Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Three: Gifts!

Today the Axis of Weevil is in a gift giving mood, Terry posts the following:

What probing inquisitories do we have for you today? Well, seeing as how we are now officially into the Unspecified-Holiday Shopping Season, our seasoned team of university-based question writers wants to know the following things about you and your gifting habits.

Remember that anyone is free to play along by leaving your answer in the comments below or by leaving a link to your very own festively-decorated blog!

So, here we go:

1. Are you good at letting others know what you might want or need?
2. Are you good at shopping for others?
3. How much of your shopping this year (purchasing or looking) is being done online?

Now then, put down your packages and get to work answering those!

Oooo! Presents!

1) My family is very straightforward, we just plain ask. Also my husband and I are big fans of the Amazon wish list, which reminds me, I need to update mine.

2) I do a decent job of shopping for others. I’m fortunate that we limit our gift giving to the kids, spouse, my mother, my brother and his wife. There is an advantage to coming from a small family and converting to Judaism. For everyone else (our mail carrier, bus driver, teachers, etc) I bake cookies.

3) My shopping is about 60% online. With four kids my shopping time in brick and mortar stores is limited and somewhat chaotic. I try to pick up a few things here and there when I see them. As a result I’m almost done with Chanukah. I now need to concentrate on what to get my hubby for his birthday on Sunday. Oh and I refuse to go to the malls this time of year. The crowds, the noise and the lack of parking are very off putting.

This is a very interesting time of year for my family. Since we are Jewish we do the whole Chanukah thing with the kids. However we love to go visit Nana, my mother, and Christmas is her holiday. She loves Christmas and there is no way that I would deny her the pleasure of spoiling her grand children. That and we get a nice taste of real winter when we are up in Vermont. So we do both. Fortunately Nana has always had a very secular version of Christmas and growing our family never went to services. It has always been about family, food, gifts and the tree.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Artist of the Week: Legos

This week’s artist is Max.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a glorious day today and Max and Rebecca are enjoying some outside time in the hammock. Rebecca has been begging for me to set up the wading pool, but that is not going to happen.

Anyway, Max was very excited to get his first real Legos on his birthday last month. We started off with the two kits built according to the detailed instructions, but since then he has taken off with his own creations.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is his very first podracer made with “big kid Legos.” It is very much like the ones his brothers make all the time. He is justifiably very proud of his own creation. He made it entirely on his own. So now I have another Lego pit in the making, just after I finally trained his brothers to pick up after themselves.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pansies and PE

When I first started taking Max and Rebecca to preschool all sorts of people wondered what I would do with myself with my new found freedom

Well the answer is planting pansies and helping with PE.

A call went out a few weeks ago a call went to the parents of fifth graders for volunteers to help the PE teacher with the bicycle safety program. The school, through a grant, had purchased 30 bikes and a huge box of bike helmets. For the next month the fifth graders would be learning about bike safety. The teacher needed one or two volunteers to help size helmets and wrangle the kids when they were outside. The time slot, from 10:45 to 11:30, neatly fit into my five year old free schedule and, as an added bonus, I was even available to help out on the day Jake’s class has PE. I immediately said I could help out and I would be available on both Tuesdays and Thursdays (most parents only helped on the days their kids have PE, I’m just nice and picked up an extra classroom).

Shortly afterwards Nate’s teacher made it very clear that she *really* likes parent volunteers and that we should feel free to stop by any time. With this in mind I stopped by after PE last week to see what I could do.

It turns out she has pansies. Lots and lots of pansies, that she had picked up for practically nothing and she needed help getting them in the ground.

So today, after I dropped off the dynamic duo, I spent the morning planting pansies, adjusting bike helmets and planting more pansies. It was a gorgeous day, temperatures in the upper 60’s with plenty of sunshine, all totaled I put in 92 plants and there was still a fair amount left.

PE went without a hitch, although there was a moment when my skills as a mother of three boys came into play. At the very end the kids were told to bring their bikes over to the storage shed. All but two boys rushed over. I watched the two stragglers circle about and then head over. As they crossed the blacktop I watched as they built up speed as they prepared to move from of stretch of blacktop to another. At that point my “mother of three boys” instincts kicked in. I pointed at the boys and shouted “No jumping!” as they reached the curb. They both hit the brakes and gave me sheepish grins as the slowly negotiated the bumpy terrain.

