Friday, September 30, 2005

Lucky 13

Yesterday was Crunch’s 13th birthday. We did not celebrate yesterday because we were insanely busy and quite honestly it slipped my mind (I don’t know why, it’s not like I have four children with two of them playing soccer. Oh wait I do, never mind.)

So today it is all about Crunch. This is what he looked like when we first got him:

puppycrunch+rally
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He was a cute little puppy, and for a brief while, Rally was much bigger. Initially Rally thought it was a bad idea that we got this interloper, but now they are generally happy to be together:

Crunch&Rally
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is my favorite picture of Crunch when he was in his prime, he was about 3 ½ years old:

Looking for love
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He is watching butterflies flitting about on the butterfly bush right outside the window. This picture has been used in a both a local club and in the National Dachshund Club’s newsletters.

Crunch has grayed quite a bit since then. But he is still an amazingly fit dog.

crunchside
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I took this picture about two years ago. His face is all white along with his paws. Only recently has he started to slow down. He is affectionately known as “The Wildman” at the kennel I board our dogs at when we go out of town. Just last year one of the kennel workers noted that now he has calmed down to the activity level of a normal dog.

Tonight we will celebrate with a hamburger cake for the dogs and a real cake for the rest of us. Happy Birthday Mr. Crunch.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Since Everybody Else is Doing It...

You are a

Social Liberal
(61% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(61% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Centrist










Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating


No real surprises here. Though a lot of the questions had me going yes, but... or no, but...

Thursday Three: Self Improvement

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Axis of Weevil Thursday Three! Today Terry poses questions on SELF IMPROVEMENT!
1) What one language would you most like to learn to speak, or at least understand?
2) What one skill would you most like to learn?
3) What one character flaw would you most like to rid yourself of?

Well we could all use a little improvement, some more than others. I myself am in the middling range; not perfect, but not beyond redemption.

1)This one is easy, Hebrew. I would love to be able to read, write, understand and speak Hebrew. I am able to do the basic blessings and sing a few songs, but that’s it. My two oldest are in Sunday school and they are learning all about it, I wish I could too. When the kids are all older and off to school I’ll try to carve out some time to learn.

2)Typing would be a very useful thing to learn. I’m able to peck things out one handed at a decent clip, but I know I could be much faster and more accurate. I did not learn typing in High school, because the teacher was an utter dragon and I did not see the point of torturing myself.

3)My endless ability to procrastinate. I keep putting things off and putting them off until I get into a pickle. I do best with clear and absolute deadlines, but if there is any slop I grab it with both hands. The less I like a task the more I procrastinate.

That’s it for me folks. I’m downright pithy today. Now I’m off to lunch with Meryl.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Artist of the Week: Duck and Dragon

This week’s artist is Nate. Here he is in one of his soccer uniforms singing the acorn song. (The acorn song has no lyrics and is sung when Max and Rebecca have on their raccoon costumes. I don’t understand it, but it’s cute.)


nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


This is a drawing he made during the drive back home from our summer trip up north. Grandma had given both Jake and Nate notebooks and colored pencils. Nate promptly put them to good use.


duckdragon
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


Unfortunately the long ride was not kind to the picture and it got very wrinkled. I still think it is a very nice picture of a duck and a dragon. Nate made a whole series of these and I think this is the best one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No


no
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This weekend it was Max’s turn to have a monstrous meltdown. As I was collecting him and his sister for bed one night he said “No, I want to stay downstairs.”

Well bedtime is not optional and it was late so I replied to the effect that he was going to go up. To sweeten the pot I asked if he wanted a bath. Normally this changes his mind and he rockets up the stairs. This time it didn’t work. He repeated his wish to stay downstairs. I then herded Miss Rebecca upstairs and got her started with her pre-bath routine: vitamin, tooth brushing and the collection of pjs. I then went down to collect Max.

He was getting very upset at this point and refused point blank to go upstairs. With him crying and thrashing I carried him up the stairs and deposited him on the bathroom floor. As he wildly plunged towards the door I would scoop him back and help Rebecca brush her teeth. (Three year olds need a lot of help with tooth brushing, they have a tendency to just chew on the brush for a few seconds and declare themselves done.) I then drew the bath and helped the *extremely* cooperative Miss Rebecca into the tub (There is nothing like a tantrum in one child to bring out the best behavior in the siblings). As I draped a sobbing and squirming Max across my lap, I bathed Rebecca. I even repeated my offer to bath him too, but it was to no avail. He was fully committed to his tantrum.

When she was all nice and clean I wrapped her in a towel, dried her off and dressed her for bed. All the while I blocked the door. Max continued on with his demand to go back downstairs.

I then told Rebecca to go to her room and wait for me. Holding Max still I informed him that his chance to have a bath was over. Now it was time for bed. This information did not seem to register so I steered him to his room. Once there he disappeared under his bed. Periodically he would throw toys out from underneath and continued his howling. I, meanwhile, calmly blow dried Rebecca’s hair, tucked her into bed, gave her a kiss, turned out the light and said goodnight. I made it a point to ignore the howling beast under the other bed. I closed the door and retreated to my room to read for a while.

