Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We've added hours to our minutes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Norah's helping me make my shopping lists now. She's never too far away or too busy to come and write another word or two on the list when I realize we need it. I usually hand her the empty box or bag or container and she copies the appropriate word/s from it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Norah: "Mom, I think I know why they call it 'Ketchup.'"

Me: "Why do you think?"

Norah: "Because when you eat it, it gives you energy to 'catch up' to the person who went ahead of you."

Friday, March 26, 2010

I had a recent Ziggy sighting. He was standing in the freezing rain and wind, about twenty feet from his red, white and blue truck, waving his flag. People were honking like he was the first Santa Claus on the roadside in December. This guy is so beloved here in Waterbury! He even has his own fan club on Facebook. Really! And I'm a member!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Norah has been coming to one of the classes I teach at the gym, Saturday's "Jump and Jack" for parents and kids. I got her her own workout clothes and new tennis shoes for the occasion. (She needed them anyway. All her pants are too short and her tennis from last spring/summer don't fit anymore.) Norah was so excited to have these new clothes just for exercise, she asked me to let her work out in them at home. In the photo above, she is doing bicep curls with soup cans while stepping up on my aerobics step.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Norah singing along to her skip-counting CD and learning to count by fours with her abacus.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I thought I'd post some recent videos, a new clip everyday for the next few days. I know my parents will love this. I hope the rest of you enjoy these, too!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
Proverbs 14:4

My Translation:
If I never cooked at home, my sink would stay empty,
but my family is blessed by my home cooked meals.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Avril loves this ball. I believe she'd eat it if she could. The whole family has a great time laughing at her when she blows against it to make fart noises and such.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My dad is a retired police officer, so he's got stories, countless stories. And he loves to tell them. And we love to hear them. (He's the best story teller alive). He's been emailing me some of them, so I thought I'd provide a place on my blog to share them. I've edited them a little. (He types in all caps, just like he writes). I wish he'd consent to having his voice taped, since I think his tone and timing make the stories ten times better. But, he won't do it, says his voice "sounds funny."

His nick name was always "Snave," my maiden name "Evans" spelled backward, so I made that his new label. Below is a photo of my father standing by his patrol car sometime in the seventies. My sister and I always say, "Wacka! Wacka!" and raise our eyebrows when we see this old photo. And, to that, my dad always blushes and smirks. Isn't my father handsome? Below is the first and so far, the funniest story he's sent my way. Enjoy!

"One Sunday morning, the fire department got a call for help. It seemed that a train had hit a car somewhere outside of town. Out where it happened, there was nothing but fields as far as you could see, no trees to block the view at the crossing or anything like that. The highway patrol heard the call and asked the local police to send a unit out to check for any injuries. Since it was Sunday morning, they didn't have any troupers on duty.

When I got there, I noticed an old lady, probably early nineties, standing with the firemen. The old girl was mad and fussing at someone who appeared to be the train's conductor. She wasn't hurt. She was just mad and raising heck with everybody, but mostly with the conductor. Turns out, the train hit the old lady's Buick in the rear seat area. It had pushed the car about forty or fifty yards down the track and the car was badly broken up.

I told the old lady, 'Look, I am just helping out the highway patrol until they can get a patrolman here." I asked her, "Are you sure you are not hurt? That was a bad hit your car took. By the way, I am just wondering why you didn't stop for the train? Did you see it coming?'

This is word for word what she told me, 'Listen, Sonny, I have been coming into town for church every Sunday for over thirty years and I never met a train here. Sure, I saw it coming. But, I was first and had the right of way. They should have stopped for me. I got there first!'

To that, I bit my tongue and told her I had to go back to town."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I took the pill at 7am. I was still half asleep. I'd gotten up to go to the bathroom and then snuck back to bed until the girls were awake. An hour and a half later, I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast with the kids, trying to figure out why I felt so different... so... good. I hadn't gotten that much extra sleep, so I shouldn't feel so rested and alert. And, I hadn't drank any coffee... That's when it hit me. I'd taken my first Synthroid pill that morning! Was it even possible for me to feel the effects so soon? Was it all placebo? I don't know. But, I don't think I can even describe the relief I felt and after only a few hours on the medicine. The invisible elephant that I had been dragging around all day everyday was just... somehow... gone. Perhaps the effects will wear off or I'll get used to them. I remember the first few days after we put new insulation in our house, we went around just tearing the layers off, wearing shorts and t-shirts. It felt to us like we were weighed down with heavy blankets, it was just so hot in the house! But, after a few weeks, I also remember that we'd gotten used to it and started to feel the cold again. However, for now, the burden of fatigue I've carried for so long has been lifted and I can feel it to such a degree that it is like I could just float right up into the sky and I am praising God for this leg up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I received our census letter today and looked all over to find the disclaimer that you only have to answer the first question. To my dismay, it is not there. A few minutes of googling later, I realized that by statute, we are required to answer all questions.

