Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas to all that celebrate.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Eighth Night

Picture 010

Friday was the last night of Chanukah, but we didn't get to Grandma's until very late, curse you rainy weather and holiday traffic. So Saturday Morning we lit the candles for the last time.

I hope you all had a happy Chanukah.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Seventh Night

We were eating dinner when it suddenly hit me that I forgot to take a picture of the menorah. I was just able to get this picture before the candles were completely gone.

Seventh Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Nate wanted to be in the picture, so here we have Nate's smiling face on the seventh night of Chanukah.

He is such a cutie.

Thursday Three: Recap!

Better late than never, it's the end of the year Thursday Three recap from the head honcho over at possum central.


It being Thursday and all, it's once more time to throw off the tarp from the Most Exciting Thing in the Whole World, the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

::golf clap::

As it is now toward the end of 20-Ought Six, and seeing as how I will be gone all next week, what say we have a big year-end wrap up/new year preview?

Take your keyboard in hand and answer the following questions (which were inspired by last week's host) by either leaving a comment below, or a link to your answer over at your blog. Remember, anyone is free to play along!

So now:

1) What sorts of things will you be doing this year to bring the year to a close? Any special traditions or such that signal the end of the old? Parties, football games, airing of grievances, Twister?

2) What are you most looking forward to in the new year?

3) And since we missed talking about such things at the end of last month, what things that came your way in 2006 were you most thankful for?

Okay, now--get to work and let's see what you come up with!

Since it's late and I still have a lot to do, I'll be brief.

1) Years ago (way before children) I used to do things for New Years. Once, while I was still in college, I hosted a party at my Mom's house that involved the Air Force Academy Hockey Team. It was fun, though a bit loud. I have a few memories that stick out: my mom repeatedly asking us to turn down the music, teasing a friend who was making out with one of the guys and the almost complete absence of mess afterwards. All I had to do was pick up a couple of party hats out the snow the next day. In fact my mom dressed down my brother a few days later for being such a pig. She told him that he and his best friend made more of a mess in one hour than the hockey team at the party. After college Larry and I alternated with staying in or going into Manhattan and hitting a few parties. This year we'll probably be home eating something decadent and drinking champagne.

2) I guess I'm looking forward to Max and Rebecca starting kindergarten. I'll be on my own five days a week from 8:45 to 3:00. Maybe I'll get a job or something.

3) I don't know, I guess it would be Max's continued good health and his improved behavior at the doctor's office. He used to scream blue murder every time we entered the CF clinic. Now he is much more cooperative. In fact one of the nurses on Wednesday commented how much better he is at the clinic. It looks like my being firm and consistent is paying off and that my little boy is growing up.

Now back to our irregularly scheduled Chanukah programing.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sixth Night

Tonight is the sixth night of Chanukah.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I decided that tonight we would light two menorahs. The one in back was a gift from my mother in law and I'm very fond of it. I think she gave it to us after my conversion ceremony. Anyway it has a nice clean (at least after I clean the wax off) modern look.

Happy Chanukah!

Artist of the Week: Winner’s Dog

Mr. John is this week’s artist.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

On Saturday I took him, along with Jake and Crunch to a dog show over in Virginia Beach. It was a beautiful day and our ring times, 11:15 am and 12:45 pm, were reasonable so we could leave home at around 8:15 am.

John was entered in open dogs, which is a breed class for adult male dogs that have not finished their championship (In the initial classes male and female dogs are shown separately). Jake, meanwhile, was entered in Junior Showmanship with Crunch.

I got to the show site in plenty of time but parking, was another thing entirely. After a mistaken turn back onto the highway and an initial misguided parking space we dragged our tack box, bag of stuff, two dogs and their crates to the building. Crunch was in the rolling crate with the other crate balanced on top. John, meanwhile, I was walking on his leash. He was due in the ring and needed to stretch his legs.

We almost got to the building when John spied two Chows walking toward us. He set off a fusillade barks at the approaching dogs. As he twirled about at the end of the leash I vainly tried to quiet him.

Then disaster struck.

He slipped out of his collar and ran, barking his fool head off at the chows.

I took off after him terrified that the he might get hurt (chows are a notoriously dog aggressive breed) or that he might run out onto the highway running along side the parking lot.

The woman with the other dog was useless and keep circling about while screaming at John. John, after he barked a bit more at the dogs, dashed to some bushes next to the highway and peed on them. At that point I reached him and he slunk back to me.

Such a nice relaxed way to enter a dog show venue.

After one more goof up (I picked up the wrong number) and a bit of groveling to the judge, John actually earned his first point! He defeated all the other class winners and became winner's dog. I was shocked to say the least.

So good job John, hopefully next time won't be so exciting.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fifth Night

Tonight was Rebecca's turn to light the menorah. She wasn't as self assured as Max and I ended up holding her wrist and guiding her hand.

After the candles were all lit and the blessings recited, there was a mad scramble by the older boys over who gets to "light" the felt dachshund hanging. So far it has been Rebecca's project and she was very upset that someone else would dare do it. I was barely able to mollify her when I reminded her that she got to light the real candles tonight.

To prevent future arguments I brought out our other fabric menorah.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We have had this for quite some time and it has held up very well. Normally I would bring it out the first night, but is was stuck in a bag in the dining room and I had forgotten that it was there. It had spent the past week and a half in Nate's classroom in preparation to "Cultures Around the World day". I had brought it home Friday, but I was in such a rush to leave the house that it sat in it's bag until tonight.

