Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We would all like to wish you a merry and in our case snow filled Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Artist of the Week: First Concert

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake is this week's artist. Admittedly I'm a day late, but that's life.

He is taking band in Middle School and as I have mentioned before, his instrument is the trumpet. He has come long way the past few months and is slowly able to play recognizable tunes. He is getting a feel for his instrument, which is remarkable because of all the mucking about his Orthodontist is doing.

Last week was the the Middle School Winter Concert. We turned out in force for the event. This was a far happier occasion for us compared to the last time Jake was in a concert. (That was for the Pyramid concert and I'm still irked over that one.) His attendance was mandatory, but it is part of the whole band thing and we fully expected it. Oh and the good part, it's free.

Anyway, we showed up at the appointed hour and shooed Jake off to the band room.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then we were stuck out in the hallway to wait for an hour the whole thing to start. Since there were no chairs in the hallway we retreated to the car to watch a DVD. I must say it is very nice to have this option when you are stuck waiting for an hour with three kids in tow. Mind you there was still some whining when we got back inside, but nothing on the same level if we had been stuck in a very boring hallway. When it was close to the start time we peered in the auditorium and decided it was time to find a seat. Other parents joined and the seats started to fill.

The concert was divided into three sections. First up was the Beginning Band students followed by the Intermediate Band and then the Advance Band rounded out the evening. Below is the first song played by Jake's group.

They did a good job. The band is clearly at the beginning level, but they were able to stay together. I think it is a remarkable performance considering they all starting playing their instruments for the first time just a couple of months ago. And I think quite a few students didn't even know how to read music. If you are interested the other three songs played by Jake's group were Cardiff Castle, Ode to Joy and Holiday Sing Along (with a guest vocals supplied by Rebecca!).

It will be fun to see how much they progress at the next concert.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lego - Star Wars vs. Star Trek

I am very, very, very busy this week, but not to busy to watch some Lego animation goodness.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I cook on the fly. Half the time when I'm making dinner I'll switch things around according to my mood, my preferences and what is in the pantry. With baking I stick a little closer, but not by much. I really do try to stick with what is written, but sometimes I get stuck.

Like tonight, I am baking a cheesecake to drop off at school tomorrow, it's for some sort of teacher/staff appreciation thingy. I *thought* I had all the ingredients on hand and that's why I volunteered to make my basic cheesecake. Note the thought. I sort of had everything, I was just shy 1/4 cup sour cream. It's late, its cold outside and I just plain don't want to go. So I haul out my cookbooks to see how I can make do. It's sour cream and I've got the cream, how hard could it be?

It turns out not very hard at all. One quick substitution was 3/4 cup oh heavy cream with 3 to 4 drops of lemon juice. Add the lemon juice and let sit for 30 to 40 minutes. It basically worked and I was able to finish the cheesecake. Whoo-hoo substitutes! I get to stay in.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Crunch is Home

Last Friday I picked up Crunch's remains from the vet. It was a hard trip, I sobbed in the car before going in and it hit me again when I got back into the car.

first picture
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is one of our first pictures of Crunch. He was, as all puppies are, adorable. Rally thought otherwise and was initially quite peeved with this goofy red interloper. But in the end it wasn't such a bad thing especially once she figured out how to trick him out of the comfy spot in the kitchen.

We had gotten Crunch in January of 1993. We wanted another dog and we thought Rally would like the companionship. He just kind of fell into our laps. His breeder had called us wondering if we were still looking for a dog. I had spoken with her months earlier when we were first looking, but she had nothing to offer at the time. Apparently I had made a good impression and when they had decided that it was time to place "Nestle" they gave us a call.

young Crunch
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
His original name was Nestle as in Nestle Crunch. His bite started to go off and that was why we were offered him. When we went to get him, up in the wilds of Ramsey, Minnesota, his bite had improved. They asked if it was possible if we could show him and thus a hobby was born. We thought Nestle was a weenie name and called him Crunch instead. Crunch grew to be a handsome dog, a canine Fabio according to my Brother in Law. He was also a natural show dog and I was able to handle him myself to his champion ship. Not bad for a novice handler.

Because of Crunch, Dianne (his breeder), became a very good friend. She then pointed me in the direction of the local dachshund club and I made a lot of friends in the "dog world." The local club was and still is very performance oriented and it was a given that if your dog had any talent in the field you should try to put a Field Championship on it along with a bench or rather show Championship thus earning the dog the title of Dual Champion. Crunch was a natural in the field, his only problem was the extreme difficulty I had in getting him back. He was notorious as the dog that would take off when the judges would ask for the handlers to pick up their dogs. His saving grace was his unfailingly happy demeanor and the fact that anybody could pick him up. Everybody loved Crunch because he loved everybody.

Waitng to go
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In time we were able to put a Dual Championship on Crunch. It wasn't until we moved back East that we realized what a big deal a DC was. At that point I decided to go whole hog and try to get a Versatility Certificate on him. It is a high honor from the Dachshund Club of America and not every dog can earn one. In 2000 he qualified and we headed out west to the National Specialty show in Portland Oregon in 2001. I was pregnant with Max and Rebecca and as big as a house. I was determined to be there when his plaque would be announced at the banquet. It was a huge ordeal flying out to Portland with two kids and a dog, but we made it. As an added bonus we got to spend time with a dear friend of mine from college. She had married the previous year and we had flown out for that sans kids.

