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.

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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.

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.

It’s Snark Week…Check Your Local Listings

Am I the only Mom who is on Week 2 of Back to School and already in disbelief that it’s “same stuff, different school year” ??

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The classics are back!

“You can’t wear those postage-stamp shorts!”

“Why? I don’t have anything else!”

“Maybe if you tried bringing in your laundry more than once per Leap Year, you would!”

 

Ye Olde band instrument. Practice twice on the weekends. Get a signed slip for the next week’s lesson. All good.

“Mom can I practice now?”

“No, your baby sister is in bed now. Your saxophone is too loud and you should have practiced first thing when you got home.”

Exchange of words too long and boring to print here. Blah Blah Blah…All NOT good.

And in the absence of her two older siblings, Little Bee is now lashing out at the cashier at Target or the friend I see in passing at the grocery store. They get her new snarly look and some snappish two-year old comment and a wagging finger point.

There’s always tomorrow’s cup of coffee and the promise of 10 minutes to breathe and look at a magazine or catch up on some meaningless celebrity nonsense from the Today Show.

But as past experience proves…I have been re-warming that cup of coffee for the last week.

I still never get to my target while it’s hot! Grrrrrr…

© 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.

 

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7 Steps to a Resolution with our Daughter’s Bully

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Sippakorn

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Sippakorn

A visit to the gym to workout today proved to be full of some pretty big lessons for my nine-year-old daughter (and me). While on the treadmill next to my husband (Ice) I looked over to see my daughter in tears and very distraught.  She approached him very upset and looking for his help. He left with her.  I assumed she was fighting with her brother on the basketball court and continued running. After a couple of minutes I decided to shut off my machine and go see what was up.

Turns out my son was not the culprit today, it was another boy she was guarding (or trying to) in what was supposed to be a friendly game of basketball among children.

According to her account, the boy was aggressive and rude the entire game towards her, he slapped her at one point, pushed her down and told her “You’re a girl, you can’t guard me!”

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Prawny

Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net by Prawny

Step One: Find the Boy.

We set off to find this young man. Calmly and purposefully. When he saw Ice he started to bolt in the other direction with his little sister. Ice asked him to stop and follow him to the front of the gym.

Step Two: Ask for assistance from the staff.

Ice asked for the help of the man behind the front desk in resolving the issue.

Step Three: Give our daughter a chance to tell her side of the story and look this child in the eye.

We let her speak and then asked the other child if what she re-told was what he thought happened. Was it easy for her? Not at all.  But it was so important for her to stand up for herself with our support and encouragement. She had been really shaken up until this point and rather than be the victim I felt it was so important for her to gain back her composure and some of her control of the situation.

Step Four: Arrive at the truth.

When the boy denied the events happening or his involvement in them my husband told him the best thing to do was to tell the truth otherwise we would be waiting for the staff to find his parents and get them involved.  He re-considered his position and agreed that he had been physical with her and abusive with his words. We asked if there was anything else he wanted to say and he apologized.

Step Five:  Accept the apology.

Our daughter looked him in the eye and hard as it was I could tell she really meant what she said when she accepted his apology.

Step Six: Try and re-cap the lesson.

Ice told him not to pick on others. “Girls can do anything boys can do”, he said. “And if you were my son, I would want to tell you it’s never a good idea to run from your problems because they only double in size.”

Step Seven: Close the loop with the staff.

Ice approached the front desk to let them know the entire turn of events and provide our name and number for the child’s parents to get in touch with us if they wanted to discuss anything.

So far we have not heard anything. But I do hope that this child really stopped, whether then or later in the day, to let it sink in that what he did was wrong.

There are so many other ways that this turn of events could have been handled.  But I feel so much more at peace with how it was handled. Calm, firm, up-front, transparent.

Not every situation can be so cut and dry. Circumstances can be so much more serious, less controlled, lacking any adult supervision in the vicinity and on and on…  But when I asked my daughter to recount for me what happened today, she had a better handle on it than I did.  I actually consulted her before sitting down to put this to words.  She truly was impacted by what happened and walked away stronger for it.

