Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First World Issues - Animal Rescue

In case you're a first time reader, one of my passions (aside from documenting KIC's antics) is helping find homeless animals "forever homes." There can be something so soul gratifying to be able to take an animal whose chances were otherwise VERY slim and work hard to finding a home that is compatible with them and their needs. When the "magic of the universe" happens, it's pretty incredible to witness. And for my part, I've met some pretty incredible people who I am extremely blessed to call "friend" as a result of volunteering.

Animal rescue is not easy work by any stretch of the imagination. And when you become a foster parent to an animal, the stakes get a bit higher, emotionally, physically and financially. Our expenses as fosters (not including most medical because the rescue covers that) are well above $6000 each year. That doesn't include the time spent on transportation, or adoption events or crazy random situations (cat with two broken hips and a broken pelvis sound familiar?). That doesn't include the damage done to our house, or the strained neighbor relations or even the strained family/friend relations because they think I'm crazy (yes, I'm putting the blame where it belongs). Over and over and over again, we did it because on every level it was rewarding.

Recently, I've gotten hammered from several different directions that makes me realize it's gotten to be more stressful than joyful. I still LOVE the animals I have in my house (including Havoc and Mayhem) and still wish for them to find good homes, but the stress is starting to outweigh the good. People with good intentions give out my name in number in the hopes that I can help their friend/neighbor/cousin/random stranger place an unwanted animal, thinking that just because they don't want their 9 year old German Shepherd mix who gets annoyed because they won't control their 2 year old child and now she's snapped at the kid, SOMEONE SURELY wants an otherwise "perfect" dog. Or someone knows someone who has to find a home for a dog IMMEDIATELY. Only after several hours of frantic work, does it come to light that the situation isn't dire and that the animal truly DOESN'T need to be rehomed after all. Worst of all is the discrimination. "Hounds don't make good pets because they are bred to hunt." "Does that dog have pit bull in it? I can't have a pit bull, or anything resembling a pit bull, because I heard of this one time that a pit ate all of a baby's fingers." "I don't want a girl dog because I don't want to feel her teats." "I don't find orange tabbies attractive" as the tabby in question turns herself INSIDE OUT showing why she'd be a perfect fit. "Black cats bring bad luck." Sadly, I've witnessed all those statements. I could provide the statistics of all of the dog breeds I've seen get homed, but I'm sure it would fall on deaf ears.

While my "I may not be able to save everyone, but I can make a difference to this one" attitude wanes, it leaves me wondering what the future holds for me. The need to match homeless animals with families hasn't diminished because people don't spay and neuter pets and shelters are full all over the nation. And the truth is, I just don't have the time to devote to the animals now that I tackle the challenges of balancing a 12 hour work day, a much more active home life and figuring out what the plans are for our little family. But I do know that without a support system, internal and external, the Shoup Animal House doors are destined to close for business - permanently. While some may rejoice at this news, I am a conflict of relief and sadness. Overall, the entire experience has been so extremely rewarding on so many levels, it will be hard to walk away.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

JOTW: Matisyahu "Miracle"

Artists like Matisyahu sort of defy not only definition, but stereotype as well. When you see an orthodox Jew with the yarmulke and long beard, the last thing you'd expect is to hear lyrical stylings reminiscent of Bob Marley, yet that is what you get, and more, from Matisyahu.

My friend Bonnie turned me onto this song. While I am acutely aware of the fact that it is about Hanukkah, much of the message is universal.

On a side note, today is the day that my same friend Bonnie moved away, so I post this in tribute of her and the fact that tonight is the 8th night for all my Jewish friends. Happy Hannukah!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Who Needs Video Surveillance With This Kind Of Intel??

Kids are parrots - any parent of a child over the age of 2 becomes acutely aware of this. Whether it's words used at an inopportune time or actions, you see yourself reflected in your child. Most of the time, this is a huge compliment - it means you're doing something right. Other times, the 'F' word comes up during a visit with your conservative in-laws and you just want to crawl into a hole and stay there in the fetal position.

We, in the Shoup House, have recently experienced a different kind of parroting. Specifically the "eye witness account" type of parenting. I'm rubbing my hands and cackling with glee because I am, by far, the more pious parent (stop laughing, stop laughing right now!) while my husband is the more off-color one. I expect to be entertained, courtesy of KIC, with his antics for YEARS to come. We were on our way to school when this little nugget was revealed.

KIC: "The other day, my daddy had to go potty extremely bad." As my husband is nicknamed Tiny Bladder Boy and family trips are often scheduled around his need to stop, this did not come as a surprise.
Me: "Oh yeah?"
KIC: "Yes, he was running out of time!!"
Me: "Oh no!"
KIC: "He almost had to go potty in the street!"
Me: "Oh gosh!! Where did he eventually go potty?"
KIC: *dripping with condescension* "In.the.potty" Because, come on, isn't that where EVERYBODY goes?

A follow up call to Brent confirmed this story. I have HIT the jackpot for blackmail material courtesy of KIC!! Keep my toys this year, Santa, I have all I need.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

JOTW: Gayle Peevey "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas"

I've shared this before and will continue to share every year until I no longer have a Jam of the Week. I love a sappy Christmas song as much as the next guy, but there is just something about this sassy song that tugs my heartstrings every.single.time!

Happy Holidays, everyone! Thanks for reading in 2011. Hope you continue to read in 2012!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

JOTW: Justin Hines "Say What You Will"

In a serendipitous turn of events, Brent and I got to attend an NSO Pops performance at the Kennedy Center last week. Justin Hines was a special guest of the headline act and I'm glad he was. He's got a beautiful voice, a wonderful stage presence and a musical gift. This song is about appreciating who you have in your life while you have them. It was a great performance and at the end he got a standing ovation, as he should. I hope he continues to invade the US with his gift.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's like watching a train wreck

We are very blessed to have KIC in a daycare that hosts "Parents' Night Out" once a month. KIC specifically requested to participate this month, which is A-ok by me. Tonight, we were discussing what Mommy and Daddy were going to do while she was at PNO. She very graciously let me know it was okay if daddy and I stayed home. I told her we were going to be having a conversation with Santa. "At the North Pole?" she asked. "That's right, Santa is at the North Pole." KIC took this to mean we were going to the North Pole. "Okay, but I need to change into my blue dress and then I can come with you to talk to Santa." "Katie Mary, we're not-" "Wait for me, k? I just need my blue dress and then I can tell Santa I want a Barbie and Rango and then he can tell you what I want." "Katie Mary, Mommy and Daddy aren't - " "And I won't go to Parents Night Out and I'll wear my blue dress and we'll go see Santa.". *sigh*. "Okay, baby. If we go to the North Pole to see Santa, we'll take you with us."

Honest to goodness, I used to be the queen of witty repartee. What the heck happened to me? If you need me, I'll be in the corner, working on my conversational conducting skills.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This hurts me more than it hurts you

I remember hearing that when I was growing up and feeling like it was a complete crock of ... Anyway, I was face with that very situation this morning. On our way to school, KIC found a cookie. She asked me if she could have the cookie and I explained we don't eat cookies for breakfast (unless you're in college, but that's a whole different ballgame). She agreed and we discussed when it was appropriate to eat cookies (after lunch, after dinner, when you're sad, when you're mad at daddy - oh wait, that's me). I was very proud of her for helping to establish boundaries!

Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened the car door to see the telltale Oreo cookie crumbs around her mouth. As I stood there in shock, she opened her mouth to reveal even more evidence. I explained why what she did was not appropriate and meted out her punishment - no tv tonight. I left her in her class letting her know that I was fine with her, but that she shouldn't have eaten the cookie after I already said no and reinforced no television for the evening. As I left her classroom, I could hear her heartbroken sobs and that's when I realized - this really does hurt me more than it does her. I wanted to rush back to the classroom and tell her everything was okay, but it wasn't okay and even if I did that, I'd be consoling myself more than I would be consoling her. I walked away, brokenhearted, knowing that she'd be fine in a couple of minutes but feeling like Mommy Dearest. I know when I get home, she'll be giggles and smiles and happy to see me, but that moment will weigh on me all day. This really did hurt me more than it hurt you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

JOTW: Aloe Blacc "I Need a Dollar"

The other day, I was lamenting (to myself of course, because who really laments out loud) the fact that many songs today have one refrain and then a chorus that repeats over and over and over.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but much of what I've been listening to has been that way.  For reference, it's part of why I cannot appreciate the "genius" of Lenny Kravitz.

