Saturday, December 27, 2008

Third Night through Sixth Night and Christmas Too!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We are busy, busy busy and the posting is irregular at best.

So here is a medley of pictures from the past few nights.

On the third night of Hanukkah we have featured the menorah at my mother's house. She is not Jewish, but we have one for when Hanukkah overlaps with our time up north. If I remember correctly this menorah was given to Larry and I shortly after we had children by his paternal grandmother. It was after one of our visits to Florida when she gave it to us.We already had at least one at that point and decided it would be nice to have this one up at my mother's house.

I like how you can see the reflection of my mother's Christmas tree in the window behind the menorah. It looks pretty and captures the two holidays in one picture.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Any way back to Hanukkah, each night we have had different children place and light the candles. On the fourth night Nate got the honor of lighting them up. I like how you can just get a hint of his profile in the picture. The warm glow of the candles' light on his skin is nicely captured by the natural lighting setting. I did not have to doctor this photo except for rotating it from the horizontal.

The candle in the candelabra behind the menorah has wonky candles, they really do lean at all sorts of crazy angles. They got softened by the sun during the summer and ended up bending all over the place. I try to twist them around when I take pictures of our menorah, but I forgot to here.

After the candles burnt down for a bit we noticed something interesting about our menorah's candles.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
They had burnt down on a staggered fashion irrespective for the order in which we lit them. The shamash (the central candle) really should be the shortest, but oddly the one on the far right is with the flames describing a perfect line ascending upwards from right to left. Rebecca looked very cute and we thought we would share this bonus picture of the fourth night. I think she is very excited over the prospect of sledding, yet more Hanukkah and Christmas the following day. We spent the day sledding and decorating my mother's tree and it was great fun for all. When we arrived there was well over a foot of snow and the sledding hill is nicely covered.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The fifth night Jake got the honor of lighting things up, but his picture didn't come out as nearly as well. So we will just have to be satisfied with a shot of just the candles. He enjoyed reciting he blessings ans carefully lighting each candle.

This brings us to the sixth night. Rebecca got to lite the candles and things got a bit crazy. Nate had a hard time fitting in the candles, so they have some of the same crazy angles of the candelabra in behind. I think they all fit together.

And of course here is a picture of my mother's christmas tree.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Second Night

Second night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is my mother in law's menorah.

I've gotten a bit more into the swing of things and took the picture before the candles all became nubs.

Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 22, 2008

First Night

first night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. We went to temple for the annual party, ate far too much, had a rousing game of dreidel and then headed back home to light our candles.

I just barely got this photo in time. This is my favorite of all our menorahs and if you go here you'll learn all about it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brand New and Cute

clear red boy
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
John's half sister and Dell's litter mate, Trudy, just had a litter of puppies on Friday.

Things were a bit dicey, but in the end she bore six beautiful puppies, 3 boys and 3 girls. The one pictured here is the clear red boy. He is just too cute for words. I love the little paw sticking out under his chin. His coloring is called clear red, because of the absence of dark shading that can be seen in the other four red puppies (the remaining puppy is black and tan).

To give you an idea of what I mean by shaded red think of John and Dell, or better yet these three cuties. The two with collars are girls and the third is the shaded red boy.

three puppies
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The boys don't need collars, they are readily identifiable by their colors, clear red, shaded red and black and tan. The girls look so very similar that the colored rickrack is needed to keep track of who is who (ie tracking weight gain).

Dianne will be sending me more photos as the puppies grow and we might just get to see them in a couple of weeks.

Friday, December 19, 2008


cookie cutters
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As I mentioned yesterday I have a fairly decent gingerbread recipe. It is courtesy of Martha Stewart, you can see it over here, or just read on.

