Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Past: Christmas Morning

Here is a recap of our Christmas morning, in pictures... and a few words, of course. (I can't help myself!)

After a waaaaaay too short night, Dave and I got up and readied a few things around the house. Then we got the kids up. Here is my Christmas Meg in her Christmas jammies drinking her Christmas juice:
Christmas 1

We took everyone out to the living room to behold William Howard in all of his gift-sheltering splendor.
Christmas 2

Then we read one of our favorite Christmas books, This Is The Star, as well as some of the nativity narrative from the book of Luke. Then we began the present opening. There was a lot to open, as we had gifts from two sets of grandparents under the tree as well as our own. Since we were in a bit of a hurry to get down to Virginia for the "big family" Christmas, we carried on an old Nalle tradition of breakfasting on the living room floor while unwrapping gifts.
Christmas 5

This is our family's gift from Grandpa Don and Grandma Jan: a Family Fun Night Fund Jar... stuffed to the brim with greenbacks. What a great idea!
Christmas 12

A mysterious, large gift sat in the corner--apparently unnoticed by Meg--until all of the other presents were unwrapped. Then it was time for the unveiling! What is it, Meg?
Christmas 8

Woah... it's an easel from Grandma Dawn and Grandpa Tom!
Christmas 9
Christmas 10

Dave got two baseball caps--one University of Michigan (he's not really a big fan, but at least it's a way to show loyalty to his home state) and one with an SR-71 Blackbird on it (that's a cool military aircraft). Here he models his new headgear, with a little help from Meg.
Christmas 16

Trying out Meg's "big" gift from Daddy and Mama--remember the old Sit 'N' Spin?
Christmas 15

Goofin' off:
Christmas 13

My Christmas sweeties:
Christmas 4

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Past: Meg's Ornaments

Well, Christmas 2007 is behind us already--although I thank God that we never have to stop celebrating Christ's incarnation! Christmas week was full and rich for the Wilcoxes. Unfortunately, I got far fewer pictures than I had hoped, and the ones I did get are not all that I could desire. (Christmas with Miss Perpetual Motion didn't lend itself to great still shots.) But in my next few posts, I'll share what we did get, along with a few short stories about our festivities.

On Christmas Eve--or was it Christmas Eve Eve?--we got out Meg's small collection of Christmas tree ornaments and helped her to hang them on William Howard's generous branches. Here she reaches to place a little glass block in just the right spot:
Ornaments 1

The block and these shoes are both pieces of a "Baby's First Christmas" set given to Meg by my Aunt Heidi on December 25, 2005, when Megger was just three weeks old.
Ornaments 3

Matthew participated in this little ceremony by reclining on the couch and sucking his fist.
Ornaments 2

I took this last shot through tears as Dave read Meg the inscription on the box of one very special ornament--the one given to her on her first birthday by Margie, my late grandmother, whose name Meg bears. In a hand made shaky by a long fight with cancer, Margie wrote: "For Meg--Margaret Lauren Wilcox--12/4/2006. With all my love to my precious great granddaughter, Margaret E. Helms."
Ornaments 4

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Advent 1

Our friends the Whitneys made me want to share a little about our family's observation of advent...

Growing up in the Nalle home, advent was an important season every year. I believe that it was my mother who built and championed our traditions in this area, and I am so thankful that she did. We had two advent calendars--both of the paper variety, with 24 small, numbered doors hidden in a picture. One of the calendars featured short Bible verses behind each door; the other showed very brief prayers in verse. We used those calendars for so many years that a couple of the doors wore out and fell off. (Jacque, Lena and I never wanted our turn to open the doors to fall on a night with broken doors.)

Every night in December we gathered around our advent wreath, round and made of evergreen branches, to remind us of God's eternity. Each week we lit another one of the four candles set within the wreath. I remember learning the hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" at a young age. It was my first taste of the longing for Christ's coming which characterizes this season. I ran across this moving and apt description of the reason for this longing. (Sorry--it's a little long, but so good.)

Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves... It is that hope, however faint at times, and that God, however distant He sometimes seems, which brings to the world the anticipation of a King who will rule with truth and justice and righteousness over His people and in His creation. It is that hope that once anticipated, and now anticipates anew, the reign of an Anointed One, a Messiah, who will bring peace and justice and righteousness to the world.

