American Girl Weekend

On January 15-16, my mom, daughter, and I headed to Atlanta for a girls’ weekend…and oh, what fun it was! Plenty of shopping, eating, and a trip to the mecca for 9-year-old girls: the American Girl Store and Bistro! Taylor loved every minute–from our delicious lunch in the girly pink Bistro (complete with attachable seats for the dolls so they could sit tableside) to treating her doll, Elizabeth to a much-needed makeover. OK, so Elizabeth’s hair had seen better days, but the makeover specialists (or whatever they call themselves) are nothing short of miracle workers. I think one of them worked on this one doll’s hair for a solid half hour! (Note to parents: don’t give your kids/grandkids expensive dolls when they are too young to take care of them. Just saying!) And of course, we were caught in the shopping frenzy (seriously, I can’t imagine any claims of a recession given how people were buying TONS of stuff)–my daughter selected a riding outfit (go figure), shoes, and a much-needed brush. But our AG experience didn’t end there-our hotel offered a cool AG package that included (wait for it) special pink carpet check-in for girls and their dolls; cookies and milk delivered to your room; a doll travel bed; movie night with popcorn, drinks, and sleeping bags; and breakfast buffet.

So after a weekend chock filled with American Girl, it’s no surprise that she wants a new doll for her birthday. Of course, she would have called me “best mom ever” if I would have grabbed Felicity and bought her on the spot. And yes, I could financially afford it but I think that sets a bad precedent. Call me crazy, but I believe spending $100 for a doll should be reserved for special occasions. I think we overindulge our kids and if I am ever going to teach Taylor how to appreciate the value of money, I can’t undermine that message by saying, “Here, sweetie, even though it’s an ordinary day, you can have this expensive doll.” Just last week, I told my kids, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” (I’ll take things I swore I would never say as a mom for $ 200, Alex!) So, my future writer promptly starts designing a book cover emblazoned with this catchy title: The Money Tree. Oy.


So what do you think? Is an American Girl doll something to save for special occasions? Or am I in the minority? I’d love to hear your take on this-so comment away! 🙂


Merry Christmas to all…

So I am finally making it back to the blog after a longer than intended break. Sure, I could say I needed to recover from our Disney trip, get in gear for the kids last few days of school, and come up with a few more excuses. But the thing that really did me in this past week was working-yes, actually doing real estate closings. Don’t get me wrong, I am HAPPY to have the opportunity and the extra money it provides. But it really threw me off this past week-so much so that I didn’t even send out Christmas cards. Eek-the horror! (Actually, it is a big deal to me because I enjoy receiving all the awesome cards you guys send). And yes, I know Christmas is always on the same day but I was dead set on using photos from our Disney trip and well, you guessed it, it took FOREVER to go through the 2500 or so photos we took (yes, that’s NOT a typo). So, in lieu of Christmas cards, this blog post will have to suffice until I get my arse in gear enough to send out Happy New Year cards or Epiphany cards or maybe a “how ya doing it’s March and I’m a slacker” cards! And technically (typical lawyer word), since I’m sending out a virtual “card” on Christmas Day, I made the deadline!

Merry Christmas to you all-I wish I could say something more profound or insightful. But I don’t need to. Nothing says it quite like the birth of our Savior.

“I think of Mary and the virgin birth and I’m amazed by how much God thinks we are worth/That he would send his only son to die/And sometimes Christmas makes me cry/Tears of faithfulness, tears of hope, I cry tears of joy at Christmas because I know there is peace on earth for every heart to find/ And sometimes Christmas makes me cry…” (“Christmas Makes Me Cry” by Mandisa)

Peace and joy to you all-


Get Your Snoopy Dance On

So I saw this Facebook challenge over the weekend: “Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB until Monday, Dec. 6th. Join the fight against child abuse and copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same!” So, what would/did you post–honestly? Surely your mind went to some favorite cartoon, whether you choose to admit it or not. (Begrudgingly, I should have put a smurf up there but that brings back all sorts of horrific memories from 4th grade when Papa Smurf was thrown into a mud puddle by a mean boy and stayed for weeks until he could be retrieved. OK, I’ve said too much). And while there are numerous Disney characters that I loved growing up, my cartoon had to be Snoopy. In full on Snoopy dance. Cause that’s how I roll. I see the Snoopy dance as the quintessential expression of unbridled joy, excitement and fun. There are even some friends of mine who share my Snoopy affinity. Just sayin’ 😉

Many things this holiday season put me in Snoopy dance mode: decorating the house, trimming the tree, hot cocoa and s’mores, caroling, and, oh yeah, our trip to Disney World this week. Christmas spirit is ON at the Boswell house. But just as important is teaching my kids to give back, help others less fortunate, and focus on the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Better said, put Christ in Christmas. So we donate to Operation Christmas Child, buy gifts for our sponsored Angel Tree child (which the kids LOVED), and serve at the Carpenter’s Table, our local food pantry (check it out at But is it enough? I struggle with the push and pull of Christmas: of wanting to give thoughtful, generous gifts to my family and friends but worrying about how my focus on that shifts me from what I should be celebrating: the miracle of the Messiah’s birth. Shopping for gifts, you can easily get sucked into the vortex of the commercial-driven madness, the quest for the ever elusive “perfect” gift. It’s a conundrum, to be sure. So I’ve decided that it’s all about BALANCE. To joyfully give and teach my kiddos the same. To meditate and pray. To share time with loved ones. And anything that can point me to the manger, to Bethlehem, to Jesus. Now THAT deserves a Snoopy dance!

