Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Up and Away

Up and Away
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
At the County Fair.

I went one more time to the county fair with Nate and his best friend Josh. Nate had decided not to do any rides on last Friday because quite honestly they are boring unless you have someone to go on them with you, Max and Rebecca are too young for the extreme rides and Jake is completely uninterested.

I completely understood how Nate felt and we decided to allow Nate to invite his best friend over and I would take the boys to go on rides to their hearts content. My only request was that it would during one of the discount wristband nights.

So Monday night I headed over to the fair and got to watch two boys have a fabulous time.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Boy

A very touching and well done movie about the new boy starting school (and over) in Ireland.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dusk at the Fair

county fair
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This year we did the fair thing a little different. We went opening night because the weather was absolutely perfect (and not because I wanted to the know the results of the judging-really).

Other years it was been unbelievably hot. We would put off going, hoping for a break in the weather. But not this year.
Jake was eager to go the first night as were his siblings when they realized all the activity near the school was not just band camp. So we met up with Meryl and descended upon the fair.

It was the low eighties when we arrived with just enough breeze. Rebecca was besides herself with excitement and we barely able to get her to get dinner. Then we were off to see the animals, ride the barrel train, see how Mommy's brownies did and then go on the rides.

Night was just starting to fall when we finally hit the midway. I didn't have my real camera with me, but I think my phone did a fairly decent job of capturing the mood. With the sun sinking below the horizon and the lights shining from the rides, there was an almost magical quality. The kids all had a great time and we look forward to next year.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Woo Hoo! I Did It!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I won first place in the Brownie division of the county fair!

I won't be able to pick up my ribbon until next week, my entry has to remain on exhibit for the entire fair.

So now I can say I make prize winning chocolate chip cookies and brownies!

Woo Hoo!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Adventures in Baking

So I have officially decided to try my hand at the county fair baked goods competition again.

This year I will only have one entry, my brownies. This time I used a mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips and substituted cognac for the Chambord (I was out). From the bits I nibbled on while cutting out four perfect brownies, the brownies were heavenly.

The kids wanted to know why I didn't enter my chocolate chip cookies again and I told them I had already won it. I have no need to try again. That and needlessly risking their status as blue ribbon cookies.

I'm not sure when I'll find out how my brownies, but I promise I'll keep y'all posted.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Artist of the Week: Sea Turtle

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is little Miss. Rebecca. At some point I will no longer be able to call her that, in fact she already objects to the word little being applied to her. But this is my blog and I mean it in the most loving way, she will always be my little girl.

Anyhoodle, she is very appropriately in the ocean for her picture this week. Among all the kayaks, life vests, paddles and boats in the boat house at my cousin's house there were a couple of inflatables. Rebecca loved the dolphin and immediately appropriated it for her own use. It saw quite a bit of use when we were down on the beach.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for her art, it too is of an ocean dwelling creature. It is a very colorful (or as one of our kids used to say colory) and happy sea turtle. Like the previously featured lion and snake, she drew this during for after school art class. The picture was drawn with a variety of medias, crayon, markers, and possibly pencil.

Once again I really like the colors she selected. The children were clearly directed in what to draw and how, but the colors were pretty much at their discretion. The line of orange/red pops out from the purple on the carapace and adds warmth to the picture. The little fish also balances the composition.

Rebecca had a lot of fun in her class and I hope the school offers something like this again next year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Great Escape

This weekend I got to read a story that pretty much brought one of my favorite childhood books to life.

An alligator was found crouching beneath a car near a sewer grate in New York City. It was just a small one and it wasn't definitively from the sewer, but none the less it's a great story and hearkens to the classic urban legend that gators live in the sewers beneath New York's streets..

Which brings me to another great story. I book I loved as a child and passed on to my children is The Great Escape: Or, The Sewer Story, by Peter Lippman. The story details the life of Silas the alligator, stolen from the swamps of Florida. He was sold to a Family that brought him back to their home in NYC and then as the gator grew, flushed him down into the sewers. Silas then plots with all the other gators on how to get back to Florida.

