Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weekly Tadpole Update: Moving Day

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Another week has passed and the tadpoles are thriving. They continue to grow and develop. In fact, their little leg buds from last week have blossomed into full blown legs, complete with little flippers and toes.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

With the advent of actual legs I have been increasingly concerned about the tadpoles and their living quarters. At some point their gill flaps grow over and they begin to use their lungs, if I don’t provide a spot for them to rest out of the water the little hoppers-to-be could drown. It is not exactly clear when this momentous event occurs, so I decided it was time to do something. It would be horrible if I waited too long and ended up with a tank full of dead tadpoles.

So Friday I hauled the old 20 gallon tank out of the attic, cleaned it up and readied it for tadpoles. I let the tank settle overnight and Saturday was deemed to be “moving day.” The tadpoles moved from this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
To this:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The new tank is huge, easily five times larger. I also picked up a “turtle dock” which is a floating platform that features a sloping ramp that extends down into the water. It is a perfect place for little tadpoles to rest and learn how to breathe.

I know our human houseguests would have enjoyed the show, but I didn’t want to have to supervise two extra kids. As is, it was a complicated process. Everybody wanted to scoop up tadpoles with the fish net. I decided that each child would get to scoops, starting with Max than Rebecca. It was tempting just to dump the contents of the small tank into the big tank, but I didn’t want to crush the tadpoles when the rocks went tumbling in. Instead each tadpole was carefully scooped up and then transferred to the new tank. Once they were in I rinsed the old rocks and slowly dropped them in the new tank.

The tadpoles have adjusted to their new home and are still endlessly fascinating to watch. A few have even been spotted on the boat ramp. I can’t wait to see them get their front legs.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Garbage - Only Happy When It Rains

Starting tomorrow we will have houseguests all next week. They are a very fun family. The husband is the older brother of my husband’s oldest friend and has been become a good friend in his own right. The wife is a delightfully practical sort and she and I have some many similarities it can be frightening. Their two daughters mesh well with our brood and neatly bracket Jake in age. They are coming down for a wedding on Cinco de Mayo in the Richmond area and are staying with us.

Of course this means I have to clean this mess we call home. The worst areas are the bathrooms and I’ll be tackling those shortly. A big house cleaning also means I’ll be making a big dump run. I could pay for a garbage service to cart away my garbage once a week, but I’d rather get a dump sticker and do it myself. I hate having to drag stuff down the end of the driveway each week by an appointed hour. For me it is easier to stuff it in the back of the van and haul it to the dump when I want. This gives me greater flexibility and I can unload all sorts of large and awkward objects that the curbside service would refuse. And as an added bonus that warms my frugal Yankee heart, it is much cheaper to do it myself.

However there is one catch, it almost always seems to rain when I go to the dump. It has become a running joke between me and Meryl. Whenever we get an unexpected rain shower she’ll call me up and ask if I’m going to the dump.

Today it is supposed to rain so of course I’m going to dump.

While poking about on YouTube this morning, I remembered a video from our Madison days that is all too appropriate.

A little bit of Garbage to brighten a rainy Friday.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday Three: Guilty Pleasures

Admit it; we all have a few things that we are reluctant to admit we have, much less treasure. Terry wants to know all about them in this week’s Thursday Three.

Oh, come on, now…

…the painting of Dogs Playing Poker that never fails to give you a chuckle, the stack of Slim Whitman LPs that you just can’t bear to part with, that pale turquoise polyester waffle-weave necktie with the square ends--YOU know you’ve got them.


This week, America’s Most Entertaining Blog Meme Thing, The Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, explores those nasty little secret proclivities that give us great pleasure in life, yet we still can’t quite admit it. The untoward, and awkward, and uncomely, and downright uncool things we all cling to, in spite of the snickers they evoke amongst the hip and trendy sorts who look down their noses (conveniently located beneath their high brows) at our favorite articles of unseemly pleasure.
O THEN, get out your keyboard--you know, the one with the WordPerfect 3.0 plastic template pasted over the keys so you can remember the shortcuts--and answer the following three questions.

1) Art! Name one (or more) pieces of highly unsophisticated artwork, literature, music, etc., that you have in your possession that you’re really sorta ashamed of, yet love too much to get rid off.

2) Science! What bit of embarrassingly faux high-tech machinery do you keep around your house simply out of some sort of geekly love affair you had with it in the past, even though there are better and more efficient alternatives around that you could replace it with?