Then I heard this song.  I really like it's throwback appeal and the fact that he tells a story during the entire song.  Plus, who doesn't need a dollar??  Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The one where I get schooled...time and time and time again

We had a wonderful weekend in the Shoup house.  Cookies were exchanged, decorations were put up, fun was had and gates were crashed.  More on the gate crashing later.  For the most part, the weekend was awesome, however, once again, I was humbled by my preschool-aged child.  And by humbled, I mean schooled.  See for yourself:

Role Reversal
Me:  We need to go to Home Depot, but we might have to go home first.  I don't think I have my credit card...nope, wait, I have it.  We're good.
KIC:  Mommy, where's your wallet?
Me:  I was a bad girl and I left it at home.
KIC:  Next time, be a good girl.
Me:  (stunned silence)
KIC:  Mommy, next time, be a good girl.
Me:  (petulantly) Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay

Is it too early to join the NRA?
KIC:  Mommy, what do we need at Home Depot?
Me:  We need some lights for the outside, a Snoopy inflatable and a staple gun.
KIC:  I want a gun!!
Me:  Baby it's not that kind -
KIC:  I want a pink gun!!
Me:  Well, it's not -
KIC:  I want a pink gun and I can shoot.
Me:  Baby, it's not that kind of gun  A staple gun helps us make sure the lights and garland stay in place.
KIC:  Ohhhhh, okay.  But I want a yellow and black gun.
Me:  (submitting to the inevitable) Okay, baby, okay.

You're in Trouble!
While wrapping garland around the porch railing, a slat that was loose came completely off the rail.  KIC was HORRIFIED that I broke the rail.  She looked me dead in the eye and said very calmly, "I'm going to tell on you."  I watched, fascinated, as she marched over to her father, with the offending slat in her hand and said "Daddy, Mommy BROKE it!"  What she didn't know was the fact that I've been reporting the loose slat for months, so by telling on me, she was really getting her daddy in trouble, a fact I told him.  After Brent and I were done discussing the broken slat, KIC marched right over to me and said with the same calm precision, "I just told on you."  Well, at least I know where I stand.

-  What are you stupid??
KIC:  Look, Mommy!
Me:  I see!  You've picked up sticks!  How many sticks do you have?
KIC:  Two, but Mommy, I made an 'X', see??
Me:  Yup, you sure did.

If anyone knows of a good tutor who specializes in keeping one step ahead of your not even 4 year old, send 'em my way otherwise, this could be a long, agonizing trip to the land of useless parents.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giving Thanks for Shelter Pets

Today, on almost the last day of November, I am participating in the Shelter Pet Project and giving thanks for all of the animals that have come into our lives.  I have always said I wanted to have 500 cats and dogs, not ever fully realizing how many pets I'd have to own at the same time in order to accomplish that goal.  Fostering helps me to reach that goal, for sure. 

Without shelters, my family and I would have been deprived of this:

Sleepy Hound Brigade

And we certainly never would have known the joy of this:


A cloud of cats, all of whom have found homes

And my daughter would have never gotten to experience a love like this:

A dog and his girl

I wouldn't know some of the incredible people I have had the privilege to meet and there would be a lot fewer people who have found their forever pet.  As many car magnets and bumper stickers say "Who saved who?"  So, to all the shelter pets I have known:  Thank you for coming into my life, thank you for bringing me new people to meet and thank you for the love and companionship you've given me through the years.  For every 10 pounds of poop, we get 30 lbs in blessings and that's not something we could ever put a price on.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh the humanity!

This week, in celebration of Mickey Mouse's 83rd birthday, KIC's class is having spirit week.  So far, with the exception of one day, it has been "see how many gray hairs we can give mommy" week. 

Monday:
Courtesy of SEVERAL reminders home, we are acutely aware that Monday is pajama day.  We spend all weekend preparing KIC for pajama day as this is against the norm and we don't want her to think she's breaking rules when we send her in wearing her pajamas.  All went well and we were able to swap one pair of pajamas for another pair very easily.  I arrive at school confidently singing "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit how 'bout you??"  We are totally gonna rock this spirit week!  So my heart sinks when none of the other kids in the morning classroom are wearing pajamas.  My first thought is somehow I have screwed this up and I immediately start calculating how much time it will take me to get home and get a set of real clothes.  Voice fraught with concern I ask "Wasn't today supposed to be pajama day???" to which the response was "Yes, but the other kids didn't participate."  Well, as it happens, the other kids DID participate, they just hadn't arrived yet.  Most of the kids in the room were one level up and apparently, they weren't down with spirit week.  To which I repeat "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've go spirit, how bout YOU?"

Tuesday:
It's Hat Day.  We've got many hats we can choose from, but this is SPIRT week.  We must OWN this.  KIC picks out a ginormous pink cowboy hat, complete with pink tiara on the front.  We coordinate KIC's outfit, as well as mommy's outfit accordingly.  Many compliments throughout the school regarding the pretty hat.  Minor scuffle between KIC and Mommy as to who should wear the hat (what??  Can't you see me wearing a pink cowboy hat with ugly rhinestone crown on the front?  I like to be pretty too!) which Mommy ultimately loses.  Again, we have OWNED this spirit day, thank you very much!

Wednesday:
Not gonna lie, I knew Wednesday would be tough.  Like rilly rilly tough.  It was Crazy Hair day.  If you've seen recent pics of KIC, you know that we didn't have much to work with in terms of teasing and spraying and ponytails to the side.  I got the BRILLIANT (yes, I AM patting myself on the back, thank you very much) idea to spray paint KICs hair.  I hyped it up for daaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyysssssssssssssss, since it was new and potentially scary.  Even did a test run.  Come Wednesday morning, KIC was having NONE of it.  Meltdown city for a good 45 minutes.  I, however, was not budging "We've got spirit, yes we do!  We've got spirit how 'bout YOU??"  KIC's emotions with me ranged from, everybody's going to be mad at me, to (post school) nobody liked her hair.  After a lengthy chat with Miss PJ, not only did everybody love her hair, but SHE loved her hair!  However, when Daddy picked her up, she INSISTED she had to have a bath rightthatverysecond to wash it all out.  "Gonna wash that pink right outta my hair!"  (We won't tell her that it didn't actually wash out since blond hair takes color like fleas take to a dog in the summer).

Note the VERY gumpy face.


Thursday:
'Round about 9:00 pm, we realized we didn't have a jersey for sports day.  We could have worn the Mickey Nationals shirt, but Mickey day is tomorrow, so technically, we're saving it up.  Daddy, being the wonderful sport he is, went out and searched high and low for a jersey that would fit.  He finally found a Redskins jersey she could wear.  KIC wakes up this morning, takes one look and says "Nah."  Welllllllllllll, alrighty then.  In desperation, I suggest the soccer shirt.  She embraces it before I leave.  However, when it came time to actually get dressed, it was a big fat no go.  "We've got spirit...no??  We don't have spirit??  Well, shoot."

Here's hoping Friday will be better.  I mean, with a Mickey shirt, personalized Mickey ears and a Mickey doll, how could we go wrong (she says, extremely hopefully)??

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Ballad of a Rescue Dog

It's no secret that much of my life centers around rescue dogs.  I haven't been as active with attending events or evangelizing as much as I used to, but with five rescue dogs in the house, I can be absent from the rescue group, but the rescue group is never far from me.  I love every single one of them for different reasons, though I will be happy when a certain gruesome twosome find their forever homes...for many reasons.

Rescue is HARD work.  You are pulling an animal from the unhappy and guiding them towards the unknown.  Often, the animal has only known the depths of despair, has an intense distrust of humans or whose spirit is so broken it's all you can do not to sit on the floor sobbing.  One of my current fosters, Chief (Havoc for those who may know the code) is all three of those things locked into a neat little package. 
And by neat, I mean not at all.  Here is his story.

In a sort of bizarre "small world" symbiosis, someone I have known for many years was alerted to several dogs in various stages of malnutrition and neglect.  She immediately reported the story to local authorities who investigated and found 46 hounds in rough rough shape.

If that image turns your stomach, and it should, then you should know there was more than meets the eye with this case.  Ultimately, the owner was a convicted felon who also had a weapon.  He agreed to plead guilty to the weapons charge so that the dogs would be relinquished and available for rehoming immediately.  Generally, it takes months to years to take animal cruelty cases to trial (see Michael Vick), so the animals languish in shelters until the case is brought to trial.

Chief was one of those dogs.  He was all of 8 months when he was rescued, so he hadn't witnessed as much of the atrocity as some of the others had.  I can't provide you statistics on how many were rehabilitated and adopted out, but I can tell you that when I got Chief and two other dogs two months later, they were still thin.  Chief, and the two females, were adopted out rather quickly.  Each owner knew the story and resolved to give their respective dog the lives they deserved.  Through a series of unfortunate incidents, Chief was returned to the rescue.  That was a year ago and we still have him. 

