A homemade card Twinkle received from a friend

No Bubble Wrap Here

Watching your kids in pain sucks. Whether it’s emotional or physical, it is hard to watch. This past Monday was a day I was mildly dreading for weeks. Twinkle was scheduled to have a minor issue taken care of at the Doctor. A small in-office procedure. Some BIG anxiety. Some hand holding.

It would hurt. There would be some aftercare. The afternoon would take a turn.  Comfort food and awful Disney shows would rule the rest of the day.

Weeks before when the appointment was booked I struggled with how much to reveal. Do I warn her of the certain pain? When do I bring it up? How honest did I want to be?

After talking with a couple of friends in the same boat years ago and getting all the skinny, I was a little more concerned about how Twinkle would handle it.

A homemade card Twinkle received from a friend

A homemade card Twinkle received from a friend

I found myself trying to temper my honesty with some good old-fashioned Pollyanna attitude. Could she see right through it? Was I just making it worse? After all, my daughter gets worked up about stuff. The apple does not fall far from this tree.  The stewing, the worst-case scenarios, the anticipation. Yep, PhD here.

However, it dawned on me…the last few years have produced a few things on my anxiety and worry hit list. I have also had the good fortune to be an observer of some amazing people in my life handle some of their own setbacks, adversity and heartbreak.

It’s a classic “if I had known then what I know now” life would be so much easier. This was the day some of that tried and true Mom wisdom just tumbled out of me.  It really felt like I turned a corner as a Mom too.

Sheltering my not-so-little girl from pain has been my “MO” for her entire life. That is my job, right? Well, as it finally had to hit me someday, it’s not anymore.

Ice likes to make fun of me and say “Bubble wrap…” That’s all he says. And I know he means I have two choices. I can wrap my kids in it. Or let them live – warts and all. Usually I just ignore him and move on with my coddling and helicoptering.

But today the shield came down. It suddenly became this experience that I wanted to impart how much stronger she would be on the other side. How so much of what happens in life comes down to a healthy dose of perspective.  The reality is there are a lot worse predicaments you could be in than this. Blah blah blah. Am I an after-school special now?

It may have fallen on deaf ears for the most part. But wouldn’t it be great it if didn’t?

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2015. 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.

Letter to C – Our Final Chapter in his Foster Story

May was National Foster Care Month. Try as I might to get these thoughts on paper, it didn’t happen. But they need to be shared all the same.  It has been such a roller coaster ride to date.  My family and I are so very grateful for all the support and encouragement we have received from our family, friends and community.

This is a letter to a boy I will never know past the age of “almost four”. This is the final chapter that includes him in our story – never to be forgotten.

Dear C,

You came into our lives tentative and quiet. In your camouflaged winter coat with your broken glasses and your vacant stare. Yet you left us loud, giggling and smiling.  

You were such an exciting adventure. Figuring out what you liked didn’t take long.  Life Cereal, yogurt drinks, bedtime in your comfy bed with your Kangaroo -“Baby”, dancing in the kitchen to Taylor Swift and the Jackson 5, cuddling up in the rocking chair with Ice, your first experience with pre-school and making artwork and how could I overlook – BASKETBALL! You left us with your hoop and basketball ready to make more memories and develop your amazing skills.

You were such a challenge. Figuring out what routines we could not stray from, trying to manage your confusion and anger when you returned from a visit with your biological Mom, wishing some meal times weren’t so disrupted by behaviors you could not help, figuring out what you were trying to communicate – sometimes in ways we had not heard or seen before, wondering if there would be a day when our home would be your forever home? 

We don’t have to wonder anymore. We know to be true that our paths were not to cross forever. Just the space in our hearts where you landed. You have moved on to another home. One with a woman at the head who possesses more training than we and more room in the season of her life to help you blossom. 

For all the effort we put forth to get you the help you deserved, for the care and love and learning that went on in our home every day, for the many places we traveled together outside of the world you lived in before – we are grateful.

For the lessons you taught us, the humility you brought us, the soul-searching and the conversations with God – we are grateful.

Your dazzling smile lit up the room. Your eyes sparkled the brightest when you were laughing. You are SUCH a beautiful kiddo we were blessed to know.

Grow, grow, grow, little man. Do as much good as you can. Learn everything you can and never stop dazzling the world with your amazing smile and your bright eyes. Holding on to the belief that your forever home is coming to you very soon.

Hugs and love,

Your sometime family 

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What next? I just don’t know.

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2015. 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 Girls’ Weekend – Lessons Learned, Tips and Tricks

The Girls’ Weekend. Mysterious and strange to the opposite sex. Especially NINE women. En Masse. Hitting a bar and grill for Bloody Mary’s or trying to corral each other back together at an outlet Mall without losing one or two to the shoe stores forever.

Having had the privilege of spending three days with friends centered around a Half Marathon in an idyllic location, I am filled with good vibes and refreshed (yet oh-so-tired at the same time)! Here’s what I observed along the way:

  • Food and beverage are KEY. We had enough to feed a small country and stock a mid-sized tavern. Thank God many calories were burned during the race!
  • Leave your watch at home. It takes a TON of time to relocate nine women. There were bathroom stops, shopping stops, coffee stops, stops for head counts, double head counts, beers, a Kentucky Derby to watch, more bathroom stops, a stop for chocolate chip pie,  oh – and 13.1 miles to tackle on foot. Girls’ Weekend defies the space-time continuum. And only a woman could understand that and be okay with it.
  • There are no pillow fights, guys, so stop wishing it so.
  • We like to eat. While eating we talk about how to make what we’re eating and who needs a copy of it for their own kitchen, but NEVER any calories or any guilt.
  • LOTS of coffee is paramount.
  • Sadly, a lot of talk centered around potty talk. I don’t mean a potty mouth. I mean literally talk of using the potty too much, too little and how to train my two-year old quicker. Which by the way, ladies (if you’re reading this!) she is 5 days with no diapers and doing awesome! Thanks for the push off the cliff!
  • No matter how far in advance you plan, it is all over WAY too quick. And for most Moms, the planning in advance takes three times the amount of time the trip lasts.
  • A little humor I found on one of the shopping trips…

