Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Midway

The Midway is hands down Nate’s favorite part of the County Fair. He did like holding the chick and the barrel ride was fun, but his biggest smiles were saved for the rides. On each and every ride a huge grin was plastered across his face.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The picture is a bit blurred, but you can see his smile.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max, who idolizes Nate, loved the rides too and you can see his grin as well.

Nate is also a very good brother. He rode with Rebecca on the Dragon Wagon. She was very unsure of the ride, but she really wanted to go on it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a simple little ride that goes round and round and up and down. I shot a short movie of them on board. Max, much to Nate’s surprise, was on board too. He was a very brave boy and went all by himself further back on the ride.

About halfway through you can hear Jake commenting on how Max looks scared, but seems to be having fun at the same time.

Jake, as opposed to his brothers, is not a big fan of the rides. He prefers the carnie games, but he did go on a few of the big slides. At that point it was getting a bit dark and I didn’t get any decent shots of them going down the slides.

And we already know what Rebecca’s favorite ride is.

All of our kids had a grand time and it looks like we will be able to go again on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Artist of the Week: Drawing

This week’s artist is Miss Rebecca

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

and here she is proudly holding her art work.

The title of the piece is “Old Chick.”

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is old because it is wearing glasses. Apparently wearing glasses makes you old. This may be due to the fact that I wear contacts and she knows that Grandpa and Nana wear glasses.

I like how it is such a cheerful looking creature. I at first thought the bumps on the sides were ears, but after I carefully asked Rebecca what are they and she smilingly said “Those are his wings. He is old and he is happy.”

I also like the confidence she has when she draws. All her pictures are square in the middle and fill up the whole page. She is not one of those shy types that make tiny little figures crammed into the corner.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

County Fair

So Sunday we gathered up the troops and went to the County Fair. It is something the kids look forward too all year long, so behooves us to go. Every time we go by the fair grounds Max and Rebecca announce that they want to go and every time they are sorely disappointed that it is not open. This happens fairly often, because I drive by it almost every time we stop by the school.

This year Larry was been organizing an outing at the fair with his co-workers and it turns out that everybody can go on Sept. 2nd, the last day of the fair. This could be a problem if the day turns out to be a wet one. During a light rain the fair is still tolerable, but during a torrential rainstorm I’m not willing to go. With Ernesto looming on the horizon, we went Sunday to make sure our crowd gets its annual fair fix.

We showed up around quarter to six and started off with grabbing some dinner. BBQ sandwiches for the grownups, pizza slices and hamburger for the kids. We get our BBQ from the Grange trailer. It is a local organization with friendly people and some very tasty BBQ. Then it was off to check out the old favorites.

Our first stop was the “Children’s tent.” The kids love riding around on the pedal cars and playing in the corn crib. Jake and Nate kept trying to organize races inside the tent. Here is a little movie of their efforts.

Max was a willing participant, but Rebecca was more interested in heading over to the petting zoo. We ducked over for a bit, but this year we weren’t allowed in with the animals. I don’t know if it was a liability issue or the fact that it was feeding time, but it was a bust as far as Rebecca was concerned. We like going in and petting all the animals. Long ago we learned that it was a nicer experience if you don’t have food. The animals don’t mob you; instead they just stand there with expressions of bored indifference.

Our next stop was the Barrel Train ride. A genuine farm tractor pulls a long line of barrel cars in a small loop in the fair grounds. It’s free ride for kids and is always very popular.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Max and Rebecca got to go around twice. Just as the tractor was pulling away Jake and Nate showed up and wanted to go as well, but it was too late and they had to wait.

This is a bit of what the ride is like.

After we pried them out of the barrels we headed on over to the agricultural tents. We admired the chickens in the 4H tent and we got to hold chicks in the neighboring tent.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Nate and Jake did a fine job; in fact Jake was complimented on how well he held the chick. Rebecca couldn’t quite get the hang of it and quickly got frustrated by the whole thing and decided she would just watch her brothers. Max did hold the chick for a moment, but the chick quickly squirmed out of his grasp and hopped out of his hands.

