Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Craft Night Fun??

We aren't much for structured activities in the Shoup House.  This is largely due to the fact that, as a champion procrastinator, some of my best ideas come spur of the moment.  And also, because at any given moment, some random activity that wasn't even on our radar suddenly HAS TO BE DONE RIGHT NOW!  Family movie night on Friday nights is about as structured and planned as it gets 'round these parts. 

Recently, in an effort to help KIC and NannyK with a project they would be distributing to a retirement facility, we turned a random Saturday night into family craft night.  The craft was deceptively simple:  cut out two shapes that resembled silver bells, tie a jingle bell onto a ribbon, knot the ribbon on the end without the jingle bell, glue and smash together. 

Test sample

Initially, NannyK and KIC had to take a break from making them because they ran out of glue stick.  Of the 40 bells they needed, they had been able to complete 10.  30 jingle bells left?  No problem.  We got this.  KIC and I picked up a six pack of glue sticks (only because I'm pregnant and any other type of six pack is frowned upon, though I would soon see alcoholic enhancement should have been listed as a requirement in the instructions) and merrily went on our way.  The crafting would commence that evening!!!  

The evening of crafting began with KIC distributing two glue sticks to each of us.  Proud parent moment is when your Kindergartener conquers division without even knowing it!  DH cut the ribbon, based upon a length of ribbon NannyK used, I traced and cut out bells and KIC glued the ribbon and the bells and smashed them together.  Our first snag came when I traced the bell on the white border of the scrapbook paper.  When I saw what I did, and realized it was too late to salvage those bells, I was forced to admit my mistake after a most vehement "Awwww, man!"  KIC, seeing my distress, immediately came over and said "Don't feel bad about yourself."  Mind you, the activity had just started.  With my child telling me to not feel bad about myself, when I wasn't planning on it anyway, I could tell we were in for a long evening.

When we started the craft, I envisioned this well oiled manufacturing machine, a la Henry Ford.  I would be in charge of the bell cutting, DH would be in charge of the bell stringing and KIC would put it all together.  On the first bell, I could see why NannyK and KIC had run out of glue - KIC was gluing the bells, and the tablecloth, like they were a cake ordered with extra frosting.  Not one to mess with creativity, I let it go, taking comfort in the fact that the tablecloth was vinyl.  Not even done with his first bell (remember, the process is string bell and tie at the top), DH complained that his fingers were not small enough to tie the bell at the top.  It was at this point, KIC started chanting "Never give up, never give up!" and I started fantasizing about a mojito.

We soon discovered that we would be running out of ribbon and would not be able to complete the assembly of the 30 additional bells.  We calculated we would be able to finish about 12.  Somehow, our calculations were of extreme disappointment to KIC because it was at that point she confiscated the glue sticks from DH and I, saying "I think it was a mistake for you and Daddy to have these."  She of the glue layers so thick you couldn't see the paper through the purple of the glue stick.  I started fantasizing about a second mojito and saw DH smirking, waiting for me to acknowledge family craft night was a bust!  NOT ON MY WATCH, BUSTER!!!

I went out and purchased some additional ribbon and DH and I finished the remaining 18 bells well after KIC had gone to bed - my ego had taken as much beating as it could withstand that night.  It was a good thing too because with the snow storm, NannyK and KIC would not have had time to complete the bells.  I would like to state for the record that had it not been for the glue stick pancaked on the bell cut outs, they actually would not have stuck together.  Who knew???  Well, KIC did, but that's not surprising!

I am happy to report that 37 out of the 38 residents at the retirement community were thrilled to receive bells.  One lady wasn't that into it, but we'll work on her.  Valentine's day will knock her socks off!  Bonus was KIC got to work on her interactions with stranger skills, something that has been steadily improving much to everyone's delight.

As for me, the moral of the story goes like this:  Parents don't know anything about gluing stuff, if you mess up, don't feel bad about yourself, and if you want to retain some semblance of self-respect, don't craft with a 5 year old.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Watch out for that bus!!

There are two new fascinations for KIC that, I believe, will set her up for a career in politics.  The first is her fascination with the "law".  To be clear, the "law" to KIC is police officers.  Any time we see someone pulled over for an infraction, she says "oooo, the law got mad at somebody and pulled them over to get a ticket.  Now they have to go to court and go to jail."  No amoun of "not always" could convince her this is not the case.  In any case, a strong alliance with the "law" would most certainly help the career of any aspiring politician.

The second fascination is her abject refusal to accept responsibility for ANYTHING.  NannyK and I watched her jump off the top step, land on the sidewalk, hit the slippery leaves and fall down.  Whereas her immediate reaction used to be "I'M OKAY!", now it's "I DIDN'T DO IT!!!"  The day she manages to convince any one who sees her direct actions that she did not, in fact, "do it", is the day I throw in the towel.  Seriously, anyone with that much charm has no need for further parental guidance.

Recently, after a shower, I discovered my hair brush had gone missing.  My hair brush tends to be interchangeable as my hair brush and KIC's hair brush, often without my knowledge (I know, I know, I'm going to be in a world of hurt when the lice epidemic hits).  This is the conversation that ensued.

Me:  Who took my hair brush???
KIC:  Not me!!!
(Brent was not around to defend himself)
Me:  Well, somebody took it because it is not on my sink.
KIC:  Well, it was not me.
Me:  Fine, I'm going to call the law. 
KIC:  No you're not!!
Me (pretend calling the law):  Hello, sheriff's department?  I would like to file a complaint.  Somebody stole my hair brush.  Uh huh, uh huh, I see.  Okay, we'll see you soon
KIC:  You did NOT just call the law!
Me:  I did too.  They are going to come over to talk to us because I STILL don't have my hairbrush.
KIC:  It's by my sink.  But I didn't do it!!!  Daddy did!
It's at this point Brent returns from his walk with Sunshine.
KIC:  Daddy, mommy called the law about her stolt hair brush and I told her you took it!  You're going to have to talk to the law because I didn't do it!

Brent admitted to taking the hair brush and not putting it back, but at the end of the day, I was STILL the one who had to retrieve it!!!  I'm going to have to speak to the law about that.  In the meantime, Brent is still tending to his wounds from being thrown under the bus.  He better get used to it.  We still have 13 more years to go!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Avon Walk 2013 Redux

So this year, as many of you know, I participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte, NC.  I signed up for the walk, at a discount, last year when participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago.  It is my goal to experience the Avon Walk in each of the host cities.  I could use the excuse that it gives me a chance to view the local sights, but the reality is, you follow a path and if your path takes you past pretty stuff, then you're good.  Otherwise, as was the case with this walk, you're checking out the pretty Craftsman homes!  In truth, I am really just running away from the hills of the DC Walk.  What, you didn't think DC had hills?  Just try walking in and out, up and down the streets of Georgetown and Silver Spring!

This year, there were many factors against participating.  Fundraising was harder, training was nonexistent and oh, yeah, that whole seven months pregnant thing.  The more you tell me I can't or shouldn't do something, the more I want to do it.  Just ask my mom - I'm contrary like that.  To say that being pregnant (and busy) impacted my training would be an understatement, but I was confident I could do the 13 miles.  I knew there would be blood, sweat and possibly tears, but I had this.

Two weeks before the walk, some health issues, and doubts, started to appear.  For the first time ever, I doubted that I could finish something I started.  Fortunately, the healthy issues (braxton hicks and high blood pressure) were not significant enough for me not to participate, but admonishments were given to take it slow and do no more than I could.