As the years slipped by I would occasionally bring Crunch out to show. He loved going to shows and always put on a good show. At the tender age of 11 1/2 he sired his first litter and a few months later John, his son, came to live with us. When Jake turned 10 we got him a Junior Handler number and he would take Crunch into the ring while I showed John. Crunch was very happy with his new career and was very patient with Jake. But I could she he was starting to fade.

me and Crunch
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
He could still move like a dream, but he was slowing down. Crunch was spending much more sleeping and then we got John. John was a good addition to the household. He perked everybody up and he and his father would endlessly wrestle at my feet. With a look Crunch could flatten his son. John knew who the boss was.

But then at the end of summer Crunch started to falter. He wasn't as sure on his feet and his nose started to bother him. It looked like him had a nasal tumor. We never got a definitive diagnoses, because it would mean sedating him and the last time we did , about 8 months previously, it took 4 days for him to recover. I promised him I wouldn't do that to him again. At 15 he was too old. Then he stopped wrestling with John and not long afterwards to eat. I was able to tempt him along for a while, but in the end it was time.

The last picture was taken a few days before his final trip. He was my dog and always loved to be in my lap.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Boy and his dog

Boy and his dog
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate loves dogs. He always has and he loves John in particular. Whenever Nate is in a quiet mood I'll find him curled up around John. Nate loved the time I dumped John on his bed to wake him up. John covered his face in kisses and Nate awoke with giggles.

I know Nate would love it if John could spend the night with him, but it's not an option. I like to keep the upstairs as doggy free as possible because of allergies. Also John at 3 and 1/2 is still a fairly destructive dog. He is much better know, but he still chews up the occasional toy and blanket. I'd hate to see what would happen if he was left to his own devices over the course of the night. So Nate will just have to settle with his cuddle sessions downstairs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Eighth and Final Day of Hanukkah

Eighth Night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here they are, our two menorahs in their full glory.

I hope you all who celebrate Hanukkah had a joyous Festival of Lights. I would also like to share one more thing. It's a video I found over at YouTube and it's a really rockin' little tune that celebrates the Festival of Lights.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seventh Day of Hanukkah

seventh night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max is pictured here with a little fabric book about Hanukkah that I wrote about last year.

He brought it in to school last week and it was a very popular item over at the reading corner. Everybody loved to play with it. Max's favorite part is the teddy bear, I think the other kids liked the dreidel.

This is one of little treasures that we all look forward to seeing again each year. It has held up very well, the only damage so far is to the latkes. John nibbled the edge, so it is a bit ragged. Max's teacher thought it was pretty funny when I pointed it out to her.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sixth day and More

three candles and a dreidel
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Sunday we went to two Hanukkah parties. In the morning I schlepped the kids on up to the party at Hebrew school while Larry stayed home to paint the shed. The kids had a great time. They decorated (and ate) doughnuts, made edible dreidels, practiced lighting the candles and saying the blessings, played BINGO and made a variety of crafts. Pictured is a sampling of their handy work, three candles and a dreidel. Nate's is the candle on the far left, Max made the one in the middle, Rebecca made the candle with the delicate decorations and Jake carved a dreidel out of soap. Meanwhile I was happy to nosh on latkes.

sixth day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then in the evening we headed out to our Congregation's Hanukkah party. As always the food was great and the atmosphere was warm and inviting. We got to eat more latkes (they were better than this morning's), sing songs and have a great time. The only problem was that it was we left too early to light candles at home (I will not leave a burning candle in the house when we go out) and it was a bit late once we got back home. But we have our fabric menorahs and they filled the bill.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Fourth and Fifth Days of Hanukkah

fourth night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Since I barely post on the weekend, today you get a two for one deal for the forth and fifth days of Hanukkah.

On Friday we lit the candles before we went out for dinner. We lit them just before Shabbat simultaneously with Meryl. We had our phones on speaker and recited the blessings together. It was a fun way to do things. Anyway back to dinner,I have a long standing policy that no one should cook dinner on their birthday. I picked the new Japanese restaurant, Kabuki, in our area. It was quite an experience. It was theater in the round. Parties of up to ten people are seated along three sides of a grill with the chef mans his position at the fourth side and does a knife and fire show while cooking your dinner. We all loved the food and Jake commented that "you don't get bored while waiting for your food." We will definitely be going there again sometime in the future. It's nice when we can add a new restaurant to our rotation.

fifth night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Saturday all four children got in on the picture. It's a remarkable shot because they all look good. Normally I'll have at least one of them through an oddball expression which I swear is just to bug me, but not this time. They are all happily entranced by the flames of our two menorahs.

I decided since we have a plethora of candles courtesy of Hebrew School that we should fire up both menorahs. They put out a fair amount of light and everybody got to do something. The dynamic duo got to select and put in the candles and the other two got to light the candles.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Third Day and 42

third day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here is my third day of Hanukkah post with the added bonus of my 42nd birthday. Now that I'm forty two I'm the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Or at least the bits I know.

Anyway about the third day's menorah. It's actually a box of chocolate gelt that you open up one candle for each day of Hanukkah. It was given to the kids from their Aunt Meryl. We of course opened the whole thing up and distributed the chocolate, two pieces per child. This was very popular with the under 12 set.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Second Day

second day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is my favorite of our menorahs, I wrote all about it here if you are interested.

