Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Artist of the Week: Podracing

Star Wars is a very popular subject matter in this household. All four of my children adore the movies and have been pestering us to get the recently released third movie (and yes we do have it, I’m just waiting for to give it before our trek north in December.) Jake, Nate and Max love to look at the various visual dictionaries, cross-sections and movie scrapbooks that I get for them from the library. I’m rather fond of the cross-section series; they cater to my inner engineer.

While cleaning up some of the large piles of papers we have scattered about I found this picture by Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is of the podrace from “The Phantom Menace.” What struck me first about this piece is the start of a three dimensional rendering of the rock formations. The podracers and the twin suns of Tatoonie are all done in ink while the rocks are done in pencil. He wanted to make the rock look like it had a tunnel and I think he was successful. I like that he thought about what media to use and was willing to switch around for the best affect. I like this picture and I think I’ll save it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Link to Meryl Day

In a move of blatant egoism Meryl has declared it to be “Link to Meryl Day.” Of course later on she has the chutzpah to modify her request/demand to Link to instead.

Anyway, since she is my friend and she has graciously agreed to baby-sit my hoard on Saturday so that Larry and I can enjoy a nice birthday dinner together in a place that is not particularly child friendly I will comply. “Meirav was two” is particular favorite of mine and it is not because of the certain little pixie she used to illustrate it. It is a beautifully written piece that demonstrates the inhumanity of those that practice and support terrorism.

So go read.


Whew Im Glad That's Over

Well I finally got my act together and backed-up this mess. I had been thinking of doing it earlier, but blogger does not make it easy.

Oh yeah, posting is no problem, but saving is a bear. I had to yank my template and muck around with all the settings. As a result I was very hesitant to actually do it. But today I screwed up my courage and finally did the deed. So if you stopped by earlier and found it all a mess, that was me. In future I’ll save such excitement for the weekends.

Hey maybe I'll organise my photo files today. Nah, that would be too much effort. I'll do it some other time.

Monday, November 28, 2005

He Did It Again

But this time it was accidental.

Last night as Larry was doing Max’s thumpies he noticed something different about Nate. Larry then asked Nate if he had cut his hair, namely his bangs. After some hemming and hawing Nate did admit he had cut his hair, but this time it was by accident. Last time he thought his hair was too long and gave himself a trim. This time he was cutting some paper and he was doing a tricky angle that required some close up work. Somehow he ended up hacking off most of his bangs.


So I trimmed away the stray wisps he missed and told him that he was no longer allowed to use scissors without direct adult supervision.

Later I had to laugh. I had to maintain a straight face in his presence, but once he was in bed I was free to express myself. I really don’t understand how he could accidentally cut his hair, but I believe him. I found his locks of hair in the kitchen near the drawer where we keep sharp objects and nowhere near a mirror. If it was deliberate he would have done it in the bathroom where he could use the mirror. Also this was an even worse cut than last time. Large random tufts for hair had been trimmed from the front with no rhyme or reason.

Here is a picture of a sleepy Nate this morning with his shorn hair.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Good thing he is so cute and a nice kid. But no more scissors!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Spelling in Pictures and Superheroes

While doing some random blog surfing I stumbled onto the neatest website, Spell with Ficker.

This is what I got typing in my name:

A is salon Rdet_013H

The best part is that you can tweak the individual letters if you don’t like the image that you first get.

I give a hat tip to Google Galliteration for having this under the heading “Clicked by GG.”

GG also had a link to a great fake movie trailer for “Superman and Batman.” Heck I’d go see it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

And Yes, We had Cake

I hope y’all had a good Thanksgiving; we had a nice relatively quiet one.

I like to target for an early dinner, say about 5:00-5:30pm. This is for two reasons. One, I can not be bothered to get up at the crack of dawn to deal with a turkey and the preparations necessary before I can cook it. And two, after I have gone to the whole effort of making a lavish spread I do not want to then have to make dinner a few hours later. Larry and I would be content to pick at the bird and munch on leftovers, but this does not work with the rest of the family.

The bird was a bit balky this year and wanted an extra hour in the oven. So we ended up eating at 6:30, our normal dinner hour. Unfortunately the garlic mashed potatoes got a bit cold, but were yummy none the less. For dessert we had a pumpkin pie and a turkey cake.

The pie was very good. To dress it up I made a little cut out of a pumpkin surrounded by little leaves. Much nicer than a plain old pie and it uses up some of the excess pie crust.