I won't bore you with all the details, but I will say that I finished.  I thwarted the hills of Charlotte (who KNEW???), the steps they threw in just for fun on day 2 and the voice in my head that kept telling me to quit.  I gained inspiration in some of the strangest ways ever:  a pug in a dog cart with issues exactly like Sunshine's (!) who appeared when I was ready to quit, a woman who had a miserable time trying to raise funds and awareness, but who walked anyway and the girl from Florida who was woefully unprepared for the 40 degree weather but camped anyway!  And, oh yeah, the telltale hairless heads of women who had just finished chemo and brought with them not on the the strength to fight, but to walk as well. 

Many of you have said that I was awesome for doing the walk and remarked that you were unsure how I was able to do it as pregnant as I was.  I had a choice, for sure, to postpone to another year.  But I couldn't help but keep positioned in the forefront of my mind that my 26 mile walk was nothing compared to the battle many brave women and men, and their friends and loved ones, face daily.  This walk wasn't about me, it wasn't about me proving the naysayers wrong - it was about those who fought this disease with everything they have, win or lose and are mad as hell they had to do it in the first place.  It's about making sure that girls in KIC's generation have better weapons to fight with, or, hopefully, not ever having to fight at all.  And it's about ensuring that even if you don't know someone who has been personally affected by breast cancer, you cannot let blinders keep you from understanding the impact that this horrible disease has on the lives of those who have known someone impacted by breast cancer.

Second to childbirth, this is one of the most grueling experiences I have ever had in my life.  If it wasn't for the support of donations, my cowalker Sarah, and my wonderful friend Terri who was willing to hurry up and wait to schlep our tired bodies home, I could not and would not have done this.  I am grateful to everyone for their support and honored to be walking for such a worthy cause.  But, I hope you will remember, the true heroes, the humans who are really awesome, are the ones who go into battle everyday.  Send them your accolades and support.  Lord knows, they can use all the support they can get.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2 Legit 2 Quit

This pregnancy has been much different than when I was pregnant with KIC, on many levels.  One bit, in particular, that has been "fun", is the constant Braxton Hicks.  For those unfamiliar, Braxton Hicks is a nice way of saying "you're having contractions but it's not doing anything other than causing you pain."  Apparently, epidurals for Braxton Hicks has not been explored yet.  Someone needs to get on that!  But I digress.

Bean is a very active baby.  More so than KIC EVER was.  It would seem that with his activity level brings Braxton Hicks.  This has been going on since about week 17, in varying degrees of intensity.  I've learned, for the most part, to shrug them off and press on.  Recently, though, my contractions were timeable.  Every five minutes, I was experiencing the joy of a contraction.  The more I moved, the faster, and harder, they came.

When one is pregnant, you are constantly admonished to call your doctor in the event anything out of the ordinary is going on.  I called, told them about my contractions and was summarily sent to the hossabuilding, as KIC calls it.  Since I was so far from my due date, regular contractions like that were definitely cause for concern, though I suspected it was still Braxton Hicks.  I got hooked up to all kinds of fun monitors and gave the usual personal information.  After what seemed like forever, I was seen by a doctor from my practice that I had not yet met.  This is what went down:

Dr:  So why are you in here?
Me:  I had been having contractions every five minutes so they asked me to come in.  They have (of course) slowed down since I got here.
Dr looking at the monitor and not seeing any contractions:  Well, it could be one of two things.  One, you're having pre term contractions or two, you're having pre term labor.  The only way to determine which one it is is to do a cervical exam.  If it's pre term contractions, you'll be able to go home for dinner tonight.  If it's pre term labor, then we're looking at putting you on magnesium sulfate and starting steroid shots.

Side note:  Magnesium sulfate was the thing I was most concerned about.  That stuff has TERRIBLE side effects on the mother, though it does really good things for premature babies.  Anything else, I could have handled.

Me:  Okay, sounds good.
Dr:  Okay, I'm going to do the exam now.
Me (experiencing one of the most painful contractions of the evening):  Ooo, that kind of hurts.
Dr:  Yep, you're legit.  That's a pretty significant contraction.

Ummmmmmm, what??  Did you think I came here so I could get a good night's rest???  Good golly!

The exam found that I was having pre term contractions and not pre term labor.  It seems that my uterus continues to be locked up tighter than Ft. Knox for now.  I was sent home that evening and treated myself to a milkshake on the way home.  My only care instructions are to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Because pregnant women don't spend enough time in the bathroom!!! 

For now, I am happy that Bean gets to cook for awhile longer.  In the meantime, if you see me walking down the hallway singing a certain MC Hammer song, well, you'll know why.

You're singing it now, aren't you?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It is never okay to point and laugh

I apologize in advance as this post may be all over the place.  Things for the Shoups have been pretty emotional (and expensive) lately.  It doesn't help that with Bean in the oven (one of many nicknames for the baby still cooking in mah belly), my hormone levels are higher than normal.  Just ask Brent.  ;-)

Our dog Sunshine, whom we dearly love, adore and cherish, is like a little old lady for many reasons.  As she ages (she turns 13 in January), so, sadly, does her body.  We have been managing diabetes for her for over five years now.  It coincided nicely with the birth of KIC.  "Hey, Shoups, I know that having a kid is an expensive endeavor, but let's throw in a ton of required veterinary care over the next five years to add to the fun!"  We have seen more specialists for our dog than most people see in in a lifetime.  We are dedicated to responsible pet ownership and would do it no matter what.  It's part of the package for us and always has been.  Is it an obligation?  Absolutely.  But is it done with love and respect?  100%. 


Sunshine's mobility had been failing for about 8 months or so. We noticed weakness in her hind legs and sought both traditional medication as well as homeopathic remedies.  She was diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy.  The vet could bend her rear paw completely underneath Sunshine's foot with no recognition or correction on Sunshine's part at all.  With the medications, we were able to buy a ton of time always knowing that the progress we gained was fragile.  In August, we had a huge scare.  And by scare, our worlds were rocked.  Sunshine's energy level had gradually been going down, but one night, it was clear through her coughing that Sunshine couldn't get enough oxygen.  At 1 am, B rushed her to the emergency vet.  We spent the next 14 hours wondering how long our girl would be with us.  The cost of a used beater car later, Sunshine was diagnosed with pneumonia and sent home with meds.  The oxygen and fluids had done wonders for her system, we knew what we were up against and we added another tool to our arsenal against her aging body.  We had a follow up with our regular vet the next morning, which gave us all peace of mind.  When Sunshine came home from the emergency vet, she was tired from not sleeping or eating much, but her mobility was much the same as it was before. 

The next morning was one of the scariest moments of my life.  I brought Sunshine downstairs, as we always do, since her neuropathy made stair navigation extremely scary for her.  When I put her down, she could no longer support her weight.  When I went to pick her up, I discovered she had defecated on herself.  Overnight, she lost almost all muscle control and seemingly, her bowel control.  I rushed her to the vet and carried her in myself, with KIC trailing behind.  The news from the vet was not good and she braced us to expect the worst.  Brent and I spent much of the day in tears thinking we would soon be saying goodbye to our girl. 