A moment later Max erupted out of their room and shadowed me down the hall, still bitterly complaining at full volume. What followed was an almost comical scene. I stretched out on our lovely chaise to read and Larry quietly put away his clean laundry. A nice domestic moment marred by a wailing banshee by my side. After a few minutes I noticed a slight change in Max’s demeanor. I put down my book and asked him if he wanted to go to bed. For an instant he calmed down, nodded his head and asked for a bath. When reminded that a bath was no longer an option the wails resumed, but not quite at the previous volume. I then led him by his hand back down the hall to the bathroom. Sobbing he took his vitamin and brushed his teeth. Finally the tantrum came to an end.

I was able to bundle up my little boy and gently place him in his bed. I wrapped him up in his blankie and kissed his cheek. I bade both he and Rebecca goodnight and left the room. Peace reigned at last.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hands

This is an odd image of my children’s hands

kidhands
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

A few weeks ago, before the start of school, I was scanning a bunch of pictures. I have a small flatbed scanner (which I love) and it does a nice job on all sorts of projects. The lid has a “Z-lid expansion top” that enables me to scan bulky items like books.

They found it fascinating that I could put a picture under the lid, push a button and the picture would slowly appear on the computer’s screen. Then I could change the picture (or not) and print it out.

As I watched them I remembered how much fun it was to use a copier for the first time, but this was even better. I then got the idea that we should scan their hands.

The boys were all very cooperative; they placed their hands down on the glass and waited patiently for me to lower the lid and start the scan. Rebecca was another story. She fidgeted about, wiggling her fingers and moving her hand about. As a result the image of her hand has an odd stuttered quality to it.

I considered doing another scan, but only Rebecca was interested. Once she saw the result of her restless activity she realized that Mom may have had a point about staying still.

She is a bit of a challenge. Her teenage years should be *interesting* and I mean this in the sense of the saying “May you live in interesting times.”

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Soccer

Soccer season is now at full bore. Practices are not nearly as interesting as last season, the brush has been removed and the new field has been seeded. Instead we have to deal with rushed dinners throughout the week. Wednesday is our one day off.

This is a picture of Jake in action at one of his games. He is the boy with the white jersey in the center of the picture.

soccerjake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The picture is blurred, which is due to the limitations of our elderly digital camera. I like the picture very much and the blur does add to the sense of movement, I just wish I could have gotten a bit closer. This game was fun to watch and was the team’s first win. Jake did a bang up job as a fullback. The team played as a team resulting in some beautiful plays.

The next picture is of Nate in action, he is in red and dribbling the screaming pink ball. In the recreational league the home team supplies the ball, which in this case resulted in a very colorful game ball.

soccernate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The designation of home and visitor is an arbitrary thing on the rec level. The games are all held on the same fields, it is just a matter of whether the team wears a white (home) jersey or a red (away) one. Oddly enough Nate’s team is the visiting team for all the games. Larry, as assistant coach, likes that the team doesn’t have to supply the ball. I like that I don’t have to think about which jersey Nate needs to wear on game day.

The boys are having fun and they are getting some very good exercise. It would be nice if we could have our dinnertime back.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Swedish Sugar Cake with Lingonberries

On Tuesday my dog club had its annual meeting and elections. Since I’m a current club officer and I’m up for re-election I kinda had to attend the meeting. On Monday the club’s president gave me a call to: 1) Make sure I was attending. 2) Ask me if I had any ideas on what organizations the club should donate towards hurricane Katrina animal rescue efforts and what we should donate. 3) Hit me up for some cake.

Well I told her I was planning on attending, but I was going to be a little late to the board meeting before the main meeting. I had to get four children fed and ready to go to Nate’s soccer practice. She said that was fine and if anything came up that would interest me in the meeting she would hold it up until I arrived.

Then I told her I had some definite ideas of what our club should do for the Katrina rescue efforts. At this point I think it would be best for us to send money. That way they can buy the supplies that are needed and the money would be spent in the affected area and in a (very) small way help the local economy. For the organizations themselves I recommended Noah’s Wish and EARS.

Then there was the cake. She didn’t actually come out and ask for a cake, but I got the hint. She was going on how this was the annual meeting and wouldn’t it be nice if we had more than just a bag of chips for refreshments. I didn’t say anything. Then she went on how people were bringing this and that and maybe I could bring something. Since I have a well deserved reputation in the club for cakes I knew what she wanted. At that point I said I could bring some sort of cake. As I stood there on the phone I thought about what I could make. Then it hit me, I could make a Swedish Sugar cake with Lingon Berries. I had finally tracked down some Lingonberries a few weeks ago at a gourmet store a half hour’s drive from me. I told her I had just the cake.

So today’s treat is Swedish Sugar cake with Lingonberries

I got this recipe from Pascale (a German Swiss postdoc’s wife) in the lab I worked in when Larry and I lived in Wisconsin. I do have to warn y’all that the recipe uses metric units, but it’s not too hard to find metric measuring cups. Pascale noted that 2 dl is about 7 oz.

2 eggs
2 dl sugar
3 dl flour
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cardamom*
1 tsp cinnamon
100 g butter**
1 dl milk
1dl lingonberries***

Prepare a nine inch cake pan. Grease with butter and then flour the pan.

In a large bowl blend the eggs with the sugar. Melt the butter and mix it with the milk in a small bowl. Mix the lingonberries in with the butter mixture. Then add the butter mixture to the eggs and sugar. Mix in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and cardamom. Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

*The original recipe only called for ½ tsp of cardamom. I liked its flavor so much that I bumped it up to ¾ tsp. I do have to warn you that this spice is expensive, but it lasts a long time.

