Friday, September 30, 2011

Quote of the Day

"We saw a boy outside who had just gone to school. Only he went to school instead of being homey-schooled. But then you just wouldn't get to be with your mom all day. It takes your breath away--if you go to school, on the first day it kind of takes your breath away, because you don't get to be with your mom for the whole morning!"
-Meg (in her typical quaint and dramatic fashion)

My daughter uttered these words after a pretty rough morning here, wherein she earlier wished (for the first time since we started this year) that she wasn't homeschooled. I was pretty discouraged. I took this little moment of her pity for the kid who had to be away from his mommy all morning as pure grace. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Meg, for lifting my spirits with a kind word.

Gravelly Point


Our family day outing this week took us to Gravelly Point, a park in Arlington with a killer view of planes landing at Reagan National Airport. We had such fun watching the jets come in...

And we brought snacks, of course.

The park was kind of littered up that day, and the strong breeze was blowing the jet-fuel fumes right at us, but the kids couldn't care less. They thought it was great.

I think he's great. (Even when he gives me a fake smile.)

We had the very good fortune (thanks, Lord!) to be there when one of the DC Ducks tour boats came motoring up near the shore. Then we got to watch as it transmogrified...

...into this really funky-looking but nonetheless roadworthy vehicle...

and drove away!

How fun was that to see?!

My three little people wandered down to take a closer look at the site of this amazing morph from sea to land.

While they were there, they found a tree limb. They really wanted to chuck it in the water. So...

that's what we did.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the moment when wood met water. But suffice it to say that we wrapped up our visit with a very satisfying splash.

All in all, a great family-time idea--and apart from the gas it took to get us there, 100% free! The Wilcox clan highly recommends Gravelly Point... but you don't have to take my word for it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"He can be trusted in everything."

For the Lord will rise up...
to do his deed--strange is his deed!
and to work his work--alien is his work!

...Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
When he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter dill, sow cumin
and put wheat in rows...?

...Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.
Does one crush grain for bread?
No, he does not thresh it forever;
when he drives his cart wheel over it
with his horses, he does not crush it.
This also comes from the Lord of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom.

Isaiah 28:21, 24-25, 27-29

I read these words during my time with God this morning, followed by this note in the ESV Study Bible:

"God's dealings with his people, though 'strange,' are wise. Like a farmer, God knows that the upheaval of plowing has its appointed season and purpose, and that the refining of harvested grain must take into account the desired outcome. Even so, God uses all the methods of perfect wisdom in working with his people. He can be trusted in everything."

As I look around at the lives of friends and family members, I often consider the varied trials and tests that God has brought them. I often wonder why He sees fit to use such very different means in different lives. Why does one woman have such severe sickness during her pregnancy? Why do some couples wrestle through such deep struggles in their marriages? Why did that family lose a child? Why such extended, repeated trials in that person's journey? Why this season of difficulty for these individuals? And why the particular challenges, and not others, that God chooses for me?

The passage above so comforted me with the realities of God's perfect wisdom and knowledge. He created each life. He knows the purposes for which he made it. He understands the best way to bring His will to pass. He's a wise farmer who knows how to obtain a good harvest from every crop he plants. And in his love, he does nothing needlessly. Every single action He takes has its good purpose and perfect time.

In short, as the study note says, "he can be trusted in everything."

Dear Father, help me to trust you even as I observe and participate in your works that seem strange, alien and mysterious. And bring us quickly to the day when the harvest will be complete and all good fruit revealed at last.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Summer Catch-Up: Sesame Place

Through the unexpected generosity of some very kind friends, we were able to take our kids to Sesame Place for a final summer fling late in August. Dave and I are huge roller coaster fans, so it was fun to get to get our kids' toes wet in the thrill-ride scene. My midwest man has dreams of taking the whole crew to Cedar Point (i.e., "The Roller Coaster Capital of the World") in Ohio when they're all old enough to handle the big dogs.

(Sesame Place, for anyone who might not know, is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park geared toward little people; I'd guess the prime ages would be about three to eight, though there are a few things older kids might enjoy as well.)

