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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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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Do-Si-Do

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, School, Teenager | Posted on 10-11-2014

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“Mom, are these your square dancing shoes?” my nine-year-old asked when I was wearing my black, comfortable shoes.

Why yes. Yes they are.

And I proceeded to link my arm in his and we twirled across the kitchen floor.

I did not grow up churning butter. I did not make my dresses out of sacks of flour. I did not listen to square dancing music.

Wait. Yes I did.

And I learned some basic square dance steps. In high school.

What?

In P.E., we were taught how to Do-Si-Do, how to swing your partner to and fro, and how to do some good, old fashioned cardio. Some may have eye rolled and sighed. Some I enjoyed it. Maybe my partner was a super cute boy. Maybe.

I asked my teenaged son if he ever did square dancing in P.E.

He looked at me as if I were wearing a sack of flour.

"Mom, are these your square dancing shoes?" Yes!

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My Teen Has Taught Me a Thing or Two Hundred

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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.

Awesome!

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Magical.

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Metaphor.

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Hike with my son!

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I Am a Halloween Misfit

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Halloween, Holidays, Teenager | Posted on 30-10-2013

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There is a time and place to dress up as a Playboy bunny for Halloween. Halloween is the right time. But church is not the right place.

See, it was because I was a teenager and didn’t know much. My friend and I went to a Halloween party at my neighbor’s church. It was a friendly church with a fun congregation that set up a haunted house throughout the church halls. A “ghoul” even played creepy music on the organ.

Black leotards, black fishnet stockings, bunny ears, and a cotton tail. And that’s about it. My friend and I screamed sexy.

Clearly, we were underdressed.

I should have worn that costume another time. Like when I got invited to a cool Halloween party at a senior’s house in high school. And I was only a sophomore.

Amid a sea of sexy costumes–Wonder Woman, sexy witch, sexy police officer, sexy Minnie Mouse–I came dressed as an old lady.

That’s right. I wore a grey-haired wig, with knee-high panty hose falling down, a frumpy print polyester dress, and wrinkles drawn on my face. Ooops, wrong place for an old lady costume.

Clearly, I was overdressed.

Dang. I never seem to get Halloween quite right. Read here for yet another failed time-and-place Halloween costume.

Dressed sexy or not so much, Happy Halloween to all of you Halloween misfits!

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The Silent Hike

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Happiness, Little Story, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Sons | Posted on 02-10-2013

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One day this summer, my teen son and I went on a hike.

We didn’t talk much–we didn’t need to. We were surrounded by tall trees, jutting cliffs, and a swift river below. We enjoyed the views and each other’s company.

Once at the top of this giant rock, we looked at each other and smiled. We looked at the views. Wow.

“Ready to head back down?”

“Yeah.”

“Let’s go.”

Once back in the car, we talked the whole way home.

I will always remember that special day.


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How Many Spiders Does it Take?

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Celebrations, Childhood, Childrearing, Children, Life, Memories, Mothering, Mothers and Sons, Nostalgia, Recipes, Relationships, Teenager, Teenagers | Posted on 02-05-2013

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How many plastic spider rings does it take to raise a child from toddler to teenager? In our case, 500.

I invested in a whopping bag of plastic spider rings, when my oldest son was about three. Five hundred of them. “These will come in handy to top cupcakes, to add to goody bags, and to play jokes on people,” I had thought. Whoa! So many fun times ahead!

Well. My oldest son just turned 14 years old this week. When it was time to decorate his cake, I rummaged through the bin where I keep cupcake papers, food coloring, sprinkles, birthday candles, and plastic spider rings.

There was only one spider ring left. What?!

We had finally exhausted our supply. I had baked an abundance of cupcakes over the years to deliver to school functions, added the rings to birthday goody bags, and distributed them at Halloween.

The rings marked milestones in my son’s life. They took him from toddler to teen. And now, the spiders are gone.

But the other day, as my son stood there in the kitchen–standing 6 ft. 1 in. tall–he tasted his mud pie birthday cake and giddily shrieked, “This is your best cake yet, Mom!”

His enthusiasm and kindness are reminders that despite age (and height), he is still the same on the inside.

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Dear Pimpled Pippi…

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, School, Teenagers | Posted on 21-06-2012

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I had the opportunity to write a letter to my teenage self for www.semidomesticatedmama.com.

At first, it felt a little like, well, like homework. Blah.