Inexplicably, Sunshine, as she is wont to do, defied the odds.  Her appetite started to increase, though her mobility was clearly lost.  We were sling walking her so she could relieve herself, prompting one very nice gentleman to stop and tell Brent that he had much respect for what Brent was doing and hoped that if his dogs got to the state Sunshine was in, he would do the same thing.  When B came home and shared, we both broke down and cried.  It was an extremely emotional time. 

We started to see that the sling could only be a temporary solution.  At five months pregnant, I couldn't physically support her during her sling walking.  We bought a cart, the cheapest on the market, because we weren't sure if she would accept walking in a cart.  Our reasoning was that if Sunshine didn't take to it, we could always donate it to a dog rescue that could use it. 

It took awhile, but as you can see, she eventually accepted it.  It didn't hurt that to goad her into walking in it, I would take another dog with us to provide competition.  ;-)  Nope, not a one of us Shoups is competitive.  The booties on her feet are from when she was at her weakest and dragging her feet as she walked.  If you look closely at the farthest paw, you can see how the weakness would allow her toes to bend under her foot.
To reach this milestone with Sunshine was huge!  HUGE!  We were all extremely proud of her and her accomplishment.  I was excited to be able to walk with Sunshine again, without having to worry about her falling and taking me with her.  We walked around in a bubble of pride, praising Sunshine with each accomplishment.  If rewarding her with an M&M every time she peed or pooped was appropriate for a dog, a diabetic dog at that, I would have done it!  Go Sunshine!  Even KIC would walk behind Sunshine chanting "Go Sunshine, Go Sunshine!"  It was a family effort.
And then, I started noticing the stares.  And the children outright pointing and laughing.  Some people even looked at us in disbelief and disgust.  I think the perception is that we were prolonging Sunshine's life for our own perverse satisfaction.  I actually began to welcome the folks who asked why she was in the cart.  Nobody knew what we went through to get to that point, nor was I going to give them the full run down, but the number of people who had their own perceived notions about our intentions or how "funny looking that dog is" was incredible.  Sunshine didn't and doesn't care so long as she gets to check her "pee mail" and do her thing, but I could see KIC start to take it in, especially when it was a peer who was doing the pointing and laughing.  It bothered me, more than I can say, and made me so sad.  The bubble of pride had shrunk and had become a bubble of protection.
Since school has started, Brent has started taking Sunshine to the bus stop in the mornings.  In a rare move of efficiency for him (cuz he's a boy), he walks KIC to the bus and then walks Sunshine afterwards.  Remember me saying we bought the cheapest cart we could find?  Well, it has come back to bite us in the butt.  The cart bit the dust for good and we are waiting for her custom cart (which was actually not that much more expensive) to come in for her.  In the meantime, the time she had in the cart gave the swelling around her disc compression enough rest that she can walk a block under her own power - albeit like a drunken sailor.  Those kids who were pointing and laughing have been able to see up close and personal the phenom that is Sunshine and KIC is proud to have Sunshine at the bus stop with her. 
I know that our society generally looks away from people with disabilities.  The fact that pointing and laughing is acceptable for an animal with a disability is interesting.  If we didn't frown on such behavior when a human being is involved, would we see a lot more laughing and pointing at humans?  Perhaps I am oversimplifying, but a smile always goes a lot further than ridicule.  Maybe people don't want the explanation and maybe I don't want to give it, but before they pass judgement, they should consider that they don't know all the facts and sometimes they really aren't all that important anyway.  Kindness is what counts.
The face of misery?  Not a chance.
In the meantime, we continue embrace each day with Sunshine, now with joy instead of grim determination.  Havoc has taken it upon himself to be her boon companion, her instigator and her general pain in the rear.  We see her happy grin more and more, and each walk seem to be a point of pride for her.  Instead of thinking we have weeks, we now hope we get another couple of years.  No matter the outcome, she'll always be our Sunshine. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

RIP Princess Gypsy 2.0

This is a tribute to one of the neatest creatures we have ever had the pleasure of knowing in the Shoup House.  Princess Gypsy 2.0.

Our first Princess Gypsy, met an untimely demise, so we did what any parents would do.  We eased the sting by getting another Princess Gypsy!  While the original PG taught us what NOT to do and what to look for, she wasn't the nicest critter.  I don't think she had a great start and was saddled with newbie little critter parents in her golden years.  The newer addition was the size of a rat, minus the tail, and so super cute and sweet!  And very tolerant of a little girl continuing to poke her face into PG's cage.

We learned a lot with PG 2.0, especially the need that hamsters have to climb.  We learned that PG 2.0 was bored in her tank as she didn't have many climbing opportunities.  My favorite story with PG 2.0 happens to deal with our habitat transition.

Once I figured out PG was bored, we went to several stores trying to find a habitat suitable for a Siberian hamster.  SHOCKINGLY, there is no hamster specialty store and the workers in various big box pet super stores were less than knowledgeable.  I found this crazy pod looking thing that promised to provide her with tons of climbing opportunities (it did not) and would be spacious enough for our precious PG 2.0(it was not).  We got it in the mail and NannyK and KIC set about putting it together.  None of use had this sense of security about it as the whole construction part was extremely nebulous.  It just didn't seem all that secure and we dumb humans couldn't seem to get it right.  We had moved PG downstairs as she was keeping KIC up at night, but I felt something would go amiss in this new pod.  I moved her into the dining room figuring, if anything went wrong, she wouldn't have to deal with the dogs.  We had to leave for about an hour that evening so it wasn't like constant monitoring was an option.  We loaded the pod with treats to entice her to explore.  Was it my imagination or was she uneasy about her new place too?  Rest assured, there was no dilly dallying that night.

You can imagine my grim satisfaction when we came home and notice the clever PG 2.0 had managed to open her pod and escape.  I think they should advertise this habitat as an escape pod.  We immediately started scouring the dining room for PG 2.0 with KIC's hysterics increasing in volume as each minute passed.  Incredibly, during a panicked call to NannyK about the lost hamster, she was located within 5 minutes of our search.  The wily hamster had managed to jump about 3 feet down from the dining room table and evade  not one, but two, curious felines.  They have since been relieved of their rodent catching duties. 

To my relief, PG 2.0 seemed none worse for the wear.  Except...oh crap!!!  She had blood streaming from her mouth!  Frantically, I'm going through my veterinary rolodex wondering which was the closest to treat an injured hamster and omigod, could they save her?!?!?!?!?!  Wait a minute.  PG is looking at me bright and alert like "what in the world are you raising a fuss about?!?"  But ... there's blood...  Suddenly, sanity set in.  The enticement to explore her habitat?  They were strawberry yogurt bites.  Knowing she was going on the lam, she must have stuffed her cheeks with the yogurt bites and while on the run they melted.  Further inspection showed melted strawberry yogurt bites EVERYWHERE!  Belly, paws, face, with PG 2.0 none worse for the wear.  A presentment of the hamster ball and PG was scooped up and put in the old habitat.  We were back to square one, but the excitement of the escape was enough to last PG for a while until we could find a new habitat.  One that did not act as an escape pod!

In the end, PG 2.0, in her golden months, got a rather sizeable tumor that prevented her from doing much other than sleeping.  We fed her sugar water, which she loved, while we figured out what was wrong with her.  When the official diagnosis came back from the vet, we knew it was time to let her go.  This is definitely not a new topic for KIC, but we were all pretty devastated. 