This year Meg is old enough that we decided to inaugurate our own advent celebrations. Since our girl is still so small, we have started out very simply. Each night we turn off most of the lights in our home and light candles. (We are currently in week three of advent; thus we currently light three candles). Meg is fascinated by the candlelight. Without us even telling her, she understands that the time when we light those candles is something special. Suddenly she becomes quiet, very still and utterly attentive. I think she is somewhat awed by the whole thing.

We sit down at our dining room table with our beautiful advent calendar in front of us. (A dear friend of my family gave this to us as a wedding gift--so thoughtful!) We read together from one of the Christmas books that I brought home from the library. These books vary in the ways they tell the nativity story, but the important thing is that they all recount the biblical narrative of the night on which Jesus was born. They also have pictures. My hope is that Meg will absorb little tidbits of the reality as she soaks in images and words that show and tell the story.

Advent 2

After our reading, we move to the calendar. It came with a pamphlet that tells the nativity story progressively. There are a few sentences for each day--lines which tell the part of the story that relates to that day's piece. The pieces, hidden behind the numbered doors, come out and hang in their own places on the Bethlehem scene. Each day we read the story from the beginning, as Meg solemnly points out each piece with every mention of its name. Star, shepherds, sheep, angels, wise men, gold, frankincense. Then we read that day's new bit of the story, and Meg pulls out the day's piece. Then I hang it up as part of the scene.

We decided to close our advent time by singing together. Each night we sing the first verse of "Hark the Herald Angels." I love this song not only because it retells specific bits of the story that Meg has just heard, but also because it tells why the story is important:

Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the new born King!
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise!
Join the triumph of the skies!
With the angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!

"God and sinners reconciled." This Jesus, of whom angels sang to the shepherds, came to bring sinful men into loving relationship with a holy God. What joy! What triumph! What reason we have to sing!

After our song, we encourage Meg to repeat a little prayer, something to the effect of, "Jesus, thank you for coming as a baby to be my Savior." She doesn't say all of the words right (or at all), but she's hearing them. She's hearing about this Savior. She's hearing that He came for her.

And that's it--advent at the Wilcoxes'. Simple and repetitive. It's a small start--but I pray that God will use it to plant seeds of big truth in my children's hearts.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Three Months Old (by Matthew)

Yesterday I turned three months old. I celebrated by sleeping a lot. And smiling a good bit. And sitting up in my Bumbo chair for the first time.

This month's big news about me could be summed up with the headline: MATTHEW FLIPS. It happened late one night about two weeks ago. For some reason, I couldn't sleep, even though it was the time of night when I usually went down for good ("for good" meaning four or five hours at a time). Three times Mommy came back into my dark room, resoothed me, and laid me down in my crib. I would drop off to sleep, snooze for 10-20 minutes, and then wake up crying again. Letting me alone didn't seem to help. So after the third time, Mommy came in my room, flicked on the bright light, and told me she was just going to hang out with me for a while.

She put me on my tummy on a blanket in the middle of the floor so I could have some tummy time--and hopefully wear myself out. Prior to this evening, I almost always responded to tummy time by flailing feebly and wailing like the world was over. On this night, however, I just lay there contentedly. Mommy picked up a book, determined to wait me out. After a few minutes, she peeked at my face and noticed that my eyes were getting droopy. The next time she peeked, I was sound asleep. Mommy got up, turned off the light, and left me there, on the floor. I slept till 8:00 the next morning.

Ever since then, I am an all-the-time tummy sleeper. It has helped me go down much more easily--no rocking required--and sleep for longer stretches at night. Now for all of you shocked members of the American Academy of Pediatrics who are reeling about the audacity of a mommy who dares to flout your advice about back-sleeping and SIDS... well, we're very sorry. But my mommy says she knows several other mommies whose babies have slept much better on their tummies, and my big sister would hardly sleep at all until she flipped onto hers. (Even after that she was a hard sell.) So it's tummy-sleeping for the Wilcoxes... and regular prayers that God would protect me from SIDS. :)

In other news, I have a great new toy that my friend Jack loaned to me. (He's too big for it now.) It's an activity mat that I lie on, and it has two bars that stretch up over my head and have fun things dangling off of them. When I bat one of the dangling things with my hand, lights flash and pretty music plays. I love this toy and give it lots of grateful and delighted smiles for being so fun. I could hang out on it for hours... except that I am still only awake for about one hour (nursing time included) before I start to lose it and land back in my crib.

