Boswell Family Blog

More and More Each Day

Two Down, One to Go

August31

Dear Alex,

I just sent you out the door on your way to your first REAL day of pre-school. We did a kind of neighborhood co-op thing last year, but I’m pretty sure you just thought it was play-dates with snacks. It wasn’t nearly official or structured enough. But this one? This one is in a classroom, with actual teachers, and we have to pay for it. Obviously, that makes all the difference.

My only real worry is that because one of your teachers is a good friend, and because her son (who is in your class) is your best friend, that you’ll forget the discussion we’ve had at least fifteen times in the last week. The one where I remind you that when you’re in the classroom, you’re there for school, not to play with Trent. Trent — who calls you “Alex the Xander” and who you innocently informed me was the best friend in the whole world and who you are going to marry when you’re a grown-up. You were devastated when I told you that typically, boys marry girls, but you regained your composure when I assured you that you and Trent can be best friends for as long as you want to be. You replied, “Oh. I guess that’s okay. I’ll just marry June then.”

Alex, I just have to say this. You drive me absolutely bonkers. You rarely listen. You whine ALL THE TIME when you don’t get your way, and sometimes, you whine even when you do get your way. I can be three inches away from your face, ask you to stop some behavior, and you’ll walk away and do exactly what I just asked you to stop. When I ask you why you did that, you’ll answer, “I didn’t hear you.” Really? You didn’t hear that thing from five seconds ago that I said directly into your ear and to which you responded in the affirmative? Other times, you’ll tell me “I forgot.” I once countered this with a stern, “Then you need to  stop forgetting things and remember the rules.” You trumped me though. You informed me that, “Mom, you can’t help forgets. Sometimes forgets just come to you.” How can I argue with that? But seriously, Alex, you have got to LISTEN! And not only listen, but actually respond appropriately. Because you have no idea how close we are getting to listing you on e-bay.

However, when you are not actively aiding the arrival of my mental break-down, you are adorable. You are so easy-going. Nothing phases you for more than about 30 seconds. You offer hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s” more than anyone I’ve ever known. You laugh at least a million times a day. And your explanations and descriptions of things are hilarious — even (especially) when you don’t mean for them to be. You can talk for eleven minutes straight about one of the worlds on Super Mario Galaxy, explaining every obstacle, every hidden star-bit, and every detail about the planet. I just smile and nod, as if I have even the slightest clue. You know every word to Stick-shifts and Safety Belts by Cake. You watch Cartoon Network and Nick with Cooper, because you say the stuff June watches is for babies, but when you think I don’t notice, you still get totally into Diego and OomiZoomi. I even caught you dancing to Yo Gabba Gabba. I won’t tell.

So not only are you stuck in the middle of little kid/big kid world, but you’re stuck in the big fat middle of our family as well. You seem to handle it pretty well most of the time. I’ve had a blast watching you realize in the last few months that you can have almost as much fun playing with June as you can with Cooper. But every so often, you get left out. Not because you’re not wanted, but because what Cooper’s doing is something you’re not quite ready for. And my heart breaks right along with yours, Alex. I struggle every day to not just give you everything you want. Telling you “no” is something I do frequently, but it’s not something I enjoy. I know you don’t believe that now, but you will.

From the time you were born, I have thought it odd how completely different you and Cooper look. I remember thinking that if you and Cooper were placed in a room with eight other boys and a stranger was asked to pick out the two brothers, they would certainly get it wrong. Yes, you both have blue eyes and light brown hair, but the similarities end there. Then June came along, and I hoped that she would look at least a little bit like me… just so that I could pretend I had something to do with at least one of my kids. I joke that I’m just the oven — I have very little to do with the recipe. But she came out looking like Aunt Jen. Go figure. But here’s where it gets cool, Alex. When you were brand new, a few people commented that you looked like my dad. I didn’t see it much then, but as you grow, I see it more and more. You’re skinny like he was, and your and his eyes are an identical shade of blue, that get the EXACT SAME GLINT in them when you’re about to cause trouble. You live and love with reckless abandon. You have absolutely no concept of “can’t”, and I thank God every day that you’re here. Partly because you attempt on a regular basis to leave this mortal coil (No, Alex, just because Diego can ride a para-glider across a ravine, doesn’t mean you can jump off the second story porch with a beach towel!), but mostly because, as Aunt Sonja has said, when you’re around, Alex, Grandpa Don is never far away. I need to remember that more when you’re being a turd.

