Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting All Political

Last Thursday I attended a public hearing on the Proposed Revisions to the Regulations Governing Educational Services for Gifted Students.

I've been getting all sorts of emails about this piece of legislation from other parents of gifted children and the Center based Gifted coordinator for our county. It is a huge overhaul of the existing regulations and I am glad that I had the opportunity to look it over and comment on it myself.

From what I could glean from both the reg itself and the Economic Impact Analysis provided by the Commonwealth's Dept. of Planning and Budget, the proposed amendments are not a good idea. I object to dropping of the requirement of school divisions submitting their plan for gifted students to the Dept. Education for approval. Currently the DoE requires plans to be submitted every five years. A peer review of the submitted plans is done and feedback is garnered from both the DoE and other school coordinators.

It is a good system that allows for a free exchange of ideas and prevents the programs from being consumed by local politics and becoming isolated and outmoded.

And so with printouts in hand I sallied forth to Richmond to give my 2 cents. I could have commented on the web site, but I felt that my words would have more weight if I bothered to show up at one of the hearings in person.

It was an interesting experience. I dithered a bit on signing up to speak, but in the end I decided it was the right thing to do. I ended up being the final speaker of the hearing. I was surprised that there were only thirteen commentators and I was the only one from my county. There were gifted coordinators and parents of gifted children from the surrounding counties, but just me for where we live. Also pretty much all of the parents speaking had at least four children, so I fit right in.

I think I did a fairly good job. I was articulate, brief, respectful and not a nut.

The comment phase ended on Friday and on the Virgina Regulatory Town hall website alone there were 688 comments logged in with the vast majority against the changes.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Shana Tovah

Once again the new year starts and I spent the day in the kitchen. This year it was a cake for temple and Meryl brought her yummy apple cake.

The one big difference this year was that Max had his show and tell today and we (or rather I) decided he should bring our shofar. It was a huge hit with the class even with our less than successful attempts to sound it. What can I say, I played the flute and not the horn.

As for what I baked, well it was interesting.

snail Challah
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Traditionally and round challah is made for the new year. I have successfully made these in the past for Rosh Hashanah, but not this year. It still tasted great. It just wasn't crown shaped, instead it looked more like a snail.

Hopefully next time it'll be a bit more conventional in appearce.

Until then, may your new year be sweet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Loooong Day

Today I got up at 4:30 (or as I called it, o dark thirty) in the morning to schlep up to northern Virginia for a dog show. I could of stayed at a friend's house, but in the end it was easier to just get up early.

Now why 4:30? Well the red boys had a ring time of 9:00 am.

When I entered the boys in the show I was hoping for a far more civilized time such as 11:00, but that was not the case. (You don't know what your ring time is until a week after you enter.)

So I loaded up the car as much as I could last night and parked it in the driveway so I could just load up the dogs and go. John was fascinated by my preparations and shadowed me in the garage. When I picked up the dog show tack box he started whining in anticipation. By the time I got to bath time he was twirling about in excitement. Dell was a little less enthused.

I planned for a three hour drive and decided I should leave at 5:00. In reality it was more like quarter past, but I really needed to sit down and eat my breakfast. It was a long drive with rain and fog, but it was far less than my 3 hour guesstimate. I'm so glad I didn't skip my breakfast.

I was able to meet up with my friends and the boys showed well. So well that Dell won winners dog and best of winners. John was hampered by my handling, next time I'll wear shoes that aren't so slippery.

It was a heck of a drive, but it certainly wasn't pointless ;)

As it stands Dell now has three points and John has one.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I Am Cow

This is just too cute, I had to share it with y'all.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Very Proper With a Hint of Duck

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Little Miss Rebecca came downstairs this morning very properly dressed. She had on her gray dress with its coordinating pink shirt, white tights and a lovely black velvet hat.

Other than noting how cute she was I didn't really think about her outfit. She loves to dress up and this outfit wasn't that far out of the ordinary. That is until I combed her hair.

I started to remove her hat and she immediately began to protest. I ignored her, since she always protests when I comb her hair out. It wasn't until I was halfway done when I espied a duck hiding in her hat. She already had a duck in her hands that she was planning to take to school. I realized that she was trying to smuggle a second duck and I decided to say nothing.

