Monday, June 30, 2008

Tennis For Everyone

But Not So Much With Biking

So far so good with the tennis lessons. All four seem to be having a good time. In fact Jake is a bit disappointed that he'll be missing eight days of lessons while he attends the Governor's school.

Biking is another story. Jake and Nate are loving the freedom of going back and forth on their own. Max and Rebecca are having a tougher time. Max is a real trooper and manfully works his way up the hill. Rebecca not so much. She has resigned herself to biking to and from the courts, but she still complains a fair amount. I complimented her the other day at dinner at how she has gotten better biking home and she replied "Yes, I don't whine as much now." Which was utterly hilarious and completely true.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Jake's Big Weekend

I really intended to post this Sunday, but at a storm blew through and we lost power that night. So I'm putting this up, but dating it yesterday.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
That out of the way, Jake had a big weekend starting last Thursday. We have finally figured out the whole summer birthday thing. Have the party during the week. Too many people take off during the weekends, either coming or going on vacation. By having the party on a weekday, let's say for example a Thursday, there is a good chance that you'll get a decent amount of guests.

It took Jake a long time to make up his mind, but a week and half before the big day he settled on who, what and where. Most of the kids could make it and they all had a great time playing laser tag. This of course required a cake and I happily obliged with my classic 1-2-3 cake with chocolate frosting. It's not Jake's favorite cake, but it is one that his guests would most likely enjoy.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The following day, Friday, we brought cupcakes down to tennis lessons. Jake rarely gets to bring cupcakes to school for his birthday (since school ends two weeks beforehand) and I thought it would nice for him to bring a treat. I made orange cupcakes and piped a white lines on top to make them look like tennis balls and they were a big hit with the kids and the instructor.

All that is left is the big day itself, Sunday.

Jake wanted spinach pies for dinner and, of course, cheesecake for desert. Both were easy enough requests. I'm more than happy to pick up something as healthy as a spinach pie for dinner and cheesecake is always a good idea. But the end result of all this celebration is a fridge full of desserts. I guess it is a bit excessive making three desserts for one birthday boy, but what's the fun of being able to bake if you can't spoil your children on their birthdays?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Chopin and CF

It has long been thought that Frédéric Chopin died of tuberculosis. A very common aliment in the 18th century. However, researchers have been reexamining Chopin's life and the possible causes of his death and a new diagnoses has been brought forward. He might have suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.

Here is the abstract from the article in The Journal of Applied Genetics.

Abstract: Frédéric Chopin – a great Polish composer and pianist – suffered from
a chronic disease. Both during his life and after death physicians disagreed on the subject
of Chopin’s diagnosis. His contemporaries accepted the diagnosis of a disease
common in the 18th century – tuberculosis. Description of new clinical entities provoked
new dilemmas in the 20th century. In our opinion the most tenable seems to be
the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. In this work we present F. Chopin’s case history
and discuss cons and pron for cystic fibrosis as the cause of F. Chopin’s suffering
and death.

Key words: Chopin, cystic fibrosis, genetics, late diagnosis.

CF wasn't definitively described until the late 1930's, but it certainly had been around long before then. It also present a broad range of affects and cases can range from mild to severe. Max, for example, is on the more severe end of the scale. His lung function is excellent (117% when compared to a a normal, unaffected child) but, he is completely unable to digest most foods. It is only through an incredible amount of drugs and therapies that he is able to thrive. Before he was diagnosed he was literally starving to death. He would eat vast quantities of food and yet he lagged far behind his twin sister in growth.

Finding out whether or not Chopin suffered from CF really wouldn't change much, but it would mean a great deal to those who do suffer from it. It would show that it is possible to leave your mark on the world despite what set backs CF can present to you. And maybe it might just inspire Max to keep with piano.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Artist of the Week: War and Peace

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max is a complex little guy. He gives the best hugs and loves to tell jokes. Mind you the jokes more often than not miss the mark, but when they hit the mark they are genuinely funny. He is my little snuggle bunny, but don't call him that. He is just Max and he gets very mad if you add anything to his name.

When properly motivated he produces some very fine art.

On the last day of school he brought home a large tube of rolled up art projects. One of them was a collage inspired by Monet's Water Lily Pond and Bridge. I think it is a lovely collage. When I asked him about it he told me that when he made it he organized the lilies like battleships. In fact, he even shaped the tissue paper to resemble ships, but they all got squashed down when he brought the picture home.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Which brings me to another part of Max. Like many little boys he is fascinated by all things associated with war. He loved watching the history channel with his brothers before Comcast took it away. I'll often find my three boys piled up together looking at the latest World War II book we have brought home from the library.

