Thursday, August 30, 2007

Meg's Words

Some of you know that Meg is "officially" behind in her speech. We are now enrolled in the Montgomery County Infants and Toddlers Program, which provides early intervention services to families with children who are behind in one or more areas of development--language, motor skills, problem solving, etc. To qualify for this program, Meg had to prove (in a series of evaluations) that she is at least 25% behind the curve in learning to speak. Basically that means that, since Meg is now 20 months old, she has the language skills of a 16 month old (or an even younger child).

But all that said, Meg has recently made some big strides in talking! We are so proud of her and delighted by each new thing she says or attempts. Here's a partial rundown on her current vocabulary:

"Duck." This has long been Meg's favorite word. I guess she's been saying it for several months now. She loves to identify ducks anywhere she can. In picture books, where they seem to abound, she takes special joy in pointing them out. Unfortunately, we also had an incident where Meg's special interest in ducks led her to pick up, drop and break a ceramic one that sits on one of our neighbor's front steps... yikes! I had to leave an apologetic note on their doorknob... we never heard back from them. Oh, dear.

"Hot." Hot is a word that Meg first learned from her Daddy's warnings not to go near the stove when Mommy is cooking. She now uses it to identify things that are warm to the touch, too bright in her eyes, or, most recently, just plain old uncomfortable. For example, the other day after some grunting and pushing, Meg came over and informed me, "Hot." "Hot?" I asked. "Do you need a diaper change?" In confirmation, she bolted in the direction of the changing table.

"Cheese." This is Meg's happiest word. Just try mentioning "cheese" at a meal time, and you're sure to see lit up eyes and a big, cheesy smile as Meg repeats the words in a high, squeaky tone. (For some reason, the shiny-foil wrapped granola bars that we snacked on at the beach were also dubbed "cheese".)

"Hi." If Meg is really comfortable with you, you might get one of these out of her. Otherwise, you'll have to settle for a cute wave.

"Eyes." A new addition as of last week. Suddenly, Meg noticed that everyone has eyes! Even animals! And now she has the word to tell us about it!

"All done." Really it sounds more like, "Ahhhhhh-duh." Almost always accompanied by the hand sign that we taught her when she was smaller so she could signal that she was finished with a meal. "All done" still serves its purpose at breakfast, lunch and dinner and now extends to cover things that are all gone (an empty cup), books that have been fully read, and people who have left the room.

"Kuu-wuh." It means milk. For some reason, Meg picked up on the final sound of the word, "Kkkk" more than the "Mmmm" at the beginning. We can't get her to switch. Oh, well. We know what she means.

"Booo." This is what Meg says when you point to a picture of a cow. 'Nough said.

"Puuh-buuh." Translation: Pooh Bear. As in, the stuffed version that sits on a shelf in Meg's bedroom.

"Deeis." This is the answer to the question, "Hey, Meg, where's the (fill-in-the-blank)?" When she finds whatever it is, she picks it up and says, "Deeis" (or "There it is").

"Daddy." Meg alternates this with "Da" and "Dada," but Dave likes Daddy best, and I think she knows it. It is now common for father and daughter to have the exchange: "Hi, Meg!" "Hiiii, Dad-dee." Simple, but very sweet when you have waited for it for 20 months.

"Mama." Meg has finally caught on that this lady with whom she spends 80% of her time has a name! When she first began saying it she sounded Italian: "MMMA-ma!" In the two weeks since then she has settled into a more normal American pronunciation.

"Nana." My mom's chosen grandma title. One of Meg's favorite people and favorite things to say. When Daddy asks Meg, "Meg, who loves you?" the first two answers are usually Daddy and Mama, and the third is almost sure to be Nana.

"Nena." This is Lena, my youngest sister. Sometimes she is also called, "Nana," which is a little confusing but, hey, we understand the intent.

"Cuh," or "Cub." During vacation, Meg learned to say her own version of my grandfather's (Meg's great-grandfather's) chosen name, which is "Cubby." I think he likes it.

"Gaa-POP." Not sure if I'm getting the pronunciation on this one quite right, but the newest name in Meg's repertoire is Grandpop, for my dad. I've only actually heard her say the whole name once. Sometimes it just comes out as "Pop."

There are other words that Meg uses consistently, or at least repeats consistently. But that little sampling is probably quite enough to satisfy our readership. I wish that all of you could hear her--she speaks so cheerfully and excitedly and is learning so quickly. Life with this little girlie is sooooo much fun! We are grateful to our good God for helping Meg to finally start putting some pieces together, and we are amazed at how He has made her mind to function. What an awesome Creator He is!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Baby Boy Update

Went for my big check-up this morning. This baby and I are 36 weeks along now, so this was the visit with the internal exam and all that fun stuff. It does look like we could potentially have an early arrival on our hands, as both Dave and I have suspected all along. But we're not counting on it. After all, you never know until you know.