Contentious relationship with neighbors aside, we also get the benefit of some interesting behaviors/interactions with Chief that in many ways are a direct result of where he came from. 
  • Food Hoarding:  Chief is fed like clockwork, twice a day.  He's also given treats a couple of times a day.  This does not matter to Chief.  In his mind, he doesn't know where his next meal is coming from.  If he is fed in his crate, he deliberately, tips his bowl over and hides his food.  Every so often, I am forced to clean the food out of his crate.  When this occurs, it sends him into a tailspin.  If, when I sweep, food is collected, he will obsessively hunt down the food in what's been swept up and eat it, as I sweep it.  If there is food on a counter, he will pace and whine until the food is put away.  This is the case if it's human food or dog food, but especially dog food.  Simply put, his brain can't accept that he WILL be fed again, so it's critical to his survival that he make provisions for himself.
  • Anxiety:  Chief's anxious behavior manifests itself in many interesting ways.  If any member of the dog pack is separated from the rest, Chief goes into a tailspin.  He doesn't know what it means, but he knows that the dynamics have changed and he cannot adjust.  In his former life, when a pack member was separated, it meant unspeakable things, so that could be why that makes him anxious.  Many nights, without provocation, he'll start pacing and whining.  No amount of stimulation or redirection will get him to stop.  He once had an anxiety/panic attack so intense (as a result of introducing two strangers to the house), it lasted for two and a half hours.  If a person had a panic attack that lasted for two hours, they would be hospitalized. 
  • Medications:   Chief is on medications for his thyroid and to help him maintain an even keel.  The only dog in the house who is on more medications is our diabetic dog who gets insulin twice a day and assistance with her arthritis.  His anti-anxiety medication is a ramp up medication that requires additional bloodwork to ensure none of his liver functions are being affected.  Think being uninsured is expensive for humans?  It's just as expensive for dogs and he'll be on these meds, and require blood tests, for the rest of his life. 
  • Temperament:  Chief's anxiety prevents him from ever being restful or really truly happy.  If he's not pacing and whining, then he's goading one of the other dogs to play with him.  While it's true that he could be bored, he also doesn't know when to stop pestering, which gets him into trouble with the other dogs.  He's received physical correction from the other dogs after several hours of pestering, and he does not stop.  He seems to have no off switch.  He loves his humans, but has a hard time accepting the change that outsiders bring.  It wouldn't be a stretch to say that he simply cannot accept the change outsiders bring.
Chief is the first dog that has brought me challenges that I did not feel I could overcome.  For Chief, neither time, nor love, nor money, nor patience, nor medication (at this point) can bring him to a restful state.  Yet, despite all this, and maybe because of his origin, I can't help but feel that he's worth it.  That he's worth being redeemed.  Is the perfect owner out there for Chief?  Maybe.  Will he be with us for a long time?  Most assuredly.  But having him around has made me appreciate my faults, my weakness and see my failures as learning experiences.  And for that, I wouldn't trade my experience with him for anything in the world...except maybe a permanent home where he can be happy, once and for all.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Grateful for My...Husband

If you're like me, you may be shocked that it's November!  Since we're a full seven days into November, I'm going to go ahead and own the fact that I'm a touch behind the times.  Whatever, I'm still coming out of my Halloween sugar coma.

After my melancholy post last time, and in the spirit of the month that is host to giving thanks, I have decided to focus on giving thanks for all of my November posts.  Many bloggers and people on Facebook are posting something they are grateful for on a daily basis.  I am secure enough in my disorganization to tell you that ain't happening here.  I do plan on listing 30 things I'm grateful for, but with a theme.  Just roll with it, you'll see what I mean.

For my first installment, I will list seven things I appreciate/am grateful for as it relates to my husband.  These are not in order of importance, but more in order that my brain spit them out.
  1. He is a very tolerant, patient man.  Not many men would put up with the Shoup Zoo, and while he isn't exactly in search of what/who else we can add to the menagerie, his support of the animals and patience when a new one enters our lives is unparalleled. 
  2. He is extremely hardworking.  Not only does he work 40 hour weeks, but he is working on his degree AND he takes care of KIC on the evenings I come home late.  Everyone he has ever worked with makes a point of telling me how great he is at what he does, how team oriented he is and how much they enjoy his company. 
  3. He's dedicated to his family.  KIC has him wrapped around her finger and she knows it.  Nothing is too good or too outrageous for her, though.  If I suggest signing her up for soccer or dance or gymnastics, he's there for every session he can attend.  He's her biggest cheerleader on the sidelines and the first to pick up the water bottle when it's time for refreshments.  With all of my hair brained schemes (participating in not one, not two but THREE Avon Walks all over the country), he not only supports me, but he willingly participates as well, by showing his support along the route. 
  4. He doesn't mind that I compare him to Forest Gump all.the.time.  Man likes to run.  How I married a runner is beyond me.  I make no secret of the fact that I hate running.  When he runs, he's not running for time, he's not running for a personal best, he's running because he enjoys it.  As such, I compare him to Forest Gump who ran just to run.  A lesser man would throttle me, but Brent just tells me "Life is like a box of chocolates" and smiles his dopamine high smile at me, the lesser mortal.  Seriously, if running-ness was remotely close to godliness, Brent has run his way to the pearly gates and back again, several times over.
  5. He's got a wicked sense of humor.  My family prizes humor above most things.  Even if you're missing most of your teeth, if you've got a decent sense of comedic timing, we luv ya!  My husband has dropped some zingers on us during large family gatherings that have had us all in stitches.  We still laugh about some to this day.  I'd share them with you, but you kinda had to be there.
  6. Like a good neighbor, Brent Shoup is there.  The man has boundless energy.  Seriously, he can't sit still for more than 5 minutes without thinking of something he MUST be doing RIGHT this very second.  (Ironically, none of those things are "honey do" list related.  NOW I know why he's always too busy!)   If he's outside and he sees anyone that needs help for any reason, he always takes time to stop and help them.  I know it's like a commandment or something to be a good neighbor, but he genuinely likes to help people.  In a day and age of "me me me", watching him help neighbors shovel sidewalks is always heartwarming.
  7. He's my rock.  At the end of the day, no matter what I rage about, no matter how dog tired we both are, no matter how low or how high (metaphorically, people!!), knowing that he's there is a comfort to me.  This year has tested us in ways we've never experienced before and we're finding out a lot about who we are as people, and as a family, but no matter what, I know that he'll always be rock solid.  He's a pretty cool guy that way.
Well, that's one pledge of gratitude for each day of the month so far.  Wonder what I'll come up with for my next list.  In the meantime, please, no matter what is going on right now, try to find one thing you appreciate about the people close to you.  You may surprise yourself with what you find.  #end soapbox

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Defeated

I've mentioned before that there's been a lot of negativity swirling about the Shoup House.  To say it has taken its toll on us would be an understatement.  With each new letter from the HOA, the focus shifts away from us as a family, the good work we do, the awesome daughter we're raising and brings hate and discontent to the forefront.  We, as a family, are going to be facing some stressful and uncertain times in the coming months. 

I don't want to get into too many details as my blog is, and will stay, public and those who are bringing the negativity to the Shoup House certainly have access to what I say.  They are looking for reasons to villify us, and I refuse to give them any ammunition.  The next few months will require us presenting a united front and trying to stay positive in the face of tremendous adversity.  I really do appreciate your counsel and considerate support.  It's very hard because I know that if I do the one thing that in my heart feels wrong, much of what we are dealing with would go away.  However, as we are dealing with living creatures with feelings and not furniture to be discarded, I feel my moral responsibility goes deeper than appeasing those who can't appreciate our efforts.  This has decidedly caused friction and sadness within our own ranks that we hope to rise above.

I would appreciate your thoughts, continued support and even prayers, if you're so inclined, so that we may defeat those who are trying to keep us defeated and so that we can get back that which was so unjustly stolen from us - peace in our own home. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Day I Met the President - A (Not So) Live Blog

Some of you who read this blog may know who I work for.  For reasons that I can't fathom, it's taboo for me to say where I work.  I'll give you a hint:  it rhymes with "Smite Mouse."  Before you get any high falutin' ideas about my connections or how I can get you an introduction, my coworker said it best when he said we "work for the paeons of the paeons."  I participated in a work project where the "potential" reward was attending a ceremony honoring people who commit themselves to helping others several months ago.  Last night, I was shocked, SHOCKED when I received an email telling me I had been selected to attend. 

So that I don't forget, and in case you were interested, here's how I was able to meet my big boss.  Or not.  You decide.

