Friday, May 30, 2008

Sweet Sixteen

wedding cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Sixteen years ago we said "I do."

It has been a sweet sixteen years and I'd do it again in a heart beat.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Feel the Burn

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After 10 plus years of sitting in a box and being moved from house to house, I finally unboxed one of my bikes.

Before children I used to bike a lot. I would even commute to work part of the way on this particular bike. Where I parked was about a mile away from my lab,so I would park my car, pull my bike off of the rack on the trunk and bike the rest of the way to work. It was fun, I save a few bucks on the shuttle service and I didn't have to wait for the bus. I even went as far as subscribing to a bike magazine.

Then we started having kids and moving from state to state. I boxed my two bikes up after Jake turned a year old and haven't ridden since.

This past week I took Nate's bike in for a new inner tube. I know how to change a tube, but I don't have the tools or the interest. I decided to try out a different bike shop than the one we have used before.

Nothing is wrong with the old place, they sell nice bikes, repair almost any type of bike and have every bike oriented gizmo under the sun. But I always felt like they were trying to see just how much they could sell me every time I walked in the door. Up selling was the norm and I got tired of it.
A few weeks-months ago I'd read an article somewhere about bicycle repair shops in the Richmond area. One stood out in the article as being particularly wallet friendly. I couldn't remember the whole article but the shop's name was Bunnyhop. After a bit of poking about on the internet I found them.

Bunnyhop, is just what I wanted. It is tucked in Richmond's fan district amid VCU. They have an incredible turnaround (can you wait an hour?) and they are very inexpensive.

I was so excited I dragged out my mountain bike and hauled it in for them to reassemble. I felt confident that they wouldn't try to pressure me into all sorts of upgrades. And I was right. For $15 I got my bike back.

The first ride was sweet. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to ride. I hate exercising, but this I'll do. I just want to become a bit more fit and be able to eat what I want. I'm starting off slowly, just over 1 1/2 miles a day on a nice rolling stretch of road. Once I get my cadence down and I don't have to keep going through all the gears I'll lengthen my ride. But for now I'm starting to feel the burn and it feels good.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Artist of the Week: Unusual

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Max. He had a t-ball game tonight and I got this picture of him in the dugout.

As for this week's art, it is a drawing he brought home from school a few weeks ago. His teacher had passed out to the class two sheets of paper with one letter, a U and a K, on each one. Their assignment was to create a picture incorporating the letter. There were no other limitations. The children were free to do whatever they wanted, they could orient the paper any which way and they did not have to have something starting with the same letter in the picture.

And this is what Max did with the letter U.

unusual U
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It is a volcano with two dinosaurs, a Triceratops and a T. Rex, climbing on its sides. The letter U forms the lip of the volcano and contains the molten rock within.

Max loves dinosaurs and these are his two favorites, the Triceratops being the one nearest and dearest to his heart. I am amazed that his picture did not have his usual complicated battle scene. It is nice to see him branching out into dinosaurs for change. Maybe the title of the project "Unusual U" is what got him to do something a little dbit different.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Movie Time

This weekend I went to see Iron Man with Meryl. I've been wanting to see it ever since I saw the first trailer a year ago and we needed to find out how kid friendly the movie is.
The movie was fantastic, but not appropriate for my crew.

It is a fantastic movie, but has a well deserved PG-13.

So my two oldest are just going to have to wait until we think they are ready. But for the grown ups out there, go see it now. I've never been a big fan of comic books, I was (and still am) a huge fan of science fiction. But... I have really enjoyed all of the movies that have come out of the genera. I think the main reasons that comic books can translate so well is that the people making the movies are often fans and the comic itself is practically a story board for the movie. Iron Man is no exception. In fact I want to see it again.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Best Meeting Ever

Last Tuesday I had my monthly dog club meeting. Since I'm the president and the secretary was out sick, I really had to be there. Unfortunately that same night Max and Rebecca's grade was putting on a little show during the big end of the year PTA meeting. So we divided the troops, Larry took the dynamic duo back to school and I took the older two with me to the dog meeting.

