Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Artist of the Week: The Musical!

This week’s artist is Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Last week he went to a Music Composition camp being held by his piano teacher. The camp had two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Nate was in the afternoon which was from 1:00pm to 3:30pm Monday through Friday. In his group the ages ranged from 16 down to six. They learned about various classical composers and some of the tricks they used in composition. During the week each camper had to compose one piece of music. On Friday evening the teacher had a small recital that combined the two sessions. The campers would each describe their piece and than perform them. His piece is titled “Torpedo” and I have to warn you it is a largish file.

As I was sitting down for the recital I pulled out our camcorder to tape Nate’s performance. The teacher immediately noticed our camera and loudly asked if I was going to tape the recital. I was only planning to tape Nate, but my good manners prevented me from saying so. I ended up taping the whole show. I haven’t reviewed it yet, it should be interesting. At one point the camera fell over and in the end I was hissing (quietly) at Max to keep still. Video taping a recital with a 3 ½ year old is difficult at best.

Nate had a wonderful time and wants to go again. Jake was even caught up in Nate’s enthusiasm and expressed interest in attending Composition Camp next year.

Update:fixed the song link

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

See Two Doctors and Call Me in the Morning.

Last week was grueling. In addition to soccer practice on Monday and Thursday (Jake), ice skating on Wednesday (Nate and it was the last one), Music Composition Camp Mon.-Fri. (Nate again, more on it later), I had to take children to two separate doctors’ appointments. On Wednesday Max had his bi-monthly/monthly check-up at the CF clinic. The clinic is located in downtown Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University/ Medical College of Virginia. Then on Friday Jake and Nate went in for their annual checkup, even though I called in June the earliest appointment was August 26 at the office farthest from home (the practice has three offices scattered throughout the Richmond metro area).

The CF clinic was by far the worst of the two appointments. I like the staff and I think the doctors are quite good, but I hate going there. I’m sure part of my aversion is due to the fact that by going there it means my child has CF, but the main reason is that every time I go there I lose at least two hours of my life. The clinic is a great sucking black hole of time. You show up and you wait for about 15 minutes to a half hour (though longer is not unheard of) to be summoned to one of the examining rooms. After the vitals are taken you get to wait again, usually another 45 minutes (or longer) and then one of the doctors appears. At this point my children are very bored and hungry. Max then gets examined (an awkward affair, because he does not like doctors and DOESN’T WANT ANYONE TO LOOK IN HIS EARS) and I get to chat with the Dr. for about 15 minutes or longer if need be (this is the one positive note, we are never rushed when we actually get to see the Dr.). Inevitably the Dr. has to check on something and promises to return. We then get to hang around for another half hour until we can finally flee. I know I should be more appreciative of the fact that I have a CF clinic a half hour’s drive from home, but man, does it have to take so much time. Once I was in and out in an hour and I was stunned by the speed. Every room does have a TV/ VCR combo with a kid friendly movie on continuous play, but I have active children who have seen all of their movies at least twice and the place is boring with a capital B.

This time was not the exception. For our 10:00am appointment we did not leave until a quarter past noon. But this time I was smart. I packed lunch. During the Dr.’s first visit I asked if Max would be getting a throat culture and his answer was no. Cool! We would be free to eat our lunch while we wait for his return (throat cultures don’t work very well when the patient is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich). When the Dr. disappeared we all settled down for our picnic in the exam room. CF clinics are one of the few places in a hospital where patients are encouraged to eat. The average CF patient usually has a hard time digesting food and has much greater caloric needs than the average person. I swear the dietician would be pleased if I could get Max to eat a half a stick of butter (the link is geared towards kids, but it has a good explanation) each day in addition to all that he eats. We were just doing the post meal potty run when the Dr. reappeared. We were able to make it to Nate’s Composition Camp with 10 minutes to spare.

On Friday I had to get the troops out of the house by 8:15 am in order to make the boy’s 9:00 am appointment. Ack, it was a brutal hour after our summer of sloth, but a good dry run for the start of school. We zipped on up with 5 minutes to spare. I signed Jake and Nate in and had just sat down when we were called back. What a nice contrast to the CF clinic. Again vitals were taken and we were parked in our small examination room. After about 15 minutes our pediatrician knocked on the door and entered the room. She is a wonderful doctor, she was an excellent rapport with my children and she has four girls of her own with her oldest two being twins! Her children range from 9 on down to 1. I can truly relate to this woman. After a full exam for both boys we were sent to the lab for blood work. Jake was very brave and didn’t even flinch when they pricked his finger. Nate, however, was a bit overwhelmed and needed to sit on my lap. When we were done all four kids got stickers and we were free to go. The whole process took a little under an hour.

That night I griped to Larry about the difference in time between the two appointments and the random vagaries of scheduling appointments with the ENT (each time I schedule a follow-up appointment it gets rescheduled two weeks later). He pointed out that it seemed to be a difference between a primary physician’s attitudes towards patients versus a specialist’s attitudes. The primary is there to serve you, while the specialist deigns to see you. The specialist is only seen at his or her convenience.

