Thursday, March 29, 2007

Off to Virginia...

Wow, over a week since my last post. That hasn't happened in a while. And no new pictures of Meggers in almost two weeks! I have to remedy that one, or grandparents around the country will go on strike.

I haven't had a lot of luck with the camera recently, but here are some cute shots from dinner time this evening--Meg in a variety of states and poses. (As you'll notice in a couple of pictures, broccoli was our veggie of choice tonight.)

Shoveling in some grub:
Dinner 1

"An adorable, faintly puzzled scowl"--that's how I would categorize this face:
Dinner 2

The partial profile:
Dinner 3

First hints of a smile:
Dinner 4

And a few more hints...
Dinner 5

There it is! An all-out laugh, actually:
Dinner 6

"Mommy's singing silly songs to make me giggle."
Dinner 7

Happy girl.
Dinner 8

In the midst of our very busy season, here's the update: Dave is working very hard, and the first weekend of Godspell performances went well. I got to go see the show this past Saturday night. I wish that every one of you reading this could attend. These Covenant Life productions are no run-of-the-mill high school dramas. We're talking months and months of rehearsal, an incredible sound system, a professional sound guy behind the mixing board (guess who?), wonderful lighting, a great set, great costumes and a top-notch pit band (even though they're not in a pit). And on top of all these benefits, there are a couple of secret weapons. The first one is Cathy Mays, the director. She is without a doubt the most gifted acting coach I have ever seen in action. Everything she touches seems to turn to gold, and every actor she directs--even kids with no prior experience--blossom under her care and instruction. The second secret weapon is the fact that every kid on that stage (and everyone behind the scenes as well) loves Jesus Christ and his gospel. Every kid up there is performing for God's glory, and that transforms this play into something that transcends their skill. You almost have to see it to understand and believe it.

But I digress. (You can't tell that I like theater, can you?) Like I said, Dave is working hard. He's at a dress rehearsal right now, ramping up for the second and final weekend of performances. The people doing this show are so blessed to have my husband--yes, if I do say so myself. He is so patient. He is so uncomplaining. He is so skilled. He is such a hard worker. He is such a... gift.

Meg and I have been keeping busy too--mostly around the house and taking walks in these beautiful first days of spring. Meg seems to be teething again (she had five come in all at once about a month ago, and now there seem to be more about to break through). This sometimes makes her less than a joy to be around, but, hey--everyone's gotta get teeth, you know? I just passed the 14 week mark in my pregnancy, which means the first trimester is over. I'm feeling very well, all things considered, although my tummy can be fluky and I'm still easily tired. (Today at a rehearsal for a little song-and-dance thing coming up at church, I did about 90 seconds of very light dancing--really more like hand motions, to be honest--and was practically panting afterward.)

Tomorrow morning, Meg and I will join Mom and Lena for a trip down to the Virgina Beach area, where Jacque and Asher live. The main reason for the trip is Jacqua's shower, which is Saturday. But we also plan to get in some mommy-sissy girl time before new babies start arriving and make that impossible for a while. We won't be back until Sunday afternoon, which means that Dave will be all by himself (albeit, he'll spend most of his time at church) for a whole weekend. None of us are looking forward to the separation. I hate leaving my husband--I'd much rather him be the one traveling, if someone has to be away! But being at my little sister's first baby shower is not something to be missed, and so we endure the parting... (Lift hand to forehead in tragic gesture here.)

I'm sure I'll have pictures to post and stories to tell after the trip, so check back on Monday or so. And keep my precious David in your prayers...!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Baby Asleep

(Note: I'm including a couple of pictures which obviously are not current. But they do capture some of the wonder of a sleeping baby--even if she's a bit bigger than she used to be.)

Meg Asleep at Almost 3 Months (1)
Last night and the night before, I enjoyed a rare treat. Meg fell asleep in my arms at bedtime and, since Dave was at work, I just sat and enjoyed her instead of running off to be with my hubby or get dinner on or whatever. I thought of the Sara Groves song that goes:

Nothing in this world is quite as sweet
As a tiny baby fast asleep
I could watch you till the end of time
'Specially when the baby is mine

That just about sums it up for me. I get to see Meg's face in all kinds of expressions during the day--sheer delight, anger, frustration, anticipation, and more. But there is something amazing about watching a baby's face in the repose of sleep. I don't know what it is. But it is one of the sweetest, most absorbing activities I know.