The dog club meeting is held over at the Goochland Fire Company #1 in Manakin-Sabot, about 35 minutes away from our house. For once I was the first one there. I stationed the boys on the wall opposite were the meeting would be held and let them have at it with their DS Nintendos. The meeting went very well, we covered a lot of ground in about 45 minutes with not too many sidetracks and the boys were fairly well behaved. Once the meeting was over I waited for everybody else to leave before locking up. In order to lock the room you have to throw the dead bolt on the inside and leave through on of the side doors.

As we crossed the room to leave I opened the door to the rescue bay so the boys could take a peek at the ambulances. None of the crew were visible so I did not let them venture inside. Once out of the building I pointed out the big barbecue smoker they have in back and the squished car. Nate asked about the car and I told him I think it is for practice with the rescue equipment. As we walked over to it we found the crew. They waved us over and asked if we wanted a tour. The boys seemed up for it so we headed on over to the open truck bay.

There were three EMTs (one just got his certification) and two firefighters. They were very happy to have visitors and gave us the absolute best fire station tour ever. For 45 minutes we got an exhaustive rundown on all the vehicles, a tour of the facility, and we got to try on helmets and headsets. We also got to go inside two of the trucks (That's we when the boys got to wear the headsets, Jake got a laugh when he said "Red leader standing by.") and check out the interior of an ambulance. We learned all about the new foam technology they use, the tanker trucks and the thermal imaging device. The jaws of life (big and little) were hauled out along with the cutter (with the admonition to never put your fingers near the business end of the cutter).

It was a blast. We even found out that you can have a birthday party at the picnic table out back.

I think the station crew would have been happy for us to stay longer, but it was late and a school night. The boys were very happy that they went to my dog club meeting.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Artists of the Week: Piano

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last Sunday Rebecca, Max and Nate had their Spring Music Recital.

Nate is an old hand at these and it was Max's second, but it was Rebecca's very first one. As an added bonus they received their trophies at the end of the recital. A few weeks before the recital the teacher's students are invited to be judged by another piano teacher. They students memorize and then play 6, 8 or ten pieces of music. If they are successful they will earn a small, medium or large trophy. My crew went decided to go for the small trophy and, as you can see by the very grainy photo, they each got one.

At the recital Rebecca was first one up, being the youngest performer and the least experienced. Rebecca was very excited and was eager to go all day long. She would get to wear her fancy dress and have treats afterwards. Her two pieces of music were My Dog Spike and Merrily We're Off to School.

She was a little hesitant at first with, but was able to step up and perform both of her pieces. I think she did a great job.

Next up was Max performing Party Cat and Mr. Machine.

Unfortunately my camera's batteries died just after he started his first piece, but I was able to get the spare set on hand in before his second and last song. He had his music book in front of him, but that was just to give him confidence. He knew both pieces by heart.

Then it was Nate's turn. As I stated earlier recitals are old hat to Nate.

He did a great job with both pieces. The first one, Chorale, is a very pretty piece of music, but Banjo Picker is where Nate really shined. It is a bouncy and rollicking tune that suits Nate to a tee.

They all had fun and overall it was a very good recital.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Crunch's Legacy

half brothers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Crunch certainly did produce some very nice dogs.

The two sons we have, John and Dell, are happy, affectionate and easy going boys. They love the kids and they mesh together very well. Crunch's waggy tail and friendly nature are readily apparent through most of his get.

In addition to his wonderful temperament Crunch also bestowed a couple more things to his boys. They both have very well developed prey drives. Dachshunds are hunting dogs and this is clearly applies to John and Dell. John has been a bit obsessed with moles recently (to the detriment of our lawn) and Dell is always using his nose outside.

Then there is Crunch's quirky little habit of sucking on ears. He used to endlessly suck on poor Rally's ears, leaving them slimy with his saliva. When we brought John home we thought it was fitting that John sucked his father's ears. At the age of 14 Crunch had stopped bothering Rally and was instead the target of his son's affections.

ear suckers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After Crunch passed away John no longer had any ears to suck, but then we got Dell. John enthusiastically resumed his ear sucking habit, but with a twist. Dell is an ear sucker too. Dell doesn't do it as much as John. Mostly it occurs when there are wrestling about as in this picture.

