Friday, October 26, 2012

Hello? Holy Spirit, Is That You?

This afternoon we were racing out the door to try and get Graham to a radiology center to get x-rayed in case he had swallowed a magnet. (He hadn't, praise God.) I was hustling everyone into the car, and Meg was fretting about something for which we didn't have time to stop. "Meg," I cut her off, "It's ok. Trust Mommy and trust the Lord." (That's an order!)

"Yeah!" piped Esme, with all of the grace and cheer my own words lacked. "He got da whole world in his hands, Meggie! Evyting's gunbe ok!"

Do you ever have these moments with your children? The moments where you stop and look at them and think, "Who are you, and what have you done with the child who threw three fits this morning because someone looked at you the wrong way?" Sometimes all I can do is choose to believe that God in His kindness is speaking through my children a word that we (ok, I) need to hear at that moment.

"That's right, Esme," I said, when I finished gaping at my little sage. "He does have the whole world in his hands." Meg brightened up immediately, and I tried to take the message to heart as I hopped into the driver's seat.

And believe me, "He's got the whole world in His hands" was precisely the message that I needed to bear in mind for the rest of this day, as our wait at the radiology place dragged on... and on... and on... and I finally burst into tears in front of the receptionists when I realized they still didn't even have us in the queue... and then we waited some more... and my plans for a nice roast chicken dinner went up in smoke. (Or rather, stayed in the refrigerator.)

He's got the whole world in His hands, Cara. Everything's gonna be ooooookay.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nine Years of Happy

Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.

-Franz Schubert

I don't know whether or not Herr Schubert was speaking from personal experience. I hope he was. Either way, I wholeheartedly agree with his assessment. Or, that is, I agree with its... converse. (I had to look up "inverse" and "converse" to try and figure out which was the right word here.) Happy is the woman who finds a true friend, and far happier is she who finds that true friend in her husband.

Nine years ago today, I gave my hand, my heart, and my life to my truest friend on earth. Oh, my good Father, how I thank You for this man! Thank You for all of the events that brought us together and all of the grace that holds us together, today and every day, till death parts us.

David, you are the very best companion, lover, partner, and leader for whom I could ever ask. There is no one on earth with whom I would rather live, laugh, talk, grow, think, muddle, work, learn... and snuggle. It truly has been a happy nine years, my Love.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Because normal giraffes are just not exciting enough for a boy. Obviously.

Matthew, two days ago: Are there any poisonous giraffes?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Some People in This Family...

...are too darn cute for their own good.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Undoing Autumn

Yesterday I went outside to check on my peoples, and I found them doing this:

Yes, they are gluing fallen leaves back onto a dead branch.

There are a number of places I could take this, philosophically speaking. I could wax poetical about my children's subconscious sympathy for dying things, creative act as mourning ritual. I could theorize that my kids were quietly engaging in the timeless quest for immortality, the age-long war against death and decay. I could meander down the path of scriptural symbolism: abiding, the vine and the branches, dead works, pruning.

But you know what? Instead I'm going to going to go out on a limb (snort) and say that my kids were just being kids. They saw what looked like the raw materials for a tree, free for the taking, and they thought, "Hey, we could make our own tree!" So they did.

At the end of another week of demanding parenting, once again I find myself blessing the Lord for Meg and Matthew's creativity. Maybe that's because it reminds me that they are more than instruments for my sanctification, and so much more than little savages needing civilization. (Though they're certainly not less than that!) With leaves, branch and glue sticks, they were imaging God, the great and tireless Creator of All. And so their little craft project, odd as it was, served as a much-needed reminder of their beautiful humanity.
(You see, the philosophy would get in to this post, invited or not!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Q: When Are Sick Littles a Blessing?

A: When it's Sunday morning, and your husband takes the bigs to church with him at the crack of dawn...

And because the littles are feeling punk, they sleep in late, which means that YOU get to go back to sleep too...