I don't think so.

Since it's inception, the census has asked questions directly related to understanding the headcount of the country. The original census included only three questions: color, free or slave status and the sex of free white persons. These questions were used as a result of the racist 3/5ths rule that counted slaves as only 3/5ths, and the sexist rule that women could not vote so were not used to calculate representatives.

As morally reprehensible as these are, the questions were directly related to the task at hand, counting the populace in order to determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives. Therefore, after the end of slavery, and with women's suffrage, these questions are no longer needed to properly account for the population and should have been removed from the questionnaire.

Therefore, questions related to anything outside of the direct requirement of counting the population for representation and direct taxation (which is a-whole-nother topic all together) are an invasion of privacy under the 4th and 5th amendments. The government is unapologetic in its purpose, specifically saying that the data collect is used to direct government spending, something never found in the constitution.

Interestingly enough, it was not until the Raw... I mean... New Deal era, and the 1940 census that demographic information was requested. Given that era's ability to pass all measure of unconstitutional government policies and agencies, it is not surprising that the Census was able to be used to collect auxiliary data about the population. It is also not surprising that it was the 1930 and 1940 census that was used by FDR to illegally and immorally round up Japanese Americans and place them in concentration camps during WWII. Of course the law protects our data collected by the census bureau from the big bad government, right? Don't count on it.

I went back and forth on how to quietly refuse. I stumbled on a form letter that I adapted to my liking and will be including a copy of the following when I mail back my form.


c/o U.S. Census Bureau
8411 Kelso Drive
Essex MD 21260-1111

MARCH 17, 2010

To Whom It May Concern:

The U.S. Constitution allows you to inquire as to how many persons are living at my residence as of April 1, 2010. I have provided you with that information.

You are not authorized to ask me any additional information, nor will I voluntarily provide you with any additional information.

Although your agency states that my answers will be kept “confidential” and that any information obtained from me (i.e. my phone number, my gender, my age, my ethnicity) will be not be shared by or with anyone, I believe these questions to be a direct invasion of my privacy based on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments as described in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630, as protection against all governmental invasions "of the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life.'' Given that past illegal uses of census data have been witnessed, the worst of which leading to the unlawful imprisonment of a minority group, I am refusing to answer these unconstitutional questions.

Since the current statutes that enable auxiliary questions besides how many people are living at my residence are unconstitutional as stated above, “[t]he general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void. Unconstitutional law bears no power to enforce, it purports to settle as if it never existed, for unconstitutionality dates from the enactment of such a law and not such time as branded in an open court of law. It confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed. No courts are bound to uphold it and no persons are bound to obey it.” 16 Am Jur 256.


An American Citizen

P.S. – In 1980, the census cost less than $5 per person to administer. Ten years ago, it was less than $16 per person. Current estimates show your agency spending nearly $50 per person on the 2010 census. I believe that this taxpayer expense could be significantly reduced by limiting the census to what is constitutionally allowed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm currently teaching five classes on the Waterbury Y's newest group fitness schedule. Tuesday mornings, I teach Cardio Sculpt followed immediately by the Senior's Cardio Class. On Wednesday nights, I teach All About Muscle. On Friday afternoons, I teach a boot camp-style class called Happy Hour Workout. And, finally, on Saturdays, I teach a class for parents and kids called Jump and Jack. I am loving my work. It feels more like a calling than a job. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to be paid for the time I put in, really nice. But, I believe I may actually mean it when I say that "I'd do it for free!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Overheard #4 - I call this one, "I thought 'Baby-Daddy' was just a funny expression."

Two women in line behind me at Walmart, both just a few years younger than me:

"If someone asked me, I don't know what I'd say. I think I'd say, 'Yes.' I mean, I love being with Steven, but..."

I didn't hear what she said for a minute because Norah was talking to me.

"...It's all wrong now. When we were first together, we didn't see anyone else, we didn't have babies with anyone else. But, then, he had a baby with someone else and now it's all wrong."

