Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Thank You

I would like to take a moment and thank all of the people and their families who have made the supreme sacrifice for the United States of America. Because of them I get to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


Here are the promised puppy pictures

Puppies! Posted by Hello

The remaining six are doing very well. Each one is over one pound in weight. In the group shot the big puppy in the middle is member of the foster mother’s litter. It is 10 days older and dwarfs the Crunch-Fiona pups.

Diane told me that when she picks them up they wag their little tails. She has been giving them supplementary bottle feedings so they have learned at one week that being picked up is a good thing.

Cute as they are I’m still not taking one home. One puppy is enough it last me a long time!

Monday, May 30, 2005

State of the Union

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Is doing very nicely.

Around mid-day on Saturday we told the children that we would be going out to dinner without them and spending the night elsewhere. Grandma and Grandpa would take care of them while we were away. The older two accepted the information with only a token resistance. Jake wanted to come to dinner with us; I replied that we would be eating at a place that serves snails. A brief look of horror crossed his face and then he asked me if I would be eating snails for dinner. My reply was probably not.

Max and Rebecca were a little harder to sell the idea. In the end I pointed out that if they stayed home they would be getting coffee cake (sitting on the counter) for breakfast. If they came with us they would miss out on the cake. I then told them we would be back around lunchtime. This seemed to work.

Later that afternoon we made our escape. I changed into an item of clothing that I never wear around children, my pretty WHITE linen pants with a spray of embroidered flowers. A simple purple top and my new super fantastic shoes completed the outfit. We loaded the car and calmly said goodbye. Our destination was The Hotel Jefferson.

We arrived there in good order and checked in. Our plans were to simply enjoy each others company without the distractions of our energetic offspring. Larry had made a reservation at the hotel’s 5 star restaurant, Lemaire. We have eaten there before, it is expensive, but both the service and food are superb. A couple of books to read completed our plans.

The room was a bit small, but very comfy. The last time we had stayed our room had a tiny balcony. This time we had none such luck. Otherwise it was very nice. When the appointed hour for our dinner reservations arrived we changed into more formal attire.

The meal was incredible. We were there for over two hours. The staff was attentive, but not intrusive and they never rushed us. The food was even better. There weren’t any snails on the menu, but I did have the foie gras as an appetizer.

During dinner we discussed catching a movie, but in the end we decided against it. We were very content to just head back to our room.

Waking up was a nice long affair. No small voices demanded our attention. Our only tasks were to go downstairs for breakfast and to be checked out by noon.

We made it home before lunchtime. Max practically leapt into my arms when I entered the house. He was very pleased to have us both home. Grandma and Grandpa gave a glowing report on how well everybody behaved. Grandma then stated that she always thought she had the world’s best grandchildren, now she knows it is true.

All in all it was a lovely way to celebrate our 13 years of marriage that had followed our 7 years of dating. I was 19 when we first started going out. I have been with Larry now for over half my life. I look forward to what the future beings the two of us.

I love you Larry.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Anniversary Weekend

Well this should be a fun weekend. My in-laws are down for a visit, which is a good thing. I get along very well with them and the kids love having Grandma and Grandpa down here. It is also Larry’s and my wedding anniversary on the 30th. We are going to slip away on Saturday and not come home until lunchtime Sunday! For one night we get to pretend that we don’t have kids.

Here is a picture from our wedding.

The Kiss
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Oh and on Monday, I’m going to a dog show.


This is my strawberry rhubarb pie with Max and Rebecca.

Pie! Posted by Hello

It was very challenging to make. My little assistants wanted to eat up all the strawberries. I had learned my lesson from last time and I had an extra pint just for noshing.

When I was going through my recipe scrapbook I found an old clipping about strawberries. It had a very nifty hint for hulling strawberries, use a straw. Poke the straw into the berry at the bottom and push through to the top. You end up removing the core and the hull in one easy step. There is an added bonus if you are using whole strawberries in you recipe, juices/sauces can run right through the center of the berry.

This pie is very easy to make:
4-6 cups of hulled and quartered strawberries
1 lb rhubarb sliced into ½ inch pieces
1 cup sugar
6 tbls instant tapioca
Two pie crusts (I cheat and use the ready made Pillsbury pie crusts)

Mix together the filling ingredients and let sit for 15 minutes.
Put one pie crust on the bottom of the pie pan.
Add the filling and place the second crust on top.
Crimp the edges and make 3 or 4 small slits on the top to let the steam out.
Place aluminum foil or a baking sheet underneath to catch the drips.
Bake at 400 for 45-50 minutes. Basically when the syrup boils and the bubbles don’t pop.

Let cool and then eat!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Farmers Market

Hooray! It’s that time of the year when I can get fresh veggies at the farmers market. Today I went with Max and Rebecca to pick up our garden share.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

What is a garden share?

In my case, I pay my grower, Amy, a predetermined sum by mid-March. She then provides me with a share of her garden for the entire growing season. It is a good system. She gets money in the winter and I get a guaranteed portion of her bounty. There is the risk that she could have a wretched growing season, but she has done a good job so far. I end up getting a very full grocery bag every Thursday from now until the first killing frost (around early November).

Amy’s vegetables are very fresh and flavorful. She grows a wide range of crops and she likes the heirloom varieties, from greens and turnips to tomatoes and potatoes. We get exposed to new (to us) vegetables that I never would have dared tried. We also end up eating better too, since I can’t bear to throw any of it away.

This week we got fresh cut arugula, mesclun salad mix, broccoli raab, French breakfast radishes, strawberries, white Japanese turnips and pink Japanese turnips.

Max and Rebecca both wanted to hold the strawberries in the picture. I noticed that there was a whole lot less when we were done.

I also picked up some rhubarb. I’ll be making a strawberry rhubarb pie this weekend. Yum!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

It's all about the Dino Nuggets

According to my referrer logs I keep getting hits from people looking for dino nuggets. As an aside I have become the number 1 site with Google! Woo Hoo!

So as a kindness for all those poor souls looking for information on dino nuggets click here and here.

Oh and for any vegetarians out there go here. Though why you’re googling dino nuggets is beyond me.

