Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Artist of the Week: Soccer

I admit it calling soccer an art form (at least on my children’s level) is pushing it, but this is my blog and I can do what I want.

That aside, Jake and his team did a bang up job during last weekend’s tournament.

With a lot of heart and some lovely moments of game play they advanced to their division finals. The championship game was tough. Their opponent had already beaten them once and the game was mid afternoon under brilliant blue skies and the temperature at 80+ degrees.

Jake, unfortunately, had all of his energy sucked out of him by the harsh sun during the last game (he is just like me, I melt under the hot summer sun) and was a bit lost. But he was a solid player for the previous three games.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In the end our guys lost. However they did get this very nifty medal in recognition of their effort.
It is just like the first place medal; the only difference is that second place got a red ribbon and first got a blue ribbon.

I am very proud of my boy and this trophy has some actual meaning to it, as opposed to all the participation stuff we have gotten before.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

14 Years and Still Going Strong

Today is our 14th anniversary. Last year we were able to duck out the weekend before. This year we won’t be able to go away until July. It’s a long story that involves a seemly permanently booked hotel and inconvenient soccer tournaments.

Since our “official” anniversary trip is so far off we have been rather low key about the whole thing. None the less, marrying Larry is still one of my better decisions.

He proposed to me 15 years ago by the side of the road, amongst the wild flowers in the teeny, tiny town of Vermont, WI.

I was oblivious when he picked me up from work that day. As he drove out of Madison I didn’t even notice we were going the opposite direction from home until we were out of the city limits of Madison. I was puzzled at first, but I was enjoying the ride. It was a beautiful spring day in Wisconsin.

After a while he pulled over so we could enjoy the view. As I admired the pretty wildflowers he snuck to the back of the car and pulled out a very special bouquet out of the trunk. He then came up to me, presented the flowers, a little ring box, and got down on one knee to ask me to marry him.

I was utterly surprised.

The biggest surprise was the ring.

I knew at some point he would ask, but I never expected to get a ring. He was a poor grad student, with very little spare change. The ring has a large marquise cut diamond with two smaller baguettes flanking it on a platinum band. My first thought was “Lord, what bank did he knock over to get this ring.”

Then I cried and said yes.

Larry then escorted me to the car and drove us to a little park nearby. He had me sit at a table and then returned to the now seemly magical car trunk. He pulled out a delicious fried chicken dinner and a bottle of champagne. It was a truly romantic proposal.

I then found out that the ring was his, then recently passed, Grandmother’s engagement ring. It is a very special ring because his grandparents loved each other to the very end. Larry’s mother had inherited it and she in turn gave it to him. It is a beautiful ring with an even more beautiful past.

I still love you Larry.

Again with the Soccer and Cake

I give my apologies to those intrepid few that looked here for new content Friday through Monday. It didn’t happen due to the combination of a sporadically functional modem, a soccer tournament and visiting family. But it’s all better now.

This weekend was Jake’s penultimate soccer tournament and the end of the season team picnic. As you remember, I was a baking up a storm last week. A normal (or at least sane) person would take a break from such culinary endeavors, but that’s not me. An e-mail went round the team parents organizing a picnic during the above mentioned soccer tournament, I of course volunteered to bake a cake. Then I found out it would be for 48-50 people.

Oh my!

Well I’ve done it before and it was a low pressure situation, so pulled out my book to see how much cake I needed to make. I ended up making a 12 inch base with a 9 inch topper, which was more than enough cake. Since my last cake with each team member listed was a big hit, I did the same thing for this one.

This is a picture of the topper:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Note this is the size of a regular cake.

And here is the final product with the team and the coach all posed behind it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We got a bunch of photos and I kept a careful eye on the whole proceedings. The boys got a bit rambunctious at the end of the photo shoot and just as the cooler got kicked I swooped in and grabbed the cake.

The cake was a huge hit with all the kids. They loved seeing their names on top. Each one wanted a piece of cake with part of his name on it. Meanwhile, I got a major ego boost from all the appreciative comments about the cake in both appearance and taste. The best was when Larry told me that he heard one mom mutter, as she noshed on her piece, “This cake rocks.”

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thursday Three: Always Remember

This week the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three is in a slightly more serious vein.

In a break from the usual frivolity of our Thursday Three offerings, Miss Diane suggested that we ask some questions this week in honor of the upcoming Memorial Day.
1. Have you or any of your immediate family members ever served in the armed forces, and if so, what branch(es)?
2. Were you or you family member ever on active duty during wartime?
3. If your family member died in service, how do you honor them on Memorial Day (or throughout the year)?
As always, we welcome anyone who wishes to participate--leave your comments below, or a link to your blog with your answers.

And to those families whose loved ones have given their lives in service to this country throughout its history, a very profoundly felt thank-you for their sacrifice.
They will not be forgotten.