I am so proud of her and my husband.

© 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.

“Ready to Let Go of the Steering Wheel”

I’m ready, ready for the laughing gas
I’m ready, I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready to duck, I’m ready to dive
I’m ready to say ‘I’m glad to be alive’
I’m ready for the push
In the cool of the night
In the warmth of the breeze
I’ll be crawling around
On my hands and knees

Zoo Station
Zoo Station

I’m ready, ready for the gridlock
I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready for the shuffle, ready for the deal
Ready to let go of the steering wheel
I’m ready for the crush…

Achtung Baby U2 Album Cover

Achtung Baby U2 Album Cover

Driving down the freeway on an errand with my 11-year old son Techno, iPod blaring Zoo Station*, I was sharing with him the finer points of one of my favorite bands of all-time, U2 .

As with most music lovers you can hear a song and immediately place yourself in that moment when you first heard it or when you enjoyed it most. In my case, 18 years old, just heading off to a big college, experiencing freedom that I had never had before and loving every second.  Listening to this album (yes we used to call them albums not CD’s!) in a bar or a dorm room having no knowledge that it would strike me on the freeway more than twenty years later, just one lyric, and bring tears to my eyes and a flutter in my heart. Beside my son no less. Okay, get a grip, girl and take it down a notch!

For months Ice and I have been going through the arduous process to become licensed to foster and ultimately adopt a child. To us a boy whose name we don’t know with a face we can’t place.  A boy who is looking for a forever family that just might be smack in the middle of ours.

In and of itself this concept is almost unbelievable to me.  Wait, not almost, it IS.  For those that know me and just watched me go through a spectrum of craziness even I did not know I was capable of it would appear kind of unbelievable to them as well I could imagine.

It started with 11-11-11, or as I like to call it “Freaky Friday”, the date I found out at age just-shy-of-39 that I was pregnant with my third baby, Little Bee. A wonderful, magical blessing for SURE. Age difference between her two older siblings: eight and ten years. Idea that this was the plan for me at this stage in my life: NOT.A.CLUE.

Me and my Shadow

Little Bee is now 19-months old.  Without a doubt she is one of the single BEST adventures that life has taken me on. Okay, so maybe God does know what he is doing. If I wasn’t sure before, mine eyes have been opened and the light is blinding!

Ice and I had contemplated fostering a child before.  He had successfully mentored two brothers through Big Brothers/Big Sisters for well over a decade.  He worked in a building where an agency that places children into foster homes had office space.  Being in commercial construction his company did work for this agency when they needed construction services.  But for me I do not think it was anything more than something really amazing to imagine.  I didn’t really think we would actually DO it.

Little Bee came along and it kind of sealed the deal for me. Fostering a child would most definitely not happen now.  My world was turned upside down (in the most amazing way) with the arrival of this gorgeous little person. It just didn’t feel right then.

Time marched on. Routines were established (or at least feeding and bathing her, not necessarily me!) And life resumed its ebb and flow.  The idea hung low in my brain, like a fog. Lingering. Or like a whisper in my ear.

Then one day I was standing in line waiting to enter a dance performance for my nine-year-old daughter, Twinkle Toes and another whisper demanded to be heard.

The people standing in front of me had a four-month-old baby in their arms.  His name was Jake. Through a brief conversation I found out that he would be leaving them soon – to be adopted.  Realization washed over me.  They were foster parents.  This was their ONE HUNDRED and TWELFTH BABY. Speechless.

I immediately texted Ice and shared that the whisper was getting louder.  We needed to talk.

That was nine months ago, odd.  Nine months. We are now almost finished with the four-month process to be certified to receive placement of a child.   We are looking for a boy between the ages of three and seven years.

