Friday, June 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Jake!

birthday boy
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today is Jake's eleventh birthday and he has been celebrating in style.

This morning he got to enjoy cheese cake for breakfast and tonight he'll be having his party at Laser Quest. Of course this means a second, official cake since we already hacked into the cheese cake and not everybody likes cheese cake.

It was a big hit last year, so I think he'll have fun tonight.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We'll be having pizza, soda and cake. The best part is that Jake gets to celebrate his birthday on his birthday. I think it's always better when you can have your party on the actual date.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Capitol Visit

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As I mentioned Tuesday I took our house guests to the Capitol complex over in Richmond last Friday. Since Larry's office is on the Capitol square we decided to meet him for lunch, afterwards we could introduce us to some of his co-workers and point us in the right direction for a tour of the Capitol building.

Once we found a parking space we gave Larry a call and we met him outside his building. The restaurant he picked for us was a bit of a walk across the square from where we were. So we got a quick tour of the square as we cut across. We passed by the Governor's mansion and Larry noted that the Governor had the shortest commute in Richmond, barring those working from home. It's not even 50 yards from the mansion to the building housing the Governor's office. Then we skirted around the Capital itself.

Renovations had just been completed a month ago and the building practically had a pristine white glow about it. Gone were all the construction vehicles and the grounds no longer had a huge gaping hole in front of the building. As we passed by the south portico Larry noticed a co-worker up there being treated to lunch as part of a program she participated in. We gave a wave as we wound past onto our own lunch.

The spot Larry chose was Cafe Ole'. It is a very simple place with excellent Mexican food at great prices. The kids all had quesadillas and the rest of us had burritos or taco salads. Everyone was happy with their meal and we all left feeling full and happy. Now we were ready to explore the Capitol.

Larry had to go back to work, but he was able to do a little detour into the old Richmond City Hall. It's a gorgeous building the I've written about before, so I'll spare y'all the details. I will note, however, that our guests and Larry (who has only walked by the building) were all suitably impressed. Then it was up to Larry's office where we got to meet the people on his floor.

After a quick tour of his building Larry escorted up back across the capital square to the visitors entrance to the Capitol. During the renovations a massive portion of the hill that the Capital sits on was removed. An underground "Capitol Extension" was added and then the hill was filled back in. I thought that was a terrific solution for a location for the new visitor's center. The hill remains uncluttered and a whole wing was added to the the Capitol without marring the building.

The Capitol was quite a treat. We decided to do a self tour, because the younger members of our party would not tolerate and hour and a half long tour. So with maps in hand we forged ahead. If you click on the picture about it will lead you to a set of pictures from our visit. I didn't take any pictures of the new Capitol Extension, but it was worth going through it. It has all sorts of interesting information about the original design and the history of the building. The main building was what I focused on with my camera. The statue of Washington is unique, he actually posed for the sculpture. I loved its placement in the rotunda. I could go on about our visit, but it's late and tomorrow is a busy day.

If you are ever in Richmond and you have the time it is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Artist of the Week: Golden Dogs

At Meryl's urging I'm the artist of the week.

Last weekend my dachshund club held its specialty show. In addition to trophies and judges' gifts we provide markers for the ring. Years ago a club member had cut out four silhouettes of dachshunds and four simple stands to support them. The markers had become battered and worn over the years and it was time to freshen them up.

ring markers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I got tapped for the job and collected them a month ago. I didn't take any before photos, so you'll have to trust me on this one.

The dachshunds were originally painted gold with a black outline on the edge. Details, such as the eyes and the outline of the ears, were also painted black. Red stickers on one side were used to denote the placements of first through fourth. The bases were simply black with red stickers for the clubs initials along the top of the stands.

Up close and with a critical eye, the markers were a disaster. At one point the markers had looked nice, but now they were decidedly tatty with some of the stickers peeling off and a bit askew. On the reverse of one of the silhouettes fingerprints clearly marred the surface. The paint was worn and chipped and in desperate need of being completely redone. I also objected to the odd eye placement and overall slapdash paint job.