Science at Home

I just thought you would like to know that sometimes it can be dangerous to open a thermos. Especially if it has been at school since Friday, wasn’t brought home until Tuesday and contained chocolate milk.

It was not the smell; in fact it was oddly odorless. Mind you I really didn’t give it a big sniff until after I washed it.

No, it was the fact that the contents were under a great deal of pressure.

I had a hard time unscrewing the lid. When it finally loosened I heard a loud FWOOM.

Looking inside the now open thermos I saw a fine mist of chocolate milk eddying about inside. I did not know aged chocolate milk under pressure would form an aerosol upon release of the aforementioned pressure.

I am happy to report that I did not get coated in ancient chocolate milk, nor was my kitchen. The thermos cleaned out easily.

I now know that the thermos has an airtight seal. Hopefully we will not attempt to reproduce these results.

Pupdate: The little girl did not make it, but the remaining six are doing well and are almost a pound apiece.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

John the Mighty Hunter

Dachshunds are hunting dogs. I kind of view them as a self directed vermin eradication system. Here is a picture of John (foreground) and Crunch rooting around under a tree stump.

Huntin' dogs Posted by Hello

Yesterday Nate breathlessly burst into the house and announced “John is eating a snake!”

I was puttering about the kitchen making dinner. After a brief pause I decided I should go out and investigate what is going on. If it was indeed a snake I needed to know what kind. We do have a copperheads in the area and if had been bitten I should get John to the vet.

I trooped outside with my full entourage of four children.

John was peacefully sitting in the middle of the lawn happily chewing on... something.

Nate reached the dog first and said “Drop it!”

Once I was there John complied.

While restraining John from his prize I stared at the little pile of who knows what that lay there on the grass. I then instructed the children to get me a stick. I envisioned being brought a nice, reasonably sized twig to poke at the thing. Instead I was presented with the four largest branches Jake and Nate could drag over. With a sigh I broke off two small branches and examined the pile.

It was a leg.

So much for the snake theory.

Nate then told me he could see the skin and it was like the ball python we used to have.

So I stared some more and decided it looked like it might have been part of a frog. There were no bumps on the skin and the dog was not foaming at the mouth, thus ruling out a toad. What was left of the skin was mottled leading me to think it was a leopard frog.

Mystery solved I chucked the sad little remains into the woods and went inside. I then called Diane to give her the latest carnage report.

It is sort of a running joke I have with Diane. Every time Crunch or John catches something I give her a call. It amuses the both of us. Just last week I reported that John had caught a mole. I don’t know if he ate it or not. I had to head back inside before my entourage came out to join me. All I saw was John calmly pulling it out of the ground and flipping it about. He didn’t quite know what to do with his new toy. This time John seemed to have a better grasp on what to do with the frog.

Nate Posted by Hello

Pupdate: So far the puppies are holding their own. All but one have gained an ounce. The smallest girl is hanging in there. She has a slight cleft palate, but she is eating.

Monday, May 23, 2005

A Dog Show and Some Parties

As I mentioned on Friday I went to a dog show Saturday. I got up early, bathed the dog and left to meet my friend. She was bringing her finished champion for the best of variety competition. We would be taking her van. It is always nicer to have a traveling companion. We got there in good order and scouted out the show site. It turns out that the dachshunds would be indoors. I was slightly disappointed. I really wanted John to get some experience with outdoor rings and tents.

It was nice, if a bit small and I got to see a few friends including Kandee and Andy (Diane’s daughter and husband). John however seemed to be a bit stressed and was not at the top of his game. He was a complete noodle dog and looked awful. He placed third in his class and deserved it. Afterwards he seemed to relax more and enjoyed sitting in various laps ringside. I guess I really should make an effort to show up early so that John can decompress after the ride to the show. I remember with Crunch (his father) I would have to endlessly walk about with him to burn off his excess energy. It was a learning experience.

Well, that is the whole point of showing him now. I need to get a feel for what he needs and I need to expose him to as many situations as possible. When he is a bit older and more mature he will be ready for the show ring.

Because of our less than stellar performance I was done early in the day. My friend also finished quickly, it was a huge specials class and her girl looked nice, but wasn’t flashy enough to be noticed. So we were back on the road before 11:30. Traffic was a bit heavier going south so we ended up going on route 1 for a bit. I ended up getting home at about 1:45pm. I just beat Larry and the kids getting back from Jake’s end of season soccer luncheon.

The party was originally scheduled to be at Cici’s Pizza, but it was jammed so they ended up going to a buffet next door. The place is primarily Chinese, but it had a wide variety of selections. The high point for the kids was the soft serve ice cream station. Larry said it was fairly tasty and very inexpensive. Nate said it rocks.

Later that afternoon we had Meryl over to help us out with the kids. There were a few things we wanted to do without swirling chaos at our feet. Originally I thought we would have her come late afternoon, having forgotten the birthday party that Nate had been invited too. I ended up being the one to take Nate. It turned out that the whole family was invited, but we did not find this out until the night before. We already had invited Meryl and Larry had other things to do. The plan was after Nate and I get back we would have a nice dinner with Meryl.

The party was... interesting. It was supposed to be a birthday party for a six year, but it felt more oriented for adults. Nate had a good time, but the party was much too long. Most birthday parties are over in two hours. It wasn’t until after 2 ½ hours that that the cake was finally served. A couple of families had already left and a fight had broken out among the children. Nate was a good egg and tried to break it up. It was simply a case of overtired children acting out. We ended up bolting our slices of cake and leaving.

Dinner, as a result, was late. We still enjoyed it, but I wished I had not been trapped at the party. Even Nate thought it was too long.

Sunday was less exciting for us and I have already written about the big news.


Very early Sunday morning Crunch became a proud papa again.

As detailed here and here he had a rendezvous with the fair Fiona. His little adventure has resulted in seven puppies, four girls and three boys. (Pictures will be later this week)

The last couple of litters at Diane’s (Crunch and John’s breeder) have been all male. Which has been a bit of a disappointment when you and all the prospective homes have been wanting a female pup. Finally the string of all male litters was broken.

