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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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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The Junk Drawer

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Family, Memories | Posted on 18-05-2016

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We have always had a “junk drawer” in the kitchen. It’s the place where we toss things that don’t really have a place to call their own.

I can rummage through that drawer and find something I need: a tape measure, an eraser, Sharpie pens, bobby pins, rubber bands, a Phillips screwdriver, a hair brush.

I can also find something I don’t need but might want: a zsu zsu pet, a Barbie with her legs askew, playing cards, silly bandz, the monkey-wearing-a-fez pencil topper.

Sometimes, I will find something that triggers a fond memory: the plastic comb the hospital sent home when my daughter was born, flash cards to quiz basic math skills, a spare key to my first car, a plastic eyeball that we always put on Halloween cupcakes.

When in doubt, check the junk drawer!

Over time, the junk drawer gets layered with new items.

It’s not a junk drawer, really. It’s a time capsule filled with the randomness of our lives.

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Sunshine in Human Form

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Children, Children's Books, Family, Grandmother, Memories | Posted on 27-01-2016

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Sunshine in human form? That was my grandmother. She was pure sunshine.

She created miniature marshmallow happy faces in my Cream of Wheat.

She always reassured me, “Everything will be all right.” Read more here about how my grandmother and Bob Marley were alike.

She hummed while she scrubbed stains from my clothing. Her hands always smelled like Clorox.

She played her favorite hymns with gusto at the piano in the evenings.

She patted my knee when she sat by me on the sofa and always told me how happy she was to see me.

She swung on the teeter totter with me, even when we were both too old for teeter totters.

She made the perfect goose hisssssssss sound when she read Angus and the Ducks.. I always had her read that page over and over. To this day, I giggle when I think back at that hisssssssss.

The other morning when Otis and I were running, I missed my grandmother so much that tears welled in my eyes. I had to stop to cry it out. On that grey, overcast morning, the clouds suddenly parted.

The blue sky and sunshine emerged. I knew at that moment that my grandmother and I connected again. Everything will be all right.

Blues skies ahead. #positive

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He Wore a Pocahontas Dress

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Celebrations, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Holidays, Kids, Life | Posted on 30-10-2015

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Behind-the-scenes one Halloween.

I bought a Pocahontas dress for my youngest son. So he could match his big brother, who proudly spent his own money on the feather headdress.

We pushed “Pocahontas” in a stroller when we went trick-or-treating, refilling his hands with Tootsie roll pops, to keep him happy.

My daughter was a bunny and wore her pink cowgirl boots. We didn’t notice that they were on the wrong feet until three hours later. Clomp, clomp, clomp!

That was one Halloween. There have been dozens of Halloweens with children. Dozens before the children.

Going through old photos of Halloweens past, I enjoy reminiscing. The photos didn’t make me sad. OK, maybe a little.

Where did the time go?? They grow up so fast!! 

Adults always make those comments about children. I think those comments are irritating. I mean, time flies. Children grow. That’s how it works. Enjoy the moments. Enjoy the memories. Move on and have more moments. Make more memories.

While those October 31, 2006 moments (and the candy) were quickly gone, the memories and backstories will always remain.

Happy Halloween!

One Halloween…

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The Giving Sofa

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Family, Home, Life, Memories | Posted on 28-10-2015

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Once there was a sofa…and she loved a little family.

We bought a burgundy-and-green sofa and love seat–our first matching set as a married couple–at Costco. It was Navajo-ish in pattern. It was a happy sofa set. That sofa quickly became part of the family.

We lounged on it. We watched movies on it. We snuggled on it. We dined on it. And the sofa was happy.

When our first son was born, the three of us did more lounging and eating and snuggling and sleeping. You could pull out the hide-away bed for late night movies. The sofa smiled.

My baby boy grew into a toddler and we read books together on the sofa–such as The Giving Tree. He played with his toys on it. My son sipped and spilled his apple juice on it. The sofa didn’t seem to mind.