The illustrations are marvelous with very clever dialogue and observations sprinkled about the page in addition to the story line. If you haven't clicked on the link in "flushed him down," you really should. It is a nice example of what the book is like. My kids all loved the book and it was just as good as I remembered from my childhood.

Monday, August 23, 2010


A delightful short film that was one of the 2009 Cannes Lions winners.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Missing Aunt Abby

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We had a house guest this weekend, or as the dogs thought of it, Dell and John had a house guest.

My sister in law came to visit and John fell in love.

He is an affectionate dog, just not overly demonstrative after the initial excitement wears off when someone new enters the house.

But Aunt Abby was the exception.

Instead of wandering off and sacking out he always near her. Trying desperately to be in her lap and keep Dell out. Larry and I noticed what was going on and told Abby she was very special. John is choosy about who he follows around, as opposed to Dell-if you-pat-me-I'll be-your-BFF. Luckily Abby likes dogs and really didn't mind the attention.

However, house guests ultimately have to go back home. Early this morning she left, leaving John here and coping as best he can.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Raining Blossoms

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Lately we have gotten quite a bit of rain, to the extent that it is causing some of my plants to droop from the water trapped upon them. In fact I have one crape myrtle that is so overloaded by raindrops and blossoms that it is forming a tunnel. I decided to give it a good shaking to relieve the branches of their excess weight.

As I shook the branches I was treated to a shower of water and flowers. I thought the fallen blooms were so pretty I had to go back inside for my camera.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Artist of the Week: Summer Project

Nate and John
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Nate.

He is pictured here in action with a little moral support from John. Nate will be starting middle school this month and will be continuing in the gifted program. Because he is in the gifted program, he has a fairly large project due the first week of school.

The project entails reading The Captain's Dog- My Journey with the Lewis and Clark Tribe, drawing (or tracing) examples of flora and fauna Lewis and Clark would have encountered, and finally pictures and a paper on a native American tribe that Lewis and Clarke met during their trek.

As any parent can imagine there was a fair amount of whining at the beginning of the summer about the injustice of having to do more than just reading over the summer break. He got little sympathy from me. Instead I gave him the book and told him to start reading.

Captain's Dog project pix
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And, in the end he did.

Fortunately it is a well written book and he was able to finish it in good time. The harder part was getting him to settle down and start working. We decided it was best to get the pictures out of the way. I had shown Nate how to trace pictures by taping the original and the blank paper onto a sunny window sometime last year. He was able to knock out the fauna and flora in about two weeks.

I think they are all turning out nicely. He was really thrown by the idea of all the drawings, but he took heart when he learned that tracing images was fine with the teachers. I think breaking it down to one portion per week also prevented Nate from being overwhelmed.

Now he is just starting work on the tribe portion of the project, he has just under half the pictures down (one still needs to be colored). Nate should be able to finish those up by the weekend. Then he has two weeks to write a less than two page paper. That should be enough time, even with all the goofing off he is wont to do.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yogurt Love

yogurt love
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Max decided to have some yogurt today at snack time. This in itself, the yogurt eating, is nothing new. Max really likes, no loves yogurt and today he saw that his yogurt loves him back.

He had just peeled off the foil and was about to plunge his spoon into the yogurt when he noticed something. Something was a little different and very sweet. A little bit of yogurt had formed the tiniest, perfect heart on the surface of the yogurt. He was so delighted with his find he rushed over to show me the little heart.

He and I agreed to was very much a picture taking event.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Smoking Will Kill You

Another strong Tropfest Finalist. This entry is from 2010.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Hello There

praying mantis
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
When I pulled up to pump this evening to fill up the car I noticed a visitor on the display near the pump. He (she, I don't know, I'm not a bug or an entomologist) was a good 5 or more inches long and was completely uninterested in what I was doing with my phone.

It's been a while since I've seen a praying mantis, so it was a bit of a treat for me (my apologies to bug phobic readers). It's orange/yellow underside neatly matched the display board it was perched upon. I considered moving it to the bush in the background, but decided it chose where it was for a reason and I shouldn't muck around with it.

I hope it caught a lot of mosquitoes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fun with Mushrooms

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We have, or rather had, a large mushroom growing in our backyard. I've watching it the past few days, waiting to see exactly how big it would get.