The cake looked great.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I had a small (7 inch) orange cake round parked in the freezer. I had made it from extra batter from Max’s birthday cake. It was a case of either toss or bake and I opted to bake it. On Wednesday night I pulled out the round and carved out the body of the bird. I then used the scraps to form the wings, tail and neck. I didn’t have a large enough piece for the head so I faked it with a ball of large crumbs and lots of frosting. I frosted the whole mess with my favorite chocolate frosting:
1 ½ cups of semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter*
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Place the chips and the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Then microwave for about a minute on high. The chips and butter will not be completely melted, but they will be soft. Mix until it is smooth. Then stir in the milk and vanilla. Using an electric mixer slowly add the sugar. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth. Don’t worry, it will be very runny. Refrigerate for one hour, beating it every 15 minutes. * You can use regular butter, unsalted is better.
Once the turkey cake was frosted I put it in the fridge over night to set the frosting. In the morning I made a half batch of orange frosting and then added color. I think the whole thing came out rather well. Sadly the cake itself was a bit stale. Apparently it had been in the freezer a little too long. At least we had the pumpkin pie. Next time I’ll use a fresh cake round.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

From my family to yours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Weevilicious Wednesday One: Turkey Day Style

Since Terry is off tomorrow we get to have:

... Weevilicious Wednesday One, to whit:
Name ONE traditional Thanksgiving food that you would be satisfied to NEVER EVER eat again!

As is always the case with these competitions, we ask you to either leave your answer in the comments below or a link to your blog, so we can all come over to your place and sit around in a sleepy daze on the couch with our pants unbuttoned.

For me it would be anything involving giblets. Blech, I can’t stand them. They make the gravy all funny and ruin the stuffing. I also object to celery and nuts in the dressing. It took me a few years to figure out what it was in my stuffing that I did not like. Once I jettisoned the celery and replaced it with yams all was yummy in the world again.

Tonight I’ll be baking a pumpkin pie and make a little turkey cake. Rebecca saw one in the store the other day and I said no, I could make better. I have a little cake in the freezer that I can sculpt and decorate. If it looks decent I’ll post a picture of it. Then tomorrow it is a festival of cooking. I should have the kitchen completely trashed by noon.

Have a happy and tasty Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

It's A Good Thing Too

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Good, I'm safe to at least ninth grade. Jake is in fourth grade, but doing fifth grade work. That gives me a few years to brush up on my high school math. My real downfall wasn't until college. I intensly disliked calculus and I did not understand the point of it.

Up until then I enjoyed math. I liked how there was one clear cut answer that could be reached in a methodical way. The complete opposite of French.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Git It

Sunday I took the red dogs with me to an earthdog fun day at this place.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Earthdog or as I call them “bark-at-the-rats” events are a way to test a dogs instinct to go to ground. Most terriers and dachshunds were breed to go down into tunnels to root out vermin. It takes a bold dog with a strong instinct to hunt to be willing go down a dark tunnel and confront their prey. This site has an excellent description of what it is all about.

The event would be a good introduction for John. He is a keen hunter of moles in our backyard, but he has never actually gone to ground. Crunch was just coming along for the ride. Crunch earned his Junior earthdog title in 1995 and has one leg towards his Senior title. We have been on hiatus for the past ten years and it would be a good opportunity to see how strong his drive is after all these years, but if we had too many dogs to run I could pull him out.

It was a gorgeous day. I showed up late and I was just able to have John familiarize himself with a set of above ground liners. The liners are just simple wooden tunnel sections that comprise of a roof and two walls. The bottom of this page has some nice pictures of above ground liners. John also got to meet the rats. He was very keen and we were able to get him to go through an 8 foot tunnel with a 90 degree turn. He was a bit hesitant, but the urge to get the rats won out in the end.

Then we moved to where the intro to quarry area. John was not too sure about the underground tunnel. He kept poking his head in and backing out. Each time he would go a little further. At one point he hunted around the enclosure, but he did return to the tunnel. It took about 15 minutes of his backing and filling until he screwed up his courage and charged the rats. We then got treated to the sounds of a baying dachshund. He was quite a handful to pull out of the tunnel. Afterwards he kept pulling me to go back. It was a very successful introduction to the sport of den trials.

After all the other dogs had a try I brought out the old man. We were running ahead of schedule and it would be no problem running Crunch. As I brought him to the enclosure he was eager to go. He knew what was going on and he wanted a piece of the action. When it was his turn, all I did was drop him to the ground and say “git it.” He plunged down the hole and was in full cry before he hit the end of the tunnel. I turned to the people watching and said “This is how it’s done.” He was a barking fool and like his son, a handful to pull out. It was nice to see that the old man still had it in him.

It looks like I’ll be running the red dogs in some earthdog events in the near future.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Oh, C’mon, Have Another Slice

Saturday we had Meryl over for a little birthday celebration. I asked her earlier in the week what kind of cake she would like to have. I have a fairly large repertoire and she has sampled a fair number of them. She got to down to Max and Rebecca’s birthday cakes from last month, but she could not decide which one. So she told me to have the kids decide.