1)My father and my step father-in-law both served in the Navy and I have various Uncles that were in the Coast Guard. The closest I personally have come to being in the armed forces was campus security in college. I got paid to do homework in the parking lot and shot the breeze with campus security when I was in the gate house.

2)My father, SFIL and aforementioned Uncles were on active duty during WWII. As I recall my Uncle Bill at one point was surveying glaciers in Greenland. Uncle Gus, in order to foil the censors, sent a small fish home in a letter to tell his family where he was. Meanwhile my Dad was on a mine sweeper in the Pacific. It is possibly the most boring and the most dangerous duty you can get. At one point he was in actual combat and had some teeth shot out of this mouth.

3)Fortunately none of the above relations died in service. However, I do try honor those that have died for our freedom. We fly the flag and thank any uniformed veterans we see when we are out and about (admittedly that is more fitting for Veterans Day, buy hey we try). Oh, I think I am eligible for DAR membership so I’m sure some ancestor of mine has died while in service.

I have posted this picture before, but it is a nice one of my Dad in his uniform.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Artist of the Week: Digging

Yesterday Terry made the following comment about my dog and his digging:
Well, surely the poor pup doesn't make holes as nasty as the moles do!

Does he?

Well, even if he does, he's still cuter.

Actually Terry, his holes are worse and in honor of you question John is this week’s artist.

This morning I photographed an example of mole work and of John’s so that we can compare and contrast. I was aided by a ruler and the always helpful Mr. Incredible.

First off, here is a mole tunnel and hole complex.

Mr. Incredible held the ruler while I snapped the picture. It’s a bit hard to see, but the ruler has been pushed in the tunnel until it hit the bottom, the depth was about an inch. This particular area of our lawn has a fair number of these ugly tunnels and the lawn is very lumpy and squishy.

Now we move onto John’s work.

I refer to these as “puppy pits.” Large chunks of grass are removed and a pit is scooped out. Mr. Incredible is on the edge of the pit while he supports the ruler. The hole is about 3 ½ inches deep and about a 1foot x 10 inches. As an added bonus clumps of earth and grass are strewn about in a three foot radius, thus complicating the refilling of the pit.

So moles make nasty holes, but dachshunds expand on them and make ankle twisting pits.

At least John is cute and cuddly.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

Last week I noticed John was rooting about in the backyard hunting moles.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is one of his favorite occupations and it results in shallow pits scattered about our lawn. This does not make Larry or me particularly happy, so I stepped outside to speak to John about his digging problem.*

When I reached John he looked up at me with an expression that almost said “Dang, she’s going to haul me inside again.” Then suddenly he whirled to his left, plunged his muzzle into the lawn, flipped out a mole and killed it.

Whoa! That was unexpected.

I was stunned, it happened in far less than a minute. As I gathered my wits I approached John to make sure the mole was dead. (I don’t like moles, but that doesn’t mean that they should suffer a long and protracted death.) But John wanted nothing to do with me and kept out of reach with his prized held firmly in his jaws. After a futile couple of minutes I backed off and watched John. When he was sure I wasn’t going to take his mole he dropped it and nosed it about. It was very clearly dead. But John wasn’t quite done with it. Every time I approached him he would snatch up the mole and dance away.

Finally, after lots of praise, I got him to allow me to pat his head and drop his mole. Previous experience has taught me that if our dogs don’t immediately eat their kill, they will just leave it out on the lawn, so I let him keep his prize and headed back indoors. John soon tired of his new toy and abandoned it and followed me in. Apparently moles are nearly as interesting once their squeaker gets busted. I was then able to sneak back out and toss the carcass deep into the woods.

I don’t like all the digging he does, but John is doing something about our mole population. Maybe the little beasties will now stop coming into our lawn.

*Larry was amused by my phrase; it made it sound like John should belong to Diggers Anonymous. “Hello, my name is John and I have a digging problem.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cystic Fibrosis

May is Cystic Fibrosis awareness month. If you scroll down there is an informative bit called Facts about CF. The part that caught my eye was this section and I quote:
In 1955, children with CF usually did not live long enough to attend elementary school. Today, according to the CF Foundation’s National Patient Registry, the median age of survival for people with CF is in the late 30s and more than 40 percent of the CF population is age 18 and older. Many people with CF are living into their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. In the last four years alone, more than five years have been added to the median survival age of CF patients.

That is one very scary piece of information.

I have written before that my youngest son, Max, has CF. He was diagnosed on March 18, 2003 after a very long and torturous process to find out why he wasn’t growing even though he ate three times as much food as his twin sister. Just before his final diagnosis it was down to either Celiac disease or the unthinkable, CF. I remembering desperately hoping that it would be Celiac. I would have to radically change my cooking and baking habits, but it would be relatively easy. It was not a death sentence.