3) Fashion! Okay, you know you’ve got something from a completely different fashion era that no one in good conscious would dare to wear today, except as some sort of postmodern mockingly ironic sort of way, yet it’s something you love and enjoy wearing, even though it causes small children and snotty po-mo pseudointellectuals (but I repeat myself) to laugh and point. So, what is it?

GO NOW AND ANSWER! Either leave a comment below, or a link to your very own “weblog” that are becoming so very popular amongst the youngsters these days!

Guilt pleasures, ahhh I love those bags of Halloween candy I have stashed in the closet just for me. However that is not the topic, instead I get to poke around my prized possessions (ie junk) and tell y’all about it.

1)Art was a bit tricky, we don’t have much in the way of embarrassing pieces of art work about the house. Well at least embarrassing to Larry and my self. In a few years the kids will be mortified by some of the stuff that they made and we treasure, but that is a parental prerogative. Then I remembered my albums. I have a big box of them out in the garage that we haven’t touched in years. After a few minutes of digging I realized that I have some pretty interesting stuff out there. Then I found it, my Haircut One Hundred album “Pelican West.” Here is a video of their big hit “Love Plus One.” It’s very odd, but lots of fun.

I love that album for all it poppy cheesy glory. At one point I dubbed a tape and it lived in my car’s stereo. It was hands down the best road trip album, all bouncy and happy. I’ll never give that album up, even if I pick up the cd.

2)Yay Science! We don’t have too many outmoded gagets around here. I generally use something until its irreparable, and then I replace it after I take it apart to check out the insides. One of the few exceptions is the old Gateway 486 we have up in the attic. I should toss it, but I view it as my spare parts machine. So far I have scrounged a bunch of itty bitty screws from it and the mouse. But really, I should just toss the whole thing.

3)I have never been a fashionista and the few things I would be embarrassed to have around now have long been tossed from the many, many moves we have made. I do have a good sized collection of t-shirts, but nothing really horrible. Maybe my ratty old jeans that I no longer wear in public would qualify, but they are not embarrassing in themselves, just the holes scattered about the seat and thighs. I’ve gotten to be pretty ruthless in purging my closet.

Most of my guilty pleasures are food oriented. I can make a good pasta sauce from scratch and I prefer my noodles al dente, but I love Chef Boyardee’s ravioli. It is far from authentic Italian and I just love it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Artist of the Week: Reflections, Updated

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This week's artist is Nate and this is an update of two previous posts about his Reflections entry. I first posted about it here on January 31st after we found out he won first in his school and in the county and again here after he won the district and brought home all sorts of swag from the school's reception.

Since then we have been waiting on the results from the competition on the state level.

A week or so ago I took a peek at the state of Virginia's PTA web site. After a bit of hunting about I found that the winners had been posted. Nate hadn't made the cut, but it had been an amazing ride.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Yesterday he brought home a certificate from the state level. Ironically it was his piano teacher that got to see it first. Tuesday is when Nate has his piano lesson and just as they were about to begin Nate remembered something went over to his backpack and pulled out a folder that had been sent home with him.

I had been told that we shouldn't expect anything from the state level if we didn't place, so this was a very pleasent surprise.

I think I need to get all his prizes framed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Swimsuit Season

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Yesterday we heralded the start of swimsuit season by breaking out the wading pool.

With a string of temperatures in the 80s I deemed it was time to haul out the wading pool. As usual it was a disgusting mess after overwintering upside down under the deck. Small people had filled it with muck along with the water and leaves that naturally filled the pockets on the underside. But with a little scrubbing with some lye soap and a good blasting from the hose, it was ready for action.

All four were delighted with the return of the wading pool. Now we only have to wait for the opening of our subdivision's pool at the end of May.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Weekly Tadpole Update

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
The tadpoles have survived a week under our care. If fact I would even venture to say they have thrived. They are plump and have almost doubled in size. Fish food, apparently, agrees with them.

They are turning out to be a fine, albeit, temporary addition to our household. According to the various websites dedicated to their care, it is better to frequently drop in small amounts of food throughout the day than one big wad all at once. This is great for the kids, because then everybody gets to feed them once a day. Of course all this eating means that they growing. I foresee in the near future they are going to outgrow their little tank. We’ll have to bring down the big tank up in the attic and set it up for the little hoppers to be. At some point the tadpoles lose their gills and will need a spot to rest and poke their heads out for a breath of air.

