Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Don’t let the mummies scare you.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Enjoy some fall treats.

And here is a little something sweet before you go.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It’s Done

I have just finished the great costume project of 2006 and it looks fantastic.

Nate is very pleased with the end result. I’ll post pictures tomorrow. I could do a very lame one of it spread out on the table, but I think it’ll be much better with Nate’s smiling face.

It was a bit harder than I anticipated, but I was able to figure it all out. I even learned a new word: selvage.

Noun, edge of cloth so woven that it cannot unravel, or made of another material or with an inferior finish.

That’s it for now, I’ve got to take some cupcakes out of the oven and then go to bed.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And Yes, I Bought More

I didn’t post on Friday because I was busy. Busy with Halloween parties and busy with the great Halloween project of 2006 a.k.a. Nate’s costume.

In the morning I drew up my shopping list, picked up a replacement toy for Rebecca (It was a birthday present and John killed it in less than twenty four hours after she got it) and took Max and Rebecca to their Halloween party at preschool. They got to trick or treat in all the other classrooms and have a little party with cupcakes, sandwiches, cookies and of course, candy. They were very cute dressed up as raccoons, but I forgot my camera.

Oh well, It’s not like they haven’t worn those costumes before.

Then it was off to the fabric store. Unfortunately the closest one is near Petersburg, about a 30 minute drive away. After about 10 minutes in the store the dynamic duo were bored out of their minds, but I needed to get the fabric and that was it. After an hour I picked out my four fabrics and had eleventy billion yards cut, well it really wasn’t that much, but it sure looked like it. Then it was one more stop at Wal-Mart for a few odds and ends.

Interestingly the Petersburg pumpkins were still $3.58 a pop as opposed to our local one which is at a buck fifty per pumpkin. Obviously I didn’t buy any more at that store.

Then it was home again.

The rest of the day was spent decoding the patterns’ directions and cutting out the pattern pieces.

Saturday was gorgeous, so soccer was canceled. Actually the fields were flooded from the previous night’s rain, but it was odd having the games canceled due to inclement weather on such a brilliant fall day. So I got to spend the day cutting fabric and making the first part of the costume. Larry went off to the drug store and when he returned he told me his was pre-registered for the flu shot.


When I asked two days ago there wasn’t any pre-registration available. So I hot footed on over to sign up and, since I was out, I headed over to Wal-Mart to get more pumpkins.

I was a little unsure if any would be left, but they still had some in the bins. I was only going to get four, but then a very nice employee pointed out a whole other area chock full of pumpkins. They even had quite a few extra large ones left. So I bought eight, bringing my grand total up to 18.

My name is Sarah and I have a problem, it’s buying pumpkins for Halloween and Wal-Mart is my enabler.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I am the Pumpkin Goddess

I love Halloween.

The candy, the costumes, the scary stories and how the weather has cooled down and there is a nice snap in the air. I love it all.

Each year I get a big old bunch of pumpkins, carve them up and light them on Halloween. Our house has a long staircase leading up to the front door, perfect for showcasing my pumpkin dementia.

For the past week or so the kids have been asking about the pumpkins. They were eager to buy them when they first appeared, but they know I like to wait for the last minute. The reasons for my last minute pumpkin buying habit are many, but it can be boiled down to two main ones. I’m cheap and I procrastinate.

The procrastination usually works out to my advantage. As Halloween looms the prices on pumpkins start to drop. I keep an eye on the local supply, I don’t want to miss out completely, but I take my time. This is also good, because if you buy too early there is a chance that they may spoil before the big night or fall prey to the predations of animals, both wild and domestic (Both my dogs and the local deer population love pumpkins). Admittedly the selection becomes a bit limited, but I like the warty and oddly shaped ones, they are much more fun to carve. My main requirement is that must still have a bit of stem still attached.

Today, after I dropped off Max and Rebecca off at preschool, I stopped by Wally world. I needed light bulbs and I was looking for Nate’s costume. Nate wants to be a Jedi Knight and so far I have had no luck in locating a costume in his size. I found a few Annakin’s, but he would rather be Obi-Wan. I was going to thoroughly search through the costume department and then maybe check out the sewing/craft area. If all else fails I could get the pattern and do it myself. Max will probably want to wear it in the future, so it will be worth the effort.

As I strolled in I took a gander at the pumpkin bins, they still had a ton left. Then I noticed the price: $1.50 each, formally $3.50.

Score! I grabbed a cart and piled in 10 pumpkins. I was able to snag quite a few big ones and they all have stems. With my cart almost overflowing I wrestled it over to the costume department.

Woot! The aisle was deserted. I love shopping in morning. It is much calmer and if I go on a Tuesday or Thursday, my entourage is at preschool. I happily pawed through the entire collection of costumes, but to no avail. I found a lot of Darth Vader, but no Jedi. After swinging by lighting and getting light bulbs, I headed over to the craft section.

There was a nice display of Halloween costume patterns, but the one I wanted was not included. I searched in the appropriate drawer, but again no success. I then idly looked through the costumes on display. Then I found it, jammed in the back, upside down and backwards. What luck! I tossed the pattern into my cart and headed on out.

Giddy with my success, I loaded up the van with pumpkins and I called my husband. When he picked up I announced “I am a pumpkin goddess!”

