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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Making Christmas

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Children, Christmas, Family, Parenting, Traditions | Posted on 05-12-2016

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You know the well-intentioned sentiment from The Nightmare Before Christmas, where Jack Skellington and the Halloween Town folks “make Christmas” as best they can? That’s what it’s like around here during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Full of preparation and excitement and good intentions. It is my job as a parent to make a nice, fun, and memorable Christmas for my family.

Making Christmas
Time to give them something fun
They’ll talk about for years to come
Let’s have a cheer from everyone
It’s time to party

My husband and I have made Christmas for our children over the years. A combination of family traditions: cutting down the tree, baking cookies, Christmas movies and music, setting up the nativity scene, putting up lights, donating presents and time, counting down with an advent calendar, decorating the tree with ornaments from childhood, and visiting the mountain where there’s guaranteed snow.

This year, our Christmas tree was cut down, brought home, and dressed in lights. Then it sat for a week. Nearly naked. With no ornaments. Maybe this will be the year that lights will do. Why bother with ornaments this year?

Then. Guilt hit.

What about the hundreds of sweet ornaments collected over the years and so carefully wrapped in Chipotle napkins? Stuck in a bin for another year? I simply could not let this happen. The ornaments needed to do their part to make Christmas special.

What about the homemade ornaments our children have made over the years? The beaded candy cane. The teddy bear with the googly eyes displaying a photo of my son taken in Kindergarten (he is now 17). The Star of David made with popsicle sticks. The snowman made from a cinnamon stick. The Snoopy with the googly eyes made by my husband when he was in Kindergarten. What??!!

What about the special gifted ornaments? The starfish with pearls, gifted to me by my mother-in-law when we were in San Diego. The little drummer boy gifted to my husband at his birth. The glass icicle gifted to me by my husband. The painted horse my mother gifted my daughter while visiting Phoenix. The coyote “couple” singing hymns we were gifted when we got married. The glass frog ornament with a tutu I gifted my daughter in 2003. The set of three yellow Labradors my daughter made for me from clay. Angels. Owls. Mittens.

What about the prized purchased ornaments? The pea pod with the three smiling pea faces representing each of my children. The dozens of tin ornaments my mother and I bought in Mexico. The pickle my daughter and I bought at the mountain general store. Mermaids. Frogs. Poinsettias. A dolphin. A tomato.

Each ornament has a story. They are filled with memories that reemerge every Christmas season.

On Saturday night around 11:00 p.m., we had an impromptu family celebration. Let’s have a cheer from everyone. It’s time to party. We ate Skittles and hung our ornament–both by the handful.

All the while, making Christmas. Together.

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How I Met Mr. Electricity

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Parenting, Personal Growth, Quotes | Posted on 23-09-2016

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It was one of those mornings. But isn’t every rushed-breakfast-making lunches-ooops overslept-where are my shoes-morning like that?

How it began was my daughter woke up late. She got in the shower late, forcing my husband to shower late. She uses our shower because the kids’ shower is, well, it’s gross. Ours is less gross.

I drove my daughter and son to school since it was 7:46 a.m. and my husband wasn’t downstairs yet. He usually drops them off en route to work.

We took my teenager’s car because late start for high school and plus, my husband’s car was blocking mine. I noticed a full tank of gas in my son’s car and thought, wow, he is so responsible.

Pulling up to the drop-off, my youngest son noticed he left his clarinet at home. Band today. When he practices, it sounds like a goose in the kitchen. Better a goose than a rat in the kitchen. UB40 reference.

I offered (begrudgingly) to drive back home to drop the clarinet off in the office.

Begrudgingly, because. There goes my morning run.

Back at the middle school office, I filled out paperwork for my daughter to sign up for basketball. I looked up and saw this quote on the wall:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Just then, my son walked into the office gave me a huge hug Thank you so much for dropping off my clarinet! Good timing! The trip was worth it.

On my way home, I stopped at the bank to deposit some checks. Except. No debit card. I searched throughout my wallet and purse. That’s when I met Mr. Electricity. In the bank.

Who goes in the bank these days when there’s an ATM machine?

Mr. Electricity called out to me, from the teller next to mine: “Hello there! You can chew gum and bank at the same time! How is your day going?!” (I must have been chomping my gum extra big. Maybe it was the stress of losing my card?) His enthusiasm and good spirit were electric.

Even his mustache smiled.

Did I know him? I wasn’t sure but I played along. It’s great to see you! How are you?!

The teller asked him what his plans were. I’m washing my car today! Ha! Good one. It’s raining. We are all getting our cars washed today.

In the parking lot: Enjoy your day! Today is my day off. I worked four 10s. I’m a traveling electrician.