Holding my daughter those two nights, I felt her body twitch and quiver before it settled into deep relaxation. I noticed the way her brown lashes rest on her cheek and how her skin looks rosy and incredibly soft, even in the dimmest light. I listened to her tiny snore, brought on by a weekend cold. I rested my forehead against hers and felt the whisper of her breath against my face.

And last night, in the midst of it all, I realized that this thing called mother love is--despite its beauty and weight--an incredibly small thing. I sat there, with this powerful affection filling my heart, and saw how it was dwarfed by the awesome love of God. Mother love is wonderful and priceless--I believe that it's one reflection of God's own love. But compared to the love that God shows to men, even the purest, noblest, most ardent forms of love that we humans experience are just a shadow, an echo.

After all, God gave His Son to save me from my sin. Now just think: if God loved His Son Jesus as dearly as I love my little girl, voluntarily giving Him up to die would be an unimaginable sacrifice. But God, who is perfect, loves Jesus with a perfect love--a love that knows no impatience, no selfishness, no anger, no shadow of anything impure. And while Meg and I are often separated momentarily by the imperfections of our love for each other, God and Jesus were never, ever separated by sin--not even for a moment. And still God chose to send His Son to earth as a man, to let Him suffer and die at the hands of other men and, finally, to punish Him with the punishment that my sin deserved. This is a sacrifice infinitely greater than any that I could ever venture. "For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:7-8) God gave up His Son because of His love for me. I know that that is the greatest act of love that has ever, will ever take place.

Meg Asleep at Almost 3 Months (2)
All of this appeared in my mind as I held Meg in my arms last night. And another song began to play in my ears as I thought these things.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure--
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch his treasure.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


This is just a brief post to let you know that we would very much appreciate your prayers over the next month or so. We are right in the midst of an extremely busy season at Covenant Life Church. Our youth ministry, 10:31, is about to present its annual musical, which this year is Godspell. Dave is heavily involved in making the technical elements of the show happen. After Godspell, our church will host the Sovereign Grace Leaders Conference, in which Dave will also play a role, followed by the Easter season and all that comes with it in the life of a church. We praise God for all of these events and the chance to play a small part in each one. It's amazing to think that occasions as diverse as these--a theatrical production, a pastors' conference and the celebration of our Lord's passion and resurrection--can all serve to exalt and advance the gospel, each in their own way.

But these events will require a lot of hours at work and a lot of late nights for Dave. For Meg and me (and particularly for me, since Meg's evenings end around 7:00) that means quite a few long nights alone at home. So if you think of us, please pray for any or all of the following:
-strength for Dave as he works some long and unusual hours and (likely) experiences a little less sleep than he ought to get
-joy for both of us in serving our church
-meaningful time together as a couple and a family when Dave is not at work
-grace for me to use my "extra" time well

Thank you so much!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New Shoes

Sometimes Father really does know best.

Dave and I recently found ourselves disagreeing about whether or not Meg's shoes fit her. When I dressed her, I was able to get her feet into her size 3's with no problem. Well, okay, it was a little bit of a problem. It took some time, some shoe-lace loosening, and some TLC. But I just figured, "Hey, getting shoes on a baby is never easy. Just call me a shoe-wrangling Mama--I'm gonna get these shoes on her feet, and she's gonna like it!"

Not so my dear husband. Every time he attempted to shoe our daughter, it was, "Cara, I don't think these fit her." And, "Cara, these seem awfully small." At which point I would smile to myself in my knowing, womanly way and reply in my most gentle and patient tone, "I think they're okay, Love. I was able to get them on just fine yesterday."

After several episodes like this, I finally said, "Well, we do have a pair of size 4's that we could try if you think she's ready for them." You see, we have been gratefully living off the charity of another family whose third daughter, Rachel, is about 6 months older than Meg. They are not planning to have any more children, so when their little one outgrows something, off it goes to the Wilcoxes. I had just received a new bag containing a pair of gently-used, white, size 4, baby boots. I dug them out and delivered them to Dave, who put them on Meg and pronounced them "much better."