Ha! Thought they could put one over me while their teacher was busy with the rest of the class. Not a chance.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Reading in Bed

The other day, after I had tucked the dynamic duo into bed, I peeked in on the goings on in the brown eyed boys’ room. It was unusually quiet and I was curious as to why. This is what I saw.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Larry is stretched out on Nate’s bed reading with Nate tucked next to him. It was a very sweet moment.

Jake, however, was the one that got me to go downstairs and fetch our camera.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Yes, he really is reading in that position and no, it is not posed. If you look closely you can see that the book is perfectly oriented for him to read. I have no idea why he is reading it upside down.

There is never a dull moment around here, even when it is quiet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

$700 Photographs

Last Friday, due to the kindness of Meryl, Larry and I got to have a real honest to goodness date night. It just so happened to coincide with a friend of mine’s art opening down in Richmond. She is member of artspace and is participating in the Annual Members’ Exhibit. Afterwards we would then catch a movie.

Meryl came by around 5:00pm and we dined on pasta with assorted turkey day leftovers. After dinner, thumpies and Rebecca’s pointed questions as to why we were still home we left for the opening.

My friend was very pleased to see us and we chatted for awhile and scoped out the show. She had three photographs on exhibit and though they are lovely, they are not the $700 photographs. Hers are a much more reasonably priced.

The $700 photographs are mine, or rather, were on some disposable cameras I had developed at Costco. And this is one of the $700 photographs.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It’s a rather fuzzy picture of a large possum enjoying our wading pool.

I stopped by Costco today to pick up our pictures, some books for the kids and a few snack items. Total number of items sold = 11, total price on the register $835.30.

The cashier, his assistant and I were all stunned into silence.

For a brief moment I thought maybe the previous customer(s) total(s) got lumped in with mine. A floor manager came over and she quickly sorted out that the cashier had somehow mis-keyed the price on one set of photographs. Instead of $8.79, it came out as $708.79. My only comment was that none of the photographs I was picking up were worth that much.

The overcharge was soon voided and I went on my merry way with my photographs that had been briefly valued at over $700.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Food, Glorious Food

Yesterday was nasty outside, but inside was lovely.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think this year’s turkey was the prettiest one I have ever roasted and was tasty to boot. Originally I was thinking of just getting a turkey breast, but I found a deal that was too good to pass up at my local supermarket. If I bought $40 worth of groceries (that is not a big deal for me) along with my turkey, the turkey would be only 25 cents per pound.

Hello turkey! So for less than $4 I got a beautiful 15, almost 16 pound bird.

The rest of the meal was equally good.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This was my first attempt at “party potatoes,” a long time favorite from my mother. I decided to go with them because I wanted to make mash potatoes with and without garlic. Meryl and the kids are not big fans of extra garlicky potatoes, but Larry and I had a hankering for them. And here is another shot with one on my plate with a nice bit of gravy on top.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After the main course the kids cleared out and the grownups got to partake in a very enjoyable “chocolate course,” courtesy of Meryl. If Meryl ever offers to pick up some chocolate for you do not refuse. She made some excellent choices and introduced us to a new to us candy, sponge.

Then we sat around and chatted until it was time for dessert.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Both were so good and were a wonderful close to such a good meal.

And the best part, I got to have apple tart and pumpkin pie for breakfast today.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


Rebecca and the rest of us here at Life at Full Volume would like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Today’s Menu

Turkey and gravy

Stuffing (with and without sausage)

Acorn Squash

Party Potatoes (With and Without Garlic)

Green Beans


Challah Rolls

For dessert (all homemade!) we have a choice of

Pumpkin Pie

Apple Tarte Tatin

Beverages are an assortment of beers, wine, cider and what have you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Artist of the Week: Evolution in Drawing

This week’s artist is Rebecca.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is a horrible, nasty, no good day outside and the kids are all watching Harry Potter, hence her expression.