We have since welcomed Hercules into our crazy Shoup zoo.  True to Shoup humanity form, KIC picked a very sweet, very nice little guy who is losing his fur like crazy due to some mite infestation.  He's a happy little guy, though not our first choice.  Our first choice, much like Princess Gypsy in size and color, was adopted before we could get to the shelter.  Fostering is not all roses for any of the Shoups, and sometimes giving up one of our fosters is gut wrenching.  But, I was grateful that when I told KIC that someone else had adopted Susie, it meant she could rejoice and not be sad.  Whether the hamster is a necessity or not, they continue to teach us more than we could have expected.  And for that, we will continue to be happy to give them a crazy, loving home, melted yogurt bites and all.

RIP PG 2.0.  Thank you for the happiness you gave us all.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Semi-wordless Wednesday


Baby Boy Shoup (not yet named) due end of December 2013.  He's already measuring and weighing ahead of his gestational age, so we'll see when he REALLY arrives (big sister was two weeks early).

Big sister, KIC, is thrilled!

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Weird Friends: Post #35 (or something)

My crazy Liberace loving friend and I share some irreverent emails on occasion.  Okay, really, most of our conversations, no matter the medium, take a turn for the weird.  I think in some ways, we set out with grim determination to see who has the most abstract content.

My friend, whose sanity I seriously question, has her daughter at home with her for the next month while waiting to start a new school.  This while juggling the demands of an infant and trying to work 40 hours a week from home.  Bet you are starting to question her sanity as well.  This has been her first full week and if everyone in the household survives the next month, then it will be due to being on the receiving end of man many many miracles.  So, if within the next month, you ask for a miracle and do not receive it, you too can blame my friend Liberace.

To lighten the mood, I forwarded an email I received about artificial insemination of pandas.  The email was titled innocently enough "Giant Panda Update:  Cub Watch Begins!"  I am not sure why I continue to receive emails very technical in nature about giant panda insemination, but I am always happy to share them.  In this email, they mentioned that since Mei Xiang and Tian Tian failed to mate naturally, Mei Xiang had been inseminated twice with the sperm of Tian Tian and another male, Gao Gao.  The following chain ensued:

Me:  No matter how fun Mommy Day camp is NOT, at least you are not getting updates regarding the artificial insemination of pandas.
Liberace:  I'm pretty sure Tian Tian wouldn't appreciate the Smithsonian advertising his deficiencies.
Me:  And if it turns out to be Gao Gao's baby, is Tian Tian going to be expected to raise it?  How come Gao Gao gets off scott free?
Liberace:  Right?!  Is there a mediation lawyer for panda custody cases?
Me:  That could be our million dollar money maker - Panda Custody lawyers!  How's your mandarin?

And that, friends, is how you get sucked into a panda custody wormhole.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Why KIC can never go back to summer camp

My current employer offers a great summer camp deal to all employees.  I signed KIC up for camp thinking it would be a sort of "kindegarten lite."  She would ride the school bus, have to get up early and be in a modified classroom setting for a couple of weeks.  Today was KIC's first day at summer camp.  Between NannyK and I, we have spent hours and hours, weeks upon weeks talking up summer camp and how fun it is going to be.  KIC was super pumped to go to summer camp and woke up with a cheery attitude at o'dark thirty when I indicated it was time to get up.  Breakfast to go, sunscreen, fully stocked backpack (one change of clothes, three pairs of underwear, towel, sunscreen, bug spray hair brush, second pair of shoes, kitchen sink, etc) and we were off!

I took a different way to work today, taking advantage of the fact that I had two people in the car and we would be able to use the high occupancy vehicle lane.  As I travelled down this road, I was reminded, yet again, why I pay $8 a day for the convenience of the toll road.  We BARELY squeaked by to get to the bus that was going to take KIC to camp.  All was well and with a "Bye, Mom!" she was off for her very first big girl camp.  No NannyK, no mommy, no daddy, just KIC alone in the big world. 

All day long, I was antsy with anticipation.  I couldn't wait for 4:00 so I could pick up KIC at the bus stop and hear all about her day!  A friend, recognizing my antsy-ness, offered to come with me to the camp mid-day to check everything out.  I politely declined stating I wanted to hear how KIC's first day at camp went before I started doing the random check ins. 

Finally, 4:00 came (okay, 3:50) and I walked sedately (raced) to the bus stop, gathering other parents along the way.  I waited impatiently for her to get off the second bus, but when she did, she looked happy and said she had a good time.  "Mommy, I was with the graders today!"  "There were graders there??"  (wondering if there were some safety violations I should be concerned with)  "Yes, first graders, second graders, I was with them!"  Cute.  Off we went in the truck, heading for home.  Since there is no nap at camp and KIC is accustomed to a two hour nap every day, she promptly fell asleep effectively eliminating any camp talk on the way home.

We reached home and the following conversation happened:
KIC:  "Mommy, on the bus today, a boy said a bad word."
Me (knowing this summer camp deal was too good to be true):  "What did he say, KIC?"
KIC:  "I don't want to tell you because you'll get mad at me."
Me:  "I promise I won't.  What word did he say?"
KIC:  "Underwear.  But he said he was sorry and that he would tell his mommy what he said and would never say it again."
Me:  "KIC, that is not a bad word."
KIC:  "Oh.  Well, then that's okay."

End of conversation.  (those of you who have seen my status on FB can guess where this is going)  We eat dinner, chill out for awhile and then it's time for bath.  KIC takes off her cute little sundress and it is revealed that she is not wearing any underwear. 

Me:  KIC, where is your underwear?
KIC:  I didn't put any on after swim.
Me (voice rising):  Why not???
Me:  Okay, fine, just make sure you put some on after swim tomorrow.
KIC:  Okay, mommy.

We do the shower thing and she's getting dressed and something dawns on me:  the underwear conversation.

Me (near hysteria):  KIC, did the boy on the bus ask you were your underwear was??????
KIC:  Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Me (not reassured):  What did he say to you?? 
KIC:  To weaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr soooooooooooooommmmmmmmmme.

So there you have it.  KIC can never go back to camp and I now have to find another job.  If you need me, I'll be in the corner in the fetal position playing "Crying Game" over and over.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How many times have I beat you??

It's no secret amongst my family and friends that I am pretty strict with KIC.  We have fun, silly moments, but when I feel like she's done something not safe or is getting out of control, I do not hesitate to address the behaviors on the spot.  Some may not agree with my parenting style, but I learned very early on, ironically as a pet owner, that if you do not set expectations and reinforce those expectations, things can get out of control very quickly.  Consistency is my mantra.

Recently, KIC has been working on her drama skills.  If she knows she has done something unsafe or recognizes she has gotten out of control in some way, she'll recoil and back away from you like you're going to beat her.  Where I am strict, NannyK is permissive and KIC recoils from NannyK as well, for no good reason.

We were at a grocery store, late one night, when KIC nearly flipped a small shopping cart over on herself.  I cut her some slack given the events of the night (out late, sitting patiently through an appointment for mommy, etc), but as soon as the shopping cart slammed to the ground, she started fake shaking and backing away.  After this conversation, I'm surprised CPS wasn't called.

KIC, backing up, fake shaking:  I'm sorry, Mommy!!!!!!
Me:  KIC, how many times have I beat you?
KIC thinking while the cashier and other shoppers look on in horror and Uncle Chris looks away in embarrassment.
Me:  NONE!  So stop acting like I'm going to beat you.  You weren't being safe, you almost got hurt, next time don't do that.
KIC nods hesitantly.
Me:  Uncle Chris, we are going to wait for you outside.
Uncle Chris nods in acceptance.
KIC, as we are walking away from the checkout aisle:  Awwwwwwwkwaaaarrrrrrrrrrd!