**A stick of butter is 113 g in the US. I just cut off about a tsp and use that to grease the pan. A little extra butter won’t hurt the cake.

***I have always used a jar of Lingonberry preserves when I make this cake. I never measure it out; I just dump the whole jar in. The lingonberry link has a fairly good price.

The resultant cake is very fragrant and delicious. I like to decorate the top with powdered sugar to give it a more finished appearance. The cake can be served warm or cold. It is not a sweet cake and is always a big hit. It is a nice cake to bake because the whole process takes a little less than an hour. Sadly I did not take a picture of the finished product as I was in a bit of a rush. Next time I make one I’ll take a picture.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thursday Three: Life!

This week’s Thursday Three tackles the big questions. No, not what we are having for dinner, but Life as you know it. Terry writes the following:

OH! Hey, I have an idea--let’s talk about life! Remember, this exercise is open to anyone who wants to participate--just leave your answers in the comments if you don’t have a blog, or a link to your blog if you have a blog. Blogblogblog. I hate that name. ANYway, LIFE. The Big L.
You ever wondered how your life might be different? Good, it’ll make the game a lot easier--

1) Name three events that occurred in your life that you look back on occasionally and wonder how things might have turned out if you had done something different.

2) If you could have lived in another time, what would it be? One stipulation--you have to be pretty much what you are right now--no going back in time and being Alexander the Great, no being Einstein or Moses or Casanova. If you’re a teacher, you’ll still be a teacher; a doctor, still a doctor; a car mechanic--well figure that one out on your own. You wouldn’t know the future, either--so no going back and betting on horse races and stuff. You would just be you, only in another time and place.

3) What one aspect of your life, such as your family, job, social life, spiritual life, creative ability, etc., do you find most rewarding?

Now then, that should keep you all occupied for a while!

Oh my, such a profound set of questions. Well here goes nothing.

Question #1) The first event is easy, my life would be completely different if I had gone to another college. I would not have met my husband, I would not have my children (well I would probably have children, just not the ones I have now), I probably would not have converted to Judaism and I would not be living in Virginia. This had been a very real possibility. I had been waitlisted for Connecticut College and accepted at Macalester College. When I had been finally accepted by Conn I had already sent in my room deposit for Macalester and was gearing up for four years in St. Paul, MN. No regrets with the decision I made. It was an awkward phone call to the nice folks at Macalester, but they were understanding and wished me well. They appreciated the fact that I bothered to tell them my decision.

I guess the second event would be choosing my major in college. This was a choice that would determine the direction of my life. It was the middle of my freshman year when I made my decision. My freshman advisor gave me the willies and I wanted to get away from him as fast as possible. I had it down to two fields: biology or art. I love mucking about in science class and I am fascinated in finding out how things work. Art had also always been one of my favorite subjects. I am forever making little drawings and I get a great deal of pleasure out of creating something beautiful. It was a very hard choice to make. With science I would be intellectually fulfilled and I would have excellent job prospects. Art would be a much harder choice. I have some talent and decent color sense, but I do not have the drive necessary to make it work. So in the end I chose science. Initially my major was Field Biology, a specialization that takes you out in the field to study ecosystems, large and small. Sadly the department dropped my major (due to low numbers) and I was shunted over to just plain Biology.

Now the third event is much harder. One alternate path I could have taken would have been going back to work after the birth of my first child. I know we would not have had four children and I think we would have spaced them farther apart. Financially I think we would be at about the same spot since we would have all of the daycare expenses to pay for.

Question #2) I really can’t think of any other time period I would want to be in. If I was forced to decide I would pick 100 years in the future. As a woman I have no romantic notions of the past. Right now I am a stay at home mother by choice, but I have the education and training that I could go back to the lab once my children are in school. I like the fact due to my education I can give accurate and reasonable explanations to my children for various natural phenomena. Also life in the past would be a death sentence for my youngest son. Seventy years ago 80 % of the children diagnosed with CF did not live past their first birthday. Max suffers from a profound enzymatic digestive deficiency from his CF. He probably would have starved to death by now if it were not for the enzymes he takes every time he eats.

Question #3) My Family! I love my husband and I am so glad we found each other. My family is very important to me and I’m glad that I am able to stay home with my children. I like how they are learning to love reading for the sake of reading, that they enjoy trying to figure things out and that they are (slowly) learning how to deal with people who-don’t-always-agree-with-you-but-you-have-to-deal-with-anyway (ie. siblings and in the future bosses and co-workers). They are learning to be kind to others and to at least try to think before they act. My husband and I are on the same page with our views on child rearing, which makes for an easier task for us both. I think together we are producing a useful and productive generation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Artist of the Week: Legos Plus!

This week’s artist is Jake.


Jake&friend
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This week you get almost a double shot of his creative efforts. In the above photo he is with a friend of his own making. As I recall his friend did not last very long in our active household.

The featured project this week is one of his Lego creations. As I have written before Jake is a builder at heart.



podracer
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


Jake, like his brothers, is a big Star Wars fan. Using the Legos we have he was able to create his own podracer.

We have a few kits for various projects, but this was wholly his creation. I like the use of existing things being reused in new ways. Nate, inspired by his brother, also made a podracer. Together they race about, banging into each other and rebuilding their racers.

