Honu

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Animals, Life Lessons | Posted on 26-04-2017

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Exploring coral reefs amidst colorful fish and the ever-so-peaceful honu, the native Hawaiian green sea turtle, was how we began each day on recent Maui vacation.

Snorkeling is not something I do on a typical morning at home. More like drowning. Around here, mornings are stress filled: alarms, children, showers, breakfasts, lunches, out the door and off to school and work, go!

Hawaiians regard the sea turtle as a symbol of wisdom. They are graceful and calm and seem to know about life. They glide through the water. They go with the flow. They hypnotize you with their peaceful ways. We spotted at least two sea turtles each time we snorkeled. Each time was magical, dreamy, and meditative.

The honu is also a symbol of good luck. The sea turtle is a reptilian survivor from the age of dinosaurs and can be traced back 150 million years. Good luck indeed.

I. Want. To. Be. A. Sea. Turtle.

At home, I am not sea turtle-like. I am a worrier. A multitasker. A planner.

Vacation. It’s a wonderful thing. You take a break from real life, then you return. I have returned home with amazing family memories, a quickly-fading tan, a cute pineapple purse, and a bit more calm. More honu.

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The Towel

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Connections, Encouragement, Family, Mother, Motherhood, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Parenting | Posted on 30-03-2017

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There are so many things to learn! As a parent, there are so many things to teach my children!

I’m not talking about: Be kind. Be respectful. Be yourself. Have confidence. Make good choices.

I’m talking about basic bathroom hygiene teachings that begin early on:

When you wash yourself, wash all of your parts and cracks with soap and water.

Did you brush your teeth? Yes. Did you brush your teeth today?

When you spit, don’t leave a glob of toothpaste in the sink. No one wants to see that.

When you wash your hair, use shampoo first. Then conditioner. For awhile, my youngest son was only washing his hair with conditioner. He had the dirtiest-but-softest-hair in town.

When you poop, turn on the fan. No one wants to smell that.

So many things to teach. It’s a good thing we have a bunch of teachers around here.

Dad: Hey Buddy, lift the lid.

Big brother: Dude! Turn on the fan!

And then there’s big sister. Who teaches you how to make the perfect turban.

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That Brown Vest

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Attitude, Childrearing, Cleaning, Clothes, Communication, Confidence, Connections, Conversations, Daughters, Encouragement, Memories, Mother, Motherhood, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 27-03-2017

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Every few years I get the urge to go through my closet and get rid of stuff. You can read about the last time I made such a purge here. Here is how I decreased the surplus population of my clothes. My goal is always to get rid of:

1. The ugly stuff.
2. The stuff that will never ever fit again.
3. The stuff that makes me feel uncomfortable, unconfident, and ugly.

I have had surprisingly a lot of stuff in each of these categories.

I filled three giant trash bags with jeans that are too tight, ruffled blouses that are hideous, pleated slacks that look shiny, and that sort of thing. All kinds of ugly.

I proudly announced to my daughter my feat: I got rid of all my ugly clothes!

What about that brown vest? She asked.

That. Brown. Vest?

Oh that. I guess I didn’t get rid of ALL my ugly clothes. That brown vest might be ugly, but it makes me happy, warm, and comfortable. In fact, I wore it on my last zoo outing with my youngest.

I think you look pretty in that ugly, brown vest, she said.

Well then, it’s a keeper!

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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

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The Sheep Connection

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Animals, Attitude, Communication, Life Lessons, Love, Relationships | Posted on 22-08-2016

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One of my favorite things at the county fair is to visit all of the farm animals. I say hello to each and every one of them, without leaving any out. Goats. Cows. Rabbits. Chickens. Horses. Bunnies. Ducks. Geese. Pigs. Llamas. Alpacas. Sheep.

