Sunday, September 30, 2007


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake is in Middle school and as a result he now has electives. Or rather, he has an elective class; sixth graders only get one elective. After quite a bit of thought and a phone call to the guidance consular he settled on band.

During the first class he was asked to list three instruments he would be interested in playing in order of preference. His selections were: trumpet, flute and clarinet. All three are nice to listen to and are reasonably sized. This is important since he has to schlep it to school on the bus and then tote it around throughout the day. Fortunately he has band only every other day.

After endless testing and what not, the band teacher awarded Jake the trumpet. He was very excited and we picked one out last weekend. He has been very good about caring for it (ooh, shiny!) and has been very cooperative about practicing every day. Admittedly it has only been 15 minutes each day and not the full thirty, but he is slowly building up. I'm shooting for 20/day this week. We'll see if it flies.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Something About a Man in Uniform

I went shopping yesterday with Nate, Maxand Rebecca in tow. The dynamic duo were birthday present shopping for their good friend Lydia and Nate was just tagging along. Lydia's party is tomorrow and I thought it would be a nice change to get the present before the big day.

As we walked into the store we got a very clear reminder that Halloween was coming up. I got the bright idea that we could also go costume shopping. The selection will only get worse as H-day draws near.
Rebecca wanted another princess dress, but I squashed that idea. She already has enough, I suggested that she could combine her Cinderella dress (which is a bit big) with her Raccoon costume and be Princess Raccoon. I thought it was a great idea, but it was greeted with a blank stare. She settled on a simply adorable winged dragon. Nate had a hard time choosing between various costumes, but in the end he seized upon a Boba Fett and is very happy.

Max was not too happy in the Halloween costume section. He doesn't like scary or gross things. In fact this aversion produced one of the funnest moments in the store. There was a particularly scary and gory death's head mask and robe in front of the costume display. Nate was intrigued by it, but was thwarted by Max. Standing next to the offending costume and in front of Nate, Max (loudly) announced that if his brother so much as touched that thing he would not go near Nate until his brother washed his hands.

Alrighty then, when Max turned away I hastily shoved the costume out of sight.

Sgt Max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So obviously Max's costume does not fall into the scary catagory. He choose to be a solider. I thought it looked ok and the size looked fine. We then moved over to the toy section and after a lot of hemming and hawing picked out gifts suitable for a six year old girl. During the ride home everybody was very pleased with their costumes, Rebecca even managed to wiggle into hers before buckling up for the ride home. Once home the boys tore into the house and got on their costumes. Nate looked great, but Max... he was so cute. There is something about a little boy all dressed up in a uniform.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Old Man

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Crunch's 15th birthday is this weekend and he is really starting to show his age now. He is very much an old dog.

He wanders around the house and barks, sometimes for little reason, or least for no reason I can figure out.

He doesn't really do the stairs from the deck to the backyard yard. Going down the three steps is just too tricky, he ends up doing a bit of a tumble with a face plant. Some days he can go up, but usually he gets stuck halfway up and barks for me to come fetch him.

He still wrestles with his son John, but it is no longer the no holds barred Greco-Roman form, it's mostly a bit of a chase and John flopping over and the two of them mouthing each other.

He is longer fit to show, not even in Juniors, but he'll get to tag along to next month's show for old times sake. It's painful for me to see his decline, but it's better than the alternative and having no Crunch at all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Artist of the Week: Cartography

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate is this week's artist.

I love this picture I took of him last month. He is perched on a rock on the bank of the Jame's River. He's all arms and legs with the added bonus of being precariously balanced on a rock. It is so very, very like him.

He is my little man of action and even when he is still, he is in some small way in motion. There is a reason that he has a shirt that says I do my own stunts.

Anyway, what is more befitting of such a restless spirit than a map.

A map can take you to new places and guide you back home when you are done. Or, as in this case, it is a map of your making, only limited by imagination.