The hanging is rather detailed. The candles are fully three dimensional with the shammus being a touch longer and having a slightly larger diameter. The candles all fit neatly into the little fabric pockets that represent the candle holders. The flames are removable and stay in place courtesy the magic of Velcro. I bought it from the same place that I got the little fabric book featured on the second night.

What I like most about the fabric menorahs is that the children can be fully in charge and I don't have to worry about them getting hurt or burning the place down.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fourth Night

Tonight we lit the fourth candle of Chanukah.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was Max's turn to do the honor of lighting the candles after I lit the shammus. Jake was a little surprised that I would entrust his youngest brother with the task, but I knew Max was up to the job. In fact, he took his honor very seriously and did a great job.

The menorah itself I have written about in detail before and you can head over here to read more about it. I got it about 8 or 9 years ago from a catalogue. It was a bit pricey, but I've never regretted the purchase. Other than a few chips on it from when Jake and I have dropped it, it has held up very well over the years.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Third Night

Tonight was our temple’s Chanukah party.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We lit candles, sang songs, ate latkes and danced. Each table had it’s own menorah and since Jake got to light the candles at home tonight, Nate got to do the honor at the party.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think the best part of the evening was when we all said the blessings together. It was just a wonderful sound with all the voices blending together. Then it was time to party.

During one the songs (Sivivon Sov, Sov, Sov, Sov) the Rabbi requested that all the kids spin around when he sang sov, sov, sov. My four were happy to comply and proved to be very enthusiastic dreidels. Max even went for that added touch of authenticity by falling into a heap during the second song, I Have a Little Dreidel. It was an utterly charming performance that required no coaxing on my part.

For the rest of the evening Max and Rebecca would periodically get up and dance while the music was playing. Our table was conveniently located next to the band and there was ample floor space for their show. I am happy that my children are so comfortable at shul. Mind you, they do know have to behave and show proper respect, but I think it is important that our synagogue is such a familiar place.

I spent the evening eating far too many latkes and limiting my dancing to the Hora during Hava Nagila.

Happy Chanukah!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Second Night

Tonight is the second night of Chanukah.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yesterday’s menorah, or rather hanukkiah, was a made by one of my dachshund breeder friends. She is a very talented in making dachshund themed crafts and I appreciated that she asked me if it was appropriate. She is not Jewish and she wanted to be respectful of the holiday, but still have a little bit of fun.

Tonight’s is a part of a Chanukah soft book that I bought years ago.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Amazingly it still has all its parts: the little historical figure, 9 candles (the eight lights of Chanukah plus the shammus), the latkes, teddy bear and the dreidel.

It is a delightful little book that we bring out every year. Rebecca set up the candles just after we lit our menorah and said the blessings.

I didn’t notice it until later and I just had to share.

Happy Chanukah!

Friday, December 15, 2006

First Night

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Happy Chanukah!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday Three: Holidays

It’s that time of year again and Terry Claims he’s too busy to do the Thursday Three thing so the intrepid Jim Smith volunteered to host this week’s
it’s the pre holiday –Santa Possum is too busy to shop—
edition of the Thursday Three

comments update

They don't seem to be working if you want to play please go to Mr. Possum's post.

Well! What do ya do? I suggested the three was finished with finals and already headed home. Not good enough, so here goes with the best/worst edition of the three. You can answer the best or the worst or both—or not at all I guess.

Any way here it is:

1. Best/worst Christmas/holiday party you have attended?
2. Best/worst religious Christmas/holiday activity.
3. Best/worst gift--given or received?

Remember to either put you answers in the comments section or give us a link back to your site. Please play I don’t want to be the boy who threw the party and nobody came.

1) I haven’t been to very many Christmas/Holiday parties so I don’t have much to draw on. I guess the best was one of my husband’s co-worker’s parties. The party took place in her husband’s workplace (just downstairs from their home) and had a good mix of people and food. I haven’t been to too many clunkers, though there was one we avoided. The invitation alone was off-putting.

Now New Years Eve is a whole different ball game. I have had some very memorable evenings in Manhattan, one of which ended with my husband’s best friend being dragged away by Amy Stiller. I think that was the year we danced on the bar at the Gecko Bar.

2) I love lighting the menorah for Chanukah and that is about it for best. All the aspects of Christmas that my family did centered around the tree, giving presents, seeing family and eating food. Not a whole lot of religion going on.

As for worst, I can’t stand that all the Christmas decorations are up before Thanksgiving and the accompanying insipid music.

3) Nothing really stands out in the best/worst giving/receiving category. I have received many a fine gift and I think I haven’t given out too many lemons.

That’s it for me. I’m a bit giddy from the industrial strength cleaner I just used to scrub out the shower and all the hair product my hair stylist dumped on my head.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Artist of the Week: Turkey

This week’s artist is Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Fall is so much fun, especially when you can get your siblings to bury you in a pile of leaves.

Today’s artistic selection was a family project that Nate and I did just before Thanksgiving.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Nate brought home an outline of a turkey that we were to decorate. We were free to do whatever we wanted to do to the turkey once we cut it out. It is a standard second grade project in our school; I had done the same thing three years ago with Jake.

Nate determined what to put on each area and I assisted by spreading the glue. The only suggestion I made was that the tail feathers could use a little more color. Originally he wanted to only use the pretzels, but urged him to use the leaf sprinkles. I thought they would add some much needed color to the bird. I think he only agreed just to make me happy, but he did like the end result.

The bird came back home a few days ago, it was quickly photographed and then trashed. Normally I like keeping the various projects that the kids bring home, but not this time. The turkey is covered in food and will eventually attract vermin and be consumed. So I saved it and present it for y’all to enjoy.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Not much is happening around here. The big excitement is all happening on Friday, we’ve got the start of Chanukah, the second grade’s “Cultures around the world” and the Governor’s holiday party.