Mind you I'm not in any way a perfectionist, slap dash is a theme in my life, but I at least try to get the details right and make the whole thing look nice.

ring markers places
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So the first order of business was to peel of the stickers and pick up some paint. I decided to get gold and black spray paint for the surfaces and a little bit of red and black craft paint for the detail work. Then I would top the whole thing off with a couple of coats of clear spray paint to protect the surfaces.

The best decision I made was to ditch the stickers and do freehand the writing. After years of writing on cakes I have become fairly good at writing free hand with icing and I thought that skill would translate well with paint and it did.

I was a little hesitant at first, but the numbers looked great. In fact I was so pleased with the results I decided to paint on the reverse sides of the dogs the placements for Best of Variety, Best of Opposite Sex, Winners and Reserve.

In the ring
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I think in the end they looked great in the ring. The writing is less than perfect, but the overall effect is quite snazzy.

The bases look much better without the wrinkled stickers and with the spray paint I got an almost lacquer like finish on the them.

It was such a satisfying project. With each coat of paint I could see progress and using spray paint was a gas. The club was very pleased with the final results.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Doing the Tourist Thing

With all the house guests we have been having, we spent some of our time showing off the area. Last Thursday we took Andy and Abby on my very strange version of sightseeing in Richmond.

river view
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
First off we went to Hollywood Cemetery, located on the banks of the James River. It may seem to be an odd choice, but it is one of Richmond’s most unique spots to visit. In addition to lots of dead people, Hollywood Cemetery features some spectacular monuments, the graves of two US Presidents (Monroe and Tyler), one Confederate President (Davis), a bunch of famous confederate soldiers and dramatic views of the city and the river (or the Rivah as it is referred to around here).

We started off with The Pyramid, a ninety foot tall monument dedicated to the confederate dead. It is an enormous structure that dominates its corner of the cemetery. It is also remarkable for not just its size, but that it is a dry stone (i.e. no cement) structure. If you click on the picture of the kids looking at the river it will lead you to a set of pictures from the cemetery. From the pyramid we wound our way through the cemetery, stopping now and then. At one point Jake spotted a large bird perched on a headstone. I’m not sure what it was, other than it was a juvenile of some sort of bird of prey (eagle, hawk, I don’t know). When we reached the Palmer Chapel I parked the car in a tiny scrap of shade and we all piled out. I love the chapel: it is always cool inside from the breezes coming up from the river and has a beautiful view of the river. It was there where I got the shot of all four kids looking down at the James River. From there we climbed a hill to see Monroe’s and Tyler’s graves.

Our next stop was Carytown, or more accurately For the Love of Chocolate. It is a wonderful chocolate store located in a funky part of Richmond. It has everything from high end hand made truffles, fudge, Jelly Bellies and all the way down to 39 cent candy necklaces. I love how the scent of chocolate envelopes you when you first walk in the door. We spent a long time in there and a fair amount of money. Then we started to head back home.

As we drove along the city streets I realized we would be passing by The Jefferson Hotel. I think a visit to Richmond is not complete without a pit stop at The Jefferson. It is a gorgeous old pile of a building that has the best public rest rooms in Richmond. I’ve even dragged Meryl there. Anyway, everybody was suitably impressed by the rotunda and the main lobby. And yes, we did use the facilities and I would like to note that even Jake and Nate were amazed by the bathrooms.

On Thursday I'll tell you all about our visit to the capital.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Old Concert T's

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today as I was getting dressed I pulled an old concert t from the bottom of the pile.

Old doesn't quite cover the age of this particular shirt, as of June 28th the shirt will be officially 21 years old. I think that puts this shirt in the ancient category. If your shirt can legally drink, it's ancient.

I clearly remember the day I got that shirt. Larry and I were attending a concert at the Milton Keynes Bowl on our next to last day in England. Marillion were the headliners and were the main reason we were there. Larry was a fan and I thought it would be fun.