Nate's Map
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate dragged home an enormous piece of paper this week from school, his assignment was to make a map. He immediately set to work with little urging on my part. Every one else was inspired and have been making maps along side Nate. The map is mostly done and is not due until Thursday. I'll have him fix a few spelling errors and add a compass rose. On Friday I just may drive him to school to protect the map from the rigors of the school bus.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You Want It Where?

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We have a fair number of Happy Meal toys littered about the house and car. Some are popular, some are lame and some are unintentionally funny.

The latest to our collection are from the Cartoon Network. The toys fare characters from various CN shows and are included with a small colored pencil. The first we one got was Lazlo from Camp Lazlo, which incidentally is my second most favorite show on CN, it's just beaten out by Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

Anyway, we got our little Lazlos and everyone was happy. They all liked their pencil toppers and I though nothing of the new addition to the flotsam in the van. Then I caught sight of the little pictograph/instruction sheet that comes with every Happy Meal toy.

insert pencil
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
According to the directions you must insert the pencil in the monkey's bottom. I know this makes me very juvenile, but I could not help giggling when I saw it. What makes it even better is the pose Lazlo was draw in after successful insertion. I think he looks a tad uncomfortable there with his wee little knees together and his popped eye expression.

Don't you agree?

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Wish I Could Be Mailed To Australia

Flat Stanley
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last week went to Nate's school for its open house. We got to meet his teacher, get a guided tour of the classroom with Nate and bring home Flat Stanley.

This is actually Nate's second Flat Stanley. Last year he sent one to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Stanley got to go to NYC, eat pizza and sleep in the guest bed. He even got see far more snow than we ever get down here in Central Virginia.

This time around Nate wanted to send Stanley even farther. He first thought of my brother in Colorado. I suggested my friend in Oregon, she is an Elementary school teacher and I know she would get a kick out of having Stanley around.

Then I remembered my friend Paul in Australia. He has a son, Ben, a little bit older than Jake and twin girls, Jessica and Kirrilly, that are right about Nate's age. I emailed Paul to ask if they could do it and he said they were up to the task. The best part is that their next school holiday will be the first two weeks of October. They will be able to give Stanley the grand tour.

So today I packed up Stanley with a few things for the kids and a couple of maps and brochures of the area. I thought it would be nice if they could see where Stanley came from. The whole mess fit into a flat rate envelope and get mailed today. To be on the safe side I scanned Stanley so not all would be lost if he didn't survive the US or the Australian post.

I can't wait to see what adventures he gets to have in the land down under.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

House Guest

at my soccer game
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This weekend Max got to bring home Ditto Dog from school.

It's a cute scruffy little black and white dog that came in its own little Dr. Seuss themed backpack. A note was included along with Ditto Dog asking us to take it along to wherever we go, maybe take a picture or two and write a note about its adventures. Then the whole shebang gets brought back to school on Monday.

Max had a great time taking Ditto Dog to soccer on Saturday. Ditto Dog sat on the sidelines with Max with its head just peeking out of the backpack. Then he got to watch two other soccer games before we all headed back home.

I offered to have Ditto Dog dine with the dogs using Rally's old bowl, but Max said that was silly and he was concerned that Crunch or John might eat the toy. Max took his responsibility of Ditto Dog very seriously. He has seen what our dogs can do to stuffed animals and it's not pretty.

Tonight I printed out a few pictures we took of ditto dog and asked Max which ones should he take to school when he returns Ditto Dog.

Return Ditto Dog?

Max was surprised and saddened at the prospect. He thought his teacher had given him Ditto Dog to keep.

Luckily he handled the news well and was able to come to terms with the upcoming separation from his new buddy. But that doesn't mean he can't hope to have Ditto Dog return. His big question before going up, "Do you think Ditto Dog might come back to our house?"

My reply was "I don't know Max, he has to visit everyone else first."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cheesecake Goodness

About three years ago I was poking around on the Hershey web site when I found an utterly fantastic recipe for a three layer cheesecake made with Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips. I printed it out, gave it a try and was impressed by the end result. It's a bit fussier to make than my regular cheesecake, but it is well worth the effort.

