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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Everyone Poops

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Books, Childhood, Childrearing, Family, Happiness, Life | Posted on 19-03-2017

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One of our favorite family books is Everyone Poops.

In case you don’t know this book, it should be part of every young child’s library. The book tells about how all living creatures, big and small, poop. Even insects. Even snakes.

My children and I have the lines memorized:

“A one hump camel makes a one hump poop. And a two hump camel makes a two hump poop. Just kidding.”

Publishers Weekly gave the book a horrible review, “Okay, so everyone does it–does everyone have to talk about it?”

Yes!

It’s fun to poop! It’s fun to talk about poop! Poop is part of life!

And don’t we, as parents, want to raise our children to be happy and confident pooper?

The review goes on to say, “Call it what you will, by euphemism or by expletive, poop by any name seems an unsuitable picture book subject.”

Unsuitable to whom?

Unsuitable to people who have no sense of humor, obviously.

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Otis and the Geese

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Children, Children's Books, Grandmother, Growing UP, Memories, Relationships | Posted on 14-12-2016

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My grandmother used to read me the story of Angus and the Ducks. Angus, the curious Scottish Terrier, got into mischief. One day, he was off-leash and ventured on the other side of the hedge, encountering two ducks. They stared him down and proceeded to hissssss at poor Angus. This hissing scared the crap out of Angus and he ran back to the safety of underneath the sofa in his living room. He never ventured to the other side of the hedge again.

The thing was, my grandmother made the most amazing hisssssssing noise when she read that part. During my childhood, I made her read that page over and over. We both would get the giggles.

Fast forward 30 + years.

While on a run, Otis, the curious Yellow Labrador, and I encountered two hundred Canadian Snow Geese. We stopped for a moment to take it all in, with Otis nearly ripping my arm off. He was raring to go get into mischief.

The pause in our run made me reflect upon the wondrous moments reading about Angus with my grandmother. When I visited her–even until I was pushing 16–we would snuggle up to read Angus and the Ducks and we would giggle at the hisssssss. Every time.

I have read that book over and over to my children. But it never had the same effect.

I guess some things are best kept tucked away in the memory vault. Best kept as my own magical moments.

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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.

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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.

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A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Rock and Roller

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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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Mud Girls

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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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Christmas in July

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Celebrations, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Christmas, Holidays, Love, Magic | Posted on 30-07-2016

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Talk about Christmas in July!

On a recent vacation to Branson, Missouri, we heard there was a Santa Claus convention, bringing in jolly old fellas from across the country and around the world. In fact, many of them stayed at our hotel! Even without their red and white suits, they were easy to spot with their friendly smiles, white beards, and twinkly eyes. We proceeded to be on the lookout for the real Santa Claus.

One winked at us in the lobby. Maybe he was the one? One argued with the front desk clerk about his pillows. Definitely not him.

The next morning, one thousand Santa Clauses were to be in a special parade at 8:00 a.m.

You know how the early bird catches the worm? In our case, the early riser catches the Santa Claus. My eleven-year-old son and I practically ran, hand-in-hand, with giddiness. (My oldest son and daughter opted to sleep in instead…their loss!)

Seeing so many Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses, and elves was quite a magical sight! But which one was the one? It was like Where’s Waldo.

Smitten and with a bit of boldness, we greeted the nice gentlemen one by one and asked to pose for a photo. How could they so no to my sweet boy? They could not.

My son wished them Merry Christmas and many said see you on Christmas Eve. One showed my son a special Hawaiian signal. One showed my son his compass hidden in his sock. One let my son hold the special sleigh bells. One gifted him a magic candy cane.

After our encounters, we narrowed it down to three Santa Claus possibilities.

We left with happy hearts, curious minds, and shit-eating grins.

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Graduation

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Aging, Celebrations, Childhood, Dreams, Emotions, Encouragement, Kids, Life Lessons, Memories, Milestones, Mothering, Nostalgia, Parenting | Posted on 14-06-2016

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This time of year always makes my heart so happy and proud. And also a little sad. Graduation! I get goosebumps when I see someone in cap and gown. I tear up when I hear Pomp and Circumstance. I always cry at graduations. It’s a happy sad cry.

I could be hired to attend strangers’ graduation ceremonies. If someone needs a person to cheer, to cry, or to take proud pictures afterward, I’m your gal.

I have friends whose children just graduated from college. Just graduated from preschool. Friends whose children were “promoted” from 8th grade to high school. Others from 5th grade to middle school. My son graduated from 5th grade this week. No more elementary school. He is my youngest. Sad happy.

These are all wonderful milestones–backed by hard work and parental love and support–that deserve celebration. I am proud of everyone! I was so busy woohoo’ing when my son shook hands with the principal, that I missed the photo opportunity when he posed with his certificate in hand. Oh well, the whole gym heard my enthusiasm! Afterward, I hugged all of his friends. My support is genuine.

Graduations are transitions that symbolize growth. But also change. Sometimes change can be hard for us parents. I know many fellow parents who have that same happy/sad feeling too. Here’s a hug and some Kleenex. And some inspirational words from Dr. Seuss in Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (as quoted at the 5th grade commencement speech), words to reassure us that everything will be OK:

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Socks

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Clothes, Family, Fashion, Mothers and Sons, Relationships | Posted on 09-06-2016

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I love socks. Probably because my feet are usually cold.

When my children were little, I bought them the cutest socks. As an infant, my oldest had a pair with rattles built in and he’d bicycle kick his feet, with the biggest grin. I had read that black-and-white patterns make infants’ brains develop better, so of course they had their patterned socks. My daughter had adorable watermelon socks and ladybug socks. My youngest son had tie-dye socks I bought in Berkeley. I probably paid more for that “artisan” pair of socks than a whole pack of running socks for me!

Three years back, I wrote about our abundance of mismatched socks. How they sit lonely, unmatched in a drawer in the laundry room. Waiting, waiting for the perfect match. Then I wrote about how we turned those lonely socks into a happy Sock Puppet family. Check out the video:

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I have a pair of yellow, smiley face socks that make me happy when I’m down. My daughter has polka-dot mushroom socks, unicorn-and-rainbow socks, and sloth socks. Sloth socks? I think they are supposed to make you feel relaxed. 🙂

Then of course there are the very expensive athletic socks the guys wear these days. The socks that hit mid calf. I’m not sure what’s up with that style, but I’ll go with it. I mean, I remember being in middle school when no one wore socks. They were so uncool. You wore your Vans or Keds or Sperry Topsiders with no socks. Puberty + sweaty, unsocked feet = very stinky shoes.

My youngest son, who is now eleven years old, recently asked if he could have a pair of those guy socks. One pair, that’s it. Ah, peer pressure socks. My son is super sweet and doesn’t ask for much. So of course I bought him not one but six pairs of theses guy socks. The hugs and smile? Totally worth it! Hey, and at least they help to cut down on the stinky shoes.

It’s all about the socks.

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Boys and their socks. A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on