It was a beautiful June day and the venue was packed. It was festival seating and we had found a spot not too far from the front. The crowd was fairly well behaved throughout the opening acts, Gary Moore (very good), Jethro Tull (again good), Magnum and Mama's Boys (I honestly don't remember these two, we might have missed them). When Marillion hit the stage, however, it was like a huge wave of energy swept through the crowd. Everyone stood up and moved forward. I was literally swept off my feet at one point. Fortunately Larry had a tight hold on my arm so that we wouldn't be separated. I should have been frightened when my feet left the ground, but I wasn't. I was instead strangely exhilarated. I never felt in danger. After the initial surge the crowd settled and I was once again on my feet.

back Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It was a fabulous experience and not one that I'll ever repeat.

We bought several shirts that day and I'm glad I did. The one I wore today I got entirely by chance. I was at the booth trying to decide amongst the shirts left when a man came to the booth to return a shirt. It had a very small hole beneath the picture on the front and he wanted to exchange it for a new one. They had sold out of that particular shirt and he settled on a different design on a "perfect" shirt. As the vender finished with the transaction I quickly asked if I could buy that shirt. he pointed out the hole and I said it didn't matter.

It was a combination of pure luck and quick thinking that got me this shirt.

The funny thing is once I get dressed I completely forget about what I'm wearing. Around mid day Jake asked me what did it mean and it took me a moment to realize he was asking about my shirt.

When I have worn the shirt I have gotten a few puzzled looks, only when I'm around Brits and Europeans of roughly my age do I get any sort of recognition. So for those of you unaware of Marillion, here is a clip I scavenged off of YouTube.

The group, much to my surprise, still exists and will be releasing their 15th album next spring.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

First Taste of Summer

Today, as far as I'm concerned, was the first day of summer.

first tomatoes
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Our tomato plants produced their first tomato ripe for the picking. It was off of our Sungold cherry tomato plant.

I offered Rebecca first dibs on the first tomato of the season, but she passed. So it fell to me to sample the first one and it was delicious. The rest of the plants are coming along nicely and we should be getting more in the next couple of weeks.

For me, his occasion heralds the start of summer.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Everything Comes Down To Poo

This one is for Meryl.

And in truth, everything does come down to poo.

Max is much better now, a week of Miralax has seem to done the trick. In other poo related news Rebecca has a new toy.

When Grandma and Grandpa came down to visit we all went to Walmart to do a little gift shopping. Nate and Jake made a beeline for the Gameboy items, Max opted for Legos and Pokemon and Rebecca got a Barbie.

I'm not terrible fond of Barbie, in fact I didn't even care for her when I was Rebecca's age. But my little girl is a very girlie-girl and loves all things pink and all things Barbie. I was a bit conflicted at first when Rebecca first showed interest, but in the end I went over to the pink side when Bratz came out. Compared to Bratz, Barbie is a paragon of virtue. So I settled on barring Bratz from the house and welcoming all that is Barbie.

Anyway, Rebecca got a new Barbie this week and it is one of the very few that I actually like and approve of. She settled on the Barbie and Tanner playset. The set features Barbie with her dog Tanner. There is nothing particularly remarkable about Barbie, but Tanner the dog is a different story. The dog is a Labrador retriever that eats and poops. You lift Tanner's tail and its mouth pops open. You place one of Tanner's treats in the now open mouth and then release the tail. When the tail is pushed down the treat is then "pooped" out. Barbie then uses her pooper scooper to pick up the poo and place it in the garbage can that Mattel so thoughtfully provided. The best part is that the treat box is connected to the garbage can and the poo drops into the treat box. Jake, Nate and I found this feature hilarious.

For the first time ever I got to watch Rebecca play with a Barbie along with her oldest two brothers. Admittedly it was mostly just the boys telling Rebecca to make Barbie whack herself with the loaded scooper, but it was better than the two of them fleeing at the site of their sister clutching a doll.

Everything comes down to poo.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Friends

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday our second batch of house guests arrived and they are Larry’s brother Andy and half-sister Abbey along with Abbey’s dog Ramona.

Ramona is a feisty Boston terrier and she is roughly the same age as John. Initially John was his usual idiotic self, lunging forward and baying at the poor thing. Fortunately Ramona is not a wilting flower and was able to overlook John’s rude behavior. After an hour or so John finally calmed down enough that he could be let loose and the fun could begin.

And boy did they cut loose.