With an amused chortle he replied “Indeed you are.”

Here is a picture of the back of my van when it was full of pumpkins.

Just a few pumpkins
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The scary part is I’m going back to buy more, this time with kids. They like to pick out pumpkins and you can never have too many.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Artist of the Week: Little Creature

This week’s artist is Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is a shot from her birthday party. I got little crowns at the dollar store for Max and Rebecca to wear on their birthday. Max still looked like Max, but Miss Rebecca looked downright regal. She likes telling people what to do; we just have to mold her into a benevolent ruler.

Anyhoo, here is one her more recent efforts.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It’s a happy looking creature, with many legs and a big fat pink tail. It does not currently have a name. When I pressed her on the subject Rebecca stated that she was tired of saying names for things.

It is so hard being five.

I like it. It has a cheerful demeanor and its title (for now) makes me think of one of my favorite albums from Talking Heads.

Currently the creature is on display at the Refrigerator Museum of Art.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Remember

When I was living in Wisconsin during the early 90s there was a funny little paper called The Onion. You could pick it up all over the University of Wisconsin’s Campus and in various shops around Madison. It was (and still is) a total spoof. I remember how one grad student, from China, thought the paper was real. After a while she started to clue in, but she never tired of admitting her mistake.

One of my favorite articles was about how during construction of the Monona Terrace the lake bed was punctured, draining the lake. Various objects were found including Otis Redding’s plane that crashed there on December 10, 1967. The accompanying picture was lovingly faked to show the drained lake bed. Larry remembers one picture about Jesus attending a kegger. In the photo he could just pick out one of his students.

The best part of the paper was the movie reviews. At the time actors and directors were identified by the worst movie they were ever in. The reviews themselves were brutally frank and spot on.

Since then the paper has moved on to be an online entity. Occasionally I would take a peak, but it wasn’t nearly as funny. Then today over at Dave Barry’s blog there was a link to a great article “Mars Rover Beginning to Hate Mars.”

Now that’s The Onion I know and love.

Monday, October 23, 2006


A little over a week ago Jake and Nate were agitating for some way to increase their allowance. They were willing to take another job; the question was what it would be.

After a bit of thought and some house cleaning I hit upon just the right job.

For quite some time I’ve been trying to get the boys to clean their room. Mostly I was tired of the layer of Legos on the floor. They would pick them up when I pushed them, but the Legos would soon reappear on the floor within a day or so.

So it was decided they had to clean their room each week. Inspection would be on Sunday. I helped them clean their room one more time and then they were on their own.

First off I noticed that the Legos were staying in the bin. No longer were they flung about the room.

On Wednesday Nate anxiously asked if it would still count if they just didn’t mess up their room. I told him I really didn’t care how it got clean, just that it was nice and neat on Sunday. Very pleased, Nate informed his brother the good news. Jake later informed me that they now carefully pour out the Legos in one spot and then put them back when they were done.

On Friday and Sunday Nate made his bed. He observed on Sunday it was much easier to get into bed when the sheets were no longer in a big wad.

So on Sunday the boys got a pay raise and Nate even garnered a little bonus for making his bed. Jake was a little jealous about the bonus and started to complain and asked why Nate should get a bonus for making his bed. I told him it made me happy and that’s that.

It’ll be interesting if they keep this up. I think we have made some actual progress.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Crunch's Find

Friday Crunch found a new toy in our backyard.

He was at the back door with John and eager to come inside. As I opened the door he picked up his new treasure and tried to bring it inside.

It was a box turtle.

I was on the phone at the time and my caller got treated to a loud “No, you can’t bring that turtle inside! No turtles! Drop it Crunch!”

I pried the poor thing from my dog’s jaws and placed it on the table out on the deck. The turtle’s shell was tightly closed and the shell looked intact. This was an improvement over the last turtle Crunch found. About three or four years ago Crunch found a similar turtle in our backyard. I wasn’t aware of it until it was too late. It turns out if you leave a dachshund alone long enough they can chew through a turtle shell. At first I thought he had a branch or something and was happily gnawing away. After about two hours I went out to see what on earth he could chew on for such a long time. I was horrified to find that my dog had busted through the shell and was trying to eat the turtle. I like turtles and I felt horrible about its death. From that point on I made sure that Crunch didn’t repeat that particular feat in persistence.

Meanwhile Crunch was very disappointed and started to bark at the table. He wanted his new toy back and he wanted it now.

I then excused myself for a moment and relocated the turtle to a safer spot. The dogs tagged along, but left as soon as they realized that their new toy was out of reach.

Once I was done with the phone I rounded up Max and Rebecca to show them the turtle. We put on our boots and tromped out to see if it had moved. It hadn’t, but it had been having a very bad day and it really wasn’t that long since I had rescued it. While we were standing there I decided it would probably better for the turtle if we moved it to the other side of our property, down by the stream. This struck me as a better habitat and the turtle wouldn’t have to cross our lawn of doom in order to reach water.

We found a nice spot across the stream. I placed the turtle down in a grassy patch dappled with sunlight near the stream. We splashed a bit in the water and then left the turtle to its own devices.

An hour later I went back with my camera in hand. I looked for a bit, but it was long gone. I was little disappointed, but mostly pleased that it was able to leave.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I took a few pictures of the woods and headed back inside.

