This Christmas

I was out doing the last of my Christmas shopping. I was at my first stop. I was walking around Wal-Mart crossing things off my list when I got a text that stopped me in my tracks. Something that had me questioning why I was running around when really the wrapped gifts under the tree are the least important part of the season.

See my dear friend of 17 years texted me to tell me that her grandfather passed away. She is not the first of my friends to lose a grandparent during this magical season. It almost seems impossible that something like that should happen because of all the decor and happiness that is going on around us. While I was running around trying to find all the perfect gifts my friend’s heart was breaking. See he was more than a grandfather to her. He raised her and she loved him in a way that a little girl would love her father.

This simple text made me step back mentally and take stalk of what this season is meant to be. It is not about the gifts. It is not about the cookies and gingerbread. It is not about the stupid elf. It is about the ones you love. See as a mom I am the magic maker of Christmas in our house. But yesterday all I wanted was to snuggle with my family, hold them tight, and love them.

I recently posted on my Instagram a picture of a picture of me and my Gram. It was taken at Christmas time. I said all the things I would have done if I had know it would be my last Christmas with her. None of those things were running around getting presents and stressing myself out. This man who is no longer with us lived a full life and has family that will feel the impact of his loss while the rest of us are moving on. If they knew last year it would be the last Christmas I am sure there were some things they would have done more of and some less of.

See this Christmas my friend’s table will have a little more space. The space he filled in her life will be empty. Her family will still be trying to process and adapt to a life without him when we all wake up to our stockings on Christmas morning. So as I sit here knowing I will see my friend in a couple of days. I will give my condolences to her mom, aunts, and grandmother. I am also going to do my best to get less caught up in what I think I have to do to make Christmas magical but do what I know I have to and that is love my family. Spend quality time with the ones I love. I will do those traditions that mean the most and not stress about making it to this or that Christmas event, concert, etc. I am going to make time to sit and watch Elf and Rudolph because we love those movies.

This Christmas I will give my heart to those that matter most. I will give my time to the things that really matter. I challenge you to do the same.

Advertisements

I Like My Dog More Than I Like You!

I love animals. I would love to live on a large piece of land with a bunch of animals. I used to dream of turning the property I grew up on into a dog rescue. I have always had dogs. When I had a miscarriage before Bug was conceived I needed something to love but did not have the time to give proper training and love to another dog, we had one at the time. So we got Emma (mama). She turned me into a cat lover.

We currently have 1 dog Daisy Mae and 2 cats, Mama and Diva. My animals live in our home. They eat, sleep, and do their business within the boundaries of our home/yard. They are members of our family. If my house was burning down I would make sure my children were safe and then my animals and then any material possessions I might be able to save. We have had tornado warnings I have had to think about where we would hide with our animals for safety. When they are not acting right I worry about them the same as I do Sissy and Bug. I have spent many hours worrying about their bowel movements. I walk Daisy Mae on the street for a portion of our walk because there is glass on the sidewalk and I don’t want her getting glass in her paw. You see my maternal instinct does not just run to my kids and my friend’s kids when they are over but to my animals as well.

I say this because do not come to my home and expect that magically they do not exist. Do not come to my home and expect me to shut them in a room somewhere. If you are scared of animals my home is not the place for you. I would not ask you to get rid of your kids if I came over to your house, even is they are total a*holes. Do not expect that because you are afraid, nervous, unsure of animals that mine will magically be somewhere else if you come to my house.