Her friend tries to comfort her, "I think all relationships go through this."


Her friend asks, "Are all your kids his kids?"


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Circles two. Circles, too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Norah has learned to count by ones, twos, threes, fours and fives... Building on the ability to count by fives, her math curriculum is now teaching her how to figure out the minutes past the hour. She uses twelve of her five blocks to build a clock face. Then we use a nine block as a minute hand. She counts by five as far as she can, then counts by one until she figures out the answer, just like we grown ups do when we when need to find out how many minutes have past the hour. I wish I had been taught to understand a clock's face this way! My daughter is five and she is telling time!

Friday, March 12, 2010

I like this recipe for spiced-rubbed pork loin with acorn squash. Number one: It's not chicken and we eat enough of that. And, number two: As fancy as it looks, it is a very manageable recipe for a week-night, one of the easiest I make, actually. It's even easier to prep than some of the crock pot meals my family enjoys so much. The hardest part of the whole process is cutting the acorn squash into wedges (without cutting your fingers off). You will need a large knife. The more it resembles an ax, the better.

When we are done eating and everything is cool, I peel the skin off any left over squash, tear it into bite-sized pieces and save it in an air-tight container in the fridge.

I give it to Avril the next day for lunch. She loves it. It's the texture of baked sweet potato. And, I love the face that I can offer her (basically) fresh squash (any fresher and it would be like biting into a softball).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This one's totally my own creation. Try adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon onion soup mix to your mayo before mixing it with a can of tuna. Serve it on lightly toasted wheat bread with dill pickles. All I can say is, "Yum."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We are enjoying several visits a day from a large group of black eyed juncos, a black capped chickadee, two tufted titmouse (or is it titmice?), a Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal. I love keeping a feeder through the winter. But, it's impossible to capture all our birds in one photo.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Norah's coming much closer to beating me at Memory. She used to get something like four matches in all. We played on the living room floor in the sunlight the other afternoon. She had me half-worrying, half-rejoicing there for a minute. I love to win this game, but I am torn because I also love to see her doing so well. I have never made this game easy on her. When she was much younger, I would simply use less cards. But, I never "gave" her matches, ever. If the turn falls to me and we both know where something is, she knows that I'll get the match. But, the funny thing is, as competitive as I am, I really can't wait till she manages to beat me by her own merit. On that day, she and I both may cry tears of joy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

On our last snow day, Norah played under the tree in the front yard.

Avril and I sat on the floor and watched her through the front window.

Avril loves her big sister. And, I have to say, Norah is really good to Avril.

This was Avril's first wave. I actually caught it on camera!
Norah noticed and yelled, "Mom! She waved!"
I love it that Norah is old enough to notice and celebrate Avril's milestones along with me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Norah's new favorite thing to draw.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

To pass the long winter days, sometimes we'll do a scavenger hunt. Print these tasks on slips of paper and have your kids draw them from a hat.

1. Find a big spoon and a small spoon.

2. Find a stuffed animal with blue on it.

3. Draw a picture of your house.

4. Find something made of wood, something made of plastic and something made of metal.

5. Find something that begins with the letter A.

6. Find a picture of someone smiling.

7. Find something covered in dots.

8. Find two things people wear or bring with them when it is raining.

9. Find a shirt with stripes.

10. Find a pair of shorts or pants without pockets.

11. Make a ball at least the size of a golf ball out of tin foil or tissue and tape.

12. Find a coin from the 1970s.

13. Draw a picture of your hero.

14. Find something that ends with T.

15. Find a picture of a dinosaur.

16. Find clothes in sizes small, medium and large.

17. Find something soft and something hard.

18. Find something with all numbers zero to nine on it.

19. Find (and then eat or drink) something with chocolate on it or in.

20. Find a sock that is long enough to reach your knee and wear it for the rest of the day.

21. Add as many of your own ideas as you like. They can be things like "Sweep the kitchen floor." or "Sing your favorite song." or "Do your math worksheet." or "Give your mom a hug and kiss." Just have fun with it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's one of only two times God has ever told me, "No."

While I was in college, I applied to be a counselor at a Christian summer camp that I'd gone to every year while I was in high school. It would be impossible to describe how much it meant to me to get the job. As a teenager, I had experienced God's presence at the camp in unbelievable ways. His Spirit was so tangible in that place, it was like you could just reach out and touch Him. So, naturally, I wanted to "build a tent" there and dreamed of being on staff so I could seek God for three months straight, the way I saw it. But, I didn't get the job. For whatever reason, I didn't find enough favor with those involved in the process of choosing the counselors. I can think of ways in which I wasn't ready for the task, but still, I was more than disappointed over the rejection. I was heartbroken.

