Tuesday, December 11, 2012

All I want for Christmas

This weekend, my company hosted a children's holiday party.  The tickets were a hot commodity around the company, so I was grateful to be able to score some for the Shoup family and a friend of mine.  Everybody knows the holidays are about friends and family, with some good old fashioned balloon animals thrown in for good measure.  What's that you say?  There are no balloon animals in the nativity?  That's only because nobody has tried to make a camel with two humps yet.  They are still stuck on monkey in a tree. 

A very extremely organized friend of mine scored a table large enough for the group of us.  I showed up late for the party thinking it started half an hour later than it did.  I know, nobody reading this blog is shocked that I showed up late.  We could have wound up sitting on the floor for all my excellent planning!  When you walked in, there were tons of festivities for the kids all over the place and there was no being strategic about which place you should visit first.  Since Santa and Mrs. Claus had not arrived yet, we sat down and got K some snacks to eat. 

She really did like the broccoli, I promise!
While we waited for Santa, we tried to take in some of the other activities.  First on our list was the aforementioned balloon animal.  The animals were really elaborate though and it took a long time!  While we were patiently waiting, Santa arrived.  We ditched the balloon animal guy quick and in a hurry!  Santa vs a balloon animal and the balloon animal wins every time!  The kids were all given personalized gifts (well, as personalized as age and gender would allow), so there was a plan in place for how to meet and greet with Santa.  KIC showed no fear and was prepared to give her spiel again, to a sane Santa this time.
Nope, not excited at all!
For the love of God, take the picture already!
We left Santa and went to obtain our balloon animal and get our face painted.  By this time, DH and I had the system down.  One of us would wait in line with KIC and the other would be a placeholder in another line.  It made for a lot of waiting.  A lot of waiting.  But KIC and the other kids with us were good sports about it, considering it was well past naptime for all three (yup, KIC still takes a nap.  I know, I AM a lucky dog!).  Everyone got a balloon animal (some got two) and everyone got their faces painted.
Before we left, I had the bright idea to stage some photo shoots with the props around the party location.  We got photobombed a LOT by children hyped up on candy canes and snow cones.  Seriously, it really was like Candyland up in that piece.  We did get some good shots though.
Jordin adopted us for the picture - we are clearly all she wants for Christmas.  Who can blame her?  We are kind of fab.

Serously, someone needs to give these parents some direction.  Must KIC do everything?!?!

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Shoup and the Shoup Family Zoo to your family.  May your days be merry and bright!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Day I Broke Up WIth Santa

Tis the season for parents and children alike to flock to visit Santa.  KIC, having a working mom with no patience, generally doesn't get to visit the mall Santas.  I know, mean mommy.  This year, however, with the help of NannyK who can go during the day when there are less people and less ill behaved children, KIC had the benefit of going to see Santa.

There is a garden center in our area that is known for a magical Santa.  The Santa is known for remembering children year after year and people come from all over to visit.  The garden center is not far from where I work, so it was agreed that I would meet NannyK and KIC after work.  We don't go out as a trio very often, so I was looking forward to being a witness to this magical Santa experience.  I left work a little late and was fretting that I was going to miss it.  As you'll soon see, I should have been worried about other things.

I arrived at the garden center just as Santa made his appearance.  Since this Santa has been doing his thing for awhile, he has a pomp and circumstance routine he likes to follow.  I was preoccupied finishing up some work and since NannyK was on show mom duty, so I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have.  His routine elicited some chuckles from the parents, wide eyed wonder from the kids and then it was time to move into Santa's workshop.

It was in the workshop that things got super interesting.  Between the children being forced to hold each other's hands and dance, the elaborate indentured servitude ceremony (he had each child pick out their workshop in Santa's village.  KIC, not surprisingly, chose to work with the reindeer.) and the staring contest the bossy six year old lost to NannyK, things were awkwardly entertaining.  Finally, it was our turn to see Santa.

KIC presented her very carefully written letter to Santa and prepared herself for her spiel.

Santa:  I see your name is Kaitlyn (read from the letter).
KIC:  Yes, and I have been a very good girl this year...
Santa:  YES, you HAVE!
(NannyK and I beamed with pride).
Santa:  Now, I see here, you have on your list you'd like some books.

Here's where it started to spiral downward.  KIC didn't write that she wanted books and KNEW she didn't write it.  She looked at NannyK and I like "What the heck is this guy talking about???"

KIC: ...
Santa:  And that you want a doll for Christmas.  Now, I have two kinds of dolls:  Babies you can feed and dolls you can dress.  Which kind would you like?
KIC:  Dolls you can feed (Not true as she has asked Santa for an American Girl Doll, but I let it roll).
Santa:  A doll you can feed!  Now, here is a blue ribbon from me.  When you wake up Christmas morning, you will know the gift is from me because it has this blue ribbon around it.  Now, for Christmas eve, your mom makes good brownies.  I would like for you to put a brownie on a plate for me and a carrot out for the reindeer.
Me (alarmed):  What the?!?  Brownies??
NannyK (all INTO it):  You do make good brownies.
Me:  ...

It was at this point, we could tell Santa was wrapping up.  NannyK and I approached the sleigh; me to take an "official" photo with Santa and NannyK to get KIC.

Santa:  And who do we have here?   (pointing at me) Grandma and (pointing at NannyK) Mom?
Me (goggling at Santa, not entirely sure of what I just heard):  ...
NannyK (desperately trying to salvage my pride):  Uh, no, no, I'm the nanny and she's the Mom.  We're a team! 
Me (weakly):  Yeay teamwork.

If you need me, Granny Shoup will be nipping som spirits in the corner.

It wasn't a total wash.  We got this little gem:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Nobody knows you"

It's no secret that since the arrival of NannyK, KIC has had numerous outings.  Many of the outings are enrichment related and as I am often updated with pictures, I am able to live vicariously through KIC.  However, about once every couple of weeks, KIC and NannyK visit one of our area's finer eating establishments as NannyK has familial ties to said establishment.  As a result of these visits, KIC has become rather well known, and dare I say, popular amongst the staff.  The restaurant has become a sort of Cheers like establishment for KIC.  It should be noted that KIC made several visits before her parents set foot there.   Brent and I have rectified that situation, and have started celebrating special occasions there.  A recent experience was mediocre, a fact that NannyK relayed to folks in the head office.  The following is an paraphrased excerpt from my conversation with NannyK:

NannyK:  Apparently, there have been some issues with the server you had and the head manager was very displeased.  She said "This happened to Kaitlyn's mom???"

Me:  So, when I go in, should I just identify myself as Kaitllyn's mom?  Well, maybe not since the night  staff may not not Kaitlyn.

NannyK:  Well, it couldn't hurt.

KIC:  Mom, you went to xx establishment?

Me:  Yes.

KIC:  Nobody knows eatyou there, they only know me.  

I always knew there would be a time when I would be seen as not as cool as my child.  I just didn't know it would happen when she was four.  However, if dropping my kid's name gets me rock star status by proxy, best believe, I'm gonna work it!  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Giving thanks through charitable works

This year has been a rough year for the Shoup House.  Locusts, famine and pestilence have wrought havoc on our lifes.  HA!  Seriously, it's been a rough year emotionally.  But, as rough as it's been, we have our health, we have food to eat and we have each other to help forge through the tough times.

For the next two weeks, as we head into Thanksgiving, KIC is leading the charge for a food drive.  Our goal is to give five boxes, and any cash donations, Food and Friends.  Food and Friends delivers food to people who are shut ins in the DC Metro region.  The mission of Food & Friends is to foster a community caring for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling.
We will be collecting food and monetary donations here at the Shoup House until Sunday, November 24.  We will coordinate with Food and Friends to deliver the goods shortly after.  As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast, take a look at the non-perishables in your pantry and consider donating them to this worthy cause.  All donations are tax deductible and we promise to provide you with plenty of pictures. 

The drop off address:
25521 Upper Clubhouse Dr
Chantilly, VA  20152

We hope you'll join us in spreading holiday cheer for those who may desperately need it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

That's it?!?!

I'd like to tell you that I am a shining example of someone who exercises their civic duty with regularity, but that would be an outright lie.  However, I do vote, and I recognize that as an American, voting is a privilege not many people in the world have.  I am a #spoiledbratAmericanwhoshouldalwaysvote.  I get it.