Chanukah needs no explanation, but the other two certainly do.

“Culture’s Around the World” or as I like to call it “Tour de Trailers” (the entire second grade is housed in six trailers) is an educational unit where each class room represents a country. On Friday the second graders get to tour each of the other classrooms and learn about each of the countries represented.

Nate’s teacher chose Israel and promptly tapped me to help out. So far I have dragged in an assortment of books, menorahs, candles and various miscellanies. The teacher was particularly excited by a pair of books I brought in. This past weekend I picked up a Hebrew copy of “Where the Wild Things Are” at our Hebrew School’s book fair. Together with our battered English copy it will showcase how different Hebrew is from English. On Friday I’ll stay in the trailer and help out with the presentation and crafts. The kids will be making a Star of David and a dreidel. Then we get to nosh on doughnuts and cookies. It should be a lot of fun.

Then I get to cap off my day by attending the Governor’s holiday party. A couple of weeks ago Larry got the following invite at work:

Governor Timothy M. Kaine and Ms. Anne Holton
cordially invite you and a guest
to a holiday reception
on Friday, December 15th, 2006
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
The Executive Mansion

Please reply by December 11th Festive attire

We get to party down with the governor!

This is one of the few perks of Larry’s job. The last time we got to go to the Governors mansion was 4 ½ years ago during James S. Gilmore III’s tenure, just after the completion of the mansion’s restoration. I look forward to seeing the interior again.

So until Friday, not much is happening.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I went to a holiday party today with Jake and Nate in tow. It was for my local dog club and it was held at a member’s home (B.). It is an annual event and is a nice social gathering for the club. B. called earlier in the week to confirm that I was coming and to find out what I was bringing, which of course was cake.

Two years ago she had hosted the party and it was a success. We had a very good turn out and the food was excellent. B. can be at times a bit difficult and a loose canon, but she is an amazing cook. I knew that the spread would be tasty and generous.

Today she did not disappoint. There was a lovely roast beef, spiral cut ham, real homemade mash potatoes and so on.

I am, however, very disappointed with my club.

Apart from me, B. and my two eldest only three other club members showed up. One called to say he was dealing with some sort of crisis, another flaked out and forgot (she was supposed to bring drinks, so we actually tracked her down.) and the rest never showed up.

I find that to be shockingly rude. If I say I’m coming I will show up. I might be a bit late, but I do my best and I bring what I promised. Heck, I’ve even brought snacks to a soccer game even when my child wasn’t playing due to illness. I honor my commitments.

There was one person who at first was going to attend, but later tendered his regrets. He had a funeral to attend and was unable to do both events. He had the courtesy to tell us in advance and I am deeply appreciative of his effort.

I realize it was a long drive to B.’s house, but it was a gorgeous day and the drive itself is quite scenic. I guess what it all comes down to is that I’m finding that manners are lacking within the club.

To end this rant on a positive note I’m very proud of how well behaved my two boys were at B.’s house. Jake even helped out with the dogs and participated in the conversation. At least I know I’m teaching my children proper manners.

Friday, December 08, 2006

So Uncivilized

After all the double posting and birthday excitement yesterday I’m going to finish the week off with a Star Wars Personality Quiz:

Your results:
You are Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi
Qui-Gon Jinn
Princess Leia
Mace Windu
Luke Skywalker
You are civilized, calm, and
have a good sense of humor,
even when those around you don't.
You can hold your own in a fight,
but prefer it when things
don't get too exciting.

(This list displays the top 10 results out of a possible 21 characters)

Click here to take the Star Wars Personality Quiz

Not too bad. What I particularly like about the quiz was the little line thrown in by the quiz creator after your results. To wit:

“May the force be with you. I hope you enjoyed this Star Wars Personality test. And I hope you got the results you desire. If you had Jar Jar, well, I hope you change.”


Hat tip to Chef Tony.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Three: Potpourri

Once again Terry is able to slap something together at the last second. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen after his last minute cry for help so y’all get a double helping of postings (Yes, this is my second post of the day!) from me. So now I turn you over to Terry and his big box of Thursday Three.
And we go to the big box of questions and...

...find that it is empty.


Never fear, gentle readers, the show must go on and all that stuff. It might just not be up to the usual high standard of quality you might be used to. Then again, it may exceed it by a wide margin.

IN ANY EVENT, all of you gather 'round and listen to these questions and then take a moment to answer them, either by leaving your answer in the comments below or a link to your online journal, or as the kids call it, a "blog." As is the usual case when I don't have any questions, today's offering will be a grab-bag selection of entirely unrelated questions. We call it Potpourri, because it gives a high-tone air to the place and makes it seem much more uppity than just "Pile of Junk."


1) Have you ever been removed from a public conveyance for breaking rules regarding passenger behavior, such as Miss Windybritches on the DC-Dallas flight?

2) What is the latest movie you've seen (theater, broadcast, or video) and how did you like it?

3) What is your favorite soft drink?

And since these are all so pitiful, we'll even throw in an extra question that you can use as a substitute or as a bonus question--

4) Who do you consider to be the worst United States President in your lifetime?

There now--take that box full of odds-and-ends and see what you can do with it!

Mmmm, potpourri or as I like to call it dried up stinky stuff.

Anyway, I’ll give it a go.

