Friday, March 30, 2007

In Praise of Macaroons

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
I love macaroons. It is my favorite cookie and I have yet to have made a decent one. So I am at the mercy of local bakeries when the craving strikes.

To me the ideal macaroon has a delicate golden crust on the outside and a moist chewy center. The addition of coconut is an abomination, but the marriage of chocolate and almonds is a wonderful thing. I love having a mixed assortment of chocolate and plain macaroons.

In high school I used to stop by a local bakeshop at least once a week and get a macaroon. They were large, about 2 ½ inches across and practically melted in your mouth. I didn’t realize until years later how fortunate I was having a local bakery that could produce such a good cookie. I can always spot a good one and I never hesitate to buy them when I find them.

Passover starts next Monday and I have been baking up all sorts of things to use up my flour before Monday (I hate tossing out foodstuffs). Meanwhile I have had a hankering for my beloved macaroons; it is one of the very few cookies that are kosher year round. They are made with eggs, almonds, sugar and NO flour. A delicacy that is perfect for Passover.

A few days ago I was bemoaning the lack of good bakeries and macaroons to Meryl. She pointed out that I could get some Manischewitz brand macaroons, but I told her they were completely unacceptable. They are small, hard and dry, not at all what I would view as a treat. Yesterday I decided to do something about it. I would find an acceptable macaroon in the Richmond metro area. I was going to use my precious child free time to hit as many small bakeries as I could before I had to pick up Max and Rebecca from preschool. The macaroons wouldn’t be kosher for Passover, but at least I would find a local source.

The first one was a bust, they only had coconut macaroons. The second one, Jean Jacque’s, had a delicious version; however the top was studded with almond slivers. I like my macaroons unadorned. They also had a chocolate filled and dipped version, but alas they were not available that day. The third bake shop was where I struck gold. The Westhampton Pastry Shop has a delectable and tiny little macaroon. They are about the size of a vanilla wafer and are full of almond chewy goodness. I got half a pound and I don’t think they will be around much longer. Last night I remembered a little container of chocolate frosting I had tucked away in the fridge. I spread a little bit on a cookie and found heaven. The pastry shop also makes their own donuts and those are a good find too. I think Ill be stopping by again after Passover. I have found my bakery.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday Three: My Home Town

This week it is all about our home towns. What can you tell the axis of weevil about your roots, or lack of.

“Whhhhhhy, back in MY day…”

Good morning all, it’s time for you to clamber into the Wayback Machine and participate in this week’s “The More Things Change” Edition of the Axis of Weevil Thursday Three!

Our inquiries this week were supplied by our favorite college professor and small-engine repairman, who claims he was inspired by my recent jaunt through the freshly-constructed suburbs south of town--suburbs that in my youth were full of free-roaming wooly mammoths and cave-dwellers. At least in the perception of my youngest child.

Anyway, as is the usual case, all of you are free to play along by either leaving your answers in the comments below or a link to your very own blog.

And away we go--

1. Do you still live in the town where you grew up? If not, what do you miss the most? If so, what has changed the most?

2. Does your family still own the house you grew up in? Either way, what was it like the last time you saw it?

3. What is the biggest change in the last 5 years where you live now?

Okay, now that Sherman has closed us in and set the dial, my answers look like this—

Hey! Mr. Peabody is a favorite of mine and, ironically Peabody is a family name and I’ll touch upon that in a moment.

1)No, I do not live in either of the towns I grew up in. I was born in a small town in Litchfield Connecticut. There we lived on a dirt road surrounded by cow fields. Then, sadly, my father passed away in the summer of ’76 and we moved to Norwich, Vt. I consider Norwich to be more of my home town simply because I have more memories of growing up in Vermont than of Connecticut.

What I miss the most of my home town is winter and my mother. Norwich really hasn’t changed much. The elementary school has been renovated and expanded, but the overall flavor remains same. Dan & Whits is remains the hub of town and you can still make local calls for free from the store’s phone. As for New Milford, it has changed, but not a whole lot. Several years ago I took Larry back there and I was shocked that I could still find my way around. It had been 20 years and I had never driven there (I was only 10 and half when we moved), but it all came back. The town looked pretty much the same except my elementary school was gone.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

2) My family does not own any of the houses that I grew up in, but... two of the houses my mother grew up in are still in the family. One is called the Big House or Burnside and here is a picture of it with my family. The people are from left to right: Daphne, Aunt Liz, Babette, Peter, Eliza, My Mother, My brother, Me with Max, Larry with Rebecca and Jake and Nate in front of Larry and me. Aunt Liz is my mother’s sister-in-law and she is the mother of Peter. Peter and Babette live in the house now and have three children: Peter (not pictured), Daphne and Eliza. We used to go there every summer and play on the beach. The house itself has remained pretty much the same, only having some minor remodeling and modernization. Oh and some Peabodys have lived in this house.

