Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artist of the Week: Rug

Nate and Dell
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In one of those rare moments I got a happy Nate willing to have his picture taken. His only requirement was that he had to be holding Dell. Easy enough to do, though Dell looks a bit unsure of the whole idea. He is a cuddly dog, but Dell's not that thrilled with being carried around.

So anyway, Nate is this week's artist and for once (!) I had an east time of procuring a decent profile picture of the said artist.

I think he was so happy and cooperative because he had just finished putting together his project. He felt very good about how it turned out and was basking in our praise of a job well done.

You can see it in his beaming little face.

Indian Rug
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for the project, it is a rug that features information about India. He did the whole thing on his own, all I did was instruct him on the right programs for the job and give him the construction paper.

The pictures really don't do the rug justice. The colors are much nicer in real life, here on the computer they look a bit muddy to me. I could have tweaked the picture a bit more for brighter colors, but then the text would disappear. In the end I usually think it's bit better to minimize the amount of tinkering with the pictures. Life is not perfect and I like my pictures to be honest.

And honestly, I do like that rug and particularly the not so little boy that made it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I'm bushed. After two late nights of baking chocolate torts for two different Seders, I'm done.

Last night was Meryl's very first Seder in her home. It was a bit loud and a little chaotic, but the food was good and the company more so.

Tonight was my congregation's Community Seder. WE all had a good time and even had a soldier join us at our table. As always the food was great and the Rabbi kept the mood light.

So no big post today. I have a happy tummy and I plan on sleeping all that food and wine off.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Max Playing Lacrosse
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This past week Nate and Max has started playing actual games. So far all they have done is go to lacrosse practice and maybe do a bit of scrimmaging.

Wednesday was Nate's big first game and his team won it handily 6 to 2. I didn't get to watch because it started at 7 and was about an hour away from home, but Saturday's game for the U9 team was a different story. It was only 18 minutes away and we had no other commitments.

At first the game play was a bit nonexistent. For many of the players, Max included, this was their very first game. However, as they got to play the game you could see them improve. Max at first spent a fair amount of time just standing at his assigned position. He would move when the ball came close, but not very much. Then he got caught up in the game and really started to play. Max, like all his siblings, has no fear and will get right in the thick of things. He is one of the smallest members of the team, but that doesn't stop him.

You can see him in this picture with his eyes on the ball. He has the lone black helmet and is right in the middle. What is really nice about this picture is that you can see coach daddy off to the side. It was a fun game to watch. It ended up being a tie at 5 all, which was nice. Everybody got to go home happy.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Homeland Security

Homeland Security
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Dell and John take their job as watch dogs very seriously. In fact my husband refers to them as Homeland Security.

They constantly monitor our yard for invading hordes of deer, squirrels, and UPS trucks. They have no quibble with the UPS delivery staff, but the trucks are another story. It must be chased away from the house every single time a package is delivered.

If no threat is detected from inside the house they will survey the yard from the door way before launching themselves down the stairs and onto the lawn.

In the picture here I'm not sure what exactly they are looking at, but I can tell you they are at full alert.

They are such silly dogs

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Too Much Coffee

I never really cared for coffee, but I can appreciate how some people really and truly need their java. Dave Grohl took it a leetle too far and this is what we got, a drummer completely hepped up on caffeine.

From what I gathered he was beyond burning the candle at both ends. He was rehearsing with the Foo Fighters during the day, working with his side project Them Crooked Vultures at night, and had an infant at home.

He has since learned to scale it back.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Artist of the Week: Painting

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake, interestingly enough, is this week's featured artist.

I say interestingly because a few months ago Jake pretty much announced that he was done. He didn't want to be part of this blog anymore except in the most peripheral way.

And then he started doing things, things that he was very pride of accomplishing. Grudgingly he allowed that I could still post about him. Especially when it was the very cool things he did with Future City and the Popsicle Stick Bridge Challenge.

The hard part is he is still a bit leery of the camera. I can sneak the occasional shot here and there and there are endless pictures of him striking a goofy pose. However, if I want any sort of portrait I'm pretty much out of luck. For example this picture was taken last summer unbeknown to him.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Luckily his art is not so camera shy.

