Sunday, August 31, 2008


I was poking about YouTube listening to some Adam Ant when I found this little gem.

I remember when this came out, but I never knew who made it. Now a mystery is solved and a new favorite is added.

That is what I like about YouTube, finding old favorites and something new, to me.

It's wonderful.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Raining Buckets

bucket of rain
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Courtesy of Fay it had been raining heavily the past day and half.

Last night I went to check out the buckets we have out on the deck to see how much rainfall we had gotten. I was shocked to find a very full bucket. The water level was at about 6 inches. I dumped it out and overnight we got another inch and half.

I think I don't have worry about water restrictions for a while.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A New Season Begins

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I resisted for the longest time, but now my baby is a football player.

I don't having anything against football per se, I objected to the daily practices and the niggling concern that our kids are on the small size (We are a family of late bloomers, I grew 4 inches freshman year in college. I went in 5 ft 2 and came out 5 ft 6.)

Nate has been pleading his case for quite some time and I finally agreed this year. During his first practice he got welcomed to the south's other religion, football. One of the coaches, towering above the kids had in all seriousness this to say:



Oh my, football is serious business down here. Though I have to admit Nate does look pretty darn cute, but don't tell the other players I said that.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Artist of the Week: Tower of Blocks

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

This is one of the many, many pictures I took while we were away up north. One of these days I'll give a proper accounting, but that'll have to wait for when I have a bit more. Like oh when everybody is back in school, which thankfully starts back up next week.

Anyway, this week I'm featuring one of her building block creations. She, like her brothers, loves to play with blocks. She was very proud of this structure and asked repeatedly for me to photograph it. She put a lot of effort in getting the blocks to balance just so. I liked the little dinosaur perched on top.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
He makes me think of Godzilla and King Kong. All we need is a few tiny planes buzzing about to complete the image.

Her tower is simpler than the elaborate structures her older brothers make, but that's understandable. She is 6 going on 7 soon while Jake is 12 and Nate is nearly 10. I think what she has achieved with form and balance is remarkable. Getting the cylinders to line up and balance with the little dino is quite a feat. It'll be interesting to see if she starts making buildings with room, like her brothers, or if she explores the more artistic side of building blocks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just One Thing After Another

Today was one of those days when just one thing after another goes wrong.

Luckily it was only for a small portion of the day, but it was a big deal (and really funny) nonetheless.

Max had a doctor's appointment this morning, we left a wee bit late but I wasn't too worried. I leave a bit of a buffer for our depart time with this particular doc, she's always on time so I make an effort to be on time for her as opposed to the CF clinic which is usually running about an hour behind. So we went on our merry way and I decided to go a slightly different route that normally takes the same amount of time, but would set me up better for parking.

However the highway we were on was being repaved and the traffic was horrendous. I had to call home to get Jake to read off the offices number on the fridge for for me. I wanted them to know that we would be late and the receptionist completely understood what was going on and got the doc on line for me. The Doctor had the same experience this morning and was fine with the delay. The traffic started to clear and I told them to expect me in 10 minutes.

It turns out that was a bit optimistic. Once off the highway and on the streets of Richmond we got stuck behind a funeral procession. I detest funeral processions, they gum up the traffic and are a huge nuisance. I understand why they happen, but I'm against them. In fact I would like to state here that after I pass if some fool member of my family decides that a funeral procession is needed I'll come back and haunt that individual to their dying days. Anyway we were, again, stuck in traffic while the police waved in a slow moving line of twenty or so cars. Then we had to plod along until the whole mess turned off.

Once freed of the dead and the mourning I got to turn onto the street the office was located. I happily drove down the road until... and you won't believe this... I ended up behind a street cleaner.

Eventually I got there and all was well even though I was 30 minutes late. Max's Doctor and staff thought it was pretty funny (as did I) and she said some days it is sometimes better just to go back to bed and start over.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Best Fair Ever

driving Miss Rebecca
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
If you read yesterday's Very Important Post ( If you haven't, you really should go read it right now) you know that it's county fair time. This is possibly the most anticipated event in my children's secular calendar. At least for the dynamic duo all events are gaged as being before or after the county fair.

