Just Add Baubles

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Personal Care, Self, Women | Posted on 08-12-2016

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In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget taking care of yourself. Your mind and body. There are countless tips on how to reduce holiday stress such as letting go of your to do list, going for a walk in the fresh air, blah blah blah.

How about buying yourself a new bra or two? I’ve written about the power of bras before.

I mean, ’tis the season to put those baubles on display and let them shine! I took 15 minutes out of my day yesterday to try on bras and ended up buying myself a gift.

The gift of confidence. The gift of happiness. The gift of lift.

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Making Christmas

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Children, Christmas, Family, Parenting, Traditions | Posted on 05-12-2016

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You know the well-intentioned sentiment from The Nightmare Before Christmas, where Jack Skellington and the Halloween Town folks “make Christmas” as best they can? That’s what it’s like around here during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Full of preparation and excitement and good intentions. It is my job as a parent to make a nice, fun, and memorable Christmas for my family.

Making Christmas
Time to give them something fun
They’ll talk about for years to come
Let’s have a cheer from everyone
It’s time to party

My husband and I have made Christmas for our children over the years. A combination of family traditions: cutting down the tree, baking cookies, Christmas movies and music, setting up the nativity scene, putting up lights, donating presents and time, counting down with an advent calendar, decorating the tree with ornaments from childhood, and visiting the mountain where there’s guaranteed snow.

This year, our Christmas tree was cut down, brought home, and dressed in lights. Then it sat for a week. Nearly naked. With no ornaments. Maybe this will be the year that lights will do. Why bother with ornaments this year?

Then. Guilt hit.

What about the hundreds of sweet ornaments collected over the years and so carefully wrapped in Chipotle napkins? Stuck in a bin for another year? I simply could not let this happen. The ornaments needed to do their part to make Christmas special.

What about the homemade ornaments our children have made over the years? The beaded candy cane. The teddy bear with the googly eyes displaying a photo of my son taken in Kindergarten (he is now 17). The Star of David made with popsicle sticks. The snowman made from a cinnamon stick. The Snoopy with the googly eyes made by my husband when he was in Kindergarten. What??!!

What about the special gifted ornaments? The starfish with pearls, gifted to me by my mother-in-law when we were in San Diego. The little drummer boy gifted to my husband at his birth. The glass icicle gifted to me by my husband. The painted horse my mother gifted my daughter while visiting Phoenix. The coyote “couple” singing hymns we were gifted when we got married. The glass frog ornament with a tutu I gifted my daughter in 2003. The set of three yellow Labradors my daughter made for me from clay. Angels. Owls. Mittens.

What about the prized purchased ornaments? The pea pod with the three smiling pea faces representing each of my children. The dozens of tin ornaments my mother and I bought in Mexico. The pickle my daughter and I bought at the mountain general store. Mermaids. Frogs. Poinsettias. A dolphin. A tomato.

Each ornament has a story. They are filled with memories that reemerge every Christmas season.

On Saturday night around 11:00 p.m., we had an impromptu family celebration. Let’s have a cheer from everyone. It’s time to party. We ate Skittles and hung our ornament–both by the handful.

All the while, making Christmas. Together.

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Kids These Days

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Children, School, Technology | Posted on 28-11-2016

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Kids these days. Sigh.

When I was a kid, I played with sticks.

Not really. Actually, I did. I would flip my Big Wheel upside down and move the pedals ’round and ’round until the wheel was moving so fast that I could sharpen sticks with it. Then I would poke my sister. Giggle.

Adults are always complaining about “kids these days.” How technology is corrupting them. Kids these days don’t even know how to tell time or write in cursive.

Actually, that is a fact. Some of the “basics” I grew up with aren’t taught in elementary schools anymore because the Common Core State Standards curriculum has replaced those skills with others. Once, the third grade teacher sent home the how-to-tell-time packet. Years later, I’m not so sure if my fourteen-year-old daughter can properly tell analog time. A quarter past two. Half past four. A quarter ’til three. But. She can program a video game because she took a coding class. And she knows all of the bones from head-to-toe.

Cursive is no longer taught in most U.S. elementary schools. My eleven-year-old doesn’t know how to properly sign his name. But. He has crazy keyboarding and video-editing skills. He makes hilarious-and-clever movies and uploads them to YouTube. And he knows how to add and multiply and reduce fractions. I didn’t learn how to do that until high school.

Parents will always find something to complain about. But look at all that is right with kids and their education these days.

If we stop complaining long enough to listen, we would learn a thing or two from our children. Because kids these days are so smart! Between my three, they can add negative numbers, analyze Catcher in the Rye and other literature, debate the pros and cons of each Presidential candidate’s platform, solve for x, y, and z, write a persuasive essay, read music and play the clarinet, explain the significance of the Bill of Rights, program a video game, cite the periodic table of elements, define each part of a cell, explain carbohydrates vs. proteins, and type a thesis without looking at the keyboard, then upload it to Google Drive.

Between school, peers, and their devices, kids are learning to analyze, rationalize, debate, articulate, appreciate, and communicate. There will be time to practice signatures at home. On their iPads. With a stylus. 🙂

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Big Things

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Connections, Emotions, Family, Life, Love, Motherhood, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons | Posted on 21-11-2016

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It’s the little things in life that matter.

Whatever.

Around here, it’s the big things in life that matter…to me.