I had gotten some cookie cutters from the Martha Stewart catalog a few years ago. Included in the package was a wee little book filled with suggested recipes and tips on how to decorate the resultant cookies. I haven't tried the sugar or the chocolate cookies, but I can tell you the gingerbread is worth trying out. the only hard part is judging when the cookies are done. I mostly relied on my nose. If I could smell the cookies they had to be done.

ready to bake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Makes about 16 large cookies
(I got just under 5 dozen)

* 6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
* 1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
* 4 teaspoons ground ginger
* 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground clove
* 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup unsulfured molasses


1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough in thirds; wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire racks, then decorate as desired.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The dough was very stiff and smelt fantastic. I chilled it overnight, I prefer that as opposed to hanging around for an hour. AS for the chilling on the sheet, at most they got was 10 minutes outside on the deck. (It was about 40-45 degrees out, this time of year I view my deck as the world's largest walk-in cooler.)

The cookies are very tasty, Max's class loved decorating them and eating them. I don't think anybody rejected the cookies.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


cookie tins 1
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So here is what I've been doing this week.

I like to give out cookies, award wining chocolate chip cookies. For me, it is an easy gift and on the whole everybody seems to enjoy them.

Originally the amount of baking I did was fairly low key. When Jake and Nate were both in elementary school all I had to do was three tins of cookies: one for each teacher and one for the school bus driver. I could easily do it all in about a batch and a half of cookies. Those days are long gone. Now it takes 11, yes that's right 11, tins to encompass all of the teachers (Jake has 5) and the three different bus drivers. Each tin holds approximately a 1/4 of a batch of cookies. So in this picture you are looking at three batches of chocolate chip cookies (the twelfth went to the piano teacher). That was /Tuesday's baking extravaganza.

cookie tins 2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Wednesday I knocked out another batch for our mail carrier, the nice ladies at the school's office (they positively dote on Max and make sure that he gets his enzymes), and a small one for Meryl (the piano teacher's tin accidentally ended up in this photo). All I have left to do is a tin for the kennel where we board our dogs and one other present for family. I'll probably will end up making that batch on Sunday.

That that's not all.

I got a phone call last week asking if I could possibly make gingerbread men for Max's class. The room mom was very nice and said she was asking me because a) rumor had it i liked to bake (duh!) and b) she knew she could count on me to deliver. She has been having problems we people flaking out on her and she remembered me from last year. She was in charge of Rebecca'[s class last year and I always would do as I promised.

gingerbread men
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Of course, I said yes.

I had made them before and I had a good recipe for them. All I had to do was mix them up the day before and let the dough chill overnight. The only snag was that I did not have the traditional cutters. But that was not a problem, a couple were found and sent home with Max on Monday.

Don't they look yummy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Artist of the Week: Diorama

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

I got this picture of him a few weeks ago during our annual holiday card photo session. He looks so cute and so very confident in this shot. His hair has gotten quite long, but he is adamant that I not cut it. We compromise with a very slight trim to neaten it up. I tease him that he is not Samson and he'll be fine if I do cut shorter. But it is what he wants and it is a battle not worth fighting. However he is not allowed to fuss when I comb out his hair. That is the price you pay for long hair.

Anyway about a month or so ago Nate had a big book report and project to do. For the report he picked out "The Burning" by Kathryn Lasky. The book is the sixth from a fairly neat series of books called the "Guardians of Ga'Hoole." The whole series is about a society of owls and is a good read, I highly recommend it.

The Burning
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
For the book report Nate had a choice of projects. He decided on making a diorama, specifically of an aerial battle near the end of the book. Originally he was going to use clay to form the canyon walls, but it kept breaking up and flaking off the cardboard supports. I suggested that he try paper mache, he had plenty of time and it would be lightweight and sturdy. The clay would be used to make the owls.

He had great fun laying out the strips and forming the canyon. It took us about four days to make the whole thing. The end result turned out very nice after Nate painted the canyon and decorated it with moss and crumpled paper "fire." (I found the red canyon back drop.)

The owls were a bit tricky. Nate had no problem making the bodies and painting them, but the wings had him stumped. The clay would not stay in place and, again, it was far too brittle once it dried. I suggested paper and the end result pleased Nate. Using fishing line and skewers we were able to suspend the owls in a great swirling battle. My main contribution there was in knot tying.