This I can promise you. Daisy Mae will get excited and will wag her tail and dance around when she sees you. She will sniff you relentlessly. She has been trained not to jump on people but in her old age and excitement sometimes she forgets but she will be put in her place if she does. She may lick your hand but not your face. She may sit next to you on the couch. If you sit in her spot she will throw some shade your way. When you are first walking up to my house you may hear her bark. She is letting us know that someone is coming, that is her job. Once that door is open and she is able to sniff you she will not bark. I have no doubt if you tried to harm her kids she would get defensive. She doesn’t like it when we play rough with them. She is a member of this family and you are not. Mama and Diva could care less if you are here or not. They may come by and let you pet them. They may stay far away. Mama’s dander causes me to have allergic reactions. Guess what she is still here. She will always be here. I have learned to keep benadryl in the house for when things get bad and I have gotten used to being just a little congested all the time. If I am allergic to my cat and yet I still love her and keep her around what makes you think just because you are coming over for a visit I will keep her out of your sight. I won’t.

Please educate yourself and your children about domestic animals and how to act around them. Teach them to ask the owner before approaching a dog they do not know. Teach them that not all dogs are mean and they have to be taught to be that way. Teach them that cats could care less about them. Your visit to my home will be a lot less stressful if you do. See I love my animals. I like you just enough to allow you into my home. The people I love love my animals too and they know how things roll in this house.

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” -Anatole France

A Little Bit Ashamed

A few weeks ago tragedy struck the Girl Scout community world wide. A troop was collecting trash along a road for a community service project when an out of control driver hit four girls and one adult. Three of the girls were killed and one was sent to the hospital in critical condition. The adult was also killed. This struck a little too close to home because these girls were the same level as Sissy and half of our troop.

I am a part of multiple GS facebook groups. There was an outpouring of love and support for all the victims, their families, and the GS community most impacted. There was also critics about if the proper safety protocols were followed. Were safety vests worn. Did the leaders file proper paperwork. Many things trying to place blame on the leaders, the troop, etc and not the man who killed them, left the scene and later turned himself in. Are you serious? Blame placed on leaders and girls who were trying to do a community service project? These adults pointing blame are the same that are leading our young women.

Now, a nationwide vigil was planned where donations were made to help the families. There is some evidence to suggest that it was not a GS sanctioned event, despite that it had the GS name atrached. There is implications that proper protocols in regards to donations were not followed. There are implications that the council is money hungry and just wanted to be in control. One of the many leaders who planned it, seems to the head of the group of leaders, was “permanently suspended” from her volunteer roles within her troop, service unit, and council. Basically she was fired. The council has rules that will not allow it to comment. I have seen a post from the leader in question. I have read a couple of articles, and will post one, about the situation. I do not know the woman in question. I am not a part of the council in question. I am ashamed of the way all of this is being laid out to the world. This woman who has given her time for years to lead young women is being placed on the pyre by all the people who would see her burn for what may or may not be a mistake or a blatant disregard for the rules. They would have her girls lose their leadership forever rather than allow her to right her wrongs. Her heart was in the right place. From what I have gathered she wanted to help the families affected by this tragedy not the council who is a business and while impacted will keep moving forward, business as usual. I know if I were laying my daughter in the ground it would mean more if people reached out to me and not the council she was a part of and chances are no one in the council office even knew her name before she passed. Before everyone thinks I am coming for the council let me defend them too. GS is a non profit but it is also a business. There are rules and protocols in place to protect the troops, service units, council and GSUSA. Tax laws apply to the troops and how funds are handled. As a leader there are rules I have to follow because we need to protect ourselves and ultimately our girls. If this woman put the GS name to an event and collected money the rules regarding donations needed to be followed or the GS name needed to be taken out of the equation.

I am a little bit ashamed right now to be affliated with the GS name. At a time when we should be grieving and supporting the injured girl we are tearing each other apart. Shots fired against a council who was acting according to their rules. Actions maybe extreme but I was not a part of any conversations between this woman and her council. I was not privy to any advice or warnings given to this woman in regards to her event and donations. Shots fired at this woman for, maybe, not following the rules and going rogue. At the end of the day what is forgotten is that there is now a troop without a leader they know and trust. There are troops who may have donated funds and wanted to help the families directly that now may not know if they did that. Girls are watching these leaders attack each other and the council and seeing this is how you handle conflict.

