Honu

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Animals, Life Lessons | Posted on 26-04-2017

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Exploring coral reefs amidst colorful fish and the ever-so-peaceful honu, the native Hawaiian green sea turtle, was how we began each day on recent Maui vacation.

Snorkeling is not something I do on a typical morning at home. More like drowning. Around here, mornings are stress filled: alarms, children, showers, breakfasts, lunches, out the door and off to school and work, go!

Hawaiians regard the sea turtle as a symbol of wisdom. They are graceful and calm and seem to know about life. They glide through the water. They go with the flow. They hypnotize you with their peaceful ways. We spotted at least two sea turtles each time we snorkeled. Each time was magical, dreamy, and meditative.

The honu is also a symbol of good luck. The sea turtle is a reptilian survivor from the age of dinosaurs and can be traced back 150 million years. Good luck indeed.

I. Want. To. Be. A. Sea. Turtle.

At home, I am not sea turtle-like. I am a worrier. A multitasker. A planner.

Vacation. It’s a wonderful thing. You take a break from real life, then you return. I have returned home with amazing family memories, a quickly-fading tan, a cute pineapple purse, and a bit more calm. More honu.

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Which Way?

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Life, Life Lessons | Posted on 27-02-2017

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I went snowshoeing with my buddies. And for some reason, I didn’t really care where we were going.

Here we were at the base of a mountain, in search of a lake. We snowshoed single file talking all the while, stopping for water, for a Caveman bar snack, for a laugh break. The leader of our pack had the trail map. I was last in line, bobbling along without the need to navigate.

Instead, I focused on the patterns in the snow, the crispness of the air, the snow-laden trees, the crunching of my snowshoes, the sweat building up under my armpits.

We came to a map in the path. There was no “you are here” marked. We had little idea where we were. Where was the lake? Who knows? Onward we went, until we came to a snow globe-like mountain. We were surrounded with snow drifts and trees and magic.

We never did find the lake. But we found beauty and peace and laughter.

In life, we don’t always know what will happen next or which path we should take. Right now, I am at a crossroads in my life. With my children growing up. With my job.

Which way will I go? I’m not sure. For now, I’m doing my best to enjoy the journey.

Which way? #snow #winter #nature #snowshoeing #life #decisions

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It was like being in a snow globe! #snow #winter #nature #snowshoeing

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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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The Patch

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Fall, Family, Life Lessons, Pumpkin, Traditions | Posted on 26-10-2016

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Our family has been going to the pumpkin patch for years. We love it! Pumpkins everywhere! The shades of orange! The shapes and sizes!

Pick any pumpkin you want, guys! Except this year, there weren’t any pumpkins. Um. It’s a pumpkin patch. Where are all the pumpkins?

Usually, there’s a huge spread of pumpkins right when you enter. Orange wherever you look. This time, there was just a sprinkling of pumpkins. Usually, pumpkins line the path to the corn maze. Nary a pumpkin lining the path this year. Usually, there’s a hidden pumpkin patch if you dare to walk through the corn. This time, it was just a muddy field.

“I was robbed!” Just as Sally utters in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

That is why our pumpkin patch picture this year was Children of the Corn.

But we found the bright side. There were corn stalks galore. Ample mud to squish around in. And, my youngest found me a prized heart rock!

When life gives you an empty pumpkin patch, head to the grocery store! We bailed.

Fortunately, Safeway had a wide selection of pumpkins in many shades of orange, in all shapes and sizes! We picked out our six (including one for Otis) and had so much money leftover that we bought three kinds of ice cream.

You could say that we made sundaes out of empty patches.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

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A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

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.

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A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

I Once Was Blind

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Life, Life Lessons, Metaphor | Posted on 04-10-2016

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I once was blind, but now I see.

Or so I thought.

A few years ago, my eyesight was going. Each day my vision was getting blurrier. My eyes stung.

I squinted and Googled my symptoms. Sure enough, I was going blind.

I had to wait three days for my eye appointment. Those three days were agony. I’m going to miss my children’s beautiful faces. I’m going to miss watching them grow. I’m going to miss my husband’s reassuring smile. I’m going to miss the flowers that I love to photograph. How will I see the world? How will I watch movies? How will I drive? How will I experience all of the color and sights and richness of life?

My depression and worry and self-pity mounted with each passing minute. I wept.

Turns out, it a bad batch of eye drops I had been using. After some tests, the doctor reassured me that my eyes were temporarily burned and my eyesight was 20/20 (thanks to Lasik surgery awhile back). After flushing out with good eyedrops, I’d be as good as new.

The next day was Thanksgiving. No joke. And, oh, how thankful I was.

Sight! My children! My husband! Flowers! The world! Movies! Independence! The richness of life!

This is one of my favorite memes: I opened two gifts this morning. They were my eyes.

When I think back to “losing my eyesight,” I am reminded (once again) about gratitude. What prompted me to write this was seeing a blind woman with her cane the other day, while on my run. She was stumbling up the steep hill, navigating the cracks in the sidewalk and the bumps of the curbs. Meanwhile, I was across the street, running downhill. In sharp contrast, I have it so easy.