When I was done she carefully replaced her hat and tried to avoid me. Later at the bus stop I noticed her hat was a little less full and asked her where her duck was. She was initially surprised and then quickly denied the whole thing and refused to discuss the matter further.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Artist of the Week: 3D

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Jake, or rather Jacob as he prefers to be called at school. Of course school was the last thing on his mind when this picture was taken. He is instead having fun up at the ancestral home by the beach.

All four spent hours messing about on the beach. Jacob spent his time building sand castles and walls and delighted in watching the tide come it. He would hold back the waves as long as he could, but he knew that in the end the sea always wins.

Anyway, at the end of the last school year his math class made some three dimensional folded paper shapes.

3D sculpture
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The remarkably survived the ride home and have been knocking about the house. I like the colors he picked and I'm amazed at how they were made. I also liked that Jacob made one just for his sister. He thought Rebecca would enjoy having one of her own. He can be such a thoughtful and kind hearted boy. Rebecca's special one has since gone missing, but I remember what he did.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No More Open Houses

Tonight, thankfully, was our last back to school open house. We faithfully attend these every year, it gives Larry and I a chance to get a good look at our kids' teachers.

But, they are a royal pain.

Understandably they are held at the beginning of the school year. Unfortunately they usually conflict with at least one child's practice schedule.

Max and Rebecca's went without a hitch. Larry did the open house (It is a rare opportunity for him to meet the teachers) and I shuttled Jake home from practice and took Max off to his and dropped off Nate at football. Larry after the open house was able to swing by the football practice field and collect Nate at the end of practice which matched up nicely with the end of the open house.

Nate's Open House was a scheduling nightmare. Max had a 6 pm doctor's appt. Jake had his first game with a special post game parent coach meeting and Nate had Football. We ended up getting Meryl to take Max up to Richmond for his appointment. Somehow we made the rest work although I was a bit late for Jake.

Tonight I went to the middle school open house. Again the timing was tight. I had to collect Jake from his soccer game, drive him home so he could have dinner and then drive right back to the school. Of course the team bus was late, so I was late for school. Luckily all I missed out on was Jake's gym teacher, the rest of the teachers I did get to see. I think they are all very good, but I was appualed by the overcrowding. Jake is in straight honor's classes and yet he is in the largest classes, 33 per class to be exact. I live in a fincially coservative/tax phobic county, but this is ridiculous. How can kids learn in such a crowded envirnment?

I think my county needs a kick in the pants about te school situation.

I've been saying for years we need a minimum of three more elementary schools (5 would be ideal) and now I must add a bunch of middle schools are needed as well.

Maybe we need the county board of education and budget to sit in on an open house or two. Either way I'm just glad we're done with it until next year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Case in Point

A few days ago I posted about my DIY test taking skills, well this weekend I put them to the test.

Earlier in the week I noticed a bit of water on the floor in the kids bathroom upstairs. I didn't think much of it except maybe I should remind them to be not so wild with the water. Yesterday I was emptying the hamper in that bathroom and discovered a puddle and a very squishy bath mat. I promptly dropped to knees to check out the toilet.

Ah-ha! The bolts holding the tank had come loose and the tank was leaking. I shut off the water, flushed the toilet and chucked a towel under the tank to sop up the mess and catch the leak. I went downstairs to grab a screwdriver and a vise grip wrench. 15 minutes later the problem was solved.

I guess the kids are little to enthusiastic when they sit down. The banging against the tank loosened up the bolts. Now I have yet another thing to periodically check.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Git Yer Pirate On

Long John Dachshund
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Avast there ye dirty swabs.

This be Long John Dachshund and I be tellin' ye to git out thar and talk like a pirate.

So arrrrrfffff, sharpen ye cutlasses and do me proud.

Even ye dirty humans can git in on the fun. I have Jake here of a Spanish ship to show ye how ye can be a pirate.

Just remember it's Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Pirate Jake
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey! I'm Handy!

Your final score is: 1200 out of 1500

myStudiyo Media

And the scary part is that I once did have a subscription to Popular Mechanics.

Courtesy of Jordana over at Curmudgeonry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Artist of the Week: Cat

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is my action guy, Nate.

Nate is one of those kids always in motion. There isn't sport he has encountered that he doesn't want to do. Being a natural athlete and very determined, he quickly gets up to speed. He was so happy to find a body board amongst the beach stuff in the barn at my cousin's house. So what if the water was a bit cold and the waves practically nonexistent, he was going to have fun in the water. And boy did he have fun.

