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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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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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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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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Forced Family Time

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Connections, Family, Growing UP, Parenting | Posted on 15-03-2016

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So many mothers of little children complain how they want time alone. They eye roll and sigh. Can I just take a shower? Can I go to the bathroom without being followed?

I used to be that mother with nary a moment to myself.

I have a cute little picture book about a mama elephant who wants five minutes peace. She heads to the bathroom with some cake and a book and fills the tub with bubbles. She looks forward to a little time by herself, without her three children in tow. One at a time, her children come into the bathroom to talk to her, show her things, and then, splat! They all end up in the tub together laughing. Mama elephant sneaks out quietly amidst the rumpus, to eat her now-wet cake. She has a total of one minute of peace. And she savors every second of it.

Fast forward a handful of years. Little children become big children. Two of them are now teenagers. And whaddya know? My children don’t want to be with me every second. What??!!

WHY NOT??!! I AM FUN!

It’s like total role reversal. Now my children are doing the eye rolling and sighing. These days, it takes more than a bubble bath and cake to get all five of us together. I mean, we’re all together in the same house, but we’re not usually doing the same thing. At once. Together.

Forced family time. It’s something that I thought we’d never go through. Wrong!

For our family, it took a ski weekend where the five us crammed in a hotel room.

We were all sprawled out on two double beds with tired legs, worn out from the ski day. Our bellies were filled with warm chocolate chip cookies, free for the taking from the lobby. Flipping through six channels, we landed on MythBusters. We watched and laughed and commented and ate cookies.

We learned that rockets can launch from gummy bear goo. We learned that we can all squeeze into two double beds. We learned that being together is still a ton of fun.

Hotels are the best!

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The Daredevil

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Daughters, Growing UP, Life, Mother, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Parenting | Posted on 01-12-2015

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My daughter is a daredevil.

At the fair, she rides the scariest rides.

When she grows up, she wants to work with lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

One day we were talking about all the neat things you can do when you turn 18. Like voting, like getting a tattoo. She said when she turns 18, the first thing she’s going to do is sky dive.

I can’t wait.

OMG. That's my daughter up there!

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Goodnight Moon Fail

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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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The Box of Memories

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Children, Grandmother, Growing UP, Happiness, Life, Memories, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 15-07-2015

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When my grandmother and I used to play the game Memory, there was always more talking and laughing than matching. We played every time I would visit. We’d get out the tattered box of Memory cards, flipped them over and start grinning. As each card was flipped, a picture rich in memories would appear.

The tiger with the eyes that resemble peas.

The girl in the blue dress, with the braids flying.

The long white rabbit.

The mother and baby owls perched.

The king with the big belly and short legs.

The triangle “quilt.”

The lion cub peeking from the striped awning.

The lion with the hairy mane and sad face.

And of course, sly fox.

When my grandmother died, I packed up the “box of memories” and took them with me. Decades later, the box itself disintegrated but the cards were intact and full of life…and memories. They cards now reside in a Ziploc bag on the game shelf and have been resurrected! My daughter and I play regularly. And we talk and laugh and have our favorite cards…

The tiger with the eyes that resemble peas.

The girl in the blue dress, with the braids flying.

The long white rabbit.

And so on.

As we play, I am filled with happiness that my grandmother’s hands touched these exact cards and laughed at the same king with the big belly and short legs.

I guess you’d say, the memories are alive and well.

The Boy Who Wore A Tie to School

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Confidence, Growing UP, Parenting | Posted on 09-06-2015

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Once upon a time, there was a boy. All he wanted was a suit. With a vest. And a tie.

To wear to school. Because he wanted to look nice.

How could I resist?

I bought him that suit, with its matching pin-striped slacks and vest, button-down shirt, and clip-on tie.

He was smashing! He wore that suit nearly every day.

Until one day, the slacks became knickers. 🙂

Once upon a time, he wanted a suit. With a vest. And a tie. To wear to school.

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Growing Like A Fir

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Confidence, Growing UP, Health, Milestones, Mothering, Parenting, Teenagers | Posted on 14-05-2015

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Children. They grow fast. “You’re growing like a weed.” Remember when your grandmother used to say that to you?

Except. Weeds stop growing after awhile. We should change the saying to “You’re growing like a fir.”

Experts at Cal Poly estimate that a Douglas fir grows up to 24 inches a year. And a mature Douglas fir can reach 200 or 300 feet in the wild.

Don’t we want our children to be fir-like? Strong. Grounded. Beautiful. Healthy. Thriving.

…and home to grouse, nuthatches, warblers, squirrels, and chipmunks. 😉

Here’s a picture of my son. So tall that he doesn’t fit in the picture. I guess you’d say he’s growing like a fir.

Growing like a weed…so tall he doesn't fit in the picture. 😉

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"You're growing like a fir."

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