The kids were of course no use. They were evenly divided between Rebecca’s chocwet (at least that’s what Rebecca calls it) cake and Max’s orange cake. Thinking back to their birthday party I remembered how much Meryl enjoyed taking alternating bites between the two cakes. That settled it; I would combine the two into a frankencake. It would have a layer of orange cake, a layer of yellow cake (the non-radioactive kind), orange filling and the whole mess would be frosted with chocolate.I baked it on Friday.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I halved the recipe for my yellow cake, which was easy enough to do. Then I made a 2/3 batch of my orange cake. It has 3 eggs hence the 2/3s, the yellow was much easier to scale down since it uses four eggs. As I was making the frosting I was on the phone with Meryl. Rummaging about in the pantry, I realized that I was almost out of confectioner’s sugar. Oops! I mentioned this to Meryl and that prompted her to tell me “The Horsehair Cake Story.” A funny misadventure in cooking that resulted in a very special meal. I hope she tells it soon over at her place (Hey Meryl, you did say you would post it... someday.) I carefully measured out the sugar I had on hand and... Dang! I was a cup short. Well I could fake it with my regular sugar; it would just mean that the frosting would be a bit gritty. Oh it would still be yummy, just not the same silky smooth texture. When I was all done I piped “Happy Birthday Meryl” on top of the cake and tucked it away in the garage fridge.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The cake was a big hit. The flavors intensified overnight and the resultant cake was delicious. Larry was able to get Meryl to eat a second slice with minimal arm twisting and I packed her an enormous slice (it was the size of two slices) to take home. We still have a fair amount left. Would anybody else like a slice?

Friday, November 18, 2005


This little bat is the bane of my existence.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max got it the last time we went to the zoo. It is made out of some sort of soft, stretchy, squishy, green material. My guess is that it is probably some sort of latex. Anyway, Max loves his little bat. He drags it around all over the house. The first time he mislaid it resulted in a very frantic search on his part. Eventually it was found and that is when I realized that the bat was trouble.

Its small size and squishy nature makes it all too easy to hide and lose. It is also just the thing the dogs like to rend into small pieces. I try to have Max keep it upstairs, but Batty keeps popping up downstairs.

Wednesday Max took Batty for a ride in his enormous dump truck (it’s so big that Nate can sit in the dumper). This would not be a problem, except it was outside, as in outside amongst all the leaves in our very big backyard. If I had known what was going on I would have put a kibosh on the whole idea. Just a few days previously Max decided to give his baby snake (about 3 1/5 inches long, brown and the same stretchy material as bat) a ride the dump truck. The snake was stuffed in the cab and promptly fell out. It was sheer luck that I found it after 5 minutes searching in the leaves.

Of course Batty fell out of the cab. Unfortunately when Jake and Max informed me of the tragedy I thought they meant Max had lost his baseball bat. I told them tough, it’ll turn up later. It wasn’t until an hour later that I realized my mistake. At this point there was almost no hope of getting a coherent story from Max about where he had driven his truck and the wind had been moving the leaves about. I did a half hearted search, but it was getting very dark outside. I told Max that if we ever find Batty it must not go outside again.

Yesterday I did not look, but today I decided to give it a shot. It is brilliantly sunny out and the wind had died down from the past couple of days. I did an intensive search pattern, pushing aside the leaves with my booted foot in a likely section of the yard. Max had driven the truck in circles there and I thought maybe that was where Batty fell out. No such luck. Max bounded outside and I had him retrace his steps. Just as I given up and was about to head inside I spied batty lurking beneath a leaf. Of course it was not even close to where I was searching. Apparently Batty fell out at the beginning of his journey, near the steps to the deck. Max was very happy to get Batty back.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Hopefully he will keep Batty inside from now on, but I doubt it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday Three: Housing!

It Thursday and y’all know what that means, yet another Thursday Three! Terry sets us the following task:

Once more, it’s time to put on your thinking caps and see what there is to find out about you. Today’s set of questions were inspired by Chef Tony, who gave us an insight a couple of days back about the type of house he’d like to build for himself if he suddenly became Croesus, Midas, and Bill Gates all rolled into one.

In that theme, then, answer for us these three questions:
1) If you had an unlimited amount of money, what sort of house would you like to have?
2) If you decided to chunk it and go the full Thoreau route, what sort of hovel would you like to have?
3) What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the house or apartment you live in right now?

There you go! In addition to your thinking caps, strap on that tool belt and get to work coming up with your answers. Remember, though--be safe and please don't forget to wear your safety goggles.
  1. I gravitate towards Colonial and Victorian styles of architecture. I like the Georgian style featured in this article and the Italianate here. This site has a nice summation of Victorian styles and this one has a good timeline of American Architecture. I like old houses, the house that I lived in until my father passed away was over 400 years old. Ideally I would want one that is spacious enough for our family with a fair piece of land. The interior of house itself would be remodeled in a way that it preserves the flavor of the house, but has all the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing, electricity and cable. I would also like to be near the ocean with a nice beach. This property seems to fill the bill. Mind you I would want a full staff to clean and maintain the place.

  2. I don’t think Thoreau ever had to contend with four children. I am not willing to forgo indoor plumbing and electricity. However I can see our having a weekend cabin somewhere, but it has to have a dishwasher. It is not a vacation if you have to hand wash the dishes. Larry and I joke that the main reason we bought our first house was so that we would have a dishwasher. As my parents once observed, you can always take your clothes to the Laundromat, but not your dishes.