And now for a roundup of pictures from my third month. Here I am playing on the mat:
Matthew3Mos 2
Matthew3Mos 1

Here's one where Meg decided to join me and see what the smiles were all about:
Matthew3Mos 5

Me asleep on my tummy:
Matthew3Mos 3

Oh, hello, Mommy:
Matthew3Mos 4

Self-portrait with Mommy:
Matthew3Mos 6

Gettin' love from Daddy:
Matthew3Mos 7

This is me being held by Cubby, my great-grandfather. Mommy loves seeing the dear, old hands next to the sweet, new ones.
Matthew3Mos 8

Matthew3Mos 9

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sudden Reflection


I just realized that my beloved grandmother, Margie, is celebrating her first advent and Christmas season in Heaven. I wonder what it is like to commemorate the coming of Christ in the place where He is always come. It must be... it must be...

It must be Heaven.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meet William Howard

Here in the Wilcox home, we favor fat Christmas trees. No slender, elegant, lady-like trees for us, thankyouverymuch. We like 'em nice and round. The most devoted readers of this blog may dimly remember last year's tree, Chester, who was a perfect example of our favored shape. Wait, you don't remember? Well, here's his picture:
Chester the Tree
(If you don't remember Chester's appearance, you may also need reminding that each year we name our tree after an American president. That comes in again later in this post.)

I was speculating to my husband that the reason I love nice, fat trees is that they make me feel like I did when I was a little girl--that is, small by comparison. In a townhouse, there's only so much you can do with a tree as far as its height. A nine-footer just ain't gonna work. But volume can make up for that if you let it. And we let it.

So this Monday was, as usual, family day, and we had planned to get our Christmas tree. We opted, as usual, for the pre-cut, nursery route rather than the cut-your-own route. Got to the nursery, unloaded the kiddos, began to browse among the Frasier firs, which is what we've had the last several years. Except. This year all of the Frasiers just seemed so... skinny. Row after row of tall, straight, soldierly trees there were, but not a single plump and jolly one among them!

Well, down a few aisles we found the Douglas firs, which were the same price as the Frasiers and therefore okay to look at. Almost right away we found our tree. Niiiiice and round. Call the nursery guy to come take it off the stake, pay the lady at the register, drive home. Put Matthew to bed, get Meggers safely out of the way with a movie, bring the tree inside, and snip away the netting that restrained its boughs and its glory.


That is one... fat... tree.

"This thing is huge!"
"Was it this big at the nursery?"
"It really didn't seem this wide when it was outside."
"Well, I like it anyway; it's beautiful, and it smells fabulous."
"Yeah, I think I like this kind of tree more than what we've been getting."
"Me too. The needles are cool, and the color is richer, I think."
"This thing is enormous."

See for yourself:
BigTree 1
Now scroll back up and look at Chester and see how much less of the room he occupied. Yeah, this guy is bigger. I'd say he takes up almost a full quarter of our living room.

So when choosing a name for this tree, my mind went instantly to my 11th grade AP American History class. That's where I learned, from my outstanding (and outstandingly zany) teacher Mr. Kent, that William Howard Taft was our nation's most egregiously obese president. Seriously. The man once got stuck in the White House bath tub. I am not making that up.

And so, I would like to introduce all of you to our dear Christmas tree, William Howard. We are very fond of him. Of course, that doesn't stop my husband from saying things like, "All right, William Howard, now that you've taken over our home...".

Here are some pictures of our home's temporary centerpiece.

William Howard fully rigged out:
BigTree 2
(Dad Wilcox, you'll want to note the stuffed chicken sitting beneath William Howard--he comes out with the Christmas decorations every year and gives us a laugh or two.)

William Howard with Meg in front to give you some perspective (caption: "Mom and Dad, what were you thinking?):
BigTree 4

"Do you think black is slimming on me?" No, dear William Howard, you are still fat in the dark.
BigTree 3

Friday, December 07, 2007

Babies In the Brown Chair

Wednesday was my favorite kind of winter day: a snow-fall day. Our first of the season. Outside it was whispery still and cold and white and somehow unearthly. Inside it was warm and merry and familiar and snug. After several days of almost constant hurry and bustle, this day presented the perfect excuse to lay aside my to-do list, gaze out the window, relax and enjoy my babies. So that's what I did. And I took pictures, so that you might enjoy my babies too.

When I set Matthew up in our living room's comfy brown chair, Meg clambered up beside him and wriggled her arm back around his shoulders. For a few moments, she was content to sit still and pose with her brother. I clicked away happily for as long as this rare mood lasted.

