Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It's getting harder and harder to get pictures of him. The Halloween photo is fine (since he's in costume) and he barely tolerates the mandatory annual/holiday photo. The rest of the year I have to get them on the sly. This is one I was able to crop out of the group photos from his band field trip. It's a testimony of how good the camera is even with extreme cropping, the picture still has a fair amount of resolution left.
Anyway, back to my post.
I was digging through some old papers when I found a little book Jake made last year with one of his classmates. I don't remember it, it must have gotten mixed in with the vast amount of stuff Jake dragged home at the end of the year. I found it to be utterly charming.
I love the pictures and the little Anglicism at the end cracks me up. I have no Idea where that came from, except that we do watch a fair amount of Monty Python.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I signed him a few weeks ago in anticipation of Dell's arrival. I thought it would be good for John to get some one on one time with me after the arrival of his half brother and a little obedience training wouldn't hurt.
John was a very good boy throughout the course. His most impressive moment was when the two dogs on either side of him decided to go visit each other and practically trampled John. John just sat there, wagging his tail and completely focused on me. It would have been completely understandable if he had snarked at the two doofuses, but he didn't. He got a ton of praise from me and the other instructors.
He was admired by all and was a pleasure to work with. Too bad his trainer (me) is such a slacker and only worked with him a couple a times a week. I should try again and actually work on him between classes. It looks like he might have some potential in the obedience ring.
Monday, April 28, 2008
But this nothing compared to what happened in Colonial Heights and Suffolk county today.
I first got an inkling that there was a bit more going on weather wise than rain when I picked up Jake from school. He had stayed after school for band rehearsal and I was supposed to pick him up at 4:30. I was a couple of minutes early, but Jake said he had been waiting for thirty minutes.
The rehearsal had been called early because of tornado warnings. Jake tried to call home, but he knew I could not come any earlier and was fine with that.
I was shocked.
There had been some rumbles of thunder, but tornadoes. No way.
When we got back home I put on the news and I was amazed at the devastation I saw. It looks like nobody was killed, but wow. I thought we left this behind when we moved away from Wisconsin.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Sadly it's not the Tick, who is easily my most favorite hapless superhero. Instead it's the horrible blood sucking kind that leave itchy welts that you swear are never, ever going to go away. Mr. Dell seems to be a bit of a tick magnet, I pulled three off of him tonight. So it's time to break out the Frontline and dose the dogs.
Last year was a very mild tick season, the drought definitely had a negative impact on the local tick population. But this year looks bad, we've had tons of rain and no winter to speak of. A good solid freeze helps knock back the bugs and we only got a few days of cold weather interspersed with freakishly warm days.
Oh and in case anybody is wondering about the title, go watch this over at YouTube.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tonight I got to watch Nate's team whomp their opponents at 16 to 1. It was only their second game meanwhile Jake is halfway through his schedule. The dynamic duo's game wasn't quite so lopsided, being just t-ball. The biggest surprise on the t-ball front is Rebecca.
She is really getting into playing the game. During her first game she made an out and since then she has become a fairly focused player, far more than her twin, Max, who has a tendency to run hot then cold throughout the game. Rebecca pays attention to what is going on and knows how to react. Fielding and base running are coming easily to my little girly girl.
And here is my little girl racing home.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
But this is not about baseball, it's about art.
Most of the art the kids make at school is pretty much directed by the teacher. The medium and the subject matter are all part of the curriculum. There is some individuality to the pieces. I'm pretty good at picking out my kids' stuff out of the crowd, but there is a sort of uniformity to it all.The students do get some time for free expression, but it is usually regulated to smaller scraps of paper and time. All the major works are part of a lesson plan.
But once in a while a big sheet of paper is acquired.
Rebecca was at the art station at center time and she was able to get a fair sized piece of paper. On her own she selected all the materials for her collage and composed her picture. She received no direction from either the teacher, classroom aid or parent helper. This work is wholly her own.
When she brought it home she proudly told me that her teacher was showing off her picture to another teacher. Rebecca was thrilled to get such recognition from her teacher, whom she adores.
I too am proud of what my little girl can do.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Right now they are tearing through the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky. In fact their enthusiasm is so great that I've started reading them as well. I'm not sure who brought the first one home, but both boys read it. Then they clamored for more. It was spring break so we stopped by our local library to get the next book. When school resumed Nate got the third and fourth book. Nate raced through both, Jake finished the third and started the fourth and I started the third before the books were due back at Nate's school's library. Then we hit a snag, the fifth was not available at our local library nor at Nate's. Luckily we had interlibrary loan to come to the rescue. So now we have books four through six (I picked up the third at our local library and finished it last week, I needed to catch up).