The sofa became a trampoline (when I wasn’t looking) and a dock for jumping off of (when I wasn’t looking). And the sofa was happy.

When my daughter was born, the four of us did more lounging, snuggling, sleeping, reading, eating. More sippy cups were spilled. A few pee accidents. The sofa didn’t mind.

But time went by.

We would scrub the stains. Fill the flattening cushions with fiberfill to fluff them up. We kept her looking spiffy. And the sofa was happy.

Over the years, the sofa became sorta droopy and stain soaked.

We spruced her up, I put an ad in the paper, and this guy bought the set just like that. For $500.

What a fair price for a sofa with so many memories!

When my big guy was a little guy…

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(Now when I write this, I feel like a traitor. Betraying my sofa friend. Just like the guy who cut down the giving tree until it was a mere stump, after so many years of take take take. I wrote about that here.)

 

 

 

Demolition Derby

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Memories, Nature, Nostalgia | Posted on 26-08-2015

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I just love a good, old-fashioned Demolition Derby. Where people come to crash cars…the last one running wins.

I love the smashing of metal. The demolition. The destruction.

It’s that time of year–county fair time–when people come to watch and cheer on the wreckage. I am always one of the loudest fans.

Except. When it comes to demolishing beautiful red barns, I am heartbroken.

There’s a place along my run where I often stop to take in the view. Of the barn, the trees, and the clouds in the distance. So peaceful and perfectly bucolic.

But one day, the bulldozers came in to clear the land and demolish that lovely barn. Where the horses once frolicked. Where the hay was piled up to the rafters. Where the runner and her dog would pause to take in the scenery.

After two days of smashing and destruction, nary a barn board or tree was left. Only memories.

Once there was a beautiful red barn surrounded by trees. Now all that is left is rubble, dirt, and memories.

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New Fun

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Life, Life Lessons, Memories, Nostalgia, Parenting, Photography | Posted on 10-08-2015

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I love photos taken with the same people, same poses, same locations. But years apart. I like to see what has stayed the same and what has changed.

Every summer, we go camping at the same location, with the same people. I had in mind some photo poses I wanted to “recreate.” Guess I was trying to recreate those sweet little moments from the past.

C’mon kids! Sit on the log and hold a stick. Just like you did seven years ago! 

So they did. And I got the shot.

Then, I was like, C’mon kids! Let’s go to the dock and take a stair-step picture!

Eye rolls. My daughter was like, Mom. We don’t need to take the same old pictures. Oh my goodness, she was right: Time to have new fun.

So, off we swam in the lake with inner tubes and Otis. Making new memories and having new fun. And capturing a few new photos.

Now and then.

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Happy campers.

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Marigolds and Counting Cars

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Childhood, Grandmother, Life, Love, Memories | Posted on 04-06-2015

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One car. Two cars. Red cars. Blue cars.

When I was a girl, my grandmother and I played a game. We sat side by side on the grass in the shade and stared out at the highway to count cars.

My grandmother lived outside of the town limits. Alongside a country highway. Where you could hear the train’s whistle blow. Catch a whiff of a skunk at the wood’s edge. And where you were surrounded by an abundance of marigolds, which my grandmother tended with love and care with her green plastic watering can and expert dead-heading skills.

When I visited, she let me care for the marigolds. And when we needed a break, we counted cars. I picked blue. She picked black. Then we’d count. Whoever picked the most colors won.

Sometimes I picked red and she picked blue. Your odds were best if you picked black, blue, and red. Trust me.

Time stood still for us, as the cars whizzed by.

After all these years, whenever I see marigolds and smell their tomato aroma, I am reminded of my grandmother and the sweet, simple times we spent together.

Marigolds remind me of my grandmother.

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You Sank My Battleship

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Family, Fun, Game, Memories | Posted on 25-03-2015

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Friday night.

Date night.

Get a babysitter!

Let’s go out!

Nah.

Instead.

It was Battleship.

With my nine-year-old son.

Friday night.

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