But for now the little tank suits them very well. I just want too know why does there seem to be a whole lot more tadpoles than what we started with a week ago. Oh and it’s a bear taking a decent picture of them.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Chowdery Goodness

turkey chowder
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
On Monday when dinner time rolled around I had nothing planned. I opened the fridge and hoped I would be struck with some sort of inspiration as I peered at the contents therein. All I knew was I did not want to make chicken, again.

Half a roasted turkey breast caught my eye. It was delicious and it needed to be used up. Now I just had to figure out what to do with it. I make turkey pasta with cream sauce, but I was not in mood for it and we didn’t have any zucchini on hand. So I turned to my friend Google. The phrase “cooked turkey recipes” gave me a few ideas and I settled on creamy turkey chowder over at cdkitchen. As always things got modified to suit my tastes and what we have on hand. Parenthetical remarks are my additions to the recipe; other modifications are denoted by asterix.

Creamy Turkey Chowder

1 cup celery, finely chopped* (1/2 cup of frozen peas)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon margarine**
2 cups turkey broth or chicken broth
2 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper***
1 dash cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked turkey cut into half-inch cubes
2 cups cold milk
1/4 cup cornstarch

In five-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté celery and onions in margarine 2 to 3 minutes until vegetables are tender crisp. Add broth, potatoes, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.

Once mixture is at a simmer, cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Stir in turkey. **** (add peas) In medium bowl gradually add milk to cornstarch. Stir mixture into soup.

Increase heat to medium and cook six to eight minutes until mixture thickens.

*I don’t like celery, my husband can’t eat it and we don’t have any. So no celery.
***I don’t have white pepper, regular black pepper worked just fine.
****At this point I added about half a cup of frozen peas. They add a nice bit of color and flavor plus hubby loves peas.

The end result was fantastic. The peas were a perfect addition. It is very easy to make and is even better the next day. Now we have turkey chowder to look forward to after thanksgiving.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday Three: Kid Stuff

This week Terry wants us to climb back into the way back machine and tell all about our childhoods.

Kid Stuff!

This week we again delve into the places of our childhood for the “Halcyon Days of Yore Edition” of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

Take a moment and journey back to your childhood and answer the following three questions (ably supplied by an actual college professor) by either leaving you answer in the comments below or a link to your blog.

Tell us about how it was when you were growing up—what was your--

1) Favorite restaurant.

2) Place to spend time, but not money.


3) Place to go that DID cost to get into.

There you are--scoot along now and don’t play in traffic!

But street hockey is only fun when you have traffic. Car!

1) There was one place we went to, Young’s I think, when we were living in Connecticut. It’s gone now and I don’t remember the food, but it was a very nice family friendly place. But I think our all time favorite is Woodman’s in Essex, Massachusetts. It is a funny place where you order your drinks at the bar and your food at the counter. When it’s ready the call you up and hand you a try brimming with food. Then you have to navigate to your table through the low, long dining room that has been added onto countless times over the years. The fried scallops are heavenly and so are the onion rings. It’s dining in the rough, so you have to bus your own table. They have great food at great prices and the freshest seafood around. The restaurant is right on the water and you get to see the fishing boats dock right out front.

2) I always loved to knock about in the woods and fields behind our various homes. In Connecticut my brother and I would chase the cows in the neighboring fields and poke about the old trash piles for interesting bottles. In Vermont we would play in the stream and make forts from young saplings we cut down and tried together with twine. I could spend hours doing stuff like that.

3) For places we spent money to go to, it would be the movies, the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science, Boston. We would usually try to go either the museum or the aquarium once a year. It was almost always on a wet day in the summer, nice days were for the beach.

I am a child of New England, Yankee born and bred.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hi Mom! Happy Birthday!

Today is my mother's birthday.

She's already been artist of the week, so I won't repeat myself and I've already told you all about her here and here.

When I called her up today to wish her well, I got to chat with my brother who just happened to be visiting from Colorado with his wife, a nice birthday present for our mother.

They spent a busy day clearing out the garage and enjoying the lemon squares I sent as a birthday treat.

Not the most exciting of birthdays, but she gets a clean garage in the end and that is a very good present.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
10 years ago, when we were just a family of three, my husband taught at Virginia Tech.

10 years ago I enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of the campus and the surrounding area.

