Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Another Year Together

Today is my fifteenth wedding anniversary.

Including the seven years we dated Larry and I have been together for 22 years. Since I was 19 (ah, so young!) we have been together for over half my life. I can say that I have been with the man I love for most of my life.

Or, as I like to tell our children, we've been together since dinosaurs roamed the earth.

There will be no fancy dinner tonight, baseball practice intrudes, but we will celebrate in style when Grandma and Grandpa next come down for a visit.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
To those that served and never came back home and to the families that miss them, I thank you all for keeping me safe and all the freedoms I enjoy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Technical Difficulties

The video driver on the family computer has decided to go AWOL, so I'm limited on uploading pictures and what not until I get it sorted out.

Hopefully it'll be fixed by next week, until then I'll be using so old photos I have stashed elsewhere.

Therefore there will be no Artist of the Week this week. You'll just have to be satisfied with Super Dog from last week.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bambi vs Godzilla

This is possibly my favorite short of all time. I was a member of my college's film society and it was a happy moment in my life when I discovered we could actually get this short feature.

I had a great time being part of film society, twice a year we would get together and pick out the next semester's slate of films. It involved a great deal of arguing and beer. We tried to at least break even by showing films that were arty and films that would get an audience. Over time we discovered that the two biggest money makers would be either G or X rated. Didn't matter what the film was, just the rating. Nothing beats Disney or Fritz the Cat for getting a college student's attention.
When I showed it to my kids they were, of course, horrified.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Where is My Little Sparkler?

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Rebecca, my little sparkler, has not been feeling well. In fact she has been ailing on and off for the past month.

It starts out with her crashing during the day and sleeping straight through dinner and on through the next day or so. She barely eats and drinks until she starts to rally after a few days. In the meantime, all she does is sleep.

When she is better she is almost her old self. Sadly, it only lasts about a week and a half. Right now she has started her third cycle of the mystery illness.

When it first struck she had the added bonus of nausea. I brought her in to the pediatrician's office and she tested positive for strep throat. One shot of antibiotic and a scrip for Zofran later we were sent home.

The second time she was again nauseated, I brought her in she initially tested negative for strep. The Dr. and I decided to wait and see. After two days of no improvement I brought her back in. At that point she evidenced signs of strep so we decided to treat it as such. I was already concerned about other possible causes and asked for her to be tested for tick borne illnesses. We live in tick central and last year our neighbor was diagnosed with Lyme's disease. For good measure, the Dr. also had her checked for mono.

ready to go
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

All the tests came back negative.

Now that we have entered her third round I am very concerned about my little girl. I'm waiting on a call back from her pediatrician. I don't see any point in hauling her back in unless we have a plan. They really can't test for anything else there at the office. If further testing is warranted I might as well go straight to the lab, skipping another co-pay and unnecessary poking and prodding. The poor thing is feeling wretched already, I don't want to add to her misery. Thankfully she hasn't been nauseated this time around.

Hopefully I'll get my little sparkler back soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My Boy Nate

catcher Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I have to brag a bit today about our middle boy Nate.

Currently he is playing baseball on our local PONY team. It has been an exciting season for the team. They are now in the Pinto league and that means the games are kid pitch. Last year it was all coach pitch, each team’s coach would pitch to their own players. In kid pitch it is just like a real ball game, with strikes and balls called by an umpire behind the plate. It’s a real challenge for both the pitcher and the batter. It’s also fairly boring for the outfield, because they don’t see nearly the same amount of action as they did last year since there are a ton of walks from balls being called and the occasional wild pitch that ends up clipping the batter.

Anyway Nate has been the lead off hitter this season and has been mostly on second base or catcher. That is until today.

Nate got to be pitcher. And it almost didn’t happen.