I know that some kids will build something and then set it aside so it will not be harmed. Not Jake, when he builds something he plans to use it. His creations inevitably get damaged and he does sulk a bit and storm about, but he usually rebuilds a better version and moves on. I like that, I just wish he would skip the drama.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Of Koalas and Raccoons

For the first two weeks of school Rebecca has been wearing her raccoon suit to the bus stop when we pick up Jake and Nate.

The first few days it was her idea to put it on and ride in the wagon to the bus stop. I didn’t realize how popular this was until Jake and Nate commented how everybody on the bus loved seeing her in the costume. One day she wore it in the morning, but not in the afternoon. The bus driver expressed mock disappointment when she saw us that afternoon. “What? No raccoon?” I then replied something to the affect that she had already worn it that morning.

Last Thursday Max wanted to get in on the fun and wore his koala costume.


koala+raccoon
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In this picture they look calm and poised. Twenty minutes later it was a different story. They were rolling around on the grass, giggling madly and wrestling with each other. Too bad that those pictures did not turn out.

They look so cute in their costumes. The costumes themselves are hand me downs from Jake and Nate. I think I have gotten my money’s worth.

Monday, September 19, 2005

But Will It Fit?

Last week Nate kept finding tiny plastic beads on the road, some were red and some were green. He felt compelled to pick them all up as we walked to and from the bus stop. This was a constant source of aggravation for me in the morning as he would keep dropping further and further behind us. The worst part, though, was how he would keep edging out into the road. We live on a fairly quite cul-de-sac, but his single minded pursuit of the beads was dangerous. In the end I confiscated that one day’s collection and tossed them in the garbage.

At first they mystified us. Where did they come from and what are they for? That question was answered when we went cleat shopping for Jake. We had gone to Dick’s Sporting Goods and found a huge display of plastic BBs by the bathrooms. Ah-ha! Somebody (or bodies) had been messing around with an air gun on the road. The pellets Nate had found on the road were the same size as the ones in the store. Rebecca was fascinated by the display and found a few loose ones on the floor. I had to pry them out of her hands as we left the area.

A few days later Rebecca ran to me in tears. She kept poking in her right nostril saying “Ball, ball, it hurts.” Since she regularly sticks her finger up her nose I thought she had a booger in her nose that she had accidentally shoved further in. But as you have already guessed, that was not the case. I tipped her head back to take a look up her nose when I saw a bright red pellet peeking out. Ack! I set her down and told her not to touch her nose and ran to fetch the round tip tweezers in the closet. Visions of a possible trip to the doctor danced in my head. Rebecca was a good girl and listened to my admonition and even did it one better. She gave a mighty snort and solved the problem on her own. I returned to a calm child staring at the results of her snort on the floor. That day I banned all pellets from the house. Nate initially protested, but when I told her about Rebecca he reluctantly agreed that it was best not to have the pellets about the house.

Of my four children she is the first to jam something up her nose. She has always been the child most likely to stick things in her mouth. Hopefully she has learned her lesson and will not stick anything else up her nose.


rebecca
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yeah right.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Jaws of Destruction

This is our dog John, aka The Jaws of Destruction.


stairjohn
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


Isn’t he cute up there at the top of the stairs? It is his favorite place to lie down. He looks so well behaved up there, except I know his secret. He is just waiting to sneak through the gate and steal a stuffed animal and drag it downstairs to its destruction.

He has figured out how to nose open the gate, which is fortunately a noisy process so I can stop him before he goes any further. When he does get through without my not
ice, he darts into a bedroom (usually Max and Rebecca’s room, it has the best selection of stuffed animals) and snags a toy. Then he scoots down the stairs with his prize clenched firmly in his jaws and settles down in the den for a good chew.

We have been lucky so far and have lost only a few toys. If I catch him on his way down the stairs the toy will only be slightly damp and otherwise unharmed.

His other favorite illicit chew is his collar. I don’t know how he does it, but he has chewed through two of his collars. This is his latest victim:


collar
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


As you can see he has also gnawed on the receiver of his collar. We have an invisible fence and he needs to wear his collar when he goes out. As a result he is wearing Rally’s collar until I can replace his old one. At 13 ½ years of age, I regard her as a low flight risk. Rally just puddles about in the backyard, just happy to be outside.

Hopefully this will be the last collar I have to replace. It will be his fourth collar. He out grew his first collar and then chewed through the next two. I’m glad that the company’s issues a free replacement after you pay for the first replacement.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Nothing Like a Little Drama to Start the Day

This morning started out like any other school day. At a quarter past eight I had fed Jake and Nate their breakfast, Max and Rebecca were happily at the table eating their breakfast and I was puttering around the kitchen. Everybody was dressed and we were on time. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jake bouncing along through the kitchen and to the den. Then suddenly I heard a great howl from both of the older boys.

I whirled around and saw Jake reeling back keening in pain with his hands covering his mouth. Nate was rolling on the floor clutching his head and crying. I paused trying to decide which child to go to first. Then I caught a glimpse of blood between Jake’s fingers. Grabbing a handful of paper towels I got to Jake just as he leaned forward. I shoved the towels under his chin and blotted up the bloody mess before it spilled out of his mouth. I stood there comforting him while cleaning up his face. Once he calmed down a bit I got a good look at his mouth and saw that he had split his lip. It was a good size tear, just under a half inch in length on the inside of his lower lip. I stared at it for a few minutes. It was right at the cusp of needing stitches. Great, this means a trip to the doctor, so much for making the bus for this kid. I gave Jake a fresh paper towel and told him we were probably going to the doctor’s office to check him out.