As for the houses I grew up in, it is a mixed story. The house in Connecticut is very different. Housing developments had sprung up in some of the surrounding cow fields and most of the plantings around the house had been replaced. I was particularly saddened by the removal of the gigantic forsythia that had flanked the entrance to the driveway. They were so large that my brother and I could actually climb about inside them. They made excellent forts. The house looked nice, but it was not the same.

The Vermont house, it has changed a little bit, but it is still recognizable. The biggest change is the new driveway running by it to the back field. The people who bought the house from my mother divided the land and a house was built in the back field, but the overall character of the house remains the same.

3) I now live in one of the fastest growing counties in Virginia. A new subdivision has been put in on the road leading to my subdivision. A Food Lion along with a couple of strip malls has been built nearby. And, finally, an extension was added to the local highway that makes it possible to go to the far west side of Richmond in no time flat. As a result of all this growth the schools are bursting at the seams and the local school board is in denial.

So yes, there has been a lot of change in my life.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Artist of the week: Drawing

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This week’s artist is Rebecca.

I’m astounded by how much here art changes from week to week. Just a few days ago she decided to make a dragon with a soccer ball, which was in no small part inspired by the logo I just made for Jake’s soccer team. It is also strongly derivative of Homestar’s very own Trogdor. (What can I say, I love Trogdor and I had a lot of fun sharing it with the kids.)

Anyway she came home from preschool with a very charming picture. It features a man with his two dogs, his house, his garden and a bird flying overhead on a cloudy day. The man is holding an orange and the little yellow thing above the house is a bee.

I love Rebecca’s use of color in the picture. She fills the page with her vision and is not afraid to run a bit off the edges. My little girl is bold in life and in her art.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Kind of Sports Car are You?

All the worm racing excitment made me wonder what kind of sports car am I.

It turns out that...

I'm a Ford Mustang!

You're an American classic -- fast, strong, and bold. You're not snobby or pretentious, but you have what it takes to give anyone a run for their money.

"Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Which is ironic since we currently have two Fords parked in the garage. My only quible is that I like the T-Bird more than the Rustang, too bad the retro-bird was discontinued.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Day at the Races

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
This morning the boys and I noticed at the bus stop two worms were on the road. They were roughly parallel to each other and both were frantically moving towards the edge and the safety it represented. At first the longer of the two surged ahead and we were all confident to would reach the grass first. But inexplicably, with less than a ¼ inch to go, it made a hard left and moved along the edge of the road. Meanwhile shorty plugged along.

When the bus arrived shorty was less than an inch away from the grass. The big guy was still moving along and started to veer back towards the middle of the road. As the boys boarded the bus I promised to stay until one of the two worms finished the race. Half a minute later shorty won and promptly buried itself in the scrubby grass. With a small stick I moved big guy, who had easily traveled three times farther than shorty, over to the relative safety of our neighbor’s lawn.

I went home and promptly forgot about the worms. That is until the boys got home.

The first thing Jake and Nate asked when they saw me was “Who won?!”

They both cheered with the result and then set off on a related project, worm racing.

Nate made a lovely sign featuring a race worm, complete with helmet. While Jake created a sign-up sheet and thoughtfully provided for two divisions, privately owned worms and rented worms.

My intrepid worm tycoons then trooped outside. The first order of business was to get worms. They briefly consulted with me about where to get worms and I pointed them to the woods. Jake, Nate and Rebecca heeded my advice and easily found their racing stock (Max opted out, worms and digging had no appeal to him). They named their favorites and put at least one into the rental worm container. Then it was off to the races.

The racing complex was situated under the hammock. It is a nice bare area with hard packed dirt and plenty of sticks. The tracks were composed of two rings and several straight line courses.

In the rings one worm would be placed in the center of each ring and the winner would be the first worm to reach the edge of the ring. I’m not sure what happened in the straight line course since Rebecca had the only worm on that course.

I guess I could have rented a worm and provided her a little competition, but the lone rental was given to Rebecca. Her original worm disappeared and the boys generously donated the rental to her. They are such nice boys and very good big brothers.

They afternoon races were not nearly as exciting. I think the worms needed a little warming up after being dug out of the cold ground. But, a fun time was had by all.

Slow Drains

I have noticed that the right hand drain in my double kitchen sink has been a bit slow lately. The left one is fine, which led me to believe that the u-bend was clogged. Tonight the drain became downright balky which created a great deal of concern on my part. Namely the dishwasher drains into the right sink’s drain, just above the suspect u-bend.

I stood there watching the sink not-really-drain as my dishwasher merrily churned away. It would gurgle and blurp, but that was about it. I even tried my tried and true baking soda and vinegar trick. There was some nice fizzing, but no progress. So off went the dishwasher. This resulted in it draining up into the sink. Now I have a sink full of dirty dish water that was oh so slowly draining away.

Dang, it’s clogged and I need to do something about it.

As I patiently let the sink empty, I cleared the cabinet below and positioned a bucket under the offending u-bend. Then I gritted my teeth, unscrewed the pipe and found...

rice, a strand of spaghetti, two Popsicle sticks and more rice.

