Sunday, May 31, 2009

17 Years and Counting

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday was our seventeenth anniversary and this month marks our being together for 24 years.

Larry brought home this lovely bouquet (I love daisies and the roses smell heavenly) and Meryl graciously took all four kids overnight, all we had to do was shuttle Jake to and from a party.

We attempted to see a X-Men Origins and learned just because the web site and Fandango say it's on doesn't really mean it is going to happen. Stupid burnt out projector (never fear we saw it today and it was terrific). So instead we had a hot time at Costco.

Dinner, however made up for all the movie going snafus. We went to Mekong and discovered a gem of a restaurant. It truly is an authentic Vietnamese experience. It's been years since I've had Vietnamese food and I had forgotten how very serious they are when a dish is labeled spicy. It was at the very limit of my tolerance, but the taste, oh the taste was exquisite. We will definitely go there again.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Home Stretch

And we really are entering the home stretch in so many ways.

Only two weeks are left in the school year. Most of the work is done, at this point school becomes something more akin to glorified baby sitting. The older two still have a fair amount of end of the year testing left, but a few classes have pretty much played themselves out. For Max and Rebecca I foresee quite a few movies being shown in class.

Jake's Bar Mitzvah is also two weeks away. He pretty much has the Friday service down pat along with his Torah portion and 95% of his Haftorah. Now he needs to work on the melodies and to write his sermon.

On the sports end of things Nate had his last regular season baseball game tonight. Sunday marks the start of the playoffs, our team will have its first game on Monday. For Max his last soccer game will be next weekend.

As for me, I'll be happy to live life at the far less frenetic pace once everything is over.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In Which I Show My Capitalistic Side

Every night I say the same things to my children,
"Eat a vitamin, brush your teeth, go potty, put on your pajamas, now go to bed."

Every single night.

For years I have been threatening to make a t-shirt and then all I'll have to say is, read the shirt. Well I have gone and done it. I made up a few shirts at Zazzle and here they are.

Who knows, maybe I'll make up a few more designs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Artist of the Week: A Bunny's Story

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Miss Rebecca. It's a well known fact that she loves to draw. She also loves stuffed animals, when she was younger I used to call her the Queen of the Stuffies.

In this particular picture she is reading a book with Roscoe the Hebrew School Bear. She loved having him come home with her and I'm so glad Max had him first. It was hard enough getting Max to relinquish Roscoe at the end of the week. At least when it was Rebecca's turn she knew what to expect. Anyhoo, this isn't about Rebecca's love of stuffed animals, but about a project she did at school.

A few weeks ago I stopped by the school on some sort of errand. At one point I was in the hallway by Rebecca's classroom. On the wall was pinned a large number of rabbits. Each one was colored in, dressed as either a boy or a girl and had a small description neatly typed beneath it.

Juil bunny
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I'm proud to say I was able to quickly pick out my daughter's handiwork. The carefully executed coloring and the purple pink color scheme was a dead giveaway. The little description of the bunny was also classic Rebecca. Here it is, typos and all:

Once there was a bunny her name was Juil. She was nice. She likes to dress up. She is brown. Hew likes to play. She likes purple and pink. She likes to ware dresses. She is funny. She likes to jump. She is very good. She likes to swim.

By Rebecca

I loved looking at all the bunnies and I was happy when Rebecca brought hers home last week. It is just one of those things that make me smile.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Movie Time

This weekend we went to the movies. Jake and Nate got to see Star Trek with Larry, while Max and Rebecca saw Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian with me and Aunt Meryl.

Larry and the boys had a great time, to quote Larry "It exceeded expectations," a nice pithy review. The boys were dying to discuss the movie, but they were just barely able to contain themselves in my presence. I asked them to hold off until I get a chance to see it for myself.

As for Night at the Museum II, I can heartily recommend it. It is a great family movie that is enjoyable for both kids and their parents. Max and Rebecca were enraptured by it and I only had to go for one potty break with Max. I kind of wished I had checked out Run Pee (an extremely silly yet useful web site that gives me another reason to love the internets), but I don't think I missed anything terribly important. When the movie ended the dynamic duo immeadiately asked if you could buy it, so I think I'll be seeing it again in the not so distant future.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

The Lone Sailor
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I thought this picture I took of The Lone Sailor was an apt one for today.