Recently there has been a huge change in Rebecca’s pictures. There are consistently recognizable figures and landscape elements.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Every picture has a story. If you click on the above group photo of some of her more recent artwork it is linked to separate shots of each picture. I have added notes for each one.

It is a very exciting time in the development of her unique form of artistic expression. Then again she is a singularly unique individual.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Because All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

I've seen this over at Jordana's and The Llama Butcher's and I figured I’d give it a shot.

Which Wooster and Jeeves Character Are You?

You are AUNT DAHLIA!Your home is like a three-ring circus--but, by golly, you're the devil of a ringmaster! You've seen all types of houseguests, but you manage to extract some nectar from even the foulest of stinkweeds before they biff off. You know the two secrets to a man's heart: food and letting the poor bird BE!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Oh my. That really is not that far off. My life is a three ring circus and it is true about a man’s heart.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Once Again with the Cakes

I can officially say I’m all caked out. I have baked five cakes in the past month in addition to at least one batch of cookies, several batches of muffins, brownies a pumpkin pie and a bunch of cupcakes.

On Saturday Meryl came over to celebrate her birthday. The plan was for dinner and cake afterwards. She would show up sometime in the afternoon, visit for a bit and then enjoy dinner followed by Franken cake. Since my family was spending the day watching Jake play soccer in a local recreational tournament (Go Burning Llamas! Go!), I opted to go with something crock-pot friendly for dinner.

Originally I was going to bake the two cake layers on Friday, but my dishwasher decided to have issues that day, namely it wasn’t rinsing. I crawled inside, poked, prodded and even unscrewed the lower washer arm. Finding nothing obvious I put it back together and gave it one more try.

It worked!

Yay me!

However at that point I had only baked one layer and it was too late to make another.


It would have to wait until morning. Fortunately Jake’s first game wasn’t until noon and I could bake a cake and get dinner started at the same time.

It all worked out. Meryl showed up just as I started to fill it with orange custard and frost the whole thing with my favorite chocolate frosting. Due to her excellent timing the birthday girl got to like the frosting off the beaters. Yum!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I didn’t take any pictures before hand, but I think the above photo is better. You can actually see the difference between the two layers. The orange cake is on the bottom and the 1-2-3 cake layer is on top.

That is it for cakes for now. I think this is why I like ice cream cake for my birthday (December 7th if you want to know).

Friday, November 17, 2006

I Live in a Frat House

All I need to do is to teach the kids to go Chug! Chug! Chug!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Max, as y’all know, has CF. Most people with CF need to consume 30 % to 50 % more calories than the average person because most people with CF suffer from pancreatic enzyme insufficiency. They need the buffer of extra calories since it is harder for them to digest their food and their bodies have to work harder to fight infections from the excess sticky mucus in the lungs. It is very strange thing to have a nutritionist tell you that your child should have more butter and salt in their diet. As a result Max gets to have ice cream three times a day. Mind you he eats plenty of healthy things, like fruits and vegetables, but he needs to pack in the calories.

Lately Max has been not really drinking his milk. It isn’t an all out refusal, but he isn’t drinking as much as he should. I have offered to add flavorings like strawberry, chocolate and vanilla, but it is to no avail. And no, he is not lactose intolerant; he is just being a normal five year old.

The other night I was at my wit’s end. I tried the routine “you need to drink your milk if you want to be big like Jake and Nate.”

“I don’t wanna be big!” was Max’s reply.

As I cast about for a new tack I noticed that I was almost done with my milk. I help it up and commented to Max that I had already drunk a fair amount. At that moment I realized that I had the same amount left in my glass as he did and then it hit me. Max is a fairly competitive little boy; maybe I could use that to my advantage.

“Hey Max, do you think you could drink your milk faster than me?”

Max was delighted with the idea and grabbed his glass.

I then had a chugging contest with my five year old son.

I held back a bit and made sure we finished at the same time. And finish he did.

The following night Nate, with a sparkle in his eye, challenged Max to a milk chugging contest. Again, it worked.

So now it looks like we are going to have nightly chugging contests at the dinner table.

This was not something I envisioned when I became a parent.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Three: This is What We Call the Muppet Show!

This week’s edition of the Thursday Three is all about the hand or possibly the sock. It is really up to you as Terry explains:

Myth! Myth!