All of it was in good condition and not too stinky (yay!). The rice was from tonight and the spaghetti was yesterday. My best guess was the Popsicle sticks were trapping things just enough to slow things down until today when the rice clogged it. I have no idea how the sticks got down there. Well I know a small person did it; I just can’t believe that they were able to stuff it down through the trappy thing in the drain.

Of course this drama cause the overflow valve to trip in the dishwasher and it took me a good hour and a half to figure out why the washer wasn’t filling. Luckily I remembered about the valve thing before I ended up hand washing the dishes.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Today we dined alfresco. Spring is here and with it comes that short period of time when it is pleasant to eat outside. The humidity hasn’t started up, the pollen counts are low and the bugs are not yet in full force.

Max was a bit leery at first, he is a little bug phobic and he spotted a yellow jacket over by the hammock today. But, I pointed out that there weren’t any up on the deck. After a bit of grumbling he got over it. I think it was when he said he was eating inside and I told him that he would be by himself. His drop dropped and he then decided that a table for one inside wasn’t so appealing.

It was lovely tonight only a few gnats were about. At one point Nate started to wave his hand and started to say “It’s nice out, but...” and then I cut him off. I didn’t want him to bring up the bugs. I knew it would spook Max and I didn’t want him to bolt inside with his dinner half eaten. I told Nate that Max had a problem with what he was about to mention. Nate quickly understood and changed the subject. Meanwhile Jake was dying to know what it was all about. For once I was able to stop his relentless “what” by telling him I would explain all after diner. When Max went inside for a moment I brought Jake up to speed and all was right in the world.

There won’t be many more nights like this. My nose is telling me that the pollen is coming and so are the bugs.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday Three: STAT

Today Terry wants answers and he wants them NOW!

Down and Dirty Thursday Three

Okay, no time for long-windedness and literary flourishes--answer these questions, NOW!:

1. What are you supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW? (Aside from answering these questions, of course.)

2. How long is it going to take you?

3. What do you have to do after that?

GO! RUN! Get your keyboard and leave a comment or a link to your blog.

Run? Why should I run when I’m already here?

1) Right now I should be calling up various dachshund club members and remind them that they should all play nicely together. That is, stop spreading rumors and innuendo. This is just one of the many fun jobs I got when I was elected president, because I have the best social skills of the lot, which frightens me to no end.

2) The two calls shouldn’t take very long. The chattier of the two should take about 20 minutes and the other about 10. The trick is getting a hold of everybody. Hopefully I’ll get it done before the boys come home from school.

3) At 1:00 pm I have to pick up Max and Rebecca from preschool and at some point I need to talk to the middle school guidance consular about Jake’s elective next year. Jake was a bit fuzzy on which one to choose so I offered to make a call and get more details. He is deciding between band, which lasts for the whole year and Explorations 6, which changes every 9 weeks. He couldn’t remember all of the different offerings that E6 rotated between.

Ah, the excitement of the stay at home mom with four kids that is also involved in the not so high stakes world of pure bred dogs. Some days both groups could use a long time out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Artist of the Week: Extreme Digging

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
John has been featured before for his digging prowess, but last week he really outdid himself.

He was, thankfully, out in woods when he was possessed by an extreme urge to dig. I noticed it early afternoon and thought nothing of it. A few hours later, when the boys came home from school, he was still at it. We were all astounded by the hole he was digging.

As you can see here his forequarters are completely encompassed by the hole, leaving only his hind end hanging out. The hole itself about 13 inches deep. According to this site, if he were to keep on digging he would end up in the Indian Ocean, off the western coast of Australia.

While he was digging I also shot some video footage of him in action. During the first third of the film I’m on the phone with a friend and that is who I’m talking to.

This was just too funny not to share.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Liquid Gold

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Today I got my latest shipment of maple syrup, fresh from the sugaring house.

The boys were delighted when they found the package in the mailbox.

I admit it; I am a maple syrup snob. I get mine directly from a small sugar house in Vermont. As is true with most producers of Vermont’s most renowned product, sugaring is just a sideline. Right now he is in the midst of sugaring season, but the rest of the year he is just Wayne the builder. I got his name from my mother under recommendation from a friend of hers.

I love calling them up and ordering my customary half gallon; we chat for a bit, I place my order and 4 days later the syrup appears at my door. I don’t even get billed until after I receive the stuff and it is a far better value than what I can get locally in the supermarket. Even with the added expense of shipping.

I myself don’t use it very often, but I do appreciate the difference. I have bought generic “Vermont Maple syrup,” but I’ll never get the fake stuff.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lumpy Old Dog

Crunch has become a lumpy old dog. Most of them are lipomas (fatty tumors), but one on his chest bothered me. So on Thursday I took him to the vet to get it checked out.