The goats look at me longingly and always get lots of lovin’ from me. They have warm eyes, big hearts, joyful spirits, and like to “kid” around. I talk to the bunnies and poke my fingers into the cages to pet their soft fur. They are often shy. I scratch the pigs’ snouts. We could chat for hours. I talk to the llamas and alpacas and they rudely stare back. Sometimes showing me their yellowed teeth. Llamas are assholes. I compliment the chickens and roosters on their beautiful plumage and they are agitated. Some of the horses are sweet, some are aloof. Their stalls have bars: communication barriers. I am especially kind to the cows, especially the beef cows, because I know their lives will end soon.

And then there are the sheep.

I walk into the sheep barn with eagerness. I walk down the rows greeting them with a friendly Baa Ram Eew (giggle) and I reach out to give their fluffy curls a scrunch. I compliment those who are freshly shorn. You sure make beautiful wool! I exclaim.

Each summer, it’s the same. The sheep snub me. Like the llamas, they are assholes. I pick up clean straw to hand-feed them. Like an olive branch offering.

This time, there was a sheep connection!

I met lovely sheep who smiled at me. I talked to them. And they listened. They looked into my eyes. My heart reopened. They invited me to scrunch their wool, so I did. I gently moved their bangs out of their eyes.

I like to make connections with animals and people. If the connections fail, I keep trying. I’m an optimist (sucker) that way.

Animals have personalities like people (or is it the reverse?). I forever encounter people who are kind, thoughtful, funny, loving, honest, and respectful. I also encounter people who are rude, selfish, aloof, condescending, cold, and mean.

I try to have an open mind and an open heart and be kind and forgiving. But I am often disappointed by people who are condescending, selfish, cold, and mean. Sometimes I wonder:

Is it worth reaching out even if I will be let down? If I do get let down, do I continue to forgive and give another chance?

Next year at the fair, I may skip the llamas. But, I will keep visiting the sheep. As proven this summer, through kindness and forgiveness, I made new friends and they warmed my heart. Renewing my faith in sheepmanity.

Ewe never know when you’ll make a connection.

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Let That Shit Go

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Attitude, Emotions, Encouragement, Exercise, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 03-05-2016

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I have a great and full life. I am grateful (greatfull).

But often, I am overwhelmed. How do I make time for family, work, fun, chores, exercise, “me time,” and rest? How do I find balance?

“The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you’ve lost it.”
-Unknown

Um, I think I’ve lost it. It’s fine time I lower some of those pesky high expectations.

Some days I’ll work long hours and kick ass at work. Then my mothering skills fall behind. And I feel guilty.

Some days, I’ll spend amazing time with my children, then my work projects fall behind. And I work late at night to catch up.

Some days, I prioritize working out then I have no time to cook. And we make scrambled eggs for dinner. We go through a lot of eggs.

Some days, I’ll spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking then I run out of time to exercise. And no one likes to be around me when I don’t get my run in.

Some days, I’ll put everything on hold in order to play for the afternoon. And work projects hit the fan.

Some days, I’ll get so many chores done. And then I resent that I spent my precious time doing chores.

Balance is certainly not about perfection and high expectations. Nor is about having everything in balance. (I picture a teeter totter.) Balance is about acceptance. Accepting that things will be askew and being OK with that. Accepting that unbalance is OK. Accepting that everything is in flux. And to be OK with that. Accepting that sometimes good enough, is good enough.

“I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.”
-Libba Bray, author

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
-Alain de Botton, philospher

And my favorite quote about trying to meet high expectations:

“Let that shit go.” #letthatshitgo
-hundreds of people on Instagram

Always balancing. #life #metaphor #balance

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The Secrets of the Saguaro

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Aging, Attitude, Nature | Posted on 08-10-2015

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Sigh. Another year older.

Yeah, that’s not how I view birthdays. I’m more like: I’m happy to be alive! Go me!

This picture was taken on my 46th birthday last week. Not another year older, but another year to embrace life. How lucky is that?!

Here’s a tip. If you’re feeling a little old, stand next to something that’s even older. Like a saguaro cactus. That sucker is 150 years old. Just look at how tall and proud it stands.