Anyway the Hanukkah Fairy made a reappearance today. I brought this particular menorah into Rebecca's class today along with candles, a book selected by Rebecca and a handful of dreidals. The book was Hanukkah! by Sarah Freedland and illustrated by Sue Clarke. It is a gorgeous book with rich illustrations and pop-ups. It does a good job describing the meaning of Hanukah and was appropriate for Rebecca's class.

Rebecca was utterly delighted that I came in to read today. As Larry observed, when she is very happy her whole body smiles and when I walked into her classroom I got a whole body smile. The class was attentive and I think they really enjoyed the book. They loved the dreidals and they were all fascinated by the menorah. They wanted me to light the candles, but sadly we are not allowed to light candles in the classroom. Which, when you think about it, is not a bad rule. Open flames and twenty 5 to 6 year old kids don't really mix.

I had a great time and I think I was able to spread a little bit of light on the Festival of Lights.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

First day of Hanukkah, First Snow

first day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Well today is a day of firsts.

Last night was the start of Hanukkah. We had latkes and the requisite arguing over the menorah. This year it was over who's candles we should use. Max, Rebecca and Nate all got a package of Hanukkah candles at Hebrew school on Sunday. Nate had brought out his candles and was just putting them in the menorah when Rebecca rushed over and burst into tears. She really wanted us to use her candles first. Nate, a bit puzzled over the fuss, was a gentleman and let the girl have her way.

I didn't take a picture of the candles in question, I thought it was better to show the hero of the moment with our fabric dachshund menorah. Nate brought it to school and one of the big questions was "Why is the dog's back on fire?" His answer: "It's not on fire, those are candles."

Anyway, he packed it up and brought it home yesterday and in the picture he is getting ready to bring it back to school.

first snow
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Meanwhile later in the morning the first snowfall of the season graced the area. The flakes have been falling on and off all day alternating with little tiny flakes and big fat clumps of snow. Mostly it has been big fat flakes that have covered the deck and table. For a brief moment we even got a little bit of sleet. It won't last, but it will certainly botch up the traffic. Richmonders are incapable of dealing with the white stuff and the first snow event is always a traumatic one for the area. I'm glad I don't have to go anywhere today.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm the Hanukkah Fairy

Spreading the light of Hanukkah wherever I go.

I sent a note to Max's teacher today about Hanukkah. He is the star of the week and I thought it would be a good idea for him to bring in a menorah to share with class since Hanukkah starts tonight. I gave his teacher my email addy so we would not be dependent on the vagaries of a 6 year old to deliver notes back and forth.

This email popped up in my inbox a few hours after I got the kids off to school:
Hi Mrs. G.!

We have been talking about Hannukah this week and asking Max a lot of
questions:) I have some books but I would love to have Max share a
menorah! And if by any chance you have a driedel that the kids could pass
around that would be great. I have a couple but for whatever reason I
can't find them --- I'm sure that I will find them in Jan!

Thanks so much!

Mrs. S.

No problem, we have menorahs and driedals aplenty. I swung by the school to drop
them off. While in the hallway chatting with Max's teacher Rebecca's stopped by
and wanted to know when I could read a book to the class. Ah book, I don't remember volunteering, but I smoothly covered my surprise and asked when would be good for her. She would like me to stop by before lunch any time this week and we settled on Thursday.

I know there are not very many Jewish families in our school system and I think my children are the most up front. That and I carefully note each year on the class forms that we don't celebrate Christmas. So I have become the "go to" person for all things Hanukkah at the school. Which I find utterly hilarious since I'm a convert, but it is also nice because it shows we are doing a good job with raising our children Jewish in an overwhelmingly Christian area.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Happy Birthday Larry!

Chocolate Cheesecake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today, or at least what's left of it, is my dear husband's birthday.

I called him up at work today to get dinner menu approval (steak and oven roasted potatoes, I knew he would say yes, I just wanted to tell him) and ask what kind of cake he wanted. He settled on the Hershey's Three Chocolate Layered Cheesecake that everybody seems to be making.

Larry then got treated to lunch by his coworkers and got throughly cookied and caked out. He really has a nice place to work at, makes me miss the days I used to to work outside of the home.

Anyway my creation looked gorgeous, but would have benefited with sitting in the fridge overnight to allow the cake to firm up and the flavors to develop, but it was still tasty. Next year I need to remember to ask him a day ahead.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Your Score: Fennel

You scored 50% intoxication, 0% hotness, 100% complexity, and 25% craziness!

You are Fennel!

You're a cool cat. Crisp, clean, fresh, and extremely complicated. You're like quantum physics or modern jazz. Think Niels Bohr meets Ornette Coleman. You may look normal now, but once you sprout, you look kind of, uh, funny.

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
Courtesy of Janis.

Friday, November 30, 2007

You Lookin' At Me Punk

Young Punk
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today Nate came home with the most incredible rat's nest of a mess on top of his head. It gave him a decidedly punk air.

When he left for school he looked like perfectly normal third grader. I saw him at school from 2:00 to 3:00 for an in school event (vegetable derby races) and again he had nothing funky going on with his hair. Apparently it happened on the way home, he spent the entire bus ride rubbing his head and giving a good friend static electricity shocks.

All that's one way to get punk look.

It'll be interesting when I try to comb it out. I tried pushing it down it just springs up again.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

One Tough Kid

Jake is starting the whole orthodontic thing. He, unfortunately, inherited my teenie tiny jaw and he really needs to have his teeth taken care. So far he has had all sorts of pictures, x-rays and impressions made, the actual braces won't be put on until January. In the mean time all sorts of groundwork has to be laid.