Sorry, got Muppet fever for a moment there.

BUT WHAT BETTER WAY to lead into our “Sock-Puppetry Version” of the world-famous Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

Today we want to ask you three simple questions and expect highly detailed, well-though-out, laboriously researched answers in return. Or just any answers. As usual, anyone may play along--either leave your answers in the comment section below, or cutnpaste everything over to your own blog and leave a link.


1) Who is your most favorite puppet character (and no, it doesn’t have to be a Muppet), and why?
2) Did you have a favorite puppet that you owned as a child?
3) Do you ever engage in puppetry?

Now then, stuff your hand in a sock and start typing out those answers!!

Oh! I love The Muppet Show(warning, sound file). It was easily my favorite show when I was a kid and it is still funny today.

1)Picking a favorite is hard. I guess my overall favorite is the Cookie Monster. He does try to not eat all the cookies, but in the end his basic nature comes out and there is the wonderful moment of grand chaos as he inhales all the cookies. I love to belt out “C is for Cookie” whenever it comes on.

Then there is the Muppet Show and I have to admit that quite a few characters from it have a place in my heart. My favorite primary character is Gonzo, because he is so utterly bizarre. For secondary characters it is a toss up between Dr. Bunsen Honeydew with Beaker and The Swedish Chef(second link is a sound file). Which is ironic, because I used to work in a research lab and I love to cook.

2)I had a number of puppets when I was a child and my favorite was a huge Steiff rabbit. I have no idea what happened to it and I can’t find any pictures. *Maybe* I’ll find it when we next visit my Mom.

3)My brother and I used to put on all sorts of puppet shows. We had a little wooden puppet stage with a curtain. One time my brother was doing a bit with a puppet in each hand, he got so involved in the story that he forgot he was controlling one of the puppets. I remember watching the show with the top of his head just visible and he was staring at the motionless puppet. Suddenly it hit him that he was working the puppet and the show resumed. It was hilarious.

We have a few puppets kicking about the house; I think we have two bears, a sock puppet I made and the three little pigs in a little brick house. The older two boys were never very interested in puppets, but Max and Rebecca do put on the occasional show.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Artist of the Week: Recital

This week’s artist is Nate.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This was from his birthday party, note the bare feet. It was a very warm day, but cold doesn’t deter this boy. He would be happy to be barefoot when it’s freezing outside, though he does concede that bare feet in the snow is not fun.

In addition to his final soccer game and his birthday party last weekend he also had a piano recital on Sunday afternoon. He performed his composition Laser Quest and was one of only three students (out of 25 students for this session) who performed their own musical compositions.

Here a shot of all the kids after the recital with their certificates.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was quite a range of ages, from an adorable almost four year old to a bunch of gangly teenagers.

Nate’s performance went very well.

He has performed this piece before. It was at the very informal composition camp recital and that was just after he wrote the piece.

The clacking noise during the glissandos mystified me until I realized it was the sound of the buttons on his jacket’s sleeves rattling against the keys. I’ll have to come up with some kind of solution for that noise.

We had a good time and, since Grandma and Grandpa were in town for Nate’s birthday, Nate’s grandparents got to attend one of his recitals.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Soccer Parties

Last night we had not one, but two end of season soccer parties. So we did the sensible thing, divvied up the kids and took Jake and Nate to their respective parties. Larry took Jake and Max and I got Nate and Rebecca. I also made a cake since Larry was Jake’s coach and had organized the shindig. Originally we were shooting for Jake’s team, The Blue Rays, to have its party on Wednesday, but the place the team had settled on was booked.

I made my basic 1-2-3 cake with chocolate frosting, a classic and dependable cake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The ray on top is actually patterned after a manta and not a blue ray. It just came down to my liking the shape of the Manta more than the slightly circular blue ray.

The cake was very popular and only the central core was left.

Meanwhile Rebecca was very disappointed that she was not going to the party with the cake, but she cheered up when she spied the cupcakes. There was that and her getting a whole plateful of cherry tomatoes for dinner. And I’m not kidding about the plateful.

