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.