Can Shamu Become a Dolphin?

She sits on the edge of the pool. Six years old.  Apprehensive. No, petrified. Breathing much faster and extremely out of her comfort zone.  The kids in the swim lesson happily jump into the water. And she does as she is told – barely.

It’s a summer day. The sun is shining. It is a perfect day to learn how to comfortably bob under the water, blow bubbles and start on her way towards a life of water confidence and triathlons.

Oh no, friends. Five minutes in, panic takes over.  Tears. The pool deck seems much safer than the water and so does her Mom, watching from afar. Out she goes.  And that.was.that.

Fast-forward 35 years, some swim lessons and a triathlon later (finally!) She is still not feeling her groove. Looking to get this swim thing down PAT. Always beating herself up for not “getting it”. Everyone else in the pool seems to. What is the big, hairy deal?

I’m sure, clever reader you have assumed by now this story is mine to tell. What happened next was so unexpected. It has stuck with me all week.

My cousin, Michael, competed as a swimmer for 13 years. He’s now in town and a Freshman in college. We got together last weekend and I begged him to get in the pool with me to give me some pointers and try to assist me with the ugliness that I call swimming.

He in his lane and I in mine. I told him to do his thing and when he was done he could tell me how bad I stunk and give me a few suggestions.  I set off on my zigzagging course. And he confidently shot off the pool wall like a bullet.

I have watched him compete before and it is exciting and so impressive. Of course it is obvious by now how I revere a swimmer. So unnatural for me. So effortless for them.

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Michael in action

As I swam in my lane, what I saw under the water was simply incredible. Flawless. And who doesn’t appreciate flawless?

He was so in his domain. He had compete mastery of his craft. It was beautiful. The phenomenal flip turns, launching way off the depths of the pool. The dolphin kicks. So aptly named.  His movements imitated that of a dolphin.  It was unreal. From my vantage point, unlike anything I had ever seen under water.  Powerful, yet so smooth and graceful.

It got me to thinking, had my Aunt -his Mom- ever had this view of her son in his element? Years and years of car pooling and early morning practices day after day.  Hours and hours of sitting on bleachers patiently waiting for the gun to go off. Years of weekends filled with travel and wait. Travel and wait.  For just a moment or two of watching him compete. She has such pride in her son. He had such drive and motivation for his sport.  I called her up and encouraged her to dust off her swimsuit and make it a bucket list item that just has to be checked off soon. It’s not something I think she should miss.

How rare and how amazing to find that special something that is a natural extension of yourself. What you were called to do. The thread of who you are.  We all know it when we see it. Basketball and Michael Jordan. Shaun White and snow boarding. Meryl Streep and acting. This is swimming for Michael. The icing on the cake when it is your kid to cheer on and marvel at.

Sadly, I am no dolphin. I will never master a flip turn (or even attempt one!) But I felt so very lucky to be in the lane next to this guy. It was a rush.

Look at this face.

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Born to do it. Just wish I had that grin and ease on the pool deck before I jumped in the water 35 years ago. Clearly I am scarred for life.

 

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MLK Day Already Hit a Little Bit Closer to Home

“Black and white people don’t match”

These were the words that spilled out of a third grader directed at my 10-year old daughter.

Twinkle had observed this boy picking on our foster kiddo, C. Taking away a toy repeatedly and in general just being mean. When the person in charge of the children didn’t come to C’s aid, Twinkle stepped in and asked the older boy to stop. After repeated “No’s”, she said,

“Stop it. That’s my brother.”

This boy could not make sense of the different shades of skin in front of him nor how they were related. And thus the comment.

When she came home from the gym with Ice, I asked her if she had fun. In a million years I did not expect to hear this story.  Twinkle Toes said she knew of this child. She had seen his face in her grade school yearbook. He is roughly eight or nine years old.

I tried to make sense of the situation. It was more about bullying I thought. Something Twinkle Toes has had a little experience with before. (See 7 Steps to a Resolution with our Daughter’s Bully).

But I took a step back and tried to imagine my two older children making such a comment to another person. They would never say such a thing I thought. However, we do not live in a very racially or ethnically diverse area. That’s a fact. Could they have had some confusion in the third grade about a white person having a person of color for a child? I don’t know. Maybe.