Just settling in:
M&M 1

How darling can you get?
M&M 2

"You doing okay down there, Matthew?"
M&M 3

"Well, to be honest this kind of hurts my neck..."
M&M 4

M&M 5

"Maybe you just need a kiss."
M&M 6

"Or how about a sip of juice?"
M&M 7

"No? Well, I love you, anyway, buddy."
M&M 8

"Okay, well, that was a nice sentimental little interlude, but... I think I'm done now."
M&M 9

"Bye-bye, big sister."
M&M 10

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Two Year Stats (by Meg)

Headshot Meg

I went to see the doctor today. My favorite thing about going there is the great big table in the middle of the well-children's waiting room. It is just the right height for me and it has lots and lots of choo-choo cars* all over it, and a track for them to drive on and tunnels for them to go through and all kinds of things. There is also a very nice rocking neigh* over in the corner. I like to ride on it.

Today when I stood on the rattly metal thing nurse Jamie said that I weighed 29.5 lbs, which is about the 80th percentile. Then she laid that cold metal thing on my head and told me to look straight ahead. I didn't like that much, so Mommy smiled real big and tried to convince me it was a hat. (I wasn't really buying it.) Anyway, when that was over she said I was 2' 10.5" tall.

Mommy asked if it's really true that if you double my height at two you'll find out how tall I'll be when I grow up. The nurse said that it's not fool-proof but it's often pretty close. Mommy figures that puts me at about 5' 9" some day. That means taller than her but shorter than Daddy, which is a good thing, because Daddy announced the other day that he won't mind if his sons exceed him in height but he's not real excited about his daughters being taller than him.

Then the doctor came and checked me out. I was very good for him, even though I am just a little scared of people poking and prodding me. I did fuss for a moment when he tried to look in my mouth and put the bright light in my eyes, but not much. And of course, I cried a tiny bit when the nurse came back in and put those nasty, cold pricky things straight into my arm, but it was very quick, and then Mommy wrapped me up in a great big hug and told me all done, so then I was okay. As we walked out to our car Mommy told me she was so proud of me for being brave. And she told God she was so grateful that Matthew slept in his car seat for the whole appointment!

And that's the story of our trip to the doctor's office today.

*Some words and phrases in Meg's vernacular may vary from those used by the average American adult.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Birthday Party

Our little big girl turned two yesterday, and we are just floored by how quickly she has grown from teeny baby into full-fledged preschooler. A toddler she is not--that is, she sure doesn't do anything that resembles "toddling" any more. Running? Jumping? Tumbling? Yes, but no toddling.

We had a small birthday party for her and my mom, who shares the December 4 birth date, on Sunday afternoon. It was great to have our dear family and a few close friends here to celebrate with us. Here's a brief recap of Meg's half of the party:

Our simple decor scheme--scattered pink and yellow balloons--was more than enough to satisfy the birthday girl:
Bday 1

Mommy brings out the cake--or rather, cupcakes:
Bday 3

Meg, having been warned so many times to stay away from things that are hot, is terrified of this flaming offering now being laid before her.
Bday 4
(Grandma Dawn, I trust you are noting the heirloom revolving cake platter!)

But she quickly recovered enough to watch Daddy and Mommy blow out the candles...
Bday 5

...and clap for herself.
Bday 6

At first, Meg was a little tentative about opening presents, like this one from Grandma Dawn and Grandpa Tom.
Bday 8

One of Daddy and Mommy's gifts was a set of dress-up clothes, which Meg tried to put on all at once.
Bday 10

After she realized that all of the stuff inside these packages was really cool and exciting, she warmed up to the present opening.
Bday 12

One of the biggest hits of the day was this Elmo doll from Grandpa Don and Grandma Jan. (Meg's playing with it as I type, as a matter of fact.)
Bday 15

Isn't she awful cute?
Bday 7

A couple of shots of family... Cubby checking out Meg's gifts:
Bday 9

The other birthday girl, holding Matthew:
Bday 13

Lovely Lena ("Neeee-uh" in Megese):
Bday 16

After it was all over we realized that we had forgotten to let Meg sample her own cake! We rectified that yesterday at lunch time:
Bday 17

I think she liked it!
Bday 18

I will save the bulk of my meditations for more private records, but suffice it to say that Dave and I are very, very grateful for our daughter. The joy and the grace that she ushers into our lives are sweet beyond words. We cannot imagine life without her. In short, Meg, we love you!