Sunday, December 21, 2008

Meg Turns Three

This post is more than two weeks late, but since late is better than never, I must tell you that...

We have a little girl who is three years old! That's right, my baby girl is three, as of December 4th, 2008. I can't believe it.

We had a special birthday celebration three Thursdays ago, which began with present opening right after breakfast.

Here Daddy helps Meg get into her suitcase ("soupa-case" in Megese), which came packed with clothes and accessories for Baby Anna. This was probably Meg's favorite present of the day. Wouldn't you know, I got it at a yard sale for pocket change?


Daddy went off for a short workday while Mommy made a scrumptious (if I do say so myself) carrot cake and the kids did their normal morning routine. Then we prepared for a visit to Nana and Grandpop's house. Once there, we had some lunch, took brief naps, and blew out three candles on a joint birthday cake. (You remember that Meg was born on my mom's birthday?)
Meg got to open a few more presents, from Nana and Grandpop, including this wonderful doll crib that belonged to my Aunt Sam when she was a little girl. (Lemme tell you, they don't make stuff like this any more. That crib is sturdy!)

Then we got in the car--we four Wilcoxes, plus Nana and Grandpop, and drove downtown. We ate an early dinner at one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants. Then we drove even further downtown to see the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

Dave and I had been so excited about this little adventure we'd planned, and Meg was eager too. In some ways, it ended up not being what we hoped, but we did still have a lot of fun together. Unlike some other years, the President himself was attending the lighting ceremony, so the grounds of the Ellipse were completely locked down. Seriously, we parked about five blocks away from the grounds, and when we had walked about two blocks, we started noticing that there were armed cops posted on the sidewalk, singly or in pairs... about every six feet. I am not even exaggerating. And when we got to the actual grounds, there were cops on horseback. Lots of cops on horseback. And a great big, looooong snow fence that stretched the entire perimeter of the grounds and kept us--and all of the others without tickets--from getting anywhere near the tree.

So we waited on the sidewalk and squinted our eyes to make out the great Tree in the distance. And we tried to corral our kids and keep them from running into the street or disappearing into the crowd. Finally we saw the lights switch on--the lighting of the tree. The people around us gasped appreciatively and burst into applause (which was really rather gracious of them, given our distance from the tree). The crowd on the sidewalk began to disperse, but we lingered on, waiting for our chance to get closer. Before long, we watched the entire presidential entourage leave the grounds. Very impressive, to say the least. It began with a whole parade of cop cars, lights flashing, followed by the two identical black stretch limos, followed by SUV after SUV, van after van of heavily armed security guys. You could see their guns sticking out of the open backs of the SUV's and poking out of the vans' roof hatches. I had never seen the whole procession before. It was kind of fun to watch. Woe, woe to anyone who tries to mess with the President!

We started meandering toward the nearest guard station to wait for the grounds to open. On the way we encountered Despereaux, that is, a guy costumed as the star of the new animated movie of the same name. With his famously huge ears, the man-sized mouse had a wingspan of... probably eight feet. So, yeah, those were some big ears. (Mom and Dad took a picture of us with the mouse and his ears, but I don't have it. You'll have to streeeeeetch your imagination!)

At long last, we made it through the snow fence and into the Ellipse. There was just one problem. By the time we were in picture-taking range of the tree, the kids had had it. We tend to be pretty regular about their evening routine and bedtime; they really haven't experienced many nighttime outings in their short lives. Combine this factor with the shortened naps (no afternoon nap at all for Matthew) and the general excitement of the day, and they were shot at 6:30.
We spent a few fragile moments near the big tree, wrestling to get a snapshot or two, wandering around by the 50 smaller state trees, and enduring a tragic incident with a cup of free (but too hot) hot chocolate. Then we lit outta there and made for the minivan.

On the way home we sang Christmas carols and fed the kids crackers until Matthew decided he was really finished and started to scream out his exhaustion. Eventually Nana (seated behind him) managed to soothe him to sleep by stroking his hair. We dropped Mom and Dad off at their house and drove home. The kids went right to bed, and we were not long in following.

But really, despite the hiccups in our little plan, we had a great time. I'm glad we went to see the tree... we hope to do it again, although we might skip the night of the ceremony and just go when it's already been lit. That way, we might also get to see the yule log, which was not to be fired up until several nights after the tree lighting. (What exactly is a yule log, anyway? Am I the only one who is new to this concept?)

Our little girl will probably not remember the details of this special day, but we trust she will always know the love that motivated us to plan it. Dearest Meg, we love you as wide as our hearts can reach... and wider still, as God graciously uses life with you to stretch us.

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