Crunch is always a big hit at the clinic. He is a friendly dog that is happy to be there with a tail that doesn’t stop wagging. He whines in the waiting room, eager to go in back and visit his friends. The techs fuss over him and always compliment me on his fit and trim physique. I take pride in the fact that I haven’t gotten the fat dog speech.

The vet checked him and promptly found a lump that he didn’t like one bit. It wasn’t the lump I found, but next to it- in his armpit (front legpit, whatever you call a dog’s armpit). After lots of squeezing and messing about with the lump we decided that it needed to come out. The vet gave Crunch’s heart a good listen and declared him fit for surgery. The only tricky part was the pre-anesthetic blood draw. It took three tries on Crunch’s short boney legs until the vet was able to get a good draw. All that was left to do was for me to pick when and I decided the next day, Friday.

Friday morning I dropped him off, went home and waited.

Four hours later the clinic called. Mr. Crunch was fine and in recovery. The lump in question was indeed a lipoma as well as the neighboring one (the one I found). Both lumps were removed and I should give a call around 3:00 to see how he’s doing.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

At 4:30 Crunch was still out of it and was deemed not fit to go home. I did press them and they were willing to release him. But, I then realized I had John at home, an amped up three year old that has been denied his wrestling partner. Maybe having an unsteady dog with fresh stitches brought into the house wasn’t such a good idea. So Crunch got to spend a quiet night at the clinic.

Saturday morning Crunch came home, hale and hearty. He hasn’t missed a beat since. I’m just happy to have my healthy old boy back.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Back Home

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
Today I got the phone call I had been waiting for, Rally's remains were ready for me to pick up.

I drove over with Max and Rebecca, they didn't quite understand what I was doing, but we all agreed that we missed Rally and that she was a very good dog.

She was also a very cute puppy and

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.
she grew into a lovely dog.

The litttle hand you see in the picture is Jake's when he was about 5 months old. He loved touching his doggies and she was very patient, to a point. Fortunately when he got to be a bit too much she would have enough sense to just walk away.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rally also was very good at finding the best seat in the house. In the third photo, not only is she on the couch, but she is happily nestled with Jake's boppy. She looks so relaxed and comfortable.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Rally was a very good dog. She adapted to having children in the household after four years of just Crunch and herself being the focus of Larry's and mine attention. She was always gentle and I could completely trust her around the kids. Strange children would overwhelm her, but not her kids.

I'm glad that she is back home where she belongs.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thursday Three: Where Do You Go?

This week the Thursday Three hits the road.


Once more the calendar grinds around to Thursday, and once more we slather upon the viewing public yet another Axis of Weevil Thursday Three! Today we’re going to talk about hometown landmarks, so all of you get your pencils ready and answer the following three questions:

1) If you only had one hour to show a visitor something interesting in your hometown, where would you go?

2) If you then had to find that friend a great place for a quick bite to eat, where would you go?

3) Now that you’ve entertained and fed your friend, it’s time to send him on his way. You’re not sure which way he’s going, but he’s got a fast red convertible, and you want him to see something nice as he drives. What route from your home to someplace else, either to the north, south, east, or west would you recommend to him as the most scenic drive?

Man, I wish I was the friend in this story! ANYway, go and answer those and either leave a link to your blog in the comments below, or the actual answer itself.

Well we do have friends coming to visit in May, but they’ll be able to stay a bit longer than the above friend.

1) I’m torn on what to show a visitor to the area. On one hand we could go to Maymont, which has glorious views of the James River and something for everyone. For families there is a Nature Center, Children’s Farm and Wildlife Exhibits. For the horticulturally minded there are some exquisite gardens around the mansion. Then there is the house itself which according to the website “Among historic house museums, Maymont House is rare in that no intervening families or adaptive conversions separate us from the original owner’s 32-year occupancy.” I haven’t been inside the house yet, but it is on my list of things to do.

Then there is Hollywood Cemetery. It too is located along the James River and is a one of the most unique tourist attractions I have ever been too. It is the final resting place to two U.S. presidents (Monroe and Tyler), the only President of the Confederacy (Jefferson Davis) and... well the list goes on and on. It is also home to a ninety foot dry stone pyramid that was erected in honor of the Confederate dead. It is a beutiful place to visit and is open to the public and free of charge.

2)I’m going to have to go with Brock’s BBQ since I just went there with Meryl for IEATAPETA. The buffet is a good value at $6.95 and the wait staff is terrific. They have terrific fried chicken, pulled BBQ and we love the hush puppies. Dessert, of course, will be at my house.

3)For scenic drives I’d send my friend done Virginia route 5 to Williamsburg. It is a lovely winding road that features five plantations and is a far nicer drive than Interstate 64. This past fall I drove on it to go to a dog show and I got to see a fox hunt just before they let loose the hounds. It was a beautiful sight on a crisp autumn day.

So come on over to the Richmond area and you’ll have a good time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Artist of the Week: Pencil

This week it’s all about me. I’m the artist of the week.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This picture was taken back in November, during Nate’s birthday party. It is one of the few pictures we have of me. I’m not particularly camera shy, it’s because I take the bulk of our pictures.

