Friday, August 29, 2014

If Cuteness Could Put Out Fires...

...he'd be the one to call.

On a related note, sometimes I blog for the therapeutic value, or perhaps I should say, I blog to sow. That's sowing, as in "as you sow, so shall you reap" (Galations 6:7). Graham was rawther challenging yesterday morning and basically screeched and cried and threw fits from 7:50 am, when he woke up crying, to 1:45 pm, when he mercifully went down for his nap. (There was a brief break in there somewhere when Bob the Builder did some babysitting for me). Posting cute pictures of the sweeter moments reminds me of the gift that my children are and helps me sow to affection for them. It helps to rekindle the smoldering embers of my enjoyment back into a nice steady flame... and I love to enjoy my kids, and I should enjoy my kids. My enjoyment honors the One who created these amazing little people, and it makes our home a muuuuuch, much happier place.

So when you see the adorable smiles and the goofy cocked heads, don't assume that's our normal... just know that our blog is a place where I seek to sow and resow the seed of gratefulness and love.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

With Grandma in Her Garden

I forgot a set of pictures from vacation!

Mom had beans ready for the picking when we arrived at The Ponds, so we got to help her pick and eat them.


Not being a gardener at all myself (though my fantasies about someday are amazing every. single. year.), I was amused to see that what they say is true--get the kids working in the garden and they instantly become more veggie friendly. These kids were tossing back raw beans and snap peas like nobody's business!


Bounteous harvest...

...and a pepper!

I don't think I've had fresh-picked, steamed green beans for dinner since I was in my teens on the farm. Mmmm... nothing quite like them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting the School Room Ready

... and still a very long way to go.
This picture doesn't look as chaotic as it feels.

T-minus six days and counting!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hey, Aaron! Flat Stanley Has Landed!

Our cousin Aaron's second grade class is working on a Flat Stanley project, and we get to help him. Aaron sent Stanley to us in the mail, and we're supposed to show him around town, take him places, and then send him back to Aaron with pictures and notes and souvenirs of his adventures. We're all over it.
Aaron, this is just one picture to let you know that Stanley arrived today, safe and sound! After this you'll have to wait for your final package to learn about the rest of his travels with the Wilcox family...

I Have Never Introduced Charlie!

This spring, my sister Jacque had her fourth baby, Charles Gabriel Spruill. I know I've mentioned his name here, but I've neglected to post his picture! I took this when Jacque and Asher were here this summer, so Charlie would have been about three months old.
To my eye, he looks SO very much like the pictures of his mama at this age. In my mom's old album, there are these pictures of Baby Jacque sitting on our couch and crawling around wearing this silly, little, strawberry-print mob cap. This shot of Charlie sends my mind straight to those pictures. (Though skipping the mob cap is a good call in your case, Buddy.)

As I wrote briefly in my Fourth of July post, Charlie has been the smoothest-skinned, softest little cuddle you could possibly imagine, and I'm a little jealous that now Lena gets to be near him and go and hold him whenever she wants!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Graham 'n' Grandpa

Graham adopted Grandpa as his hero almost the moment we arrived at The Ponds. "Where's Grandpa?" he would ask about 14 times a day, or whenever Tom temporarily stepped out of his sight. We think the devotion had something to do with Grandpa's big truck...

At any rate, it was awfully cute to see it.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Goodbye for Now, Aunt Lena

My youngest sister is moving down to the Charlottesville area today. She starts her new job there this week, and she'll get to be near our other sister Jacque and her family, our sweet Gran, and Uncle Rob and Aunt Julia and their boys. We are happy for Lena and eager to see how God meets her in her new home, but we're sad to see her leave Maryland too.

She came and took the kids out for farewell dates earlier this week. First, Lena and Mom swept Meg away...

P1240287 a gluten-free restaurant in Bethesda! (Meg has celiac; Mom and Lean have both been gluten free for years for various health reasons.) GF girls unite!


Then they went to G Street Fabrics to pick out some material for a costume project Mom's been planning...




Later in the day it was Matthew and Esme's turn. Lean took them to Jimmie Cone...


...and Le Dollar Tree. Hello, spoiled peoples!

Thank you, Aunt Lena!

Lean, we love you so much and will miss you dearly. We pray the very best for you as you step into a new season and city. Can't wait to see you at the beach in October!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why It's Called "The Ponds"

I have almost finished posting about our vacation. However, it occurred to me that I have never offered any photographic proof of why Mom and Tom's spot in Michigan is called "The Ponds." Nor have I sought to capture any of the beauty of the property, apart from the lovely flower gardens and official yard. I hereby seek to remedy this error.