It was definitely one of Crunch's least charming traits, but it is interesting to see how it is being carried down the line.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Standards Of Learning

This week my two oldest are taking Virginia's Standards Of Learning tests, otherwise known as the SOLs (a rather unfortunate acronym). These tests are used to some degree evaluate the students, but mostly to evaluate the schools. Certain minimal levels of achievement must be met by the schools to remain/achieve accreditation. The testing is just part of Virginia's effort to abide by No Child Left Behind.

Anyway, Jake is an old hand at the SOLs and regularly scores very high on them. Nate, however, will be taking them for the first time. He is not too concerned, his biggest problem is going too fast and making careless errors. I'll be picking him up from school not long after his first test tomorrow and I'll get his take on the whole SOL thing. I do know that he is looking forward to the candy that gets passed out at test time. It was really funny when Nate told me about it.

He excitedly announced to me that he'll be getting treats at school and wanted me to guess why. I told him it was for the SOLs and we know the researcher that brought this particular gaming of the system to light. In fact we have gone on joint family vacations with him and his family twice. Nate was stunned and then thought that was pretty cool.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Far From Recommended

I'm throwing in the towel on this one.

I picked up Redemption Falls from the library last week and I have been completely unable to get into it. The narrative voice switches around in the most maddening way. Reviewers claim it all hangs together in the end, I just have to stick with it. After 67 pages I'm just losing patience with the author. It might have helped if I had read an earlier book (Star of the Sea), but I doubt it. The book is just not my cup of tea.

So back to the library goes.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Wow! Big News Indeed!

I just get an email forwarded by Larry from his cousin Suzanne titled RE: The big news. It turns out that Suzanne just got married on April 12th in Las Vegas. She and her husband Ethan have a wedding blog that has all sorts of pictures and links to their respective blogs.

I was very happy to see that they did the whole Vegas experience to the nines, a hotel ceremony with a bona fied Elvis impersonator named Glenn.

Way to go Suzanne and Mazel Tov!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Field Trip to the Zoo

prairie dog
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today I got to go to the zoo with entire kindergarten from Max and Rebecca's school.

The kindergarten trip to the zoo is an annual event and it was the first year I could attend. The zoo itself is real not a big deal for our family, being season pass holders for over four years, but it is always fun. Today's trip was no exception. The prairie dogs were feisty today and would come very close to the enclosure's fencing. As a result I was able to take the best photo I have ever taken of a prairie dog.

Anyway, since this was a school trip there was an actual educational portion to our visit. We got to learn about birds, reptiles and mammals on a kindergarten friendly level. But the best part was that we got to see some examples up close. Much to Max's delight TJ the penguin was brought out for the bird portion. Then the handler announced next up would be reptiles. After a little discussion about what is a reptile she went in back to fetch an example. At this point about a half dozen people left the amphitheater. They (rightly so it turns out) thought a snake was going to brought out and wanted to leave before the handler returned. And what a snake it was. Mac is an albino Burmese Python that is 10 feet long is about 10 years old. I thought it was neat that we could for once get a clear view of the snake and get a better idea of its size. Next up were mammals and we got treated with meeting one of the zoo's young chimps. I *think* its name was Quentin, but I do know it was male and very cute. Then it was off to see the zoo.

Max and I did a quick tour, it was getting late and he was getting hungry. S we headed back for snack we met up with some of Max's classmates. One of them wanted to see the bats and I offered to take him in. The other mom was very happy to skip that portion and Max was happy to have a friend in the bat house. Max, strangely enough, loves going to see the bats. He gets freaked out over all sorts of ordinary things, but not bats. That is the mystery of Max. After the bats we had snack and then a quick run to see the bears.

Who is who
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On the way I took this picture of Max and his classmate. They are looking at the porcupines and I was struck by how much physically alike the two boys are are. When viewed from behind they really look more like twins than Max and Rebecca. I can tell them apart, but can you?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Artist of the Week: Second Concert

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

My best pictures of him are almost always taken when he is unaware of what I'm doing. He is not hiding, goofing off or twisting his face into some sort of fixed smile. Instead he is just himself, a boy striding across the infield before the start of the game. Focused on what is about to happen and ignoring everything else.