Hm, he’s got a point.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Things We Learned This Weekend

This weekend we finally started building our shed. The parts of which had been languishing in our crawl space for about a year. The two youngest of our children are now old enough that we can work on a project without worrying about them wandering off and/or getting into mischief. We have wanted a shed for quite sometime. When it is finished we will be able to move the mowers, grass trimmers, gardening tools and various other implements of destruction out of the garage and into the shed. But first we have to build it. Larry and I like building things together. I act as the brains and he supplies the brawn. We had built a picket fence from scratch at our first house, so we were up for building a shed from a kit.

First we selected a relatively level spot in our woods, marked out an 8’ x 12’ area, raked it and some spread gravel. We got the gravel at Lowes and brought it home in our van and this is what we learned:

Our van can carry 23 bags of gravel.
However, 23 bags of gravel really affect the handling of the van. It has a tendency to fishtail with such a heavy load and the van rides about 4 inches lower than normal.

With 17 bags of gravel the handling problems disappear and the van is only 3 inches lower than normal.

Our Lowes may be open until 8:00pm on Sunday, but the garden center is locked up by 7:30 pm, fortunately we already had our forty bags that had Larry purchased(this we found out after we had built the platform and I decided we needed more gravel).

Then we dragged out the bits and pieces for the wood floor from under the house. Except for a small amount of powdery white mold on the plywood, it was all in good shape. I wiped down the plywood with straight vinegar and propped the boards up to dry and hopefully get a little sunlight.

I laid out the lumber for the frame and marked the boards where Larry would nail in the joists. It was hard work laced with (unwanted) advice from one child. Rebecca (!) was surprisingly helpful. On her own she decided her job was to quietly hand Larry a nail whenever he was done hammering. We were able to finish putting together the frames (you build it in two sections and then hammer it together at the site) before we called it quits. Jake and Nate then helped me carry the frames to their final destination.

This is what we have accomplished so far.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I’ll be futzing around with it this week to get it all level and attach the floor panels.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I live in the woods, right next to a park. As a result there are lots of critters in my backyard. I have already told you about the deer (often referred to as the tall rats), toads, frogs and moles. So I am not at all surprised when I see something in my backyard.

Today I stepped out onto my deck and saw these two. They were so very cute clambering all over the kid sized picnic table. I took quite a few pictures of them and invited them to come inside. I thought they looked a bit hot with their thick pelts. I think we will keep them and call them Max and Rebecca.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Artists of the Week: Blocks!

This week we have joint Artists of the Week, Jake and Nate.

This was a very elaborate structure that was made when we were in Vermont for my brother’s wedding last October.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We were not staying at my mom’s house; she already had the bride, the maid of honor, the Mother of the bride, and my brother. It was a rather full house. The last thing she needed was my crew descending on her. Instead we stayed at Margot’s house. She is a childhood friend of my mother and after my father died she helped persuade my mom to mover up north to VT. My brother and I spent a fair amount time at her house with her three boys, the middle one being in the same grade as I.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Margot was quite impressed by what Jake and Nate built and she took the above pictures.

My two oldest children have always been builders. They make buildings all the time in their room. I like how they make fully realized structures with multiple floors, windows and stairs. When you remove the roof you will see individual rooms and the inhabitants. They even provide parking lots. Larry and I refer to them as G. Brother’s Construction.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Soccer Jake

Jake is very excited over the start of soccer season. He made it onto the Under 10 travel team along with one of his best friends. This promises to be a much higher level of coaching and play than he has experienced in the recreational league. He has tried out before, the first time he did not make the cut and the next time he made the team. Unfortunately the team was disbanded before any practices due to lack of player commitment. The third time seems to be the charm.

Last week the league had a travel team soccer camp. Members of the travel teams (and there are a lot) were encouraged to attend. It was hideously hot out and Jake actually had fun. Well, not so much on the first day. He didn’t keep hydrated and paid the price, but he learned his lesson and I improved the way he transported his drinks so they would stay cool and palatable (warm sports drinks taste awful). On the last day the campers were to wear their camp shirts for pictures.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was raining out and I wanted a shot before his shirt got trashed. I’m glad I took it, because in the end no pictures were taken.

Practice has also started and Larry and I have gotten to watch his coach in action. He seems to be doing a good job and he works very well with the team.

