If I were to lose you today
I would lose …

The one who mothered my children
The one who was my only lover
The one who laughed at my jokes
The one who tolerated my inability to get my socks into the hamper right-side out
The one whose smile always brightened my day
The one who cut my hair
The one who prepared my meals
The one who shared my poverty
The one who shared my wealth
The one whom I have laughed with
The one whom I have cried with
The one whose illness tested my faith, showing me that it was okay to let God know I was really angry with Him
The one who received all my love notes
The one whose every success I applauded
The one who left clumps of hair everywhere in the house
The one safe driver in the family
The one who encouraged me when I did crazy things like ride my bike in the snow
The one who I could eat ice cream with
The one who made a million double standards
The one who was my water-fight and snowball target
The one who was my Snugglebunny
The one with whom I have shared a Caribbean sunset
The one who made me change my clothes when they do not match
The one woman I have ever kissed
The one who kicks my butt as my personal trainer
The one with whom I can watch chick-flicks
The one who supported me when my brain would not work right and I did not know what to do
The one who taught me how to exercise
The one who couldn’t stay awake for reading Starship Troopers
The one for whom I have prayed
The one who tolerated and tried to understand my anxieties
The one who was my Queen of Sarcasm
The one who made me not afraid to walk down dark alleys
The one who always froze me with her feet in bed in the winter
The one who prayed for me when I most needed it
The one who recognized all my Star Wars quotations
The one for whom I have bought flowers
The one who trusted me with her secrets
The one who always beat me to the bathroom
The one who my family liked better than they liked me
The one for whom I asked God
The one who pampered me when I was sick
The one whose drinks I could sip and then make “that face”
The one for whom I always thanked God
The one by whom I defined the word beautiful
The one who got me to eat mostly healthily
The one whom I did not see Hyannis with on our honeymoon
The one whose adventure dreams I always envied
The one with whom I could talk through any decision
The one who let me decorate with Lego
The one who always ignored my advice about computing
The one who has made my vacations worth taking
The one who realized immediately that we needed to live closer to work
The one who kept our children safe when I was not cautious enough to do so
The one whose laugh always made me smile
The one who made me think “Wow!” the first time I saw her
The one who was my friend for years
The one whose voice was the most beautiful one in the world to me
The one whose body I always longed to touch
The one for whom I lived
The one whom I love.

Nichelle is moving out today, pursuant to her intent to divorce me. I wrote this a couple of months ago, after a conversation we’d had. Nichelle’s decision was unilateral, and has been the most heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced, but there’s nothing I can do to prevent it.

Goodbye, my darling. Know that I love you, unconditionally and unceasingly.

MuscleMom Wins Big at NGA Natural Mass Bodybuilding & Figure Power Fest

Saturday Nichelle competed in her first bodybuilding competition of the season, at the excellent National Fitness Gym in Oxford, Ma. The event was sanctioned by the National Gym Association, and MC’d by our favorite hostess and natural bodybuilding promoter, Laura “Turtle” Tourtellot.

Natural Mass Bodybuilding & Figure Power Fest, May 22, 2010, Maximum Fitness Gym, Oxford, Ma.

A huge number of people help out Nichelle as she prepares for these events. There’s our friend Denise DeFelice, who accompanied Nichelle all day, and handled her makeup. Diet advice comes from a number of bodybuilders and trainers (I need Nichelle to give me all the names). Her old manager from Best Fitness, Tom, double-checked all her poses. Denise Richardson, former Ms. America (not Miss America) winner, offers advice via phone and e-mail. Then of course there are the friends and family who cheer her on while training and at the show. (Thanks, Barbara, Naviana, Toni, and Toussant!) But, in the end, it’s Nichelle who’s started with some God-given talents and desire and added a superhuman amount of hard work, especially considering only a few years ago she weighed 100 pounds more than she does now.

Seriously, this is NOT a women I would argue with.

Nichelle looked stunning and performed fabulously. The crowd, which wasn’t that large, absolutely loved her! After Laura read her biography, someone behind me commented, incredulously, “Mother of four?” I am amazed at how much she improves from competition for competition. She isn’t just beautiful and superbly “cut,” she’s also incredibly graceful and has a phenomenal stage presence.

Nichelle Wilcox, 1st Place, Heavyweight AND Women's Best Overall Winner

Nichelle placed first in her “heavyweight” category (118 pounds or above). We were ecstatic. I believe someone in the crowd was jumping up and down and yelling, but I shan’t name names.