This should get us through the rest of the week.
Monday, April 21, 2008
It turns out that Norfolk hosts the largest tattoo in the US and the band teachers at Jake's school decided that it would be this years big field trip. With Max and Rebecca tucked away in Kindergarten I could be a chaperon for this big event.
The kids had a great time and if you click on the group photo you'll be led to a photo set of our trip.
The tattoo itself was held inside the Scope Arena and it was quite exciting from the start.
The boys around me were impressed with both the size of the bands and the 21 gun salute. I loved the music and the marching drills.
Of course there is nothing like a whole procession of bagpipes and drums. As I recall this particular group was from Canada, but it wouldn't surprise me if other groups had blended in.
In between performances the Imps Youth Motorcycle Display Team would careen around on the floor.
They would do all sorts of stunts, the two most thrilling were the pyramid featured above and an incredible complicated bit for driving motorcycles while sitting backwards while crossing in front of another backwards motorcyclist. I think Nate would have loved this part the most.
In addition to the military bands and precision drill teams, there was a slew of step dancers. During this particular portion of the show the dancers were accompanied by an Irish folk group.
I thought they sounded and looked great.
I don't know if we'll ever go again, it was certainly worth going to at least once. Jake was a little disappointed that he missed out on a field trip with his science class, but he decided that this was a far better trip.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The food, as always, was excellent with the added bonus this year of leftovers. We got to bring home half a roast turkey breast and candied yams. Meryl came along with us and she too got to bring home some of the bounty.
It's not the fanciest, the biggest and certainly not the wealthiest of congregations, but it is one of the nicest.
So Chag Sameach to all of you who celebrate Passover.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Created by OnePlusYou
Which is really funny since I don't drink coffee and I swore off caffeinated beverages 12 years ago. Okay, I might have the extremely rare cup of tea, but that's it baby.
As for being a vibrating crack-head, um I don't think so. Laid back is more my style. Although I will admit I did take the test three times, twice with my right hand and once with my left and got pretty much the same results each time.
Courtesy of the Llama Butchers.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Max is a funny, quirky little guy. Certain subjects such as zombies and vampires are off limits, but he loves all of the Star Wars movies, freaky aliens and all.
He also loves to draw pictures, the figures still remain in the stick figure stage, but are elaborate with some sort of tale to tell. Max really dislikes coloring pages and unless the subject matter interests him, it is done in a slap dash fashion.
So it's always interesting to see what happens when he is directed to create something for school.
For Valentines day all the students had to create a mailbox. A shoe box wrapped in plain paper was to be used. After a huge struggle to find boxes during Jake's first year in school, I have learned to stock pile all the shoe boxes that come into the house
So it wasn't a problem for me to conjure up a few for Max to make his selection. He settled on a bright red one that I carefully wrapped in white paper, only exposing the edge of the lid. I though the bright red color contrasted nicely with the stark white paper. I even cut out a hole (with a big protest from Max) for the kids to use as a mail slot for the valentines.
I then sent Max off to school with his box to decorate while in the classroom.
And this is what he did.
There are all sorts of wild animals , trees and a building. The one concession to Valentines Day is the single heart that I'm sure was added as an after thought. Jake and Nate had produced far more Valentines thematic boxes in kindergarten. But that's Max, a boy that marches to his own tune.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
So mosey on over to here and see just what Flat Stanley has been up too. Just hit play and enjoy the show and for the back ground story head on over to here. Oh and the music, it is just plain perfect. There is nobody like the Man in Black.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The flowers have been blooming for quite awhile, but I don't take anything seriously until the lilacs start doing their thing. Ours started a week ago and are featured in my new header.
Opening day for baseball has come and gone. Now I 'm not talking about this, but rather the local Little League's opening day. Last year was a dismal rainy affair. This year it was much colder, but was mercifully brief because it was postponed to yesterday and started at 1:00 pm instead of 8:00 am. The best part was the reduction in speechifying. I suspect the original mucky-muck couldn't reschedule and the league decided to just stick with just the board of directors and the ceremonial first pitch.