10 years ago I took this picture of Jake on the edge of the duck pond that graces the central campus.

10 years ago we were Hokies.

Today we morn those lost yesterday and a part of our hearts goes out to all those touched by the horrors that marred such a lovely place.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unexpected Houseguests

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Saturday I came home late with Max from his t-ball game. As I rushed about throwing together dinner I found out that we have been invaded.

Sitting on the table was a little plastic vial; tightly capped, full of water and about a half dozen tadpoles.

It wasn’t a complete shock, Jake asked me if he could catch some the other day and I put him off with the standard “I need to talk to your father” speech.

I am not opposed to the idea, it is fascinating to watch the little guys develop legs, but I first needed to get organized. I would have to dig out our old 1 1/5 gallon fish tank, treat some water and let the tank settle for a day or two. Also I have no idea what to feed them once we installed them in their new temporary home.

So of course I got mad. I wasn’t ready for them and I hate having animals foisted upon me, especially when there in inadequate housing. A little vial with maybe half a cup of water does not make a good home for multiple tadpoles. Poor Jake got very upset and in the end we decided that we would get a better home for them in the morning. Nate then chimed in “what about mine?” It turns out even more were stashed outside in a dump truck.


Apparently they had badgered their father who is quite ill and just wanted to go back to bed. Larry liked the idea of their playing outside and that was what he had agreed to, not the acquisition of more pets. Anyway it’s water under the bridge and I got over it.

Sunday morning I dug out the tank, filled it with stream water and unceremoniously dumped all the tadpoles in. Not an ideal situation, but an improvement none the less.

There was much delight from the younger members of the family with our new pets. So far they are hanging in there. They like to burrow into the rocks and occasionally venture out into open tea colored water. As for feeding them, there are all sorts of helpful websites out there. One suggested boiled, then frozen lettuce leaves, but I’m going to use some left over fish flakes. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Opening Day

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Max is playing t-ball this spring and Saturday was opening day for our local Little League. It’s a big deal with all 65 teams assembled together, much speechifying and team pictures. Players are requested to arrive at 8:15 am and meet up with their teams. Then at 9:00 am they are to all march out to their assigned spots in the outfield and wait for:

The color guard from a local high school marched out (hats off).
The National anthem was sung (hats still off).
The color guard marched off (hats still off).
Many, many boring speeches by various board members (hats on, but at about halfway through some of the older kids started to whack at each other their hats).
Senator throws out the ceremonial first pitch (hats on).
Opening prayer (hats off).
More speeches (hats on).
Finally, the recitation of the Little League pledge (hats off).

Poor Max, along with his team mates, had no clue about the hats and the coaches kept taking them off and putting them on. All the while there was a cold drizzle that really made you want to wear your hat.

Next up on our agenda was the team and individual photos. We had to cool our heels for about 20 minutes until it was our turn. Meanwhile the cold drizzle changed over to a nasty cold rain. Fortunately we found shelter under a large tent that was a stones throw away from the photographers’ area. The kids goofed about in the dirt or huddled on their parents’ laps. Next door was a small tent selling snow cones and cotton candy, we all joked about what a great day it was for those particular treats.

When it was our turn for pictures we found out much to our dismay that the kids had to stand outside the tent and, of course, be without a coat. It was a challenge to get a halfway decent expression out of the kids as cold water dripped off the tents, down their backs with rain lashing them as well. The hardest photo was the team picture. The tallest third of the team were the lucky ones, they got to remain standing. The rest had to kneel or sit on the very wet grass. One boy refused and was almost in tears, he was cold, wet and did not want to kneel on the grass in the rain. As a compromise he was allowed to sort of bend down in a half squat. It was possibly the most wretched photo session I have ever been to, but the kids were mostly real troopers and were able to put on a brave face. Once it was over we were free to go. Our game wasn’t until 5:00 pm and it was questionable if there was even going to be one. All of us headed home and the coach promised to keep us posted.

An hour later the skies cleared and it was a beautiful day.

The fields dried up and the game was on.

It was a hoot watching the kids play ball. Max did a good job providing back up when he was in the outfield and stopped the ball several times. When he was in the infield it was a little harder for Max to stay focused, the loose dirt was so much more interesting, but he only missed one play. His at bats were the best part.