Wednesday:
9:30 pm:  Arrive home, dog tired from a long day of work and shopping, to a ginormous package in the hallway.  Ridiculous, toddler sized box contained the new black suit I requested for my birthday.
10:30 pm:  Check work Blackberry.  Find out I won the work equivalent of the lottery.  Squee and dance until I'm able to tell DH.
10:31 pm:  Try on new suit, coordinate blouse, hide suit from masked pee'ers known as the Chaos brothers (Take note, Havoc and Mayhem:  The Head Zookeeper is not pleased).
10:35 pm:  Stomp upstairs to roust DH and tell him of good fortune.  Stomp back down when he is not appropriately impressed.  He's impressed, just not impressed enough.
11:30 pm:  Go to bed early so I can look my best for the C-Span cameras which will most assuredly film the back of my head.  Realize this and wonder if I can call the hair stylist for an emergency hair cut.
11:31 pm:  Fret about which side is my good side.
11:32 pm:  Realize I have absolutely NO makeup not related to Halloween.  Resolve to purchase make up in the morning. 
11:35 pm:  Rearrange ENTIRE schedule in my head to accomodate the 1:15 pm start time.
11:36 pm:  Resist urge to start sending emails on work BlackBerry to show just how dedicated (excited) I am.
11:40 pm: Finally fall into fitful sleep.


Thursday:
6:00 am:  Wake up fearing I've overslept.  Realize I have not, relax and get ready for morning.
xx:xx am:  Arrive at work and handle fires, rescheduling and catch up on blogs news of the day.
10:00 am to 12:45 pm:  Day flies by and I wonder where the time has gone!!!
12:45 pm:  Sprint from office to White House.  Realize I'm not expected until 1:15 pm, break out into all out "mass murderer is after me" run for no reason other than I MUST BE EARLY!  (those of you who TRULY know me...laugh it up, chuckles.  Sometimes I'm early.)
1:00 pm:  Informed by intern, whose outfit I was coveting, that the presenter was running late.  Take time to mop up lather of sweat I have worked up.
1:25 pm:  Head over to reception area where beverages flow freely.  Wish I liked champagne.  Squeeeeeee and take pictures like a total tourist.
1:26 pm:  Cornered by woman who lays out her ENTIRE business plan now that she has won not one, but two prestigious awards.  Get concerned by crazed look in her eye, spittle forming in mouth and her easy access to children.  Wonder if she's eating them as opposed to teaching them music.  Abandon coworker and look at cool artifacts.
1:27 pm:  Take pictures near cool presidential painting.
 
1:29 pm:  Take pictures of staircase president comes down.
1:31 pm:  See music lady bearing down, devote rapt attention to Marine Corps quartet (they were fabulous).
1:32 - 2:10 pm:  Make small talk with coworker who SWEARS he doesn't do small talk.
2:15 pm:  Move into awards ceremony.  Resolve to cease and desist with touristy cell phone pictures.  Knock people out of the way to be in the center of the back row.  Nobody puts baby in the corner.
2:16 pm:  Quickly abandon previous resolution.  Fully engage cell phone camera.
2:20 pm:  Award recipients file in.  Big boss man follows closely behind.
2:21 pm:  Audience rises and claps when big man enters.
2:25 pm:  Start snapping away trying to get photo where it looks like big man is looking right at me.  Realize he probably IS looking at me as I keep lowering and raising camera.  Wish desperately for fancy SLR camera left at home.
2:25:45 pm:  Got it!  Promptly put camera away.
2:25:55 pm:  Take camera out, send MMS to friends, post picture on FB.  Yup, I'm a dork.  Big man is talking and I'm Facebooking.  What's your question?
 
2:26 pm:  Devote full attention to the ceremony (not really.  The press corps was right behind me and man, are their cameras loud.  I mean like defeaning plague of locusts loud.  And when there's a photo op???  Fugedabboutit.  I couldn't hear my own thoughts!).  Count number of mistakes made during speech (proud to say there was only one!!) to report back to mother.  It's a thing.
2:50 pm:  Wait for big man and recipients to exit ceremonial hall.  Wonder if I'll get to shake hands (answer is no).  Sorta stunned by how warm and electric his smile is. 
2:55 pm:  Snack time!!  Load up plate, minus icky salmon and soba noodles (regret not getting soba noodles).  And yes, I AM that girl who took a picture of the plate of food she was about to eat.  #noshame
3:00  - 3:10 pm:  Make small talk with previous year's recipient.  That's right, people, I was HOBNOBBING!  Realize her smarts are well beyond anything I can ever hope to achieve (neurobiologist who has discovered that brain cells regenerate in Alzheimers patients.  Way cool.)  Impress her anyway with my job helping to create, in her words, "boutique applications."  Wonder how I can work "boutique applications" into my every day vernacular.
3:12 pm:  Start the trek back to the office.  While leaving, notice room that is usually blocked off is now open.  Find out said room has a ladies room.  Take advantage of the access and go into ladies room.  Take obligatory "in da club bathroom" photo.  And I am ALSO that girl who takes pictures in pretty public restrooms.  #stillnoshame
3:20 pm:  Arrive back at the ranch (ie my office), thoroughly exhausted from the day. 

And that, my friends, is how I didn't meet my big boss.  HOWEVER, it's the closest I've ever come, and closer than many ever will, so I consider the entire day a HUGE success.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's all lies, I tell ya!

I've come to realize that in order to survive as a parent, one must master the technique of the well crafted, only slightly damaging lie.  Examples:  "Yes, honey, there really is a {insert seasonal character of choice}."  "Noooooooo, Mommy and Daddy didn't buy that for you, {seasonal character of choice} did."

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that I have raised a rather jaded child.  Ain't no pulling the wool over this girl's eyes.  Well, unless you say "Uh Oh" but I think every kid falls prey to that trick.  Here are some examples from the weekend:

Post flu shot (which my tough girl cried for roughly 2 minutes before being distracted by the ladybugs painted on the mural):
Me:  "You were such a brave girl today."
KIC: " Yeah (duh, mom)."
Me:  "I know Minga (her grandmother) got a flu shot and I bet she wasn't as brave."
KIC:  "Really?"
Me:  "Yup, I bet Minga even cried when she got her flu shot." 
KIC:  "If you say so."

To be fair, I DIDN'T know Minga had gotten a flu shot, but still, I thought I had sold that who scenario very well.

On the way to bowling:
Me:  "We're going to go bowling today."
KIC:  "And see Allie and have birthday cake??"
Me:  "Well, no, we're just going bowling to go bowling.  It's not Allie's birthday.  Her birthday was a couple of weeks ago."
KIC:  (with sarcasm DRIPPING from her every word)  "Really, Mom??  REALLY?" 

Now, I could have retorted with "Not every occasion requires cake and a party!!!" but I didn't.  I chose, instead, to shoot her father a dirty look and say "YOU did this!"  The impact of my glare was lost on him as he giggled like a schoolgirl at the fact that my THREE YEAR OLD CHILD is well on her way to accomplishing something he has always had trouble with - seeing right through me!  Isn't there supposed to be a ten year grace period where she believes everything I say???

If you have a story to tell about when your child caught you in a lie, I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All Grown Up

I recently won a photography session from a local photographer named Jennifer Sprague of Fingers To Toes photography.  KIC is not the most natural around strangers (read: hates them and avoids them like the plague), so I kept my expectations low.  I wanted natural, outdoor with her 'BoTino and if we only got two shots, then so be it.  For one, free is free, and for two, I know in my loving heart how beautiful my girl is (read:  mother's bias). 

We did the "shoot" on Sunday and Jennifer said she'd have the photos to us by the end of the week.  Much to my delight, we got some preview photos today.  I am thrilled to share them with you and hope that you too will contact Jennifer.  She was super patient as we worked through KIC's shyness and captured exactly what I wanted her to capture:  a cute little girl having fun with her dog.  Check 'em out.

KIC and 'BoTino

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Conversations I never expected to have with my almost four year old

Topics include:

* Menstruation - I'll spare you the details

*  Why the color blue is far superior to the color pink - Since one of her favorite books is "Pinkalicious", you can probably guess which side I'm on.  Her hatred for the color blue is so intense, she was protesting even putting on a blue winter coat so that I could check the fit.  That crashing sound you hear is my dreams of us wearing matching blue outfits crashing to the floor.

*  One should either choose to eat or wear the candy necklace - After several encounters with a sticky necklace and the tender hair at the nape of her neck, KIC is a convert.

*  Boyfriends!!!!!  This one is going to send Uncle Chris into heart palpitations.
Me:  KIC, do you have a boyfriend?
KIC:  Yes.
Me (shocked):  Who is your boyfriend???
KIC:  Adam, on the days he makes me happy.
Me:  So you really have a boyfriend??
KIC:  I sure do!

While I think all women could benefit from having her boyfriend philosophy, "Only on the days he makes me happy, so he better make me happy every day", I can honestly say I wasn't ready for her to have a boyfriend.  I thought we'd be able to wait until at least the age of 5.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Childlike Enthusiasm

I was all prepared to discuss the Quidditch craze sweeping the nation (forgive the pun), but then my kid had to go and be all cute, and well, there you are. By the way, don't believe me about Quidditch? How bout these NPR apples??