I am ashamed because as Girl Scout I promise to do my best to be

honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

The words and actions I am seeing across social media are so far from the law we promise to live by. It breaks my heart and I am ashamed.

Here is one of the articles written in regards to this situation. This is not a new outlet I am affliated with or even read. Simply just one that I found quickly and was shared in a GS group I am a part of on facebook. https://www.wbay.com/content/news/Girl-Scouts-suspend-Green-Bay-troop-leader-behind-vigils-and-memorial-patch-500884872.html

Winning

As parents we do not often get to see the efforts of our labor. We do not always get to see when our kids use their manners or when they are kind to someone. More often we see when we think we have failed. We see when they are fighting with their sibling or have less than stellar report cards. We are our own worst enemies when it come to our kids. Sometimes we can get out of ourselves enough to see all the good we are doing.

Lately we have had a friend staying with us so my kids have been sharing a room and after they are both in bed we can hear them talking and laughing. We stopped telling them it was time for bed because I think we know that they are building a bond that will hopefully last a lifetime. That is a win but I had a much greater one.

I had a conversation recently with another parent about their child. This child seems to be coming into their own and maybe discovering things about themselves that might not be easy to always say out loud. This child is trying to find their way and it is exponentially harder when it might go against the grain. These days it is easier to be yourself but there are still so many people who feel it is ok to ridicule, bully, and even harm people who are different than them. Since He Who Shall No Be Named came to power those people who are less accepting of those that are different have a very loud platform from which to spew their hate. This young person is coming into their truth during this time and even in their own life seems to have some conflicting view points. So it is harder for this child than in my own home where we have been very honest about the fact that my children can feel free to be who they are and love who they choose. My son on occasion puts on my makeup but more often just wants to put it on me. My daughter likes to code just like her dad. That is not the win I had yesterday. That is being human and knowing that love and acceptance is far better than hate any day.

So after reflecting on this talk with this parent about their child I wanted to check in with my son. I wanted to make sure that my son and my home could be a safe space for this child to be who they are. I asked Bug a few questions just to gauge where he was and to open a dialoge if he had questions. What it all came down to was that he didn’t care if this other child in his life was different, the same, male, female, it, gay, straight, black, white, brown, etc. Bug does not care. And that is my win. See just as you can teach hate you can teach love thy neighbor. You can teach racism or bigotry but you can also teach acceptance. I won because my son is listening and he knows in his heart that our differences don’t matter but what does is if someone is not a butthead. So while I may worry about if he can tie his shoes or swim I don’t have to worry about him being full of hate and so I WIN!!!

“The greatest gift you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” – Brian Tracy

Creative Adventure

I love to read. I love to write. I love to be creative. I get the most joy when I am being creative. Maybe that is why I love DIY. Maybe that is why I have so many interests. I know that is a big reason for my obsession with makeup. I get to use my creative juices every time I sit down at my vanity and get into it all. So, along with this blog I have been writing a couple of other things. So, decided to share an excerpt from one. Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

She sat on the edge of her bed staring at the soft lines on her wrists. Staring and thinking about how she didn’t feel broken… yet. She knew broken was coming. She knew that one day, in the not too distant future, she would be so broken she wouldn’t be sure she could fix herself.

            She looked at those lines and wanted to tell him about it. To tell him how she knew she was going to break. You don’t lose yourself in someone and then lose them and stay whole. He didn’t fix her the last time but he listened. Slowly she was able to put herself back together because he listened. He didn’t try to fix her or advise her or tell her what she should be doing, he just listened and that was all she needed. Who would listen now?

            She looked at those lines and thought of Grace and remembered her colic induced screaming. She remembered Mary running away when she would yell at them. She remembered falling down the rabbit hole of depression until she couldn’t bare the weight of it anymore. Was it going to be like that again? Only now she had Elijah too. Would he be able to handle her when she broke? She wasn’t sure the girls could. They were so little the last time and he was there. He picked up all the pieces of their life when she broke it.

