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 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.