Il faut cultiver notre jardin. --Voltaire

Here are but a few of the plants you could find in my parents' garden, past and present:
Asian pears

Here's what growing in my garden:

My lack of gardening skills is a problem. Trying to tear out a carpet of weeds from my front yard is a huge problem. My front yard is pretty much dead last on my list of priorities, but I always get embarrassed when we have friends over for dinner or a playdate. I know that they're coming up our front walk and looking at the biggest weeds they've probably ever seen. Case in point, my neighbor thought that the four foot high crabgrass choking the life out of my Japanese maple was ornamental grass. She's either just as much of a brown thumb as I am or kindhearted.

DN and I went outside tonight after dinner for what I called gardening and what she called a bug hunt. With my purple gardening gloves, spade, and weeder, I pulled out plants for an hour and a half, finally collecting two huge bags of horse nettles, dandelions, and crabgrass. When I saw how bad the garden on the side of the house looked, I got upset at myself for letting it get to this point. I kept on thinking how blessed we were to live in a house and how poorly we were maintaining the garden. It's frustrating when you know what you have to do, especially when it comes to the responsibilities that comes with home ownership, and how much more effort is necessary. One day I will have raised garden beds and plant heirloom vegetables and fruit for my growing family of five. I just need to pull up fifteen more bags of weeds and we'll be fine.

Around eight thirty, I dragged the two bags across the lawn to the curb for garbage collection and told DN that she had ten more minutes to catch fireflies. As I watched DN wait for each firefly to glow so she could catch it, my annoyance dissipated. Tonight, DN saw a few hummingbirds zipping around our honeysuckle bush, a leaf hopper hanging out on the drainpipe, two rabbits hiding behind our daisies, and fireflies galore. Each time I pulled up a big weed, she was excited to see what kind of creepy crawly would emerge. I really do need to start weeding on a weekly basis rather than a monthly one, but it was nice to be reminded of how enjoyable life could be with the right perspective. Lesson learned.


Teaching/Tech Tuesdays--File Cabinet in the Cloud

The Organized Ones.

You know who they are, with their row of jet black three ring binders neatly lined up on a bookshelf at eye level for any disheveled first year teacher to gawk at with unabashed envy. "Oh, you need a lesson plan for King Lear, Act I, scene III?" *flip, flip* "Here it is. Right on page six of Binder Five. If you need a vocabulary quiz, just turn to Appendix CC."

All kidding aside, I wanted to be this kind of teacher. I longed for the simplicity of turning plastic sleeve after plastic sleeve, spying exactly what I needed and slipping it out to peruse at my leisure. Instead, I pulled my overflowing file folder out of my cabinet and laboriously looked at each and every paper in order to organize what I was doing for the next unit. The rationalizing part of me always said that this kept me fresh. I would throw articles, pictures, worksheets, activities, and all sorts of miscellaneous flotsam into my file folder all year round, rediscovering them and getting my brain into gear as I prepared to delve into another novel or play with my students. The practical side of me argued that I wasted too much time trudging through multiple printouts of the same lesson plan, each with random scribblings about how it went that day and discussion points that students brought up in different class periods. My system worked for me, but it needed a little streamlining.

Enter Google Docs.

Quick overview, courtesy of Google:

This past year, as I prepared to get my teaching materials together, I uploaded all of my files onto Google Docs. I created collections for each of my units.

I was then able to open each of my collections on Google Docs, go through each file and revise, delete, and edit accordingly.

Voila, I had my virtual binders set up in the Google Cloud, ready to be opened on my home computer, school computer, iPad, Droid (!!!), etc.

There were a few stumbling blocks, such as when I neglected to click on the correct collection when I was uploading a particular file, but overall I was really pleased with the entire process. I loved how I could upload entire folders in a minute or two.

Technology...how I love it so.