I remember the phone call from our pediatrician and the sorrow in her voice. It was not good news. My bright, happy little boy had the unthinkable.

I cried for two days.

Then I dried my tears pulled my socks up. I had to do what was best for my son.

Three years ago Max was a scrawny little thing, just skin and bones. Today he is a sturdy, active little guy. He is a bit on the small size, but we are a family of late bloomers (in college I grew four inches during my freshman year). At his last CF clinic appointment he got a gold star.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He is doing very well.

We are very lucky with all of the therapies and drugs that are available now. Fifty years ago I honestly don’t think Max would have made to his fourth birthday. He was slowly starving to death. But he is living now and he, along with all his siblings, has a college fund and we fully intend for him to use it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More Baking Madness

Well that was an adventure in baking.

Last week Larry called home and asked if I could bake cookies for him to take to work. I responded sure and made 1 ½ batches Thursday night.

Saturday was Max and Rebecca’s last soccer game of the season (and possibly Rebecca’s last game ever. To say that she was less than enthusiastic about the game would be an understatement). Traditionally the team, with their families, celebrates by having some sort of party. We eat, pass out trophies and the kids all run around. Since Larry was the coach we picked out a local Italian joint and booked the banquet room.

That morning I got up thinking about the days activities, two soccer games (luckily at the same park), a party and a baseball game. Suddenly it hit me. We were organizing the party and that meant if we wanted a cake I had to do something NOW (because you can’t have a party without cake). Fortunately we have a well stocked pantry and I had just enough eggs to pull it off. I was able to bake it, cool it and halfway frost it before I had to take Jake to his game. Max and Rebecca’s game started at the same time as Jake’s, but they only needed to be there about 20 minutes before the game. Jake’s coach wants the team to warm up for 45 minutes before game time.

The plan was that I would take Jake to his game (about an hour long) and then halfway through I would collect Max, Rebecca and Nate once the dynamic duo’s game was over (approx. 30 mins), scoot home, finish up the cake and meet up Larry with Jake at the restaurant.

Of course it took seemly forever to herd my charges back to van, so I had very little time to finish up the cake. But I was pleased with the final product, my old tried and true 1-2-3 cake with chocolate filling:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I kept it simple by just going for a soccer ball with red edging. At the last minute I decided to add the kids’ names.

It was a big hit at the party. Over half of it was gone when it was time for us go.

For those of you keeping track we now have ½ a batch of chocolate chip cookies and half a cake in our house. So you would think I would be done baking, but noooooo. I had a dog club meeting on Sunday and it was a pot luck affair. Since I had a bunch of grossly over ripe bananas I decided to make chocolate chip banana muffins. It ended up being a double batch. Half would be for breakfast and the rest would go to my dog club.

The muffins were popular and only a few were left over, both at home and at the meeting.

So now we have 1/3 of a batch of cookies, a 1/3 of a cake and a bunch of muffins in the house. Oh and I almost forgot, I also make my usual loaf of Challah for Sabbath dinner on Friday, but that was pretty much finished up that night.

Anybody want to come over for dessert?

Friday, May 19, 2006

In Celebration of the Chocolate Chip

It turns out last Monday was Chocolate Chip Day. I can’t believe that I almost missed it. Yesterday I baked a batch and a half of chocolate chip cookies. Larry took two thirds to work today for a co-worker’s baby shower and the remainder was for us.

The big boys got two cookies for snack at school and, as per their request, an extra cookie for their teacher. Jake even went so far as to share his cookies with three of his classmates. It was completely their own idea and I very proud of their thoughtfulness and generosity.

Anyway, here is a little still life of how I like to eat my cookies.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

To me, nothing is better than a bit of vanilla ice cream on top of a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of cold milk. It is a nice treat at the end of a long day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Thursday Three: Harmonic Convergence

This week we have from Possumblog a musical Thursday Three. Terry has a few questions about our listening selections.
Kids today!

And parents!

Today's Harmonic Convergence Issue of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three is devoted to both of those species, and specifically to the certain likes or dislikes that they share.
This particular set of questions was inspired by one of Mr. Skinnydan’s (not his real name) answers to last week’s T-3 regarding sounds he remembered from childhood. His?
Music. My dad at the piano in the house, playing stuff I liked, stuff he liked. I remember especially a time when his likes and mine coincided far more than they do now.
Hmm--interesting. AND SO, this week we would like to know the following:

1) What sort of music did your parents listen to when you were young that you liked?
2) If you have kids, is there anything you listen to that THEY like? (If you don’t have kids, you are free to make up anything to go here.)
3) What was the first recorded music (of whatever medium--wax cylinder, 78 or 45 discs, vinyl LP, RTR, 8-track, cassette, CD, downloaded MP3) you ever bought with your own money?

As always, everyone is encouraged to play along by either leaving your comments below, or a link to your blog.

