Chicks, Ducks, and a Bunny…Oh My!


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Animals, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Growing UP, Happiness, Ideas, Imagination, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mother, Mothering, Pets | Posted on 17-10-2016

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Who buys her daughter baby chicks, baby ducks, and a bunny…in the middle of the city?

My mother…that’s who!

Imagine the squeals of delight one Easter morning! The joy! I was the happiest of happy!

We didn’t live in the country. Nor did we have the proper pens and enclosures yet built. We housed our extended family in our laundry room off the kitchen. Added some heat lamps. Purchased feed. Received a donated rabbit hutch for the backyard.

Our farm was set!

Like Fern from Charlotte’s Web, I fed, watered, nurtured, and talked to my animal friends every day. Their peeps and nibbles and sweetness made me overjoyed. My friends thought I was so lucky…indeed, I was!

One baby duck, Quincy, didn’t make it and died after a week. It was a tough life lesson. The other duck, Abraham, thrived.

When the chicks and duck outgrew their soft downy feathers and grew into their adult feathers, it was time to move them from the laundry room to the backyard, into coops and hutches.

One chick grew into–gasp!–a rooster and became the 5:00 a.m. alarm clock for the neighborhood, with his loud cock-a-doodle-dooing. Abraham was so well mannered, that you could leash him and take him for a walk. The rabbit was simply happy with carrots and came out for snuggles.

Our menagerie of animals represented my childhood: colorful, joyful, interesting, and full of life, love, and experiences. My mother was the ring leader, with her big heart and personality, always unconventionally fun and cool. I am so lucky to be her daughter.

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Highway Robbery


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Children, Fun, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Sons | Posted on 12-10-2016

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On a whim, my son and I robbed a bank.

I donned my saloon-dancer dress, put on my feather boa, and grabbed my gun. My son put on his best pinstripe suit, his newsboy cap, and grabbed his gun. His Tommy gun.

We grabbed bagfuls of cash and sped away.

To think I almost passed on doing an “old time photo.” With a price of $19.95, I was like, no way, that’s highway robbery!

It took a little convincing from Clyde.

I will never forget that highway robbery…the fun of getting into character, selecting the perfect gun, and striking a pose. It was the perfect mother-son adventure. And we each have a photo in our room to remember that historic moment.

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I Once Was Blind


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Life, Life Lessons, Metaphor | Posted on 04-10-2016

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I once was blind, but now I see.

Or so I thought.

A few years ago, my eyesight was going. Each day my vision was getting blurrier. My eyes stung.

I squinted and Googled my symptoms. Sure enough, I was going blind.

I had to wait three days for my eye appointment. Those three days were agony. I’m going to miss my children’s beautiful faces. I’m going to miss watching them grow. I’m going to miss my husband’s reassuring smile. I’m going to miss the flowers that I love to photograph. How will I see the world? How will I watch movies? How will I drive? How will I experience all of the color and sights and richness of life?

My depression and worry and self-pity mounted with each passing minute. I wept.

Turns out, it a bad batch of eye drops I had been using. After some tests, the doctor reassured me that my eyes were temporarily burned and my eyesight was 20/20 (thanks to Lasik surgery awhile back). After flushing out with good eyedrops, I’d be as good as new.

The next day was Thanksgiving. No joke. And, oh, how thankful I was.

Sight! My children! My husband! Flowers! The world! Movies! Independence! The richness of life!

This is one of my favorite memes: I opened two gifts this morning. They were my eyes.

When I think back to “losing my eyesight,” I am reminded (once again) about gratitude. What prompted me to write this was seeing a blind woman with her cane the other day, while on my run. She was stumbling up the steep hill, navigating the cracks in the sidewalk and the bumps of the curbs. Meanwhile, I was across the street, running downhill. In sharp contrast, I have it so easy.

I paused to see how she was doing. From what I saw, she had amazing perspective. She was outside walking, taking in the morning’s briskness, crunching on the fall leaves, bundled in her hoodie, for goodness sake! Was that a faint smile on her face as she took it all in?

Watching her (staring, actually), I stumbled a bit. Maybe because I was in awe of her calmness and her strength. She seemed to have a good handle on her path, her life. That blind woman opened my eyes. To gratitude. To grace. To strength. To awesomeness.

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Rock and Roller


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childhood, Growing UP, Happiness, Life, Memories, Teenager | Posted on 29-09-2016

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The year was 1983.

It was a hot year for fashion. Hello, matching terry cloth outfit.