And when everyone finally does get up, the house is SO still and peaceful...

And your girl requests "shake" for breakfast, and you gladly oblige...

And you throw in a little Elmo to boot...

And your baby boy is the cutest thing going...



And you just can't think when you last had a morning so peaceful and refreshing, even if you did have to miss church to get it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Favorite Prayer

"Every new duty calls for more grace than I now possess, but not more than is found in Thee, the divine treasury in whom all fullness dwells. To Thee I repair for grace upon grace, until every void made by sin be replenished and I am filled with all Thy fullness."
-"Grace Active," from The Valley of Vision

Saturday, October 13, 2012

School in Session

We interrupt this neverending Beach Pics series again to bring you the long, long, long overdue post on our school year that I have been working on... oh, roughly... forever...

Here at the School of Wilcox we're through with vacation and wrapping up our sixth week of class (with a mere 32 weeks to go!). It's going well so far. Juggling first grade, kindergarten and preschool is no small feat--especially for a loosey-goosey, creative-juicey mess like myself--but God's grace has been abundant. The kids have been excited to dive in every single day so far! Here's a quick version of the highlights (and a few not-so-high):

-Daddy is teaching our Bible class first thing on Tuesday and Friday mornings. We're using a little book called Get Wisdom. I love seeing Dave apply his smarts and creativity to teaching our kids about God's Word! My favorite moment so far, during our lesson on contentment, found us blending blackened, overripe bananas, frozen strawberries, yogurt, frosty spinach, and coconut milk to make delicious smoothies. This was Dave's idea for demonstrating how God works all things (even stuff that seems rotten) for our good. And that's why we can trust Him and rest content no matter what our circumstances!

-The weekly coloring pages from our most excellent history curriculum, Biblioplan, have been a huge hit!
I love that the kids have something to busy their hands while I read to them. And Story of the World is a great read. We're doing Ancient History this year, as you might guess from my cell phone snaps of our faaaabulous block ziggurat, below!


-We're loving Horizons (Matthew) and Singapore (Meg) math! I'm really glad that I decided to ditch Saxon, much as we enjoyed [most of] it last year. Being able to find the curriculum that best matches my kids and their individual needs is such a cool part of homeschooling!

-Teacher Created Resources scores big again with this science curriculum. We wrapped up our first unit, on germs, right before the beach trip. (Another score is that this unit counted toward our health requirement as well!) Our first experiment, Moldy Bread Bags, did not go quite as predicted, but the kids still had a blast being grossed out by the mold. Ewwwwwwwww!

-On a slightly less academic front, one morning about a half hour into our school day, we discovered that the door to our basement freezer had been left ajar over night. Not good. Food that should have been frozen solid was dripping and soft to the touch. It is true grace that I didn't completely flip my lid; as it was, I merely made sure that the culprit understood that this mistake must not be repeated. Ever again. Then we spent the next 45 minutes transferring some items to the kitchen freezer, dumping many in the trashcan and salvaging what we could by throwing together an extremely full crockpot of chicken. It would have been perfect if this little mishap had only occurred during our science unit on states of matter! (Ok, it would not have been perfect. It would have been more... relevant.) The upside was that we've been needing to defrost that freezer for a long time. That day the Lord was just forcing the issue... and giving Mama a little opportunity to practice contentment (which we had studied earlier that morning!).

-Matthew is doing so well with kindergarten. I sure do see a big difference in his abilities since last year. It's fun to see his progress. It's also fun to see the differences in the way that he and Meg process things. When we're doing our Spell to Write and Read language arts curriculum, and I'm dictating spelling words with context sentences, Meg is all business. She listens to the word, she listens to the sentence, she listens to the word again, she writes the word. Matthew wants to know what the context sentence means, and/or why it says what it says. Needless to say, Matthew and I get through our spelling lists a little more slowly than Meg and I do. And that's ok!