Anyway today's post is about art, not beach fun.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

I was going through some old papers when this little kitty showed up. I vaguely remembered when he brought it home, but it got lost in the vast amount of paper the kids bring from school.

It is based on the style of a particular artist, but for the life of me I can't remember the name. I asked Nate and he couldn't either. The closest I could get was the wonderful print of 100 Cats and A Mouse. The cats are not quite the same, but they are close. If any of y'all out there can name the artist please drop a note in the comments. It's maddening not be able to remember. I do like this beastie and Nate made a good use of color. It pops from the page without being garish.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Let the Games Begin

In goal
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This weekend marked the end of our free time and the start of sports. Mind you the kids have been going to practice for a couple of weeks, but on Saturday they had their first official games of the season.

Max and Rebecca are both playing soccer with our local recreational league. For the first time ever, they are on separate times, which is both good and bad. Bad because their practices are on different days, good because they are not being lumped together. Max's team was first up and did a bang up job at their first game. They completely overwhelmed the other team. Rebecca's team did well in the extreme heat. Both teams were quite ragged by the end and a tie was a rasonable result.

Postgame Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Over on the gridiron, Nate played in his first, non-instructional game. I didn't get to see it, being over in soccer world, but Larry did take a bunch a pictures and told me all about it afterwards. Nate got a lot of playing time. One of the first string kids was sick and Nate got put in his place. He did a great job as tight end and really impressed the coaches.

I found out about the coaches on Monday from our dentist. I had a teeth cleaning and my dentist, who is also one of Nate's coaches, chatted about Nate. I found out that they were all amazed at how quickly Nate was picking up the nuances of the game.

As for Jake, he got to stay home in the 90+ degree weather. He had just made the middle school soccer team on Friday and will be having his first game this week. He was very excited to have made the cut and he looks forward to practices and his first game of the season Thursday.

So I'm not just a soccer mom, I'm a football mom too.

Monday, September 15, 2008


A fun video about the Large Hadron Collider.

I love geeky science videos.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Still President

My dachshund club had its big annual meeting today and, to absolutely no one's surprise, I remain president.

I brought cheesecake and Swedish sugar cake to the party. Both were very popular and caused one person to declare that my baked goods were the reason I'm president. And I always thought they were the reason I got to be a member. Either way it was a tasty election.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Problem of the Day

Or are you smarter than a gifted fourth grader?

Part of Nate's homework this week was a sheet having four separate Problem of the Day. He pretty much whipped through them except for one. It was a bit of a puzzler in three parts and he could only get the first one. When he brought it to me for guidance I was able to get the next two parts after a bit of thinking. The hardest part was coming up with a way to get him pointed in the right direction without giving him the answer.

So I present to you the POD that took a bit of coaching to solve:

Which number does not belong in each group. Explain your answer.

A) 12 48 62 20 51 28

B) 23 50 17 41 14 599 320

c) 181 225 747 400 933 862

Post your answers in the comments.

I'll reveal them Monday.

Update: Come on, at least somebody should give it a shot. I'll hold off until Wednesday.

A) 51, it's the only odd number.
B) 17, when you sum the digits the total is 5 for the rest of the group, 17 sums to 8.
C) 862, it's the only one without a repeated digit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years On

Sic Semper Tyrannis
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the attacks on 9-11.

I thought this picture I took at Jake's school was appropriate, particularly with the motto of Virginia being visible.

Sic Semper Tyrannis, which is the shortened form of the state's motto: Sic Semper Evello Mortem Tyrannis, "Thus always death comes to tyrants."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Artist of the Week: Organization

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist or rather artists are the fine folks that design stuff for Pier One.

For quite sometime I've been struggling with all the stuff the kids have around the house. When school is in session the problem worsens. Backpacks litter the hallway, school papers drift about the first floor and extra school supplies disappear.

For a while I've toyed with the idea of having a set of cupboards to be built below the counter ledge in our dining area. There would be four sections and each child would have their own space for pack packs and whatever. But this was wishful thinking, it would only be in our budget after bunch of other things had been done around the house.

Three weeks ago, as I readied the crew for school, I decided that I really needed to do something about the impending tidal wave of school work. All four would have homework this year and we needed a better system.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So I started off looking at Ikea and found a piece that would neatly fit under the supports of the ledge and provide sufficient storage for all four. However the shipping cost was more than the actual unit and Woodbridge, VA was too far to drive for just a shelving unit. I looked at few other websites, but all I could find was the fantastically expensive or things that we could afford that just missed.