It is of a sailor, duffel bag at his side, gazing out across the water towards the bridge of the Battleship USS Wisconsin. Behind the statue are eight plaques commemorating Norfolk-based ships and submarines and one dedicated to the September 11th attack on the Pentagon.

It's a very simple memorial and a very moving one.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baking With the Pioneer Woman

Strawberry shortcake cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In honor of the red boys birthday I decided to make a cake for the non-canine members of the family. As to what kind of cake, well I had a three pound box of strawberries and a a couple of bricks of cream cheese in the fridge. The two big ingredients for Ree's Strawberry Shortcake Cake.

It looked and sounded so good on her website I just had to give it a whirl.

And boy did it deliver. The whole thing was scrumptious. I brought it to services Friday night for oneg and it was a big hit. On Saturday one of my fellow congregates asked, with a twinkle in his eye, did you make this? Good, my birthday is in August.

Just one lone slice may it back home.

The only thing i would change is to cut back just a bit on the sugar in the cream cheese frosting, but that's it. Even if you don't bake you should really check out Ree's site. The directions on baking the cake are worth the trip.

I quote: "Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom."

Lord the woman is funny.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Red Boys Have a Birthday

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today is Dell's 4th birthday. We have only had the little booger for a year, but it seems far longer than that. He just slipped right in and wormed his way into our hearts.

I love how adoringly he his looking up at Jake and his big brother John.

Big brother John had a birthday too, but it was a couple of weeks ago and I sorta forgot it. I did remember it a few days before hand, but on the actual day, phhtt, nothing. Which really is not that big a deal, they are just dogs. However, birthdays are a very big deal to the kids and we had to do something.

Doggy b-day cakes
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So I made the executive decision that we would celebrate the red boys' birthday together. I picked up a couple of BK burger shots, stuck a carrot candle in, and plopped them on top of a bed of kibble in the dogs' bowls.

Dell ate his with gusto, plowing straight down through the carrot, to the burger and onto the kibble. John was far more dainty. He ate the carrot, gobbled up the kibble, and finally scarfed up the burger. All in all a very good day as far as the dogs were concerned.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dachshunds Versus Deer

When I'm complaining about how bold the deer are in my backyard, this is what I mean.

They just stand there, just outside of the invisible fence, completely unperturbed by the dogs' ruckus. I have to physically go out and shoo them way.

Stupid deer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Artist of the Week: Tell-Tale Hand

Nate at the museum
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Nate. He had a big school project called "Give a Virginian a Hand" due this past Monday. From a fairly large list of celebrated Virginians he had to pick one, write a brief biography, and create a poster incorporating a latex glove for the hand.

Nate quickly scanned the list, closed his eyes, and stabbed at the sheet. The result was Edgar Allen Poe. He was a bit dismayed, apparently Poe wasn't exciting enough for an athletic 10 year old boy. So with eyes shut tight again he gave it another stab and got... Poe again.

I, on the other hand, was delighted. Strictly speaking Poe wasn't a Virginian, but he did spend the bulk of his childhood in Richmond and spend a fair amount of time in the Old Dominion as an adult. Richmond even has a nifty little Poe Museum housed in the oldest standing building in the city. It has a variety of Poe artifacts, pictures, manuscripts, and, best of all, a monthly Unhappy Hour.

Poe poster
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We found out all sorts of interesting facts about Poe. He was the first to add science to his fantastic tales, he was an athlete in school (he was a medalist in boxing!), and was in general a fascinating character.

For the poster Nate decided to fill the glove with a crumpled and torn copy of the Raven. I supplied a pant leg from an old pair of black toddler pants for the sleeve and a few lace doilies for the shirt cuff. Nate wanted a pen for the hand and I was able to dig up one of my old calligraphy pens. Nate taped the glove onto an empty tin can, attached the doilies, and gloved on the sleeve. The end result was quite impressive.

For the biography Nate selected a script type font, Bow to be precise, and positioned the hand so it looked as though the hand had just finished writing. My only suggestion was to wrap the end of the sleeve around the lower corner of the poster to create a finished edge. He thought that was a good idea and stapled the fabric in place.