It was a hotter year for music. Here is what was on the radio. And on my newly gifted Sony Walkman:

Every Breath You Take, The Police
Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
Flashdance…What a Feeling, Irene Cara
Down Under, Men at Work
Beat It, Michael Jackson
Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie Tyler
Maneater, Daryl Hall & John Oates
Sweat Dreams, Eurythmics
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, Culture Club
Come on Eileen, Dexys Midnight Runners
She Works Hard for the Money, Donna Summer
Let’s Dance, David Bowie
Africa, Toto
Little Red Corvette and 1999, Prince
Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats
Tell Her About It, Billy Joel
Goody Two-Shoes, Adam Ant
Rock the Casbah, The Clash
Come Dancing, The Kinks
Back on the Chain Gang, The Pretenders

For me, it was an even hotter year for roller skates. Those roller skates were my empowerment. I lived in a smallish town in California that was 1.7 square miles, rich in community and smack in the middle of the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area. I skated to buy doughnuts. Ten doughnut holes for a buck. I skated to 7-11 for Red Vines and Jolly Rancher sticks. I skated one mile to my bank where I maintained a modest savings account. I would sometimes deposit but mostly withdraw. Long before ATMs, I tucked my bank book in the waistband of my shorts, then walk on the tips of my stoppers to the teller and usually withdraw $10. I would fold the ten dollar bill into my skate where it would be nice and sweaty when it was time to spend it.

Ten bucks would last two weeks to feed my sugar obsession.

1983 was my freedom. Personal music. Transportation. Consumerism.

I remember those moments like they were yesterday. Skating over the bumps in the sidewalks. Wind in my big hair. The taste of a sour apple Jolly Rancher stick. And peach. And cinnamon fire.

Now, whenever I listen to one of these songs or savor a Red Vine, it takes me back to the days when I was free to skate from one end of town my world to the other, with only a pair of satin knee pads to protect me.

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How I Met Mr. Electricity


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Parenting, Personal Growth, Quotes | Posted on 23-09-2016

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It was one of those mornings. But isn’t every rushed-breakfast-making lunches-ooops overslept-where are my shoes-morning like that?

How it began was my daughter woke up late. She got in the shower late, forcing my husband to shower late. She uses our shower because the kids’ shower is, well, it’s gross. Ours is less gross.

I drove my daughter and son to school since it was 7:46 a.m. and my husband wasn’t downstairs yet. He usually drops them off en route to work.

We took my teenager’s car because late start for high school and plus, my husband’s car was blocking mine. I noticed a full tank of gas in my son’s car and thought, wow, he is so responsible.

Pulling up to the drop-off, my youngest son noticed he left his clarinet at home. Band today. When he practices, it sounds like a goose in the kitchen. Better a goose than a rat in the kitchen. UB40 reference.

I offered (begrudgingly) to drive back home to drop the clarinet off in the office.

Begrudgingly, because. There goes my morning run.

Back at the middle school office, I filled out paperwork for my daughter to sign up for basketball. I looked up and saw this quote on the wall:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Just then, my son walked into the office gave me a huge hug Thank you so much for dropping off my clarinet! Good timing! The trip was worth it.

On my way home, I stopped at the bank to deposit some checks. Except. No debit card. I searched throughout my wallet and purse. That’s when I met Mr. Electricity. In the bank.

Who goes in the bank these days when there’s an ATM machine?

Mr. Electricity called out to me, from the teller next to mine: “Hello there! You can chew gum and bank at the same time! How is your day going?!” (I must have been chomping my gum extra big. Maybe it was the stress of losing my card?) His enthusiasm and good spirit were electric.

Even his mustache smiled.

Did I know him? I wasn’t sure but I played along. It’s great to see you! How are you?!

The teller asked him what his plans were. I’m washing my car today! Ha! Good one. It’s raining. We are all getting our cars washed today.

In the parking lot: Enjoy your day! Today is my day off. I worked four 10s. I’m a traveling electrician.

Ah. That explains his electric personality. 🙂

This stranger made me smile. All the way home. And hours later.

I retraced yesterday in my head…where did I leave my debit card? I called Pier 1. I had bought a glass acorn. No card, but the lovely acorn is on the kitchen windowsill looking oh-so-acorny-and-fallish.

Maybe Burger King? My youngest and I had stopped for a chocolate shake and Cheetos Chicken Fries. Don’t ask. But buy your kids some. They love them. No card. Then I had a hunch. I texted my oldest son. Sure enough, he had borrowed my debit card. No wonder his gas tank was full. 🙂

What had started as a morning gone astray, this chain of events–much like If You Give A Mouse A Cookie–that led to a chain of wonderful. If my daughter didn’t wake up late… If the clarinet hadn’t been forgotten… If I hadn’t read that quote on the wall… If my son didn’t borrow my debit card, forcing me to go into the bank… I would not have met Mr. Electricity, who was the change.