I've copied the recipe verbatim from the Hershey web site and have posted it below. Any modifications are marked by asterisks will be detailed below the recipe (you know I can't help but tweak anything I bake).

HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Layered Cheesecake

CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST (recipe follows)*
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY'S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips, divided**
1/2 teaspoon shortening(do not use butter, margarine, spreads or oil)

1. Prepare CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST. Heat oven to 350° F.

2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in eggs, heavy cream, vanilla and salt, beating until well blended.

3. Set aside 2 tablespoons chocolate chips. Place remaining chips in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH (100%) 1-1/2 minutes; stir. If necessary, microwave at HIGH an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted when stirred.

4. Gradually blend 1-1/2 cups cheesecake batter into melted chocolate. Remove 2 cups chocolate mixture; spread in bottom of prepared crust.

5. Blend additional 2 cups cheesecake batter into remaining chocolate mixture; spread 2 cups of this mixture over first layer in springform pan. Stir remaining cheesecake batter into remaining chocolate mixture; spread over second layer.

6. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven to wire rack. With knife, immediately loosen cake from side of pan. Cool to room temperature.

7. Place reserved chocolate chips and shortening in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at HIGH an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chocolate is melted and smooth when stirred. Drizzle over top of cheesecake. Cover; refrigerate several hours until cold. Cover; refrigerate leftover cheesecake. 10 to 12 servings.

CHOCOLATE CRUMB CRUST: Stir together 1-1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 45 wafers), 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa; stir in 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter or margarine. Press mixture onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up sides of 9-inch springform pan.

*I did not use the suggested crust, instead I went for my Oreo cookie crumb crust instead. I have the ingredients on hand and I think it makes a better crust:
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
¼ cup sugar (divided)
¼ cup melted butter

In an ungreased springform pan, combine the Oreo cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Once the mixture is blended press it down to line the bottom of the pan.

**This time around I could not find Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips so I substituted with Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. Bummer I was forced to upgrade the chocolate.

Again, it was divine. We had company over last Sunday and this was dessert. Everybody loved it. It is both visually appealing with the three layers and is simply delicious to eat. I had a small problem when drizzling the chocolate on top, a big glob of chocolate plopped onto the top of the cheesecake. So ended up pouring the rest on top and raking through the chocolate with a fork to make it look nice. Once it solidified it looked great.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lunch Date

Sir Max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today I swung by the school to pick up things and drop off things in Max's classroom. I arrived just before lunchtime so I decided to hang around a bit and join my two favorite kindergarteners for lunch. I didn't have anything to eat, but it wouldn't be a problem since I had just eaten breakfast and their lunchtime is very early, 10:45 am to be precise.

Max was absolutely delighted and couldn't keep his eyes off of me. He had a very hard time focusing on his teacher, but to his credit he was able to contain himself. I wasn't the only parent there for lunch and we had fun watching the teacher successfully corral the chaos of the classroom. The magic hour was finally reached and the class lined up to troop down to the lunchroom.

Once we were in the cafeteria, Max was sent to the nurse's office to get his digestive enzymes and I scanned the sea of bright chattering faces for the other half of the dynamic duo. I soon spotted Rebecca and had her move down to the guest table to lunch with her brother and me. She was too was very happy to see me at school.

Lunch was pleasant with my two little chatter bugs. Both were very generous and offered me parts of their lunches. Then a very funny thing happened as lunch was winding down. A parent stopped by our end of the table and asked Max if he recognized him. He did look familiar to me, but I struggled to remember who he was and in what context (soccer, baseball, where????). Then he dropped the bomb on Max, it turns out he is the kids' dentist.

Max immediately clammed up.

He can't stand anybody in a white lab coat and considering what he has been through, I don't blame him.

But Dr. B is a nice guy and was in his street clothes so Max quickly warmed up. in fact at one point he said "Max, i think this is the most talking you have ever done with me."