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's That Time of Year Again

Today it was Jake’s turn to be diagnosed with strep throat.

Last weekend Max and Rebecca tested positive for strep. Fortunately I caught it early enough and they were still able to have their totally awesome birthday party. This morning Jake said he had an itchy throat. He had no other symptoms so I sent him off to school. After lunch it worsened and he ended up at the nurse’s office. The school called home, but our phone is all wonky and it never rang (If we’re lucky, we get an abbreviated ring, once maybe twice and that’s it. I think I’ve solved the problem for now, but I need to get it taken care of.) Anyway the school ultimately called Larry at work and he emailed me. I had decided to check my email at around 3:00ish, almost 1 ½ after the initial call, and got the news.

I knew it was strep and arranged to pick up both boys from school. From there it was a not so long drive to the doctor’s office. Nate seems healthy as a horse, but with three siblings sick I know it is just a matter of time.

In short order both boys were tested, Jake came up positive and Nate negative.

What a shock.

After consulting with the doctor it was decided both boys would be started on antibiotics. I said to her Nate was doomed and she agreed.

Nate was very happy with the decision.

Really, he was happy. He is not sick, but he still gets to take amoxicillin, his absolute favorite medicine. He was almost dancing with glee that he gets to take “amoxy.”

Sometimes being a parent can be very surreal.

Anyway the good news is that Nate gets to play soccer, which is a good thing since his team would be short a player on the field if he did not go. The bad news is that Jake can’t play and Nate still needs new cleats. His current pair is falling apart; the upper is pulling away from the sole. I was going to get him a new pair after school today, but that certainly did not happen.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thursday Three: I'm Sorry, But...

This week we have no excuse to not participate in the Thursday Three since it is all about excuses. Terry posts the following:
We’ve covered so much together over the years that coming up with new and interesting questions to ask is something of a difficulty.

Okay, well, so that’s not true.

Thank goodness for such an excuse, though, because it leads us right into this batch of questions. Today we’ll be dealing with those things we tell ourselves in order to keep from doing what we should be doing. Take a moment to answer the questions below, either in the comments or by leaving a link to your blog, and tell us, please:

1) What is your favorite all-around go-to excuse for not doing things that you really just don’t want to do?

2) Is this excuse a one-size-fits-all sort of thing, or do you have one set of excuses for work, and another for social situations?

3) What is one of the lamest excuses you’ve ever heard?

There now--if it’s not too much trouble, or if you’re not having to go wash your hair, or if you don’t have a roast in the oven--take a minute or two and fill us in on your answers. As always, the game is open to everyone, so no excuses for not playing.

1) If I’m being asked to do something extra I’ve gotten very good at saying no. It’s very liberating. With tasks I need to do, my favorite excuse is that I can always do what ever it is tomorrow.

2) If it is a business thing, like a phone call, I’ll put it off for a day when everybody is at school/preschool. Thus I can avoid the background din and distractions of small people. This, however, can delay things quite a bit as I keep forgetting to make the call. Other things I’ll put off until evening after the kids have been put to bed. Then I can supposedly concentrate on the task at hand. Social things can be put off with the sadly true statement that we are busy at that time. With three boys playing soccer and one having piano lessons we are busy Monday through Thursday with games on Saturday and with have Hebrew school Sunday morning. When we do have a free Saturday morning we go to services.

Oh and for years I kept my club at bay from making me president by using Max and Rebecca as an excuse. Now that they are big kids, I couldn’t say that anymore and now I’m stuck being the president. I’m trying to get the kids to call me Madame President, but it’s not working.

3) Hmm, the lamest excuse could be when I was asking someone to serve on the nomination committee for my dachshund club. The person immediately said “No, I’m allergic to dogs and I can’t go to the shows.” The lameness factor was that the person didn’t even listen to me and I’ve seen her at shows. The committee meets by phone to hash out who gets what position. I had to stop her, rephrase the question at which point she went oh, I guess so and that was it.

I guess I’m all out of excuses and I should do what needs to be done.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Artist of the Week: Mountain

In my continuing saga of pruning down some of the school papers around here I unearthed a lovely mixed media by Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Larry took this picture of Jake last weekend as they were heading to the soccer field. It is a very appropriate pose when viewed with this week’s artwork and without further ado here is Jake’s “A Mountain Hike.”

A Mountain Hike
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He made it last year in art class; it is primarily a watercolor with a small amount of crayon and pencil for the details. It is a fairly large piece, 12 X 14 inches and is much too big for my scanner, hence the photograph. It’s a bit battered and wrinkled from the bus ride home, but it did survive.

I like all the little people in the picture hiking about the mountain and adding little dots of color. Jake had completely forgotten about it until I unearthed it from the pile. He was quite impressed with his handy work and rightly so.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Last night I volunteered to make cupcakes for Jake’s class on Halloween. The room parent, Mrs. K, for his class sent out an email requesting help and I immediately replied. It’ll be great fun; I’ll make my basic cake with chocolate frosting and decorate each with a little jack-o-lantern made out of frosting on top. The orange pumpkin will look great on top of the chocolate icing and orange is my son’s favorite color. I was really looking forward to this little project.

Then I got a reply to my offer.