We had a gorgeous day for our trip to Philly! I think it was in the high 70's all day. We made it to the park around 11 a.m., and the training opportunities started right away, as we stood in line for our very first rides! It's tough, when you're three years old (or five, or one), to understand why you have to wait for something that's right there in front of you. It's even tougher to understand why you still can't get on the ride, when you've already waited patiently, and the line started to move, and you got closer and closer to the entrance, and you came so, so close... so close that you are actually the first person not to make it on this round! So we had some tears, and we had some public fits, and we had a mommy and daddy with some opportunities to be sanctified that day. But overall, it was a great memory-maker. (And the first two lines that we stood in were the longest of the whole day.)

I skipped most of the rides, tame as they were, since all of them have dire warnings about people with "serious medical conditions," such as pregnancy. (Soapbox warning: Um, hello? Thanks for lumping the pregnant women in there with the heart conditions and the neck braces! I do not have a medical condition--I am carrying a new life!) But it left me free to get some pictures, so I didn't mind too much.

Here's my little crew on Grover's World Twirl (i.e., tea cups!):

Esme on Ernie's Bed Bounce (basically an open air moon bounce):

Despite her nonplussed expression, she really loved this and refused to come off when her time was up. Twice.

As a matter of fact, Esme--dauntless third child that she is--loved almost everything that she was allowed to ride and mourned all day over the ones for which she was too small. (Especially Elmo's Cloud Chaser, better known as the swing ride.) There was one ride, however...

...that she didn't love so much. Blast Off. Esme was desperate to ride, since Daddy and the big kids were going. And surprisingly, there was no minimum height requirement, as long as you were with an adult. Against my better judgment, I let her go. Before it started, she looked like this:

But as soon as Blast Off lurched into motion, I knew I should have heeded that mommy intuition. I can still see the startled look on her face. It was somewhere between "This is not what I bargained for" and "I think I'm going to be sick." Poor baby. Stupid mama. But... she survived. With only minimum of wailing. And hopefully no lasting neck damage.

(Esme also did not like getting too close to the Sesame Street characters. Take a close look at the first picture of all of us with Bert and Ernie.)

Meg's encounter with Zoe:

And this one pretty much sums up what Matthew thought about the day.

At one point I attempted to get a decent shot of everyone together as they waited in line.



And... still nope.

Oh, well!

We ended our day with a very late dinner at a local Cheeburger Cheeburger, where I snapped a few last pics.

After dinner (we left the restaurant at 9 p.m.), we changed the kids into their jammies, strapped them into their carseats, hit the road, and watched as total exhaustion overtook them, one at a time. Within about 15 minutes, they were all asleep, and they slept allllll the long ride home. At almost exactly midnight, we were back at our own front door. We transferred our comatose kids to their beds, and soon Mommy and Daddy were fast asleep too!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Call Zees One... 2

Get out your French accent again. Got your mental beret pulled down over one ear? Now purse your lips dramatically and say:

I call zees one...
He is So Cute, I Die

Friday, September 23, 2011

Homeschool, Baby!

Unbelievably, we are close to wrapping up our fourth week of school here in the Wilcox home. I can't quite believe it! I have to say that, so far, we are all really loving it. Granted, we've had our share of rough days and some super rough moments, but I think the overall feeling about school continues to be joyful excitement. Grace!

So here's some random info about our school-life to date:

-We started the school year (on Wednesday, August 31st) by diving into a whole new daily schedule that is much more structured than anything I've attempted previously. It's kind of a mash-up of ideas gleaned from Managers of Their Homes (thank you, Jonalee!) and a conversation with our friends the Cowans, who are veteran homeschoolers and just generally fabulous folk. Our morning is broken down into half-hour segments, and we're keeping it lively by doing a little bit o' chores in the bedrooms, a little bit o' breakfast on the main floor, a little bit o' school in the basement, a little bit more chores all over the house, a little bit more school in the basement... and you get the idea. The kids are absolutely thriving on this routine, and even I--the ultimate "I-hate-being-tied-down-to-a-rigid-schedule" free-spirit type--am really enjoying it, and finding it relatively easy to let the schedule flex with the ups and downs of our days.