Max is the smallest member of his team and the coach had to smash the tee all the way down when Max stepped up to bat, otherwise the ball would be almost at his shoulders. Once everything was set he would knock off a decent hit. Then he would stand there admiring his handy work while all the parents would wildly cheer him on to run. The coach at home plate would take the bat away and push Max down the first baseline.

Max got tagged out after his first at bat, was left at first during the second, and was able to make it home the third time.

Max had a great time.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Spring Break Wrap-up

Because it is spring break this week, I have had all four kids home with me. Even Max and Rebecca’s preschool program shut down. So it has been a busy week.

Monday we didn’t do much, we mostly lazed around in our pajamas until lunchtime. I know I spent my day counting down the hours until we could eat bread again.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Tuesday was a bit more exciting. After a little tree vacuuming, Nate went to a friend’s house for a sleepover and the rest of us met up with Meryl to play a little mini-golf. A good time was had by all. The most amazing thing was that we all got a hole in one, even Max and Rebecca. At first they just wildly bashed the ball around, but as we moved along the course they both improved. At the very last hole they knocked the ball in with one shot. To celebrate our awesome achievements on the miniature links we went out for ice cream.

Wednesday was grey and damp, not at all good weather for tree vacuuming or anything else. The high point was a trip to Costco.

Thursday I had planned to take the crew to the National Zoo up in DC. But our late start in the day coupled with the very real possibility that the place would be the proverbial zoo since it was spring break, I bailed. Instead we went to our own local zoo. It too was mobbed and the whole parking lot was filled however, this did not stop me in the least. I have learned to always drive up to the front, I (almost) always end up snagging a space by the entrance and Thursday was not the exception.

Even with the crowds it was a good day at the zoo. We hit at feeding time and the animals were very active. The funniest moment was by the gibbons. Their enclosure is comprised of a climbing structure on an island in a small pond. Wild turtles abound and one good sized specimen hauled itself out of the water onto the island. A young gibbon spotted it and ambled on over to investigate this new addition to the island. The gibbon stroked the turtle’s shell and was clearly fascinated by the reptile. Meanwhile the turtle tired of the attention and turned towards the water. A larger gibbon suddenly appeared; it took one look at the turtle and then swatted it back into the pond. Unfortunately I had left my camera at home. It would have made a great short movie.

Today, Friday, has been another low key day. I haven’t planned anything. Tomorrow, if it doesn’t get rained out will be far busier. It’s opening day for Max’s t-ball league and we’ll be spending the bulk of the day at the park. I promise I’ll take pictures.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday Three: Guilt Trip

This week Terry is laying down a guilt trip on the Thursday Three.
FAR BE IT FROM ME... deny you all the intense joy presented by the unveiling of yet another Thursday diversion. I realize that I've not been very forthcoming in the past few days with entertainng matter for your reading pleasure, having instead to provide nutritious snacks (in the form of my furry haunches) to the variety of alligators that are firmly latched onto my buttocks.

BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME! It is about YOU and YOUR fun. So let me stop what I'm doing and do this. For you. Because I'm just here to serve you, like some kind of slave.

As you can guess, this is going to be the Guilt Trip Version of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

SO, take a moment, if you can, and you're not too busy to participate, after I went to all the trouble to stop my work and come up with these questions, and answer these three questions:

1) Who is the best person in your family at inducing guilt in others?

2) What is the last thing you did or didn't do that you later felt guilty about?

3) Is there anyone in your family who is immune to shame and guilt?

There now--all done--JUST FOR YOU! Leave your answers in the comments below, or a link to your blog. If it's not too much trouble. Because Lord knows it was no trouble at ALL for me to do this, just because I'm covered up with paperwork. NOOOOoooo, I do this for you because I know at least a couple of you enjoy it. Not that I ever get to enjoy anything anymore, but at least SOMEone can. [Following maudlin 4,564 word statement redacted for lack of space. Ed.] OH SURE, the EDitor can come in here and just cut me right off. Figures. Just go answer the questions.

Guilt, guilt, guilt. It is possibly the sneakiest form of coercion.

1) In my family it’s hard to say. Guilt doesn’t get you too far with hard core Yankees; it can often backfire into the recipient telling you to stuff it. I’m from plain spoken stock and it shows. We are much better at self inflicted guilt.

2) The last thing I felt guilty about is tough, I have a sort of free floating guilt about house keeping. I hate doing it and I come up with all sorts of ways to procrastinate (Hello Blog!). For a specific example it would be the big pile of junk in my bedroom. It came about when I empty the desk in our room so as to move it to Jake’s room. It’s not really a big deal, but it bugs me.