The spacers for the bands for the expansion bar drove him batty for a week. He was relieved when they came out for the actual bands. The expansion bar, so far, has not been a big deal and he has been very cooperative with the daily adjustment.

Tuesday was a very big day. He had four, yes four, permanent teeth pulled. There is just not enough room for all his teeth and it was determined by the orthodontic team that the premolars had to go. This news did not shock me in the least, I too had the same four teeth pulled and my lower jaw is still overcrowded. I pretty much assumed that the child I refer to as my clone would need the same thing done.

Anyway I picked him up earlier from school and brought him over to his regular dentist. I had dropped off the referral and x-rays last week and they were all set to pull his teeth. Jake was remarkably calm and willing walked to the far reaches of the office. They had me sign a few forms and then shooed me out to the waiting room. An hour later a hygienist poked her head out and announced he was all set and he was really good through out the whole procedure. Jake then ambled on out, his face a wee bit puffy from a combination of the pulling and all the gauze pack inside.

His only complaint was the numbness of his face and the resultant drooling.

That was it. He never said anything about pain. Mind you the complaints about the numbness were overly dramatic and never ending, but there is a bit of a dramatic streak in him.

I let him loll about on the sofa, watching tv until dinner. Mercifully the complaints died down once normal feeling returned and I'm sure the rice pudding he got after dinner helped. I thought he wouldn't want to go to school, but the next morning he was game. He had carefully done his homework before bed and was ready to go Wednesday morning. I was a bit shocked, but hey if he is willing to go to school than off to school he goes.

Man he can be one tough kid.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Artist of the Week: Greeting Card

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca is this week's artist. Nate took this beautiful picture of her a few days ago. I told him how much I liked the picture and he told me that it was just a random shot. He was just snapping away and impulsively decided to take one of his sister. Well talk about a lucky shot. She has such a relaxed and natural pose, all too often she mugs for the camera when I'm behind the lens. All I did was crop the picture just a little bit, everything else was perfect. Maybe I should let the kids take more pictures.

Anyway, Rebecca made this card yesterday. Max had brought home a "hand" turkey that he had made in class. Rebecca was a bit jealous because her class did not make "hand" turkeys. Right then and there she decided to rectify the situation.

Rebecca's card
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
She fetched a piece of paper and had me trace the outline of her hand. She then colored it in and cut the resulting turkey out. She was so pleased with the end result she decided to make another one, only this time it would be in a card.

The front's piece is a bit plain, but it was all hand lettered by her. She at first was going to have me spell out the whole thing, but I offered to write it down so she could copy it over. I love how she just moves down the page as she runs out of room with no regard to what she is writing.

The center of the card is where she really shined. The turkey came out great. I love the little decorative flourishes with the leaves. I think what she was writing was "See turkey and hat" with the and understood. See is one of her sight words and I think she was very pleased to be able to include it in her card.

The back of the card is also something not to be missed. It features a very uprigt almost cheerful seeming pumpkin nestled in a bed of leaves.

I know I'm horribly biased, but this girl can really draw.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Crunch: Sept. 29, 1992 - Nov. 27, 2007

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today I did the hardest thing I have ever done, I took Crunch in for his last trip to the vet.

He had been rapidly failing this past week. I actually made an appointment for last Friday, but he perked up over Thanksgiving and enjoyed some pumpkin pie. I was happy to cancel the next day, but in the back of my mind I knew it would be soon. He was just over 15 years old and had a good long run.

Yesterday he completely refused to eat and I was only able to get him to drink by squirting water into his mouth with a 5 ml syringe. As the day progressed he grew weaker and weaker and could no longer walk by day's end. It was time to release him.

I called the vet clinic this morning in tears and they arranged for me to head over at 11:00. I spent the morning fussing over Crunch, even feeding him a few syringe fulls of yogurt. I sat outside with him in the bright sunshine, his frail body warmly wrapped in a soft towel. When it was time to go I gently placed him on the front seat, still wrapped in his towel. For his last ride he rode next to me and was not banished to the crate in the back. My right hand rested on him during the whole ride.

At the clinic they were very kind. They brought me tissues when I first arrived and left a box for me in the examining room. The vet was so gentle as he slipped the needle in. With a final sigh I felt Crunch completely relax and then he was gone, his spirit slipped free of his failing body.

He was such a strong dog and such a sweet boy, everybody was Crunch's friend. He was my first show dog and was a natural in the ring. He loved showing and I'm so glad I brought him out for my club's specialty. He wasn't entered, but he had a grand time being at the show. He also was a true hunting dog and woe to any small animal that dared set foot into his backyard. He was a truly versatile dachshund and had earned his Versatility Certificate from the Dachshund Club of America despite my novice handling.

When he grew older, with graying muzzle and paws, he was still an outrageously fit dog. He could still move like a champ right up until last Spring. He was an amazing dog and I'm so lucky to have been with him all these years.

I miss my big red boy.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Max and Friends

Max and friends
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Some nights Max very meticulously places all his stuffed animals and last Saturday was one of those nights.