So have fun today, Bud. Be good. Wash your hands. Listen to your teachers — they just might be building the educational foundation that will turn you into a brilliant surgeon. Which is good, ’cause your dad and I will probably need you to support us when we get old.

I love you, my infuriating Twinkle Star.

Mom.

Some Traditions Never Change

August26

Dear Cooper,

I just dropped you off in front of the school for your first day of second grade. It wasn’t until last night that you even decided I would be honored with that privilege. I kept asking if you wanted me to take you on the first day, or if you just wanted to resume carpool as usual. Finally, right before bedtime, you responded, “I don’t care, but I guess you can take me if you want to.” Gee, thanks.

So, second grade, Dude. That’s pretty huge. I can’t wait to hear about your day. Your new teacher is supposed to be great, but she’s got some seriously big shoes to fill. Mr. Yospe was, hands down, the best first grade teacher any of us could have wanted. But I’ve heard good things about Mrs. Dewyea, and honestly — I think it will be good for you to learn to adapt to a different style of learning. And, luckily, you’ll be surrounded by friends. Over two thirds of the kids in your class are the same as last year. Please remember to be extra nice to McKenzie — she’s never been to this school before. And please don’t let Megan get on your nerves this year… just nod and say, “That’s interesting.” to everything she says, okay?

I know you’re fully aware of this fact, but Cooper, you’re turning eight next month, and that kind of blows me away. It’s hard to believe that  nearly eight years have passed since the day they first laid you in my arms. The day that changed everything; who I am, what I do, when I sleep, what I feel, and so many other things that I could never have even imagined, but that I now wouldn’t trade for anything. You turned my whole world upside down, Coop, and I can’t thank you enough. You keep me grounded. You remind me daily that I have weaknesses that need strengthening. You are the most accurate mirror I have ever looked into. Most days, I’m pretty happy with what I see, but occasionally, I see my own behavior (usually in the form of yelling) reflected in you, and resolve to do better.

I’ve tried to shelter you from it, and someday we’ll tell you all about it (maybe), but these last six months have been kind of rough. Your dad and Danyon started their own business and with that comes a whole bunch of Not Knowing. I don’t deal really well with uncertainty, and there’s been a lot of it around these parts lately. But your dad and I decided that we would do out best to shoulder all the worry so that you and Alex, and June wouldn’t have to feel any of it. I don’t know if it’s because we’re doing a stellar job, or if it’s just because you’re a pretty awesome kid, but you have shown absolutely no adverse reactions to our increasing stress levels. You have your moments when I seriously wonder how my 7-year-old son has been replaced with a 13-year-old girl, but for the most part, Coop — you have just taken everything in stride. Way to roll with the punches, Man. Can I have some of what you’re having?

I know that there is soon coming a day when you won’t want to hug your mom. When your little brother is no longer your favorite playmate. When your baby sister is an embarrassment, rather than a source of endless amusement. When home isn’t your first choice of places to be. We’re not too far away from you thinking we’re complete idiots. But today, you still tell me, “I love you, mom.” without a second thought. You still want to be comforted when you’re sad. You still come to us when things go wrong. You still come to us when things go right. I will do everything in my power to prolong the inevitable chasm that is coming; to always be available to you, to answer your questions honestly, and to find that perfect balance between cheering on your independence while still allowing you to be a little kid whenever you need to be.

I say it every year, not for lack of original content, but because it holds true, and it consistently amazes me: Cooper, you are such a cool kid. You (usually) have so much patience with Alex, and he still idolizes you like you hung the flippin’ moon. You and June make each other laugh all the time, and it’s one of my favorite things to witness. You’re still crazy-smart — sometimes I have to remind you that being nice is more important than being right, but you’re getting better at that. You floored us all with your natural ability at soccer. Enough so that I didn’t even mind driving the mini-van with a cooler full of snacks to soccer games every Saturday. Yeah, you turned me into “That Mom” and I didn’t even care. And I’m finding that to be more and more true — that I don’t really care so much about myself, if it means helping you find what makes you happy. Did you hear that? Your happiness is more important to me than my own. Don’t let it get to your head, Coop. I love you.