3) No one is completely immune to shame and guilt in my family. Rebecca has the most appalling table manners and has resisted all attempts to civilize her, but she shuts down when called out on other things. But guilt isn’t a major motivator in our family. We do things because it is the right thing to do, not because we feel guilty.

Anyhoo, I bushed and that’s that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Artist of the Week: Dragon

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This week's artist is Nate.

I love this picture of him reading to Rebecca. It is just a delightful moment of two siblings together.

Anyway, dragons have been an ongoing theme around here and Nate made a wonderful series of them a week or so ago.

This is one of his drawings. Not only does it have a dragon, but it also features a moose and a squirrel. (Hee ! Moose and Squirrel, I've got to find some episodes of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" for my kids.)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

But surprise, surprise, I digress.

Nate has developed his own style right down to the trees. His trees always tower above all in his pictures. I watched a short performance his Sunday school class put on last Hanukkah. He had opted not to perform, but instead helped make the backdrop. I easily picked out his trees. His dragon has its own personality as well. It is different from the ones I have made and is entirely his creation.

I love watching my children's art evolve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Or how I have found another reason to love our Shop-vac.

I hate tent caterpillars. They are horrible, no good creepy crawlies that defoliate plants and drive me mad. Part of my extreme reaction is due to the fact that I lived in a very rural part of Connecticut during a truly horrific infestation in the early 1970’s. You had to use an umbrella whenever you stepped outside. Every time we drove the car it had to be hosed off once we got back home.

It was horrible.

As a result I try to eliminate any tents within reach on our trees.

Around here they seem to favor our crabapple tree next to the house. I’ll find a few tents, lop off the branches, bag them and send them off to the dump. It’s no big deal and the infestation is minor.

But this year is a different story.

The little horrors set up shop in inaccessible locations or at the base of the main branches. It was simple impossible for me to do my usual routine. I have been watching with great dismay as they defoliate my favorite tree. I hoped the two nights in the low 20’s would have killed them off, but no. Like a bad horror movie they would spastically twitch in the weak morning sun and then be back to normal in a few hours. I contemplated blasting them with water before those cold nights, but I didn’t want to ruin my hoses or spread them about. Insecticide really isn’t an option since the dogs love to nose about under the tree and the children play there.

And then I got an idea.

I could vacuum them up with our Shop-vac.

Yes folks, I spent several hours today vacuuming my tree and it was fun.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was so satisfying sucking them up and their awful tents. In fact it was downright addictive. I so caught up in my tree vacuuming that I was late meeting Meryl. When I called her up she laughed at my explanation and then asked “You are going to blog it, right?” “I am so going to blog this” was my reply.

At one point the filtered clogged from a particularly large tent. With a little trepidation I opened the canister. I wasn’t sure what I would find. I was dreading the aftermath when I would have to rid the canister of its wriggly cargo. Instead I was delighted that they had all turned to goo.

Yes, I have hit upon a way to rid my tree of a pest in an ecologically sound manner. I just plug in my little shop-vac and “poof” they are gone. No nasty chemicals or smoke belching machines.

As an added bonus it even entertained the kids. They loved watching me vacuum the tree and in fact Jake even joined in the fun.

I bet none of their friends got to vacuum trees over spring break.

I can’t wait to do more tomorrow morning.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Passover Baking

Apple Cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Saturday I decided to take a crack at a little Passover baking. I like to make special things on the weekend and my normal, non-Passover, options such as pancakes and muffins were not possible. Well, I could use a Passover approved pancake mix, but after many years of trying to doctor those up I’ve given up. I endlessly futz around with the ingredients and they always end up like very flat and heavy biscuits.

So I turned to my copy of “Something Different for Passover” by Zell Schulman. Over the years it has been a very useful book for me and I have no idea where I picked it up. Anyway, after pouring through it I settled on Apple Squares.