When I told Nate the news his first question was “Do we get one?” He was disappointed when I told him no, we already have enough dogs and I really could not deal with another puppy.

Sadly, the excitement of the litter was tempered by disaster. Fiona did not make it. She had given her all for her puppies.

Her contractions started about 10:30 pm Saturday. Around an hour or so later her water broke and everything seemed to be proceeding normally. But the puppies were not forthcoming. Diane called the Vet and arranged to meet him at the clinic in half an hour for a c-section. The preferred Vet was on call and had been alerted earlier about the impending litter. He is very experienced, capable and has worked on Diane’s dogs before.

While Fiona was under, her heart had stopped beating. They were able to bring her back twice, but she never resumed breathing. She was gone.

Diane called me at a little past 8:00 am Sunday morning to give me the news. She had emailed me the previous night about the start of the contractions so I was expecting her call. I just didn’t expect the news. She was tired and told me the good news then the bad. I was stunned. She went on to say how the Vet said he couldn’t even remember the last time he had lost a bitch during a c-section. He told her right off it was not her fault. She had done everything right. While we talked I was wishing I could help her out. It is a daunting task to hand rear seven puppies. Diane said I shouldn’t tell the kids the bad news, but I did. I think that they should learn about the good and the bad. At some point they would hear about it anyway and I want to be truthful and on the level with them. How can I ask them to be truthful if I’m not honest with them? They were saddened, but they bounced right back.

Fortunately, Diane had another litter that had been whelped a week and half earlier. The dam, Willow, has taken in the puppies. She is a long haired dachshund with her own litter of three. Diane will still have to supplement the pups, but Willow is cleaning them and being a good foster mother.

The puppies are strong and vigorous. Hopefully they will remain that way.

This is why I couldn’t be a breeder. Oh, I dabble with it by having a stud dog, but right now I couldn’t handle the heartbreak that can come with whelping puppies. There is the risk of losing one or all the puppies and as detailed above, sometimes the dam.

I know it doesn’t happen all the time. Puppies are born every day with out any problems. But it can happen. I wish I could help out, but all I can do is be a friendly voice on the other end of the line.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Grace and Loveliness

Not much happing today. We have a Bat Mitzvah tonight and I’m heading off to Manassas in the morning for a dog show.

The premium list (the announcement for the show) is actually quite amusing. This takes you to the HTML version. Scroll down to the third page. I like the title “Dispenser of Grace & Loveliness Manager of Ring Assistants.”

I think we could all use a bit more grace and loveliness dispensed in our lives.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fashionable Thursday Three

From Terry we get the following:


Well, probably not very many other things, but be that as it may, if you've never participated before, be sure to participate today in our little quizzical diversion, because the Thursday Three is going into summer hiatus, and the producers of the show are not yet certain if it will return to the fall schedule.
In order to provide you, the reading audience, with the finest question-answering experience possible, we have a fine young writer named
Dan (who is skinny) come up with the following set of burning, must-read, must-answer queries about your darkest secrets. As always, anyone may play along by either leaving your answers in the comments below, or a link to your blog with your answers. So, sit back, turn up the volume, and let's see what happens:

Your food court hilarity (which seems to have brought the lurkers out of obscurity) gave me some ideas. They may need work.
1) What is, or was, your favorite style of dress, or a particular item of clothing you remember fondly from childhood?
2) What style of dress do you remember being humiliated by as a kid, but your mother made you wear anyway?
3) What dress style/clothing choice do you remember as being unbelievably cool at the time that now makes you cringe? Would you actually burn pictures of yourself in the outfit if you ran across them now?

1) I was never a fashionista and I never will be. I was (and largely still am) a tomboy. Oh, I do like to dress up and be all girlie, but I’m usually in pants and a shirt. I clearly remember telling my mom at one point that I would no longer wear skirts. I do not remember ever having a favorite item of clothing, except maybe my riding boots. I was horse crazy and I loved taking riding lessons. I took very good care of my boots.

2) I don’t remember my mom ever forcing me to wear anything. I was pretty cooperative. My brother was a different story. There was a time he would only wear brown pants and shirts without buttons. He would pitch an enormous fit when he was forced into a dress shirt.

3) I guess it would be my fuchsia jumpsuit circa 1982. I don’t think I would burn any pictures of me in it, but it was so very 80’s.

I don’t have a lot to say on this subject. I know I have made some poor fashion choices over the years, my post pregnancy leggings come to mind, but I generally gravitate towards the classic and not the extreme. When I dress up now it is either for a date with my husband (sexy) or for a dog show (think boring suits that show off a red dog). Right now I’m infatuated with a new pair of shoes. I think they are very cute and I have gotten numerous compliments about them. Here is Miss Rebecca modeling them:

Fashion girl Posted by Hello

Of course I have to include this one of Max in his own creation:

Heffalump Max Posted by Hello

He was very proud of it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars

Max has become very enamored of Star Wars lately. We just got episodes IV, V and VI on DVD. Episode IV was a big hit. Max was very concerned about Obi Wan after Darth Vader struck him down, but I was able to reassure him that he was not dead, just invisible. The later voiceovers were a comfort for Max.

Now I get to listen to Max tell me how Darth Vaber is not nice and that he hit Kenobi. Then he puts on a black fire helmet, wraps himself in his blankie and waves a bat about. He is the cutest Vader impersonator ever.

Here he is dueling with Nate.

Max Vador vs Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

And yes, like Jordana, I got the spoons. I bought four boxes of high octane breakfast sugar. I got only two at first, but Max and Rebecca could not be denied. At least she actually uses it... sometimes. Any way, they are way cool. We ended up with four red ones, much to the kids disappointment and to my relief. There will be no arguments over which spoon belongs to which child.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Last week was the try-outs for the travel soccer teams. Jake has been playing in the recreational soccer league for quite some time. Last December he tried out and made the team. It was a “fill-in” tryout to replace players that had left the team. So many kids with enough skills and talent showed up that it was decided that another team would be formed. Jake was on the new team. Unfortunately the team was dissolved due to lack of player commitment and Jake was devastated. He was so excited to be on the team and then watched it all melt away.