-One thing I've learned about myself this year is that I apparently still carry a bit of my Virginia farm-girl drawl. Matthew can never figure out how to spell the word "and," because, as I've realized, I pronounce it in two syllables: "a-und." Poor kid is very confused and truly believes there should be a U in there somewhere.

-Matthew continues to be my craft maniac. Since Meg has more academic work, I usually try to schedule at least one crafty activity for Matthew each day. (Sometimes this is as simple as giving him stickers and crayons.) He loves it and has an extended attention span when working with his hands. It still surprises me.


-Esme is doing a little Letter of the Week curriculum to get her feet wet in school activities and keep her engaged during the morning. Seeing her prance over to me when she completes an assignment--"I ready for my next ting!"--is the cutest. And I love hanging her finished work in her special corner of our school room:
The tough part is that I don't have time to give Esme much help with her projects, so if she's having trouble with something or just not into it, she sometimes bails midway.

-Meg, to no one's surprise, is just a great all-round student. She's enthusiastic, quick, attentive, and has a killer memory. One of her biggest challenges is working through the moments when she doesn't "get it" right away; she doesn't appreciate being wrong at all! My guess is that this will be a recurring issue in her life.

-One of my biggest challenges is helping my kids when they can't come up with an answer that I think they should know. (They should know! After all, IIIIIIII taught it to them!) Wow, did God reveal some sin there recently! I don't know if I've gotten to the bottom of it yet... praying, praying, praying, and seeking wisdom from God's Word and trusted friends. I'd appreciate your prayers too if you would be so kind, Dear Reader. Pray that I would teach my kids with patience, gentleness, and sincere love, and that all of my hope would be in the Lord.

-That said, I still think schooling my kids at home is a blast. Being their #1 teacher is exhilarating and exhausting, and I don't want to trade it for anything. I know that I am one very privileged mama to be able to do this--very privileged indeed!

I'll close with some pictures from a field trip we took this week--Butler's Orchard again! The kids loved it so much last year, we had to go back!








Meg with some sweet buddies:
photo (4)
This picture and the last one are courtesy of my friend Hemi--thank you, Hemi!

Please note the alluring splotch on my shoulder! Graham kept trying to eat hay on the hayride, which made him throw up his lunch on my shirt. Homeschooling is nothing if not glamorous, yes?
photo (3)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beach Pics X: Matthew Mugging

You didn't think those few shots I posted yesterday were all the Matthew pictures, did you?







Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beach Pics IX: Matthew Normal





This boy loved the beach until he could love it no more. He was wild with happiness; he ran and ran and ran and ran, he played, laughed, splashed and ran some more. All of his usual finnicky sensitivity washed out to sea upon arrival. He didn't care if it was cold. He didn't care if his jeans got sopping wet. He just loved that beach. It was incredibly fun to watch him out there.

And then he had had enough. By our last full day, it required persuasion to get him in his swimsuit. On the morning we left, when Mom and Dad took the girls down for a final beach walk, Matthew opted to stay and help pack the car. (And he really did help, lots!) He had given all he had to give, and he was ready for some rest. I don't think we'd been on the road homeward for a half-hour before he asked if he could take a nap.

I think this might be a pretty good way to live life, yes? Be all there, hard, and then set your sights ahead and move on. No moping, no looking back. Just, "Goodbye, beach. It was great. Thanks for everything, and see ya next time."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Beach Pics VII: Goldilocks

For over a month before our vacation, Esme talked about the beach every day. We would go in to wake her up in the morning, and the first thing out of her mouth would be, "Beach today?" Or we would say, "Kids, guess where we're going?" and Esme would say, "Beach???" when we were really  planning to visit the library. It was cute and funny, and a little bit sad at times. "Sorry, girlie. Still three weeks until we go to the beach."