She reached over to his side of the bed. Hoping and, if she was being honest, expecting him to be there. He wasn’t. As much as those lines reminded her how broken she once was and the darkest time of her life they reminded her of him. He was there. She could hear him calling her name, refusing to let her go. Telling her she couldn’t leave. He never once expressed his anger at her for what she had done. He simply listened. He was always so good at that.

 

 

Where Did I go Wrong?

I am sitting in my daughter’s room on the verge of tears. Tears of anger, frustration, disappointment, and mom guilt.

It all started when I went into Sissy’s room and it smelled like urine. Daisy Mae sleeps i there and has pooped in there before so not beyond the realm of what is possible for her to pee in there. I told Sissy to clean her room so I could get in there with the carpet cleaner. Well, she went off to school and I was all set to go in and vacuum but she had not cleaned. Her room looked like the midway point of an episode of hoarders. You know where there is room to walk but there is still stuff and trash in all the cracks and crevices. I could walk in and at first glance there was just a few things to move and pick up but I was wrong. I am now on hour 3 and still not done.

I am mad I let it get this bad. I am mad she let it get this bad. I am mad that all the times she supposedly was cleaning her room she clearly wasn’t. I am mad that she knows better and still does this.

I am frustrated that I am the one doing all this cleaning. Frustrated I will be the one to have to punish her. I am frustrated that no matter how much I tell her it is not healthy to keep trash in her room she doesn’t listen.

I am disappointed because at 10 she knows how to pick up after herself. She knows how to put her clothes away and chooses not to. I am disappointed in myself for not being more diligent.

I feel guilty because maybe I didn’t teach her well enough. I feel guilty because I want to ship her off to military school and make someone else do the dirty work. I feel guilty because I want to rip the doors off the hinges. I feel guilty because I want to slap the sh!t out of her for blatant disregard and lack of respect for me and my rules.

I do not know entirely what the punishment will be. I do not know if she will be left with a mattress on the floor and nothing else when I am done. I know I was not always the tidiest person growing up, hell I am a crappy housekeeper depending on my mood and energy level, but I put my clothes away and threw out trash. I regularly deep cleaned my room. For now I am going to keep chugging on and hopefully by the time she gets home from school my thoughts are in order. Maybe then I won’t feel like I have failed her somehow and in 8 years when she heads off to college she won’t be the messiest roommate ever.

“I don’t want my child to follow in my footsteps. I want them to take the path next to me and go further than I could have ever dreamt possible.”- Anonymous

My Village

It really does take a village y’all. I write this as I sit in the waiting room of my local urgent care waiting for my friend and her daughter to get checked out. If I am being honest I probably got her crud too. That is about the only downside of the village.

See last week after being stressed to the max I picked up a couple coffees and headed to my friend’s house completely unannounced. I knew she would be there, probably getting ready to go to the gym, but I would come with her cold brew and she would let me vent and we would laugh. And we did. She was also sick but seemed to be feeling better. Well, she isn’t better yet so I find myself supporting my village.

See y’all have seen me grieve over the loss of a few friends. But what you didn’t see is that God was putting into place people to not fill the void but to create even stronger bonds between me and other people who were coming into my life. See this village filled with new faces, some old, they are amazing. They laugh with me. They support me. They love and care for my kids. They listen when I need to vent about Big Red. They have coffee and wine. They know the same can be said for me. I don’t know if this tribe will look the same in a few years but for now this village loves me for me. This village I love more than they know. This village that I have been blessed with makes me feel more like I belong than I have in a long time.

So it does take a village y’all. It does not just take a village to love and raise our kids. It takes a village to support the elders. See I may take my friend to the doctor and text her about her symptoms but another member of her village is fixing dinner for her kids so she doesn’t have to. Another villager has the kids over after school to hang out so she can rest.

