Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Ten Things…

I am working on an article on Bellingham, so I have been researching my head off. It’s kind of fun (and weird) to look at your own town through a visitor’s eyes.

Ten things I’ve learned:

1.    We did have the highest library usage in the state but we’ve slipped a little      recently. We’re still up there, though.
2.    Everyone loves the American Museum of Radio and Electricity.
3.    The self-tour of Western’s outdoor sculptures is worth doing.
4.    The Lakeway Inn’s bar serves giant martinis.
5.    Ralf’s Bakery has great Bavarian pretzels (I knew this but I recently reconfirmed) and is conveniently located next to the Farmers market.
6.    Ideal is reputed to be a cool store. I haven’t been there yet.
7.    The Bellingham/Whatcom Visitors’ Bureau has a great visitors’ office over on Potter St. near Fred Meyer. Stop in if you never have.
8.    D’Anna’s is a popular Italian restaurant.
9.    Bellingham is second only to Santa Fe, NM, for the number of resident artists.
10.    The newest Avenue Bread location on James St. has awesome sandwiches (okay, this was just lunch, not research, but you have to go there).

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Did You Know?

Do you ever wonder just how saturated with information we are these days? Do you ever wonder where we're going? I have no idea if this You Tube video is accurate, but it’s compelling food for thought for anyone who’s wondering where their toddler children will be in a few years. Or maybe this applies to my kids who aren’t that far away from high school in the grand scheme of things. Maybe parents of infants will be facing stuff that’s not even here. It's kind of scary.



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The West End and Twilight

So that eye roll I mentioned? Didn’t last long.

The Twilight questions started just outside of Port Angeles. “Do you think mushroom ravioli is a big seller now on the menu?” “How far is it from Forks to Port Angeles? Two hours, seriously? I can’t believe Bella would drive that far for a dress?” “Do you think this is the area where she almost got attacked?” 

We actually drove around Port Angeles, at Leah’s request, to look for the restaurant, Bella Italia, where Bella and Edward ate mushroom ravioli (we never did find it, but Curt has earned himself a new respect for having once eaten there long before Bella did).

And when we got to Forks, we discovered our motel stood directly in front of Forks High School (can you hear the sighs of envy?). The sign featured in the movie could be seen from our bathroom window. If you’re not familiar with this series, it’s the story of a high school girl who moves to podunk Forks to live with her dad, where she meets a mysterious boy and falls in love. Turns out he’s a vampire. And her soulmate. I think the soulmate aspect, perfect love, if you will, is the main reason the books are such a hit (with women as much as girls, maybe even more). I admit it, I have read all the books.

Hall of Mosses trailThe majority of our weekend was not about Twilight—we visited the Hoh Rain Forest and several beaches—but it’s sure hard to avoid the craze in Forks. Even in the Hoh. We ran into a group of German teenagers, whom we later saw posing in front of the Welcome to Forks sign for photos, and the ranger at the visitors’ center told us the park is seeing a whole new kind of visitor, “Twi-hards” who arrive in Forks to commune with Edward and Bella landmarks, only to learn there is also a national park nearby with a unique rain forest. The publicity has been good for the park.

And Twilight is everywhere, even where you don’t expect it. When we were exiting a Mexican restaurant (which had no apparent tie to the series), we heard an incoming dad say to his kids, “Did you know Edward and Bella had dinner here?” I think every espresso drink in town has a Twilight-themed name (Twilight Tea, Eclipse Energizer…)

Bella's truckEnter the new Dazzled by Twilight store, and you will be overrun. We were, anyway, but it turns out we got there fifteen minutes before the tour left and the store was jammed. That’s right, tour. The store runs tours several times a day for $39 a head (and the tours are full!), taking visitors around to see all the landmarks featured in Meyers’ books, such as the Cullen house, Bella’s house, the police station, and the hospital. These weren’t featured in the movie because the movie was shot in Oregon, but they are real places that Meyers visited and used to base her descriptions on. You can also take a self-tour with a brochure from the chamber of commerce. We did neither, but on a little drive we saw the house the Cullen house was based on, a quaint Bed and Breakfast, and we did pose with Bella’s truck. My idea.