Then Dr. B's daughter showed up and it was time for the dynamic duo to rejoin their respective classrooms. We all had fun and maybe, just maybe, Max will be a little more cooperative when he next goes to the dentist.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Artist of the week: Ahoy! There be Cows!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In honor of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" I picked up four foam swords at our local Dollar Tree. The swords are a huge hit with my little buccaneers and so far no one has poked an eye out. They have all had a great time whapping each other about the head and staging battles. Any way this week's artist is the fair Miss Rebecca, a master of the crayon and the foam broadsword.

She drew this picture about a month ago and it got lost amongst the papers I have piled about by the computer. It is of two cows grazing in a field and thinking. They have green mouths because their mouths are full of grass. Originally that was the picture, the thought balloons were a later addition, as you can tell because they are drawn in ink and not in crayon.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As I recall the larger cow is thinking about mosquitoes and smaller cow is thinking about a monster or maybe it's a dragon. I'm not really sure. Either way it is a very charming picture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My Name in Books

Last week the Llama Butchers posted a fun little bit where you go over to Amazon, pull up advance book search and put your name in title field. Then check them out and post the best/amusing book cover.

Well first off Sarah is an very common name and got over 4,000 hits with a large portion from variations of Sarah Plain and Tall (until now I was unaware it had morphed into a series). The one I settled on was "Miss Sarah's Guide to Etiquette for Dogs & Their People."

I've got dogs and my biggest goal with them is make them creatures that you can live with and not be rambunctious little heathens that bark and bark and bark (unless you're a deer, than all bets are off) and hey, she's got my hair cut!

So give it a whirl and see what you get.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Doe, a Deer, a Female Deer

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Because we live in a very woodsy area with large undeveloped tracts nearby, we have a lot of deer. There are three does in particular that hang out around house.

Last Friday I had a close encounter with one of our resident does as I was pulling out of the garage. I had just gotten the car out and pointed towards the driveway when I spotted her lingering in the flowerbed alongside the driveway. I stopped the car and we both just looked at each other. I then remembered my camera, fished it out of its case and was just able to grab this shot as she strolled in front of my car.

She was completely relaxed in my presence and only left because I had rudely interrupted her activities.

John Deer
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today I let out John and a few minutes later he was barking his fool head off. When I took a look at what all the fuss was about I saw yet another of our deer on the edge of our lawn.

John is deeply offended by the deer and always loudly announces their presence on our property. He rushes forward barking until he gets about 4 feet from the deer and breaks off his attack. I think when he gets close up to the deer he suddenly realizes just how big they are. Meanwhile the deer graze on, completely ignoring the dog. They only leave when I show up and even then it's not a pell-mell race, but a slow melting into the woods.

Our deer have completely adapted to suburban life.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Seasonal Thoughts

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Summer is drawing to a close here in central Virginia. Oh I know we'll have a bit of hot weather at some point in the near future, but summer is over. Last night the temperature dropped down to the forties, but I've been seeing the signs all week.

A few days ago I was out on the deck enjoying the cooler weather when I saw a bit of color. I f you look closely at the picture you can see a spray of red leaves. Coupled with the lower temperatures my first thought was hello fall.

And I couldn't be happier. I love the crisp air and cool nights, the brightly colored leaves are just the cherry on top.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Days of Awwww

Rosh HaShanah marks the beginning of the High Holy Days or the Days of Awe. This year the first day of Rosh Hashanah was more like a Day of Awwww.

Thursday morning Larry and I went to services with just Jake in tow. We did not bring Max and Rebecca because they are too young and would have been bored silly. Also I knew that a certain member of our congregation, who does not little children that at not quietly seated, would be present. Short of duct taping the dynamic duo, I knew that even on their very best behavior we would get dirty looks from him. So basically they would have to spend the entire service in the playroom. It would be pointless to pull them from school. Nate was given the option, but with the admonishment that there would be no fighting, arguing, rolling about in the pews, roaming the aisles or going to the playroom. School struck Nate as a better of the two choices. Jake, being only two years away from his Bar Mitzvah, had no choice.