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  • With the right group of women, the amount of support and encouragement you can receive would put your friendly neighborhood therapist out of business. Feeling dreary? Score the perfect pair of wedges at the outlet mall. Too tired? Have another cup of coffee and do some cartwheels. Need some excitement in your life?  Mix some wine in with your fire pit and get your groove on.  It feels like it can all be fixed with your girlfriends. At least for one weekend.
  • Everyone is so interesting and unique. We all work, shop for groceries, gas up the car, run to appointments, carpool, fold laundry blah, blah, blah. Lurking under all that is an amazing woman with good stories to tell, full of surprises and lots of laughter.
  • These trips are a Must-Do. Find a friend and make one happen. I don’t care if it’s downtown wherever or back country nowhere. It’s so worth it.
  • One final thought…WHEN CAN WE GO BACK?!
Love these Women!

Love these Women!

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2015. 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 Sani-Tally

Ahh to be two and oblivious. Unaware of the germs, bugs, dirt and bacteria and the near misses with cooties that dot every day when out in public places. I am not a self-professed germo-phobe. But I also do not like to go a day without washing my hands like five or six times. And to take a trip last weekend on the Amtrak train to one of my favorite cities on planet Earth was a hilarious look at how much little people really do need their Mamas to look after their hygiene.

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As I sat on the train with my sister, (she had just boarded and met up with us) we were gabbing and carrying on like we do.

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I look over and see Little Bee who had escaped her Daddy’s lap pick up something off the ground and put it in her mouth.

A. USED. blue. cough. drop.

From the FLOOR of the train…

More gabbing. More carrying on.  My husband blurts out from the seat behind us

“Your daughter is licking the train!”

(Of course she is my daughter in this scenario.) I turn around and see her little nose pressed up against the window and she IS licking the window. Good Lord.

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When we disembark, nature called for most of us. Why oh why did I forget that train station bathrooms are the mecca of cooties? We hit a stall, Bee and I, and like usual her little hands could not stop touching walls and surface area and…BIG ICK!

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We visit the Shedd Aquarium to start our day. At mid-morning-snack-and coffee pick-me-up-time my sister purchases a lovely fruit cup for all of my kids to share.  There was some squabbling over honeydew melon (or lack of interest in it by Twinkle Toes) and an exceptional interest in the red grapes. And there sits Bee eating grapes off the bare counter at the snack bar and making an attempt to rescue a wayward grape from (where else!??) the floor!

It was at this point that my sis and I decided to recount how many Gold Medals of Gross my daughter had earned that morning. And thus “the tally”.

It’s a germ jungle out there people. Wash your hands and cover your mouth. And if you eat a cough drop on the train. For God’s sake, finish it.

Thank you.

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2015. 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 Lightning Round Update

Wow, I have been off the cyber scene. A Nerf basketball lobbed into the coffee mug, into the laptop. Seven weeks and a Geek Squad later and I am ready to give you, my fair reader, (are you still out there?) the lightning round update. (No plunking out posts on a cell phone for this blogger!)

  • Flu (Me) Moms can’t be sick, especially Moms with spirited toddlers who know how to undo all of the safety locks, take off diapers anywhere, anytime, anyplace and practice their mad potty training skills “all by myself”.
  • An appearance in children’s court for our Foster Kiddo, C. Now that is a world I do not want to cruise through again anytime soon. Me standing in the “TSA Security”
    line to get in. No one told me of the pat down that could be in my future. My weapon of choice – fingernail clippers – of which I am sure I have never even used.

Mmmm, sub-zero temperatures to save a cuticle emergency someday? Or toss it now? Decisions…Decisions…

Ma’am, you have some clippers in your purse.

I do?

Yes. You can take them to your car or I can throw them away.

Me literally fumbling in my purse for 5 minutes holding up traffic scouring my purse for said clippers and wondering what other surprises lay ahead of me that day? Plenty. Even after the pat down.

  • Same day of weapon confiscation was a formal affair for Ice’s work. Tux, evening gown, tall people time, tall beverages and caviar no less. I can just float in and out of different realities on a dime!
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I highly recommend Rent the Runway!

Corner of a board book into Little Bee’s eye. The 7th visit to the Pediatrician in about 6 weeks. Good times. (Did I mention this was in between court in the morning and Academy Awards night in the evening? Same day, yes it was.)

Each peach

All my kids have loved this tattered book.

  • The calendar flipped another year for me. Thankfully, the older I get the more I realize age is just a number and I still feel about 28. My crow’s-feet and foggy brain beg to differ, but if it’s all the same, I’ll choose to live in my fantasy world.
  • Timeout after timeout after appointment after assessment, Ice and I are still trying to wade through the new reality that is our decision to foster parent. About all I can say for privacy’s sake is it’s been a wild, confusing, frustrating and at times looking-to-the-heavens kind of ride. There is so much potential with this little guy. Yet there is an incredibly broken system, an overload of work to be done and not enough people to do it and what feels like an immense lack of a sense of urgency. If nothing else it has been an education and a test of our faith.

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  •  Thankfully in between all the busy and crazy there has been snuggles, belly laughs, cheering from the stands, a Valentine’s party at Pre-school, dinners together, play time outside in temperatures barely resembling Spring and contortionist-like efforts to rescue Little Bee from the heights of a McDonald’s play land.  I am so grateful for the gym membership in these times!   

You’re up to date.

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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.

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.