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

Ballooning

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Emotions, Encouragement, Milestones, Mother, Motherhood, Mothering, Parenting, School | Posted on 07-09-2016

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You know Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web? And how he protects Charlotte’s egg sac for months? The baby spiders finally hatch and he’s delighted! But then he’s suddenly devastated because they immediately fly away?

That’s exactly how I felt when my three kids went back to school this week. After such a fun summer being together and adventuring, then poof, they were gone.

Wilbur tearfully calls goodbye to each of them and is fraught with despair. That was me, but trying to hold back the tears, and be encouraging. You will do great!

According to Scientific American, Charlotte’s hatchlings were “ballooning,” the method that baby spiders use to disperse themselves through nature. In fact, most spiderlings, after emerging from the egg sac, spin a dragline and balloon away. I read that baby spiderlings have no wings, but can fly as high as the highest-flying insects and birds, depending on the air current and weather and such. I also learned that baby spiders are called spiderlings. 🙂

Charlotte’s spiderlings are full of hope and are excited for what’s ahead. They are ready to launch, days after emerging from the egg sac.

My three children have been nurtured a little longer than the spiderlings (ha!) and are each in different launch phases. My oldest son is now a senior in high school. My daughter is in the eighth grade. My youngest son just started sixth grade. We are done with elementary school with one and college is on the horizon for another…the other is in between. Each child is full of hope and excitement (and some angst) for what’s ahead. I am not worried about them adjusting and learning and experiencing. No doubt, it’s an exciting time! They are up for the challenges of academics and social–and everything in between. I feel confident that they are confident and prepared to launch. It’s just that their leaving makes me a little sad.

Janet Lehman, an author with Empowering Parents, emphasizes: “As parents, we really have to accept that our kids are growing into separate individuals. That’s a good thing, because that’s how they learn to function in the world.”

We want our baby spiders to “balloon,” don’t we? As parents, we want to instill in them love and support and encouragement that reinforce that they have the abilities and confidence to function, launch, and excel.

This is nature. Spiderlings venture off on their own. Each has its own path. So do humanlings. And they usually “balloon” on the first day of school. With backpacks.

Transitions are hard for me. One of the hardest is going from summer to fall. Summer, with its free-flowing fun and so much time with my children. Then, bam. Fall, with its schedules and rigidity and less time with my children. I can’t help it: I love to be with my children. Plus, who doesn’t like to eat ice cream and walk along the river and adventure in the city and play with Otis in the backyard shade?

My youngest saw my tears and said, “Mom, don’t cry. It’s not like I’m going to boarding school. I’ll be home later today!” He was right.

Chin up! As Charlotte would say.

Go, spiderlings, go! Fly free! (And I’ll see you at 3:00 p.m.!)

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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

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

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

Hang on Little Tomato

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Emotions, Encouragement, Life, Love, Mother, Mothering | Posted on 23-01-2014

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My heart is breaking.

My friend’s little boy died suddenly. He was two years old.

What does a Mom say to a fellow Mom, whose life and heart are shattered? I cannot imagine the pain and sorrow. There are no words. Only tears, a heavy heart, and prayers for comfort.

That boy was full of life. Chubby cheeks, huge smile, giant blue eyes. A bruiser with a healthy appetite and hearty laugh. A future so bright.

He thrived. Until, all of a sudden, he didn’t. He died on Tuesday. He was the apple tomato of her eye.

I dedicate this post and song to my friend and her sweet, little tomato.

Sunburst!

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“Hang On Little Tomato”

The sun has left and forgotten me
It’s dark, I cannot see
Why does this rain pour down
I’m gonna drown
In a sea
Of deep confusion
Somebody told me, I don’t know who
Whenever you are sad and blue
And you’re feelin’ all alone and left behind
Just take a look inside and you will find
You gotta hold on, hold on through the night
Hang on, things will be all right
Even when it’s dark
And not a bit of sparkling
Sing-song sunshine from above
Spreading rays of sunny loveJust hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you’ll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something’s coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead
And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you

My Deepest Sympathy

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Children, Christmas, Emotions, Holidays, News | Posted on 14-12-2012

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It seems to me that a child ought to go to school to learn. To play. To socialize. To thrive.

And that a child shouldn’t fear for his life when he is adding, writing about his favorite family Holiday traditions, and playing kickball.

A child shouldn’t have to fear shootings and killings. While at school. Or at the mall, when visiting Santa.