  3. The house could use paint inside and out. The floors downstairs need refinishing and I want to rip out all the carpeting upstairs. I would love to redo the kitchen with granite type counters and a gas cook-top. We would also like to add playroom and maybe one or two more bedrooms. The playroom would be very nice, because I could chuck all the toys cluttering the house into it. When I brought this up with Larry he thought it would also be nice if the playroom had a large picture window so we can supervise the goings on without hearing the accompanying din. Oh and one more thing, we could use more bookcases. I realize this is a list and not just one thing. I guess if I had to pick just one it would be the building an addition with a playroom and 1 or 2 bedrooms.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Artist of the Week: Turkey

This week’s artists are the staff at our local library. The librarians do a wonderful job every week at story time. I have faithfully taken all of my children since we moved down to Virginia. Jake was too old for the baby story time when we moved here, but the rest of the crew attended it along with story time for two year olds and story time for three to fives. I have just moved Max and Rebecca up to the three to five group this year. With the two younger groups caregivers stay in the room, but the three to fives are expected to be able to sit nicely without their guardians. It is just for 30 minutes and it is a good way for the kids to be used to a more school like environment. At the end of each session for the two older groups they send the kids home with a coloring sheet and sometimes a treat. This week we got a little edible turkey.

Rebecca inhaled hers on the way home, but Max had to wait. I didn’t bring applesauce with me; therefore he couldn’t take his enzymes. As a result I could snag this cute picture of him with his turkey before he devoured it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

My best guess it was Mrs. C. who made the little turkeys. I’m not sure, because just last week she brought in cupcakes for her birthday. It is possible that some of the staff got together to make up these tasty little treats.

Either way I’m amazed about all the treats and little things that get passed out each week. I don’t remember the library being that much fun when I was little. It was just a place for books and food was absolutely forbidden within the building. As a result story time is a much bigger deal and is eagerly anticipated each week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Meryl

Today is Meryl’s birthday.  I’m heading on out to have a nice lunch with her. We will get to take our time since her whole department is out of town and she is all by her lonesome. So head on over and say Hi.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Did You Know

That sprinklers hitting balloons make a very odd and very loud sound?

Last night I heard the oddest noise. It was very loud and I could not figure it out. It was a strange whooshing/drumming noise that would last about 5 seconds, pause for two minutes than another loud 5 second pulse of noise followed by a 10 minute pause. It kept repeating and driving me batty. I finally got up and staggered about trying to locate the noise. I finally stuck my head outside when I noticed the sprinklers were going.

Then I saw what was happening. The sprinkler was hitting a balloon tied to a bench outside. Mystery solved I was able to go to sleep. This morning I got rid of the offending balloon.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Blood, Bruises and Birthday Cake

On Saturday we had Nate’s birthday party. Here is a picture of the birthday boy with his cake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It took some doing to get this picture. I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.

For the party we rented a bouncy tent. What better way to entertain a pack of little boys than a place for them to literally bounce off the walls.

It was supposed to be delivered at about noon. In reality they showed up at 9:00 am. They were lucky I was still at home. After I showered and dressed I told Jake to put on his shoes and socks. We were going to meet up with Larry and Nate at the soccer field (Nate had a 9:00 am game and they went on ahead). Apparently they rang the doorbell while I was drying my hair. When I came downstairs I found Jake aimlessly wandering about and he was still barefoot. I demanded to know why he was not ready. He then proceeded to tell me that he forgot. I asked he why and he said the doorbell rang and he went to see who was there, but nobody was at the door. At that point he forgot all about the shoes. As I was questioning him I noticed there were people in my backyard. Ack! It’s the tent people! I scooted outside to speak with them. I started to tell them where I wanted it set up, but they had already started to set it up at a different spot. It didn’t really matter so I had them leave it. The tent was inflated as I filled out the paperwork. The tent people were soon on their way to deliver another tent and I had to round the troops up to go to soccer. It was very hard convincing two four year olds that we could NOT play in the tent. Instead we had to go to Nate’s last soccer game of the season.

When we got back home the kids mobbed the tent. I had unplugged it while we were gone and it was flat on the ground. They were jumping with excitement as we watched it inflate. Once it was up they all piled inside.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

As they played I started to decorate the cake. Nate wanted a soccer cake with green on it. I settled on an offset soccer ball with the classic white and black pattern.

The frosting was bit goopy, but it worked out in the end.
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After some frantic cleaning and a quick trip for supplies we were ready for the party. As the two guests arrived they piled into the tent. After about 20 minutes Larry went off to pick up the pizza. I had just got Max and Rebecca settled with a movie (it was getting a bit wild outside and I needed to nebulize Max) when the boys burst into the house. One of the guests had knocked a tooth. Blood was trailing down his chin when he came inside. I cleaned him up and saw the tooth was just hanging in there. I asked him if it was loose before it got knocked and he said yes. A gave the tooth a poke and it came tumbling out when he pushed his tongue against his tooth. Fortunately it was a baby tooth and seven year olds lose teeth all the time. I had him rinse out his mouth and then they all piled outside to bounce some more.

