Friday, January 30, 2009

Frosty Morning

us frostbox
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This morning while walking with Max and Rebecca to the bus stop I was intrigued by the frost on the mailbox. Beautiful crystals of ice rimed the thumb latch. I didn't have my camera with me, but after the bus picked up the dynamic duo I headed back to the house to remedy the lack.

Sadly in the 20 minutes between first seeing the frost and then actually having a camera in hand the rising sun had did its damage. All that was left on our mailbox were drops of water. Luckily our neighbor's mailbox was still enshrouded with shade. Sunlight was just starting to dapple the surface when I took this photo. It isn't perfect, but I did capture the essence of the beauty I saw.

Frost on the berries
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On the way back to the house I kept an eye out for any more frosty delights and I was not disappointed. I snapped a few pictures here and there of leaves delicately painted by frost. My favorite one is of these bright red berries. I didn't have to modify the picture in any way. This is exactly how my camera captured the image. You can see the individual ice crystals on the berries and how the leaves are all edged with frost. I think the stick as a nice counterpoint in the composition.

Sometimes it pays to slow down and notice the little things.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blast from the Past

on the Eagle
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
While sifting through my photos for pictures of Manuela I found this one of us taken on board the USCGC Eagle. It is one of the few pictures we have of all of us with the added bonus of both my brother and his then girlfriend, now wife, Manuela.

The picture was from just under seven years ago during that huge family reunion. The reunion came about celebrating a common ancestor's notable achievement, namely the 200th anniversary of the publication of Nathaniel Bowditch's "The New American Practical Navigator." Now referred to as Bowditch, it is a book that revolutionized navigation and, in it's updated form, is still in use today and is considered the book on navigation.

So understandably a tour of a tall ship was called for.

Eagle coins
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Our family got to bypass a huge line and got to see the whole barque from top to bottom (minus the rigging). Max and Rebecca were far too little to appreciate what was going on, but the boys certainly had a good time. As an added bonus each of us was handed a small commemorative coin as we disembarked. Amazingly I still have them, though I'm not sure why I have seven and not just six.

Anyway we had a great time. Maybe we'll tour the Eagle again sometime soon. According to the schedule she'll be in Boston in July.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Artist of the Week: Becoming an American

Jon and Manuela
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week I'm doing something just a bit different. My mother called me today and during the course of the conversation she announced that my brother's wife, Manuela, just became an American citizen.

Manuela originally came from Argentina. She has been in the US for quite some time, if I remember correctly she came here to attend high school. Anyway at some point she met my brother out in Colorado and they started dating.

I first met her in 2002, which was when this photo was taken. It was at a huge family reunion and I have no idea what possessed my brother to drag her back east for this event. I'm amazed she didn't run away after meeting all of us and I know this started speculation about the seriousness of their relationship. She was a big hit with the family and I remember little Rebecca (not even a year old!) took quite a liking to her.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Two years later (and a bit of nudging from both me and my mother) they wed at my cousin's house in Vermont.

It was a lovely ceremony and it was well worth pulling Jake and Nate out of school to trek up north. The bulk of the guests were from my side of the family with the rest being friends. Fortunately Manuela's mother was able to come, but her brother was unable to come from Argentina.

Not long after Manuela started the very long process to become a US citizen.

Now she can call herself an American and soon she'll be finishing her nursing degree. I'm so excited and proud of my sister in law. It's a very big decision and not one lightly made.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Because Puppies Are Like That

kids and puppies
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday the kids did not have school. It was the end of term and the teachers had a work day to sort out grades and what not. Which I heartily approve of, they need the extra time to get it all done.

Anyway this meant we had a free day to do whatever.

As I had mentioned before, 5 and 1/2 weeks ago Dell's sister (and John's half-sister) Trudy had a litter of six. The puppies have been growing like weeds and Diane and I thought it would be fun to bring the kids on over. My kids would get to play with six adorable puppies and the puppies would get exposed to some dog savvy and gentle kids.

red boy with Max
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It's full of win!