Jake is ready for the season to start. From the two soccer camps he attended this summer Jake has learned so much. Hopefully he will have fun and be an asset to his team. He is a naturally fearless player and has no problem competing against kids twice his size. If he can stay focused and listen to the coach he should have a good time. If not, well at least he tried being on the travel team. If it is too much he can go back to playing in the rec. league.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Max and Uncle Jonathan

A while back in my comments we had a little thread of whom do the kids resemble. Jake looks like me, Nate looks like Larry, Rebecca looks like a blend of both families and blond Max looks like my brother.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is a picture of my brother at age 21 months. He was very cute, very blond and very mischievous. My mother dreaded clothes shopping with him. He would take off and hide in the racks of coats. He would even go so far as to draw his feet up so you couldn’t see him at all. But she had to bring him, for he was a very fussy dresser and he had to be there when she went shopping for him. His pants had to brown and would not wear anything with buttons.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here my brother is a bit older. I’d hazard that he is 6 and I’m 9. People are always amazed when I tell them Max and Rebecca are twins. I guess they expect them to look a bit more alike. But as you can see here, I find it perfectly normal to have a sibling with completely different coloring.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In this final picture I’m with my brother at his wedding. His hair is a little thinner and he is much taller than me. I remember coming home from college for a funeral and seeing my brother for the first time after a long absence. At first I did not recognize the blond giant he had become.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

But he’ll always be my little brother, a blond imp who is always ready to go.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

No Way

Miss Rebecca has decided to rename herself.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

When asked if she knew what her middle name was, she responded “no way” (click play after it the first time it comes up, it works better the second time.) After careful questioning we discovered that she meant that her name is NoWay (a slightly longer file with a few yeses).

She readily responds to her name and the rest of the family is highly amused.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Rainy Day Soccer and Cookies

This past week has been filled with soccer madness. Jake and Nate have been going to separate soccer camps in the morning. Jake is attending the travel team camp at the park not far from our house; it runs from 8:30am to 11:00am. Nate, meanwhile, was attending British Soccer Camp (a fantastic program) which is a solid half hour drive from our home and runs from 9:00am to noon.

Larry would leave the house, with our eldest in tow, a little after 8:00am and would drop Jake off on his way to work. I would leave the house at 8:30am with the rest of the crew and take Nate to his camp. I would stay for a bit and then go do a few errands before driving down to Jake and picking him up. Once everyone was loaded in the car I would drive back to Nate’s camp (about a 20 minute drive) and herd everyone down onto field to wait for Nate’s camp to finish up.

This had worked out nicely until today. The day dawned gray and misty. As the morning progressed it started to rain; fitfully at first, then progressing to a downpour. Larry expressed some doubts of whether or not there would be camp. I cheerily asserted that it was rain or shine and handed Jake his jacket. Just before I was about to leave Larry called and to tell me that the organizers were holding off on making a decision about having the camp. Since I was about to leave, we decided that if camp was canceled Larry would drive Jake over to Nate’s camp and drop him off with me. He would be late for work, but it was the best we could do.

As I drove the rain started to come down in buckets. It did not look promising. About halfway there Larry called and said that Jake’s camp was on. Our local soccer club is staffed by a fair number of Brits and the head is Scottish. A little rain doesn’t scare them.

When I arrived at Nate’s camp I could see Sean (his coach) leaning into one of two cars in the lot and talking with the driver. I pulled up behind and stepped out in to the light rain. Sean apologized and said he was calling it off. Most of the other campers had not even shown up and he wasn’t going to hold it for two kids. If enough campers were available he would reschedule for Saturday at the same time. As the diver drove off another van pulled up. We all chatted for a bit while Nate ran around in the rain with his squirt gun. It was supposed to be “water day” at camp and he was ready for action. In the end we left it at camp being rescheduled for tomorrow, Sean would call us back with the details later in the day. I announced to the kids that we would go home and bake cookies. But first we had to go get Jake.

Because of the intermittent rain squalls we were experiencing, I thought it would be prudent for me to just wait at the park and not drive home. I parked the van with the rear facing toward the field. I raised the rear hatch and put on a movie for the crew. Today the campers were just doing scrimmages. When Jake was taking a break from the action I slogged out to tell him I was there, pointed out where I was parked and took the now sodden jacket back with me to the car. It was about 9:40am. Ten minutes later the heavens opened with a drenching rain. The coaches stopped play and moved the campers to the bathrooms for shelter. A few minutes later I saw a very soggy Jake dribbling his ball towards me. Camp was over. A coach stopped by and said that it was too wet to continue any longer. It was just a little after 10:00am when we left the park.

So today we baked cookies, a nice thing to do on a cool wet day.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

(Rebecca looked better in another picture, so I did a little creative editing to get a better shot of all four kids)

I use the Nestle Toll House recipe with two important variations:

I only use 2 cups of flour, I first did this out of laziness and discovered I liked the result. I get a softer, chewier cookie.

I use three cups of chocolate chips (instead of two) and NO NUTS. I don’t like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies, with me it is all about the chocolate. Today I used 1 cup of semi-sweet chips and two cups of semi-sweet and white chocolate swirled morsels.

Oh and I strongly recommend that you use butter and a good all purpose unbleached flour. My favorite brand of flour is King Arthur.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Back to School Shopping

I have a problem with back to school shopping. It is not the shopping itself, it’s fun filling up the cart with boxes of new crayons, markers, and pencils. My problem is with the list. I ALWAYS lose the list.

