Transitions

I’m a summer girl. The frogs and birds in the wetlands out my window sing me to sleep. Easy breezy flip flops, sun up in the 5 o’clock hour gives way to my favorite road biking rides before my household wakes up. My husband and I enjoy date nights strolling by the river walk downtown. I adore outdoor concerts and the sounds and smells of Lake Michigan.

Yet so many claim fall as their favorite and look forward to the cooler temps and the change in season. I always long to hang on to Summer. Why?

Fall colors are stunningly beautiful around here. Memories of apple and pumpkin picking field trips and hayrides with my kids hold wonderful memories. Halloween festivities and the search for that perfect costume were always a childhood delight for me. And the big event that so many Moms look forward to for the return to routine and a break from siblings getting on each other’s nerves: school starts.

Bingo.

School always pronounced the passage of time and put an exclamation point on it for me. Whether it be a favorite teacher I would no longer have, the cast party capping off an amazing drama production or the incredible sports season coming to an end. School years were season after season of concentrated, elevated emotion. And I find even as an adult that a little bit of melancholy sets in as autumn approaches. Kind of like a strange knee jerk reaction. Change is coming. The falling temps and the fleeting beauty of the colorful leaves show me a preview.

The view from my kitchen window

Last weekend before the sun rose in the 4 o’clock hour, my oldest and I set off for a road trip adventure. I hadn’t stepped foot on the campus of my alma mater in over 20 years. I thought it would be a great way to share a bit with him about my university experience, take an official tour, soak up some of the campus life and enjoy a short walk down memory lane. It was a trip I had been wanting to make for a couple years. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since he is a high school senior and we are exploring his post-graduation options.

In his eyes he was along for an interesting ride. He has had plans of serving in the military since he was young. And he is still exploring those details and gathering more information. However, he was game for my plan and was a good sport about it. And when was the last time he and I had a weekend just the two of us?! Ummm…Unheard of.

What ensued could not have been crafted more perfectly if I scripted it. We met up with one of my former college roommates who I hadn’t seen in forever and hung out at her house catching up with her and meeting her husband. Together with my friend and her husband, we all visited one of our old college Friday night hang-outs and enjoyed a meal with her daughter who now attends the university.

Bright and early Saturday morning my son and I took an official campus tour with an admissions official, visited my Freshman residence hall, walked a significant amount of the campus and ate lunch in a residence hall restaurant.

He was enamored with it all. And I remembered once again why I loved it too. And ironically, the campus never shines so bright as in the fall. That’s how I remember it most – with all the old brick buildings and the amazing old trees and yes, a little of the melancholy of transition and change mixed in.

campus grounds

I don’t know what this next season of motherhood holds. But the excitement I felt watching my son’s eyes light up and see his wheels turning inside his head was so gratifying. The sun is setting on a huge chapter in what I have known as a mother. I am savoring each night all of my children are safely under our roof and every meal we can all look each other in the eyes.

I don’t know what, but I do know next fall at this time something will be very different. And with the spectacular autumn sunsets and the changing leaves we will work our way through the next transition.

the sunset that greeted us our first night on campus

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. 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.

Make Peace

I love being a work in progress. I’ve made so much peace with that.~Mariska Hargitay

A quote I heard yesterday in an interview with the actress. YES!

Resonated with me so strongly. It is a hard-fought road to get to the place where one can say this and mean it to the core. It is a messy, painful, glorious, emotional, blessed and treasured journey to get there.

It is the very reason I have not lived in this precious space for over two years. Too immersed in raising teens, journeying through several serious health conditions with three generations of three of the most important people in my life, nurturing some intense personal development and just trying to breathe. I could not bring myself to carve out the time to create. It was a marathon for reflection, focus, faith and acceptance.

How I have missed this outlet. It’s been getting to a crescendo and then the voice in my head bent on sabotage snuck in one too many times. But this time, I have a much more forceful reply. It will not dictate where I can go or what I can do. It might be a daily reminder. It might be by the hour. But I still hold fast to dreams, to growth, to hope and to new adventures. And I will be working some of that out here once again.

Feels good.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. 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 Harding Icefield Trail: A Surprising Metaphor for Marriage

The trip I would have never wanted to take. The destination: too unknown and too far away. The travel time: my furthest distance ever traveled on a plane.  Not to mention the childcare arrangements for ten days and the anxiety of what may not go to plan in those days back at home.  The activities, car pooling, all those meals, baths that would probably never happen and the sibling rivalry and chaos about to be gifted to our poor unsuspecting families. (Well they do know our kids, they must have suspected something!)