Anyway Larry asked me to create a logo for Jake’s soccer team. The team name is The Dragons and he wanted something with a dragon and a soccer ball. My first try was alright, but a bit too cute, it was of a dragon curled around the ball. Larry wanted something fiercer, maybe swooping towards the ball and breathing fire.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

This is what he got. The kids watched as I drew it and were very impressed. It inspired a whole slew of dragon and/or dinosaur pictures.

I like drawing in pencil the feel of the lead against the page just seems right. My drawings tend toward very simple line drawings. I generally don’t go for heavy shading and fine details. I’m quite pleased with how this came out. I’ll admit that I did cheat on the ball; I found a picture of one and traced it, I can never get the pattern quite right on my own. But the rest of the drawing is all mine.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hey! That’s My Car!

Jordana posted a very funny clip that hits a little too close to home.

Let’s take a tour of my ride and see how it stacks up.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The outside is not too bad, but if you click through the picture you get to see all the little notes I’ve added. You will also see that it is the first of a whole set of pictures about my car. Each picture has its own story to tell and it really is best to see the set with their notes, but I will post here the piece de resistance: the front passenger seat.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Every time I pick up Meryl there is a frantic scramble as I clear out a place for her to sit. Even the cup holders are jammed with stuff, a mixture of batteries, change and the remains of a chewed up dog collar.

Overall it’s no too bad. At least I don’t have too much old food decorating the interior, but that’s what dogs are for. Milk has been banned from the car, except for when we do drive through. Then it is promptly removed at the end of our trip. I figured that out a long time ago. It’s a car, not a science experiment. The rest of the time the kids have to content themselves with water, juice pouches and Gatorade. However I do have a number of odd things I haul about, namely Jake’s rocks. He is always picking up rocks and bringing them into the car. I can hear them rolling about the interior when I get a bit too aggressive in my driving.

As soccer and baseball season ramps up a couple of folding chairs will take up residence in the rear of the van along with a couple of bats and balls and “my ride” will be complete.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I Want My 15 Minutes Back

This morning I got treated to an over the top tantrum over... bagels.

After Hebrew school Larry stops at a halfway decent bagel shop and picks up a baker’s dozen to bring home. Jake and Nate love picking out the bagels and each gets to nosh on one during the ride back home.

A dozen bagels doesn’t last very long in our house, all of the male members in this household love bagels. Even John snagged half of one and then tried to get the rest after I wrested his prize away.

This morning Jake decided to have one for breakfast, there was only two and half left: one sesame seed, one poppy seed and half a plain. Nate longingly looked on as Jake fished out the sesame and began slathering on the cream cheese. Then the sniping began.

Nate wanted a bagel, but Jake decided that the one left in the bag was his too, even though he had another in his hand.

I told Nate he could have the poppy seed one for breakfast at which point Jake howled.

“I was saving that!”

“You already had three, I only got two!” was Nate’s rejoinder.

“But I was looking forward to having the poppy seed; I was saving it for last.”

I then offered to cut the poppy seed one in half, Nate would get that with the plain half that was left in the bag and Jake would get the other half of the poppy.

“No!!!!!!! That’s not fair!!!!!”

And so the tantrum began.

After about fifteen minutes of some very loud and tearful drama from my eldest I noticed that it was time to leave for the bus and hustled the boys out under much protest from Jake. I only got him to leave after I asked him if he wanted me to tell the school he was late because he had a tantrum over bagels and missed the bus.

Nate was just able to finish his half of the poppy seed bagel and Jake’s sesame laid uneaten on the counter.

If this is what I have to endure with bagels, I don’t want then in my home any more and I want my 15 minutes back.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blackwell Jacks

Jake had a project at school that involved designing a cereal box based on a historical figure. He chose Elizabeth Blackwell who among other things was the first woman to receive a medical degree from an American medical school. On the box Jake wrote a short blurb on Dr. Blackwell, nutritional information and a whole mess of jokes and fun activities.

I had never heard of Dr. Blackwell so I ended up learning something, much to Jake’s delight. Here is what the box looks like. I did it as a composite picture of all four sides.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

But that is not all. For extra credit he could make a commercial for his cereal. So guess what we did this weekend.

Jake wrote the script, did a short voice over and was the “attacker.” Nate got to be the innocent victim. I shot and edited the video and did a brief narration. And Rebecca got to do a brief cameo as “the jackal.” The whole thing is pretty cute. I hope his teacher likes it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

What to do with Little Miss Rebecca

Soccer and baseball has started. Jake is continuing on with soccer and has already had two practices. Nate is playing baseball and he too has had two practices. Max will have his first t-ball practice tomorrow. With three boys in three different leagues this spring will be a busy one.

But what about Rebecca, what will she be doing?