Sometimes we need a reminder. A nudge. A force. A change. To keep that electricity traveling.

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Mud Girls


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Attitude, Celebrations, Childhood, Childrearing, Confidence, Connections, Encouragement, Exercise, Family, Life, Life Lessons, Metaphor, Motherhood, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Relationships | Posted on 13-09-2016

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I can’t think of a better way to kick off Mother’s Day weekend than to run a 5K Survivor Run with my daughter, navigating obstacles, slipping and sloshing through the mud, having a blast, and learning a thing or two about life lessons.

This race–complete with obstacles, mud, exertion, and fun–is a perfect metaphor for life.

You put yourself out there. You try your best. You face obstacles and overcome them. You find support. You laugh. You get dirty. You find your strength. You fall and you get back up. You learn independence. You are reminded that you can do it. You have fun. You are empowered.

What better lessons for a mother to bestow upon her young teenager?

It was not the medal at the end that made me so happy. It was the journey through the race, together. Through the ups and downs. (Up dirt hills and down into mud puddles!)

That Saturday, we were Mud Girls. In my heart, we are forever Mud Girls. Also known as Survivors.

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Emotions, Encouragement, Milestones, Mother, Motherhood, Mothering, Parenting, School | Posted on 07-09-2016

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You know Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web? And how he protects Charlotte’s egg sac for months? The baby spiders finally hatch and he’s delighted! But then he’s suddenly devastated because they immediately fly away?

That’s exactly how I felt when my three kids went back to school this week. After such a fun summer being together and adventuring, then poof, they were gone.

Wilbur tearfully calls goodbye to each of them and is fraught with despair. That was me, but trying to hold back the tears, and be encouraging. You will do great!

According to Scientific American, Charlotte’s hatchlings were “ballooning,” the method that baby spiders use to disperse themselves through nature. In fact, most spiderlings, after emerging from the egg sac, spin a dragline and balloon away. I read that baby spiderlings have no wings, but can fly as high as the highest-flying insects and birds, depending on the air current and weather and such. I also learned that baby spiders are called spiderlings. 🙂

Charlotte’s spiderlings are full of hope and are excited for what’s ahead. They are ready to launch, days after emerging from the egg sac.

My three children have been nurtured a little longer than the spiderlings (ha!) and are each in different launch phases. My oldest son is now a senior in high school. My daughter is in the eighth grade. My youngest son just started sixth grade. We are done with elementary school with one and college is on the horizon for another…the other is in between. Each child is full of hope and excitement (and some angst) for what’s ahead. I am not worried about them adjusting and learning and experiencing. No doubt, it’s an exciting time! They are up for the challenges of academics and social–and everything in between. I feel confident that they are confident and prepared to launch. It’s just that their leaving makes me a little sad.

Janet Lehman, an author with Empowering Parents, emphasizes: “As parents, we really have to accept that our kids are growing into separate individuals. That’s a good thing, because that’s how they learn to function in the world.”

We want our baby spiders to “balloon,” don’t we? As parents, we want to instill in them love and support and encouragement that reinforce that they have the abilities and confidence to function, launch, and excel.

This is nature. Spiderlings venture off on their own. Each has its own path. So do humanlings. And they usually “balloon” on the first day of school. With backpacks.

Transitions are hard for me. One of the hardest is going from summer to fall. Summer, with its free-flowing fun and so much time with my children. Then, bam. Fall, with its schedules and rigidity and less time with my children. I can’t help it: I love to be with my children. Plus, who doesn’t like to eat ice cream and walk along the river and adventure in the city and play with Otis in the backyard shade?

My youngest saw my tears and said, “Mom, don’t cry. It’s not like I’m going to boarding school. I’ll be home later today!” He was right.

Chin up! As Charlotte would say.

Go, spiderlings, go! Fly free! (And I’ll see you at 3:00 p.m.!)

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The (One) Time I Nearly Crapped My Pants


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Mother, Mothering, Nature | Posted on 03-09-2016

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There are several instances in my adulthood when I nearly crapped my pants. The most recent was last month, on a hike near Mount St. Helens. Upon entering the trail, the sign is warning enough to induce that stomach-is-churning-poop-is-coming feeling: Danger! Several fatalities have occurred in and around these waters. Stay on the trail.