But for me the biggest sign that spring is here to stay is when I break out the shop-vac. Yes, it's time to vacuum the tree.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Jake's grade and older had silly songs such as "There's No Seder Like Our Seder", "I've Been Cooking For This Seder" and my favorite: "Gilligan's Exodus" which featured this great line -a three hour meal. I could overhear them while I was reading in the library just down the hall.
Nate's group 3rd through 5th had their own Seder in another building so I don't know what was going on, but I'm sure it was fun.
The remaining lower grades had their own individual Seders in their respective classrooms. I brought in some caramel matzah crunch for Max and Rebecca's classroom and get to see the kids all dressed up in the robes they made last week. It was all very cute, but the best part was the bag they brought home.
Each child was given a plain white paper gift bag and told to decorate it so it looks like matzah. Then the bags were filled with the ten plagues.
They have blood, frogs, lice/biting insects, wild animals in the form of a mask (Rebecca got a lion and Max got a bear), pestilence (in the form of a googly eyed cow), boils (bubble wrap), hail (super balls), locusts (I know they're butterflies, work with me people), darkness (created via sunglasses) and a wee plastic baby for death of the first born.
I love the bubble wrap for boils, I think that is such a cool solution. But I think my favorite is the cow. It is such a pathetic and awful looking thing. It's grossly over sized googly eyes really do make it look as though it is suffering from some horrible, eye popping disease. I've always like Mrs. L and the cow shows she has the sort of twisted sense of humor I love.
Friday, April 11, 2008
I was talking to Larry on the phone Wednesday (he's out of town at a conference) when it suddenly hit me that yes the two games the kids have on Thursday don't conflict and are at the same field, but I'm going to be stuck there from 5:30 to at least 9:30 and maybe as late as 10:00. The late hour isn't too big a deal for the older two boys, Max and Rebecca, however are another story.
So I called up Meryl and asked her if she was busy Thursday night. And it just so turned out that she wasn't.
I gave her a choice she could watch Jake's major-minor game or shuttle the rest home and stuff them into bed. Since the pollen counts are up Meryl elected to take the younger set home, which made Max and Rebecca *very* happy. Of course they completely forgot on Thursday and Max started to grouse about how he never gets to ride in Aunt Meryl's car. I stopped him cold when I said "Well you do tonight, Aunt Meryl is driving you home."
Nate also decided to head back home, he had his fill of the park and he wanted to ride in the Jeep. From what I understand he was quite a stickler about the speed limit. Meryl asked me later how I can stand driving him about. I simply pointed out that in the van he's in the back row, far. far away from the dashboard.
Anyway, the younger crowd got home safely and I got to watch Jake's team pretty much annihilate their opponent. The game got called at 9:15, Jake's team was up by more than10 runs and the other team had no hope of coming back in one more inning.
We got home at an almost decent hour and Jake even got to visit for a bit with Meryl. It's a nice having a good friend that can pitch in when you need a little help.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
For example: John's litter had a Beatles theme. There were only four boys and their puppy names were: John, Paul George and Ringo. Puppy names are not always kept, but as you can tell John got to keep his. It's a nice plain, honest name and so is John.
Dell's litter is a good example of a thematic line. His Great Granddam was Candy Cane. Candy Cane produced Godiva who in turn had (Nestlé) Crunch and Hershey. Crunch in turn begot Dell (Ghirardelli), Brad (Five Star) and Trudy (Gertrude Hawk). There are a few more in the litter, but those are the ones I know.
Anyhoo I was checking out the ice cream at Food Lion the other day when a new limited edition ice cream caught my eye. Turkey Hill has something called Gertrude Hawk Box of Chocolates. I'm a huge fan of Turkey Hill, I love chocolate and it's Dell's sister Trudy! I had to buy it. I really had no choice in the matter.
I love it and so does my husband. The whole thing was gone in less than three days. I told Trudy's owner about it and she is now trying to find it around her.
So now we have a new favorite ice cream, Trudy's Box of Chocolates
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
He has quite a mop of hair now and that's the way he likes it. He still looks very cute, but I keep wanting to just neaten up his hair.
Anyhoo, this is him by one of the outdoor panda enclosures at the National Zoo. He actually requested this photo. He plans on bringing it in for his "share day" at school, the theme this month is interesting places/travel. He had a great time at the zoo and he wants to tell his class all about it.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
They are beautiful birds and can be found in every state except Hawaii. All they need is access to large bodies of water with tall trees nearby to roost in them, Maryland and Virginia have both in abundance.