He carefully arranged his friends around the edge of his pillow and declared it cool. He wanted me to take a picture of him all nestled in bed right then, but I refused. It was late, the camera was in the car, the flash would wash things out and I didn't feel like schlepping downstairs to dig it up and drag it upstairs to satisfy the whim of a six year old. Albeit a very cute and articulate six year old. So I put him off with the promise of taking a picture in the morning.

So of course at the crack of dawn I was awakened by a little voice asking me to take a picture.

I blearily told Max not now, but he was insistent. I had to threaten him with a time out before he would leave me alone.

A few hours later I took the promised picture and it was an indeed a very cute photo.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Want Some Pie?

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
If you do, you'd better hurry because it's going fast.

Like last year I made a tart and a pie for Thanksgiving which we happily consumed along with Meryl's delicious chocolate course. You can actually see the chocolate sponge nestled in its box at the top of the picture.

The tart is mostly gone now and the kids have made serious inroads on the pumpkin pie. Once they are all gone I have to satisfy myself with the few remaining truffles we have.

At least I have my stuffing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Sometime around Halloween my mother sent me a pumpkin shaped cake pan, or rather mold. It's from Nordic Ware and if you click here it will take you to a full description of the cake pan.

Along with the pan came a tiny little card bearing a recipe for "Great Pumpkin Cake." It's chock full of errors, but the overall idea seemed good. My biggest complaint though, is the name. It really should be called Pumpkin Spice Cake since the cake itself has no pumpkin in it and is really more of a spice cake. Anyway here is the corrected recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
Zest of one orange
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour the cake molds. In a medium bowl sift together the first seven ingredients (flour through salt), set aside. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and orange zest together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add flour mixture alternately with milk until just blended. Stir in sour cream. Pour batter into the two molds. Bake 35-40 minutes, until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool ten minutes in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack to coo completely.

The Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbs light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 drops yellow food coloring
1 drop red food coloring
2-4 tbs milk

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients together *except* for the milk. The milk is to thin the frosting after approximately 1/2 cup is used as filling between the halves of the cake. Leave about 1/2 inch rim around the outside. Then placed the two halves together thus forming a pumpkin. Then slowly add the milk to the frosting/glaze to thin it the consistency of thick cream. Spoon the remaining glaze over the top of the pumpkin.
The resulting cake was quite tasty. Next I'll probably skip the food coloring. I liked the shade of orange I came with, but Larry thought is was a bit lurid. It will be just fine with a plain white frosting/glaze. Hopefully I'll have better luck with getting the glaze to neatly run down the sides of the cake.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We would all like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

And for those that want to know, here is today's menu:

Turkey and Gravy

Stuffing (with and without sausage)

Acorn Squash

Party Potatoes (With and Without Garlic)

Green Beans


Dinner Rolls

Chocolate Course courtesy of Aunt Meryl

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 21, 2007

Artist of the Week: Fall Recital

Nate and Max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week we have a two for one. Last Sunday was the fall piano recital for Nate and Max.

Nate is an old hand at it, but this was Max's very first recital. Max had been looking forward to it for the past couple of weeks. He and his sister had been attending piano recitals all their lives. This was Max's big moment to be just like his big brothers.

I heard murmurs of "how cute" behind me as he walked up to the piano. He was the very first one up. It wasn't a perfect performance, but he did recover and solider on. I liked that he didn't get all deer in headlights. He knew the piece very well, however he is not quite used to playing it as a duet. Next time will be even better.

Nate was full of confidence and it showed. It was the best I ever heard him play the two pieces. At home he rushes through and can be quite sloppy, but not at the recital.

They both did an excellent job.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why I'll Never Use a Turkey Fryer

Yes I know they grossly overfilled the fryer and yes I know you can dunk the bird ahead of time to gauge the oil, but the whole thing bothers me. Especially how tippy they are. I just know at some point I'd get hot oil dumped all over my driveway.

Anyway I particularly like in the video how the firefighters are all suited up. Nomex suits are the *must have* accessory for Thanksgiving.

I'm much happier with roasting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Funny, I Haven't Seen This One

Apparently I'm:

The boys should like that.

Courtesy of Miss Jordana, who is a far more appealing movie, over at Curmudgeonry.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cake Report

army cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It just dawned on me that I never showed the internets Nate's birthday cake. The cake itself was nothing remarkable, my orange cake with chocolate frosting, but the decoration on the outside is.

Admittedly it's just a bunch of plastic army men with one of them supporting the big number 9 candle. Nate wanted an army cake and that is what I came up with. He and all his friends were utterly delighted. Nate wanted them afterwards, but I said "No, they're mine, all mine."

With three boys in the family I figure there will be at least one more army themed cake. I had bought them just for the cake and even splurged by paying an extra $1.50 at the drug store over the buck at tour local Dollar Tree. I thought that maybe the slightly higher quality plastic would be a little less lethal (yay made in China!). I carefully washed then in hot soapy water water and gave them all a good rinse. So far there have been no ill affects.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sometimes You Just Have To

baby pineapple
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I was wandering about the produce aisle today looking at the strange, the inedible and the ordinary when I rounded the corner and spotted the cutest little pineapple.

It's called a baby pineapple and is from South Africa. I picked it up and my nose was rewarded with the sweet smell of ripe pineapple. I put it in the cart figuring at the very least the kids would love its diminutive size.

I briefly considered bringing home the Buddha's Hand, but it was a bit pricey for something to buy on a whim. I have no idea what it was or what to do with the little oddity. As for the inedible, well you know that I wouldn't waste money on that.