Pizza arrived and they all came back in to eat. While we were eating Meryl arrived. When they were done eating Nate announced that he wanted to open his presents. It wasn’t the traditional time, but it was his party. It would also give them a chance to settle their stomachs before going back into the bouncy tent. He was very pleased with his gifts and they all rushed outside to play with them. In the meantime we set up the piñata. None of the trees in our yard have any branches lower than 20 feet so this requires that we set up our shade tent. We loop a rope over the top crossbar to suspend the piñata. The children line up and are allowed under the tent one at a time to take a whack. Usually this works well and nobody gets hurt from crowding the piñata as it gets hit. Note I said usually. Unfortunately I was a little too close (I was holding the rope) and I got whacked in the thigh with a plastic baseball bat. It hurt and both Meryl and Larry were very concerned, but I was able to shake it off very quickly (As a result I have a faint bruise on the front of my upper leg). It took a while, but finally the children were rewarded with a shower of (leftover Halloween) candy.

We left them outside and prepped the cake. It took repeated calls until we were finally able to corral them all inside to have the cake. Nate did not even want any, but I put my foot down. Dang it I made that cake and he will at least blow out the candles. In the end they sang the song and most of them had some cake. Then they all tore upstairs to play some more. Both boys were sad to go when their parents came to get them. After the guests were all gone we bounced some more in the tent. I had fun popping balloons with Rebecca and Max while we were inside the tent. Then it was time to go back inside.

As we ate a half hearted dinner, the tent people came and packed it away. They were gone when Rebecca noticed and she burst into tears. In the end I had to promise her that we would get it for her birthday. By 7:00 pm both Max and Rebecca were passed out on the couch. I’d say it was a successful party.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Happy Birthday Nate!

Seven years ago today this charming young man entered our lives.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was an uneventful pregnancy, the weekend before Grandma and Grandpa came down for a visit and to watch Jake if needed. We had one false alarm, but in the end they headed home before the big event. In the mean time my brother-in-law, Andy came to stay for as long as we needed him. It was a Wednesday and I had dropped Jake off at his preschool. I came home and rattled about the house and took a nap in the afternoon. When I awoke I could tell something was happening. I didn’t worry about it and went off to pick up Jake. On the way home the contractions really started to hit. I realized I probably shouldn’t be driving a car when I had to pull over at one point and breathe through a contraction. Fortunately I was almost home and I got there without further incident.

Larry came home shortly afterwards. Andy and I both met him at the front door. Andy was in an upbeat mood and very chatty. He was also oblivious as to what was going on. As he stood there telling Larry how taking a nap was a good thing, I clutched the banister as another contraction hit. Through gritted teeth I said it was time. Larry immediately focused on me. He cut Andy off and told him we were going now and that he was in charge of Jake. Andy was quite startled, but he was up for the job. I had gone over Jake’s schedule ahead of time with Andy so he knew what to do. Larry and I piled into the car and drove to my OB’s office (the hospital was right across the street from there.)

It was an interesting drive. I. Did. Not. Want. To. Sit. Down.

Larry dropped me off and I waddled up to the office. As I stood there in obvious labor the staff watched me with interest as they readied an exam room for me. To get my mind off of my contractions I struck up a conversation with them. It turned out that a new carpet had been just laid and they were hoping it would stay new looking for a little while longer. (I’m happy to report that it still looked new after I left the office.) I was soon ushered down the hall to the exam room. I still could not sit, so I paced while I waited for one of the OBs. A few minutes later he poked his head in and quipped that it was always a good sign when the patient can’t sit. He helped up on the table and did a quick check. The expression on his face was priceless. His eyes grew wide and you could literally see him go “Holy cow!” I was already at seven centimeters. He calmly told us that we must go now across the street to the hospital. No side trips were allowed. He would call ahead to warn them that I was on my way

Larry hustled me over and again dropped me off and parked the car. He would bring up the rear with my bag. As I approached the elevators to Labor and delivery I sagged against the wall when another contraction hit. A helpful orderly offered me a wheelchair to take me, but I waved him away. Sitting was no longer an option but I was still in good spirits and I was excited that today was the day.

When I entered the maternity ward the nurses’ first comment was that I looked good for seven centimeters. They whisked me to room and got me all prepped. Larry soon appeared and we settled in to wait. Less than an hour later, Nate was in our arms.

Happy Birthday Nate!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Today I brought in cupcakes at lunch time to share with his class.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

They were a big hit and Nate proudly told everyone that they were completely homemade. He is a sweet little guy.

To All Who Have Served

I want to say thank you.

Both my father and my husband’s stepfather fought in World War 2. Oddly enough they both served in the Navy. My father was on a minesweeper, one of the most boring and the most dangerous assignments.

The funny thing is if my father had not served he would not have qualified for the GI Bill and he would have never gone to College. As a result he would not have met my mother and I would never have been born.

So I really can say I owe my existence to a Veteran. I would like to thank all of you for what you do to keep us safe and to protect all that we value: life and liberty.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thursday Three: Work

This week’s Axis of Weevil Thursday Three is all about work. Terry posts the following:

And entirely appropriate to the occasion, given the amount of stuff I have to do, it this week's questions are both supplied by our intrepid University Research Cadre AND deal with work! Hard to beat that, my friends.