Sometimes, like at last night's game, he does want me to take his picture, but that is a rare event now. I'm much better off sneaking up on him like I did a week ago when I got this particular shot.

Fortunately he is cooperative when I tape his performances from band class. He understands that it is a performance and that he is expected to play his instrument in front of a crowd that has free reign to photograph and video tape.

Monday was his second band concert for Beginning Band.

His level, beginning, played four songs: Knights of the Round Table (the video above),Genesis, Acclaim March, and The Tempest.

They are not the best band, but they have improved over the school year and they put in an honest effort. The percussion is amazing at this level and I can see why half of the percussionists in the District Band come from Jake's middle school.

But the best part for me is that Jake decided to go on with band next year. It's up to the teacher to decide if he'll get into Intermediate Band, but I think he will.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Open Letter To My Children

I love all of you very much. I would do almost anything for you to keep you safe. But some days I don't like you very much.

It's very hard to love someone when they spend 25 minutes pitching a fit, instead of getting dressed and eating breakfast. Especially when the fit was first brought on when they were told to put on a long sleeve shirt and long pants (oh the horror) and extended when it was decided that the shirt *I was wearing* (purple with a teeny tiny geometric pattern) was not acceptable.

I was told that it was not fair that I was wearing that shirt and that any thing I did while wearing that shirt was no good.

Well, life is not fair.

I was, in the end, able to spoon the reluctantly fully dressed child onto the bus. I then sent an email out to give the teacher a heads up.

I'm not, however, changing my shirt.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have to Kick Some Butt

You Are Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"We saved the world. I say we have to party."

What Superheroine Are You?

I can get into this.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Friday, May 09, 2008

Da Da Da

This never fails to make me laugh. I love the manic expressions of the skinny guy.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fund Raising, A New Low

I've ranted about fund raising before, particularly for the middle school. I *thought* it was at it's lowest with the whole you must sell 8 items in order to attend the school wide party.

But I was wrong. Oh so very, very wrong.

The middle school kicked it up to a whole new level of evil. It turns out that at the start of the fund raiser a child is secretly selected as the mystery student. The identity of the mystery student is revealed at the close of the fund raiser. Both the kids and the parents are kept in the dark. The mystery student "wins" $100, but only if the student had sold five fund raiser items.

And guess who was the mystery student.

That's right, it was Jake.

Since he sold bupkis, he didn't get the money.

My poor boy last night was very sad about his lost riches. I was furious.

I had tossed the fund raiser packet shortly after Jake brought it home. He understood how I felt and agreed that the catalog had nothing to offer us.

I know why they did this, it is to improve participation. But it is so very wrong to tell a child "Hey you won! but you don't get the money because your parents didn't want to buy more junk."

I hate our middle school's fund raisers. I'll do the band stuff, but I'm writing off the school.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Artist of the Week: Coiled

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

Today we got a rare day off, we had no baseball games. There had been one scheduled for Max and Rebecca, but there had been a scheduling error. The game was a make up for one of our many, many rain outs. However, the opposing team already had a game scheduled today. So no game for the t-ball Cubbies. Instead they got to play around outside until dinner, enjoying the warm late spring weather.

As for the art, Nate brought it home from school a few weeks ago. It only suffered minor trauma from the bus ride home, one of the side coils along the rim broke off. A little bit of glue and it was right as rain.

coiled pot
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

It is a fairly ornate coiled pot/mug (the side handle makes me think mug, but this little pot can not hold water). The main color is a vivid shade of cobalt blue with little splashes of red. It is featherlight and fits neatly with two cupped hands.

I like it. It is a true object d'art with no practical use. The blue color is my favorite and the accents of red really pop.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Then There is Baseball

I'm so sick of doing laundry.

Because of the short season and the vast amount of rain outs we are having a lot of back to back game days. Nate is coming off of a four day run, Max and Rebecca are just to starting a four day game streak and Jake will be playing games five out of seven days next week.