Mrs. K. enthusiastically accepted my offer, but... one of the students does not observe Halloween so she requested that I stay away from anything Halloween because “we want everyone to be included in the treat.”

Fair enough, we don’t do the whole Santa and Easter bunny thing so I can work my way around the Halloween thing.

So then I got to thinking, always a dangerous thing, and hit upon the idea of autumn leaves instead of jack-o-lanterns. I could do plain pumpkins, but that could be pushing it. The leaves are a much more straight on seasonal thing and don’t carry any Halloween baggage.

Now leaves take a little more finesse than pumpkins so decided to do a bit of searching on the internets for “leaf shaped candy.” I found a bunch of leaf shaped candy dishes and a few sites for maple sugar candy.

Mmm, maple sugar candy. I love that stuff. It’s soft, rich in flavor and melts in your mouth. This could be a very good idea.

I found one place, Jed’s Maple Products, that had something new to me, maple blend hard candy (scroll down). It looked very pretty and would probably work out. So I gave them a call. Steve answered the phone and he was a very helpful person. I asked about the size of the candies and it turns out they would be just perfect to stick on top of a cupcake. He was a little concerned about the kids, but I assured him it would be all right. Then we got down to brass tacks and I ordered two boxes and a maple cinnamon shaker (my kids love the stuff and I’m always on the look out for it).

When I told Steve where to ship the stuff he blurted out that he knew the county I live in. It turns out he lived in a neighboring county and went to VCU. We chatted some more and I mentioned that I knew the area he is in and that my Mom lives in Norwich, VT. Ironically he was just there yesterday at King Arthur’s Flour.

It really is a small world. I know where they are and they know where I am even though we are just over 700 miles apart and have never met each other.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Last Thursday was interesting. I had all sorts of things planned out after I saw the boys to the bus and dropped the dynamic duo off at preschool. There were boring things to do such as take dogs to the vet and fun things like going present shopping for Max and Rebecca. I had four lovely hours to do things that are either better without an entourage (the vet) or are not possible with my two charming assistants (birthday present shopping for the selfsame assistants.) The timing was going to be a bit tight, but I was pretty sure I could pull it all off and be able to have a nice bite to eat.

I got Jake and Nate to the bus without incident and then I drove Max and Rebecca to their preschool. When I opened the van door I noticed Rebecca’s socks. Her pretty bright pink socks that she put on so carefully with the cuff turned down just so. This was not good, because I only saw socks, not a single shoe was in sight.

In a calm voice I asked “Rebecca where are your shoes?”

“I don’t know” was her reply.

Well maybe not all is lost; “Did you bring them to the car?” was my next question. Sometimes when we are in a hurry the kids bring their shoes and socks into the car and put then on en route.

“I don’t know.”

“Did you leave them at home?” At this point I was getting a little desperate, my plans were falling apart. I really did not want to go back home and fetch shoes, I would lose half an hour out of my schedule.

“I don’t know, I forgot” was her only slightly anguished reply.

So I decided to drop off Max (which put him into a snit). The staff at the preschool were amazed that she had on socks, but no shoes.

Rebecca and I then went back home to get her shoes and load up the dogs for the vet. My vision of playing on the internet and having a nice croissant before going to the vet was over. Instead I would drop off the girl and then head over to the Vet’s office. I would be a bit early, but then I would in all likelihood get out early.

I got Rebecca back to school, now properly shod, just before circle time so she really didn’t miss much. Max at that point ws over his snit and was happy to see me and his sister. Then it was on to the vet. I ended up being 20 minutes (!) early and we were out 10 minutes after what would have been the start of our scheduled appointment. This left me plenty of time to do my errands and have a nice lunch at home.

Yay me!

That night I got an explanation for Rebecca’s absent mindedness. She woke up crying with a fever; Friday morning I took her in and guess what.

She has strep throat. The poor thing had been ailing and I didn’t know it. The funny thing was she was very chipper the whole day. She spent all of Max’s soccer practice on Thursday showering me with kisses... on the mouth.

I’m doooooooooomed.

At least we got her (and her brother, he got diagnosed the next day) on antibiotics fast enough that they could still have their birthday party. Right now she is napping on the couch.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Being sick and having “the best birthday ever” took a lot out of her.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Big Oh-Five

It has been a very big year for Max and Rebecca. They are big kids now, what with going to preschool, being on a soccer team, having actual chores and getting an allowance.

One of the side benefits to going to preschool and playing sports is that they now have their very own group of peers that can be invited for birthday parties. We invited their whole class and a boy who was on their soccer team last season. Out of the eight invites we got four attendees, a very nice number of guests for our little soiree.

The big plan was to have the bouncey tent up for the party. For the past week I have been obsessively watching the forecast for today’s weather, cool would not be a problem, but rain would effectively torpedo that idea. Fortunately the predictions all along were for clear and cool weather. And that was exactly what we got. It was one of those brilliantly sunny fall days, the air was crisp and the sun was bright, perfect weather for a bouncey tent.

The bouncey tent was, of course, a huge hit.

All of the kids had a great time including a not-even-three year old little sister. Her big brother was the official guest, but she was more than welcome to join in. She had a fabulous time climbing up and sliding down (they hadn't arrived yet, so they didn't make the video).