2 cups less 2 tablespoons matzah cake meal
2 tablespoons potato starch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine
1 and ½ cup sugar (divided)
4 eggs
Juice and grated peel of one lemon
3 large cooking apples, peeled and cored
½ cup of white raisins*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375. Grease a nine inch square cake pan.** Sift cake meal, potato starch and salt then set aside. Cream butter and 1 cup of sugar together. Add eggs, lemon rind and juice. Beat for 1 minute. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix well. With wet hands, press half the dough into the pan. Slice the apples and evenly place on top of the dough. Sprinkle with raisins.* Combine the remaining ½ cup of sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg.*** Then sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the raisins and apples. Crumble remaining dough over fruit. Bake 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 30 minutes and cut into 12 squares.****

The cooling off period is critical; it allows the cake to set up. All sorts of lovely juices from the apples and sugar will spill out if the cake does not cool. Fortunately I realized this and did not try to remove it from the pan early.

*We skipped the raisins, I don’t like them and the kids won’t eat them.
**I used a round spring form pan. It made for a prettier cake.
***I also added a dash of ground ginger
****Since I used a round pan, I cut cake slices.

The cake was quite good considering it was made with matzah meal. It makes for a nice breakfast treat, snack or dessert. Max loves it in small slices and declared it delicious (there is nothing cuter than a 5 year old saying something is delicious). Jake liked it and Nate thought it was okay. Rebecca flat out refused to try it. She wants nothing to do with matzah and is actively avoiding it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Passover Peeps

For me Easter is all about the peeps.

Now there is a delightful Flickr photo set of the 10 plagues featuring Peeps.

Enjoy! Hat tip to Chef Tony.

Springtime Surprise

Saturday morning we got a little springtime surprise. The news had been going on and on about the possibility of snow Friday night, but I took it with a grain of salt. When I turned in that night it was to the drumming sound of rain drops on the skylights. I wasn't too concerned about my plans to go up to Fredericksburg for a dog show. It was all highway driving and a little foul weather won't stop me. My only concern was about how muddy the show rings would be, since it was an outdoor show.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Imagine my surprise would I woke up to the sound of excited children milling about. A veritable winter wonderland greeted my eyes.

I laughed and turned to my husband. "I get to show John outside in the snow!"

The rest of my morning was spent readying myself for the show. I dug out my winter dress boots and pulled on a pair of mud friendly black cords (when showing dachshunds there is a fair amount of your time is spent kneeling on the ground). I grabbed some breakfast, boosted John into his crate and I was on my way.

My first stop was my friends house on the west side of Richmond. She too has dachshunds and we like to car pool together. About halfway to her house my cell rang, it was my friend.

The show was canceled.
I was shocked. It was only a bit of snow, but the show committee decided that since they couldn't clear the rings it really wasn't the best conditions for the small breeds and any ancient owners.

So I sadly turned the car around and headed back home.

And this is what greeted my eyes when I turned down the driveway.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The kids had been very busy during the short time I had been away. Instead of a traditional snowman, they opted for an armchair. Yes, that's right. Jake, Nate and Rebecca made an armchair out of snow. As you can see it is just the right size for them to sit in.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I included another picture of just the chair so you can appreciate their efforts.

It certainly is the most unique snow sculpture that has ever graced our front lawn. All it needs is a snow side table and a snow TV.

The snow is gone now, except for the chair. I think it will grace our lawn for a few more days.

Update: Much to my surprise it's almost gone.

Friday, April 06, 2007

So Guess Who I Am

I am Betty Grable

The ultimate girl next door
You're the perfect girl for most guys
Pretty yet approachable. Beautiful yet real.

It's been a long day and I thought I'd end the week with a little cheesecake. Sadly I can't make the real thing with an oreo crust, that'll have to wait until Wednesday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thursday Three: Can You Hear It

This week Terry wants us to all sit down and give it a listen.
A Re-Sounding Success!

That’s what EVERYone says about the game that’s sweeping the globe, the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three! This week’s set of three questions is brought to us via Mr. Spud himself, Tarheel Marc, who has been quite attentive to the auditory manifestations of springtime.

Let’s allow him to explain:

Every year at about this time, we get to open up the windows in the house/car and enjoy the sounds of spring coming out again (birds chirping, lawnmowers buzzing, car beatboxes booming). So please share with the rest of the gang:

1. What 3 sounds do you like to hear at your household?

2. What 3 sounds do you not like to hear at your household?

3. What 3 sounds will you always remember?

So, there you are. Quietly (or loudly) scamper off and think about those and leave your answers in the comments below, or a link over to your own blog. Marc did say he was concerned that some in the readership might have some deafness that defies providing an easy answer to these questions. If so, feel free to modify the questions or answers to best suit you. Also, Southern Hemispherical readers should modify the season as they feel appropriate, or pretend that it’s Spring down there, too.