My husband. He is 6’3″ and his heart is equally as big. He is always up for a hike, buys me my favorite movies like Love Actually on Blu-Ray, and scrubs down the inside of the splattered microwave without me asking.

My oldest son. He is 6’4″ and tells me he loves me every time he walks out the door. At 17, he’s gone more than he’s home. School, work, friends, gym. So, I hear it a lot.

My daughter. She’s 5’9″, now taller than me. She is as fun as she is sweet. Kind as she is talented. Lovely as she is loving. All that and more.

My youngest son. He now reaches my chin, having grown three inches since summer. He is a joy to be around. The twinkle in his eyes indicates that he is up for an adventure. Or that he ate the last four Oreos.

My dog. At 115 lbs., he pulls me up the steep hills when we run together (whew!), takes up 3/4 of the bed when he stretches out, and is the best popcorn-catcher I know.

Big grocery bills. Big piles of laundry. Big smiles. Big laughs. Big hugs. Big love.

Big gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving!

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Sweat, Braces, and Love

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Communication, Confidence, Connections, Conversations, Growing UP, Life Lessons, Sports, Teenager, Teenagers, Women | Posted on 15-11-2016

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The question was posed in email by the head soccer coach to all of the parents: Can any of you help out this season? I need an assistant coach to help run practices and be at the games.

I can. But I will not.

I mean, I have other things to do. Like work, like family, like my own exercise. Surely, another parent can volunteer.

Then I thought: I have coached my daughter and son’s soccer teams before. I play on a rec team as an adult. I know a thing or two about the game. I do love to be around kids. Maybe it won’t be too much of a time suck: practice twice a week, one game every Saturday. And whaddya know, my nearly-14-year-old daughter encouraged me to coach. (That was enough for me to say yes right there…um, my teenager wants me there?!)

I’m in!

I filled out the background check and took the concussion test and sudden cardiac arrest test. I showed up to the first practice a little begrudgingly. I mean, it was still hot August and I could have been kicking back at home with Otis in the shade. Plus. So many teenagers. It was a little daunting.

A few fathers showed up to volunteer and then disappeared after the first practice. Looks like they are stuck with me!

I was warmly welcomed and surrounded by 17 young women full of chatter, giggles, hormones, and braces–as it is with 13- and 14-year-olds–and I was instantly comfortable. I made the right choice.

Within 10 minutes, I knew everyone’s name.

Throughout the season, I gave feedback, high-fived, shouted encouragement, joked, gave pats on the back, talked 1:1 on the sidelines. Assistant coaching was so much more than helping the players improve their soccer skills. I was a supporter, a listener, an encourager, a guider, a trusted friend (and occasional chauffeur).

Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays. Those were soccer days! A chance to make connections, be a positive influence, and build confidence.

Navigating life can be tough for young teenagers struggling with self-confidence, peer pressure, school demands, family issues.

Sure there were foot skills and dribbling, conditioning, building a strong defense, and taking shots. But there was oh so much more. It was a supportive team that built each other up. The players as individuals truly cared for one another. We learned and grew.

That Fall soccer season, I received so much more than I gave. I know for a fact that I was surrounded by sweat and braces, and love. #winning

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Vote for Pippi

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childhood, Confidence, School | Posted on 07-11-2016

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It was an election year. I was new to the school and decided to run for office. Seventh grade class vice president. I was smart, responsible, and peppy. What did I have to lose?

I campaigned. I researched. I spoke. I smiled. I won.

Genuinely interested in making an impact, my platform was to change the lunch menu, add more drinking fountains, and extend recess. Giggle. I painted posters and taped them on every wall in every hallway.

I clearly remember the speech. And being nervous as shit. Knees shaking. But I took control of my voice and into the microphone I began, “Friends, Seventh Graders, Countrymen, lend me your ears…”

Whaddya know? Lots of cheering and clapping! They picked me! I was elected and elated!

Though my efforts to change the school over the course of my vice presidency had little impact, the sense of accomplishment and confidence did wonders for my 12-year-old adolescent self.

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

The Patch

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Fall, Family, Life Lessons, Pumpkin, Traditions | Posted on 26-10-2016

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Our family has been going to the pumpkin patch for years. We love it! Pumpkins everywhere! The shades of orange! The shapes and sizes!

Pick any pumpkin you want, guys! Except this year, there weren’t any pumpkins. Um. It’s a pumpkin patch. Where are all the pumpkins?

Usually, there’s a huge spread of pumpkins right when you enter. Orange wherever you look. This time, there was just a sprinkling of pumpkins. Usually, pumpkins line the path to the corn maze. Nary a pumpkin lining the path this year. Usually, there’s a hidden pumpkin patch if you dare to walk through the corn. This time, it was just a muddy field.

“I was robbed!” Just as Sally utters in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

That is why our pumpkin patch picture this year was Children of the Corn.

But we found the bright side. There were corn stalks galore. Ample mud to squish around in. And, my youngest found me a prized heart rock!

When life gives you an empty pumpkin patch, head to the grocery store! We bailed.

Fortunately, Safeway had a wide selection of pumpkins in many shades of orange, in all shapes and sizes! We picked out our six (including one for Otis) and had so much money leftover that we bought three kinds of ice cream.

You could say that we made sundaes out of empty patches.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Chicks, Ducks, and a Bunny…Oh My!

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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

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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

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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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