Otis and the Geese


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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If You Give a Girl a Knife


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childrearing, Children's Books, Confidence, Cooking, Daughters, Encouragement, Food, Girls, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Teenager | Posted on 13-05-2016

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When my daughter was three, we gave her a mini kitchen with pots and pans and bins of plastic food. Pies! Peas! Corn! Sushi! Cupcakes! Fried Chicken!

She loved everything about food preparation and serving. She would “roast” a fake chicken, “bake” pies, and “chop” floppy carrots. For years, she would prep and serve us at her cafe. When she was older, she would write menus for us to order from. And she would expect payment.

Now at 13, her time spent in the kitchen has lessened and her cooking is infrequent. However, if you give that girl a knife, she’ll make a fruit plate in minutes. She chops vegetables like a Kitchen Knife Ninja.

On the sidelines at a recent soccer game, I was talking to some mothers about daughters and their lack of interest in cooking. I told my “knife story” about how my daughter is a pro with a knife.

One of the Moms looked at me like I was insane. You give her knives?? That’s scary!

Um. Pioneer women sliced open buffalo with knives.

It’s not like I handed my daughter a knife and ordered Chop Now! It began with safety skills. Duh. Don’t slice toward your hand. Watch those fingers.

Kitchen skills are about teaching confidence, self sufficiency, survival. Kitchen skills are life skills.

I mean, what would she do if she encountered pineapple?

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Sunshine in Human Form


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Children, Children's Books, Family, Grandmother, Memories | Posted on 27-01-2016

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Sunshine in human form? That was my grandmother. She was pure sunshine.

She created miniature marshmallow happy faces in my Cream of Wheat.

She always reassured me, “Everything will be all right.” Read more here about how my grandmother and Bob Marley were alike.

She hummed while she scrubbed stains from my clothing. Her hands always smelled like Clorox.

She played her favorite hymns with gusto at the piano in the evenings.

She patted my knee when she sat by me on the sofa and always told me how happy she was to see me.

She swung on the teeter totter with me, even when we were both too old for teeter totters.

She made the perfect goose hisssssssss sound when she read Angus and the Ducks.. I always had her read that page over and over. To this day, I giggle when I think back at that hisssssssss.

The other morning when Otis and I were running, I missed my grandmother so much that tears welled in my eyes. I had to stop to cry it out. On that grey, overcast morning, the clouds suddenly parted.

The blue sky and sunshine emerged. I knew at that moment that my grandmother and I connected again. Everything will be all right.

Blues skies ahead. #positive

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Goodnight Moon Fail


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Children's Books, Growing UP, Life Lessons, Nostalgia, Parenting | Posted on 20-11-2015

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You know what they say when you have three children.

The first child eats organic. The second child eats canned food. The third child eats food off the floor.

My need for perfectionism has greatly slipped with each child. However, my adaptability has increased with each.

The first child watches Baby Einstein movies. The second child watches Dora the Explorer. The third child watches The Hangover.

Wait. What?!

My youngest son is ten years old. His brother is sixteen years old. Little boys with big brothers grow up a little faster. To slow things down, I searched my youngest son’s bookcase to read him Goodnight Moon. All I found was the parody Goodnight Goon. (Which is very clever, by the way.)

My son said I had never read him Goodnight Moon.

Wait. What?! Total parenting fail!

Stop everything! I immediately purchased the book on Amazon. When it arrived, I wrote a sweet message to my son on the inside cover. And we read the book together…about eight years too late.

Goodnight moon
Good night cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”
Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere

What a magical book.

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Do You Like My Hat?


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Art, Attitude, Children, Children's Books, Confidence, Contest, Crafts, Encouragement, Life Lessons, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters | Posted on 16-10-2014

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It’s OK if you don’t. Because I love it!

Do you remember the children’s book, Go Dog Go!? One dog keeps asking the other dog, “Do you like my hat?” He’s a total dick and always says no, he does not. She continues to try so hard to seek his approval and validation.

