Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Last week, David and I had the chance to take a quick getaway to Philadelphia. Kind of a combined eighth anniversary celebration and babymoon. We are so grateful to the generous friends and family members who helped make this possible for us in various ways. It was a great treat.

Our getaway needs at this stage in our lives are not very complicated. A clean bed. A quiet, preferably darkish room where we can make up on lost sleep. Yummy food. Some place(s) to walk around and talk. Philadelphia graciously yielded them all.

So we went to bed on time and slept late. (8:30 was as late as my body would let me go, but it was still lovely.) We ate good food, most notably at Sabrina's Cafe (an absolute mountain of ahhhhmazing stuffed French toast) and The Dandelion (easily the best fish and chips I've had). We walked a lot (with many breaks for the pregnant lady's hard-working feet) and got to see some of Philly's historic sites. I just recently reread David McCullough's biography of John Adams, so seeing bits of the city where Adams walked, lived, argued for independence, presided as first president of the senate, and spent the first part of his presidential term was extra meaningful to me.

One thing I have to mention: I'm well aware that Philadelphia's status as The City of Brotherly Love is often... er... questioned. But in my experience, there can be no question about Philly's baby love. I can't tell you how many strangers commented on my belly--all with apparent kindness, or at least good intentions. It literally started the very minute I stepped out of the parking garage onto the street, with the first panhandler we encountered. As I passed him, he stopped rattling his styrofoam cup and broke into an enormous grin. "Oh, I see! I see!" he called, gesturing to my stomach. It continued about an hour later, with the hostess at the restaurant where we grabbed dinner that first night ("You look so cute!"), and proceeded through the next 40 hours or so with security guards (At one place, "You havin' a boy? Yeah, look at him movin'. I can see him!" At the next place, "You havin' a girl?" followed by, "You're tiny! Yeah, she's all baby."), fellow tourists ("I have seven... grandchildren, that is."), and some random local kids on the street ("Congratulations! HEY.... CONGRATULATIONS!") So we--and our baby--felt very well welcomed.

We took only a few pictures, but, hey, that's better than we did in Williamsburg last year, where we took none.

Self-portrait on a bench in Independence Park:

Our view from the same bench (site of a looooong rest for my tired feet):
The statue is of Commodore John Barry, father of the American Navy. The bell tower of Independence Hall is under renovation, but the building was still open for tours.

A beautiful, gnarly old tree that we enjoyed from our bench:

My view of baby:

Dave's view of baby, mama, and park scenery:

Ummm... oh, yes! The Liberty Bell:

My love enjoying his authentic Philly cheese steak...


And the gorgeously bright mural I got to look at as I ate my cheese steak. Most cheering on a chill, rainy day!

My last note, or perhaps confession: in reality, our cheese steaks were not purely and deeply authentic Philly, because we both chose Provolone rather than Cheez Whiz. About this I can only say that there are some places I just can't go, even for the sake of authenticity. And Cheez Whiz will always be one of those places.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Leetle Turkeys

When I worked as a conference planner, I had a coworker and friend who would make up these silly names for me that always began with "My leetle (fill-in-the-blank)". By the way, this has nothing to do with the post I intended to write here. It's just that, when I started typing "My Little Turkeys" in the title field, it came out "Leetle" instead, and then I thought of my friend and her zany pet names.

"Yes, my leetle anchovy salad?"

"Yes, my leetle turnip blossom?"

Or an email from Trish would begin:

"My dear leetle snail egg..."

Anyway. Getting back to my little turkeys. Here dey is, on Thanksgiving Day.

In front of Meg and Matthew is the (out-of-focus) platter of desserts they made to share with our extended family. Here's a better look.

These Oreo-and-candy birds were sooo much fun for us to make. I am never quite sure, when I start a project with my kids, how it will go over, whether it will be quite at their skill level, how much it will hold their interest, etc. Let me tell you, it may have been the cookies and candy (which are normally pretty scarce in our house), but these were a hit from start to finish. The kids were delighted with their own handiwork.