The first year (2001) I did back to school shopping I had a pretty good excuse. Jake was entering kindergarten, Nate had just been added to the ranks of the diaper free and I was humongously pregnant with Max and Rebecca, people would literally stop and stare. I was at six months, but I looked more like 10 months. As a result I was a little bit distracted and very forgetful. I have a dim memory of having to go back to the car to fetch the list that I had left on the seat and stuffing it in my purse. After the obligatory stop at the bathroom (new initiates to diaper free living have to visit every available bathroom, which was fine with me since I needed to go every hour on the hour) we swirled through Wal-Mart’s grocery section to pick up a few things and then headed over to the school supply aisles. When we reached our destination I discovered that the list was gone. I checked all my pockets and my purse twice, no dice. So with a sigh I retraced my steps, still no list. I then checked out the racks of supply lists for all the local schools and of course the slot for OUR school was empty. Fortunately I had another copy of the list at home and returned another day.

In 2002 I had another good excuse. This time I had the addition of two 9 month old babies to my entourage. As I recall that was the year that somebody ate the list. I’m pretty sure it was neither Jake nor Nate. I do remember finding little soggy pieces of paper that I tried to piece together. That year is kind of a hazy memory due to the grinding exhaustion of having twin infants in the house. I ended up having to stop by the school for a new list.

The following year, 2003, I had two toddlers to contend with. Max and Rebecca did not want to be in the stroller or the cart. One of them grabbed the list out of my hand and the other ripped off pieces of it. I was able to get halfway through my shopping before I had to throw in the towel.

Last year I swore to myself that I WOULD NOT LOSE THE LIST (or rather lists. Nate was entering kindergarten and that has a separate list from the other grades). I placed them somewhere safe and promptly forgot where they were. Fortunately that was the year that our school finally started updating their web page and I was able to download new copies. I can not rely on the racks of supply lists located in all the local stores, because the slot for our school always seems to be empty and they usually do not have the kindergarten list available.

This year was going to be different. We went right after a nice snack of ice cream so that everybody would be happy and cooperative and I only had one sheet to contend with. I was able to snag a cart that would hold three children and got the three younger members of my entourage strapped in. List in hand I made my way to the back to school supplies. Jake and Nate were excited over picking out their school supplies. We got almost everything on our list. They were out of highlighters (well I could have gotten a bulk package of 12, but we only needed 4) and we held off on getting new scissors for both Jake and Nate and a new ruler for Jake. I was pretty sure we had those at home and I wanted to check before getting new ones. I then went to get some peas and beer for dinner before heading to the check out. After I unloaded the cart at the checkout I reached into my purse to look at the list one more time. It was gone. It wasn’t in my pockets and it wasn’t in the cart. It had simply vanished. Once again I had lost the list.

At least this time I had gotten to the check out before losing the list. I guess you could call that an improvement.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Artist of the Week: When We Were Young

This week I’m featuring my mother.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This photo was taken many moons ago, namely before the appearance of me and my brother. The dog she is holding was Throopie, a wonderful dog that was very protective of me when I was a baby.

I’m not sure when my mother painted this, but I figure it was during or just after college, which would be in the 50’s. At some point I have to get the particulars from her.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was in my mother’s basement and she mentioned to me that she wasn’t going to be using it. I quickly told her that I wanted it, I already have one of my father’s paintings and I wanted one of hers as well. I like it very much. Its muted colors make for a very serene painting.

Currently it is on the bed in the guest room. We will probably hang it in the upstairs hallway, there is a spot where you could see it from the first floor. The lighting is fairly good and the painting will not be exposed to direct sunlight.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Visiting Nana

On Tuesday we headed even farther North, all the way up to Vermont to stay with my mother. Halfway to our destination I called up my mom to give her an ETA and to get her new address. My mom had just moved to her new house and this would be our first look at it. She had moved from a house on a dirt road on the very outskirts of town to one right smack dab in the heart of town. I know the street she had moved to and I had a vague idea which house it was, but I needed to ask her the particulars.

The house is a funky little Cape Cod that is set up for first floor living. She had a new window put in her bedroom, a stacked washer and dryer installed in closet, new kitchen appliances and, of course, bookshelves. Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a ¾ bath and downstairs and a full basement with another washer and dryer. My mom does not have to go either upstairs or downstairs, but she has more than enough room when we come a visiting. Coupled with the big fenced yard it is a very welcoming house.

Unfortunately it has been brutally hot this summer and the house does not have central air, just one little window unit in the hotter of the two upstairs guestrooms (it being Vermont, the house would cool down each evening making it bearable in the rest of the house). So as a treat for the kids my mom and I went shopping for a wading pool. Four stores later we found one of these:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is not very big, but the kids loved it. It even sprayed water down into the pool from the underside of the pineapple top. I could get the kids in their swimsuits, lube them up with sunscreen and set them loose in the yard for a couple of hours of fun. This allowed me to sort through all the stuff in the garage and help my mother get a bit more organized. My job was to haul furniture either up from the basement or transfer it from the garage. At one point I had my mother accompany me downstairs to pick out what paintings she wanted to hang (We never did get any of them up while we were there).