Last week she said soccer, but the registration period had already closed and short of my volunteering to coach I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Then she mentioned Karate. This would be very doable since there is a fairly good place not far from our house. Rebecca and I went and watched the 4-5 year old class last Friday night. At first she didn’t want to enter, but soon she was entranced. I even caught her a few times trying to imitate a few of the moves. But it all came apart when the instructor running the desk called us over. Rebecca sat in the chair sullen and unresponsive. All she wanted to do was go home. She would then twist around and watch the class. At that point her face would light up as she watched the other kids. It was so very frustrating for me as a parent. On one hand I had a child that loved watching, but she would become impossible and would refused point blank if asked if she wanted to join. She is very much like her oldest brother in that respect. He never wants to try new things and always has to be forced under great protest to only have a wonderful time in the end.

So now what will she do?

She loves dancing, so I think we will check out some ballet classes. I had a fabulous instructor when I was very young. I had horribly turned in feet when I was little. At that time most doctors would have had me fitted with braces and such, but ours was an enlightened fellow and he recommended ballet to stretch out my muscles and straighten my feet. And it worked. I loved it at the time and I’m not sure why I quit, it may have been the siren call of riding lessons, I’m not sure. Any way I think my daughter would enjoy learning how to dance. The hard part will be finding a place that is not too militant and doesn’t go for some of the huge overdone recitals that seem to be in vogue now. I think one costume is enough.

Maybe we could both learn to flamenco, The Manolo has this wonderful clip up on his site, enjoy.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thursday Three: In Bed

This week the Axis of Weevil refuses to get out of bed and wants to have a little pillow talk.

To sleep, perchance to answer a blog quiz...

That's right, fans, it's Thursday, and that can only mean one of several million things, but in this particular case we're talkin' The Axis of Weevil Thursday Three, America's Most Restful Diversion!

As you recall from last week, if you recall, I thought I might still be a ward of the courts and so the call went out for hosting volunteers. I received no one willing to demean themselves quite THAT far, but one intrepid soul did send along a nice set of questions that we'll get to in just a moment.

As always, we invite you to play along by either answering the questions in the comment section below or by leaving a link to your own blog. Anyone can play, assuming you can read and write in English, or failing that, Alabamanese.

SO THEN, on with the show--

In honor of losing an hour of sleep this weekend, I [meaning Jim] propose The Wonderful Night's Sleep Thursday Three:

1. Do you sleep on a feather pillow or foam?

2. Do you like a firm or soft mattress—or other if you're an old hippie?

3. Do you keep it cold and sleep under lots of cover, or hot and only a sheet?

There you go now--slip on your flannel jammies or that naughty scrap of silk that I like so much and go figure your responses.

Hmm, the bed. Since it seems to be my turn to get what plague currently ails the family and all I want to do is to curl up in bed, this is a very appropriate set of questions.

1) Neither, we have hyper-allergenic fiber filled pillows. I can’t sleep on the down filled ones and I can’t stand the foam. We have four pillows on our bed, two soft and two firm. The firm ones provide a nice base and the soft ones are nice to bury your head in or under. They need replacing, but I hate shopping for pillows. It’s hard to get a good feel for a pillow if you can’t properly lie down and test it out.

2) I like a fairly firm mattress, but I think my husband would like it a wee bit softer. I can’t stand super soft mattresses, I feel like I’m getting sucked down into its maw. Sofa beds are right out. I have yet to have slept in a good one. When we were up in Long Island for the Bar Mitzvah, two of the kids got stuck on the fold out.

3) Because of the odd design of our house the master bedroom is much colder than the rest of the house. It is a combination of being at the end of the heating duct, the room being over the unheated garage and having windows on three sides of the room. The room has lots of natural light and isolated from the din generated by the kids, but it is downright chilly. I could crank up the heat, but it would make the rest of the second floor intolerable and I’m too cheap to do that. Then again I like sleeping in a warm bed in a cool room. I bury myself under the sheets with a blanket, a quilt and a comforter piled on top. I’ll stick out a foot for thermal regulation.

Now I have to go pick up the dynamic duo from preschool and try to convince them that letting mommy nap is a fun game.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Artist of the Week: Photography

This week’s artist is Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

I took this picture of him in January, can’t you tell? Today was colder than that particular week in January. And it was also colder when he took this photograph in February.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

If you click through the photo it will direct you to the whole set.

He was out by our stream when he noticed the ice crystals in the mud. He ran back to the house to tell me and I sent him out with my camera with the firm admonishment to keep the wrist strap on his wrist. At age ten, I feel that he is responsible enough to take care of my camera without direct supervision.

His first set of pictures did not turn out particularly well. He was frustrated by how blurry they were, he wanted close up pictures with fine details. When he came inside and told me of his disappointment I then showed him the macro feature of the camera and told him this was the ideal situation for it. He dashed back outside and was able get some lovely shots.