SO, to get right into it:

1. What is the thing you like best about your job?
2. What one thing--mind you THING (i.e., not people)--that you would like most to change about your job?
3. What do you wish people knew about your job that you think they don’t?

Now, just because you don’t get a paycheck DOESN’T mean you can’t play along--working at home with kids is just as much a job as coming to work in a dead gray civil-service job of never-ending meaninglessness.

Not that I know anyone with a job like that.

Well I guess first off I should give a brief job description. I am the primary caregiver to four, yes four, rambunctious, loud and loving children ranging from 9 years old on down to four. I cook, shop and theoretically maintain this household. A portion of my time is also sent ferrying the said children about. We also have dogs, but they are not so much as a job, but rather a hobby.
  1. I like the unlimited hugs and kisses with the occasional “I wuv you.” Basically I like the fact that I am here for my children and I get to be apart of all that happens and affects their lives. I’m molding tomorrow’s citizens and it is an monumental task. On a more prosaic level I like how I can stretch out on the couch mid-day and “rest my eyes.” Full access to the refrigerator and pantry are also a plus.

  2. I would like it if someone could come in and do all the cleaning every day. I guess what I want is a full janitorial staff that follows the kids around. It would also be nice to be paid, but for that to happen we would all have to pay more taxes and I don’t want the government poking its nose into my family. So I am happy to skip the paycheck.

  3. I would like it if people would acknowledge the fact that I do have a brain. My children are fairly smart and I really do have to do a fair amount of mental work to keep on top of things. Also it would be nice if people were aware that this job can be at times a never ending grind. Sometimes I’m not at my best and we all get a bit frayed around the edges at times. I try my best and generally I can take my children to public places without too much embarrassment on my part. Though there have been times when I have to do something and I have to carry a screaming small person and finish my mission. The only reason I stay up late at night is so I can have some time for myself.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Just Call Me Misty

I just got some FluMist squirted up my nose today, so excuse the odd faces I make as I struggle not to sneeze.

The flu is a serious thing in our household. It could be lethal for Max. As a result we have all been getting vaccinated against the flu for the past three years. Before Max’s diagnosis of CF I had a rather indifferent attitude towards the flu.

I don’t recall ever getting the flu shot before I moved to Wisconsin. The only reason I got the flu shot was that I was paid to do so. It was a very sweet deal. At some point in the summer paid volunteers were needed to test the new vaccine. A bunch of us from the lab would go in, fill out the paperwork, get a shot and then come back two weeks later for a blood draw to have our titers checked. It usually worked out to be five bucks for each visit, so you would end up being paid a grand total of $10. The nifty part was in addition to getting the shot you would also get to know how well your immune system responded to the shot from the results of the titer.

After we moved away I stopped getting an annual flu shot. I was spoiled by getting paid and it felt wrong for me to pay someone to give me the shot. All this changed in 2003. Now it is my yearly obsession to get my family immunized. 2003 was not a big deal. Larry got his a work, I got it at a supermarket flu shot clinic and the kids were done by our pediatrician. The only bad part was that since it was the first time for the kids they had to have two shots. At least in future years they would only have to have one.

Then there was 2004, as y’all remember it was a disaster. One of the manufacturers had a major problem and as a result there were shortages. Before it all hit the fan I had scheduled an appointment for the boys through their pediatrician. Max and Rebecca would get theirs at their 3 year check up in October. Unfortunately the pediatrician did not get theirs in time for Max and Rebecca and their shot clinics were already overbooked.  If fact there was no guaranteeing that these who had scheduled would get any at all. I tried to get one through the CF clinic for Max, but I was initially rebuffed. As I obsessed over what to do, I remembered that there was FluMist. It was available for ages 5 through 49, I could at least get Larry, myself, Jake and Nate inoculated. All I had to do was get a prescription for Jake and Nate. Even if I couldn’t get Max done I could get all the people in our family who were most likely to bring it home. Our pediatrician was game, but wanted me to clear it with the CF clinic. As I dutifully called the CF clinic I was informed that they now had the flu shot and I could bring Max in if I wanted. I practically tossed Max into the car and flew up to Richmond. I inquired if they could do Rebecca too, but their stocks were only for CF patients.  At this point I had everybody in our family covered except for Rebecca. Admittedly she was not a likely source for Max, but it would be nice to have her done as well. A few weeks later the pediatrician’s office called about Jake and Nate’s appointment. They now had the vaccine, but they wanted to limit to only those who truly needed it. Ah-ha! I now had an ace in the hole for Rebecca. I could turn the two shots into just one for Rebecca. She easily fell into the category of those needing it and I had two reserved. It all worked out and in the end we were all covered.