-Mom

Stuff I Have to Remember, October Sessions

October26

Carpool on Monday

Neighborhood pre-school at my house Monday and Wednesday (letter G and number 7)

Watch H kids Tuesday morning

Coop’s school presentation on Wednesday at 1pm

No school on Friday

Funeral on Friday — confirm babysitter

Ward newsletter (may be out of toner, and will have to go to Kinkos)

Change clocks on Saturday before bed

Make cardboard cleaver for June’s costume

Find gauze for Cooper’s costume

Mental grocery list (until I can get it down on paper)

Don’t forget hand-out candy

Mental Christmas list (ditto)

Schedule appointment to align tires

Kids’ dentist appointments

Tentative weekly menu

Aaron late Tues & Wed

Wizard of Oz rehearsals

Find pants and shirts for WofOz costumes

Wednesday = laundry

E-mail Coop’s teacher about missing school for Thanksgiving trip

Order Christmas cards

Family pictures before Thanksgiving

And that’s just for the last week of the month! No wonder I’m tired all the time! I think I should go lie down now.

1st Grade

August27

Dear Cooper,

I suppose technically, I’m a day late, but I’m going with the idea that a 30-minute “Orientation” doesn’t really count as your first day of 1st grade. But today? Today I woke you at 7am, fixed a waffle (thank goodness you’ve decided that homemade ones are better than Eggo’s — your two-at-a-time habit was getting expensive!), helped you do your hair, and explained a few things for you. I made sure you knew that your lunch money was in the little velcro pocket in your backpack. I told you to give all the filled-out forms, along with a check for future lunches, to your teacher. I sent you with markers and kleenex to donate to the classroom. Then I waved good-bye as you happily climbed in the back of Brendy’s car (I LOVE carpools!) and headed off.

Now it’s two in the afternoon. You’ll be home in about an hour and I can’t help but wonder if you liked the Turkey Dinner for lunch. Have you made any friends? How was recess? Did you remember your lunch code? Will you be able to find the official meeting place for pickup? Did you get in trouble for talking too much? Did you floor Mr. Yospe with your ability to read well beyond a normal 6-year-old level? Did anyone make fun of you or say something mean? Did you miss me?

Don’t answer that last one. Either way, it’s better if I don’t know.

I know that in previous years, I’ve spent a good part of your first day back to school all weepy and sad. I can’t deny that there’s a little bit of that today. But not like I thought. I figured I’d be a big, blubbering mess all day, what with you being away for so long. I’ll admit that it was weird not having you here for lunch. And Alex has asked at least eight times if you’re coming home yet. He’s not sure whether he should be bummed that he’s lost his partner in crime, or ecstatic that he has no competition.

And I do miss you. I’m sure if I dwelt on it, I could produce tears. But mostly, Cooper, I’m so proud of you. You are frighteningly smart (still) and usually kind. You’re funny, and most of the time you remember to throw your dirty clothes in the hamper. You’re a bit of a know-it-all, and I’m trying to figure out how to convince you that just because you’re right (which you, more often than not, are) doesn’t mean you can be snooty about it. You are goofy and are the least picky-eater-kid I know. I’ve started layering enchiladas like lasagna instead of rolling up each individual tortilla (so much easier!), and you my creative genius, when asked what we should call them, came up with “Enchileasy Stackaladas.” You love to quote (what you think are) funny lines from movies and television shows. Most of the time though, only Alex knows’s what you’re talking about. Early this Spring, you finally mustered up the courage to get on your big bike — you’d figured out the little one last fall. It didn’t take more than one or two trips around the cul-de-sac before you realized that there was no going back. Now if you’d just quit leaving it on the lawn… seriously, Coop. We ask you EVERY day. While we’re at it, could you also just stop with the hunched shouldered pout that you’ve got going on when you don’t get exactly what you want at the very milisecond you want it? Just know that I am never going to give you cookies at 5:00pm when dinner is in the oven. You can’t eat downstairs no matter how much you whine. Put your shoes in the closet so we don’t have to search for them EVERY SINGLE MORNING. And you will always get in trouble for hitting your brother even if he hit you first. He is THREE, Cooper. You are his example. You are his best friend. You are his big brother. I know you didn’t ask for that awesome responsiblilty, but that’s the way it happened, and I have every confidence that you will do it right.