Larry dropped off Nate for the game and then went back home. Rebecca was not well and we felt it would be best if she was not dragged to a ball game. The plan was that I would go to Nate’s game once Max’s social obligations were over. At the last minute I decided to drop Max off at home instead of bringing him to the game. I knew he would be bored and I didn’t want to have to entertain him. As a result I was a bit late to Nate’s game and missed the top half of the first inning.

I walked up the field and saw Nate with the head coach. As I stopped to wave, Nate blurted out “Hey! There’s my Mom, my mom’s here!” The coach turned and looked at me and replied “Great! Let’s do it!”

Normally Nate is pleased to see me, but this was far and away the biggest reception that I have gotten since his pre school days. As I puzzled over the reaction I headed over to stands and was informed by the other parents that Nate was pitching and the coach had been stalling until my appearance. He was just about to pull Nate when I showed up. The coach likes to have the parents present when a kid pitches for the first time.

Nate warms up
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

So of course I whipped out my cell phone and provided Larry with possibly some of the worst play by play action in the history of baseball. I didn’t know the score and my pitch descriptions were along the lines of “oh, I think that was good, I don’t know.”

Fortunately Nate did a far better job than I did. He pitched two innings (half the game). Both times he was up he walked the first batter and then struck out the next three. It was a pretty impressive showing for a first time out. Oh and as for the game, our team completely shut out the other for a solid win with Nate knocking in at least one run and scoring twice.

What a boy.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lame Friday post

We have yet another busy weekend, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday is Jake’s last regular season soccer game and due to conflicts with either Nate’s or Max’s games I haven’t seen very much. I’m going to miss most of this one too since Nate’s game slightly overlaps tomorrow. Luckily Max has this weekend off which helps lessen the chaos.

Then we have two birthday parties. Nate gets to go to an R-Braves game Saturday night. Larry pulled that duty while I get to go to Chuck E. Cheese’s with Max and Rebecca Sunday afternoon.

I think Larry gets the better end of the deal. A night game with 8 year olds sounds far more appealing than an afternoon of loud electronic entertainment with a pack of 5 year olds.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Three: Season Finale

As the school year draws to a close at the Axis of Weevil HQ, aka Possumblog, Terry sends out this missive:

Yes, it’s time once more for the cast, crew, and writers to take a well-deserved summer hiatus, but before everyone clears out, they’ve left you with a THRILLING, ACTION-PACKED edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

Okay, it’s not thrilling.

Nor particularly action-packed.

In fact, there’s really not much of a theme. But that’s what you get when you assemble your program from stuff you find wadded up in the trash can.

But it’s the only thing we got, SO—

1) If you could hang out with a famous living person for a day, who would it be, and why?

2) What sort of plans do you have for summer vacation?

3) Blake or Jordin?

Okay, all of you get to work and let’s send out this year’s final episode with something resembling enjoyment! Leave your answers in the comments below or a link to your own blog.

Season Finale?! Where has the time gone? I didn’t get that memo.

Ah well, time for my final three answers until the Axis creaks back to life this fall.

1) Well I’m going to cheat and say the exciting duo from MythBusters, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. They strike me as two very interesting people to hang out with and I might get to blow something up. Science can be fun. I might even let the kids tag along. Nate really likes the fact that Adam and he have the same t-shirt.

2) We are going on our biannual pilgrimage up North near the end of summer. We’ll see my in-laws in Connecticut and watch a Mets game at Shea, visit my cousins with the great big house on the beach in Massachusetts, stay at my Mom’s house in Vermont and then head back down to Virginia. As an added bonus the kids will be attending a soccer camp while we are at my Mom’s, it’s a half-day program and it will keep them busy.

3) Who? Judging by the other responses it’s an American Idol reference. I don’t watch and I really don’t care. I vote for the Cookie Monster.

So I guess that’s it for now. What am I’m going to do on Thursdays?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pictures of Gwen

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This is for my Mom, it's easier to post pictures here than to try to send them.

So feel free to look, ultimately I'll be taking this post down.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Artist of the Week: Super Dog

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Max is a very funny guy and he is this week’s featured artist.