This year we went whole hog and got Nate, Max and Rebecca wristbands so they could ride all the rides they wanted. No more pesky tickets to keep track and no quandary over what to do with the last couple of tickets. Jake, never a big fan of the rides, elected to blow his money on the midway amusements.

going up with daddy
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

All four had a very good time. Max and Rebecca teamed together for most of their rides, resulting in the very cute driving Miss Rebecca photo op. But they were not always together. Rebecca got to ride the ferris wheel with her Daddy. She looks so cute nestled in next to her father. At this point Max was in a bit of a snit. He saw all the loot Jake was collecting and wanted to play games too. I explained that it was an either or proposition, ride or play, we were not going to pay for both. In the end I did let him and his sister play one game apiece. Rebecca was happy either way, but Max was pouting and refusing to go on any more rides. So Max and I watched while Rebecca went on the ferris wheel with Larry.

Nate, meanwhile, went (again) on the Paratrooper. He was absolutely getting his money's worth with the the wristband.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Sometimes it was a little tricky for him to get on a ride. A few, like the Paratrooper, did not allow single riders. You had to buddy up with someone before you got on. I had a hard time keeping Nate in line, he kept drifting off and I kept steering him back. Finally, a girl roughly his age wandered by and I locked eyes with her mother. We pushed our respective charges towards to ride and off they went.

You can just make out Nate in the picture, his gondola is the second one in on the top from the right. You can't see his grin, but I promise it's there, splitting his face from ear to ear.

merry go round
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Once Nate was done Max got over his snit and wanted to ride the ferris wheel. We ambled on over and just missed getting on after Rebecca and Larry got off. The ride started up and we waited for our turn. Rebecca then wanted to ride the merry go round. It was right across form the ferris wheel and I was able to snap a few pictures before our ride started. She loves it and no trip to the fair is complete without at least one shot of her on board. I'll tell you more about our ferris wheel adventure in a little bit.

Then it was off to dinner. Max wanted to do more rides, but he agreed to sit down and eat. It was nothing spectacular, except for my dinner that I got from the local grange. It was an honest plate of bbq with some outstanding coleslaw and a rich buttery biscuit. Nate topped off with some funnel cakes while Jake went for shaved ice.

on the barrel train
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then we went for our old standby the barrel train. I was happy to see that the full sized tractor was back, belching smoke and rumbling along. This year there was a new addition to the tractor exhibit. You could go for a hay ride. Admittedly the wagon was bereft of hay, but I didn't miss the scratchy hay bales. It is far nicer to sit on a smooth wooden bench.

We then parted ways. Nate was hot to go on the zipper, but Max and Rebecca wanted to play in the agricultural tent. They love rolling about in the corn crib and burying each other in the corn. So Nate went off with his dad and Jake stuck with the dynamic duo and me.

fantailed pidgeon
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We ended up waiting a long time for Larry and Nate's return. Nate had the same problem before, no singleton riders aloud. They waited a long until the operator finally waved Larry on sans ticket. Nate loved it, Larry was happy it was over. They returned to the tent to find the dynamic duo ready to go on a few more rides. I left Larry in the tent with the older boys and took Max and Rebecca.

But before the rides we had to see the animals. We inspected the baby chicks in the farm implement tent (I really don't know why they are there) and declared them cute. Then visited the poultry tent were Rebecca and I got to pat a silkie chicken. Our last stop was the pigeon tent and we got to see some very unique birds. The prettiest was the fan tailed.

dragon wagon
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Then it was show time.

We hit quite a few rides in a short span of time. One was the dragon wagon which is just a simplified roller coaster for the younger set. I really like how I got the lights of the ferris wheel in the background. Afterwards I tried to herd them back to the giant slide and homeward, but Max pointed out that I had promised him one ride on the race cars.

He was absolutely right. He had seen Rebecca go on it while he was up in the ferris wheel and he wanted to go too. I told him we would go after dinner. So we made our way across the midway.

We got there just when the last car got filled up.
So we had to stand there and wait our turn.

waiting to go
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And I'm so glad we did and that I had my camera. I got what I think is one of the best photos I have ever taken of the two of them.