Next up is the midway. I’ll save that for tomorrow.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The End of Summer

School starts next week, so we are in the final days of summer vacation. The last gasp before the end of summer around here is the County Fair. We went yesterday and the kids all had a great time. I’ll post a bit more about it later, but I’ll share this great picture with y’all.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rebecca loves ponies and this was the one ride she had to go on. The boys were uninterested and Larry took them elsewhere. She is still a little too small to go all by herself, so I got to stand next to her during the ride.

She had a glorious time and she got to ride on the prettiest pony.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Year in Uruguay

I just added a blog, A Year in Uruguay, to my blog roll over there on the right.

I noticed the blog in my referer logs the other night. The url: grabbed my attention. I know someone with the same name; he is a very good friend of my husband from grad school. It had to be our Chuck, how many other Chuck Stulls could there be? When I clicked over I was happy to see our friend. He is a little bit older and greyer from when I saw him last (and so am I), but he is clearly the same guy.

He and his family are on sabbatical in Uruguay for the next year. So far he has posted some gorgeous photos.

The funny part was when I told Larry about Chuck’s site. Larry’s response was “Didn’t I tell you about that?”


What a small world it is.

Friday, August 25, 2006

September 11th Tribute

Yesterday I read that Skinnydan has signed up for the 2,996 Project: A Tribute to Victims of 9/11. It struck me too as the right thing to do in my little corner of the web.

The person I have been assigned is Robert Garvin McCarthy of Stony Point, NY. I was the 2,660 person to sign up for this worthwhile project.

I never knew him or any of his family members, but I have been to Stony Point, so it’s a start. Hopefully I’ll be able to do right by his memory.

So please join us on the fifth anniversary of that awful day.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Dog Blogging

I feel somewhat obligated to post about our dogs today since I did a massive cat post earlier in the week and I don’t even have a cat. Mind you I do like cats and I even had a couple growing up, but we don’t have any now. Both my husband I are allergic to them. For me it is somewhat mild. As long as I thoroughly wash after touching them and avoid prolonged exposure I’m okay, unless it’s kittens. For some reason kittens cause my eyes to water and my sinuses fill after about 20 minutes in a room with them. Longhair, shorthaired it doesn’t matter. With adult cats I’m good for one to two hours and after a week of adjustment I can even share a house with them as long as they are not in my bedroom and wash up after petting them. However we won’t be getting cats because our dogs (at least Crunch) view cats as the other white meat.

Any way I digress, this is to be about our dogs.

Normally when I photograph our dogs they are in normal doggy poses.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here is John by the backdoor, lying in a patch of sunlight, keeping an eye out for potential fun and treats.

I’m not one to dress our dogs in goofy outfits. Well except for once.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is Rally in her “Fairy Princess” costume. She won the grand prize at German Fest and was a huge hit with the crowd. I mostly did it because I knew I could. Rally just sits there with a long suffering patience and will tolerate all sorts of hats on her head. She is well trained and only knocks off the outfit after I give her the all clear. The red boys on the other hand are another story. John and Crunch promptly shake their heads when anything is placed on top.

Except last night.

As I was sitting at the computer John kept jumping up and placing his paws on my lap. I noticed my sunglasses and put them on him. For the briefest moment they stayed on. My camera was nearby and I was able to take a few shots before he left in disgust. This is what I got:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

John in a classic “Joe Cool” pose.

What a dog.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Artist of the Week: Clay

This week’s artist is Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After a great deal of protest I was able to get that picture of him with the little clay lizard he made in second grade. My eldest is a bit camera shy under the pretext that he does not have a “good camera face,” which to some extent is true. He does have the oddest expressions when he is asked to pose for a picture. Most of our better pictures of him are taken when he is caught off guard.

The lizard, of course, was fully cooperative.

In addition to the lizard Jake also made a little rose out of clay.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As you can probably tell, orange is Jake’s favorite color.