The only downside is that it's a solid two hour ride to Diane's house, but that is what in-car DVD players are for. We ended up watching Pink Panther cartoons on the way up and Order of the Phoenix on the way home. [Note I refuse to watch the Steve Martin Pink Panther flicks. I think Mr. Martin is a brillant comic in his own right, but come on, redoing Peter Sellers. It is just not going to happen.]

Anywho, the ride up was fine and the puppies were happy to see us. Even little Miss Pink, who has been a bit shy, swarmed all over the kids with her tail wagging. Speaking of wagging tails, the puppy climbing on Max was wagging his tail so hard it looks like a ghost image in the picture.

Jake Trudy and pups
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Even Trudy, the puppies' mother, got a bit of loving. She zoom around us with the puppies trailing behind trying to hit the milk bar. She is just like her brother Dell, full of energy and kisses. She had no problem with a bunch of kids playing with her puppies. All she wanted was some attention and some biscuits, but that is what I would expect of a Crunch puppy.

After a bit the puppies started to get sleepy and we went upstairs for cupcakes and ice cream. Nate raced through his snack and asked if he could go downstairs again to sit with the puppies. Diane said it was fine and down he went. I was very pleased that Diane trusted my son enough to let him be with the puppies by himself. She knows him well enough and saw how good he was with the pups that she was comfortable with him being alone with the pups.

Rebecca and pups
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Once we were all done with snack we trooped back down for some more puppy time.

It's hard to say who had the most fun. For the most part the kids had a great time. Even Jake who didn't want to go in the first place had a good time, though he was the first to want to go back home.

I think the biggest surprise was Max. He was a bit fidgety at first, he really doesn't like kissy dogs. But after snack and watching the puppies he got in with them and really started to enjoy himself. In fact he announced that he loves the puppies and wants to come back soon this month.

Since the month is almost over coming back in January is not going to happen, but sometime in February is a distinct possibility.

Oh and the title of this post, it the title of a great little book that does a great job showing what puppies do.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Marry Me

A sweet little film to start the week.

It was an entry in last years Tropfest, the world's largest short film festival. This the description of the film lifted from the Tropfest:

"Directed by Michelle Lehman, last year's Tropfest Australia winning film, Marry Me, tells a little love story about "a little girl who likes a little boy and a little boy who likes his BMX bike". The film was inspired by a true story when director, Michelle, at 5 years of age, would chase Jason Mahooney around the school in a pretend wedding dress (her mother's nightie)."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quiet Times

Nanna and Rebecca
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This sweet photo of my mother and Rebecca is from our trip up North. Larry did a whole series of the two of them together and I really liked how they came out.

My mother, known as Nanna to the kids, is showing Rebecca a Tasha Tudor advent calendar. It was a quiet moment for the two of them and I'm sure Rebecca loved looking at all the little pictures hidden under the flaps. I should dig up my copy of the Corgiville Fair, Rebecca will love it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oops Baking

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last night I was puttering about and feeling pleased that for a change I would be going to bed at a decent hour. As I was mentality reviewing what I had in store for today, it struck me. I was supposed to be making cookies for the big cookie swap at school.


Fortunately I have a well stocked pantry for these kind of baking emergencies. In no time at all I had everything out and the oven warming. One hour later I had 3 dozen cookies ready for school. The remaining 2 and half dozen were neatly tucked away for us to enjoy later.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Boys

the boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I love this picture of the red boys. It really captures their personalities.

John is sitting upright, looking straight at me. No lolling about the floor for him. He can be silly, but nowhere on the same scale as his brother. Currently Jake is taking John through a Canine Good Citizenship class. The ultimate goal is to have John certified as a therapy dog. This is Jake's Mitzvah project and it really will benefit all involved. Jake will, hopefully, gain greater self confidence, John will be better trained and residents at a local retirement home will get a bit of company and a dog to love.

John's calm demeanor is well suited to this task (yes he can be a crazy dog, but on the whole he is a very laid back dog- I call him the surfer dude).