1) I have never been removed or even asked to leave a public conveyance, but I do have a funny story about air travel. Near the end of my last pregnancy we arranged for various family members to come down and help me out. I’m a very independent sort, but even I realized that being pregnant with twins was not to be taken lightly. Since Nate arrived on the scene very quickly we thought it would be best to have another adult around and I also liked the help with the day to day grind of caring for a five year old and an almost three year old. When my brother came to stay I was 7 ½ months along and I was HUGE. I looked more like 9 ½ months. On his last day I took him to the airport for his flight home. As I waddled up to the counter I could see I was creating a huge stir of activity behind the counter. When I finally reached it I smiled sweetly and said that I’m not flying today, I’m only here to drop off my brother. You could see all of the counter attendants relax. Airlines normally will not fly the hugely pregnant, only under extraordinary circumstances and I could tell they were gearing themselves up for a fight.

2) The last movie I’ve seen was Casino Royale and I thought it was wonderful. I loved the original Bond films, but the whole thing had become a bit tiresome. I’ve completely missed the last few films. Larry and I went to see it because there wasn’t much else in theaters and the reviews were quite good. About a quarter of the way in I remember turning to Larry and commenting on what an absolute jerk this particular Bond is in the movie. However, Craig plays a very compelling Bond as well. I was completely drawn into the film. It looks like the Bond franchise has new legs and this Bond is a little truer to the original in the book.

3) Northern Neck Ginger Ale. It has some snap to it as opposed to the watery versions offered by Scweppes and Canada Dry. I used to drink Coke, but when I stopped drinking caffeinated drinks when I was pregnant I never went back.

4)The worst president in my lifetime is a toss up between Nixon and Carter. Nixon was downright venal and Carter is an idiot.

And now I’m going to go and admire my brand new boots (June, in black kidskin suede).

Happy Birthday to Me

Since a few days ago I shared photos of my husband on his birthday, it’s only fair that I do the same.

I’ve gone from this little pixie in the chair (with my father and the wonderful poodle we inherited.)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

To this aficionado of the beach.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

You even get to see Larry there next to me. This was taken at Ocean Beach in New London, CT. It is the closest public beach to our college and, on that particular day, it was invaded by Canada Geese.

My big plans today are to deposit the children at their various schools, not do laundry and not do dishes. I might even take a nap or go shopping for some new dress boots.

Rebecca asked me what was going on today and this is what we said:

“It’s my birthday.”

“Yay!” At which point both arms went into the air and she danced a bit and than paused.

“Who’ll make the cake?” Because that’s what truly matters to her.

“Daddy will.”

“Daddy? Daddy doesn’t make cakes.” At which point she wandered off.

Ah, but Daddy does make cakes, his are of the ice cream variety.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Artist of the Week: Lawncare

This week’s artist is Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

And no, she didn’t rake the lawn or mow it (But hooray we got our tractor back today!), instead she illustrated it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is a picture she made for her Daddy on his birthday last Sunday. It has all sorts of wonderful details and I find more every time I look at it. Just yesterday I noticed that in front of the mower the grass is a long unruly mess. However behind it, the lawn is nicely manicured. I like the expression of intense concentration on the lawn guy’s face as he rides the tractor.

Then there are the bees. Larry was concerned about the lawn guy’s safety, but we were informed by the artist that “the bees won’t hurt you, unless you take their honey.” This is a fairly reasonable state of affairs.

On an entirely unrelated subject I have to give a shout out to Kinko’s and its customer support. Last night I was working on our annual calendar project. I got it all set up, ordered my multitude of copies and paid for it. Then I noticed the 15% off promotional that I had neglected to punch in.


I called up this morning and I was put on hold. But, it was a very pleasant sort of wait. I got to listen to Frank Sinatra and I was a little disappointed that I did not get to hear the end of “I’ve got you under my skin” when Meagan returned to the line. The news was good, I was told yes, I could still get a discount. I’ll get the refund after I pick up the order.

Woo hoo!

So props to Kinko’s for good hold music and customer support.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sometimes It’s a Minivan, Sometimes It’s a Pick-up

Last week I broke the lawn tractor. Well maybe I didn’t personally break it, I just happened to be the one using it when it went dead.

I had successfully backed it out the shed and up to the lawn. It was happily idling away when I engaged the mower blades, than with a mighty clunk it stop cold when I put it in gear. I tried restarting it, but nothing happened. I poked, prodded, called my husband out and even READ THE MANUEL. But still nothing worked.

Rats, I really wanted to take care of the lawn. The tractor has a fancy set of mulching blades that make all of the nasty leaves on the lawn disappear. The leaves are gone, the lawn is fed and I don’t have to rake.

So now we have a choice of paying the lawn mower repair place come get the mower or we bring it in ourselves. Since we are cheap frugal, we opted for bringing it in ourselves. I had to clear out the seats and the miscellaneous junk there in and helped Larry load the beast into the van. And here is the photographic proof that you can fit a lawn tractor into a minivan:

This is what it looks like after we stuffed it in.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

And here is another view showing the ramps we use to get the tractor in and out of the van.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It all fits in rather nicely.

It turns out the PTO switch had gone bad. This is a safety device that kills the engine if nobody is sitting in the seat. Hopefully we will be getting the tractor back soon.

I think we are one of the very few minivan owners out there that really use the full capabilities of their minivan.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cool Max

Max is a very cool little dude and has his very own sense of style. He is a huge fan of the web slinger and has numerous Spiderman themed shirts and pajamas.

He also has CF and that necessitates Max getting nebulized two to three times a day, once in the morning, the early afternoon and just before bed. He really is better off with three times a day, but when push comes to shove (i.e. a travel day when we go on vacation) I will drop a treatment.