This try-out session was for all the players. Exisiting travel team members had to try-out along with everybody else. The under 10 (U-10) division was scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday. Tuesday it was very hot and muggy. You could see the kids were dragging a bit. After one particular drill Jake got discouraged and Larry could see it in his performance (I had already bailed out to hustle Nate home for his piano lesson). That night Jake suffered terribly from heat exhaustion. I ended up keeping him home from school the next day.

On Thursday Jake wasn’t interested in going to the tryouts. I banished his siblings and pulled him aside. I told him it was his decision to go or not to go. Either way he would still be going to the field as it was his normal soccer practice day. I then said he should really think about this and that I didn’t want him to regret not going the next day. He puzzled it over a bit and decided since he was going to be there he might as well go to the try-out. I then loaded everybody into the van and drove to the field.

When we got there the weather started out the same as Tuesday, but the wind picked up and suddenly it was almost reasonable. I then settled down and watched Jake and all the other hopefuls. It seemed to be slightly less kids and from chatting with the other moms I found out that a lot of the other kids had suffered from Tuesday’s heat as well.

Thursday’s activities were more to Jake’s liking. He doesn’t have much patience for endless drills. He likes to mix it up in scrimmages. Jake may be on the small side, but he is not intimidated by larger players. At the end the parents were called up and the head coach gave a little speech about the kids and when we would be notified about the team placements. We left for home cautiously optimistic.

On Friday Jake got his official notice. He made the team! Jake was ecstatic! When he got home I had him read the email and click on the registration link. I let him do the electronic registration and acceptance. On Sunday he will get to meet his coach and hopefully his teammates.

Look at that face.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

He is so cute when he is happy.

Monday, May 16, 2005


On the whole my children are fairly well behaved. They say please and than you, they share with other children and we can even go out to dinner as a family. Mind you there are moments when they act like a bunch of crazed monkeys and I prefer not to shop with all four in tow. Three quarters of them even have tolerable table manners. They sometimes have an inability to stay seated at the table, but they do behave in public.

Then there is Rebecca.

Who needs spoons? Posted by Hello

Her table manners are nonexistent. She crams food into mouth until it is over flowing. Utensils are viewed as optional. And she has one particularly vile habit. She will wander about with a chunk of food in her mouth for seemingly hours. She sucks all the flavor and color out of it until she spits out a small gray ball of paste. Half the time I can not even guess what it was. At bedtime I often have to tell her to swallow whatever is in her month before I can brush her teeth. There are days that I am convinced that she is a frat boy. She particularly reminds me of the scene when Bluto is moving down the cafeteria line stuffing as much food as possible onto his tray and into his mouth. She hasn’t started a food fight yet, and I will not be surprised when she does. If you don’t believe me, go ask Meryl. Meanwhile, I think Max, her twin brother, has the best table manners of the lot. So it is NOT an age thing.

The funniest part of the whole situation is that she is otherwise a very girly girl. She loves to wear pink dresses with pretty shoes. She is so cute and charming while she shoves yet another fistful of food into her mouth.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Pool time

Yesterday we set up our wading pool. It was a beautiful day, with light clouds and in the low 80s. Max and Rebecca were very pleased over the prospect of splashing about.

They watched me drag it out from under the deck, roll it across the lawn and hose it out. It was extremely dirty. I had cleaned the leaves and sticks out a few months ago, but it was filthy from the dirt and sand that had been placed in it. The underside was just as bad with its assortment of spider webs. Max and Rebecca loved it when I starting hosing out the pool. They would squeal with delight whenever the spray got near them. After a long session with the hose I then got a sponge and bucket full of suds. It actually wasn’t too bad. The grime came off with only a little scrubbing.

I then placed the pool near the edge of the lawn under a tree. The grass is not very enthusiastic there and the shade makes it a bit more pleasant. I placed the hose in the pool and proceeded to fill it up. Max and Rebecca were dancing about in anticipation. Nate even buzzed out, but he was sent back inside to get ready to go. He and Jake were going to their piano teacher to perform for her and a judge. Nate was disappointed, but I promised he could splash about afterwards. Finally it was filled. I dragged a chair nearby and settled down to supervise. They were so happy. After a bit I got Larry out to watch them. I had to drive Jake and Nate to their teacher.

When I got back hours later when I got back Max and Rebecca had just gone inside. They had spent the whole time splashing about.

Today was cooler with a threat of rain, but Max and Rebecca were not deterred. They wanted to go right back out. So we did.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Friday, May 13, 2005

All Tucked In

I thought I would share an update on Max and Rebecca and their sleeping arrangements. Originally, as posted here, Rebecca thought the blanket and the quilt she selected were an evil, horrible conspiracy by mommy. Eventually, as written here, I was able to get her blanket on her bed. I even progressed so far as to get her quilt on.

Every night, before I stagger off to sleep, I check all my children. I like to place a hand on them to check their breathing. It’s a habit from when they were infants and I can’t seem to break it. It has even gathered strength since Max was diagnosed with CF. One time I got quite a shock when I went to check Rebecca and she wasn’t in her crib. After some frantic searching I found her under her crib.

Four nights ago as I was doing my nightly bed check when I found this:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Previously she and Max would only sleep on top of their bedding, wrapped in their blankies. But there she was, all tucked in bed. When I had put her to bed earlier she was on top. At some point she wiggled in under her sheet.

Max on the other hand...

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Well he seems to be in no hurry to be tucked into bed.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Graduation Thursday Three

It’s that time of the week again for the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, special travel edition. The always entertaining Jordana is hosting this week’s edition at Curmudgeonry.

Pomp and Circumstance
It's graduation time for college students and high school students will be following soon. Some kids even get
preschool graduations. So let's direct our thoughts towards graduation ceremonies.

(1) Who was the most memorable (good or bad) graduation speaker at a ceremony you've attended -- not necessarily your own? The only graduation speakers I remember are Marian Edelman and Andy Rooney. Both were at my college.