Dell, always ready for a tummy rub, is a total goof. The biggest problem with Dell is that any time you bend over (except at mealtimes) he promptly rolls over onto his back. His tail is madly wagging the whole time, causing his body to wriggle about. He is a very HAPPY dog. I think he too would have fun visiting people, but he is a bit too manic right now. Many in 5 or ten years when he calms down a bit. Right now he is just a silly little love sponge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Artist of the Week: Firetruck

Laughing Girl
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is little Miss Rebecca. Her daddy took this picture of her all wrapped up in a blanket, laughing on Grandma's couch.

If the picture looks familar, it should. Larry also took the almost exact same image of Max that was featured a few weeks ago in the Little Foxes edition of Artist of the Week. The biggest difference between the two (excepting that it's two different children) is the mood. Max is all cute, cuddly and contemplative while Rebecca is just plain joy out loud.

Anyway back to the whole point of this post, namely art. And in particular, a drawing of a firetruck.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Normally I would expect one of Rebecca's brothers to draw something like a firetruck. It has a fair amount of realistic detailing. There are hoses, valves and storage doors all carefully drawn in. Even the front of the truck is slightly angled towards the viewer so that the front of the truck can be seen.

The one thing, however, that gives away the artist is the little birdie sitting up top. It's riding on the firetruck and it looks like it is having a good time up there. Only Rebecca would add such a thing to the picture. She has quite a sense of humor to go along with her talent for drawing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations Mr. President

I'm not a particularly political beast, but I did watch the swearing in of the 44th President.

His speech was good, but as I find when all politicians talk it was a bit long for my tastes (being of sound Yankee stock I find the whole Coolidge parsimony with words very appealing). What really amazed me was the crowd. It was a vast sea of humanity that spread out from the Capital, around the Washington Monument and beyond. It was completely surreal when the camera would pan across the Mall while the crowd waved their arms and flags.

It was an exciting event to see, but I'm glad I was comfortably seated at home and not among the vast throngs in DC.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy 200th Mr. Poe

Today marks the two hundredth anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's birth. If I had been a bit more aware of this during the day I would have schlepped the kids downtown Richmond to check out the festivities.

Ah well, we will visit the Poe museum this summer instead. For now I'll just have to get by with the Weekly Reader Poe Video Contest. I think it's very cute.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Penguin Style

I've already posted one sled run from our big trip up north, but I have to share this one too. The conditions were fabulous this year and by the third day a very nice sled run was established on the hill. In fact it was so smooth Max and Rebecca were able to go what I call penguin style.

I'm not sure who started it, but by the end most of them had at least a few runs down on their stomachs.

It's stuff like this that makes the whole trip worth it. We almost never get the snow base and sustained temperatures necessary to pull stuff like this down here in Virginia.

Of course now I've done it. We will get a rip-snorter of a snow storm in the next few weeks. Not that Im complaining.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Glad That's Over

taking data
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We did it.

Jake finished his mandatory science fair project this morning and was able to hand it in on time.

After much hemming and hawing he settled on a fairly quick project that entailed melting ice. So last night he spent his time watching 18 ice cubes melt at various speeds. The high point of the evening was when he declared "watching ice cubes melt is not nearly as boring as I thought it would be.

Is It Gone
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
He had eighteen little bowls to watch so I'm glad he found it somewhat entertaining. Meanwhile I set up the spread sheet and did the formatting to make the whole display look purty.

I think the hardest part of the whole she-bang was keeping track of the little slivers of ice before that melted away.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I just want to note that mandatory science fair projects are a real pain in the tokhus.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Artist of the Week: Llamlicious Logo

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I've been a very busy girl, ready to create things at a drop of the hat.

This picture is of me when I was... oh about three, almost four. Right now it's my husband's current wallpaper on his computer and I thought it was some how appropriate for today.