If you live in a battleground state, you could have lived under a rock and STILL known that there was a presidential election this year!  Yard signs, robocalls, Obama for American volunteers in every neighborhood...you couldn't escape the election if you wanted to.  The ads, the flyers, the knocks on the door, the ignored robocalls were all observed carefully by KIC.  When the topic came up of me voting, KIC said she wanted to go.  Always wanting to be a bastion of good example (HA!), I agreed instantly to take her with me.

The big day came and I was super excited to take KIC with me.  KIC, for her part, was super excited to go with me.  We talked about who I was voting for for President and where we would go to do so.  We got to the polling station and I showed her all the things we had to vote on (a whole page worth!).  My county is heavily into paper voting, so I showed KIC the bubbles to fill in and let her fill them in, all the while admonishing her to do it "carefully."  (Side note:  If it's voter fraud to let my 4 year old fill in the bubbles, have no fear.  I'm pretty sure we were so far outside the bubbles that two of my votes didn't count).  I didn't want to get too chatty in the polling station for fear people would know who I was voting for (preeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetty sure that's taboo). so I just pointed at the bubbles and she filled them in.

As we left, me BURSTING with pride, the lady gave us two "I voted stickers!" 

Me:  Do you know what this says?
KIC:  No.
Me (so so proud):  It says "I Voted!"  (which, by the way, Virginia has THE lamest "I voted " stickers ever!  At least from a four year old's perspective.)
KIC:  But we didn't vote yet!!
Me:  ...  We just did!
KIC:  Oh.

I am starting to feel like being a parent is part mythbuster/part biggest disappointer ever.  She wouldn't even wear the sticker.  Regardless of the bubble bursting disappointment, we voted, and exercised our civic duty.  Maybe next time, I can fill in the bubbles alone.  ;-)

Friday, September 28, 2012

An Unexpected Endorsement

My mom and I get a perverse pleasure in her ability to bust out pop culture references in front of my easily embarrassed brother so I try to work them into conversations whenever I can.  Yesterday, we were discussing illicit substances and how one might request such substances.  I was attempting to bring her current on some of the references, when in the middle of the conversation, I got an unexpected endorsement. 

Mom: I don't think I would know where to go or what to ask for if I did want to do anything.
Me:  That's simple.  Just ask for a dime bag or an 8-ball.
Mom:  I've never even heard of an 8-ball.
Me:  It's a heroin measurement.
Mom:  Fascinating!!!  I learned something new today.
Me:  Stick with me kid, I'll show you the ropes!
KIC (from the backseat):  She sure will!!!!!

When I related the inappropriateness of the conversation my four year old had just participated in to NannyK, her response was "Well, it's a good way for her to learn fractions."

KIC frequently gets asked where she goes to school.  From now on, I'm going to reply "The School of Hard Knocks!"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Day Job is Safe

Having KIC in a more relaxed setting has given us the ability to explore new enrichment opportunities.  KIC, for her part, is happy to participate in most anything.  With this new chapter, however, she will get to explore dance for the very first time.  She has displayed an amazing (read: moves only a mother could love) ability to "shake her booty".  As she has not displayed the same affinity for using her listening ears, Sassy K (KIC's in-home teacher.  I am currently auditioning nicknames) and I agreed that perhaps something a little more freestyle (hip hop/jazz) and a little less structured may be the best course to start with.  I love me a girl in a tutu as much as the next parent, but visions of KIC standing there shaking her booty and grinning like a wild child while the other girls were en pointe kept flashing through my head.

In support, and practice of the upcoming dance class, I decided that purchasing Just Dance for the Wii would be a good idea.  And what kind of parent would I be if I didn't demonstrate/explain the "rules" of the game??  I felt like I could be reasonably good at it, having invented my own dance move:  The Peppermint Patty (not the candy, the Peanuts character).  Haven't heard of it??  I'm shocked!!!  It's legendary (amongst my friends as a way to discuss my extreme lack of dance moves).

Apparently, my cool quotient was lost on KIC as I demonstrated the game.  Midway through the FIRST song, she stopped in the middle of a dance move and said in the "you're really have no clue" voice generally reserved for teenagers:  "Are we going to miss bedtime??" As I was out of breath from shaking my booty to the musical stylings of "I like to move it move it", I could only weakly shake my head and finish the song.

So, my three takeaways from the evening:
1.  No, there is no video nor do I plan for one in the future.
2.  If my 4 year old, who compliments me on my burping abilities, can't appreciate my moves, then my day job can rest easy in the confidence that I will not be quitting any time soon.
3.  I hope my dignity returns soon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My kingdom for a night of uninterrupted sleep

I love sleep.  Anybody who knows me will tell you I love sleep.  And they will tell you that if I don't get a full ration of sleep, I am unbearable.  We are in a perpetual cycle of broken sleep for me, which has been going on for about four months now.  I fully acknowledge that there are some things I CAN be doing differently, but resolution to the principle problem continues to elude me.
This is what a typical night looks like for the Head Zookeeper (aka me):
11:00 pm (ish):  Lights out.  King beagle joins DH and I on the bed.  This is not a problem as his snoring has the effect of a sweet lullabye and for all his 50+ lbs (he has asked me not to reveal his true weight), he really doesn't take up that much room.
11:30 pm (ish):  I snappishly politely inform DH that it is bedtime and I don't want to hear about the mechanics of the new router/stack/computer doohickey he installed at work. 
11:45 pm (ish):  Fall asleep plotting sweet revenge as DH continues to explain about computer doohickey. 
12:30 am (ish):  Am rudely woken up by paw in face.  This is not King Beagle, who maintains his residence at the foot of the bed.  No no, this is 75+ lb Havoc who has the grace of a gazelle when it comes to getting on the bed, but loses said grace when it comes to actually sleeping in bed.  Chase Havoc off of bed, waking DH in process.  DH blindly grasps for spray bottle to hasten Havoc's departure off of bed, squirting me in the process. 
12:45 am (ish):  Fall asleep plotting DH and Havoc's revenge, with grim smile firmly in place.
1:30 am (ish) to 3:30 am (ish):  Wake, with terror in heart, to KIC's bedroom door firmly closing (because neither she nor DH appreciate the value of shutting the door quietly).  Feel covers on my side of bed (why it is always my side, I don't know.  Maybe because I am closest to door.) unceremoniously ripped off.  KIC climbs into bed for less than 10 minutes before requesting to "go backa my bed."  Poke DH awake so he can take her to her bed. 
4:30 am (ish):  Wake with fear that I am paralyzed as I cannot move my legs.  Realize Havoc has gotten on the bed, AGAIN, and chase him off.  DH too tired to pick up water bottle, so I thank God for small blessings.
6:00 am (ish):  After hitting snooze on alarm several times, drag sorry butt out of bed to start my day, wondering why I am so tired.  Recall events of night and hate.everyone.  Go to closet to get clothes for day, see that both Havoc and the dog affectionately known as The Enforcer, have occupied space previously assigned to me.  This makes three out of four dogs on bed.  Only reason there isn't four dogs is Old Girl is arthritic and only gets on bed for special occasions (namely, naps with mom).  Family, and dogs, escape unharmed as I am out of the house before they are awake. 
For the record, I recognize that crating Havoc will help with the interuptions, however, I still have KIC to contend with.  I came up with a genius plan, and decided to try bribery.  The night light to chase away the "frogs, spiders, bees and Queen bee" did not work, so hopefully the lure of a new Barbie and a Pinkalicious game will be the answer. 
In the meantime, if you know anybody selling sleep in a bottle, I am willing to pay a pretty penny.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quotes from the weekend

This weekend included a trip to visit Minga and Grandpa in Virginia Beach.  KIC was in rare form, as the following snippets will prove.

KIC the responsible:

KIC (at the crack of dawn):  Mommy, it's mornin' time, it's time to wake up.
Me:  But I'm tired and I don't want to wake up.
KIC:  Well, Miss Kathryn's not coming today, so SOMEbody has to wake up!!!

KIC managing the violence:

Me:  Gross!!!
KIC:  What?!?!?!?
Me:  Daddy put his boxer shorts in my basket!!
KIC:  Daddy!!!!  Do NOT box her shorts!!!!