I then turned my attention to Nate. He was still on the floor whimpering in pain. I squatted down next to him and asked him where he hurt. He moaned “My head, my head hurts.” He then patted the side of his head. I parted his hair and careful examined him. There wasn’t even the tiniest of marks on him. I helped him to his feet and stole a glance at the kitchen clock; it was just a little bit before 8:30. Hey, we could still make the bus!

Jake was wandering about in his sandals and Nate had his socks, but no shoes. I told them to get their shoes on and to get in the car. Jake protested that he was going to the doctors and that he didn’t need to put on shoes. I pointed out that he would be directly going to school afterwards. Meanwhile Max was hopping about wanting his boots. I asked them if they were in the car and he said yes. I knew Rebecca’s boots were in the car, so it was a fair to guess that Max’s would be there too. We scooped up the backpacks and got into the car.

We made it to the bus stop in plenty of time. As we waited I cleaned up the few drops of blood on Jake’s shorts. Amazingly the rest of his outfit had remained clean. The driver was a bit puzzled when I escorted just Nate to the bus. I stepped onto the bus and told her about this morning’s drama. Basically I would be driving Jake to school. The driver gave a little gasp and then dug out a couple of pieces of candy for Jake. She said that he probably wouldn’t want to eat it now (nor would I want him too), but she wanted to give him some. I thanked her, stepped off the bus and waved as the bus pulled away.

Back in the car I had another decision to make. Where should we go? I could drive to the pediatrician’s office, but that was a solid half hour’s drive. It could also be a complete zoo there with a very long wait. The alternative was a walk-in clinic that was just 20 minutes away and 10 minutes from the school. This too could be zoo and sometimes they get a bit overwhelmed and punt the awkward pediatric cases to the local ER. Hmmm. I decided to go for the clinic. Jake has gotten stitches before and behaved like a champ.

During the drive to the clinic Jake asked me what they were going to do. I have found that when Jake goes to a doctor it is best to give him full rundown on what may or may not happen. So I told him that they would clean the wound and poke around it and they *might* put in a few stitches. I then told him that I had noticed earlier that there was a small flap of skin on his lip. It looked as though he had skinned the top of his lip as well. The doctor would probably trim that away, but it should not hurt... much. Soon we were at the clinic and we pulled into the parking lot.

There were a fair amount of cars parked, but the waiting room was mostly empty. I signed Jake in a sat down with my crew minus Nate. A few minutes later we were called up to show the health insurance card and pay for our co-payment. Max was a bit noisy at that point and I had to keep shushing him so I could hear the receptionist. Once we were done we returned to our seats. Almost immediately Jake was called to go back, to the examining rooms. I then herded everybody through the vital signs stations and on to the exam room. Soon the Dr. poked her head in and introduced herself.

As she examined Jake she told us how she seems fat bloody lips all the time. Her youngest child was just learning how to walk and was always falling down and bashing his lip. She poked and prodded and even checked his teeth. They were all fine and still firmly in place. Then she ducked out of the room to pick up a surgical kit to trim off the flap. Jake sat there and quietly waited as she removed the flap of tissue. I was very proud of how well behaved he was. This was even more remarkable considering the rambunctious antics of his two younger siblings. She then looked at the lip some more and told us how she didn’t think he needed stitches, but it was a close thing and she wanted to consult with the other Dr. that was there. She then stepped out and ushered the other Dr. into the examining room.

He peered at the wound and commented about the scrape on Jake’s lip. She explained how she had already trimmed away a bit of skin and all that was left was the cut itself. After a moment and a bit more poking he agreed that stitches would not be needed. At that point I commented that I was glad that it was a tough call for them about the stitches, because I hadn’t been sure myself. I was then told we could ice the wound and they would be giving us a script for an antibiotic. Since the wound was on the inside of his lip it was a likely spot for an infection. With a handful for papers for me and a boatload of stickers for each child we were sent on our way. At that point it was just turning 9:20, Jake was officially tardy.

In the end he was only 20 minutes late. He did get a tardy slip, but at least he had a very good excuse.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thursday Three: Disaster!

Yay! It’s the return of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!
Papa Possum presents us the following:
LET'S GET ON WITH THE GAME! And yes, the questions are actually of a serious nature, quite unlike the setup. Today's questions are about self-reliance.
1. With the recent hurricane that hit the Gulf Coast, it has once again been made obvious that being prepared ahead of time can be the difference between life and death. Do you and your family keep an emergency pack of supplies ready to go at a moment's instant as so many people recommend? What all is in it?
2. If, heaven forbid, anything as destructive as a hurricane or earthquake or fire or flood were to hit your community, and assuming you stayed around or couldn't get out, what are some of the skills you have that you think could be utilized to start the recovery efforts?
3. How safe do you feel in your own community when it comes to disaster preparedness?
SO, there you go. Go off now and fix up your answers and leave them in the comments, or leave a link to your blog. My answers will be up in just a bit.
  1. Well, we don’t have an official “go kit,” but we do keep a fair amount of batteries and whatnot on hand. Our pantry is kept fairly well stocked and I have two first aid kits in the house and a little tiny one in the van. We could hang out here for a few days, but in light of my youngest son’s medical needs in regards to refrigerated medicines and electrically powered devices we would be among the first to evacuate. I can get us packed and ready to go in about 3 ½ hours. I try not to have Max run out of his meds and we usually have at least a few days’ supplies on hand. We would stick the rocket box on top of the van and load the interior of the van with dogs and kids; the fish, I’m sad to say would be on their own. We have a battery powered backup pump and a battery powered automatic feeder, but I can’t bring a 20 gallon tank along we us. The dogs are far more portable and are used to long car trips. I even have a three ring binder for each dog with their complete medical records. If it looked like complete devastation was a possibility there are a few paintings, the family silver, our photos and our computer CPUs that we would stick in my husband’s car. The rest is just stuff. We would then head north to my Mom’s house in VT. She has enough room for us and has an excellent hospital nearby. We should have a generator for the fridge, but we just haven’t gotten around to it.