Until the last hat, which is over-the-top amazing! And, he likes it. Finally.

My daughter and I made some over-the-top hats. Our plan was to wear them at opening day at the horse races.

We started working on the hats a month ago. On one of our trips to our favorite antique store, we scored my daughter a red hat. And lots of bags of junk treasure. We spent that whole afternoon, with glue guns in hand, decorating. That evening, she told me that she had the best day. Yeah, me too.

She transformed her hat into a half-fall-half-winter scene. It is amazing and joyful! But she already knows this.

Mine was half toys and 100 percent full of memories. I rummaged through my children’s toy bins. Plastic horses with no tails. Gold coins from St. Patrick’s Day. Legos. An army guy from a 4th of July parachute. Fake rotten teeth my youngest son loves to wear. A pink barrette my daughter wore when she was three. A Nerf gun bullet. A rubber frog. An alien prize from no cavities at the dentist. A few stray McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. A refrigerator alphabet magnet. A Polly Pocket. A monkey pencil topper. The wrestler that my oldest son played with when he was two. He’s 15 now. The wrestler lost his legs in a battle, so he now anchors the front of my hat. It’s his medal of honor, I guess.

So many wonderful, funny, happy memories are now all glued to my hat.

On opening day, my daughter and I confidently paraded around the horse races with the biggest grins and giggled the whole time. What silliness! What fun!

We entered the “best hat” contest.

We didn’t win. Not even third place. Not sure why we entered. We certainly don’t need external approval and validation to remind us that we are both winners.

Because we already know this.

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Two ladies wearing hats at the horse races.

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Green Kale and Tofu


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Children, Children's Books, Humor | Posted on 02-03-2014

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Yeah, that would be the vegan version of Green Eggs and Ham.

Speaking of vegan…my eight-year-old son announced that his big sister is vegan because she doesn’t eat meat anymore. Only hamburgers.

“Hamburgers are meat,” I say.

“But she stopped eating bacon,” he says. “Only sometimes.”

“I think you mean vegetarian,” she says. “Plus, vegans eat mostly just nuts.”

“Only nuts?! But what about pork chops?” he asks.

Alrighty then, we have assessed that no vegans live here. Pass the ham and eggs, Dr. Seuss! And thank you for your wondrous poetry and imagination.

If I'm grumpy to the kids in the morning, it kinda ruins my whole day.

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The Giving Tree


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Beauty, Books, Celebrations, Childhood, Children, Children's Books, Life Lessons, Memories, Nature | Posted on 04-10-2013

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The Giving Tree. One of our favorite books–one of the best characters, that tree–and also one of our most hated characters: that boy who grows up to be a greedy man. It’s all take take take.

We met a friendly, giving tree this summer.

It was a hot day. We had our bag of Subway sandwiches and quilt in tow, driving in search of the perfect picnic spot.

We were too hungry to drive too far. Yep, about four minutes in the car capped off our impatience.

We spotted a tree in a field. That oak tree beckoned and welcomed us. That tree said, “Come, Boy (and Girl and Mother), come…and play in my shade and be happy.”

And we did. And we were.

You would never know by looking, but that old tree stands proudly on a three-acre lot, located smack in the middle of suburbia. Across from a high school and exactly four minutes from Subway. The lot will probably be for sold one of these days. And the tree may be chopped down to a stump. I sure hope not.

But on that magical day, as we gazed up at her twisted branches, that tree gave us shade and solace, with her fluttering leaves.

And now, every time we drive by her (practically daily), we yell out to our new friend “HI TREE!”

“And the tree was happy.”


Why Men Have Nipples and a Dog Named Helen Keller


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Animals, Childhood, Children, Children's Books, Family, Fruit, Fun, Ideas, Life, Life Lessons, Parenting, Photography | Posted on 24-07-2013

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Otherwise known as blueberry picking.