Second BeachIf you haven’t been to the Hoh, I highly recommend it. And the beaches are spectacular. I particularly loved Second Beach, near La Push (where vampires, incidentally, are not allowed). It’s wild and pristine with all the sand our more northern beaches lack. The kids loved it.

We also drove to Neah Bay and hiked the boardwalk trail to Cape Flattery, but this drive is a push for kids. Ours did it, but Leah wasn’t feeling too well after all the twists and turns. It is beautiful, though, and cool to say we’ve been to the northwestern tip of the continental United States.

vampire signAnd it’s kind of fun—amusing, at any rate—to watch the Twilight frenzy in Forks, which, by the way, is still just a little logging town. If you’ve got a tweener or a teen who’s interested, I think the peninsula is worth the trip, especially if she hasn’t seen the Hoh.

By the way, there really is a Forks Outfitters (Bella worked there), and it’s a pretty cool store.  


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Heading West

On Thursday, we’re heading to the Olympic Peninsula with the vow to actually make it all the way out to the beach and the Hoh.

I have a confession to make: I have never been out to the Washington coast. Well, maybe once. I have this dim memory of driving it at night on our way home from Oregon, way back before we had kids. I can’t remember, really, so I must not have seen anything.

And I grew up here. I’ve been to some of the remotest corners of Nepal, Indonesia, Australia, and lots of countries beyond, but I’ve never checked out my own state’s coast.

The forecast is for rain, but, you know, it’s the rainforest. So we’re planning on cheap motels (not hard when you’re going to Forks) rather than camping, and then visiting relatives in Sequim. Part of why we never get all the way west is we get no further than Sequim. Who wants to hang out in the rain if you can hang in the rainshadow?

I’ll let you know how it goes. And, oh, we’re not planning on checking out the vampire scene (major eye roll when I brought it up), but who knows? Young minds can change. 


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Birthday Presents

I’ve just discovered this parent blogger for the New York Times, Judith Warner, whom I very much enjoy reading, and appropriately for our family, she posted on her daughter’s birthday right about when I posted on my daughter’s. Except she tried to make poulet à l’estragon (tarragon chicken) rather than a three-layer cake (I think she actually accomplished the chicken with some complications, but I can’t remember what she did for dessert).

What caught my attention, though, was this: she allowed her daughter to open gifts from party-goers in front of them, and her daughter was both shocked and very, very pleased. Apparently this was quite the parental concession. I have never heard of children not being allowed to open gifts from their friends in front of those friends. Is this an East Coast thing? Is it considered crass to open gifts in front of others? The gift ritual she describes, one that’s very much still a part of my family, most families I know, in fact, sounds as if it’s from another era. I guess it is where she comes from. 

For the kids in my house, presents are the whole point of birthdays. (I say that, but Leah, at 12, is now more focused on having fun with her friends.) There was a short stage—maybe one round of birthdays—where I wondered if we were weird for not stating “No birthday gifts.” But, honestly, I think it’s more weird, certainly hard on your kid, to donate to a charity if your kid isn’t into it—unless your child is one or two and doesn’t know the difference. And what are they learning from the experience except that wanting birthday presents is bad and that they yearn for them? (What will be the long term effect of charity birthday parties, I wonder?)

We control so much of our children’s lives, much more than our parents did, and some of it is good. But so much, I’m convinced, isn’t. Birthday presents. What’s so bad about getting them? And shouldn’t they be opened at the party? Besides the birthday child feeling celebrated, the birthday guests derive pleasure and meaning from giving, especially, I notice, as kids get older. Leah’s friends put a lot of thought into the gifts they gave her and were happy to see how pleased she was with their choices. It’s just plain fun to give a gift and watch your friend’s face light up when she opens it and you know you nailed it. It feels good. Feeling good is a good thing.

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