Nate’s party was at CiCi's, a pizza buffet that has a small salad bar. As we were going through the line a second time to get Rebecca something for dinner (Nate had already grabbed a few slices and was happily parked at the table with his team) a young man was restocking the salad bar with tomatoes. Rebecca was delighted, because on our first pass there were no tomatoes. The young man noticed Rebecca and proceeded to load up a plate just for her. Rebecca was speechless when he handed the plate to her. I was too until he offered to put more on. I thanked him and politely declined. If I had been filling her plate it probably would have been a third of what she was given. The amazing thing was that she polished off the whole plate, a small slice of pizza and a cupcake.

She sure does love tomatoes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm a What?

I'm a Mandarin!

You're an intellectual, and you've worked hard to get where you are now. You're a strong believer in education, and you think many of the world's problems could be solved if people were more informed and more rational. You have no tolerance for sloppy or lazy thinking. It frustrates you when people who are ignorant or dishonest rise to positions of power. You believe that people can make a difference in the world, and you're determined to try.

Talent: 41%
Lifer: 46%
Mandarin: 64%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

I know nothing about the articles this references, but it’s spot on its description of how I feel about sloppy and lazy thinking. And yes, I’m a bit of an idealist too, I do believe that individuals can make a difference.

I guess I should check the articles out.

Oh and I just found out Jake's team's name for the tournament this weekend. Get this, it's The Burning Llamas.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nate the Great Turns Eight

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Saturday was Nate’s eighth birthday and he had a very busy day. In the afternoon was his birthday party, but first off was his last soccer game of the season.

It was bright and sunny with the temps flirting with 80, an absolutely gorgeous day. This was such a contrast to last weekend when the temperatures were in the low 50’s. Nate’s team was victorious and finished the season undefeated, which was quite an achievement since most of the games were played without substitutes and occasionally the team was down one player. Then it was home again with a short side trip to Max’s team party for the males of the family and a dump run for the females (Rebecca loves going to the dump because they give out lollipops).

We all returned home at the same time along with the arrival of Grandma and Grandpa.

All we had to do for the party was blow up some balloons, plug in the bouncy tent, decorate the cake and set up the piñata tent. (The lower branches of the trees in our backyard are much too high up to hang a piñata, so we use a tent to hang it up, when y’all scroll down you’ll see what I mean.)

Nate wanted a baseball theme for his party. Admittedly he is just coming off of soccer season, but he is already anticipating the start of baseball next spring. So I made a baseball on his cake (my orange cake for those of you keeping track)

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

and Larry got him a baseball shaped piñata.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here it is just after it got busted wide open. I love Jake’s look of amazement as the candy all spills out onto the ground. The nice thing about doing the piñata this way is that it is much easier to control the kids. Our big rule is only one person at a time is allowed under the tent. Thus we minimize the risk of somebody getting accidentally whacked.

And of course he wanted the bouncy tent.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was such a huge hit at Max and Rebecca’s birthday party that he had to have it too.*

The weather held and we were able to keep everyone outdoors for the bulk of the party. In fact it was so nice that Aunt Meryl showed up with her top down, her Jeep's top that is. The kids only came inside for cake and the opening of the presents. The rest of the time was spent running around, playing baseball and mucking around in the bouncy tent. None of the kids wanted to go home when their parents came by to pick them up.

And Nate thought it was great turning eight.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think we got this kid party thing down.

*Whoo Hoo! We have now broken even on the cost of the tent compared to what we would have spent on rentals! From now on it’s all gravy!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans' Day

Today I would like to give a heartfelt thank you to all that have served and those that still do this great nation.

Below is a picture of my father in uniform flanked by my Grandma Dot and Great Uncle Robert.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He looks so cute and freshly scrubbed in the photo. I know I’ve posted it before, but it’s too good not to.

And just for the heck of it here is a picture of my mother from June/July 1944. She is the young woman in the center with the champagne and flowers.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

She had the honor of christening a Liberty Ship that was named for a family member. The man on the far left was her father, my grandfather and the woman on the far right was her mother, my grandmother. I’m not sure who was the other couple; I’d have to ask my mother. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to include the launching of a ship that had carried many veterans and stood us in good stead.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Three: Politics

I guess Terry hasn’t quite gotten his fill of this week’s big excitement, the mid-term elections. He writes:


The votes have been cast, the people have spoken, the Republic survives, and we can at last have some relief from wall-to-wall political ads everywhere we look, from the annoying recorded phone calls, from the ticky-tacky flotsam of ugly campaign signs. And what to discuss now?