  • Why do men have nipples?
  • What’s better, a flame thrower or a bazooka?
  • Who would win, Avengers or Fantastic Four?

These were topics on our recent family outing to pick blueberries. Naturally.

A local farm. A sunny afternoon. And blueberries, ripe for the picking. We encountered an uncatchable rooster, bleating milk goats, cheerful hollyhocks, an electric fence. And a dog born without eyeballs, named Helen Keller. Naturally.

Taking a little trip to the countryside proved to be quite the experience.

We learned that it takes a long time to fill the bottom of a bucket with blueberries. Plink plink. I was reminded of the classic book Blueberries for Sal. We appreciated all that farmers and fruit pickers do.

We also learned about compassion, as we petted Helen Keller’s soft fur. The owner fostered the puppy, who was now part of the family, and a good guard dog too.

Who knew that $12 would buy so few blueberries, yet so many lessons?

Top 10 Children’s Books


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Children's Books, List, Memories, Mother, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons, Parenting | Posted on 09-05-2012

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Here are some of our favorite children’s books:

  1. In The Night Kitchen (Classic. Creative.)
  2. Trouble at the Dinosaur Cafe (Empowering non-aggressive dinosaurs to take action.)
  3. Jamberry (Rhyming is fun. Pictures are peaceful and creative.)
  4. Owl Babies (Sweet and reassuring.)
  5. The Giving Tree (Classic. Beautiful, lovely tree. Each time we read this, we get pissed at the man who takes advantage of the tree.)
  6. The King, The Mice and The Cheese (Funny and clever. About getting along.)
  7. Everyone Poops (Funny. Great pictures. Simple message.)
  8. Sally on the Farm (Clever, wood-carved illustrations. You’ll love Sally the Black Labrador.)
  9. Goodnight Moon (Classic. Calming. Perfect book.)
  10. The Amazing Travels of Ingrid Our Turtle, by Land, Sea, Sky, Space! (You root for Ingrid, who travels the world at her own pace.)

I’d love to know your favorites…please share in the comments!

Reading is cool,


in the night kitchen

Who Doesn’t Love Shel Silverstein?


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Children's Books, Family, Humor, Reading | Posted on 04-02-2012

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One of my all-time favorite poems is Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout by Shel Silverstein, from the book Where the Sidewalk Ends.

This poem is best when read to children, really fast. It particularly reminds me of home. Uh, MY home.

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout

by Shel Silverstein

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out.
She’d wash the dishes and scrub the pans
Cook the yams and spice the hams,
And though her parents would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.
And so it piled up to the ceiling:
Coffee grounds, potato peelings,
Brown bananas and rotten peas,
Chunks of sour cottage cheese.
It filled the can, it covered the floor,
It cracked the windows and blocked the door,
With bacon rinds and chicken bones,
Drippy ends of ice cream cones,
Prune pits, peach pits, orange peels,
Gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal,
Pizza crusts and withered greens,
Soggy beans, and tangerines,
Crusts of black-burned buttered toast,
Grisly bits of beefy roast.
The garbage rolled on down the halls,
It raised the roof, it broke the walls,
I mean, greasy napkins, cookie crumbs,
Blobs of gooey bubble gum,
Cellophane from old bologna,
Rubbery, blubbery macaroni,
Peanut butter, caked and dry,
Curdled milk, and crusts of pie,
Rotting melons, dried-up mustard,
Eggshells mixed with lemon custard,
Cold French fries and rancid meat,
Yellow lumps of Cream of Wheat.
At last the garbage reached so high
That finally it touched the sky,
And none of her friends would come to play,
And all of her neighbors moved away;
And finally, Sarah Cynthia Stout
Said, “Okay, I’ll take the garbage out!”
But then, of course it was too late,
The garbage reached across the state,
From New York to the Golden Gate;
And there in the garbage she did hate
Poor Sarah met an awful fate
That I cannot right now relate
Because the hour is much too late
But children, remember Sarah Stout,
And always take the garbage out.