1) I honestly don’t remember much of my parents music, but there were a few things that stick out. I liked Herb Alpert and both my brother and I thought that this album cover was hilarious. Then there was an assortment of classical music with Holtz’s “The Planets” being a particular favorite.

2) They have little choice at this point. Their music is a subset of our music, at one point we had them completely addicted to The Beatles and David Bowie. When we drive around we listen to the motley collection of CDs in the car and the radio. The boys really like Smash Mouth, thanks to Shrek ; Clocks by Coldplay and “The Imperial March” from Star Wars.

3) My very first musical purchase was The Beatles “Red Album” in vinyl. I still actually have it, but we haven’t set up our turntable since our last move which was seven years ago. I still am a big Beatles fan and we have a fair number of their albums on CD now. I’m delighted that our children enjoy the Fab Four as well. Nowadays all our musical purchases are CDs. A much easier medium than the fragile LP, but I do miss the nice large format of the old vinyl album covers. I like a little bit of everything, from classical to punk, ska, grunge, electronica, what have you. I remember how shocked my brother in law was when I told him I like Nine Inch Nails. He thought it was much too dark and out of character for me. The only stuff I don’t like is the really hard core metal and gangster rap. Oh and the ilk of Kenny G. and other such bits o’fluff.

As a bit of a musical side note, I realized I was getting old when my local supermarket started playing music from my college days. On one hand I really enjoyed grooving to Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love,” but on the other hand I found it to be slightly disturbing to listen to as I was picking out veggies in the produce aisle.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Artist of the Week: Pointillism

This week’s artist is Jake. I was able to snag this photo of him just before we got to the bus stop.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

His artwork is a pointillist rendition of a sunflower that he made at school.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I really like this piece. The neat thing was it, along with many of his classmates’ efforts, was featured at the recent countywide Art and Science Fair. Not all of the children have a piece selected for the fair. With just over 56,000 students in the school district, it is just not possible. So you can imagine that we were very pleased that both boys had art featured this year (Nate’s hasn’t come home yet).

Jake is very proud of his effort. He told me that he also had a lot of fun creating this piece.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mommy's Little Extortionist

Max is starting to figure out money. He notices now that his older brothers get a weekly allowance that enables them to buy things.

Lately Max has been bemoaning his lack of funds. He understands that the boys have to do their jobs in order to earn their money. Max wants a job too.

Jake and Nate have fairly simple tasks to do. Jake has to empty the wastebaskets, take the trash to the garbage can in the garage and set out the dinner plates. Nate has pooper scooper detail in the backyard (this is not such a bad job, he gets to fling the doggy deposits into the woods), keeps the napkin holder filled and sets out the dinner napkins. On payday Dad checks with me to see if the jobs have been completed, if I think they have been slacking their allowance is docked.

Max has been eager for a job, so now he is in charge of the flatware. His task is to set out the forks, knives and spoons at each place setting. Right now it is a bit higgledy-piggledy where the utensils land, but each setting gets one of each and I’m just happy with his enthusiasm.

Yesterday I took Max and Rebecca out shopping to get each of them their very own piggy banks. Mind you, nothing too elaborate or fragile. We went to Wal-mart, I needed to pick up a few grocery items and I thought we could get the banks while we were there.


The only banks Wally world has are little clay pots with big corks and phrases such as “Spa Fund” and “Girls Night Out” emblazoned on their sides. Not exactly the thing for four year old children, although Rebecca was game.

Obviously Wal-mart is part of the consumer culture and is not so interested in the promotion of savings, unless it means by saving you money, you’ll come back to spend more.

In the end we settled on a black wallet with flames for Max and a neon yellow, zippered change purse for Rebecca. I’m tired of the piles of pennies and arguments over whose penny is whose. At least they have a place to stash their money.

Last night Max was very excited about his wallet and his job. He bounced about and was almost giddy with the idea of having his own money. I tucked him into bed with his wallet and retreated downstairs. After a few minutes Larry came downstairs and informed me that Max was out and had informed him that he would only go to bed if Larry paid him. Larry then told me that he called Max an extortionist and refused to pay him. I laughed, the image was so absurd. Larry went back upstairs to attend to the older boy’s bedtime routine.

At this point I decided to call Meryl. Less than 5 minutes went by when Larry returned. Max was adamant about being paid and Larry thought I should deal with him. I quickly got off the phone and headed upstairs. As I rounded the corner I announced that if Max was not in bed not only would I not pay him now, but his allowance would be reduced.

This got his attention and Max scooted back into bed. As I pulled his blankie over him I told Max that demanding money was very rude. We do not demand people to give us money.

Max’s eyes got very big and a sad expression settled on his face. He then said “I apologize. I won’t do that again.”

(He really does say “I apologize.” It’s is the funniest thing to hear a little four year old use such a big word.)

I kissed his forehead, told him he was a good boy and bade him good night once more.

