Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We would all like to wish you a merry and in our case snow filled Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Artist of the Week: First Concert

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake is this week's artist. Admittedly I'm a day late, but that's life.

He is taking band in Middle School and as I have mentioned before, his instrument is the trumpet. He has come long way the past few months and is slowly able to play recognizable tunes. He is getting a feel for his instrument, which is remarkable because of all the mucking about his Orthodontist is doing.

Last week was the the Middle School Winter Concert. We turned out in force for the event. This was a far happier occasion for us compared to the last time Jake was in a concert. (That was for the Pyramid concert and I'm still irked over that one.) His attendance was mandatory, but it is part of the whole band thing and we fully expected it. Oh and the good part, it's free.

Anyway, we showed up at the appointed hour and shooed Jake off to the band room.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then we were stuck out in the hallway to wait for an hour the whole thing to start. Since there were no chairs in the hallway we retreated to the car to watch a DVD. I must say it is very nice to have this option when you are stuck waiting for an hour with three kids in tow. Mind you there was still some whining when we got back inside, but nothing on the same level if we had been stuck in a very boring hallway. When it was close to the start time we peered in the auditorium and decided it was time to find a seat. Other parents joined and the seats started to fill.

The concert was divided into three sections. First up was the Beginning Band students followed by the Intermediate Band and then the Advance Band rounded out the evening. Below is the first song played by Jake's group.

They did a good job. The band is clearly at the beginning level, but they were able to stay together. I think it is a remarkable performance considering they all starting playing their instruments for the first time just a couple of months ago. And I think quite a few students didn't even know how to read music. If you are interested the other three songs played by Jake's group were Cardiff Castle, Ode to Joy and Holiday Sing Along (with a guest vocals supplied by Rebecca!).

It will be fun to see how much they progress at the next concert.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lego - Star Wars vs. Star Trek

I am very, very, very busy this week, but not to busy to watch some Lego animation goodness.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I cook on the fly. Half the time when I'm making dinner I'll switch things around according to my mood, my preferences and what is in the pantry. With baking I stick a little closer, but not by much. I really do try to stick with what is written, but sometimes I get stuck.

Like tonight, I am baking a cheesecake to drop off at school tomorrow, it's for some sort of teacher/staff appreciation thingy. I *thought* I had all the ingredients on hand and that's why I volunteered to make my basic cheesecake. Note the thought. I sort of had everything, I was just shy 1/4 cup sour cream. It's late, its cold outside and I just plain don't want to go. So I haul out my cookbooks to see how I can make do. It's sour cream and I've got the cream, how hard could it be?

It turns out not very hard at all. One quick substitution was 3/4 cup oh heavy cream with 3 to 4 drops of lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and let sit for 30 to 40 minutes. It basically worked and I was able to finish the cheesecake. Whoo-hoo substitutes! I get to stay in.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Crunch is Home

Last Friday I picked up Crunch's remains from the vet. It was a hard trip, I sobbed in the car before going in and it hit me again when I got back into the car.

first picture
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is one of our first pictures of Crunch. He was, as all puppies are, adorable. Rally thought otherwise and was initially quite peeved with this goofy red interloper. But in the end it wasn't such a bad thing especially once she figured out how to trick him out of the comfy spot in the kitchen.

We had gotten Crunch in January of 1993. We wanted another dog and we thought Rally would like the companionship. He just kind of fell into our laps. His breeder had called us wondering if we were still looking for a dog. I had spoken with her months earlier when we were first looking, but she had nothing to offer at the time. Apparently I had made a good impression and when they had decided that it was time to place "Nestle" they gave us a call.

young Crunch
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
His original name was Nestle as in Nestle Crunch. His bite started to go off and that was why we were offered him. When we went to get him, up in the wilds of Ramsey, Minnesota, his bite had improved. They asked if it was possible if we could show him and thus a hobby was born. We thought Nestle was a weenie name and called him Crunch instead. Crunch grew to be a handsome dog, a canine Fabio according to my Brother in Law. He was also a natural show dog and I was able to handle him myself to his champion ship. Not bad for a novice handler.

Because of Crunch, Dianne (his breeder), became a very good friend. She then pointed me in the direction of the local dachshund club and I made a lot of friends in the "dog world." The local club was and still is very performance oriented and it was a given that if your dog had any talent in the field you should try to put a Field Championship on it along with a bench or rather show Championship thus earning the dog the title of Dual Champion. Crunch was a natural in the field, his only problem was the extreme difficulty I had in getting him back. He was notorious as the dog that would take off when the judges would ask for the handlers to pick up their dogs. His saving grace was his unfailingly happy demeanor and the fact that anybody could pick him up. Everybody loved Crunch because he loved everybody.

Waitng to go
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In time we were able to put a Dual Championship on Crunch. It wasn't until we moved back East that we realized what a big deal a DC was. At that point I decided to go whole hog and try to get a Versatility Certificate on him. It is a high honor from the Dachshund Club of America and not every dog can earn one. In 2000 he qualified and we headed out west to the National Specialty show in Portland Oregon in 2001. I was pregnant with Max and Rebecca and as big as a house. I was determined to be there when his plaque would be announced at the banquet. It was a huge ordeal flying out to Portland with two kids and a dog, but we made it. As an added bonus we got to spend time with a dear friend of mine from college. She had married the previous year and we had flown out for that sans kids.