I had nothing else planned to do that summer, so that's when my youth leaders approached me about being a nanny to their children and grandchildren. And, it seemed like the next best thing. They needed someone. The position offered me a place to live and a way to earn a little money over the summer, so I took the job.

They welcomed me into their home. We were already good friends due to the years I had spent in their youth group, the countless hours I'd kept them up after church meetings talking, asking questions, praying, talking some more. But, as the weeks went by that summer, I became more like family. So much so that when I met my husband, Mr. Bob had to approve of him as surely as my real father did. Mrs. Kathy started calling me her Timothy and sure enough, I became like a child in faith to her like Timothy was to the apostle Paul. That summer made them more like another set of parents than friends. And, there was never a question that the time I spent there had been a blessing to me, to them, even to God, since I served Him by serving their kids and grands. But, I always thought I had just settled for doing the next best thing that summer, that is, until recently.

I was sitting in church several months ago and we sang this song. For some reason, the tone of it and the lyrics did the job of dredging up the sadness I still felt over that summer. I didn't even know how much I carried the disappointment of not being "chosen" with me. But, God used the song to put me in touch with it, most likely so he could set me free and I wept in church out loud and asked him, "Why? Why?" over and over again. I hadn't cried in church in years. My husband noticed, obviously, and asked me what happened. I told him how rejected I felt over not being chosen. I felt silly, like I was being juvenile over something that happened so long ago. I should be over it by now. Right? It should be no big deal. So, that was the end of it for a while. It wasn't settled in my heart, but life had to start up again and I got too busy to think about it.

But, a few weeks ago, I heard the song again. I didn't realize it was the same song until, just like before, as I was listening to it, I felt in touch with that same sadness. I wondered for a second, then realized it must have be the exact song that I had heard in church that day. So, I talked to God about how I felt, said much more than "Why?" this time. I told him that by not getting the job, I felt like He had set a limit on how much of Him I would be allowed to experience in my entire life. I had missed so much of Him that summer. I was sure I had been shut out from his best for me.

But, I heard His spirit say to me that though I wasn't chosen, He had chosen what was better for me. Almost audibly, I heard Him say, "Could you imagine your life without that summer as it was?" And, that question was enough to put my spirit at rest. I have to say, as I think about it, I can not imagine my life without the Jones.' They grew to have such a huge impact on me, particularly within that span of months, that I don't think I would be the same person today without the time I spent in their house. And, I wonder a little, too, how different things would be for them had I not come to stay. God had to say, "No" to something I wanted, so I'd be lead to make the less obvious choice.

I cannot say how much of a relief it is to realize, after all these years, God wasn't actually limiting Himself from me. Instead, He was actually tailoring a blessing to fit me, in a way, allowing me to experience Him through a family who lived their faith and a spirit-filled home. And, incredibly enough, His best for me included not having one of my dearest dreams come true. And, even more glorious, perhaps, is that after years of being misunderstood, God went so far as to stoop to explaining Himself. I thought I had given Him every single piece of my heart and that He had healed every little pain, but He knows our hearts even better than we do, amazingly enough. If we follow Him, if we allow His spirit to guide us, He will take us around every corner to deal with those things that matter to Him, the things that we didn't even realize mattered so much to us. He is such a careful, deliberate, loving Father!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A cell phone tower "disguised" as a tree, a perfect example of why some ideas should be abandoned because they can't be executed as well as they were conceived. This thing looks ridiculous and ruins the view more than a huge metal pole would.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Having a friend over is good because I have someone to play Barbies with,
but bad because I have to share my prettiest Barbie."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

This is where I was standing when a friend introduced me to Dwayne, in front of the mail boxes on our college campus. I took this picture when we visited last month. When I took his hand for the first time (to shake it), I thought, "Could this be the one?" Then, I gave myself a sharp rebuke, just like the poem says below. But, it didn't take long for my heart to be at peace while being thrilled in Dwayne's presence.

You held my hand
and I,
feeling a strange,
sweet thrill,
gave to my heart
a sharp rebuke,
and told it
to be still.

You held me close
and I
gasped, "Oh no!"
I felt my heart within me rise
and tell me
to be still.

-Ruth Bell Graham