-Note on the new schedule: besides being empowering and encouraging, it's also exhausting! Third trimester approacheth (I'm 24 weeks tomorrow), and when I picture myself two to three months from now, hauling my huge belly up and down the stairs 17 times a day and hopping from child-sized chair to my feet to the floor and back up to my feet and then back to the chair... well, it's a little overwhelming. But I guess there'll be grace when I get there. Aaaand... probably some naps.

-Here's a picture of our little school nook. Please pardon the bedpost in the frame--our basement also serves as our guest room, entertainment room, and exercise room, and the only way I could get a wide enough shot was by climbing on the spare bed...
How's that for color overload?

-This is our days-of-the-week and weather chart, which we update every morning during Circle Time, our official school-day kick off.

-Our alphabet wall, one of last year's big preschool projects:

-Meg showing off her "My Body" science work to-date:

-Here's a slightly more close-up view of Matthew's "My Body." So far we've learned about the brain, heart, kidneys and bladder. And our son no longer confuses his organs with vegetables.

-Speaking of Matthew, he's doing great with "pre-K," as I've designated it. My plan was to have him hang out with Meg for as much of her kindergarten work as he could handle, let him participate as much as he was willing, but not push anything. Basically, that leaves him doing everything Meg does except for portions of language arts, like handwriting and the actual reading. I don't do as much oral quizzing with him as I do with Meg, but every now and again he pipes in with an answer and lets me know he's tracking with at least a big portion of what we're doing.

-Meg is LOVING her phonics and handwriting work. She's learning cursive, and I took pictures of her first and second days of work as compared with today, her 14th day.

First two days:

Big progress!

I'll end there, but hopefully we'll get to update about school again very soon!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Matthew's Favorite Gift

The pictures from the evening of Matthew's birthday turned out pretty lousy, but I have to at least share these shots of his favorite present. He's been asking for this one for a loooong time, lemme tell ya.

Yep, it's a Spider-Man suit, complete with large, fake muscles. And if Matthew was allowed to wear it every waking moment, he absolutely would. Actually, he's already asked if he could wear it to bed too. (Denied.)

By the way, Grandpa Don and Grandma Jan: the shark-themed Hot Wheels race track has been a BIG hit. Both Matthew and Meg are unendingly entertained by the shark's smart-mouthed comments to the cars. Let's just say you may be glad you left before it was opened... I'm not sure whether or not you would have enjoyed the wild giggling it produces. (Fortunately, I do. So far.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011


So, at our small group's monthly ladies' meeting, I always ask a fun question to start the evening. I call it a "warmer-upper." You know--like "ice-breaker," except less cliche (in my snobby little mind, at least).

Tonight's question was: What is one (non material) gift or talent you wish you had but don't?

My answer: I wish that I had a great eye for interior decoration. I'm very content with our cozy little nook of a house and generally don't feel a desperate need to improve it aesthetically, but every now and again I walk into someone's house and just think, "Wow. This is really amazing. It must be nice to know how to do this."

My second answer (prompted by someone else's wish that she could be a runner and look good running): I wish I had goddess legs. I know--how superficial, right? But I have three "best friends" from different seasons of life (high school, college, and ever-since-college), and all three of them have, like... swimsuit model legs. Me? I have thick ankles and quads that won't tone no matter what I do. Oh, and cellulite. So, yeah, I think it would be sweet to have great stems. Maybe in Heaven?

"There never yet was a great saint..."

Another soul-strengthening quote via John Knight's blog:

Suffering is a part of the process by which the children of God are sanctified. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God's holiness. The Captain of their salvation was made perfect through sufferings, and so are they. There never yet was a great saint who had not either great afflictions or great corruptions. Philip Melancthon said it well: "Where there are no cares, there will generally be no prayers."

I share this quote, not necessarily because I have hopes of being a "great saint," but because I long to be a faithful one. As yet, I would never say my afflictions have been great, but I certainly know my own great corruptions. Thanks be to my Abba, who works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose; I would rather have my share of cares and constantly be drawn back to Him in prayer than to have a care free life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

And Matthew Is Four!

At two or three something this morning, our Matthew turned four years old. (Fortunately, we were all still asleep.) Here's the first half of his birthday celebration in pictures... second half (post extra-long, donut-sugar-crash-induced naps) to follow.

"Matthew, say, 'I'm four!'" "I'm foooooooooour!"