They were completely focused on the ride, waiting in calm anticipation. The lighting was just right and I was able to frame the shot between the bars of the side rail. When I took the photo I knew I had something special. I had to do almost no futzing with the color or do much in the way of cropping. Some times a picture just comes together on its own. You just have to recognize it when it happens.

Now about our ferris wheel adventure. This year I was very brave and went on the ferris wheel with Nate and Max. While we were going around I shot a little movie to kept back the thoughts of doom going up high always gives me. I'm not incapacitated by heights, but it's not my friend either.

I just love Max's little declaration at the end. It was the best fair ever.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Prize Winning Baker

the cake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And the ribbons go to ... Me!

For the past couple of years I've been toying with the idea of entering some baked goods at the county fair. Last year I seriously looked in to it, but alas I was too late to enter. This year I remembered in time and was able to submit two things, an orange cake and my triple chip chocolate chip cookies, to the the fair.

The rules on the website for the fair were a bit vague, but I was able to show up at the appointed hour and drop off my entries. I didn't know how much they needed so I brought the entire cake and two dozen of the best looking cookies in the batch.

the cookies
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In baking competitions I know that appearance is just as important as taste. So I tried to make the most aesthetically pleasing bake goods possible. The cake had to be moist with an even coating of glaze coving the top and artfully cascading down the sides. The cookies had to be perfectly baked. I practically hovered around the oven while they baked. I made a serious effort to have the cookies be consistent in shape and size and have an even chip distribution.

On Thursday at the drop off I found out that they only wanted one fourth of the cake and four cookies. The ladies doing the intake kindly provided me with a plastic knife to cut the cake and the requisite white plate and plastic bag for each entry.

third prize
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

They I had to go home and wait. Judging took place Friday morning, but I wouldn't find out until we went to the fair.

So today, Sunday, we went to the fair. We immediately went to the Arts and Crafts building to see the results. Much to our delight I was in the ribbons with both entries. The cake got third place in its class. Which I didn't expect after reading how the cakes would be scored.

(Butter, Sponge and Chiffon)
Appearance: shape and size 15
Flavor: taste and aroma 30
Crumb: texture, lightness, moisture 50
Crust: color, uniformity, thickness 5
Total 100

Consistency: creamy, moist, free from crystals, stickiness or crustiness 50
Flavor 40
Suitability of frosting for cake 10
Total 100

first place cookie
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I pretty much missed it on the creamy moist part since it's a glaze. But it was good enough for third place. Woo Hoo!

And that brings us to my cookies. Or rather my blue ribbon cookies. I completely kicked butt in the chocolate chip cookie catagory. There were at least four other entries and mine reigned supreme. The second place cookie was the one I eyeballed as my competition on Thursday.

The kids and my husband were all very excited for me and we are already looking forward to next year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Season's End

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today was the big end of Tennis party, awards, medallions and t-shirts were handed out. And of course no party is complete without these.

The kids had a great time. Nate was the accidental winner of the 10 and under age group. It was accidental because one of the coaches put him in with the younger kids, he should have been with the older group (at nine years old he belongs there, but he plays at the older age group level). Oh well, he earned a trophy and next year we'll be sure he plays up a level.

Meanwhile Jake and Rebecca were the runners up in the doubles competition. It turns out they are a very good team . It'll be exciting to see what happens next year.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After the pizza and cupcakes all the kids started messing about the pool. Some had a mini-Olympics in swimming, others splashed about and a few went to the play ground next to the pool . Then they all decided to make a fort. Chaise lounges were pull in to place and towels were carefully draped about. If you click on the photo you'll get a few more shots of the fort.

We were down by the pool for several hours. Max grew restive and after putting him off we left as the other families started to pack up. It was a nice end to a fun tennis season.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Me and My Bike

Except for our journey up north I've been very faithful about my daily bike ride. Much to my amazement I've just bumped it up to five miles. I really thought to would take a bit longer to get back in the groove after our trip, increasing my ride's length just three days after getting home never even crossed my mind.

