Framed

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Art, Childrearing, Connections, Crafts, Decor, Family, Home, Life, Memories, Parenting | Posted on 08-05-2017

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When I think about our family, I think how different we are as individuals. And how our family is evolving.

We are especially different in how we choose to spend an evening. Not always as one family together. But as one family together, but separate. One wants to go out with friends, one wants to watch YouTube videos, one wants to do anything but watch a movie with Mom and Dad. Then there’s Otis, who is up for anything, including movie night.

But isn’t this supposed to happen? While I am sad to see my children slowly branch away, I am also learning to appreciate their separation as a healthy part of life: thriving as individuals. I appreciate each one. With their own personalities. Their own thoughts. Their own emotions. Their own interests.

But isn’t it also my job as mother to keep our family connected? I try. Family taco night is always a success. Movie night? Not so much anymore. Awhile back, I covered our kitchen table with butcher paper so we could create art together. It started with a white square tile. Add drops of ink. Swirl, mix, design. The blobs of ink expanded. The ink morphed.

Each tile transformed into a unique work of art. No two were alike. Hmmmm…kinda like children…

This art project lasted several weeks. That’s a lot of together-time!

We framed this “family mirror” with the tiles we created. It’s an excellent metaphor of our family: colorful, with individual pieces, unified as one.

It’s a mirror that represents togetherness and separation. It’s hung, appropriately, right above the kitchen table, where many tacos have been consumed together.

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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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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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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!

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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

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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The Best in the World

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Contest, Encouragement, Mothers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons, Sports | Posted on 19-08-2016

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I have been actively watching the Olympics each night. Actively, I say, because I yell on the sidelines sofalines. I cheer and yell loudly. My enthusiasm makes the swimmers stroke longer and the sprinters run faster.

YOU CAN DOOOOOO IT!

They can. They do. And they win.

My eleven-year-old had a track meet this spring, where all fifth graders from all five elementary schools in our town gathered and competed. It’s a ritual that’s been going on for decades. They perform all of the traditional track and field events. Except pole vaulting. Oh, and the discus is a frisbee. But whatever.

But the sprints? Sheer speed. It’s a nail-biter to see who the fastest fifth grader is in town.

My son competed in the 75-meter sprint. The gun went off and he flew. I couldn’t contain my cheering: GO! YOU’VE GOT THIS!

He went. And he got it. A blue ribbon. And a huge smile.

He is the best in the my world.

When it comes to sports, do we love our children more when they win? Or do we love that our children are healthy? Or do we love that our children are becoming independent and confident?

Healthy. Independent. Confident. As a mother, I want my children to be winners on the inside. But a blue ribbon from time to time doesn’t hurt. 🙂

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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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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.

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

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