Meryl had come over for the party and observed as one kid after another came flying down the slide that we were now possibly the coolest parents around.

The best part was the hair. It was very dry and a terrific static charge was being built up from sliding down the slide. The result of which was some very impressive flyaway hair. (Note: Click the picture to see the whole set.)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think Rebecca’s was the most impressive simply because she has the longest hair, but Lydia was up there too. Even Brian and his little sister’s hair started to lift away from their heads. The only exception was David; his hair is far too short and curly to pull those kinds of shenanigans.

The kids also played in the hammock and in the sand piles.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rebecca had just told Aubrey and David a joke when I took this shot. Apparently it was rather funny, but I completely missed it. Of course since it got such a good reception she kept telling the same joke again and again until she lost her audience.

Then it was cake time.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The basic cakes were the same as last year. The biggest differences were that Max wanted a smiling Orca on his cake and soccer ball candles.

When it was all over, the presents having been opened, the guests all having gone home and the tent being deflated Rebecca came up to me with a solemn little face and said “I want another birthday.” I told her she had to wait until next year. With a big sigh she than turned away from me. Max meanwhile focused on the positive and he said “that was the best birthday ever.”

Music to my ears.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thursday Three: Potpourri!

After a busy day of ferrying children back and forth to the bus stop, preschool, home, soccer and home again with the added bonus of a trip to the vet for a couple of dogs it is now time to check out this week’s edition of The Axis of Weevil’s Thursday Three...

AND, as you can surmise from the title, today is YET ANOTHER Thursday where I didn't have anything prepared ahead of time due to the constraints of gainful employment, and so now I'm in the position of having to come up with a set of questions on the fly, and that always means a scattershot sort of affair, full of non-themed, unrelated questions.


As is the usual case, everyone is invited to participate in answering the following set of questions by either leaving a comment below, or leaving a link to your blog, or writing them out in longhand and mailing them to our headquarters building here in Godly Hollow, Alabama.

NOW, here we go:

1) We know none of you are full of vainglory, but everyone has a little something they like to have around to show off as a status symbol. What thing (or things) do you have that you use to signify your high level of couth and culture?

2) What time do you go to bed at night?

3) What year did you first experience the Internet?

NOW, all of you go answer those, and I'll do the same--in a while. ONCE MORE, gainful employment is interfering with things, so you'll have to wait a bit to see my answers. YOU, on the other hand, please fire away!

1) Oh I don’t know. I guess it would be the two paintings my parents made that I have up in our house. I truly enjoy them and I’m very proud of the fact that the artists are my parents.

2) I don’t like to think about when I go to bed. Let’s just say I would love to be in bed by 11:30 pm after watching the news, but there always seems to be one more thing to do.

3) Let’s see it was about1992 or so when I first got to experience the primitive glory of the internet’s early years. I was working in Wisconsin in a research lab at UW Madison and we had an ethernet connection. The really cool thing was that my boss encouraged me to surf about at work. In return if he needed me to find something I could do it fairly quickly and accurately. That was a great job.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Artist of the Week: Clay

This week’s artist is Max.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here he is, spinning on the floor wrapped in his blankie. It looks pretty clean for now, but that won’t last.

The art in question is a clay fish he made at a friend’s birthday party.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max and Rebecca had a lot of fun at the party, it was the very first birthday party that they had been invited to attend. It was a momentous occasion for the two of them. The birthday girl’s Mom was also very smart and sent individual invitations, the two of them were thrilled to get their own mail. The party itself was also a big hit. It was at a neat little place called Art Adventures. Tucked away in a small strip of shops off the beaten track, I certainly never would have found it on my own.

Anyway, back to the fish.

According to Max it eats people, sharks and lions. It is actually a friendly fish; it only eats you if you make it angry. The only thing it is scared of is triceratops. Rebecca then said if she saw it she would throw rocks at it. Max then told her that would make it angry and it eats rocks.

That is one formidable fish.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Childhood Memories

I was poking about on the internet when I found a piece of my childhood online.

Originally I was from a small town in Litchfield county Connecticut, New Milford to be exact. Our home was an old clapboard house with an enormous barn and fields flanking both sides. A forest filled with all sorts of treasures lay behind our property. In front of our house ran the dirt road that was our sole link to civilization.

I remember exploring within those woods and finding a rusted out car that was something along the lines of a Model –T. The paint was long gone along with the seat’s upholstery and any padding it once had. All that was left were the rusted out coils of spring poking out of the moldering pile of leaves within. Since we couldn’t actually play in the car, it was only of passing interest, the numerous trash piles were far more interesting. We would find mysterious bits and pieces of metal, horseshoes and a large assortment of glass bottles. A few of the bottles were still intact and we would drag them home to clean them up. Some of them were milk bottles with the painted labels still legible. Others were pretty little colored glass bottles, probably for patent medicines, their labels having long ago rotted away. My mom saved a few of the prettier ones and lined them up along the window sill to glitter in the sunlight.

For a good five mile stretch our road we were the only year-round residents. We were surrounded by cow fields and had a small pond with a swamp across the road from our house. A quarter mile up the road from our house, the Conover’s had a little summer home and then another mile our so there was the Rush’s much larger summer place. Both families were very kind and gracious, we would frequently go visit them when they were about. In both families the children had long since grown up and moved away, but they still had some toys tucked away. The Rush’s in particular had a very good stash of toys. In one corner of the living room they had Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and assorted small vehicles.