As the years slipped by I would occasionally bring Crunch out to show. He loved going to shows and always put on a good show. At the tender age of 11 1/2 he sired his first litter and a few months later John, his son, came to live with us. When Jake turned 10 we got him a Junior Handler number and he would take Crunch into the ring while I showed John. Crunch was very happy with his new career and was very patient with Jake. But I could she he was starting to fade.

me and Crunch
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
He could still move like a dream, but he was slowing down. Crunch was spending much more sleeping and then we got John. John was a good addition to the household. He perked everybody up and he and his father would endlessly wrestle at my feet. With a look Crunch could flatten his son. John knew who the boss was.

But then at the end of summer Crunch started to falter. He wasn't as sure on his feet and his nose started to bother him. It looked like him had a nasal tumor. We never got a definitive diagnoses, because it would mean sedating him and the last time we did , about 8 months previously, it took 4 days for him to recover. I promised him I wouldn't do that to him again. At 15 he was too old. Then he stopped wrestling with John and not long afterwards to eat. I was able to tempt him along for a while, but in the end it was time.

The last picture was taken a few days before his final trip. He was my dog and always loved to be in my lap.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Boy and his dog

Boy and his dog
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate loves dogs. He always has and he loves John in particular. Whenever Nate is in a quiet mood I'll find him curled up around John. Nate loved the time I dumped John on his bed to wake him up. John covered his face in kisses and Nate awoke with giggles.

I know Nate would love it if John could spend the night with him, but it's not an option. I like to keep the upstairs as doggy free as possible because of allergies. Also John at 3 and 1/2 is still a fairly destructive dog. He is much better know, but he still chews up the occasional toy and blanket. I'd hate to see what would happen if he was left to his own devices over the course of the night. So Nate will just have to settle with his cuddle sessions downstairs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Eighth and Final Day of Hanukkah

Eighth Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here they are, our two menorahs in their full glory.

I hope you all who celebrate Hanukkah had a joyous Festival of Lights. I would also like to share one more thing. It's a video I found over at YouTube and it's a really rockin' little tune that celebrates the Festival of Lights.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seventh Day of Hanukkah

seventh night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max is pictured here with a little fabric book about Hanukkah that I wrote about last year.

He brought it in to school last week and it was a very popular item over at the reading corner. Everybody loved to play with it. Max's favorite part is the teddy bear, I think the other kids liked the dreidel.

This is one of little treasures that we all look forward to seeing again each year. It has held up very well, the only damage so far is to the latkes. John nibbled the edge, so it is a bit ragged. Max's teacher thought it was pretty funny when I pointed it out to her.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sixth day and More

three candles and a dreidel
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Sunday we went to two Hanukkah parties. In the morning I schlepped the kids on up to the party at Hebrew school while Larry stayed home to paint the shed. The kids had a great time. They decorated (and ate) doughnuts, made edible dreidels, practiced lighting the candles and saying the blessings, played BINGO and made a variety of crafts. Pictured is a sampling of their handy work, three candles and a dreidel. Nate's is the candle on the far left, Max made the one in the middle, Rebecca made the candle with the delicate decorations and Jake carved a dreidel out of soap. Meanwhile I was happy to nosh on latkes.

sixth day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then in the evening we headed out to our Congregation's Hanukkah party. As always the food was great and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. We got to eat more latkes (they were better than this morning's), sing songs and have a great time. The only problem was that it was we left too early to light candles at home (I will not leave a burning candle in the house when we go out) and it was a bit late once we got back home. But we have our fabric menorahs and they filled the bill.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fourth and Fifth Days of Hanukkah

fourth night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Since I barely post on the weekend, today you get a two for one deal for the forth and fifth days of Hanukkah.

On Friday we lit the candles before we went out for dinner. We lit them just before Shabbat simultaneously with Meryl. We had our phones on speaker and recited the blessings together. It was a fun way to do things. Anyway back to dinner,I have a long standing policy that no one should cook dinner on their birthday. I picked the new Japanese restaurant, Kabuki, in our area. It was quite an experience. It was theater in the round. Parties of up to ten people are seated along three sides of a grill with the chef mans his position at the fourth side and does a knife and fire show while cooking your dinner. We all loved the food and Jake commented that "you don't get bored while waiting for your food." We will definitely be going there again sometime in the future. It's nice when we can add a new restaurant to our rotation.

fifth night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Saturday all four children got in on the picture. It's a remarkable shot because they all look good. Normally I'll have at least one of them through an oddball expression which I swear is just to bug me, but not this time. They are all happily entranced by the flames of our two menorahs.

I decided since we have a plethora of candles courtesy of Hebrew School that we should fire up both menorahs. They put out a fair amount of light and everybody got to do something. The dynamic duo got to select and put in the candles and the other two got to light the candles.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Third Day and 42

third day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here is my third day of Hanukkah post with the added bonus of my 42nd birthday. Now that I'm forty two I'm the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Or at least the bits I know.