Casting my net further I went to all sorts of stores in the area with my tape measurer. After a half a dozen places I ended up in Pier One and struck gold. The piece fits perfectly under the ledge. Each kid has their own drawer and (double bonus!) I now have a place to store our crayon bucket/ misc. art supplies and another spot for extra school supplies. Then looking about the store a bit more I found the perfect unit to hold backpacks.

So hats off to the nameless entities that designed these attractive and sturdy solutions for our storage needs. Now when we clear the table we have a place to put away homework and they can now get their own paper and what have you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Going Bollywood

This was been my favorites over at YouTube for quite some time.

It's a beautiful song with beautiful imagery. I really need to find the movie, Dil Se, that it was lifted from.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Odd Moments in Parenting

Today I found myself saying one of the oddest things. Maybe not as weird as the no sniffing armpits rule, but it's up there.

I told my six year old son to go do his Chinese homework.

Yes, that's right our public school is now teaching Chinese once a week.

I get the whole teach them a foreign language when they are young, but Mandarin Chinese?

Spanish would be far more useful around here and it would be a nice boost for the kids who come from Spanish speaking families. There is not a whole lot of Chinese spoken around here and it's hard to learn a language without some sort of reinforcement outside of the classroom.

Also, I know precious little Chinese. So Max and Rebecca will be getting no help from home. At least with Jake and his upcoming Bar Mitzvah we have Grandma helping him out with his Hebrew. If it was Latin I could really do a lot with them. I could even help a bit with French (admittedly I bailed on French when I learned about regular vs irregular verbs and that there 16 different conjugations). But Chinese... well they are on their own.

So tonight during Rebecca's soccer practice Max got to practice writing Chinese with me looking on and having absolutely no idea what he was doing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lovies for Dell

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Dell is a very silly and very affectionate dog, but he can also be very destructive. The kids have (mostly) learned not leave stuffed animals on the floor. John seems to ignore the toys, but Dell still picks them up, carries them about and then chews off the ears, nose and/ or tail of whatever stuffed animal he happens upon.

That being said, sometimes Dell just wants a lovie in his crate at night. He'll snag a toy and bring it into his crate and sleep with it. The toy will be unharmed when we finally notice it inside Dell's crate. I'm tempted to get him his own stuffed animal, but I'm fairly certain it will get destroyed in short order.

The funniest part about the lovies is John. It seems that John does not approve of Dell's antics and will remove the toy from Dell's crate the first chance he gets. And that is how we often find out about Dell's toy of the moment. After the dogs crates are opened Dell bursts out in a rush of happy energy. John, however, waits for Dell to go around the corner before he ducks into Dell's crate and removes the toy. John only does this if it is not a dog toy. Bones and balls are left to languish in the crates, but not the stufed animals that belong to the kids.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The First Week of School

It's over and I'm pooped.

I've been busy this week helping out Meryl move and figuring out trophies for an up coming dog show, so I haven't had much quiet time during the day.

As for when the kids come home... well it's a bit like having squirrels on amphetamines running around in the house. They do eventually calm down and it will be better as they settle down in school time routines, but for now they are exhausting.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Good Roads to Drive

I've always been a fan of odd road names. If a name is odd enough I'll even go out of my way to drive on it.

The first oddly named road I ever drove one just for the heck of it was in college. I stumbled upon Gungywamp Road in the neighboring town of Groton while trying to find a short cut. I loved the name and later went back to drive it so I could say I've been Gungywamped. I didn't know the story behind the name until today, thank you internet. It turns out it refers to a archaeological dig site in Groton, CT the name itself is the Gaelic for "Church of the People." There is even a Gungywamp Society. Anyway the road itself was a cool leafy tunnel that runs down a hill and around a bend, not nearly as exotic as it's name.

Fast forward to today.

I was driving around in a subdivision trying toget back to the main road. The road I was on dumped me onto Full Rack rd. I found the name to be so hilarious I had to share it with Meryl. I told her where I was and commented that now I know where all the busty babes live, they're on this road. We then discussed that this would be the ideal location for a barbeque joint, which of course would be called the Full Rack. Then we had to go back to our tasks at hand, me to finding a shoe repair shoe and her to packing up her apartment.

But it was fun going for a ride on the Full Rack.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Artist of the Week: Cookies

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Max. I captured this photo during our trip up north. It's a dynamic shot with the splash of the water and the swinging about of his hair, very appropriate for such a dynamo of a guy.

