Monday, January 26, 2015

Today at Our House

Monday is Dave's day off and our "Saturday," so Dave and I slept in, along with Graham, who contentedly snoozes on and off until we come to wake him. I know--most amazing three-year old ever.

Dave made our traditional Monday breakfast of scrambled eggs (known here as "Daddy's Eggs Fabuloso") and toast. Of course, it's not quite that simple. We always have two kinds of toast, whole wheat for Dave, Matthew and Esme, and gluten free for Meg, our celiac girl. Graham, who can't have eggs at all, had instant oatmeal. I, who eat mostly grain-free, had peanut butter on a banana with my eggs.

Now Dave is in the shower and the kids are sliding down the stairs in their sleeping bags, screeching at the top of their lungs.

Our entire living room floor is covered with toys, despite the fact that the kids cleaned it up beautifully just last night. I guess that's one consequence of sleeping in.

We have no plans until late this afternoon.

It's snowing very lightly outside.

Ahh, sweet Mondays.

(Whoops, no irony or meanness intended there... I promise we're working hard on the weekends, when most people have their down time!)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Esme and "Real" Books


For a long time, Esme has not been content with picture books alone. Though she still brings many picture books home from the library (with titles such as Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious making the most repeat visits), she has long imagined herself a reader of chapter books. It started with the American Girl series, which Meg read backward and forward several times. Eventually, Esme started bringing home American Girl books too, despite the fact that she was scarcely four and couldn't read a word. Illiterate, she sat for hours with these paperbacks open on her lap, animatedly telling herself stories she had never heard. It was adorable and funny.

Last fall she latched onto my old paperback copy of Anne of Green Gables. She toted it with her to Louisville when we went down to say goodbye to Dad. She spent several hours of our car trip intently "reading" it aloud--and trust me, the ONLY thing she knew about this book at the time was what she could guess from the cover art. Her narrative was largely untrackable, but she sure was enjoying herself.

Lately, as Esme has progressed through kindergarten and begun to recognize words and sound them out, she's been attacking longer works in earnest. I brought Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm home from the library a couple of weeks ago, and Esme was enchanted. (By the cover? By the title? I really don't know.) She spent well over an hour one afternoon doggedly plowing through the first two sentences, one unfamiliar word at a time. This involved many trips from her reading spot into the kitchen to ask me for help. "Mommy, I know, 'The... old...'. What's this word?"

"Ssss-t-aaaa-ge. Stage."

"Stage! Ok, stage! Thank you, Mommy!" And back to her reading spot (usually the floor of the main floor bathroom, incidentally) she would go, to read from the beginning, adding her new word. Then, in a few moments, she'd be back.

"Mommy, I know, 'The... old...stage...'. What's this word?"

"It's 'coach'."

"OK, coach! 'The... old... stage... coach!' Thank you, Mama!"

She was totally delighted with this process, painstaking as it seemed, and she was over the moon when she encountered a word she could identify without help. As I mentioned, this went on for over an hour. You go, girl.

Then this week... a pay-off. We had finished reading Cheaper by the Dozen at lunchtime that day. (My sisters and I have quoted this book to each other since preadolescence, so it was fun to get to read it to my own kids.) Later that afternoon Esme took the book into the bathroom. She emerged glowing.

"Mommy, I was reading Cheaper By the Dozen, and I found out that it says, 'Dad... was... a... tall... man'!"

I took the book from her and opened it to Chapter 1. Sure enough, the book opens with the phrase, "Dad was a tall man"--glorious, short, simple words! Her first successful solo decoding of a whole phrase in a "real" book!

It was a real, live dream come true, achieved, as with most dreams, by hard work and perseverance.

Dream on, lovely girl!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


photo (10)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christmas Eve at Our House

Catch-up post!

It used to be that we Wilcoxes had our "Christmas Morning" early in December. Back then, our church's Christmas Eve musical production completely took over Dave's life later in December and made it very difficult for us to get a morning together. However, in the last few years, the church has scaled way back to a lovely, simple carol-singing and scripture-reading service that requires much less preparation. And that means that we can open our presents right on Christmas Eve! (Our Christmas Day is reserved for a brief birthday party for Jesus and travel.)

I've given up taking pictures while we're opening presents, so I just have a few from afterward.

Here's Dave helping Matthew with his new magic kit while Esme explores her Lego Cinderella set.

The remains of the day:

And saying goodbye to Daddy in the afternoon as he left to prepare for the service:

Later, here is Meg typing on the brand new, bright red keyboard she got for the iPad. She sat right down and hammered out her first play, a version of the Nativity.

And here is Graham, coopting my casserole carrier (ready for schlepping food to Virginia the next day) as some kind of toddler containment unit.

And that's all I've got! It doesn't make our Christmas Eve look particularly magical or momentous, but from where we sit, it was just about perfect.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Late Night Conversation

On Friday my husband blessed my heart tremendously by posting a very kind birthday message on Facebook and here. His words, perhaps, gave you one perspective of our marriage. Now here's a completely different angle.

Last night as we were supposed to be heading to bed, I somehow stumbled on a video for the Buttercup, a little jar that (as advertised) allows you to make your own butter quickly and easily. Dave meandered around, tidying up while I watched, entranced. When the video ended...

Dave: All right, to bed.

Me: A Buttercup! That's so cute!

Dave: A buttercup is a flower.

Me: But you can make your own butter!

Dave: It's just... butter. Who cares?*

Me: No, you don't understand! I've always wanted to make my own butter, ever since I was little and first read about Laura doing it!

Dave: That's not how Laura did it.

Me: (Laughing) I am a romantic. I have to romanticize these things.

Dave: (Grinning) And I'm here to balance you out.