When we were getting reading to leave, we were presented with a huge surprise. Nichelle had been awarded the “Best Overall” award for the women competitors, but a glitch had left it unpresented during the awards ceremony. At that point we were beyond thrilled!

Yes, that's our License Plate

Nichelle took six entire hours off her strict diet to eat however she wanted. We celebrated at the Jasmine Restaurant, in nearby Auburn—sadly, they do not serve 担担面. (Naomi showed off her Mandarin language skills and delighted the entire staff.) On the way home we stopped at Wal-Mart, because there were still a couple of the six hours left, and Nichelle wanted cheesecake.

Nichelle expects to compete next at the 2010 INBF Natural Connecticut Bodybuilding and Figure Championship in New Haven, Ct., on June 19, and again in New York City later in June. Of course, she also plans to be back at Laura Turtle’s Granite State Open, in Dover, N.H., in October.

Nichelle at NGA Natural Mass Bodybuilding & Figure Power Fest—Click to jump to our Picasa Web album for more photos from the event.

Happy Birthday, Nichelle!

Today is Nichelle’s birthday. Generally, for reasons which have never been clear to me, it is considered impolite to ask or tell a woman’s age, so I won’t do that here.

Jack Benny, star of stage, screen, and radio.

Halo Warthog Cake

Nichelle has been experimenting with making custom cakes for the kid’s birthdays. Like most things she attempts, she’s done great right out of the box. She invented some cool new techniques this time, and I was able to lend some engineering expertise.

Halo "Warthog" Cake, made by Nichelle
Halo “Warthog” Cake, made by Nichelle.

Halo “Warthog” Cake, made by Nichelle, with model for comparison.

Here's a ballerina cake Nichelle made for Naomi.
Here's a ballerina cake Nichelle made for Naomi.

Body … Built!

Nichelle with her trophy at the 2009 Granite State Open Bodybuilding Championship
Nichelle with her trophy at the 2009 Granite State Open Bodybuilding Championship

Amidst a very busy Saturday, Nichelle competed in the 2009 Granite State Bodybuilding Championship in Dover, N.H. We were amazed by how much she’s improved since her last competition. I was particularly impressed with her onstage presence … she didn’t appear nervous at all, and performed her solo routine perfectly, despite having her toes cramp up.

Nichelle rocks! (And even though she can kill me with her pinkie, I’m saying it because it’s true.)

Charlie Dunn took far better pictures than I could have. We’ll post more when we get those.

This is why we never argue at home.

Science: Why My Wife Thinks I’m an Idiot

The Telegraph, reported a few days ago on research published in the Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology that proves exactly why my wife thinks I’m an idiot:

[R]esearch shows men who spend even a few minutes in the company of an attractive woman perform less well in tests designed to measure brain function than those who chat to someone they do not find attractive.

Nichelle (right) and I (left) on a recent date.
Nichelle (right) and I (left) on a recent date.

We can all picture in our heads the caricature of the stammering young man whose failed attempts at communicating intelligently actively destroy him in the eyes of the beauty he is trying to impress.

As it turns out, it actually happens. Researchers at Radboud University in The Netherlands experimentally supported the idea that cognitive function drops in males inversely proportional to how attractive they find the female with which they are interacting. They “carried out the study after one of them was so struck on impressing an attractive woman he had never met before, that he could not remember his address when she asked him where he lived.”

Clearly, my normally-well-functioning brain is doomed when faced with the overwhelming beauty of my fabulously stunning wife, Nichelle. I don’t have a chance of impressing her, and come off looking like a moron!

And now the research proves it.

(Thanks to Nichole DiVietro for pointing out which “Disney Couple” Nichelle and I most resemble.)

Thoughts on Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Our unnamed west Manchester Thursday evening small group study (a ministry of Heritage Baptist Church) will be starting up again tomorrow, after several weeks in hiatus, and we’ll be studying Francis Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. Below is a brief YouTube introduction with the author.

I suppose if we were to call ourselves anything, it might be “RNA,” or, “Recovering Neofundamentalists Anonymous,” as we try to get out of the “Christian bubble” that many of us (especially me) have spent decades in, and seek to better follow the Savior.

One of our favorite studies in this regard has been Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations, which I highly recommend.