He is an active little guy with all the typical fascinations of a little boy. Currently all three of my boys are interested in all things pertaining to World War II. They have checked out stacks of books and pored pictures of airplanes and guns. Even Rebecca has been affected and drew an absolutely hilarious picture of army pigs. Anyway this brings me to this week's art.

Max got to decorate some cookies today. They were sugar cookies in various Halloween themed shapes, bats, cats ghosts and pumpkins. He had three different frostings to choose from (vanilla, chocolate and orange tinted vanilla) and a rainbow of writing gel tubes.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for the decorated cookies, well Max did them in his own fashion.

White frosting made the ghost cookies too scary, so they got chocolate instead. He then carefully drew a face and a belt. Made you this wasn't an ordinary belt, but one that would blow up the ghost in 100 days. The two cats below the ghost appear at first rather ordinary, but they aren't. The orange kitty has a miniature bazooka and the brown cat has a rifle.

The best cookie, sadly, has already been eaten. It was a bat holding a balloon that Max said had the phrase "I love fruit" written on it.

The cookie and its decorations were delicious.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back to school

new shoes
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We got our new shoes all lined up last night in antcipation for this mornings rush.

And a rush it was.

I over slept a bit and Max was less than happy to be woken up early for this morning therapies. His complaints didn't gain any sympathy and only the admonishment that maybe he should spend a little less time chatting with his brother and wandering about the hallways at bedtime and a little more time sleeping.

back to school
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
That said, they all made the bus and I'm a free woman!

To celebrate I've gone on an extra long bike ride and now I'm going to head over to Meryl's to help her pack.

Woo hoo!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hot Dog Day

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Saturday I headed up to northern Virginia for a neighboring dachshund club's picnic. I headed out right after services and Rebecca decided to tag along.

We did a quick stop at home for Rebecca to change into something a little more casual and to load John up in the car. Originally I was not going to bring a dog, but I decided since Dell is off being shown why shouldn't John have a bit of fun as well. Then it was off we went.

It was a long drive, but in Rebecca's mind it was well worth the trip. It turns out our host had a litter of nine standard longhair puppies.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

We didn't see the puppies at first. We were too busy setting up our gear and participating in the fun match. John got a second for best movement and a third for best adult. It wasn't until Rebecca took him in that he got a first. He so very patient with her dragging him around in junior handler that he earned a first placement. In the real world junior handling doesn't start until the child/handler is 9, but it was an informal match. Then we all broke for lunch.

That was when Rebecca noticed the kennel run full of puppies. She saw there were some older girls in the run and asked me if she could go in as well.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We asked our host who said she could, but only if I stayed in the run too. She was a bit concerned about the puppies safety and wanted another adult in there to keep an eye on things. I had no problem agreeing, because there are few things cuter than a longhaired dachshund puppy. I love smooths, but the longs really are cuter. Little spaniel heads with round tummys and short little legs. Their soulful eyes can melt the hardest heart. I was very happy to watch them tumble about with little Miss Rebecca.

At first Rebecca ran around in the pen with a little line of puppies trailing after her. Then she sat down to do some serious puppy cuddling and the pups were happy to comply.

puppy whispers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
In this picture it looks like the puppy is whispering in Rebecca's ear. You can see that cute little puppy tummy and a little paw waving in the air. The puppy is utterly relaxed in Rebecca's lap. She has a natural way with animals and I never had to remind her to be gentle. I only had to remind her to watch her feet so as not to step on any of the puppies swirling about.

Some kids are a bit rough with puppies and will manhandle them into position. Not Rebecca, she knows that if she waits for a bit a puppy will tumble on its own into her lap.

And tumble they did.

puppy kisses
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I think her favorite moment was when Rebecca laid down on the grass and one pup crawled up on her. I know it is my favorite picture. Her look of joy as the puppy licks her chin can't be topped.

It was shortly after this when one of my friends stopped by the pen and leaned over the fence to say "You need to have a longhair."

I get this every couple of years. Mostly its because these are friends of mine that want a good home for one of their dogs. I always say back thay I love my polyester smooths. I'm far too lazy (and busy) to do any serious grooming. It's hard enough to keep the everybody's (dogs and kids alike) nails trimmed. I don't want to have to add brushing out coats and keeping those trimmed as well.

take me home
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
But I know Rebecca would love to bring home a little longhair puppy.