This year it is more of a distribution problem. I booked all four children this for a shot clinic in early December. In the meantime the CF clinic got its act together and actually offered to inoculate Max at his last CF appointment. I jumped on it and got Max squared away. It is much easier for me to wrangle three kids at a shot clinic than to deal with all four. Then, while discussing the whole flu shot thing with Larry, Jake and Nate informed us that they would rather have FluMist than a shot. OK, FluMist it is. I understand how much more appealing a squirt is over a shot and I think it is an overall better option than the shot. So I called the pediatrician’s office for a prescription for the boys. It turns out that this year they are offering FluMist. We could come in and skip the whole shot clinic thing. Woo-Hoo!  Three kids are done. Larry got his at work so it’s just the female portion of the family left. All throughout this I have been trying to go to a flu clinic, but I was either prevented by other stuff or it got cancelled. Finally I pulled up my socks and got all misty this morning. Once again little Miss Rebecca will be the last one done. I just wish it didn’t take so much effort.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Well I’m Glad That’s Over

The polls are closed so now I can answer the phone without trepidation. This past week we have had canned phone calls from Al Gore, Rudolf Giuliani, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. I have decided that it is a very bad thing to live in one of the only two states that are having a gubernatorial election, but it is entertaining.

Normally if I answer the phone and I get the telltale long pause with a series of clicks I hang up. But after Al and Rudy left messages on our voice mail last week I decided to hang in there and see who else would call. Sadly, I personally did not answer the phone for George and Bill, but I do like the fact that they are both in my voice mail.

So you ask why are both parties harassing us.

For various reasons Larry has ended up on the Republican mailing list. I, meanwhile, have ended up on the bleeding heart liberal list due to the charities I contribute to. In reality we are neither. We actually vote on the issues and not just the party. I guess we are just special.

But for now the phone calls and mailings are over. That is, until the next election cycle.

I Did

Did you?

Monday, November 07, 2005

And You Want Me To Buy That?

Have you seen one of the new Passat ads? Namely the one titled “Checkpoint.”

It is possible one of the most idiotic ads I have ever seen. The message I get is that the car has so many nonstandard features it will attract the unwanted attentions of customs agents and it will get your car pulled out for an extensive search. The kind of search that results in your car getting completely disassembled and left for you to try to piece together.

Now I do have to admit that some of the new features are rather nifty. I like the idea of a cooled glovebox. The folding umbrella storage inside the driver’s door is ingenious. But the ad for the car, oh my, what were they thinking.

Yeah, I really want a car like that.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

So Close

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This weekend Jake’s team participated in a local soccer tournament. In his age division there were eight teams entered. The teams were divided into two groups. Each team would play three games, two on Saturday and one on Sunday. Then the two group winners would play against each other for the championship.

Jake’s team dominated in their first two games. They played as a team and handily won both games. This was despite the abysmal officiating in the second game. We experienced random and capricious calls against our team. The most aggravating were the two disallowed goals. One goal was saved just inside the net. The goalie nabbed it and lay just inside for quite awhile until the ref decided it was not a goal. The other one occurred after their goalie did a very nice save. He scanned the field and threw the ball and it ended up just falling about four feet away from him and slowly rolled on the grass. It was a truly horrible throw. Most of the players on the field stood there, stunned when suddenly one of our players seized the moment, ran up and stuffed the ball in the net. In the end we won 4 to 1.

On Sunday our team’s record was 2-0 and our opponent was also 2-0. It was a tough team and they had soundly defeated us during regular season play. But I was hopeful. As I helped Jake with his cleats I told him he was going to be playing a tough team, but I thought his team had a very good chance in advancing to the finials. His team was playing very well together and the players had all shown improvement and had gained new skills. It was not the same team that had been beaten earlier in the season.

Larry then took Jake and Rebecca to the game. I was not going. Nate had Sunday school (so did Jake, but we decided he could miss it this time for his game) and I would be ferrying him up to Richmond with Max in tow. The game was scheduled for 8:00 am and would be over by 9:00. As I sat in with Max while waiting for Nate I called up Larry to get the news at around 9:30. They had tied! Unfortunately due to the formula to determine which team would advance the other team ended up going to the finials. The formula is based on total number of goals versus goals allowed and a few other factors. It turns out that if Jake’s team had gotten one more goal they would have been the team to advance to the finials. So close! In the end I was very proud of what the team had accomplished.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Yummy Pumpkin Pie

At Jake’s request I made a pumpkin pie on Wednesday. It has been awhile and all that pumpkin carving had put me in the mood. The first task was to get my pumpkin pie plate out.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Isn’t it lovely? It just begs to be filled with a pumpkin pie. The pan’s fluted edges make it so easy to finish off the crust to make it pretty.

The pie itself is easy to make. It is a combination of three different recipes, one of them being off of the label of Libby packed pumpkin.

Sarah’s Pumpkin Pie:
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 can (1 ½ cups) of canned pumpkin*
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon mace**
1 ½ cups of undiluted evaporated milk
1 9 inch uncooked pie crust***

Preheat the oven to 425. Combine the filling ingredients in the above order. Mix well. Place the crust in the pie plate and trim the excess crust from the edges and set aside. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. I like to decorate the top of the pie with the excess pie crust. I roll out the extra dough and cut out shapes that I place on top of the filling. Bake the pie at 425 for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 and bake an addition 40-50 minutes. The pie is done when a knife inserted in it comes out clean. The pie is best after it has completely cooled.