But what lends me to feel especially like this child needed some assistance with his thought process and behavior is how hurtful it was, coupled with his comment. Had I been there and witnessed this, I would have loved to have attempted a conversation with him or his guardian. But I wasn’t.  And Ice was not told of the incident until after they were in the car.  I can only wonder if there will be a next time. Then I remember there already was and I didn’t get to have that conversation.

Another stranger also had some confusion about our family caring for C recently. As a black man passed me in the mall pushing Bee and C in the double stroller, he called out:

“Give my baby back.”

My first thought was did I just REALLY hear that??

My second thought was I should start a conversation with this man.

My third thought was I am alone in the Mall with two toddlers, I need to keep walking.

And I did. Occasionally looking over my shoulder. Pondering what just transpired. And naively feeling astonished that in my insulated, protected world people are not just people. A woman caring for another person’s child who needs help is not viewed as that. Somehow race and color need to enter into the mix.

In a forest of confusion about both incidences, I do know one thing: I could not have been more proud of Twinkle for sticking up for “her brother” and doing the right thing to protect him. I know she was just as uneasy about her situation as I was about mine.

Will there be a next time? Sadly, yes. I know it to be true. However, I can only take them one at a time and try to gain wisdom and courage from them.

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Few of My Favorite Gifts (I know I’m Late)

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So I’ll admit it. I am behind the times. Any blogger worth her salt has done her holiday post, her New Year’s musings, resolutions, whatever. Recap, re-hash, renew.

As for what has been consuming my time, (see The Roller Coaster Ride has Begun) it’s a wonder I brush my teeth twice a day lately. Let alone sit down to tap the keyboard.

But these thoughts have been rattling in my head for awhile now. And I guess the writer in me cannot let them stay there – outdated and oh-so-passé as they may already be.

So here goes…

Remember when you were a little kid and after Christmas break the teacher might go around and ask “What is the favorite gift you received for Christmas?” (Or was that just my teachers who asked that?? In which case, this segue will make no sense.)

My favorite gifts? This is the first year a motion was made among a portion of my side of the family not to exchange presents for the kids. It is also the first year my husband and I did not open a single envelope, gift card, candy wrapper or box from each other. LESS STUFF to jam in closets or drawers or cabinets. Fewer items to wrap. Just fun times enjoying each other’s company.  Less is more!

A run with friends early in the morning on Christmas Eve. Quiet. Not too cold, but cold enough. Great conversation. Good connections. Mind-clearing. Effortless.

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A favorite gift is always the familiarity of tradition. We visit the same three houses in the area, in the same order over Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. There is something so comforting to me about this practice. And yet it has been jostled around a bit over the years, tweaked and changed. And I know as time passes (serious gulp) it will again. Til one day maybe we are the ones whose house our kids will flock to with their children? Idyllic. Still bittersweet for what it may mean.

Then add in a 3-day migraine and nauseous stomach that started in the middle of Mockingjay on Tuesday and carried right on through the Ball Drop and into the Bowl Games. Pajamas all day on New Year’s and a nap that took me right past lunch. The sounds of screaming toddlers, sibling rivalry, Ice forced to bring a little hammer down and one young, single nephew sitting back and laughing hysterically at all of it. Now this was a twist.

But all of this pales in comparison to how truly challenging it was for me to wrap my brain around the addition of another child in our midst. One who comes with such love and quiet grace. One who comes with misunderstood anger and unknown history. And one who was placed in my life to teach me things I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of each day. It didn’t escape me how absolutely perfect it was that he came to us at this of all times of the year.

I’ve already shared my feelings about the traditional hype of a New Year’s Resolution (not a fan – see 2013, Thank you for the Lessons) but I see nothing wrong with being a work in progress and making a conscious effort to focus on and chip away at the “yucky stuff”. Not some magic switch that I’m going to flip all of a sudden but maybe more like a dimmer switch.  It gradually turns on til BAM! I see the light. I get it now. This is the way I should handle something or let go of something or embrace something.

So. Better late than never. Hope you made it to the end without going:

“Ick, she is so last week.”

