by 10 am and it just got hotter.  I think the high was 94 today and it is still 77 at 11 pm.  It's going to be even hotter tomorrow - 97 or 98 is the prediction.  That is just way too hot for mid June.

I think it was somewhere in the low 90s last night too - and of course we were out in the heat at a swim meet.  Otherwise known as an event where the kids swim a bit and generally stay cool and the adults sweat... a LOT - or at least last night we did.  I know I drank at least 3 16 oz bottles of water and probably more like 4 1/2.  

It was a good meet last night though, even though our team lost (even though we beat a team that beat them - just depends on which of your swimmers show up each night, often).  A's strokes are looking better.  I didn't see any problems with his breast stroke and his freestyle looked much better (just a little like slow motion).  I peeked at the results after the meet and it looked like A finally will get some best time ribbons.  I think that getting the strokes technically correct is the first step to getting faster.  A had 2 sessions this week with an older swimmer to work on his strokes and I think it is paying off.  He was massively unhappy about the lessons, though, because he thought kids were going to make fun of him for needing/getting help.  I think the only person who would (did) was M - unfortunately.  We had to have a chat with M about that.  

M also got some more best times, despite missing practice all week for robotics camp.  He really could use the practice to work on stamina though - his strokes look really nice, but (except for breast stroke) he is clearly loosing steam on the second lap - he'll keep up or ahead of another kid on the first lap and then slowly fall behind after the turn.

We have another week of practice next week (and both kids should manage to make practice all week - amazing!), so we'll see what that brings...

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The first of the blackberries are ripe.  Yum.  We all sampled a few and I have first dibs for my cereal tomorrow.  I found the first 2 ripe berries in our yard and that convinced me to go check out the berries behind the elementary school.  Yep, ripe berries - not a lot yet, but there were some, and they were worth picking, thanks to all the rain we've gotten this spring.  All told I got maybe a cup full, so they'll all be gone tomorrow I'd guess.  But now I have visions of blackberry cobbler.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

M's first meet this year

We had another swim meet last night, our 3rd for the year, but the first one for M as he missed the 2 last week due to Boy Scout camp. And, of course, he missed practice too, so I wasn't sure how he would do.

Well, he did great! He took seconds off his times in all 3 individual events he was in, at least 8 seconds off his butterfly, 6 off his freestyle and 2-3 off his breast stroke. WOW! I guess all that growing taller did some good for his swimming. He did look (and say he felt) tired on the second lap of his swims so his endurance evidently was hit by not practicing. And not being helped this week by missing practice again. Yes, this week both kids have robotics camp in the morning. They are enjoying it (and its FREE through the school system) so I think it is worth while, but I do wish they weren't missing the practices.

The only decent photo I got of M all night:

I kept trying to get a picture of him swimming, but I kept getting shots with his head under water. I'll try again at our next meet...
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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sleeping well

We all slept well and cool last night - and without the AC even.  Why?  Because we got a new attic (whole house) fan.  It was marvelous to have an attic fan again (our initial fan up and died last fall) and this new one is more powerful, so it creates even more of a breeze.  This morning the house was down to 72.  We had the windows closed up again by 9 and the house stayed below 80 all day.  Ahhh, so nice.  I think it might have hit 81 in the house just about the time we opened up the windows for tonight, but it didn't feel warm sitting in the living room with the ceiling fan on.

Tonight will be another cool, breezy night in our house.  I just have to remember to check that the fan will be on ALL night and not go off at 4 am like last night.


Friday, June 12, 2009


The garden is cranking along now.  We've had several meals with green beans and we're still harvesting from the first set of bush beans we planted.  I picked today and saw that the second set of bean plants are currently flowering (I planted them about 3 weeks after the first set).  I hope that there won't be much of a gap in beans.

We've harvested the first several cherry tomatoes.  As predicted, most have been eaten still in the garden (and mostly by A).  That's fine - its what we expected.  Any that make it into the house are just a bonus.
The regular tomato plants are growing like gangbusters - outgrowing our stakes and cages!  I haven't seen any signs of red on their tomatoes yet, but I do see growing green tomatoes.

This photo was from several days ago and the little cuke has grown bigger.  Enough so that we picked him tonight.  I think he's destined to become part of dinner tomorrow night.  There are at least 2 more cukes growing and plenty of flowers.
These cucumbers are already wildly more successful than the last time I tried growing them - I had spindly, pitiful plants that never produced a single cuke.

This is actually the 3rd pepper that this plant has produced - the tag calls it a hot banana pepper (we think it is probably the same as the Hungarian wax pepper we grew in Baton Rouge).  They have a little heat, but not too much and are quite tasty.  And this plant is definitely out-producing the banana pepper and the bell peppers (mostly just at the flowering stage still).
Lastly, a picture of the garden overall:
All that grass and weeds are in the walkway of the garden - it may not look the best, but overall the garden is doing well.  Where we've put it down, the newspaper and grass clippings are doing a good job of keeping down the weeds.  I guess we need to do a bit more of that.

I'm sure the garden is enjoying the rain we're currently getting - over 2 inches so far tonight.  I'm enjoying it too - it cooled the temperature off quickly (like 5 degrees in 5 minutes).  Also knowing that we won't need to water the garden or the blueberries for a few more days.