I really like the end result and it will be interesting to see what the class thinks of it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Accidental Garden

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I am at best a laissez-faire gardener. I just let things poke along until I feel that I absolutely must do something. I'm pretty good about watering my little container garden, but that's really it. At the end of the growing season I ignore my two big pots until well after the first killing frost. I then uproot the dried out remains of my tomato plants and basil and heave them off the deck. If I feel particularly ambitious I clear out the excess leaves during the last sweep of the deck at the end of fall.

And so my pots sit there on the deck all winter long.

Come spring I *might* remove a few more leaves and acorns, but again I really do nothing. Around May I start thinking about growing more basil and tomatoes, I'll then go out and inspect the pots.

And lo what did I find in my pots?

Two wee little tomato plants had sprouted along with a large amount of basil!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

My best guess is that our cherry tomato plant, the one that had self seeded last year, had again repeated the miracle of sprouting anew from last years missed tomatoes. My basil plant had gone to seed in a rather spectacular fashion last year so I wasn't nearly as surprised by the seedlings.

Now all I have to do is transplant the little buggers and buy a couple of slicing tomato plants.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Speed Racer

Speed Racer
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So at the party Ma went to there was a choice of miniature golf, batting cages and go-karts. When the birthday boy was asked which one to do, he and all his guest said GO-KARTS!

A really neat feature about the place we went to is that they have two tracks. On the adult track the smaller kids have to double up with an adult, but on the rookie track they get to zoom around in their very own go-kart.

Max had a great time driving himself. He had a very serious expression, but hey race car driving is serious business.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Guerrilla Cake Decorating

Or sometimes I just can't help myself.

As I mentioned in the post below from Friday, Max had an invite to a birthday party this weekend. Our normal modus operandi is to leave for a party about 45 minutes earlier than necessary and pick up the present on the way. I throw some wrapping paper, tape, and a pair of scissors into the car before leaving and we're good to go. This time I even had an appropriate card on hand for the birthday boy.

Max and I pulled into Wallyword and found a halfway decent spot. Max told me as we walked in that he knew just what to get his friend Tanner for his birthday. He marched us to the back of the store, looking for the LEGO aisle. After one false start he found just where he wanted to be. He quickly scanned the available sets and pointed out one.

"That one Mom, I would like to get him that one."

As I reached up I asked him "Do you want the green one or the red?"

"The green one."

I pulled down the green Bionicle and told him we were all done. He nodded his head and was happy to go.

I was shocked, I had planned 45 minutes and we were done in less than 15.

I took my time wrapping the present, but we still had almost a half an hour to kill before the party. I ended up taking him to a nearby Goodwill. He thought it was great, mostly because he found a little fox puppet to buy with his allowance.

Back in the car I saw we would only be 5 minutes early and I figured that was close enough. We headed on over to the party.

The party was at a local sports park- one of those mini golf, batting cages, and go-karts kind of places. We were directed to the right room and found Tanner's family setting things up. Max went off with Tanner and I stayed behind to meet his Mom. One of the things they were doing was putting together the cake. They had gotten a half sheet with a baseball diamond with a baseball glove in the foreground holding a ball. It was very nicely done, but there was no inscription.

They had a matching bag of frosting and they were planning on doing it themselves. I watched as they struggled to get the frosting down to the tip. It turns out they were unsure about the whole thing and I offered to help out. I excel in free form lettering on cakes. I really seem to have a knack for it, the letters come out evenly sized and spaced. They happily turned the frosting over to me and let me have at it.

It came out very nicely with the funniest moment being when Tanner came in the room. He didn't say anything, but his expression was priceless. It was basically why is Max's Mom making MY cake. He then shrugged it off and went back to messing around with his friends.

I didn't expect to help decorate a cake, but I certainly did have fun doing it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Full Weekend

Run Max, Run!
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This weekend is going to be another jam packed extravaganza of life with four kids.

*Jake has services to attend both tonight and Saturday morning.

*Max has not one, but two soccer games on Saturday morning and a birthday party in the afternoon.

*Nate has two baseball games, the first one is Saturday at noon and the second one is Sunday evening. Plus he has a big project due Monday.

*All four have their last Hebrew class on Sunday.

*And finally, Larry has to be present when they draw teams for the end of the season playoffs.

Fortunately we have Aunt Meryl available to help us out with any overlapping events.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Being Dead Is No Excuse

Is the singularly delightful main title to a book I just checked out and ripped through today.

