Sunday, May 23, 2010

List update for May 2010 . . .

I’ve slowly been making progress on my “LIST.” But, I haven’t blogged about it for awhile, so here is the latest update (simply in numerical order).

1) Monthly Date Night: Ray and I have managed to go out, alone at least once a month since January. It hasn’t always been romantic or glamorous (take April: grocery shopping and dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s), but it has been time alone. And, I’m happy to report, we’ve held hands every time. We have another “date” planned for next weekend. I think a proper date night dinner this month will be in order. Kids will stay overnight at mom and dad’s again, so I’ll actually get to sleep late in the morning too. An added perk! (#1: See the List 101 in 1001).

4) Pexa Cox Family Credo: I have a draft credo. It is really about how I want to parent, what I want to teach our kids. Only diversion from my original listed goal is that Ray really isn’t into the whole credo thing. He’s more of a “parent as it comes up” kind of dad. So, I doubt we’ll have any long conversations together to plan for the emotional well-being of our children. However, for me, it does provide a definitive touchstone for reference. (and I must admit, may also provide me an excuse when my best attempts at good parenting fall short . . . “see, this is what I want to accomplish – I’m trying!!” I will post the draft shortly. (#4: See the List 101 in 1001).

6) Letters to Kids on Their Birthdays: I’ve finished Henry’s 6th birthday letter. (#6: See the List 101 in 1001).

17) My Passions: Back in April, I took a week off of work. I had lofty goals regarding all that I was going to accomplish. Although I failed miserably on many of those intentions, I did spend some time considering what I was “passionate” about. I picked up a few books at Barnes & Noble, and spent an indulgent day at the Arboretum, reading and writing and walking. One book “The Passion Test” did help me focus pretty well. And, it challenged me to consider how I spend my time. If I really want to accomplish the things that are most important to me, and that I am most connected to, it is on those things that I need to consciously spend my time. Period. I will post more on this shortly as well. (#17: See the List 101 in 1001).

18) Goal-Setting Group: So, JULD (my mastermind group) has met 3 times so far. We are scheduled to meet again in two weeks. It has been fabulous!!! I find myself accomplishing some of my goals, albeit slowly, but being excited to report back and share and get feedback from these incredible women. I hope we can stick to our meetings for the long haul!! (#18: See the List 101 in 1001).

22) Plan to Learn Children's Portraiture: I’m taking steps forward to learn photography and portraiture. I’m taking a community ed class, which has provided much information (and even more important, the knowledge that maybe I knew more than I thought). I haven’t put my camera on automatic since the class started. I finally get it!! I also signed up to be part of a new “south metro photography club.” Not sure where that will go, but I’m hopeful it could be a good resource. (#22: See the List 101 in 1001).

24) Gratitude Journal: Still writing most everyday. It really has become my daily kid journal too, since I find that I am usually most grateful for a lesson they taught me, or an experience we shared. It continues to be a good touchstone for me. (#24: See the List 101 in 1001).

29 & 30) Clear My Closets and Kids Closets: Yes, this was one of my miserable failings from my week off in April. I pulled junk out of 6 closets, realized the project itself was a week’s worth of work, and then promptly shoved everything right back in (creating an even bigger mess!). Then, I vowed to work on one tote a day to try and get them cleaned out. Haven’t touched them since. For another day . . . . (#29 & 30: See the List 101 in 1001).

34) Sign-up to Donate Blood Marrow: So, I checked into donating blood marrow. It is kind of a big deal. My intention was good, but I’m not sure the timing is right, given my kids are so little. But of course, my head always goes back to what a difference it could make for a little one or for a mom or a dad. If we needed this, we could only pray someone would have stepped up. So, this one will take a little more thought. (#34: See the List 101 in 1001).

