Bananas and Spray & Wash

Life is a series of fleeting moments. Whether it’s a sunrise, an unexpected interaction with your teenager, a quiet moment with your significant other or your last conversation on this earth with someone you love most.  The trick: sometimes you just don’t know when you’re going to miss something until it’s not there anymore.  Like, the last time I was able to physically carry Techno to bed. He now stands taller than I in a size 12 men’s shoe in 8th grade. I don’t remember the last time I was able to pick him up off the couch after he’d dozed and carry him to bed. But it’s been years. And I miss it.

I am now knee-deep in these fleeting moments, my dear Reader. Instead of being able to chronicle them in this blog as I have so enjoyed these last three + years, I have been too full of living them. And enjoying almost every moment.

If you want something done, ask a busy person. ~Benjamin Franklin

I am not sure I fully understood this quote until recently.  Ten weeks out from a triathlon on my bucket list for  5 years has kept me incredibly busy. Just the thought of it makes my heart beat a little faster. Time management has been of the essence these last four months. Honestly, it has become a part-time job.  And it seems the more I have to accomplish in a day, the more I just want to rise to the occasion and get it all done -or curl up in a ball and nap for an entire weekend.  Just depends which day you ask me.  With it all comes doubts, anxiety and worries – they all creep in from time to time.

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Recently, I found myself doing laundry after some training while simultaneously consuming  a banana. In the moment it struck me, “You chose this?!”  I can’t even sit to get a decent breakfast to nourish my body anymore. I must do it on the fly and while doing chores no less.  The next item up was preparing  my three-and-a-half-year-old for pre-school, seriously, a Herculean task some days.

And while this random date (of the triathlon) in my universe almost glows with significance on my calendar, it is nothing compared to the reality that there are Moms everywhere who work full-time out of dire necessity and do so many of these things that keep me running and spinning and exhausted.

I have friends and family who are single Moms, who are cancer survivors,  whose children are sick or have died, whose spouses have battled illness or whose parents have struggled with disease all while working, raising a family and fighting to make ends meet.

My selfish and deeply individual goal pales in comparison. Yet, every time I am out on the road or swimming in the pool I challenge myself to push through the doubts and fear and to believe with every cell in my body that “I have got this.” It has been humbling to make the parallels of what I am facing now with how it stacks up to the stuff life throws at you. It parallels motherhood on so many levels. The ups, the downs. The endurance through challenges and the will to see it through.  The difference being, if I am blessed enough to reach my goal and put it in my rear view mirror come July, I am done. The endurance race of Motherhood never truly ends.  Truth be told, eating breakfast over the washing machine probably won’t stop anytime soon either.

My hope is that my children can see their Mom giving her all to a goal and accomplishing it.  But even more important to me is that they see their Mom as always committed to each of them and always there for them.  Hopefully this is not something that is fleeting. Hopefully it is something that stays with them their whole lives.

And by this time next year, I hope I will look back on this goal, this time in my life and say,

Remember the time I did that? I miss that.

 

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2016. 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.

 

 

Ride On

The Fall was busy. I can’t believe it’s been over two months since I’ve been able to get some thoughts down for my blog. After awhile I started to think, will anybody come back to read it anymore? Then a voice said, does it really matter?  This blog is as much a love letter to my kids and something to leave them with as it is a way to ensure my sanity.

And I’m due for some sanity-seeking.

The Fall brought some unique situations. Like finding myself army crawling on my back for a pre-school rescue of Little Bee from a public restroom stall. How lucky for me that my sweet mother was able to capture it real-time for posterity.

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Or finally pulling the trigger on a bucket list item of mine – the Half-Ironman – only to find myself in Physical Therapy for what appears to be a torn rotator cuff and a bum tendon in my leg. Swimming, biking, running? I am able to accomplish one of those three activities right now and training starts next week. Should be a nail biter!

