Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Visit With Family

Grandma Dawn, Grandpa Tom and Meg

Just moments ago, we said goodbye to our favorite Michiganers. That's right--Dave's dear mother and step-dad were here this week, and we enjoyed our time with them very much. Meg especially loved having her grandparents here--now that she is big enough to really play and socialize with others, having company is a real treat for her! (Note: We didn't get a lot of great pics, but the few shown here will at least give you a taste of the fun Meg had with her very attentive Grandma and Grandpa!)

Grandma Reading to Meg

Mom and Tom, as we call them, arrived here on Sunday evening and stayed through this morning. Unfortunately, Dave and I were both sick for much of their stay, and I'm afraid we managed to pass our colds on to Tom. However, we did still get to take some outings--a playground, a couple of restaurants, and a notable antiquing expedition which I will have to cover in more detail in some other post. (Hint: Mom and Tom were the ones who wanted to look at antiques, but--thanks mostly to Mom and Tom--Dave and I scored the big bargain!)

Grandma and Meg with Leggos

Most of all, we enjoyed talking and catching up as an extended family. Since we only get to see Dave's folks one to two times a year, every moment we have with them is precious. We are so grateful for Mom and Tom's love, generosity and willingness to make the trip "down south" to visit us. We pray that God grants them safe travel on their two-day trek back to Merritt, MI and all manner of grace until we see them again.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Moving Right Along

Just the briefest of posts to say that Baby Inside is definitely moving now! For many weeks I was feeling what I thought could be his/her movements, though I really wasn't sure. But about what I feel now--probably several times a day for about the last week--there can be no doubt! The small, delicate and distinct flutterings of that tiny life inside me (a baby at 17 weeks gestation measures about 5 inches long) come at quiet moments, when I am sitting still and alert. There can be no confusing them with tummy burblings--these are the real deal, the sign I have waited for, the experience that, more than any other, makes my pregnancies (so far) depart from the realm of surrealism.

We're having another baby! He/she is alive and kicking around in there! What a miracle! What a gift!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Just Playin'

Some shots of Meg today during a silly moment:

Just Playin' 1

Just Playin' 2

Just Playin' 3

Just Playin' 4

Just Playin' 5

Just Playin' 6

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Meg Update

Meggie at Home

Our 16-month old girl is growing up fast. We're seeing so many changes in her right now that it's hard to keep track of them all. But here's an attempt at recapping some:

Communication: Wow, Meg is understanding so much of what Dave and I say now! Each day, it seems, we're able to give her increasingly detailed instructions and see her respond appropriately. For example: if she is looking for a specific toy, we might say, "Turn around, Meg. The ball is behind you." And sure enough, around she turns and heads straight for that ball! She's also "talking" a good bit more now, although she's really not trying to articulate specific words yet. She does have one baby sign that she has latched on to--a little clapping motion that she uses to mean "Yes," "More please," "Let's do it again," "I want that," and sometimes just, "I want something and I'm not really sure what." In the grocery store the other day, she used this sign to tell me what I should buy: when we stopped in the Pepperidge Farm snack section and Meg's eyes landed on the Goldfish crackers, whew, you should have seen her clapping! As soon as I picked up a bag of them and plunked it in the cart, the clapping ceased.

From two naps to one. Meg's transition from two naps to one has been long and somewhat perplexing to her novice parents. For the past two months or so, she still seemed to need to go down for a morning nap no later than 10:30 a.m. Then by 3:00, when she used to take an afternoon nap, she would once again seem exhausted. Except, for some reason, she often wouldn't sleep. But neither would she allow us to push her morning nap back to later in the day--her little body alarm clock would go off right at 10:00 every day, and if we didn't start the wind-down nap-time routine, it was whine city! Anyway, as of two weeks ago, it all changed. Suddenly, she was completely ready to wait until noon for her nap. So now she gets 2 hours or so, right in the middle of the day, and it seems to be working out well.