The stats: I'm 2 cm. dilated and about 70% effaced. The midwife said that my cervix is "very soft" and predicted a short labor, since my body is already working through the stuff that early labor is meant to accomplish. Baby Boy has his head-down and is hanging out very, very low, almost between Mama's legs. This helps to explain why I find myself waddling from time to time--something I never did with Meg (and still try to fight against!). It also helps to explain why my back and groin have been causing me quite a bit of pain in the last week or so.

All of this new knowledge serves two purposes: 1) It gets me more excited about meeting our little feller, and 2) It reminds me to cherish these last few weeks (days??) of pregnancy. There's nothing like carrying a little life inside your own body. I know that, as much as I will enjoy having our son out and in plain sight to snuggle and hold and kiss and nurse, I will also miss the strange feeling of having him moving about within me.

I have a friend from care group who was scheduled to be induced this morning, so she is almost definitely in labor right now. We were talking last night at our women's meeting about how she was probably in her last few hours of pregnancy--ever! (This is her fourth baby, and she's about ready to call it quits.) God willing, I will get to enjoy another pregnancy or two (dare I hope for even more?) after this, because I know I am not ready to bid goodbye to this season of child-bearing, despite its discomforts and fatigues.

But I better just get ready to bid adieu to this particular pregnancy and welcome our first son. Because, ready or not, here he comes...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

And Home From the Beach

Today, I must confess, I had a touch of the Beachless Blues. It's always a little tough for me to leave the shore, and this year, after watching my little girl enjoy it so, so much, it was extra hard to say goodbye. But looking back through my pictures makes me very grateful for the many wonderful memories we made as a family. It's hard to choose from among my favorites, so here are a bunch, in no particular order.

Beach 8

Beach 9

Beach 5

Beach 1

Beach 2

Beach 3

Beach 11

Beach 4

Beach 10

Beach 6

Probably I'll post a few more tomorrow. For once, I think I'm going to just let the pictures speak for themselves rather than writing a whole lot about the trip. Ahhhhh, but it was lovely!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Off To The Beach

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, Dave and Meg and I are headed out for our vacation with my side of the family.  We'll travel for four hours and then break our journey at my sister and brother-in-law and little nephew's home in Norfolk, VA.  My mom and dad and other sister and grandfather have already arrived there.  Sunday morning we'll visit Sovereign Grace Church of Chesapeake, and then the whoooooole clan will set off for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, there to spend a week of beachful bliss.  (Or, at least, that's what we hope and pray!)

Not sure if I'll be posting while we're away, but I hope to be able to put up a few pictures, at least.  Meg's first beach trip--how exciting!

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Insight Into the Private World of Wilcox

A lot of people, I think, see my husband as a serious, somewhat intense kind of guy. That can be true, certainly. But there's another side that most people never get to see--a silly, funny, goofy side that comes out mostly when he is at home and fully relaxed. This was perfectly illustrated two nights ago, in a brief incident that I thought I should share.

Around 9:00 on Wednesday evening, Dave and I were in the kitchen after finishing a late dinner clean-up session. The baby was wiggling around inside me, and I started singing that old Amy Grant song, "Baby, Baby", trying to make up my own words to describe the sensations I was feeling. Dave bopped around to my self-made music for a moment. Then, after listening to several of my feeble attempts at lyric parody, he thought for a moment and burst into his own version:

Baby, baby, just chillin' on my bladder--
When you come out my tummy will be flatter!

Not only brilliant and creative and witty--he also has great insight into the mind of a pregnant woman. What can I say? I am one blessed wife!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Yesterday Dave and I got home from a two-night trip to Annapolis, Maryland. It was our first time away and alone together since Meg was born, and it will be our last before Baby Boy comes next month. It was romantic, relaxing and memorable, and I am so grateful to my wonderful husband for planning to bless me in this way!

Sunday afternoon after Dave got home from church, we loaded up our car and drove Meg to Grandpop and Nana's house. There Aunt Lena received our little girl and engaged her attention while Dave and I slipped out (after bestowing hugs and kisses, of course). We are thankful, thankful, thankful for Mom and Dad and Lena and Cubby's willingness to serve us by keeping Meggers for the weekend. Apparently she did great while we were away--no surprise given the love and attention she always receives from our dear family!

So on to Annapolis, where my David had planned everything in advance--from our hotel to where we would eat each meal to what we would do with our "down time". This was all part of his effort to serve me and make our time away as relaxing as possible for me--I didn't even have the stress of making decisions if I didn't want to! Delightful!