I live in an alternate reality the days leading up to whenever Ice and I travel. The urge to stress and worry is never far away. Yet the older I get and the more successful journeys we have taken, this coping method proves to be futile. Simply put it was amazing and far more than I ever imagined.

Ice has been laser-focused for years on visiting Alaska. He pretty much knew whether I was in or not, he was going for his next milestone birthday. There was a pull that was very strong and he needed to discover it.  Conveniently too, every milestone birthday he celebrates we also celebrate one in our marriage. How could I not adventure ahead?

After tossing around using the services of a travel agent, he decided he would plan the itinerary himself.  Flawlessly I might add.  After studying maps and books, guides and magazines, he more than had a handle on what we might want to do and where.

I did my very best to rise to the occasion once being told I could only take a backpack! A back pack you say? Does this man not know I travel with everything but the kitchen sink?! Huge character flaw but I own it. I like to be ready for anything from migraines to surprise dressier occasions to a last minute entry into a 5k or a spontaneous do-it-yourself pedicure. It happens!  We went so far as to do a “practice pack” two weeks before just to be sure I could fit all my necessities in my pack. Happy to say it went well and I felt pretty confident I would rock this.

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This was it for 10 days!

Our journey started off in Juneau at 11 pm on a Thursday night. Walking off the plane in the light of day at that hour was surreal, but so very cool. And I will never forget the intense smell of the trees as we walked outside the airport.  It was intoxicating.

We packed so much into those 10 days.  The Alaska Railroad, Denali National Park, a Kenai Fjords boat tour for glacier viewing and whale watching, a two-mile sled dog ride with Iditarod-winning dogs and on and on.

But the highlight for me was an eight-hour hike we completed in the Kenai Fjords National Park on the Harding Icefield Trail. It was predicted to rain that day. Not the news I wanted to hear. But we had come prepared with all the gear and all this long way so we were definitely forging ahead.

We had been told the first one-third or so of the trail to be on the lookout for bears. I had become all too familiar with the trepidation of hiking with this knowledge when we were in Denali National Park. But it was still very unsettling and something to try and get used to.

As we set out it was very clear this trail was no joke. In many portions of the trail one misplaced step could have been disastrous. It was exhilarating and sobering all at the same time. Hiking up and up for hours on end.

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Hiking up and up

The more we climbed thoughts just started coming into my head about how this hike was such a metaphor for marriage.  There were things to look out for that could have compromised our safety, like the bear danger (of which yes a Mama black bear and her cub were on the trail with us we were told by several hikers but we just missed seeing them in the bushes) – much like the commitment of marriage and the pitfalls so many encounter within their years together.

I truly loved the climb upward. The anticipation of the view at the top kept me going.  The climb down would be harder. Harder slowing down the steep momentum in some places and just kind of “been there done that, I want this to be over” feeling took over. Of course Ice was the reverse. He was spurred on by the fact that the climb down would be so much shorter.  And in fact once we arrived at our destination and started to head back he encouraged us to run down the mountain together. Run! We ran past many hikers and people asking us “how much longer to the Icefield?” The trail certainly flew by running down the mountain!  It took us half the amount of time that first part than it had in the ascent.

In marriage, once you have experienced something and develop your strategy for moving over it, the descent does become quicker as time goes on. It may not be easier, as in my case, but the familiar feeling of a challenge and how to get past it does.

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Where is the rest of the trail?

It was right about here that we got lost. We searched for about 30 minutes to pick up the trail. I was getting impatient and wanted to call it. We had gone in several different directions and the trail markings were not leading us where we wanted to go. At times the clouds were nipping at our heels and it felt a little unsettling being up there and losing sight of where we had come from.  After encountering some Italian hikers who had spent the night up near the Icefield, they helped direct our way.

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The trail as it looked behind us as the clouds rolled in

“It takes a village” as the saying goes.  Many times we need help staying on track. Thankfully my husband and I have our faith and have relied heavily on that.  But sometimes others who have gone farther ahead on the journey prove to be great support and sources of wisdom.

And pacing is important. When we were starting off I was leading the way. As things progressed, Ice moved into the pole position. And at times we were separated on that mountain. I stopped frequently to take photographs. His long legs propelled him further at a pace faster than I.  We tackled the climb but at a different pace.

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Wait for me!

But the most standout part of the climb was the beauty, the views and the perspective.  We saw so many breathtaking sights. The extreme effort, the uncertainty, the faith in the worth of what lie ahead (the Harding Icefield!)…it all came together as we kept venturing further up that mountain.  Who knew Alaska would capture my heart as it did?  I would have never accomplished this climb alone. And I was so honored to be asked to do it with this guy.

