Educational Update

Isaac and David both earned highest honors for their first quarter. That means they get a $1/week raise in their allowances, which will now compensate for the $1/week they contribute toward our World of WarCraft subscription. David has become very proficient in handwriting, which is always difficult for a lefty; there’s a huge improvement over last year. Congratulations to them both, the weasels!

Last night I took the second of two “midterms”—our single major exams—for my Boston University graduate courses. I got a stinking “B” on my first exam, in “Object-Oriented Analysis and Design.” I think I did better on the Software Engineering exam yesterday.

Both classes have projects due within a couple of weeks. The Software Engineering course is a group project with three of my co-workers, and we’re building, using Ruby on Rails, a Web-based calendar that is idea for families and small organizations. This is a program I’ve always wanted to put together, and it will be fun finishing it up. So far we’ve learned that Rails is amazing in putting together the data connectivity and display pieces virtually automatically.

In OOAD, I am having a blast designing a simulator of a Star Trek transporter, including replicating the Enterpise D transporter control panel. For this I’m uisng Adobe’s Flex Builder 2, at the suggestion of co-worker RaviShekhar Gopalan, to create my application programmatically for Flash. Although far from finished (I should be “mostly done” by Monday), I’ve published my incomplete-but-working project to http://transporter.wilcoxfamily.net/ . There are some fun hidden features (and I’ll be adding several more), although the simulation/demonstration code isn’t in there yet. I fell victim a bit to a common programmer’s overconfidence: “If I know one object-oriented language, then I can learn another one in minutes!” I’ve figured out just about everything I need to do in Flex (I have one more technical problem to solve, and it’s a small one), but I’m my no means a master yet. You can also take a peek at the PowerPoint presentation I gave to the class for that project. (Can you spot the big omission from my Domain Diagram? It’s a real forehead-slapper!)

(It’s been determined that I will get real credit for the courses I am taking, but that I cannot get my Certificate in Software Engineering, because I don’t have a baccalaureate. I will investigate, after the next two courses are done in the spring, what it would take to convert these credits into undergraduate credits and fill in the missing pieces to get a B.S. in computer science.)

John (we still hear from him occasionally) has been telling people for a while that he is enrolled in a GED review course at Massasoit, but if he is, he’s taking on days it isn’t offered, at times of the day it isn’t offered, with an instructor who isn’t teaching it, using a textbook that isn’t part of the course, and getting a ride from people who claim they aren’t giving him a ride to the class.

And NaNi continues to learn letter recognition and writing from Nichelle, although the impending holidays have cut down on the teaching schedule a bit. Naomi can spot capital As anywhere, and writes them perfectly, except for tending to draw them upside-down.

With a Thankful Heart ….

Around the table we took turns telling what we were thankful for. It came to David’s turn and he had a long list, starting with his salvation—what a blessing that was. (Doug prompted him by announcing, “Our kids are all ingrates; they have nothing for which they are thankful.”) Then, to top it all off, he broke into songs of praise and worship, and got us all singing.

…being thankful for what we have. Can we list all the blessings God gives to us, really? What a loving, gracious, forgiving, and merciful Lord we serve. One of my major praises is for the return of excellent health! It’s been since July, and so far there is no sign of the symptoms returning. Will they symptoms return? Not sure, but typically by this time of year, I’d be having many symptoms, and so far only a couple of minor ones had happened and then they were gone, and that was at least two months ago.

A trip to Cindy’s for Thanksgiving is always wonderful! Our plan was to head to Cindy’s house after church Wednesday night. It’s a two and a half hour trip, and after service we had hoped to arrive by 11 p.m. I got the suitcases packed, and Doug loaded up the van all before church. (Victory! We’ve never actually accomplished this.) Service typically lets out at 8:15, and we wanted to head back to the house for one final sweep of things and also pick up dinner on the way. Service let out at 9:05 due to the fact that each person has the opportunity to share something that they have been thankful for throughout the past year.

I was downstairs working with our King’s Kids program and Doug was in the service. Things took a little longer, giving hugs and quick praises of thanks for how God has been working once service was over. I believe we all made it in the car at about 9:20. So, you see what happened. So we got in the van, headed home, had the kids do potty runs, etc., and were back in about 5 minutes. (Another victory!)