Oh, that’s easy.


We bring you the Political Postmortem Edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, because as we all know, too much of a good thing is just about right! SO, play along with us now as we ask you some probing, uncomfortable questions about the results of the immediately past election.

Everyone is free to play along, even if you’re not even from America! What a country! Anyway, just leave your answers in the comments below, or a link to your own blog. Okay, here we go--

1) Now that the balance of power in the House and Senate has changed (due in large part to Democratic Party gains brought about by running more centrist candidates than they have in the past), will they surprise everyone and purge their fringe elements and actually try to lead from the center, or will they continue to pander to the tinfoil-hat folks with impeachment/frog marches and putting all the filthy Christianists into reeducation camps?

2) When you cast your ballot, do you do so with at least some desire in the back of your mind to make a decision that the international community would be pleased with?

3) Now that this little exercise has passed, everyone is now ready to talk about the REAL race, that of President in ’08. Who’s it going to be?

So, there you go. Please take a pencil and mark your choices and place them into the machine.

I’m so glad that this year’s silly season is over. We get political phone calls from both sides and I’m sick to death with them. This year’s senatorial campaign in Virginia was particularly vicious, as one fellow voter observed at my poll station “now that it’s over do we elect them or incarcerate them?” That’s why I voted Yourish, at least I know she’s an honest, hard working person. Anyway, here are my answers:

1) I don’t think there will be much of a change, except that both parties will be forced to play somewhat nicely since the majority really isn’t large enough for them to truly run amok.

2) When I vote I really don’t give a fig what the so called international community likes or dislikes. What I’m interested in is what is over all best for my locality or for the nation as a whole, both on the foreign and the domestic fronts. I am slowly becoming Libertarian in my views and I believe that government should leave the smallest footprint possible.

3) Gah, I don’t even want to think about that train wreck in the making. The field is wide open and who knows what is going to happen. I know I certainly would not want that particular job, nor do I like the people that do.

I am not a very politically oriented person, but I do take my civic duty very seriously and cast my vote whenever possible.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Artist of the Week: Bridge

This week’s artist is Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

School was out yesterday and the day before, so on Monday we went to the zoo. It was a gorgeous day to go and we all had a good time and as always we had fun feeding the giraffes.

Anyway, Jake and Nate have been recently inspired to draw bridges. The one below by Jake particularly caught my eye.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think this burst of bridge drawings was brought about by some programs we recently watched. One was about building the new Hoover Dam Bypass and the other was about the new East span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Both are awe inspiring projects that resulted in some captivating shows.

In Jake’s picture I like the supports that are driven into the walls of the river canyon. Jake felt that this would result in a stronger bridge than just using pilings that drive straight down to the river below. Just today he mentioned that Architecture and/or construction were one possible career path as was farming. I told him either way it looks like Virginia Tech would be the way to go. He has a long time to make up his mind.

It looks like the G Brothers Construction Company is still going strong.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

So Just Do It Already

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I did it, with four children in tow (school is off today) and in the rain.

So what's your excuse? Just remember, if you don't vote you don't have any right to complain about the results.


In a little bit I’ll be going off to cast my vote and lunch with my favorite senatorial candidate.

In Virginia vote Yourish, it’s the write thing to do.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Jedi and His Dog

On Sunday I took John to a dog show down in Williamsburg. The night before I called a friend who went Saturday to ask about how her dog did (extremely well) and how the weather was (extremely cold).

The weather question was very important because the show was held outdoors. Oh there are tents for grooming and the ring entrances are lined up under a large central tent, but the main areas are fully exposed to the elements. I noticed Saturday morning it had been very cold out on the soccer fields and I knew it would be cooler down by the water where the show was held. I was right. My friend said it was still bitterly cold at noon and that everybody ws swaddling there dogs in blankets. She told me that if my dog had a coat I should bring it. Ring time was 9:30 am so there would be little time for the sun to warm things up.