49) Cutting Garden: I planted my cutting garden last weekend. It is all from seed (the cheapest method), but I should have something to show by mid-summer. I planted a few new things, but not dahlias yet. Maybe I’ll plant those next year. So, I’m watering, and thinking about who will be among the recipients of my rag-tag summer bouquets. (#49: See the List 101 in 1001).

53) Organic Gardens: I’m continuing to maintain all of my gardens as organic. Never any weed killer or fertilizer on any of them. However, we probably need to consider something to enrich the gardens at the end of the year. The soil at the bottom of the hill is so rich and beautiful, but I can’t take that for granted year after year. Of course, in order to maintain the gardens as organic, I think I’d need to find some organic compost or manure. Not sure where to buy that. Probably not in the fertilizer isle at Home Depot or Ace Hardware. But, for this year, I should be good. I really love raising organic. So far, I’ve had really good luck with everything (despite my minimal knowledge). And, it really is fabulous to know at least for this part of the year, I’m feeding my kids healthy, healthy, healthy produce!! (#53: See the List 101 in 1001).

55) Sunflower Garden: Henry, Anna and I planted our sunflower garden as well last week. We planted sunflowers around the perimeter, grass in the center, and wildflowers outside the sunflowers. We’ll see what grows. It is always a complete leap of faith, and this year especially, since I have 6 gardens to maintain (the vegetable row garden, the vegetable vine garden, the cutting garden, the sunflower garden, the front perennial garden and the front herb garden beds). Oh my!! My guess is that the weeds will have a field day, but we’ll pull as we can. And, somehow, my plants still grow despite the weedy competition. (#55: See the List 101 in 1001).

56) Firepit: In anticipation of Henry’s 6th birthday party, which has a summer camp theme, Ray & I built a campfire pit. I started and he finished it. We haven’t had a campfire yet, and frankly now that we have it, I’m a little worried about keeping everyone safe. But, I think as long as we have rules about safety, we’ll all enjoy it for those warm summer evenings. (#56: See the List 101 in 1001).

67) Ray's Trip to Oregon: Since we’ve decided not to make the trip to Oregon this summer, I’ve been encouraging Ray to consider a solo summer trip. Or even a trip with just him and Henry. I’m not sure if he will, but I think it would be good for him to go, especially over the summer when school is out. We’ll see what he decides. (#67: See the List 101 in 1001).

71) Make Great Pies: Megan gave me a fail safe recipe (at least according to her) for pie crust. I’m ready to try!! Bring on the early summer berries!! (#71: See the List 101 in 1001).

76) Star Party at Baylor Park: Towards the end of June, Uyen and I are taking the kids to a Star Party at Baylor Park. I’ve very excited!! (#76: See the List 101 in 1001).

97) 2009 Pexa Cox Family Slideshow: Check!! (it isn’t perfect, but it is decent. And it is done!!) (#97: See the List 101 in 1001).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

About Henry . . .

(who turned six on Thursday)

Moving from five years old to six is a big deal. A big deal. Five is just thinking about school, about being away from home a day at a time. Six is being a seasoned kindergartener, familiar with the school routine and the lay of the land. Five is just starting to have friends on your radar screen. Six brings friends front and center, and a new set of family rules that go along with more independence. Five is when your mom knows everyone that you've ever had contact with. Six is being out and about with mom and running into people that SHE DOESN'T KNOW who say "Hi Henry." Five is being satisfied with most everything you are given. Six is having a strong opinion and voicing those preferences OFTEN. Five is anticipation and preparation. Six is experience and confidence and becoming . . . .

It has been a big year of newness and changes. And Henry has come through all of it with flying colors. I am so proud of him. My heart is bursting . . . .

Looking back at the past year, here are ten things I know about Henry . . .

1) Henry is dabbling in his creative side, but isn’t ready to fully admit it yet. Although he often fusses and resists, he really loves art at school. If he slows down long enough, he loves to color or paint or draw. And, he is proud of his work. He is starting to pay attention to music too. He's probably ready to try a musical instrument. The drums or guitar seem to be at the top of his list. And if he thinks no one is watching, he will let loose and dance like there is no tomorrow.