Ms. Edelman was the speaker at my college graduation. I’m sure she did a fine job, I just don’t really remember very much of her speech. I had been up very late the night before and I had come to a cat’s whisker of being arrested. My friends and I had had gone to a beach after hours in the dark. We were not causing trouble, we just like going to the beach at night to talk. It felt wrong when got there and we never made it to the beach. As we sat in the car the police pulled up. Stupidly we ducked down to hide, but he had us. After some intense questioning we were released and told not to do this again.

Andy Rooney was the speaker at friend Kathy’s graduation. She went to the same college as me, but was two classes ahead. This was in 1985 and Mr. Rooney was still entertaining. His most memorable remark was this acknowledging the college’s President’s introduction. In essence he said it was always hard to follow a brief and witty introduction and that he thanks the President for sparing him. Ouch!

It is interesting to look back at a list of past commencement speakers. My college has been all over the map.

2) Approximately how many graduation ceremonies have you been in as a graduate and how many others have you gone to? I personally have only been in two graduation ceremonies, high school and college. I have attended at least five. I went to the college graduation ceremonies for my friends Kathy, Roy, and Andy. Then I attended my husband’s PhD ceremony. It was huge and I was waaaaay up in the nose bleed seats with our very young son Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The most recent was our son Nate’s graduation from preschool which I’m counting, but I actually missed do to some sort of toddler illness (Max’s not mine).

3) After finishing high school and/or college what did you do for the summer? After high school I don’t really remember. I did an assortment of summer jobs such as waitressing and exercising horses. After college I worked at a florist. I did some deliveries, ran the cash register, watered plants and picked wildflowers such as Queen Anne’s Lace. Then I got my first real job as a lab tech at Yale Med.

Bonus Question:
What was your favorite graduation gift?
My favorites were a typewriter for my high school graduation and a string of pearls for my college graduation. One was practical and served me in good stead and the other made me feel pretty and all grown up. I think you can figure out which was which.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Race Cars and Groceries

This morning Max, Rebecca and I went grocery shopping. When we got there I noticed a large portion on the parking lot was roped off. As we went into the store I noticed the posters for Ukrop’s Richmond Race Fest

Oh yeah, Nascar is coming to RIR this weekend.
During the week before hand show cars pop up all over the place.

Then the trailer for the Tide car pulled up. Cool! We’ll check it out when we are done.

Grocery shopping was its usual mixture of fun and excitement. Lately Max and Rebecca have taken to spilling out of the cart and dancing about as we move through the store. It is a bit chaotic and very exasperating for me. This time I announced that if they stay in the cart they will get a treat. It worked. There was only a little bit of squabbling which I solved by separating them. Max stayed up front and Rebecca went into the traditional seat by the handlebar. When I had finished my shopping I wheeled then back to the bakery. Max picked out a bagel and Rebecca a chocolate iced doughnut. I decided I deserved a treat as well and got another doughnut for myself.

After checkout we loaded up the van and then went to go see the car.

The car was still in the trailer, but we were nicely greeted by the man setting it up. He gave a poster to both Max & Rebecca and said that he would be getting the car out in about 15 minutes. Oh, and if we bought any size Tide product and showed him the receipt we would get a hat and a diecast model of the car (hot wheels/matchbox size). He then gave me a coupon.

Well, I actually like Tide and I can always use more laundry detergent so I accepted the coupon. We all thanked him and I herded the dynamic duo back to the van. From across the parking lot in the safety of the van we watched him unload the race car. Boy was it loud. I’m glad we were so far away.

After the car was driven out we went back into the store. I bought some detergent and put it into the van. Max and Rebecca were eager to go back and really see the race car. As we walked up I told them that Max could have a car and Rebecca a hat. When we got to the table that the man had set up I tried to show him the receipt, but he just waved it away. Meanwhile both Max and Rebecca had grabbed a car. I tried to persuade Rebecca to go for a hat, but no luck. Then Max thought the hats looked good too and snagged one as well. At this point the man was very kind and said that since we were the first people to stop by they could both have a car and a hat (He must have small children of his own). Of course it didn’t hurt that Max was wearing his brilliant, dare I say Tide, orange shirt.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rebecca still passed on the hat, so we thanked him and then we checked out the car.

It is fun to get a close look at the show/race cars. The interiors are so utterly stripped. I pointed out the steering wheel that was off of the column and neatly tucked by the gear shift. It made me think of Mr. Bean. The funniest part about stock car racing is the headlights. They don’t need headlights and they would make an awful mess when broken. As a result they have fake headlights in the form of stickers, so much for the cars being stock. Once we were done looking at the car we left with a cheerful wave and made our way home.

A Belated Birthday for John

Yesterday John officially became one year old.

In one year he went from this:

John and his brothers Posted by Hello

To this:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I realized this as I was putting the kids to bed. So tonight we will have a little treat for John. Since Rally’s hamburger cake with french fry candles was such a big hit I might just do that again. Of course I should make a people cake too.

Any reason to make a cake is a good reason!

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Lovely Sunday

I had a lovely day yesterday. I would like to thank my husband and the four individuals that gave me my title, mom.

Max, Rebecca, Jake and Nate Posted by Hello

Aside from the cards and gifts, it was only a little different from an ordinary Sunday. But oh those differences! I was not the go-to parent. Have a problem or a complaint? Go see your father. Hungry? Ask daddy to feed you. Diaper dirty? Dad is right over there. However if you want to hug me, come on over.

I really enjoyed that I did not have to feed anyone else but me. For dinner we decided that going out was insane on Mother’s day. The restaurants are jammed and then we have to contend with four children. They are actually pretty good, but it is much easier to do take out at home. So instead of going out to dinner we went out for ice cream in the afternoon. Later that evening, we had take-out Chinese for the grown-ups and pizza for the kids.

All in all it was a very nice day.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day!

I have written a bit about my mother before on her birthday. Today in honor of mother’s day I’ll tell y’all a bit more.

This is my mother and my father before kids.