Jake was an utter angel. He paid attention, followed along in the prayer book and was very well behaved. He was so handsome in his plain white shirt and black cords, but that was not the cutest part.

After the Torah portions were read and both Torahs dressed, a little help was needed with the second Torah. Mike called up Jake to the bima and had Jake sit in one of the chairs. Then he proceeded to have Jake hold the Torah until it was time to return it to the ark. I was little concerned about Jake since this was the big Torah and it easily outweighed Jake. I leaned over to Larry and whispered “It’s going to squish Jake.”

But Mike was on the ball and had Jake scoot over a bit and had the Torah standing up on its handles next to Jake in the chair. He was so cute; he was dwarfed by the Torah. I wish I could have taken a picture. And there he sat with his arm encircling the Torah and very mindful of his responsibility. I was very proud of him.

After the Torahs were safely tucked away Jake was sent back down to us. Jake told us later that Mike said he was very helpful and would ask him again to do it next year. Jake was very excited over the prospect and understood what an honor it was.

That was my day of awww.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pachelbel Bedtime

A friend of ours sent us a link to this clip and it's completely dead on.

It's nice to know that we're not the only ones with sleepless children.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shana Tovah

According to the Jewish calendar today marks the beginning of a new year. So of course I've spent the whole day cooking, in fact it was a three load day for the dishwasher.

I made a round challah, tzimmes, and key lime pie among other things for dinner. And right now I putting on the finishing touches on a cheesecake for tomorrow.

So no artist of the week this week, but it will be back. The great onslaught of art from school has just begun.

I would like to wish all of you a sweet new year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering September 11th

Six years ago today I was still (barely) a mother to just two children. It was Jake's second week of kindergarten and Nate's first day of Preschool.

I had been looking forward to the little break I was getting with both kids being out of the house. I had no big plans, just wallowing about the house in my hugely pregnant state.

Just as I was driving home at around 9:00 am I turned on the radio and heard that an airplane had just plowed into one of the two towers.

I was stunned.

I couldn't imagine it, I kept thinking that it just could not be happening. It was a brilliant September day, planes only smack into buildings when it's foggy, like when a bomber got lost hit the Empire State.

I got home and turned on the TV and I learned the full horror of that day. When I heard the original flight plans of the planes my first thought was "They're loaded with fuel, those planes are bombs."

At some point I called my husband or he called me, I don't remember, and he told me that he was coming home. His office building at the time was a multi storied affair, on top of the hill and a government building. It was a ripe target. Since he wasn't a critical state employee, he was sent home. We spent the day glued to the set, only turning it off just before Jake came home from school (Nate was shortly picked up from preschool after the bus dropped Jake off). We decided to keep the TV off for the rest of the day until the boys were tucked in bed.

We didn't tell the boys anything until the next morning. It was too awful, too raw. I wanted to shelter them for as long as possible, but... in the end they had to know. Larry and I settled on telling them that some very bad men stole some planes and crashed them. Many people died or were hurt, but not everybody and some people were very brave and tried to stop them.

I remember how quite and empty the skies were the next few days. Then, when flights resumed, how jarring the sound of an airplane can be.

Nothing is the same since then, but life goes on. I still look up when planes go overhead and there is always a teeny tiny part of me that wonders.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Watching the River

river watching
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I took this photo of Max, Rebecca and Nate on the banks of the James River a few weeks ago. I really like it and I thought I would share with y'all.

I took them down to the river's edge when we were knocking about Richmond while Jake was at his cartooning class. My goal was to entertain the three of them for three hours and not spend any money. So we spent a fair bit of time walking about Richmond.

The first day we did the canal walk. Since I was doing it on the cheap we ended up parking a bit upstream of the canal at the free boat launch lot. As we strolled down to our destination we found a pretty little garden tucked along the James next to the boat ramp. Everybody was too quick for me to snap a picture, but they did settle down at the river's edge.