This was a far more stirring sighting than the one I had a few years ago.
I was driving along the highway not far from home when I spotted our Nation's Symbol. It was on the median (which is about 20 feet wide at that point) picking at some road kill. Such a lovely image. I'm so glad that I now have a far more regal memory.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Thursday Nate's scrimmage was canceled when about half of the other team bailed out on the coach. This resulted in a great deal of whining and pouting from Nate.
Friday was just gloomy and overcast, but the ground was soaked which made the dog show I was at that much more exciting. It was an outdoor show and it meant that I got to run around and kneel in the mud. John was a trooper, but Dell was another story. He was a little fool, rolling around on his back and keeping his nose glued to the ground. Too bad, because the judge did like him, but he wouldn't let me show him off.
Saturday was supposed to be opening day for Little League, but the whole thing got postponed. They wanted to avoid last year's debacle with the photographers (the pictures were so awful the coach demanded a re-shoot). Rebecca, surprisingly, was the most upset and literally burst into tears when I told her that she wasn't playing that day.
Today I schlepped off to another dog show up in Maryland. It was absolutely wretched out, a cold biting rain with an occasional blast of wind to liven things up and again it was an outdoor show. The rings were set up as normal, six rings in two parallel rows with a large central aisle dividing the rows. A large tent was erected over the central aisle with only a small portion of the individual rings covered. Just enough to cover the stewards table. Outdoor dog shows are almost never canceled due to rain, it takes extreme conditions are force a cancellation. So show dogs may have a fru-fru and pampered reputation, but they are shown outside in the rain and the mud.
Both of the dogs were rock solid in the rain, only flapping their ears when the rain lashed harder. They weren't what the judge was looking for, but I was happy with how they performed. Neither of the red boys are the natural that their sire (Crunch) was, but they are coming along.
Nate's team had practice today, but only a few kids showed up. I guess some of the parents got scared off by the drizzle, but that doesn't stop my crew. The ones that did show had a great time playing in the mud. But I'm tired of all this rain.
Friday, April 04, 2008
She did a wonderful job leading services, reading her Torah portion and Haftorah with confidence. It was a moving experiance when he parents went up during the service. Her mother choking back tears of joy and pride and her father beaming throughout.
Then it was time to eat and make merry. The kids all had a great time and Larry and I got to catch up with friends we hadn't seen in years. We also got to play "pass the baby" with little Ethan. He was born last December and we got to see him when he was just over a week old. Now he's a very sturdy three month old that was happy to be any body's arms. It was fun playing with him and it was great for his parents to get a bit of a respite.
I too got a respite. Rebecca joined in with all the older girls that happily took her under their collective wing. The birthday/ Bat Mitzvah girl sought us out and told us that she assigned one of her friends to be in charge of Rebecca and make sure she got some lunch. Jake and Nate also escaped to the kids table, just leaving Mr. Max.
The cutest moment, for me at least, was when Rebecca danced with her Daddy. The DJ played "Unforgettable" and fathers started dancing with their daughters. Rebecca wanted to dance too and searched out her Daddy. Her smile was practically incandescent when she started to dance with him.
It was according to Max "the best place and the best party ever."
I gotta agree with him.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
I like a variety of music, though I will admit hardcore metal is pretty darn low on the list. I'm more of a punk rock girl.
But this is absolutely perfect. It is the result of the combined madness of Amazon, Instapundit and FARK. My husband found it and I'm deeply indebted to him for this masterpiece.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Max is a huge Star wars fan, if fact I think you would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan in his age group. He would watch Star Wars movies all day long if we would let him. A close second would be playing Star Wars Galactic Battleground (He is not allowed right now because a fair amount of reading is involved and he is not ready.)
As a result most of his creative play centers around Star Wars. Nothing makes him happier than a rousing (plastic) light saber battle in the backyard. Most of his buildings in some small way relate to George Lucas's epic. One of his favorite books at the library is the "Incredible Cross-Sections of Star Wars, Episodes IV, V & VI: The Ultimate Guide to Star Wars Vehicles and Spacecraft." He can't read yet, but he will spend hours poring over the illustrations in the book.
So of course his Lego creations reflect his passion.
In the first two pictures the ship has its s-foils or wings in the open/ attack position. In the last frame the wings are in the closed position.