The whole thing looked great and he ended up with an A.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baking, Baking, Baking

It's baking-palooza here, so I've not much to say. I'll take a picture and put it up after it's all said and done.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Best Car Review... Ever!

Sadly I'm not able to embed this particular video, so go over to here and enjoy the madness.

Courtesy of those fine folks over at AMCGLTD.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bath Time

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I have lived with dogs all my life.

When I was young our dogs were very much against the whole concept of bath time. It was something akin to pig wrestling when it was time to clean them up. You would have drag them into the bathroom, manhandle the dog into the tub, shut the shower doors and stay in with the now miserable beast. As soon as there was an opening they would be gone.

The dogs Larry and I had when we were first married, Crunch and Rally, were a bit better behaved. They didn't like baths, but would stoically stand in the tub. There good behavior was the result of a liberal distribution of treats or as I liked to call it, chumming. Since Crunch was a show dog, frequent baths were a fact of life and I wanted him to be as cooperative as possible.

Now we have John and Dell.

John seems to actually want to take baths. Whenever I bathe the children he is soon in the bathroom checking things out. He happily trots through the doorway and stations himself right next to the tub. This delights the kids and sometimes they'll even request that John joins them. I'll plop him in the tub and he'll calmly stand there for as long as we want.

He looks a bit put out in the picture because he wanted to be in my lap or in the tub. Rebecca was delighted with his appearance, but she did not want him to join her.

Dell meanwhile has the far more classic reaction to bath time. He once came up, poked his nose into the bathroom and you could literally see him think "Oh no! It's bath time! I've gotta get outta here!" and he whipped back down the stairs.

Silly red boys.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hot Date

We have successfully offloaded the kids tonight. Meryl very generously offered to take the crew for one night as a birthday present for Larry and I. Originally it was for all four, but Nate has a birthday party to attend and we are sending him home with one of the other guests. Either way they are out of the house.

I'm looking forward to going out with my man and being able to enjoy a dinner and a movie without having the ticking clock of a babysitter in the background.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Magna Carta

I have just finished reading the latest Dick Francis, Silks. He now writes with his son Felix and the resultant book is similar to Dick's solo works, but you can sense a bit of a difference. All in all it was a good read, but the actual book is not my focus here. Instead it was a little bit I learned about the Magna Carta, one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy.

In Runnymede England, the site of the signing of this momentous document, there is a memorial dedicated to the Magna Carta. It's a pretty little structure, built in 1957 it has slim columns supporting a classical dome at the foot of a hill. The most striking thing about the memorial is who funded the memorial. I'll quote the website:
1957: Magna Carta Memorial
Standing at the foot of the Cooper's Hill Slopes is a memorial to the Magna Carta in the form of a domed classical temple containing a pillar of English granite on which is inscribed: 'To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law.' This was built by the American Bar Association on land leased by the Magna Carta Trust. It was paid for by voluntary contributions of some 9,000 American lawyers. The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe R.A. and unveiled on 18 July 1957 at a ceremony attended by American and English lawyers.

Yes, that's right the American Bar Association. That's your surprising fact of the day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artist of the Week: Cake

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So hey, it's my turn to be artist of the week. I'm pretty proud of the cakes I made for the football banquet and I thought I'd share them (or at least the pictures).

Originally I volunteered to make a team cake, but the next day I was asked if I could make more, as in enough for the banquet. After a bit of consideration I figured what the hey, it'll be easier than the last big cake I made. At the very least it's all local driving and not the massive multi-state trek it was for my brother's wedding.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The first order of business was figuring out how much cake was needed. I consulted with the guy catering and he said it was a bit of a crap shoot. It could be 120, 150 maybe even 200. Four sheet cakes (technically they were half sheets) would fill the bill. The rule of thumb I heard said 100 servings per cake, but that's a load of crock. At most I could see 75 servings per cake and those would be pretty mingy. Since there were four teams (Flag, Minor, Junior and Senior) there should be four cakes. Since this would be a boatload of batter I requested that I not foot the bill for all the ingredients (pictured to the right). The caterer arranged for the athletic association to pay the tab and he would drop off the stuff.getting the ingredients.

dining room
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

The party was on December 1st and I got the stuff a couple days before Thanksgiving. This gave me plenty of time. I decided I would bake the cakes on Saturday and Sunday. Start assembling them Sunday night and finish them up on Monday when the kids were at school.