He was struck by the beauty of the ice crystals emerging from the mud. He thinks that the area froze and as the ground thawed some of the mud washed away exposing the miniature pillars of ice thrusting up out of the muck. I completely agree with him and I think he has a very good eye.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Today I got to be a hall monitor while Jake’s grade was taking the written portion of the Virginia Standards of Learning aka the VA SOLs. I can’t help but giggle every time I hear or read about Virginia’s SOLs. It’s an absurd acronym and whoever named the tests was definitely not thinking it through.

I got to spend two hours in one of the fifth grade hallways reading my book, “Harpo Speaks!”, which is on loan from Meryl. The book had split in two and only recently had I found the first half. I was really frustrated when it was gone since I was only 10 pages in when it disappeared. Now it is firmly taped back together. Anyway, I digress.

My duties consisted reminding people to keep the noise down and escorting children to the bathroom. Only one child at time was allowed in the bathroom so as to prevent them from chatting about the test in progress.

On the whole it was pretty boring trotting children back and forth, but I did notice one thing. Far more boys needed to go than girls. I think it was because the boys were less inclined to go ahead of time. Meryl thought that maybe the boys were more motivated to try to escape from the test. There was one very classic moment when the other monitor leaned towards the entrance to the bathroom (There is no door, just a short hallway with wall acting as a baffle) and told a boy “Hurry up, other boys needed to go.” A very audible and surprised sounding “Oh!” was uttered and then the child in question re-emerged.

I was glad I could help the school out and Jake was very pleased to see me, but they have got to change the name of the SOLs.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Letting Go

Yesterday in honor of Purim we made hamantashen. I have a hard time letting the kids help me bake. Oh I’m happy to let them add ingredients and stir, but with the actual finishing touches I’m loath to let them loose. It is important to me that the food looks right as well as be delicious. Presentation is important; food should be a feast for the eyes, nose and mouth.

Yesterday I actually let go for a little bit.

At first only Rebecca was interested. She help mixed the ingredients and carefully supervised all additions to the dough. After the dough was properly chilled I rolled out a portion and proceeded to cut out a few circles. Rebecca was intrigued by the chocolate filling and I let her put a few dollops on the circles of cookie dough. She did a decent job at first, and then she got a little over exuberant and started overloading the cookies. After scraping up a bit of the excess filling I suggested that maybe I should take over. At this point she had her fill and happily relinquished the spoon.

Then Jake asked to help out. I was rolling out the dough at the time and decided he could cut out the cookies.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It is just the kind of job he likes. The plastic goblet I use as a circular cookie cutter fit well in his hand and he enjoyed puzzling out how many he could cut out each time.

Meanwhile Nate wanted to help too. So I took a deep breath and let him fold the cookies.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

He a made a few squishy ones, and some had their filling squirt out, but he did listen and learn.

Max and Rebecca were fascinated and were eagerly anticipating the finished treats.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

And this is how they turned out.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

They look good and taste marvelous. Next time they’ll be even better.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Last night we headed over to Temple for Purim. I love the whole atmosphere; for once my children can be noisy, in fact they are even encouraged. It was a small crowd this year, but a very warm one. The Rabbi was in rare form and it was one of the funniest Megillah readings I’ve ever heard.

As usual the kids all dressed up. Nate had baseball practice (which actually occurred as opposed to last year) and stuck with his baseball uniform.

Once again Rebecca was royalty. She portrayed Queen Esther and got to wear her Cinderella dress with matching shoes, scepter and crown.

Jake, on the other hand, was truly inspired this year. He decided he was going to be Darth Haman, all he needed was a tricorne hat. We headed out Saturday afternoon to pick one up at our local party supply store. I figured with the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean I should be able to find a pirate hat. Sadly they were out of the fancy version, but they did have a cheap plastic one for children. I peeled off the skull and crossbones sticker and he was good to go. He wore the hat with his Darth Vader costume sans mask and the final result was quite good.

Darth Haman & Queen Esther
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

In this picture Queen Esther looks a bit distressed being near the combined evilness of Haman and Darth Vader.

While we were at the party store Max admired a crown in the Mardi Gras section and decided he would be the king. Of course nothing is simple with Max and he had to refuse at least one part of his costume. He happily wore his crown, dress shirt and pants, but he balked at the cape.

The King & Darth Haman
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

And as usual, halfway through the evening he changed his mind.

The King
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

Of course the service wouldn’t be complete without graggers.

King & Queen
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

The dynamic duo carefully selected their weapons and proceeded to have a gragger battle.

Gragger battle
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar.

It’s a good thing they are so cute.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pyramid Concert

Last night we attended a pyramid concert that included the entire fifth grade of our elementary school and several “show choruses” within our school system.

I think all the kids did a nice job. The quality was better with the older students, but Jake’s grade preformed well. Below is a one of the songs performed by the fifth grade.

All totaled they did three songs as an individual chorus and returned to the stage for the finale that included all of the groups singing together. If you are interested in seeing more, just click here and it will direct you to my videos.

Now for my rant.

I’ve had issues with this whole concert thing from the get go.