Today, on our way to school, the infamous birthday topic came up. We are blessed with an especially active birthday season right now. Five parties in four weekends make for a very busy, but very happy, Shoup House. KIC does not yet know it, but she's going to get gyped in the birthday department this year as I am treating our vacation to Disney as her birthday party. Before you cry "BAD MOM!", home girl is getting dinner with the Disney princesses as part of the package and that perk ain't cheap! Anywhoodle, we were discussing her birthay on our way to school and her ego made a special appearance. To wit:

Me: KIC, for your birthday, we're going to go see Mickey.
KIC: YEAY!! I LOVE MICKEY! When I see him, I'm going to give him a great big hug.
Me (shocked by my suddenly demonstrative daughter): You are?
KIC: Yes I am! I love him the most of anyone in the whole wide world!!
Me (thinking of the potential crushing disappointment when she sees him hugging other children): Well, you probably love him a lot, but other people in the world love him too.
KIC: Okay, but I love him LOTS!
Me: Sounds good, bebes.

On another note, KIC's school is raising awareness and funds for St. Jude's Children Hospital. She will be riding her trike in a trikeathon on Friday, October 7th.

After an overwhelming initial response, KIC and I have raised her fundraising goal. St. Jude's hospital is important because not only do they do extensive research to combat cancer and other catastrophic childhood illnesses, they treat everybody, whether you can afford the treatment or not. KIC's new goal is $500. $500 provides two red blood cell transfusions for a child battling cancer. We found out recently that the funds KIC's school raises will go towards two local children who are currently battling cancer, one of whom is a three year old little boy named Luke. We are working to help Luke kick cancer's {redacted}.

Huge thank you to everyone who has donated. KIC and I appreciate it very much. Please check your inboxes for a very special thank you note from KIC. And for everyone who donates, we will send you a very special picture of KIC in full trike regalia! For those who are interested in donating, here is KIC's personal donation page or you can contact me to make a donation by check. I mean it when I say that KIC is excited about her trikeathon and helping children get better. Thank you for your support!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sincere Appreciation

This post has been a long time coming. There's a lot of negativity surrounding the Shoup-o-sphere lately. There are many external influences that have created this air of doom and gloom circling around my head. Combined with some personal missteps, and let's just say, I haven't been the easiest person to be around (shocking, I know). To be honest, from the outside looking in, there's an easy way to resolve a lot of what's going on. But you can axe mah momma, I've never been one for easy and sometimes it takes a lot for me to ask for help. Like house burning down around my ears magnitude. While I'm not there yet, it's not far off.

Many people have put some wind in my sails, as it were, with their encouraging words, thoughts, actions and just general listening ear. The worse I feel, the more I tend to isolate myself, so I just wanted to take a time out and say thank you.

- Thank you to the people who reminded me why I participate in animal rescue in the first place. Thank you to the people who reinforce my decision to get out of animal rescue. Wait, what??? That's a contradiction silly girl! A paradox, it's true, lord knows, I can't ever make things simple.

- Thank you for opportunities and experiences I wouldn't have otherwise known. Thank you for allowing me to provide you with experiences that bring joy to you. Through your joy, I am refreshed and repurposed.

- Thank you for listening and allowing me to listen. I appreciate having the chance to vent, but also appreciate allowing others to vent. Just call it a great big love fest.

- Thank you for going out of your way to provide me with support and empathy. I have been able to exprience humble and joyful tears even through tears of frustration.

- Thank you for witholding judgement. While you may not have been supportive of me and what's going on, you didn't tell me what an idiot I was, and for that, I'm extremely grateful.

- Thank you for being willing to hop on this crazy train with me. Whether you were helping me shovel the coal to keep the train moving, or being the one to drive so I didn't have to, your effors have not gone unnoticed.

- Finally, thank you for your outrage, righteous indignation, love, care, concern, advice and support of me. I truly don't understand people as much as I thought I did, but I do understand friends and frienship and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Simply put, thank you. You can never know how much your actions, thoughts and words have inspired, motivated and comforted me. Thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Establishing timelines


KIC is getting old enough now, that I have been trying to not only tell her of events that are coming up, but give her timelines for those events so that she knows they aren't happening RIGHTTHISVERYSECOND! For the most part this works as I only tell her a couple of days in advance when things are happening. So I'll say "KIC, Minga and Grandpa are coming to visit on Friday. That's in two days!" Then as each day passes, we can do a sort of countdown for their arrival.

What's hard to establish, and I don't even really try, is stuff waaaaaaaaay into the future. She knows her birthday (January) is after my mom's birthday (August), but she doesn't really have the concept of months or years, really. That's fine, I don't expect her to, or even really try to teach her, but sometimes, when an event that's pretty far into the future comes up, it can have pretty funny results. To wit:

*Scene: Mommy and KIC have just passed the big yellow school bus*
KIC: Mommy, my friends ride the school bus.
Me: You have friends that ride the school bus?
KIC: Yes, they ride the school bus (didn't I just tell you that, woman???)
Me (thinking I'll be clever): After two birthdays, you'll get to ride the school bus too!
KIC: I will?!?!?!?!
Me: Yup, after two birthdays.
KIC: I LOVE TWO BIRTHDAYS!
Me (somewhat feebly, realizing my misstep but not really seeing a way out): Yup, after two birthdays you get to ride on the school bus.
KIC: Two birthdays only for me, right? Not my friends.
Me (laughing): Heehee.
KIC starts laughing maniacally
Me (laughing along with her): You're so silly.
KIC (stops laughing): I'm not silly, you're silly.
Me (thinking we're playing our standard game): I'm not silly, YOU'RE silly.
KIC: No, you're silly. You're laughing, I'm not.
Me: You're not laughing??
KIC (dead serious): No.

Fortunately, by this time we had arrived at school and I was saved by the distraction of the school. I envisioned that getting very ugly, very quickly! My lesson learned: Yeah, don't worry about trying to explain the future to a 3 1/2 year old. It has potential to get you in serious trouble.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Memoir of a Rescue Dog by Valentino Shoup

Mom has been pretty busy these days managing a lot of different things. While she walked away muttering something about "awful neighbors" and "180 proof", I decided I would start my memoir. Was that a snicker I heard? I'm almost 9 in human years, which puts me at 63 in dog years. That's nothing to scoff at, especially when you've led the life I have and I've got a lot to say before my nap, so listen up!

What kind of life HAVE I lived, you might ask? I started life not being wanted. I am a beagle/basset mix. Nobody plans to make basseagles...or would it be beassets? Nevermind, I'll just stick with beagle/basset mix. I digress. While I am darn cute, and I KNOW it, I guarantee that the owner of an unfixed basset and the owner of an unfixed beagle didn't plan to see what kind of puppies they would get. It's a pretty rough start, knowing that you aren't wanted.

That's not to say my life totally sucked from the beginning. I was placed with a family who kept me for a couple of years, until they got tired of me always running away. What can I say? I gots some long ears and I like to feel the wind beneath them. I also got a bad rap with the family. The little boy used to torment me. I have a very long fuse with almost limitless patience (except for my annoying canine foster brothers, but don't EVEN get me started on that) but I had enough and when I was forced to defend myself, I was lucky that the family agreed it was the boy's fault. I'm not going to blame my wanderlust on my circumstances at the house. I've got beagle in me, it's what I do. But the family felt it wasn't a good fit and when I wound up at the Montgomery County Humane Society, they decided not to reclaim me.

I'm not going to give you the statistics on the number of homeless animals that are euthanized every year. I will tell you that nobody should have to endure what we dogs endure in homeless shelters. Cold floors, no warm laps, a crumb of affection tossed here and there...it's no life for anybody (pssss...spay and neuter people). I was fortunate that a very nice man I will call "Uncle Dick" saw in me what my family could not - a true gentleman, with a heart of gold. He brought me into a rescue that would ensure I was placed in a loving home.

For many months, I was overlooked. I couldn't really understand why I wasn't in a warm, loving home. I couldn't understand why none of the families who looked at me didn't see what a catch I was. The adoption days were boring - I spent my time showing how cleverly I could escape ANY restraint. Never underestimate the intelligence of a beagle. Finally, this couple with two dogs took pity on me and brought me into their home to "foster." Little did any of us know, this wasn't the temporary situation any of us envisioned.

Shoot! Mom is coming back! I'll write more later.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jam of the Week: Britney Spears

Britney, to me, is the pop icon that you just can't keep down. Bad decisions? Yup, she made 'em. Public breakdowns and humiliation? Got that too. But just when you think she's out, she comes back with another hit.

As always, let me know what you think, good, bad or indifferent. I'm especially interested in knowing if you are digging the Jam of the week posts in a format other than Facebook.