Except that the next day, they weren't much better. In fact, Dave was saying the same thing all over again. "Cara, these still seem awfully small. Are you sure that 4 is the right size for her at this point?" Sigh. As a matter of fact, I wasn't exactly sure. I mean, it's not as if we had ever had Meg's feet measured--we always just moved up to the next size when it seemed like the current shoes were getting too small.

Fortunately, at that very moment we were preparing for a trip to our local mall. "Tell you what," I said to my husband. "While we're there, let's stop at Stride Rite and have them measure her so we know for sure." I spoke these words, of course, without a trace of condescension, although I had little doubt about who had the better read on Meg's feet-needs!

At the mall, after Meg had thoroughly explored Professor Frog's Courtyard (a.k.a. "Froggy Land"), we ducked into the Stride Rite, where a Certified Fit Expert (a.k.a. saleslady) waited on us. By this time we had already surveyed the selection of very cute baby-girl shoes and decided that we weren't buying any. (I guess there must be a lot of people in the world who will spend $42 on a pair of shoes for a 15-month old who will only wear them for a matter of weeks, but at this point, we are not among them.) So when the woman asked, "How can I help you?" I boldly answered, "I think we just want to have her measured for today."

I held Meg on my lap while the C.F.E. pulled out her black-and-silver shoe store measurement thingy. I watched with my own eyes while she quickly and carefully measured our daughter's feet. And I heard with my own ears when she announced, "Size 5," and turned abruptly away to serve the next customer.

My David is truly the most gracious of men. He didn't even look at me when the verdict was pronounced; he didn't gloat; he didn't say I-told-you-so-you-silly-know-it-all-girl. He simply helped me load Meg back into her stroller, minus the size 4 white boots in which she arrived.

This Wednesday, as part of our date, the two of us went to Target to choose some more reasonably-priced footwear for Meg. (Dave's comment as we walked through aisles of pink sandals and white Mary Janes with all sorts of flowers and flourishes attached: "Having a girl is weird.") At last we arrived at the baby shoes. After surprisingly little discussion, we agreed on these:
Shoes 1

Meg seems to think they work just fine.
Shoes 2
Shoes 3

The tag attached to the shoes said that one of the features is "alternate closures." I take that as a reference to the fact that they have Velcro instead of laces or a buckle. So, wow. Now our daughter has shoes that fit her feet and go on easily. Sometimes it is good to be wrong.

Monday, March 12, 2007

We Have a Heartbeat!

I am not sure there is anyone who reads this blog who does not already know this, but just in case... we are pregnant!!! Yes, God willing, some time on or around September 24th of this year, I will give birth to our second child and Meg will face the fact that she is a big sister. (My Gran predicts that Meg's reaction to this realization will be less than joyful.)

So this is just a brief post to report that I had my second appointment at the Maternity Center this morning. I am now 12 weeks along, nearing the end of my first trimester, and our baby decided to let us hear his/her heartbeat today! It was pumping along at about 160 beats per minute, clear and strong. I wish I could have listened to that sound for much longer than the midwife gave me. The memory already seems kind of surreal. But I am just so thrilled--and somewhat relieved--that there was a heartbeat to listen to at all, even if it was brief! When we couldn't hear it at my first appointment, I was a little tempted to be anxious. ("Am I really pregnant? Yes, I've been nauseous, fatigued, not sleeping well at night, gaining weight... and, oh yeah, there was that positive pregnancy test... but what if it was all some kind of mistake? Wouldn't it be awful to have to go back and tell everyone, 'Actually, we're not pregnant. We only thought we were.'") Well, praise the Lord--today's events greatly reduced that temptation!

We are praying for another safe and healthy pregnancy and another beautiful, precious baby. We would be so grateful if you would join us in asking God for these blessings! And, as you can imagine, we'll be providing much more information on Baby #2 in the coming months!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Baby Shower!

Phew! Life is busy!

Today we celebrated the gift of Baby Jack. Jack Tyler Marcantonio is the soon-to-be born first child of my best girl friend, Jessica. A few of Jess's pals conspired to throw her a surprise shower, hosted this morning by my own very gracious mother. Members of Jessica's care groups coordinated the refreshments and brought decorations. I played the role of master of ceremonies.

Michelle DeCarlo (Dave's wife) was gracious enough to man my camera for me, since I was in and out with Meg. Here are some of the memories she captured.