2) Henry will LOVE to do something completely, totally, all day, 24/7, with great passion and interest . . . for about 2 weeks. Then he’s done and ready to move on to the next thing. It’s his 6 year old “jag.” This has been the case with a computer game, a few wii games, the novelty of playing with a particular neighborhood friend, watching iCarly, and now with anything Star Wars related (primarily lego sets). Basically, anything bright and shiny and new will get his attention . . . for about 2 weeks.

3) As has been the case since he was born, Henry experiences life quite intensely. His feelings, his sense experience, pains, joys, all of it. It is who he is. Bright lights, loud sounds, intense situations can all bring him stress. Although the sensitivity has toned down quite a bit since he was a toddler, I was just reminded of this again when we were discussing his need for a blood draw sometime soon to test his allergies. Ray and I tried to talk it down as no big deal. But, Henry reminded us “Well it’s a big deal for me.” He's right. Some things are still a really big deal for him, and we need to acknowledge and respect that. It is his reality.

4) Away from home, Henry is a rule follower. At school, at Tonya’s, at friend’s homes. Mostly because he wants to do the right thing. And he really wants to avoid any chance of getting in trouble. At school, he does what he is supposed to do, pretty much all of the time. He obsesses a little bit too. In the morning on the drive into school, he’ll ask a half dozen times how do I really know that we are on time. He won’t get a drink at the water fountain on the way to his class because Mrs. Gregory said you can only get a drink after recess or during free choice time. He wants to be right, without reproach.

5) Henry has really come into his own socially this year.
It is hard to believe that Ray and I considered waiting for a year to send him to kindergarten. But, “trust Henry” worked again in this situation, and he has done so well. He is more confident than I could have ever imagined. Leaps and bounds. Lately, there are kids at our house all the time. And, Henry is feeling more comfortable seeking out kids to play with too. It is such a joy to witness these little acts of courage everyday.

6) Henry is gaining his own sense of style.
A sense of what he likes. An opinion on most everything. In clothes, shoes, hats, how his backpack is adorned . . . basically in anything that reflects who he is in the world. He loves his new big kid haircut, and I love the self-assurance that came with it. But what defines him as much as anything else is his great sense of humor, his kindness, and his new-found confidence. He doesn’t know it quite yet, but it is those things that will truly define his style.

7) Henry’s interests are pretty wide and varied.
He loves karate, t-ball, biking and skateboarding (or at least the idea of skateboarding). He loves to help me cook, bake, and garden. He loves going anywhere with his family or friends. Henry loves Harry Potter, Electric Company, Phineus & Ferb, and anything Star Wars. He’s loves kindergarten, his teacher Mrs. Gregory and gym teacher Mr. Bastyr, learning to read and especially math. He loves the Wii, computer games, legos, being busy, and not being by himself (at least not for too long). He loves to play outside, go swimming and camping, and driving the lawn tractor. And, he loves a good story at the end of the night, right before he falls asleep.

8) Henry is still pretty picky when it comes to food.
I blame it on his early food allergies. But, there are a few things he loves: steak with A1, watermelon, brown rice, cous cous, airheads, ramen, broccoli, gum, mashed potatoes and gravy, happy meals, pineapple, crackers and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Before he eats most anything, Henry smells his food first. He leads with his nose.

9) Henry comes down the stairs every morning and climbs into my lap for a good morning cuddle.
He still likes a good hug and a good back rub. He is a kind and gentle and sweet soul. I absolutely adore who he is right now, and who he is becoming.

10) Henry loves his family.
He is particularly smitten with his sister right now. He is first to come to his sister’s aid and to her defense. In his kindergarten memory book, the March page had a St. Patrick’s Day theme. Henry wrote “I am lucky because I have a sister to play with.”

In return, I say, “We are all so very lucky, because we have Henry in our lives.”