And what a thrill for them to have something to contribute to our family gathering! Matthew kept the aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. amused all day with his repeated, "Is it time to eat the turkey? Is it time to eat the turkey?" queries. Silly mama--the first time he asked, I actually thought he meant... you know, the turkey-turkey--which, at the time, was sitting in a lovely, thick slice on his plate.

(I'm sure one could find this project in about six dozen different places online, but we discovered it here. Gobble, gobble!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Tree

It's not quite our best year with the Thanksgiving tree. We got a late start, and when I finally sat down to draw and cut out our tree shape, it ended up looking like something that was pulled out of the ground and stuck back in root-side-up. Something was a little off with my creative juices that day, I guess. At any rate, we've enjoyed giving thanks at dinner time each night. It's always a delight to hear what the kids come up with... and when they actually take it seriously (ahem, Matthew)--hey, so much the better.



Some of my favorite leaves on our tree so far read:

"Artem" -Meg (Artem is one of the Reece's Rainbow orphans we're praying for, that God would bring him a mommy and daddy very soon.)

"Dr. Wells Green and Nurse Jamie and how they're making Esme's rash better" -Matthew (after we took Esme to the pediatrician)

"Nana" -Esme (Esme says either "Nana" or "Daddy" almost every night when we ask what she's grateful for; sometimes with prompting we can get something else out of her.)

"That God made Mommy's teeth all better" -Matthew (after I had a painful TMJ flare up)

"God's protection for the Wilbourn family" -Matthew

"Operation Christmas Child" -Meg (on the day that we filled and delivered our shoe boxes)

We have so, so much for which to give God thanks.

The Crime: An Addendum

My husband reminded me that I forgot to include Matthew's quote in my previous post. When I first discovered our children after the Sharpie incident, Matthew was glowering, giving me the very best of what we call his "thundercloud" expressions.

"I hate* Esme," he said darkly. "I wook re-dic-we-ous."

*A first for this word being used by/of siblings in our home. Not condoned, even when paired with another new and hilariously pronounced vocabulary word.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Crime

The victim:

Further evidence:


The suspect:
(That's the look of a true maniac, if I ever saw one.)

Notice the corroborating evidence, remnants of a similar act committed--perhaps rehearsed?-- on the suspect herself. (The court notes that this exhibit would be even more compelling if suspect's mommy hadn't started scrubbing before she picked up the camera.)


Suspect charged with one count of assault with a permanent marker. Plea: no contest. Verdict: guilty. Sentence: being reprimanded, scrubbed well with a wet paper towel, and finished off with coconut oil and a wash cloth. (The prosecution and judge went pretty easy on her since this was a first-time offense.) The court also ruled to place a restraining order on this suspect to prevent her further access to Sharpies and similar weapons of toddler destruction.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More Masterpieces

This morning, due to circumstances beyond any human being's control, we had a scheduled school event fall through. The kids were pretty disappointed until Meg suggested that we paint. Drowning our sorrows in tempera? Sounds pretty good to me!





Love his two-handed technique.

One of Matthew's finished works, entitled Weird Sammich:

Meg called this one Flower Field:

And Esme just called hers Cheeeeeeeeeee!

A little creative outlet, and then we were able to turn our attention to science with a good will! This was a small thing in the grand scheme, but I'm grateful to God for using something as simple as paint to help us through what might have been a very rough morning.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Call Zees One... 3

My inner French artiste is ready to debut another masterpiece. Ready to join him?

Take a long drag on your cee-ga-rette. Hold. Now furrow your brow, gaze off into space and open your lips ever-so-slightly. Exhale through your teeth.

I call zees one...
I Don't Know What Zey Are Doing
(Even Zough I Took Zees Picture Myself)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Purple Princess

Esme loves dressing up these days. (Almost as much as she loves stripping down to nothing and then accidentally peeing on my floor. Yeah. We're working on that.) In typical two-year old fashion, she usually has at least one bizarre accessory thrown into even the daintiest princess outfit. The other day was a prime example.