This is a painting he created last semester during art class. He did a very nice job, the shading really captures the three dimensionality of the modeling forms. I think it's a great painting and his teacher did as well. She thought it was his best work and that he definetely has some artistic talent.

Now I just have to get it a frame and figure out where we'll hang it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Flat Stanley Redux

Max and Rebecca are in second grade and in our school this means "Flat Stanley."

I don't remember if Jake got to do it, but Nate definitely did and when he switched over to the center based gifted school in third grade he got to do it again.

Max's class has just finished the book ( A small boy gets squished flat, but is otherwise fine. He and his family discovers that he can be mailed and thus starts his adventures.) and have sent out their flat Stanleys/Stacys. Last week we were asked to send in a stamped envelope addressed to someone willing to host a Flat Stanley. I asked a friend of mine, who is a teacher in Portland Oregon, that just happens to be on sabbatical if she could do it. She was more than happy to take on the job and so off Stanley went to Oregon. My friend Kathy has already emailed us about his adventures and promises to give Stanley an exciting visit.

Meanwhile Rebecca's class has just started to read the book. We are trying to see if any of our friends in the Chicago area are up to the task. We'll know in a couple of days, which is plenty of lead time for Rebecca's project. We have friends farther afield, but the quick turnaround time makes the international destinations a bit problematical. Either way the main thing is to find someone reliable and enthusiastic.

It's a fun project and I'll keep you posted on what happens to our Flat Stanleys.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Forever's Not So Long

Forever's Not So Long from garrettmurray on Vimeo.

Great short movie about having just a little time left in the world.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lizard Princess Barbie

Lizard Princess Barbie
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I posted this earlier over on Facebook, but this was too good not to share over here.

I was not doing much the other day when Rebecca presented to me her creation, dubbed by Jake, Lizard Princess Barbie. My immediate reaction was laughter closely followed by the urge to take pictures.

It looks photoshopped, but it really is a Barbie head stuck on top of a lizard body. From what I gathered, Rebecca was picking up her room and in the process of putting away her Barbies a head popped off. Instead of replacing the head on the appropriate body, Rebecca elected to give Barbie a lizard body. I have no idea what inspired her, but I find it brilliantly inspired in a sort of twisted way.

The amazing thing is the lizard fits perfectly in the doll's neck hole. You can actually dangle the creation by the tail and the head stays firmly attached.

Thank you Rebecca, I really enjoy the laughter that your Lizard Princess Barbie creates.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I Don't Have a Garden

suburban deer
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
There are many reasons why I don't a garden (I'm too busy, I'm too lazy, there aren't any good spots in our yard), but the biggest reason is pictured here on the right.

Yes there are at least 14 deer in my friend's yard at 5:40 in the afternoon. I was coming home from the store when I saw them off to my left. For once I had my camera with me, so I turned left instead of right and eased the van forward to take a picture. By slowing down to a crawl and turning off the radio I was able to take quite a few pictures. The deer were a bit wary of me, but the didn't spook.

The scary part is that this is just one of the herds in my neighborhood. I normally have four or so does loitering in my yard that are part of this larger family grouping. They spend their days ghosting through the neighborhood and only returning tho the state park, just down the street from me, when they are seriously spooked.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Back In The Saddle Again

Bike saddle that is.

For whatever reason I stopped biking sometime last summer. The definitive moment was while we were on vacation and my slowly disintegrating tires finally gave out. Considering that they were the original tires on a roughly twenty year old bike, I really can't complain. I did get them replaced, but school started and my bike languished in the garage.

Mind you I haven't been a total slug. I have joined up with a couple of other moms in the 'hood and we have been walking together after the bus picks up our respective children. It takes us about half an hour to walk a hilly 1 1/2 mile loop. It is some decent exercise and I'm actually being social. We have started going to movies on Thursdays. It's nice having so mom friends.

And it was all well and good, but lately I've missed my bike. I liked the zooming along in the neighborhood and just pondering about things. The weather has been simply gorgeous lately, perfect weather for biking. So I hauled out my bike and went for a spin.