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Observing my middle daughter, Twinkle in a tough, minor medical situation ( See No Bubble Wrap Here ) since August has been a life lesson for both of us. She has had to visit the Doctor numerous times since August for a pesky skin condition. Treatments are way uncomfortable and cause her much anxiety and dread. I have watched her face it with new courage and strength. We’ve had scores of pep talks and pump-up sessions and many visits to the coffee shop or favorite fast-food restaurant du jour for post-treatment rewards.

When the tables turned last week and I needed to have something removed from my face and subsequent stitches, she was right there to be my cheerleader with the empathy and compassion of a much older girl. One proud Mama here.

Christmas brought Techno his first cell phone. We have leaped off the ledge into the cyber abyss.  Ice and I are not quite ready for the whole digital world to be at his fingertips. But it’s the first time he has had a bona fide and recurring financial goal to work towards. He’s got the phone plan from us, but he’s now the proud owner of his first “Bill”. Welcome to a taste of adulthood, my son!

The tides have turned a little with Techno and Twinkle. Twinkle is knee-deep in middle school and high school is nearly on the horizon for Techno. The importance of friends in their lives has become paramount. And the memories of that shift in my own life have come flooding back.

I see changes in their language, clothing and interests. Every week they plot which days are best to include activities with friends and plot their course towards maximum fun. What Ice and I have realized is how quickly the hourglass is emptying. The time for all 5 of us under this one roof is fleeting. The maximum fun in each week must include family time and we’re doing our best to make that happen whether they like it or not! It has sure helped that we have all been home together for a holiday break since Christmas Eve.

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2016 is sure to bring many surprises and ups and downs. Time waits for no one. How blessed are we that we have this moment?

Celebrate well.

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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.

A Trip, Tattoos and Triumph from Cancer

Suck it Cancer.  These were the words that were hash-tagged and Facebook posted for the better part of a year while my friend, Lisa squared off with breast cancer. Social Media proved to be a silver lining for her I think. A place to get it out and get love back in return. I have never walked in these shoes but I can only imagine it would be helpful to have so many people pulling for you every day as you’re chronicling your struggles online. Most importantly, helping you feel some control over your diagnosis and sharing your story.

With such a stretch of rocky road behind her, Lisa beat cancer and is on the easier side of the mountain now.  So what does she do? Something only Lisa can get away with.  She wraps up this whole grueling, exhausting, heartbreaking journey in a pink bow with eight girlfriends, a plane ride, a limousine, champagne, hysterical laughter and two brand-new tattoos.

The most surprising part of this story? The tattoos are her brand new nipples. Who knew?

It had just never occurred to me when a woman undergoes a double mastectomy and then reconstructive surgery that she may still be missing her nipples – created or spared. In fact, most women have both breast and nipple removed and are left with a scar and an area where the nipple once was.  The better part of a year ago Lisa informed me of this – in Pilates class.

“And oh by the way, I am going to see this guy who is world-renowned for his work on 3-D nipple tattoos for breast cancer survivors. He sees patients in New Orleans or Baltimore. Anyone want to make the trip with me?”

Four of us on the spot – in Pilates class – we were all in. What an incredible adventure.

Maryland was the destination. (The world-renowned tattoo artist was booked in to next year in New Orleans.) All of us donned pink in some fashion or another to catch the flight to our vacation rental row house in Baltimore’s Little Italy. A 3 o’clock appointment was the mission. A limo had been scheduled to pick up the guest of honor and her support entourage complete with champagne for style points.  Lisa knows how to throw a party.

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Lisa in the center

We pulled up to this unassuming tattoo parlor in Finksburg, Maryland. Ever heard of it? Me either.  But who would know that inside this small, out-of-the-way strip mall such deeply personal, life-changing stuff takes place? This is not your average rose or black thorn tattoo.  Vinnie Meyers has been working on his tattoo artistry since 2001 and with this most rarest of skills has worked on over 8,000 breast cancer survivors to date he shared with us.