Anyway I brought the pineapple home and I was right.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Jake was very excited and even agreed to pose with the fruit. He looks so happy with that tiny little pineapple. Another nice thing about the picture with Jake is that you really get to see how tiny the pineapple is in real life.

When the rest of the crew got home they all marveled at the petite pineapple. It smelt wonderful and we were eager to cut into it and see if it was as good as the full size version. Then Jake got a very good idea.

As I was photographing it I commented that it looked more like Spongebob's house than a full size pineapple does. Its golden hue was just right as were its proportions. Jake suggested that we try to recreate the Bikini Bottom domicile with paper cutouts.

Spongebob's house 3D
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yes! What a great idea!

After a bit of searching we found a decent picture and printed it out with a little seat of the pants resizing.

I think the end result is quite good. I pretty much nailed the size for the cut outs on the first try. Max was upset at first when I started taping everything on, he thought I was spoiling the fruit. I had to explain to him that we never eat the outer rind. The the part we actually eat is still safely tucked inside the fruit. This mollified him and in the end he agreed that the overall effect was pretty good and it had been a worthwhile thing to do, because sometime ya just gotta do it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Artist of the week: Goal!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Max and Rebecca's teammate, Abbey a.k.a. Cat.

Cat is a fun little fire cracker of a girl with two big brothers. Her father was to drop her off for Max and Rebecca's party, but instead he remained at our house along with Abbey's brothers. The boys are roughly Jake and Nate's ages and they all meshed well and had a great time.

Anyway, at the end of season party on Saturday Abbey presented Larry with this drawing.

soccer girl
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

It is a picture of her just about to a shoot a goal. As I recall the second figure in the picture is Rebecca looking on. It is an utterly charming picture and Larry was very touched by the gift. I think it meant much more to him than the official thank you card he received at the party. He knows that it required a fair amount of effort on her part to make the drawing, to remember to bring it to the party and to actually present it to him.

Seeing how my husband felt I declared it to be the upcoming Artist of the Week.

So hey, it's not always about my family.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Partied Out

Soccer ended on Saturday and thus heralded a slew of post soccer season parties. Traditionally (at least around here) the team books a back room at a local restaurant, trophies are passed, a card and/or gift is presented to the coach and the kids get to goof around with their team mates for one more time.

Saturday was our first party. It was for Max and Rebecca's team and was held a little Italian joint. I whipped up a cake and decorated it with the team's name and the players' aliases.

Animal cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Aliases for 5 to 6 year olds?

When the team was selecting its name Larry settled on "The Animals" and each child would be called by their chosen animal name. So Max became penguin, Rebecca was pony and so on. Anyway it was fun and most of the cake disappeared. I was able to save one slice so that Nate could get the traditional slice of cake for breakfast on his birthday on Sunday.

Sunday was Nate's birthday and that took up the afternoon, thankfully I was able to make dinner and saved us from going out again. It was a good thing too, since Rebecca fell asleep before dinner and didn't wake up until much later. Chasing boys around all afternoon is tiring work don't cha know.

Monday we had Nate's party and another Pizza/place Italian joint. We have been there before and we like the pizza, but this time it wasn't so great. I don't know if it was the acoustics of the room itself or the fact that it was a very rowdy bunch of 8 to 9 year olds, but it was loud. Painfully loud for Larry. The kitchen was overwhelmed and it took forever for our food to come out. It was a late night for us.

Tonight was our last soccer party and we are very ready for it to end. Max was not happy when I told him it was time to leave for the party. He made it very clear that he did not want to go. We were back at the first Italian place and they were not quite ready for us. The group that had the room before us was taking their own sweet time in leaving, but in the end they finally cleared out. It was quieter than the last party, but still loud. Max cheered up immensely when he saw his (and Rebecca's) good friend was there. Aubrey is the younger sibling of one of Jake's teammates and we have known him for quite sometime. He was on Max and Rebecca's first soccer team and they have been friends since. Anyway, it was a fun night and I only had to ride herd on the team a little bit. I have become friends with a few of the mothers and I'll miss them until next season.

But... I'm glad the soccer season is over.

All that is left is a swanky "Flat Stanley" gallery exhibition over at Nate's school on Thursday. At least we'll have a day to recover before this last party.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Veterans Day Thank You

Veterans Day
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I would like to thank all those have served in protecting our great nation. My family has a grand tradition of service. My father served in the Navy in WWII on a mine sweeper (one of the dullest and most dangerous of duties). One Uncle was in the Coast Guard along the Aleutians during WWII and his brother started in the Coast Guard and later in the Navy during WWII and was called up again for Korea. I have another Uncle who was in the Army and the list goes on.

Here is the original proclamation:



Whereas it has long been our customs to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and Whereas in the intervening years, the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation; and

Whereas the Congress passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926 (44 Stat. 1982), calling for the observance of November 11 with appropriate ceremonies, and later provided in an act approved May 13, 1938 (52 Stat. 351) , that the eleventh of November should be a legal holiday and should be known as Armistice Day; and

Whereas, in order to expand the significance of that commemoration and in order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation, the Congress, by an act approved June 1, 1954 (68 Stat. 168), changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day:

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America , do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 , as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.

I also direct the appropriate officials of the Government to arrange for the display of the flag of the United States on all public buildings on Veterans Day.

In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose.