KIC keeping me in check:

KIC:  Mommy, did you pack my toothbrush?
Me:  Whoops, no I did not.
KIC:  K, I'll get it.
Me:  Can you get your toothpaste too?
KIC:  Sure.  (Pause). Do Minga and Grandpa have water too or....
Me:  No, we are good.  They have water.
KIC:  K, just checking.

KIC on keeping Daddy supplied with sugar

KIC:  Mommy, can we stop at the Krispy [Kreme ]for donuts for daddy?
Me:  Sure, bebes.
KIC:  Thanks, Mommy.
Brent (slightly chagrined):  Thanks, Mommy.

KIC not supporting Grandpa's choices

KIC:  Here, Grandpa, what about these?
Grandpa holds up a separate bag of fishing worms that he is going to purchase and declines KIC's suggestion.
KIC:  Well, okaaaaaaay, if THAT'S your choooooice, then I guess that's a good choice (voice plainly indicating it was a wrong choice and he'll regret it someday, but hey, do whatchu gotta do).

Hope your weekend was filled with hilarity as well.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Leap of faith

I have found most aspects of being a mother requires taking almost daily leaps of faith, especially when parental responsibilities.  Mothers are super efficient at multi-tasking, thanks in large part to the many eyes in the back of our head, and often think we can do everything associated with our children better than anybody else.  We accept the responsibility of being our children's biggest advocate and hope and pray not to drop the ball along the way.

I think one of the greatest challenges working mothers face is the one associated with child care.  I was blessed with the ability to stay home for three months and to work part time another two months afterwards.  Even still, it was hard for me to give this precious bundle I hadn't fully trusted myself with over to someone I was not married to, related to or known almost half my life.  The first week was probably the most gut wrenching ever, but my new mommy nerves settled and KIC did well.

From that first day with someone else providing for KIC's needs,  we had an idea in our minds as to what KIC's schooling future would be like.  All day childcare/preschool through to elementary school.  We (mostly me) had a very definite idea of the style of education that KIC should be exposed to.  We found a school that operated the way I thought I would thrive, therefore, KIC would thrive in that environment as well.  Except, somewhere along the way, KIC got lost.  She didn't hear very well for a long time, thanks to recurring ear infections that lasted well over 16 months.  She followed what her peers did, not really what the teacher said.  Even when she could hear well, the pattern had been established and trying to get a response directly from KIC was like pulling teeth.  She doesn't like to be wrong (I have NO idea where she gets that from), so she wouldn't even attempt an answer.  This would apply if you were asking her what she did five minutes ago or if you were asking her what color she was wearing.  She would say she didn't know, but could later be found reciting things like "blue + red = purple" to herself.  As a mother, it was very frustrating to know that she knew the concepts, but refused to demonstrate that she did.  KIC was no trick pony and she wasn't afraid to let you know.

I had to start considering a learning style different to what she was currently used to.  Her teachers were wonderful, but she wasn't retaining what she learned, at all.  Also preying on my mind, was the fact that every summer of her young life would be taken up in a school or camp environment.  It's one of the accepted aspects of being a working mother, but I couldn't help but think of my carefree summers and want that for KIC.

As it became clearer that we would have to pursue a different learning style for KIC, a tremendous opportunity came up to have someone we knew, trusted and liked give KIC the carefree summer of her young life.  Our focus was making the summer fun and pressure free.  Admittedly, my original request was to have KIC work on the areas where she needed the most practice.  Pretty quickly, that gave way to me relinquishing control and watching KIC bloom.  Make no mistake, KIC has always been a happy child, so I could never say she was miserable in the school setting.  But from the  very beginning of this new experience, KIC was somehow lighter than she had been while in school.  Each summer day was a brand new choose your own adventure chapter for her, and she was loving it.  Choices!  Fun!  And if some organic learning was snuck in, KIC embraced it.  It reinforced my belief that KIC needed something different.

So, now what to do?  KIC would always be welcomed at the old school, but was it what she needed?  How much trial and error could we afford, trying to find what worked for her?  The answer came quickly, but would require a leap of faith from us as well as from the person who had only signed on for a summer of fun.  Mostly on her part, cuz we Shoups are a crazy bunch.  I am not going to say that the Type A part of me came to the decision easily.  I am prone to fretting and fret I did, but KIC had improved in too many areas to be able to let my fears outweigh benefits so obvious, they smacked me upside the head.

All this to say, KIC will not be attending a preschool in the fall.  She will continue to stay at home and learn in a way that she cannot easily get lost behind her peers.  While her days of fabulous manicures and pedicures (!) and glamour girl picnics at a performing arts parks may be numbered, the door to her potential has opened that much wider.  We are extremely grateful for the opportunity and feel strongly that no matter how high this leap of faith is for all concerned, KIC has already come out a winner.  Please...with a mom like me, she can't help it!  ;)

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Art of Forgiveness

Raising children in a house full of animals is a delicate balancing act.  The members of the Shoup clan work really hard to ensure the safety of all our residents.  A clumsy fall requires an apology, dogs are off limits during eating times and cats cannot be picked up without adult supervision.  In turn, the animals do not share a bed with KIC ever, we are mindful during K's mealtimes and dogs must clear the stairs before KIC starts her descent.  We are extremely safety conscious and work diligently to prevent injuries and incidents.

Recently, however, there was an incident and KIC was bitten by one of our own dogs...in the face.  We aren't sure what happened other than the dog was asleep and a sleepy KIC tried to occupy the same space.  The dog was disciplined by KIC in a way KIC could relate to:  "No thank you, {insert name of dog here}.  That's not very nice.". The damage itself was certainly not as bad as you might expect, but the healing, even with constant ice, makes this momma's heart hurt. 

Last night, I asked KIC if she was still mad at the dog.  She said no she wasn't and that she realized it was an accident.  She said she was happy that she gets to feed the dog now and that the dog was still her friend.  She said she loves the dog and she was sorry she scared the dog and reiterated that she wasn't mad.

In am not sure why I never thought about what I could learn from my child, but forgiveness was definitely not on the list of things I thought I'd learn.  This is just another reminder of what a gift KIC is and how I still have so much to learn from her.  Though, if the universe is listening, I prefer my lessons without the side of dog bite.  Thanks.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Focusing on the positive - Update on Chief

Recently, I have started feeling that there is a void somewhere in the atmosphere and I have somehow walked right into the middle of it.  There are many contributing factors to this void, and all of them are having a greater impact than I'd like.  There are many things going well, and as always KIC serves as a bright and shining beacon helping to fight the fringes of darkness threatening to move in.   Some days, it's pretty hard to focus on the things that are going well and power through the day.  I feel like my big girl panties keep getting stretched thin in an effort to maintain my normal facade.  I'll power through it, I always do, and come out stronger on the other side. 

I did want to talk about a huge bright spot in the Shoup House.  You may remember my post about Chief where I talked about where he came from and the stresses of living with him and his behaviors.  We had gotten to the point where we no longer invited people who didn't know Chief to our home because it made our lives incredibly miserable.  We were fearful that an opportunity for KIC to have wonderful experiences would be denied as a direct result of Chief's behavior.  It's only a slight overstatement that we had become prisoners to Chief's behaviors, no matter what we did to try to control them.  He had improved significantly in that there was no more pacing and whining, no more relentless play and longer periods of restfulness, but we knew there was more he needed.  Much more and we just didn't know how to give it to him. 

I am ecstatic to say, we have found a wonderful trainer, through a training company in Northern Virginia, who has changed much of that fearfulness and unhappiness in our house.  Much of what had to change to make Chief successful was me.  The trainer has empowered me to be in charge again and not feel guilty about it.  I continue to learn valuable life lessons from Chief:  I may have experience, but there's always room for growth.  Chief has learned to calm down in the presence of new people.  He's learned he doesn't have to take food and he has gained respect for the "alphas" of the house.  He continues to be a work in progress, but oh my, how much progress he's made.