His jokes aren’t particularly good, they are long, rambling and are often without a discernable punch line, but what else would you expect from a five year old. However, nobody can sell a joke like Max. He has the best delivery; you can’t help laughing with him at the end of his joke.

Sometimes, though, he can be very funny and he is not even aware of the joke.

Case in point: Super Dog.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Super Dog was proudly brought home yesterday. Max had started with just an outline from a stencil provided by his teacher. As he colored in his dog he decided to go one better and make it “Super Dog” by adding a cape. The orange bit behind Super Dog is its cape, streaming straight behind like all good capes should.

Of course that was not what Larry and I first saw. To us it looks like Super Dog has a turbo jet and not a cape. As Larry put it “It looks like Super Dog might be methane powered.”

It’s all too funny. Super Dog, like Max, makes me smile.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Weekly Tadpole Update: The Final Five

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Last Sunday we bid farewell to the last of our tadpoles. Only five were left, four were ready to go and one was stubbornly refusing to leave the water. The last holdout was unceremoniously dumped on the turtle dock to see if it could handle dry land. It tried to wriggle back to the water , but after a few moments it adjusted. A good thing too, because there was no way I was going to maintain the tank for just one froglette. It is a strapping fellow compared to its short-tailed and tailless brethren.

So off to the stream with the final five.

It was a damp and squishy walk, just the kind of day to re-release amphibians back into the wild, or at least the suburbs.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
They looked happy enough in their new environment. The smallest one looks a bit sickly. It is quite thin and I fished it out of the water when I saw it sinking in the water. It perked up on the land, I hope it makes it.

For those of you keeping score we released 33 tadpoles and only lost four. One of the deceased looked a bit odd and the other three ended up drowning when we ere less vigilant about scooping them out. I would say that is a pretty good survival rate, just under 88% made it back into the wild. They got quite a head start over the tadpoles left behind.

Rebecca in the mud
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Monday, May 14, 2007

May is CF Awareness Month

Last night I found out the May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness month. Admittedly the month is almost halfway over, but it is still worth mentioning.

CF is a genetic condition that affects over 30, 000 Americans, 70,000 worldwide. It's a lot of people, but unfortunately is not enough to attract the research dollars of the big pharmaceutical firms. Instead most of the research dollars are raised by the grassroots efforts of groups such as the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Boomer Esiason Foundation.

And a lot of progress has been made treating this life threatening condition.

In the 1950's children diagnosed with CF were not expected to reach grade school, forty years later the average life expectancy is in the mid-thirty's.

Max has clearly benefited from the new treatments for CF. His pancreas is clogged with thick sticky mucus and is unable to produce digestive enzymes. As a result he is unable to digest most foods. That is what led to his diagnoses,his failure to thrive. Now he is a very sturdy 5 year old. He is physically a little on the small side, but he is all boy and has a huge personality.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

castle boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I like to wish all the mothers out there a happy and hopefully restful Mother's Day with a special acknowledgment to Nana and Grandma.

And I would also like to thank the cast of characters pictured. Jake, here at age five, who first gave me the title mother. Nate, at about three, who added to the fun and made me want more. And last but not least, Max and Rebecca, who made our family complete.

Happy babies
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Endings and Beginnings

Yesterday I got a very sad call from my mom.

My mother's dog, Willie, had been off for the past few days. The poor thing had been laying about and it took some serious effort from my mom to get her to move. Willie is normally a busy little soul that keeps track of my mother and follows her about the house, classic behavior from a smooth dachshund.

So my mother decided to take her in to the vet.

The initial findings were that Willie was severely anemic, cause unknown.

This led to further testing and it was discovered that Willie had an enormous tumor. It was amazing that she could functional at all. Since Willie was no longer a young little pup, in fact pushing 14 if I recall correctly, my mother decided that the kindest thing to do was to put her to sleep.