When was back downstairs I called Meryl up and told her the story. She promptly cracked up and she too called him an extortionist.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Silly little guy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My Mother's Day

Yesterday I had a very nice Mother’s Day. I didn’t get to sleep in, but Larry did take the whole crew with him when he drove Jake and Nate to Hebrew school. Normally Max and Rebecca stay home with me, but this time I got to slob around in my pjs, read in bed, watch bad tv and putter about the house. It was very peaceful and relaxing, a very nice present and a nice change of pace. And the only cooking I did were the sausages in the morning. Larry offered to cook them, but I *like* cooking sausages.

Shortly before they all took off, the boys presented me with the traditional handmade cards. Jake made me one of his wonderful heart and snail cards and I found out in Nate’s card that he thinks I’m smart because I know 100 X 1000.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The flowers were picked yesterday by Max, Rebecca and Jake. They may be just clover, dandelions and a clematis, but I think they are beautiful.

Motherhood is a hard job. The hours are lousy and the pay is the pits, but I do love the perks.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

We here at Life at Full Volume would like to wish Nana, Grandma and all the other mothers out there a happy Mother’s Day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thrusday Three: Three Senses of our Past

Terry is getting all nostalgic and has a few questions about the sights, sounds and smells of our pasts.

A rose by any other name…

Would still probably not smell like a paper mill. Or something. I was trying to come up with a good introduction for today’s “Smells Like Home” Version of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, and, well, that’s about the best I could do.

ANYWAY, prompted by Monday’s reminiscence about the comforting smells of childhood, Jim Smith (an alias, I’m certain of it) suggested that this week’s T3 deal with not only the smells, but also with the sights and sounds that you remember from your youth.

SO, take a moment and open up your memory vault, then answer these three questions:

1. What smells do you most closely associate with your childhood home or hometown?
2. What landmark do you remember about your hometown that no longer exists?
3. What sounds do you recall distinctly from your childhood?

Take a moment to think about those and either leave a comment below, or a link to your blog.

1) I had a very rural childhood. We were one of the few houses on a dirt road in Litchfield County, CT. Our home was surrounded by woods and cow pastures. So the scents of my childhood have a country theme. The smell of new mown hay, the dusky warm scent of cattle, the earthy rot of the swamp across the road and the sharp tang of chlorine from our swimming pool bring me back. We also spent a week or so every summer visiting family on the shore in Massachusetts so I’ll add in the smell of sun screen and of mud at low tide.

2.) There used to be a wonderful life sized model of a horse in front of the local feed and hardware store. It was on wheels and it would be appropriately dressed for the weather and season. I think the horse is gone now, but the store is still there. My elementary (East Street Elementary) school is gone as well. I tried finding it a while ago, but it is no longer. The corn fields and pastures are slowing disappearing around our old homestead which saddens me greatly.

3) I remember the great crashing booms of thunder as the storms would pass over our house (as I mentioned before our house was on a magnetic ridge and all the storms would end up right over our house) and the long rolling rattles of thunder when we were down by the beach. The sounds of crickets, spring peepers, bull frogs and the buzz of grasshoppers are also figure in my childhood. The only sirens I remember were from the bomb drills in middle school. Instead of duck and cover we would troop across the road to the neighboring Kimberly-Clark plant to shelter within its bowels. It was always an odd experience as we sat in small groups in the starkly painted white interior.

And that was the sights, sounds and scents of my childhood.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Artist of the Week: Drawing

Since Diane thinks I missed a “golden opportunity” for Rebecca being Artist of the Week, I’ve decided to feature one of Rebecca’s more accessible creations.

A few days ago she presented me with the following picture:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In the artist’s words: “It’s a sleeping person with his doggy and his doggy has a toy.”

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As you can see she is very proud of her creation.

At one point I did have rescue it. Her brothers wanted her to draw another figure punching the sleeping person to “make it more exciting.” I said no thank you. It’s lovely just the way it is.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some Questions Shouldn't be Answered

My kitchen is fairly child friendly. One of the lower cupboards has two bins, one is for plastic bowls and the other is for plastic cups and (if they have them) their tops. Whenever one of the shorter members of the family gets a little parched they can get their own cup and fill it off of the spout on the outside of the fridge door. When they are hungry they can dig out the bowl of their choice and I can help them fill it. The plastic ware can also be taken outside during snack time or for use in the wading pool or the sandbox.

This morning Rebecca was digging around the cup bin in search of a particular cup, she had already found the top which had a nifty straw already in it. After some fruitless searching she asked me to help her in her quest. I was happy to oblige and went over to help. After an extensive search I came up empty. She was unperturbed and waved me off with a cheerful “that’s fine.”

A few minutes later, with a cup in hand, she came up to me and asked “How you make slime?”