It was a very low-key trip, just the way we Wilcoxes tend to like things. We spent time splashing leisurely around in the hotel pool (I love swimming), having extended quiet times together at a local Barnes and Noble, walking and talking, sleeping in--and, of course, eating some really yummy food. Two main highlights I will share with you:

On Monday, Dave had planned for us to grab take-out sandwiches at this superb little cafe, then head across the street to a park that fronted on the water. (This was nowhere near all of the touristy, down-town, been-there-three-zillion-times stuff, by the way. We never would have stumbled upon either the cafe or the park apart from some serious research on the part of my man. Way to go, Love!) So we ordered the food and found our way to the park. I wish we had pictures of this gorgeous spot! We sat in a little gazebo on a ridge overlooking a river, just at the point where it met with the bay. It was hot outside, but we were wonderfully shaded under the gazebo. The water glittered, boats drifted by lazily, butterflies floated in and out of nearby bushes. The sandwiches were definitely as good as we had hoped, and the conversation was marvelous. As I told my husband afterward, I simply can't remember when I've had a more lovely, idyllic lunch. (That's probably because I never have.)

That night, after a nap and a swim back at the hotel, we headed downtown to the historic district and the waterfront. After strolling a bit (with frequent breaks so my big tummy could sit down and rest), we found a spot on the pier where we could talk and watch the boats go by.
Annapolis 3

Annapolis 1

Annapolis 4

(One thing you have to know about Dave and me: we love the water and boats of all kinds and have dreams of taking up sailing some day. When we are rich and have lots of spare time, that is. Ahem.)

As the sun began to set, we drove over to My Very Favorite Restaurant of All Time. It's called the Chart House. Now, Dave and I are no gourmets, so you have to take our dining recommendations with a little grain of salt. However, my attachment to the Chart House Annapolis goes far beyond excellent food (which I do happen to think they have). See, this is the restaurant where Dave and I had our first "special" date. Knowing my love of boats, ships, and sea lore, Dave had selected this restaurant as an extra special way to bless me after we had been courting for several months. (The Chart House is housed in a huge pavilion originally used for ship building.) We both remember having really good fellowship that evening, and connecting on a deeper level than we had previously. Maybe that's why we remember it as the first date when there was a note of genuine romance in the air.

Seven or eight months later, Dave took me back to Annapolis on a Sunday afternoon. We had a sweet, unforgettable adventure of a day, and after another dinner at the Chart House, he proposed on the dock that neighbors the restaurant. This week was our first repeat visit there since that night when he said, "Will you?" and I said, "Yes!" What a special time of remembering and marveling over all that God has done in the four years since then!

Here we are, posing for a self-portrait right about the spot where Dave knelt and asked for my hand:
Annapolis 5

The same spot several hours later (sans Dave and Cara). This is what it looked like when Dave proposed, almost pitch dark, with the lights from across the way dancing across the black water.
Annapolis 6

Yesterday afternoon we drove homeward, collected our baby and returned to our very own little house. A few hours later I ran down the street to attend a friend's baby shower. When I came home, I found one more blessing to round out our getaway. To save me an extra bit of work and lavish me with a little bit more relaxation, my husband had unpacked most of our luggage, put all of our clothes and gear away, and cleaned up the dinner dishes.

Darling Man, I can't tell you how special this weekend was to me. Thank you so much for planning it and paying for it. I know we will be reaping the benefits of our time together for many months--and maybe years--to come. I love you so.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cooking Lesson #2

A couple of weeks ago Meg had the chance to play with some raw ingredients in the kitchen. Today we took one more baby step: making break-and-bake cookies from the refrigerator aisle at the grocery. Here's the recap...

First steps: wash hands and don aprons. Here's my cute little baker in hers:
Cookie Baking 3

The raw cookies. (Can you tell which tray Mommy helped with?)
Cookie Baking 1

Waiting for the cookies to finish baking. "If I have to wait much longer I'll pull my lips right off!"
Cookie Baking 2

Fresh out of the oven: warm, gooey, and fragrant.
Cookie Baking 4

After lunch came the best part. Time to taste our handiwork:
Cookie Baking 5

"Wow, are these really the same things that I put on the cookie sheet when they were all cold and sticky?"
Cookie Baking 6

"Whatever they are, they're pretty good."
Cookie Baking 7

Making it even better with a cup of milk:
Cookie Baking 9

My own sweet little Cookie.
Cookie Baking 8

Meg Feeding Daddy

Caught these snapshots at dinner time the other night. Meg offered her daddy a piece of of food from her tray, and when he ate it, she began to laugh and laugh. I'm not sure why it struck her so funny, since it's not the first time this has happened, but the pictures were too cute not to share.