Toward this end, I am designating the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman of a Veterans Day National Committee, which shall include such other persons as the Chairman may select, and which will coordinate at the national level necessary planning for the observance. I am also requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch of the Government to assist the National Committee in every way possible.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and cause the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this eighth day of October in the Year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-ninth.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nine Years Ago Today

pumpkin chucking
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate came into the world.

Today he got to invite a whole mess of his friends over for his birthday party. It was quite a crowd and they filled our backyard with noise, laughter and non-stop activity.

The bouncy tent was, as always, a big hit. They also loved playing in the Little Tykes castle and the tree fort. But the big events were the pinata and the pumpkin toss.

Y'all know about pinatas, a candy filled object that you get to whack at. What boy could resist?

The pumpkin toss, the other hand, was something I dreamed up the other day. A lot of boys were coming over and I wanted to come up with some sort of game. Something a little different that they would enjoy. At the same time I was thinking about when I would chuck the pumpkins into the woods. I like to clear them out before Nate's birthday. Normally they get very slimy after about a week, but this year they were holding up very well. Then it hit me, I could have each kid pick out a pumpkin, schlep it into the woods and then toss it. Meryl thought it was great and Nate's face lit up when I suggested it to him.

So here is a video of the great pumpkin toss:

Good thing I carved so many pumpkins, I had just enough.It was a big success and of course it was followed by the pumpkin stomp.

All the kids had a great time and as a bonus I don't have to deal with the pumpkins this year. It really was a sort of Tom Sawyer moment for me, a whole slew of kids begging to dispose of my pumpkins.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Well looky here

Hey this place is far more educated than I thought.

cash advance

I guess my college degree wasn't wasted. Courtesy of non-blogging blogger Terry.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Want a Trunk Monkey

I stumbled upon the whole Trunk Monkey thing via the comments at A Gentleman's C. This is the original spot, but I think they are all hilarious. I particularly like the in the trunk shot of the monkey in "Thrown off a bridge" aka theft retrieval system.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Artist of the .... Oh Never Mind

I'm wiped out.

Jake and Nate had two big projects due this week. Nate's Flat Stanley scrapbook was due today and Jake's Bill of Rights poster is due tomorrow.

I had a fun filled day squiring Jake to and from the orthodontist. Today we learned about their treatment plan which was pretty much what I predicted. Four teeth need to be pulled, he'll get an expansion bar and then braces. They tried to get the bands on for the bar today, but surprise, surprise his teeth are too tightly packed together. So he got spacers and we'll try again next week. The funniest moment was when we asked if we could get the plaster cast after he was done. The student/Doctor (we're going to the dental school up in Richmond) was floored. Obviously they had never prepared him for that question. After a bit of hemming and hawing he admitted he wasn't sure if we could, apparently they keep then on file.

Anyway I'm tired and I'm going to bed. AOTW will be back next week.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Parent Teacher Conferences

Today was Parent Teacher conferences. I went to see Nate's teacher and Larry handled Max and Rebecca's.

Nate's teacher said pretty much what I expected. Nate is a fun kid to have in class and is much smarter than his grades show. His problem is that he rushes through things and never goes back to check his work. As a result he does a lot of silly mistakes that he would catch if he would just slow down.

With Kindergarten there was not much to report. As Larry views it, kindergarten is puppy socialization. The real hard core learning doesn't happen until first grade. Interestingly both Max and Rebecca got the same exact score in the reading assessment test. Then there were the funny observations about our children from the teachers.

According to Max's teacher he sometimes seems more like twenty than six. He is an extremely polite and articulate child that is very responsible about his needs. He reminds his teacher about his enzymes and dutifully keeps me informed about when I need to bring in something.

Rebecca's teacher, Mrs. S, had the best observation of them all. Larry and she got on the subject of Rebecca having three older brothers. Larry feels that they will protect her as she grows up. Mrs. S noted that her older brother was indeed protective of her, but her younger wasn't. But that was alright , because she knew how to put him in his place. Mrs. S noticed that Rebecca was fully capable of handling boys. At one point she saw little Miss Rebecca had a bigger boy in a headlock out on the playground.

I thought that was hilarious. Though I was a teensy bit mortified that my daughter was beating up on a boy. Then again, he had to have done something to provoke such a reaction from her.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pumpkin Buffet

Deer buffet
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Saturday afternoon I looked out the front door and saw three deer availing themselves to the pumpkins on our front steps. I gasped in surprise, called out to Larry and ran to grab the camera.

The noise I made was sufficient to spook two of the deer, but the one was greedy enough to keep on munching on my pumpkin. I was able to shoot the first picture through the window flanking the door. Rebecca then came in to see what was up and she too saw the deer.

I moved to another window to get a better angle when I heard a door slam in the background. The noise caused the deer to briefly lift its head, but soon it was back to chowing down on my pumpkin. Then suddenly the deer startled and looked up the pathway to the driveway.

eatin' my pumpkin
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
At that moment I realized who slammed the door. It must have been Rebecca. Just before she came into view the deer bounded away and I told Larry "I bet it's Rebecca coming to see the deer."

And I was right.

Here is what is left of my poor little pumpkin. It was the ghost, but alas the ghost has been chewed away. I haven't seen the deer since Saturday, but the pumpkin has been getting progressively smaller and moving closer to the edge of the lawn.

poor pumpkin
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I guess the deer couldn't wait for me to chuck the pumpkins into the woods this year.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mazel Tov Meryl!

three boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This weekend it has been all about Aunt Meryl, or rather her Bat Mitzvah.