Willie breathed her last breath in the arms of my mother, the person she adored most in the world. It was a heartbreaking moment and even the vet cried.

I wish I could have been there. Larry and I had picked out Willie and brought her out to my mom. She was the half sister to our dear Rally and was almost exactly a year younger than Rally.

But instead of being there for the end, I have been charged with the task of finding my mother a new dog. One phone call later I already have not one, but two likely prospects.

I guess I'm in charge of new beginnings and that is a pretty good job.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Three: Mom

This week is just for mom, as Terry writes:

Mommy Dearest

Time once again to take that thing out of your mouth because you don't know where it's been, come inside and get cleaned up, and get ready for our special Mother's Day Edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

As you can tell, since Mother's Day is upon us, we've decided to dedicate this week's set of questions to dear ol' Mom. So sit up straight, at least run a brush through your hair, don't talk to me in that tone of voice, take off your cap at the table, and take a moment to answer the following questions about her by either leaving your answers in the comments below, or a link to your own blog.

1) What three things do you think are (or were) your mom's best characteristics?

2) And although we're trying to honor Mom, we still have to know--what is one thing she does (or used to do) that drives you absolutely insane?

3) If your mom is still in circulation, do you have any plans to do anything special for her this weekend?

There now--quit slouching and get to work on those answers!

Yes sir!

1)I think my mother’s three best characteristics are:

She’s completely unflappable.
She has an excellent sense of humor.
And most of all, she has a strong independent streak.

These three characteristics caused her to be the coolest mom in the area. If my brother and I got stuck somewhere (our ride fell through, or we realized we were in over our heads) we could always call mom. I could drag in all sorts of animals and she would let me keep them in the terrarium for the day. Then there was the time that she and I accidentally went to the wrong movie. We were late and we thought we were in the right theater, but after a few minutes we realized our error. I don’t remember what we wanted to see, but we ended up watching Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie. I think it was remarkable that she didn’t freak out and that we both thought it was a hoot.

2) She doesn’t mean too, but sometimes she can be a bit of a nag. But if you had my brother and me as your children it is completely understandable.

3) I would LOVE to do something with my mom this weekend, but she is a two days drive away and it really is not an option to just zip up there. If I was half a day’s drive or less I would definitely be with her.

My mom totally rocks.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Artist of the Week: Men in a Boat

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Rebecca is feeling a bit under the weather today, but I got this picture of her two weeks ago with all her sparkle intact.

This weeks drawing, as you can gather from the post's title, is of some men in a boat. I like how they all have hats on. They seem like a very friendly bunch. The m's in the sky are birds, the smallest being far, far away. From what I have gathered the men are sailing away from the island with the blue flag.

men on boat
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max thinks they are vikings or maybe pirates.

He is such a boy.

Max and His Big T-ball Weekend

Nate, Rebecca and Max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Max had a very big weekend with his t-ball team.

They had regularly scheduled games on Saturday and Monday plus a make up game on Sunday.

Saturday we had a conflicts between Jake's and Max's game so we all couldn't go to cheer the t-ball Yankees on. Mind you it's really funny that he is on the Yankees because Larry is a huge Mets fan and I've been reading "Now I can die in peace" a really good book about the BoSox and well, Yankees are pretty much evil in the book.

Anyway Larry could only stick around for half an inning, so Max only had Nate, Rebeca and me to root for him and his team. But that was fine, he was so pleased when Nate and Rebecca visited him at the dugout. It's hard to see, but he is beaming at his sister.

Sunday we all got to watch our favorite t-baller in action.He was again delighted to have us there, especially with his father keeping the official score. He would wave to us when ever he was in the dugout.

Monday daddy couldn't come, but Max still had a very good time.

He likes playing ball, even though he does get a bit bored out on the field. The funniest moment was when he was spinning around in the outfield with his glove balanced on his head. It was a classic t-ball moment.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
After the whole tadpole releasing excitement I took Jake and Nate over to the bus stop and sent the rest of the crowd back inside.