The goggles are a great touch, no? Also please note that the princess dress is inside-out and backward.

But none of it stopped Esme from dancing like no one was watching. In this case, I was more than happy to be no one.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Daddy in the House

Dave has had a busy couple of weeks with back-to-back conferences at church, but we got to have him home two nights in a row a few days ago. At one family dinnertime, the following conversation sparked across our table...

Meg: (slightly crossing her eyes at me) Mommy, when I do this, you have two heads.

Me: (not sure what she was talking about at first) When you...? Oh, when you cross your eyes.

Meg: Yeah. You have two heads when I do that!

David: (with a sly glance at me) Did you know that Mommy always has two heads, and your two eyes just make it look like one?

There was a momentary puzzled silence... and then I saw the tiny smirk on my husband's face. After that I laughed for a loooong time. My sweet, sweetie-sweet husband, telling our kids that I have two heads. Flattering, no? What a charmer!

How I do love that guy.

And so do our kids...

(That last one is Esme and Daddy having a quality Angry Birds moment. Up until two weeks ago, Angry Birds was a delight we were all perfectly content to ignore, but... not so much any more. Much to my chagrin.)


He's the love of our lives!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The God Who Is and Can

Late Sunday night I found out that my dear friend Trinity lost her home and most all of her family's possessions in a fire that started while they were attending church that day. Trinity and her husband Michael have three small children, and their fourth is due just about any day now. By God's grace, they are all safe and well. But their beloved dog Buddy died in the fire. And for the family, all their sense of normalcy and routine and safety and rhythm--and the beauty of a home they were working hard to make anew (having lived in their farmhouse for only two months)--literally went up in flames. Praise the Lord--PRAISE THE LORD--that they have Him to cling to in this time.

As I lay in my bed Sunday night, and throughout the day yesterday, I wanted SO BADLY to be able to do something. I wanted to be near my friend, to wrap my arms around her, to be able to serve her in some way--any way! And I couldn't do those things. Not yet, at least.

But this is what I could and did do. I prayed. I lay in my bed and made request after request, offering up every need, every sorrow, every anxiety I could imagine my friend and her family might have. And as I prayed, I had such a clear sense of God's reality and power. He was there with me, reading every half-formed thought and absorbing the inarticulate murmurings of my heart. He was there with Trin at the same moment, His mightiness spanning the distance between us. He was there with the Wilbourn family, cradling them in His hand. This was the reality of that moment, whether seen or unseen, felt or unfelt. God is.

And He was so ready and so able to take my weak intercessions and work them for the good of my friend. I might not have been able to do for Trinity, but God could. And what He could do for her family with one single breath would excel what I could do if I spent the rest of my life laboring to serve them. He not only heard my requests; He had the power to fulfill every single one of them, should He so choose. God can.

I don't have any grand plan for the conclusion of this post. I don't have any plan at all, actually. But I couldn't help wanting to capture the comfort of those moments I spent praying to my Lord, and the awesome, earth-shattering, simple truths He brought close to my heart. God is. God can. I'm praying that, in the coming days and weeks, He'll once again make these truths abundantly, powerfully, sweetly plain in Wilbourns' life as well.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

October School Recap

Meg in one of her favorite hide-out spots under her desk.

So here's a tour through our October school adventure. (This is obviously another post that is mostly for my own benefit, but maybe the grandparents will be interested too.) I can't believe we're in our third month already!

In October we...

...enjoyed our first two co-op days with three other families who all have kindergarten- and pre-K-aged kids. On our first day out, we took a nature walk through the autumn woods and logged our findings. Then we made collages with the items we brought home: leaves, berries, nuts, flowers, ferns, pine cones, pebbles and much more. Two weeks later, we about learned about photosynthesis and why leaves change colors when cooler weather and shorter days arrive. We read a great book, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (love her books!), and created our own leaf creatures with more gorgeous findings from the great outdoors. (Two of the mommies in our co-op previously taught in the public elementary schools. It was super fun for me to see all of the great organizational skill and "teachery" touches they brought to their lessons. Most inspiring!)