Ah. That explains his electric personality. 🙂

This stranger made me smile. All the way home. And hours later.

I retraced yesterday in my head…where did I leave my debit card? I called Pier 1. I had bought a glass acorn. No card, but the lovely acorn is on the kitchen windowsill looking oh-so-acorny-and-fallish.

Maybe Burger King? My youngest and I had stopped for a chocolate shake and Cheetos Chicken Fries. Don’t ask. But buy your kids some. They love them. No card. Then I had a hunch. I texted my oldest son. Sure enough, he had borrowed my debit card. No wonder his gas tank was full. 🙂

What had started as a morning gone astray, this chain of events–much like If You Give A Mouse A Cookie–that led to a chain of wonderful. If my daughter didn’t wake up late… If the clarinet hadn’t been forgotten… If I hadn’t read that quote on the wall… If my son didn’t borrow my debit card, forcing me to go into the bank… I would not have met Mr. Electricity, who was the change.

Sometimes we need a reminder. A nudge. A force. A change. To keep that electricity traveling.

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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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Wieners In Your Face

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, Mothering, Parenting | Posted on 29-08-2016

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Shit!

That was the first word uttered in Sausage Party. And that was my first reaction bringing my eleven-year-old and thirteen-year-old to this raunchy, totally-not-VeggieTales matinee.

When I watched the trailer, I thought what could be funnier than talking wieners?

We live in a family with three males, four if you count our dog–and two females. We women are outnumbered. Silly talk. Crudeness. Butt jokes. Wiener humor. We value openness and humor. It’s part of our family. My daughter and I are not phased. In fact, we join in with the comments. That what she said… This drawing is of a friendly penis, drawn years ago. Its artist shall remain unnamed. I keep it thumbtacked to my bulletin board for a giggle.

I was expecting Sausage Party to be full of wiener-dick-balls-buns jokes. It didn’t disappoint. However, we definitely were not the target audience. Ooops. Bad judgement on my part. Swing and a miss!

The movie had some good messages: how everyone has a purpose in life (including bagels and juice boxes). And everyone deserves to be loved. Except. Imagine animated horny hot dogs getting it on with sexy hot dog buns. Food porn. The final scene was an all-out food orgy on aisle 3.

I goofed taking my kids to this movie. All in a day of parenting, I guess, where there are hits and misses. Earlier that day, I took them to lunch at the Thai restaurant (hit), we shopped for school supplies (miss), and my youngest had his first guitar lesson (hit). Then, weenies in your face (miss).

I talk openly with my kids about anatomy. Anatomy is a part of life. I also admit when I’m wrong and I try to make things right. Mistakes are also part of life.

When we left the movie theater, I apologized to my kids that I made a mistake taking them to an inappropriate movie. I relish the fact that they forgave me.

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Wanna Get Away?

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Motherhood, Mothering, Parenting, Technology, Travel | Posted on 25-07-2016

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Flying with children? It’s a breeze!

Trust me. I have been solo, wrangling my children through airports and flights. Traveling with children is most definitely not a breeze. More like a tempest. Storm. Squall. Tsunami.

I have seen other passengers cringe at me when I have boarded with an infant in tow. I have gotten eye rolls. Sighs. Muttering. Glares.

What do you do when the plane is taking off and your infant’s ears are hurting and you are trying to breastfeed while staying covered up and you’re trying not to bump your neighbor with your elbow and your baby is kicking and thrashing and won’t eat or take a pacifier and thinks screaming is the best solution? And then proceeds to scream for the duration of the flight and when you finally get your baby to eat and sleep, the plane lands. You’re stressing out, you’re embarrassed, you’re sweaty, and you’re exhausted. Welcome to paradise!

Once when I was traveling with my three children, three out of four of us picked up the stomach flu en route. Imagine taking turns running to the airplane toilet with diarrhea. Imagine if one of those is Mom.

I have had the airlines lose our luggage three different times.

Once, when my children were aged eight, four, and two, we missed our connecting flight because of a mechanical problem and were put up in a hotel. Sounds like a fun vacation, right? Not when you don’t have your suitcases and toiletries and when the kids want to swim and you don’t have their swimsuits.

I have traveled with my young son who, in my haste, I forgot to put on his shoes, and he had only socked feet until I was able to buy him new shoes.

Every mother has a traveling-with-children story that gets more laughable with each passing year. The next time you see a mother board the plane with her infant, toddler, or child in tow, resist the urge to glare, eye roll, or sigh. Instead, smile, offer a helping hand, and lend support through compassion. We might just make her trip a little less stormy.

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Flying with three children? It's a breeze! Wink! #technologyrocks

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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!

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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

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