Rebecca is holding a stick "fishing" while her brothers look on. It was a cloudy day and I like the quality of light. I think it turned out much better than on a bright sunny day. As to the fishing, well... she had no luck, but there is an amazing amount of wildlife in and around Richmond. We saw plenty of fish and all sorts of birds. The James can be a very wild place.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Soccer Girl?

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday the kids played in their first game of the season. They had been practicing for the past two weeks, but now it is officially soccer season.

The biggest surprise has been little Miss Rebecca.

The last time around she hated the whole thing. Practice was spent asking when she could go home and only minimally participating. Mind you the participation only occurred because I told her if she didn't practice than she would not get any snack after the game. It was a credible threat, we both knew I would deny her the treats when push came to shove.

Games were, if anything, worse. During one memorable match that I missed, Larry told me of how she spent her time on the field stock still with her arms folded across her chest. The ball at one point came to rest at her feet and she did not move a muscle. Eventually another child careened by and booted it away.

So she skipped the following season, we saw no point in pursuing the matter.

Then I noticed a subtle change in attitude. She was spending her time watching her siblings practice and play and she started to show a little interest.

When it came time to sign up for our current season I asked her if she wanted to play and she said yes. I repeated the question a few more times over a weeks time and she still replied yes. Larry was a bit dubious, but he did sign her up along with the boys. We also signed her up for soccer camp when we up at Nana's (my mother) house in Vermont.

All four of our kids had a wonderful time, but it made the deepest impression on Rebecca. I think the camp was the turning point for her and how she felt about soccer. She got to meet other girls her age playing soccer and she found out that playing soccer is fun.

At practice she has been engaged with her team mates and was actually trying. Then there was the big moment. Rebecca wanted to know when was she going to play a game. She then proceeded to count down each day. She actually squealed with joy when she woke up on game day.

So now I have a little soccer girl. What a change from last year.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Whoa, Small World

I was poking about on my college's alumni website trying to find a friend's email address, when I found out something very surprising. One of my classmates (Matt) has a company that is responsible for one of our favorite shows on PBS.

The show in question is FETCH, a delightful show that has an animated host, that just happens to be a dog, direct a group of kids through a multitude of challenges. It is one of the few shows that appeals to everybody in the family. It's funny, smart and just plain fun.

For a little clip of the show, sans kids, head on over to the Global Mechanic site.

I was never big friends with Matt, but I do remember him. that is one of the advantages of going to a small college, you really do get to know most of your classmates.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

School Days

off the bus
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So far school has been a big hit. They are coming home with smiles and happy to go back the next morning.

Nate is settling in his new school and likes his teacher. His only complaint is that his bus ride is too long. At a little under two hours round trip he's right about that, but there isn't much we can do short of my driving him in. At least he gets to ride with a bunch of his buddies from his old school that also made the cut for the gifted program.

Jake too is in a new school with a longer bus ride. The middle school is a bit further away and as an added bonus his school starts an hour earlier than the elementary school. So far he has been bringing home tons of forms for me to fill out. Not much learning has gone on yet. The biggest change for him is that he now goes from class to class, no longer does he have his own desk. He is okay with this except he doesn't have a locker. For whatever reason the school has not yet assigned lockers to the students. So everybody is stuck lugging around overstuffed backpacks all day long. Hopefully he'll be getting one today or tomorrow.

running home
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max and Rebecca, meanwhile, have been having a great time riding the bus and going to school. They are in separate classes (district policy for multiples) and they both like their teachers. The most interesting bit of news is that they chose not to ride together on the bus. That tells me that I was right that they were ready to be separated at school and not to buck the district policy. They are two very different and independent personalities and are not dependent on each other.

And me? I've been enjoying the quiet.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Artist of the Week: Pen and Ink

cover page
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is me!

I found this while we were up at my mother's house. It's a book I made as an art project in high school. The spelling is atrocious and the storyline is a bit dopey, but overall I still like what I did. I did all the calligraphy and the illustrations by hand. I can't remember which order I did them in. I think I did them at about the same time. I would write a bit, leave space for a picture and then break out the watercolors after roughly penciling it out. I don't know if now I would have the courage to do both on the same page.