For once i was able to pretty much stick to my schedule and I had all the cakes done early Monday afternoon. Jake came home from school just as I was piping the final borders. I had a little assembly line going on the dining room table. I would do one particular aspect of the cakes and shuffle through them before moving onto the next element. I free handed the G logo on the cake and I was very pleased how all four turned out. All I had left to do was to get the cakes to their final destination.

car full of cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I gave the caterer a call and I arranged to meet him at the venue at about 4:30-4:45. This would give me enough time to drop off the cakes and get back home to get the kids and return for the banquet. It had to be done in two trips because I could not realistically fit four cakes and four kids in the van at the same time. And no, having each kid balance a cake in their lap was not an option. In fact you can see here I folded down the rear seat and slid the cakes in on a clean table cloth.

The caterer was impressed with the cakes and I got a ton of compliments at the banquet. All of the cake was gone and it looked like we had well over 200 people in attendance. Not a bad weekend's worth of work.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Going Old School

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This weekend we rediscovered the joys of an old fashioned cooktop popcorn popper.

Our counter top microwave (aka the good one) died a few months ago. In the meantime we have been using the built in that came with the house (aka the bad one).

The good one did a great job with popcorn, the bad one ... well it earned its name. Usually the first bag would not pop it would just burn it instead. Then sometimes (I being an optimist at heart) it would pop the second bag. But there would always be a ton of old maids and there was a slight smokey cast to the flavor. Blech, burnt popcorn.

So, since we were having a hoard of small boys coming over we thought it would be a good idea to come up with a better way to do popcorn.

Then I remember the old popper my family used to use that my mother passed on to me. I bought popcorn kernels and flavored oil and even splurged on butter flavored seasoning. We fired it up Friday and it was a success!

Pretty much every kernel popped with the added bonus of the whole process being highly entertaining to watch.

popcorn popper
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The only negative was the tendency of the oil in the pan to spatter a bit through the mesh.

And here is what the old workhorse looks like sans popcorn.

The top has two metal tabs that fit through slots just above the handle. A sleeve with a ridge slides down the handle with the ridge locking the top in place. It is very elegant in its simplicity. I had fun shaking the pan back and forth watching the kernels explode. A far more satisfying experience than the microwave.

Sometimes going old school is the best way to go.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quite an Experience

I can safely say that we will not be having any more sleepovers on the grand scale.

Nobody was hurt and nothing was broken, but...

When 10 little boys are thrown together over night there is precious little sleep and a whole lot of noise. They spent the bulk of the evening running around and yelling. They were so boisterous that they set the dogs off. Poor John was in his crate howling to be let out.

I came out and threatened to drive each and every one back to their respective homes. This caused a brief lull, but soon they were back to being loud. Luckily it was daybreak and they picked up a few hours later. All were tired, a few were grumpy and I think they all had a good time.

Poor Nate was utterly exhausted and I spooned him back to bed. Unfortunately he had a party at Laser Quest to go to in few very short hours. He was still wiped out, yet he was able to rally and come in second place (out of 20 odd kids). It took the boy two days to fully recover from his wild all nighter.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's My Birthday

And just for the heck of it,

The Wiener Dog Song

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Big Sleep Over

Right now I have 10 extra boys in my house. Yes that's right 10 more boys, tonight is Nate's big birthday sleepover party.

They are a very nice group of boys, but as you can expect I'm just a wee bit busy. I'll write more on Sunday.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Silly Delly

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As I have mentioned before Dell often brings a toy to bed with him.