I still like riding and I even did a little off-roading down a fire trial. I never really viewed myself as an athlete, but I have been bitten by the exercise bug. which is good considering the baking I do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Artist of the Week: Doing the Right Thing

This week is a little bit different, but hey it's my blog and my rules.

The artist this week is my Mother in Law aka Grandma.

The kids adore her and always have a good time when they are with her. She plays endless games of Monopoly and is great audience for whatever jokes they have. She and her husband are mostly retired now. She was a lawyer and he was a judge.

Today I'm recognizing her for something she did a long time ago when she was a practicing lawyer.

This past weekend we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's on the way home from Vermont. It's a convenient lay over for us and breaks up the long slog home. While there I read and article in the NY Times about a camp for foster kids that has a special siblings session. Sadly, not all siblings stay together in the foster system, but for one week they can be reunited. It was an extremely touching article.

My mother in law also thought it was good and pointed it out to me. We talked about it for a bit and then she brought up a story she had never told me before. It was, in her words and I must agree, her proudest moment as a lawyer.

One of the many things she did as a lawyer was to represent children in court. It was often times a very heartbreaking job. In this particular case, however, there was some joy. A child, horribly abused by his parents, was going to adopted by his foster family. Meanwhile my MIL was assigned another case. After meeting the child and reviewing the case she realized this second child was the other child's younger sibling. She was able to bring the children together (and they looked just like each other) and convince the foster parents to adopt both.

This happened a long time ago, but to this day it still brings tears to my MIL's eyes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Little Bit of What We Did

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I haven't had a chance to go through all the pictures we took, but I'll share this one for now.

One of the high points of our trek up North was our beach adventure. The bulk of my family lives outside of Boston and have been in the area for a multitude of generations. One of the perks of having such deep roots in the area is having an ancestral home. My cousin Peter has Burnside (yes the house does have a name) and it's smack dab on the ocean with not just one beach, but two. There is the little beach which is strictly family and the big beach which is family plus a few other houses. We lucked into some good weather and had a great time playing on the beach for two days.

When I get a chance I'll throw up some more pictures, maybe a movie and a bit more about our trip.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Go Away

And my blog all goes to pot.

Sorry about the duplicated YouTube posts. I had originally tried posting those from YouTube and they got hung up somewhere out there in the ether and decided to come to roost last week.

Anyway, as y'all probably guessed I was away last week. It was a a lovely trip with little or no internet access, so no posting. But I'm back and now we are back to whatever passes for normal around here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Adventures in Color

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I've been going to the same hair salon pretty much since we moved to this house. It's been over nine years and I've gone through four different stylists. The first one stopped cutting hair, the second one disappeared (I think her schedule and the salon's was not working out), I didn't like the third one and the fourth one moved to Philly.

The most frustrating part is just when I have the stylist cutting my hair just right she leaves me. My hair cut isn't particularly fancy, all I want is a graduated bob. A bit of a variation on Louise Brooks' classic hairstyle. The only challenge is learningto belive me when I say I want to cut off 2 inches. My hair grows very fast and I'm not afraid to go very short. Oh and then there is the gray.

I always had a few gray hairs, but when I was pregnant with Jake they came in with a vengeance. As you can see from my rots I am at least 60 % gray (all right 80%). When my hair grows out I get what I call my skunk stripe.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Since I am now between stylists I'm a bit adrift. I hate having to go through training a new stylist and I'm tired of shelling out all the money to color my hair. So I decide to be brave and color it myself.

I picked a color that was fairly close to what I wanted that was geared towards coloring gray hair. The process was a bit messy, but at one sixth the cost- I can deal with it.

I think the end result is pretty good. The pictures really don't do it justice, the coverage is much better. I think I have bought myself some time before I next have to go in and I don't think I be paying for a stylist to color my hair.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Artist of the Week: Map

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

He is very much like his father in his love of maps. Larry is slowly collecting vintage maps of where our ancestors originated. So far his family is covered, now we just need to find a reasonably sized and priced one of the UK. (I'm English, Scottish and Welsh- my 6 months studying abroad in England was a bit of a home coming for me, I really blended in. That is until I opened my mouth and spoke.) In fact we all love maps. I am amazed whenever I encounter someone who can't read a map, it is so natural and easy for us.