My teacher, Mr. Fox was very impressed and wanted to keep it, but I couldn't bear to let it go. I think I told him I was giving to my mother and prompted squirreled it away in my room. My mother only got it when my teacher commented about during a conference. Found out, I then had to give it to her. I think I did fully intend to give it to my mother, I just forgot. Teenagers are like that.

page 2
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I remember the whole process I went through, experimenting with different brush techniques to get just the effect I wanted. My favorite was the Chinese dragon.

If you click on either picture it leads to the the set for the whole book. I recommend that you start at the cover page and go through the whole set in order.

It's amazing what I can find at mother's house.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to School

back to school
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Well we did it.

Four kids at three different schools and three different buses.

Jake was first out, that is a picture of him walking to the bus stop with his father. Larry escorted him to the stop, about one and half blocks away and then went on an early morning bike ride. There are a fair number of kids at the stop and Jake already knows a few.

One down, three to go.

Nate's bus is next, closely followed by Max and Rebecca's. They could have all ridden the same bus, but Nate is in the gifted program and gets to bused to another school.

We got at the stop at about 8:15 and waited for the gifted bus. It should arrive at about 8:25 and then the regular bus at about 8:40.

8:30 came and went, the natives were getting restless. Maybe we missed Nate's bus.

At 8:45 Max and Rebecca's bus showed up, a bit late, but still on schedule. The driver was delighted to see the dynamic duo and was a bit surprised that Nate wasn't coming on. I asked her about the other bus and she told me that she hadn't seen the other driver, but she did see another one of Nate's fellow gifted students waiting at his stop.

So we hadn't missed the bus, it was apparently running late, very late.

I waved goodbye to Max and Rebecca and told the driver that I guess I should drive Nate in myself. If we left now he would just get there on time. She agreed and then shut the door and pulled away.

Nate and i ducked back home. I tried calling another mom about the bus, but got no answer. Nate and I got in the van and started to drive to his school. When we got about a block and half from our house (Jake's bus stop to be precise), Nate's bus pulled onto our cross street. She pulled up next to me and I said" I think I've got one of yours."



"Send him on in, sorry about the hour, I'm running about 15 minutes late." (note:more like 30 minutes if you ask me.)

Nate skedaddled on over and got on the bus and we were all set. He would be late, but he was on the bus and it would be much easier for him to get into his new routine.

And then I was free for the rest of the day.

All I can say is that it is very quiet around here, if you ignore the barky old dog.

Monday, September 03, 2007

End of Summer

Today was a quiet one. Tomorrow morning all four kids get onto their respective buses and head off to school. And thusly, for our family, summer comes to an end.

We slept in (or at least Larry and I tried to), had a long and leisurely breakfast and went to the pool for one last swim. Well, except for Larry and Max on the swimming part. Larry declined to go and Max declared the water was far too cold. So I phoned home and Larry came down and brought him home.

Tomorrow morning will be chaotic, with lunches to be made and buses to be caught. I have to stop by the school in the morning to drop off Max's enzymes and then I'm on my own.

It's been a long time since I've had the bulk of the day for myself. I'm sure I'll get all sniffly when Max and Rebecca get on the bus, but I'll survive. As one teacher once said about the first day of school "We've never lost a parent."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

County Fair

merry go round
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday was gorgeous and was the last day of the County Fair.

The County Fair takes place the end of August and is eagerly anticipated all year long. Events are marked by Rebecca on whether they are before or after the fair. Last weekend was the three H's- hot humid and hideous, so we didn't even mention that the fair had opened.

Saturday was our last chance and we completely lucked out with the weather. We showed up at lunch time and got a quick bit to eat and headed to the midway. This year we all did the bumper cars, then the boys went to the race cars while Rebecca rode the much more sedate bus. Next up was the giant slide and then we were almost out of tickets. Rebecca loves the carousel so that was next.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
At the last minute Max wanted to ride as well, so I sent him in by himself. He scrambled up the horse by himself and proudly rode his steed. Larry didn't even know Max was on the ride until he saw Max get off the ride.