It’s taken me awhile to collect and sort out my thoughts to write about this newest adventure. It is stressful and anxiety-ridden in its own way.  There have been moments where I really have questioned if I can handle this.  And I am positive there will be more moments.  Not a reason not to do it.  Especially after feeling somehow led to do it.  But still.  Life is sure to change again in a big way and in ways I can’t even imagine as of yet. But what I learned from my experience with Little Bee that I could have ONLY learned after she blessed our lives…

Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright
It’s alright… it’s alright… it’s alright… It’s alright

Hey baby… hey baby… hey baby… hey baby…
It’s alright, it’s alright*

This is what I am choosing to remind myself day after day. And even when I forget to let go of the wheel, there are amazing people around me that remind me as well.

View out my kitchen window last week

View out my kitchen window last week

Stay tuned…there will most surely be more to come!

*Excerpt of Lyrics from Zoo Station by U2,1991

It’s More Fun to Believe

Snowman“Santa Claus is really your parents”, she said.
“What?!”
My eight-year-old self stomped home from my childhood playmate’s house, stormed into the living room and demanded an explanation from my unsuspecting and caught-off-guard Mother.   Duped, lied to, shocked and incredulous – that about summed it up. I wasn’t in on the secret and it made me mad.

As each Christmas passed by and Techno and Twinkle got older, thoughts of how the “big reveal” would play out with them were always brimming near the surface. So when Twinkle came home last week and said her friend didn’t believe in the Easter Bunny I thought “Door opened, walk in. This is it.”

After some pointed questions, a mix of her intuition and rational thought she figured out that Mom and Dad have kept the magic alive for the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy and St. Nicholas BUT…”I still believe in Santa Claus.” she said with a knowing smile. Well, we went this far – we were taking it all the way.

It was so bittersweet. She marveled at the new information, laughed a little and then the next wave of reality washed over her and with it came some tears. Ouch. She was finally in on the secret. But it’s one of those moments in a child’s life where a layer of innocence is slowly peeled back. It breaks the heart just a little. What’s next? High school graduation already? Thankfully not just yet.

But this was just round one! Her older brother still wasn’t in on the secret. A double whammy. A separate conversation ensued at just the right time days later. Techno informed us he’s known for a couple of years. He just didn’t say anything. I think a part of him didn’t want to peek behind the curtain and see the wizard operating the controls. It’s just simply more fun to believe.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for this all to take place. Because by week’s end we would be sitting in a concert hall, in front of a symphony orchestra playing the score and watching along to the animated short film of one of the most nostalgic Christmas traditions from my childhood.  It’s a film based on the book by Raymond Brigg’s entitled The Snowman.

I don’t know many people who are familiar with this tale.  It always seemed kind of an obscure find that we stumbled upon more than twenty years ago.  It’s the story of a young boy who builds a snowman one wintry night only to delight in the fact that he comes alive. The two explore the human world of the boys’ house, the world outside and many of the nearby animals in the countryside and then take flight for a journey to the North Pole, a snowman party with Santa and witness the Northern Lights.  In the morning the boy’s new friend has melted with the sun and all that remains in the pocket of his pajamas is the scarf Santa had gifted the boy the night before. In the book there are no words, just pictures. In the movie the only words are those of the gorgeous song “Walking in the Air” sung by a British choirboy. I promise you if you listen to it once, the music will stick with you forever. I’m still humming it four days later!

The movie became part of my children’s Christmas tradition starting with Techno’s second Christmas. It was perfect to watch this with both of the two older kids last week accompanied by the orchestra and a local-cast choirboy because it put me right back to suspending disbelief, going with the story as its presented and finding joy in the magic of it all.

Ice said to Twinkle after the reveal “We still believe.” She was a little relieved to hear that. I was a little relieved to hear that. And this movie sealed the deal.

This link takes you to the You Tube page where you can enjoy this Academy Award nominated film if you’d like (please excuse the Dominos pizza ad or whatever you will be forced to watch for 15 seconds!)  It’s 26 minutes in length.  Watch it with someone special.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A3THighARU