Within one week, there have been two horrific happenings in my lovely U.S.A. A shooting in a mall. And a shooting in an elementary school. Folks, several Kindergartners are now dead.

All I can think is: Their parents sent them off to school to add, write about their favorite family Holiday traditions, and to play kickball. Their parents did not send them to school, only to have them killed and to never return. This is the saddest, most horrific thing.

I can only imagine what the families are going through.

We are amidst Hanukkah and counting down the days before Christmas. This is the time for love and family and kindness and peace.

“Peace must develop from inner peace.

Peace is not just mere absence of violence.

Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”

— Dalai Lama XIV

sympathy_candle

Mouth Guards And Wings

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Babies, Boys, Childrearing, Confidence, Emotions, Encouragement, Family, Life Lessons, Love, Mother, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Parenting, Sports | Posted on 20-09-2012

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At the hospital, the nurses told me to hold my newborn like a football when I fed him.

Now this six-foot-tall young man plays football. With swarms of teenager girls watching.

I was not prepared for this.

I have mothered this boy-man for 13 years. As the years and milestones pass, I try to support his independence, steer his choices, but ultimately let go. And it’s difficult.

One of my favorite parenting mantras is:

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give to our children. One of them is roots. The other is wings.”

I’m better at the roots part. You know, the love and nurturing part?

I am trying to be better at the wings part.

Take for example, football. Do I want my son playing a sport where his body is jostled around and he is required to wear a mouth guard–not only to protect his pretty teeth but to prevent jaw injuries at mega impact? It’s nerve-racking signing all of the concussion waivers. It’s also kinda awesome seeing him in his full gear–with helmet and pads–looking like a man.

He really really wants to play. And he is committed to doing his best.

I am proud of his dedication and enthusiasm. And because of this, I must let go and let him grow. And be his cheerleader.

I can’t help but think of the children’s song, Eagles, which sums up my belief in raising children: letting go.

May this big boy of mine fly down that football field with his mouth guard and his budding wings. I will be watching with love, support, and faith in him. And I may also be sporting a tear or two.

These pictures show me with my son then…now.

 

Bullies. Suck.

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Emotions, Life Lessons, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 25-04-2012

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Bullies. Suck.

My Kindergarter. Eager. Excited. A little nervous. But ready.

Ready to take on the alphabet. Count by 2s. Learn how pumpkin seeds grow. Watch chicks hatch. Eat apple sauce at snack time.

But not ready to take on a bully. Little did he know that a bully was lurking. Ready to make his Kindergarten life miserable.

I asked my son if I could share his story. He said it was OK because it might help other parents and children.

Charlie

Not long into Fall, a freckle-faced, fellow Kindergartener started teasing him. Bugging him. Saying mean and hateful things. The bully would twist his arm when they lined up, so hard that it left bruises. Sometimes bloody fingernail marks.

The bully knew how to push buttons and hurt feelings. He made fun of the way my son talked. And imitated him to the point that my son stopped talking at recess, for fear of being ridiculed.

My son had a little delay in pronouncing a few sounds. Typical for a child of his age. “W” for the letter “L.” “Train” would be pronounced “twain.” “Rs” were hard to pronounce. “Car” would be pronounced “cah.” He qualified for speech class with a speech pathologist once a week to help clear things up. (Fast forward one year later, my son “graduated” from speech…no more baby talk!)

It wasn’t only my son who was affected. The bully poked another student in the face with a pencil. Her parents didn’t speak out. I also found out the bully bruised another child’s wrist. The parents remained quiet.

You may think, “Boys will be boys.” But is it OK for your son:

  • to come home from school with his wrist bruised?
  • to cry before school, saying he didn’t want to go ever again?
  • to be scared to line up after recess, always looking over his shoulder?

Enter Mama Bear.

Deep down, I envisioned me transforming into Peyton from The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, who goes up to a bully in a playground, twists his arm, and snarls, “Leave Emma alone. If you don’t I’m gonna rip your f—–g head off.” But I thought turning into a bully would be going against my mission.

Every day, I would talk to my son at length. Prod him with questions. What did you do at recess? Who did you play with? What happened? Did you find a teacher on duty to talk to? Who did you sit by on the bus? How did lunch go? I needed to find out what was happening. How he was feeling. What were his responses to the bully.

I knew that as a parent and mother, I needed to take action. I started by giving him words to say. To empower himself with the bully. Simple words such as “Leave me alone.” We practiced. Practiced saying it loud and strong.