Then we got to the beach, and Esme was terrified. She did NOT like that big, noisy, old water, and she did NOT want to go anywhere near it, thankyouverymuch. The first couple of days she refused to go beyond the very mouth of our beach entry, where she would sit and scratch around in the sand while the rest of us romped. She was much happier at the small swimming pool in the back of our house, and for several days she got quite upset if we told her we were going to "the big beach." She much preferred that "yittle beach" out back.

But we kept working with her, and by the middle of the second week...







...she was as happy as a little sandpiper. And almost as quick!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Beach Pics VI: What Graham Learned


Before we left for the beach, Daddy bet himself that Graham would be crawling by the time vacation was over. And sure enough...

By our final morning at the beach house, our smiley, little guy could juuuuust manage a crawl-step or two before his knees slipped out from under him!

Yay, Graham!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

An Ebeneezer

Today my friend Katherine brought her tiny new son, Peter, to church for the first time. I met her in the lobby as I headed to the moms' and babies' room with Graham, and we walked in together to feed our boys. Within moments of our arrival, my friend Jess also entered with her new baby boy, Henry.

I had anticipated this moment for months, but it still caught me by surprise. Fresh realization of God's faithfulness washed over me like a warm wave, and I had to laugh for joy.

Twelve years ago, Jessica, Katherine and I were students at James Madison University. We were good friends, but we were young, immature, and babes in our faith. There was a lot of encouragement and strength and growth that came out of our early years of friendship. There was also a lot of strife. Looking back on those times, it's hard to believe that I still get to know and love these beautiful women. It's hard to believe that we survived those early squabbles and tensions and struggles at all, let alone that we have walked together through singleness, courtships, weddings, marriages, pregnancies, and childrearing. The fact that all three of us gave birth to baby boys this year and that we now get to spend Sunday mornings together nursing and rocking and diapering them (and maybe trying to catch a few words of the sermon)... well, it's almost surreal.

I had to ask if we could take a picture together, and I post it here as an Ebeneezer, a "stone of help," a reminder of how good God has been and how far He has brought us. To You be the glory, Lord, and may I have many more years with these dear friends!
photo (1)
(l to r: Graham, me, Peter, Katherine, Jess and Henry)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

First Field Trip

Yesterday we took our first field trip of the year, to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. It's funny; we've been there at least three times previously, and I had assumed the kids would remember it (at least Meg). However, most of it was new again to them.

I did not have the wherewithal to manage three eager, mobile kids, one diaper bag on my back, a baby strapped to my front and a camera, so I didn't take any pictures. But my friend Jerusha was kind enough to send me this one, which I thought I would post here as a memory-keeper:

I was off in the corner nursing Graham during the presentation we attended, but Jerusha said that Matthew's reaction to this horseshoe crab was super cute. It was something between, "Woah, that is sooooo cool!" and "Aaaggghhhhh!!!! Scaaaaaaaryyyyy!"  Let's take a closer look at that face:
photo - Version 2

He did NOT want to touch the crab's shell when given the opportunity, and neither did Meg. (Esme, with a little persuasion, did give it a little rub.) But on the way home, Matthew told me that this crab was his favorite creature of the day, and he remembered several facts he learned about it!

Note to myself: this was a great experience, but it was also the most exhausting field trip EVER! Between driving into the city solo (city driving = STRESS), to having bungled directions (thanks a lot, Google Maps!) and temporarily getting stranded at Johns Hopkins (fortunately I know my way at least that far and could use a lifeline to call, call, text, and call my husband until I got through), to bearing the weight of the world on my shoulders (or just baby and bag) all through the aquarium, to dragging four kids (one still attempting to nurse, two screaming) out of the 4-D movie after about 30 seconds of previews, to chasing Esme up and around three floors of exhibits as she raced from tank to tank ahead of the other kids... well, I guess you get the picture. By the time we made it back to the van (for more city driving--yay!), I wanted a hot bath really, really bad. The moral of the story? The moms who had their husbands along for this field trip really knew what they were doing! Next time, take a man along!