Friday night we got to dine with her and her out of town guests. Actually it was just me and the kids since the early hour, 5:00, precluded Larry joining us for dinner. Instead he joined us at the Synagogue for Friday night services.

As we ate the skies darkened ominously and Meryl pointedly asked if I went to the dump. I had indeed, but it was gorgeous out the the forecast was just for wind, Noel was just going to rip up the coast.. It never did rain, but it sure did look dicey for a bit. The good part was after the front passed Rebecca perked up. She is very weather sensitive and I can always tell that a storm front is approaching when she droops and complains of a headache. The boys, on the other hand, were their cheerful selves.

Saturday we had to slip in a little soccer before morning services. I was able to just make it in time for Meryl's big moment. She sounded great even though she was not entirely happy with it, but it was over. All that was left was the kiddish luncheon and dinner.

We all had a great time at the dinner. The kids got to run around and at one point the boys got to show off their dance moves.

Max is so cute on the end with his green hat and white shirt. It was another late night and I was very thankful for the time change slipping us another hour of sleep.

In fact the whole weekend was so much fun that Max announced he wanted to has his next birthday at the same place Aunt Meryl did. Meryl you throw a darn good party and Mazel Tov!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Finger Prints in the Butter

Rebecca loves butter. According to her, and I agree, almost everything is better with butter.

She is also a bit of a butter thief. Occasionally I'll find little dimples in the butter we have in the butter dish. They are in fact finger prints and are the handiwork of little Miss Rebecca, from the times she can't resist and helps herself to a little taste.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
A few weeks ago she was over by the butter and burst into tears. I came over to the sight of my daughter clutching the top of the butter dish in hand, tears streaming down her face and the bottom half of the butter dish resting upside on the stool she was standing on. I asked her what happened and she said she was just "sniffing" the butter and it fell down. I chided her for wasting the butter and salvaged what I could.

I wasn't sure if the tears were from getting caught, having something go wrong or losing all that butter. It was probably a complex mixture of all three since nothing is simple with Rebecca.

Tonight we dined with Aunt Meryl and Rebecca was happily eating a little bread with some butter. And yes, that is butter on her lips.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Happy Halloween

trick or treat
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This certainly isn't shocking, but the kids had a great time last night. I did the traditional picture before they went out with their father, then I stayed home on candy distribution detail.

All four came back with a fairly respectable haul and got to enjoy three pieces of candy before heading off to bed. I, on the other hand had a very quiet night.

Just two groups stopped by for a total of four kids. The first two were brothers dressed as spider man and an adorable little dragon. The dragon (just barely two by my guess) was having a hard time with he whole candy thing. He insisted on clutching his treats and didn't understand that if he put the treats in his bag he could have more than one piece. I ended up stuffing a generous handful into his bag.

The other half of our crowd, brother and sister, had actually been sent over by my husband. The oldest, dressed in black robes, is a friend of Jake's and his little sister was dressed as a cute little devil in red. They had met up with my crew and my husband they had to stop by our house. Their mom was seriously impressed by the pumpkins and said "Now I know what you are doing with your spare time now that all the kids are in school."

Nate's skull
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then that was it for me. I wish our neighbors participated or that we were on the main drag. Ah well, this just means more candy for me and I don't have to buy any more to fill Nate's pinata weekend after next.

Oh and if your interested, if you click on the pumpkin here it will lead you to the Flickr set of all of our pumpkins in their lit glory.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Artist of the week: Pumpkins

Happy Halloween
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It's Halloween and it's all about the pumpkins.

I never carve the pumpkins ahead of time, I wait until the day itself. Part of it is procrastination, but there is also a logic behind it all. Pumpkins rot and the earlier you crack those babies open the longer they have to molder. There is nothing worse than reaching into a pumpkin to light it on All Hallows Eve and finding a thriving colony of black slime. And Virginia has both the mold, the humidity and the heat to make it all happen.

This week we are all artists of the week. Jake got to carve his pumpkins on his own for the first time. All I did was open the pumpkin up for him. He was so excited to be able to do it all on his own this year.

on the steps
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate designed a very elaborate skull themed pumpkin that I did my best to carve. Then, when he saw his older brother carving pumpkins, he decided to try to do his own. It started out fine, but in the end he was a bit overwhelmed and asked me to finish it off.

Max was happy to have me create his first pumpkin, a happy bat. At first he only specified a bat, but knowing Max I asked if he wanted it to be happy and yes he did. His second pumpkin he actually picked up the marker and designed it himself.

Rebecca's first pumpkin too was a happy one. Her pumpkin is a nice classic design that was a snap to carve. The second one, however was a bit more intricate. As I struggled to carve out her vision she told me that she forgot that I was going to carve the pumpkin, she was just drawing a picture. But that didn't stop me, if they can draw it, I can carve it.

all lined up
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Myself, I got to carve six of my own design. The kids thought it was unfair, but since I bought 'em I get to choose what happens to them. I made two traditional jack-o-lanterns, a cat and a skull. Then this year I tried two new ideas, a dragon and a ghost. I was very happy with how both turned out. The kids all loved the ghost and Nate was very impressed with the dragon. He told me that the dragon after I carved it didn't look like much, but when it was lit up he was very impressed. You could really see the dragon's face once night fell and the candle was lit.

I love Halloween.