The two of them barreled about, chasing each other and leaping about. Ramona would rear up and box John with her paws and John would goose her with his long nose. The two are them are fairly well matched. They are roughly the same size, if you ignore the legs. John has speed with stamina and Ramona has blindingly fast agility. It is amazing watching her flip and turn about.

John adores her and does not mind when she plows him over. When she stops playing he starts baying at her to start up again. Meanwhile Ramona has a silly grin plastered on her face and laughs at him.

I think we will have two very tired dogs by the end of this visit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Artist of the Week: Cards & Blocks

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Max. This particular shot was taken during one of Nate's baseball games. The ball field is located in a schoolyard and features a playground less than 10 yards away. This proved to be quite a boon for me when watching a game with my entourage. I could actually watch a game in relative peace, I didn't have to listen to small people complain about how bored they were. Instead I'd send them over to the playground.

Anyway, about a week and a half ago Max proudly dragged me to his room to show me his latest creation. He had been building away for a few hours that morning and this was what he made:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

It is a very elaborate tower that is decorated with the cards from his Pokemon deck. Each card was carefully placed facing outwards at just the right angle. I think it is quite a feat of balance, both in the cards and in the blocks. Pretty impressive work for a five and half year old.

And I know it was all his doing since both of his older brothers were at school while Max built his creation. The cards were a very unique touch. Neither Jake nor Nate have ever done such a thing before. The whole project was entirely Max's idea.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I actually felt kind of bad when it was time to take the whole thing done. Max, however, handled the demolition just fine. He knew a couple of pictures had been taken and thus the building had been preserved for posterity.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Seriously Cute

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
One of the perks of having a dachshund breeder as a friend is that you get some seriously cute pictures of dachshund puppies in your email.

Aren't they the cutest little things?

I love smooth dachshunds, but the long haired puppies can't be beat. Look at those ears with the curly fringe and the eyes, oh the spanielly, soulful eyes.

I just want to scoop them up and cuddle them.

I could never give them up.

But then they grow up and you have to actually groom them once a week.

I’ll stick with my smooths, they are the polyester of the dog world. Hose them off once in a while and they are good to go.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
But man, oh man, those little long hairs can steal your heart away.

Monday, June 18, 2007

House Guests and Poop

That pretty much sums up my week.

Saturday my in laws arrived for a weekend visit. Now I would like to make clear right now that my in laws are not at all poop. I love them dearly. I think my mother in law is a terrific lady and her husband is one of the nicest guys around. We all look forward to their visits. The poop in question refers to Max, or rather his lack of.

One of the many side effects of CF is intestinal blockage. Max is not truly blocked, but he is very uncomfortable and full of poo. So we get to hear him periodically howl as the cramps hit him. It is one of the most distressing things to experience as a parent. You want to make them feel better, but there is not much you can do. As a result, we are a bit obsessed about poop this weekend.

The good news is there has been some progress. I hauled him up to the CF center today to get poked prodded and x-ray. As usual it was another multi hour visit with lots of waiting in exam rooms. However I will admit that the radiology department totally rocks. That part never takes longer than 30 minutes. You hand the paperwork in, sit down for 5 minutes, get called back, zap-zap with the x-rays and you're done. And if you are really lucky you get a lollipop and you get to checkout other people's x-rays on the monitors. Today I got to see Max's little torso and a neat series of skull shots. Anyway back to Max, according to the x-ray there is no blockage, his lungs sound fine and his lung function is great. So we decided to keep on double dosing with Miralax and let it work itself out. He seems a bit better tonight and hopefully there will be no more night time howling tomorrow.

And why do I want the howling to end by tomorrow, other than the fact I would like to sleep uninterrupted?

Because on Tuesday our next batch of house guests will be arriving that night.

My husband's brother, his half sister and her Boston Terrier (Ramona? I think that's her name) are staying here until Saturday. I think. They are definitely coming Tuesday, but after that I not sure. However long they do stay really doesn't matter, they are fun people that are easy to be with. It should be a fun week.

At least the house is already clean and I don't have to do much other than laundry.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

To all the dads out there I wish you a Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Little Something for the Weekend

I found this clip a while ago on YouTube. I don't remember how I found it, but I thought it was utterly amazing.

Anyway I hope y'all enjoy it.