The plan was to go to the McDonald’s just over the highway. So we took off, and the time was now 9:45. Unfortunately, the McDonald’s was closed! Grrrrrr… We headed back to the BK on Main Street, and ordered meals. We went through drive-thru and pull over once we get our food to pray and dish out the meal so we can get on our way. As the kids were handed their food, Isaac proclaimed in disgust that they got his order wrong—again. They also messed up David’s order. Back through the line we went. I should add, because our order was so long we had to pull to the side and wait for them to finish making it which took several minutes. Anyway, we got the order together and were on our way, finally. Quite a way to start off our mini-vacation!

Our drive was uneventful, except for the 18 wheeler that was having a bit of a problem staying in his lane. He nearly pushed a car off the road, thankfully we got past him (two lanes over), and it was smooth sailing from there. We arrived at Cindy’s just after midnight. The kids slept just about the whole way there and Doug did, too off and on.

Cindy did an awesome job with the meal and the many pies once again. My contribution was a side dish, assistance in the kitchen, and a couple of Hershey Pies.

Around the table we took turns telling what we were thankful for. It came to David’s turn and he had a long list, starting with his salvation—what a blessing that was. (Doug prompted him by announcing, “Our kids are all ingrates; they have nothing for which they are thankful.”) Then, to top it all off, he broke into songs of praise and worship, and got us all singing. Naomi was thankful for her friend Mikayla and her house. We were all thankful for the mutual support we have in the family, especially given the very difficult issues various of us have been through. We talked about why we love to get together, and concluded that our relationships with Christ made a big difference in our family dynamics—you won’t find us saying, “Ugh, holiday time again, we have to put up with the relatives!” Such a sweet time.

Typically after the meal, Cindy and I go for a nice and sometimes long walk, but due to the rain we didn’t go. We all did the next day and it was awesome! We went up to the Littleville Dam and hiked around that a ways about four miles. We also stopped at a large rock bluff to do some climbing. Naomi walked some, but was pretty much carried by Doug, Jenn and myself. Jenn, on our way back was still holding Naomi, who decided her being carried was too much and decided to take a nap.

We all had such a great time together and look forward to our next gathering at Christmas.

Meal Dumpling: An Old New England Thanksgiving Treat

Thanksgiving with the Wilcox family always brings a traditional New England recipe to the table. It’s absolutely delicious, especially with some turkey gravy, but can also make an excellent breakfast (with some sugar) or a delightful addition to those turkey-and-stuffing sandwiches.

Meal Dumpling

  • white corn meal (you can use white grits if you can’t get white corn meal); amount varies slightly—see the cooking instructions
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Bring the water, milk, and salt almost to a boil in the top of a double-boiler. (Did you know that the Spanish word for a double-boiler is a baña Maria. What a fascinating glimpse into the culture!)

Under very low heat, pour in the corn meal until it thickens. Don’t get it too thick. My sister claims it should be “slightly thicker than Cream of Wheat.”

Leave the mixture steaming for 3 hours.

Let set out to dry for 1/2 hour.

Amaze your family or become the most popular guest at your next Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!

Naomi-isms

Doug and I bought Naomi the Laurie Berkner Band DVD for her birthday, and one of the songs on it is, “Moon, moon, moon.” Part of the song says that the moon takes care of her. So I asked her, “Who takes care of you?” her response: “God does; I only said the moon does because it’s in the song.”

Last week Doug brought home from work gummy eyeballs, and the kids were playing with them. Isaac was playing with his eye and Naomi’s, and placed them on the back of his head, and talked about having Mom-vision. She placed the eyes at the back of her head, and then said, “Look, I’m Isaac. I know everything. Blah, blah, blah, blah.” It was hysterical.

This morning, Naomi was sitting on the floor looking at an e-Toys catalog, and was pointing out things and saying what she wants to have. She then sighed and said, “Humph, that’s $40.”


Added November 11, 2006

This morning, while Nichelle was at the Ladies’ Tea (part of our annual missions conference at church), I was trying to get Naomi to drink milk instead of water or juice. She didn’t want it, and I explained to her that milk contained calcium and other vitamins and minerals that were important for building strong bones, like in her arms.

A while later she came up to me with a sippy cup filled with water, and said, “Dad, watch this.” She drank from the cup, and said, “See? This doesn’t go into my arms, it goes into my chest.”


Added November 21, 2006

Well, this morning as I was leaving for work, Naomi said to me, “Goodbye, Dad, don’t be a slacker … or a weasel … or a goober … like Uncle Phil!