As the week progressed we discovered that the house next door had two children: Lucas, age six and Lea, age 3 ½. They would come over and play with our crew. Combined with a park that is in easy walking distance, the new house was grandchild heaven. My mom really lucked out with her new home.

Larry and I also did a little furniture shopping in Nana’s basement. I was already getting a dresser from that has been passed down the matrilineal line. Mom no longer had room for it and I was to be its next owner.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I also was getting a chaise that had always been in my parent’s room. When Mom first mentioned that she was going to be getting rid of some of furniture I called dibs on it. There is (or rather now, was) an empty corner in my bedroom. It would fill the space nicely and as an extra special bonus, Larry and I could send our children to sleep on it instead of their crawling into our bed when they appear in our room late at night. Combined with a table and lamp it also makes for a nice spot to stretch out and read a book.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After poking about for a bit we settled on a matched set of chairs and a small wooden trunk. A painting by my mother and two doll houses rounded out our load. I had reserved a small truck a month ago to bring our stuff down to Virginia and we wanted to be sure to take all the things we wanted when we had the means to carry them.

Friday came all too soon and it was time to pick up the truck and load it up with our treasures. Our plan was to drive down to Connecticut that day and push on to Virginia on Saturday. This would give us Sunday to recover from our ordeal. It was going to a grueling drive since we would be driving two vehicles. Larry proposed that we would not try to stay together. It is very stressful to keep track of another vehicle when doing such a long trek. We both had cell phones and we could keep in contact through them. It was a very good idea and I readily agreed.

The drive itself was not too bad. I had the van with the kids and Larry drove the truck. Whenever I had to stop I would give Larry a call and he would show up 15 minutes later. I would give him a head start, but the truck had a governor and I would end up passing Larry. During the drive I had two funny incidents.

When we go on long trips we bring a large number of DVDs to play in the car to entertain the kids. On this trip we were alternating Star Wars with milder fare. The screen is positioned so that the front seats can not see the movie, but you can still hear it. At one point the kids were watching The Return of the Jedi, a movie I know very well. During the scene when you first see Leia in all her bronze bikini glory I commented on what a silly outfit she was wearing. Jake retorted “Mom, it’s George Lucas.” I almost burst out laughing. We have taught our son well, he knows if it is absurd, George Lucas is fully responsible.

The next incident occurred in New Jersey. At the rest stop there was a huge line at the gas pumps (NJ has a ridiculous law that mandates only gas station attendants can pump gas. This is a very inefficient system that results in long gas lines.). I needed to gas up the van so I pulled into one of the lines. Just as I was about to reach the pump a silver Range Rover tried to cut in front of me. I quickly moved my van up and blocked the interloper. The attendant, a large bear-like individual, waved Mr. Range Rover away and directed him to the back of the line. At this point he whipped ahead of the car in front of me and pulled up to the pump. The driver then jumped out and started to flash a large roll of bills at the other attendant. I was stunned at the gall. The second attendant was wavering on whether or not to fill up the tank. The first attendant kept telling him not too. At one point a mechanic emerged from the service area and joined the argument. We were at an impasse for 15 minutes. I don’t know if he actually got any gas, but he finally pulled away. When I was paying for my gas I chatted with the first attendant about what had just occurred. He told me that it happens all the time. The best line he ever got was that the driver claimed his wife was giving birth. His reply, “What are you doing getting gas?”

Monday, August 15, 2005

Second Vacation Installment

While we stayed at my in-law’s house Grandma would take the kids down to a pond and feed the ducks. During one such expedition Larry and I tagged along and took the few pictures. Jake brought his binder to do a little sketching.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I like how Max is intently watching Jake do his drawings. But the main event was feeding the ducks; or rather I should say duck. Only one was hanging about when we showed up. He knew the score and quickly swam over to get his treat.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

All I can say is that he was one happy duck. He scored a ton of bread and he only had to share it with the pond’s thriving catfish population. I did spy what may have been a lone goldfish, but it was hard to see in the pond’s murk. When we ran out of bread we headed on back. Our next event would be to visit Larry’s sister in the neighboring town.

The kids love seeing Aunt Abby. She is an elementary school teacher and really has a way with her niece and nephews. While we were visiting Nate noticed she had two guitars. He has told us how he wants to learn how to play the guitar and I knew at some point he would ask to play one. I didn’t have long to wait. Abby paused, thought for a bit and then said he could. She sat down with him and showed him a few chords and how to strum. He took to it like a duck to water and after a bit she let him sit on his own.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here Rebecca joins him on his seat. I love how this picture came out. It is one of the nicest photos we have of Nate and Rebecca together.

When we were all done with our visit we headed back to the Grands for dinner. I made a nice pasta sauce with the large bag of tomatoes we dragged up North with us. I had picked up my garden share the day before we left and I wasn’t going to leave them at home to rot.

The next day, Monday, was another busy one. We had a change of plans and we would not be stopping at my cousin’s house on the beach. Their daughter was home recovering from an extended illness and loud noises overwhelmed her. Obviously it would be prudent not to bring my rather noisy brood over for a visit. Instead, we would stay an extra day at my in-law’s and head up to my Mom’s one day earlier. Oh the horror! We would be forcing grandparents to spend extra time with their grandchildren. The only sticky bit was that we promised some beachtime to the kids. But we had an easy solution, we could go to Sherwood Island.