Anyway Jake loves creating maps of new countries and carefully filling in the details.

He made this map just over a week ago. I don't know what inspired him, but I do know that I like it.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

He has carefully included a key (which he almost always does) and noted the city centers and the surrounding urban areas. I like the rugged coastline and the logical placement of the urban areas. Ports and rivers are classic locations for cities. The ready access provided by water to other areas is a sensible place for the first colonists. And from there the populations can move outwards.

It'll be interesting to see what Jake does later in life. He has an interest in architecture which produces maps of a different sort.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tea Time with Rebecca

tea with Dell 1
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Dell has really blossomed in our home. He loves being a house dog and having four children to follow around.

Most of the time I'll find him on the floor rolling around with Nate, but Dell also enjoys tea parties with Rebecca. Yes, that's right, Mr. Dell is an aficionado of tea time.

Rebecca goes out on the deck with her little tea set and offers Dell Tea. He is fairly polite and almost never knocks over his tea. If you click on the picture it will lead you to a whole set of photo's from Rebecca's last tea party. Mostly it just Rebecca with Dell, the rest of the crew is uninterested, but John did put in appearance at the end.

We really did hit the jackpot with our dogs, but then again I wouldn't expect anything less from Crunch's puppies.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Be Your Own Pet

My husband told me about this band. He is always looking for new groups to listen to and points out the ones he thinks I'll like. He has a pretty good sense for what will appeal to me and I've admitted that at heart I'm a punk rock girl. This group is right up my alley. I particularly like this video.

For a while (before it got too hot) I would bike down to tennis with the kids. The instructor liked seeing our little biker gang pulling up to the courts. We'll never be as cruel and mean as BYOP, but I do love the little boy's expression at about 56 seconds in.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

In Praise of Big Brothers

big brother
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It isn't always sweetness and light in this household. Siblings yell at each other, slam doors and whine about the unfairness of it all, but on the whole they all do get along remarkably well. Last night was one of those moments when I'm really amazed at how much they care for each other.

For the past two nights Nate had been on an extended sleepover. This has been a bit rough on Max because he shares his room with Nate. Max doesn't like sleeping alone, which is understandable since he has never been alone except for the odd sleepover for Nate.

Max started roaming the hall and went in to see Jake. He asked him if Jake could come sleep in his room. Jake called down and asked if it was all right with me. I said it was completely up to him. Jake then moved into his brothers' room and slipped into Nate's bed. He hung out there until Max was fast asleep. He came out and asked if it was okay if he went back to his own bed. I said sure and told him I was very proud of what he did for his little brother.

Jake is a very kind and loving big brother and times like these I'm very proud to be his mom.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
A little homemade pizza to round out the week.

Every now and then we have make-your-own-pizza night. It takes a bit of planning, but the end result is well worth the trouble.

The most important step is to start the dough early. It is best if it has two hours to rise before you make the pies. The recipe I used is one I found on the back of a bag of King Arthur Flour.

Their web site has a great tutorial on how to make pizza, but for whatever reason they changed the recipe. The original one is what I use:

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 packet/tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a big bowl dissolve the sugar in the water, then add the yeast. Once the yeast has finished proofing (it needs to sit a few minutes, once its bubbly you are ready to go) add the salt. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour. Add the olive oil and mix some more. Then turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and springy. Clean the big bowl add a bit of olive oil and return the dough it the bowl. Roll the dough around in the olive oil (this keeps the surface of the dough moist) and then cover the bowl. Let rise until the dough is doubled in size (1 to 2 hours).

Preheat the oven to 450. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 pieces (two of the four get divided again- this results in four pie tie 9 in sized pies and two 12 inch pies). slowly roll out and stretch the dough to fit the appropriate sized pan. I like to lightly brush the pan with olive oil and the top of the crust. If you allow the dough to periodically rest it will eventually fill the pan and not shrink back.

Then top with sauce, cheese, what have you. I used fresh tomatoes marinated with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and basil instead of sauce. Then a liberal sprinkling of cheese, some onions, a little bit of minced garlic and pepperoni. It takes about 15 minutes for the pie to cook.

And oh boy does it taste good!