Speaking of blueberries, we've had one ripe one so far.  I expect it will be a few weeks before ours are really ripe (especially since ours are rather shaded).  I'm hoping that by next weekend the you-pick place near us will be open, though.  I have a single pie crust waiting for a blueberry pie.  Yummmmmm.
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Swim Meets of 2009

We've had 2 swim meets now, both while M has been away at camp, but A has swum. Currently he is choosing to swim freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. A and I have been working on his dive, but it is quite different to dive off blocks as opposed to off the side of the pool. Here he is getting ready to dive. Unfortunately, as you can see, the other boys are already mid-way through their dive while A is still on the block.

Here from another angle you can see how A is entering the water (not hands and head first!). If you look closely, 2 lanes over to the left, the swimmer there is fully in and underwater.
He has definitely made some progress, though, and we will keep working on the dive. I know he can do it!

A backstroke photo:
Head is back well, hands look good - its just that pesky knee that wants to be involved somehow.
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Duke TIP recognition

Back before M went off to camp last week, he finally had his recognition ceremony for doing well on the SAT (through the Duke TIP program).  M was invited to the ceremony at Duke, but it was too far and at a bad time to go, so we decided that we would just do the state recognition ceremony.  GA had 4 separate ceremonies - I don't know how many kids were invited to each, but at the one we attended there were roughly 100 7th graders.  They seated them all alphabetically and called them up to shake hands with the president of the university (where the ceremony was held).

Then they separately called up the 4 students who had received national honors (90th % among high school students, 99th % among 7th graders).  M got a medal individually bestowed on him.
The boy on the left had actually received his medal at the Duke ceremony, so didn't get another here, but did get recognized again.  One of the 4 kids whose names were called wasn't there (and I don't remember if it sounded male or female), but the other 3 were boys.  M seemed surprised when I commented that the other 2 had probably scored at the national level in math.  Why, he asked.  Well, among other things, both other boys were "foreign", one Indian sub-continent and the other Asian.  Now, for all I know they and maybe their parents were born in the US, but it is equally likely that they or their parents may not have spoken English as their first language.  Plus, the whole "boys are better at math" idea.  Not that I believe that, but I will say that book publishers clearly think that girls are more interested in reading - based on the number of girl oriented vs boy oriented books available, especially for younger readers (and most especially for ahead of grade level young elementary readers).  Anyway, I don't know where I was going with that other than that was my guess and M was surprised.  

I tend to think that the idea that more young girls are interested in sitting down with a book than young boys are is (unfortunately) true.  Much more so than that boys are better at math.  And in point of fact, there are WAY more girls than boys in M's advanced math class (including M there were 3 boys in a class of about 20).  I think some of this has to do with more boys opting out of the class - it will be harder/more work and I don't want to.  M certainly said that, but we insisted he take the class.  And he did fine, although he did earn his first "B" due to poor organization habits mostly.  Not studying for most of the tests didn't help either, I'm sure...
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Friday, June 05, 2009

Garden update

The garden is mostly doing well. The peas are almost done - yesterday we got about 10 peapods, about half of which I opened up and we just ate the peas as the pods were getting tough. If we grow peapods again next year, we will have to trellis them somehow as it was very difficult to see the peas and they grew into a tangled mess. We also got a full meals worth of green beans yesterday. The kids ate theirs raw, but D and I found that 3 minutes in the steamer in the microwave was perfect.

**Oops, this never got posted last week - I think I was waiting for a photo - so here's the poor state of our peapods:

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Pleasant Day

Today was a pleasant respite from the unusually hot days we had at the beginning of the week - highs in the 90s is just not normal for early June.  Today though was a very pleasant near 80 - the day started off cool and cloudy, but the rain never materialized.  I took the kids and one of A's friends to the pool from about 4-6, then we came home to have hamburgers and fruit salad out on the deck.  The fruit salad was delicious and used up the last bits of both cantaloupe and strawberries, plus some apple, banana, peach, and pineapple.  I love all the summer fruit and it will only get better - the peaches are clearly still the early peaches.  The blueberries in the yard are looking plump and plentiful, but still very green, but it won't be too much longer.

I wish this weather would continue, but I'm afraid the weatherman doesn't have good news for me... by Sunday we're supposed to be back up into the upper 80s again.  Sigh.  At least we got a few cooler days - and over 2 inches of rain yesterday.  I know the garden is happier.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Getting Ready for Camp

Every year M has had Scout camp the 2nd week school is out, but somehow it has crept up on me more this year than before.  I just realized yesterday that I should check and see if he has everything he needs.  I had him try on some shorts in his drawer - and yep, most of them were too small!  Of course, I think I bought most of those shorts 2 years ago (and some of them were sizes 10 and 12, while he's currently mostly wearing 16s).  So today it was off to Target.  I don't know why he is so unwilling to try on clothes at the store, but at least with shorts I only have to worry about waist size and not length also.  He tried on one pair today (fits fine) and will try on the other tomorrow.  I offered to get more pairs, but he said 2 more is enough.  Not a shopper, obviously!  He already had 2 pair, plus a pair of zip-off pants - so now he has 5 pairs of shorts - plenty if he can manage to wear them more than once and/or make sure they make it into the hamper once dirty!  Plus, during swim team season, he often lives in his swim suit.

Last year at Scout camp it seems that M did live in his swim suit.  We've been told that won't happen this year as theoretically they aren't allowed to wear swim suits to the dining hall, but we'll see...  I guess I'd better check M's laundry situation and start hunting up all the other stuff he needs - non aerosol bug spray and sun screen especially - and have M clean out his Camelbak.

Oh, and also important - I need to plan lots of yummy, not-liked-by-M foods to eat next week!