Quietly? I think not! Nothing is ever done quietly around here. There is a reason that my blog is called what it is.

Anyway here is my take on the above 3 by 3 questions.

1) Well first off I do enjoy the sound of silence, particularly at night when everybody is tucked into bed. I also love the sound of my children’s laughter, each one is unique and I can’t pick out one in particular. Lastly I really enjoy the sound of a dachshund hot on the trail of a rabbit. Sadly my two dogs are closed mouthed on rabbit and will only open when they sight the bunny.

2) As any parent will tell you, sometimes silence is not a good thing. Silence is not good when it occurs after a noticeably loud crash. I also dislike the loud pointless squabbling that siblings are prone to do. The dogs too can be included in this category. I love to hear them bay while hunting, but I hate pointless barking. For example, Crunch now will sometimes stand by the dog sofa and bark at me. Occasionally it is to alert me to the fact that his way is blocked, but usually it is just to have me go up to him and tell him to haul his own butt up.

3) I will never forget the sound of the ocean, the slap of the waves on the beach and the retreating hiss as the water slides back to the sea. Then there is the sound of a small baby snuffling on its mother’s breast. It is such a small, but contented sound that warmed my heart every time my babies made it. The third most memorable sound is also the oddest. Rally had the peculiar habit of digging in the water bowl when it was empty. It was such a distinctive sound of her nails scrapping against the bottom of the bowl and it was very effective. Every time she did it we would immediately refill the bowl. The stainless steel bowl had a better tone, but the digging worked on plastic just as well. Now that she is gone the red dogs have to figure out a way to alert us to a lack of water. At first they just stand around by the bowl hoping we notice. When that doesn’t work we might get a few exasperated barks.

Artist of the Week: Block Army Base

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This week's artist is Max.

He wanted me to take this picture of him all curled up in bed. Isn't he adorable?

Any way that same day he built this army base out of the blocks in his room. Like his brothers' creations it is a fully realized building with multiple levels and rooms. He was very proud of his building and told me to come upstairs and take a picture.

Then the most amazing thing occurred, after he was done with the building he put away the blocks. Without any help/nagging from me. I was stunned. It turns out that he is satisfied if I take a picture of the end result, after which he will dismantle the creation.

What a kid.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Last night we had our our little Seder. It is fairly stripped down due to the limited attention span and increasing hunger of the younger members of our family.

Our official Seder plate is one Jake made a few years ago at Hebrew school. It has everything neatly spelled out in Hebrew with accompanying pictures.

Most plates doesn't have a spot for matzo, usually that is on its own plate. But there was a spot with a charming picture of matzo and I felt obligated to fill it.

Tonight's Seder was far more extensive and was held at our temple. Meryl and her mother joined us this year and get to enjoy the true community spirit of my congregation's Seder.

One of the funniest moments came near the end. Rebecca had a plate full of dessert and was very pleased to have found some cake. Meryl and I just happened to glance over when she crammed a piece of the aforementioned cake in her mouth.

It was a classic Rebecca moment. She promptly removed the cake from her mouth and looked at with supreme disgust. It was not at all what she expected. Up to now she has been spoiled with my home made cakes and had never really eaten a Passover "cake." Since no leavening or flour can used Passover confections are a bit of an acquired taste, they are rarely anything to write home about. Mind you I can make a terrific flour-less torte, but what she had was some sort of "fake" cake.

Meanwhile Meryl and I just could not help laughing, it was too funny.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy Passover

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Tonight is the first night of Passover and we would like to wish you all a happy Passover.

Today I'm meeting Meryl and her mother at the good IHOP for lunch. We'll enjoy our last meal with leavened goodness until next week.

Tonight's Seder will be a simple one, but tomorrow will be the big community one over at out temple. Rebecca has been eying our Passover supplies for the past week., in particular the candy food slices. She is excited over tonight, as well she should be.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mud Pies and Wild Green Salads

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
You know you have been watching a little too much of the Food network when your kids make mud pies and want you to come out and critique their offerings.

Nate made a lovely array of salads and Jake made little mud loafs. They both had a nice bit of color, but Jake won out in presentation. The little sprinkling of wild onion on top was a brilliant idea and pushed it over the top.

I used to make mud pies, but I never plated them with such care.