Without further ado, here is Britney Spears "I wanna go" remixed by Gareth Emery.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Safety First

My child is a daily source of wisdom AND entertainment for me. This was our conversation this morning on the way to school:

KIC: "Mommy, can we go super fast???"
Me: "No, baby, we cannot."
KIC: "Why, mommy?"
Me: "Because it's raining outside and we need to be safe. We can't go really fast because the roads are wet."
KIC: "Why, mommy?" (can you tell she's 3? I think kids are programmed to be able to understand the concept of why at this age)
Me: "Since it's wet, if we had to stop suddenly while going superfast, we may not be able to stop in time."
KIC: "Ohhhhhh. Mommy, don't crash, k?"
Me: "K, baby, I'll try not to."

I think it's sound advice for all drivers: Don't crash when it rains. Better yet, don't crash at all, really

Speaking of rain, if you haven't heard, it's been raining since Monday in the Metro DC area. Yesterday, we were blessed with flash floods. This is what a park and ride in my area (not my park and ride, thankfully) looked like when drivers went to get their cars yesterday:
.

More here:
Flood at Reston Park and Ride. Stay safe, ya'll. This weather's key-razy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What have the Shoups been up to?

Labor Day weekend was a very busy weekend in the Shoup house. I am a longtime member of the Sports Car Club of America. Through our regional club, the Washington DC Region, we were given the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Baltimore Grand Prix. Our primary responsibility was to be on hand to help support the flag workers at their stations by providing essential supplies - lunch, beverages, ice and transportation to and from their stations. When it was time to work, it was time to work NOW, but there was a lot of downtime that allowed us to REALLY check everything out. Brent got to see the Indy car race up close and personal and I was on the teevee witnessing a spectacular cluster at the beginning of the ALMS race on Saturday. For those who may be concerned, we alternated when we were at the race, lest you think we left KIC unattended with the Sleepy Hound Brigade.

I did learn, while at the Baltimore Grand Prix, that my stalking skills leave much to be desired. I *just* missed Danica Patrick a million times! One time, I had my head down as I was labeling lunches and she rode right by on her little scooter thing. Brent will proudly tell you that Danica said "hello" to him as she walked by from Pit Row. Sonofa... Time to brush up on my evasive manuever skills...or just stay in one place for when she walks by, as was the case for Brent. Lucky man.

Sunday, KIC got to do a couple of things that we both love the most. Sunday morning, we met a lovely woman at Petsmart so she could meet our former foster, Saturday. I know, meeting Saturday on a Sunday, har har. Anyway, it was love at first sight for the woman and I don't hate you for Sadie, so Sadie was whisked off to her forever home before she could blink. Altogether now, awwwwwwwwww.

Later, that same day, KIC and I hosted a party for a bunch of her friends. It was a "back to school tie-dye and ice cream party" - no, really, that was the official name. I miscalculated the back to school part as Loudoun County went back to school the previous week, but nobody seemed to mind. Here are the highlights from the party:

• Everybody left with some sort of color on a white t-shirt. One Redskin fan created a beautiful Green Bay Packers themed onesie, but I didn’t give him too much grief for it.
• Everybody received a bowl of ice cream and the whipped cream was a hit. There were also some VERY delicious fresh picked blackberries that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think there were other toppings too, but whipped cream and blackberries were all I needed.
• The sherbet significance was lost on everybody. C’mon, tie-dyed ice cream!!!
• A boy participant picked his girlfriend out the minute she walked in the door. He had his pick of the ladies and I must say, he did very well. I don’t think his love was reciprocated, but this did not seem to phase him. Courageous young man, that’s for sure.
• My hands are still tie-dyed.
• The foster cats have all recovered nicely from their exposure to the horde of girls superexcited about seeing four legged creatures. I will say, they have started to look both ways before coming out from their hiding place and some of them still have wide eyes.
• No animals were tie-dyed - intentionally. I'm kidding, of course. We meant to tie-dye Sunshine (Tino wouldn't stand still).

A great time was had by all! Stay tuned for the next wild Shoup party idea!

Monday was spent recovering from the rest of the weekend. We did manage to make some DELISHIOUS lemonade by hand with KIC, which she loved. We didn't even have a juicer. Brent was happy because he got his upper body workout for the week. Rest assured, we have a juicer now. KIC even showed us a trick on how to get even more juice out of the lemon. Yes, that's right, once again, I have been schooled by my child. I am dreading the days when she realizes I r dumb and she r smart, mostly because it will be patently obvious to even the most casual observer. They make smart pills, don't they???

Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jam of the Week: Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding has a sound style that is similar to that of Bjork. I first heard "Starry Eyed" as a drum and bass remix by Jakwob. If you like "Starry Eyed" by itself and are looking for something even more uptempo, I highly recommend the Jakwob remix.

Ellie is an import from the UK and her stuff is fairly recent to the US music scene. Her album "Bright Lights" was released at the end of 2010, but she's just started getting airplay in the US. "Your Song" is another track worth checking out; she performed it live at Prince William and Catherine's wedding...not to name drop or anything.

As always, comments and feedback much appreciated. Happy Tuesday!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kelly's Jam of the Week

A while ago, when I had a lot of extra time and access to Facebook at work (wink wink, nudge nudge), I created a group on Facebook called "Kelly's Jam of the Week." Sadly, my posting for the group has fallen by the wayside and I miss bring HOT!NEW!JAMZ! week after week.

I have decided to post weekly here on my blog instead. It gets autofed to Facebook so people who saw my JOTW on Facebook can still see it. Bonus: I still have access to Blogger at work (shhhhhhh, don't tell the gov't!).

So, without further ado, in a nod to my friend Bonnie, I present Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition", the radio remix from Axwell and Dirty South. As with many remixes, the original song is vastly different, but I kinda dig the remix better. Okay, not kinda, I really dig the remix better. This is a great song to drive to, the melody is awesome, the beats are a great complement and it takes the original song to a whole new level of awesome. Hope you enjoy and please provide feedback either here or on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Mother's Rant

I know, I know, I'm on a posting tear these days!! I don't know what's gotten into me (well, actually, I do, it's work avoidance, but don't tell my boss!).

I was reading a CNN.com article that paraphrased an interview with Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld, a former French Vogue editor. In the interview, Karl said "You're also lucky because [your children] are very beautiful. It would have been difficult to have an ugly daughter."

What an awful awful thing to say. Note, he doesn't say, it would have been difficult to have ugly children. He specifically calls out having an ugly girl. As if girls don't have to put up with enough sexism or unrealistic standards in today's society. I don't know anybody who fears that their child is ugly, or even thinks their child is ugly. I bet even Quasimoto's mother loved him at some point.

And it's not like the man is an Adonis himself. To wit:



(courtesy of some random website). The term cryptkeeper comes to mind.

In another quote from the article, Lagerfeld admits that with his largesse, he's pretty far removed from reality. Since he doesn't have to worry about how soon the next paycheck is coming, or who's going to cook dinner, or how to be in five thousand places at once to coordinate household and child errands, then I can see why someone who is One Billion and Ten Years old would be CONSUMED by having ugly children. Perhaps he should switch his focus to something more pressing, like resolving the famine situation in Sudan by delivering supplies with his privately owned jet, or better yet, promoting world peace. If this is how the rich think, then I don't ever want to experience how the rich live. I'd rather focus on the warmth and richness my beautiful child brings to my life and let her know that I know she's beautiful and cherished in every way. That way, she will come to realize comments like these are merely words that could never take those things away from her.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mommy and KIC go ... camping?!?!?

On Friday night, the Shoups did some actual planning and had a wonderful family evening in. Brent pitched the tent in the newly renovated living room, or, "Home Living" as KIC calls it, for he and KIC to "camp out" later. Note that there was no "Shoup Camp Out" mentioned, just Daddy and KIC. When I got home, we had popcorn with cheddar dust sprinkled on it (don't laugh, it's delishious), beverages and settled in to watch a Shoup Family Favorite: "Tangled." KIC was so excited about going camping with her daddy that she was fidgety through the end of the movie. Once the movie was over, Daddy and KIC headed for the tent and I headed to the basement to check on the cats. Apparently, KIC's fidgeting got the best of her (and daddy's patience) so I stepped in and took daddy's place, giving daddy some nice, peaceful rest in the big bed upstairs.

You should know that I detest camping. I am not fond of the vulnerability to wildlife, I'm not fond of dirt in my food and I'm definitely not fond of the hard ground. However, I figured camping indoors was going to help address some of my aversions to nature. This is how the evening went down:

10:00 pm: Lights out. Our treasured hound, 'Tino, was invited to spend the night with us. All other hounds were invited to go elsewhere. Tino, being more enamored with the bone used to lure him in (because the tent was a big hulking creature used to trap and eat beagles), left us to our own devices.
10:05 pm: Bat like creature lands on top of the tent. Much shrieking and giggling ensued when it was realized said bat-like creature was only foster kitty Fatima.
10:10 pm: First plea of "Mommy, I want to go sleep in the kitty room (aka the guest bedroom aka the kitty infirmary hence the permanent title of kitty room). This was prompted by said bat-like creature attacking the shadows in a misguided attempt to "save us all!". I, in my infinite wisdom, implored KIC to continue to camp (yup, that's right, I tore up the get out of jail free card and scoffed at fate).
10:15 pm: Realize Fatima's shadow attacking was getting personal as she was starting to fly RIGHT FOR OUR HEADS! Move closer to the middle of the tent.
10:20 pm: Realize with startling clarity that floor of living room is MUCH harder than ground outside. Start to wonder whose bright idea this was, anyway.
10:25 pm: Notice the sleeping bag is in a weird position logistically that does not cover ample bottom. Steal, I mean share, KIC's princess blanket (don't look at me like that, she had a Dora sleeping bag!!) and fall into a deep and blissful sleep.