The lizard, as previously mentioned, was made in art class during second grade. As I remember the class was making southwestern/Native American themed creatures, hence the beads tied around the middle. The teacher was pleased with the entire class’s effort and the whole lot was on exhibit during the Countywide Art and Science Fair. When the lizard was brought home it was carefully wrapped in a paper towel.

The rose too was made in school, just last year in fourth grade. However, unlike the lizard, it had a rougher trip home. The leaf got knocked off and Jake was very upset. But with a bit of glue it is as good as new.

It’ll be interesting to see what he brings home during the next school year which starts for us in two weeks.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cat Sitting

Yesterday I learned that Gracie is a bit of an attention slut and Tig is a Momma’s boy.

Since Meryl is out of town I offered to check in on her cats. We figured one visit on Monday would be sufficient since she’ll be returning Wednesday. As Meryl handed me the key she mentioned that Gracie likes me and that I might see her. Mind you every other time I’ve come over she has flitted by like a little white and orange ghost. Usually I’ve had children in tow on those visits, but I really didn’t expect to see much of her.

Shows you what I know.

After struggling to open the door with the new key for a good five minutes, I found Gracie front and center, loudly meowing and practically throwing herself at my feet. I even felt the briefest kiss of her sandpaper tongue on the top of my foot (I might have spilt something tasty on my foot, who knows.)

Tig, on the other hand, glared at me as if to say “What are you doing here? And where’s Mom.”

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He then scooted away and hid behind the chair.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Gracie, meanwhile, perched herself on the “petting spot” begging for attention.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here she is rubbing against the post and pleading with me to pet her NOW.
She even vocalized for me and I was able to capture a little bit on film.


She is such a cutie. I even got out the brush for her. She was deliriously happy when I stroked her short, shiny coat with the brush. I then searched for Tig to brush him, but he really wasn’t interested. After a few strokes he again retreated to behind the chair. I didn’t push it. He looked a bit peeved and I was pretty sure he would give me a nasty swat if I pursued him any further. I’m not his Mom nor am I an acceptable substitute.

After I checked out the place -water bowls full, vast quantities of food still available (but I skipped the litter box. I’m a good friend, but not that good) - I left Meryl’s. I made sure I could see that both cats were inside, then struggled to lock the door (new keys are soooo much fun) and headed back home.

Mission completed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Perfect Max

Max is our lone blond. He spends his days with his dark haired and dark eyed siblings. Only his father has the same blue eyes. Our pediatrician refers to him as the white sheep of the family. Genetically he is recessive, from his coloring to his Cystic Fibrosis, in all but one way. The lone exception is his personality. He is as boisterous and as outgoing as all his siblings.

Lately we have noticed that he is attracted to fellow blondes. When the soccer coaches came over for dinner, he wanted Craig to sit next to him because “He has hair like me!” His favorite character in Buckaroo Banzai is Perfect Tommy. The hair color comes from a bottle, but he is blond none the less.

In fact Max is so taken with Perfect Tommy that he was excited when he was dressed just like him.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Of course this was from a four year olds perspective and it entailed Max having an unbuttoned shirt.

At the end of the movie the cast is the team march at the Sepulveda Dam in the San Fernando Valley. At one point there is a shot of Perfect Tommy with a bare chest under his jacket. So for Max to be dressed like Perfect Tommy you need to have an unbuttoned shirt (although in the movie it looks more like an unbuttoned jacket that is without a shirt underneath.)

I tried calling him Perfect Max, but he didn’t like that. He is “Just Max” and he only happens to be dressed like Perfect Tommy.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

When Music Television was Music Television

This weekend I’ve been trolling the music videos of YouTube and reliving the golden age of music videos and MTV, which for me was the 80’s and 90’s.

MTV was an amazing thing for me. I was a junior in high school when we moved in town and got cable. For the first time in my life we got more than 4 channels. In fact, my mom went hog wild at first and we had everything, Showtime, HBO, Cinemax, MTV and so on.