It just so happens that one of the Rush’s children is the folk singer Tom Rush. I was talking to Meryl the other the day and I mentioned to her that I knew his parents. This inspired me to do a little online searching and I found his web site. I poked about a bit and then I clicked on a link to his sister’s Bed and Breakfast, The Quid. And there it was a little piece of my childhood.

The Quid was their parent’s house. If you go to here, which is the living room, you can see the room in which my brother and I used to play. The toy box was about where the white arm chair with the large floral print is now. The furniture has been shifted about, but it is the very same room that I remember. And yes, there even was an old wasp nest hanging from the rafters back then. I really should drop them a line and tell them about my memories of their parents and of their summer home. It is nice to see that the land is pretty much the same now as it was then. A little bit wild and untamed.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jake and Crunch’s Big Day

Yesterday I got up waaaay before the crack of dawn (4:00 am to be exact), drove a little over two hours with half of it in the dark, to spend the whole day at a dog show.

In a huge burst of optimism I had entered John and Crunch at the Metropolitan Washington Dachshund Club’s specialty show up in Warrenton, VA.(For those of you not in the know, a specialty show is a show dedicated to just one breed. In this case Dachshunds). I got Jake his Junior Handler number and we were all set.

For the past couple of weeks I have been trying to get Jake to practice. I knew Crunch would be fine, but Jake really needed to learn how to present a dog to a judge. Jake was not very willing so in the end I focused on telling him what the likely patterns the judge would have him do and have him comfortable picking Crunch up, putting him on the table and then back down on the ground. (Dachshunds are a “table breed,” the judge examines each dog up on a table with a non-slip surface. The dog is at waist height so the judge can get a good look at the dog without having to crawl around on the floor.)

At first Jake was very awkward picking Crunch up, which is understandable. Crunch is a big dachshund at 27 lbs (in his prime he was 30 lbs of solid muscle) and Jake is not particular large for his age and is just over 60 lbs. The other problem is that Crunch loves to go up in the table and tries to jump up as you bend over to pick him up. Everybody who has ever picked up Crunch has been clonked on the chin by his very hard head. So in addition to picking up a good sized dog, Jake has to also keep his head out of the way. Saturday night Crunch finally nailed Jake on the side of his jaw. Poor Jake was nearly in tears and had some serious doubts about going to the show. I told him that he was committed and he would be going, however, if he never wanted to show again that would be fine. I think it is very important to honor your commitments. If you say you are going to do something, then you better do it.

In the end he mastered the trick of keeping his head out of harms way while heaving Crunch up onto the table. It wasn’t pretty, but he could do it so that Crunch was safe and secure in his arms. Conversely, getting Crunch off the table is a piece of cake.

So back to yesterday, it was a painful awaking for me Sunday morning. It was pitch black outside and the bed was so comfy. After a few moments lying there in bed I got up and about. After I showered and dressed I prodded Jake up. It took two tries, but in the end I got him going. We needed to be on the road ideally by 5, bur quarter after would be fine. The red dogs were amped when I got them feed and let out. They knew we were going to a show and wanted to go. Rally tottered out and was very happy to go back to bed. She never really cared for shows and at this point in her life all she wants to do is have something to eat and take then a nap somewhere soft. Jake tried to eat a little breakfast, but it was too early. I promised him that I would pick up some pancakes for him at Mickey D’s and that cheered him up. We were on the road by 5:15 am. The show started at 8:00 am with Puppy Sweepstakes, followed by Veteran’s Sweepstakes. The drive should only take 2 hours and 15 minutes, but I wanted to allow for and traffic issues and my taking a wrong turn. Also I wanted time to unload the car at the show site and to change my outfit.

We arrived in plenty of time. Crunch showed his heart out in Sweepstakes and almost got Best Veteran in his variety. The Judge was so pleased as we gaited around the ring with our competition that she said she would love to take both dogs home, either dog deserved the award. In the end she settled on the female and not Crunch, but it was a close thing.

Then we had to wait. Jake was next up, but not until after lunch. We watched the show for a while, walked our dogs and Jake practiced gaiting Crunch. Then Jake decided to change his clothes at lunchtime. There was a canine freestyle demonstration (aka dancing with your dog) and Jake wanted to watch. It was a fun program and I knew both the handler, Mary Ann and her dog, Cannon. The dog was having a fabulous time; Cannon’s tail was wagging like mad all throughout the demonstration.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He was a bit nervous, but he did all right. The judge was extremely kind and asked Jake if he needed help getting Crunch down from the table. He politely declined, got Crunch down himself and awaited further instruction. The judge then started to describe the pattern she wanted Jake to move Crunch. Halfway through her description he blurted out “Oh, you want a triangle.” This pleased the judge that he was at least familiar with the different patterns. Jake sensibly let Crunch chose the pace and they both looked very nice going around the ring. Jake had a hard time stacking Crunch and dropped the lead a few times, but we’ll work on that. Jake was by far the youngest handler and Crunch was the oldest dog entered that day. They made for a very cute pair. Jake earned his ribbon and got a little stuffed dachshund key ring as a prize. Afterwards I asked him if he wanted to do this again and I got a big grin and an enthusiastic yes in response.