We recently had a canning party (I know, Martha Stewart, right???) with people Chief had seen before as well as people he'd never met before.  Jennie, who has met Chief at his worst, said that if we told her we switched Chief out for another dog, she'd have no problem believing it.  Julie, who had never even met Chief before, couldn't believe this was the dog I was telling horror stories about.  Kathryn, who thought she'd never be able to let him out of the crate during her days here, has sent me pictures of him snuggling  and content with her on the couch.  To be fair, the snuggling came well before the trainer, but the peacefulness wasn't there.   And finally, KIC no longer has to fear his lightning quick reflexes to steal her food and he respects her when she tells him no.  Doesn't stop him from begging, but we're taking baby steps.  Chief is a different dog and the Shoup House is so so so much better for it.

The hell that we have gone through, the people who have been hurt because we fostered Chief, and the relationships broken, never to be mended (who needs neighbors that like them anyway???) have tested our fortitude like nothing else ever has.  There are many things I wish I could take back, one HUGE thing in particular (TME, I can't ever express how sorry I am), but to be in the place that we're in now is nothing short of a miracle.  And that's a spot that will only get brighter. 

Hoping, if you're reading this and struggling with your own void, you find your bright spot and hold on with all your might.  That one bright spot might just attract other, brighter, spots helping to pull you out of the void.  That's my hope anyway.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Daddy Discipline

Poor Brent gets ganged up on by us girls. KIC generally follows my lead when it comes to dishing out the torment. I would like to preface the following story by saying no daddies were harmed.

KIC: Skunks make you smell bad by peeing on you.
Me: They don't pee on you, they spray you. Brent: That's right, they go "pssssshhhhhht".
Me: You know, once upon a time, your daddy was not very nice to skunks.
KIC, horrified: Did you spank him?
Me: No, I didn't spank him.
KIC: I think we should spank him!!
Me: I gave him a pretty good verbal spanking, didn't I daddy?
Brent: She sure did, KIC.
KIC, extremely satisfied with the outcome: Did his bottom turn purple???

I honestly don't know where she gets this stuff. *I* always stop when the bottom turns black and blue.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It really DOES take a village

I started this blog so that our far flung friends and family could keep up with the Shoups. Prior to KIC's entrance into the world, it was only a minor inconvenience to have friends and family so far away. That's what phone calls and trips were for. Plus, Brent and I are so fiercely independent, it was not natural to us to acknowledge needing help of any kind.

As K grew older, we moved more towards parenting and socializing with friends, and even with each other, was put on the back burner.  We were both enthralled (and still are) with our baby girl and didn't really want to be apart from her.  Our first date after KIC was a rushed Thai dinner with an even faster drive home.  I think we were gone all of 45 minutes, a fact my friend laughs about to this day.

As KIC grows older, so too does our support system.  Our friends and family are still far flung, but we have gradually added other houses to our village.  This post is to recognize all those wonderful people in our lives, and to hopefully inspire adding your house to someone s village.  Often, the people that need support the most are the ones who never say a word.

To our wonderful parents:  Thank you for every offer of help, every trip to visit and every thoughtful gift.  We know KIC means a lot to you and know that you mean a lot to her.  We are grateful to have you in our lives.

To great aunts and uncles:  Thank you for your love and support and the efforts you make to establish a relationship with KIC.She loves many of you as much as she loves her grandparents, which says a lot.

To the aunt and uncle who are so thoughtful: Thank you for your continued love and support to KIC.  I know that as she grows older, she will appreciate knowing how much you love her.

To the godmother that nobody could replace:  From the gender phone call to the blizzard the day of her birthday to countless baby bath nights, few could love her more, and for that there are simply no words.

For the friends who have (and continue to) invite us for playdates and provide coverage when we need it most:   Thank you.  We, and KIC are lucky to have you, and we look forward to watching our kids grow together.

To the teachers who can, and do, read this:Thank you for instilling core values, inspiring a love of learning and for putting up with shenanigans.

To the friends who travel this parenting road with their own KICs and become a source of comfort and counsel: Thank you for understanding nobody's kid is as bad/good/cute/infuriating as mine and knowing when to provide counsel and when to simply listen.

To the many many people who have offered their own time for KIC to experience first horse rides, first rescue road trips and firsthand looks at veterinary science, thank you.  Every experience has made an indelible impression on her.

To the slightly insane (you kind of have to be) person who assimilated into the Shoup house recently:  Thank you for becoming part of our village.  We have each benefitted so much from your presence, KIC most of all.  Know that no matter how long you are with us, we appreciate you.  Just don't leave tomorrow, K?? 

Finally, for everyone who has said how great my kid is, or how much they enjoy her, or who has asked to hang out with me as a poorly disguised ploy to see KIC...for anyone who can read this, thank you for being a vital part of our village.  Except those who remind me how much KIC looks like Brent.  You get kicked to the curb.  ;)

In short, thank you.  No matter how long you are with us, or how far apart we are, we feel the love and can't say enough how much it means to us.  And we like to think KIC has turned out pretty well, because of it.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cover your Barbie, please!!

KIC has a ton of Barbie dolls. Let's face it, if your kid is into Barbies, anything Barbie becomes a relatively inexpensive reward. "Poop on the potty and this Barbie doll is yours!" "No cavities at the dentist and I'll get you a Baaaaarbie!" "Clean the bathroom, and that Barbie convertible is yours!" Barbies and Legos also become ubiquitous kid gifts. The occasions for which a Barbie are limitless, ergo, KIC has a lot of Barbie stuff.

I can appreciate the lessons changing Barbie's wardrobe brings into real world focus. Learning how to coordinate, learning shirts go on top, pants go on bottom, etc. What drives me absolutely batty is seeing naked dolls everywhere. I have relaxed a little on enforcing all Barbies remain in a clothed state in the house, but I remain steadfast on the rule that all Barbies leaving the house MUST be clothed. While I harbor no illusions that my child taking a naked Barbie in public means she'll run away and join a nudist colony, I just think clothes on Barbie is the sensible way to go.
Today, while watering the flowers in the front of the house, I noticed KIC had an unclothed Barbie in her hand. I'm super impressed with her conflict resolution, but I'm not entirely sure she wasn't being a smartass. This is what went down:

Me: KIC, your Barbie isn't wearing any clothes.
KIC: Sorry, Mommy, I'll fix it.
Me: Thanks, bebes.
KIC (without ever having gone into the house): There, Mommy, I fixed it.

This is what I saw when I turned around. Ingenious or smart aleck, you decide.

Friday, July 13, 2012

An open letter to Charles E. Cheese

Dear Charles,

May I call you Charles?  I don't feel as though our relationship warrants the use of an affectionate nickname.

Kudos to you, sir, for cornering the market on cheap thrills, cheap eats and cheap prizes that enthralls children of all ages.Clearly, weary parents have been relying on hour entertainment skillz for years, so a tip of the hat to you. You've managed to evolve and embrace technology in ways other children's entertainment venues can only hope to emulate, while preserving classics that remain dear to many of us.  I still smile when I see Whack-A-Mole and Skeeball, no matter how stingy the ticket rewards get over time.

Where you have failed, and failed miserably, is in customer service when things don't go according to your policies and procedures. I won't go into details, but your general attitude of interrogation, not facilitation, is completely out of line when dealing with parents and caregivers. Those of us who are invested in the children in our lives, also strive to protect them. Accusations only bring out our protective instincts, and when our kids are involved, we go OFF!  Further, if you are calling to ask what happened, don't intimate that I am a liar.  Empathy and compassion go a long way.

As of now, sir, it will be a long time to never before we step foot in one of your entertainment places again.  While I recognize, this means a loss of approximately tens of dollars, it's the principle.  A place that does not core customer service values does not deserve another thought from the Shoup house.  I can get crappy pizza served to me by bored teenagers, minus the side of headache, anywhere.

Pizza is bad for you anyway

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It had to be you

A little over 10 years ago, I met my soul mate. I was not looking for love at the time, and our original meeting was a chance encounter. I knew, as soon as our eyes met, it was meant to be. Alack and alas, ours was an unrequited love for many months. But I never forgot that moment and I counted down the days until we could meet again.

After returning from my honeymoon (what, did you think this story was about Brent?!?!), I sought out my soul mate again. I could not forget her paws on my arm, her warm brown eyes or her sweet sweet face. Her name was Sunshine and I just knew it was meant to be!! Brent, being the softie that he is, agreed that Sunshine should be ours now that our lives had settled into marital bliss (ha!).