I had seen MTV briefly when visiting a friend of my mother’s in NYC. The first video I ever saw was (warning all the following links put you into a music video that will start up once you click) Phil Collin’s “You can’t Hurry Love.” I loved every moment. The radio stations where I grew up were somewhat limited in both selection and range, so generally I didn’t listen very often. Combine that and the fact that I’m a visual person who loves movies and you have a match made in heaven.

So I became a bit of an MTV junky during the remainder of my high school years and all throughout college. At that point in time (the 80’s) MTV really and truly was music television. Larry wasn’t nearly the fan I was. He preferred music without the visuals; sometimes they would detract from the song or would be completely different from what he envisioned. I, however, was happy as a clam to let all the images wash right over me. Larry does have a point, but I love watching movies and these were little bite-sized movies.

Anyway I was very excited to find that Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry are well represented on YouTube. I adore Roxy Music. Larry introduced me to them and I have been a big fan ever since. Their videos were always a treat, gorgeous visuals with beautiful songs. I think Bryan Ferry is one of the most underrated romantic singers. He just makes me melt. I found and old favorite this weekend, Slave to Love, and a little treasure that was unknown to me, Price of Love.

Larry and I even got to see Bryan Ferry during the Mamouna tour in 1994 in Milwaukee. I think it was the Pabst Theater, all I do remember was that it was a jewel of a venue done in the style of an opera house. Bryan Ferry was in fine form and you could tell that he was enjoying his surroundings. It was a fabulous evening with my husband.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Two Parties, a Trophy, a Cake and a Recital

Today was a very big day for Nate. This morning we headed down to the pool for a party for all of the tennis participants. There was pizza, t-shirts and trophies and I’m happy to report that the trophies are actually earned.

Nate was called up first and was presented with his trophy for winning the children’s division of the tennis tournament. Ben, the instructor had a nice thing to say about everybody and in Nate’s case it was somewhat funny.
“I remember when Nate’s Dad brought him down for his first lesson. He said “This is Nate; he has a lot of energy.” I nodded my head and thought nothing of it until I got to know Nate. He does have a lot of energy.”

It was said with a great deal of fondness. Nate does have boundless energy, but with that energy there is boundless enthusiasm. As a result, Nate is a lot of fun to teach and coach.

Nate then received his trophy and t-shirt and proceeded to bounce about for the rest of the party.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Once we all had our fill of pizza and splashing about in the pool (or more accurately, I had my fill) we headed back home. Then I whipped up one of my orange cakes as per Nate’s request. Jake was miffed that I was not making a cheesecake. He has been bugging me to make one for the past couple of weeks. I then told him it was Nate’s recital and since Nate was performing and not him, Nate got to pick. Jake stopped his whine and said “You’ve got a point” and that was it.

Once the cake was done it was time for an *early* dinner (we are talking 4:00 pm). We had to leave the house by 4:45 to pick up Larry and get to the 6:00 recital. This particular recital featured original compositions written by the kids at the composition camp that Nate attended this week. It’s a week long affair that is held by Nate’s piano teacher. He had a good time last year so we enrolled him again this year.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He did a nice job at the recital; the kid does not lack confidence, even when he can’t keep a hold of his music.

I like “Torpedo” from last year more than “Laser Quest,” but I think the song has potential. If he spent less time running his fingers along the entire length of the keys it would be a better song.

Then it was home again. I’m looking forward to next week; from this point on we have minimal commitments until the start of school in September.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quiz Time!

Not much going on around here. I’ve got carpenters fixing the front stoop and a window sill banging around outside and I feel like I’m ferrying everybody everywhere. Oh, that’s right I am ferrying everybody about, I’m the Mom.

So I’m doing the big blog cop-out, a quiz!