Now I have to go back to cleaning house for not one, but to batches of house guests. Grandma and Grandpa are coming this weekend, to be followed by more family on Tuesday.

I hate cleaning, but I must say the rug shampooer I rented has been very gratifying.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Artist of the Week: Trivet

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After the big ceremony yesterday and the attendant picture taking Jake’s teacher asked if she could borrow Jake just for a moment, she had something to give me. With another child in tow they went off to the classroom. A few minutes later they came back with a present for me, a pretty little impatiens wrapped in blue silver flecked paper with a silver bow and a trivet bearing the signatures of the entire class.

It was a gift that was made for each of the class’s room parents. I guess by making treats and cupcakes a couple of times and volunteering to be in class I ended up becoming a room parent.

It is a very thoughtful and useful gift. I love all of the kids names inscribed on the trivet’s surface, some neatly some not. So this week Jake’s fifth grade class and their teacher are the artists of the week.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jake's Turn to Shine

Monday, yesterday, I was sitting in the stands watching Max’s penultimate t-ball game of the season and (big surprise here) chatting on the phone with Meryl when my phone did its little bleeping thing that means it’s about to die or I’ve got another call. Checking my screen told me it was the latter and not the former. For some reason Jake and Nate’s school was calling me. Meryl and I finished up our conversation and I switched over. It was Jake’s Math teacher, she was calling to tell me that Jake had won an award and that I would be asked to go up on stage with him during the recognition ceremony Tuesday. Jake didn’t know about it and this was basically a heads up phone call.

All righty then, I wonder what he had won! I couldn’t ask Jake because it was a surprise, I would have to wait and find out tomorrow.

So today, Tuesday, my big plans were to push Nate onto the bus, drop Max and Rebecca off at Preschool and then head over to the boy’s school to drop off Jake in best outfit and attend the recognition ceremony for the fifth grade class. I decided it was best to drive Jake in since a jacket and tie is not really compatible with a bus. It would also give us enough time for both Jake and I to take our respective showers and get all gussied up.

walking up
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake at first pulled out a couple of polo shirts to choose from, but mindful of the award I steered him towards a white oxford and tie. He debated a bit on the jacket, would it be too hot, did he really need it and so on. In the end he decided to wear the jacket and I thought it was a good call.

He looked so handsome.

Everybody noticed him when we walked into the preschool and again into his school. Only one other boy in his class had on a jacket and tie and he wasn’t nearly as cute. He looked so nicely put together right down to the Junior Handling tie tack he got from the AKC. OK. The sneakers are a bit messy, but he had outgrown his good shoes and I haven’t had a chance to get another pair. I dropped Jake off in his classroom and bade him farewell until later while his teacher affixed a yellow flower to his lapel.

I lingered in the cafeteria, helping things get set up for the reception afterwards when I got shooed into the gym/auditorium. After casting about for a decent sight line of the stage I settled on a front row seat. As I a fussed with my camera a fourth grader came by and gave me a program. I eagerly opened it up to see if it gave any clues as to what Jake won. Only three awards were listed, Student of the Year (nope, I think Jake is terrific, but he is not SotY material), Presidential Outstanding Academic Excellence (maybe), and Presidential Outstanding Academic Achievement (Bingo! I based this on the fact that Jake’s math teacher was the one that called me and she was the presenter for this award.)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And my guess was a good one.

The certificate came with a letter signed by the President and a nice blue enameled pin. If you click on the letter you can actually read it. It is a very nice, if somewhat nondescript letter that is made a little bit ironic since it comes from a person of such sterling academic credentials. But, I like what it stands for and I treasure this acknowledgment of Jake’s academic ability.

The certificate itself is rather plain, which I like. I just wish they had used Jake’s proper name (Jacob) instead of Jake. Ah well, at least everything else is spelled correctly. The seal is embossed in silver which didn’t scan very well. Overall it is rather spiffy.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Jake & MsC
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then there was the pin.