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A kiss with a view and twenty years’ perspective

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2017. 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 Most Powerful Word in the English Language

For the last several years I have selected a word or phrase of intention for the year. Kind of like a theme.  A beacon to guide my handling of life and to give some perspective.  I can’t recall exactly when I was introduced to this idea. But it was an author whose books were popular among friends of mine several years ago. I thought “Why not? What could it hurt?”

Some of my past examples?

Faith.

Let it go.

Hope.

This year’s catalyst for my word? Another book found its way into my hands at just the perfect time.
Forgiveness.  

And it has made all the difference.

Forgiveness is hard. Perhaps that is why it is underrated. You and I find forgiveness hard because we are stubborn. Rather than stepping out to healing, we often prefer to sit and feed off our wounds because they are familiar and comfortable.  It is easier to do nothing. Maybe we struggle with forgiveness because we are lazy or because we are afraid.  But understand this: Forgiveness will transform you and your relationships once you release its power into your life. You will find a new and higher level of living and of relationships. Forgiveness is the most powerful word in the English language.

~Allen R. Hunt Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody

Whoa.

We can all think of someone -be it a neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member- who is a grudge holder. I know I can. I have some grudge holding in my genetic makeup.

Sadly, there are some past hurts that just won’t be set free in my extended family. And the ripple effect of these decisions far outweighs the original intent in my mind. Hurt begets hurt begets hurt.  Enough.

Forgiveness has more clearly set my relationships right with Ice and my children. With my family and my friends. With co-workers and with the kid at the drive-thru window who didn’t greet me before announcing my total with a grunt and just his hand out.  As I type these words I can think of an example where this mantra this year has served its intended purpose. And I am so grateful for it.

Speaking of the drive thru…

Recently Ice shared one of his experiences. He pulled into a fast food place at the back of their parking lot. The cars were already lined up. The angle he was accessing the line made it so he had to wait for the last car to pull up a little for his vehicle to file in. But it was clear to anyone watching that he was “next” in line inching in behind the last car.

As luck would have it a pick-up truck pulled in through the drive thru circle and made sure he left no room for Ice to inch his way in. Even though it was clear Ice had been there waiting first.  The driver of the truck made sure to signal with some choice gestures and set the tone.

So this is how it’s gonna be. You know you’ve been there. Whatever it was that caused that feeling of indignation, anger or dare I say, revenge.

There are several ways this could have gone. It was just the degree to which the situation could have escalated that I was concerned about as he was sharing this with me. But I did not see this coming…

He approached the loud-speaker to place his order. After placing the order he asked the employee if he could pay for the driver of the truck’s order! And watching ahead at the driver, he could tell there was some kind of exchange going on between the driver and the employee.  Over the loud-speaker the employee hesitated in their response to Ice’s request.  As I am hearing this I am thinking, what is the hesitation? The driver wouldn’t let him pay?? No, not that at all. Would you believe the driver had already paid for Ice’s order?! Yep, did not see that coming.

This is just one amazing example that the power of forgiveness has to heal and repair.  The fact that both men were willing to extend this gift was awesome. And the beauty of it is, when given to others it really helps us free ourselves. Hanging on to hurts and wrongs against us gets heavy and burdensome. Why be bogged down with such baggage?

As I have been exercising my forgiveness muscles this year, it finally dawned on me, what about the forgiveness we deny ourselves?  What burdens do we hang on to that add to the load we carry?

I can’t lose the weight.

I don’t measure up.

I failed to reach the goal.

I’m not enough.

It brought to mind a situation I found myself in several years back.  Long story made short a misunderstanding occurred that created a very awkward situation for some friends. I found myself in the middle and made a couple of choices I now regret.  Feelings were hurt. Apologies were made repeatedly. Attempts to explain what had transpired were offered. But in the end, the choice to accept these attempts was denied and I have held the burden ever since.

Over time when I encounter the individual most offended it’s uncomfortable and awkward all over again.  But after time and space it’s clear to me I didn’t believe I could just choose to let go. Forgive myself.  I didn’t realize the problem wasn’t with her.  It was with me.  What else can I do? I made every effort to set it right. The sad part is she still holds her burden and the key to set it down and move on.

I so want my children to be able to adopt this way of living as they grow older. It will make their journey through life so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.  And kids always have a wonderful way of demonstrating forgiveness. One minute could be a huge teenage drama and the next it’s I’m sorry and on to what’s for dinner? I love that.

There is almost no greater gift we can give ourselves than to forgive. It’s a fresh start. A new beginning. It paves the way for more good stuff to get in and also be given out. It clears the clouds and allows the sun to shine.

Forgive.

Sunrise

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2017. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.