My pretty mother with my handsome father. Posted by Hello

My mom has always been a bit ahead of the curve. They waited awhile before having kids. At one point their home was right smack on the beach. A hurricane, however, swept it all away. The house they are in front of is the one they got afterwards. Built on solid ground and the one they started their family in. My mom was 36 when she had me and almost 40 when she had my brother. Practically unheard of in the sixties, now it is commonplace. Now that I am knocking on 40, the idea of having an infant now is exhausting. Her one piece of advice to me on having children was to start earlier than she did. I fully understand and appreciate that advice now.

After my father died she moved us to Vermont from our home in Connecticut. She wanted to start anew and she was told by my teachers that the high school was sadly lacking. Some childhood friends of hers told her to come join them up north. The town where we moved to has a much better school system. It was quite an undertaking for a newly widowed mother of two to pull up stakes and move.

She was considered by my friends to be the coolest mom. She didn’t try to get all buddy-buddy with us, she just let us be. I could have my friends hang out at my house well past midnight as long as we weren’t too loud. The few times we were, she would peer downstairs and quietly request that we keep the noise down. No drama, just a simple polite request. As a result we were always happy to comply.

My brother cleared out the second floor of our barn (downstairs was the garage) and had parties. If my mother or my brother thought it was getting out of hand mom would throw the circuit breaker to the barn, which was conveniently located in the house, effectively ending the party.

Here is a picture of her with me. I am pregnant with Nate and holding Jake.

Me and my Mom Posted by Hello

We go up north at least twice a year to visit Nana. The kids love seeing her, I just wish it could be more often.

Happy mother’s day! I love you mom!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Sock Mystery

Friday and Tuesday are laundry days. This keeps the dirty laundry at a manageable level. I have seven laundry baskets, one for each member of the family and one for sheets and towels. As I pull stuff out of the dryer I sort it. It usually takes a day (or two) for it all to be put away.

The other day I encountered this sock.

normal sock
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a perfectly normal sock with a hole in the heel. I generally chuck them when they get to this point.

Then you flip it over.

mutant sock
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Good lord! What happened? Here is the sock again with Jake modeling it.

Jake the sock model
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We do have a puppy in the house, but I really don’t think he did this. It doesn’t look like the jaws of destruction’s work. When he has unfettered access to an object it gets completely destroyed. This has just a bunch of nibble holes. Generally I’m the one who rescues objects and I have yet to have fished a sock out of John’s mouth.

I guess this will have to remain a mystery.

Farewell sock, you had served us well.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

School Day Thursday Three

From Terry we get the following assignment:

School days, school days…
O those golden rule days!
Or, rather golden ruler days, when she’d come by and whack you on the back of the head with that great big yellow yardstick from the hardware store and tell you to pay attention.

BE THAT AS IT MAY, the topic for this week’s blog-filler game was brought about during a conversation with a certain East Carolinian as we reminisced about the teachers we had as children who had an impact on us (and not of the paddling kind). SO, without further ado, we bring you The Axis of Weevil “Excellence in Primary and Secondary Pedagogy Edition” of the Thursday Three!
As has always been the case, anyone may play along by answering these questions:

1. What three teachers did you have in grade school or high school who had the greatest impact on you, either for good or bad?
The three teachers I can think of were Madam Meck in 5th grade, Mr. Hutchins and Ms. Bognolo in High school.

Madam Meck was a small firebrand of a woman who ruled with an iron fist. She had a collection of rulers in her desk that she would slam down on the desk (frequently breaking the rulers) of any student not toeing the line. Technically she was never my teacher. We had moved half way through the school year and I was only in the 6th grade for the last half of the year. I quickly learned to fear and respect her. She determined that I knew no French and had me sit at a table in the back of the classroom while she taught my classmates. It was there I learned to appreciate Tintin and Asterix. There were piles of them on the table in both French and English. After a few weeks she grew disgusted and marched me to the Principles office (a singularly ineffectual man) and dressed him down on how it was a complete waste of my time to be languishing in the back of her classroom. Since I was a quiet, bookish sort of student I was dumped in the reading room. It was heaven.

Mr. Hutchins was my high school biology teacher. He was fantastic. He expected a lot out of us and was a very good teacher. He made biology fun.

Ms. Bognolo was my Latin teacher. I started taking Latin my freshman year. After a month I went to her in tears. I was completely overwhelmed by all my classes. She listened to me and helped me sort it all out by dropping her class. She felt I should stick the French out one more year. That was the year I became completely disenchanted with French. The teacher was a fool and I lost it the day when I learned that there were 12 regular verbs and all the rest were irregular; this deeply offended me. Why couldn’t these be the irregular verbs and the rest regular? And the words were to die, to fall, and so one. Not a happy group. The next year I dropped French and took up Latin for the rest of my high school career.

2. Which teacher do you wish you could go back and apologize to for your terrible misbehavior?
I don’t remember his name, but he taught English in my high school. My friends discovered that in the afternoon from the art room you could flash a mirror across the windows of the first floor classrooms. Every time this teacher would look out the window after the flash. I never did this, but my friends would then flash him in the eyes. It worked every time. We tried Mr. Hutchins once. He immediately marched to the art room and busted us.

3. What do you think is the best thing to happen to grade school since when you were there?
The dragon of a secretary at Madame Meck’s school is finally gone. She ran the joint, not the Principal. If you missed the bus and needed to call she would make you go to the grocery store across the street. To get there you would have to cross two moderately busy roads. We all learned to wait until she was gone. The Principal was much more accommodating. You could call Europe for all he cared. I remember my Mom telling me a few years back how the parents were so enamored of the Principal and saying how wonderful he was. She knew the real score and thought they were all nuts.

Grade 5, May 1976
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is me in 5th grade. I'm in red in the front row. My best friend, Cindy, is on my right in pink.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Let Them Eat Cake

Here is the Mexican Chocolate Cake I wrote about. I baked it last night and I just finished decorating it.

Mexican Chocolate Cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It seems to be my do-over cake. I started making it last night with some almonds I had in the pantry. After blending them with some chocolate in my food processor I decided that they didn’t smell right. So I chucked that batch and rooted about in my freezer. I knew I had some almond flour stashed in there somewhere in the depths. Almond flour is just finely ground almonds. Since I wanted them to be finely chopped I figure it would work. I just had to reduce the volume a smidge. The second batch was much better.