You're The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy!

by Douglas Adams

Considered by many to be one of the funniest people around, you are
quite an entertainer. You've also traveled to the far reaches of what you deem possible,
often confused and unsure of yourself. Life continues to jostle you around like a marble,
but it's shown you so much of the world that you don't care. Wacky adventures continue to
lie ahead. Your favorite number is 42.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I do like this book, but I would never categorize it great literature. I like that Douglas Adams fully admitted that none of the various versions out there (book, radio, play and a movie) jibe with each other. I think it was almost a point of pride for him; it certainly fit in with the loopy madness that encompasses the series.

Jake is currently reading the series and both he and Nate love the description of how to fly "throw yourself against the ground and miss." Jake was reading the book in the car and there was much hilarity when Jake told Nate.

So, anyway back to me. I guess this means that my motto should be “Don’t Panic.”

I like that.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Artist of the Week: Tennis

And The Tournament Champion, Children’s Division, Is...

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.


This summer Nate has been taking tennis lessons down at our subdivision’s courts. For a $100 he could have unlimited lessons and by gum we got our money’s worth. The alternative was $10 bucks a pop, but I knew we could make more than 10 and we did. The official lessons ended last week. This week is dedicated to the tournament and all sorts of fun games.

Nate is a game little guy and has yet to encounter a sport he did not like. Tennis was not an exception and he took to it right away.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I got this neat photo of him right after the tourney. His age bracket is in the red square. I wasn’t able to snap any of him in action because the fencing is lined with a fine green mesh and I don’t want to be actually on the courts (it’s a bit dangerous in there when all three courts are going). I had a feeling he would do well for two reasons. Firstly Nate is a very competitive little dude and secondly he got a bye in the first round.

I think he’ll be doing tennis again next year. He has fun and it burns off a little of his boundless energy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I just got back from my dog club meeting and I think I’m officially doomed.

Doomed I tell you, doomed.

Last March I was approached by club members to become the next club president. This is not the first time I have been approached. Two years ago I fended them off with the excuse of twin two year olds and threw them a bone by being vice president. I no longer could use the toddler excuse and I realized that odds are that no one else would take the job. I think I got tapped because I generally play well with others and I haven’t pissed off anybody... yet. So I agreed and on July 10 I was placed on the official nominating committee’s slate of officers.

Dog clubs, like many other hobby based clubs can become very contentious affairs. The clubs are filled with people very passionate about the subject and as a result tempers can and do flare. I think the fact that it is a hobby makes the turf wars even more intense. There have been various incidents between board members, club officers and club members for the past few years. Fortunately, for the most part, people have been able to get along or at least reach a sort of uneasy truce. But something has been in the air lately and the president has been steeling herself for this evening’s meeting.

Anyway, back to my impending doom.

Tonight the floor was opened for nominations from the club members. The president decided we would go through the slate a position at a time to create an orderly process. First up was president. At that point I looked out at the assembled club members, smiled and said “I won’t be offended if anybody else wants the job.” This created a titter of laughter and helped eased the tension.

Nobody else was nominated.

In fact the whole process went as smooth as silk. I guess the whole mess has blown over or the fact that I had my two oldest at the meeting put people on their best behavior (Larry had a soccer coach meeting and he got the wee ones. At least his meeting was geared towards coaches and kids, my crowd is less child tolerant.)

So I guess the job is mine, unless nobody votes for me.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Rounding Third

We motored up to DC to go to a ball game today. It was a long and hot day, but it was fun. It was Screech Bobblebelly day (click and then you will understand) and the post game Diamond Dash (kids 12 and under get to run the bases). I, of course, was unaware of this until we arrived at the park. Well actually I did know that the kids would be getting something, I just didn’t know what. We were there to watch baseball and specifically to see the Mets.

When we arrived we were given cards to turn in for the bobblebelly thingy. This was quite different from all the other swag we have gotten at games. Normally they just hand out the stuff as you go in. After we picked them up (We ended up with five. The guy counting out the cards gave us five, but he made it sound like we got four, it was very odd.) we understood why. They are huge, ceramic and in a box. It would have been impractical to try to hand them out at the gate. I’ll post a picture later It’s late and the kids all dragged them to bed.