Life with Sunshine did not start out easily. She loved her people, but other dogs, not so much. She tested my patience, strained our budget and claimed everything not nailed down with her teeth. But she taught me about commitment, unconditional love and how to find patience like never before. She taught me the importance of communication and boundaries and the power of praise AND discipline. When Brent was deployed, Sunshine was my constant companion. Night after night, we would go on walks together, content within the peace of a world that was settling down for the night. She filled Brent's side of the bed willingly, and never complained when she lost her spot during his trips back home.

Sunshine has put up with a lot in this lifetime. I think she is envisioning her big, fat, juicy uncontested bone on the other side of the rainbow bridge. Her age and her diabetes are slowing her down these days, but she still gives the other dogs a run for their money when a bone is involved. She's still willing to give sweet doggie kisses, tolerate an energetic preschooler and greet new people with her ever present goosing. And she still makes my heart melt with her liquid (surgically repaired) eyes.

Everybody says the have the best dog in the world. I do not have the best dog in the whole wide world, I have the best dog for me. Stubborn, funny, protective, loving, smart and sweet, I do not ever want to imagine a life without my Sunshine.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Still the world goes round

For those not in "the know", a couple of months ago, I left my fancy White House job.  I had one too many late nights combined with one too many missed bedtimes and felt I needed a change.  I took a position with a company I worked for previously that was closer to home and promotes a better work life balance for all.  

Along about the same time I started my new job, we decided K needed something new with regards to her daily routine.  Originally, the idea was for her to go to summer camp through my new job, but when that fell through, we decided a summer of fun would be in order.  We were able to find a wonderful woman who would accept our crazy zoo AND give KIC a super fun summer.  Suddenly, it was like a burden was lifted from my shoulders.  KIC would have an entire summer spent, not with me comparing her to her peers and seeing where the weaknesses were, but instead, doing wonderful, fun, enriching things that neither Brent nor I have much opportunity to do with her.  Both KIC and her caregiver have embraced many new experiences this summer and KIC loves to share her stories with anyone who will listen.

The transitions, coming as close as they did, set the Shoup axis on tilt for a hot second.  I will admit, for my part, certain transitions have been harder on me than I anticipated.  I really did love my job at the White House and I love all the people I met there.  It was hard to avoid comparisons between the new job and my old job.  But I didn't fully appreciate how well my child had adapted to me being gone all the time until yesterday.

Me, pointing to a picture of Barack Obama:  KIC, who is this?
KIC:  I don't know.
Me:  That's Barack Obama.
KIC:  You used to live with him, right?
Me, smiling: No, I used to work for him.
KIC:  But then you left so you could spend more time with me, right? 
Me:  I sure did.  I love you, bebes. 
KIC:  I love you too, Mommy.

After a conversation like that, where I realize that KIC not only recognized my absence, adapted to it and appreciates my presence, it puts things into perspective.  The truth is, she'll love me no matter where I work and moments like this are fleeting.  Suddenly, I don't yearn for what I don't have anymore (as much), I appreciate (again) the gift that is my child.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Miseducation of KIC

I've mentioned about eleventy billion times before that KIC is cursed with parents far less intelligent than she. More than one friend has wagged the proverbial finger at me with the warning go "wait til she's a teenager and then you'll know how dumb you really are". While it's true that I lived the teen years long ago, I do recall thinking I knew everything (emo) and my parent's were clueless. I can't wait until my eye rolls are recognized for sarcasm as opposed to an involuntary tic.

KIC is super extremely awesomely blessed to have a summer filled with merriment lined up for her. Baltimore Aquarium? Yes, please. Lunch at fancy restaurants? Most delightful. Hobnobbing at a horseshow? Extraordinary, my dahling. For the most part, she is excited about these opportunities, but I'm afraid she's getting a little jaded.

To wit:

Me after confirming plans: KIC, you're going to the zoo tomorrow.
KIC, nonchalantly: Okay, that will be fine.
Me masking a snicker: You're going to the zoo and all you can say is "that will be fine"?
KIC: Uh huh. Me: Okay then. What do you think your favorite part will be?
KIC voice dripping with condescension: The animals.

So, today's mommy lesson is that you go to the zoo to see the animals. Apparently, according to my four year old, I have been living under a rock. Not sure what I would do without my four year old to keep me straight.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"You be the deer...now run!"

I  have, what I think, a foolproof way to scare deer away from the road while I'm driving.  And no, smarty pants, it's not my driving.  Whenever I see deer near the road, walking in the road or even thinking about getting in the road, I honk my horn.  I've used it many times, with much success.  Believe me, living on the edge of the country and surburbia, I see a lotta deer.

On one such occasion, with my excellent spotter Terri, we managed to scare away two deer.  Terri and I were both high diving each other, while KIC sat quietly in the back seat. 

Last night, while driving the very same route where we neatly avoided the deer, KIC was engaging in some creative role playing.  The following conversation ensued:

KIC:  "Mommy, how about I be the horn and you be the deer?"
Me:  "Okay, baby, but what am I supposed to do?"
KIC:  "When I honk the horn you run."
Me:  "...."
KIC:  "Honk honk!!!!!  Run, Mommy, run!!!"

Not sure how I feel about being moved to a lower rung of the prey part of the food chain.  I'll figure it out just as soon as I stop running.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why do you walk?

My Avon walk Chicago experience is officially in the history books! It was a gorgeous weekend in Chicago. Temperatures did not rise above the 80’s and the breeze off of Lake Michigan kept everything manageable. The support of the community and crew was fantastic, the camaraderie was the best I’ve ever seen and made me proud, once again, to be a participant in such a great cause.

Since finishing, I’ve tried to write this post in my head a million times. Everything I could think of seemed too casual, too flip. Instead, I thought I'd talk about what motivates me to do the walk. The truth is, there are a million reasons why I walk. I walk for the men and women who didn’t beat their cancer, I walk for the people they left behind. I walk for the men and women who DID beat cancer and forge a new legacy with and for their friends and family. I walk for the people newly diagnosed, who pick up the sword and shield and fight like hell every.day to win their battle against cancer. I walk for the people who have yet to be diagnosed, but who will soon join a fraternity of men and women who KNOW what it is to fight cancer. And I walk, so people who don’t know what it’s like to battle, will hopefully never have to witness the battle, will be aware of the battle and will be empathetic to those who are in the middle of the fray.

As we walked Saturday morning, a heated debate broke out behind us. A woman, who raised funds, who raised awareness and who at that very moment was participating in a walk to fight breast cancer, was arguing that the pink ribbon movement, and really all awareness movements, weren’t one size fits all. She could understand why women were angry to be called breast cancer survivors, who saw the pink ribbon movement to be opportunistic and single sighted (money). And just as I was about to turn around and join the heated debate, her companion said (paraphrasing) “this movement is about hope. It’s about hope for the families and hope for the people who are fighting.” And I thought, Amen.

I fundraise so the contributions of my friends and family bring hope to those who are battling. I walk so that those who have gone before me into battle, those that currently battle and those who will battle know that they are not alone. And I pray that my commitment to raise breast cancer awareness inspires others to raise awareness as well. 

Thank you for your support. Thank you for your monetary contributions. Please consider joining me next year in Charlotte, NC. Blisters suck, chemo’s worse…defeating cancer is priceless.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The importance of birthdays

Everyone knows that when you are young, birthdays are king.  They become a bargaining tool (if you'll be my friend, you can come to my birthday party), a weapon (you're not my friend.  I'm not inviting you to my birthday party) as well as an affirmation of friendship (XXX invited me to her birthday party!!!).  KIC LIVES for birthdays, and more specifically, birthday parties.  Aunt Terri's birthday is coming up and KIC has been further reinforcing her love of birthdays.  She's also been reminding me of the fact that she forgets NOTHING.

The set up:
Me:  KIC, Aunt Terri's birthday is coming up so -
KIC:  Can we go to her birthday party????
Me:  Well, no, Aunt Terri lives pretty far away and -
KIC:  We can drive there!!
Me:  We can??
KIC:  Yes, Daddy and I can help you drive there.  Daddy??
DH:  Yes, Kaitlyn?
KIC:  Can we help Mommy drive to Aunt Terri's?
DH (seizing a rare "payback" moment):  We sure can, KIC.
It was at this point, I changed the subject and stated it was time for me to take a shower.