This fascination is evident in his art. The pictures that he draws at home on whatever pieces of paper he get his hands on are inevitable some sort of battle. Originally this drawings were inspired by Star Wars, now they feature planes and tanks. This particular drawing was made at the ball field during either Jake or Nate's last game.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It is a pretty classic example of his work. The people are stick figures, but the vehicles are fairly detailed. To really appreciate his work you need to present when he draws. He often will give a running narration of the battle as he sets it to paper. Planes are drawn and then blown up. Tanks are shown moving from one place to another. It is all rather complicated, just like Max.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Freedom and Trust

Jake and Nate have gained new levels of freedom this summer. I let them bike to the pool and spend a little time at home without me.

Jake will be 12 at the end of the week and the two of them together are fairly reliable. They have earned my trust and I think they are ready. So in the morning I take Max and Rebecca down to tennis lessons and 45 minutes later I call home to tell the boys to head on down.

They love their newfound freedom. Of course this could all change if they don't behave, but they are good boys and they know what I giveth I can also taketh away.

And I must say it is nice not having to schlep everybody back and forth to the pool.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rachmaninov Had Big Hands

Who says classical piano has to be stuffy?

Courtesy of our piano teacher.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yet Another Busy Weekend

down and back
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
To say we had a busy weekend would be an understatement. This weekend we had two dog shows and four birthday parties.

Luckily the timing worked out. The dog shows were in the morning and, after a bit of fortuitous last minute rescheduling, the parties were all neatly spaced. Originally the two parties Nate was invited to were on at the same time and, ironically, at the same location. But due to baseball games, one of the parties got bumped back several hours and Nate got to go to both.

As for the dog shows, Saturday was my club's specialty show. Since I'm the president of the club I elected not to show. In reality I'm a nobody and in this particular case AKC rules don't forbid me, but I felt that ethically it would be best that I sit this one out. instead I got to watch the show and see Dell's sister Trudy finish her championship. Today, however, I was free to drag my boys out to the show. I drafted Jake to be my dog holder and possibly show Dell if needed.

Meryl was ring side and snapped few pictures of me in action. In this picture I'm with John, going down and back for the judge. At first John was a bit wild, but after a bit he did settle down. I have a big smile on my face because I was happy with John and pleased that he defeated his competition in his class. However, this meant Jake had to show Dell in winner's class.

family show
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Jake was a bit overwhelmed at first. He was standing just outside the ring, unsure about what to do. I had to call him in the ring and then he snapped out of his fog.

Both dogs were a bit on the exuberant side. We got them to stand nicely for the judge, but it wasn't enough. The miniature won the points and not us. I got the impression that this particular judge favored push button dogs. He liked little robots going around in well behaved circles. Happy goof balls need not apply. I wasn't too surprised, as I had been warned before hand that this particular judge could be interesting. I won't waste my time or my money with him again.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I Want to Ride My Bicycle

It has been three and half weeks since I started biking again and I have only missed two days. I have lengthened out the ride to just under 5 miles and I'm still having fun.

I'm not ready to do any races, all I want to do is ride my bike.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw

I was out by the shed today, cleaning around the doors. The dogs had followed me out and were poking about the woods, John in particular was rooting about the leaf litter with a great deal of enthusiasm. After a bit he pulled back and starting barking at what he had found. I ignored him at first, thinking it was another stupid deer. But it was a different sort of bark, not his usual all out barkapalooza for deer (for some reason John is deeply offended by deer).

I looked over and asked him "what's up boy, did ya find a snake?"

He continued barking and looking over at me so I decided to check it out.

It turned out I was not too far off. It was indeed a snake with the added bonus of the snake eating a toad. To spare the snake phobic out there here is a link to the picture I ultimately took of the snake and toad. So don't blame me if you don't like the picture, it's your own fault if you click on the link.

Anyhoo, I had haul John inside in order to get him to quiet down. I felt bad for the toad, but that's life. I'm just happy it was the nonpoisonous Eastern Garter snake. I found found a dead Copperhead just the other day in front of our neighbor's house. What John found in our woods is far more preferable.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Artist of the Week: Picture Stories

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Miss Rebecca.