  1. We do have a chainsaw and my husband knows how to use it. I’m pretty good at figuring out alternative routes to get to places and generally not panicking. This was put to the test in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel (a cat. 2) came to town. We battened down the hatches and rode her out at home. We were without power for three days and the roads were a tangled mess of trees. As I recall Isabel hit us Thursday night and it wasn’t until Friday afternoon that we could access the outside world. I remember going out that afternoon to see if I could find a way out and reach a more populated area (we live in the semi-boonies). I was successful in finding a torturous open route to electrified civilization. This turned to be good knowledge to have. That night Jake somehow cut his scalp in his pitch dark bedroom. I heard him howling in his room and staggered down the hallway to investigate. As I patted the back of his head it felt damp. Further investigation with a flashlight showed it to be blood. With no power and no clean running water (A had filled the tubs with water, but I did not want to use it to clean wounds. We also had a 5 gallon bladder of clean drinking water, but I was loath to use it.) I decided that it was off to the hospital for us. What would normally be a 30 minute drive was a one hour trek through the route I had just charted out earlier. I was glad I had already done a recon during daylight hours. After a brief wait and five stitches later we were sent home. The one bright spot was that we were able to pick up a nice hot breakfast and bring it back home with us.

  1. I feel fairly safe with my community in regards to disaster preparedness. My main complaint is the incompetent snow removal. The county obsesses over the main roads and does not even touch the secondary roads until the snow event is over AND the main roads are all clear. Our road usually gets plowed a day and half after the storm has ended. Just long enough to get a nice thick layer of ice from all the cars driving on the snow. All I want is for them to do one pass with a sander during the storm. It would help a great deal. As for my neighbors it was nice how we all pulled together after Isabel. People would share their generators and cleared driveways and roads so that people could get out. However if we were to have another Isabel blow through here, I’d bug out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Artist of the Week: Max and Star Wars


max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yesterday Max presented me with this fine piece of artwork and announced that it was Star Wars.


han&luke
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After some careful questioning this morning he explained to me that the figure on the left is Han Solo and the figure on the right is Luke Skywalker.

Max is still a huge fan of Star Wars. He builds elaborate spaceships complete with blasters with his Duplo blocks, aka big Lego’s. He regularly engages Nate in mock light saber battles with long pieces of flexible car track.

He is very proud of his artwork and wants to hang it on his bedroom wall. Meanwhile I’m excited to see a recognizable figure emerge from his scrawling. This, to me, is one of the most exciting periods of development. They are gaining control and are able to expressive themselves artistically. We try to have paper and crayons on hand and give them out when their muses strike. I’m strictly hands off with their art. It is their vision, not mine. If they want me to draw something I’m happy to oblige, but I want them to develop their own style. I’m just here to be the proud parent.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Two Dimensional Shed

This past weekend we did a little work on the shed. Max helped carry the lumber, Jake held the boards steady while they were hammered together, Rebecca took turns with Max in handing out nails, I banged things together and Larry (while feeling quite ill) did some heavy lifting. We were able to assemble the two side walls and the back wall. We make a pretty good construction team. A bit on the slow side, but we do get things done.


shed3
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We did not put the walls up, because of Ophelia stewing about off of the coast of the Carolinas. I figure they will do better if they remain flat on the ground. I do not want a half finished building to endure 30 to 40 mph wind gusts. If Ophelia decides to become a major threat we can move the walls to under the deck.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Puppies and a Road Trip

Last Sunday we went on a little road trip to visit with friends who have moved to Virginia and to see puppies.

I have been friends with Dianne for years and now she has moved to Virginia! We bought Crunch from her over 12 years ago when we were in Wisconsin and she was in Minnesota. Both of our families have had multiple moves over the intervening years and we have always stayed in touch. Last year she and her family (husband Andy and her daughter Kandice) were living in upstate New York and they used Crunch as a stud dog. Meryl got the glamorous task of conveying Crunch up North for his romantic rendezvous. Six months later we got John from the resultant litter. Last March Crunch got sent North once again for another romantic getaway. This time we would not be getting a puppy (One puppy in the house is enough, thank you very much.), but I did want to see the puppies. As an added bonus we would get to see their new home.

We got there in about two hours. They now live in a very pretty part of Northern Virginia. Rolling fields of corn and the slate blue smudge of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon. We visited a bit and toured the house and then we got to see the puppies. Nate was a very happy camper, he loves puppies.


Max,moose,val+Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Whenever Nate sat down he would have at least one puppy in his lap. Here he has Val in his lap and Moose, the longhair puppy next to him. He even sat in the puppy pen with all of the puppies, because they were lonely.