Meggie at Home 1

Weaned! At one year old, Meg was down to nursing only three times a day. For the other daily feedings she had already gradually weaned herself. In the last four months, three feedings a day became just one, first thing in the morning. For a long time, she didn't seem willing to let this one go, and at times, I was reluctant as well. I really have enjoyed nursing my girl. But starting last week, it seemed we were both ready! One morning, Dave went in to get Meg from her crib in the morning, and Meg didn't cry for Mommy! The next day--same thing! And on the third day, when I went to in get her, she seemed to have forgotten that she used to want milk as soon as Mommy came in sight! We have now gone seven days straight with no nursing and no sign that Meg misses it.

Little climber: It's official. Meg has conquered her first piece of living room furniture. Next to our couch we have this cool barrel-backed chair that, until recently, resided in my Margie and Cubby's house. The seat sits low to the ground--low enough that Miss Meg has figured out how to wiggle and squirm and climb her way into it. Sometimes I will walk into the living room to find her proudly sitting (or standing, though I discourage this) in that chair, grinning like she just mastered Mt. Everest. Watch out world--nothing is safe now.

Chair Climber
Chair Climber 2
Chair Climber 1

Hair. Meg's hair is getting long. In the front, it's long enough to graze her eyelashes, and in the back, when it's wet, it hangs down well over her collar. (If it's not wet, it's generally curly in the back and seems a bit shorter.) So what do you do with your little girl's hair when it's getting long, but not long enough to cut, and not thick enough to use a pony-tailer (or at least not any that I have found). We have some teeny clips that work to hold her hair back on the sides--at least occasionally, but I have to be on my guard lest Meg discover that they're there and pull them out and ingest them. (They're really small.) To be honest, a lot of days Meg's hair just looks, well... a bit awkward and messy. Fortunately, I think she'll grow out of it.

The proud owner of... Recently we discovered that Meg enjoys playing with bouncy balls, and, since balls are both active and cheap fun, she is now in possession of two of them. One is that kind of heavy-duty rubber that kick-balls are made of: blue, with pictures of some cute characters (whom we had never heard of till we bought the ball) called "The Backyardigans". The other, purchased for Meg by our friend Jenn Dabbondanza, is one of those soft rubber balls that you find in big wire bins at Kmart and Giant and such. It is all colored in swirly pinks and purples. Meg loves both of these balls, and in the week or so that we have owned them I feel sure that the Wilcox family has devoted at least a full 24 hours to playing with them. (To wit, last night, as we were discussing highly important, adultish-type issues, Dave and I found ourselves mindlessly tossing one of the balls back and forth, even though our daughter had been in bed for hours.)

Meg with the Bouncy-Balls

So there you have it--all you ever wanted to know (and more) about our growing girl. Of course, there is much more that her loving parents would be happy to share, but since this blog entry is already pushing epic proportions, we'll leave it here for now.

Meggie at Home 2

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sweet Baby Jack is Here!

Baby Jack
Our cherished friends Kris and Jessica Marcantonio had their baby this week. Jack Tyler Marcantonio arrived 9 days overdue, on April 10th at 12:17 a.m. Boy, is his Mama glad he decided to move when he did! He was 8 lbs., 10 oz. and I think 22.5" at birth. Not huge by any means, but you see where he was headed if he had delayed much longer!

Jack is an adorable, wee baby boy with thick black hair and that saggy-baggy skin that newborns have until their muscles fill out. (I think one of the things I love most about a newborn is the way that his teeny lower lip buttons up underneath his upper lip. Makes a perfect little rosebud for kissing, plus it gives him that cute puckered chin!) His Daddy and Mama are well, and so happy to finally know their son.

We are delighted for you, Marcantonio family, and look forward to making many precious memories in the days and years to come--all six of us (and soon, all seven)!


Resurrection Celebration

This week we celebrated Resurrection Sunday, and I am overdue to write about it.