And I’m so excited for you. You are finally old enough that you’re experiencing things I remember doing as a kid. I remember the halls of Bear Creek Elementary School vividly. Mrs. Bethany, my first grade teacher was great. And I loved school lunch pizza. I checked out a bunch of Shel Silverstein books from the library a few months ago, and you absolutely devoured them. You’ve been reading Encyclopedia Brown lately too. Last month, we went to Lagoon for the day, and you had more fun than I’ve ever seen you have. You went on the Wild Mouse, and The Spider, the White Roller Coaster and a bunch of other more “grown-up” rides, and loved every second of it. I’m kind of loving the almost-seven version of Cooper. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Just as long as you keep coming home to me at the end of the day… for a few more years anyway.

Now I’m going to put June down for a nap and start a batch of cookies. Because every boy needs warm cookies for a snack after his first day of first grade. Love you, Coop.

-Mom

Kickin’ It K Style

August19

Kudos. I’m a big fan of giving credit where credit’s due. On the rare occasions when we eat out at a place that employs waiters and calls for tipping, if the service is exceptional, I try to not only leave a generous tip, but also make sure the manager knows. I figure they get a whole lot of complaints, and I imagine it’s nice to be called to a table and told that someone was delighted. I always try to thank cleaning people at hotels, movie theaters, amusement parks, etc… they are surely not being paid enough to clean up the messes people leave. I’m learning to also credit my kids when they merit it. Some days seem like one constant beratment, but if I focus a bit, I can certainly find some positives in the day as well, and that makes us all feel better.

Speaking of Kids… I’m a pretty big fan of just about all of them. I have my favorites, of course.

Kindred Spirits. I have managed to find several of these in my little lifetime. Sometimes, we connect on one or two levels. But sometimes, magically, I am dropped in front of someone that understands everything I say, and more importantly, everything I MEAN. This small handful of people, no matter where in the world they are, just by being in this universe make me feel like I’m never alone.

Kitchens. I love mine. Don’t get me wrong… I’d love it more if it were three times bigger and full of spankin’ new appliances, BUT… I’m not going to complain. A fresh coat of paint and some new hardware has made it my favorite room in the house (for now, at least). It’s also where the food is, so it’s got that going for it.

Kindness. It won’t just get you far with me… it will get you just about anywhere. Is it really that hard to hold a door, or say please & thank you? I didn’t think so.

Kisses. Give me the sloppy June ones. Give me the sweet Alex ones. Give me the painfully extracted Cooper ones. Give me the full-on make-out Aaron ones. I’ll even accept the Hershey variety.

Lo and behold… “K” is done. Linger around a bit and you might learn something new…

JINX — onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten!

August5

June Bug. Of course. How can you not be happy watching a baby girl take her first steps and pausing to give herself an ovation, thus throwing her off balance and tumbling back down to the floor? This is what we do most of the day here lately. She has the cheesiest grin in the world, and every time I pick her up out of her crib, she lays her head down on my shoulder and sighs. It just might be the sweetest thing ever. She is easy-going, and happy, and by far the chillest baby I have ever been around. We stand by our declaration that June is God’s way of saying, “Thank you for taking those boys… here you go.” Ask me again in 11 years.

Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage. Don’t laugh. I love sausage. But it’s not so compatible with the whole losing weight idea. Then I discovered this stuff at Costco, and if someone were to put it down in front of me, I’d never know it wasn’t full-fledged regular old sausage.

Jeopardy. I will watch this ANYTIME it is on. The high school tournament alway makes me feel smart.

