The (One) Time I Nearly Crapped My Pants


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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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Animals, Nature, Photography | Posted on 19-11-2014

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I was on a mission to photograph some birds. I was in prime territory: a nature preserve and home of migrating winter birds. The timing was perfect, a fall day with a little sun, a little rain. It was just me and my camera and my parka. Oops, no parka.

Shielding my camera lens from the rain, under my t-shirt, I journeyed and meandered with my eyes peeled.

Beautiful ponds! Beautiful clouds! Beautiful nature all around!

I was looking for birds, yet I found everything but. Sometimes you find things when you’re not looking for them…ah, yes, another life metaphor…

Where were the birds? I looked high. I looked low. I looked near. I looked far. This was beginning to seem like a Dr.-Seuss-Meets-Where’s-Waldo book. WTF? Where’re the fowl? 🙂

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Then I stumbled upon this sign. Well, whaddya know? It was September 30. I was one day early. Ah, that must be it. The birds had a schedule and they were sticking to it.

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As I was heading to the car, I suddenly heard geese in the distance. I looked up and there they were: migrating Canadian Geese!

Their timing was perfect. Arriving one day ahead of schedule (according to the sign), and five minutes before I was about to leave.

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The Enchanted Forest


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Metaphor, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Mothers and Sons, Nature | Posted on 21-10-2014

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Once upon a time, there was an enchanted forest. With giant, moss-covered trees with welcoming branches. With a bubbling brook that sang. With falling leaves that danced in the breeze. With miniature mushroom fairy homes sprinkled across the clover hillside. With a lake so still, the reflections of the trees were mirrored in the waters.

A girl with wings gazed in wonderment. A boy with magical socks ran with glee.

This magical, enchanted forest beckoned us on a sun-kissed fall day. On that day, she didn’t wear wings. She had wings. On that day, he didn’t forget his socks. He wore his mother’s magical socks, gifted with love when his blister appeared, preventing him from taking one more step.

We didn’t go for a hike. We went exploring. Exploring a fairy tale.

All kinds of awesome right there.

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We spotted fairy houses.

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I’m On Top of the World


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Attitude, Friends, Nature | Posted on 11-06-2014

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Two friends invited me to go on a hike. On a Tuesday. Right in the middle of my work day.

Yeah, I can’t go. I have to work.

But the wildflowers! They are in bloom right now! If we don’t go today, we might miss them.

They’re right. Timing was everything. I was presented with a small window of opportunity. So I seized it.

Yeah, I can’t work. I have to hike.

And so, I did. We did. And it was magical. When we first spotted the yellow wildflowers at the summit, it was that same feeling when Dorothy and her friends first encountered the fields of poppies on their journey to the Emerald City. Ahhhhh!

The nature, the friendships, and the exercise were the perfect excuse not to work that day. Because after all, work will still be there but the blooming flowers may not. And in that fleeting moment on the summit, I was on top of the world.

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I'm on top of the world!

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My Teen Has Taught Me a Thing or Two Hundred


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Boys, Confidence, Connections, Encouragement, Exercise, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Memories, Metaphor, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Parenting, Teaching, Teenager, Teenagers | Posted on 17-04-2014

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My nearly-fifteen-year-old son is awesome. And an inspiration to me. Since starting high school, he has learned a lot. And he has taught me a lot:

  1. Push yourself.
  2. Take chances.
  3. Try new things.
  4. Don’t stress.
  5. Be responsible.
  6. Make time for fun.
  7. Prioritize your health.
  8. It’s OK to be quiet.

Case in point. Earlier this year, he and I set off on an adventure: A four-mile hike. Make time for fun. Try new things.

It was a cool winter day–no rain for once. I like to hike light. No fanny packs (embarrassing!) or backpack. Just a water bottle, gum, and my phone. The essentials. My son, on the other hand, hiked heavy. Literally. Laden with a backpack full of weights–50 lbs. of metal weight plates–because football season had ended and he’s always cross training. Prioritize your health.

We traveled upwards, through a forest, until we got to a cliff with spectacular views of the river below. We took in the scenery with awe. Quiet awe–no blabbering needed. I tend to be a blabber head and he tends to be quiet. It’s OK to be quiet.

We continued onward, at his urging. Our pace was fast. We met a fellow hiker who cautioned us to turn back at the halfway point because it would be getting dark at 4:30. We chuckled. Yeah right, no halfway point for us. We’re going the full hike. No turning around. Take chances.

It was an unknown journey. We saw forests, ferns, waterfalls, moss-covered boulders, cliffs, a river. Two hours passed.

“How are you holding up with that heavy backpack?” I worried.

“Mom. I’m fine.” Push yourself. 