Anyway, we got our seats, which were by third base, and discovered we were in the no shade zone. It wasn’t particularly hot today, but it felt far hotter in the confines of our section of the stadium. Next time we’ll try to be on first base side of the field. It wasn’t until the bottom of the ninth did we get any shade. Fortunately we came prepared with bottles of water and sunscreen.

It was a good game that really captured the interest of our three boys.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

You can see the concentration in Jake’s face as he watches the game while absent mindedly eats his ice cream cone.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Nate and Max were similarly fascinated by the game.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

While little Miss Rebecca was happy to be in her father’s lap. Though she did like cheering when the crowd reacted to a particularly good play.

As an interesting side note, I say about a third of the crowd we for the Mets and the remainder were for the Nats. As a result big plays for either team would get a good sized reaction from the crowd.

At the top of the ninth I escorted Max and Rebecca to the designated Diamond Dash meet point. Originally Nate was interested, but he changed his mind would he found out that he would miss the end of the game. At this point Max and Rebecca were eager to get out of the sun and go down on the field. The line for the Dash was huge and wound its way through the stadium. I ended up watching the end of the game on the in house TVs while my two played with a little girl that was just before us in the line. After a long wait the line began to move. We were given cards to fill out (for the photographer) which were collected just after we hit the field.

At this point my two got very excited and I had a hard time keeping them from passing the kids in front of us.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Then it was the big event, the kids entered the infield at first base and the parents were instructed to continue along the warning track and off the field by home plate. I lingered to take a few photos and watch my two run the bases.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here they are just rounding third base. Max passed by Screech on third, but Rebecca paused and shook its wing. They had a great time.

Larry and the boys missed seeing them on the field. It was at least 40 minutes after the game ended when we hit the field. So instead we meet them back at the car.

It was a good day.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Field Trip

Yesterday I took the kids to the 17th Street Farmers’ Market to pick up some yummy, super fresh tomatoes and afterwards met up with Larry for lunch. He got to pick the spot, since I’m not very familiar with what is around him and he has to get back to work. He decided we should shoot down Main Street to Careytown Burgers and Fries. It’s a neat little place that makes an excellent burger and has terrific onion rings. The rings are the real deal, batter dipped and deep fried to a lovely golden color and a satisfying crunch. I can’t stand onion rings that have been breaded and/or baked. Blech.

Lunch took a while, since we hit during the rush, but it was well worth the wait. The boys were well behaved, but Rebecca was another story. She was riding on the edge of a complete meltdown and nothing was right. She couldn’t decide on a drink until after we sat down on the patio outside.(You order at the counter and they bring it to you when it’s ready.) After a few minutes of sullen contemplation, with an occasional outburst, she decided that she wanted water. I went back in and got her water. Then we were treated to a squirmy disgruntled girl that would glare at you and say “Don’t look at me!” Larry, who was next to her, turned to me and asked if it was okay to look at me. With a big smile I said sure and we bumped foreheads. Once the food arrived Rebecca got over her snit and became a much pleasanter dinning companion.

We then whisked Larry back to work. When we were a block and half away I spied a parking space and pulled in. Larry, to put it mildly, was a bit surprised. I explained that I had been meaning to drop into the old Richmond City Hall with the kids.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a beautiful old Gothic Revival building that I have mentioned before. It is right next to Larry’s building and I have wanted to photograph the interior. Visitors are limited to the first floor, but that is enough to get an idea of what it is like. So click on the doors the Old city hall and take a peek inside.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The first time I entered the building I was stunned by the outrageous color scheme. I love the glass bricks on the floor of the central hall that are illuminated from below. Above is a skylight, but it was a gloomy sort of day so the interior was a bit dark.