The gift:
Me:  KIC, what do you want to get Aunt Terri for her birthday?
KIC:  A bike.
Me:  A bike??
KIC:  Yes, I think Aunt Terri wants a bike.
Me:  KIC, I'm pretty sure she doesn't want a bike. 
KIC:  I want to get her a bike.
~ Mommy calls Aunt Terri for confirmation that no, indeed she does NOT want a bike~
KIC:  Who was that?
Me:  Aunt Terri.
KIC:  What did she say?
Me:  That she doesn't really want a bike but will love and appreciate anything you get her.
KIC:  Then, I will get her a bike.
Me:  KIC, she doesn't really want a bike.
KIC:  But she said yes.
Me:  Yes, I know, but -
KIC:  She said yes, so we will get her a bike.
Me:  No, she doesn't want a bike so we'll have to figure out something else to get her.
KIC:  Okay, well, remember, that one time after school you said we could get her a bounce house and I could play in it.
Me:  Bike it is!

Enjoy your bike, Aunt Terri!  Happy birthday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just Call Me Lizzie

There was recently a (temporary) reduction of animals at the Shoup zoo.  Our (not at all) sweet hamster, Princess Gypsy crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  DH discovered the poor girl and promptly informed me.  We hatched a plan where the hamster would be covertly replaced with KIC none the wiser.

While I was in the shower (doesn't everybody do their best thinking in the shower??), I recalled several conversations wherein KIC referenced dying or being killed (bugs, to be specific).  Armed with this knowledge, I decided it would be a better policy to be honest with KIC.  This would have been okay, however what I failed to take into account is KIC was hungry and tired.  This is a recipe for crankiness under normal circumstances, but when you add hearing about the loss of a beloved (in the eyes of a four year old) pet, the results are nothing less than disastrous.

Because I was the one who delivered the news, Princess Gypsy's blood was (figuratively) on my hands.  At one point, as KIC was railing at me about how "you're not my friend, Daddy's my friend", I looked right at DH and said "you're welcome".  His smug face indicated we should have stuck with the original plan and then we wouldn't be in this mess.  To which I glared and stomped off, while hearing "you died her!!  You're not my friend!!"

Eventually, after a meal and some ice cream, KIC's heartbreak faded and we welcomed Princess Gypsy 2.0 into the Shoup Zoo. We all love PG 2.0 and work very hard to ensure her health and happiness.  Little Miss Memory of an Elephant, however, will remain ever vigilant as I interact with PG 2.0.  Recently, as KIC was taking a bath, I refreshed PG 2.0's water.  When I came back into the bathroom, KIC gave me a stern look and said "You didn't die her, did you?  Because that would make me very sad".  To which, I replied, rather sullenly, "No, I didn't!!"

If you need me, I'll be on my therapist's couch, asking why hamsters never love me

Saturday, May 5, 2012

This ain't yo momma's book club!

I was recently invited to join a book club. The first round featured an extremely heavy book and I wasn't sure I could hang. While the book was heavy, the conversations were irreverent, whimsical and funny. As the number of times we meet increases, our time spent discussing the book decreases, and the humorous discourse increases. It should be noted that, unlike many book clubs, our humor doesn't increase with our alcohol consumption, giving you an idea of just how awesome these ladies are.

There are some gems from tonight that are simply too good not to share. These are taken out of context, but I place no spin on the content at all. Okay, maybe a little.

The progression of a gift discussion:
"Hello,Pedro? How much would it cost to taxidermy a hamster? $200?? How long would that take? Could I have it by May 19th?"

"Hello, Mom? We're interested in creating a three piece taxidermied hamster mariachi band. Do you think you could check the taxidermy prices at the lake?"
"Okay, mom says we'll need to send the mariachi clothes and instruments with the hamsters. She says Michael's is a good place to look."
"I know someone who sews. We can totally get mariachi costumes for the hamsters!"
"We might want to get animals that are easier to find.  Though, calling around asking for dead animals to taxidermy is what puts you on my client list."  - criminal defense attorney

How far do you go to avoid embarrassment?
"I paid you $50 to not go to your sex party!"

"This crazy girl is going to shave her head, get a faux hawk - "
"You don't actually have to shave your head to get a faux hawk. You can just buzz it."
"Whatever. She's going to shave her head, get a faux hawk and dye it pink to raise money. I asked her how much it would cost for her NOT to do it."
"I will double what she's paying you so that you DO do it and I want pictures of you walking into work with a pink faux hawk."
"Yeah, I'm not actually going to go into work with pink hair."
"Oh. Well, that decreases the value for me."

On Death and Dying:
""Going to the lake" is my mother's euphemism for taking animals to the vet to be euthanized."
"Does she take husbands to the lake???"

"Wait, why do you have a dead hamster in your freezer?"
"Because they start to stink if you leave them sitting out."
"I have two dead hamsters in my freezer. I've had one for a year and a half, and the other for six months."

"I have the perfect book to read for our next book club."
"What's it called?"
""Ants Have Sex In Your Beer."
"My 15 year old son is going to ask how!"

The Aftermath:
"Tonight is going to get its own blog post!!"
"About crazy women who taxidermy their children's hamsters to give as gifts??"

Hopefully, you too can find an irreverent book club. Just remember, the first rule of book club is to not talk about book club.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mom, you scared the shark!

Last night, I completed another parental rite of passage - this the passage of tripping over your child's unfortunately placed toy and falling down the stairs. When I roared up the stairs that her toys and shoes should not be left in the middle of the step for me to trip over, I was met with silence. I know she heard me, I left her room not 30 seconds before, but I let it go and sulked in silence.

This morning, on our way downstairs, I pointed out the long plastic shark that led to the previous night's (pride) injury and pointed out that we don't leave our toys on the stairs. I explained I stepped on the shark and fell down the stairs. I took KIC's silence for an apology/acknowledgement of the severity of the situation and was satisfied.

Not five minutes later, the following conversation ensued:

KIC: MOM! You scared the shark!
Me: I scared the shark?!?!?!
KIC: Yes, when you fell on him down the stairs, you scared the shark. Now he will have to have quiet time for the rest of the day.
Me: But what about me?? I hurt myself tripping over the shark in the first place!
KIC, confidently: You'll be okay, but he needs a quiet day.

Guess the lesson here is be more careful around toy plastic sharks. *smh*

Monday, April 23, 2012

Avon Walk: Desperate Times call for Desperate Measures

Holy cow, y'all! Only 39 days until the Avon Walk in Chicago and I'm $900 away from my goal! Time to step up my game!

For this week only, I am offering an autographed copy of Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened".
If you are unfamiliar with Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, check her out here: The Bloggess Chooses her Battles

I'm starting the bidding at $20.

Additionally, if I raise $500 between now and May 7, I will dye my hair pink for the walk! If you think I'm bluffing, rest assured, I've already spoken to my hair stylist. We're gonna do the dang thing! I've even done a mock up of what my hair would look like (please ignore the helmet head, I used MS Paint):

In conclusion: Bid on The Bloggess' autographed book. Bidding starts NOW at $20 and will go until midnight, 4/28. To bid, leave a comment on this post, please. :)

Also, help me reach my goal so I can be the prettiest one at the Avon Walk! Thank you for your support!

P.S. T-shirts are still available for purchase. P.P.S. Here's the link to donate to avoid an EPIC fail: http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk/Chicago?px=5276065&pg=personal&fr_id=2171

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

4 year old attitude

Recently, I witnessed an interaction between a mother and child that was achingly familiar. The girl threw such attitude towards her mother that I could guess her age, almost down to the day! When the mother said "4", I nodded knowingly as it was the same vein of attitude I receive from KIC on a regular basis.

KIC and I have a ritual that plays out time and time again. She loves to cook with me and I love having her in the kitchen, however, sometimes her short attention span (ooooo, something shiny!) kicks in. To help balance that, I've started playing music when we're in the kitchen together. Not much is off limits for us. We listen to everything from The Bangles to KC and the Sunshine Band to Ke$ha. I thought I was a cool mom, until a Ke$ha song came on. I sang the intro with Ke$ha (as you do) and KIC looked right at me and said "You're not in this song." No drama, no attitude, just a matter of fact way of saying "Yeah, mom, you can stop singing now." I said, rather pitifully, "But I can sing too, right??" to which she replied "No. You're not in this song."