Please, friends, when I come visit, have the decency to have an alcoholic beverage poured in advance.  I'm going to need it over the next 15 years.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Little things

I haven't updated the blog in awhile.  It's not because KIC hasn't done or said anything funny.  It's not because now my funniest material is on Facebook.  It's little things that add up so that sitting down to write a blog post is the furthest thing from my mind.  It's the running to and fro from this thing to that.  It's addressing the needs of the house and those within the house.  It's ensuring that the emotional needs of all creatures within the Shoup house, great and small, are met. 

There are some overwhelming things going on right now that we Shoups, and our Shoup affiliates, are currently consumed with overcoming.  Once we come out on the other side, I promise, we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming.  With all the material KIC provides, how could we not?  :-)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Egg Roll 2013 Redux

I had the privilege of working the 2013 White House Easter Egg roll for the second year in a row.  In the morning, I had the distinction and honor of escorting the White House Easter bunnies to their various media appearances.  And I do mean various.  From Al Roker to all the local channels, everyone wants face time with the bunnies.  And why not??  They are downright adorable!

This year started out on a foggy/chilly note. 

Washington Monument in the Mist

The bunnies' first appeareance was with Al Roker at 6 am.  I guess Al does weather with the Weather Channel too, before the Today show.
It's Al Roker, I promise!
While I definitely appreciate Al Roker and his dedication to giving us entertainment with our weather, I was beyond excited about my first celebrity sighting of the morning.
Assemble the minions!!!!!  Note the super cute and super not weather appropriate outfit!
I was in charge of escorting the bunny known as Junior Bunny in the morning.  This guy was FULL of shenanigans.  And possibly encouraged by his handler.  A little.  I can neither confirm nor deny.
 Bad bunny!!!!

Austin Mahone with the Bunny

The bunny tried to fight Slapshot!!!
We found out later, we had the wrong bunny head with the costume.  I think he looks fetching with Mama Bunny's head and Junior Bunny's body.  Looks like my hopes for a career as a costume character stylist at Disney are shot.
Once the morning round of media appearances were complete, the bunnies were off for meet and greets with their adoring public.  On more than one occasion, they were photobombed by Nickelodeon characters, but the bunnies and handlers dealt with it gracefully.  Nobody is claiming credit for tripping Bugs Bunny, but mess with the best, fall with the rest.  I'm just sayin'!
During the second shift, some really cool people came to visit!!
"Some day soon, I'll be President Kaitlyn!"

                                               Man, they let anybody into the White House!
Like Mother, like daughter!

Love Jordin's face in this picture!
That was the highlight of my day.  This was the highlight of their day.
President Obama reading "Chicka Boom Boom"

 First Lady Obama reading "Cloudy with a Side of Meatballs" and Malia and Sasha reading "Brown Bear".  Bo's in there too.  In this picture, the First Lady is telling Bo to stay off her white pants with his muddy paws.  #dogownerproblems
You would think that KIC, who LOVES President Barack Obama and still tells people that I used to live in the White House (it only felt like that) would have been thrilled to have him reading her a favorite book.  I was sitting in the back with Jordin and was not able to see what KIC was doing.  Thank goodness for the interwebs.
She's not even paying attention!!!!
Clearly, she would rather have been doing this:

We also managed to see Gordon, Elmo, Abby and Rosita from Sesame Street as well as some high flying tumblers from Chicago.  I saw them later and told them how awesome they were.  Incredible and KIC was riveted the whole time!  Each child attendant receives a wooden Easter egg when they leave and KIC and Jordin were lucky enough to get the coveted Bo egg!  This egg is only available if you buy the Easter Egg set, so we were thrilled with this.  Plus, KIC loves dogs (though she didn't want to pet Bo at all) so this egg was super appropriate.
After they left, I wrangled bunnies until the sun was almost setting into the sky.  It was such a magical day and so great to spend it with so many of my friends.  It was super neat to see the look of wonder on people's faces as they wandered on the lawn of the WHITE.HOUSE.ZOMG!  As long as the day is, I can't wait to do it again next year!  Suck it, sequestration!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Day I Got Marital Advice from My 5 Year Old

For anyone who has been in a relationship, sometimes you feel like you are the only one who can do things.  My mom has a theory that men intentionally do things wrong so women step in and say "Oh, I'll just do it" with a scowl.  This wages an internal war between pride that we are the ONLY ones who ensure the world doesn't crumble around our ears and frustration that we can't even delegate simple tasks.

Today, for various reasons, DH took over regularly scheduled Sunday activities.  This entails taking KIC to swim, Wegman's apres swim for brunch followed by grocery shopping.  There were two things on the grocery "list."  A cinnamon roll for me (I'm an addict, so sue me) and bananas.  It wasn't until later in the day that I realized that the bananas did not get purchased.  With some other sort of perfect storm factors thrown in, I did not handle the omission well and was quite vocal about it.  For the record, it's less about the bananas than about the overwhelming feeling of responsibility associated with all aspects of the Shoup House.  And that's as psychoanalytic as I am going to get.

During baby bath night, I was recounting the day to Terri and admitting that the grumpiness about the banana was a little bit overstated.  KIC joined in and shocked us all.

KIC:  Mommy, Daddy didn't get the bananas because he forgot where they were.
Me:  No, Daddy didn't get the bananas because he forgot to get them.  He knows where they are.
KIC:  Daddy forgot the bananas because he didn't have a list.
Me:  That's right, he didn't have a list because he didn't make a list.
KIC:  Well, when Daddy doesn't make the list, then you can also make a list.
Terri:  She knows more about marriage than I do and she's only 5!!

This is where Terri and I burst into hysterical laughter.  She had me dead to rights and there was nothing I could say.  Nothing. 

KIC:  And when you don't have a list, then that's when you get into trouble.
Me:  Nobody is in trouble.
Terri:  No, I think we're all in trouble.

As the conversation went on, and KIC was waxing poetic about the importance of lists, Terri desperately tried to steer the conversation away from the controversy.

Terri:  Okay, I'm going to change the topic.  KIC, how was swimming today?
KIC (who obviously heard, "you had swimming today"):  That's very true, Aunt Terri, but right now we are talking about the importance of lists.

It was shortly after this point that I declared baby bath night over and it was time to wash up.  I didn't need to hear any further why Daddy and I BOTH were in the wrong.  So much for female solidarity in the Shoup House.  Thank goodness for Christmas moonshine.  Keep it coming, Terri.  I think I'm going to need a 13 year (at least) supply.  Heaven help us all.

Friday, March 1, 2013

We done lost our minds!!

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes, not only am I ornery, but I contradict myself.  Shocking, I know!!!  I hate scary movies.  Hate them.  I couldn't even stay for "The Others" even though it was free.  I got mad at my friend Terri when we went to see "The X-Files" because she promised me that there would be no scary scenes.  In the broad light of day, I would run from the room whenever the guy ripped the other guy's heart out on Indiana Jones.  No haunted houses, ever, for this girl.  EVER.  E.V.E.R.  I prefer to avoid scary movies and scary scenes altogether. 