T-ball has long since ended , but this is a terrific shot of her in the dugout. You can see her bright smile. She had a great time this season. She claimed all she liked was hitting the ball and getting the end of game snack, but I could she that she was having fun with her teammates in the dugout and was very focused in the field. But enough about t-ball.

Last week she brought home a ton of papers from school and I finally got around to emptying her backpack just the other day. Amongst the jumble of worksheets and pictures I found four sheets of paper neatly paper clipped together. I uploaded all four pictures, so if you click on the picture I posted here it will lead you to the picture set in my photo stream.

Picking Flowers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The pictures are utterly charming. Each sheet had an illustration and a few lines describing what is going on in the picture. The spelling is creative, but I was able to puzzle out the gist of the stories.

It's hard to say which one was my favorite. I really like the dog walking picture. The dog is obviously a dachshund and Dell, of the eternally wagging tail, was clearly the inspiration. The bird in the rocket is also wonderful and has a far more involved storyline. I wasn't able to figure out the end, but that is not a big deal. The dog playing fetch is also fairly involved and it was hard to decipher the storyline. Then, of course, there is the self portrait of Rebecca picking flowers.

They are all beautiful and I'm really impressed by the quality of her writing. Rebecca has come a long way this year and I have credit her teacher for teaching my little girl so much.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cake and a Spare

red cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As y'all know by now I like to bake. When ever a cake is needed (and even when it isn't) I'll make one.

So for me the end of any sports season means it is time to get baking.

Yesterday Nate's team had its end of the season party. It was a nice low key affair held at my neighborhoods pool. Mind you the weather did get a bit dicey a first. There was a rumble of thunder just before hand that necessitated the closing of the pool for an hour. Normally we would have been asked to clear out, but because I had pitched a tent out back in the grassy area we were allowed to stay. After a big gust of wind that almost blew away the tent and a brief sun shower, the skies cleared and we were able to enjoy our party. A very nice side effect of the weather was that swim team practice ended early and the rest of the pool cleared out. We ended up having a private pool party.

back up cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The cake I made for the party was a big hit with the team. Not only was it delicious, but the boys loved having their names on top. After many, many end of season parties I have learned that nothing makes a child happier than having his or her name written on a cake. I knew they would like the cake, but I was a wee bit concerned about quantity. The big sheet cake I made should be enough, however I decided to hedge my bet. I made an emergency back up cake. If we ran out of the big cake I could pull out the spare. It was a snap to make and I was planning on making something for my dog meeting on Tuesday (it was a member's birthday last weekend and I thought it would be a nice thing to do). Either way the cake would be eaten.

So that is why there were two cakes in the garage fridge.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Last Game

He hits
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Saturday was our last baseball game of the season.

Jake's team, the Braves, had also made it to the championship game. They were up against their main rivals and got to play them Friday night. The Cubs just barely won (one more inning and I think our boys would have pulled it off) and forced a second game.

It was, again, brutally hot out and the game was at noon. Jake's team got to be home and their best pitcher was once again eligible to play (there are strict pitch count rules and he was on mandatory rest after his last outing).

The game was a close one.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

We started out with a bang, but the Cubs were no slouches. They surged ahead, but we were almost able to catch them. We lost by just one run. Most of the boys were crushed, but not Jake. He was happy to have made to the championship games. He had a good game, he made a few good plays and a decent hit or two. And for once he had been on a winning team.

The Braves had dominated the regular season and had been undefeated in the playoffs until the the championship games. They had beaten the Cubs in a close match earlier, but in the end they just couldn't quite put them away.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This goes out to an all round great dad. Larry loves our kids and you can see they love him too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Minor Champions

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last night was Nate's big championship game.

They were able to defeat the other team the previous night and force the second game.

And what a game it was. Our boys duked it out with the Orioles until they reached an unsurmountable lead in the fifth inning. The most amazing part was Nate.

He had been playing catcher in 100 degree weather and was still focused and making big plays at home plate. He is the team's best catcher and that was the position he played 24 1/3 innings out of the 29 innings of the playoffs. The rest of the time he was either shortstop (two innings) or pitcher (2 2/3). And to make it even more incredible the other team could not get a single hit off of him when he pitched.

ready to fire
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

In fact he pitched the last two innings of the final game. During the last inning he struck out two and caught the final out.

As I said to Nate, "Honey you own home plate."

This got a shy little smile and he ducked his head, pleased that I noticed what he is capable of doing. But of course Nate is still Nate. And when he wasn't out on the field he would inevitably be found in the bucket.