This morning when I looked out I saw it had flattened out, a good indicator that it wasn't going to be around much longer. The top of the mushroom was roughly 5 and 1/2 inched in diameter. I thought I should take a picture, but not just any old boring picture. I was going to have fun with the fungus.

Since the mushroom was fairly level I decide a toy would be just the thing to place on top. I dug around in the toy box and pulled out a dinosaur. The kids were baffled as to why I was putting a dinosaur on the mushroom. My answer that it amused me just barely cut the mustard.

Of course what I really wanted to take a picture of was the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland on top of the mushroom. Unfortunately we have no caterpillars and I had to satisfy myself with the dinosaur. I then plucked the mushroom out of the lawn and tossed it in the woods

Alice in Wonderland
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Not long after I was on the phone with Meryl and mentioned how I had wanted to put a caterpillar on top. She asked if I took some plain mushroom pictures. If I had I could add in the caterpillar to the picture.

Oh yeah!

Luckily the mushroom was still intact. All I had to do was insert a bamboo skewer through the stem and the stick the skewer into the ground.

Happily, it worked. I was able to snap a few pictures and digitally add in my hookah smoking caterpillar.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crab Pools

crab pools
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This year up at my cousin's house Max discovered the joys of the crab pools.

The beach itself is wonderful, great swatches of bright white sand. But the rocks that form the breakwater and then jut out between the big beach and the little beach have always been my favorite feature.

Max is playing in the tide pools caught up in the rocks. You can find all sorts of sea creatures caught within. There are of course the crabs, hermit crabs (we found one that was no bigger than the letter O in this sentence), the occasional fish, mussels, periwinkles and once I found a star fish.

I could spend hours in there and it looks like Max could too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Artist of the Week: Daydreams

This week's artist is Mila's mom, Adele, of Mila's Daydreams

Adele stages whimsical photos of what she imagines her daughter is dreaming during nap time.

I find each photo to be a delight and I had a very hard time picking just one. I think this is one of the best hobbies I have ever heard of and a wonderful creative outlet when on maternity leave.

Sadly it will only be for a short while, Mila will grow up and won't be nearly as cooperative in staying asleep. So go and enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Normally I get seedless watermelon and I cut it up into little chunks. So whenever somebody wants some watermelon they can just help themselves from the container in the fridge.

It's easier, neater, it encourages the kids to be self sufficient.and to eat more fruit.

But it's not very much fun.

So every now and then I'll get one with seeds and carve it up into slices. The only rule is that they have to eat it outside where they drip and spit to their hearts content.

That is fun.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Return I Will to Old Brazil

Just a fun animation of the English version of Aquarela do Brasil.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Two Visitors

Two fauns
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Actually it's four visitors when you add in mom and dad.

We have a little nuclear deer family in our backyard. This morning Larry and I got to see a buck, a doe, and two little fauns grazing in our backyard. We admired them for a bit, but soon we had to let out the dogs and the deer were gone before we could get a picture.

Later this afternoon the fauns made a reappearance. They slipped out of the woods and it was just shear luck that I was out on the deck. The fauns were just brave enough to allow me to go back inside and grab my camera. I decided to stay up on the deck and got this one quick shot. To give you some scale, there is a basketball just behind the faun on the left.

I regularly gripe about what a nuisance the deer are around here, but I have to admit they are cute. Especially the little ones when they pose so nicely for the camera.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Molly and Charlie

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is Molly.

She is one of my little cousins. If I remember correctly, she is one of my cousin's grand daughters and no, this is not the cousin we stayed with. I have a rather large extended family in New England. So this would make her my first cousin twice removed.

And I'm pretty sure she's my children's second cousin once removed.


The generational thing makes it so complicated.

Basically Molly is family and a seriously adorable member of the family too. I just had to take a picture of her. Her chubby little toddler thighs and the way she just stood there, calmly surveying her kingdom. It was all too much and I had to take a picture.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is Charlie.

He is a Portuguese Water Dog and he belongs to my cousin. And again, not the cousin we were staying with, nor Molly's family. Instead Charlie belongs to my cousin that owns the kayak we borrowed.