Meg Feeds Daddy 1

Meg Feeds Daddy 2

Meg Feeds Daddy 4

Meg Feeds Daddy 3

Meg Feeds Daddy 5

Meg Feeds Daddy 6

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"The Other Gold"

Have you ever heard that old song--I think it's a Girl Scouts ditty or something:

Make new friends
And keep the old
One is silver
And the other gold

The Wilcox family had an "old friends" kind of weekend. First, on Saturday morning, I went to Tyson's Corner to meet my dear Elsbeth. Elsbeth and I met each other in sixth grade (remember Mr. Dawson's seventh-period math class, Honey?) and have been enjoying each other's company ever since. That's almost 16 years of friendship! These days, Els and I only get to see each other about three or four times a year, so our tête-à-têtes à La Madeleine are very precious! Here we are, all caught up on the latest news from one another's lives:
Els and Cara

After Tyson's, I found my way to McLean, VA, where I had the privilege of attending a baby shower for Mrs. Jennifer Cahalane (formerly Jen Wahl). Jen is one of my old Abbey roommates, and now she and I are due to have baby boys exactly one week apart! What fun to go and celebrate with her as she and her husband Patrick anticipate the birth of their little John Edmund! Here is a shot of the mommy-to-be. Isn't she cute?
Jen's Shower 1

This little gal, Dorothy McMillen (daughter of Rob and Kelly), was the life of the party. I had to snap a picture of her as she played amidst the shower gifts--she is the happiest baby I have ever seen!
Jen's Shower 2

Here's one of Jen and me comparing tummies--her due date is September 16th, and mine is the 23rd.
Jen's Shower 3

Lastly, yesterday we got to hang out with our favorite New Yorkers--James, Sunita and Gratzie Puleo. Dave and Suni met when they were both students at American University. We love catching up with the Puleos whenever they are in town. (Oh, and we did go to New York and stay with them once too! Hopefully we'll do it again some day!) It was especially neat to spend time together yesterday, as they told us about their plans to embark on full-time mission work in their community in Queens, NY! We are praying that God uses this dear family to accomplish great things for His Kingdom. Here they are, standing in our yard:
Puleos 2

And this is one of Meg and cutie pie Gratzie, who are just four months apart (Gratzie is older):
Puleos 1
(Jim and Suni are expecting their second baby in January, so once again, our kiddos will be spaced about four months apart. Pretty fun, huh?)

How grateful we are for God's gift of friendship in all its varied forms!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Minor Catastrophe

Vaseline (a.k.a. petroleum jelly) is a very nice thing to have around one's home. For us, it comes in handy regularly, especially since Meg joined the family. We use it frequently on her little, rosy cheeks, which are prone to eczema breakouts. So we are grateful for Vaseline. We like Vaseline. Vaseline is our friend.

But on Thursday, we had a little bit too much Vaseline here in the Wilcox household. And I am now here to tell you, quite frankly, that I don't care if I never see another container of Vaseline for the rest of my days.

* * *
It was too quiet in Meg's room. Much too quiet. I hadn't heard a babble from my daughter or the sound of one of her musical toys in... I don't know how long.

Every afternoon, Meg has some alone-play time built into her schedule. I take her into her bedroom, make sure she is well stocked with toys and books, put a baby gate across her doorway, and head into my own bedroom for some cleaning/laundry folding/ironing time. It's a great thing, and I think that Meg has actually begun to look forward to it.

Yesterday seemed to be no exception at first. My girlie was in her room, I was in mine, the iron was going, and happy playing noises were issuing from Meg's corner of the house. After a busy morning, the time alone in my room felt like a blissful break, even if I was still on my feet. I heaved a sigh of relief and decided to call my sister while I worked.

I got off the phone a few minutes later and realized that Meg was still doing well, even though her alone time was technically over. Great, I thought, I'll leave her in there a little bit longer, wrap up the laundry, and then get some make-up on before my husband comes home. And that's what I did. A few moments later: Wow, she is so quiet! I can't believe how happy she is in there today!

All of the sudden, as I applied powder to my cheeks, my mom sensor started going off. (Yeah, I know. If it took that long to go off, it probably needs a tune-up.) Wait, I thought, maybe she's too quiet. She's not even talking to herself. What could she be doing in there?

And then I just knew. The Vaseline. She's gotten into the Vaseline. I had noticed in recent weeks that Meg was getting tall enough to reach the big tub of it that always sat on her window sill. I had even thought about how I needed to find a new home for it. I just hadn't done it yet. A decided calmness came over me as these thoughts passed rapidly through my brain.