In the dugout there would be a large bucket for the balls. The bucket would normally be positioned near the exit to the main part of the field. Nate loved to sit not on the bucket, but inside the bucket. He evened got the nick name "bucket-boy."

in the bucket
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

He'd happily sit the the bucket watching his teammates bat. Rocking back and forth, spinning around and just being silly. It didn't strike me as a particularly comfortable seat, but what do I know.

Either way he still looked pretty darn cute.

Anyway, it was a great game that kept us riveted in our seats until the final out.

Right after the game ended the league officials brought out the trophies and awarded them out on the field. The stands all poured onto the field to watch (and photograph!) the presentation.

It was quite a night.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Papa Dell

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Our silly little Delly Belly became a father for the second time.

This litter has four pups, two black and tan girls and two red boys. We will not be getting any of them, but it is nice to hear about them.

Dell is such a silly and sweet boy, it is nice to see his line being carried on. There are high hopes for this litter. One pup from his previous litter, Indigo, has been really tearing up the show circuit.

I really should get serious about showing this boy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Artist of the Week: Academic Excellence

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today was the Sixth Grade Award ceremony over at Jake's middle school. A notice had been sent home last week inviting us to attend since Jake was to receive an award. What the award was for was not revealed and it was requested that I keep the knowledge of the award secret from Jake. The organizers want the kids to be surprised.

Right, I'm to keep this secret from a very smart and inquisitive kid. The same kid that was given an envelope (at least it was sealed) to take home to his parents and bring back a reply.

We just settled on leaving the mystery of what the award was to be and left it at that.

However we had a good idea of what it was going to be about. Jake had scored a perfect 600 on all three of his SOL's this year and had at least a B or better grades.

And that was exactly what he got.

Jake got an award for being on the distinguished Honor Roll (I'm not sure what that means) and a certificate for each of his perfect SOL scores. The really neat part was that he was the only kid to get all three scores perfect 600s. Not too shabby.

He is one very smart cookie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

10 Kibble Diet

the boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I like to keep our dogs trim.

They are, supposedly (ie I need to actually enter them in shows), show dogs and must be kept nice and trim. I also want to avoid a whole host of health problems that dogs get when they are obese. Dachshunds are prone to back problems and excess weight increases the likelihood of something going wrong.

I take pride in the fact that I have never gotten the fat dog speech at the Vets. Mind you, my dogs have gotten a bit plump at times. This always seems to correspond with when I have kids in highchairs. But, I have always been able to take the weight off.

John and Dell, however, have a different view about what is their correct weight.

This weekend they took matters in their own paws and decided to supplement their diet. Somehow the closet holding their food was let open. The boys then happily raided the food bag. I didn't realize what was going on until I saw Dell guiltily skulking about.

Both boys looked bloated.

It looks like they had gorged on several days worth of food in the span of less than an hour.

So now both dogs are on what I call the 10 kibble diet for the next couple of days. They'll get just token meals until I think they are ready to go back to full rations.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Little Tomatoes

little tomatoes
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last Thursday Rebecca excitedly announced to me that we now have some baby tomatoes. I went outside and lo and behold we indeed have tomatoes.

The Roma variety (pictured here) has much larger tomatoes than the Big Beef (about the size of a marble). I know I'll be getting regular updates from my little tomato lover, Rebecca. We are both eagerly anticipating our first home grown tomato of the season.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Too Hot

too hot
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday Jake and Nate had play off games. Nate's baseball game was at noon and Jake's was right after at 2:00 pm. I spent the day shuttling kids back and forth because it was to hot for them to just hang out at the field. In fact the temp was measured on the field during Nate's game at about 102 F.

I even snapped a picture of the car's thermometer. It was truly ghastly outside and it well be even worse today.

Both boys were fine. We pushed water on them and made sure they kept cool, quite and hydrated. Nate's team lost, which is fine. It is a double elimination tournament and it was their first lost. As for Jake's team, they kicked butt. They only had 9 kids show up and they won 11 to 3. And according to Jake, they went through 200 cold towels.

Hopefully the temps will be better later in the week.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Did You Get Your Doughnut Today?

Mmmm doughnut
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
According to those fine folks over at Krispy Kreme, today is doughnut day.

I snagged my free one and picked up a dozen so as to spread the joy at home. Admittedly the drive to Krispy Kreme wasn't worth the free doughnut, but I was up in the area to return a book at the Richmond library that was due today.