So mama if you find you are without a village or are transitioning to a new one have faith. You have a village. They are waiting for you the same as you are for them. They need you as much as you need them. Your village will have lunch dates with you. They will nurse you back to health. They will cheer you on and cry with you. Have faith that a village is there and they will support you dirty yoga pants and all.

“As moms we are in it together- raising the future. We are a tribe of future makers. So let’s support each other.” -Marissa Hermer

Love letter to Bertha

Dear Bertha,

I owe you a huge apology and an immense debt of gratitude. See 8 years ago when Big Red said after work we were going to pick you up I was not thrilled. You were not something we really discussed. I was not impressed with you. You were not my type. The best thing I could say about you was that you had a big badunkadunk. You were relatively new and new to us but I would have chosen another if given a choice.

They day we brought you home I spent about 4 hours in a waiting room with Sissy. I was pregnant with Bug and had almost no patience for you or Big Red. And then he introduced you to me. I can honestly say I was not very impressed but you were new and shiny and you made Big Red happy. He drove you home and you have been a loyal member of this family ever since.

You were there for us when the Jeep was totalled. You were there when we brought Bug home from the hospital when he was born. You were there when Betty drowned. With so many ups and downs you have been by our side and we have not treated you with the love and gratitude you deserve. I am so sorry Bertha for not loving you and maintaining you like I should.

When your check engine light came on during the chaos of preparing for a hurricane I was mad, frustrated, and just plain insecure. How could you do this to me? Didn’t you know we might need you to evacuate? But really you were just saying hey, enough. I don’t feel good. I heard you. I got you some new oil and air filter and off that light went. I am learning to take better care of you.

Today you go in for your annual inspection. I am going to use this as a starting point where I give you the love and attention you deserve. You have been so good to us and so I need to be good to you. I know you hear us say this is the last year but now that you are “mine” I am a little attached and not so sure I want to let you go.

I am so sorry Bertha for not treating tou better and taking so long to get it together and love you the way you deserve. Thank you for being there for us always. Thank you keeping us safe and always getting us home. You are big and showing your age but Bertha you are my favorite car since my Gram’s green monster.

“There’s a lot of stress… but once you get in the car, all that goes out the window.” – Dan Brown

Traditional Roles

This may come as a shock to some but I am not the biggest fan of being a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM). I love my kids. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to be a SAHM. However, I am an extrovert, with some introvert tendencies, and need to interact with people and the world. I go to the grocery store almost daily simply just to give me a reason to leave my house. I plan lunches, brunches, and drinks with friends because I need to speak with someone other than my children. Get me on the phone after a few days of little interaction with the outside world and I hope you have at least an hour. You will hear my whole life story. I do my best to find a reason to put on something other than my pajamas. Winter is harder for me than summer. I hate being cold and will avoid anything that might possibly mean getting cold and that includes leaving the house. Summer time I do not think twice about just going. A luxury I have as a SAHM of a 7 and 10 yr old. So, if I would much more prefer being at a job during the week why do I do it? PEACE!

Between my anxiety and my type A personality I have to be in control of just about everything. I give my family the luxury and freedom they need to be who they were born to be and to explore interests that may not be mine. If I was a complete control freak I would be the crazy mama on the sidelines of peewee football but alas my sweet son does not want to play football, at least no the American kind. However, I like my home to look a certain way. I like to cook. I like to be creative and projects going on. When I worked my house was never clean enough to be a calm place for me to be. When the kids have a lot pf things going on my creative outlets and being able to cook go out the window. The division of labor was never enough between myself and Big Red. We were both tired and cranky. My marriage was not able to be a priority when everything else needed my attention too. See it isn’t just as easy for me to let the laundry just sit and wait because that level or chaos that that would produce when people don’t have clean clothes or just simply sitting around waiting for it to get done does not help with my anxiety. I can’t just give Big Red my time and attention when there is a pile of dishes that need to be done because I won’t be able to relax and enjoy my time with him. My home is my sanctuary. I should be able to be home and relax like everyone else in my house. In order for that to happen certain things need to be taken care of. They weren’t getting done when I worked.