At our bus stop we noticed that our neighbor across the street had two very dense patches of clover alongside the road. So of course we had to look for four leaf clover.

Jake, when he so choses, has amazing focus and the ability to notice the smallest details. He immediately spotted a four leaf clover and picked it.

Nate, not to be out done found a five leaf clover. They both spent the next five minutes looking for more 4 leaf clovers in the two patches by the road.

In the end Jake found nine four leaf clovers, only the coming of the bus stopped him from finding more. Nate found the aforementioned 5 leaf and one four leaf. I told him that his 5 leaf definitely equals eight regular 4 leaf clovers. As for for me, I found three, which is easily the most I have ever found.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was an extraordinary patch of clover. I have never seen anything like it before. I know it is possible to by 4-leaf clover seed, but our neighbors don't strike me as the type and it is an odd spot to plant special clover.

I guess it was our lucky day.

Weekly Tadpole Update: Another Six Gone

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
We released six more tadpoles/frogs today.

Right after we released the last batch of six on Friday, a froglette pulled itself out of the water and onto the turtle dock. On Saturday a few more followed suit over the course of the day.

I considered releasing them Saturday night, but I thought it would be quite a shock to the frogs' system to be dumped outside at dusk in 50 degree weather. Today was a much better choice.

If you look very carefully you can see a few of the frogs. Two are somewhat obvious and the third is a bit trickier to spot. If you click through the picture you can roll the mouse over the image to reveal the frogs.

Meanwhile back in the tank it is becoming obvious to me that we have two different species. There are the cute little ones that are quick to mature and are already being released. And then there are the much larger and slower developing tadpoles that are just starting to grow front legs. The big ones are easily twice the size of the little ones.

I can't wait to see how the big ones turn out.

Update: Another seven, that's right 7, were released Monday afternoon.

Update Part II: Another nine gone, some with a decidedly toady look about them.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
On Tuesday Nate noticed that one of the froglettes was struggling in the tank. It kept falling backwards and landing upside down. Fearing that the little guy was drowning, I scooped him up and deposited him on the turtle dock.

The little guy stood there, probably a bit stunned by the experience, looked around and decided to stay put. I put a leaf in the tank to provide it a bit of cover and spent the rest of the day watching it.

He is so tiny, he would fit neatly on top of a dime. At first he had a bit of a tail, but amazingly as the day wore on he reabsorbed it. Thus we now officially have a frog.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
As the days passed a few more froglettes joined our first frog on dry land (or rather Styrofoam). Most of them we rescued from the bottom of the tank, but a few figured it out on their own. Amusingly one or two upon rescuing would immediately plunge back into the water; they were not quite ready.

The biggest puzzle was what to feed them.

I tried a pile of fish flakes, but it was ignored.

I then went to the exotic pet store and asked for the smallest live food for frogs and ended up with a bag of baby crickets. The smallest ones were about half the size of the frogs and the largest... well, the biggest one actually threatened a frog. It drew itself up and waved its antenna at a frog and then stamped away. The frog, meanwhile, was completely nonplussed. It just sat there absorbing it's new environment.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This morning we had five little frogs arrayed on the dock. It was nice out and we had a little time before the bus so I decided it was time to release this first batch. At first there was a bit of protest from the kids, but when I pointed out that we couldn't feed them properly they agreed it was for the best.

At this point one more frog heaved itself out of the water and joined its compatriots. He still has quite a bit of tail as you can see in the photo, but he was deemed ready to go.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
So six little frogs were loaded into Jake's orange bucket and taken down to the stream.

Jake and Nate grabbed their back packs and the rest trailed us, still clad in their pajamas including our house guests' two daughters.

A shallow stretch of the stream, not far from where they were originally caught was selected. We could see in the shallows a few tadpoles wriggling about. The wild ones were not nearly as far along as our crew. They firmly remained in the tadpole stage, nary a leg in the bunch.