We went in the morning with the idea of spending a couple of hours there. Nate and Jake could spend a much longer time at the beach, but two hours is the limit for a three year old.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was slightly overcast and the beach was not as nice as we remembered, but the kids had a great time chucking rocks into the water and generally messing about.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I enjoyed standing in the shallows watching the minnows dart about my feet, but we only lasted about an hour and half on the beach. It was blazing hot out and there were a fair number of jellyfish being washed ashore. We retreated to the picnic area in the shade. Up there we found an area beneath the trees where the boys could kick a soccer ball around (it was too hot for Miss Rebecca to do anything as strenuous as that.) Then we headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's for lunch.

After lunch Grandma and I took Jake, Max and Rebecca to the Aquarium. Grandma took this cute picture of us. For once you get to see me in the picture!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We arrived at about 3:30 pm, just in time for the seal’s feeding time. Sadly the pictures didn’t come out, but we had fun watching the seals eat their dinner and goof about. It turned out that we came at the perfect time of day. At the touch tank we chatted with the volunteer and found out that the place clears out after the last seal feeding time. As a result it was not crowded at the touch tank and the kids got to really see and touch the animals

Here is a fun series with Max, Rebecca and Jake meeting a horseshoe crab.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It wasn’t until the very end that Rebecca decided that maybe the horseshoe crab wasn’t such a good thing after all.

The rest of our time there was spent veering off to each exhibit in the rather erratic fashion favored by the under four set. Jake was very helpful and would boost his siblings when they couldn’t quite see the exhibit. We were all impressed by the white alligator, but I think the two favorite exhibits were the jelly fish tank (Just like we saw at the beach! But still alive!) and the sea turtles.

That's it for now, the rest will have to wait for later. I'm a busy soccer Mom this week with two boys attending different soccer camps at separate locations.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm Back!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As y’all probably guessed I’ve been on vacation this past week. We went up north to visit family, see a ball game, go to the beach and pick up some furniture.

Our first stop would be at my in-laws, otherwise known as Grandma and Grandpa’s house, in CT. It is a long drive, but we normally do it in one shot. I swore to Meryl that this time we would leave the house at a decent hour. We always plan to leave right after breakfast for our long drive to CT, but it always ends up being closer to lunch time. Unfortunately we had a little bit of a car related drama Thursday and I did not have the car at home so I could pack it the night before. Heck, we didn’t even know when we would be getting the car back. So we were very happy that the car was ready early Friday morning, but we still had to get the car and pack it. Once again it was almost lunchtime when we left and once again we arrive 11:00 pm.

We needed to get there Friday, because Larry had tickets for the Mets game on Saturday. Larry took Jake and Nate and met his friend Jon at the stadium. It was “Back to School Binder Day” so they left early to insure that the boys were among the first 12,000 kids and get their binders. As you can see they were successful.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

You can just see Nate's smilling face in the bottom of the picture. The boy next to Jake is Jack. They just happened to be seated next to each other and hit it off. Jack is a little bit older than Jake, but they are both talkers and enjoyed each other’s company.

Max, Rebecca and I stayed at Grandma and Grandpas house. Instead of baseball we went to the local children’s museum Stepping Stones. I didn’t take any pictures, but you get a good idea of what it is like from the website. They liked the kinetic sculpture, the bubbles and the waterscape. The best part for them was the Toddler Terrain. They loved putting on costumes and climbing about. The cultural exhibit “Dragons and Fairies: Exploring Viet Nam Through Folktales” was a bit over the heads, and frankly not that interesting to Grandma and me (Grandpa elected to stay home). Afterwards we went to a playground on the other side of the parking lot. There was a really neat slide composed of rollers (the kid in the picture looks odd, but you get the idea). It looked like a lot of fun to go down. Unfortunately it was very hot out, and Grandma and I were very happy when it was time to go home.

Both groups had a good time and we all got back in time for dinner with Larry's brother, Uncle Andy.

I have more pictures that I’ll post tomorrow featuring beach fun, pineapples and furniture.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Chocolate Becomes Her

I was going through some old photos when I ran across this gem.

little Rebecca
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was taken Christmas 2003 at my Mother’s house. Rebecca has always had the most incredible smile. The coating of chocolate on her face just adds to the cuteness. Just last Thursday my mechanic was quite smitten by her. I had just dumped the van at his shop and I was scrounging up a ride home (thanks Meryl!) when he came up to me and commented on how cute she is. And guess what, she had little drips of chocolate ice cream on her face and clothes. I chatted a bit with him and found out that he has a twin sister and that his mother has a twin too. What a small world!

In an odd way I found comfort with our exchange. On some level we had bonded and hopefully it would help me in getting my car fixed in a reasonable time frame at a reasonable cost. The fuel line was leaking and really wanted it fixed ASAP.