But as the remembering kicked in–the good and the not-so-good–it was a great exercise in self-reflection and self-assessment. Check it out here:

http://www.semidomesticatedmama.com/2012/06/letter-to-my-teenage-self-pesky-pippi.html

Or below:

20 Tips For My Teenage Self


Dear Pimpled Pippi,


  1. Don’t sweat the pimples. They will go away in time for your wedding.
  2. Participate more in class. You are a smart cookie, Pippi. Raise your hand and answer the damn questions. You KNOW the answers.
  3. Stick with kissing. You’ll be happy you did.
  4. High school grades aren’t THAT important. I mean, do you list your high school GPA on your resume? Uh, no.
  5. Peer pressure is stupid.
  6. Don’t take things so seriously. High school is a mere four years in a big, long life. (Unless you’re a little slow, then it might be five years. Just saying.)
  7. Tanning with SPF 4 is stupid. That sun damage will catch up to you. When you’re a blogger.
  8. Don’t worry so much about what people think. What’s most important is what you think of yourself. Chances are, you may never see the majority of these people again. Except later on in life. On Facebook.
  9. Avoid rum and Coke. It’s a horrific combination that makes you vomit. At the dance. Yeah that.
  10. Think of boyfriends as disposable (like your prom dress), not marriage material. You’ll have more fun.
  11. You’re not fat. In fact, you’re probably the skinniest you’ll ever be.
  12. Try out cheerleading. Or volleyball. Trial and error is a good thing. Don’t regret missed opportunities.
  13. Self-tanners turn you orange. Enough said.
  14. Racing to get signatures in your yearbook is kinda dumb. Because later on, when the yearbook gets water damaged, you end up throwing it out.
  15. Don’t buy a senior ring.
  16. Increase your self-confidence. Enough said.
  17. Go on. Eat all the Doritos and pizza you want. Your metabolism rocks.
  18. Hold your head up high and walk proudly. Don’t hide behind big hair and a nervous laugh.
  19. There will always be mean girls. Their meanness will bite them in the ass. Karma.
  20. Be yourself. Everyone likes you the way you are. Duh.

Love,
Wiser-and-more-confident Pippi

How would YOU grade your high school experience? What would YOU say to your high school self? C’mon, give it a try. You might be glad you did.

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Peanut Butter, Monopoly, and My First Kiss

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Boys, Kissing, Love, Teenagers | Posted on 08-06-2012

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Who knew that my first open-mouthed kiss would be as a Freshman in high school, with a lanky boy with braces, who had just eaten peanut butter?

It all began when I was a Freshman in high school. Dating an older boy. It was raining. I remember the smell of his wet shoes. Big shoes with dirty laces. We started up a game of Monopoly at his house. Led Zeppelin was playing in the background.

Where were his parents? Who knows. We were latch-key kids. What had I told my mother about my whereabouts? Some lie.

What I was prepared for, was to win at Monopoly. My strategy is always to buy all of the oranges and reds and yellows–maybe even all of the railroads–and take over the game. What I wasn’t prepared for was that first real kiss.

Wet mouth. Slobber. Braces. Peanut butter.

It wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t quite what I had hoped for.

I had been imagining that kiss for years. Even practiced on my arm. And in the mirror.

I had hoped for minty breath. Or cinnamon breath. I was gum-chewer (still am), always paranoid that my breath is “kissing ready.” I was picturing, in my romantic mind, that the kiss would go like this:

But the reality was more like smashing faces. Hitting teeth. And chin slobber. I was partly to blame. I was new at this. He was two years older.

What I couldn’t get over was that peanut butter smell. And the smell of rain-soaked shoes and clothes. They say smells bring you back to a memory.

Whenever I get a whiff of that peanut-butter-and-dank-shoes smell, I will forever remember my first make-out session as a blossoming teen.

What was your first real kiss like?

Sizzler: I Owe You $823.57

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Humor, Memories, Teenagers | Posted on 04-06-2012

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I worked at Sizzler as a teen. And though minimum wage was under $4 per hour at the time, I made up for it in fried shrimp and chocolate cake.

At Sizzler, for, like, $8.99, you could order a steak, soup and salad bar, and all-you-can-eat shrimp. People came to the restaurant in droves. And they usually had hefty appetites.

I had a hefty appetite.

My black apron sported handy front pockets, plenty deep for about 20 shrimp at a time. Beautiful, golden, salty, tasty little suckers.

Like Bubba, it was shrimp for lunch, shrimp for dinner, shrimp during my shift, shrimp while on my break.

Oh and the triple-decker chocolate cake at the dessert bar? Slices were a little harder to stash in your pockets, but let me tell you, it could be done. And that cake was divine.

Shrimp and chocolate cake will just never be the same.

Where did you work as a teen? Feel free to share your funny story!