The great saguaro whispered a few of its secrets to me, in that magical desert:

Stand tall. Smile big. Be proud. Embrace life. Enjoy the sunshine…and the prickles.

Saguaros are my favorite!

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4 Things I Learned From My Dog

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Animals, Attitude, Life Lessons, Otis | Posted on 04-08-2015

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Otis reminds me about four important life lessons:

  1. L-I-V-I-N.
  2. Be yourself.
  3. Break rules. Otis had a bath. Then decided to roll in the dirt. Because…fun!
  4. Persevere. Otis has been chasing rabbits nightly. After three years, he finally caught one! And presented it to us with a missing head.

L-I-V-I-N

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…that boy!

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Otis took a post-bath roll in the dirt.

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A. Gift. From. Otis.

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Be Yourself

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Confidence | Posted on 22-06-2015

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“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

-Oscar Wilde

That pretty much sums it up. 🙂

Feeling slightly askew today.

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Bubbles!

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Today was full of L-I-V-I-N!

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My. Son. Is. Driving.

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Milestones, Mother, Mothers and Sons, Parenting | Posted on 08-05-2015

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Sweet Sixteen.

Bittersweet.

My oldest son has been itching to drive. When he got his driver’s permit last year, it was countdown time for him. Countdown to freedom, power, independence.

It was also countdown time for me. Countdown to the yikes-my-son-will-be-alone-behind-the wheel-of-a-powerful-fast-vehicle-capable-of-going-80 m.p.h.-with-a-slight-push-of-a-pedal. What if?

So hard to let go.

He had a lot of practice over the past year. I admit, I was a total backseat driver. Slow down! Get ready to turn! Change lanes! Did you check your mirror?! Your exit is coming up! You’ve got to make a complete stop at a stop sign! Watch your speed! 

And stuff like that.

When he drove, our reactions were pretty much:

My. Son. Is. Driving.

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Am I ever going to stop worrying?

And then. I remembered when I was 15 going on 16. All I wanted to do was drive. I was an excellent driver!

Actually, not so much…

  1. My driver’s education teacher said I had a lead foot.
  2. I took my driver’s test twice, because I flunked it the first time.
  3. My father taught me how to drive a manual in a Ford truck. While still a clutch novice, it was chug, chug, chugging across intersections.
  4. The weekend after I (finally) earned my driver’s license, I got a ticket for running a red light. My mother let me borrow her Fiat convertible for the evening–oh, so cool, with the top down and friends in the car. Yellow light, red light, then police lights. Busted.
  5. So yeah, traffic school at the age of 16. Eight hours on a Saturday.
  6. Once, I was driving along the coastline, on a curvy highway. I pulled over so we could check out the view, but didn’t estimate the short stopping distance. Slamming on the breaks, we were inches from the cliff’s edge.
  7. Once, I totaled that sporty Fiat. On the freeway, traffic stopped suddenly and I rear-ended the car in front of us. Our car was not salvageable. Fortunately, we walked away with only minor concussions.

So, yeah, Am I ever going to stop worrying? Given my driving history and bumps along the way, probably not. There will always be new things to worry about.

I talked to both of my parents about when I started driving.

Was my mother worried? YES. We had a good talk about my driving shenanigans. It’s all funny now. Remember when?! But she told me that she had to let go and trust that everything would be OK.

Did my father remember teaching me how to drive a stick? Of course. Was he worried? Not really, he said, because it’s part of growing up. But he did suggest that I might say a prayer when my son gets behind the wheel. 🙂

Talking to my parents really put things into perspective. I have come full circle.

It’s OK to worry. But as a parent, I also need to encourage and support. And let go. And maybe say a prayer (or three hundred).

My son turned 16 and is now driving daily. With each day, he has more confidence. And you know what? With each day, I have more confidence in him. And in myself. For learning to trust and let go.

Happy Mother’s Day!

First solo maiden voyage. #proud

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