“I look forward to this type of tattooing as it gives me great satisfaction helping these women get the most professional/effective finishing touch in their battle against breast cancer.” ~from his website http://www.vinniemeyers.com

Being in that tattoo parlor, exactly one year from the date of her last surgery was a bit of a surreal experience for Lisa.  The ultimate triumph. Staring cancer in the face and refusing to let it beat, or change, her spirit.

Half of the entourage filed in to provide emotional support for the first half of the procedure. And the other half when it was almost complete.  What we witnessed was truly incredible.

Vinnie’s artistry helped give our friend some much-needed closure. The final step in a journey that started over 18 months ago. It was symbolic of putting the scattered pieces back together of a life so harshly interrupted. And what Lisa gave to us was another look at the incredible spirit that she exudes and the courage and grace with which she handled every hideous and unpleasant circumstance that was thrown at her.

Anyone thrust into a cancer diagnosis is in a sea of confusion and there is no right way to handle it.  Everyone’s situation is uniquely their own to navigate.  A nipple tattoo certainly is not a consideration for every breast cancer warrior. A unique approach for sure.  But it was perfectly suited to Lisa.  And when all was said and done, she made a grand and sassy exit with a smile.  Buh-Bye, Cancer!

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Don’t you just love happy endings?

 

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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.

How Pumpkin Spice Latte Made Me a Better Mom

This time of year, it is insane with the elevation of Pumpkin Spice this and Pumpkin spice that.  I do not know who the genius is that developed this crazy marketing ploy, but they were definitely onto something. Because apparently even Jimmy Fallon knows it’s not Fall until Pumpkin Spice lattes are being crafted in the coffee shops.  I had a good laugh recently when I heard of a hardware store posting on their marquis that they had “Pumpkin Spice” tools!  Hurry! Rush into the hardware store before they sell out!

It got me thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if there was some an extra ingredient that could be added to Motherhood at this crazy time of year when schedules shift, kids start back with the petri dish of germs, the events, practices, homework, team pictures, dances, parent volunteer hours and the holidays all converging at the same time? Some magical additive to make it all more manageable?

Recently Ice and I attended pre-school orientation for Little Bee. We squirmed in our seats through all the Do’s, Don’ts and Be Sures. We had been handed her very first homework assignment of her academic career that is just a seedling right now.  We were off to Do Good and get her started on the path to sharing with classmates and the proper use of a glue stick.

Standing in line at pre-school for Little Bee on her second day I heard the Mom behind me tell her son they forgot to dress him like the color of the day and bring a coordinating item for show and tell. Now by this time we had forgotten to even DO the homework Bee was assigned to bring on the first day and now on the Second day we had failed yet again!

I laughed, turned around and blurted out

“We forgot to wear red today too!  We’re just gonna roll with it!”

She replied

“This is my third child, I’m not really worried about it!”

“Mine too!” I said.  “I think I know a few people who might let this bother them all day. Congratulations, YOU are one highly evolved Mom!”

Let it Go. That’s my extra ingredient. That is my Pumpkin Spice.

In that moment, it became so clear to me just how much I have let go of since my first two were younger. How much needless stress, worry and fear of judgment I have left in the dust.  How it’s okay to be the one who screws up. It makes all the other Moms feel less alone and sub-par. It might make someone who usually finds themselves always feeling three steps behind stand up and cheer

“It’s not my turn this time!”

And I say, good for her. I am happy to help.

Now don’t get me wrong, stress and the desire to have well-mannered, well-prepared kids and the like are still lurking out there somewhere sometimes. Like when I want to have lunch out with friends and I simply cannot subject them to one more biscuit thrown at the wait staff, one more crayon broken and eaten for good measure. But mostly for my reaction to it all!  It gets tiring.

Which brings me to my second ingredient. Sleep.

My advice – get it whenever you can.

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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.

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.