Here's where I get weird (shush, peanut gallery):  I LOVE to do scary makeup.  I'm not creative like those guys that do the monsters and stuff for movies, but I can do a good gory biker run over by a car straight outta the movies.  Frankenstein, with bolts and all - no sweat.  Conversely, princess makeup scares me.  Even KIC, with her heavy hand when applying makeup, scares me less than it would if I did it myself.

Okay, bad example.  The hair is scarier than the makeup.

Given my penchant for scary show/movie avoidance, it should be no surprise that I am not currently watching, nor have I ever watched "The Walking Dead."  For those not in the know, "The Walking Dead" is a tv show on AMC about zombies...or something.  I contemplated watching it, briefly, before Terri politely advised against it for the scary factor.  That right thurrr is a good friend.  I must have scarred her for life after "The X-files".  

Enter NannyK who apparently likes to scare the living daylights out of herself (just a guess).  The show introduced an app that allowed viewers to take the picture of their choice and "zombiefy" themselves.  Yesterday, NannyK showed me a picture of herself as a zombie.  With morbid fascination, I urged her to "zombiefy" KIC. 

"Please, sir, may I have more braaaaaaaaaaains???" 

I loved it!  LIKE LOVED IT!  NannyK was INSISTENT that we not show KIC her picture as a "slombie" (as KIC calls it).  Incidentally, it was NannyK waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when that sparked a brief fascination in zombies for KIC.  (She used to walk around the house with her shirt over her head saying "I'm a sloooooooooombie.")  I did not know it was NannyK's influence that caused this fascination until AFTER I hired NannyK.  Just sayin'.

When KIC woke up from her nap, I did inDEED take the opportunity to show her the picture her loving nanny made of her as a "slombie."  She looked at it confused, not recalling when it was she had put on zombie makeup.  Her main concern was that none of the makeup get on her American Girl doll, McKenna.  It took awhile for NannyK and I to explain that it was merely a filter causing her to look like a "slombie".   I then suggested (because not only am I morbidly fascinated in zombies, but I'm apparently an instigator too!) that we do a "slombie" picture of McKenna too.  NannyK and I were told, in no uncertain terms, that we were NOT to make McKenna into a "slombie."  In KIC's words, "If Santa (who gave KIC McKenna in the first place) comes back next year and he sees McKenna all messed up from being a "slombie", you are going to be naughty!!)"  I, of course, mouthed to NannyK "take the picture at nap tomorrow!"

In a conversation later with NannyK, she mentioned that the pic of KIC as a zombie kind of freaked her out.  I asked if it was because she was afraid KIC would wake up crying out "Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!!!  I need braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaains!!".  She said "If McKenna gets ahold of her, maybeeeeee" and then she sent me this gem:

So wrong, it's right!

Hope Santa doesn't put NannyK and I on the naughty list!!!!  That NannyK - she is the gift that keeps on giving!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

8 Simple Rules Men Will Ignore

It turns out, yesterday's post neatly led to a point/counterpoint discussion.  Here to present his side of the story is Bill Aquaviva, a part time partner in kickball and general mayhem.  Part time only because we no longer work together.  He's tall, he's funny and he's got a mean kickball kick.  And bonus:  ladies...he's single!  Line forms to the left.  ;-)

1. No, be honest with us: “I want a man who makes me laugh”. “I’m looking for a gentleman”. “I’m looking for character and morals more-so than looks”. No you’re not. You’re looking for Brad Pitt and someone who can make you laugh, is a gentleman and has character and morals. Guess what, there’s one Brad Pitt in the world ladies and I guarantee I’m funnier than him and I probably have higher standards than him – plus I wouldn’t have ditched Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie just because she was hotter. Guys lie and girls lie. Both are looking for physical attraction so don’t say it’s not the most important thing when it clearly is.

2. I think I know what kind of girl I want: Look, just because my end goal is a long term relationship doesn’t mean you are going to be it. I might go out with you and realize you’re not the one for me, and that might happen immediately or over time as the real you comes out. Of course there are guys just looking to get laid and will deceive you into thinking they care but you should be able to spot them right away – like when they push for sex on the first date! And if I push for sex on the first date there should be no hurt feelings, no accusations and no stalking; you can call me a jerk and leave but you just met me how the hell are your feelings hurt? And just because we want to kiss you doesn’t mean we want to push you up against your car and take you right there – we just want to kiss you.

3. Sometimes less is more: First of all, a woman gets more emails because society has set men and women up this way. The guy is supposed to pursue and the woman is expecting to be pursued. Just because you get a lot of emails doesn’t mean you’re all that. It means you have a nice profile picture. If you want a guy who is going to be a real prospect then focus on the emails with substance in it. Ones that mention your interests and show proof they read your entire profile. That’s someone who wants to know “you”, not just the pretty face or hot body he sees. And your “we can always find another guy” mentality is what contributes to your fickleness in online dating. Stop thinking “he’s OK, but let me see who else is out there, maybe something better will come along” and send an email to the “ok” guy and see how your conversations go. He could be your Prince Charming.

4. Gentleman my ass, women want a bad boy: No man wants to be the “nice guy” or the gentleman who is paying for dates, putting effort and thought into dates, going slow and being respectful when you’re not being intimate with us because you like me and don’t want me to think you’re a slut by sleeping with me too soon but meanwhile you’re out there having a one-night stand with someone else. Yes ladies, you do have what we want and I think we make that painfully obvious but that doesn’t mean you should use that as a lure. You know what that gets you? A bunch of men trying to be the one to catch that lure. Why do I have to work for it? If you like me and are attracted to me than what is wrong with giving it to me? Besides, playing hard to get with a bad boy attitude and not so quick text replies opens those doors faster as women worry about losing you – or their perceived hold on you.

5. I’ll never call you again: Who wants to tell someone obviously looking for confirmation that you liked them and want to see them again that you didn’t and won’t be calling them? Do you really want us to end our date that way? Do you want that rejection up close and personal? Fine. Next time you say “so you’ve got my number, right?” I’m going to say “Sure do, but I’m deleting it as soon as I get to my car because this isn’t gonna work for me”. Men say they’ll call because it’s expected – it’s the polite thing to say, and yes, because it’s easier to never call you again than it is to deal with you in person when you get mad or upset. And if you’re building a house and picking out names for our kids after one or two dates then you have deeper issues than just being a potential stalker and you should really see someone about that.

6. Empty bed = cheating: We don’t think you’re playing coy if you turn down sex on a first date. If anything that would be a good test of a woman you want to date versus a woman you just want to nail. But we do think you’re playing games when there’s no sex on the horizon after multiple dates, and that really annoys us and it’s only a matter of time before I go looking for someone who will give me what I want if you won’t. Ultimatums should never be used in dating or for sex, but if they are at least you now know you can walk away. And please don’t threaten us with telling your friends about us. That doesn’t do anything but make it a challenge for us to now nail as many of your friends as we can.

7. Lots of animals successfully poop where they eat: Office romances are not a bad idea. Why are you assuming we’re going to go through the entire staff? Maybe I really like one co-worker and want a serious relationship with her. Why should she be off-limits just because we work together? Because women can’t keep their mouths shut and have to tell everyone? Or is it because you’ll spread rumors about me if we break up just to be bitter and vindictive? Men are well aware that women talk and we know most of you are not discreet about it so if we’re willing to put ourselves out there to date you and risk all that gossip it might just be because we like you.