Me: You're not balancing me out; you're squelching me!

(Mutual chuckling.)

Dave: (Mockingly) Ever since I read about Henry Ford I wanted to make my own car!

Me: You used to read?**

Dave: Touché.

*I tend toward the foodie end of the spectrum, whereas Dave's more of a Kraft Mac 'n' Cheese guy.

**Married to a passionate reader, my husband again serves as my foil by generally doing no hobby-reading at all.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Bride!

You may have noticed that I (Dave) don't post here often, but some occasions do deserve special attention. My wife's birthday is definitely one of those occasions. I first posted the following on Facebook and received more Likes and Comments than anything I've ever posted there. Clearly, Cara is the best thing I've got going!

It's my wife Cara's birthday today. Even though she's not on facebook, I'm writing this to "rise up and call her blessed," and to "let her works praise her in the gates" (Proverbs 31:28, 31), for she is an excellent wife.

I'm so proud of her because she lives like Jesus. She gives to the very end of herself for others.

Most of what she spends her time on might be considered "easy" by some, but they are far from easy. Making a meal, running a load of laundry, cleaning the dishes: they could be easy the first time. And maybe the 10th time. But they're not so easy the 4000th time or 8000th time. God's love endures forever, and my wife shows our family what he's like by the many loving things she does over and over and over and over, ad infinitum.

What's more, in the middle of all the "mundane," she disciples our family in worshipping God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. She teaches the kids songs and scriptures, math and reading, self-control and peacemaking, praying and sharing. On many days, late into the night after the kids are in bed, she listens to my raw thoughts, joys, frustrations, ideas, emotions, and desires and helps guide me into God's truth. She is my stabilizer.

Others she lives for? Her extended family, our friends, the kids in Discovery Land, the teens in her Tree House Gang. Late night script writing, craft making, party planning, phone calling, dessert making - she loves to love.

I am grateful to God for her and blessed to be her husband.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"De" Poems

This year we're using Michael Clay Thompson's language arts curriculum for Meg and Matthew. We're studying Latin stems to help build vocabulary, and in each lesson the kids are supposed to write a poem using some words containing that stem. Yesterday we finished the lesson on "de," which means "down," and the kids' poems were so cute I wanted to post them here.

(In our text book, the author often uses a stem as the name of a character. Both of the kids did the same in their poems.)

Meg's "De" Poem

De's mom said, "Define clean up!"
De began to clean up the debris.
As De degrimed, the house shined,
And the mess began to decrease.

Matthew's "De" Poem
(written with a bit of help from Mama)

"I need to defrost," said the 'De' fridge,
"Because I have ice in my head.
But I don't want my food to decay,
So I'll think warm thoughts instead."

Friday, January 09, 2015

New Year's Outing

Over New Year's we had the pleasure of a nice, leisurely visit from Jan. It was the first time we've seen her since Dad died in October, and it was so good to be with her, to talk, to remember, and to process how, for all of us, life continues.

On January 1st we went downtown and stood in line to see the model trains at the U.S. Botanical Gardens. I think it took about half an hour for us to get into the train room--not a bad wait, given that the line moved quickly and we never stood in one place for more than a few minutes. Here's a shot of Jan and Meg, just before we made it into the train room.

And then... Thomas. All of my pictures are blurry, but they do capture something of our Graham's excitement about seeing the engines whoosh around the tracks and through the tunnels.


There was squealing, and there was jumping up and down, and there was gasping with hand over mouth. Repeatedly. Dramatic? No, not us.


The theme of this year's exhibition was the U.S Exploring Expedition, which took place from 1838 to 1842, and of which I had never heard before. Here are Graham and Esme in front of the U.S.S. Porpoise, flagship of the expedition.

And here's Meg with a model of the Queen Anne's Revenge, a.k.a. flagship of Blackbeard.

There were many other cool things packed into the relatively small train room--more ships, lighthouses, a grotto with imbedded underwater scenes, a waterfall with mermaid. And I think, looking back (though I could be wrong), that all of the scenery was made from plant matter. It was really nifty.

Since it was January 1st, and since I am working to read the Bible straight through in 2015 (something I have not done in years), I had read Genesis 1 that morning. So it was lovely to stroll through the rest of the indoor displays, which featured a dizzying diversity of botanic life, and see for myself some of the things God spoke into existence so long ago. I wasn't really taking pictures after we left the train room, but then in the large jungle display we bumped into an orchid with a familiar name...

Then I walked into the official orchid room, and the camera flew into my hand of its own accord. As you know, I am no photographer, but orchids? Orchids defy you to take a bad picture.




The only other planty picture I took was of these gorgeous little kumquats, with which I was (and am) utterly smitten.

I don't think I've ever tasted a kumquat...

Just before we left, this lady showed our kids how to make little houses out of plant stuff.


And I had to take a picture of this impressive model of the Capitol (currently much more impressive than the real Capitol dome, which is obscured by dense scaffolding).

And here's our crew in front of the model of the Botanical Gardens itself!


OK, just two more pics, I promise.

At lunch, Esme insisted on having her portrait taken with JanJan:

And then we went over to the National Museum of Natural History, which was a mob scene. I mean, swarming with people. We didn't stay there long. But again, our daughter required a shot of the iconic elephant in the rotunda, because elephants are Esme's favorite animal. (She's alliterative that way.)

Magnificent, no?

What a fun and memorable way to spend the first day of a brand new year.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Happy New Year from the Wilcoxes!

I have multiple posts to share if I can make the time, but for now, a couple of pictures of our little fam on our New Year's Day outing:

Here we are looking pretty good...

And... here we are, a little less focused, a little more scattered, in short, a little more realistic.

God's richest blessings on all of you as we launch into 2015!