I am thinking KIC has created a new twist on an old adage: Mothers should be seen and not heard. Either that or I REALLY need to work on my singing voice.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Avon Walk: Fundraising updates!

Hello again from Crazyville! It's been a crazy couple of weeks around the Shoup House.

I have some results to give for the fundraising efforts:

Winner of one Whip It UP! Cakes by Tish: Learic Cramer!!
Winner of the 2012 White House Easter Eggs: Jennifer Moss Kinkaid!!

Thank you ladies! I'll be in touch shortly regarding arrangements and such.

It's also time to announce our next fundraising effort. I am selling T-shirts with our team logo on them. All proceeds will go towards my team's fundraising effort. I am accepting payment via Paypal. These are good quality, Guildan T-shirts and I have a range of sizes available. When indicating your purchase, let me know if you want pink

or gray:

T-shirts are $22 plus shipping. If I sell out, no worries. I can always order more! Please email me at tnkgurl @ yahoo . com (minus the spaces) with your orders!

Thanks everyone for your support. I am only $905 away from my goal! So close!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Avon Walk Chicago: The fundraising goes on!

Soon, I'll be announcing the winner of a "Whip It UP! Cakes by Tish" cake! Huge thanks to everyone who donated in the month of March!

We're exactly 60 days out from the big event and this girl still has some fundraising to do! Therefore, I am announcing an auction style fundraiser. Every week in April, I will post an item that you can bid on. It's not a silent auction, so people can see what you bid. Your final bid will not include shipping and handling, though there won't be tax (bonus!)! Please leave a comment with your bid on this blog, not on Facebook.

First item up for bidding is a set of 2012 White House Easter Eggs.

You get the full set, including the Bo egg shipped to your door. These eggs are special as it is the first year Bo gets his very own Easter Egg!!

The bidding starts at $10 and goes up in $1 increments. Bidding ends at midnight on April 7 and winners will be notified April 8th. Payment is requested 24 hours from the time of announcement.

Remember, this all goes towards a good cause and you get a really cool prize! Thanks and happy bidding

Monday, March 26, 2012

Are we setting a precedent?

For those of you who read my Facebook statuses, it comes as no surprise that we have a new addition in the Shoup House. We branched out beyond dogs and cats and have included rodents in our menagerie. KIC had attached herself to one of our foster kitties who was beyond unsuitable for the long term. In desperation one day, I told KIC that if we could find the foster kitty (who shall remain nameless) a new home, that I would get her a hamster. She flatly declined and I left it alone, resigning myself that {name redacted} would be with us forever.

The time came and I was fairly insistent that {name redacted} get a chance to find a new home. KIC put up no fuss and came with me to take {name redacted} to Petsmart to increase her chances of finding a good home. I should have known something was percolating in KIC's significantly underestimated brain. As we were leaving the store, she turns to me and says "Can I get my hamster now, Mommy?" sonofa.... It didn't happen that day, but only because I wanted to find a hamster at one of our local shelters.

After a two week search, and being unable to find a hamster at any of our local shelters, I checked craigslist and found one, with cage, for $10. DH met the seller, gave her $10 and got the "goods" so to speak. While investigating, it turns out the poor thing had mites like nobody's business. DH was very patient and doused the little critter with anti-mite spray and changed out her mite infested bedding. To say the hamster was grateful for the attention and the efforts would be to tell a complete falsehood. I believe she drew blood more than once in the time spent hosing her down.

KIC met her and named her Princess Gypsy. Gypsy is probably accurate as she is feisty as all get out, but the Princess part is a COMPLETE misnomer. We explained that Princess Gypsy was sick and kind of grumpy because she was sick, so KIC couldn't handle Princess Gypsy because otherwise, Princess Gypsy might bite.

Princess Gypsy has since been declared mite free and has relocated to KIC's bedroom. KIC, for her part, is SUPER excited about this development and checking on Princess Gypsy is the first thing KIC does in the morning. Princess Gypsy, being no fool, puts on a very good show for KIC, causing KIC to proclaim "Princess Gypsy LOVES ME, right?!?!" You're thinking, awww, that's so sweet, except, with the very next breath, KIC says "But I can't handle her, because she might bite me, but she loves me." While there's a life lesson in there somewhere, I'm hoping it's not, "they beat me because they love me."

I shoulda known adding to the Shoup House was a bad idea!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jam of the Week "B*tches in Bookstores"

Okay, technically, I'm cheating as this is more of a parody than an actual tune, but honest to goodness, I can't stop listening to it. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Woman without a school

KIC knows I take a bus to work. It's hard to differentiate, though Lord knows I have tried, the difference between my commuter bus and a school bus. This morning, we passed some children waiting for their bus. The following conversation ensued:

KIC: "What are those kids doing??"
Me: "Waiting for the school bus."
KIC: "Are they going to my school?"
Me: "No, babes, they go to middle school."
KIC: "What's middle school?"
Me: "I think it's where 6th, 7th and 8th graders go to school."
KIC: "Oh. Where's your school?"
Me: "What??"
KIC (louder, since clearly I'm hard of hearing and going senile): "WHERE'S YOUR SCHOOL?"
Me: "Oh, um, I don't have a school, babes. I go to work."
KIC: "Okay. Well, you can go to my school - "
Me: "Okay!"
KIC: "But you need to meet my Pre-K friends - "
Me: "Okaaaaaaay..."
KIC: "And then you can be in my classroom."

It's nice to know that when I'm too confused to know where I belong (ie, "school" vs "work") that KIC has a plan all worked out for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

For Crying Out Loud!

This weekend, the Shoups had a rare dinner out. I don't mean fast food (cuz heaven knows that's not rare), but an actual sit down dinner. Brent usually asks me about dress code before we went out to dinner, but I guess he felt pretty comfortable with the Cracker Barrel dress code. Just before we left, it was discovered that he was wearing his ratty lawn mowing shoes and he proceeded to change them.

As KIC and I sat in the car watching him change his shoes on the front step (after having walked out in his socks...BOYS!), I threw my arms open to playfully indicate that he needed to shake a leg (Momma was fiending for some double chocolate coca cola cake...haven't had it...don't! It's addictive!!). The following is a true accounting of all that transpired.

KIC (arms also outstretched with all the windows rolled up): BRENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(I start giggling and Brent doesn't understand why, so I roll down the window)
Me (whispering): KIC, tell daddy if he doesn't hurry up, we're leaving him here.
KIC: DADDY!!! We can't waste time, we have to go to get dinner!
(Daddy finally finishes and gets into the car)
KIC: Daddy! You had to change your shoes and now we're going to be late for dinner. We almost left you!

I've decided that from this point on, there's no point in me trying to corral DH when it's time to go out. I'll just send my mini-me into action!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Today, the Shoups got to experience the ceremony of a State Arrival. A State Arrival is used to welcome visiting foreign dignitaries and honor their relationship with the US. Today's visit brought David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK. Through a series of fortunate events, I was able to bring KIC, her bestest daddy and some friends of ours to the event.

A bad day at this office still beats a good day at any other office

It's hard to describe the sort of awe and wonder I have with military type events. I was eager to share the wonder with KIC. She may or may not remember it, but the point is I'll be able to look back on this time fondly. I'm not sure what I thought KIC's reaction would be. She was VERY excited to come to "mommy's work" even if we got up at "it's still dark out, Mommy, it's nigh-night time" o'clock. She loved her new dress for the occasion and ESPECIALLY loved that I let her bust out her new Princess light up shoes!

This is my I got up way too early face

Upon arrival, the people we encountered couldn't have been nicer to KIC. She was having none of it. She didn't want flags, she didn't want a program and heaven forbid she smile. Throughout the day, when people tried to engage the pretty little blonde girl, they found themselves joining the ranks of the snubbed. When the band came in, an awesome staff member (who I may or may not know...thanks, TH and EH!!)spotted us, took pity on us and moved us closer so KIC could see.


When we got to the squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee box, KIC was less interested in being thisclose to the podium and more interested in what her daddy was doing. That's cool. I can dig it. As the excitement mounted in the crowd with the announcement of the arrival of President Barack and Mrs. Michelle Obama, KIC stood at the rope line and halfheartedly waved her flag.