For a truly odd photo you can’t beat this one:

3legsnohead
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I was trying to take a picture of Jake, but I ended up getting a picture of a Greyhound just as she was turning around. It looks like she has only three legs and no head.

The puppies are gorgeous, wonderful to look at with delightful temperaments. Crunch and Fiona did an outstanding job. But I’m still not bringing one home.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11

In honor of September 11th I thought I’d share this photo from our visit at President’s Park in Williamsburg, VA. We went last year and we had a pretty good time seeing the giant heads. The kids are posed at the bust of John Quincy Adams.


kids+head
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Today we had just an ordinary day. We did just ordinary things and I think that is the best way to spend this day. We will never forget what happened and we will never let it stop us from continuing on with our lives.


Friday, September 09, 2005

County Fair

Last Saturday we went to the Chesterfield County Fair.

We got to ride on little tractors.


tractornate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
We got to ride behind big tractors ...


bigtractor
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
in a string of barrels.


allaboard
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
We made friends with baby goats


rebeccagoat
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
and little lambs.

maxlamb
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Fortunately I remembered NOT to buy the food for the animals in the petting zoo. The animals will mob you for the tiniest amount of feed. It is a bit much to have sheep crowding about and goats jumping all over you. The animals are still friendly if you don’t have food and as a result are much nicer to be around.

Jake and Nate passed on the petting zoo this year. Instead they stayed in the kid’s tent and played with the ride on tractors. Max and Rebecca got to play there too. Max enjoyed the pedal tractors, but they are still a little tricky for him to maneuver. Rebecca preferred playing in the corn crib.

corncrib
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
The corn crib is essentially a sandbox full of dried corn kernels. It is fun to play in and much cleaner than a sandbox.

We also visited the chickens and the rabbits in their respective tents. The fair is a true county fair where all sorts of animals are on exhibit and judged. After we were all done seeing the animals we headed on over to the midway and bought tickets for the rides. Meryl calls the fair’s rides lame, but they are just right for our crowd. They haven’t been to any of the big amusement parks and Jake really doesn’t like rides in general. He prefers the games.

Larry and I split up, I took Max and Rebecca and he took Nate and Jake. At this point it was quite dark so pictures were not possible of the bouncy tent and Larry did not have a camera when Nate went on the racecar ride. From what Larry told me it would have been cute. Nate was paired up with a little boy that was exactly the same size. They both had a blast on the ride. Instead you’ll have to settle on pictures of Max and Rebecca on the carrousel. The first one is what I think is the best picture I have ever taken of Larry and Max together.


carousel1
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.



carousel2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rebecca REALLY LIKED her horse. She had to be peeled off and was in tears afterwards. She had to be carried back to the car. It was a good thing we were done for the night.

Oh and Jake, he was a little camera shy this year. I snagged this one of him helping his siblings out of the barrel cars.


ride'send
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He had a very good time and won a stuffed cow. We came up with a little song for it while waiting on his siblings in the midway. It goes something like this: "Moo, moo, moo, you got a cow. Oh wow you got a cow." ad infinitum.

All ready they are clamoring to go back to the fair, but they just have to wait until next year when it returns.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity*

This weekend is a race weekend at RIR. As a result for the past week and a half everywhere you go in the Richmond metro area you see NASCAR show cars. Last Friday we bumped into Kyle Busch’s car during our daily pilgrimage to Lowe’s


racecar
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
With all of the other cars we have seen to date it has been a strictly hands off affair. This time, however, we were free to drape ourselves over the hood and lean inside to get a good look. We also scored some stickers and small posters of Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

And why have we been going to Lowe’s on a daily basis? Why to buy stuff to make the shed. We needed to use concrete piers to level out the base for the shed.


shed2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
You can actually see the piers from this angle. They weigh a ton and I only bought a few at a time, hence the daily pilgrimage. You can also see that we have attached the flooring to the frame we made last weekend, but I digress.

Today while out and about with Max and Rebecca we found Elliot Sadler’s car. He is the kids’ favorite driver. They may be influenced by the fact that he drives the M&M car. Anyhoo, we got to see the car and got an amusing poster featuring the car and the M&M spokescandies, red and yellow. They also had a trailer with a bunch of race simulators. I had fun controlling the gas and brakes while Max and Rebecca steered. This resulted in a fair amount of slamming into the walls and running across the infield. Suggestions on how to steer were not welcomed. Then we were told that if we bought four of the promoted Kellogg/Cheez-its products we would get a radio controlled racecar. Well, you can never have too many Cheez-its in the house and they did give us some coupons, so we ended up with a nifty remote control car too. All in all it was a good day.

*For y'all not up on your Nascar trivia.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Back to School

Yesterday was Jake and Nate’s first day back at school. Nate is in first grade and Jake is in fourth.

We had done our back to school shopping weeks ago, which had turned out to be a good thing. Last Friday the school had its new student and kindergarten orientation. I try to swing by the school that day to drop off school supplies and have the kids see their new classrooms and meet their teachers. When we were visiting Nate’s teacher she mentioned that there had been a typo on the first grade supplies list. He needed 12 glue sticks, not two. A heck of a lot of glue for one person, but I remember how enthusiastic kids can be with glue.