As a reward for sitting through his endless treatments, Max gets to watch tv. During the spring and summer months the suns rays in the morning hours do not fall upon Max’s spot on the couch. Now, however, it is a bit of a problem. The tubing only reaches so far and it is hard to find a spot where he isn’t blinded by the morning sun. Then the other day I finally thought of his sunglasses.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He looks so cool and so very, very cute as he sits there with his sunglasses and nebulization kit strapped to his face. I just had to share this picture.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Larry!

Today is my wonderful husband’s birthday and this is the cake I made for him.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a flourless chocolate tort that I’ll post about later (Ha! I already have!). Today it’s all about Larry.

He went from this cute little fellow.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

To this handsome young man I fell in love with.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Happy birthday sweetie.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Boneless Short Ribs, What to Do?

A few weeks ago I picked up some boneless beef short ribs on special. I had no idea what to do with them, but at half off, I couldn’t resist. In the end I decided that my crock pot would be the way to go. I have several slow cooking cookbooks from my mother (who was also the source of my crock pot) and I decided to leaf through them and see what struck my fancy.

I found a likely candidate in my Better Homes and Gardens Crockery Cookbook (1994). The Beef and Vegetables in Red Wine Sauce sounded appealing and I had most of the ingredients on hand, well mostly, more on that later.
Beef and Vegetables in Red Wine Sauce

1 ½ pounds boneless beef bottom round steak, cut into 1-inch cubes*
1 tablespoon cooking oil (olive oil works just fine)
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 – inch pieces**
2 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch pieces***
1 cup quartered fresh mushrooms
½ cup sliced green onions****
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 14 ½-ounce can Italian-style stewed tomatoes*****
1 cup beef broth
½ cup dry red wine, white wine or beef broth (?) Use red.
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

1) Trim fat from meat; cut into 1-inch cubes. In a large skillet brown beef, half at a time, in hot oil. Drain off fat.

2) Transfer beef to a 3 ½- or 4-quart crockery cooker. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, and green onions. Sprinkle with tapioca.

3) Combine undrained tomatoes, beef broth, wine or broth, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Pour over vegetables and meat.

4) Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Discard bay leaf. Serve over hot cooked noodles. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

*Beef short ribs (duh!)
**peeled baby carrots cut into thirds
***I omitted the celery because: 1. My hubby can’t eat it and 2. I don’t like it cooked.
****Regular onions, because I didn’t have any green ones on hand.
*****1 28-ounce can of Italian style whole peeled tomatoes (again because that is what I had).

It was mighty tasty, even with all the modifications. In fact it was so good I made it again for Meryl’s birthday. And here it is, the next day on rice, because we ate all the noodles.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This one is definitely a keeper and is being added into regular rotation. Buying odd cuts of meat seems to be a good thing for me to do. It forces me to come up with new dishes.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Three: Gifts!

Today the Axis of Weevil is in a gift giving mood, Terry posts the following:

What probing inquisitories do we have for you today? Well, seeing as how we are now officially into the Unspecified-Holiday Shopping Season, our seasoned team of university-based question writers wants to know the following things about you and your gifting habits.

Remember that anyone is free to play along by leaving your answer in the comments below or by leaving a link to your very own festively-decorated blog!

So, here we go:

1. Are you good at letting others know what you might want or need?
2. Are you good at shopping for others?
3. How much of your shopping this year (purchasing or looking) is being done online?

Now then, put down your packages and get to work answering those!

Oooo! Presents!

1) My family is very straightforward, we just plain ask. Also my husband and I are big fans of the Amazon wish list, which reminds me, I need to update mine.

2) I do a decent job of shopping for others. I’m fortunate that we limit our gift giving to the kids, spouse, my mother, my brother and his wife. There is an advantage to coming from a small family and converting to Judaism. For everyone else (our mail carrier, bus driver, teachers, etc) I bake cookies.

3) My shopping is about 60% online. With four kids my shopping time in brick and mortar stores is limited and somewhat chaotic. I try to pick up a few things here and there when I see them. As a result I’m almost done with Chanukah. I now need to concentrate on what to get my hubby for his birthday on Sunday. Oh and I refuse to go to the malls this time of year. The crowds, the noise and the lack of parking are very off putting.

This is a very interesting time of year for my family. Since we are Jewish we do the whole Chanukah thing with the kids. However we love to go visit Nana, my mother, and Christmas is her holiday. She loves Christmas and there is no way that I would deny her the pleasure of spoiling her grand children. That and we get a nice taste of real winter when we are up in Vermont. So we do both. Fortunately Nana has always had a very secular version of Christmas and growing our family never went to services. It has always been about family, food, gifts and the tree.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Artist of the Week: Legos

This week’s artist is Max.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a glorious day today and Max and Rebecca are enjoying some outside time in the hammock. Rebecca has been begging for me to set up the wading pool, but that is not going to happen.

Anyway, Max was very excited to get his first real Legos on his birthday last month. We started off with the two kits built according to the detailed instructions, but since then he has taken off with his own creations.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is his very first podracer made with “big kid Legos.” It is very much like the ones his brothers make all the time. He is justifiably very proud of his own creation. He made it entirely on his own. So now I have another Lego pit in the making, just after I finally trained his brothers to pick up after themselves.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pansies and PE

When I first started taking Max and Rebecca to preschool all sorts of people wondered what I would do with myself with my new found freedom

Well the answer is planting pansies and helping with PE.