I don’t know if my daughter helped, but the repair was done early the next morning for less than $30. Turns out the fuel filter had been knocked loose. All they had to do was tighten it up. Double score! I got my car back and I have an honest mechanic!

A good ending to what could have been a major bummer.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Fruit Review and More!

I got a couple of Asian melons in my garden share this week. They are similar in taste to a honeydew melon, just a little more delicate in flavor, but with the same sweetness. The melon itself on the outside is a lovely shade of light yellow with faint pale green and white stripes running the length of the fruit. The rind is very thin; you could almost use a vegetable peeler to get to the flesh below. When you cut through the rind, the flesh is white with the same texture as a honeydew melon.

I could not find much information about this fruit online. I think it might be the Korean Melon, Hybrid Golden Liner, but I’m not sure. The description seems about right.

While Googling it I bumped into two of the weirdest food products yet.

The first one, Saturn Meteors, is possibly one of the most visually unappealing food items I have ever seen. It really looks like someone was cleaning out the litter box.

The second one, Sun Stones, has the same awful appearance as the Saturn Meteors coupled with the added bonus of having the following features:

Seedless Cherry seed (3 medium bags)
Hand packed in Hawaii
Ready to eat
Perfect anytime snack

How can you have a seedless seed? When you order it do you get three empty medium sized bags from Hawaii that are ideal for cleaning up after your dog? I don’t know and I am not willing to spend my money to find out. Oh and I also found this wonderful list on Amazon. Scroll down to the bottom, there is something called a Primos Hoochie Mama Lost Cow Elk Push Call. It’s unbelievable what you can find out there.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Maybe It’s A Sign

Yesterday I decided I would do some weeding. After breakfast I announced my intentions to my entourage and invited them to accompany me. The planting beds out front are a weedy mess composed of deer mangled azaleas, stunted rhododendrons, peonies and a couple of trees. If the kids want to help, their instructions would be simple: if it is not a bush or a tree, pull it out.

It wasn’t too hot, yet and we were making headway. Jake and Nate grew bored with conventional weeding and decided to remove the dead branches from Chinese Maple. It is the only climbable tree on our property and they love to sit in its branches. They would get to combine climbing with helping mommy! Max and Rebecca, meanwhile, milled about at the base of the tree. They were about 20 feet away from where I was.

As I squatted in the dirt I noticed a pair of yellow jackets* buzzing nearby. I quickly stood up, but hesitated in where to go. I did not want to blunder into their nest. One swooped near me and hovered near my foot. I cautiously moved back, but it persisted. Then it struck. Leaping back I erupted into a high pitched staccato burst of “ow, ow, ow, ow.” (Nate commented later that I sounded like a dog barking.) The kids looked up from their endeavors and watched my antics in amazement. I was frantically removing my shoes and socks while hopping about in the driveway and softly muttering various oaths.

They asked me what was happening and I said a wasp had just bit me and continued hopping about. Jake stared at me and said, in a slightly exasperated tone, “Mom, it’s just a bug.”

I have tried to be blasé when my children are injured. I find it helps cut down the drama. I was just given a dose of my own medicine.

I replied “Yes it is, but it bit me and it hurt.” In fact it hurt a lot.

After I announced my pain they were far more sympathetic to my plight.

About 15 minutes later I cautiously returned to the garden. I was glad the children had not been any closer. The two yellow jackets were still lurking about. I marked the bush that they crawled into and decided I should avoid that spot from now on.

The rest of the weeding went without incident.

I never did like to weed. Maybe this is a sign that I shouldn’t do it anymore.

* Best line in the article: “Caution: insects trapped indoors may be irritated and can sting.”

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Artist of the Week: The Crazy Chicken

This week’s artist is Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Last year in kindergarten each student had a journal. They were encouraged to write and do things in it during the school year. One of the things Nate did ws write a story called “The Cras Cicin.” (for the non-phonetic spellers “The Crazy Chicken”.)

The Crazy Chicken Posted by Picasa

Here is a transcription of the above story with parenthetical additions by me:

The Crazy Chicken

Me and my Dad made a flying machine (red arrow).
We dived under water (dad hit an eject button and they fell in the water).

No by no.

Crazy chicken (blue arrow) to the rescue! Oh great no!

(The crazy chicken leaps from the diving board to save Nate and Dad)

Ok, Bad idea bye! I don’t care. The end. Yes!
Why did I say yes?

This is Max and Rebecca’s favorite story. They love having Nate read it to them. To them it is the funniest story ever written. They erupt into laughter whenever Nate says “Crazy chicken to the rescue!”

Nate and Jake are currently working on the further adventures of the crazy chicken.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


A few days ago I had a rather fat dog.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rally had just eaten a box of uncooked macaroni and cheese. I didn’t realize what she was doing until I found her lovingly licking the remains of the powdered cheese from its foil packet. At that point the box was neatly ripped into tiny pieces and all of the dried pasta had been consumed.