I was a bit distracted and started off by saying “Oh, it has a bunch of stuff in it.” I then tried to remember what the ingredients actually are.

Suddenly, I paused and thought about the ramifications of this question. This was Rebecca, the girl who likes to make all sorts of disgusting messes. This was not just an academic question.

“No... Rebecca you will not be making slime.”

She then pouted for a bit and then flounced away. Thwarted for now in her quest to make something vile.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Buckaroo Banzai

This weekend I treated the kids to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

I love this movie and when I found it on Amazon for less than $10 I had to get it. I mentioned to Meryl that I was thinking about it and she encouraged me to buy it. It turns out she is a fan of it too. She even went so far to say that she would come over and watch it with me and the kids.

Last Saturday was chosen to be the big day. Once we were done with all of our sports obligations and a quick dump run, Meryl came on over. The kids were beside themselves with excitement when she arrived. It had been awhile and as a result they were bouncing off the walls. Literally, Max and Nate (and to a lesser extent Rebecca, she was mostly comic relief) were inspired to have an epic light saber battle. It resulted in much leaping about and jumping off and onto all sorts of things. After repeated warnings to tone it down or somebody will get hurt, one of them got bonked on the head and the light sabers were confiscated.

Since it was late afternoon we opted for an earlish dinner at Brock’s and then we would watch the movie. Once we were suitably stuffed we headed back home.

Meryl, myself and all four kids piled onto the sofa to watch.

It was just as silly as I remembered. There were quite a few scenes I had completely forgotten about, but I quickly remember how much I loved all the quips in the movie.

I think one of my favorites was when Lizardo/Whorfin was firing up his fellow aliens to go home:
“Where are we going?”
“Planet 10!”
“When are we going?”
“Real soon!”

I can’t believe I had forgotten that scene, two days later and I’m still smiling. It went over the kids’ heads, but they were kind enough to laugh along with me.

On the whole it was positively received. It wasn’t quite as immediate as “The Holy Grail,” but they did like it.

Now I have to get some Marx brothers. Duck Soup Anyone?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Fun with Chocolate Bunnies

I love Easter, or more accurately Easter candy. One of the best days of the year is the day after Easter when all the candy gets marked down. The good stuff goes fast and I have to show up for the first few days to get peeps for my children (they love peeps, I think they are okay at best). Me, I like the caramel and marshmallow filled eggs. Then I bide my time and watch the prices drop. When they hit 75% off I get my jelly bean fix for the year.

A while back I bumped this site that takes the abuse of Easter candy to a whole new level. The part that inspired me, however, was the forth comment. The “Bunny Foo-Foo” sounded so awful I had to try it. I told Meryl about and she agreed. So I started looking for hollow bunnies.

When I first started looking, they were only half off and still too expensive for our project. At 75% off I couldn’t find any and so I thought we were out of luck. Then my local drugstore slashed their prices down to 90% off. It was too good a deal to pass up, so I dug around in the bin to see if there was anything good left. Amongst the off brand chocolate and egg coloring kits I found one lone bunny buried at the bottom of the bin. For the vast sum of twenty cents it was mine.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I excitedly called Meryl and she was still game. I set aside the bunny for when we could get together.

We discussed it on and off for awhile. What exactly should we put in it? Then we hit upon the idea of ice cream floats. Yes! That would work very nicely with the chocolate. Or we could even make sundaes. It looked like ice cream is the key ingredient.

On Saturday Meryl came over with some luscious ice cream. Once the kids were tucked in bed we pulled out our ingredients.

The first order of business was the bunny.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

With a sharp knife, heated in hot water, I cut the bunny along its seam. I figured it was most likely to break and or leak around the seam and it would make for a better presentation. Meryl got some funny shots of me doing the deed. Hopefully she’ll send along a copy. I had loads of fun poking at the little chocolate beastie with my knife. The whole thing was completely absurd.

Sadly one half broke, but I was able to repair it. I first tried running hot water along the edges to slightly melt it and press the bits back together, but it didn’t work. Meryl kept making suggestions about using matches and such to melt it, but I thought that would be too much heat and it would burn the chocolate. Then I remembered that we have a whole mess of Magic Shell in the cupboard. I triumphantly brought it out and declared it as “magic bunny glue.” Of course this necessitated a side trip for the bisected bunny into the freezer to set up the repair. This tricky because my freezer is usually jammed packed and I had to squeeze in the plate.

Once the glued bunny was ready (or more accurately I got tired of waiting), it was fished out of the freezer and the two halves were filled with ice cream.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Doesn’t that look yummy?

Then we added the sodas of our choice. Meryl is a Coke kind of gal, while I prefer the slightly more unusual Boston cooler, which uses ginger ale.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Look how nicely the ice cream has foamed up.