Anyway about the third day's menorah. It's actually a box of chocolate gelt that you open up one candle for each day of Hanukkah. It was given to the kids from their Aunt Meryl. We of course opened the whole thing up and distributed the chocolate, two pieces per child. This was very popular with the under 12 set.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Second Day

second day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is my favorite of our menorahs, I wrote all about it here if you are interested.

Anyway the Hanukkah Fairy made a reappearance today. I brought this particular menorah into Rebecca's class today along with candles, a book selected by Rebecca and a handful of dreidals. The book was Hanukkah! by Sarah Freedland and illustrated by Sue Clarke. It is a gorgeous book with rich illustrations and pop-ups. It does a good job describing the meaning of Hanukah and was appropriate for Rebecca's class.

Rebecca was utterly delighted that I came in to read today. As Larry observed, when she is very happy her whole body smiles and when I walked into her classroom I got a whole body smile. The class was attentive and I think they really enjoyed the book. They loved the dreidals and they were all fascinated by the menorah. They wanted me to light the candles, but sadly we are not allowed to light candles in the classroom. Which, when you think about it, is not a bad rule. Open flames and twenty 5 to 6 year old kids don't really mix.

I had a great time and I think I was able to spread a little bit of light on the Festival of Lights.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First day of Hanukkah, First Snow

first day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Well today is a day of firsts.

Last night was the start of Hanukkah. We had latkes and the requisite arguing over the menorah. This year it was over who's candles we should use. Max, Rebecca and Nate all got a package of Hanukkah candles at Hebrew school on Sunday. Nate had brought out his candles and was just putting them in the menorah when Rebecca rushed over and burst into tears. She really wanted us to use her candles first. Nate, a bit puzzled over the fuss, was a gentleman and let the girl have her way.

I didn't take a picture of the candles in question, I thought it was better to show the hero of the moment with our fabric dachshund menorah. Nate brought it to school and one of the big questions was "Why is the dog's back on fire?" His answer: "It's not on fire, those are candles."

Anyway, he packed it up and brought it home yesterday and in the picture he is getting ready to bring it back to school.

first snow
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Meanwhile later in the morning the first snowfall of the season graced the area. The flakes have been falling on and off all day alternating with little tiny flakes and big fat clumps of snow. Mostly it has been big fat flakes that have covered the deck and table. For a brief moment we even got a little bit of sleet. It won't last, but it will certainly botch up the traffic. Richmonders are incapable of dealing with the white stuff and the first snow event is always a traumatic one for the area. I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere today.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm the Hanukkah Fairy

Spreading the light of Hanukkah wherever I go.

I sent a note to Max's teacher today about Hanukkah. He is the star of the week and I thought it would be a good idea for him to bring in a menorah to share with class since Hanukkah starts tonight. I gave his teacher my email addy so we would not be dependent on the vagaries of a 6 year old to deliver notes back and forth.

This email popped up in my inbox a few hours after I got the kids off to school:
Hi Mrs. G.!

We have been talking about Hannukah this week and asking Max a lot of
questions:) I have some books but I would love to have Max share a
menorah! And if by any chance you have a driedel that the kids could pass
around that would be great. I have a couple but for whatever reason I
can't find them --- I'm sure that I will find them in Jan!

Thanks so much!

Mrs. S.

No problem, we have menorahs and driedals aplenty. I swung by the school to drop
them off. While in the hallway chatting with Max's teacher Rebecca's stopped by
and wanted to know when I could read a book to the class. Ah book, I don't remember volunteering, but I smoothly covered my surprise and asked when would be good for her. She would like me to stop by before lunch any time this week and we settled on Thursday.

I know there are not very many Jewish families in our school system and I think my children are the most up front. That and I carefully note each year on the class forms that we don't celebrate Christmas. So I have become the "go to" person for all things Hanukkah at the school. Which I find utterly hilarious since I'm a convert, but it is also nice because it shows we are doing a good job with raising our children Jewish in an overwhelmingly Christian area.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Happy Birthday Larry!

Chocolate Cheesecake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today, or at least what's left of it, is my dear husband's birthday.

I called him up at work today to get dinner menu approval (steak and oven roasted potatoes, I knew he would say yes, I just wanted to tell him) and ask what kind of cake he wanted. He settled on the Hershey's Three Chocolate Layered Cheesecake that everybody seems to be making.

Larry then got treated to lunch by his coworkers and got throughly cookied and caked out. He really has a nice place to work at, makes me miss the days I used to to work outside of the home.

Anyway my creation looked gorgeous, but would have benefited with sitting in the fridge overnight to allow the cake to firm up and the flavors to develop, but it was still tasty. Next year I need to remember to ask him a day ahead.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Your Score: Fennel

You scored 50% intoxication, 0% hotness, 100% complexity, and 25% craziness!

You are Fennel!

You're a cool cat. Crisp, clean, fresh, and extremely complicated. You're like quantum physics or modern jazz. Think Niels Bohr meets Ornette Coleman. You may look normal now, but once you sprout, you look kind of, uh, funny.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
Courtesy of Janis.