1) The music teacher stated that there was mandatory attendance for both concerts. She felt that since she had scheduled the dates months in advance there is no excuse for missing either or both concerts. Well guess what, the first one coincided with my monthly dog club meeting that I’m obligated to attend since I’m the president and with Larry’s economic conference in Chicago. Luckily I was able to get Meryl to take Jake. I could have dumped him with another family, but I had no idea when I’d be getting home. It was bad enough that I was keeping my brood up on a school night, I didn’t want to ruin another family’s bedtime.

2) Not until the day of the first concert did we find out when she wanted the kids to arrive at the venue. As an added bonus we found out it some sort of fund raiser for the music department/choruses and that admission would be charged. One complimentary ticket per student, the rest $5 a head (5 and under free).

3) Personal video recording was not allowed at the first concert. A professional was engaged to film the concert and if we chose we could buy a copy with $5 of each sale going towards the music department. I think it was $15 a pop, but I’m not sure. I was offended and tossed the flyer.

4) For the second concert we received the notice on when she wanted the kids the day before the concert. It was a slight improvement, but not by much and it was negated by the dearth of information. There was neither mention of an admission fee nor any sort of complimentary pass. Since no mention was made about taping I decided that I could and so I did.

5) Turns out the second one was $4 a head (5 and under still free). I only had a dollar on me and I had to wait until Larry showed up (he was coming straight from work). I generally don’t carry cash and the only reason I had was that was I had bought some potatoes earlier that day (Larry observed the potatoes was a better purchase than the tickets). I know I was not the only parent in this situation.

6) Both concerts were scheduled at 7:00 pm on a school night, Tuesday and Thursday to be precise. I found it telling that Jake thought this was odd. Both times the concerts went well past nine. That’s fine for the older kids, not so much for the fifth graders and their younger siblings. At 7:45 pm Max started to break down as his 8:00 bedtime approached. He whined and mumbled that it was lame and a waste of his time. He wanted something to eat and to go to bed. On one hand I was mortified and on the other amused. Fortunately we had two cars and I sent Larry home with Max and Nate. Rebecca stayed because she enjoyed the singing and all the pretty dresses the girls were wearing.

I have a feeling that I’ll be writing a letter to the music teacher sometime next week. She needs to realize that sometimes parents have other obligations that can’t be changed and admission fees need to be mentioned from the beginning so it feels a little less like extortion. I would have felt a bit more charitable if I had known the whole fund raising aspect to it, but I still would not have bought the video.

Next time we’ll know better that to bring the whole family.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thursday Three: Australlian Version

Terry is very busy, or at least he *claims* he's busy and asks for help with this week's Thursday Three.
Deep South Version of the Thursday Three!

Many thanks to someone even MORE Southern than I am for stepping in today with a set of questions for the Thursday Three, the Favorite International Blog Question Thing! Many thanks this morning to Kitchen Hand (not his real name) who kindly volunteered to help out with the following questions. Remember, anyone is free to play along either by leaving your comments below or a link back to your own blog.

SO, here we go:

Thursday Three Questions:

1) Here, it is the first day of autumn - Wednesday 1st of March. However, in some parts of the world, the new seasons do not arrive until the 19th of the month, or later; due to large cattle breeds called solstices and equinoxes that issue huge amounts of methane, which increases global warming and makes the seasons run late. Question: what is your favourite season, and why?

2) When you started your weblog, did you deliberate over whether to choose a nom-de-blog or use your real identity? What swayed you either way?

3) Discussing religion, politics or sex has always been impolite at cocktail parties, because of the risk of embarrassing face-to-face arguments. However, this is not a cocktail party, but a blog. And since the whole point of a blog is to have robust discussions, make a comment on the first thing that comes to your mind about religion, politics or sex. Pour yourself a martini first, if it helps. Don't forget the olive.

I rather have a mudslide, but a good gin and tonic will do.

1) Well I love winter, but it is usually not up to snuff down here in ol' Virginny and especially this year. I want snow and lots of with beautiful bright clear days. So I have three to choose from. Summer is too hot, I love going to the beach, but I melt when the temperatures are greater than the mid-eighties. Spring is lovely with the mild temps, spring breezes and all the pretty flowers, but with the flowers comes pollen. Blech. This leaves autumn, clear days with a crispness to the air, the brilliant fall foliage and all the wonderful foods associated with that time of year. So hands down, fall wins.

2) I'm sort of the opposite of Terry. I try not to bandy my full name about and where I live, but my family all knows about and reads my blog. I have found it is a great way for friends and family to keep up on our doings. I know my mother (Hi Mom!) feels much more connected than before the blog. I try to be low key about my name because there are some real nuts out there.

3) I have the same view point on all three, you can believe, practice or do whatever you want as long as every one is a consenting adult. Just don't expect me or require me to do as exactly as you. It's all about respect.

So give me some pumpkin pie with a tall glass of cider and we'll all wave to my family as I hide behind my dark glasses, just don't bug me about what I am and what I do.