I also substituted butter for canola oil. I don’t have any canola oil and I prefer baking with butter. This required a small increase of volume for the butter; instead of four tablespoons I used six. Once the batter was all mixed I popped it into the oven. It smelled lovely. It has a spicy, chocolaty, nutty kind of aroma.

Today I glazed the cake with chocolate and piped a swirly design all over it. It looked terrible. After a brief internal debate I scraped it all off and tried again. This time it looked much better.

Oh and the cakes from yesterday were a big hit. One of Jake’s classmates got a taste and asked Jake to ask me to make another cake for the class. Then this morning Jake’s teacher actually called me up to thank me. Unfortunately I was not home, but I saved the message.

Cake anyone?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Week of Cakes

It’s staff appreciation week at my children’s elementary school. For me this means it is a week of cakes.

I like to bake so this is fun for me. I get to make three cakes and then send them off to be consumed elsewhere. The only downside is the limited feedback (it is very hard to interrogate a kindergartener and a first grader) and I don’t get to have a slice. Mostly it’s that I don’t get to have a slice.

Last night I made two flourless chocolate torts. It is a wonderful dessert, moist, fudgy and totally decadent. It is very much like an amazing brownie. I decided on this particular cake because it is very easy to transport. Also their intended recipients, Jake and Nate’s teachers, both love chocolate. Nate’s teacher took it home to share with her family while Jake’s teacher shared it with the whole third grade team.

The third cake is a Mexican Chocolate Cake. It is intended for the staff luncheon on Thursday. The theme, appropriately enough, is “Cinco de Mayo.” I have never made it before, but it reads well. I figured I would give it a shot. I’ll bake the cake tonight and decorate it tomorrow.

The children are also requested to make cards and/or pictures and to bring flowers. The PTA even came up with a schedule. This is of course totally beyond me.

The traditional way I approach this week is to obsess about my luncheon contribution and only remember the rest on Monday. I ignore the planned schedule and do what works for me. Today was flower day and yesterday was card/picture day. We did nothing for Monday and my children brought in my kick-butt cakes today. Tomorrow they will bring a small plant(s) to their respective teachers.

This is Nate decorating his flower pot.

Nate's flower pot
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I put the s in parenthesis because I got two plants for Jake to choose from. Of course my son went for plan C and wants to give both. It is kind of hard to fault a child for being generous.

Wednesday night we will try to work on some pictures.

It would be nice to recognize the other teachers and staff that affect my children’s educational experience, but Jake and Nate are uninterested. Maybe I’ll make another cake for the office staff.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Dino Nuggets

Apparently I have become the source for dino nugget information. I was the top hit for this and the second for this.

I guess my kids really do eat too many dino nuggets. Ironically I got these during Passover when we were not eating them.

Update: go here for some real info of dino nuggets

A Public Service Announcement

Whatever you do, do not buy this.

We were at the supermarket yesterday to pick up a few things for dinner. While we were there I decided we needed more fruit. Jake and Nate saw the kiwano melon and wanted to get it. I said sure, I’m always willing to try new fruits. The star fruit we got a while back was good so why not? The name made me think of kiwis and melons, a lovely sounding combination.

The fruit is a beautiful orange color, veined with pale yellow. The spikes are hard and can really hurt when the fruit is swung about in a plastic bag. By the time we got to the check out the bag was shredded.

Once we got it home and I decided that I should cut away the horny outer layer. It did not seem edible. Then I sliced open the fruit exposing a shocking green interior filled with seeds. It looked like a mutant cucumber. At this point I should have stopped, the phrase alien seed pod seem to describe this perfectly. Nothing ever good comes from an alien seed pod.

Jake was a brave soul and gamely tried a piece. He said it was not bad. It tasted like a combination of cucumber and celery. He then declined to eat any more. The rest of the kids scattered after the show was over. I decided I would try it later when I would no longer have an audience.

After everybody was tucked into bed I cut off a little more for me to taste.

It was awful.

Jake’s description of the taste was dead on. What he neglected to mention was the texture. It was horribly slimy. I couldn’t even swallow the stuff. I rushed to the garbage and spat it out. The rest of the fruit shortly followed. I’m glad that the kids did not see that little display. I’m always trying to get them to eat new things. Watching mommy spit out fruit and make a big yucky face would not help my cause. Maybe I could have choked it down, but my expression would have betrayed me.

So whatever you do, do not offer us kiwano melon.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Matzo Madness

This past week has been Passover. It has been quite a challenge this year.

On the first three days Max and Rebecca would have a tantrum over lunch. I was denying them their shells and macaroni and they did not understand why.

I thought breakfast was going to be harder than lunch. Due to various factors out of my control I was late in getting all of our Passover foodstuffs. I resorted to calling Meryl while she was still in NJ and asking her to bring some. Sadly she was unable to find the Honey Stars cereal. The kids love the stuff, but I can not stand it. This guy agrees with me. As a result I ended up pushing fruit and eggs at breakfast. This went over very well. Nate would have plain scrambled eggs and an apple. The rest would have cheesy scrambled eggs and assorted fruit. Occasionally Max would request buttered matzo. Jake observed that we normally eat a lot of bread products at breakfast. He was unaware of that until this week when he had to go without.

Lunchtime it was just Max, Rebecca and I at home. I’d make things like farfel and cheese (busted up matzo baked in a cheese mixture, a distant cousin to mac and cheese) and they would roundly reject it. After a great deal of fussing and howling they would settle on peanut butter and jelly on matzo. Even that was rejected at first, but I stood firm and refused to make anything else. Meanwhile Jake and Nate would be at school. I’d pack them matzo sandwiches or allow them hot lunch. Generally we don’t eat leavened products at home during Passover, but outside of home we are a bit more flexible. Jake was a bit more conscientious than Nate. Jake would get the vegetarian offering and skip the crackers. Nate was fine until Thursday. The school was serving spaghetti, his favorite. He was almost in tears. In the end I relented. It was only fair since the previous night Larry and I ended up having pasta.