Meg's "Leaf Princess," with dress, hair, and crown--I love this!

...took two field trips. The first one was to Butler's Orchard for their pumpkin festival, and it was pretty much pure fun. We cruised down giant slides carved into a big hill, played in mounds of loose hay and jumped off hay bales, visited with chickens, pigs, rabbits and goats, took a hayride, and got to choose our own pumpkins from the patch. Our second field trip took us to the Montgomery Village Post Office, where we went behind-the-scenes to learn all about what happens to our mail after we drop it through the slot. The postal workers were so kind. I loved learning more about their jobs. (Pics from the Butler's trip below...)








...kept building our "My Body" science projects. Throughout the month we learned about and added bladder, spleen, pancreas, gall bladder, reproductive organs, bones and muscles. (We also learned about cells but, since they are too small to see, they're not pictured on our body cut-outs.)


I'll tell ya, this curriculum has been great for me! I honestly can't remember whether I even learned about the function of some of my smaller organs, like the spleen and gall bladder. (If I did, and I am inadvertently slighting my seventh grade Life Science teacher, Mrs. Burr, she has my sincere apologies. She was a very nice, very patient woman who really helped me love biology, and I do have very vivid memories of the earthworm and frog dissections in her class, among other things!)

...continued learning about very early American history, or rather, the navigators, explorers, and adventurers who first traveled here and started claiming land for their own European nations. We're reading slowly through a lovely, old library book, America Begins, by Alice Dagliesh, and reinforcing some of the names, facts, etc. with the Veritas Press history cards. As Meg will proudly tell you, her favorite history factoid so far is that classic two-liner:

In fourteen-hundred-and-ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

I wish all history was written in rhyme!

...successfully completed all of our scheduled Saxon math lessons for October. I go back and forth on whether or not the level K curriculum is challenging enough for Meg. She enjoys it, but it's very easy for her, and I'm sure she could handle one step up. Then again, I don't want to miss any of the skills she's getting now and have to fill in gaps later. This level is definitely dead-on for Matthew. And both kids love how all of the work is manipulative-driven and hands-on. My biggest challenge (pretty much daily) is teaching the two of them together. At ages five and four, of course, self-control is one of their weak spots and, for whatever reason, math time seems to be one of the lowest moments of the day in that department!

...continued Spell to Write and Read with Meg. After learning the cursive alphabet and basic phonograms last month, we launched right into some simple spelling and made it through the first 3 lists (or 60 spelling words) in the curriculum. Some days Meggers is easily discouraged (i.e., when she finds she can't write every word perfectly the very first time--mostly related to the logistics of connecting one letter to another rather than lack of spelling know-how), but in reality, she's doing beautifully and is rapidly becoming a much better, bolder, more self-sufficient speller.

This is one of Matthew's "Sticky Mosaics" that he worked on during Meg's phonics lessons this last month. He loooooved these things.

...ripped through The Spettecake Holiday as our Mommy-and-Meg read-aloud. This is a sweet children's novel from 1958 by Swedish author Edith Unnerstad. I picked it up at a used book sale when I was a little girl and have loved it ever since. Now we're about halfway into Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden.

...started a new read-aloud-to-Mommy book for Meg: Sarah, Plain and Tall. I was slack in having Meg read aloud this month--think I need to switch where this falls in the day to make sure we get it in!

...got acquainted with both jazz and classical music, listened and danced to some of both, and talked about some differences between the two.

...learned about and created our own color wheels. Played with watercolors, twice. Killed approximately 30 trees with our endless crayonlust. (Like wanderlust, only... with Crayola products.) (Oh, and by the way, we use all of our paper twice, back and front. I'm not really that flippant about killing trees.)

And that's my summary of the Wilcox Home School, October 2011, complete with my stream-of-consciousness, notes to self, parentheticals, and asides!