Easter. It's become probably my favorite day of the whole year. Each year I grow a bit in my understanding of what it meant--and means--that Christ was raised from the dead: that He conquered sin and death for all those who put their faith in Him; that He proved His own perfect righteousness; that He demonstrated that His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father; that one day all Christians will be raised from death along with Him.

This Easter, though a bit different from all the others I have known, was truly wonderful--just wonderful. Meg and I got up and hustled off to church (Dave had already been there for several hours) in time for the 9 a.m. service. I took Meg to her Children's Ministry class, and she went to one of the kind workers there without crying! In fact, she stayed there happily through the entire hour-and-a-half, for the very first time! What a wonderful Easter gift for her Mommy!

I kept an eye on the nursery pager, but apart from that I was able to enjoy the whole service completely without distraction! The music was wonderful, the sermon excellent. Through it all, I must say that I enjoyed God so very much--enjoyed singing of and meditating on His character and works, enjoyed tasting His goodness in the presence of my dear church family. I hope that you know just what I am talking about from your own experience. If not, I pray that you will some day taste these kinds of joys, for there is nothing to which I can compare them.

After church, Meg and I headed home and Meg went down for her nap. I kept busy in the kitchen. Around 3:00, Dave came home from his extended morning at church and Meggers awoke. Dave's arrival was followed shortly by that of my sister Lena, and then our friend K. The four of us "grown-ups" (so-called), plus Meg, formed our Easter luncheon party. We dined on beef, mashed potatoes, two kinds of salads, and a frozen dessert concoction.

Warning: lengthy aside ahead. Skip the next paragraph if you could care less about my culinary adventures.

(Cooking the beef was a new experience for me. Growing up in a household where we stuck largely to ground beef, ground turkey, poultry, fish and the occasional tofu/other vegetarian entree, I never learned about the different cuts of meat and their properties. So the day before Easter I went to the grocery store looking for "something special"--but not too special. I thought perhaps I'd find some sort of beef to roast, as a bit of an experiment. My main requirement was that it be affordable. I came home with 2 pounds of... round top, I think it was. Then I sat down and looked it up on the Internet, where I learned that round top is one of the less tender cuts of meat. Hmmm. Best to use a "moist heat method" of cooking in order to maximize tenderness, my online source told me. So... fun! I got to try a new meat and a new cooking method--I chose braising--in one day! Not to mention the wonderfully fragrant, herb-ful rub that I made to marinate the meat. As it worked out, the flavor that the rub lent was definitely the best part of the dish. In other words, although I enjoyed the new cooking experience, I am not sure I would try round top again in a hurry, even if it is relatively cheap.)

The only thing missing from my day was more family. I believe this was my very first Easter away from both of my parents at once (that's first out of 27!). Mom and Dad were in Pennsylvania, preparing to move my grandparents down here to Maryland. So they were spending the time well, but I missed them very much. I also missed the rest of the Nalle clan, with whom we used to spend every Easter, once upon a time, before we all got so spread out, geographically speaking.

Despite these small drawbacks, Easter of 2007 was a lovely, rich, refreshing day. We filled the afternoon time with munching and fellowship. There was much talk of God's kindness and how He is at work in our lives. What an appropriate way to spend Resurrection Day--speaking of the grace that Christ's resurrection assured.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Glorious Monday

Cherry Blossoms Close-Up

Dave and I recently made a change to our schedule. Instead of doing Date Night on Monday evenings, we now reserve every Monday, which is Dave's day off, for Family Day. My husband has been working to make our Mondays special and memorable for the whole family. And boy, did he hit a home run this week!

Meg Close-Up

After Meg's morning nap (during which she did not actually sleep), we packed up our picnic lunch and headed down to D.C. to enjoy the absolutely gorgeous weather and the cherry blossoms. After a longer-than-expected drive (construction back-up at the American Legion Bridge?) and a slow but successful quest for a parking space, we joined the mass of humanity converging on the Tidal Basin.