Then I showed John in his class where he was a complete noodle brain. Since he was the only dog in his class he went onto winners and that is where he lost it. He spent the whole time flipping about on the end of the lead trying to play with all the dogs following him. I need to get the dog out more. Ah well, he’s still young and he still hasn’t completely matured yet. I have time.

Then it was a quick change of dogs and it was Crunch’s turn in the ring. We had a bit of drama at this point. John squirmed away from Jake and bolted into the ring to be with Crunch and me. He was easily rounded up and the show went on. At this point I’m not sure what happened. I had cut one of Crunch’s rear nails a bit short the previous night and I think he caught it on one of the mats in the ring; anyway he suddenly started to limp. The judge noticed it too and decided to give us one more chance before excusing us. Crunch rallied and did much better. But in the end the other dog won. This really wasn’t that bad considering that dog went on to get Best Smooth in Show.

Stud dog class was a bit chaotic, with Jake handling Crunch and I with Mr. Noodle Brain, John. My first instinct was not to use John and I think I should have gone with it. Initially we did all right, but the second time in the ring wasn’t as good.

All in all it was a good day, Crunch really shone and Jake had a very good time. The nicest part was when the young woman that got Best Junior Handler stopped by to chat with Jake. She told him that he has a cute dog and she was very impressed that Jake was able to put Crunch up on the table by himself. She said she would not have been able to do that. I really like the Junior Handlers program. The kids are expected to compete with each other, but they are required to be good sports.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I Was a Bad Mommy Today

Max and Rebecca each have a beloved blankie. The blankies get dragged all over the house and are often worn during dinner. As a result they get filthy; stained with food, dirt and lord knows what else. Washing them is very traumatic, but I insist.

Normally I inform the dynamic duo when it is time to wash their blankies. There is an initial protest, but in the end I win out. Usually it is after pointing out the larger stains and sometimes letting them load the blankies into the washer. Sometimes I whisk the blankies away to be washed without their notice.

Today I tried the sneak attack and utterly failed.

Five minutes after I started the wash Max and Rebecca noticed that their blankies were missing. They noticed the washer was in action and demanded to know if their blankies were being washed. When I confirmed their worst fears Max announced he was very angry with me. For 15 minutes he stormed about, glaring at me and saying “I’m mad at you.”

It was a tiresome performance, but I was at fault. So I asked him what I should do. He didn’t know. I then got a very silly idea.

“Max, maybe I should go in time-out.”

This brought him up short. I could see a smile hiding behind the glower. He agreed that it was the thing to do. Struggling to maintain his fierce expression he led me to the time out bench. After I sat down ( with me trying very hard not to smile) he told me that my time out would be for eleven minutes. He then proceeded to go up the stairs. Halfway up he paused and reiterated “Eleven minutes.”

As he turned to go up, something caught his eye in the kitchen. His little arm shot out and he asked me “what is that?”

My view was obscured by the counter and I told him “I don’t know. I can’t see what you are pointing at because I’m in time out.”

Max thoughtfully paused on the stairs. He was still mad at me, but he really wanted to know what that thing was.

A moment later he declared my eleven minutes were up and I was no longer in time out. He then asked me again what that was in the kitchen.

It turns out it was just a container of salad I had sitting on the counter. I had been just deciding if I should have it for lunch when all the drama started.

I don’t know where the eleven minutes came from, but his putting me in time up helped him get over his snit.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Three: Favorite Things!

Once again it’s time for the long running Axis of Weevil Three as presented by Papa Possum himself.
…we simply MUST have a memetheme for today’s Axis of Weevil Thursday Three! AND SO, today we ask you to think about a few of your favorite things. And don’t start humming the song until it’s time!

As with all other episodes of our long-running series, anyone is free to participate by either leaving a comment below with your answers, or a link to your blog where your answers can be found.

Now then, let’s get right into it, shall we? Of course we shall!

1) What is your favorite color? (Yeah, I know it’s an easy one, but they get a LOT harder.)

Okay, now you can start humming the song.

2) Of all the items on the following list:
Raindrops on roses
Whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles
Warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
Cream colored ponies
Crisp apple strudels
Sleigh bells
Schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring

Which item is your favorite, AND, which item is your LEAST favorite? (See, told you it gets a lot harder!)

And finally,

3) What are three of your favorite memories from childhood?

Okay, now--take a moment to think about those and then let fly with your answers.

Hey it’s The Holy Grail meets The Sound of Music Thursday Three!
And now for my answers:

1)My favorite color is royal blue, no emerald green er-umm amethyst... “ahhhhhhhhh!”

Sprong. Oof, glad to see they installed the new safety net under The Bridge of Death. Anyway, I like jewel tones with blue slightly edging out the rest.

2)I guess my favorite of the above list would be “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes.” I love winter and there is nothing better than to be outside while big fat snowflakes are silently drifting to the ground and covering up everything in a thick soft mantle of white. My least favorite is doorbells. Every time the doorbell rings utter bedlam erupts, dogs bark, child dither about while I wade through the chaos to get the front door. It is better now that Rally feels she no longer has to bark, but the kids are worse. Once I open the door they spill out in whatever stage of dress they are in. So far none have been naked, but it has been close.