Disclaimer: Listen people, I don't claim to be a good photographer, much less a landscape photographer, so bear with me here. The following pictures were taken by a nonprofessional with a cheap camera. Nevertheless, they were taken through a lens of affection for this place where I have known much peace and refreshment.












I'm afraid I've saved the worst pictures for last... sorry. One of the fun things we got to do while with Mom and Tom was a scavenger hunt they had prepared to take us all over the property and test our naturalists' skill. We had to find everything from a pinecone (ok, easy enough) to a feather (extremely elusive) to a thistle (ow) to a Joe-Pye weed (wuh?). Eventually our team (girls) found every item on the list, but we also stumbled over two unlisted treasures of the wildflower variety. I looooove wildflowers, and Mom let me borrow her Michigan wildflowers book to look these up. Then I went back later to try and get pictures of them.

Back to disclaiming: This is where the cheap camera and the lack of skill on my part really come in. I could not get that silly camera to focus on these flowers for THE LIFE of me. It really wanted to focus on the grass. Really, really. I have about 37 pictures of marvelously crisp, lovely grass with blurry wildflowers in the foreground. These are the very best of the lot here. If you happen to care, Google the flowers by name to find pictures that will allow you to appreciate their beauty more fully.

The bright blur there near the front (couldn't get any closer, as the blur only got worse) is an orange hawkweed. It was the only one I saw in all of my wanderings, and it seized my attention, it was so vivid and striking. This pictures does it a terrible injustice.

And these little beauties are birdsfoot trefoil, one of those quaintly named blooms that I have long known by name but never seen. I just adore them--they are so dainty and delicate and so vibrantly yellow. Again, my picture = serious shortfall.

But seriously now, can't you see why Mom and Tom have chosen to spend their retirement in the secluded splendor of The Ponds?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

On Language (Addendum)

I remembered Graham's other compound word that I couldn't recall when writing last month's "On Language" post. Actually, Graham said it again this morning, and I thought, "That's it!!!"

The word is goodea, good + idea. As in, "I have a goodea!" Graham says this often, brightly, and confidently, but never with any elaboration. For example:

Graham: I have a goodea!

Me: You do? You have a good idea?

Graham: (nods heartily)

Me: What's your good idea?

Graham: (blank-stare pause... then) I have a goodea!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Last Mackinac Post: Daddy and Graham

Two perfectly happy boys:








See his little fistful of pebbles? "There's just something about boys and throwing rocks," Dave mused that day. Or, as the great E. B. White put it, "It has been my experience that all boys throw stones and sticks--it is their nature."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The View from Mackinac (II)

Dave and I agreed that our visit to Mackinac Island was one of those transcendent days when everything truly seemed right and well in the world. It was a rare, deep-satisfied-soul-sighing kind of day. Here's more evidence of why:














And now, quite possibly the ugliest spot on Mackinac Island...

Matthew and Esme insisted that I take a picture of the ducks we saw while we were waiting for our bike-rental return transaction. Unfortunately, the ducks hang out on a sheltered, muddy, littered, uncharacteristically unpicturesque little patch of beach. Ah, well. The ducks of Mackinac, my dears. For your pleasure alone.

On the ferry ride back to the mainland, Esme was the only one who wanted to ride on the top deck with me (and she only stayed because she was being Mommy's girl that day). Oh, man, it was like the party boat up there. The captain warned us that the passengers sitting in the front left (where Esme and I were) were likely to get lightly sprayed, while those seated in the back right would certainly end up "bathtub soaked" due to the windy conditions and churning lake. Well, when the boat got out into open water and started jouncing over the choppy waves, spray blew up onto the deck in sheets. People were shrieking and squealing and laughing like we were on a roller coaster, and those on the back right did indeed get bathtub soaked, in very short order. I think boat rides are thrilling, and this one was particularly so, but it was rough, and Esme tired of it pretty quickly. But to get down the the lower deck, we would have had to get drenched, and I knew that would be far worse than riding it out. I was very glad everyone else was below, as I think the other kids would have been a mess.

Here's Esme on the boat, before things got too crazy...


And the only other picture I attempted while on the water, the lighthouse on the tip of the neighboring island...

Oh, Mackinac! How you teem with the glory of your Creator!