Well whaddya know. It was approaching 4:30 and the sun was starting to set. We were the lone hikers without any idea how much longer until we were back at the parking lot. Are we there yet?

Not even close.

The trail headed downward, with switchbacks, to the river. Surely after 30 minutes of switchbacks we would be there. Dusk became dark. It was getting cold. My map app on my phone didn’t work. Yeah, duh. No Internet in the middle of nowhere.

My thought was lions wolves and tigers cougars and bears. We had been hiking for nearly four hours. Up, down, side to side. My son led our journey, with the backpack increasing in weight as our my muscles tired.

Pitch black. No compass. No snacks. No coats. Why was his backpack filled with weights and not bananas and trail mix? Panic washed over me. What. If.

Don’t stress.

Then. Finally, we came to a road. Surely it was the road to the parking lot. No, not for another mile.

We hiked 10 miles that day. And oh, the relief when we spotted our car. Where we blasted the heat and turned on Bob Marley for the drive home.

“Next time, Mom, let’s bring a map.” Ah yes. Be responsible.

What a workout. What a relief. What an adventure. I will forever remember that day–and evening and night–with my son.


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Hike with my son!

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Serenity…Not Now


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Boys, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Daughters, Nature | Posted on 11-03-2013

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Some people take a walk in nature to find peace, quiet, and serenity

Some people. But not me.

When I bring my kids on a hike, it’s more like:

  • Can acid blow up snow?
  • What if I attached a rocket pack to a port-a-potty?
  • Are there piranhas in the lake?
  • Where do they mine emeralds?
  • Who would win, a python or a bear?

And then:

“Can we stop and get Dairy Queen on our way home?”

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Got a Wicker Picnic Basket?


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Family, Fun, Life Lessons, Memories, Nature, Parenting, Summer, Uncategorized | Posted on 28-06-2012

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You know those fancy wicker picnic baskets? The kind that are lined with red-and-white checkerboard fabric? The basket with the miniature plates and cups and silverware snuggled inside?

Yeah. I don’t have one of those.

Every time I see one at the store, I think I want one. Ah, the picnic. Perfected.

Well, let me tell you, the perfect wicker picnic basket is not needed for a perfect picnic. Neither are the perfect “picnic fixings.” In fact, I used to spend a lot of time making the sandwiches, chopping up a fruit salad, packing homemade cookies, adding carrots and dip and extra snacks. Then we would arrive at our destination with a frazzled (slightly resentful) mother; smashed, soggy sandwiches; limp carrots; and–oops–watermelon juice oozing all over our Igloo cooler.

Our new-and-improved family picnics are more like this.

  1. Stop by Subway.
  2. Pick up sandwiches, chips, drinks.
  3. Simple. Done.

Our family picnics are not drawn-out, check-off-your-grocery-list-kind of picnics. They are pick-up picnics. As in let’s-go-on-a-hike-around-the-lake-and-grab-some-food-while-we’re-out kind of picnics.

What’s important is who you’re with. Not what you’re eating. And it’s not about the “perfect presentation.”

My buddy @NoRegretsParent reinforces this nicely: “It’s not where you go but who you’re with and what you do there.”

With Subway sandwiches in-hand, we sit on the grass. Or the boulders. Or a park bench. We talk. Chomp chomp. We drink. Gulp gulp. We laugh. Chomp chomp. We slurp. We throw away. And head on our hike.

And you know what? No heavy-ass wicker contraption to lug around.



When Hiking, Pack Your Essentials


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childrearing, Children, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Nature | Posted on 27-04-2012

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My nine-year-old daughter dons chipped turquoise nail polish and an eager attitude. She always has a beaming smile for me and her sense of wonderment leads her galloping like a horse in search of fairies under mossy rocks. In preparation for our hike the other day, her backpack is filled with the essentials:

  • rubber vampire bat
  • Dragonology book
  • dominoes (in case we want to play on our hike)
  • markers (always)
  • roller skates

You silly, lovely, beautiful, fun, funny, creative, clever daughter of mine!

A Boy and a Girl on a Hike


Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Boys, Childrearing, Children, Encouragement, Family, Life Lessons, Mothering, Nature, Parenting | Posted on 06-01-2012

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Say what you want about gender differences and gender behavior.

In addition to observing the changing leaves and the migrating birds, I also observed some differences between a girl and a boy on a recent hike:

We see a duck.

  • Girl: Looks for food to feed it.
  • Boy: Looks for a rock to throw at it.

We see a giant toadstool.

  • Girl: Thinks a fairy lives under it.
  • Boy: Wants to kick it.

They pick up sticks.

  • Girl: Hers is a magician’s wand.
  • Boy: His is a dagger.

But I appreciate and embrace their differences. After all, these two little birdies will grow and migrate some day and I want to give them proper wings.