I wasn't as fast or as bold as I used to be. There is a fair amount of loose sand on the roads from this past winter and I'm a bit leery of it. I don't need another wipe-out like last summer. It hurt like heck on the hills and my tush hasn't quite forgiven me, but I did my old route. Today was a little harder, my bottom was still a bit unhappy and my legs burned a bit more, but I know I'll get better by next week. I really only have myself to blame. When you stop riding regularly you lose your conditioning.

But I'm back in the saddle and having a good time, creaky body and all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Artist of the Week: Lion

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca is this week's artist, although in reality she always is an artist.

She loves to draw and is often found with a bit of paper and a handful of markers. When she is done she loves to share her latest creation. Sometimes they are presents, either hand delivered or sent off in the mail. The rest are scattered about the house with the very best, according to her criteria are pinned to her bedroom walls.

This winter we had an inordinate amount of snow that resulted in quite a few snow days. Inevitably the storm would start over the weekend and, much to Rebecca's disappointment, school would be closed the following Monday. The disappointment came about because, you see, her classroom's art day is Monday.

Originally uploaded by
Fortuitously we were able to sing her up for an after school art class. It ran for six weeks, once a week. The class was organized by the school's PTA and was offered along with cooking, cake decorated, sign language, and so on. (Max opted for chess.)

Rebecca's class focused on learning the different types of media available for drawing. This handsome lion was created using crayons. The class also learned about markers, pastels and pencils. Rebecca had a great deal of fun and was glad she got a bit more art into her life.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stupid Spammers

Since Haloscan had the gall, the gall I say, to up and die on me I've had to make decisions.

I could continue on with ECHO powered by JS-Kit (which took over Haloscan), go back to Blogger comments, find some other software, or just chuck the whole commenting idea.

I let it ride for a bit, I wanted to see what ECHO was like and it was the path of least resistance.

And I didn't like it. After the free thirty day trial it was going to cost me $12 a year. Admittedly that is not a whole heck of a lot of money, but I don't want to pay. The blogging thing is a hobby and I already pay for my Flickr account, I don't want to sink any more money into this. Flickr is worth the cost simply because it acts as a back up for my pictures and allows friends and family to see them without the bother of getting reprints or reminding me to drag all my pictures along when we visit. So I stripped out the old Haloscan code and fired up Blogger.

Which has been very interesting.

I got a couple of spammy comments which prompted me to switch over to moderated comments. And hoo-boy, 19 spams and 1 lone legitimate comment (thank you Robbo). This could be problematic. I think I have to tinker a bit more with the settings. I don't want to close comments, but I don't want eleventy billion spams either.

This is going to require a bit more research on my part.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Brazil- Ministry of Information

A scene from one of my favorite movies, Brazil. This particular clip is a wonderful depiction of bureaucracy run amok.

For years I've been thinking about getting Brazil. I've seen all three different cuts from the first studio cut, the much darker director's cut and the misbegotten TV version. I'm so enamored of the film I even got the book, "The Battle of Brazil," which details the struggle Gilliam had with the studio to make the movie he envisioned.

Last week I finally did something about it and the movie just arrived in the mail today.

I think I know what I'll be watching sometime this week.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Have Some Pi

Apple Pi
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today is Pi day, as in 3.14 or March 14th, and we celebrated in grand fashion. We ha quiche for breakfast, pizza for lunch and a runny lemon meringue pie for dessert. Which was totally my fault- I got impatient and decided to put the custard in the shell before it was really custard. My bad.

The pie pictured here was a far more successful attempt at pi day baking goodness.

Nate's class had a Pi day party on Friday and i brought in an apple pie. With the leftover scraps from the pie crust I was able to fashion a fairly decent pi symbol. It was a big hit with the kids and only one slice went back home with me.

I really get into the whole pi day spirit. I like to bake and I like math, so Pi day is full of win for me. Hopefully next time I'll just have a bit more patience for the custard in my pie and I'll be able to add one more baked good to my repertoire.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Where Does The Time Go?

I want to know where all my free time goes.

Oh I admit I spend far to much time staring at my computer screen reading just one more blog, but really where does my time go?

I'm a full time mom and theoretically once they are all in school I should have hours of freedom each school day. And yet I don't.