The school had a very nice way to handle the awarding of the pin. The student would be called up and the parental Unit(s) would meet the child up on the stage. When it was the child’s turn to receive the award the Principal would hand the certificate to the child and a teacher gave the pin to a parent. The parent would then put the pin on the child. It was a very touching ceremony and I was so glad I could be there especially without the dynamic duo in tow. It would have been very interesting. Anyway, once the pin was on it was a couple of quick handshakes and then we were off the stage heading back to our seats.

The rest of the ceremony was finished up with an adorable slide show that featured the students in kindergarten and fifth grade photos. For a lot of the kids it was like looking at photos of older and younger siblings being compared. Some hadn’t changed a bit and a few were almost unrecognizable.

When it was all done Jake met up with me and we had a little bit of cake, took a picture of him with his teacher and then headed off to lunch. As a special treat it was just the two of us. We had just enough time before we had to go pick up Max and Rebecca from Preschool.

Oh and one more thing, Rebecca found Jake to be so handsome in his coat and tie that she insisted that he walk just her to the car. She pulled Jake’s hand from mine and then firmly threaded her arm through his. It was definitely Jake’s turn to shine.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dog Tired

dog tired
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I'm tired.

I've been battling a nasty stomach virus since last Thursday and Sunday it finally beat me. I ended up going to bed at 6:00 pm. Mind you this was with 30 minute bulletins from Miss Rebecca until about 8:00 pm.

I'm still tired and drawn out, but feeling better.

So in this theme, her is one of my favorite bits from "Blazing Saddles."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance

Wednesday was Max and Rebecca’s Preschool Graduation Ceremony. Which, I have to admit, is a very silly thing, but it is a very big deal for the dynamic duo. They had been practicing for weeks and it did mark an important milestone in their lives. Next fall they will no longer little kids, they will be riding the big bus along with their brothers to go to school.

As I mentioned, the ceremony was a big deal and the class had been practicing for weeks. The parents were intentionally left in the dark what was going to happen, because it was going to be a big surprise. However, since Rebecca had missed so much school from her mystery illness her teacher almost sent home the songs and poems she needed to learn for the big day. But in the end it turned out it wasn’t needed; she quickly caught on and didn’t need the added coaching.

So on Wednesday morning Larry mentioned the Nate had an optional baseball practice that night at six. I replied “That is not going to happen. We were going to graduation.”

Ironically, when Larry called up Coach Jerry, it turned out that the coach couldn’t go to the practice either. It turns out the he was catering the cookout after the graduation.

It’s a small world indeed.

Anyway, we showed up at the proscribed time with a freshly baked batch of cookies in hand. I didn’t have to make cookies, but since Rebecca had been asking to make them I thought it would be an appropriate time to bring them. Everyone should get a cookie when they graduate. Max and Rebecca were whisked away, I dropped the cookies off in the kitchen and told the preschool’s owner (my neighbor Deb) and then found seats for the rest of us. Nate after about 2 minutes found a friend and was off with him looking at pictures and talking about their respective younger sibling(s). Jake was happy to be with me a keep an eye out for dad. Larry was coming straight from work.

A little after 6:30 pm the program began. We were first treated to a slide show of all the kids playing together over the course of the year. It was very cute and I filmed part of it, but I won’t bore y’all with it. Instead I’ll show you a bit of a highlight reel instead.

The whole shebang started with the class entering from the back and proceeding down the aisle clad in their caps and gowns to the sound of Pomp and Circumstance. It was extremely cute and Max led the processional while holding the flag. It this point I must apologize for the poor camera work. I really need to remember to bring our tripod to theses events. I probably will by the time we hit high school graduations.

up on the riser
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

After they all filed in and sat up on the riser, Max requested that we all stand for the pledge of Allegiance. Once we were done with the pledge the class recited a poem and sang “You are My Sunshine.” Both were cute, but I cut them out for brevities sake. Instead I included the student participation “When I Grow Up.” Max was a totally hoot and really relished that he could use his outside indoors. I think he was by far the loudest. Rebecca was loud too, but not at Max’s level.

Diplomas were handed out and then their teacher took the podium and had a wonderful speech about her students. I skipped both, because the children’s first and last name was given when the diplomas were handed out and Ms. Michelle’s speech would be meaningless to those outside the room.

Then the whole thing came to a close with the class singing “Kindergarten Here We Come.”