Oh, crap!

Um, we’re staying on the trail. We hiked this same trail four years ago and I wrote about the seven lessons learned. Read that here.

The scenery is spectacular. It’s in a forest, at the base of Mount St. Helens. Surrounded by lush, Fir trees, there’s an aqua river that pounds through the lava canyon with such force, it has eroded the lava walls. Jagged cliffs greet you and the drop-offs are enough start crapping, especially if you have a fear of heights. Then, there’s the suspension bridge.

Suspended with cables, high above the crashing waters and lava rocks, the bridge sways. The slats are made of wooden boards with spaces in between, spaces so big that you fear your toes might get stuck like poor Vern crossing the railroad bridge in Stand By Me. Such big spaces, that our dog Otis wasn’t allowed to cross because of his innocent paws. I later read this about the bridge: “The bridge has no stiffening members under the deck at all, so each board is free to move bound only by the two cables it hangs from. Each board sinks a couple of inches with each step, giving the bridge what some have called a ‘trampoline’ feel…People with height phobias should probably turn back…”

I took a deep breath and took one step at a time. Gripping the handrails with white knuckles. My feet moved slowly, but my heart was racing. I reached the other side and my FitBit reported that my heart rate was 135 bpm. Pure adrenaline and fear.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to take a selfie while on the bridge. Added to my fear of plummeting was my fear of dropping my phone. Proof, I guess. Proof that I did it. I knew I could. I had to. I had to overcome my fears, be brave, and set an example for my children.

But not really. Because I had sent them across first. 🙂

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Wieners In Your Face


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 29-08-2016

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That was the first word uttered in Sausage Party. And that was my first reaction bringing my eleven-year-old and thirteen-year-old to this raunchy, totally-not-VeggieTales matinee.

When I watched the trailer, I thought what could be funnier than talking wieners?

We live in a family with three males, four if you count our dog–and two females. We women are outnumbered. Silly talk. Crudeness. Butt jokes. Wiener humor. We value openness and humor. It’s part of our family. My daughter and I are not phased. In fact, we join in with the comments. That what she said… This drawing is of a friendly penis, drawn years ago. Its artist shall remain unnamed. I keep it thumbtacked to my bulletin board for a giggle.

I was expecting Sausage Party to be full of wiener-dick-balls-buns jokes. It didn’t disappoint. However, we definitely were not the target audience. Ooops. Bad judgement on my part. Swing and a miss!

The movie had some good messages: how everyone has a purpose in life (including bagels and juice boxes). And everyone deserves to be loved. Except. Imagine animated horny hot dogs getting it on with sexy hot dog buns. Food porn. The final scene was an all-out food orgy on aisle 3.

I goofed taking my kids to this movie. All in a day of parenting, I guess, where there are hits and misses. Earlier that day, I took them to lunch at the Thai restaurant (hit), we shopped for school supplies (miss), and my youngest had his first guitar lesson (hit). Then, weenies in your face (miss).

I talk openly with my kids about anatomy. Anatomy is a part of life. I also admit when I’m wrong and I try to make things right. Mistakes are also part of life.

When we left the movie theater, I apologized to my kids that I made a mistake taking them to an inappropriate movie. I relish the fact that they forgave me.

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Sunflower Envy


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Encouragement, Flowers, Gardening | Posted on 28-08-2016

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The sunflower is the idyllic summer flower. Sunflowers are bright and sunshiny. They are bold and stand tall and come in all shades of yellow. And they make thousands of babies each.

I love sunflowers. Except, I can’t grow them. I have sunflower envy.

Believe me, I try every year. I plant hundreds of seeds and tuck them into the soil with love and care. I sprinkle top soil on top for good measure. Then I water the babies.

Every spring, the birds perch on their front-row branches to catch the show. The I-can’t-grow-sunflowers-show. They apparently proceed to have a seed smorgasbord.

The funny thing is, sunflowers can grow anywhere. I have seen them thrive in the driest of abandoned lots.

This year, my daughter and I tried zinnias. We planted hundreds of seeds and tucked them into the soil with love and care. We sprinkled top soil on top for good measure. Then we watered the babies.

We waited. And waited. Watered. And waited.

Their sprouts poked through the soil and they grew all summer! In July, they made their rainbow debut. Crimson. Orange. Magenta. Lavender. Yellow. Peach. Hundreds of zinnias greet us every day and smile. You pick a bouquet, and they continue to thrive.

After witnessing our zinnia bounty, others may have zinnia envy? 🙂

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A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on