On a more serious note today is also the 64th anniversary of D-Day. So maybe we should be sending doughnuts to our men and women in the armed forces to celebrate the sacrifices that have been made to give us the freedom to have silly things like doughnut day.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I Think I Got My Money's Worth

wading pool
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And then some.

I bought this wading pool almost nine years ago. It was just after we bought this house. We had a little inflatable one, but it wasn't quite enough.

I really got it for Nate. He loved (and still does) getting in the water and splashing about. It was the end of summer when our inflatable pool gave up the ghost, but it was going to be warm for quite a bit longer. I went to a Toys R Us and scooped up their last one. It was steeply discounted and they had to drag it out from the far reaches of the stock area. I wrestled it onto of the van and triumphantly brought it home.

Both of the boys were delighted and all four have played with it every summer. I store it under the deck during the winter and when the occasional hurricane roars through. It is absolutely disgusting when I pull it out, but with a little soap and elbow grease it cleans right up.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Artist of the Week: Team Spirit

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Max and Rebecca's tt-ball team, the Cubs.

One of the first things Larry did as coach for the t-ball Cubs was to start the tradition of singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" before each game with the "the Cubbies" being substituted for "the home team."

This policy was a huge hit with the team and even with a few other team managers. There really is nothing cuter than a bunch of little kids belting out a song.

So here it is, the t-ball Cubbies making Harry Carey proud.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

It's a Trap

The cable guy showed up (early!) today and figured out what was wrong and fixed it in under 20 minutes.

He had only one question for me:"When did you first get cable."

I was a bit surprised and told him 9 years ago. He then nodded his head and told me he now had a very good idea about what was going on. I probably had a video trap on my line and all he had to do was pull it off. Apparently it was installed when we first got cable and has now given up the ghost. We just have basic cable and the trap was installed to filter out the unwanted (to us) premium channels.

I'm not sure if he installed a new one, it might not even be necessary at the point. I just hope I don't get stuck in the same situation as this person.

Monday, June 02, 2008


OK, I'm a bit late on the bandwagon, but at least I'm here.

Meryl dropped off her DVDs of Heroes a few weeks ago and just know I've gotten around to watching them. She told me that the show was great, but I never got around to it, until now.

Friday we lost our cable tv. Oddly enough we still have high speed internet, which is a far more temperamental beast. After repeated phone calls I got an appointment for tomorrow for a technician to stop by and figure out what is going on. So far the lack of television hasn't been a big deal. The kids mostly watch it when Max is getting nebulized, so now they watch something from our vast DVD collection. I miss the news and weather, but we still have the internets and I can get what I need there.

Last night I was restless and wanted something to watch. I was chatting with Meryl on the phone when I remembered Heroes. I popped in the first disk and then I was hooked. While I was stuck at the house while our road was being repaved and baking a last minute cake I watched the next two disks.

I love the show. From the haunting music to the quirky characters. I'll be polishing off the rest of the disks this week, even after I get my tv channels back.

Dang now I have another show to watch.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Nothing Says Romance

Like a giant fireball.

Larry and I went out for dinner Saturday night. We are always up for trying another place so he asked around at work for a restaurant recommendation and was pointed towards Juleps.

The place was easy to find and we were even able to snag some free parking. Mind this was after an interminable wait for a simply enormous SUV limo to move out of the way of a side street I had directed Larry to go down. I would like to note that just because you have rented a large limo it does not make you cool, especially if you are very drunk. Find a parking lot to decant yourselves and do not block any side streets. I really don't want to see you, your buddies or the driver paw through a bag's contents to determine if it is just trash.

Anyway, we did make the restaurant on time and had a wonderful meal. The service was excellent as was the food. Oftentimes one dish will stand out either for good or bad, but not this night. I stared with fried green tomatoes served with house made pimento cheese. I wasn't sure about the cheese at first, but after one bite I was converted. My main course, rack of lamb, was equally good. It was plump, juicy and cooked to perfection.

When we were done the waiter brought out the dessert menu. We decided to have the Bananas Foster for two. It was done, as it should be, table side. The waiter did a wonderful job, pausing just before the flambe so that the area could clear a little. The fireball generated by the rum was impressive as was the heat. The dessert itself was luscious. The warm bananas and slightly caramelized sauce melting into the vanilla ice cream. As an added treat the ice cream had been scooped into a chocolate dipped waffle bowl. The dessert is quite a production and well worth it.

Originally we had planned to stay out later, but after such a marvelous meal we decided it would be better just to head back home. It was a lovely evening.