It was one of the most perfect days I can remember. An amazingly blue sky, great, airy white clouds, the sun sparking off of the water, a breeze to cut the sun's heat, and delicate pink blossoms filling the air--we just couldn't have asked for more beauty in a single afternoon. All three of us were delighted to be out of doors, soaking in the sunlight and fresh air. And Meg was fascinated by the great crowds of people all around her: walking, biking, pushing strollers, lying in the grass, taking pictures, buying Italian ices en masse, playing games and paddle boating.

Meg in Hat

One funny incident: Meg is really into balls these days. While we were in Virginia this weekend, she spent some quality time with one of those big rubber balls similar to what elementary schools use for kick ball games. She loved carrying it around, rolling it to Mama, picking it back up, and carrying it around some more.

Well, on one of our stroller stops near the Tulip Library/Paddle Boats side of the Basin, Meg was strolling contentedly about the grass when she spotted another little girl, probably about two years old, with a soccer ball. Immediately, Meg made a beeline for this girl. The other child saw her coming and snatched up her ball, shielding it from Meg with her body. Then she changed her mind, and, as Meg approached, graciously offered it to her new friend. Only, Meg wasn't interested in being friends. She just wanted that ball. And she didn't want to share it with its rightful owner. After several attempts at entreating her to play with the other little girl, during which Meg grew increasingly frustrated with Daddy, Daddy decided it was necessary to just give the ball back and remove his daughter from temptation. At this, Meg erupted into loud wails. And the other little girl, whose older brothers had, by this time, come up to claim the ball, stretched out her hand and gently brushed Meg's cheek, as if to say, "It's okay. I understand." Unfortunately Meg was not even slightly comforted by this gesture, but it was a very sweet moment, nonetheless.

Here are some more pictorial mementos of our glorious outing. Here's the view from our picnic spot:
Picnic View

Daddy and his girl:
Meg and Daddy Cherry Blossoms 2

Blossoms abundant:
Blossoms Abundant

Taking a little walk:
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Mommy and Baby:
Meg and Momma Cherry Blossoms

The sweet smell of spring:
Enjoying the Day

A stroll with Dada:
Meg and Daddy Walking

So happy together;
Meg and Momma Cherry Blossoms 2

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Little Momma Jacqua

Sunday evening, Meg and I arrived back home after visiting my sister Jacque in Chesapeake, Virginia. It was a great trip. Of course, I can never get enough of my mom and sisters when we have those rare times all together, but I cherish the time we do have.

I'm afraid I didn't fulfill my promise to have lots of pictures, and in fact, I have none at all from Jacque's shower. (I was on Mommy duty the whole time.) But I can tell you that Asher and Jacque's care group leaders, the Alexanders, hosted a lovely celebration and thoroughly blessed my sister on Saturday afternoon. All of the kind women who have become Jacque's friends brought gifts for the baby, so I believe the (very) young man will find himself well equipped when he arrives a month or so hence. It was so nice to meet some of Jacque's co-workers and care group members and see for ourselves the warm circle in which she and Asher now move. We are grateful to know that they are well loved.

Here is a picture of the soon-to-be Mommy, hastily taken as she prepared to walk out the door for church on Sunday morning.
Jacqua Momma

And here is one of the two of us together, at about 15 weeks and 35 weeks pregnant, respectively. (Yes, I am still in my pajamas.)
Pregnant Sissies

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Welcome Addition (by Meg)

Before Mommy and I left for Virginia on Friday morning, we found out that I have a brand new cousin! JoriAnne Lyric Dean was born on Thursday, March 29th, weighing 7 lbs, 14 oz. and measuring 19 inches. Here's a picture of her. Isn't she a cutie?

JoriAnne Lyric Dean

JoriAnne is the daughter of my daddy's step-brother Chris and his wife Lisa. I have never met Uncle Chris and Aunt Lisa, or JoriAnne's older brother, Kelson. They all live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I have never been! But I sure hope I get to meet them all someday and play with my two cousins. Maybe we will meet up at Grandma Dawn's house sometime, Kelson and JoriAnne! See you then...