Hope your 2015 is

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Roller Coaster Ride has Begun: Updates from Foster Parent Land

wpid-img_20140730_114031265_hdr.jpg“Once you make a decision the universe conspires to make it happen.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Seven days have passed since I climbed the steps of another Foster mother’s home, accepted the entire belongings of a 3 and-a-half-year-old boy in a laundry bag and walked out the door with another woman’s son.  To care for like our own, 24/7, as long as is needed.

Surreal. Exciting. Nerve-wracking. Confusing. Wonderful.

This ride started in September 2013.  It is what Ice and I determined was next on our path as a family.

Our foster child, “C” , has adjusted fairly well to the fast-paced life of our household. He loves to eat (he fits right in!). He is very organized, carefully arranging his meal in front of him, letting me know when he accidentally drops food on the floor or determinedly putting on his shoes. He is thoughtful.  Offering to help Little Bee with her coat. Or give her some of his breakfast. He is quieter, observant.

Naps no longer present an issue, he just lays downs and rests. Nighttime sleeping is met with the same ease.

Getting a handle on a new routine has been a process for all of us. I could fake it and get away with a lot with my little spitfire before.  She traveled where I traveled and napped when we got home. She rolled with the ever-morphing routine and did so pretty seamlessly.

I now live and die by a very specific schedule. It is isolating. It is challenging. It is uncomfortable.  At the same time it is liberating, dependable and my saving grace.

We spend a lot of time in the gym, my “home away from home” now. Not that I didn’t go pretty regularly before. But now it sets the tone for the entire day.  I blow off some steam. They get to play with an exorbitant amount of toys we don’t have at home. I get a peaceful shower at the end of my workout. And without even knowing it, I’m working on the ever-elusive abs of steel. Pretty good gig, huh?

This adventure has been met with so much support and encouragement from family, friends and even strangers. I hear a lot of these comments.

“I couldn’t do what you’re doing.”

“It takes a special person…”

“How amazing.”

Truth be told, I do not feel very worthy of the comments or kudos. There are moments wrapped in every day where I ponder where will this lead? Do I have the stomach for this roller coaster? If he is placed elsewhere, are my kids capable to ride this ride? I guess that’s where the abs of steel will come in handy.

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My multi-tasking hat just became a ten-gallon. And it’s getting bigger.  Bee and “C” are thirteen months apart.  I have a new and more complete understanding of what it takes to parent multiples (i.e., twins, triplets)! All I can say is it’s mind-bending.

Every day has a new hurdle. That’s true for everyone, I know.  Mine currently includes getting peed on, endless time-outs, double the diaper changes and double the potty training efforts, a lack of social interaction by virtue of “the schedule”, the incessant reasoning attempts that occur to do the simplest of tasks, the decision to forgo an outing because it just won’t work out, chasing down toddlers (mostly my own) in public places or trying to navigate the behemoth of a double stroller in places where clearly such an awful thing was never meant to tread.

I find myself in a situation that is forcing me to be patient beyond what I feel I am capable. Pushing me to my limits of understanding and frustration daily. (My teeth actually hurt yesterday from gritting them so much.)

However, stepping back, knowing the little we do about C’s background, it feels good to provide the stability, consistency and discipline his life is lacking. He is such a sweet boy and has so much to teach us.  When he says “Thank you!” and smiles his big pearly white smile, it melts my heart.

Without getting into the sensitive details, you can imagine my disappointment and surprise when I found out today that due to an issue, what we thought would be at least a six-month commitment to him (or more) may very well be cut short.

At the same time, I have had faith that Ice and I were brought to this experience for a reason I don’t fully comprehend. And I want to see it through.  We asked for it, we got it.

Things worked out so well the last time an unexpected blessing entered our lives. (Ready to Let go of the Steering Wheel) I have to believe they will again.  What other choice do I have?

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Next Step in our Fostering Journey

It’s been so long since I had anything to share about our desire to Foster to Adopt a little boy. Life has been moving along at break neck speed with our 2-, 10- and 12-year olds.

Then the week before Thanksgiving we were lucky enough to meet up with a sweet, quiet, yet joyful little 3-year old boy.