For those keeping score she is the sister of the cousin we stayed with (I told you I had a large extended family- there are scads of people out there I'm related to). Charlie and his family were also staying at my cousin's house.

Charlie is a wonderful example of the breed, full of energy and very sweet. My children got a very good dog fix at my cousin's house between his lovely two dogs and Charlie.

Molly and Charlie
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This is Charlie and Molly together.

Molly fell in love with Charlie. He is just the right size for her, not too big and not too small. He was also very accommodating and did not mind at all her hanging all over him. I think he liked the attention and had figured out that toddlers often mean food.

They spent a good 20 minutes together. He would stand there and she would grab at his coat, babbling in delight.

Charlie is a very good dog.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ahoy There!

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Speaking of perfect shots, I got this one of Nate and Rebecca at around the same time as Jake. Again it's straight out of the camera. I feel obligated to point out that I take many pictures that don't come out nearly as well. I just keep shooting and eventually I get a few diamonds that don't need polishing.

Anyhoodle, one of the many advantages of staying with family is the vast array of stuff we can borrow. There is a boathouse near the beach and it has a variety of small craft therein. Nate eyeballed the kayaks and wondered if we could use them. I asked my cousin's partner and she said we were free to use theirs as long as we were careful of both the kayak and our selves.

We hauled out the kayak, found a suitable life-vest amongst the piles, and then Nate got a quick lesson on how to kayak. He turned out to be a complete natural. He loved gliding along the shore and was more than happy to take his younger siblings out for a paddle (the kayak was designed to hold an adult plus one child).

It looked like great fun. Next time I'll have to wrest it away from Nate for a bit.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Artist of the Week: Slugs

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week it's Jake's turn to be artist of the week.

I love this picture I took of him when we were at my cousins' house. He looks happy and I like the composition. I did not do any cropping or tweaking of the original image, it is just straight out of the camera to you. Of course now he informs me that he doesn't really care for this picture.


That's life and I guess we will just have a difference of opinion on this one.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for this week's art, we are in agreement. We both like the piece.

It's the last of his big pieces from art class. Jake told me the white forms are called "slug." They are simply pieces of white paper cut and then folded in such a way that the paper has a tented three dimensional form. The "slugs" were then glued in place.

The overall feel of the piece is very organic and flowing. I like how there is a balance in both positive and negative space. I just plain enjoy looking at it. And really, what more could you want from art?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Farewell Reds

My favorite pro-football nonagenarian passed away today.

Reds was quite a character. He was recognized in 2007 as the oldest Philadelphia Eagles player, but I remember him as a shameless flirt that loved seeing my kids at services.

When we first met him he was a spry 86 year old that when he led services would rush through so he could play golf after wards. He liked to talk sports with Nate and always was pleased to see us. He was never stuffy and understood that kids need to be kids.

He had aged quite a bit the past couple of years, but he still was Reds. He was just a bit frailer, a bit more stooped, and little slower. Which considering he was nearing the century mark was not that surprising.

So his death was not a great shock, but a sad sigh. I'll miss him.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Proper Opossum Gourmet Cooking

Because really, who doesn't want to do right by their opossum?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday in the Park

Cousins in the garden
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
With some cousins.

I can't believe it has only been a week since I took this picture. We had a little get together last Sunday with some of Larry's extended family. Spouses and children were welcome to attend.

Larry's mom organized the whole shebang, from scouting out an idyllic spot at the park to ordering sandwiches from the local deli. She was able to corral up Larry's brother, her brother and his wife, three cousins and their respective children. It was the first time that our kids have gotten to see some of their second cousins.

The picnic was a huge hit. After the initial shyness wore off the kids all had a great time. Larry and Nate taught some of the littles how to play lacrosse, Rebecca went exploring with Abby and Alex, and Max and Jake just plain had fun with all the other kids. We completely lucked out on the weather. The rain held off until we got back to my in-laws' condo. Then it was time for ice cream and playtime with grandma's toys.

I know we had a wonderful time reconnecting with family and our kids are hoping that we will do this again next year.