A call went out a few weeks ago a call went to the parents of fifth graders for volunteers to help the PE teacher with the bicycle safety program. The school, through a grant, had purchased 30 bikes and a huge box of bike helmets. For the next month the fifth graders would be learning about bike safety. The teacher needed one or two volunteers to help size helmets and wrangle the kids when they were outside. The time slot, from 10:45 to 11:30, neatly fit into my five year old free schedule and, as an added bonus, I was even available to help out on the day Jake’s class has PE. I immediately said I could help out and I would be available on both Tuesdays and Thursdays (most parents only helped on the days their kids have PE, I’m just nice and picked up an extra classroom).

Shortly afterwards Nate’s teacher made it very clear that she *really* likes parent volunteers and that we should feel free to stop by any time. With this in mind I stopped by after PE last week to see what I could do.

It turns out she has pansies. Lots and lots of pansies, that she had picked up for practically nothing and she needed help getting them in the ground.

So today, after I dropped off the dynamic duo, I spent the morning planting pansies, adjusting bike helmets and planting more pansies. It was a gorgeous day, temperatures in the upper 60’s with plenty of sunshine, all totaled I put in 92 plants and there was still a fair amount left.

PE went without a hitch, although there was a moment when my skills as a mother of three boys came into play. At the very end the kids were told to bring their bikes over to the storage shed. All but two boys rushed over. I watched the two stragglers circle about and then head over. As they crossed the blacktop I watched as they built up speed as they prepared to move from of stretch of blacktop to another. At that point my “mother of three boys” instincts kicked in. I pointed at the boys and shouted “No jumping!” as they reached the curb. They both hit the brakes and gave me sheepish grins as the slowly negotiated the bumpy terrain.

Ha! Thought they could put one over me while their teacher was busy with the rest of the class. Not a chance.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Reading in Bed

The other day, after I had tucked the dynamic duo into bed, I peeked in on the goings on in the brown eyed boys’ room. It was unusually quiet and I was curious as to why. This is what I saw.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Larry is stretched out on Nate’s bed reading with Nate tucked next to him. It was a very sweet moment.

Jake, however, was the one that got me to go downstairs and fetch our camera.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yes, he really is reading in that position and no, it is not posed. If you look closely you can see that the book is perfectly oriented for him to read. I have no idea why he is reading it upside down.

There is never a dull moment around here, even when it is quiet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

$700 Photographs

Last Friday, due to the kindness of Meryl, Larry and I got to have a real honest to goodness date night. It just so happened to coincide with a friend of mine’s art opening down in Richmond. She is member of artspace and is participating in the Annual Members’ Exhibit. Afterwards we would then catch a movie.

Meryl came by around 5:00pm and we dined on pasta with assorted turkey day leftovers. After dinner, thumpies and Rebecca’s pointed questions as to why we were still home we left for the opening.

My friend was very pleased to see us and we chatted for awhile and scoped out the show. She had three photographs on exhibit and though they are lovely, they are not the $700 photographs. Hers are a much more reasonably priced.

The $700 photographs are mine, or rather, were on some disposable cameras I had developed at Costco. And this is one of the $700 photographs.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It’s a rather fuzzy picture of a large possum enjoying our wading pool.

I stopped by Costco today to pick up our pictures, some books for the kids and a few snack items. Total number of items sold = 11, total price on the register $835.30.

The cashier, his assistant and I were all stunned into silence.

For a brief moment I thought maybe the previous customer(s) total(s) got lumped in with mine. A floor manager came over and she quickly sorted out that the cashier had somehow mis-keyed the price on one set of photographs. Instead of $8.79, it came out as $708.79. My only comment was that none of the photographs I was picking up were worth that much.

The overcharge was soon voided and I went on my merry way with my photographs that had been briefly valued at over $700.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Food, Glorious Food

Yesterday was nasty outside, but inside was lovely.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think this year’s turkey was the prettiest one I have ever roasted and was tasty to boot. Originally I was thinking of just getting a turkey breast, but I found a deal that was too good to pass up at my local supermarket. If I bought $40 worth of groceries (that is not a big deal for me) along with my turkey, the turkey would be only 25 cents per pound.

Hello turkey! So for less than $4 I got a beautiful 15, almost 16 pound bird.

The rest of the meal was equally good.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This was my first attempt at “party potatoes,” a long time favorite from my mother. I decided to go with them because I wanted to make mash potatoes with and without garlic. Meryl and the kids are not big fans of extra garlicky potatoes, but Larry and I had a hankering for them. And here is another shot with one on my plate with a nice bit of gravy on top.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After the main course the kids cleared out and the grownups got to partake in a very enjoyable “chocolate course,” courtesy of Meryl. If Meryl ever offers to pick up some chocolate for you do not refuse. She made some excellent choices and introduced us to a new to us candy, sponge.

Then we sat around and chatted until it was time for dessert.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Both were so good and were a wonderful close to such a good meal.

And the best part, I got to have apple tart and pumpkin pie for breakfast today.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Rebecca and the rest of us here at Life at Full Volume would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Today’s Menu

Turkey and gravy

Stuffing (with and without sausage)

Acorn Squash

Party Potatoes (With and Without Garlic)

Green Beans


Challah Rolls

For dessert (all homemade!) we have a choice of

Pumpkin Pie

Apple Tarte Tatin

Beverages are an assortment of beers, wine, cider and what have you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Artist of the Week: Evolution in Drawing

This week’s artist is Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a horrible, nasty, no good day outside and the kids are all watching Harry Potter, hence her expression.

Recently there has been a huge change in Rebecca’s pictures. There are consistently recognizable figures and landscape elements.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Every picture has a story. If you click on the above group photo of some of her more recent artwork it is linked to separate shots of each picture. I have added notes for each one.