I was always drawing things and in this picture I think I have one of those "magic slates." I remember how much fun it was ti draw and then lift the plastic sheet to start over with a nice clean slate. That is until I invariably ripped it or decorated it with color markers.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Anyway I still doodle, I just do it a little differently now. I particularly enjoy doing quick and dirty photoshop mashups. I'll never be at the high end of Fark 'shops, but I can get the job done with my rather simplistic MS Picture It program. So you can imagine my reaction to last week's contest over at the Llamabutchers to redo their sidebar picture and logo.

After a few days of of careful thought (I seriously considered photographing new llamas in the interest of copyright, but it was raining and I had better things to do than driving to the zoo.), an hour of trolling the interwebs for a suitable LMC Llama and accouterments I was able to mash together something that pretty much match what Robbo asked for. The hardest part was the font. I couldn't quite match what was used before, but I think what I did get works fairly well. Amusingly enough the font is called Nipple.

I sent my entry in and waited.

Sunday afternoon I found out I was the grand winner! As I commeted of there "Woo Hoo! ... go me!"

I'm still not a llama, but I am a camelid.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Taylor Barnett

One of the requirements Jake has in band is an outside activity. He has to attend some sort of college of professional level performance and submit a paper summing up his experience. Rock concerts generally don't qualify unless the student interviews a band member.

The hard part is that it is completely up to the student to find qualifying performances. Fortunately we live near Richmond and we are able to take advantage of the many and varied offerings of the VCU music Department. Last year we got to see a Flamenco guitarist courtesy of the VCU Guitar Series. Last night we got to see Taylor Barnett and the VCU Faculty Big Band.

I love big band and after talking with our piano teacher I found out that Taylor Barnett is a fairly big deal in the world of Jazz trumpet. To get a bit of a taste of what he all about you can check out his MySpace page, he has a few clips up of his music. Two of them, Shine and Growing Apart Together, were performed last night.

It was a great concert. Jake loved the music and I think it was fun for him to see four world class Jazz trumpeters doing their thing. The only flaw was that the concert was less than an hour and a half long.

In some ways ita a pain finding an attending these outside activities, but it is worth it in the end. I don't think I ever would have been motivated to find these concerts.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Larry and I found this over at Fark the other day and we thought it was too good not to share.

I think the Turtleman is just great. He loves his job and he loves life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

El Laberinto del Fauno

My local library system is outstanding. The local branch has a good selection of books and movies and is part of a huge network scattered throughout the county. There is a very good online catalog that enables me to find books and movies and then reserve them at my local branch. Inter-library loan within the system is not a dirty word and I freely use it that service.

The best part is that all movies are free and you get a seven day loan. After which it is a dollar a day.

A few weeks ago I was checking out the selection of movies and I decided (for whatever reason) Hellboy. This movie led me to another movie by the director Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth. It looked interesting so I made a mental note to check it out.

Last Monday I returned a bunch of books, got a few new ones and decided to give Pan's Labyrinth a shot. The box got shuffled around the living room for most of the week. I kept meaning to watch it, but I was too busy. I finally made time on Friday and sat done to see it before the kids got home.

The movie is gorgeous.

It is a true fairytale, with love, brutality, monsters and a bittersweet end. I was crying as the film drew to a close. I told Larry and Meryl that it was a very good movie and watched it all over again Saturday night with Larry. It was still good and we were both deeply moved. I can't tell you any more without spoiling it. It is best not to read anything about it, but to go in cold. Pan's Labyrinth is not a kids movie and I highly recommend it to all my adult friends.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Mommy's Little Carnivore

Max sitting
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I grew up on a dirt road near a beef farm, running around cows and fully aware of their ultimate fate. Heck I even knew what breed they were, Charolais, sweet tempered with creamy white coats (they were very tolerant of two kids and a dachshund herding them from one pasture to another).

So I am very comfortable with being an omnivore with strong carnivorous leanings.

As a parent I have strived to educate our children where our food comes from. We have gone to farms, gathered eggs and marveled at the herds of cattle. Food does not just magically appear in little plastic bags at the supermarket. Steak in our household is called yummy cow.