Then we dug into our bunny treats.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The bunny was *much* improved with the addition the floats. This makes sense, since we were using some very good ice cream. We didn’t actually finish all of the chocolate, even I have limits to how much cheap chocolate I can eat, but we did have fun. And the magic shell did a fairly good job repairing the breaks. In fact it was so good that the bunny half got stuck to the plate.

Anyhow, this is a grown up version of what to do with a hollow chocolate bunny.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Almond Cake

In honor of Nate going back to school, his internet recital and the fact that it is Sabbath tonight I baked a cake today.

My family calls it an Almond cake, but the book my mother got it from calls it a “Plain Cake.”

The book is “The New England Butt’ry Shelf Cookbook Receipts for Very Special Occasions” by Mary Mason Campbell. I can’t find the book through Amazon or Powell’s, but I could find a few used copies through Abebooks (Abebooks is a very good source for rare and obscure books). It is a very charming book with illustrations by Tasha Tudor. I suspect the illustrations are what first attracted my mother’s eye. I remember when I was growing up how much we loved the Corgiville Fair.

The recipe itself is very straightforward, but the author made it very awkward by writing it out in a conversational format. It is so much easier when the ingredients are plainly laid out at the beginning and then followed by clear step by step instructions. So I redid the recipe and laid it out in the more traditional format for your enjoyment.

Plain/Almond Cake

3 eggs separated
¾ cup sugar with 2 tbl reserved
1/3 cup brandy or cognac
¼ tsp almond extract
¾ cup sifted cake flour
¾ cup finely ground blanched almonds
¼ lb melted and cooled butter
1/8 tsp salt

Beat the 3 egg yolks until light. Gradually add the sugar (minus the 2 tbl) and again beat until light. Add the brandy and almond extract. Then with a wooden spoon lightly beat into this mixture the flour. Then mix in the ground almonds. Once mixed, stir in lightly the melted butter.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Add the reserved sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff.

Now lightly fold the whites into the batter. Pour the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan*. Bake the cake at 350 for about 30 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and the top springs back when you lightly touch it.

Cool the cake for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out. Place it on a pretty plate and dust it with powdered sugar. Cut into thin slices, as the cake is very rich.

*This link is a neat little history on the origins of the bundt pan. I love how the pan was developed at the request of the members of the Minneapolis Center of the Hadassah Society.

And here is the finished product.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thursday Three: Something Simple

This week’s offering from Papa Possum is a little less arduous.

Something simple this week.

We’ve explored every possible topic known to humankind here on the Thursday Three, so sometimes it’s nice just to relax and ask some simple things.

So, here’s the AoW Model of Simplicity Version of the Thursday Three.

Please leave your answer in the comments below, or leave a link to your blog.

1. Who, beside your spouse, is your favorite person to go hang around with?
2. If you could only have one, would you pick a dog or a cat as a pet?
3. What part of your appearance would you most like to change?

Oh good, a nice simple slate of questions. This is a good thing as I’m helping Nate plough through four days worth of school work today. Admittedly it is only 1st grade, but there still is quite a bit of work for him to do.

Anyhoo, here are my answers:

1) Judging by our daily (sometimes more!) phone calls to each other, it’s Meryl. We are on the same page on a lot of things and we have a very similar sense of humor. Ironically, considering the exception in the question, I have my husband to thank for this friendship. When she announced on her blog her move to Richmond, he welcomed her to the area and our family ended up going over to her new place to say hello. Not much happened initially, but one day I impulsively invited her to come along with me to the farmers market and we have been chatting ever since.

2) Wombats! Er, I hope that *somebody* reads this mess and realizes that the answer is a dog. I do like cats, but the combination of allergies and dogs that think cats are “the other white meat” (really, they do think that way) cats are not going to be a part of our household.

3) My stomach is the part I would most like to change. After three pregnancies, the last being twins, my tummy is a wrinkly mess covered by a starburst pattern of stretch marks (Eek, TMI). I’m not asking for the impossibly flat abs of a teenager, just a smoother and more toned version of me. Otherwise I am pretty happy with what I’ve got.

Now I have to go supervise a certain seven year old in writing a story about space travel.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Artist of the Week: Mozart

It turns out that, contrary to what the walk-in clinic claimed, Nate has a rip roaring case of strep throat. After four days of antibiotics he was still feverish and feeling poorly, so I took him to his regular pediatrician’s office. They did a throat culture and low and behold it was faintly positive for strep. It was then decided a new and different course of antibiotics were needed. So for the fourth day in a row I got to stop by the pharmacy again. Ah! What an exciting life I lead.

Anyway, as I mentioned here Nate was very disappointed that he did not get to perform at the spring recital. As I was pondering who would get to be the AOTW I realized I had an opportunity to give Nate his recital.

Without further ado here is Nate performing Sonata in A, K. 331: Variation VI

He isn’t as nicely dressed as he would have been and he looks a bit peaked, but he did a nice job.