The moment of truth. Did we get her?
You can't see her facial expression that well in this picture but, yes, I think we got her. She was about as surprised as a pregnant, naturally suspicious female could be! Jess's husband Kris did a great job of being a co-conspirator and getting her to my parents' house. Thanks for lying to your wife for us, Kris!

A small selection of the truly massive pile of gifts Jessica received:

The Momma-to-be, mugging for the camera:
Goofy Girl

Literally hemmed in by presents:
Hemmed in By Gifts

This is Jess with her own sweet Momma, Jacque Ragland, who traveled up from Charlottesville, VA for the grand occasion.
Jess and Momma Jacque

Some of Jessica's kind co-workers from Sovereign Grace Ministries:
Lovely Sovereign Grace Ladies

Oooh, toys!

A diaper stacker for Jack's nautically-themed nursery:
Diaper Stacker

Playing the dirty diaper game:
The Dirty Diaper Game
This one was Jessica's request for her own shower--her "lifelong dream," I think she called it (only somewhat jokingly). You melt down different kinds of candy bars, put them in diapers so they look like... well, you know... and then people have to guess which diaper contains which candy. Yes, it's every bit as gross as it sounds. But no one who knows Jess well was too surprised by her choice.

Here Karen Ballinger demonstrates the sniff technique:
KB Sniffs


Me with the most adorable shower guest in attendance:
Me and Megger

The happy, expectant Mommy:
The Almost-Momma

What a privilege to honor a friend as she prepares to walk through the door of motherhood. Kris and Jess, we love and respect you guys more than you know, and we can't wait to meet your son!

Friday, March 09, 2007

15-Months Check-Up (by Meg)

Yesterday Mommy and I paid a visit to my pediatrician, Dr. Wells-Green. When you're my age, you learn a lot about yourself every time you visit the doctor, like how much you've grown and how you measure up with other kids who are as old as you. So I thought you might like to know what we found out.

I now weigh 23 lbs and 4 oz, which puts me squarely in the 50th percentile, at long last. (Phew! We thought I would never make it to "normal!" Must be all the whole milk and cheese and yogurt that I'm getting these days.) I am 31 inches tall, or somewhere near the 80th percentile for height. That means I have gained 3 lbs., 5 oz. and grown 2 inches in the past three months! Not bad, hm?

Smiley Girl 1
The doctor looked in my mouth and my eyes and my ears, and he said they looked great. He pressed on my belly and said it felt great. While Mommy was asking him some questions, I walked around the examining room (in just my diaper), and he said my mobility was great. I yelled, "Ba ba ba ba, BA BA BA BA BA BA BA BOB!" for a while, and Mommy told him about the other sounds I make, and he said that, for my age, I sound great. So there you have it. I guess I'm doing, well... pretty great all 'round.

Smiley Girl 2
Oh, and get this: I got two shots, and I didn't cry at all! I made one little whimper when the first needle went in, and I flinched and squirmed a bit both times, but I never wailed or shed one single tear. Jamie, the nurse, said I have always been a good shot-getter, and Mommy said she was so proud of me. It sure feels nice to be good at something!

We are thankful to God that I am such a healthy girl. In 15 whole months, I have scarcely ever been to the doctor for anything but a check-up! May God continue to bless our family with wonderful health!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Silly Little Milestone

Today, after eight days straight of hard work and long hours, my husband has a day off. We had a family breakfast to celebrate being together. French toast and yummy fruit. It is so nice to have Dave home with us!
As I was preparing the French toast, I pulled my jar of cinnamon out of the cabinet and realized that this was the last time I would ever use it. Just a few shakes and it was empty. Normally I don't make much of the passing of spices--just recycle it and open a new jar, right? But this was the cinnamon that I bought on my first grocery-shopping trip as a married woman. This is the cinnamon that saw us through more than three years of French toast, muffins, and oatmeal cookies. This cinnamon jar was almost exactly the same age as our marriage. So it seemed to me that its expiration deserved just a wee bit of respectful acknowledgement. Farewell, faithful cinnamon jar. You served us well.

There's a song about measuring a year in a person's life by all of the mundane little things that they might do during that year--the cups of coffee they drink, the miles they travel, the tears they shed. I wonder what sorts of things we might use to measure a marriage. Homes occupied? Dinnner conversations shared? Conflicts encountered and resolved? Children raised? Certainly the amount of cinnamon consumed doesn't say much about a marriage. Or does it? If, by God's grace, my husband and I should both live to see the consumption of, say... twenty more value-sized cinnamon jars... well then, maybe that would say something after all.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Welcome, Dave and Mariana!