Max and Rebecca had been singing it for the past week, but I didn’t know it was for the graduation. It was a sweet way to end the ceremony. Then it was a stampede for some good barbecue, cake and cookies.

little graduates
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Artist of the Week: Drawing

ready to pitch
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After a bit of a hiatus, AOTW is back!

Nate is this week's artist. The picture of Nate on the pitcher's mound is courtesy of Aunt Meryl who happened to be there, camera in hand, for the second game Nate got to pitch. Which is far better than me, I forgot my camera for the first game he pitch. But in all fairness I didn't know he was pitching until I strolled up to the field.

If you click on the picture it will take you to a set of photos arranged in sequence. Some very cool stuff from Aunt Meryl.

Now for the art:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Nate brought this drawing to just a few days ago. My jaw fairly dropped when I saw it. I think it is a very accomplished portrait of a woman. What makes it particular interesting is that up until now Nate has only draw various aircraft and landscapes with moose and or dragons. I've always liked his moose, but I had no idea he had this in him.

It's kind of fitting since I have been watching a wonderful study of women in art courtesty of Janis.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Sparkle Is Back

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It's been 16 days since the last occurrence of Rebecca's mystery virus. I think it's safe to say that it's gone.

Her sparkle is back and she is ready for action.

We never did figure out exactly what it was. Basically, it was a virus that was particularly tenacious.

But she is back, my little sparkler is back.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Monday, June 04, 2007

Sun Cup

suncup Jake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This past weekend was to be Jake’s last hurrah for organized soccer. The recreational soccer league season had ended May 19th, but Jake had joined up with a team that was competing at a local soccer tourney this past weekend.

The Sun Cup is an annual recreational soccer tournament that is hosted by one the many local soccer clubs in the Richmond area. The games are usually not too far from home, about a half hour away. Anyway it’s good fun and it gives Jake another chance to play soccer.

This weekend was to be a scorcher with the added bonus of Barry winding its way up the East coast. Saturday was as predicted, temps in the upper 80’s with high humidity. This normally would be a huge problem for Jake because, like me, he melts in hot weather. Fortunately there was a light cloud cover for the first game and Jake was able to push through. He was a little slower than normal, but not as dazed as he can get when the sun is directly beating down on him. Sadly his team (the Fireball Monkeys) was soundly beaten during the first game. We than had a little under an hour to kill before the next match. I ended up taking Max, Rebecca and Jake to the local supermarket/cafe to relax in air-conditioning and nosh on fruit from the salad bar. Meanwhile Nate and Larry had left after the first match to take Nate to his baseball game.

As the day progressed the clouds built up and the temps seemed to be dropping. Jake played with a lot more energy. Again our team lost, but this time they held the score to just 1-0. They didn’t qualify for the winners match up on Sunday, but they would still get to play one more time. The coach announced to the team that they would be playing rain or shine.

Sunday morning I awoke to the sound of rain beating against the skylight. My first thought was good! Jake loves playing in the rain and the temperature had dropped significantly. We doubled checked the tourney’s web site and the games were still on.

As the morning wore on the rain continued, with occasional downpours. We kept checking the web site; with the heavy rain the fields might become too wet for play. Then at around 10:00 the organizers cancelled the tournament. The fields were soaked and with every game played the playing surface worsened.

What a disappointment. Jake handled the news well and was happy watching the Pokemon marathon for the rest of the day.

I think Larry and I were more upset than Jake. We really wanted to watch Jake play in his kind of weather.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mr. Boo-boo Paw

Mr. Boo-boo Paw
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last week was really exciting for us. In addition to Rebecca losing (literally) her first tooth, John earned the new name of Mr. Boo-boo paw.

Sunday I was out on the deck reading a book with John puttering around at my feet and Crunch nosing about on the lawn. We were quietly enjoying the lovely weather, far nicer than this weekend by the way, when John started baying like a hound possessed, shot off the deck and charged into the woods. Suddenly he let out a terrible squeal/ yelp with some barking, almost as though he was in a fight and getting the worst of it.

I dashed off the deck not knowing what to expect. As I followed John’s path to the woods I noticed that Crunch was still poking about in the grass, oblivious to John’s distress.