So what do YOU do to for Christmas to maintain balance? I’d love to hear from you–


Happy Birthday Cali

Our wonderful golden just turned 12-and I am so thankful for every single day I can spend with her. She was just diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease of the spinal cord. She will eventually lose the ability to walk. (It is similar to Lou Gehrig’s disease). Just imagining our energetic, ball chasing dog with this debilitating disease is hard, so instead I have to focus on celebrating her and what she has meant to our family. So excuse the sentimentality but I need it to keep from being sad.

I still remember going to the breeders on a whim after seeing the newspaper ad. Watching the 6 puppies scurry around on the basement floor and then falling in love with the cute furball that loved to wedge herself against the wooden wall of her crate. To this day, she loves to sleep with her back against something. Or the funny habit she has of giving you her paw-I think she does it just to feel closer to you (but who am I kidding? I’m no dog whisperer). We immediately chose the name Cali, but the “official” AKC name didn’t come until later–Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Those first few years were lively, challenging, and fun. We didn’t have kids yet, so Cali was our fur child. She chewed on windowsills, the baby gate, and anything else she could get her teeth on. She’s destroyed more stuffed animals than I care to think about before we stopped buying them. And her special football-the one that squeaked–she would chase it down all day. Literally. The football eventually gave way to tennis balls and we had to resort to hitting the balls with a racket to still give her the exercise she craved. We took her on monster walks and had puppy play sessions with friends.

And then all our worlds changed when Taylor was born. But Cali? Ever the gentle giant, she has tolerated pulled fur and babies crawling on her, less attention and fewer walks, more time alone as we head off to various activities. And yet she’s always there to greet us when we get home with a wagging tail and a whimper. Some of our funniest memories of Cali involve food: she’s eaten a gingerbread house we inadvertently left on the kitchen table, a giant birthday cookie we left on the oven, and a entire jumbo bag of M&M’s. (Can we say sweet tooth?) I wish I could better describe how woven into the fabric of our family Cali is. But if you have a pet that you love dearly, you get it. So since it’s Thanksgiving and Cali’s birthday, I give thanks to God for blessing us with an amazing dog.


I’m constantly being reminded that my kids are growing up, but this week really gave me the 1-2 punch. First, my 9 year old daughter asked me if Peter, our Christmas elf from “Elf on the Shelf” fame, is real. And where did this out-of-the-blue idea come from? From a stinking “One Step Ahead” catalog, which sells…wait for it…baby and preschool toys! Yeah, on the back cover, it features “Christopher Pop-in-kins” the elf and reminds parents to “keep moving the doll around.” Geez, I didn’t know I needed to screen my toy catalog from the kids! Way to disillusion my child, people! And what’s worse, I can’t tell you the last time I’ve ordered anything from them either (and definitely won’t now).

So you can imagine the topic of the next question after the revelation about our beloved Peter-yep, Santa Claus. And imagine your child looking at you with those imploring, puppy dog eyes and saying, ” Mommy, tell me the truth.” Granted, I knew this day was coming and truth be told, she took the news with grace and was even enthusiastic about her future role in moving Peter around for little brother, Jared. She seemed excited to be let in on the grownup secret and figuring out what exactly happens to the milk and cookies. She was ready-but I wasn’t.

Which brings me to the second little revelation, this time involving Jared. He excitedly tells me he has a loose tooth and when he wiggles it, it almost pops out of his mouth! Yes, this is my “baby” and the idea that he will soon have a snaggletoothed grin just guts me for some reason. Keep in mind that I cried at the end of Toy Story 3 (then again, most moms I ask say they did too, so I’m in good company). So what if I should have stock in Kleenex? In these moments, I’m reminded why I chose to stay home in the first place- to catch these milestone moments as they happen. And I find myself turning on my mental video camera because I need to remember all this, knowing full well that the tween and teen years are soon to follow. OK, now I REALLY need a Kleenex!

Sitting Down for a Family Meeting

Well, the family meeting didn’t happen on Saturday like I thought (too many activities+playtime with friends=2 tuckered kids). But I did sneak it in today while baiting everyone with cookies and milk. Of course, my daughter asks, “Are we always going to start family meetings with cookies and milk?” Bribery with food-she sees right through me.