The full title is "Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral" and when I spied it on the new and/or recommended shelf I just had to check it out. It had laugh out loud passages that were entirely believable. It's a wonderful look at funereal practices in the deep south ranging from what to bring to the family and the pros and cons of Episcopalian versus Methodist. An added bonus, I that I did not realize until I brought it home, it's chock full of classically southern dishes like Bourbon Boiled Custard and Can't Die without It Carmel Cake.

It is not the most profound book on death, but is definitely the most fun.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Artist of the Week: Music, Music, Music

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It's that time of year when it seems everybody has a recital. On Sunday Rebecca, Max, and Nate had their spring piano recital. Yesterday, Tuesday, was Jake's last concert of the school year.

So in honor o all this musically, all four are artist of the week.

Max was first up on Sunday and he looked so dapper in his little suit. We actually got it for him to wear at his big brother's Bar Mitzvah next month, but Max really wanted to wear it to the recital. Which was fine by me, it will be nice to get more than just wearing out of the outfit before he grows out of it. It wasn't a perfect performance, but he improved while he was at the keyboard and he never lost confidence. I loved the rapport he has with his teacher.

Next to preform was Rebecca. She too was arrayed in her Bar Mitzvah finery. She did a great job and really enjoyed playing her pieces. She is a natural at piano once she gets over her little snits when learning a new piece.

Piano recital May 2009
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

The last one up (at least for our family) was Nate. As I have said before, he's an old pro at this recital thing. He plays with confidence and style. It's a pity that this will be his last piano performance. he has been wanting to quite piano for a while and we have decided to let him drop it next year with the understanding he'll pick up band in middle school the following year.

At the end of the concert trophies were handed out to the students that participating in the trophy judging (Nate skipped it) and everybody got a certificates for being in the recital.

Now we fast forward to Tuesday and Jake's concert. I was unable to attend it, it was a bit late for Max and Rebecca and it was easier for me to drop him off and have Larry bring him home. They both seemed happy enough when they got home. Jake is not at all fazed by the whole being up in front of an audience, which will stand him in good stead at his Bar Mitzvah.

I didn't go to Jake's concert it wasn't recorded, but I do have Max, Rebecca and Nate's for your veiwing pleasure.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In love with Peonies

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
My peonies are in bloom and that makes me so very happy. I love their big, overblown and blowsy look. With one bloom you practically have an arrangement.

I essentially gave the florist at our wedding carte blanche. All I wanted was lilacs and whatever was in season, the rest was up to them. I had worked for them a few summers earlier and I knew what beautiful things they could do.

And oh the flowers we got! Little sweetheart roses of the palest pink were tucked in the the lilacs (from one of the florists backyards!) in my bouquet. The table arrangements featured big beautiful peonies along with the lilacs in simple glass vases. It was all very simple and simply gorgeous.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Morning Surprise

sleeping boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This morning I awoke to the sight of two little boys nestled together on the chaise longue in my bedroom.

Apparently they came into my bedroom in the middle of the night and decided not to loin me and their father in bed. A decision I'm am very thankful that they made.

They looked so sweet and so very, very cute I had to go downstairs and fetch the camera.

Of course they had no real idea what prompted the long journey from one end of the house to the other, except for the nebulous "I couldn't sleep."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

dapper young man
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This dapper young man wishes all of the mothers out there a very happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Spring Chocolates

spring chocolates
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I was knocking about Richmond with Meryl last week and we stopped in at our favorite chocolate shop, For the Love of Chocolate.

I wanted to go in to see if they carry a certain candy I would like to have for Jake's upcoming Bar Mitzvah. They did indeed have it along with the absolutely cutest little box of petite chocolates.

Their diameter is roughly the same as that of a penny. It was a mixture of both milk and dark chocolate with an incredibly intense burst of mint flavor. Larry, Jake, and myself thought they were simply delicious. The rest of the crew really didn't like them. Which was fine by me, it means less people to share them.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Rhodies in a Bowl

Rhodies in a bowl
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
A few days ago I was doing a bit of baking for teacher and staff appreciation week. I decided to make an almond pound cake, mostly because I had all the ingredients and it's quick.

When I was done I had a simple cake, dusted with sugar on a white cake board.

Now I know the cake is delicious, but the visual was blah to say the least. I decided to punch things up a bit with flowers, but I decided maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all. Quite a few types of flowers are edible (pansies, roses and violets come to mind), but all I have right now are rhododendrons and they are not such a good thing to eat. So I nixed the idea.