Just as I reached the wood’s edge I was brought up short by a doe springing away, not more than 10 feet away from me. John was bouncing about with his right front paw uplifted, barking at the fleeing doe. When the doe was long gone John finally calmed down enough for me to lure him in and make a grab. He was limping and obviously injured, but it wasn’t clear how he was injured.

Being of sound temperament I was able to manipulate John’s right foreleg in all sorts of ways without any protest. He didn’t have a mark on him, but something was wrong. Maybe the deer had kicked him, I couldn’t tell. I decided to wait and see. Other than being a gimpy little dog he seemed fine, it didn’t seem worth the expense of going to the emergency vet when it could be something simple as a sprain.

Monday he was still limping about and I decided to take another look. His leg seemed just fine. Then I noticed that his outside right toe was damp from his worrying it. I gently moved the toe and saw him flinch. Ah ha! It looks like he might have broken a toe. I consulted with a few dog people and decided that he could ride it out until Tuesday. At $70 just for stepping into the exam room at the e-vet and lord knows what for miscellaneous tests and x-rays, he could wait for a visit with our regular vet. Quite honestly there is not much they can do for him. I know with people, the broken toe gets taped to its uninjured neighbors and that’s it.

Tuesday I was able to bring John in to our regular vet clinic. We were squeezed in as a walk in and got to meet all sorts of dogs as we waited our turn. When we finally got to see the vet I told him what I thought was wrong. He then pulled and poked John’s foreleg a dozen different ways. After a very through examination the diagnoses was to John: “Well your mom is right, it feels like you broke your toe.”

He could feel the toe grate a bit as he moved it to and fro. It could be a tendon thing, but it really didn’t matter, the treatment is the same if the toe was broken. He mentioned we could bandage the leg, but as he put it “there is nothing more pathetic than a bandaged dog.” That and the whole keeping the dog from chewing the wrap off. We elected not to do anything. John should improve over the next four weeks.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So we came back home with Mr. Boo-boo paw looking very sad until it was time to wrestle with Crunch.

It was been a week now and already he is limping less. I’m just glad he did this before I entered him in a bunch of dog shows. Now I know not to bother until he is fully healed.

Silly boy, how he did this we’ll never know, John’s not talking.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Of Corn and Teeth

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last Friday we had a special treat, the first corn of the season. I was out grocery shopping when I saw a fresh batch of corn being brought out to the floor. I love fresh corn on the cob, ideally picked that morning. I knew the corn in question had been trucked in from who knows where, but it has been so long and it looked good.

So Max, Rebecca and myself selected six nice looking ears of corn and headed home to shuck them and cook them up for lunch.

Side note: I really don’t understand people shucking their corn right there in the store. Why don’t they wait until they get home? Yes, it is messy, but don’t the kernels get banged up and bruised without the protective husk? Also, doesn’t the husk retain the moisture? I just don’t get it. Anyway back to my story.

I set us under the tree-that-got-vacuumed with a pot for the corn and a couple of bags for the husks.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

max and a big pot of corn
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

We had a good time shucking our corn. I did the bulk of the work; in the time it takes for them to get through one ear I can clean three. Max then carried the big pot full of corn back into the house.

Then we had to wait for the corn to cook. Cooking takes a very long time when you are five years old.

Finally it was ready and we could enjoy our first corn of the year. We slathered our ears of corn with butter and set to it. Max and I were happily munching away when Rebecca started to cry. Thinking that she had burned her mouth I asked if her corn was too hot. With her voice choked with sobs she slowly informed no, but it hurts. This was quite puzzling, after going back and forth with a semi-incoherent girl I finally got to the crux to the matter, she had a loose tooth. Every time she bit down it hurt.

Ah-ha! I had a solution. I offered to cut off the corn kernels. This suggestion was initially rejected, but after a bit of cajoling I was able to get her to agree.

That night I carefully brushed around the very loose tooth and sent her off to bed. In fact the tooth was so loose it disappeared between bed time and breakfast. Either she lost it in bed or it got stuck in her breakfast peanut butter and jelly sandwich and was eaten.

We’ll never know, but my little girl is not so little anymore.