So, after saying a prayer together, our first “order of business” is to draw names and saying something nice about that person. So far, so good. Then we start talking about the upcoming week, some ways they can help out around the house (besides their chores), and then we get to the Family Meeting rules. (Granted, we should have probably started with the rules, but oh bother). Anyway, we think of a few good ones, like be nice, listen, respect each other. Then Jared chimes in that we should sit during meetings. Where is he when he says this? Standing up. After his 4th trip from the table. I nearly laugh out loud. My “ants in his pants” kid says sit down. Classic.

Then we brainstorm some ideas for family activities: the zoo, apple farm, game night…then Jared adds we should climb up “the big hill.” This HILL is a wooded area near our neighborhood that we like to hike in the fall. A vertical wall of dirt and leaves and trees. The last time we attempted the HILL, Jared barely made it out on his own, all the while begging for someone to carry him. (We did not.) So I can just see us now on our future “Family Activity.” Jared complaining about his legs hurting, asking for a piggy back ride. Cali, our golden retriever, climbing with her “Disney” leg–the one that received our travel funds when she needed a $ 3,000 surgery this summer. (Incidentally, she is much better AND we still will have our December vacation, so all is good). Taylor prancing and stomping like a horse, doing her best equine impression. I swear, the girl thinks she IS a horse. So just imagine this motley crew as we ascend up the side of Mount Wecandoit in the next few weeks. Well, better yet, say a prayer for us. We might need it.

OK, so with the family meeting adjourned, my husband begins ribbing me about when we get the minutes (smartass). A success? Yes, I’d say so. No fights. Kind words spoken. Laughter. Yummy food. Sharing. And afterwards, a nice, long family walk. Suggested by–you guessed it–the kid who can’t sit still!

Hey, Friday, how you doin’?

It’s been a long week, but things are looking up here at the Boswell hacienda (OK that’s all the Spanish I will do for now-geez, I hope I spelled it right!) Life is good, to be sure. Taylor’s interim report card was awesome, Jared is kicking it (literally) in soccer, and we have settled into our school groove. So it’s only fitting that tomorrow, we will have our first ever Family Meeting. Call it a Parent-Kid Summit or a Meeting of the Minds. Whatever the label, I hope will become a weekly thing for us. (I borrowed this idea from a Family Fun article and then did a Google search on the subject. Yes, I know-I’m Type A. Whatever).

My reason for doing this? Because it is so easy it is to let things slide during the week to get homework done, get to activities, etc. So now we will have an established time to talk about everything that gets pushed aside. Suggestions on how to run a family meeting include: 1) beginning with compliments (should be easy enough); 2) open the floor for any issues (whether it be about the toilet seat being left up or the kids’ constant requests for a new pet); 3) deciding on activities for Family Day; and 4) close with a fun activity (Mad Libs, Pictionary, scavenger hunt). I figured if I blogged about it, it would make me even more accountable about the meeting. Stay tuned-I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Family Drama

Without getting into too much detail or burdening you with TMI (too much information), I will share something sad. Not to be a downer, but because it really hits me hard. And where else do we feel it most but when it affects our kids. Sunday night, the kids called their grandpa to wish him Happy Birthday. But it’s a grandpa they hardly know now because of a misunderstanding and a failure to communicate that has been exacerbated over time. What should have been no big deal became one overnight, and both sides got firmly entrenched in their respective bunkers. And never came out.  

The call couldn’t have been more than 4 minutes, with neither grandpa nor the kids knowing what to say. And then we are left with the fallout…you guessed it, Taylor asks why doesn’t her grandad want to see her. (Even sadder, Jared doesn’t seem to even remember him.) I don’t have any profound answer but fumble through a response as best I can. There really is no good answer-no reason why he shouldn’t want to be a part of her life! 

I had an ulterior motive in calling; my feeble attempt to open the door so that maybe the lines of communication will start to flow both ways. But my biggest fear is that nothing will come from our call. The phone will remain silent. Because the silence is deafening-and it sends a chilling message to my kids.

I write this for several reasons. Selfishly, I need to get it out. It’s toxic to hold this in. I hope that maybe someone reading this will have insight that I lack, something to say that will soften the blow. But it hurts. It’s raw and it sucks and it’s even more complicated because it’s family.

To avoid ending on such a negative note (because that is soooo not my nature), please let this be a cautionary tale and cherish your loved ones. Tell them how much  they mean to you every chance you get. Even if for example your mom gets the kids ginormous ice cream cones for snack today like my mom did, I am so thankful that she is a part of my kids’ lives. It is a gift. One I wish my kiddos had with their other grandpa. Or might have someday. I’m trying to find the silver lining….

Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Right now, I am so proud of my nine year old, who has also joined the blogging community tonight. Her blog,, has its very first post, based on a devotional she wrote for school. The name “chat in the clouds” was inspired by a chat we had laying under her bed canopy.(hence, the cloud) and we could talk about anything there. She even illustrated the message. Naturally, I am bursting with pride at my budding writer (she says she wants to be an author someday). I say she’s one already. Nothing else I could say here can come close to what she wrote, so please, check it out!

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