See in this house Big Red and I taking on more traditional roles of bread winner and house wife makes more sense. I might get lonely and wish I had some sort of income coming in. I long for regular interaction with the outside world. Yet when my kids come home from school and Big Red from work I am able to focus on them. I am able to give them the attention they deserve because I have had the time during the day to handle it. My weekends are able to be spent spending quality time with my family and not handling all the errands that couldn’t get done during the week. I can grocery shop, which I enjoy, without people following me around the store. There is peace in my home most of the time. Big Red and I are able to give our marriage the attention it needs to last into forever. My kids get to have their mother involved in their loves. I can go on their field trips and this year Sissy has the good ones to all the historical places in VA. I can give my Girl Scout troop the time and attention it needs to be successful. So many things I no longer have to choose between.

When I am home I deserve to have peace the same as everyone else. The best way for the to happen is for me to be home barefoot, not pregnant, and happy. Will I go back to the working world? One day when I know my family and my home no longer need me as much as they do now. Taking on these traditional roles may not work for everyone but the Shupp household it is what is best, for now.

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”- Henry David Thoreau

 

Hurricane Party

In case you did not know there is a hurricane headed towards the Eastern seaboard and more specifically southern Carolinas into the Mid Atlantic region. So for those not familiar with life during hurricane season here is a list of things to do in case you ever find yourself potentially in the path of one.

  1. Get your degree in meteorology. I know absolutely nothing about weather and the hows and whys of predicting storms but mention a hurricane coming and I can tell you all about wind shear and high pressure and low pressure and how it may affect the impending storm and what that means to me.
  2. Stock up on water. Fill Ziploc bags. Fill your tub. Buy all the water at all the stores. Set up rain barrels that you have secured. Buy a Lifestraw so if you find you are without power for a long time you 127 hours it and drink your own urine.
  3. Brush up on your milk sandwich recipes. Why is it the first thing to go is milk and bread? If we lose power you have to drink that milk fast before it goes bad. This is where you culinary skills of bread and milk sandwiches come in.
  4. Get your medications. If you have a serious medical condition that requires regular medication stock up. If you are fortunate enough not to need medication get what you need to keep you calm. Tequila is my drug of choice but a good bottle of wine will do. Fill the liquor cabinet because a few days without power and 5.3 million rounds of Go Fish we are all going to need it.
  5. Stay or evacuate? Most people would say evacuate but if you leave will you be able to get back? I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia and even a regular run of the mill storm will cause flooding in most neighborhoods. Not to mention we are surrounded by tunnels. The only way in and out is through a tunnel on almost all sides. At certain wind speeds they will shut the tunnels down. I am going to get a crash course on scuba diving and so is the rest of the family and if we need to we will swim our way out of here.
  6. Pray. Do a dance to mother earth naked in your yard. Sacrifice your least favorite child. Whatever it is you believe in to keep you safe after you have made preparations, do that. Because at the end of the day when some b!@#h named Florence is looking to seek her revenge on whatever lover did her wrong and it means you and yours find yourself with an endless list of what ifs all you have is faith. Faith you will be ok when the sun comes out again. The sun will come out. I have been through enough of these to know that one thing for sure that the sun will come out.

I am in no way an expert in anything other than my family and my anxiety and all the crazy things it makes me do in the face of this storm. I can honestly say this is the one time my anxiety is a blessing because nothing makes me crazier than not being in control and planning for all the what ifs. So if you see the crazy lady running all over Virginia Beach in the next few days getting all she thinks she needs just say hi. And when the sun comes out party at my house!! I hope this gave all of us preparing a chance to laugh through all the worry and preparations. Be safe and prepare for the worst. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”- Howard Ruff