8. My dad was a wolf and I accept your apology: This goes back to #5 and lying about calling you. If it’s over I’ll tell you but I’ll tell you on my terms, which like you is usually put on hold while we find someone else to take your place. When we do tell you in person it’s usually dealt with tears, anger, accusations of cheating, etc. Who wants to deal with that crap? If you were more mature about it and able to say “that sucks” or “I didn’t see that coming” or maybe you did see it coming but were hoping things would improve then we would tell you in person. Or, like in #5 we can be honest and say we no longer like/love you and found someone else so take care. How would that go over for you? What are you going to say to your girlfriends about me now? It’s less about manning up than it is with having to deal with the emotional onslaught that follows a breakup.

Unfortunately it doesn’t all boil down to respect, ladies. You want respect but you don’t give it. Hell, half of you don’t even really want the respect, you want the bad boy. And no matter what happens you’re going to look at us cross-eyed and tell all your friends, and take out a billboard, and post a “Beware of this man” on Craigslist, and dedicate a Facebook page inviting all our exes to talk about what slime balls we are. So we may as well play by our rules. Just sayin’.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eight Simple Rules for Single Guys

Eight Simple Rules for Single Guys
Alternately titled “Thank God I’m Married!”
Based upon the alternate title, you may ask yourself why I am writing a blog post for single guys. It’s a valid question so let me explain. It has recently come into my awareness (read: we girls gossip) the state of dating today. I thought it might help for a happily married woman, with no vested interest in dating to provide some objective feedback to the lonely hearted (read: lonely bedded).
1. Be Honest With Us: With the BOOM! of online dating, it’s not always easy to get a read on people. I get it. Body language is definitely important in the early days of getting to know someone. However, if you’re looking for a booty call, not a life’s mate, let a girl know. Just let us know up front so we can be on the same page – or kick you to the curb. Whichever is appropriate. Which leads me to #2.
2. What kind of girl do you want: Don’t say you’re looking for a long term relationship and push for sex on the first date. This leads to many many complications that can be avoided. Hurt feelings, hurled accusations and even stalking, and nobody wants that. Figure out what you want, tell us what that is (communication – shocking, I know!) and if it’s gonna work, it’s gonna work. But better to save time up front.
3. There’s always more where you came from: There’s a reason online dating is so popular: quantity whittled down to quality. Know how many emails a girl with an online profile receives daily? More than what’s in your inbox, I bet. We can always find another guy, one who might just be better suited than you. You want some of this? Then see #4.
4. Be A Gentleman: Girls have what guys want. We know it, you know it, and clearly our ancestors knew it. If you want it, then it’s worth working for.
· Don’t ask on the first date what my “downtown” grooming situation is. You want what I got, then you shouldn’t care.
· Ladies first. In all things in and out of the bedroom. End of story.
· It takes two seconds to open a door for us. Old fashioned or not, you opening physical doors for us, opens other doors a lot faster – if you catch my drift.
5. Don’t say you’ll call and never do: I get that this is ingrained so far into the male DNA that it will take another 100 years of evolution to rewire, but get over it. You don’t like me, you don’t want to see me anymore, tell me. My physical appearance doesn’t match your online expectations? Don’t say “I’ll call you” if you never intended to. Be a man and say “this isn’t going to work.” Otherwise, I’m still building a dream house with five kids in my mind and we all know how that goes! Stalking.
6. Ultimatums = empty bed: When I say no to something beyond my comfort level, I’m not playing coy. I don’t want to have sex on the first date/meet your goddesses/insert appropriate (or inappropriate) situation here. If an ultimatum is issued and you don’t find yourself in an empty bed, then it will only be a matter of time before the girl wakes up and sees your true personality (see: douchebag). And don’t think she’ll be afraid to tell her cute, single friends about your tactics thereby drying up other potential hookups. Good luck with that.
7. Don’t poop where you eat: Office romances are a bad idea. When you’re a player working your way through the entire single girl population? Worst idea ever. Like so ever. Girls talk. Some are discreet, some are not. If you’re going to engage in office hanky panky, choose wisely. That nubile, cute 20 something is going to have no problems telling all her friends about you. Thereby drying up other potential hookups. Again, good luck with that.
8. If it’s the end, it’s the end: Look, if this “thing”we have has run its course, chances are the girl knows it too. She’s probably keeping you around while she scopes out other opportunities. Girls like arm candy too (and no, I’m not talking about diamonds). But I digress. If you aren’t feeling “it” any more – tell me in person. Worst case, you don’t want to see the tears (of happiness), call. Texting, emailing, social media, “Dear Jane” letter – they are all cop outs. Man up! Anything else should make you feel like a slimeball – unless you were raised by wolves, in which case, I apologize.
It all boils down to respect, men. Respect us, we’ll respect you. Disrespect us, and we’ll talk about that time you laid down an ultimatum because the girl wouldn’t do what you wanted her to. And then we’ll look at you cross-eyed and tell all our friends. And maybe take out a billboard (or 7). And post a “Beware of this man” on Craigslist. And dedicate a Facebook page inviting all your exes to talk about what a slimeball you are. Just sayin’.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Can't Let This Go

Alternately titled, "Why You Shouldn't Tell Me Anything."

I want to first preface this by saying, the person depicted in this story is 100% not made up and also not me.  Secondly, I'd like to also state that this is all in good fun but everything the other person says they BELIEVE. 

Friend:  You won't believe what happened to me!  I got pulled over for going 57 mph.

Me:  In a 55??

Friend:  Yes!  And I told the officer when he pulled me over "Officer, I have been told my whole life that there is a speed allowance and that during work hours, you can go a certain number of miles over the speed limit."

Me:  You shouldn't have done that!  That is an admission of guilt!  You should just get your speedometer calibrated and when you go to court -

Friend:  Oh, I didn't get a ticket.

Me:  You didn't??

Friend:  No, I just got sassed.  The officer said to me "You know, usually people never pass me."

Me:  You PASSED a police officer?  Going above the speed limit?

Friend:  I always do. 

Me:  ...

Later in the day:

Friend:  After the rough start I had this morning, things are kind of crazy.

Me:  Well, you had the police officer pull you over and what else?

Friend:  That's it.  And I was on the phone with my friend, so he said "So, you passed me AND you were on the phone."

Me:  You PASSED a police officer AND you were on the phone when you did it???

Friend:  Yes!

Me:  I just...I can't...I am going to leave now because I don't trust my filter is working.

Friend:  It's never been a big deal before when I have passed police officers.  It's part of the morning commute.

Me:  Please stop talking. 

Friend:  *laughter*

If you need me, I'll be auditioning new friends with a driver's online test.  Oy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Secret Club

I am part of a secret women’s club

Members join reluctantly, to no fanfare

We don’t have a handshake or secret signal

No wink, no nod, no fancy hats or outrageous clothes

We wear masks, like scarlet letters, to hide the pain

We don’t hail our club members with hearty greetings or big bear hugs

Only when another joins our ranks, do we reveal our membership

There is no initiation, no ritual to gain entrance

There are no privileges, no fancy balls

No retreats where we can rest our weary minds

No ornate lodge for congregation

Just a lonely little atoll surrounded by an ocean of emotion

Yes, I am part of a secret women’s club

It’s one I can never leave

I can only paste a bright smile on my face

And support my sisters as they grieve.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My weird friends

A friend was recently forced to renovate a bathroom in her home.  Understandably, she took the opportunity to put some style into the renovation. My friend's style is fairly conservative, so when she referred to the soon to be renovated room as the Liberace room, I naively thought she had chosen some wild color.  To be fair, my friend gave me many clues, including the use of the word "wallpaper", but as I am a visual person, I couldn't really see past some weird purple color.