Just a quick visit for dinner and some playtime.  The promise of a few overnights in the near future.

The questions in my head of What next? How long? Is he the one that will find a forever home in our house?

And those questions aren’t just in my head. They are asked of Ice and me multiple times a week by those who love and support us and have encouraged our efforts from the start.

I would be absolutely lying if I said I did not worry about the heartbreak that could be up ahead. There are no guarantees. We know it. But it still makes me a little anxious.

However, in just one hour Ice will pick him up for another overnight.

We have missed him all week. His booster chair is still in place at the the kitchen table.

Thanksgiving weekend. How fitting. We will enjoy spending the time we have with him today.

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How a $2 bill made my day

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So much to do. Bags to pack. A weekend trip. So many things to coordinate for those at home not traveling with me.

A crisp, gorgeous Fall day just begging to be enjoyed. But could I?

I tend to get carried away in the details and can’t set things aside sometimes no matter how important. It’s a trait I mildly detest in myself. And unfortunately I think it may be genetic and passed along to at least one of my children.

So here lies my dilemma. Go and play or stay and organize things to the hilt for my trip?

play…Play…PLAY! (voice in my head whispers)

For today, victory to the voice.

Bee and I “Go to Zoo” as she likes to say.

Upon arrival, I ask,

“Which animals do you want to see first?”

“The giraffes!” she says.

So we head in that direction. Past the carousel.

We head up to the counter.

As anyone who has had a feisty two-year old knows, getting to and from places takes an Act of Congress most days. And if something is left behind or forgotten it’s so much work to undo, re-do and get situated again.

What one little thing did I lack? Money to ride the carousel Little Bee is now yanking me towards and wanting to get on. *Huge Sigh* I had mistakenly left my cash at home.

Do I really want to try and drag her away from her spotted target or try to distract and re-direct?

More than a decade or more ago my Mom gave me a $2 bill with the intent that I carry it in my wallet at all times.

“You never know when you might need it.” she shared

I have had it in my wallet for so long, sometimes I don’t even see it. Or even consider it real money.  I have wondered will I EVER use it? It sort of became something sentimental and more symbolic than useful.

Not this day. This day is the perfect day to use that $2 bill.

I happily pull it out. The ticket taker makes some small noise. Like when was the last time someone paid with a $2 bill?

And I probably won’t ever again.

Nothing could ever top that $2 purchase or those three minutes spent on the carousel with my girl.

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Keep the Laugh Track Going

Message received.  I am super fun hanging out with my family of origin. I am a scowling, laughter-is-not-on-tap kind of witch when I am at home.

Well…not really.

But Techno commented to me after seeing me in hysterics this weekend “Mom, why aren’t you like this at home?”  This new information and perception did give me pause.

My family got together this past weekend to hang out, play games, eat, drink and be merry. With the exception of one brother who lives out-of-state, the rest of us showed up ready to unwind and enjoy each other’s company.

At one point my Mom could barely breathe and I was near ready to pee my pants. Laughter is THE BEST medicine and so good for the soul. You can bet this Mom of three, including one Tasmanian Devil toddler does not get large amounts of time in the day to practice this skill. Between heaps of laundry, dirty floors, homework emergencies, playground dramas, chauffeuring kids in a myriad of directions and poopy diapers, laughing just isn’t high on the priority list.

Well, it should be.

And I know it is hard to be Ice and partake in my family’s brand of shenanigans. Just as I don’t get his family’s humor or their jokes from bygone days, I know he is only mildly amused in some cases and downright ready to run for the hills in others.

Let’s just say this particular party was epic in the howling category.

It felt good. It rang true to parts of who I am somewhere down deep. Those parts don’t get to see daylight sometimes and I guess it had been too long.

However, it was a wonderful question my son asked me. Because it made me realize it’s good for my kids to see me like that. It’s good for them to know I love my siblings. Family is fun. Life is full of wonderful, silly, incredibly joyful moments. And I need to make sure that my home is a place where that is cultivated. Laundry and all.

I will start finding ways to work on that.

Keep laughing.

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My siblings and I in our obligatory “jazz hands” photo every time we are lucky enough to get together

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.