Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Life with a Kitten

We have a new kitten in our house, just arrived three days ago, a beautiful little gray tabby with a little round face. In fact, he’s sitting in my lap as I type this (I would have included a photo but my camera is on the fritz). We haven’t had a kitten around for 15 years, since our beloved late Leon was a kitten, and I have forgotten how much care and attention they require. Rather like a human infant.

This little guy, whom the kids have christened Milo, loves attention. He’s very sociable and loves to be held. A lot. Luckily, you can’t help sweeping him up into your arms just to hear him purr and feel him knead your sweater, but in the last day or so, I’ve been hearing chitchat among family members about how we’re maybe spoiling him with too much attention.

“He’s a baby,” I find myself saying. Am I the only mother here? “We’re not spoiling him. He needs our attention while he adjusts to life in our house.” Shades of Dr. Sears. (I still recall the conversations about why we needed to move Leah into her own room when she was three days old.)

But come Monday morning, when everyone had gone off to work and school, I had to get some work done. Right. That old adage of working with your baby nearby doesn’t work with a kitten either. Milo careened around the house meowing at the top of his lungs until I put him on my lap to work. He tried to climb on my keyboard, up around the computer, down around my feet, and finally, meowing the whole time, he somehow ended up in the desk file drawer. Apparently it has a back entrance I knew nothing about. I didn’t realize he was in the drawer until I opened it to find him squashed in with the various desk detritus—envelopes and such.

Okay, tough love here, buddy. If he were my human baby, I would have had to stop work altogether, something I used to do all the time when my kids were infants. But the beauty of a kitten? I shut him in the bathroom with his food and litter box, where he promptly went quiet. The conservative parent experts would have been proud.

The best part about a feline baby? Milo came toilet trained and hasn’t had an accident yet. If only it were so easy with all babies…

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Family Exercise

Last night at bedtime Leah asked if we could go jogging in Whatcom Falls Park today. “Can we go in the morning?”

Are you kidding?

This morning, Leah and I don our running gear and pack Ty’s bike into the back of the car. This is our summer mode of exercise—she and I jog and he rides ahead. It works pretty well. We don’t do it nearly often enough, but on the way to the park Leah decides she wants to start running more regularly. Girl after my own heart.

We hit Whatcom Falls just as the rain starts up, but under the trees the ground is still dry. We take the route Leah had run at the end of May—except in reverse—during the middle school challenge, an event for kids from any of Bellingham’s middle schools.

“The steps are really bad,” she tells us maybe fifteen times. “I’d rather run down them.”

As we jog, I realize I have never explored this park. Not really. Sure, I’ve been to the bridge and the surrounding trails numerous times, but as Leah directs Ty ahead of us—“turn left, stay right, go straight, Ty”—I realize the network of trails is way more extensive than I’d thought. How have I missed these beautiful trails? I feel sheepish. 

The air is cool, smelling of rain and leaves and damp gravel, a Northwest summer rain smell that I love. Ty rides ahead, pacing us, until we arrive at the steps. Ah. I get it now. Steep. Hmm, good for stair training, I can’t help saying out loud.

“No way,” Leah says. “We had to run up these steps in the middle school challenge. It was awful.” Okay, maybe no steps. I make a mental note to come back on my own. Today, we are going down, and I heft Ty’s bike for the trek.

Beyond the steps we begin hitting the hills, mostly up, and the kids groan. “Come on, you can do it, Ty, you too, Leah, to the rock. Let’s run as far as that rock, and then you can walk.” I sound like my high school track coach, and you know what? They go for it. Ty busts up the hill, and Leah laughs and keeps jogging. This is her idea, after all.

Before I was a parent, I was not a baby person, nor did I ever want to go through pregnancy, but at the same time I couldn’t imagine life without kids. I always pictured myself with school-age kids, never babies or toddlers. Old enough to join in, but not old enough to opt out.

I’m there. I’m in that picture. I wish I could freeze time.

At the end of our run, we walk to cool down, each of us breathing a little harder, each of us a little sweaty. “Can we do that again sometime?” Leah asks.

But of course.


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Three Things

It was a weekend of announcements and news for me.

The first: Three pregnancies, all babies due within two months of each other, all the couples people I’ve known for ages and never see anymore because I’ve been relegated to the list of temporarily retired ultimate Frisbee players (geez, I hope it’s temporary).

I learned the news at a birthday potluck, and perhaps because I hadn’t seen everyone in so long, the news felt particularly special. I wish these couples well on their journey into parenthood.

The second: A marriage proposal and a summer wedding in the works. The couple is close to our family, so close I can’t believe I didn’t sense this coming. We were all in happy shock.

The third: Swordfighting is, apparently, a universal phenomenon among men and boys. I had no idea. (And women with daughters will likely never know.) Ask any boy or man close to you about this game, and he’ll know exactly what you’re talking about, and if your boy is too young to know, rest assured the knowledge is coming. Check out more about swordfighting here


Musical Inspiration

Last night the kids and their dad had an impromptu jam session with “The First Noel.” Ty played the cello, Leah her viola, and Curt his trumpet, while I was the designated groupie directed to the couch (I gave up the piano for sports in 6th grade). 

Halfway through the session, Ty looked up, his eyes shining. “This is AWESOME! We have our own band.”

This after I prodded Ty last week—again—to practice for his teacher, me having paid her at the beginning of the month, inhaling silently, trying not to think about the cost and wondering whether music lessons were the way to go. And then after Ty’s lesson yesterday afternoon, Leah declaring, “He get so much done compared to my school orchestra. Can I have private lessons, Mom?” Mental hitch: two taking lessons?  

This after Leah’s consultation with the orthodontist a couple weeks ago and the declaration that yes, she needs braces and more, to the tune of $5,000 or so over a couple of years, the going rate for orthodontia, any parent will tell you, all of it boiling down to chunky monthly payments,  a car payment on teeth.

This after receiving news of our annual health insurance increase, bigger than usual, and the news I will be jumping an age bracket (adding another increase)–due to change in the New Year just as the Christmas Visa arrives.

But even I—Ms. Practical Balance the Checkbook Every Month—can’t put a price tag on the AWESOME band, Leah’s infinite patience with Ty ( a rarity, I tell you) while he worked out the kinks on the song, her encouragement and positive comments, the musical camaraderie.

We may not be driving further than Birch Bay next summer, but the kids will be making music.

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Trading Kisses

My son and I have a little tradition we carry out every night at bedtime. I don’t even remember when it started—sometime back when he was tiny. Anyway, when I kiss him goodnight, I always give him about five smooches on his cheek, sometimes more, sometimes fewer. And he always, without fail, keeps count and gives me back the exact number of kisses I gave him.

Doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

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