He has gotten to be such a big boy.

At that point we only had four tickets left, enough for one person on one ride, but the siren call of the game booths filled the kids ears. Jake noticed the ping pong ball toss for goldfish and I told him no way. I was not going home with a fish. Instead we headed over to the balloon darts.

Larry and I tried to figure out how many darts to get. All four kids wanted in, but the darts cost $2 for one, $5 for 3 and $10 for 7. The guy running the booth then offered 8 darts for $10, sold! Each kid got two darts. Jake and Nate needed no coaching, but the dynamic duo were another story. Rebecca got the idea and liked being up on the counter. Max was a bit dangerous and I was glad I was behind him. The good news was that all four managed to pop at least one balloon. None of them were winners, but they did get a small consolation toy (the policy is that every kid wins). Then it was off to the races.

pig races
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The same outfit we saw last year was back and as you can see we all had fun watching the animals race around the track.

Next to the pig races was the exhibition hall. Inside all of the crafts, farm produce and baked goods entered were on display. The entry is usually small, but I like seeing the quilts and stuff. Next year I might even get organized and submit an entry in the baked goods competition. I think I would have a definite shot in winning a ribbon. The highlight for the kids was the large model train whizzing about on it's track. The wooden tressel for the bridge was particularly impressive.

It was thirsty work cheering on Hammy Hamlin and looking at trains so we got some snow cones. Or more accurately, we bought snow cones for the kids. The one thing I've learned about snow cones is that I don't need to get my own. Inevitably at least one of the kids has a few bites and declares he or she is full and wants to chuck the remaining 3/4's. Rebecca was first to bail and I got hers and Max followed soon after and Larry got his.

It was a good day to have a snow cone, even if it was leftovers.

barrel ride
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then it was off to the barrel train. No trip to the county fair is complete without a ride on the barrel train.

This year the train was a little different. Instead of a full fledge farm tractor pulling the train a lawn tractor was acting as the engine. It was a quieter and produced a whole lot less smoke, but I missed the big tractor.

But it was still a fun ride.

You can see Rebecca, Jake and Max on board, with Nate and Larry trailing along behind on foot. I don't know why Nate didn't ride, but that's his choice. I think he just wanted to walk along with his father.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
All that was left was the children's tent and the petting zoo.

Every year the children's tent has a fake cow you can milk, a fake horse you can ride and pretend to rope a fake calf, a corn crib, a sand box, ride on tractors and a Duplo table.

The kids love it. Max and Jake spent most of their time building at the Duplo table, but they did have some fun together in the corn crib. Max happily lolled about in the corn and Jake buried him. Rebecca was in there for a bit, playing with her toy from the balloon dart game, but she had other things on her mind as you'll see below.

Nate's favorite was the tractors. He spent most of his time pedaling about under the tent.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I think he looks so handsome in this picture. It's hard to believe that my boy is starting third grade next week. He looks so much older, but he still a little boy.

Rebecca meanwhile wanted to go to the petting zoo, so I obliged her.

The set up was different this year. Previous years there was a large central area filled with goats, sheep, llamas and a donkey or two that you could enter to feed the animals and actually mix about with them. This year we were cordoned off from the animals. You could still feed and pet them, you just couldn't be in their enclosure.

This was an improvement, I learned that it was best not to have food on you in the large enclosure. The goats mobbed anybody who had food. A scary situation when you have small children in tow. It was probably also better for the animals. If they did not want to be petted they could easily move away to the other side of the pen.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Of course the best part for Rebecca was the pony ride. The ring was between the children's tent and the petting zoo. I was able to get this photo as she passed by me while I was with her brothers in the children's tent.

I don't think she could be any happier.

WE all had a good time and the kid's are back to counting down the days until next year's fair.