I guess I should make him a cake since he missed out on the official cake at the recital.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Goblet of Fire, Home Edition

This past week I finally got around to buying a copy of the Goblet of Fire.

The arrival of the movie in our home was greeted with delirious excitement. Jake and Nate had seen the movie in the theater with Grandma and Grandpa and the boys loved it. Max and Rebecca, however, had not seen it because it was deemed to be far too scary by not only by Larry and I but also by Aunt Meryl. Immediately, all four children started to pester me on when they would get to see it. My standard answer, sometime, didn’t cut the mustard and I had to promise that they would get to see it in the next two years (they picked the time line not me, but that I’m complaining.)

I set aside the movie and we all moved onto other things.

Then on Saturday night Nate got sick.

He was supposed to perform at a piano recital on Sunday, but with a temp of 101 that was out of the question.

Nate was crushed. It was to be a very special Mozart themed recital. Everybody would be performing a piece of Mozart, there would be a birthday cake with candles and then the students would receive their trophies. I even think that somebody was planning on showing up attired as Mozart. Nate had been practicing very hard and was looking forward to the recital.

So I decided we would watch the Goblet of Fire after I took Nate to the local walk-in clinic. It was sort of a consolation prize and a reward for good behavior after being poked, prodded and swabbed.

Once we returned with antibiotics in hand and a diagnoses of some sort of Upper respiratory infection (which I disagree with, I’m thinking the boy has Lyme disease. Lord knows he has had a ton of tick bites and our neighbor was diagnosed last year.) I settled the kids down to watch the movie and made some popcorn.

Throughout the movie I would call over Rebecca to cuddle her during the scary parts. Following my lead Jake would tell Max to move a bit closer to him and would drape his arm around his little brother to comfort him. During those moments I was very proud of my eldest son.

The movie was a big hit.

The next day, during lunch, Max told me that “Goblet of Fire is not scary on TV, but I would have been scared at the movies.”

Rebecca then turned to me with her big brown eyes opened wide and side “I was not scared of the movie at home, but at the movies I would scream and scream and scream and scream.”

And that is the magic of watching a movie at home. What would be unbearably terrifying for a four year old in a big and dark theater is far more manageable in the comfort of home in your mother’s lap.

That and the complete access to the bathroom.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pictures of Soccer and Ice Cream

Saturday I got to test out the new camera at two soccer games and during a post soccer treat.

So far I am very pleased with our new purchase. It is easy to use and takes lovely pictures.

The first game was Max and Rebecca’s. Larry hit upon a new strategy to inspire Rebecca. Since we were the “home” team we had to supply the game ball. Originally we were going to use Max’s ball but in a moment of true inspiration, Larry snagged Rebecca’s soccer ball instead.

You see Rebecca is *very* possessive of her soccer ball. She becomes incensed when someone else dare touches her ball during practice, which is hilarious, because she spends the rest of the time crabbing about going home.

Larry figured if her ball is in play she will actually chase the ball and try to get it away from the other team. This is the hard part of coaching little kids in soccer. The kids spend most of their life listening to their parents telling them to share and not take things away from other children. Then they get dumped on a soccer field and are expected to run around and steal the ball from the other team.

Anyway, Rebecca was a wee bit more inspired and actually got her foot on the ball.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max, on the other hand needs no encouragement.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Although it does look like we might need to talk to him about grabbing the opposing team.

Max was disappointed that he didn’t score any goals, but he did get the ball away from the team and move it up the field.

After the game we had snack and went home. (Max at this point announced that he “loves soccer because you get to have snack.”)

Once home, the wee ones changed out of their uniforms and we all had lunch. Then it was Jake and Nate’s turn. Since there was a conflict Larry took Nate to his baseball game and I got the rest. Jake suited up for his game and we set out to his field.

Jake’s game was quite good and for a change, Jake was a starter and on my side of the field. So for once I had a good opportunity to take pictures.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I’m pleased with how this one came out. Everything is nicely focused and with crisp colors.

In the end Jake’s team lost, but they did a good job and were very competitive. Jake was really paying attention and was having fun out on the field. This is more than I can say about my entourage. Max was all right. He got a bit bored on the sidelines, but he was able to entertain himself. Rebecca, meanwhile, spent most of the game complaining about how she wanted to go home. I finally got her to stop whining when I oh so casually mentioned that we *might* go out for a treat after the game, but only if they both settled down.

Jake was in an upbeat mood and was happy over the prospect of a post game treat. Since it was his game he got to pick where we would go. He decided that ice cream was the way to go.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I love how this came out. He actually agreed to my taking his picture and he didn’t have his cheesy, forced for the picture smile.

Max has no shame is all about the ice cream.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

And yes he did finish it all.

Rebecca had a baby cone and was so quick I never had a chance to take her picture.

Next Saturday it will be Nate’s turn for the camera.