We meet at the Gagnon’s house, which is actually in the exact geographic center of our congregation, or was the last time Erik DiVietro plotted it out.

Running a small group Bible study for the past year has been fascinating. Pastor Erik helped train me in running one, which was a challenge, because (by his own admission), he tends to take over all discussions. Nichelle will tell you I have the same tendency, so for me one of the most challenging things as a leader is to just shut up, and allow silences while people ponder the discussion questions, and give them time to come up with answers or further discussion.

Other challenges come up from time to time. One of my more recent decisions was to outlaw political conversation. Not only was this distracting (although we’re quite informal), to be honest I ultimately came to the conclusion that I was too often getting ticked off by the ridiculous nonfactual, counterfactual, and noncontextual statements that seem to flood the political arena, regardless of one’s political preferences. Let’s just say some of our attendees learn far enough right, politically to make me look like a liberal by comparison. (I suppose I should blame all the NPR I listen to.)

Always, I am thrilled by the insights and discussions we’ve had, and find the small group format to be a particularly rewarding way to study the issues and doctrine presented in God’s Word.

Nichelle: The Return of the Twins

[Note: I am keeping this updated via the comments. You will want to read them for the latest status.]

For just over a week now, the symptoms Nichelle has not experienced in years (for more than very brief periods of time) have been plaguing her again. These include sharp pains in various parts of her body, strange sensations in her head, abnormal exhaustion, and odd sensations of temperature. When these strike, it becomes impossible for her to lead the active life she has enjoyed for the past few years. At times the pain has even been bad enough for her to dig into our hoarded Vicodin supply. We call these pains “The Twins: Pain and Agony.”

For example, today she awoke in apparently perfect condition, and was able to get in a full Tao-Bo workout and her strength training. However, by mid-afternoon, her head began feeling foggy, and the pains had begun. On Sunday, she again began the morning fine, but by the end of our church service, did not trust herself to drive home.

A return of these dreaded symptoms was not something we anticipated. Nichelle has had the additional struggle of facing the possibility that this is back to stay for some unknown length of time.

Although we are certain that these have a hormonal component, we believed that a vitamin D deficiency was the cause of these difficulties. Nichelle has been on a high dose of vitamin D for the past few years, which appears to have kept the symptoms at bay. Nichelle had blood drawn on Saturday, and has an appointment to go over the results tomorrow morning. If it is a problem with vitamin D, it should be easy to correct. If that isn’t the problem, we would be back at the inexplicable and difficult state we were in a few years ago.

Clearly this is God’s path for us, and we will endeavor to learn from it and glorify Him, but please pray that Nichelle will be back to normal soon.

NaNi and Nichelle in The Nutcracker

Naomi in her angel costume and makeup from Gate City Ballet's Nutcracker.

Both NaNi and Nichelle were in a production of “The Nutcracker,” put on yesterday by Gate City Ballet. NaNi got the part of an angel, and Nichelle was one of the dancers at the party in the beginning.


The performance was originally scheduled for last Friday and Saturday, but had to be postponed because of the ice storm. Another snowstorm arrived on Friday, so two performances were set up on Saturday.

Nichelle, onstage, during the party scene.

I’d actually never seen “The Nutcracker,” although, like most, I was familiar with the music. I was very impressed with both the overall quality of the production for a relatively small ballet company, and the skills of the dancers, especially the children. Later I learned that GCB is quite well known in this area for doing such excellent productions.

Nichelle at the end of her scene.

The Photos I Promised

NaNi, on her second day riding.

This is the scene that made Nichelle all teary-eyed, NaNi taking off up the street with Isaac. (We threatened to send her off with a Brides magazine in one hand and a college application in the other.)

Cuteness, as usual.

The two weasels (Nichelle and NaNi) went to DisneyWorld without us.

Phil taught Naomi to blow bubbles. I couldn't even chew gum without swallowing it until I was 6.

Sky Venture, Indoor Sky Diving, Nashua, New Hampshire.

Isaac at Sky Venture, Nashua.

Indoor skydiving: This flight suit makes me look fat.

There’s a really amusing story that goes with this picture, but I need to wait a few years for Nichelle’s anger to calm down before I can tell it.

Isaac and David with Jim, a former sailor who served on the boomer USS Henry Clay. This was taken at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton, Connecticut, home of the world’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus.

Isaac and David at the helm stations of a nuclear submarine.