It is a very exciting time in the development of her unique form of artistic expression. Then again she is a singularly unique individual.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Because All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

I've seen this over at Jordana's and The Llama Butcher's and I figured I’d give it a shot.

Which Wooster and Jeeves Character Are You?

You are AUNT DAHLIA!Your home is like a three-ring circus--but, by golly, you're the devil of a ringmaster! You've seen all types of houseguests, but you manage to extract some nectar from even the foulest of stinkweeds before they biff off. You know the two secrets to a man's heart: food and letting the poor bird BE!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Oh my. That really is not that far off. My life is a three ring circus and it is true about a man’s heart.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Once Again with the Cakes

I can officially say I’m all caked out. I have baked five cakes in the past month in addition to at least one batch of cookies, several batches of muffins, brownies a pumpkin pie and a bunch of cupcakes.

On Saturday Meryl came over to celebrate her birthday. The plan was for dinner and cake afterwards. She would show up sometime in the afternoon, visit for a bit and then enjoy dinner followed by Franken cake. Since my family was spending the day watching Jake play soccer in a local recreational tournament (Go Burning Llamas! Go!), I opted to go with something crock-pot friendly for dinner.

Originally I was going to bake the two cake layers on Friday, but my dishwasher decided to have issues that day, namely it wasn’t rinsing. I crawled inside, poked, prodded and even unscrewed the lower washer arm. Finding nothing obvious I put it back together and gave it one more try.

It worked!

Yay me!

However at that point I had only baked one layer and it was too late to make another.


It would have to wait until morning. Fortunately Jake’s first game wasn’t until noon and I could bake a cake and get dinner started at the same time.

It all worked out. Meryl showed up just as I started to fill it with orange custard and frost the whole thing with my favorite chocolate frosting. Due to her excellent timing the birthday girl got to like the frosting off the beaters. Yum!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I didn’t take any pictures before hand, but I think the above photo is better. You can actually see the difference between the two layers. The orange cake is on the bottom and the 1-2-3 cake layer is on top.

That is it for cakes for now. I think this is why I like ice cream cake for my birthday (December 7th if you want to know).

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Live in a Frat House

All I need to do is to teach the kids to go Chug! Chug! Chug!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max, as y’all know, has CF. Most people with CF need to consume 30 % to 50 % more calories than the average person because most people with CF suffer from pancreatic enzyme insufficiency. They need the buffer of extra calories since it is harder for them to digest their food and their bodies have to work harder to fight infections from the excess sticky mucus in the lungs. It is very strange thing to have a nutritionist tell you that your child should have more butter and salt in their diet. As a result Max gets to have ice cream three times a day. Mind you he eats plenty of healthy things, like fruits and vegetables, but he needs to pack in the calories.

Lately Max has been not really drinking his milk. It isn’t an all out refusal, but he isn’t drinking as much as he should. I have offered to add flavorings like strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, but it is to no avail. And no, he is not lactose intolerant; he is just being a normal five year old.

The other night I was at my wit’s end. I tried the routine “you need to drink your milk if you want to be big like Jake and Nate.”

“I don’t wanna be big!” was Max’s reply.

As I cast about for a new tack I noticed that I was almost done with my milk. I help it up and commented to Max that I had already drunk a fair amount. At that moment I realized that I had the same amount left in my glass as he did and then it hit me. Max is a fairly competitive little boy; maybe I could use that to my advantage.

“Hey Max, do you think you could drink your milk faster than me?”

Max was delighted with the idea and grabbed his glass.

I then had a chugging contest with my five year old son.

I held back a bit and made sure we finished at the same time. And finish he did.

The following night Nate, with a sparkle in his eye, challenged Max to a milk chugging contest. Again, it worked.

So now it looks like we are going to have nightly chugging contests at the dinner table.

This was not something I envisioned when I became a parent.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Three: This is What We Call the Muppet Show!

This week’s edition of the Thursday Three is all about the hand or possibly the sock. It is really up to you as Terry explains:

Myth! Myth!


Sorry, got Muppet fever for a moment there.

BUT WHAT BETTER WAY to lead into our “Sock-Puppetry Version” of the world-famous Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

Today we want to ask you three simple questions and expect highly detailed, well-though-out, laboriously researched answers in return. Or just any answers. As usual, anyone may play along--either leave your answers in the comment section below, or cutnpaste everything over to your own blog and leave a link.


1) Who is your most favorite puppet character (and no, it doesn’t have to be a Muppet), and why?
2) Did you have a favorite puppet that you owned as a child?
3) Do you ever engage in puppetry?

Now then, stuff your hand in a sock and start typing out those answers!!

Oh! I love The Muppet Show(warning, sound file). It was easily my favorite show when I was a kid and it is still funny today.

1)Picking a favorite is hard. I guess my overall favorite is the Cookie Monster. He does try to not eat all the cookies, but in the end his basic nature comes out and there is the wonderful moment of grand chaos as he inhales all the cookies. I love to belt out “C is for Cookie” whenever it comes on.

Then there is the Muppet Show and I have to admit that quite a few characters from it have a place in my heart. My favorite primary character is Gonzo, because he is so utterly bizarre. For secondary characters it is a toss up between Dr. Bunsen Honeydew with Beaker and The Swedish Chef(second link is a sound file). Which is ironic, because I used to work in a research lab and I love to cook.

2)I had a number of puppets when I was a child and my favorite was a huge Steiff rabbit. I have no idea what happened to it and I can’t find any pictures. *Maybe* I’ll find it when we next visit my Mom.