3)My three favorite memories of childhood. Hmmm, that’s hard. I would say going to my Aunt and Uncle’s house near the beach every summer. The house is on a big bluff that overlooks two beaches, the big beach and the little beach. The little beach is private and is owned by my family. Everyone kicks in a set amount to maintain the breakwater and the changing house. My brother and I would spend all day digging in the sand and splashing in the icy cold Atlantic Ocean.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is a picture of the little beach taken from the breakwater. The tent was for a family reunion and you can just see the house through the trees.

My next favorite memory was the time I went tobogganing with my brother and our friends up the road. One run was so spectacularly fast and long that we shot across the lawn, up the embankment, through a gap in the fence, went briefly airborne and landed smack on the road. We were lucky that no cars were coming. It was fantastic!

My third favorite childhood memory would be the endless hours I spent playing by the stream near my mother’s first house in Vermont. We moved up there when I was halfway through sixth grade. As I recall the house came with a huge parcel of land and we owned the headwaters to the stream. The water was clear, cold and pure enough to drink. At one little spot it had a little miniature waterfall and that is where I spent most of my time. There were also tiny fish in the stream and they would nibble on your toes if you stayed still in the water.

There are lots more, but I think those are my favorites.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Artist of the Week: Invention

This week’s artist is for y’all to guess.

The artwork in question was a school assignment to create an invention. It had to be illustrated with a short description of what the invention does and how it works.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

So give it a guess on who you think produced this fine invention and leave it in the comments. I’ll reveal the artist much later today.

And the answer is...


I made it when I was about Jake's age. For whatever reason, I've been carting it around for the past thirty years. I had completely forgotten about it until a couple a years ago when I found it while looking through my old papers for something else. I don't have very much from my when I was in elementary school; this was one of the few items I kept. I have far more stuff from my college years.

Jake and Nate were both very impressed and were thrilled to see a bit of their mother's school work. They thought it was a very useful invention.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What They Say About Boxes Is True

But not entirely.

The kids utterly adore the bouncy tent, but what made it even better was the boxes that it came in.

The main box is big enough for all four kids to sit inside.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

If they crouch down a bit I could even close the box up. Now I know what size box I need if I ever want to ship them off to Grandma’s house.

The box has been in our living room and has been holding up fairly well. Rebecca likes to hang out in it and watch TV. Nate likes to lay it on its side and make it into an enclosure for the dog, John.

Yesterday it got even better when I brought out the smaller, but still large, secondary box. It’s plain white and I was saving it for Nate. He needed a large piece of plain cardboard for school and it was perfect for his project. I cut off one side and gave the rest to the kids to play with.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

They decided to make an apartment complex. Rebecca has a second floor unit, Jake is on the first floor and Max had a tiny little space behind Jake’s place. Nate had a little space made of pillows and scrap cardboard, but it collapsed and he didn’t want to be in the picture.

The boxes that the bouncy tent came aren’t better than the tent, but they do give it a run for the money.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I am the Most Awesome Mother in the World

At least to my kids.

A month and a half ago I noticed our local K-Mart was unloading their last two combo bouncey tent and slide. The price was pretty good and it looked like fun. However it was still a bit pricey even with the end of season discount and I passed on it. A few weeks later I saw that they were still there, forlornly grouped near the registers next to all the pool supplies. I then started to seriously consider buying one. After a bit of figuring I thought it *might* be worthwhile if I could get two birthday parties out of it. The price of it was a tad less than two rentals. Last year for Nate’s birthday we rented one and it was a huge hit.

I called up Larry and we decided to wait. Maybe they would knock off a bit more if we waited a little longer. There were still two units left and I was confident that they would not sell out before I stopped by again.

Last week I stopped by while Max and Rebecca were at preschool. The price had not changed and there were still two units sitting there. I decided to bite the bullet and get one. I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be reduced any further since it has been a bit over a month. Maybe they would drop the price if just one was left. So I buttonholed an employee, she loaded it up on a hand truck and then wheeled to over to check out. My cashier was a nice young man who then helped me load it in the van. It was fun, on the way out a couple of the other employees wanted to come over a play. I was a very popular customer.

Then it was time to pick up the dynamic duo. I told them as we left the preschool I told them that there was something for their birthday inside the van.

The reaction was priceless. Max grinned from ear to ear and Rebecca blurted out a perfect valley girl “OMG!”

When we got home they excitedly danced around as I set it up. It was heavy, but I was able to wrestle it out of the car and on to the lawn. Once it was inflated they bounced inside, deliriously happy.

The boys were even better. I didn’t say a word as we walked down the driveway. It wasn’t until we reached the garage that they noticed. With a great shout they dumped their backpacks, shed their shoes and raced to the tent. I got a half dozen thank yous as they explored it.

I let them bounce around until it was time for Max’s soccer practice. Then I packed it up as the sky was filled with clouds threatening to rain.

I set it up again yesterday and here is a short movie of it in action.

Max and Rebecca definitely want to use for their upcoming birthday and so does Nate.

It was completely worthwhile and I’ll be getting the two birthday parties to boot!

Oh and I should note that starting tonight it is Yom Kippur and I will not be posting again until Tuesday.