Its a funny little quirk of his and we have learned to check his crate most nights. If it weren't for his destructive tendencies we would let him have his lovie, but with a fifty percent kill rate on toys, it is not going to happen anytime soon.

Just now I have pulled out a manatee from Dell's crate. It still has its eyes (those are always the first to go) so it probably was tonight's intended crate mate. Then again he might have been saving it for a good chew session. I'll never know.

And this brings us to the second photo in this post. It's just a regular bottle of glue. Nothing is particularly special about it. I've used it to glue back eyes and it was out last night for a school project.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Except... it is special to Dell.

Yes last night's lovie was a bottle of glue.

As you can see it emerged unscathed from Dell's crate. I'm not particularly happy he had glue in his crate. At least it only had a little left in the bottle and it is a type, as Larry observed, has been eaten by scores of children with no ill effects.

In fact this is precisely the reason why we don't have Gorilla glue in the house. To quote one web site:
"After being exposed to moisture, this product is able to expand to many times its original volume. If ingested in its liquid form (e.g., by licking up a spill, a towel, or item being glued) it can form a hard "foam-like" foreign body, generally in the stomach. An obstruction of the digestive tract can then occur. "

Yikes! I've heard it is an excellent glue, but I won't have it in my house. I have a couple of very silly dogs that'll chew anything left out and with four kids, it'll get left out. And if Dell did get the glue, it probably would not be a lovie.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Happy Birthday Larry

Well I just got this one in under the line.

Originally I wanted to make him artist of the week, he used to make absolutely beautiful mazes. Unfortunately we just can't seem to find them. I've looked everywhere for the book he tucked them in, from the garage to the attic. Someday they'll show up.

Anyhoo, today is my sweetie's birthday. It wasn't terribly exciting, but sometimes that is just what you need. We'll do our big night out on the town later. Meryl has magnanimously offered to take on all four kids overnight at her place. They are all very excited over the prospect of staying over at Aunt Meryl's house and playing with her Wii.

So happy birthday Larry.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Blanket Statements

I really can't stand blanket statements and I find myself battling them all the time.

In health class the kids are all told that they should be drinking only 1% or 2% milk. They come home and breathlessly announce to me that they can't have whole milk anymore.

Well that's not true.

Jake has moved onto 2%, mostly because he is concentrating on his Hebrew studies and will not be doing any extra curricular sports until next summer. Nate and Max however need all the extra calories they can pack in.

Nate is a very active boy. He practically vibrates with energy. School days without recess are a very bad thing, he'll be literally bouncing off the walls. He doesn't eat very much and as a result he is extremely lean. The boy has minimal body fat. Whole milk is very much called for.

Max, courtesy of CF, has nutritional needs that run counter to most dietary advice. He needs to take in significantly more calories, 2,900 to 4,500 calories versus active teenage boys who require about 2800 calories. He also needs far more salt, especially during hot weather. I literally had a dietitian tell me that it would be great if Max could eat a half a stick of butter a day. So in a way MacDonalds is health food for Max.

I guess the good thing is that I'm teaching our children to think for themselves.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Really and Truly the End of Football

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
For now at least.

Tonight was the big end of season football banquet. There was much speechifying (one group of coaches kept going on and on about each player, I started to get snarky with a fellow parent. We both wanted this to wrap up quickly), good bbq and of course the ubiquitous trophies.

Nate is sitting on the edge of the stage with his team. They are all such nice kids. In fact the two other boys in the picture are coming over to our house this weekend for Nate's slumber party-birthday spectacular. He had a fabulous time tonight.

It is interesting to note that Nate is starting to appreciate the relative value of trophies. The two he received this year (one for baseball and tonight's football) were well earned, both of his teams won the championship. He now sees his numerous soccer trophies as just meaningless end of the season trinkets. His two championship trophies and his piano judging trophies now have an added value.

He told me just the other day that he only likes the trophies he actually earned. I picked out a busted soccer trophy in his room and asked him if that meant I could now chuck it. He happily said yes.

My boy is growing up.