3)My brother and I used to put on all sorts of puppet shows. We had a little wooden puppet stage with a curtain. One time my brother was doing a bit with a puppet in each hand, he got so involved in the story that he forgot he was controlling one of the puppets. I remember watching the show with the top of his head just visible and he was staring at the motionless puppet. Suddenly it hit him that he was working the puppet and the show resumed. It was hilarious.

We have a few puppets kicking about the house; I think we have two bears, a sock puppet I made and the three little pigs in a little brick house. The older two boys were never very interested in puppets, but Max and Rebecca do put on the occasional show.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Artist of the Week: Recital

This week’s artist is Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This was from his birthday party, note the bare feet. It was a very warm day, but cold doesn’t deter this boy. He would be happy to be barefoot when it’s freezing outside, though he does concede that bare feet in the snow is not fun.

In addition to his final soccer game and his birthday party last weekend he also had a piano recital on Sunday afternoon. He performed his composition Laser Quest and was one of only three students (out of 25 students for this session) who performed their own musical compositions.

Here a shot of all the kids after the recital with their certificates.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was quite a range of ages, from an adorable almost four year old to a bunch of gangly teenagers.

Nate’s performance went very well.

He has performed this piece before. It was at the very informal composition camp recital and that was just after he wrote the piece.

The clacking noise during the glissandos mystified me until I realized it was the sound of the buttons on his jacket’s sleeves rattling against the keys. I’ll have to come up with some kind of solution for that noise.

We had a good time and, since Grandma and Grandpa were in town for Nate’s birthday, Nate’s grandparents got to attend one of his recitals.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Soccer Parties

Last night we had not one, but two end of season soccer parties. So we did the sensible thing, divvied up the kids and took Jake and Nate to their respective parties. Larry took Jake and Max and I got Nate and Rebecca. I also made a cake since Larry was Jake’s coach and had organized the shindig. Originally we were shooting for Jake’s team, The Blue Rays, to have its party on Wednesday, but the place the team had settled on was booked.

I made my basic 1-2-3 cake with chocolate frosting, a classic and dependable cake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The ray on top is actually patterned after a manta and not a blue ray. It just came down to my liking the shape of the Manta more than the slightly circular blue ray.

The cake was very popular and only the central core was left.

Meanwhile Rebecca was very disappointed that she was not going to the party with the cake, but she cheered up when she spied the cupcakes. There was that and her getting a whole plateful of cherry tomatoes for dinner. And I’m not kidding about the plateful.

Nate’s party was at CiCi's, a pizza buffet that has a small salad bar. As we were going through the line a second time to get Rebecca something for dinner (Nate had already grabbed a few slices and was happily parked at the table with his team) a young man was restocking the salad bar with tomatoes. Rebecca was delighted, because on our first pass there were no tomatoes. The young man noticed Rebecca and proceeded to load up a plate just for her. Rebecca was speechless when he handed the plate to her. I was too until he offered to put more on. I thanked him and politely declined. If I had been filling her plate it probably would have been a third of what she was given. The amazing thing was that she polished off the whole plate, a small slice of pizza and a cupcake.

She sure does love tomatoes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm a What?

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 41%
Lifer: 46%
Mandarin: 64%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

I know nothing about the articles this references, but it’s spot on its description of how I feel about sloppy and lazy thinking. And yes, I’m a bit of an idealist too, I do believe that individuals can make a difference.

I guess I should check the articles out.

Oh and I just found out Jake's team's name for the tournament this weekend. Get this, it's The Burning Llamas.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nate the Great Turns Eight

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Saturday was Nate’s eighth birthday and he had a very busy day. In the afternoon was his birthday party, but first off was his last soccer game of the season.

It was bright and sunny with the temps flirting with 80, an absolutely gorgeous day. This was such a contrast to last weekend when the temperatures were in the low 50’s. Nate’s team was victorious and finished the season undefeated, which was quite an achievement since most of the games were played without substitutes and occasionally the team was down one player. Then it was home again with a short side trip to Max’s team party for the males of the family and a dump run for the females (Rebecca loves going to the dump because they give out lollipops).

We all returned home at the same time along with the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa.

All we had to do for the party was blow up some balloons, plug in the bouncy tent, decorate the cake and set up the piñata tent. (The lower branches of the trees in our backyard are much too high up to hang a piñata, so we use a tent to hang it up, when y’all scroll down you’ll see what I mean.)

Nate wanted a baseball theme for his party. Admittedly he is just coming off of soccer season, but he is already anticipating the start of baseball next spring. So I made a baseball on his cake (my orange cake for those of you keeping track)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

and Larry got him a baseball shaped piñata.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here it is just after it got busted wide open. I love Jake’s look of amazement as the candy all spills out onto the ground. The nice thing about doing the piñata this way is that it is much easier to control the kids. Our big rule is only one person at a time is allowed under the tent. Thus we minimize the risk of somebody getting accidentally whacked.

And of course he wanted the bouncy tent.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was such a huge hit at Max and Rebecca’s birthday party that he had to have it too.*

The weather held and we were able to keep everyone outdoors for the bulk of the party. In fact it was so nice that Aunt Meryl showed up with her top down, her Jeep's top that is. The kids only came inside for cake and the opening of the presents. The rest of the time was spent running around, playing baseball and mucking around in the bouncy tent. None of the kids wanted to go home when their parents came by to pick them up.

And Nate thought it was great turning eight.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think we got this kid party thing down.

*Whoo Hoo! We have now broken even on the cost of the tent compared to what we would have spent on rentals! From now on it’s all gravy!