This week I had to take one kid to the ENT for a check up. I had a pie to bake and bring in for Pi day. (Which really is the most awesome day for me, I bake and I like math. March 14th is full of win for me.) I had to find a small motor and magnets for one child (hooray for Radio Shack) and divvy up change for two others.

Oh and cleats I had to get cleats and drive people to practice, both musical and sports.

Then there is the complex scheduling and figuring out when and where everybody needs to be. The first week of any new activity is always the worst.

So I guess it comes down to that I'm the mom and parents (cause heaven knows my husband has even less spare time) aren't allowed spare time.

And yet in the end it is all worthwhile when you get the big hug and shining smiles when it all comes together. My children do appreciate what we do for them and are very good about thanking us. Once in a while I'll drop the ball, but even then they understand. They see how much we do and realize they that in the end what matters is that they are loved. We expect the best from the them and in return we try to do our best for them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Whither Art Thou Pumpkin?

Last Thanksgiving it was devilishly hard to find cans of plain old packed pumpkin, but I persevered and was able to snag a couple. Thanksgiving is just not right without pumpkin pie. After a bit of research I found out that the pumpkin crop was wretched in 2009 resulting in a shortfall in the supermarkets.

So I was out and about today searching for the elusive can of packed pumpkin. Nate's class is celebrating pie day on Friday and I offered to make a pie, namely a pumpkin pie.

Well it looks like there is still a massive pumpkin shortage. I've been to three stores and have had no luck so far. I'm willing to try any and all brands as long as I can get a pie out of it. So it looks like I'm going to have to go to plan B: apple pie.

Mmmm, apple pie!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Artist of the Week: Snow Globe

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

I took this picture a few days ago at his behest. We were having lunch and he noticed that one of his potato chips looked a bit like a snowman, right down to the two eye spots on the head. He wanted the picture so he could eat the chip and still have proof of his amazing find.

So we trooped outside for our photo shoot.

He's very practical that way. Why save a chip when you can have a picture taken. That way you get to enjoy its deep fried potato goodness and still have a memento.

Smart boy.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Anyhoodle, his profile picture is very fitting considering this week's art project. A snowman, even if it is of the potato chip variety, goes very well with a snow globe.

He brought it home from school on Monday. I'm not exactly sure when he made it or why, but I do like it. It has a little family of foxes standing in the snow near the edge of a forest. What you can't see is that a clear circle of plastic overlays the globe portion. This helps creates the illusion that there is a globe.

He did a nice job cutting out all the circles and assembling the the globe. I always love his little foxes and this is no exception. I think this was a fun project. I don't recall either of his older brothers making the same sort of thing in second grade. It's nice to see that new things (at least to us) are still popping up at school.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Signs of Spring

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Since last week my friends and I have noticed a few brave daffodils in bloom along our morning walk. It has just been a handful of blossums along the more protected stretch of road. For whatever reason at the farthest point of our walk the street seems just a touch warmer, maybe it is a bit more protected from the wind, I have no idea.

Today we lamented the fact that nothing was in bloom around our respective homes. The shoots are up, but there are no signs of the cheerful yellow flowers.

Then this afternoon I spotted just the tiniest splash of yellow along side our driveway. A wee little crocus had managed to survive the predations of deer, mice and squirrels. I had put in a boatload a few years ago, but they had been quickly eaten up.

Except of this one.

It had somehow eluded the fate of all the other crocuses I had planted. I'm so glad I had spotted it today.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Hire

Possibly my most favorite car ad.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Gearing Up

Winter is (finally!) drawing to a close. With epic snow falls for the Mid-Atlantic region, I'm so very glad that we don't do much sports wise. No having to schlep to practices or contending what would have been canceled or postponed games.

But that is coming to an end.

Nate and Max have been going to lacrosse practice for a while, but starting this week soccer starts for Jake and Rebecca. Evenings will be a jumble of homework and practice. The schedule is tight, but it looks like it all fits together, even with the various instruments the kids are learning. I am so very, very glad that Max's drum lessons are on Sunday, a relatively quite day.

It is a whole lot of work getting everybody where they need to be, but it is well worth it.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Goodnight Forest Moon

A friend of mine on Facebook posted about a delightful Star Wars themed version of Goodnight Moon called Goodnight Forest Moon.