We didn’t mean to have pasta; it just ended up that way. We were at a farewell party for one of Larry’s co-workers. At first we were very good and passed on the bread. I was looking forward to having the duck breast for dinner. Then we got the bad news. The policy of the restaurant was that with very large parties (I think we were 11) the table gets a choice of four platters.

This meant pasta.

It was good, but I didn’t eat as much as I would have. We couldn’t even have dessert since it was school night and we had to get back home at a decent hour.

Personally I think the kitchen should have sucked it up. Then again I don’t want my food to be spit on.

Dinner during the week was a little tricky, but we managed. Matzo ball soup was a big hit as were the matzo pizzas. I was able to find some kosher for Passover egg noodles (blah at best) that Nate and Max love. Meryl even came over one night and brought a Passover chocolate cake. The kids inhaled it; we enjoyed it with some ice cream. I have a bit more to say on the subject of Passover cake mixes, but I’ll save it for a later post.

Tonight we celebrated the end of Passover with some candy fruit slices. Then it was off to bed.

Weekend Getaway, The Final Chapter

Saturday morning was a repeat of Friday with the added bonus of fog. I had to be at the field trial grounds by 8:00 am. I left the hotel a little after 7:00 am, this left me plenty of time to get there and swing by Krispy Kreme for a doughnut (Ok two doughnuts). I knew there was one not too far from the hotel and I could easily get to the highway from there. As I drove up I saw the Hot Light was on. Wahoo! Fresh doughnuts and a milk to go! I knew that an excellent breakfast was being served at the field grounds in the club house (aka: where couches go to die), but I really wanted a doughnut and I didn’t have to be a good example for my children.

The field grounds are owned and maintained by the Maryland Beagle Club. The grounds have three large fields that are securely fenced, several puppy pens (small areas chock full of rabbits for introducing puppies to field trialing) and a club house. The club house is a large simple structure. It has two bathrooms, a fireplace, lots of long tables, a kitchen and the walls are lined with a huge number of couches. It looks as though club members donate their old couches to the club house when they get new furniture. The kitchen is under the jurisdiction of the Ladies Auxiliary, a lovely group that people. I always visit with them when I’m there. They prepare breakfast and lunch both days and a dinner on Saturday. The prices are reasonable and the food is tasty.

Entries close at 8:00 am sharp. I arrived in plenty of time and I only entered John. The forecast was for afternoon thunderstorms and Sydney was still not herself. At 8 am a last call for entries was made. This was followed by roll call (of the dogs’ names) and then the bracing of the dogs. There were three stakes Open All Age Dogs (male dogs), Open All Age Bitches (female dogs) and Field Champions (male and female dogs that have become Field Champions of record). John was entered in OAAD. Through a random draw the dogs are paired up in each stake and the running order is determined. John ended up in the first brace of the OAAD stake.

Dog in hand I went down to the running grounds. The OAAD stake was to be in the back field that is entered through the lower field. The fenced areas average 8 acres apiece and are stocked with rabbits. There are mowed lanes dividing the field into manageable sections. The beaglers had recently bush hogged the grounds and eliminated some of the larger patches of wild rose. The sections between the lanes, however, still had plenty of cover for the rabbits. People line up along one of the lanes and beat the brush within the section to flush out the rabbits. At this point the more experienced dogs strain against their leashes, eager to go. The two judges keep ahead of the line of beaters so as to better spot the rabbits as they pop out. When a rabbit is spotted a cry of “Tally Ho!” is heard. The judges’ then consult with whoever flushed out the rabbit (which has hightailed to a location far away in the field) and the brace is brought up to the scent line. The dogs’ handlers are instructed on how to direct their dogs and where to release them. The dogs are introduced to the scent line and are then set free.

John had a lovely run. He put his nose down and looked to be working the line. When the judges had seen enough they told us to pick up our dogs. I was able to round him up quickly and slowly made my way back to the car. After both dogs were checked on I headed back to beat brush.

I enjoy beating brush. It is a serious workout and it is fun chatting with all the other people. After awhile we all get rather silly.

Once all the braces are run (first series) the judges then called back the best dogs for second series. Three braces were announced and John was in the third one! This put him at Next Best Qualifier! Points are awarded to first through fourth places. Next is NBQ, which is kind of like an honorable mention. I was very excited! If he did well he could even move up.

In the end he only defeated his bracemate and held onto NBQ. He was a total dweeb in third series and we were done. That evening I was awarded his ribbon and a very nice crate blanket for John.

John and his field trail winnings. Posted by Hello

You have to admit the ribbons for field trials are much nicer than dog shows. I refer to my dog show ribbons as my $20+ bookmarks. The field trial rosettes are much more impressive.

Just before the end of the field trial, when they were doing the runoffs between the winners of the stakes for Absolute, the thunderstorm hit. It was a loud booming affair with torrential rain. It was decided that Absolute would be run in the morning at 7:30 am.

Sunday morning dawned clear and bright and Sydney was back! She was ready and eager to go, full of vim and pep. After a snafu at the hotel (they almost overcharged me by $100) I was back at the grounds. I only entered Sydney, because John was probably going to be a dweeb again.

Sydney did a good job, but was easily distracted. I also handled another dog, Scarlet, for someone else. She is a dark red standard wirehair dachshund. With both of the girls the judges were happy with my releases. I guess on Sunday I had become a professional field trial handler. After both girls were done I went back to beat brush. It was hard finding the bunnies. We didn’t finish first series until about 12:30. Neither of the two dogs I handled was called back for second series. I stayed to finish the job. We were down right punchy by the time we finished the stake at 2:30. I was starving and I got almost hysterical when I flushed out the last rabbit. I was very happy when one of the handlers thanked us for beating the brush for their dogs.

When we crawled back to the clubhouse the Ladies Auxiliary served us our lunch. Baked chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes and green beans never tasted so good. I deliberately snagged my cake before I sat down with my lunch. There were only a few pieces left and I wanted my cake. After lunch I socialized a few friends and headed home. The DC traffic gods smiled upon me and I made it home in about 3 ½ hours.

So now y’all know how I like to spend my weekends.