That wasn’t enough.

I talked with the teacher…

I talked with the guidance counselor…

I talked with the principal…and wrote her a letter detailing the incidents and demanded that it become part of the bully’s permanent school record.

Actions were finally taken. The bullying stopped.

Several months later, Kindergarten became more like Kindergarten. My son was ready to go to school in the morning. To cut paper snowflakes. To learn about Martin Luther King Jr. and Eric Carle and Sacagawea. To see the chicks hatch in the Spring. To learn how to say “thank you” in Spanish.

Communication and persistence were key.

Our children need us for support. Our children need us for direction. Our children need us to empower them. And sometimes, our children need us to take action and be their voice.

Because sometimes, little voices are hard to hear.

 

Just Call Me Sponge Bob

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Emotions, Women | Posted on 09-01-2012

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You know the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” No, silly, not the Rihanna lyrics, “Sticks and stones may break my bones. But chains and whips excite me.” (Oh, what a nice message to send to your young fans and all women alike, Rihanna. Good going.)

Words do hurt.

I am capable. I am strong. But when it comes to insults or put-downs, I am just a big ol’ sponge. And I carry the negative words with me for a long time.

Take something someone said in high school. That was, like, in the Ice Age. I still have this vivid memory: my buddy and I were walking across the courtyard at lunchtime. A mean girl in our grade calls out my name and I heard her say to her friend, “You know, the ugly one.” Why do I still remember this?

Hello? Sponge here.

Sheesh. Carrying other peoples’ mean words with me is a pain in the ass. I’m finally realizing this. It’s like I’m this sponge carrying a gazillion bacteria. How can I tell my kids not to let other people bother them when I don’t do that myself? “Don’t listen to them. Those are just mean words,” I say.

I think it’s high time I listen to my words. Time to lighten the negativity load and toss that bacteria-ridden sponge. For good.

“Just Sayin'” is Just Stupid

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Emotions, Facebook, Friends, Pop Culture | Posted on 17-11-2011

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If ever there was a stupid saying, “Just sayin'” tops the list. Tops the hateful list, that’s for sure. It’s a word jab.

The Urban Dictionary defines just sayin’ as:

a term coined to be used at the end of something insulting or offensive to take the heat off when you say it

Take the heat off? I think it does the opposite. It adds heat. Fire. Fire stick. Stab. At the end. So you’re left hanging with, “wow, did she really just say that?”

It’s kinda like when people say:

  • “I don’t mean to be mean but…your ass is a double wide.” Uh, mean. But you knew something mean was coming.

or

  • “I don’t mean to be rude but…your breath smells like a swamp.” Uh, that’s pretty rude. Does your breath smell like a candy cane all the time?

But in both of those instances, the slap comes at the beginning, so you are prepared for the insult. You can brace yourself.

But “just sayin'” comes at the END. So you could be having a great conversation–or so you think–and then the just sayin’ is dropped at the end. Catching you off guard. Like a stink bomb.

Here are two very mean examples when just sayin’ was intended as a word jab:

  • One new mother says to the other: “Breast milk is more nutritious than formula…” Wait for it. Wait for it…  “…just sayin’.”
  • Or this one: My tween son was helping with a peanut butter drive for poor children in Mexico who are without food (see related post here). Why peanut butter? Because it is packed with protein, is portable, and isn’t perishable. So I encouraged my kids to donate their money and I would match what they contributed. A win-win for everyone involved. I posted this on Facebook:

“We rallied some PB for the poor children. My kids donated their own $ and I matched it. Small acts of kindness.” (along with this pic):

My goal in my post was really just to blab about my daily life, with a little bit of a hint for others to help #payitforward. And this is what someone posted:

  • “Hey, that’s great, but don’t poor kids deserve peanut butter that’s just made from peanuts? Skippy is full of sugar and hydrogenated oil. Just sayin’…”

Yikes! Snap! Fire stick!

So what exactly is the intent behind this comment? Was is to call out someone else’s inferiority? Was it simply a word jab to make the other feel bad?

I couldn’t help myself. Sometimes, you just don’t want to take the high road. And, well, I am pesky and had to respond:

“Yikes, XYZ, when you launch your all-natural PB drive for poor kids in Mexico, let me know. #let’snotbehateful #it’sallgood”

And I think that’s the last time I will utter the words Just Sayin’ because saying that is, well, Just Stupid.