Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

The Family Shopper

Last night Leah, my ten-year-old, and I went to Costco to buy her a new bathing suit for our trip to Manning Park Resort this weekend. Of course, I picked up a few other things while we were there, to the tune of $133. I was shocked. I know how this happens, but I was still so surprised—it was just a few things!—that I checked the receipt several times before we left the store.

The trip to Costco was the first trip since before my ankle surgery on December 20. For seven weeks after that, I couldn’t drive because of a splint, a cast, and then a boot cast, in that order, encasing my right foot (I did try left-footed driving once, but I was altogether too klutzy).

Here’s what I know about those seven weeks: we saved a lot of money. I mean hundreds of dollars (good thing because now the medical bills are rolling in). Wow. I had no idea I was the shopper in the family. I sort of knew—I am the primary grocery shopper, kids’ clothes shopper, home improvement shopper, dentist appointment chauffer, etc. But I didn’t realize I shopped that much.

During that seven weeks, Curt stopped at the store on the way home from work to pick up whatever I told him we needed. And those few things were all he picked up. Where I spent $133, he spent $33. You get the picture.

During that seven weeks, the kids came home from school and we went nowhere. Not only could I not drive, I couldn’t ride a bike or walk any distance. So they could only go as far as a nearby friend’s house on their own. No impromptu trips to the toy store, the consignment store, or any other store. We were hunkered.

And you know, yes, it drove me a bit batty to be so housebound (the Internet was truly my friend and luckily I didn’t develop an online shopping habit) but it was also kind of nice. Simple. No requests from kids to go places. No extra errands. No errands at all.

Well, I’m back to driving and groceries and errands now (and yes, I like being out and about), and we are spending more money, but I spend with new awareness. It’s me. I’m it. The money drain. If we want to save money, we’ll simply take away my car key.

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Dinner Conversation

“Hey,” says Ty, during a lull in the table talk, apropos of nothing, “today when I was playing with W. and H., H. said ‘technical’ instead of ‘tentacle.’”

He doesn’t explain the significance of tentacle, or what the kids were playing that would involve tentacles, nor do I stop long enough to ask. Instead, out pops, “Well, at least he didn’t say ‘testicle.’” This from my mouth, not my eight-year-old’s mouth, the mouth—his, I mean—that somehow, every evening, always at the dinner table, veers into what we call (what most families call) Potty Talk. (Not that my comment equals potty talk, mind you, but one glance between adults tells me Curt knows as well as I do the line between body parts and all things scatological is razor thin. And, frankly, I’m done with hearing about poop while I’m eating my dinner.)

Ty chuckles, just as I expect him to, and on the heels of my declaration, Curt trots out a quick joke, a play on words he thinks Ty will enjoy: “So there’s this old guy in a hospital gown sprinting down the hall away from a nurse who’s chasing him with a pair of scissors in her hands. And the doctor behind her says, ‘No, nurse, I said slip off his spectacles.’”

We all laugh, and then Ty cocks his head. “Slip off his spectacles?” He knows he’s missing something.

“It’s a rhyming thing,” I explain. “What does ‘slip’ rhyme with?”

Ty shrugs his shoulders.

“What do scissors do?” I ask.


“Right. Now, what rhymes with spectacles?”

“I don’t know.”

“What were we talking about earlier?”



Ty cants his head to the left, studying me as his mind replays the joke. And then he begins to giggle. I have to laugh, too, because I can see he’s getting the joke.

“Wait,” he says, amid his giggles. “What’s a testicle?” Now I really laugh because how can he not remember? He learned this way back when he was three or so and pondering those marble-like body parts in the tub. So I tell him again. His eyes light up—this is his kind of conversation—and he dissolves into giggles as the full meaning of the joke hits him. He giggles and giggles and giggles, his laughter bubbling out uncontrollably, and then we’re all laughing because Ty’s laughter is just so funny and sweet, and, as Leah points out, laughing is contagious. Who cares how you get there?


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Farewell to Fountain

So, I don’t know if you’ve been into Fountain Galleria lately. It’s sad. Our family is sad. Okay, it’s the adults in our family who are mainly sad. The kids say they’ll miss the store, but they don’t even know yet how much. Maybe I don’t know yet either, but I’m pretty sure I have a sense. This toy paradise has been part of our family since the kids were born, and I’ve been going there since I was a kid myself. Fountain has always been there, and I keep wondering what we will do without it.

Yesterday, Leah’s class trooped over from school to give owner Mary Deets a poster of appreciation and letters they wrote in class. There were a lot of tears held in check – adult tears. Really, I don’t know how we all held it together. In what was one of the last opportunities to shop at this store, the kids’ teacher allowed them to pick out a few items – games, a poster, a chirping bird – to vote on: Which should they buy for their classroom? For me, and, I suspect, the other accompanying parents, it was a poignant moment. Standing behind the kids as they voted, I was all too aware of the bare shelves, much barer than just two evenings ago, the “sold” signs on the display cases, the finality.

More than just a fabulous toy store, Fountain has served over the years as a neighborhood magnet. It’s where we ran into neighbors shopping for the same birthday party at the last minute, all of us ever so grateful for the free gift wrap. It’s where I ran into countless friends over the years at Christmas time and compared thoughts on toys and whether our kids liked them. Where we went for a card at 9:30 at night when we realized Valentine’s Day was upon us and, oops, kind of forgot. Where we went on rainy days because it was such a cozy, friendly, fun place to wile away the afternoon. Where we shopped for baby showers, for cousins, with gift money, or just because.

We are at the end of an era. We wish you well, Mary, but we’ll miss you and your lovely store.


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The Art of Cheese Omelets

For about a month, I wasn’t much of a cook after my December 20th ankle surgery. Once I graduated to a walking boot cast, I took back the dinner chore, but while I was on crutches for four weeks, my family stepped up to take on most of my regular tasks.

My husband, Curt, took over the cooking, shopping, and driving, while Leah, my 10-year-old, learned to do her own laundry. My eight-year-old son, too small to do his own laundry, decided to master the art of cheese omelets in his own bid to help out.

One morning, he offered to make me one.

As I balanced on my crutches in the kitchen, sort of to oversee things I suppose, Ty set to work. Standing on a chair in front of the stove, he cracked two eggs into a glass (sans shell), poured in a little milk, and whipped the contents with a fork, just as I’d taught him for scrambled eggs. He melted a little butter in the frying pan, poured in the mixture, and watched the eggs bubble, a rubber spatula at the ready in his small hand. I couldn’t help noticing the flame under the pan—a little high—and that he hadn’t grated the cheese yet. Also that the egg was cooking a little hot. And the cheese still wasn’t grated. And that he wasn’t lifting the edge of omelet to tilt the uncooked egg under the cooked egg as I’ve shown him many times.

He must have sensed me opening my mouth because I know he couldn’t see my face with his back to me (am I so predictable?). “Mom,” he said without turning, “I know this isn’t how you like to make omelets. I know you like to pick up the edge and pour the egg under itself. But I like to let it cook just like this until it’s done. And it works.”


My mouth snapped shut. Apparently, I am this predictable. I watched him for a moment, the way he concentrated on his creation, the way he knew exactly when it would be done, and then I slunk off to the dining room—as much as you can slink off on crutches—to wait for my omelet.

A few minutes later, with a wide smile, Ty served it to me on a plate, a precise half-moon of yellow with a hem of melted cheese and no scorch marks. He knew it was perfect.

It was. 

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