....
Some time in the middle of the night: Wake up after weird Kardashian dreams and realize need to use bathroom. Check on KIC. 'Tino is now where KIC should be.
Me (groggy): "KIC"?
KIC: "HI MOMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Me (recovering): "KIC, have you slept at all???"
KIC: "NOPE!!!!!"

That's when I gave up the ghost and we went to the kitty room. To KICs credit, if she HAD been up that entire time, at least she had the common decency to let me sleep. However, it was a rough night and by 11:00 ish the next day, we were both in bed to take naps. Daddy was feeling fresh and raring to go all day long while KIC and I both looked at him through bleary, bloodshot eyes. Next time, we'll send daddy to sleep with 'Tino and we'll sleep in the big comfy bed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Keeping the blessings going

If I didn't lose you after my last post, then thank you. If you're interested in hearing how little Katerina is doing then, hopefully by now, you're following The Blessing of Verity. Susanna has alluded to obstacles being moved in trying to get Katerina home sooner than the anticipated four months. Keep sending good thoughts her way so that may happen. In the meantime, Susanna has been able to speak with a caregiver about what Katerina needs and to make arrangements for Katerina to get supplements in her absence. How wonderful that this woman is open to giving Katerina the care she needs while she waits to go home. Not many adoptive families, or orphans for that matter, receive this blessing, so things are definitely working in strange and wonderful ways for Katerina.

While in Katerina's orphanage, Susanna has been overcome with emotion for the other orphans whose condition is very similar to Katerina's. There are eleven on Katerina's floor. The wonderful news is that four orphans now have families committed to adopting them. Seven more still need families to commit, so please, spread the word. One of the orphans with a committed family is Liliana. Liliana is 11 years old and weighs 10 lbs. She needs a miracle as much as, if not more than, Katerina.



Her family is in the very beginning stages of the adoption process and need mountains moved to be able to get to Liliana in time. To give you some perspective of how tiny Liliana is, the upper portion of her arm measures 3" in circumference. A woman with a huge heart for orphans is raising the funds needed to bring Liliana home. If you'd like to donate, then you get entered to win some pretty cool prizes. Here's the link to Adeye's blog post about fundraising for Liliana: Adeye's blog

I know that Susanna is taking advantage of her time in Katerina's country to change perceptions about Down Syndrome and open doors to adopting children with DS. Please send her good thoughts that she may move the hearts needed to end the suffering of these children. Please also use this as a reminder that kids with disabilities of all types have feelings and need love, just like the rest of us. Advocate in any way that you feel comfortable with. You may think it won't make a difference, but it definitely makes a difference to this one:


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A detour from the Shoup House

Last year, I stumbled upon a website called Reece's Rainbow. It features orphans with special needs all over the world. If you're interested, you can go to the site and check out the founder, Andrea's, backstory.

Families who are making the adoption journey create blogs and you can follow them every step of the way. They also do fundraising to help them raise the $25,000 or more needed to adopt (some call it ransom) these children who deserve so much more in life. Reece's Rainbow, in its own special way, has created a wonderful community for people who are interested in adopting, have adopted, or even for those who want to support adoption. I have been following adoption blogs for some time now; rejoicing with families when they get to bring their child home, cheering for them as they raise the funds needed and rooting for them as they work to climb the mountain ranges to bring their child home.

Through Reece's Rainbow, I have learned children born with Down Syndrome have a huge need for an adoptive family. Many Eastern European countries shun children with DS and move them into adult mental institutions at the age of 5. The conditions are horrific and there's all kinds of googling you can do to find videos of these children who are suffering. In some cases, there is evidence of deliberate neglect, in other cases, it's cultural ignorance. One family was told that the child they wanted to adopt was better off in an institution because he'd never be able to function in society. Families are encouraged to give their child up at birth because they will never be able to care for the child the way an orphanage can. So, while people can't necessarily change the culture, they work to help the orphans in any way they can.

A woman by the name of Susanna Musser went to meet nine year old Katerina for the very first time this week. She and her family have been working very hard to adopt Katerina. You can read their story here: The Blessings of Verity. The country where Susanna is adopting from requires several visits and they can hope to have the adoption complete in four months, at the earliest. This doesn't include the months and months and months of paperwork just to get to the first visit. When Susanna walked into Katerina's room and met her for the first time, this is what she saw:


Susanna holding Katerina


Keep in mind, Katerina is nine years old. This is just gut wrenching. Later, in the visit, Susanna was able to get Katerina to relax enough to feel comfortable being held.


And later yet, Katerina was all smiles and gigglesfor her new mommy.


Please pray, send good thoughts, whatever your inclination is that the Mussers will be able to bring Katerina home sooner, rather than later. I know it's extremely melodramatic to say we don't know how much time she has left, but honestly, the fact she has survived this long is a miracle in and of itself. Please pray that she will be able to witness the miracle of a loving family. Thank you.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Serendipitous mixing of pronouns

I think I've mentioned before that KIC's language has exploded since her second tube surgery. Like many children her age (I assume), the components of her sentences don't always fall in order. This has very cute results, like when she's asking an animal's name "What her called?" I suppose I should correct her, but it's so cute that I just roll with the flow and give her the answer.

This morning's example is no less adorable and kind of true at the same time. When she woke up and realized I was downstairs, she got very upset at having to navigate the stairs while still sleepy. To try to enlist my help, she said "Mommmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy....you need me!" Clearly she meant that she needed me, but today she said exactly the right thing: I do need her and while I shouldn't ever need to be reminded of that, sometimes we are told exactly what we need when we needed to hear it the most.

Thanks, KIC, for the reminder. This momma's always going to need you, no matter what.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Liking the idea of ice cream

You could be thinking right now that the idea of ice cream is like being a little bit pregnant. You're either all in and eating it, or you're unAmerican. What's not to like about ice cream? The way it gets all melty and smooth? The sprinkles you can drown your ice cream in? The caramel sauce and whip cream you can put on top of your sundae? Forget like, what's not to LOVE about ice cream? You can even make it red, white and blue and be all patriotic and whatnot! Well, you obviously haven't met KIC.

KIC likes the idea of ice cream. An ice cream social was cancelled at her school recently and KIC's sadness could be felt from blocks away. Daddy took her to get ice cream that night anyway, thinking that having ice cream she was promised all day would help with the disappointment. KIC was so excited! ICE CREAM! WE'RE GONNA GET SOME! RIGHT NOW! (picture happy ice cream dance) They got to the store, she placed her order, they sat down all the while she's singing and dancing about her ice cream. "Thank you, Daddy, thank you for my ice cream." She showed the appreciation of someone who had just been given the best news of their lives, so excited was she about her ice cream. When they finally got to the part where she got to eat the ice cream, she ate approximately two bites of her ice cream and then she was done. KIC wasn't upset about missing out on the ice cream, she was upset about missing out on a special event with her friends!!! Eating ice cream with daddy just wasn't the same. Let's face it, ice cream just doesn't get her attention the way a pint of blueberries does.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for a child who chooses healthier options over something like ice cream. More for me! But it breaks my ice cream lovin' heart a little bit each time someone turns to me and says "She doesn't really like ice cream, does she?" and I say, in between bites of her ice cream, "No. No she does not." Just another way to prove that this mom can take one for the team: Team Ice Cream.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pigtails and pink toes

It has happened. The thing I dreaded most. I have raised a girlie girl. I CAN FEEL YOUR LAUGHTER THROUGH THE COMPUTER SCREEN! Stop it! Stop it right now!

Now that you have composed yourself, I will proceed. Here is some evidence to support my claim:

KIC: "Mommy, what's that?"
Me: "It's a chocolate chip waffle" (don't judge)
KIC without even tasting it: "I LOVE it!"

Another example:
KIC, out of the blue: "Mommy, I like your shiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrt."

(and, yes, parents of teenage daughters, I do recognize that inflection will mean pure, unadulterated sarcasm in the future.)

She loves stroking Barbie's hair, she refers to her daddy as "My Love" and routinely says "Awwwwwww, that's so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuute" in a dead on impression of a valley girl. She hates bugs, worms in particular, being dirty (okay, she definitely gets that from me) and loves the Disney princesses.