When the President and the Prime Minister joked about bracketology, burning down the White House (seriously, that's still funny after 200 years!) and being "chuffed", KIC stared with envy at her friend A's go go boots (they were seriously cool). She did perk up when I lifted her to see the red coat drum and fife corps because who doesn't get excited about a pretty red coat???


I don't think seeing Bo in all his glory taking his daily stroll even tickled her fancy (BTW, have you seen Bo lay an egg??). As the Obamas and the Camerons strolled into the White House, this was KIC's takeaway:

KIC: Mommy, can we go into the White House??
Me: No, baby, we cannot.
KIC: Why?
Me: Because we weren't invited.
KIC: Oh, okay. Can we go bowling then?
Me: No, baby, we cannot.
KIC: Why?
Me: Because I didn't reserve the bowling alley.
KIC: Oh, okay. Next time.

Kid's got her priorities and welcoming the Camerons to American apparently ain't one of 'em. I think I speak for all of the Shoups when I say to the people who made this happen, thank you. I can't ever express how awesome it was to have my family and friends experience this. And to the British Prime Minister: Welcome!

Monday, March 5, 2012

No sympathy

Sometimes, I feel like I'm a magnet for crazy people (readers of this blog excluded, of course!). I once had a woman strike up a conversation at the grocery store about kitty litter. This lead to her telling me her entire adult history of pet ownership, when all I wanted to do was take my now melting ice cream home. 20 minutes later, I was on my way.

Yesterday, we took our foster kitty, Fatima, to Petsmart in the hopes that getting showcased in a public place would lead to her finding her forever home. While there, there was a crazy woman who had no problems admitting she has 17 cats and telling me all about the designer breed she created. Irresponsible breeding drives me INSANE and the basis of her "designer breed" was too depressing to rehash here.

On our way to the car, I had the following conversation with KIC:

Me: "That lady drove me crazy!"
KIC: "Why?"
Me: "Because Mommy doesn't like it when people are irresponsible and make new kittens that need homes."
KIC (laughing): "That lady made you crazy. It's so funny when you go crazy."

Thanks, KIC. To quote Rodney Dangerfield "I get no respect."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You gotta know when to hold it

KIC isn't always a reliable source. She's selective about what she shares (see: My little spy), but the when is always sketchy and it's usually only what she wants to share, not what you want to know. I'm sure, in time, we'll be getting more details than we ever wanted to know, but until then, I'm content with little gems like this.

KIC: "My friend, XXX, had an askident. He pooped on the pwaygwound!"
Me: "He did?!?!"
KIC: "Yeah, he did! AND! XXX XXXX stepped in it!" (this is confirmed by the teacher double-bagging the unfortunate soles...haha! See what I did there?)
Me: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. I'm sure your friend XXX will be okay."

At this point, I'd like to mention that the school served the following throughout the course of the day:
- Blueberry muffins
- Yams
- Baked Apples
- Pineapples

If I had all that in the course of a day, I might be pooping on the playground too. Also, I'd like to learn some lessons from XXX. He apparently pooped while ON THE GO! That is TALENT!

Back to my conversation with KIC. As we walked down the steps to leave school, we noticed some crackers on the steps that had been ground into the tread.

KIC: "Someone spilled their food!"
Me: "It's okay. Since I'm sure it wasn't you, we'll be okay."
KIC: "Yeah, it wasn't me! You know what, Mommy? I was a good girl. I kept my poop in my bottom!"
Me (stifling a laugh): "Yes, baby, you did keep your poop in your bottom."

Can you list that as a resume skill? Knowing when to hold your poop? Cuz if so, KIC's got that particular talent DOWN and isn't afraid to tell you about it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Avon Walk Chicago: 2012

As many of you know, I have been a participant in the Avon Walk the past two years. This year, my team and I will be participating in the Avon Walk: Chicago. That's happening the first weekend of June in, you guessed it, Chicago, IL. There's not a lot of time between now and then. As such, it's time for me to get aggressive about fundraising! We are, after all, Team Honey Badgers!!

While I can't reveal all my tricks just yet, I am excited to reveal our first fundraising event! My very talented friend, Tish Bushrod, has graciously donated one of her cakes for us to use as a fundraiser. For every $10 donated to our team, you get entered to win one of Tish's fabulous cakes. Decorated to your taste, Whip It Up by T promises fresh ingredients, meticulous design and unparalleled flavor.

Here are the deets:
- 1 cake for up to 12 people
- Cake decorated to your specifications
- A three week timeframe is requested prior to delivery date
- Entry period ends at midnight, February 29
- $10 per entry to win!!

Please pass it onto your friends! The cakes are fabulous, Tish is awesome to work with and it's for a good cause!! Maybe you can have your own Honey Badger cake!

Here's the link to donate:
Team Honey Badgers

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

JOTW: Oasis "Wonderwall"

Well, here I am with another nostalgic Jam Of the Week. I remember thinking in the 90's how profound this song was. "Maybe, you're going to be the one that saves me..." Because, you know, we all wanted to be saved in the 90's. We were all about feeling, man. Well, that, and mosh pits, but that's a different sort of feeling.

It's a shame that the Gallagher brothers couldn't get past the infighting. They really did bring about an awesome Britpop resurgence that helped bands like Bush, The Verve and Blur, to name a few, gain recognition here in the states. "Definitely Maybe" was pretty much it for them, but what a way to make their mark!

This song is my personal favorite and I might have dedicated it on more than one occasion to an undeserving boyfriend. Maybe. I will neither confirm nor deny. ;-) Enjoy!

Monday, February 6, 2012

KIC: Best wingman I know

The following illustrates just how much my poor husband has to deal with on a daily basis from K squared.

Me: "KIC, ask your daddy if we need eggs at the grocery store."
KIC: "But Daddy's upstairs."
Me: "That's okay, yell up to him."
KIC (while standing right next to me): "Daddy, do we need eggs???"
Daddy (unaware of the collusion): "No, we have some in the fridge in the garage."
Me: "KIC, ask your daddy if he needs razor blades."
KIC (still standing next to me): "Daddy, do you need razor blades??"
Daddy (somewhat sharply): "No, I have plenty of razor blades."
Me: "Ask your daddy if he needs shampoo." (This is a long standing feud between DH and I, so now I'm using KIC to poke at him).
KIC (hasn't moved and inch and is now perusing mail order check options with casual disinterest): "Daddy, do you need shampoo??"
Daddy (snappish now): "NO I DON'T! I have plenty of shampoo!!!"
Me (seeing an opportunity): "KIC, ask your daddy if he needs a new attitude."
KIC (still perusing check options): "Daddy, do you need a new attitude?"


Finally, I can't control the giggles any more and actually snort.

Daddy: "I'm not laughing."

I fall to the floor laughing hysterically, KIC throws the check options paper in the trash, Daddy mumbles to himself about needing a vacation and the animals all ignore us crazy humans. Just a day in the life of the Shoup House.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Mother's Creed

I have found that as a mother to any creature (well, maybe not fish), we are often vulnerable to judgement from outsider's. It's not that we make ourselves vulnerable, it's that people feel it's appropriate to comment on what we are doing. You learn to smile, nod and ignore it (if it's unsolicited) or take it with a grain of salt. But sometimes, in your weakest moment, a kernel of doubt wedges itself in your brain, and in your heart. The following tidbit is for those times:

A Mother's Creed
I am a mother first, a wife second and a friend always.

I am not perfect, nor should I try. It is my duty and obligation to make mistakes - otherwise, how will I learn?

I will not always be patient, wise and kind, but I will always love my child (whether furry or human) through thick and thin.

My house will never be featured in "Tidy Homes USA", but friends and family will always be welcome.

My meals will never not always be from scratch, or even made at home, but judge me by the time spent with family, and not by the meals that I serve.

My child may not have the prettiest ponytails or coordinating Gymboree outfits, but she is sent off to school with a hug, a kiss and an "I love you" every morning and that's what I hope she remembers.

I work full time to help provide for my family while my daughter goes to school all day - that won't change and we are all okay with that.

At the end of the day, nothing said or done will change the fact that my child is my legacy and she's who matters most. In the meantime, we learn together through this parenting.