I love all the details on the cornices and the columns. Even the elevators and the mailbox are special. This building is quite a contrast to the current City Hall, which is practically across the street. It is not the prettiest of buildings, but it does have an observation deck open to the public.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I’ll have to haul my crew up there before the summer is over.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What We Did for Summer Vacation, Grandma and Grandpa's

For the final third of our summer vacation we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

We drove down Friday after we tidied up Nana’s and finished doing laundry, it is nigh on impossible to travel about for a week and a half and NOT do laundry. After a late dinner we all went to bed. Jake and Nate stayed with Grandma and Grandpa and the rest of us stayed at a nearby hotel.

The condo is a bit cramped for all of us and Grandpa has been feeling a bit under the weather. Max and Rebecca were a bit miffed, but the quickly got over it when they realized they got to stay in a hotel. Oh Joy! A hotel room! Rally, of course, was unimpressed. She is a veteran of many hotel stays and is unfazed by such things as elevators. (Elevators must be truly bizarre to dogs. You take them into a small and often smelly room, there is a muted sensation of movement and when the doors open they are somewhere else.)

On Saturday we didn’t do much. Grandma and I took the hoard out shopping and then we stopped at Friendly’s for snack time. On Sunday Larry took Jake and Nate to a
Mets’ game down at Shea stadium and the rest of us went to the aquarium in Norwalk.

Originally the game was to be at around 1:00 pm, however the Mets had attracted ESPN’s notice and the game was rescheduled for 8:05 pm to accommodate the broadcast schedule. Ugh! He had chosen that game expressly because it was a day game. Now it would be starting later than a regular night game. Oh well, all three did have a very good time and Larry was in bed by 12:30 am.

The aquarium is the same one we went to last summer and over Hanukkah. Much to the delight of Max and Rebecca they still had the robotic dinosaur exhibit from last time. I was able to get a nice picture of Max at the touch tank (with Rebecca in the background.)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Again we showed up an hour and a half before closing and the place was fairly empty.

I also got these cool pictures of jellyfish.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I read somewhere that it is possible to photograph fish tanks if you place the lens directly against the tank.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It helps to minimize the glare from the flash and it seemed to work.

The high point of the trip, at least for Max, was the sea turtles. One of the turtles was in a particularly social mood and I was able to snag a couple of very good pictures with Max and Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In this case, as with the touch tank, I used the natural light function of the camera. That way I bypassed the whole glare problem with the flash.

If we lived any closer to my in-laws I think we would have to become members of the Maritime center. Max so loves the sea turtles.

Then we were up and out on the road by 10:00 am on Monday to go home. We had a lot of fun the past week and a half, but it is nice to be back home.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Artist of the Week: Deck

As I mentioned yesterday Larry and I spent our time at my mother’s house helping her out. Larry focused his energies on improving her internet connection while I dealt with a wobbly step.

There was a small wooden step that was from the rear door of the garage to the backyard. It was a wobbly affair that always tipped sharply if you placed your foot on the right hand side as you stepped down from the garage. It was dangerous, especially in the winter when the step was slick from ice and snow. For the past year she had wanted to have a small deck built off the rear door to eliminate the step. This would have the added bonus of covering up a gravelly portion that was left behind after she had a rear door blocked off and its accompanying staircase removed. Ideally the deck would stretch from the rear door to the beginning of the bricked area that was adjacent to the former steps. However, she couldn’t get any of the local builders/carpenters interested. I guess it was too small a job.

She I decided I would build her the deck. I measured the area and I was pleased to find that it was 8 feet by 4 feet. Perfect! I could get away with minimal cutting. I would use 4 x 4 timbers for the supports and 2 X 12’s for the deck top. I could get the local lumber yard to cut some of the 4 x 4’s in half and I would be all set.

I first put down a weed barrier and filled in the pits with gravel. Then I put the frame together on Tuesday using lag bolts and on Wednesday I finished it with deck screws for the 2 x 12’s.

It was very hot; low 90’s in fact, so I worked in short bursts. Originally I used five 8 foot lengths of the 12 x 2’s, but I opted for a 10 x 2 for the edge board. There was a bit too much overhang and the board was badly cracked. Larry went out and got a nice new board for me while I dragged the rejected board and step out to the front of the house. The beauty of the location of my Mom’s house is that you can stick all sorts of junk out front, put a sign saying “free” on top and it’ll all be gone in a couple of days, including the sign.