I think years ago I got a coat for our dogs when we were living in Wisconsin. I tried putting it on Crunch and Rally when the temps dipped below zero, but each time they would be struck by “coat paralysis” and were unable to move about. Standard dachshunds are not foofie little coat wearing dogs and they would rather do turbo potty runs than be caught in a coat. However, I felt that I should do something for John since we were going to be stuck outside for quite sometime and a fair amount of that time would be spent just standing around. Dutifully I dug around in the garage, but I had either tossed or lost the coat. So I decided to make one. I was still riding off the high of making Nate’s costume and I figured why not. How hard could it be?

After a bit of searching I found this site that has a pattern for a hooded coat for greyhounds. The directions seemed clear and the pattern could be easily modified to fit a dachshund. I opted to skip the hood and make a folded neck instead. I had plenty of material to make the coat. I used the same fabric for Nate’s robe for the outside and the inside was a red fleece blanket that was no longer used.

After a few false starts it came out very well.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

After the initial measuring John was surprisingly cooperative. I would call him over and drape him with whatever I was working on and he would happily stand there. He was even willing to wear the finished product at the show. It was a hit with other exhibitors and I was pleased with the result.

The coat was also a huge hit with Nate. He right off noticed that the coat was made with the same material as his robe. He readily agreed to don his robe for a photo shoot with John.

Here we have a Jedi Master Nate instructing his Padawan John.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Here is just a nice shot of the two of them together in the woods.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

John looks huge next to Nate who is seated on a log.

Then finally here is John nosing about in the woods, clearly not inhibited by the coat.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Maybe he senses a disturbance in the force.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Random Parenting Thought

I guess we are doing a fairly decent job raising our children in a Jewish environment.

On Tuesday afternoon Rebecca, who really was getting into the whole Halloween thing having already at preschool gone trick or treating on Friday with party afterwards and again had gone trick or treating that day at the nursing home, earnestly asked me “How many days is Halloween?”

She was crushed by my answer “Just one day sweetie.”

I think she was hoping for a nice multi-day bonanza like Chanukah.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Great Costume Project of 2006

Or as Terry would put it: My Moron Project.

As I mentioned here I had decided to make Nate’s Halloween costume this year and this is what the pattern looks like:

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

My plan was to make the boy’s white tunic costume and the cloak in a brown material. It looked fairly straight forward and I was willing to give it a shot.

It took two and half days of steady work to make the whole thing. A fair amount of my time was spent puzzling out the directions. In the end I was able to put it all together and have something that fairly closely resembles the pattern’s picture.

Here it is hanging on the back of the front door.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

A nice thing about the costume was that I did not have to make pants. Nate was able to use a pair of khakis that looked just dandy with the costume.

Here a shot of Nate in the costume.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I think he looks pretty spiffy, but then again I am a wee bit biased.

Sadly, on the big night he did not wear the cloak.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This was a pity, because that turned out to be the most challenging part of the costume to make. The hood was a bit tricky with all sorts of folds and stitching, but the hardest part for me was trimming the hem. I dithered for a bit before I cut away four inches of excess material. I was loath to cut it, because once you do that’s it, there is no going back if you take off too much. It is possible to fix it, but it won’t look as nice.

Anyway, I proud of what I made and I like the knowledge that I can make a nice costume.

Oh and as I was making it, Rebecca came over, picked up the pattern’s cover picture, pointed the Leia costume and said “I want that when I get too big for my costume.”

All righty then, I think I can do it. The hard part will be getting her to let me do her hair.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday Three: Achoo!

This week’s Thursday Three is all about this season’s special joys that it brings to the world. Here is the scoop from Terry:
Leave it to our crack research team of sniffly and itchy Jim Smith to come up with an inspired selection of questions for today, based entirely upon his own seasonal distress!

Jim, suffering through some sort of allergic malady, sent the following to us (in a somewhat more condensed form) and suggested we have an Stopped Up, Wheezy, Sneezy Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

1. Do you have any food or plant allergies that kick in this time of year?

2. Is there anything in the food or plant realm that you might not be allergic to, but that you dread seeing during the fall anyway?