This was of course my own fault. I had left a bag containing several macaroni & cheese boxes on the floor by the pantry. I really didn’t think it would attract the dogs’ attention. Boy was I wrong. It just goes to show how sensitive a dog’s nose can be. Normally I can leave a case of uncooked pasta on the floor for days and the dogs will exhibit no interest. However, the addition of one tightly sealed packet filled with powdered cheese changes the whole thing. It might smell of only cardboard to me, but to Rally, it was an invitation to lunch.

When I removed her from the scene of the crime, her stomach felt tightly packed and her belly hung down. She always had a plump little tummy, which resulted in my calling her plummy. But this was entirely different.

I briefly considered trying to induce vomiting, but it never works with Rally. She has the digestive system of a goat. Usually after one or two teaspoons of Hydrogen Peroxide most dogs will comply, but not my girl. One time, after the second or third dose (I don’t remember which) all I got was the tiniest of burps. Once it goes down, it stays down. I wasn’t too worried; I just wished she hadn’t eaten so much dried pasta at one sitting. I made a mental note NOT to feed her dinner and went on with my day. Of course I forgot all that when I fed the dogs later that day. Rally sucked up her kibble with gusto and then I remembered that I wasn’t going to feed her. Oh Well, apparently her appetite hadn’t been affected by her little snack.

I have always taken pride in the fact that I have never gotten “the fat dog speech” from the vet. I may have found them to be a bit chunky at times (whenever I had a child in a highchair), but our vets has always been happy with their weight. A nice achievement with a breed that is notorious for over eating. As I like to point out, there is a reason why canister vacuum cleaners are shaped like a dachshund.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Running on Empty

As I wrote here Jake is on the travel soccer team. This summer the travel teams have pick-up games on Sunday afternoons. For Jake’s age group they start at 6:30 pm. It makes for an early dinner time, but it generally fits in with our schedule.

Yesterday Larry whisked Jake off to the field after we had finished dinner while I stayed home with the rest of the crew. The previous two weekends were not so easy. Larry got an unexpected batch of work dumped on him at the last minute; therefore he had to go to work on Sunday both weekends. To maximize his work time, I would meet Larry at the field and drop off Jake. This saved Larry almost an hour of driving time. Meanwhile I could run a few errands on the way back home.

The first time it went without a hitch. We arrived at the same time and transfer went with out incident. The second time had a little more drama associated with it.

I fed Jake and got the whole crew loaded into the van in a timely fashion. My only errand was to gas up the van. I knew I had enough gas to get Jake to the field and then go to one of the inexpensive gas stations nearby. I met up with Larry in the parking lot and then went on my merry way. About halfway to the gas station I came to the awful realization that I had left my purse at home. Earlier I had been cleaning it out so it was not in its usual spot. I was a long way from home (about 20 minutes) with no cash, no credit cards, no checkbook and no cell phone. I had about twenty cents worth of change rattling about in the car, which would get me about 10 feet. Ooops. I considered going back and bumming 5 bucks off of my husband, but I decided I had enough to get home, pick up my purse and then fill up at the closest (and most expensive) gas station. In hindsight that was a pretty stupid decision.

As I drove home I watched the gas gauge drop with increasing rapidity. Halfway home I shut off the air-conditioning. I drove in the most economical fashion with gentle acceleration and minimal use of brakes. About 8 miles from home I started to have some serious doubts about our making it home and there was no way I would be able to go anywhere else. About two miles ahead of me was a gas station. It was in an isolated location and had a small ready mart. I had stopped in there before and the people there were very nice. Maybe they would let me put $5 of gas in the van if I left them some collateral. I would rush home and return with my purse. The only item of value in my car that I could use was my copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I could bring my entourage of three in with me to add to my sad little tale. But I was in a gambling mood. At this point it mostly downhill to my subdivision. If I could get there I could always walk home.

I passed the station and pressed on. Hopefully Larry had refilled the lawn mower gas can. If not, he could refill them after he and Jake returned from soccer. Meanwhile I watched the gauges. The van has some very interesting displays. One can be set to display what is the car’s current mpg or how many miles the car can travel before running out of gas. I find the mpg too depressing and keep it set to miles left. About 4 miles from home it reached zero. Meanwhile the gas gauge wasn’t quite smashed against zero. There was a little bit of fuel left. As I drove along I kept imagining that the engine was hesitating. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I have never run out of gas before. That was my brother’s forte. I remember one time he called home and I ended up bringing a gas can to him using his moped. I was proud of the fact that I had never run out of gas.

Two miles to go and there was the entrance to my subdivision! We just might make it home. I carefully turned the van in and coasted down the hill. All that was left was the hill back up to my street. Slowly we made our way up the hill. Then three quick turns and we glided into the garage! I raise my arms in the air, “Scoooore!”

I hopped out of the van and grabbed the gas can. Cool! It was full of gas. I happily poured two gallons into the van. I could easily drive somewhere and refill the van, I wouldn’t even have to go to the very expensive place. I had more than enough to go to the much more reasonably priced station. I then herded my charges inside and decided that I should stick home for the rest of the day and not press my luck any further.