So here is the finished product:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I like that the left over concrete strip from the old stairs fits in nicely with the new deck. It looks like it was always meant to be that way.

She can sit outside and no longer worry about the tipsy step. Her dog is bit suspicious of the whole thing, but Willie will eventually come around. All of my Mom’s friends have been impressed and all say “It’s exactly what you wanted.”

I’m proud of my little project and I’m glad that I could make my Mom happy by making her the deck.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What We Did for Summer Vacation, Nana’s

What We Did for Summer Vacation, Nana’s

As y’all (that is the handful of people that read this mess that we didn’t actually go see) have probably figured out we were out of town last week. We had gone north to visit various family members.

First off we drove to Vermont to stay with my Mom, aka Nana. It’s a long drive that we broke up with an over night stay in New Jersey, much to the delight of the younger members of our group. I don’t know why, but Max and Rebecca are currently infatuated with the whole idea of staying in a hotel. Every time we drive by one Rebecca begs to stay the night there. Jake, Nate and Rally (yes we traveled with one of our dogs, she’s too old and fragile for extended kennel visits) on the other hand were relatively nonplussed by the experience.

Anyhoo, we were up bright and early the next day and finished off our long trek northwards.

My Mom’s house is a great vacation spot for us. She’s located next to a good sized park, there is more than enough room for us, behind the house is a nice sized fenced yard and (the best part) there are two kids next door that are roughly the same age as our crew. Unfortunately it was also hotter than heck and central air is a rarity in homes in VT. The temps soared into the 90’s during the day, but plunged down into the 70’s and 60’s at night. This however was an improvement over the swamp we left behind at home. It was even hotter in VA and it did not cool down at night. As a side note, I’d like to publicly thank Larry for having the intelligence to turn off our AC before we left. We got to miss out on the special joy of paying for cooling down the house during the hottest weather of the season. Yay us!

The kids got to goof around inside and out while Larry and I helped out my Mom.

The funniest part was the kid’s sleeping arrangements. Originally Max and Rebecca were to share the second bedroom on the second floor, just down the hall from where Larry and I would be staying. The boys would be sleeping in the basement, which my mother has set up as a kid zone. No breakables, a small combination TV and VCR and a ton of kid friendly movies that she has collected over the years. It’s a bit musty down there, but it was nice and cool. My mom lives on the first floor and rarely ventures to the other floors.

When we first arrived Max announced that he was not sleeping with Rebecca. Jake and Nate wanted to sleep in a real bed and not on the sleeping mats in the basement. Rebecca did not want to be alone.


We shuffled things a bit and got all four to sleep downstairs in the basement. Max and Rebecca are two young to be down there by themselves and I thought it was too hot and too crowded for them all to pile into the second floor spare bedroom.

The second night they pleaded we us to sleep upstairs and we relented. The boys all piled into the bed.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

While little Rebecca had her own little bed on the floor.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was hot and it was stuffy, but they were happy, sort of.

The next night it was too hot for Jake upstairs and after his siblings drifted off to sleep he moved down to the much cooler basement.

The following two nights the rest of the kids moved down to the basement. It might smell funny down there, but it was much more comfortable than all being crammed into a small bedroom.

The rest of our stay was spent with the kids playing in the backyard and the basement. There were a couple of visits from the two kids next door and one from their cousin Annie, who is a few years older, but she still loves to tear around in the backyard with the boys. Here is a grainy photo (it was fairly dark out when I took it and I was afraid to get too close because of all the water play) of Annie, the neighbor’s son and the top of the wading pool.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

They also got to splash around in the aforementioned wading pool and in the brook by the park. The older boys even got special daddy time. Nate got to play tennis with Larry down on the public courts in the park, while Jake got to go on a hike on Deer Leap Mountain.

It was a fun visit and soon it was time to pack our bags for our trip down to Grandma’s house.