Goodnight Moon was a bedtime staple for years, I think we burned through two copies- one board book and one hard cover. It is almost a standard issue bedtime book, at least among my crowd.
It's gentle cadence a nice way to run down a busy day.

As for the Star Wars angle, well anybody who knows us will be aware of the fact that this is best idea ever. And the best part is if you follow the link it will take you to the author's site where he tells you how to download and created your very our copy.

How cool is that ?!

I think I'm going to have to whip one up and send it along with a copy of Goodnight Moon to my brother.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

Utterly amazing Rube Goldberg type contraption.

Oh and the song is pretty good as well.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Artist of the Week: Popsicle Sticks

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Jake, would be engineer for NASA and trumpeter.

This week's profile picture was from a recital a few months ago. I had followed him into the ready room with camera in hand. Seeing me he struck this pose while warming up. He really enjoys playing the trumpet and has even agreed to additional lessons outside the class room. I think he wants to carry on in high school and beyond, hopefully in some sort of jazz band.

As for his engineering goals, he has joined the pre-engineering club in his school. Last year they were working on Future City projects and y'all know how that worked out. This semester they were creating popsicle stick bridges. The competition was last Sunday over at the Science Museum of Virginia and sponsored by the Richmond Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The rules were fairly straight forwarded. The bridge had to be at least 24 inches long, able to span a 22 inch gap, have a continuous road way and be able to pass a 3.5 inch cube along the entire length of the roadway. Only craft (popsicle) sticks and Elmer's white glue can be use. There are a few more details about overlap and such, but that is the essential idea.

The Bridge
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And this little beauty was what Jake and his partner created.

From what I understand there were roughly 60 entries, 28 of which were in Jake's division. After the weighing in and evaluation, the bridges then got tested for their load bearing ability. The load Efficiency Rating would be calculated by the following formula: Load carried by the Bridge before Failure (lbs) divided by the Weight of the Bridge (lbs) squared.

This is when the fun really started. The bridge busting was done with a large frame supporting the bridge. A metal bar would be placed across the middle of the bridge on a load bearing surface. The load weight was adjusted using a pulley system with a load spring attached to a digital weight display. The bridges fell into roughly three catagories, the lightweight group (usualy very bare bones affairs) that would collapse at about ten pounds, the mid-range which could handle 50 to just under 100 lbs, and the super loads- 100 lbs plus.

I'm happy to report that Jake's team had created a super-load bridge that made it all the way to 200 pounds. There were only three other bridges that exceeded that weight (One of which was disqualified for incorrect construction. Though it was awesome to behold, holding steady at 400+ pounds). However load capacity was not the be all end all, the weight of the bridge was critical. They ended up with a very respectable 6th place finish after the Efficiency Ratings were calculated. They got 211, first place was well over a thousand and the monster 400+ lb bridge didn't even come close the breaking 100.

I'm proud to say they designed a built their bridge on their own. All I did was measure up the roadway and point out that it need to be at least 3 1/2 inches square.

Good job guys, it was a very well made bridge and was also pleasing to the eye.

But I still find popsicle sticks to be the bane of my existence.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

A Bit Under The Weather

sick bed
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max and Rebecca were decidedly not well on Monday. To the point that they welcomed the whole notion of seeing the doctor. So, being a very accommodating mom, I hauled them into the pediatrician.

Sore throats and a nagging cough led to strep tests for the both of of them.

It turned out in the end it was nothing more than a cold for a Max and the Little Miss has a case of bronchitis. No school for the both them, just a stern admonishment from the doctor to eat their vitamins and veggies, drink plenty of water and no playing outside. Rebecca got a script for antibotics and both are to take children's mucinex.

They still weren't up to snuff this morning, so I kept them home. Only this time things were a bit more boring. No tv and they could watch one movie after lunch.( I like to keep sick days on the boring side to prevent them from being too seductive.)

After breakfat they scampered upstairs and after a bit they called me upstairs to Rebecca's room. According to them, Max decided he wanted to take a nap with Rebecca. They decided that her bed was best and wanted me to record the cuteness.

And it was so very, very cute.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Nuit Blanche

Another brilliant short film. This one is from Spyfilms and features lovely music with arresting imagery.