Dave and Mariana
Many of our kind friends and family regularly inquire about our basement situation. As you may know, shortly after we bought our townhouse, we hired a contractor to finish part of our basement out as an efficiency-type apartment. A young couple rented the space from us for the first year after it was completed. But that couple moved on last May, and though we have had several "nibbles" since then, no one has signed a lease.

Meanwhile, one of Dave's closest friends and former roommates, Dave Spitzberg, has been wooing his future bride, Mariana Garcia. Their wedding is a week from tomorrow, actually. And while the soon-to-be Spitzbergs have a larger apartment to lease beginning in April, they needed somewhere to live for the first couple of weeks after their honeymoon, while they wait for their own place to become available.

Since the Lord has not seen fit to provide us with a more permanent renter, we are more than happy to have Dave and Mariana join us for the month of March. Mariana has been moving stuff in over the past two days, and she and her mother (who is here from Argentina for the wedding!) are now occupying the apartment.

We thank God for providing us with renters (even if it's only for a month!) and--much more--for bringing Dave and Mariana together in the precious covenant of marriage! We can't wait to celebrate with you guys next Sunday!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Growing Gains and Growing Pains

Serious 3
It's amazing how much Meg seems to be learning right now. For months we've been working with her on certain "no touch" items, and for months it seemed to make no difference. Now suddenly, this week and last week--a breakthrough of sorts. She has almost stopped going for the desk drawer (which contains the computer keyboard and--her very favorite--the mouse). This was her greatest temptation for so long, and now she's begun to exercise some self-control! It's exciting!

She throws her food on the floor a little less. She responds much more quickly to, "Meg, please look at Mommy," and "Meg, that's no touch. Come away from there, please." She also understands me when I tell her she needs a diaper change, and she will come over and lay down on the changing mat all by herself! (It's so cute--she hasn't quite figured out how to orient herself on it, so she usually lays down across the mat horizontally or diagonally or upside-down. But she's trying hard!) When it's mealtime, she follows me to her high chair and waits to be put into it. These are all evidences of grace in our little girl's life, and I give God thanks for being at work in our family!

She is also doing some things that are just plain fun. She can put the pieces of her "cookie puzzle" (sent by Grandma Dawn and Grandpa Tom for her birthday) in their proper places. When it's time to read a book, she knows to plop herself down in my lap, though she's sometimes not in quite the right position when she plops. She understands me when I say, "Meg, let's go to Mommy's room now," or, "It's time to go downstairs," and she will drop what she's doing and go stand at the door, waiting for me to open it.
Serious 2
So many good things are happening! Finally!

I've been surprised by how easy it is to fall into unbelief even in these very early stages of child-training and discipline. "This isn't working." "She just isn't getting it." "Is this the right way to teach her?" Thoughts like these creep into my mind and I have to stop and remind myself, "No, Cara, God's Word promises that loving, faithful instruction will eventually have its effect." The problem is just that I'm impatient! And lazy! (The lazy-part doesn't surprise me too much, given my laziness in other areas.)

I see my laziness most clearly when Meg disobeys a direct instruction I have given her. For example, let's say I tell her to "Come here, please." This is one of those things we're not sure she understands yet, so we're trying to help her learn. If I call her and she doesn't come, I have resolved to get up immediately and go and show her what obedience looks like--in this case, I lead her toward the spot where I was and say, "See? This is what it means when Mommy says, 'Come here'." But so often, my first impulse is to want to stay where I am, keep doing what I am doing, ignore the situation just this once! Then I have to remember something else that God's Word promises: as I sow, so shall I reap. Every day I have the chance to sow faithfully into Meg's life, knowing that we will both reap good fruit some day. Or I can sow sporadically, half-heartedly, giving into my laziness--with the expectation of reaping fruit in keeping with that seed. No thanks.
Serious 1
I am so grateful that God, in his goodness, has designed the process of bringing up children to be beneficial for the souls of parents as well as little ones! It is well worth it to overcome my own sinful tendencies in order to work with Meg on overcoming hers. May God grant both of us more grace, that more good fruit may abound in our lives, to His glory!