On Sunday I stopped by the supermarket and got eight glue sticks. I needed two more, but that was it. So then I went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few other things and get the remaining two glue sticks. When I got to the back to school aisle banks of empty shelves stretched before me, there was still plenty of crayons, backpacks and notebooks, but no glue. I even peeked in office supplies, but no luck. A few families wandered in the aisles vainly trying to fill their lists. The image of bleached bones with a few buzzards poking about sprang to mind. I checked out and went home glad that I was done. I could always get the glue later.

Tuesday dawned as a clear brisk day. It was quite a change from the previous week’s weather. We made the bus in plenty of time with Max loudly complaining about the lack of jacket. As we waited a girl and her father joined us. It turns out she is one of Jake’s classmates. We waited about 25 minutes until the bus finally arrived. The boys scrambled onto the bus and both gave me a cheery wave as the bus pulled away. I returned to a much quieter house. Max and Rebecca are noisy, but it is no where near the level that my two older children can produce.

At four o’clock I loaded Max and Rebecca into Nate’s wagon to meet the bus. During the first week of school the bus is always late. Max and Rebecca brought toys and I had a magazine to pass the time. At 4:40 I got to see this:


firstday
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

That is Jake coming off of the bus first. He was then followed by Nate who popped into the wagon for a ride home.


wagon
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

They both had a very good first day and they are eager to go back.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Down on the Farm Museum

Last Thursday I took the kids to Crump Park / Meadow Farm Museum. It is a large park with rolling fields, ponds, an awesome playground and a 19th-century living history farm museum. The museum part consists of a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, forge, stable, 1860’s Dr.’s office (we skipped that part), crop demonstration fields and farm animals. I had gone there the previous week with just Jake, Max and Rebecca while Nate was at composition camp. Nate was very envious of his siblings when they told him about the part so I promised to take the following week. It is a long drive from our house, but I could combine it with a few errands.

When we arrived we discovered that the sheep were loose on the grounds. You can see a portion of the flock grazing just behind the kids.


kids+sheep
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The sheep were fairly skittish and would not let us get close to them. Nate was intrigued by the sheep and kept darting after them. At one point the flock took shelter under the farmhouse’s porch. They didn’t stay underneath very long; Nate flushed them out when he went to look at their hiding place.


sheep
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

To give the sheep a break I herded my flock to the pigsty. When we looked into the pigsty one pig was fast asleep in their shelter and the other pig was sitting in a rather mucky puddle. When the puddle pig saw us it got up and waddled over to the fence and proceeded to rub his back on the fence post. Obviously it wanted us to scratch its back and the kids were happy to comply.


pig
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The pigpen is located next to a vegetable garden, a very practical idea. If you have any rotten veggies you can just toss them over the fence to the pigs.

Next we went to see the horses.

horse
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Jake, Max and Rebecca were a little confused when we saw the horses. The previous week there had been cattle in that particular pasture and the horses were elsewhere. On Thursday we never did find the cattle. But we still had fun admiring the horses.

We then visited with the chickens and stopped at the educational center /gift shop to get some old fashioned candy sticks. A little steep at fifteen cents a stick, but it’s a nice way to end our visit at the museum. We then went over to the playground to wrap up our trip.

The playground is quite large and has equipment appropriate for different ages. The part I like the most is the human powered tram. As one person turns the pipe the tram glides along its track with its passenger(s).


crump
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Jake and Nate took turns sending their siblings back and forth along the 15-20 foot track. It is well designed; one child can easily move three children on the tram. After forty-five minutes of running, jumping and climbing about we were all ready to go home.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Overheard

Today we went on a daytrip to visit friends and see puppies. During the ride up Jake and Nate (they sit in the back row of the van) spent the majority of the trip bickering. Mostly it was the usual complaints of touching and invasion of space. It brought to mind similar arguments I would have with my brother when we were young and going for a long car trip. I mentioned to Larry that I was thinking of separating Jake and Nate. I would move Jake to the middle row and put Max in the rear with Nate. The tricky part would be convincing Jake to go along with the idea. Jake does not tolerate change. Then Larry and I overheard this gem:

Jake: If I touch you and you don’t touch me I’ll stop touching you.

Nate: No! If I touch you and you don’t touch me I’ll stop touching you.

Larry and I just had to laugh. Basically neither child was going to stop touching the other.

Then the two of them spiraled into a very unpleasant and heated debate over who did what to whom. Larry leaned over to me and said maybe this would be a good time to mention the change of seating arrangements. I quickly agreed and asked Jake if he would be interested in exchanging spots with Max. Jake did not even hesitate to say yes. Max loved the idea and so did Nate. Rebecca wanted to move too, but she would not be part of the swap. I told her that she would get to stay and be close to Mommy and Daddy. She didn’t really understand, but she was mollified at the time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Relief

I haven’t much to add on the subject, other than that I send all that are affected my prayers. It is a truly horrific situation. As a parent I feel for all those families that have lost everything. As we all know many have lost not only their homes, but family members too. The charity that I’m promoting is United Jewish Communities (UJC).

Then as a pet lover I shudder to think of all the animals that were lost. The zoos and the aquarium survived Katrina intact, but sadly the staff at the Aquarium of the Americas was forced to evacuate due to the looting and violence in its surrounding area. This site by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association has updates on the status of AZA member institutions in the affected area. I recommend two charities for the animals. The first one is Noah’s Wish, a group dedicated to rescuing and sheltering animals in disasters. The second one is the AKC CAR Canine Support and Relief Fund. I currently have a beef with AKC, but they do have a good organization and they pledge that 100% of your donation will directly fund relief efforts.