This morning we were watching a cute early reading show on PBS called Word World. In it a few characters were trying to rope a cow. Max after a bit declared that he hated the cow, it was ugly. When asked about it he declared that it should be ribs instead and that would be much better.

I just had to laugh. I reached over and said he was mommy's little carnivore. Jake was then deeply offended and said that he liked ribs even more than Max. So we then told him he was my big carnivore and that seemed to work.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Beaker Does the Bunny Hop

With penguins!

Robbo's most excellent post, Eine Kleine MeepMusik, had me poking around YouTube for some more Beaker oriented offerings.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Artist of the Week: The Little Foxes

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max is this week's artist. He is all cuddled up in a blanket on Grandma's couch. Larry took this picture and I didn't know about it until I downloaded all 111 images this weekend. It was a very pleasant surprise for me when I was scanning through all the pictures. I think he is always cute, but he looks better when he isn't mugging for the camera. In this picture you actually get to see his sweet smile.

Anyway, Max is this week's artist because of his foxes. For whatever reason he likes to draw foxes, which is a bit unexpected due to his current penguin obsession. He has a huge collection and we even found a Wii game for him about penguins.

fox and flowers
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
He drew this before we went on vacation and proudly posted it on the fridge. He then declared that he was very good at drawing foxes.

In the first picture he drew there is a fox, some flowers and I think a bunny is hiding behind the flowers. When I asked him about the picture he told me that a bunny was there with the fox. So I have to take his word on it. If you look closely it looks like there is something amongst the flowers. It's a bit hard to tell because Max has a very minimalist tendency towards color. Generally he uses one, maybe two colors once in a while branching out to three. For him, a drawing is more of a process than a finished product.

fox and bunny
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
After all my questions Max then sat down a drew another picture, this time with the rabbit clearly depicted behind the flower.

I think the little bunny is very cute and you get to see one of the few examples of Max utilizing a third color. I don't like changing how our children draw, they do need their own voice, but it does help then grow when you push them to expand their boundaries.

I remember when I was little and I started to draw trees like all the other kids in my class,. My mother did not criticize, but did ask me why I drew it that way and made me think about my drawing. She was able to get me see that I could go my own way and that is what I want to do for my children.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Seventh and Eighth Nights

seventh night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Or... a lame attempt to catch up.

The rest of Hanukkah really did happen and I have the pictures to prove it, but with all that was going on the whole blog thing fell by the wayside. I should be a bit more realistic next year and use the previous years photos. I could queue them all up ahead of time and then I wouldn't have to do anything very complicated when we are visiting family.

Anyway, back to Hanukkah 2008. Nate got the honor of lighting the candles on the seventh night. I love the whole warm glow of candle light. It can be a bear to photograph in, but when it works the pictures are well worth the effort. At this point with eight candles burning the menorah throws out a fair bit of light. With Nate holding still for a change I was able to capture the moment.

eighth night
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On the eighth night I wasn't nearly as lucky with Jake. It was Jake's turn to the light the candles, but he came out all blurry in each and every one. So I had to settle instead with a shot of just the menorah. Which is a pity because I did get a nicely composed shot of him with his brothers looking on, but it came out far too blurry. And that, my friends, is truly ironic. Nate is my little bundle of energy. Most of the time he is almost vibrating with pent up energy. In comparison Jake is down right sedate.

Enough about them, lets get back to Hanokkah. I like how the eighth night still life turned out. You can see bits of wax on the table with a scrap of wrapping paper nearby. Hanukkah has drawn to a close and you can almost sense that in the picture.

It was a lovely eight days, the only thing I would change would be to make up a schedule of who does what ahead of time. They all want to light the candles and I had a hard time keeping track of who put in the candles and who lit them each night.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Totally Awesome

We are back after our epic journey up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Fortuitously we miss the worst of the traffic and weather during all our driving (although I did drive during some dicey weather to get shoes for Max and Rebecca- in a way it was nice to refresh my winter driving skills).

In addition to spending time with family we got to have three days of sledding and as Max put it, "That was totally awesome!"