While we don't do her hair, we are blessed with others who love to do her hair. Her daddy is happy to paint her toes and her momma is happy to keep her in dresses, cute shoes (my main weakness) and adorable, pink clothing. While one of us may have been dreading the frippery that comes with girlie girlness, we've embraced it to the best of our ability. I like to think we've given KIC the ability to establish her own personality DESPITE HER MOTHER'S INITIAL INTENTIONS.

And who knows, maybe there's hope. Right after watching the "Cars 2" movie, she requested a Mater tow truck toy. As we speak, it's not a Barbie sitting in her cubby at school, it's Mater. Maybe she'll be a race car driver after all. Whatever the outcome, we sure do love her so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Clear Da House!

Hello, bloggie readers, 'BoTino here. Confused as to which Shoup animal I am? Allow me to illustrate:

The Cute One

That's right, I'm the cute one in the Shoup House. My mom thinks so too. She whispers it in my ear every day so the others don't get jealous. That's my sidekick, KIC, in the picture with me. I am one of many furry kids my parents have saved. Believe it or not, several families passed me up because I once bit a kid in self-defense. As you can see, I love my new kid and I know my new kid loves me. She's the one who gave me the rather undignified name of BoTino. To be honest, Valentino doesn't really suit me as I'm a country boy with simple pleasures. My Uncle Dick sez you can measure how much a family loves their furry kids by the number of nicknames the family has for the furry kid. With the exception of the names my mommy uses when I go on my solo neighborhood jaunts, you can tell my family really loves me.

But enough about me. My family has a big heart for homeless animals. If you ask me, it might be a little too big. I mean, really, do we need cats?? But I digress. We have two animals living with us that need some help, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Shadoe
Shadoe is a classic example of my mommy's big heart. She leapt before she looked and now we have this feral kitty. The good news is that this kitty, who has been so unhappy in our home, has a forever home lined up for her where she will live in a barn with all the mice she can possible chase and a feline companion to join her in pursuit of controlling the rodent population. We need to raise money for her spay and vaccines so she can go to this forever home. To be honest, she terrifies me, so the sooner we can get her out, the better I'll sleep at night. Well, that's my story anyway. To hear me snore, you'd know I sleep quite well...

Chief
Chief is another classic example of my mommy's big heart. I would prefer not to have any competition when stealing KIC's food, but that's just me. I'm told (roll eyes) that Chief is a good boy. I think he's a bed hogging, food stealing, toy snitching pain in the...I shall remain genteel about Chief. Chief has some significant issues that mom and dad have tried to work with, but now the time has come for some outside help. The other dogs and I are crossing our paws that this works so that he can get adopted and we can have more room to stretch out on the bed (an increase in the bone allowance wouldn't hurt either). Mom said the trainer makes no promises, but I sure do hope it works. Mom has done so much for so many dogs (me included) that I'd love to see the light come back in her eyes.

Your contributions towards clearing the Shoup House getting these animals into their forever homes are tax deductible and much appreciated. For everyone who makes a contribution, I'll include an autographed picture of me and KIC to show our appreciation. Who doesn't love a picture of a beagle and a cute kid??? Thank you from the bottom of my beagle heart, and from my mommy's heart too. And while I'm asking for favors, can you please pray mommy doesn't find out I can type? I dread the administrative work she will have me do once she sees this blog!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

One of the many faces of redemption

I firmly believe there are many faces of redemption. This redemption story is about the redemption of a good ol' houndog who deserved so much more than he had already experienced in life. I promise not to get theological, but I really want to share this story to give people a glimpse of just how rewarding animal rescue can be. Too often we hear about the hoarder who had too many animals and the poor condition they were in, or the dog who was abandoned at the shelter only to be rescued in the nick of time. What happens AFTER they are rescued? If you're an inquiring mind and want to know, keep reading. If not, I promise the next post will be full of baby child antics. ;-)

February 2010 brought a harsh winter to the Mid-Atlantic region. This is an especially dangerous time for stray, domesticated animals who can't successfully forage for food. I got a call about one such soul who had the good fortune to be rescued from the woods. He was likely abadoned by a hunter when he didn't return with the pack. He had no way of knowing that this was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to him.

Alvin at the shelter

This is Alvin. He was named for the 'A' that had been bleached on both sides of his body. When HART agreed to rescue him, he was about 15 lbs underweight, in serious need of dental work and not neutered. His first night with us was uneventful, but you only had to look into his eyes to see how broken he was and why, despite his beauty, he had been overlooked time and time again. At the time, I told my friend "All in all, a couple more days with us and I'm sure he'll settle in. Maybe not to the point that he's sleeping on the sofa, but enough so he's not pacing waiting for his next beating."

It was clear that Alvin had never lived in a home before and everything that went on in our house (cats, toddler, dogs) was a serious overload for him. He loved our daughter and trusted her implicitly, but he wouldn't come near us. He would spend hours in the backyard if we let him, no matter the temperature. To get him to come in, we'd have to go into the backyard and turn our backs to him so he would think he was sneaking back into the house to avoid us. It was in the backyard that we got to see glimpses of normal doggy behavior, almost to the point of puppyness. He'd bash another dog in the face trying to get them to play with him while everyone, including the dog, looked at him stunned. :)

In May of that same year, a family looking for a companion for their dog saw him and decided they wanted to meet him. When they came over, he reacted very well to their calm demeanor and settled in liked I'd never seen before. In a rare stroke of brilliance, I had them feed him raw hamburger meat. He wouldn't respond to treats and had to be crated in order to eat, so it was sort of a last ditch effort. Alvin, of course, loved it and loved them. The day the family said they wanted to adopt him was a joyous, but bittersweet day for us. Alvin was better than he was when we got him, but still so damaged that it shot right through your heart. Phase 2 of his new life was about to start and boy was he in store for some lovin'!

Alvin on the way to his new home

Not only was Alvin blessed with a wonderful family, but I was blessed as well. I inquire every so often about him, and his gracious mom always responds with more than a cursory "he's great, thanks." I'll share with you her latest update, more than a year after Alvin was adopted: "Alvin is doing great. We love him and while he's still pretty skittish in general, he has warmed to us well... His best times are in the morning (or in the middle of the night - he gets up once a night most nights to go out to pee) - he is very playful right after he wakes up and we enjoy the little show he puts on then. He even tries to draw us in sometimes bumping us with his nose - it's very cute... He is just the sweetest dog. It is so hard to imagine how anyone could mistreat any animal much less one as sweet as he is...
Sudden movements and loud sounds still really do a number on him. The doorbell sets him off still as well...He likes affection but doesn't really seek it out. On occasion he'll come over to me in my office and sit down so I can pet him. Whenever he's lying down, though, and anyone goes to pet him he always looks at us longingly when we stop - he likes to be petted...We are so glad we found him - or that we found each other. We know we're giving him a good life now and he deserves that after whatever he went through before being saved by HART."

Alvin Now

If Alvin's updated picture isn't the picture of redemption, I don't know what is. This is what every dog deserves: a soft bed, a warm sunbeam, regular meals and a wonderful, loving family. We are so grateful to have been a part of Alvin's redemption and wanted to share a story of what happens after the rescue. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find a soft bed, a warm sunbeam and get in some quality animal snuggle time. ;-) Until next time, as always, hug your loved ones tight, especially if they are of the furry kind.

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's my name???

A month or so ago, I posted about our glipse of the teenage years when overnight I went from "Mommy" to "Mom." These days, KIC mixes the two and mostly uses "Mom" when she's exasperated with me. While I'd like to tell you that KIC very rarely gets exasperated with me, that couldn't be farther from the truth. It's a well known fact that KIC is much smarter than me, a fact that she drives home on a regular basis.

In the Shoup House, Brent and I refer to each other as "Mommy" and "Daddy" or "honey." On occasion, when I'm irritated with Daddy, I'll employ a long, drawn out "Breeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeent", which is very quickly parroted by KIC. I'm sure my giggles are egging KIC on which has lead to her retaining Daddy's "real" name very well. Not so much my name. To be fair, I secretly believe that not even Daddy remembers my name most of the time. It always shocks me when he uses my name. But I digress.

This weekend, KIC and I had the privilege of" hanging with my parents in Virginia Beach. Nowhere in the world is there any place where my name is used more or with that many inflections. KIC picked up on this, so while I was downstairs discussing something with my mom, I heard "Kellllllllyyyyyyyyy, Kellyyyyyyyyyyyyy, Kelly!, Keeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllyyyyyyy". It finally dawned on me that it was KIC upstairs calling my name!!! Talk about a quick study. Rest assured, I let her know that to her, my name was "Mommy" not "Kelly" and that she should use "Mommy" from that point on. Don't think that was the end of it, as a couple of more "Kellys" came out over the weekend. This momma is not a granola, touchy feely kind of momma so if the Kellys don't stop, it may be time for drastic measures. ;-)