Friday, December 31, 2010

With a bang...

I can't even begin to sum up this past year. Of course, there were some hard days and sad moments. But mostly, I wonder what I did to deserve all of this love and light and beauty.

I'm so damn happy I could spit.

But I figured I shouldn't spit in front of the kids. (Bad example). So instead, we celebrated 2010 out in style.

Pexa/Cox style, that is...

We rocked. We ate.

And we watched Papa, in the freezing freezing cold, put on this beautiful show. Just for us.

My blessings this year numbered beyond these many sparks and lights....

Way beyond.

I. Am. Grateful.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Okay, here's the deal...I am about to reveal my darkest "mama-was-sleeping-on-the-job" secret. Well, at least the darkest secret of the moment. (I'm sure there will be others soon enough...) All I ask is that you are kind. Please hold your judgment. We can't be perfect parents ALL the time....

So here goes: Anna (who will be 4 in March) still sleeps with a nuk at night. Well, she did before yesterday. But, that's getting ahead of my story...

Anna has loved her nuk since she was born. Of course, that was fine when she was a baby, or even a toddler. But, later it was getting out of hand. We couldn't go anywhere without her nuks. So, we were absolutely positively going to draw the line when Anna turned three. But her third birthday came and went and Anna was still a nukie girl. We did pare down to just bedtime. The rule was that the nuks did not leave her bed (and we held to that - well, mostly).

Now, Anna is almost 4. Clearly it was time to get rid of them altogether. Once and for all. And Christmas break would be perfect, just in case prolonged bouts of crying kept the entire household up at night....

Somehow Santa even got roped into helping. He brought Anna a pillow pet and left her a note, telling her it was time to give up the nuks in exchange for the pet. (Obviously I'm not above using the big guy to my advantage.)

So it was decided. Christmas night would be her last with the nuks.

The day after Christmas arrived and I think Anna knew the jig was up. And clearly she needed one last fix. About 11:30 a.m., Anna went upstairs and 10 minutes later, this is how I found her - -

Now, I must admit this whole thing was almost as hard for me, as it was for Anna. It was tough to take away something that she so dearly loved. Even if it was just a bad habit. I felt like I was knocking the ice cream off of her sugar cone. Plus, I was forced to admit my baby had grown into a preschooler. (Of course that fact is obvious, but mama denial can be a pretty powerful force).

I begged Ray to be the heavy. He usually is around here. (mama = good cop; papa=bad cop). And I like it that way! But he passed the ball to me on this one. I was on my own.

Okay, okay. I'll do it....

As you probably expected, I did have a plan. It's been in the works for months. We were "sending" the nuks to Mrs. Gregory, Henry's kindergarten teacher who had a baby last spring. Anna was a big kid now, but certainly Mrs. Gregory's baby could use some extra nuks. This plan had it all . . . growing-up, sharing, Santa, recycling. Geez, we were even being green!!

So, back to the day of reckoning - -

When Anna woke up from her little nap, I gave her a few minutes to clear her head (but not too much time. I figured a few cobwebs may actually help the situation!)

I took a deep breath, and well, I guess the pictures tell the story....

Reality started sinking in for Anna right about here.

One more peek. Then....

BAM! Reality....

Anna and I made the trip to the mailbox together. And there was more sadness.

I carried the box. Anna held my hand. More tears, for both of us. But we persevered.

Back in the house, a little art therapy helped soothe the hurt.

A few times during the rest of the day, Anna simply said "mama, I miss my nukies." But that was it. At bedtime, (which I feared the most) she rolled around a little more than usual. I don't think she quite knew how to lull herself to sleep without her nuk. But soon enough, she fell asleep. Nuks gone. Over. Done.

I have to admit it was a little anti-climatic. I was ready with the plan and the pillow pet. But, I guess Anna was ready too. Ready to grow up and move on. Ready to be brave and strong.

And I guess if Anna can be brave, I will be too!

A breath of fresh air....

Picture the Holidays
From this morning. Pictures at sunrise. Eight degrees and a heavy frost.

My fingers were numb, but I couldn't stop clicking. The light was changing so fast. I was giddy. (yes, giddy!)

And in awe.

Not a sound either. Just my muffled footsteps. Then a songbird somewhere. Braving the winter, I guess. Or enjoying the view, just like me.

All of took my breath away.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

So full...

It's been a whirlwind of a weekend. We are all tired and happy. So very happy.

Full days, full tummies, full hearts....

First, I must confess....There is crumpled-up wrapping paper under the furniture at my house, new books and socks and games all over the floor, and a few glasses left to hand wash from lunch on Saturday. Anna even found a little unwrapped package under the tree this morning. Yes, I continue to tolerate the tornado that is my home. Gladly, actually. Somehow I hold on to the holiday a bit longer by leaving the crazy and chaos as is. Right now, it isn't about a clean house. It is about something much lovelier. And I'll savor that magic for as long as I can. Mess and all....

So I realize that the pictures and stories I am about to share are a sweet reflection of our holiday. But they are, in fact, nothing unusual. I'd guess the beautiful faces and surprised reactions and stories in the pictures below were pretty much replayed over and over in households in our tiny little town, and across the country. And, for some reason each Christmas morning, I'm reminded of just that fact. Even as a kid, I remember looking out our front window, across our neighborhood, wondering what Christmas morning might be like in all the other houses I could see....

On Christmas, I believe that we all share this same spirit, from house to house to house. It is all so much bigger than a wrapped gift under the tree. Much, much bigger!

These stories and pictures just happen to be mine. Nothing amazingly different....but oh-so-amazing to me!


Christmas Eve meant final preparations, including this trifle, which at the time of the picture was a work in progress.

As was the tradition when I was growing up, the kids were able to open just a few presents on Christmas Eve. But boy, waiting until noon to open those very first presents was sooooo hard - -

Henry choose this doll for his sister. "I think she'll really like this one," he said. And clearly he knows his sister well....the doll hasn't left Anna's side since she opened it.

Then, we were off to Grandma and Grandpa's to celebrate with the rest of the family.....

One of the best presents for all of us was being able to Skype with Annie in Rwanda. In fact, she was able to be online and with us as we opened presents. The entire time. Obviously it wasn't the same without her. She was missed so much. But, considering she is half-way around the world, this was amazing!

And the kids were so cute. When they'd open a present, they'd line up in front of the computer to show Aunt Annie. Just like they would have if she was sitting on the couch with us.

It was an amazing gift!!

End of the night, and Miss Anna was ready to go home and sleep. Feather boa and all.

Then, it was Christmas morning. And Santa had arrived!

Before we all made it down the stairs in the morning, Henry looked outside and saw these tracks on the roof of the porch. We're pretty sure they were from Santa's reindeer.

I love sweet Christmas morning faces!

Legos! We weren't even half way through presents, and Henry had already opened his new box of legos. He couldn't wait to start building!

After all the presents and morning hoopla, Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Rick came over for the afternoon. And after lunch, Anna served tea. Well, actually she served lemonade with whipped cream. Pink coffee with bananas too.

Everyone said it was the best holiday tea party ever.

After the tea party, "Super Anna" dressed in her new "Big A" cape, and rescued Grandma Margie from the "sticky stuff." (As was the story told by Anna....)

I love a girl who can serve a proper tea, and then fly off to save the day!

This was all while the boys were downstairs jamming to Rock Band. "Eye of the Tiger" seemed to be the afternoon favorite. At least for Henry.

And then more Lego's....

Worn out! This super-hero needed a little beauty rest on Christmas afternoon. Surrounded by all of her new friends....

It was a wonderful few days.

And I am grateful for every meal shared and hug exchanged and gift given.

It was magic.