Instead I decided to float them in a little plastic, cobalt blue bowl I picked up the other day.

The contrast of the flowers with the bowl was quite stunning and I just had to share.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Artist of the Week: Gym Wheel Tattoo

This week's artist comes by way of the 2009 Virginia International Tattoo.

The middle school band once again journeyed to Norfolk and I, once again, acted as chaperon. It's a long drive, but well worth the trip. This year we were seated along the long side, over by the central stage. The sight lines were not as good, but we were much closer to the action. We could even see the performers cluster right behind the stage before they would enter the main floor.

All of the groups did a bang up job, the National Defense Band
of the Czech Republic did some amazing precision marching as did our very own Army Drill team. The silliest moment was Imprecise Broom Team which did a fabulous riff on the army Drill team. The bands all sounded great, but I think the most incredible group was the Gym Wheel Team, Taunusstein.

I've never even heard of wheel gymnastics, it was a completely novel experience for me. I really can't do justice in describing what it is all about. You really just have to watch it to truly understand what is happening.

I'm so glad I starting taping this. I had no idea what was in store.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Done, Done and Done

My biggest accomplishment yesterday was addressing and mailing the last batch of invites to Jake's Bar Mitzvah.

I divided them up into three groups:

Classmates at Hebrew school (22)
Friends and Family (41)
Congregation (41)

It looks like a huge number, but we expect only half will come. Most of the girls in Jake's class probably won't be coming. As for the boys, well our temple is located a bit far afield and the average West Ender really doesn't like going outside of West End (a shockingly good description of the West End), much less Richmond. Hebrew school is conducted in the West End and most of the kids are from around there. As for friends and family, a few of the invites were simply courtesy invitations. My 90+ year old Aunt is not schelping down from Boston and my brother will be a groomsman at a friends wedding.

I also faxed off the hotel contracts, touched base with the caterer and got the ball rolling with the flowers. Kippots have been ordered, Jake has a new blazer and the rest seems to be coming together. I just have to clean the house, ugh.

Monday, May 04, 2009


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We have been getting a great deal of wet weather the past few days. On Friday we got a fairly intense sunshower as the bus was drawing close to the school after our big field trip to Norfolk. The sun was at just the right angle and we got the most magnificent rainbow I have ever seen.

We got to see a full arch, it stretched all the way down to the horizon on both ends. The colors were strong and each band was clearly visible. As we piled out of the bus, those with cameras pulled them out and maddly started clicking away. Unfortunately I couldn't get a full shot of the rainbow, the school was in the way, but you get a good idea of what it was like. It lingered in the sky for about an hour.

It was a magical ending to a really fun day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Welcome to the Dark Side of Geometry

I love this and the kids did as well. Professor Vader does a fine job explaining the Pythagorean Theorem.

Friday, May 01, 2009

On Wisconsin

USS Wisconsin
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today I got to chaperon Jake's band program during the big annual field trip.

Part of our time was spent at Nauticus, a great maritime-themed science center with it's crown jewel being the USS Wisconsin. I took a ton of pictures of the Wisconsin, both dockside and on deck. This particular one I think is the most visually striking. It is the bow of the ship and you can see the extreme narrowness of the prow above the waterline. Myself and all of my charges were amazed as we stood before her. I like also how you can just make out the "Don't Tread on Me" on the flag flying at her bow. A bow, it turns out, was originally slated to be part of the USS Kentucky before it was co-opted to repair the Wisconsin after its collision with the USS Eaton (it amazing what you can learn when you paty attention and read all the plaques).

Four trumpeters
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The second picture I have here is one of four trumpet players on the deck of the Wisconsin. I was in charge of Jake and two other trumpet players in his band program. They are all nice boys and seemed to get along fairly well. While we were poking about on the deck of the Wisconsin, we met a very affable man that had served on the Wisconsin. It turned out he was part of the ships band and played the trumpet.

This moment of course required a photograph.

All four of them were being good sports about it and humored me, so I just took a quick picture and didn't fuss to much about it. I thought it was an amazing coincidence. Jake and I could have spent the rest of our visit chatting with him, but the other boys were getting restive and we had to move on.

I'll share more about our trip later.