Jammies. It’s getting to be that time this evening. The time when everything winds down and we all put on our most comfortable clothes. We sing and dance. We say prayers. We brush our teeth. And we sleep. Sometimes, on really stellar days, we don’t even have to change clothes because we haven’t managed to get OUT of pajamas. I rock.

Jelly-Bellies. Specifically, but in no particular order, Juicy Pear, Strawberry Daiquiri, Buttered Popcorn, Toasted Coconut, and  Strawberry Cheesecake.

Jobs. I am without words to express how grateful I am for Aaron’s. And for his willingness and aptitude that allows me to stay at home to do mine… which, while noble and rewarding (and messy and frustrating), doesn’t so much bring in a whole lot of (monetary) compensation.

Kisses to everyone. Keep a light on for me — I’ll return soon with a list so keen, it’ll kill ya! Hoopah!

Interesting… very interesting.

July30

Imagination. Not so much my own, though it it is put to the test occasionally, and I enjoy the process and results. But mostly, I love watching it grow in my kids. Their favorite toy for the last week has been a big cardboard box. It’s served as a boat, spaceship, grave (?!), bed, cave, train, and oven.

Ice. Especially the rabbit-poop kind you get at Sonic.

Idiots. Yeah, they bug… but who would we laugh at if there weren’t so many of them around?

Irony. Yesterday evening, Cooper was riding his bike around in our cul-de-sac. I opened a window in the living room and yelled out to him, reminding him that he needed to come in and take a shower. Alex, who was on his third pair of shorts for the day, and who smelled vaguely of pee, booked it across the room, leaned out the window and shouted, “Yeah! Acause you tink!”

In-Laws. Man, did I score on this one. Aaron didn’t do so shabby either.

Internet. Boy… thank goodness Al Gore came though for us there! But seriously folks… My life as a Stay-at-Home-Mom is so much less isolating, and so much more tolerable when I feel connected. Even if it is via Facebook or blogs or e-mail.

That being said, I’m still a huge fan of In Person. I love play dates and visitors and birthday parties, and pretty much any excuse to hang out with any of the amazing people in my life! Drop by anytime (just give me 30 minutes warning so I can at least vacuum!).

Jumpin’ Jehosephat… would you look at that! Just when you though it couldn’t get better, here comes ‘J‘!

Hip Hip Hooray!

July29

Harry Potter. I know that there are a whole lot of people out there who think the books are poorly written, or full of evil, or just plain silly. But you know what? For me? They’re fun. I love that when I’m reading them, I believe that the world is magical. I love that Cooper and Alex are starting to get into them. I love that my mom is coming up to spend the night so Aaron and I can finally go see Half-Blood Prince. Woohoo!

Health. So I was just diagnosed with Polymorphic Light Eruption, which is pretty much just a fancy way of saying that I’m allergic to the sun. Which really kinds of sucks. For the rest of my life, I have to stay out of it when I can, and slather on the SPF 85 when I can’t avoid it. It means that when I do break out in the totally itchy, gross-looking rash, I have to treat it with some lovely-smelling steroid lotion. Totally hot, I know. But even then… I am relatively healthy. My family is relatively healthy. And when we do get sick, we have the luxery of going to a doctor or a hospital and getting better.

Home. There’s no place like it. And even though the one I’m creating is far from perfect (see “Good Enough”), it’s ours. It’s where I sleep the best. It’s where all my stuff is. It’s where my whole world is.

Healthy Choice Premium Fudge Bars. Where have they been all my life? And for any of you Weight Watcher aficionados, they’re only one point! (Merci beaucoup, Evonne.)

Heat. It’s hard to appreciate it when it’s 95 degrees outside, but ask me again in February, and I promise, I’ll be very grateful for central heat.

Half-Price drinks at Sonic. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we pick up a round to drink during swimming lessons. And if we make it to the drive-through before 11am, they’re 50% off. Did I mention they have Diet Dr. Pepper? Heaven.

Incredible! I can’t believe ‘H’ was so hard! I bet ‘I‘ will cooperate and be inordinately and inexplicably easy.