I thought this simple little craft was utterly amazing. At age six he was able to figure out a way to make the wings change position. I think most kids his age wouldn't have even bothered.
I have a drawer full of sharp knives and not a single butter knife in the whole lot.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
So here are a few pictures from last week's trip to the National Zoo.
We all love going to the zoo and I thought it would be a good spring break diversion. It is a reasonable driving distance, the zoo itself is free (parking is another story) and the weather promised to be fairly good (especially compared to the truly awful heat and humidity DC experiences in the summer).
Originally I planned for us to leave by 9, quarter to 10 was closer to the truth. The Zoo's website recommends that you arrive before 10, but that's just crazy talk for this crowd. I was a little concerned about parking, but driving was really our best option. Paying for public transportation and parking would be prohibitively expensive for the five of us. I figured that even with the cost of gas it was better for us to risk the parking. Plus then we could have a picnic and be able to stash our stuff in the car when we were done.
We got up there at about 12:30 and the parking lots were full. We did a slow tour of the lots and were waved on by the parking attendants. I briefly contemplated parking on one of the residential streets nearby, but I was leery of the 2 hour time limit. I would have been happier with a three hour limit, that struck me as about the right amount of time. So I turned the van back towards the zoo's lots and tried to remain hopeful. After one slow lap I saw a lot open up for the car ahead of us. I was allowed in and at that point the lot was closed off again. Talk about lucky! We had to wait for the family of 10 (!) load up their van, but I was fine with that. We were going to have a legitimate parking space.
Then it was off to the zoo.
We entered the grounds by the maned wolf. One of them was out and checking out the antelopes housed next door. The wolves are visually striking and possibly one of the stinkiest animals (short of a skunk) that I have ever smelt. You do not want to eat your lunch by them. We did, however, enjoy watching it before the wolf retreated to it's little den.
Two of the of the pandas were outside in their yards. The third (and I have no idea which one it was) was lolling about on some rocks indoors. I got one rather grainy shot of the panda scratching it's belly, but I like this one more of my boys.
As you can see they have decided to grow their hair out. Both of them have mop tops with Nate looking positively Beatlesque.
Anyhoo, after the pandas we ended up going to the birds.
Double-wattled Cassowary. The combination of the horny protuberance on it's head and the vivid coloration of it's neck and wattles gave it a rather Jurassic appearance. But, they were not my favorite bird. That honor went to the flamingos. I love their brillant pink plumage. We have them at our local zoo, but they never get as close to the fence as this flock. From the birds we strolled back through panda world and eventually ended up in the Small Mammal House.
naked mole-rats (freakishly ugly).
You know how sometimes something is so ugly it's cute? Naked mole-rats are not like that. Their little tunnel exhibit looked like some sort of post apocalyptic hamster habitat gone horribly wrong. Excessive nuclear radiation gone wrong. They are nothing like Rufus from Kim Possible. So I won't show you them, instead you'll have to settle for a picture of Rebecca (extremely cute) under a palm frond. (Note: the line across her face is a stray hair that was not nearly as noticeable in the dimly lit building).
After the small mammals we by passed the great Apes because nobody was interested. However we did like the Orangutan highway above our heads. From April to October at certain times the Orangs are free to move from on part of the zoo to another via overhead cables. The Orangs weren't out yet, but it was still fun to imagine them swinging overhead. We also gave a pass on the reptile House (too crowded, there was a line just to get inside.)
Komodo Dragon, which was on Jake's must see list. It was terribly active, but we did find it. At this point everybody was getting anxious and ready to go. We paid a quick visit to the big cats, had a quick potty break and headed over to the all important gift shop.
On the way we passed a life sized sculpture of a triceratops. This is Max's all time favorite dinosaur. I asked him if he wanted a picture and he zoomed on over. His smile is a bit odd because he is showing off the little gap in his smile. He had just lost that tooth just a few days ago.
Rebecca than dragged us on to go shopping. She had been dying to buy something from the get go. Quite honestly she would have been happy with just going to a gift shop and blowing her allowance. But instead her mean mommy dragged her through out the zoo before letting her shop. The first shop was a bust (she only had $7 and it really wasn't enough to get what she wanted), but the next one we stopped at was the clearance tent and she got a cute little camel. Max got a triceratops, Jake got a panda and Nate got bupkis. He didn't bring his money and confided to me it was probably best that he left his money at home. That way he would save it for something good. Such a smart boy. We then headed back to the van and home.