I paused to see how she was doing. From what I saw, she had amazing perspective. She was outside walking, taking in the morning’s briskness, crunching on the fall leaves, bundled in her hoodie, for goodness sake! Was that a faint smile on her face as she took it all in?

Watching her (staring, actually), I stumbled a bit. Maybe because I was in awe of her calmness and her strength. She seemed to have a good handle on her path, her life. That blind woman opened my eyes. To gratitude. To grace. To strength. To awesomeness.

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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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The (One) Time I Nearly Crapped My Pants

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Mother, Mothering, Nature | Posted on 03-09-2016

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There are several instances in my adulthood when I nearly crapped my pants. The most recent was last month, on a hike near Mount St. Helens. Upon entering the trail, the sign is warning enough to induce that stomach-is-churning-poop-is-coming feeling: Danger! Several fatalities have occurred in and around these waters. Stay on the trail.

Oh, crap!

Um, we’re staying on the trail. We hiked this same trail four years ago and I wrote about the seven lessons learned. Read that here.

The scenery is spectacular. It’s in a forest, at the base of Mount St. Helens. Surrounded by lush, Fir trees, there’s an aqua river that pounds through the lava canyon with such force, it has eroded the lava walls. Jagged cliffs greet you and the drop-offs are enough start crapping, especially if you have a fear of heights. Then, there’s the suspension bridge.

Suspended with cables, high above the crashing waters and lava rocks, the bridge sways. The slats are made of wooden boards with spaces in between, spaces so big that you fear your toes might get stuck like poor Vern crossing the railroad bridge in Stand By Me. Such big spaces, that our dog Otis wasn’t allowed to cross because of his innocent paws. I later read this about the bridge: “The bridge has no stiffening members under the deck at all, so each board is free to move bound only by the two cables it hangs from. Each board sinks a couple of inches with each step, giving the bridge what some have called a ‘trampoline’ feel…People with height phobias should probably turn back…”

I took a deep breath and took one step at a time. Gripping the handrails with white knuckles. My feet moved slowly, but my heart was racing. I reached the other side and my FitBit reported that my heart rate was 135 bpm. Pure adrenaline and fear.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to take a selfie while on the bridge. Added to my fear of plummeting was my fear of dropping my phone. Proof, I guess. Proof that I did it. I knew I could. I had to. I had to overcome my fears, be brave, and set an example for my children.

But not really. Because I had sent them across first. 🙂

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The Sheep Connection

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Advice, Animals, Attitude, Communication, Life Lessons, Love, Relationships | Posted on 22-08-2016

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One of my favorite things at the county fair is to visit all of the farm animals. I say hello to each and every one of them, without leaving any out. Goats. Cows. Rabbits. Chickens. Horses. Bunnies. Ducks. Geese. Pigs. Llamas. Alpacas. Sheep.

The goats look at me longingly and always get lots of lovin’ from me. They have warm eyes, big hearts, joyful spirits, and like to “kid” around. I talk to the bunnies and poke my fingers into the cages to pet their soft fur. They are often shy. I scratch the pigs’ snouts. We could chat for hours. I talk to the llamas and alpacas and they rudely stare back. Sometimes showing me their yellowed teeth. Llamas are assholes. I compliment the chickens and roosters on their beautiful plumage and they are agitated. Some of the horses are sweet, some are aloof. Their stalls have bars: communication barriers. I am especially kind to the cows, especially the beef cows, because I know their lives will end soon.

And then there are the sheep.

I walk into the sheep barn with eagerness. I walk down the rows greeting them with a friendly Baa Ram Eew (giggle) and I reach out to give their fluffy curls a scrunch. I compliment those who are freshly shorn. You sure make beautiful wool! I exclaim.

Each summer, it’s the same. The sheep snub me. Like the llamas, they are assholes. I pick up clean straw to hand-feed them. Like an olive branch offering.

This time, there was a sheep connection!

I met lovely sheep who smiled at me. I talked to them. And they listened. They looked into my eyes. My heart reopened. They invited me to scrunch their wool, so I did. I gently moved their bangs out of their eyes.

I like to make connections with animals and people. If the connections fail, I keep trying. I’m an optimist (sucker) that way.

Animals have personalities like people (or is it the reverse?). I forever encounter people who are kind, thoughtful, funny, loving, honest, and respectful. I also encounter people who are rude, selfish, aloof, condescending, cold, and mean.

I try to have an open mind and an open heart and be kind and forgiving. But I am often disappointed by people who are condescending, selfish, cold, and mean. Sometimes I wonder:

Is it worth reaching out even if I will be let down? If I do get let down, do I continue to forgive and give another chance?

Next year at the fair, I may skip the llamas. But, I will keep visiting the sheep. As proven this summer, through kindness and forgiveness, I made new friends and they warmed my heart. Renewing my faith in sheepmanity.

Ewe never know when you’ll make a connection.

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A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

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!

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A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on