Ain’t Nuthin’ but a G Thang, Baby…

July27

Garlic. When I was young, my mom taught me how to make garlic bread by slicing a loaf of french bread, melting butter, adding garlic salt, and brushing it on the bread before popping it all in the oven. That garlic salt was my gateway drug. I’ve moved on to the harder stuff. Fresh garlic. Minced and tossed with parmesan and hot pasta, roasted with chicken or pork or potatoes, sauteed with onions and ginger… yes please.

Gorgonzola salad dressing from Johnny Carino’s. It really is that good. And if you ask nicely, they’ll sell you a half-pint to take home.

Girlfriends. Mine, not Aaron’s, which would lead to a totally different kind of list. They are rad. And they’re probably cooler than yours. I’m just sayin’.

Google. Remember when we had to physically go to the library and look stuff up using the card catalog or an actual encyclopedia? Also, it’s fun to say, “I googled it.” It sounds dirty, but it’s not!

Geeks. I’m especially partial to the one I married. Not only because he makes a living being an artistic geek, but also because he can fix my computer. He can fix your computer too, if you’re really nice to us.

Generosity. I am surrounded by it. I don’t have to look far at all to find someone willing to lend a hand, or a truck, or a cup of sugar. I have much to learn, and feel lucky to have so many great instructors close by.

Good enough. Sometimes, there’s no time for perfect. Sometimes there’s not even a reason for perfect. I am trying to let go of those things that I think ought to be perfect and accept that “good enough” is okay.

Hold your horses for “h“. Hopefully, it won’t be as hard as ‘g’!

Fortuitously Fortunate

July20

Family. In three weeks, we will be heading up Logan Canyon for a Pugmire Family Reunion. This event includes a pretty good chunk of our clan, descending from my great-grandparents, through their 7 children, and on and on and on. At it’s height of glory, we have close to 200 people in that ski lodge. Way back when, I dated a guy who had one aunt who he never saw, and grandparents he visited every other summer. When I told him I had nineteen first cousins whose names I could rattle off without a second thought, he nearly choked. He had no idea that a family could be as connected as mine was and is. And while I still only have nineteen first cousins, we’ve added lots of spouses, and even more kids. And I’m pretty sure that under pressure, I could probably pull about 98% on the name game. None of this shocked Aaron though — because his family is just as big and just as crazy as mine. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen so many of them, and I’m already counting down to Thanksgiving when the Boswell’s will convene in Phoenix. And it goes without saying that my own little family of five is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of. They make me who I am, and on most days, I’m kind of awesome.

Friends. I am so lucky. I have friends who have known me since birth, or shortly thereafter. I have friends that Aaron brought to the marriage that couldn’t have been better had I picked them out myself. I have friends who live (too) far away, and I have friends who live around the corner. I have friends I see almost every day, and I have friends who I have never met in person. Whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, thinking that I’m all alone in my messy, laundry-filled, noisy house, all I have to do is start making a list of people I could call that would cheer me up. Usually, I don’t even have to pick up the phone, because just realizing how long that list is reminds me how very blessed and lucky I am.

France, and all things French. I don’t care if you think they’re snooty (they can be), or if you think eating snails is gross (butter and garlic, people. Butter. And. Garlic.), or whatever cliched concept you have of the country and its inhabitants. I am totally and irrationally oblivious to it. My adoration runs blindly and deep.

Fresh Fruit. One of my favorite things about Spring/Summer is the arrival of beautiful, delicious fresh fruit at the grocery store. Cantaloupe (we’ve already discussed this one), grapes, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, cherries, plums, nectarines… Yum. Yum. And more YUM!

Favors. I love them from both sides. I love kids-free errand running, thanks to a bunch of other moms who will gladly take on a few extra kids for an hour or two. I love taking on a few extra kids for an hour or two so another mom can run kids-free errands. I love it when someone else makes dinner. I love making dinner for someone else. Do you see a trend here? Seriously… we need to start asking more. It’s a win/win deal.

Freedom. My emotions about it are personal and profound, though I take it for granted much more than I should. It is one of the most precious and divine gifts I have been given. That strangers, people who have never met me would willingly pay so high a price for me to keep it is extraordinary and humbling.

Golly gee… Go ahead and come back tomorrow. Guaranteed gratitude coming right up.

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