With little ceremony I dumped our frogs back into the stream from whence they came.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
And here you can see Rebecca, one of the girls and Max watching our frogs in their newly freed state.

I don't know how happy they are, but they certainly looked cold when they hit the water. The good news is that Jake and Nate spied a fair number of water bugs just the right size for our frogs to eat.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thursday Three: Pets!

Terry gets all cutesy this week and asks us all about our pets.
Awwwww! How CUUUUTE!!

Why, thank you! But enough about me--it’s Thursday, and that means it’s time once more for The World’s Greatest Waste of Resources, the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

Today, we take a tip from Weevil Ambassador to Memphis Mike Hollihan, who suggested yesterday that it would be interesting to find out about the odd names people give their pets. A fine idea, indeed, given that until then I’d not figured out anything to ask.

SO, take a moment, grab your fluffy white Persian up into your lap and stroke her while pretending to be Blofeld, and answer the following three questions either by leaving your answers in the comments or a link to your bloghouse.

1) What is the most unusual name you ever gave one of your pets, and why?

2) Forget names--what’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever owned?

3) And last but not least, the age old question for all you dog and cat fanciers out there--which one is the better pet, a marmoset or a piranha?

Now scamper off and come up with your answers, and I’ll do the same.

Pets, now this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. It was predicted in high school that I would have a record number of pets.

1) I guess Rally had the most unusual name for our pets. Rally was short for Floralia, the annual spring fair at Larry’s and mine college. It was at Floralia during our sophomore year when Larry asked me out on our first date and we have been together ever since.

2) As for pets themselves I have had the usual assortment of dogs, cats, assorted rodents, fish and the odd parakeet. At one point I had some retired lab mice, that’s a little unusual, but that is about it. At one point my family do duck sit a mallard. Her name was Tilly and she roosted in our rabbit hutch with my pet rabbit, Mrs. Peter.

Do tadpoles count? I’ve got a boat load of those in the house.

3) I’ve got to go with marmoset. Some of them are downright adorable and are high on the cuddly index, piranhas are sadly lacking in that aspect.

Now I have to check on the cricket we just dropped in the tadpole tank. Crickets are not pets, they’re food.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Artist of the Week: Book

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This week’s artist is Jake. He is a good big brother and enjoys doing things like going down a slide with his youngest brother. Jake is hard to photograph, because most of the time he refuses to hold still. Instead I have to sneak up on him and catch him when his attention is elsewhere.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Yesterday Jake brought home a book; it’s a project his fifth grade class had been working on for quite some time. This is what the cover looks like.

Inside are stories with illustrations made by every member of Jake’s class. I love Jake’s picture, it is a classic example of his work. I had no problem picking it out.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

On the page opposite is the story.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is short, which again is in keeping with Jake’s style. I can imagine how excited he was to write and illustrate his story. It was one of the few times that he handed me a form from school and made sure I filled it out and sent the check. Normally I have to dig them out myself from that dark pit known as his back pack.

I think it was a very fun project for his class and it is definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Life is Going to the Frogs

Getting front legs
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
The most exciting thing I have going on is the tadpole tank.

Monday (yesterday) I noticed one of the tadpoles had some very pronounced front leg buds. After a bit of googling I found out the front legs emerge elbow first, which pretty much matches what I can see of this little one.

This afternoon the boys were watching the tadpoles and noticed that one had three legs! Well it turns out it actually had all four. Interestingly it was one of the smaller tadpoles in the tank. Now, with its new four legged status, the tadpole has now been granted the title of froglette.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

So far we have only one froglette, but several others are sporting the telltale front leg buds. Mind you, at the same time there are still a few that are just starting to grow their hind legs.

front view froglette
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

From the front the froglette has a decidedly froggy appearance, no longer is it a little blobby tadpole. So far it remains underwater and hasn’t shown an indication that it will become an air breather, but I know that will come with time. I think we’ll be releasing a few back into the wild in the near future.