This kind of scheduling is grueling on the kids. Most of Nate and Jake's week day games start at 7:30 pm. Which means a very late night. On a school night. I'm lucky that I have a bunch of night owls, but I know some kids are a wreck the next day. Fortunately the t-baller games are only scheduled for 6:00 pm, but that's plenty late.

And, of course, we only have one uniform per player. This results in my doing a load of wash every day for the next two weeks. Little itty bitty loads loads that offend my Yankee soul. I normally do laundry twice a week. Two to three loads each Tuesday and Friday. That has gone out the window. I'm glad I have a washer and dryer, but I'm sick to death with using them. But the shirts, pants and socks need to be washed. I can fake it a bit with the socks and pants. We have a few sets from previous years, but the shirts have to be done. And it all really does need washing. The older boys don't get too stinky, but they certainly get grubby. Especially Nate who spends a fair amount of his time as catcher and often has to roll around home plate to make (and he does make them) the play.

I'm looking forward to tennis and the pool. There is far less washing to be done.

Monday, May 05, 2008

6 Weeks and Counting

We have just 6 weeks left in the school year.

Nate noted that this morning before stepping out to the bus. Just six more weeks of getting up early to wrangle kids out the door. Just six more weeks of asking kids school lunch or packed. Just six more weeks of making sure that somebody (usually me) is home to greet them after school.


It's a little bit this and a little bit of that and a whole lot of unstructured time. The first few weeks are brutal, my quiet days will be over and I'll be exhausted by the constant talking, but I'll adjust. And then summer draws to a close and it's back to school.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It has been a eight weeks and Dell has wormed his way into our hearts.

Dell is a little wiggle worm. He's is always rolling over onto his back and waving his front paws. If you sit on the floor he'll try to crawl into your lap or under your legs, madly wagging his tail the whole time. I found that he'll wag even harder if you say his name in a bright and happy voice.

He and John get along very well. There have been a few disagreements, but nothing serious. They love to wrestle with each other and just like Crunch did with John, they are usually at my feet. The funniest thing they do when wrestling is when they are side by side and both on their backs mouthing each other. When they are outside they careen across the lawn bumping into each other. It's almost like a roller derby out there. Then they rush back indoors to flop at my feet.

Interestingly John has matured immensely with Dell in the house. He is no longer destroying toys left and right, that seems to be Dell's job for now. At least Dell drops things when asked with John it was more of a 50-50 prospect. However Dell hasn't learned to stop barking when asked. John is fairly quite with a very classic scent hound bell like aroo type bark . Dell, on the other hand, has a much more robust bark. He sounds far bigger than he is. Which I guess would make him a good watch dog. I just wish he would knock it off when told too and wasn't so chatty at night.

John and Dell
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Overall it was a good thing to get Dell. Now have two very silly and very happy red boys.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Bohemian Rhapsody LEGO

Because I love the song and I think the video is amazing.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Going Round And Round For A Cure

I have a new favorite NASCAR driver. Really, I do.

Before moving down south to Virginia I was only dimly aware of the whole stock car racing thing. But now that I'm in the south and the mother of three little boys that love all things that go fast I've gotten quite an education. We settled on a couple of racers to watch, one of them being Elliot Sadler. Why Elliot you ask? Well he is relatively local and at the time drove the M&M car.

Then last year a new driver, Denny Hamlin, hit the scene. He had an amazing rookie year and is from the Richmond metro area. So I started to watch him. This year he has become my official favorite because of his foundation's focus, Cystic Fibrosis. It turns out he has a close relative with CF. In fact tonight there is a short track race just south of Richmond that will benefit the foundation.I would have loved to have taken the kids, but it is a school night and Nate (he's pitching too) has a ball game that starts at the same time as the race.

Then to put the whole thing over the top is Denny's auction. He is selling off all the stuff in his life that slows him down and all the proceeds go to St. Jude Children's Hospital. The site is a hoot, there are things like a rocking chair, spa slippers and War and Peace. I don't know who came up with the idea, but I love it.

So go Hurricane Hamlin.