This is an "in progress" photo she sent me:
Liberace would be proud

The following is the conversation that ensued:

Me:  Ummm, that's a whole lotta look.
Friend:  Lol...What other room could we get away with doing that in?
Me:  Maybe it's better in person.
Friend:  Probably not.  It's a little bit metallic and very ostentatious.  That's why I call it my Liberace bathroom.  We are going to get a white corner cabinet to fill up some of the space.  I have a candelabra I can put on top.
Me:  Who even says candelabra any more?
Friend:  What else would you call it?
Me:  I would call it "Not in my house".

For those interested, my friend is charging a mere $5 to tour the Liberace/seizure inducing bathroom, so if you happen to visit Jacksonville, FL, be sure to give her a ring.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mini Me

It's no secret to anybody that KIC is a near perfect physical replica of her dad and a near perfect attitude replica of me.  It was clear from the womb (!!!!) who she was going to favor (though he tried to make me feel better by denying it until she was three months old).  I mean, friends and family could see who she would favor physically!  Most people look at ultrasound pictures and go "Oh, hey, that's a really cute...blob."  My friend Terri, being the astute woman she is, said to me, after seeing the ultrasound picture "She's going to look like Brent, but you know she is going to be just like you, right?"  And she was right.  It doesn't make the "mirror moments" any less shocking, however. 

Once such moment caused me to laugh so loud, I embarassed my soon to be teenager.  I plan to practice all the mom mortification moments I can between now and the time she has her own teenage daughter.


KIC has just finished her swim lesson and has to go to the bathroom, as one does after swim.  She comes out of the stall, struggling to pull up her swim bottoms. 

Me:  KIC, you don't have to pull those up.
KIC:  I don't?
Me:  No, you're just going to change into dry clothes anyway.
KIC (with a sly, sideways glance and a big grin):  Amen, to that brother!
Me (raucous laughter reverberating around the locker room)
KIC:  MOM!!!!  You're too loud!

If she thinks I'm loud now, wait until she has to walk across the stage for some school achievement!  That'll show her!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Disney Wrap Up

Well, we're back and unpacked from our fabulous Disney vacation.  It was definitely tough to return to reality after being spoiled for five straight days.  I am still dreaming about my scallop and shrimp pastry from Be Our Guest and K is still walking around regally (side note:  her princess hair lasted three days until I insisted it finally be washed!  Even then, some of the shape was retained until her swim lesson!)

I wanted to make a list of stuff I found helpful while at Disney.  I am doing it mostly for my own memory retention (mind like a sieve these days) but would be happy if they helped others as well.

1.  Book now!  I can't stress this enough.  Disney is more popular than you could EVER anticipate.  Ever.  If there's an event you heard about and you think you want to try it, book it now.  It is FAR easier to cancel than it is to get a reservation at the last minute.  On our last day at Disney, we met a college student who was working at Disney as a part of a program her school offered.  She was taking her day off to explore Disney and would continue to do so through her tenure.  I told her she should go to Be Our Guest while she was there and she said it was all booked through the time she would be leaving to go home.  Will it ruin your vacation if you can't go to the Princess Dinner?  Absolutely not and if you're a take it as a comes and if it works then great kind of person, then there are a TON of other options you can take advantage of.  But if you, or your kid, have your heart set on a particular experience, dining or not, make a reservation!

2.  Use FastPass!  A FastPass is a voucher to come back to a ride during a specific timeframe.  It allows you to skip ridiculously long lines but still have the opportunity to ride the attraction.  During the month of January, especially the middle of January, the park attendance isn't as high as it is when school is out.  However, some of the more popular rides, and newer rides, can have significant wait times.  Getting a FastPass gave you the opportunity to get the ticket, go eat, or shop, or ride an attraction with a much smaller wait time and come back.  You can reduce your mental stress and physical stress (from standing in line).  You get to maximize your fun!  It doesn't get much better.  If you do take advantage of a FastPass, I would definitely not suggest going back at the very beginning of the FastPass time frame as you'll hit the line of people who were smart like you.  ;-)

3.  Take advantage of technology  Disney has an app, on the iPhone for sure and presumably on the Android, that is like an interactive map of the park.  We still picked up the traditional maps at the park entrance, but the app tells you what attractions, characters and dining is near you at the very moment.  It also gives you wait times and for the characters, viewing times, so you can coordinate your activities with maximum efficiency.  The reality is, you could probably spend a week during the slower seasons at the Magic Kingdom and STILL not see/experience everything.  However, you can use the app to help prioritize and plan accordingly.  It's a free app and works for all of the major parks.  It helped us many times.

4.  Character secrets.  So, there's only a certain amount of time each character cast member can do their meet and greets.  If you're standing in line and they say, "Buzz Lightyear is going to go check something at star command and come back", don't abandon ship.  Having heard about it, and witnessed it, Buzz comes back within 15 minutes.  Now, if you hear Sulley has to check something on the scare floor but Mike will be right back and you really wanted a picture with Sulley (true story), THEN you should abandon ship.  The character coordinators will be happy to tell you when Sulley is coming back. 

5.  Kid essentials
  1. Snacks, snacks and more snacks.  Again, something I can't stress enough.  When you're waiting in line and your kid is hungry, you can whip something out of your bag saving yourself a ton of money (and time locating said snacks). 
  2. Sunscreen.  Even in the winter, the sun is shining.  (except the last two days we were there.  Thanks a lot, Florida!).  You can buy it at the park, but you can be guaranteed it will be expensive. 
  3. Camera.  We discovered KIC liked taking her own pictures.  To preserve Daddy's camera, we got KIC a disposable camera of her very own.  We nearly had to take out a second mortgage to cover the cost, so I highly recommend taking a disposable camera for your kids.  If the pictures don't turn out, no harm no foul, but they can at least try to preserve memories in there way and reduce the risk to your fancy camera.
  4. Sunglasses.  Oh my, the glare on sunny days.  The same day we purchased a camera for KIC, we purchased sunglasses as well.  While her sunglasses are adorable, not sure they were worth the cost. 
6.  Extra magic hours.  To put it simply, this was magical the ONE day we took advantage of it.  Guests staying at Disney resorts have the opportunity to take advantage of extra magic hours.  What this means is, on designated days, you can get to the park either an hour early or leave an hour later, as scheduled by Disney.  On the day we took advantage, the sheer amount of stuff we were able to cram in one hour would have taken us at least two or three hours on a normal day.  Definitely worth getting up early!

7.  Take your own pictures!  With many of the character meet and greets, you can take your own pictures and then have the designated photographers take pictures.  A Disney photo CD, which includes all the photos their photographers took during your stay, can run upwards of $150.  You get the digital copies so you can print whatever you want, but your camera will take pictures that are just as good. 

8.  Don't stress.  Disney will always be there.  You will always have time go to again, young or old, with your kids or your grandkids.  Revel in the moment, appreciate your surroundings and enjoy what you CAN do. 

If you have any of your own tips/tricks, feel free to put them in the comments below.  We learn some new trick or tip every time we go, which is part of the fun!  Somethings not covered were pin trading and character autographs.  These are things we are not interested in at all, but there's a ton of information out there if you're so inclined.  If there is anything you'd like me to expound upon, shoot me an email and I'll be happy to help!