In God's great kindness to me, having this premonition gave me time to prepare my heart for what I might be about to see. I briefly prayed for the Holy Spirit's help to deal gently with my daughter. Then I walked down the hallway and peeked around the corner.

As soon as she saw me, Meg stood bolt upright. "Hi, stinkerpie," I said to her. As swiftly as I could, I climbed over the baby gate and picked her up under her arms, turning her around so that her back was to me. The front of her outfit was completely, thickly covered in petroleum jelly. It was in her hair. It was smeared down her legs. It was on her face. Of course, her hands were slick with it.

I looked quickly around Meg's bedroom on our way to the bathtub. There was Vaseline spread on the wall. There was Vaseline on the leg of the rocking chair, and up the leg and rails of the crib. There was Vaseline rubbed into the rocking chair upholstery. There was a large patch of Vaseline massaged deeply into the carpet. There were blobs of Vaseline all over the dirty laundry, in which Meg had been sitting when I entered the room. There was Vaseline on the cover of Meg's favorite book, a large, hardcover picture Bible. The tub of Vaseline itself (it was one of the really big ones) was a slimy, sticky mess, completely coated with its own contents.

I carried Meg to the bathroom and stood her up in the bathtub. I stripped off her clothes, which actually stank of oily-petroleum-ness. I started to pull off her diaper, when I realized that it was dirty. Of course, I thought, still in my dead-calm state. I ran to get the wipes from the changing table. The phone rang. "That's your daddy," I said to Meg, dropping the wipes off on the bathroom floor and running to our room to get the phone.

"Helloooooo?" I answered in a high-pitched warble.
"Hi, Babe, it's me," said my husband. "How are you?"
"Well," I replied, "I am experiencing a lot of grace, but things are not going very well at the house right now."

* * *
Let's see if I can sum the rest up quickly in a series of brief points.

1. I am grateful for the Internet. You can just type, "get Vaseline out of carpet" into Google and instantly come up with all of the information you need. It's amazing. What did we do before we had it?

2. My husband is wonderful. He came home and found no rest for the weary, but dived right into helping me take care of Meg. Then, after we put her down in our room, he helped me clean up the mess in her room.

3. It took us three baths to get the Vaseline out of Meg's hair. The first time around, I dumped about a third of a bottle of baby wash under the tap (Meg's first bubble bath, which fascinated her!) in hopes that the soap would help cut the grease. It worked on Meg's body, but not so much in her hair. Back into the bathtub she went, after I found an Internet suggestion to try lathering her hair with a beaten egg, then washing as usual. The verdict: ummmm... it sorta worked. It helped a little, but in the morning, when Meg woke up looking like she had used mousse at some point in the past, and then not bathed for several days in a row, I realized that she needed yet another bath. (But first, I had to scrub the tub out, as it was now coated with a thin, greasy Vaseline slime.) In the third bath, I rubbed peanut butter in my daughter's hair, then rinsed, then shampooed and rinsed, then shampooed and rinsed again. You may have heard that peanut butter works to get chewing gum out of hair. Well, turns out that it also works with Vaseline. Although Meg did smell a bit like peanuts for the first 24 hours afterward.

Here are the bath pictures, which are the only ones I managed to take through the whole ordeal. (Vaseline doesn't photograph very well anyway.) This one is her in the first bath, with very hot water (hence the rosy cheeks) and lots of bubbles:
Vaseline Bath 1

Here's one of how she looked the next morning, after the egg shampoo. Not quite her normal, smooth, blond locks.
Vaseline Bath 2

Here's how our child looks with peanut-butter head:
Vaseline Bath 3

And from the front:
Vaseline Bath 4

4. No, we still don't have all the Vaseline out of the carpet. But rubbing alcohol helps a lot! And I still think we can probably get most of it, with another attempt or two!

5. I am so thankful for God's grace throughout this entire situation. It would have been so easy to be angry with Meg, or with the Lord Himself. (One thing that helped was remembering that Meg probably didn't even know she was doing anything wrong. After all, we never told her that she couldn't smear Vaseline all over Creation, and after all, we do apply it to her face regularly!) But God mercifully protected me from adding my sin to an already challenging situation, thereby making it much, much worse.

6. At the end of a long day, several hours of which have been given to Vaseline-scrubbing, it is really nice to live close to Jimmie Cone. After we made our best attempt at cleaning up the disaster site, Dave and I both felt that we needed a little treat. Fifteen minutes later, we were curled up on the couch together, chatting and sharing a large flurry with Reeses Pieces in it.

And that's what I call a happy ending!