*Oddly the original Libby recipe called for one can, 16 oz. At some point during the past decade the can became only 15 oz and the recipe on the label was changed to reflect this. DON”T use the pumpkin pie filling, you want plain solid packed pumpkin.

** This can be optional.

***I use a Pillsbury rolled up pie crust. It is much easier than making it from scratch and they are always going on sale this time of year.

And here is the finished product.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Normally I cut out a little pumpkin shape and some leaves to put on top of the pie. But this time Jake wanted me to make the pie look like a jack-o’-lantern.

On Safari

I have a new horrible online addiction now and I want to share it with you. It is a live Wildcam of Pete’s pond in Botswana courtesy of National Geographic.

So far I have seen elephants (with babies!), ostriches, some other large bird, antelope, jackals and I think a warthog. This is from only two viewings totaling 30 minutes.

The Wildcam has an audio feed too and that alone is fun to listen to.

All you need the latest version of RealPlayer plugin and then you are good to go.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thursday Three: Deep Ponderings!

Since Terry has gotten himself roped into this today he has gotten a wee bit philosophical about this whole blogging thing. To wit:
Today, since I have to get all practiced up for representing the ‘Stupid-Pointless’ branch of bloggerdom in front of a bunch of computer guys, I thought it might be good to do a little introspection to help me get my thoughts together about the topic. In doing so, I figured you could play along as well.
TO THAT END, we now present this week’s Axis of Weevil Thursday Three--Deeply Ponderful Edition!
Now then, answer the following questions either in your own blog and leave a link in the comments below, or use the comments as your substitute blog in case you don’t have one. As usual, anyone is welcome to play along.
1) If you have a blog, why did you start it? If you don’t have one, do you think you might start one? Why or why not?
2) What blogs do you read most often?
3) Finally, what do you consider to be the greatest strength(s) and most profound weakness(es) of blogging?
Okay, folks--go forth and cogitate, and tell us what you think.
  1. Obviously, since y’all are over here reading this mess, I do indeed have a blog. I started this because... umm, because I’m good friends with Meryl and I had been spending waaaay too much time over in Terry’s comments. Being a stay at home mother of four children I enjoy the pseudo-contact with other adults and I like telling people of some of the absurd things going on here. I also like to share pictures of the things I do and see. One of the nicest side effects is that my mother (Hi Mom!) really loves reading about our goings on and she feels like she is much more a part of her grandchildren’s lives. This is primarily a mommy-blog with forays into food and dog shows. And cakes! I can’t forget about cakes!

  2. Well I read my little link list every day with repeat stops at Terry’s to drop my so-called pearls of wisdom throughout the day. I generally gravitate towards the more humorous and/or parenting end of the spectrum. I avoid the hardcore political blogs, because they generally bore me. A few times a week I check on the CFF website (warning it takes forever to load) to see what is happening in research and drug development.

  3. The greatest strength and weakness is that anybody can have a blog. I love the immediacy, but you have to also be willing to wait and see what develops.  Blogs are truly a yin yang state. I think overall blogging is a positive and is a great tool for freedom of expression. If you don’t like what you see you don’t have to sit there and read it. You are free to go elsewhere and maybe in the process you expand your horizons a little bit.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Artist of the Week: Sweater

This week’s artist is a long time friend of my mother’s. Annie was, in my eyes, a real New Yorker. She used to live on the Upper East Side with her mother. Their apartment always struck me as a huge place in such an exotic and exciting location. We would occasionally visit her in the city and she in turn would come see us in the wilds of Connecticut and later in Vermont. Not long after her mother passed away she packed up and moved to Vermont. She lives not far from my Mother’s new house and we try to stop by when we are in town.

This is a picture, from left to right, of Annie with my Brother’s Mother-in-Law and his wife. It was taken around the time of the wedding at my Mother’s old house.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Growing up Annie would be always giving my brother and me small gifts. After the birth of Jake she continued her generosity with my children. For Jake she knitted a lovely sweater. Both he and Nate have worn it and now it has been passed down to Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a wonderful teally blue color and it has held up well over the years. I was going through a box of Nate’s cast offs a few weeks ago, sorting out what could be used for Max and Rebecca this winter when Rebecca spied it. She snatched it up and claimed it for her own. I think the color suits her. Her dark hair and eyes look beautiful with the vivid color of the sweater.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hey! What's That in the Woods?

Remember that shed we are building?

When I last left off we had built the floor, roughly leveled it and constructed three of the four sides. Then our building project went on hiatus due to menacing hurricanes and seemingly endless rain.

Well last Sunday we finally built the forth wall and got them all erected!

It was not an easy task. The walls had to fit together just so and they were a bit heavier than I could manage even with Larry doing the bulk of the lifting. But we persevered and now we have something that looks almost shed like on our property. No children were squashed, but it was a close thing. They insisted on being right with us when we were putting the walls up.

I’ll be assembling the roof supports this week and *maybe* we will get them up next Sunday along with the roof deck. Larry is even thinking of taking a day off from work to do the shingling. Then we will only have two loose canons to fend off. Our goal is to have it built before winter.