3. Setting aside your discomfort for just a moment, what are some of your favorite fall things?

Okay, all of you drink your chicken soup and Allerest and get to work. Remember that anyone is free to play along, even if it’s not autumn where you live, or if you think people with allergies are just big babies trying to get sympathy!

Ah fall, the smell of wood smoke fills the air and my nose is no longer stuffed!

1) My only food allergy is shellfish and that is a year round hazard, it’s a good thing I’m Jewish. As Meryl points out, I was meant to be one of the chosen. The rest of my allergies start to die down now, especially after the first hoar frost.

2) I’m not terribly fond of oak trees this time of year, their leaves shrivel up, turn brown and linger on the trees all winter long. This year, as an added hazard, we are getting a bumper crop of acorns. A few days ago, when it was very warm, it was downright painful to be barefoot along the margins of our lawn and at least one of the kids got bonked by a falling acorn. As for food, I guess it would be fruitcake. I don’t like it and I’m suspicious of the brightly colored bits imbedded in it.

3) I love this time of year. As y’all know I have my little problem with pumpkins. I also love the snap in the air, the vibrant colors of the leaves and best of all the food! Thanksgiving (a.k.a. “The Most Adored Food Holiday In All The Land”) is right around the corner. We have already been drinking cider and I just picked up my first carton of eggnog today, I’m so happy.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I’m just a little old northern gal that is just getting into her element.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Artists of the Week: Pumpkins

This week the whole crew gets to be Artist of the Week.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

We spent part of Monday afternoon and all of Tuesday afternoon carving up our pumpkins. Each child got to pick and design three pumpkins, the remaining six were at my discretion. I carved three on my own and solicited ideas for the final three pumpkins.

The end result was a whole lot of pumpkin guts and some mighty fine looking pumpkins. Each of the following pictures is linked to a smaller set of pictures. To see the set, click on the picture and go from there.

First up is Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He wanted his pumpkin to be by the mailbox this year. We hoped that maybe we would get a few more visitors by draping the mailbox with pumpkin lights and having a lit pumpkin. Sadly, it did not work. Maybe Next year we should put up a sign at the intersection of our street with the main road. Anyway Jake is a traditionalist at heart. He was very excited that this year he was able to open up the pumpkin (with the BIG knife) and clean them out all by himself.

Next up are Nate’s pumpkins.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He was only marginally interested in the pumpkins. He liked messing about with the pumpkin guts, but the actual designing was rather slaspdash. He wanted to play more than carve. But he did have fun when we were all done

Max was a bit more involved.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

His first pumpkin was a bit abstract. You really need to see the next picture in the set; there you get to see all the little squiggles I had to sort through when I was carving it. On his second and third pumpkins he had a better grasp of what was going on and developed easier designs for me to carve.

Rebecca viewed her pumpkins as big lumpy pieces of orange canvas.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Like Max’s initial effort, her designs were hard to carve. I couldn’t quite figure out what exactly was going on with her first pumpkin. In addition to the bits I carved out there was a big swirled design with an arm and hand sticking out. The second one had a coherent face with an adorable bonus drawing on the side. Maybe it’s a parasitic twin? The last one features a “cooking guy wearing a cooking hat holding an acorn.” From what I gathered he got bonked on the head with the acorn and is now holding it up. I carved out the top and bottom of the acorn since it seemed to be an important element to the design.

Finally there are my pumpkins.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The kids were all impressed that I could clean out, design and carve a pumpkin in well under 15 minutes. It is one of the oddest skills I have and as I explained to Jake, it takes practice. I had some nice lumpy pumpkins to work with this year. I was very pleased with Mr. Big Nose. Then I took suggestions after I finished with my three. Max wanted a baby bat and was happy with what I made as was Rebecca with her kitty pumpkin. Nate was off playing and that left Jake with the final pumpkin idea. He wanted a vampire with a huge open mouth and two fangs. At first the mouth was two small, but I was able to fix that. He still wasn’t completely happy with the final design, but I thought it looked great once it was illuminated.

And here is what it looked like when they were all in position.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It was great fun and I look forward to doing it all over again next year.